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BOOK REVIEW: REBECCA BY DAPHNE DU MAURIER

12873

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Virago Press (Paperback), 2007, First Published In 1938

251 Pages

www.dumaurier.org 

This book is part of my Popsugar reading challenge 2015 (http://www.popsugar.com/love/reading-challenge-2015-36071458). The category for this book is ‘a book with a one word title’ 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers…

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

EXTRACT

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me. There was a padlock and a chain upon the gate. I called in my dream to the lodge-keeper, and had no answer, and peering close through the rusted spokes of the gate I saw that the lodge was uninhabited.

REVIEW

This was my first time reading Rebecca. I’ve only read one other Du Maurier novel, Jamaica Inn which I thought was pretty great.

I loved Rebecca. Du Maurier’s novel ticks all the boxes: great plot, great characters and great writing. I loved how sinister and foreboding the novel is in places. The narrator and heroine of the novel is never named, which I found very interesting. Rebecca could and has been dismissed as a gothic romance. The novel is much more than the sum of its parts. Rebecca is moving, haunting, creepy, sinister and atmospheric. Manderley is central character and haunts the lives of Maxim, Rebecca and his new wife. Who doesn’t love evil old Mrs Danvers? What a creepy old bitch she is. Maxim is pretty nasty. He’s murdered his first wife, Rebecca and gotten away with it. We only have his word that she was evil, vicious and promiscuous. He as good as kills his second wife by sucking the life, happiness, energy and soul right out of her. What a piece of work! I found Maxim’s second wife fascinating. She’s so bland and insipid she doesn’t even get a name. Rebecca is a cracking read.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

 

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BOOK REVIEW: SAINT ODD BY DEAN KOONTZ

21077038

SAINT ODD BY DEAN KOONTZ

HARPERCOLLINS (HARDBACK), 2015

400 PAGES 

WWW.DEANKOONTZ.COM

THIS BOOK IS PART OF MY POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2015 (HTTP://WWW.POPSUGAR.COM/LOVE/READING-CHALLENGE-2015-36071458). THE CATEGORY FOR THIS BOOK IS ‘A BOOK PUBLISHED THIS YEAR’.

 I CHOSE TO READ THIS SIMPLY BECAUSE I KNEW I WAS GOING TO GET A COPY AND IT WAS BEING PUBLISHED IN 2015.

I WON MY COPY ON A GIVEAWAY ON GOOOD READS.

BLURB FROM THE COVER

The future is haunting Odd Thomas.

The carnival has returned to Pico Mundo, the same one that came to town when Odd was just sixteen. Odd is drawn to an arcade tent where he discovers Gypsy Mummy, the fortune-telling machine that told him that he and Stormy Llewellyn were destined to be together forever.

But Stormy is dead and Pico Mundo is under threat once more. History seems to be repeating itself as Odd grapples with a satanic cult intent on bringing destruction to his town. An unseasonal storm is brewing, and as the sky darkens and the sun turns blood-red, it seems that all of nature is complicit in their plans.

Meanwhile Odd is having dreams of a drowned Pico Mundo, where the submerged streetlamps eerily light the streets. But there’s no way Pico Mundo could wind up underwater . . . could it?

EXTRACT 

Alone in the vastness of the Mojave, at two o’clock in the morning, racing along at seventy miles per hour, I felt safe and believed that whatever terror might await me was yet many miles ahead. This would not be the first time in my strange life that safety proved to be an illusion.

REVIEW

Dean Koontz was one of my favourite writers when I was younger. He fell out of favour when I read the last three awful novels in his Frankenstein series. He’s started to work his way back into my good books with some great books. I’m a huge fan of the Odd Thomas series.

I really enjoyed Saint Odd. I thought it was a great conclusion to a good series. The ending is predictable in that it’s been hinted at for several books and Odd has stated several times how things will play out. Unusually so, this doesn’t lessen the impact of what happens. I still wept buckets. If I have anything negative to say about Saint Odd it’s that the pacing is a little off. It seemed to take forever to get anywhere. Pages and pages involved Odd meandering aimlessly around. The action doesn’t kick off until forty-odd chapters in. Another thing I didn’t like is that Annamaria’s purpose is still very unknown. She’s been Odd’s mysterious companion for several books now and by the end of Saint Odd there’s still a big question mark hanging over her. I thought that was sloppy. Saint Odd was enjoyable but is never quite as good as some books in the series such as Forever Odd or Brother Odd.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 

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BOOK REVIEW: THE BIG SLEEP BY RAYMOND CHANDLER

105706

THE BIG SLEEP BY RAYMOND CHANDLER

PENGUIN BOOKS (PAPERBACK), 2005, FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1939

251 PAGES

WWW.THRILLINGDETECTIVE.COM/TRIVIA/CHANDLER.HTML

HTTP://HOME.COMCAST.NET/~MOSSROBERT 

THIS BOOK IS PART OF MY POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2015 (HTTP://WWW.POPSUGAR.COM/LOVE/READING-CHALLENGE-2015-36071458). THE CATEGORY FOR THIS BOOK IS ‘A POPULAR AUTHOR’S FIRST BOOK’.     

I CHOSE TO READ THE BIG SLEEP BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT SOUNDED INTERESTING. I TRIED TO GO FOR THE LESS OBVIOUS CHOICES FOR EACH CATEGORY SO I COULD READ NEW AUTHOR’S. 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood’s two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA’s seedy backstreets, Marlowe’s got his work cut out – and that’s before he stumbles over the first corpse…

EXTRACT 

It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid-October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

REVIEW

This was my first time reading Raymond Chandler.

I enjoyed The Big Sleep. Chandler has a talent for writing very vivid and rich descriptions that make everything on the page come to life inside your head. You almost expect to look up from the book and see Marlowe pacing your living room smoking and firing questions at you. I loved all the twists and turns that had you reeling from one extreme to the next. The Big Sleep is worth reading to see the original crime noir fiction. One thing I noticed is that The Big Sleep hasn’t aged despite the fact it was published back in 1939. The Big Sleep has aged well and is still as fresh, vibrant and full of life as it was back then. I’d probably read some of Chandler’s novels at some point if only to get a head-full of his rich, luscious prose again.

 

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 

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BOOK REVIEW: MARRIAGES AND INFIDELITIES (SHORT STORIES) BY JOYCE CAROL OATES

465957

MARRIAGES AND INFIDELITIES: SHORT STORIES BY JOYCE CAROL OATES

VANGUARD PRESS (HARDBACK), 1972

497 PAGES 

WWW.USFCA.EDU/JCO 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Marriages and Infidelities (1972) is the fourth volume of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates. In this collection, Oates explores the relationship between love and betrayal.

EXTRACT 

Howard Dean reached the outskirts of Mouth-of-Lowmoor, West Virginia, at about four-thirty on a warm autumn afternoon, after having driven most of the day. Route 77 had been ascending steadily into the mountains. Now he found himself driving along a ridge on this two-lane mountain road, his hands fastened firmly to the steering wheel, while his eyes kept drifting off to the right to stare down in to a valley. He could not help himself, this scene was so beautiful – the valley was placid, marked by filmy, misty divisions between fields, and all the fields were the same uniform, dull, sweet green. A kind of paradise. Another world. It surprised him that there were so many white houses in this part of the country. Surely the coats of white paint wore out in a year or two? He was pleased that people in these valleys and foothills should take the trouble to pain their houses white.

THE SACRED MARRIAGE

REVIEW

This is my first time reading Marriages and Infidelities. I’m working my way through JCO’s back catalogue. There’s a lot I haven’t read.

I thought Marriages and Infidelities was a great collection of short stories. It was almost as good as her collection, The Wheel of Love I read a couple of weeks ago. Every story is well written and enjoyable and make Marriages and Infidelities a strong collection. Like The Wheel of Love, there are no clunkers and every story earns its place. The stories in Marriages and Infidelities have similar themes to the stories in The Wheel of Love and I’d say they are companions to each other. I’d only read one of the stories before, The Lady with the Pet Dog. Among my favourites were The Sacred Marriage, 29 Inventions, By the River, Scenes of Passion and Despair, Did You Ever Slip on Red Blood? and The Turn of the Screw. The other stores were very good. Marriages and Infidelities is an example of how good JCO can be when she come out guns blazing.   

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 
 

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BOOK REVIEW: GIRLCHILD BY TUPELO HASSMAN

GIRLCHILD

GIRLCHILD BY TUPELO HASSMAN 

QUERCUS (PAPERBACK), 2012

326 PAGES 

HTTP://TUPELOHASSMAN.COM 

THIS BOOK IS PART OF MY POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2015 (HTTP://WWW.POPSUGAR.COM/LOVE/READING-CHALLENGE-2015-36071458). THE CATEGORY FOR THIS BOOK IS ‘A BOOK BASED ENTIRELY ON ITS FRONT COVER’.    

I CHOSE TO READ GIRLCHILD BASED ENTIRELY ON THE COVER OF THE HARDBACK EDITION.

GIRLCHILD

I BORROWED THE PAPERBACK EDITION FROM THE LIBRAY BUT THE HARDBACK COVER IS WHY I CHOSE TO READ GIRLCHILD FOR THIS CATEGORY. IT LOOKED THE PERFECT BOOK TO GET LOST IN. I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE BOOK WHEN I CHOSE TO READ IT.

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own.  But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (Disposal of Outgrown Uniforms; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to get off the Calle:  that is, Calle de los Flores, the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.

Rory’s been told she is “third generation in a line of apparent imbeciles, feeble-minded bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the County and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social worker’s reports, half-recalled memories, story problems, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world while she searches for the way out of it. Girlchild is a heart-stopping and original debut. 

EXTRACT 

In my life of still dreaming the trailer park, I walk through all of its streets. They are short streets, it is a short life. It is nighttime, the moon shines through the yellow streetlights onto dirt and cement and gravel and every pool of light and every shadow is all my own. There is no sound in the whole park except the sound of my voice, loud like a vandal, like a baseball bat, bouncing from corrugated wall to corrugated wall, yelling back at me from empty carports and half-open sheds, so confident, crazy and strong, I can’t be sure if it is my own or my Mama’s, if it is my own or Grandma’s bones, full of both threat and promise, walking along the Calle and waking it with these words, one word for each step: I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven and hell flower. I am a heaven.

REVIEW 

This was my first time reading Tupelo Hassman. Girlchild is her debut novel.

I really enjoyed Girlchild. Hassman’s novel is written in the format of Rory’s diary. The chapters don’t have dates or any sort of formal diary structure I just get this impression from the language and point of view used in Girlchild. Rory’s life was very different from my experiences of growing up. She lives in a trailer and is dirt poor. I found her experiences to be very eye-opening and shocking at times. I loved the narrative voice used in Girlchild. Terrible things happen to Rory including being sexually abused and her mother being hit by a truck and killed when Rory’s only 15. Rory still remains optimistic and determined not to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her mother gave birth to her first child when she was Rory’s age. I loved Rory as a character. She was strong and fierce and resilient. Girlchild is a great novel about growing up and overcoming adversity.

RATING

 

4 STAR RATING

 

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BOOK REVIEW: THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY BY RACHEL JOYCE

JOYCE

 

THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY BY RACHEL JOYCE

BLACK SWAN (PAPERBACK), 2012

357 PAGES 

WWW.RACHEL-JOYCE.CO.UK 

THIS BOOK IS PART OF MY POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2015 (HTTP://WWW.POPSUGAR.COM/LOVE/READING-CHALLENGE-2015-36071458). THE CATEGORY FOR THIS BOOK IS ‘A BOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR TO DO’ LIST. 

I CHOSE TO READ THIS SIMPLY BECAUSE IT WAS THE BOTTOM BOOK ON MY ‘TO READ’ SHELF ON GOOD READS.

BLURB FROM THE COVER

When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other.

He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.

EXTRACT 

THE LETTER THAT would change everything arrived on a Tuesday. It was an ordinary morning in mid-April that smelled of clean washing and grass cuttings. Harold Fry sat at the breakfast table, freshly shaved, in a clean shirt and tie, with a slice of toast that he wasn’t eating. He gazed beyond the kitchen window at the clipped lawn, which was spiked in the middle by Maureen’s telescopic washing line and trapped on all three sides by the neighbour’s close-board fencing.

REVIEW

This is my first time reading Rachel Joyce.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was brilliant, a lovely book. Joyce offers one of those rare gems that make you feel happy and sad and laugh and cry at the same time. I thought Harold was a lovely character. His determination to walk more than 600 miles believing it will stop an old friend from dying of cancer would be laughable if he didn’t seem so determined to go through with it and if he wasn’t such a sweet old man. I was rooting for Harold as he plodded mile after mile after mile. As The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry progresses Harold starts to think about the things he regrets from the past and it becomes clear he’s not walking just to save Queenie’s life but to make up for twenty years’ worth of failings. I liked the flashbacks to Harold and Maureen’s life; their intense love for each other in the early days and the fragmenting of their love and marriage once their son David is born because he’s afraid to be a father. There’s something wonderfully human about Harold’s pilgrimage. There are revelations about David towards the end of the novel that are heart-breaking. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is so moving it’s almost painful and leaves a big lump in your throat. Unmissable.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

 

 

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BOOK REVIEW: THE WEATHER BY CLARE POLLARD

weather

THE WEATHER BY CLARE POLLARD

FABER AND FABER (PAPERBACK), 2004

62 PAGES 

HTTPS://CLAREPOLLARD.WORDPRESS.COM  

THIS BOOK IS PART OF MY POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2015 (HTTP://WWW.POPSUGAR.COM/LOVE/READING-CHALLENGE-2015-36071458). THE CATEGORY FOR THIS BOOK IS ‘A PLAY’. 

I CHOSE TO READ THIS BECAUSE CLARE POLLARD IS MY FAVOURITE POET AND AN IDOL SINCE SHE IS ONLY A COUPLE OF YEARS OLDER THAN ME. I KNEW SHE’D WRITTEN A PLAY AS WELL SO HAD TO CHOOSE IT FOR THE CATEGORY.

BLURB FROM THE COVER

While cocktail swigging Gail concerns herself with shopping and her husband buries his head in the sand, their teenaged daughter, Ellie, predicts the end of the world. The weather is alarmingly erratic and there’s an enraged poltergeist in the kitchen.

The Weather premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London in October 2004.

EXTRACT 

SCENE ONE

A kitchen. Ellie sits at the table. There is a large window at the back wall, through which we can see a dark, stormy sky. Wind and rain can be heard lashing the house throughout. 

Ellie It’s over.

Pause

I mean. Have you seen the weather out there? Have you seen the fucking weather?

Pause

REVIEW

Clare Pollard is one of my favourite poets. I own all of her collections and have read them several times. She’s also a bit of an idol as she’s only a few years older than me. This is my first time reading The Weather.

I really enjoyed The Weather. This was the first time I’d read a play for leisure and not because it was part of the set curriculum for school. I thought the characters were great, wonderfully messed up and dysfunctional. The mother was my favourite. She drank all the time and went on and on about the good old days when she was an award-winning poet and wasn’t depressed and didn’t need to max out the credit cards to make herself feel better. I loved the conflict between mother and daughter. It was realistic. I felt sorry for the father, caught between a rock and a hard place because of his wife’s depression and the bailiffs knocking at the door. The poltergeist added some light relief. The impending apocalypse also added some dark humour. I’d like to have seen The Weather performed live.

 

RATING

3 STAR RATING

 

 

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