Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, as it turns out, Eleanor really is completely fine, although how she manages to be fine is quite a story. Eleanor is odd, she is endearing, a woman of systems and very firm opinions on how everything should be. She works for an advertising agency doing the accounts, she has been there a long time, she eats the same food, sits in the same place at lunch, follows a rigid routine Suddenly it seems, Eleanor’s systems are being challenged, she is being made to feel that there might be other ways than hers which are worth considering.

As her story unfolds we discover that Eleanor’s childhood has coloured her life, that there are good reasons there are regular visits from social workers and why vodka is her comfort. I loved this book, I felt that Eleanor was a character who I’d never met and who I quickly became fond of. It races along and is really hard to put down. I found myself smiling at lots of Eleanor’s thoughts, I enjoyed her immensely.

Thanks so much to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me access to this marvellous book.

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Review: See You When I See You

See You When I See You
See You When I See You by Rose Lagercrantz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dani is so cute and engaging. I really like these stories, they are warm and funny, the characters whimsical and yet realistic. In this book we see Dani beginning to become independent to question the things around her, she has anxieties about her dad’s new relationship, missing her best friend and making new friends with her classmates. I love the fact that Dani and Ella are so close, a little bit naughty and desperate to maintain their friendship. This story focusses on a school trip to the zoo where the two girls become separated from their school mates, there is also a side story about horse riding which I wasn’t so convinced with, but I get why it was there. As always the illustrations are stunning.

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Review: A Little Life

A Little Life
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I could give it 15 stars I would. People told me it was a devastating read. People warned me it would obsess me. People told me that they started it and couldn’t continue because it was so sad and grim. I knew all this and they are all right about the grim and the sad and the gritty etc etc but this book consumed me and challenged me and made me happy and then so so sad and I loved every moment of it. I had seen Hanya Yanagihara at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival last year and I knew I wanted to read the book, she seemed so genuine and I trusted that she had written a brilliant book. I’m so pleased I wasn’t disappointed.

Jude. So damaged and alone. His suffering is hard to bear at times and yet, he is so kind and thoughtful and even though his life has been traumatic in so many extreme ways, he is one of the most admirable characters I’ve read. The entire friend group in this story is so beautifully handled, their quirks and eccentricities are perfect. Oh Willem! (I decided that Willem looked just like George Clooney) Harold and Julia felt like friends by the end. I loved Andy and his caring and bossy ways. Oh all of these people who have inhabited my life for two weeks, they have moved and shattered my emotions through the whole gamut.

I had a paper copy beside me and I listened to the audiobook. Sometimes I felt like I needed to read sections in the paper book because they were just so hard to listen to. I didn’t care that it was massive, I didn’t want it to end because I knew what was going to happen. The clues were all there, there was no other way to finish it. The other night I drove to a meeting and arrived with tears streaming down my face, I attended the meeting and drove home in the same state. In a word, this is gorgeous.

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Review: Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has the most gorgeous cover! You can’t help but keep running your fingers over the hammer of Thor on the cover. Inside the book is the story of how the hammer was made and this was one of my favourite stories. I have never been much for mythology but the fact that Neil Gaiman wrote this and I did an audio version, with Neil reading it to me, made it a really enjoyable reading experience. The book takes various myths and puts a Gaiman spin on them and makes them relatable, enjoyable and loads of fun. Even though really rather disgusting things happen to the gods at regular intervals you can’t help but enjoy the stories of how they play nasty tricks on each other, always try to get the upper hand and do ridiculous trades with each other. The dwarfs and the gods are constantly battling for supremacy, it is all good fun.

This is a real crossover book, it will work for kids who are keen, maybe a good place to move the Percy Jackson crew to, but a really enjoyable book for adults too.

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Review: Duplicate Death

Duplicate Death
Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In times of stress and too much to do, I head to The Golden Age. It has been a very full on little while and so Miss Heyer is exactly right. Undemanding, old fashioned and gentle. I find I don’t really remember much of the stories but they make light reading and move along at a decent pace. I particularly like the way that she makes you engage with a character and then casts doubt on their motives and makes them a suspect. Hemingway is such a clever man and his manner is really amusing. This one is not the best of them, but it is a satisfactory way to spend a few hours luxuriating in hideous spoilt brats and overbearing mothers, dastardly manipulators and assorted other suspects.

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Review: The Destroyers

The Destroyers
The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What a brilliant start to a story! The odd thing was that the beginning felt like a different style completely from the rest of the book, the beginning feels like an action thriller, the rest of the book is far more thoughtful and slow moving up until the end, which again moves briskly and concisely to a rattlingly good conclusion.

Ian is down on his luck. He has been involved in an episode in his previous employment where his good intentions ended up getting him into all kinds of trouble in the Panama branch of his family business. Ian is resentful anyway, he bitterly resents that he has been cut out of his father’s will, he took some of the money he had access to and now his half siblings are after it. He has come to the Greek island of Patmos to hook up with his friend Charlie, they have been friends since childhood and he hopes that Charlie will give him a job and help him out. What he discovers though is that Charlie is not all that he seems. Shortly after Ian arrives, Charlie disappears, leaving no trace of a clue about where he might be. Now all the people in Charlie’s life, all of those with vested interests are looking for him or very pointedly not looking for him.

It is an interesting cast of characters, a cleverly constructed novel with clues being given gradually to what might be happening to Charlie but plenty of red herrings. It moves a bit slowly, there is a bit too much pondering and not quite enough doing and as a consequence it took me longer to read it than I expected. Overall it is a decent book.

Thanks Netgalley for giving me access to this book.

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Review: Scythe

Scythe
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sickness and injury are no longer problems, the world has reached the stage where people don’t die from natural causes anymore, technology has broken all the boundaries of mortality. But if everyone can live forever you need some method of population control, the answer to that is the Sythes. They select those who will be culled to keep the population at a manageable level. This is the story of two teenagers who are chosen for the role of Sythe by one of the most respected of the Sythes. They have no choice, if you are chosen you must conform, but in this case they must compete against each other for one position, the winner of the role of Sythe must kill the other. This is a problem as the two gradually go from being very intolerant of each other to becoming friends and having respect for each other.

Neal Shusterman has written a great novel. It is really grim, and I expect that from this author, but it is full of interesting moral dilemmas along with loads of action. Nicely complicated and with excellent dialogue. It was a fabulous read and I’m going to recommend it far and wide.

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