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Posts tagged ‘contemporary fiction’

Love it or Hate it? Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Have you ever noticed how some books seem to drive a wedge between people? You check the reviews and find almost no middle-of-the-road ratings. Instead people either seem to love it or hate it. Well, welcome to the Love it or Hate it post category! Each month, we’ll pick one book to review and two contributors will battle it out to convince you to pick it up or throw it out.

Last month we discussed Atonement and an overwhelming number of you voted for either “love it” or “want to read it.” Many thanks to Nicole R for writing the hilarious “hate it” section for Atonement.

This month we will be discussing: Life of Pi by Yann Martel. We have two contributors this month and their names will be revealed after voting closes! Please make sure to vote for this month’s book! The poll is at the bottom of this post.


life of pi

Book Summary (from GoodReads):
Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

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Blindness by Saramago: Non-1001 Book review


Blindness by José Saramago
Published in: 1995
Reviewed by: Jen
Rating: 4 stars
Find it/Buy it here: Blindness (Harvest Book)

Synopsis: A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” and one by one every citizen loses their ability to see. During early phases of the epidemic, the authorities attempt to contain the disease by setting up quarantine zones in various locations. A group of characters who are among the first to become blind, find themselves quarantined in an old mental institution. As the epidemic spreads and society starts to break down, more and more “inmates” join the original group until the place becomes saturated. Among the blind, there is one woman who retains her eyesight. This woman, “the doctor’s wife,” pretends to be blind in order to avoid being separated from her husband. She becomes the central character in the story and ultimately leads the group through a variety of harrowing experiences. Blindness is more than just a apocalyptic tale. It is a story of the merits and downfalls of human nature that is both terrifying and uplifting. Read more

1001 Book Review: Flaubert’s Parrot


Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
First Published in: 1984
Reviewed by: Book Worm and Jen

Synopsis (from book jacket): Which of two stuffed parrots was the inspiration for one of Flaubert’s greatest stories? Why did the master keep changing the color of Emma Bovary’s eyes? And why should these minutiae matter so much to Geoffrey Braithwaite, the crankily erudite doctor who is the narrator of this tour de force style and imagination?

In Flaubert’s Parrot, Julian Barnes, who has been compared with writers such as Joyce and Calvino, spins out a mystery, an exuberant metafictional inquiry into the ways in which art mirrors life and then turns around to shape it; a look at the perverse autopsies that readers perform on books an lovers perform on their beloved; and a piercing glimpse at the nature of obsession and betrayal both scholarly and romantic.

A compelling weave of fiction and imaginatively ordered fact, Flaubert’s Parrot is by turns moving and entertaining, witty and scholarly, and a tour de force of seductive originality

Bookworm’s Review
Rating: ★★★

Flaubert’s Parrot deals with Flaubert, parrots, bears and railways; with our sense of the past and our sense of abroad; with France and England, life and art, sex and death, George Sand and Louise Colet, aesthetics and redcurrant jam; and with its enigmatic narrator, a retired English doctor, whose life and secrets are slowly revealed.
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Book Review The Shining Girls Lauren Beukes

shining girls


“It’s not my fault. It’s yours. You shouldn’t shine. You shouldn’t make me do this.”


Kirby is lucky she survived the attack. She is sure there were other victims were less fortunate, but the evidence she finds is … impossible.


Harper stalks his shining girls through the years – and cuts the spark out of them. But what if the one that got away came
back for him?

The Shining Girls Lauren Beukes
First published: 2013
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: 4 Stars
Find it/Buy it here: The Shining Girls: A Novel

So where to start with this one? The book is about a time travelling serial killer. When you say it out loud it either sounds silly or fantastic depending on if time travel is your thing. Guess what? It’s mine, even if the outline sounds silly to you, I would recommend you pick up the book and read the first few chapters. You may find yourself hooked.
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Book Review Brokeback Mountain Annie Proulx

brokeback mountain
“Brokeback Mountain is set in the beautiful, wild landscape of Wyoming thirty years ago where cowboys lived much as they had done for generations. Hard, lonely lives in unforgiving country. Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar are two ranch hands – ‘drop-out country boys with no prospects, brought up to hard work and privation, both rough-mannered, tough spoken’ – glad to have found each other’s company where none had been expected. But companionship becomes something else on Brokeback Mountain, something not looked for, something deadly”

This blurb from the book cover is part of the reason I felt so let down by this read, I mean it promises so much, dramatic landscape, cowboys, romance and danger and as far as I am concerned it fails to deliver on all these points.

Firstly, the landscape is barely mentioned except in passing

Secondly, the cowboys are actually sheep herders when they meet

Thirdly, this is the romantic way they first have sex “Ennis jerked his hand away as though he’d touched fire, got to his knees, unbuckled his belt, shoved his pants down, hauled Jack onto all fours and, with the help of the clear slick and a little spit entered him, nothing he’d done before but no instruction manual was needed”

Finally, while being homosexual at that time was dangerous the two men appear to have no fear about being caught and the consequences are only mentioned in passing

So here is my review…

Brokeback Mountain Annie Proulx
Published in: 2005
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Buy/Find it here: Brokeback Mountain

Ok so I haven’t seen the film but like everyone else I was aware of the premise, two lonely cowboys fall in love. Despite not liking The Shipping News I was willing to give Proulx a second chance…

Brokeback Mountain is the story of Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar who meet on Brokeback Mountain where they are both employed to keep an eye on a herd of sheep, during the cold lonely nights the 2 get closer and by that I mean they have sex, personally I didn’t ever feel that they were in love.

Without giving away too many spoilers the men don’t see each other for years, however once they meet again they end up having sex and making  regular fishing sex trips.

I was expecting a story with depth about how the men struggle with their feelings for each other and the impact it has on the rest of their lives, what I got was a story about how two men really really enjoy having sex with each other. It wasn’t until the very end that I felt there was any kind of emotion involved. Its a blunt book, sparsely written, direct and to the point.

This wasn’t the book I was hoping to read and I would have given it 2 stars apart from the saving grace that it was incredibly short and the ending somewhat redeemed it.

Want to try if for yourself? Click Brokeback Mountain: Now a Major Motion Picture
to buy a copy on Amazon.