Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Stackhouse Atkinson

Greyfriars Bobby (Penguin Popular Classics) Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Stackhouse Atkinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Far more romantic and entertaining than the true story of the little dog that would not leave his master's side, it's no wonder this is the version that people believe. More than a tale of a love that lasted beyond life, this is also a darn good example of a writer writing successfully in dialect. Read it for the "awwww" factor and learn a few knew words of a very beautiful language.

View all my reviews >>


The Information Officer: A Novel by Mark Mills

The Information Officer: A Novel The Information Officer: A Novel by Mark Mills

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Too many genres can spoil a good story, and this book comes dangerously close to proving that point. Its strength as a historical novel, set in the much under appreciated Malta during WWII, saves it from being a rather weak mystery/thriller. Mills does a decent job of making his setting a character, putting the reader next to the characters as they go about the business of staying alive while the Germans are trying to remove them from the island, if not the face of the earth. It's good that he's able to do that, because getting inside the character's heads, a necessity for a good mystery or thriller, just isn't possible. They're just too darn flat and worse, they're stereotypes straight from old 1940s/50s Hollywood movies made about WWII. Supporting characters get almost no back story, making them hard to identify, let alone impossible to identify with. Any marginally well read mystery fan will figure out who the killer is long before the main character gives up and turns the case over to a late entry professional.

However, once again, as a book read to discover a new place in a very interesting time period, this book is a fast and not-unpleasant read, and it's a historical that I can say I liked this book enough to have taken something away from it.

View all my reviews >>


The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

The Children's Book The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The second line of this book is the date the story starts. Sneak a peak at the last chapter, and you'll see that the first line there is the date the story ends. When an author bookends their story in such a way, you know that the passage of time is a very, very important part of the narrative. Nineteen years go by in this case, nineteen years of family dramas that match the massive political and cultural revolution England itself was going through during the same time period. With at least a half dozen major characters and at least a dozen more almost major characters, plus the lord-knows-how-many secondary characters, there's a lot going on in this book, and there was a point, about one third of the way through, when I almost decided it wasn't worth remembering who was who's son, cousin, friend, or lover. But the world that Byatt has so meticulously researched and reconstructed is a hard one to leave, and eventually, by repetition and/or solid writing, everyone becomes sorted out. There are places where the action takes an obvious turn towards the writer showing off her research rather than story progression, and even worse, some incredibly academic chapters that have nothing to do with the narrative and are simply rude interruptions to a good read. The book does slip from literature into romance occasionally, but with over six hundred pages covering nineteen years, there's bound to be some incredible happenings in one or two lives.

View all my reviews >>