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Greaders please review July/Aug books.

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


AnninGlos Report 17 Aug 2014 16:11

Please review The following.
The Little Friend by Donna Tart

Followed by any or all of the following:
A swarming of bees by Theresa Tomlinson
The Perfume Collector - Kathleen Tessaro

And any others you may have read.


AnninGlos Report 17 Aug 2014 16:20

Greaders review The Little Friend by Donna Tart

Well I did go back to it and forced myself to finish it. And never have I been so pleased to reach the end of a book.
I found her style of writing uncomfortable; and I am not sure why, I think it was too wordy, not too descriptive I don’t mind that but it seemed (to me) to ramble. I left it when I was 30% through and read The Perfume collector. Then I returned to this and finished the book.
Harriet sets out to find out who killed her older brother who died when she was a baby. Allison her older sister is no help (and comes over as being a complete whinge). Harriet believes she remembers something but this is because the maid talks about things. Hely her friend sees it all as a game. Mother, Charlotte, is a wreck since Robin died and is not supported by father who works and lives away. Grandmother Edie is the strong one of the family, then there are the three aunts. So many characters thrown in the pot and that is before we get to the supposed baddies, Farish, Eugene and main suspect (to Harriet) Danny. And the maid, Ida was another character who figured largely in the story until she departs to earn more money..
There were actually parts of the story when I found I was reading with interest but they were few and far between. Although enough to let me know that DT is capable of weaving a good story.
It was too ‘gangsterish’ for me in the main, drugs and snakes ugh.
I don’t think we ever did find out who killed Robin. I would have liked a better ending; to me it was all left a bit airy fairy, although we knew who didn’t kill him, Ida’s name was brought back into it near the end, was it her? Who knows and by then I didn’t care I was so relieved to see the final page

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

I didn’t know what to expect from this one as I had never read any of Kathleen Tessaro’s books, nor even heard of her.
I really enjoyed this story; I liked the setting of Paris in both the twenties and fifties. And she has obviously done a lot of research into the making of perfume which gave depth to the story making it informative as well as entertaining.
At first I wasn’t sure about the character of Grace, I felt she was maybe a bit weak and I was concerned that she may have been able to accept Roger’s ‘mistake’. However, as the story moved forward she came over as a stronger person. I did like the character of Edouard Tissot though, beautifully drawn. And the eccentric Madame Zed too, a great character. It even managed to bring in the war with the loss of Madame Zed’s Jewish assistant and subsequently his expertise in the perfume world.
I always enjoy books that have two stories running parallel and Eva d’Orsay’s story and the American setting rang true.
It is very difficult to write as much as I would like as that would give the story away but I found it very readable. Maybe the ending was a bit predictable and I did foretell what would happen in a couple of cases. But being proved right is often what makes a story enjoyable. There are a couple of twists and all in all I couldn’t fault it. Maybe the kindle version would have benefitted from a good proof reader, as is so often the case there were words missed out or misplaced but that didn’t detract from the whole.
Yes a good book, thanks Mersey for suggesting it.

review Caught out in Cornwall by Janie Bolitho
A good holiday read, sort of modern day Agatha Christi. I love books set in Cornwall and this was well written with a lot of descriptions of the Penzance area.
It was an easy read but it did hold my attention and I enjoyed it. Spent Sunday sitting in the shade in the garden reading it. As I said, not a deep book and I did guess the outcome so no surprises but I will read the other two she wrote. Sadly Jane Bolitho died in September 2002 and this was published after her death by her family.

Don’t let me go by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The blurb says this is a story about ten year old Grace who has a drug addicted mother. Ait is also about grown man Billy Shine an agoraphobic who lives in the same block of apartments. Grace lives in the basement with her Mum under Billy’s apartment. Grace needs to get her mum clean to avoid being taken away and put in care.
I thought this was going to be a simple story, however, when you mix in all the other inhabitants of the block with their various problems it becomes much more complex. There is Rayleen, a young black woman who was brought up in care and who will do anything to avoid the same fate for Grace. There is Felipe a Mexican lad and Mr Lafferty who appears to have a ‘past’ and who accuses Felipe of befriending grace for all the wrong reasons. There is elderly and reclusive Mrs Hinman who is frightened to ask people for help and is equally frightened to give it. Then there is Billy, an ex dancer and Grace and Eileen her Mother.
All the stories interlock and all revolve around Grace. It is not a fantastic book but it is a good one and I enjoyed it. There is a lot to be learnt about people and their varying problems and addictions. Worth reading


Mersey Report 17 Aug 2014 20:03

Im half way through mine Ann....shouldnt be too long :-)


AnninGlos Report 17 Aug 2014 20:33

Ok Mersey.


Mersey Report 17 Aug 2014 21:21

The Little Friend - Donna Tart

This story was about revenge on a man called Danny believed to have murdered a young boy Robin in the 1970's...Robin's sister tries to take revenge on Danny.

Hely with who has a crush on Robins Sister Harriet wants to help her in her quest to find solace in revenge.

I actually found the book had a good start but not too far into it, it fell apart. It became far too slow and a little too complex for me, I did think of giving up many times and when I actually got to the end I wish I had........

Sorry but was very disappointed :-(

A swarming of bees by Theresa Tomlinson

I was adamant from the beginning I was not going to like this book, again this was one I would never have picked up. I was totally wrong and actually finding myself thoroughly enjoying it......

It is set in the Anglo Saxon Times when there is a fight amoungst those around of religions.......The main character Fridgyth is especially intriguing, a kind hearted and loving person. She helps out at a Christian Monastary and she is know around the area for her caring nature and above all her healing arts.

There is a death of a monk Brother Dunstan at the monastery found to have died from disease, but Fridgyth is convinced his death is murder. There is then another monk found dead and the story continues with Fridgth determined in her own special way to find out the truth..........


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 17 Aug 2014 22:57

First Review (more to follow)

The Little Friend Donna Tartt.

When I saw this book title it seemed familiar to me, as did the authors name - and I wondered if I had already read it.
However when I started reading it the only familiar things were the name "Aunt Tat" and the snakes used in "God's name" by a man who got bit a lot!

I wouldn't say that this was an "enjoyable" read as I was taken up by the sadness, isolation, fear and misery of Harriet (and some of the other people) and as an adylt I realised that Harriet's hope of being able to change things for the better was misplaced.
The rest of her family (Edie and her sisters) seemed to have been affected by the past, both the death of Robin and the influence of their dominering father (nick named "Bully"). Harriets mother had withdrawn from life and her father had moved away "for his work". Leaving Harriet and her sister to look afetr themselves with thw help of their poorly paid servant.

I was very moved by the plight of the Odum family. Mother dead, father - dead beat. Children ignnored and abused, seemimgly by everyone (even Harriet) No smiles or laughter in their lives, no hand of kindness, - more a case of "the sins of the father are visited upon the children".

So many people in the book (both adults and children) were sunk into misery and depression. (Including possibly Harriet's elder sister, who took refuge in sleep).

Another person at the top of my "Didn't stand a chance" list was Daniel -the person who Harriet suspected had killed her brother, Robin.
Daniel was the "unfavourite" child in his family - and was often abused by them - especially his elder brother Farish.

I so wanted Daniel to be able to get away from all his problems - but again that seemd to be an impossible dream.

I suppose that if this was a film I had seen, rather than a book I had read, I might have found some scenes funny, might have even had a little laugh or two.
However, as it was, I was struck by the reality of the story.
For some people there are no good breaks.
Happiness will remain out of their grasp and things will remain as bad as ever.

Perhaps I wasn't expecting to read a realistic story, and longed for a happy ending (for at least one person). I was disappointed when the dream ending didn't happen.

Not sure that this made it a BAD book though - just an unDisney, unGlittzy, unRomantic, unHappy offering.
More true to life than I wanted.


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 17 Aug 2014 22:59

Still reading Swarming of Bees.
Still waiting for The perfume Collector.

Will be back soon.


Berona Report 18 Aug 2014 00:24

I have to admit that I have had a few things on my mind, so that may be why I couldn’t get into either of the books I chose.

A Swarming of Bees – I have read so many books set in the times of hundreds of years ago, that I have tired of them and although I tried, I could not get interested in this one. I put it down half way through with the idea of picking it up again after reading the other book –

The Little Friend – Seemed interesting for a while. However, I could never quite get into Harriet’s character and when she decided to find her brother’s killer, the book took a different turn. Not only did she want to find the killer – but she decided to kill him – then, when she decided to use a venomous snake, the story moved to snakes and stories of other people who kept them. This was when it lost me – and I don’t like reading about snakes! We seemed to go from one subject to another with new people along the way. I couldn't keep up with it. My apologies for recommending it if you didn't like it. The synopsis looked good at the time!

As I said, I have had other things on my mind, so perhaps now that my mind is more free, I will enjoy the next two books.


AnninGlos Report 18 Aug 2014 09:40

No problem with reading a book suggested that we don't like Berona, that is the point of the book club. I admit to not liking the book (the snakes were off putting to me too), but Tess's review makes me wonder if I missed something as she seems to have found so much more in it than I did. thank you Tess for an excellent review.

Tess I am sure you will like the perfume collector if you can get it. :-)


Pammy51 Report 18 Aug 2014 12:09

The Little Friend

I was looking forward to reading this book as I had heard good things about Donna Tartt but, like some others, struggled to finish it. The beginning of the book had a claustrophobic feeling, with Harriet's family feeding off each other emotionally. It felt incestuous, like those stereotypes of Southern Americans you see on old films, where they all marry their cousins. The descriptions were vivid and rich, helping you build up a picture of the sights, smells and sounds but I found they rather overshadowed the story and slowed it down. I found the ending disappointing, I wanted to know who did murder Robin and what happened to Harriet, It was only when I reflected on the story that I realised that the aim of the book was not a 'whodunnit' but Harriet's journey
to self knowledge (at least I think it was!) :-S


Pammy51 Report 18 Aug 2014 12:34

A Swarming Of Bees

I've read a few books about this era, with the conflict between the Irish tradition of Christianity and that of Rome, and was very interested to learn more. At first I was a little muddled with all the unfamiliar names but the characters were well drawn and I loved the beekeeper healer, Fridgyth.
A really good read.

The Perfume Collector

How I wish my Kindle had the facility to smell things! The descriptions of the various perfumes in this book are so interesting that I longed to experience them. The book moves between the 1950s with Grace's story and the 1920s with Eva's. We first learn of Eva's existence when Grace gets a letter from a solicitor informing her she has been named as chief beneficiary in the will of Madame Eva d'Orsay, a woman she has never heard of. How Grace finds out about Eva and puts her own unsatisfactory life to rights makes a very interesting story, especially when linked to Eva's fascinating rise from penury to luxury.
I was really glad to have read this and will look out for more by this author.


AnninGlos Report 18 Aug 2014 15:00

Oh yes Pammy I too would have loved to experience the smells of the different perfumes. I kept wondering if they were taken from real 'recipes'. :-D


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 18 Aug 2014 18:00


The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

I was really looking forward to reading this book, but had to request it from the library. Unfortunately, a lot of other people wanted to read it too. I waited several weks, before being informed that it was ready for collection - and then it was sent back by mistake by the library before I was able to collect it. Another few weeks wait ..... And I got it!!

The wait was worth it, I am so glad I didn't get on my high-horse and tell them to forget it.

A book of fiction - but every word rang true. I even loved the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt at the beginning "Women are like tea-bags; you don't know how strong they are until they are put in hot water"

This is so true of the five women we meet in the story, from very different backgrounds, three from the West and the other two from Afghanistan. The women get to know one another in the Coffee Shop of the title and we learn their stories.
It was a time when the Americans were in charge but the Taliban were fighting back. Kabul is a very scary place to be. I was surprised that the women from the west didn't clear out at the first sign of trouble, but they were much more determined than that. The two Afghan women just had to make the best of it, in a place that would be difficult for them, whoever was in charge.

reading about the author later I found that she had lived in Afghanistan, spent some time in Kabul, had helped to run a Coffee Shop (serving wine from teapots) and had married a Moslen Afghan man, - no wonder it seemed so well researched.

I was in awe of the western women who were there by choice, to help others - at the risk of their own lives, and cannot imagine what it would be like for the women who HAD to live in such a repressive regime - even when the Taliban were not (fully) in control.

A well written story which informes and enlightened me about modern day living in Afghanistan

I don't want to talk about the plot, as I want new readers to turn each page with no idea of what is going to happen, but will say, a lot of it is about survival. I recommend it heartily, and hope that others will read it (if they haven't already).

I now would like to read "The Kabul Beauty School" by the same author.

P.S. Sorry that this review is so late. but now I can read any other reviews.

P.P.S. Will try to do review of Swarming of Bees tomorrow.

:-) :-) :-)


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 21 Aug 2014 23:55

Took longer than "tomorrow" but here is my review of -
"Swarming of Bees" by Theresa Tomlinson.

I had noticed while looking at the library Catalogue that this author had preciously written books for teenagers.
Having read "A Swarming of Bees" I think that this was suitable for senior school children, as well as adults. (I sometimes read "teen-books" anyway).
After reading the story, I find that this is Fridgyth.s second appearence in one of Tomlinson's books - She was also a secondary charector in "Wolf Girl" (a novel for teenagers). I am now hoping to read that if I can get it from the Library.

As you can tell from that comment, I did enjoy the book - but was pleased that I didn't have to read it out loud to others, as I would have had difficulty pronouncing many of the names!

I knew very little of this part of British history - had read about both The Roman Conquest and The Norman Conquest, plus books about Druids but this era was new to me. I certainly didn't learn anything about it at school.

I didn't even know about the Great Synod and the choice between following the Roman Christians or the Irish Christians. - I wonder how different things would be for us now if the Irish Christians had won??

Quite a few people in the book are "real " People Dagobert, wilfred of York, Queen Eanfleda, Aldfrith and King Oswy.
The story of the attempted murder of Dagobert, and all that entailed is fiction.

I like the mixture of fact and fiction and have found it a good way to learn about different times, places and people of the past

Although this isn't a "you really MUST read this book" type story, it was very good, informative and interesting.

Will look out for other books by the same author. (Who describes this story as a "why dun it?" rather than a "who dun it?).

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)


TessAkaBridgetTheFidget Report 22 Aug 2014 00:08

Still waiting for "The Perfume Collector" from the Library.

It is due back from the person who has got it at the moment on 30th August. So hopefully I can get it soon.

If I am lucky it might be back ready for collection before then.

Ann, thank you for the review of "Don't let me go" I was tempted to vote for it, but thought that it might be a bit too emotional! Ended up reading "The Little Friend" instead!!

Will try to get it from the Library or else where. Certainly one to go on my list. (with is getting rather long).

:-) :-) :-)


AnninGlos Report 22 Aug 2014 09:33

Thanks for the review Tess and I hope you get the perfume collector soon.