The Casual Vacancy – JK Rowling

  When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

I enjoyed The Casual Vacancy although not as much as I was anticipating.  Trying really hard not to compare to Harry Potter as JK Rowling’s long awaited first adult novel gets released with little publicity.  I think the publishers were hoping that although The Casual Vacancy is of a different genre to Harry Potter; the legacy would carry over the popularity.  However I think this is major oversight.  It is always a problem when such a well loved series could turn you into a “One Hit Wonder” should an author wish to change genre mid career.  I think should The Casual Vacancy have the same amount of hype created over Harry Potter it may have been better received.

JK Rowling has a lot of loyal fans – many who have grown up with the Harry phenomenon; now are adults so there is no questioning that the readers are there.  But I fear that many readers would be disappointed as the magic (pardon the pun) spun in Harry Potter is gone.  The book is slow in many places, feeling like I was wading through bumf to get to the good stuff.

The storey is good, current and very believable.  It mainly follows a death of a parish councillor and the lives of who nominate themselves to take the post.  There are many sub stories which following people who are affected by the council and the decisions that are made.   It’s very current covering death, council housing, drug addicts and adolescents.  The good bits are very good but it isn’t the easy read which JK Rowling fans are accustomed to.  I think hardcore fans will persevere where many will join the growing list of readers who did not finish.

I suppose it all boils down to one question: Does as author write to sell books? Or write a classic piece of literature that readers will enjoy again and again?  As Harry Potter is one and The Casual Vacancy is the other.  I’m rating this as an Okay Read.  My next book is My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding.

The Sugar Queen – Sarah Addison Allen

In this irresistible novel, Sarah Addison Allen, author of the New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.

Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.

Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.

I enjoyed reading this book, but however feel that it hasn’t rocked my world.  The writing is okay, the story fine but with the small bits of Magic, some love and relationship breakdowns I feel that it was missing a certain something to make this a great book.  It was easy to get into, however I was constantly questioning if this book was set in the real world or not.  The begining was slow and it really picked up toward the end.  I liked the ending as it finished the character’s stories off nicely but it was a little too predictable.  This book is a good book for holidays or if you’re in need of some chill our time.  I dont know what genre to put it in – it’s not chick lit; but it does have some magic, romance and heart break in it. 

I’m going to rate this book an Okay read.  My next book is Sign of the Times by Susan Buchanan.

Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend – Sarra Manning

Hope Delafield hasn’t always had an easy life.

She has red hair and a temper to match, as her mother is constantly reminding her. She can’t wear heels, is terrified of heights and being a primary school teacher isn’t exactly the job she dreamed of doing, especially when her class are stuck on the two times table.

At least Hope has Jack, and Jack is the God of boyfriends. He’s sweet, kind, funny, has a killer smile, a cool job on a fashion magazine and he’s pretty (but in a manly way). Hope knew that Jack was The One ever since their first kiss after the Youth Club Disco and thirteen years later, they’re still totally in love. Totally. They’re even officially pre-engaged. And then Hope catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie…  Does true love forgive and forget? Or does it get mad… and get even?

 

Don’t be fooled by the front cover of this read – it isn’t what you think.  If you’re expecting a quick break up at the beginning, a few chapters on the emotional state of Hope and then the rest of the book on revenge – you’ll feel cheated!  Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the book, but really it was the sex that kept me going in this book – Sarra Manning is very, very good at writing about sex!  But hands up to Sarra she hasn’t conformed to the norm, but in doing so I’m not sure if it quite works.  Throughout the book I was screaming at Hope to get a grip and also wanting to throttle Jack for being an idiot.  However their actions and responses were very true

This book stretches the chick-lit genre into something more serious and grown up.  I think maybe if it had a different name or even the cover designed differently than Sarra would capture a different audience who would appreciate it more.  I’m not going to rave about this book as it didn’t make me want to tell my friends a bout it.  Nor did it make me want to no put it down.  It took me over a week to read where most books take me four/five day’s tops.

But if I put my disappointment aside and judge this book for the storey it is – it doesn’t do too badly.  If you can get over the fact that this isn’t some fast paced chick lit which will make you laugh, cry and not want to put it down then you’ll find it a good read.  As it touches real emotions and a real topic which is refreshing to read.  If you want to try something new, broaden your horizons so to speak without going outside of your comfort zone then read this!

 I’m rating this book as an Okay Read

 

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