Monday, July 19, 2010

Loving Him by Kate O'Riordan




A new author to me and I have no idea how this book came into my hands. It has been on my bookshelves though since 2006, which is when I registered it at Bookcrossing. I imagine it joined Mt TBR because it is partly set in Rome and it will be no surprise to those of you who know me that I love all things Italian.

Kate O'Riordan was the author of four previous novels prior to the publication of this one in 2005, to my surprise she seems to have had nothing in the way of novels published since then. Having discovered this fact I was therefore not really surprised that this title does not seem to be very well known, with only one other review appearing on Amazon prior to mine.

If you are in a secure and happy relationship this novel may well make you wonder if your other half has any past loves lurking as 'Loving Him' is all about what happens when the love of your life, unexpectedly meets his first love again. 

The protagonists of the story Matt and Connie Wilson are in Rome for a romantic weekend, when Matt unexpectedly announces that he is not returning to London with her. It turns out that despite three sons and a marriage that appears to work well, the past is a very strong draw. Connie's peaceful domestic life is turned upside down by her growing obsession with Greta, the woman from the past.

When Matt decides to stay in Rome, he tries to analyse the reasons why he does so, but he was unable to come up with a single reason. At the time I believed this but by the time you have finished the book you will come to realise that Connie is not after all the innocent party. Well I did not think so.  Besides the three main characters already mentioned there is another, Mary a family friend whose role within the family set-up I found very strange. In fact her behaviour is also obsessive in the way she reacts to the dramas going on within her friends marriage.

An ok read and I would say it is worth reading if it comes your way and you are a fan of relationship novels. Whilst I would love to know what other readers may have thought of this novel; I have my doubts that any of you reading this will have actually read it? Do let me know if you have.

Kate O'Riordan was born in the West of Ireland. Her first novel, Involved (1995), was shortlisted for the Dillons First Fiction Prize, and has been adapted by the author for TV. Her second novel is The Boy in the Moon (London, Flamingo, 1997). She has been a recipient of The Sunday Tribune/Hennessey Prize for Best Emerging Writer. She lives in London.

Photograph courtesy of © Jerry Bauer and Lovereading

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne



The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is the moving story of Bruno a nine year old German boy whose father becomes the commandant of Out-With, his innocent pronunciation of that dreadful place that most of you reading this will have heard of 'Auschwitz'.   Bruno has been protected by his parents from the disturbing truth of his father's army career and is told nothing about why his family leaves Berlin. I found this naivety at times both surprising and annoying especially in the light of the disturbing events that take place. An intelligent young boy would surely have asked questions and been more aware. Then I suppose the horrific ending could not have been written with such an impact, if Bruno had not appeared as such an innocent.

View of the electrified wire fence and barracks in January 1945

Of course 'Auschwitz' was in the middle of nowhere and having left all his friends behind in Berlin and with only an older sister for company it was no surprise, even though forbidden to do so, that Bruno went off exploring his strange new environment.  He is of course delighted to come across Shmuel, the boy in the striped pyjamas that he befriends on the other side of the wire. In all innocence he is completely taken in by the tales of life in the POW camp although he is absolutely no idea that this is what it is and that the people there are apparently enemies!

A sad and disturbing chapter in modern world history seen through the eyes of a child.  A dreadful truth this short and sharp story will certainly bring the reality of 'Auschwitz' and other such places home to you.

It is a novel that I cannot say you will enjoy but it is a well written story and worth reading.This has now been made into a film but I am not sure if I am interested in seeing it. My own visual images were enough to find it disturbing without adding to them.  Some of you may be interested in this publicity video for the movie though. It gives an insight into the background making of the film.

I must admit prior to reading this I had never heard of John Boyne so I have done some background research.  He has written a number of other novels that were published but did not reach the readership of  'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas' which are due to be reprinted by his publisher. If you are interested more information can be found at his own website. 

 Wikipedia - John Boyne Irish novelist born in Dublin 30th April 1971.

 John Boyne - Website

Another title ticked off from the three unread titles on the Lovereading - Books of the Decade list that I wrote about here in May.  I have now read eight out of the ten and the last title is already waiting on my TBR bookshelves.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I have owned this book since 2006 and I have absolutely no idea why it has taken so long for it to reach the top of  Mt TBR. It is a very successful title of the last decade and has been mentioned in more than one top ten list. In fact reading one of these lists recently I realised that this was one of only three titles on such a list that I had not read! Lovereading -  Books of the Decade Two of the unread titles I already had in my possession of which this is one and the third I have now obtained, so I will very soon have read all ten titles which were voted as amongst the best of the decade.

I was rather surprised when I looked on Amazon to see that there are already 459 reviews published there, of which 299 are five star ones. There are a handful of reviews from readers that did not like the novel but they are insignificant when a novel is as popular as this one I imagine.

It certainly deserves its place amongst the top ten titles of the last decade as I think this is destined to become a classic of the future.

What can I possible say about it that is original and has not already been said so many times before.  A truly brilliant novel covering several genres, romance, mystery and comedy with a really good story to get your self  involved in. Carlos Ruis Zafon definitely knows the art of good story telling.

In brief then the protagonist is Daniel Sempre a young man who grows up feeling that, to quote from the text, 'Mysteries must be solved, one must find out what they hide.' Also quoting ' It is a story of love, of hatred and of dreams that live in the shadow of the wind.'  The story starts in the summer of 1945, when ten year old Daniel ,whose mother has recently died is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his father, where he is allowed to choose himself a special book to keep.

Daniel chooses 'The Shadow of the Wind' by Julian Carax, which he reads and enjoys, then as he is growing up he wants to learn more about this mysterious author. Mysterious because no one seems to know much about him! Unwittingly he has got involved in a mystery that he will not only become obsessed with solving, but will also lead him to the love of his life. As he begins to solve the mystery what started out as a young boys curiosity turns nasty, even murder as Daniels life becomes strangely interlinked with that of Julian Carax. Twists and turns all the way with a very satisfactory ending because the author brings us up to date with the characters lives after the mystery is solved.

A fact worth mentioning, if you do not already know it, is that this is the first novel Carlos Ruiz Zafron has had published. I can't wait to read the next one!

Another bonus for me of this novel is the setting in Barcelona which the author brings to life really well.  Also included at the end of the edition I read was a supplement, A walk in the footsteps of 'The Shadow of the Wind' which is designed to tell the reader more about the setting of the novel in Barcelona.

All I need to do now then is to suggest to my husband that we take a weekend break to Barcelona sometime and highly recommend the novel to any of you that have not already read it.

By Oh Barcelona courtesy of

Carlos Ruiz Zafron was born in 1964 in Barcelona and more can be learnt about him and his forthcoming novels here at his Website.

Blog Award!  I have just discovered that the talented writer PRIYA PARMAR has today presented me with this award over on her blog       THE PLUM BEAN PROJECT  I am honoured and thank her for her lovely comments about my Book Review Blog.