Posts Tagged With: death

Eric by Terry Pratchett

eric

Synopsis:

Eric is the Discworld’s only demonology hacker. The trouble is, he’s not very good at it. All he wants is the usual three wishes: to be immortal, rule the world and have the most beautiful woman fall madly in love with him. The usual stuff. But what he gets is Rincewind, and Rincewind’s Luggage into the bargain. Terry Pratchett’s hilarious take on the Faust legend stars many of the Discworld’s most popular characters in an outrageous adventure that will leave Eric wishing once more – this time, quite fervently, that he’d never been born . . .

This is the ninth book in Pratchett’s Discworld series, and features some of the favourite characters – Rincewind, The Luggage and Death – all of whom are hilarious and tremendously fun to read. They are three of my favourite characters in this series, and I am always happy to read about them. Death with his dry sense of humour makes me laugh every time he is featured in a book, Rincewind and his great philosophy: run away make great reading and the Luggage is legendary – with its sharp teeth and hundreds of legs, scaring even the most fearsome. Highly entertaining.

In the ninth installment of the Discworld adventures we are introduced to Eric – a teenager with an acne problem who tries to conjure up demons. Instead, he realises Rincewind. With a snap of the fingers, they are transported back into the Faust legend, where armies defeat their enemies by the use of a wooden horse. This was an interesting re-write of the legend, and I definitely prefer it with Rincewind as the star! We find ourselves transported off with Rincewind and Eric to see universes created and the problems with Hell, all in one short book.

I enjoyed this book, like all the others I have read, but it isn’t my favourite. I laughed and enjoyed Pratchett’s writing ability and sense of humour. I liked his take on the legend, making it his own. I think the problem with this book was that is wasn’t his own adventure and it wasn’t very long. That said, I did enjoy it and would recommend it as a quick-read Discworld novel.

7/10

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Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts

blue-smoke

Synopsis:

Reena Hale grew up with an intimate knowledge of the destructive power of fire. When she was a child, her family’s restaurant was burned to the ground, and the man responsible was sent to jail. The Hale family banded together to rebuild, and Reena found her life’s calling. She trained as a firefighter and then as a cop, always with the end goal in sight: to become an arson investigator. Now, as part of the arson unit, she is called in on a series of suspicious fires that seem to be connected-not just to each other, but to her. And as danger ignites all around her, Reena must rely on experience and instinct to catch a dangerous madman who will not stop until everything she loves has gone up in smoke.

I really enjoyed this book. I had never read Nora Roberts before, but I already have two others lined up. Catarina Hale first experiences fire when to get revenge, Joe Pastroelli burned down the Hale family restaurant, Siricos. Pastroelli is taken off to jail, in front of the neighbourhood and his own son. Having experienced the adrenaline fire produced, Reena trained up on the arson unit in Baltimore. Yet someone is out to get revenge on her – setting fire to all around her, from buildings to lovers. We follow Reena as she tries to second guess the man tormenting her and prevent her whole life, herself including, going up in smoke.

This book had me gripped right from the beginning and by the end, with so much excitement on the last few pages, I could not put this book down. Never did I get bored. I was hooked, and trying to work out the arsonist’s next move too. The anticipation of finding out what was to burn was intense. It was interesting that right from the start we know who is after her – it really isn’t hard to work out – but then as Reena doesn’t know until 100 pages towards the end; in fact it takes her a while to realise she is being targetted, there is a new and exciting level of dramatic irony.

I loved the Hale family. They are a big, Italian family, firmly rooted in the neighbourhood and loved by all. They all look out for each other and protect each other. I loved Xander, Reena’s younger brother, because despite his age, he always had Reena’s back, and saved her on many occassions. I loved Bo, the next door neighbour. It took me a while to figure him out, but he comes through for her and won’t desert her even though he is in danger. And I loathed the arsonist and really wanted to see him taken down. All the characters sparked a response from me, which I think is important in a book.

There was a fair amount of sex, and plenty of bad language, which I didn’t like, but that aside, this was an incredible book. Exciting and engaging. Robert’s writes a fantastic story. I highly recommend this book.

9/10

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The Other Side of the Stars by Clemency Burton-Hill

I received this book from Headline to review.

the-other-side-of-the-stars

Synopsis:

An unforgettable story of a young woman striving to find herself amidst the glitz and glamour of the film world.

Actress Lara Latner is enjoying a golden summer – her new play is the toast of London’s West End, and she and her boyfriend Alex are setting up their first home together.  But when her agent calls with an extraordinary opportunity – her potential break into Hollywood – she is plunged into turmoil.  For the part, the lead in an American remake of a classic French film, is the role that made her mother, tragic actress Eve Lacloche, a legend.  Lara does not know what to do.  How can she bear to leave Alex, and their precious home for the months of the shoot? How can she ever hope to measure up to Eve’s luminous performance? But perhaps it is only by stepping into her mother’s shadow that Lara can hope to truly understand her, and to lay the past to rest.

This is Burton-Hill’s debut novel, and if all her books are to this standard, she will have a long writing career in front of her. The story follows Lara from London to New York and Paris in pursue of her dream – acting. However, her latest, and biggest role to date is to play the lead in the film that was her mother’s masterpiece. On this journey of acting and self-discovery, she learns a lot about her family, in particular her mother, and some shocking secrets. The book is split into parts, some of the parts are set in the present, others in the past. One section is about Eve, her mother. This gave a wonderful insight into her and her own struggles, which we then saw revealed in more detail through Lara’s discovery.  I liked the way this broke up the book and gave glimpses at what might have happened.

I liked Lara. She was a girl with a tragic past, seemingly trying to do the right thing, even if she got that wrong. She worked hard, was honest and open, and I felt I connected with her. I was cheering her on and there were times I wanted to yell at her for making bad choices. In fact, all the characters were well written, and I liked all of them. I was interested in them all and the role they played in this story.

Burton-Hill writes about challenging issues as well; such as depression over a decade ago, when people did not know that it was an illness, and the effect that had on sufferers. Also about long distance relationships, what death can do to a family, and of course, we get a glimpse into the acting, Hollywood world.

My complaints are few. The first, was the Epilogue was a touch predictable, and not really necessary I felt. The second, was I felt the mention of Facebook was a little cheesy. And the third is the amount of swearing and smoking – both of cigarettes and joints – I felt both were a little too much. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book, and it is a wonderful début novel.

8/10

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Over by Margaret Forster

Louise and Don’s daughter Miranda has died in a freak accident.  After her death and the initial grieving, Louise decides that, although devastated, she has to try and move on with her life.  However, the tragedy has affected Don tremendously and he becomes obsessed with finding someone or something to blame for it.  His obsession has torn their marriage and their family apart.  They have two remaining children – Molly (Miranda’s twin) and Finn.  The children have their own grief to deal with, but on the whole seem to be coping as well as can be expected.  However, the family is slowly being torn apart by Don’s obsession and Louise’s changing feelings towards her husband.

 

This is a beautifully written book.  Louise herself is the narrator, and I think the first person narrative helps the reader to empathise with her, and the other characters.   The book starts after Miranda’s death, and although the details of what happened to her are explained, the story centres on the aftermath and the struggle to come to terms with such a terrible event.

Each and every character is extremely well written and totally convincing.  It is easy to like Louise, and still be able to see her actions through the eyes of others.  Despite the fact that the others don’t narrate any part of the story, it is also easy for the reader to understand their actions and reactions.

Despite the subject matter, the book is not depressing, although it is very moving.  The author does not dwell entirely on the effect that the accident had on the family, but also portrays situations of complete normality, showing how their lives, while forever changed, must in some ways remain the same.

I have never read anything by Margaret Forster before, but this book has absolutely made me want to read more of her books.  This is a highly recommended book.

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Heaven is Real by Don Piper

heaven-is-real

Synopsis
The author draws on his own near-death experience to describe the reality of heaven and to explain how it is possible, by relying on God’s love, to transform life challenges into blessings.

This is the follow up to the book: 90 Minutes in Heaven. Don Piper was killed in a car accident; an 18-wheel truck crushed the car he was in. He was pronounced dead at the scene – and the meds said he was dead for 90 minutes. He tells of how he went to heaven – well the gates, where he met his dead loved ones. He is adamant it was not a near-death experience – there was no white light; he says he instantly went to the gates of heaven.

This book talks of how to appreciate life on earth, but looking forward to heaven. There is the Gospel message in the book, and he teaches how to live in God’s grace, through suffering. The stories he use are extreme – of people who have attempted suicide, or people who have lost loved ones through illness, accidents or drugs. They are powerful stories, and it is moving to see how they have overcome their situation, worked through the pain and adjusted to the “new normal”.

Although the book is full of these stories, I did find myself getting annoyed with Piper. Firstly, he did not seem to grasp the idea of depression that occurs when nothing has happened – the chemical imbalance that causes the depression. He seemed to imply that it was our own fault, how we aren’t walking with God correctly, and that bugged me. Secondly, a lot of the book was about how his previous book and experience has helped other. He makes sure he states he is not boasting, but it does come across like that. And thirdly, he claims to be like Saint Paul. Now this really bugs me, because if he was, he would not state it.

Overall, this is a book with helpful stories for people who have suffered and are Christians who know they are going to heaven, however I missed a lot of the teaching because the way he wrote annoyed me.

5/10

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My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

What a lovely book. Another Jodi Picoult book, My Sister’s Keeper was not a let down at all.

Amazon synopsis:

“A major decision about me is being made, and no ones bothered to ask the one person who most deserves it to speak her opinion.” The only reason Anna was born was to donate her cord blood cells to her older sister. And though Anna is not sick, she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since she was a child. Anna was born for this purpose, her parents tell her, which is why they love her even more. But now that she has reached an age of physical awareness, she can’t help but long for control over her own body and respite from the constant flow of her own blood seeping into her sister’s veins. And so she makes a decision that for most would be too difficult to bear, at any time and at any age. She decides to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.

I had read a few reviews that stated the reader’s did not enjoy this book, or did not like the ending, but for me, I was not let down at all. This is another tough issue thatPicoult has chosen to write about, and again, she has had success.

The story follows the Fitzgerald family. Jesse has gone off the rails, Kate has leukaemia and Anna was a “designer baby” created to help Kate.Controversial topics are discussed, from being an organ donor, to parents making medical decisions for their children to acting out by arson. Picoult discusses these issues so well and sensitively, I don’t think anyone could fault her.

In terms of her medical knowledge, Picoult seems to have read up and properly researched the issue of leukaemia in different forms and was not afraid to use medical language confidently. I know very little about the disease but what was written I was able to follow.

The ending was incredibly sad, but I liked it. I think it fitted with the story perfectly. I did not guess it at all, and there were other twists in the book that although I tried to guess, I didn’t get right, and again, I was not disappointed with them. I felt they just added and enhanced the story.

My favourite character was probably Jesse, the eldest child who went off the rails. I felt I connected with him to a certain level, but that might have been because we both like fire – although him more than me – and sometimes we both just feel invisible. His acting out was for attention and his sister’s illness broke him, and that really moved me.

I recommend this book strongly.

8/10

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Amazon synopsis:
1939 – Nazi Germany – The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall. Some important information – this novel is narrated by death. It’s a small story, about: a girl; an accordionist; some fanatical Germans; a Jewish fist fighter; and quite a lot of thievery. Another thing you should know – death will visit the book thief three times.

I loved this book, I’m recommending it to everyone!!

It is a long book, of 550ish pages, but well worth the read, and even has pictures in the book! It is incredibly easy to follow and I liked how the pages were often broken up with some asides and important notes.

I think my favourite part was the fact the book was narrated by Death, who had some very funny one-liners. Death was also my favourite character, he was portrayed in a new, almost sensitive way, which I loved. And he had a great sense of humour.

The book had me gripped from the beginning and was full of twists and turns. I was nearly in tears at the end of the book, it was so sad, but I was thoroughly satisfied by the ending.

I loved all the characters, some had me cringing, some had me laughing, some I just loved and wished they were real.

This is historical fiction, but I had no reason to doubt the history in the book, with the concentration camps and the Munich bombings.

9/10, an excellent book.

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