Book Review: Bride Required by Alison Fraser


Just to round out a couple of months devoted to romance novels, I’m going to review some Mills & Boon books that were a formative part of my young adult reading experience. That sounds a little weird but I am talking about the latter end of my teenage years. I don’t read romance anymore but I have reread these books for the purpose of these reviews. Enjoy!


As soon as you begin reading this book and discover that the main female character is just seventeen years old, the seed is planted in the back of your mind that there is going to be yet another inappropriate age gap between her and her male love interest. But the further you read, the less bothersome it is because she’s feisty and mature beyond her years and the physical contact is pretty PG right up until the last third of the book, by which time she has turned eighteen.

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Book Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck


When the first thing you read after opening the front cover of a book is that the author was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, it sets up a very big expectation in the mind of the reader. So imagine how pleased I was to discover how worthy this book and its writer were.

Of Mice and Men is the kind of book that high schools make students read in English classes, usually before they are emotionally ready to understand the importance of it. First published in 1937, it beautifully portrays the hard lives of two itinerant workers, George and Lennie, as they struggle to find their place in the world. Lennie is a “simple-minded giant” – today he would be described as intellectually disabled – and George is his protector, has been since the death of Lennie’s Aunt Clara. Why he feels this responsibility is unclear. They dream of a little patch of land they can call their own and just need the money to buy it. But there has been trouble in the past and as the two men prepare to take up new jobs on a California farm, George and Lennie agree on a place to meet up if there’s any more. Continue reading

Book Review: I Came to Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington


This doesn’t happen to me often but there is a moment in this book when my jaw dropped open, like a scene from a cheesy, poorly-acted TV movie, and stayed open and I couldn’t close it. I had to cover my mouth with my hand until the ability to move my face returned to within my control. There aren’t too many books I can say that about. There aren’t too many things in life in general I can say that about.

I Came to Say Goodbye is the second Caroline Overington book I’ve read. I was extremely impressed with the first one, Sisters of Mercy, and you can read my review of that book, too. I keep doing this thing lately, which is being in the middle of a long and difficult book and thinking I’ll just read something else for some light relief and then choosing, unknowingly, to read a book that might be less dense but offers no relief at all. Continue reading

Book Review: Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Cliches, Cant & Management Jargon by Don Watson


Written in 2004, Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words describes itself as “a serious weapon in the struggle against those whose words kill brain cells and sink hearts”. For those who know me even just a little, it should come as no great surprise that I was drawn to this book.

So what are “weasel words”? They are the language of the politicians, the powerful, the marketers, designed to conceal the truth and often the fact that the politicians, the powerful and the marketers have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s spin. It’s vagueness, fancy words that make them sound smart and reasonable when actually they’re usually talking complete nonsense or trying to cover their butts after having done something they shouldn’t have. The book also contains words that now have meanings completely the opposite of which they initially began life. Continue reading

Book Review: Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg


This is another book that I’ve already seen the movie of before reading it, before I even knew it was an adaptation, before I even knew there was a book. The more I read, the more I worried I was going to be left unsatisfied by it because it was exactly like the movie. The adaptation had been very faithful to the text. Usually that’s a good thing. But because I was reading the book after having seen the movie, I was looking for the differences, the details that can’t be replicated or demonstrated on film. I wanted a different experience, not the same one I had while watching the movie.

I got that and so much more. It’s not a perfect novel (it could be called slow) but it is so close that I can’t give it anything other than 5 stars, which anyone who reads my reviews and ratings will know is not something I do often. I’m a hard marker but this is a great book. This is a book that should be and will be read for decades to come. This is a book that should also be used as a teaching tool for all others wanting to write a book. Continue reading

Book Review: Postcards from Planet Earth


I’ve decided to make May a month of poetry and song lyrics (mine and others) so instead of the traditional book review you’ve come to expect on a Monday, today and all the Mondays in this May will be devoted to books of and about poetry. I’ve selected collections and poets that have struck me and stayed with me long after I read them and if you haven’t read or heard of them before, I hope you’ll find something new that strikes and stays with you.

Today’s selection is a collection of poems called Postcards from Planet Earth. If it sounds familiar, it might be because it made it onto both My Top Ten Books –Then list and My Top Ten Books – Now list. Continue reading

Book Review: Her Version by Leigh Cato


I picked this book up in a second-hand store simply on the basis of the title on the spine. I couldn’t see the front cover, I hadn’t heard of it before, I didn’t know anything about it other than what the title implied – a book that told “her version” about an unknown story.

When I read the blurb, I realised it wasn’t fiction, which is what I was primarily looking for but I thought it might be useful as research for a book I want to write in the next few years. Written and published in the mid-1990s (making it more than twenty years old now), Leigh Cato started with a simple concept as she watched “perfect” marriages disintegrate around her (her own included) and friends becoming involved with married men. How did the women being left and the women they were being left for see the two sides of the same story? Continue reading

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


I wanted to hate this book. I wanted it to be Twilight-eqsue, capturing the imagination of the young and crossover mainstream reading public in spite of the fact that it was okay rather than great. I wanted to get to the end of the book and feel superior in some way. I wanted to be able to hate this book. But I don’t. I can’t. Because it is a great book.

This is the story of Hazel and Gus and how they fall in love. Sounds cheesy, right? Sounds like it’s been done in young adult novels a hundred times before, right? Hazel has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Gus is in remission but has had a leg amputated. Okay, a little less cheesy but cancer? So Jodi Picoult, right? Still been done before, right? Except even though the concept feels like it’s been done before, it’s never been done this well before. Continue reading

Book Review: Tokyo (AKA The Devil of Nanking) by Mo Hayder


Mo Hayder is for the most part one of Britain’s top crime writers – they sure know how to breed crime writers in the UK – and while I’ve read most of her books centred on the characters of Jack Caffery and Flea Marley, it is the standalone Tokyo (published in some territories as The Devil of Nanking) that has stayed with me long after I finished reading it.

I first read it in 2004 and although I rated it 5 stars in 2012 when I first joined Goodreads, I didn’t write a review, feeling it was too long ago to do it proper justice. I recently included it in my top ten books blog post and decided it was time to re-read it and post a review. Continue reading