The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

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Picture credit: http://www.Netgalley.com

The best of Adam Sharp is about a middle aged man (you guessed it – Adam Sharp) working in a dull but well paid IT consultancy role. His relationship with partner Claire is also dull but functional, in an I’ll-cook-tonight-can-you-take-the-bins-out type way. Adam and Claire seem to be blandly plodding through life when a blast from the past gets in contact to reconnect with Adam. What happens next is possibly the most unemotional assessment of what would happen if… that I’ve ever read. There’s some sexy bits, some intrigue and lots of game playing, which make some parts of the book interesting but ultimately… yeah. The word that springs to mind is just, you know… dull.

Let’s start with the characters. Adam Sharp is a boring middle aged man. He builds IT databases. He’s in a pub quiz team. He has a dull partner who is in a walking club. He says himself that he’s not especially good looking. He lives in Norwich. AND YET WE ARE LED TO BELIEVE THAT HE MANAGES TO PULL AN EXTREMELY ATTRACTIVE AUSTRALIAN ACTRESS – because he can play the piano. I think the author may have wildly overestimated the effects of pub singers on women. Yes, it’s not completely beyond the realms of possibility but really? We’re also expected to believe that after a brief relationship in their early twenties, this glamorous, clever woman – who lives, let’s not forget, half way around the world – gets back in contact to pick up where they left off. Despite having a sexy husband and three kids. And living in Australia.

Then there’s the female characters themselves. There’s poor dull Claire, passively letting Adam drift out of her life (after 20 odd years) because her job keeps her happy. Then there’s Angelina, the sexy actress with the great life, loads of cash, husband, kids etc. And Adam gets to choose between them. In real life, I suspect both of them would have ditched him long ago. Instead, Adam selfishly meanders into a bizzare love triangle where he weighs up his options based entirely on what is best for him. There is literally no thought given to what the women are thinking or feeling – only a brief bit of guilt that he might break up a marriage and this would make him like his dad, who he hated/idolized in equal measure. This utter selfishness made me really dislike him – by the end of the book I wanted him to end up alone and living with his mother.

As far as the story goes, there’s an awful lot of Adam thinking about songs that express his emotions, but literally nothing about him actually feeling anything. A lot of the songs are pretty mainstream (Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan etc.) but I wasn’t familiar with some of them so the meaning was lost on me. There’s a lot of technical waffle about playing the piano in b minor or whatever which again was lost on me.

Throughout the book, the author mentions that Adam and Claire DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN at least ten times. I have no idea why this is such a massive deal, especially as we’re told that they’re both ok with the fact. Is the author saying you can’t have a happy lasting relationship without kids? Does that somehow make it ok to go off with other women? I’m not sure.

In fairness, the middle part of the book was quite interesting. Again, there was far too much technical detail about what wine was being drunk (who cares) and nothing about emotions/thoughts/feelings but once the story finally got going I found it could be quite enjoyable. Yes, there are some bits which are so middle aged man fantasy as to be almost a pastiche (short red see through negligee anyone?) but there was at least a bit of suspense. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long and concluded with a terrible ending but for a while I thought the book showed some promise. Case in point – the torrid love affair is interspersed with whole days devoted to logging on to the wi-fi to get some database building done. Whilst sat next to the woman that you’re passionately in love with. Who is also working away on her own laptop. Who said romance is dead?

Overall, I found this book quite boring. It picked up in the middle (where there was some actual action) but for the most part it was just a story about a man dithering between choosing one passive woman over another, with no concerns for their emotions or the fact that they might not want him. The sex scenes were more factual than passionate, there was far too much technical detail and I didn’t think the use of music to convey emotions worked particularly well. In fairness, the songs chosen were not the type that I would usually listen to so perhaps there was a layer of subtlety that was lost on me that other readers would have enjoyed – but I couldn’t find it. Not terrible, but not for me, I’m afraid.

Rating: 5/10

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Netgalley!

Thank you!


Hello lovely readers!

I’m very pleased to announce that my little blog has got over 50 followers! I also learnt that I’ve got over 200 likes! Wow!

I would just like to say a really sincere thank you to everyone who has read my posts, liked my content and commented on ramblings. I always respond to each and every comment and try to engage with other bloggers on a regular basis. This blog has never been about numbers or some weird extension of a popularity contest but it’s great to know that there’s a little corner of the internet that I’ve made my own – and that others like it too. 

I’ve found myself in a bit of a reading slump at the moment but I’ll be back to my regular posting schedule (Monday and Friday reviews, Wednesday news/feature article) next week. 

Much love to you all and happy reading!

Lucinda x

Review: Frenched by Melanie Harlow (Blind date with a book)

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https://jukejam.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/try-a-blind-date-with-a-book/

I read this book as part of a book tag challenge which I found on Lara’s blog. I think this is a great way to read something that you would never have chosen yourself, and hey, who doesn’t love a free ebook? In order to participate in the challenge, I completed a simple quiz that Lara had created. The result identified a free ebook called ‘Frenched’ by Melanie Harlow which I downloaded and read. The rules of the challenge state that anyone can take part as long as they agree to read and review whichever book is chosen for them…so here goes…

I have to say that I was initially disappointed in the book that I was given as it’s not the usual kind of thing that I would read. The front cover just showed a shot of a woman in a lacy bra which suggested that the story would be sex-heavy and content-lite. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not prudish in any way but I often find that sexed up chick lit can be a bit boring and predictable, especially if it badly written (which it often is).

To my surprise, I actually quite enjoyed the book. As the cover suggested, the story was predictable but was actually quite well written.

Please note that this is not the kind of novel that you would recommend to your mother (unless you have an extremely open relationship) as the two main characters end up having sex A LOT and when they’re not they’re either thinking about it or talking about it. There is a major focus on the main characters orgasming at the same time, as though this is the holy grail of great sex. In real life the female character would have got a UTI from the endless amounts of shagging (and possibly had to visit a sexual health clinic because SHE DIDN’T USE A CONDOM). I sensed that the author felt a bit of moral reluctance about having a character say the immortal lines ‘go ahead, I’m on the pill’ (as though pregnancy was the only thing that she should be protecting herself against) so there was a clumsy justification about ‘feeling that it was ok’ even though she was was aware of the risks because ‘she just wanted to feel close to him’. You won’t be thinking that when you test positive for chlamydia (or worse), I thought to myself.

Apart from that, there was an interesting bit of s&m action where it was nice to see a) a female enjoying herself and b) even playing a dominant role (although this scene was only mentioned briefly as a memory of the night before).

The sex scenes are quite varied and the narrative moves along nicely. Although the main female character falls hopelessly in love (in a week) and just wants to get married and have babies she doesn’t come across as particularly weak or needy in the majority of the text – although in the last few chapters she almost considers a relationship with her idiot ex because he buys her a pink Chanel handbag, which was so stereotypically awful that I couldn’t help but cringe. 

Some of the characters were a bit one dimensional and were often described as part of the scenery with no interaction between themselves and the two lead roles. For example, the main character has two friends who are totally interchangeable as their personalities are not explored at all. I think it would have added to the narrative if they had had a bigger part to play.

Overall the novel didn’t hold my attention enough to want to download the subsequent titles in the series but if you’re looking for an easy read (with lots of sex) then this is a good book to go for.

Overall rating: 5/10.

Review: Naomi and Eli’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

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I read this book as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 #18 – read a book that was made into a film, then watch the film. Decide which was better.

A word of warning – this book is a lot more adult than the title suggests. The book focuses on two main characters (Naomi and Eli) who are best friends living in New York. As Eli is a gay man and Naomi a straight girl, the pair foresaw that they may fall out over boys and so created a ‘no kiss list’ where they added any man who they both fancied. This should really have been called a ‘no sex list’ as Naomi and Eli are both college age and there are a number of references to more adult themes such as depression, sex (gay and straight), alcohol etc. Because of this, I found the book to be a little bit grittier than standard YA literature (not necessarily a bad thing).

My main issue with the book was that both Naomi and Eli (Naomi in particular) are self absorbed, self obsessed egomaniacs with very few redeeming features. I found it very hard to empathise with either of them. Also, Naomi uses emoji’s instead of words – call me old fashioned but I really hated this and found it really disrupted my reading flow.

In terms of the film, I found that it had followed the storyline of the book quite faithfully, except for some minor changes to the ending. I thought that the main characters had been made slightly more likeable  and the adult themes had been toned down, which made the whole thing a bit less gritty and a bit more family friendly. I thought the film was also more explicit in the way that key themes were explored so it was more obvious where the story was going.  

Overall, I actually preferred the film to the book (this is the first time that this has ever happened) although I would say that I wasn’t exactly enthralled with either. I think that the film has a more clear cut story and I was able to empathise with the main characters much more. Also, there was no annoying usage of emojis!

Overall rating book 5.5/10 film 6/10.  

Review: All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

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This book is #10 on my Book Riot Read Harder Challenge list – Read a book over 500 pages long.

Everyone seems to love this book but I just couldn’t get into it. The story centres around two children during the second world war, one in France and the other in Germany. Marie-Laure is a blind girl living in Paris with her father, a museum employee with a penchant for crafting tiny, intricate items from wood. As the war breaks out, the family move to Saint Malo to live with the reclusive Uncle Etienne. Werner is a gifted young orphan who gets conscripted by the Nazis due to his talent for fixing mechanical items, specifically radios. The book follows the lives of the children throughout the war but jumps between each (and a few other characters) with incredibly short chapters often a page or so long. It also moves backwards and forwards through time and takes in various other countries as the story unfolds. I found this really hard to follow and due to the brevity of the chapters couldn’t get a real handle on the characters until about half way in. It seemed inevitable that the children would meet and I found the build up far too slow. I enjoyed the last quarter of the book but thought the ending felt too rushed.

Overall, I found the prose very flowery and full of Americanisms which grated when spoken by German or French characters. Clearly this is a long book and although beautifully descriptive I thought it would have benefited from some heavy editing.

Score: 6/10.