Review of The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault


Firstly, the book itself is very pretty indeed and looks lovely on my bookshelf. I do judge a book by it's cover, I can't help it I'm afraid. This is the story of a postman called Bilodo who lives and works in Montreal, Canada and the novel has been translated from French to English.. Bilodo is a very isolated character, he doesn't have any real friends to speak of and he doesn't like to socialise with anyone. His only 'friend' is another postman Robert, who is mean and crude to him, always trying to get him to go out getting drunk, going to strip clubs and meeting women.

Bilodo's very favourite pastime is to steam open other people's letters and read the contents, something he knows he should not be doing, but he likes to live his life through the words of strangers. His favourite letters to read are between a woman called Ségolène from Guadeloupe and a man called Gaston Grandpré who is a published poet. and lives in Montreal. They write single Japanese Haiku to each other which although Bilodo doesn't really understand them , he finds her words beautiful. He begins to fall in love with Ségolène and her touching poetry.

During a normal working day, Bilodo is witness to an awful accident where Gaston Grandpré is run over in the street. He is clutching a letter he wanted to post to Ségolène . Bilodo tries to retrieve the letter but it goes into the gutter before he can get hold of it. This begins the downward spiral of Bilodo and his obsession with the woman he has never met. He eventually manages to move into the apartment that Gaston Grandpré lived in, with all his belongings and writings still there. he begins to write haiku himself and starts to correspond with Ségolène, pretending to be the deceased poet.

My thoughts


If you are a fan of Japanese fiction when tends to mix reality and symbolic, metaphysical elements then you will probably like this. If you like poetry, especially haiku, then this would be a very interesting read as Bilodo begins to learn the art of haiku and immerses himself in the practice. He becomes obsessed with perfecting it so that his beloved will not realise he is an impostor. The novel is written beautifully and you really sense the overwhelming obsession that overtakes Bilodo as well as learning all about haiku. I really liked the ending and it certainly brought a supernatural element to the novel which I normally expect from Japanese fiction. I have to admit that I am not a big poetry fan and some parts with lots of haiku I did glance over and turned the page. It is a very unusual novel and there is something very special about it and I am glad I had the opportunity to read it.


Review of The Farm by Tom Rob Smith


Having never read Child 44 or any other of Tom Rob Smith's books, I picked this up after reading the back of the book, and yes, I liked the cover and it reflects the story perfectly. This psychological thriller has a very simple, gripping premise. Daniel lives in London with his partner Mark, he has just been shopping when he gets a disturbing phone call from his father. His parents have recently retired to Sweden where they bought a farm. His father is crying and tells Daniel there is something wrong with his mother, that she has had some sort of mental breakdown and is imagining awful things.He tells Daniel she is in a mental hospital in Sweden. Daniel is completely baffled by the phone call, having never heard his father cry and believing everything was going well for his parents in Sweden prior to the phone call. He decides to book a flight to Sweden the next morning, but whilst he is at Heathrow he gets a phone call from his mother....

"Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad... I need the police... Meet me at Heathrow."

Therein begins a gripping tale where Daniel is caught between his parents, who to trust and ultimately who to believe. He must listen to his mother's story and evidence before deciding if it is true, if a crime has been committed and even more difficult, is his father a criminal?

I couldn't stop reading (cliche I know)


From the very beginning of the book the tale of Daniel and his parents is gripping, it clings to you,  you think about it when you can't read it and try to work out what is happening, what the ending will be and ultimately who Daniel will believe. The book is written in short chapters, often with his mother's narrative, Daniel's thoughts and their mother and son interactions as she lays down the evidence for her only child. The story is about secrets, lies, family, child abuse, sexuality and mental health. There are some truly shocking twists to the story and the ending was both sad and thoroughly absorbing. Out of all the characters I found it hard to feel very much either way towards Daniel until towards the end of the book, but the family relationship with himself and his parents remains strong throughout, especially when reflecting on Daniel's childhood. His mother Tilde is the stand out character and I really did feel for her even not knowing if what she was saying was true. I would throughly recommend The Farm if you are a crime/thriller lover or even if you like a good meaty story which at times can be disturbing yet enthralling.



Review of The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard


Sara Shepard has graced us with another book series very much like Pretty Little Liars, with a dash of the TV show Revenge thrown in for good measure. The Perfectionists is a slightly darker, edgier version of PLL and the main female characters not so glamorous (no Kate Spade in sight!), not so perfect looking and with many issues of their own.

Revenge


The novel centres on five girls (Caitlin, Parker, Mackenzie, Ava and Julie) who have one thing in common, they all have very private and personal reasons for hating the richest, most popular boy in town, Nolan Hotchkiss. When he turns up dead at his own party after the girls plot revenge, they realise someone is out to frame them for the murder of Nolan...but who?

Got to be perfect or else...


The title of the novel refers to the fact that in all the girls lives, wether it be being the best musician, the perfect soccer player, the best popular person, they all struggle to be perfect and to hide their own insecurities and secrets. The novel is written in the same fashion as PLL, unanswered questions, being watched, followed, tricked and manipulated. Sara plays with the readers just as she always does, and I have to admit I really enjoyed it.

I was a fan of the Pretty Little Liar books, even as they got increasingly ridiculous, I just couldn't stop reading them. In my mind they are light relief, easy to read and entertaining, just as The Perfectionists is so far. I am looking forward to the next in the series (The Good Girls) out June 2nd.







Review of the Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins


Heralded as the new 'Gone Girl' and 'Before I Go to Sleep' this thriller for me topped both of these books, there I have said it.The similarity between this novel and S J Watson's Before I go to Sleep is the use of an unreliable narrator. Where memory loss is the issue in Before I Go To Sleep, alcohol abuse is the main factor in this gripping tale.

What happens in the book?


The novel centres around a lonely commuter called Rachel, who gets the same train morning and evening in and out of London. At one particular stop she can see into the backs of a row of houses and regularly sees one couple in particular. In her mind she has given them both names, jobs and daydreams about their perfect idlilic lives. That is until one day she sees something that shatters this illusion and when a police investigation unfolds, she has to decide wether she should tell the police what she saw.

This is the main story of the book but so much more happens, of course I don't want to spoil it for you. Rachel has her own demons to bare, she is still hung up over the loss of her marriage and has taken to drinking too much. Sometimes she blacks out and can't remember what happens which is one of the main factors in the novel. We question what she says and does, has she remembered correctly? What happened the night before when she woke up bleeding from the head? The story of Rachel unfolds as the story goes along.

The characters in the book are brilliantly written, there are so many twists and turns, you literally cannot put the book down.Whilst in Gone Girl both characters were wholly unlikeable and ridiculous (in my opinion), I did feel a lot of sympathy for Rachel and the things she was going through, although at times I felt she went a little Bridget Jones (Not a bad thing necessarily). If you did enjoy the novels I have mentioned, or just like a really gripping thriller I would definitely read this.


Review of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


I have read a lot about this book before deciding to finally read it. The push was reading Landline by Rainbow and really enjoying it.After finishing Eleanor and Park I felt like it sucked me in so deeply I was left feeling short of breath.I fell in complete and utter love with it.It is the story of Park, a half Korean teenager who is into music and comics but also does martial arts with his dad and brother once a week. One day on the school bus he saves new girl Eleanor from complete embarrassment as no one will give her a seat. After that they sit together on the school bus everyday and he realises that she is also reading his comics. He starts to bring in more comics for her to borrow and tapes for her to listen to until finally they talk to each other.Eleanor doesn't fir in, she wears oversized mens clothes, has wild red curly hair and doesn't conform in the slightest. The other people at school give her the title 'Big Red', charming eh.Eleanor holds so much back that it's only towards the end of the novel Park learns of what has happened to her and the truth about her home life. 

The reasons I loved it


Although it is written for young adults it doesn't take the reader to be an idiot or need to be spoon fed information. It is beautifully written and much is said but not written if that makes sense.Eleanor is such an interesting female character, it isn't just a love story, it is about a girl utterly scared to death, hopeless that anyone could love her or care about her, and unable to reveal the secrets that are holding her back from really living or ever being happy.I really felt sorry for the situation she was in at home and I found it so interesting and lovely to see Eleanor through Park's eyes. How amazing and beautiful he found her. I also adored Park, and it's not often I like both leading characters so much, but he isn't your typical Jock, or sulking bad boy. He is unique, has a quiet confidence and learns to accept himself. during the novel 

Without giving any spoilers, the story is so well told, so believable, you get completely drawn into the story of both characters and really get behind them. I also found it heart wrenching for a number of reasons, her home life when it finally erupts and what this means for Eleanor and Park. But wether you are a young adult or adult, I would thoroughly recommend reading this book. It has everything a good solid fiction book should, it isn't cheesy in anyway. It is tenderly written, the characters wholly believable and is one of those special books that stays that little bit in your heart.

I love this digital painting by Simini Blocker of Eleanor and Park kissing....



Review of Landline by Rainbow Rowell


From the author of Fangirl and Eleanor and Park comes Landline, a story about a thirty something year old woman called Georgie McCool. Georgie is married to Neal and they have two children and live in a house in Calabasas. Their marriage has been suffering for a while because Georgie works as a script writer for a sitcom with her best friend Seth and is often away from home, working weekends and late nights. Neal is a full-time house husband, he does everything around the home and for the children as well as looking after Georgie when she comes home late. 

Georgie and Seth have been working on their own sitcom for years and finally have the call to say a huge TV network want to commission the series, BUT they have to write the rest of the episodes in just a week or so. This means Georgie can't go with Neal and the girls to spend Christmas with his family in Omaha. Neal and the girls leave under a dark cloud, and Georgie senses Neal is far from happy with her. Georgie starts to spend her time at her old family house where her younger sister, mother and her partner live. She realises that something is really wrong with her marriage and she spends each day trying to contact Neal on his mobile, but he never picks up. So, she goes into her old bedroom and plugs in the landline she used to use twenty years ago, but when she finally speaks to Neal, it isn't Neal in the present, it's Neal twenty years ago....

A great twist


I don't want to give away the whole plot of this novel but I really enjoyed it and really felt Georgie's pain and frustration over her relationship. I initially thought this was a young adult novel because of Rowell's other novels and whilst it is about thirty-something people, it reads like a teen novel and is modern and fresh.It is a story essentially about love and maintaining a relationship and a family. It is also very funny in places, with Georgie's sarcastic sister Hannah and her mother lending Georgie inappropriate lingerie. The story follow the nine days from when she is left alone to write the content for the new sitcom to Christmas day and at times Georgie can be frustrating, as days go by and she gets no work done, I was thinking, DO something! Get your husband back!I will certainly be reading Rowell's other books after this.



Blog Tour-Review for Breeder by K.B Hoyle


The Breeder Cycle Book 1 Published December 11th 2014 by The Writer's Coffee Shop

Breeder to me, is a dystopian novel aimed at the Teen market, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story myself and I am way past being a teenager. It reminds me of a number of novels I have read including, The Hunger Games and the Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver. If you are a fan of these types of novels then I don't think you will be disappointed with Breeder.

What is the novel about?


We first meet the narrator of the book, number 17 who is a Breeder for the Unified World Order. Her genetics are perfect, her life is perfect in her home, the Sanctuary. There she lives with her 'sisters' about 30 other girls who are all genetically and physically superior to other humans, which is why they have been chosen to be a carrier. They have their lives controlled, from what they eat to how much exercise they do, and to how to behave. They have been taught about the devastation of mankind and that the only way to stop it happening again is to have all deformities removed from the gene pool, this include those with freckles, those with ginger or blonde hair, the list goes on. Number 17 and her sisters are given the best nutrition and care so that they can carry a baby and create a healthy genetically perfect child.

Number 17 has already carried one child, but during the second carry she has to have a procedure to get rid of the child which leaves her questioning the UWO, 'Mother' who runs the Sanctuary and everything she thought about her life. As she comes round from the procedure she sees a man who tells her his name is Pax and asks for her name which is Pria. No men are allowed in the sanctuary so it leaves her feeling uncertain. When she asks Mother, she tells her she made it up in her head, but as Pria starts to become more and more unhappy, will Pax be the escape she needs and what happens when she learns the real truth of the United World Order?

The next novel in the series is called Criminal and is out in 2015, and I for one, cannot wait.