Book review – The Mandibles: A Family 2029–2047 (by Lionel Shriver)

the_mandibles.JPGI think I’m on to Lionel Shriver’s secret: timing, research – and sharp story-telling doesn’t hurt either.

She taps into the single fear that is uppermost in the nation’s mind and crafts a story that drags that fear into an extreme reality. Afraid your kid is going to go postal? Shriver’s got a book for that. Worried that your financial resources will be depleted by a bout of cancer? She’s got a novel for that too.

Right now the middle classes are scared that the ongoing financial crisis will render them destitute by the time they hit retirement age, and right on cue the Shriver literary machine pops out a book about a moderately wealthy family that finds itself increasingly less wealthy as the US economy crashes and the encumbent government decides (unwisely) to default on its international debts.

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Book review: Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All – by Jonas Jonasson

hitman_anders.jpgI bought the book because I loved the idea: a failed priest, the grandson of a millionaire, and a geriatric hitman just out of prison. Circumstances throw them together, and together they come up with some pretty odd ideas to scam money out of their fellow Swedes. The book is a good long poke at organised religion, which manages to deliver a few smiles and the occasional raised eyebrow along the way, but if I had to sum it up in one word, then I’d probably go for ‘likeable’.

Hitman Anders showed great promise in the early chapters, but it lost its way a little bit towards the middle. It kept me reading, which is good sign because I’m happy to drop a book if I’m not enjoying it. The author delivers basic but workable characterisations and keeps things moving at a mild canter.  He does have  to resort  to the occasional ‘lookahead’ though, to keep the reader moving to the next chapter.  Yes, it works, but I always feel it’s cheating for some reason… Still, it doesn’t happen too often so I’m probably being picky.

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Film review – Warcraft: The Beginning

I wasn’t going to see it; I don’t even play World of Warcraft which probably means I’m not the intended audience, but it was a nice day and I fancied being stuck inside a large dark room, so ignoring all past experiences of games made into movies, I popped down to the local picture house to see if it was as bad as I was expecting it to be.


And do you know what, I was pleasantly surprised.

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