(1) Spies by Michael Frayn
Historical Fiction / Literature: "There is very little evidence of the war where Keith and Stephen live. But the two friends suspect the inhabitants of the close aren't what they seem. As Keith informs his trusting friend, the district is riddled with secret passages and underground labs."
Beautiful prose coupled with lots of layers of thoughts and feelings from the characters, makes Spies an intriguing book to study for English Literature and a worthwhile book to read for pleasure. The complexity of the narrative has a wonderful nostalgic yearning that can only come from a slow paced story that takes its time unravelling the past of a man who reflects on his youth during a turbulent time of WW2 in England. Recalling his childhood memories, our protagonist Stephen, transports the reader back into a time that most would rather forget and injects a captivating retrospective of a child experiencing war and its effects on family, friends and a local community. [4/5]
(2) Girlfriend In A Coma by Douglas Coupland
Contemporary / Fantasy: "Karen, an attractive, popular student, goes into a coma one night in 1979. Whilst in it, she gives birth to a healthy baby daughter; once out of it, a mere eighteen years later, she finds herself, Rip van Winkle-like, a middle-aged mother whose friends have all gone through all the normal marital, social and political traumas and back again."
For a slim book, I should have read this relatively quickly, but I just didn't engage with the story that much and kept picking it up, then putting it back down again. The first half starts off great; it's tense and tragic as Karen's friends and family come to terms with the fact that she's in a coma and the doctors don't know if she'll ever come out of it. On top of that, they find out she's pregnant as well! But the story begins to delve into fantasy a bit too much for my liking and becomes very unrealistic and silly towards the end. Disappointing. [2/5]
(3) No Safe Place by Richard North Patterson
Political Thriller / Mystery: "Kerry Kilcannon is a young senator from New Jersey, the younger brother of a murdered presidential aspirant. Now Kerry, too, is seeking the presidency. But Kerry's past and present have begun to converge."
A fun, fast paced suspense thriller that hooked me in from the first chapter, which is no easy feat considering that I don't usually reach for this kind of genre. The story is mainly focused on an intense Presidential primary where a Democrat hopeful Kerry Kilcannon seems to be fighting against all the odds, battling with a crazy anti-abortion assassin and dealing with his personal life being exposed and scrutinised in the press. The politics (touching upon abortion rights, gun control and privacy issues) are very believable, easy to get into and thoroughly compelling, though there are some tangents here and there that make the story drag out unnecessarily. A little editing would have made this book so much more enjoyable, but I loved it for the most part. [3/5]
(4) The New Curry Secret by Kris Dhillon
I don't usually feature cookery books, but I've been so impressed by this one, I just had to give it a cheeky shout out. If you're after a beginner's guide to making basic and more complex curry dishes, then this is the book for you. It's super easy to use and follow, the recipes are absolutely delicious and there are plenty of vegetarian recipes. So far I've made several starters (the Vegetable Samosas are excellent!) and main courses, all of which have gone down a storm with my housemates. [4/5]
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