Nicholas Sparks – The Choice

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Horrifyingly, Nicholas Sparks returns with yet another tearjerker romance novel designed for the masses. I’ve seen the Notebook (haven’t read it yet) and had a go at the The Guardian. Soppy, sad, romance novels where the hero is a sensitive hunk (in this case a lean veterinarian who likes water sports) and the girl is a recluse who takes some time to love him. And then tragedy sparks, and then cliff-hanger and then decision time.

This novel is not an exception but rather a tribute to the knowledge that people would purchase anything as long as it’s written by a recognisable name (like Danielle Steele or Clive Cussler).

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Stasi 77 * David Young

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Karin Müller of the German Democratic Republic’s People’s Police is called to a factory in the east of the country. A man has been murdered – bound and trapped as a fire burned nearby, slowly suffocating him. But who is he? Why was he targeted? Could his murderer simply be someone with a grudge against the factory’s nationalisation, as Müller’s Stasi colleagues insist? Why too is her deputy Werner Tilsner behaving so strangely? 

As more victims surface, it becomes clear that there is a cold-blooded killer out there taking their revenge. Soon Müller begins to realize that in order to solve these terrible crimes, she will need to delve into the region’s dark past. But are the Stasi really working with her on this case? Or against her? 

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The Body in the Castle Well * Martin Walker

Rating: 2 out of 5.

A missing art student. An international investigation. A secret that will shatter the village of St Denis. Bruno, chief of police, faces a dark reckoning with France’s past in this page-turning mystery.

A rich American art student is found dead at the bottom of a well in an ancient hilltop castle. The young woman, Claudia, had been working in the archives of an eminent French art historian, a crippled Resistance war hero, at his art-filled chateau.

As Claudia’s White House connections get the US Embassy and the FBI involved, Bruno traces the people and events that led to her death – or was it murder?

Bruno learns that Claudia had been trying to buy the chateau and art collection of her tutor, even while her researches led her to suspect that some of his attributions may have been forged. This takes Bruno down a trail that leads him from the ruins of Berlin in 1945, to France’s colonial war in Algeria.

The long arm of French history has reached out to find a new victim, but can Bruno identify the killer – and prove his case?

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Stoner * John Williams (1965)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘A beautiful, sad, utterly convincing account of an entire life’ Ian McEwan

William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature changes his life, and he never returns to work on his father’s farm. Stoner becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death, his colleagues remember him rarely.

Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value – of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history – and in doing so reclaims the significance of an individual life.

‘A brilliant, beautiful, inexorably sad, wise and elegant novel’ Nick Hornby

‘A terrific novel of echoing sadness’ Julian Barnes

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All We Have Is Now * Lisa Schroeder

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Fear. Sadness. Loneliness. Regret.

But also happiness, because it’s been a good life. He thought he was ready, but as darkness descends, he’s not so sure. Maybe he could help more people. Maybe a miracle will happen. Maybe …

I started reading this book and I didn’t know where to classify it so I left it hanging. Part poetry, part prose, the book is a countdown to the end of days, following one girl and one guy. It sounds good in theory, but the writing is abysmal and the plot non-existent.

I really struggled to finish it and it didn’t help that the poetry sections were just sentences written in a detached manner which were probably meant to copy Rumi Kaur – Milk and Honey Poetry but failed.

That’s when Emerson
living on the streets
is basically
one sad, sad song
after another.

The Blurb

From the author of THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU, a groundbreaking novel about what matters most — when time is running out. What do you do with your last day on earth? There are 27 hours and fifteen minutes left until an asteroid strikes North America, and, for Emerson and everyone else who didn’t leave, the world will end. But Emerson’s world already ended when she ran away from home last year. Since then she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat. The city’s quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them that he has been granting people’s wishes. He gave his car away so a woman could take her son to see the ocean for the first time, and he gives Emerson and Vince all the money he has in his wallet. Suddenly this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in 27 hours — maybe even their own.

“THE FIRST thing to examine,” Burt says, “is the state of the economy at the time we got word of the asteroid.”

“I had the exact same thought,” Tom says. “Unemployment rates had been going up for months. Businesses were shutting their doors right and left. Then, the stock market crashed and it was unlike anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression. It was twenty-four hours of absolute chaos. The economy was in a tailspin.”

“Shortly thereafter,” Burt says, “the announcement of the impending disaster hit the airwaves. Highly suspect, don’t you agree?”

It’s bad enough that the book has little to no plot for it, but to make it about a government conspiracy… that’s a whole new level of “Don’t Look Up“. The melodrama intensifies as people reunite with their loved ones and all bad is forgotten and the world is ready to either blow up in a nihilistic boom or go back to the roots. Nothing bad happens and the world moves on. The hysteria is finished (much like the 2000 end of the world is coming jumble, and the 2001, and the 2012 and the 2020)

Carousels still go around.
Second chances are real.
Wishes really do come true.
Stories end.
And new ones
begin …

I wish this book wasn’t this long. To be honest, this was an absolute waste of time and I couldn’t wait to get it done.

Sydney Sheldon * Are you afraid of the dark

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In New York, Denver, Paris and Berlin, four people have died separately in apparent accidents. Two women — the widows of two of the dead — find themselves under ruthless attack and are drawn together in fear, confusion and for mutual protection. But are they being targeted because one of them is the prosecution witness at a famous criminal trial? Or is there a connection to the mystery behind their husband’s deaths? Meanwhile, Tanner Kingsley,

Chief Executive of an international Think Tank created only seven years ago, is on the cusp of an amazing discovery which could alter the future of the world. If properly handled, the outcome of this could deliver unbelievable power into the company’s hands. But are the mysterious deaths connected to this volatile secret? And can it be further protected?

Thrown together, the women could not be more different: Diane Stevens is a well-connected, affluent artist from the Upper East Side. Philadelphia neighbourhood with a new ‘uncle’ every month, believed she had at last found safety and contentment in Paris, married to a brilliant scientist.

Taut with suspense and vivid characterization, and with an unnervingly realistic premise that could alter our lives, ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK is Sheldon at the top of his form.

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The Nemesis Worm * Guy Haley

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A standalone novella featuring the 22nd century’s greatest detectives, The Nemesis Worm sees Richards & Klein involved in another high stakes investigation. Corpses are showing up all over Old London, and the finger of suspicion points right at Richards himself. Forced to clear his name, Richards and Otto uncover a fanatical group whose actions threaten the relationship between human and AI with destruction.

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Toxic Heart * Theo Lawrence

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The second MYSTIC CITY novel . . . it’s Romeo & Juliet in a dystopic Manhattan.

A city in flames. A trust betrayed. A perfect love destroyed. Has Aria lost Hunter, her one true love?

Ever since rebellion broke out in Mystic City, pitting the ruling elite against the magic-wielding mystics, Aria has barely seen her boyfriend. Not surprising, since Hunter is the leader of the mystic uprising, and he’ll do whatever it takes to win freedom for his people—even if that means using Aria.

But Aria is no one’s pawn. She believes she can bring the two warring sides together, save the city, and win back the Hunter she fell in love with.

Before she can play peacemaker, though, Aria will need to find the missing heart of a dead mystic. The heart gives untold powers to whoever possesses it, but finding it means seeking out a fierce enemy whose deepest desire is for Aria to be gone—forever.

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Brick Lane * a novel by Monica Ali book review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Is it better than our own country, or is it worse? If it is worse, then why is he here? If it is better, why does he complain?

What would you do if you were a Bengali girl of nearly 19 married off from a village into an English town to a balding 40-year old fat man who has pretentious outlooks on his life and no desires for his new bride? What if you can’t speak English and you don’t have any skills or the only friends are gossiping neighbours from the same community?

What if the only way to live you were taught is to accept anything coming your way without complaint or fight? What would you do to escape?

If God wanted us to ask questions, he would have made us men.’

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Atinahika (supraorganism)

Şi-am murit fără să ştiu,
Parcă-i adormire,
Căci nu eram nici mort, nici viu,
Simţind o nesimţire.
Apoi o clipă n-a trecut
Şi două firi depline,
Doi “eu” întregi s-au desfăcut
Dintr-un singur mine.

Eram un “eu” încremenit
Jos, cu condeiu-n mână.
Sus, “eu” celălalt priveam uimit
La faţa-i de ţărână.
Şi mă-ntrebam cum de putui
Să-ndur, o, Doamne Sfinte!
Cincizeci de ani în pielea “lui”
Eu” – inimă şi minte.

Dar ce sunt EU? Şi m-am văzut
Icoană mult mai vie
A Eului meu din trecut,
Plăpândă, străvezie,
Elastică, neînchipuit,
Neînchipuit de fină…
Un vis de Mircea zugrăvit
Din aburi şi lumină!

Ochirea-mi pătrundea uşor
Din zare până-n zare.
Citeam făţiş a tuturor
Ascunsă cugetare.
Eram stăpân să mânuiesc
Acel curent subţire,
Pe care oamenii-l numesc
Prevăz şi Presimţire.