Tag Archives: Friendship

Book Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

This novel has been on my ‘To read’ list for a long time, and the only reason that I have only just read it is that eternal problem of ‘too many books, too little time’.  I am sure that fellow voracious readers will fully understand that problem!

Unlike some modern classics, The Kite Runner not only lived up to its reputation – for me it completely smashed it, and quite simply is one of the very best books I have ever read.

For those of you who don’t know the story, or who haven’t cheated by watching the film first (shame on you ;-)), The Kite Runner is set in Afghanistan and the USA and tells the story of 2 young boys growing up in Kabul in the 1970s/80s during a time of great conflict, both externally with the Russian invasion, and internally with having to cope with class and ethnic divide.  Mention the word Afghanistan in the modern world, and most people will probably immediately think of war.  Although there is war in the book, from the Russian invasion and the emergence of the Taliban in the 1990s, there is also great description of the lives and traditions of ordinary Afghan people, which makes it all the more heartbreaking to think of the pain that has been inflicted on them over many years, from many different forces.

I really felt transported to the streets of Kabul, fully immersed in the sights, sounds and tastes of the boys’ childhood.  The story itself was so powerful and intoxicating to me that every so often I had to physically put the book down and remind myself to breathe.  This book is just so staggeringly beautiful, and destined to become a classic novel of our times.  I simply cannot wait to read Hosseini’s subsequent novels, and have already places and order at the library for A Thousand Splendid Suns.

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The Literary Owl rating: 10/10 (if there was a higher score than that, I would give it!)

Read with: Lots and lots of high-quality tea.

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Filed under Book Review, Literary Fiction

Book Review: The Burning by Jane Casey

A serial killer is loose in London, brutally beating his female victims to death before setting their bodies on fire and leaving them in public parks.  Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable on the investigation task force who is determined to do everything she can to bring the killer to justice, whatever the consequences in her personal life.

So far, so typical crime fiction, but what really sets this above its neighbours in the genre is Casey’s intelligent, detail-driven writing that isn’t just content to let the plot do the work of keeping the reader’s interest.  There is an in-depth look at the investigation into the 5th death attributed to ‘The Burning Man’, the predictable name given to the killer by the tabloids.  Told in the first person, the chapters alternate between the point of view of Maeve, and that of the victim’s best friend, Louise.  Both characters are richly portrayed; Maeve is likable, realistic and admirable in her commitment and drive; Louise is intriguing and guarded, slowly revealing more aspects of her character as the book progresses.  Supporting characters are vivid and add even more depth to the story, with Casey managing to avoid the usual police officer stereotypes.

Though dealing with a serious subject matter, there are a few smartly funny moments in the book that made me laugh out loud, eg.

As I walked down the street, I tried to analyse why I had disliked him so much.  Something about him was unsettling.  Something had made me edgy.  I thought he was a smug manipulative creep, for all his good looks.  But being a creep wasn’t an arrestable offence.

On the bright side, it was a life sentence.

The Burning is Casey’s series debut, with Maeve Kerrigan returning in The Reckoning, a book I ordered as soon as I put the current one down, and I already can’t wait to read it.  I feel invested in the character, like a new friend you click with immediately and can’t wait to spend more time with.  I hope it is as good as I believe it will be.  Look out for my review in the next few weeks!

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The Literary Owl Rating: 4.5/5

Read with: Some tasty, crunchy, raw vegetables with hummus. (Definitely nothing smoked or barbecued!)

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Filed under Book Review, Crime fiction