Snow Angels by John Thompson – a review

Do not be lulled by the sweet title of this book, this is a graphic and violent story of murder, rape and brutality.

Set in Finland, I found reading about the culture very interesting. Life is harsh and alcohol plays a big part of everyday life in winter.

Inspector Kari Vaara is head of the police force in Kaamos and just days before Christmas the mutilated body of beautiful Somali actress Sufia is found cut up in a reindeer field. As Inspector Kari continues his investigation the plot thickens and he is forced to confront his demons as well as trying to keep his lonely isolated and preganant American wife happy as she recuperates after a nasty skiing accident.

Not at all predictable, I found the book thought provoking and it left me wondering quite how do Finns cope with long dark days for months on end. The book is an easy enjoyable read. Just be prepared for some graphic gruesome details that may make you wince. This is definitely a book to read while under the covers wrapped up warmly because the descriptions are so vivid that you can feel the freezing temperatures that the characters have to endure.

It is a great book that I found hard to put down until the very end, an interesting aspect is the insight into Finland’s culture and I will definitely be reading the next book in the series based around Inspector Kari Vaara.

‘Where would I be without you?’-Guillaume Musso

Only just translated into English, Guilliaume Musso’s book ‘Where would I be without you?’ will keep most people enthralled from the beginning until the end.
Musso has sold a staggering eight million books in less than seven years and this latest book sold a million copies just in France.

Firstly I must say don’t be put off by the front cover, if I am being honest I don’t think it does the book any justice. The cover gives the impression that the story is going to be another predictable gushy love story but it is anything but. In fact the romance in it was a tiny part of the story although as will be revealed also a very important aspect.
Starting in San Francisco, we meet Martin, a French man using his short time there to improve his English. He falls in love with Gabrielle very quickly where they have a very brief love affair but then Martin returns to Paris, alone.
Fast forward thirteen years and the story takes on the role of a crime thriller and adventure as policeman Martin pursues the world famous art thief, Archibold McLean. I particularly loved being taken on a wonderful journey through Paris.
Inevitably Martin is drawn back to San Francisco where the plot thickens and he starts to wonder if the love of his life, Gabrielle, is somehow connected to his case.
There are some deep psychological aspects as both Martin and Gabrielle deal with the skeletons in their closets and I was left wanting to know more, especially about Martin.
Without giving anything away because this is probably the most unpredictable book I have ever read the twists and turns took me completely by surprise. In some ways it seemed totally implausible and not in keeping with the rest of the book but in the end it all makes sense. Sorry to be so vague but you have to read it to find out because I don’t want to spoil it for you.
I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be looking out for more books by the same author. I found the interview with Guillaume Musso at the end of the book very interesting and enlightening.
I was sent this book to review by Gallic Books
I will award this book 4 out of 5 cupcakes

‘One Day’ by David Nicholls-Book review

Sitting in my draft posts for months I thought what better time to post this than when I am for once lost for words…

I have had my eye on this book for ages after seeing all the positive reviews so when I saw it reduced just before Christmas I snapped it up quickly.

The book begins on 15th July 1988 when Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew meet on the night of their graduation in Edinburgh, Scotland. We read where they are each year on the same day over twenty years. We get to know exactly what Emma and Dexter are doing, sometimes worlds apart, sometimes together. Anyone that grew up in the UK in the eighties or nineties will I am sure, relate to this. It actually feels a bit like ‘coming home’. I could identify to so much, I felt as though I was growing up with them, knowing exactly what they were feeling because I had been through a lot of it too.

The book is so simple and yet so complex, it is very clever and I couldn’t help but think, “Why didn’t I ever come up with this storyline?”

At times you want to shake Emma and Dexter, “How can Emma be so silly?” or “How can Dexter be so infuriatingly frustrating and insensitive?” But you can understand it too. I loved Emma’s outspoken manner and sighed deeply at Dexter’s immature behaviour. I got cross at Emma’s lack of ambition, thinking what a waste of that brain and yet surprised at Dexter’s determination to make something of himself while having as much fun as he could at the same time.

There was a little moment in the middle of the book where I was lost for a while and drifted off but the book picked up pace again and near the end it got to a point where nothing else mattered other than finishing it and finding out what happens.

I highly recommend this book especially if you are the same generation, I am sure it will keep you hooked and bring back nostalgic memories of  young adulthood and beyond.

I award this 4 out of 5 cupcakes

Hector and the Secrets of Love by Francois Lelord- a Book review

Recently translated from French into English and published by Gallic Books, we follow Hector’s Journeys where he travels half way round the world looking for the secrets of love. Written by Francois Lelord, a psychiatrist who has had a successful  career in France and USA, this is the second of Hector’s adventures.

Hector is a psychiatrist who gets asked by a huge pharmaceutical company to track down their wayward scientist Professor Cormorant who has been working on a secret love potion. Leaving behind his girlfriend Clara, Hector heads for the Far East, the last place the professor was seen. Once in the Far East Hector is left little clues by the mischievous Professor Cormorant to help Hector track him down. In the meantime Hector wants to know what love means and starts writing notes, or little seedlings as he calls them, as he starts to question his relationship with Clara.

Persuaded by one of  Professor Cormorant’s notes Hector agrees to try the Professor’s secret love potion and falls in love with hotel waitress Vayla and they become inseparable. Throughout the story Hector aware that his love for Vayla is down to chemicals analyzes their unusual bonding.

The book takes us from France, to a faraway island, to Cambodia, then to Shanghai before heading back to Cambodia again. We are treated to insights into the love and sex lives of panda bears and orangutans and there are some deep, quite thought provoking statements about love and the way men and women perceive it.

The cover of the book got my attention straight away, bright and fun which is what it was. At just under 300 pages the book is short enough to enjoy over a weekend and the brief chapters were ideal for me to pop in and out of whenever I had a spare five minutes to read. The book is humorous but thought provoking and sometimes sad when faced with the harsh reality of how painful love can be. I think it is a lovely little book and particularly enjoyed the locations it was set in.

There is a very interesting interview with Francis Lelord in The Telegraph .

I was sent the book to review.

I award Hector and the Secrets of Love three out of five cupcakes

Bedtime Stories and a competition

I have always loved reading stories to my children, in fact I have spent the day planning and looking forward to a particular bedtime story many many times. I love the joy it gives and I love being immersed in the innocent story that takes you out of the day to day grind. So I was very sad when I was sent some research done by the phone and broadband company TalkTalk that found out that 48% of parents don’t read bedtime stories to their children. I can’t believe it and I am appalled. I assumed most people did this simple practice, it’s a major part of being a parent surely?

The research also enabled a list of favourite bedtime stories to be compiled:

1. Famous Five, Enid Blyton
2. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
3. Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, H.C. Andersen
4. Mr Men, Roger Hargreaves
5. Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
6. The Tales of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter
7. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
8. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
9. Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
10. The BFG, Roald Dahl
11. The Cat in the Hat, Dr Suess
12. The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling

I have to say there are a few there that are definitely not my favourites but I do like The Famous Five.

TalkTalk have launched a competition TalkTalkTales to find the nation’s best amateur narrator. The storyteller Bernard Cribbins will be choosing the winner who will win £2000. There are also Amazon vouchers to be won and an Amazon Kindle. The competition is open to anyone over 12 years of age. The competition closes on 13th March 2011, so there isn’t much time left but Good Luck!