Author Archives: Katie

Randolph’s One Bedroom by Andrew Oberg

Author’s Description of the book:

“Randolph’s One Bedroom” is a bit like watching TV, I suppose; all the stories revolve around one central character and setting, but are not necessarily related to each other. The book has been described to me as, “Coffee shop stories short enough for one latte” and “Kind of a cross between ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Twin Peaks’”. I think both of those descriptions are great and wish I had come up with at least one of them.

This is a book that consists of 20 short stories, all of which revolve around Randolph. They are random and quirky, but funny! The stories are not all linked in one linear story line, they are just glimpses or episodes in Randolph’s life. He works in a coffee shop, so a lot of what occurs take place in that setting, although some of the stories are set in his home. Randolph lives in a place where it is winter for the majority of the year. This means people are trapped indoors and weird things happen as people suffer from cabin fever.

I liked Randolph. He seemed like an ordinary bloke that just comes across strange things – such as the Neanderthal man buried by the rubbish bins outside work. He smokes, swears, drinks and dabbles in drugs – but these aren’t the main things about him. He is a funny guy – he has wit and he isn’t afraid to say what he thinks, even if it is inappropriate.

My favourite character wasn’t Randolph however. As the majority of the book is set in the coffee shop there are other regular characters. My favourite was Dave – the new assistant manager who got his position by sleeping with his superior. He is not all there, a bit odd, struggles under pressure and is nosey. He was so funny to read. His actions and words just made me laugh, and I can see why Oberg enjoyed writing him the most. The other character I loved was the Pastor. If he didn’t get his way or didn’t like something he damned everyone to hell. He just made me laugh!

I don’t think I have a favourite story, I liked them all. The crazy lady who lived upstairs was funny, as were most of the scenes in the coffee shop. Anything that involved Dave was great – especially when the shop was being robbed and even then he couldn’t do what was being asked of him!

This book is not long, and neither are the stories. They are funny and enjoyable. I didn’t like the swearing or the pot smoking but other than that this is a great book. I read it in one day – I just couldn’t put it down. This comedy fiction at its best and I recommend it to everyone.

4/5

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E: The Novel by Matt Beaumont

Synopsis:

A fast-paced, wickedly funny tale of office back-stabbing and corporate intrigue that unfolds in a succession of escalating e-mails.

Carla Browne-1/5/00, 3:05 pm
to: All Departments
re: I’m leaving now . . . but before I go there are some things you should know . . . !!!!

Set in a London ad agency desperate to land a coveted big account, e follows the bureaucratic bungling, cutthroat maneuvers, and outrageous sexual antics of a group of Miller-Shanks employees as they scheme, lie, lust, and claw their way up (and down) the company ladder.

Written by a former advertising copywriter, this hilarious, dead-on-target novel marks the debut of a hip and exciting new voice in contemporary fiction. With the click of a mouse, Matt Beaumont brings the novel of letters into the twenty-first century, turning his merciless, unerring eye on today’s Machiavellian corporate culture-with uproarious results.

Rachel Stevenson, Personnel-1/5/00, 3:09 pm
to: Chandra Kapoor cc: David Crutton
re: Urgent: Please delete Carla Browne’s ID from e-mail with immediate effect. Thank you.

This book was recommended to me as a friend who loved this book. However, I didn’t enjoy this book very much. The story is told through e-mails so you do not really get a chance to get to know the characters for who they are. What the reader does see is an office where people do not like each other very much and are all out to make themselves look the best. There is the boss who can’t send emails without sending them to everyone who works for the company, even though who work abroad; the secretaries who all back-stab each other and sleep around and the head of department who stole ideas from others.

This book is full of lies, swearing and disaster. The company is trying to launch a new campaign but the staff don’t appear to be very good and the ideas being used are stolen from some students and being passed off as their own. We see disaster abroad with models falling sick and their implants exploding on aeroplanes. There were some funny moments in this book, but this is not a story that portrays humans and office work well. Are people really this horrid? I found some of it hard to believe – some of the characters were extremely two-faced and others were just idiots.

It didn’t take long to read this as the story is broken up into emails, most of them short. There wasn’t a character I liked the most, I just carried on reading to see what would happen to this horrendous company. I don’t have much to say about this book. I didn’t think it was that good and probably would not recommend it. I would only give this 2/5.

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A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

Synopsis:

The Heroine: Tiffany Aching, incipient witch and cheese maker extraordinaire. Once saved world from Queen of the Elves. Is about to discover that battling evil monarchs is child’s play compared to mortal combat with a Hiver (see below). At eleven years old, is boldest heroine ever to have confronted the Forces of Darkness while armed with a frying pan.

The Threat: A Hiver, insidious disembodied presence drawn to powerful magic. highly dangerous, frequently lethal. Cannot be stopped with iron or fire. Its target: Tiffany Aching (see above).

The Nac Mac Feegle: A.k.a. the Wee Free Men. Height: six inches. Color: blue. Famed for drinking, stealing, and fighting. Will attack anything larger than themselves. Members include: Rob Anybody, Daft Wullie, and Awfully Wee Billy Bigchin. Allies to Tiffany Aching (see above).

The Book: Hilarious, breathtaking, spine-tingling sequel to the acclaimed Wee Free Men.

I am giggling even as I sit here and write this review – this is another genius book from Terry Pratchett. It is number 32 in the Discworld Series and the sequel to the Wee Free Men. The star of this story is Tiffany Aching, a very young yet powerful witch. She is fearless and happy to fight anyone. And who wouldn’t be, when your side-kicks are the Wee Free Men – angry, small, blue Nac Mac Feegle. They will fight anything – nothing holds them back. In this book the Hiver is trying to take over Tiffany, and she has to protect herself and others from it. The witch she is staying with can’t help her, so in comes Granny Weatherwax. Granny must teach Tiffany how to be a witch, and that way she will win.

This book is hilarious. I love Granny Weatherwax – especially when she is “borrowing” and has the sign “I aint’en dead!” She is clever and to the point, and very funny. Pratchett has started to show her frailness and age in these novels, which means sense as she is an old witch, but it would be a shame if she was to disappear from the Discworld. Tiffany is another fun character. Her focus on how she is good at making cheese is entertaining, and watching her discover herself is interesting. I like that even at 11 she is headstrong and determined, and so powerful! She is a good character. The best people in this book however were easily the Nac Mac Feegle. Rob Anybody is so funny! I love that they don’t need any encouragement, they just fight – it is genius! Their actions and words are hilarious. They are some of the best characters Pratchett has created I think.

Like all the other Discworld books, I was gripped from the start and thoroughly enjoyed myself as I was immersed in this world. There is adventure, fighting, magic, stuck-up little girls, drink, scary Nac Mac Feegle wives and Granny Weatherwax – everything a good book needs! Pratchett is not short of imagination, and this book is testament to that. He is descriptive so you feel like you are there watching the action and his humour is awesome. I laughed a lot during this novel. I always find it so easy to recommend his books because they are extraordinary in so many ways. Pratchett is intelligent, witty and a gripping writer. His books are never dull, there is always something funny going on and the characters are unique and often very special. I can easily give this 4/5. What would have made it better was Nanny Ogg alongside Granny Weatherwax, and maybe a larger role for Death!

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Old School Ties by Kate Harrison

Synopsis:

Friends – and enemies – reunited! They say your school days are the best days of your life and Tracey Mortimer would agree. Sixteen years ago she ruled! She was the most popular girl in school, had her own gang and was dating the cutest guy in her year. Now she’s 32, stuck in a dull marriage that’s only tolerable because her philandering builder husband is rarely at home. And though Tracey loves her two kids, a daily diet of alphabetti spaghetti and the Tweenies, isn’t exactly thrilling…Then Tracey spots an ad from a TV company wanting to make a reality-style show on a perfect school reunion. She jumps at the chance to relive the ‘good old days’. Only some of Tracey’s classmates don’t remember their schooldays as fondly…Suzanne Sharp is more interested in revenge than a reunion. Tracey made her teenage years a misery and what better way to lay the past to rest than to get payback on national television. Especially as there are a few old school secrets that Tracey probably wouldn’t want broadcast on national TV, not least of which is Tracey’s affair with her old form tutor…

This is the second Kate Harrison novel I have completed, and I really enjoyed it. I read it in a day as I was eager to know what was going to happen. The protagonist, Tracey, is looking for more enjoyment in her life. Stuck at home with two small children and a husband who is often away, and often playing away from home. When a chance to get on TV and host a class reunion comes up Tracey jumps at the chance. Her memory of school is different from others – she remembers being popular and cool, whilst others, like Suzanne Sharp remember her as a bully, and Gary remembers having his heart broken by her when he discovers that she has an affair with her form tutor.

This is an interesting book in that I didn’t favour any of the characters, but I liked the story and kept reading for that reason. It was a book I couldn’t put down – what a great storyline! It makes me wonder how people I went to school with remember our time there. Mind you – I was just a normal girl with a close group of friends, I wasn’t bullied in secondary school and I wasn’t the most popular. Tracey however, seemed to be both popular and the bully. I was interested to see how her memories differed from others. Gary didn’t want to see her and Suzanne wanted revenge. Watching the story unfold was great! It was like watching reality TV! I felt a bit sorry for Tracey when things started to crumble, but I wasn’t too gutted for her because she wasn’t the best character.

I found it fascinating reading how different people think they are received, and how they actually are. Tracey bugged me if I’m going to be honest. When she realised how she treated people she seemed to find excuses. She blamed her friend Melanie – if she hadn’t hung around with her Tracey would have been nice. I didn’t know what to make of Suzanne. She was lovely with the children but I wanted to tell her to “get over it”. She was holding onto a grudge that I thought she should let go of. I didn’t like Dave, Tracey’s husband. He cheated on his wife and didn’t really like his children. I got angry reading his character – he was just a horrible man. Although I didn’t have a favourite character, I did have feelings towards to the characters and engaged with them, which makes for a good read.

The ending was not a whole surprising but I liked how Harrison played out the reunion. It seemed realistic enough – with people remembering events and people in different ways. It was a fascinating read and an interesting look at society. There were some parts of the story that could have been focused on more, such as Tracey and her form tutor, and I think Harrison took the easy route there. Overall, however, this was a good read. This is fun chick-lit and I enjoyed it. I would give it 4/5 and will be reading more of her books in the future.

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Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen

Synopsis:

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend

This is the fourth Sarah Dessen book I have read, and I loved it, like the others. This story follows Auden, a girl whose life was shaken by her parent’s divorce. She spent her life focusing on her studies to impress her mother and missed out on the normal teenage social interactions. This summer she decides to spend time with her father and step-mother after she discovers what sort of relationships her mum has with her graduate students. Everyone has a secret, and this is her mum’s. Her life changes that summer when she helps out at her step-mother’s store and discovers the life of girls. She also makes a good friend, the handsome Eli, and spends her nights with him drinking coffee, eating pie and visiting anywhere that is open 24-hours. Life is good and she is learning about life outside the academic world, but when her father leaves again her world is shaken. Unlike the last time, this time round her emotions surface and she faces hard battles with them. Her life has been transformed, she has made some great friends, but whilst discovering life away from homework she makes some mistakes. She has to make some tough decisions, learn how to face her parents and learn how to be a friend, and maybe more.

I find that Sarah Dessen writes books that I cannot put down. Every storyline is gripping and realistic. She writes characters that you can’t help but like and every lead male has some talent that helps them find release. In this book, Eli is a biker; as are many of the other characters, such as Maggie and Adam – two of the friends Auden makes. This is a theme in every Dessen books and I like it. It adds a little depth and creativity.

I liked all the characters. Many were not as they originally seemed. When Auden opened up and let herself feel emotions feel she was a different girl. Maggie, she seems like all she knows about is shoes and pink things, but actually she is very intelligent. Eli: now he I loved learning about him. He had a tough experience involving a friend, but watching him open up and get past the grief was lovely. My favourite moment however, was when we saw the soft side of Auden’s mum. She travelled down to see Auden because she thought she was upset – this seemed out of character for the mum, who was so hard and rigid.

I read this book in under 24 hours, I was hooked from the first page. I found nothing wrong with this. It is aimed at young adult but I think anyone who enjoys chick-literature would enjoy this book. This is a great book, and I can easily give it 5/5.

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The Mermaid’s Mirror by L. K. Madigan

Review Does Contain Spoilers!

Synopsis:

Lena has lived her whole life near the beach—walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and wa…more Lena has lived her whole life near the beach—walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves—the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.

But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon … what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life …

I had seen this book around and saw it had good reviews, so I was very pleased when I found I could review it! My copy comes from netGallery.

The star of the story is Selena, or Lena as she is known to her friends. She is an ordinary girl but seems to be experiencing weird goings-on. She often spaces out completely and regularly sleep-walks to the beach. She has always been drawn to the sea, and really wants to learn to surf. Her dad won’t let her though, so she learns in secret. But her reason for learning, and then taking on waves at one of the most dangerous coves is because she has seen a mermaid, and she wants to meet her properly. When the mermaid comes to her rescue she gives her a gold key. Lena finds the box it opens, and with it the discovery of the mirror and why she is drawn to the sea will change her life forever.

This book is written for young adults but will be enjoyable for adults too. The book contains adventure, sea, love, magic and fantasy. I would class this a woman’s read, but I really enjoyed it. The story was gripping from the start, and intriguing. I found myself wanting to know why she was sleep walking and about this mermaid. The identity of the mermaid was easy to guess, as was the ending, but that didn’t spoil the book for me.

There are two worlds explored in this book – land and sea. I liked how when Lena was on land we caught just a glimpse – the odd paragraph at the end of a chapter – about the sea world, and vis versa when she was in the sea. Both worlds were fascinating and full of characters you couldn’t help but like. I liked that Madigan didn’t create an underwater world similar to that in The Little Mermaid. She created a modest village made out of rocks – there were no castles or anything! I think I preferred the land world to the sea world because I didn’t like the cloak that Lena had to wear to survive. It took away her memories so she couldn’t remember her family or friends – it was quite manipulative, keeping her in the sea world, taking away the option of land.

The book was full of great characters. I loved Allie, Lena’s step-mum, because although she married Lena’s dad Brian when Lena was 9, she had slipped into such a good mother’s role that Lena called her Mum and they had a great mother-daughter relationship. I loved Nix, the merman.  He was very easy to fall for. I was gutted that he didn’t follow Lena to land. Their love had to end, and although him becoming human might have been too far-fetched and predictable, I would have really liked it. I did like Lena, although she could be stubborn sometimes, and I didn’t like how she sneaked around. My favourite character was easily her 6 year old brother Cole though. My heart melted for his character. He was so cute. He was eager about sports and adored Lena. I loved their relationship and I was glad it was Cole that Lena came home for.

I got very involved with this book and really enjoyed it. I laughed and at one point nearly cried. I was hooked and read this in under 24 hours. I would give this 4/5.

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Candide by Voltaire

Synopsis:

A flamboyant and controversial personality of enormous wit and intelligence, Voltaire is one of the most intriguing figures of the eighteenth century Enlightenment. His masterpiece is Candide, a brilliant satire on the theory that ‘the world is the best of all possible worlds.’ The book traces the picaresque adventures of the guileless Candide, who is forced into the army, flogged, shipwrecked, betrayed, robbed, separated from his beloved Cunegonde, tortured by the Inquisition, etc., all without losing his resilience and will to live.

I don’t know what to say about this novel, except that is was very strange! The story follows Candide on his journey through life to find love and such life. However, he often finds himself in mischief or witness to some extraordinary stories. None of this puts him off his mission though.

This is truly bizarre. I read it as it is on The Rory Gilmore list, and as I sit and reflect on the novel I just don’t know what to say. There are elements of this story that will stay with me for a long time – such as the woman with one buttock or the ladies who entertained themselves with monkeys. These things are just odd. I’ve read other reviews of this book and found that people laughed all the through – I didn’t, I was more bemused than anything. I didn’t know what to think.

For me, this wasn’t a book that was about liking the characters. I think I only finished it because I wanted to know what other crazy scenarios Voltaire could think up. This book contains rape, murder, theft, slavery and a whole host of other things. This is not my usual read and thankfully it isn’t very long – less than 200 pages. I don’t think I enjoyed this book, I finished it just to see what else would come out the woodwork. Only 3/5 for me.

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Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Synopsis:

Conceived by a shy British don on a golden afternoon to entertain ten-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass have delighted generations of readers in more than eighty languages. “The clue to the enduring fascination and greatness of the Alice books,” writes A. S. Byatt in her Introduction, “lies in language. . . . It is play, and word-play, and its endless intriguing puzzles continue to reveal themselves long after we have ceased to be children.”

1. Who was your favourite character and why?

I didn’t have a favourite character I don’t think. I found Alice a bit irritating – I thought she was a bit pompous. I found the Queen funny, with her continual “off with their head!” She was just amusing. I was surprised by the fact I quite liked the Cheshire Cat. In the Disney film it freaked me out, but he was quite pleasant in the book.

2. Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

I liked the tea party. It is one of the parts that has stayed with me. I was entertained by the idea of the game of crotchet, with live animals. The thought of them escaping did have me chuckling. I didn’t like the swimming in the pool of tears though. I found that depressing to read.

3. Was this the first book you’ve read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

I love children’s classics and am hoping to read through the Wordsworth list. Although I only found this book “OK” it hasn’t put me off. I prefer the books by Francis Hodgson Bennett to Carroll however I just love this genre. I don’t think you can ever be too old for children’s books.

4. Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

Again it is the idea of the pool of tears. That is something not in the film so it took me by surprise and I just didn’t like it. Why was it there? It was so odd. And the animals all running away from her…I just found it a bit strange.

5. Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

It was an OK read. I would give it 3/5 I think. I won’t be rushing to read it again. It wasn’t as eccentric as I was expecting, and like I’ve said, I had no real favourites but it was a pleasant read, and not very long.


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Life Issues by Wendy Virgo

Synopsis:

In this book, Wendy the wife of Newfrontiers founder Terry, has taken the words of Paul in Titus 2v2-5 as inspiration for a series of practical discussions for women on Biblical principles about building healthy marriages, homes and families. The book is ideal for personal study and also as a tool for use in small groups of older and younger women sharing together.

A short review for a short book I think all is needed. In this book Wendy hones in on a couple of verses in Titus to give women advice on how to be all we can be. She looks at a whole range of areas of life – from work to marriage to motherhood. Wendy is very wise and Godly and this shows through in this short book. So many issues are addressed in a coherent, sensible and un-patronising way. At the end of every chapter and section there are questions to ponder or Bible verses to look up. This interaction is helpful and helps on connect with the book and with what Wendy is saying. I read this is a day and it will be a book that I go back to again and again. It was helpful, short and easy to read. As a Christian woman I found this very useful.

4/5

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The Oracle of Dating by Allison van Diepen

I got this as a review book from netGallery, and am really pleased I did!

Synopsis:

No one at Kayla’s school knows she’s the famous Oracle of Dating—the anonymous queen of dating advice, given through her own Web site. Kayla doesn’t even have a boyfriend. Two relationship disasters were enough to make her focus on everyone else’s love life. But then her advice backfires on her own best friend. And Kayla starts to seriously obsess about Jared Stewart—the very cute, very mysterious new guy in school. Suddenly, the teen queen of advice needs her own oracle of dating–and she knows just where to find one…

This is great young adult chick-lit. The star of the story is Kayla – an ordinary 15 year old, but she has a secret. She is the Oracle of Dating. She runs a website and a helpline that gives out relationship advice. She herself however has sworn off men. But she is red-blooded teenager and Jared is hot…

This book is so enjoyable. I read in a matter of hours, I was just hooked. It is a simple storyline, but it is engaging and funny. It is a light, pleasant read that adults as well as teenagers will enjoy. There really was nothing to dislike or complain about. I guess the outcome is predictable but getting there was fun. van Diepen is a wonderful writer, she has created a funny storyline, which has some quite good relationship advice in, and some characters you can’t help but like.

Kayla is a very enjoyable read. She is cool, calm and collected, until she starts to notice Jared. She made me laugh with her blog posts – what a great way to get through to men! She was a believable character – a girl who loves her friends and family, has an ordinary reaction to school, has a part time job and does have to contend with hormones! I liked how van Diepen was happy to have Kayla getting advice and learning from relationship books – it made her site more believable. I really liked all the characters in this book. Kayla has a great group of friends – my favourite being Ryan and Jared was a nice guy – easy to see why Kayla fell for him.

I love the idea of the Oracle of Dating. I think the advice given was quite good actually. van Diepen deals with relationships and leaps of faith well. It isn’t the most original idea but it was great reading.

This book did remind me a little of Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever, however I loved that book so that is not criticism. The lead men in both books were similar – quiet, artistic and a bit dangerous, but like I said, that is not a bad comparison. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes young adult books or romance novels.

4/5

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