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An enjoyable romance plus

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-03-2020

A satisfying read, despite being entirely predictable. Saved by the little sting in its tail.

Leave out the supernatural

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-02-2020

I found the story very gripping, with some good twists and turns that surprised me. The characters were believably complex. However, I didn't enjoy the supernatural element near the end. I can accept a psychic connection between people, but the rest of it just didn't seem to be a good fit for a novel that seemed to be realistic in nature. Perhaps I'm just not into the supernatural. I was disappointed with the male narrator as he consistently talked in a flat, almost resentful tone. There were certainly some parts of the novel that required this, but certainly not all.

Very good but too long

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-01-2020

There was much about this book that I loved. I loved Cyril, despite, or perhaps because he was, like the rest of us, imperfect. I loved the writer's ability to write humour and heartbreak into the same moment. My main problem with the novel is that it was far too long, which caused it to become anti-climactic. While I understand that Boyne wanted to record the huge change in attitudes to gays by reaching the gay marriage referendum, the story itself became mundane soon after he found his mother. I would have liked it to finish there, perhaps with the epilogue mentioning the referendum. The silliest part of the novel was Cyril's mental conversations with the dead. These just added an element of weirdness. And Mr Boyne, but why the hell didn't Cyril (by then rolling in money) employ home help for his daughter-in-law who was struggling with four children under 15 months old, while he and his 'son' went to Europe?

Pedestrian

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-01-2020

Sorry, but this book bored and irritated me. We ploughed through all the characters, one by one, hearing about their unremarkable lives, while being spoon-fed nuggets of home-spun wisdom on the subjects of relationships and parenting, with a tiresome amount of whinging about the latter. And all the while I was hoping that we were building to something interesting - and then it ended! I felt that I didn't know the character of the murderer well enough to even judge whether they would have 'dunnit'. It was extremely anti-climactic.

Courageous and honest

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-12-2019

This is a wonderful book for anyone suffering extreme anxiety or depression, or anyone who is trying to understand how this is affecting someone they love, so that they might be able to help. My only small criticism is that I think the second half could have been cut down a little. I love the triumphant point at which it ends though, and I loved the sharing of the recipe - especially the laughter over the 100 apples. Thankyou Clare for being brave enough to bare your soul to all of us strangers, and thankyou for sharing your beautiful family with us.

Stunningly original

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-11-2019

From inside the mind of an autistic boy the reader is challenged to think about communication and relationships that require extraordinary patience, strength and love - and that the absence of loving care is highly destructive.

Struggle for self

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-07-2019

An astonishing childhood of distorted love and violence, and the struggle to release the chains of suffocating family loyalty; to triumph over it in order to develop a sense of self.

Harrowing but valuable

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-05-2019

A very important memoir describing the courage it takes for a woman to report a sexual crime perpetrated against her - and the strength of character needed to keep going in the face of the incredibly slow-grinding wheels of the justice system when the process is causing terrible personal suffering. My only slight criticism is that it was a little drawn out - not Bri's story, but perhaps too many other cases.

Two stories in one

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-04-2019

Fascinating parallel stories in different times, but what will stay with me are the ideas around the necessary move from consumer culture where material possessions and financial wealth are the markers of success, to the possibility of a new world where people are forced to be content with less, which creates a new freedom from the urge to achieve material success at all costs.

Style of narration irritating

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-03-2019

This book was narrated by the author, which I thought would add authenticity to the reading. However, Martin Zusak, although a fluent reader, has the irritating habit of finishing nearly every sentence with a downward inflection. This results in, at best, a flat reading, and at worst, the impression from him that the whole thing is just too boring or sad to bother with. My other criticism is that the book needed some editing - there are many examples of split infinitives - eg "he raised his hand fleetingly up". I'm not pointing this out for the sake of being a pedant, but I find such syntax very awkward to listen to. Having said all that, it's still a wonderful story of love, redemption, forgiveness and healing. I loved the Dunbar boys, their gutsy mother and their fallible father.

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