FictionFan’s Book Reviews

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I’m gradually compiling full indexes in the menu at the top of the page. Meantime, you can find a review by author, genre or title using the Find A Review drop-down box on the right, click on tags in the Tag Cloud, or browse my most recent reviews below.

I’d love for you to leave a comment either about a particular review or the blog in general.

Thank you for visiting.

70 thoughts on “FictionFan’s Book Reviews

  1. I probably read about a book and a half a week, but I’ve been reviewing on Amazon for about two years now, so I’ve got probably well over a hundred to post – I expect the blogosphere will be bored rigid with me by the time I get through them all! I’m not really a very techie person – I tried a couple of other themes first and didn’t get on with them at all, but this one, Titan, makes the menus really easy – and it’s one of the free ones. But I think yours looks great – fabulous photos!

    What made you decide to start blogging?

  2. Booklion Recommendations:

    I thought that the book you described, Equilateral, sounded fantastic! I’m definitely going to have to check it out; I love it when authors play with genres in the way you describe.

    Based on your love of literature, mashed genres, and a highly rated Tudor book I saw on your blog, I’d recommend Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.
    They follow the reign of Henry XIII through the eyes of Cromwell. I think you’d like it because of
    how Mantel blends traditional historical fiction with a post-modern writing style and perspective.
    She doesn’t succumb to the pressure of using fake-sounding period language, and instead
    populates the characters thoughts and speech with her own beautiful brand of modern
    language, which makes the characters so much more real and believable.

    Based on your eclectic tastes, love of sparse language, and desire to read non-fiction, I’d recommend Salt by Mark Kurlansky. (http://thebooklion.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/salt/)

    I’d also recommend Among Others by Jo Walton, which reminds me a bit of your description of Equilateral. It is a fantastic mashing up of science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction – with a fantastic mid-century British backdrop. She combines the sparse writing of classic sci-fi with more literary character development and a modern feminine perspective.

    Thanks for filling out my survey! Feel free to let me know whether these book recommendations work for you or not.

    • Thank you!! Well, I have read both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies – and loved both of them. In fact Bring Up the Bodies was my second favourite book last year, just behind Patrick Flanery’s Absolution, so your recommendation of those was spot on! So on that basis I’m very encouraged to try your other recommendations, neither of which I’ve come across before – I’ll let you know how I get on. 🙂

    • Hallo, BigSister! I did study history – just not seriously enough or long enough to actually remember any! 😉

      May I say, without meaning to be rude, how stunned I am that you worked out how to create a Gravatar?! Facebook, WordPress – have you been taken over by aliens???

      • No, but I have practically adopted a 13-year-old! I also think I’m a class project for the after-school clubbers who are VERY impressed by my touch screen computer – seriously, I can do much more when my hands don’t hurt.

    • Thank you, Yvo! I’m very honoured! I’ve been enjoying visiting your blog too, as you know.

      I hope you don’t mind but I don’t normally participate in awards – I still feel very flattered to be nominated though. Greatly appreciated! 😀

  3. I just wanted to let you know I have nominated you for the Liebster Award! 😀 Please don’t feel obligated to participate, I just wanted to share the book love… More information you can find here. 🙂

  4. Yes of course not a problem. My mum is needing more care and it is such now that I may have to stop writing the book review blog. With the Open Uni course about to start a new year, writing my book review blog, I also write a blog about Inspector Morse and I am trying to write the great British novel 🙂 I don’t know if i’m coming or going. Anyway, sorry again for all the nonsense, delete away.

  5. For some odd reason I haven’t received your last few posts – apologies if you thought I’d been ignoring your great posts! It may be because I was fiddling with my “blogs followed” list, as for some reason that had omitted yourself, Cleo, and a couple of others, so in trying to fix that I perhaps knocked myself off your automatic e-mail list. I wanted to ask, if you wouldn’t mind, would you care to add my blog to the list of ones you follow? It’s a great way to get referrals to each other. I’m still working on sorting mine out…do hope you and Tommy and Tuppence are well? And where is this Spring they promised us? Best, Lin xx

    • It’s very easy to ‘unfollow’ by accident, I find – it’s happened to me too occasionally. I usually update my blogroll every few months as bloggers drop off. I think you follow pretty much everyone I do now anyway. It’s not as big a pond as it first looks…

      • No – but I have found a couple in the last week or two who I enjoy. I can’t bear the blogs who are too “busy” or write pink on blue – it gives me a migraine thinking about it. They tend to be the romantic lot – loads of em. Ditto YA and fantasy. So few do the odd non fiction, like you do, or Lady F – I know they take longer to read but they’re great review material! I think I’m back on course now and you SHOULD appear on the list of blogs I follow!

  6. I just read your lovely piece on Vertigo and wanted to say a few things back to you….

    I am sorry you are not a Kim Novak fan, she was not my fav actress then either but her looks work wonderfully in this film. I was always eternally grateful the original actress got herself pregnant. Vera Miles never had the looks or the charisma required for the role. Kim’s cheekbones alone move her into goddess status, and that is what draws Scotty into her world. That’s a wonderful face sculpted in beautiful marble. And she had an uncertainty about her that worked very well, perhaps thanks to Hitch beating her down before, during and probably after the shoot, i.e. taking her to dinner on first meeting and then bringing up topics he knew would not be part of her vocabulary, like fine french wines, sophisticated this or that. She reportedly felt terrible afterwards, but I am sure Hitch noted every flicker of emotion that crossed her face, and he probably smiled to himself as he thought, that’s my girl. Had Hitch been a nicer guy, we wouldn’t have this enticing film at all. Steve Martin said comedy is not pretty; let’s go further and just say, art is not pretty, sometimes.

    You say that the original french character was a nasty guy, whereas Scotty is sort of ok. I take major exception to that, he’s a psychological bully of the first order to such an extent that Hitch chose the odd casting of Stewart to mitigate that aspect. I get now why he did that, but it probably confused audiences and killed its chances to get a decent reception when it first premiered.

    The transformation scene is a key indicator of Scotty’s character. He feels vindicated somehow when he sees Judy emerge from the shadows, a new Madeleine. The music soars with the love theme as he embraces her, but then the scene dramatically shifts, recalling those weird drawings of Edward Munch of the figures embracing, close embraces, but someone is always being smothered by the shadow of
    the other. The camera rotates around them but we never really see her, it’s all about him. The music becomes frightening and disjointed, as if the two parts of Scotty were dukking it out here. I think the mystery of this film is enclosed in this scene, and Hitch carries it out without a word of dialogue. Stupendous!

    That shattering scene leads to an ending that leaves me feeling utterly shattered. I am standing with him on that ledge, looking down at my handiwork. Free of my ailment, but my god, what have I done?

    • Ah, see, I don’t find Kim Novak charismatic in any way, though I accept it’s a matter of preference. For me, she’s too static, and when she emotes, it always seems overdone. Poor woman! Having to put up with Hitch’s tactics would make anyone feel terrible – I sometimes wish I didn’t like his films quite so much!

      Interesting that you feel that way about Scotty in the film. The reason the film doesn’t work quite as well for me as the book is that I find Scotty’s transformation rather unbelievable. I agree that once his obsession takes hold, he becomes a psychological bully, but in the beginning, when we see him with Midge and she is clearly so fond of him (and not at all in awe of him) he seems like a nice chap – a bit weak and vain perhaps, but not at all like what he becomes. In the book, however, his character is much more consistent throughout, which makes his obsession and subsequent behaviour feel more credible. Much though I love Midge in the film, I rather think her presence and affection for Scotty is wrong for the story – the loner in the book feels truer.

      I shall rewatch the transformation scene – I’m not good at picking up on the cinematic stuff like music and so on, so I’ll watch out for it more carefully. The thing is, I do like the film very much and agree the ending is powerful – but I do think the book has the edge. I don’t know if you’ve read it, but the ending is quite different, equally powerful, but to my mind more psychologically credible. But that’s not to take away from the film really – the joy is that both are excellent in different ways! And lead to good discussions… 🙂

      Thanks for your comment – I enjoyed thinking about both book and film again, and you’ve made me want to watch it again!

  7. I am quite keen now to read the book, just to learn more of the underpinnings of Vertigo, and it’s why I came to your blog to see what people had to say about it. The writers also did the original story of Diabolique, another film I admire. The french seem to have this thing about people returning, I am remembering Cocteau did his film Orpheus during that period too. I love the theme.

    Madge knows she’s going to fail with Scotty, because she is too much part of the mundane world, and Scotty wants something far beyond her. Sometimes it pays to cast an actress not for her skill, which I agree with you was limited in Novak’s case, but I think for her iconic look. Hitch may have encouraged her to play it flat, the better to let Scotty work his own dream onto her. She’s like a statue, moving through the scenes, but without any hint as to who lives inside. Kinda ironic that Kim speaks lovingly of this experience, when all she did really was look her look and wear some stunning clothes. And of course put up with Hitch’s weird psychology. She probably deserved an award of some sort just for that:0).

    I enjoyed your comments, many thanks!

    • Yes, I believe Diabolique was based on She Who Was No More, which is languishing amongst my pile of unread books. I haven’t seen the film, so this time my plan is book first, then movie.

      Certainly, Hitch’s blondes gave his movies a distinctive look – in fact, he used women’s looks in a lot of ways that became ‘trademarks’, with several of his female characters wearing spectacles for instance at a time when women on film just didn’t. But for me his top blonde with stunning clothes is Grace Kelly in Rear Window – I would kill for the black and white frock! (And the figure to carry it off… 😉 )

      Likewise! Thanks for visiting!

  8. I never was a Kim Novac fan either–she always reminded me a bit of Linda Darnell and maybe Brooke Shields: beautiful women who project a glacial, doll-like vibe on screen.

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