The Blurb

High Fidelity is Nick Hornby’s hilarious and heart-breaking first novel bestseller

Do you know your desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups?

Rob does. He keeps a list, in fact. But Laura isn’t on it – even though she’s just become his latest ex. He’s got his life back, you see. He can just do what he wants when he wants: like listen to whatever music he likes, look up the girls that are on his list, and generally behave as if Laura never mattered. But Rob finds he can’t move on. He’s stuck in a really deep groove – and it’s called Laura. Soon, he’s asking himself some big questions: about love, about life – and about why we choose to share ours with the people we do.

A million-copy bestseller, and adapted into a 2000 film starring John Cusack, High Fidelity explores the world of break-ups, make-ups and what it is to be in love. This astutely observed and wickedly funny book will be enjoyed by readers of David Nicholls and William Boyd, and by generations of readers to come.

The Review

It has been 15 years since the movie High Fidelity was released into cinemas. It was 15 years ago that I sat in a movie theatre thinking to myself “well there is two of my life that I am never getting back.”

I hated it. Not even my weird crush on John Cusack could save this film for me. I have watched it again as an adult (I was fifteen when I saw it in the cinema) and even then I just could not find a redeeming factor in the movie much to the chagrin of some of my male friends.

Fifteen years later, I read the book version. Fifteen years later, I found the redeeming factor.

You are probably wondering why I decided to read High Fidelity considering I hate the film so much. Well, last year I read a few Nick Hornby novels: Juliet, Naked, A Long Way Down, Stuff I’ve been Reading to name a few and I fell in love with his writing style. In one week I managed to inadvertently acquire two copies of High Fidelity (both from independent book stores – I think protagonist Rob would approve of this fact) and I decided to add it to my ever growing to be read pile. Once again, Nick Hornby’s writing made me smile.

High Fidelity is brilliant. I mean, it makes me utterly thankful that I was born female because the male psyche is just bizarre but the book itself was excellent. All these misnomers I have believed about the male species – gone or at least explained away. I feel enlightened, lighter by the knowledge that I have gained. Hazzah.

Nick Hornby is one of my favourite authors. He is an author who has yet to let me down which is why I am thankful that I have many more of his novels to read. Next up, Funny Girl!

In keeping with the High Fidelity theme – here are my top five Dessert Island Discs…or rather top five songs.

1)            Town Called Malice – The Jam

2)            Born to Run – Adam Green

3)            La Vie en Rose – Edith Piaf

4)            Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield

5)            That Boy – The Beatles

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby is available now.

High Fidelity

Synopsis

At the age of 36 Michelle, chicken packer extraordinaire, did not expect to be living in such a rut. Living in the shadow of her dead sister and pretty much abhorred by her teenage daughter Michelle knows she has to make a change. When she strikes a deal with her rebellious daughter to marry George Clooney her initial reasons were selfish – to stop her daughter Josie from sleeping with sweaty not-good-enough-for-her boyfriend Sean and well to possibly get to marry George Clooney. However, life has a funny way of twisting fate and making you see the bigger picture.

Review

Ok, let me just start by saying two things. Firstly, I loved this story. It was funny, the characters were endearing and it was quite frankly unlike anything I have ever read before. Secondly, the storyline is absurd – people tend to take that word the wrong way. I assure I mean it in only the positive sense. It is such a bonkers, over the top, out of this world idea that it really did only have two ways of going. It would either work completely or it would fall apart hopelessly. Fortunately, for the readers of I Will Marry George Clooney (…By Christmas) and indeed for Tracy Bloom this book definitely falls into the former category.

What I think makes this book so special is that it focuses on the relationship between mother and daughter rather than the love story being the central theme; the uneasy relationship between Michelle and Josie strangely paradoxes the relationship between Michelle and her own mother, Kathleen. Michelle seems t get it from both sides. She cannot fill the shoes of her sister Jane who tragically died and she cannot be the mother that Josie wants her to be. Josie reacts and acts out due to the frustrations of not knowing who she really is and at her mother’s own willing to fade into the background rather than make anything of herself and, like any petulant teenager, makes Michelle feel all the more a bad mother for it by being snarky, disrespectful and disobedient. Kathleen doesn’t make things any easier on Michelle by always putting her down.

Yes, you can’t help but feel sorry for Michelle throughout this book, her confidence is at an all time low and she relies on her friends to remind her how wonderful she is. And truly, Bloom has created a rather marvellous character in Michelle. Bloom also succeeds in reminding her readers that life is short and you should become the hero in your own life story.

I Will Marry George Clooney (…By Christmas) by Tracy Bloom is available now.

You can follow Tracy Bloom on Twitter @TracyBBloom

Tracy Bloom

 

Synopsis

When Jam Gallahue is sent to The Wooden Barn – a therapy centre for teenagers – she feels like her world is ending yet again, she is being ripped away from her family; just like Reeve Maxfield was ripped away from her. She has been sent to this facsimile of a boarding school to get over her “trauma” but the last thing Jam wants to do is get over Reeve.

Her class schedule has her down for an exclusive course called Special Topics in English – and it is only during that class that Jam (along with fellow classmates) really begin to deal with their own personal grief.

Review

I had wanted to read Belzhar for a long time and yes I will admit that I was entranced by the cover more than the blurb. However, once I read the blurb I was full of hope that the book would live up to the front and back cover.

It genuinely did.

I have never read a book by Meg Wolitzer before but I was utterly blown away by this story. The concept was so unusual but executed so very well. I had total belief that the events that took place in between these pages could happen. I fully immersed myself in the world at The Wooden Barn and I truly believed in the power of writing as a healing method (granted the last one was a long standing belief but it applies to this book too).

The gentle touches of magic realism were captivating. They weren’t oppressive or questionable and if anything helped lend a level of empathy to everyone’s individual story. It would be easy to just label this book as a coming of age drama in which the plights and teenage angst of certain individuals help the story move along. To do that though you would be completely trivialising what is in fact a rather impressive story.

It has made me want to read more of Wolitzer’s books.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer is available now.

 

Title: Arms Wide Open: a Novella

Author: Juli Caldwelll

Pages: 137

Synopsis

Lauren’s roommate, Harlow, is fed up. Since Lauren finished grad school she has spent the days becoming more and more slovenly; her dishes are piled up in the sink; she hasn’t changed her clothes in days. Harlow is more than miffed…she is also a little worried.

So when Harlow challenges Lauren to go to a speed dating night Lauren is guilt-tripped into accepting. Harlow is hopeful that among the local freaks and weirdo’s Lauren might just find the one.

Review

As far as short stories go this one was pretty good. I will admit it was a little bit of a slow burner. I think that Caldwell left the big reveal a tad too late and the few hints that she gave to the reader in the earlier chapters might not have been enough to hold their attention.

I do feel like this is another one of those short stories that may have worked better as a full length novel. The back story was good enough to hold my interest and it would have been fascinating to see the relationship dynamics between Lauren, Grant and Oliver.

Overall, this was an enjoyable short story but could have been made better if there was more of it to read.

Arms Wide Open: A Novella by Juli Caldwell is available now.

 

Title: Arms Wide Open: a Novella

Author: Juli Caldwelll

Pages: 137

Synopsis

Lauren’s roommate, Harlow, is fed up. Since Lauren finished grad school she has spent the days becoming more and more slovenly; her dishes are piled up in the sink; she hasn’t changed her clothes in days. Harlow is more than miffed…she is also a little worried.

So when Harlow challenges Lauren to go to a speed dating night Lauren is guilt-tripped into accepting. Harlow is hopeful that among the local freaks and weirdo’s Lauren might just find the one.

Review

As far as short stories go this one was pretty good. I will admit it was a little bit of a slow burner. I think that Caldwell left the big reveal a tad too late and the few hints that she gave to the reader in the earlier chapters might not have been enough to hold their attention.

I do feel like this is another one of those short stories that may have worked better as a full length novel. The back story was good enough to hold my interest and it would have been fascinating to see the relationship dynamics between Lauren, Grant and Oliver.

Overall, this was an enjoyable short story but could have been made better if there was more of it to read.

Arms Wide Open: A Novella by Juli Caldwell is available now.