Book Reviews: March and April

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So since I last posted about managing to spectacularly bruise my arm by falling on it (my dad says I might have chipped the bone a bit) while taking the cat litter tray out, I’ve only managed to go and get clumsier. Yesterday evening, I was washing my hands after clearing up from tea and managed to knock Ben’s “favourite glass” off the draining board onto the tiled floor – of course, it completely shattered, right in front of the cupboard where the dustpan and brush were, so I couldn’t reach them. So I set about picking up the bigger pieces, went to put them in the bin, and managed to get hit by the automatic bin lid, crunching the glass in my fist and cutting my hand. So I cried a bit (as I tend to do!), while Ben vacuumed up the rest and I cleaned my hands off. Ben then asked me to look for the dustpan and brush in the cupboard as he couldn’t find it, I opened it only to find that a litre glass bottle of sparkling lemon and ginger (which I was really looking forward to drinking!) was leaning against the door, so of course that came smashing to the ground, shattered everywhere, cut my hand again and splashed sticky liquid everywhere.
So that was my clumsiness part over, but apparently things really do come in threes, because when I went to bed, my bladder felt twingey, and yep, of course I had cystitis after I thought it had been cured by the operation I had in January. So I ended up leaving bed just before midnight, and drinking 2 litres of water and pacing the downstairs of our house because that’s the only thing that makes it bearable. Then, yep it gets worse, I got a very familiar pain in my upper abdomen, and somehow, the excruciating pain I suffered with my gallstones was back, despite having no gallbladder. When it reached the point that I couldn’t move from the living room floor or breathe, Ben had to call the emergency number. I’d taken ibuprofen, codeine and buscopan, so I knew the pain would start to subside soon, so I decided not to make the half hour trip to hospital. Eventually it did subside enough that I was able to fall asleep until the weight of all the pills.
So yeh, not feeling so great at the moment – sore, bruised arm, cut up hands from the glass, cystitis, and now suffering the after effects of the gallbladder (?) pain. And now you’ve heard all about me and my illnesses again, I’ll get on with this post! More book reviews from March and the beginning of April. I decided to do a post now, mid-April, because we’re going to Florida in a week and a half, so I imagine I’ll be reading plenty there and didn’t want too many in one post! So here we go with the next batch:

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe – 7.5/10

This was our book club book for the month, and I decided to get on with it early because I wanted to make sure I got it finished in time – luckily it was quite an easy read so I got through it quickly! It sounded like the type of thing I would read anyway: a young woman at grad college is spending her summer doing research for her dissertation as well as helping to clear out her late grandmother’s house near Salem. In the house, she discovers an ancient key with a hidden noting saying only “Deliverance Dane” inside an old Bible, and decides to find out what the name might mean. This begins her long journey to find a Physick Book, filled with old knowledge and power which she needs for her research as well as other reasons. I’d say it was definitely a good read, but there were certain parts where it became a little far fetched. The book often delved into the past and history of the family and book – some of this was good, but it did jump around a little bit too much and could be annoying. But I would recommend it if you like anything to do with the Salem witch trials (as I do!).

John Dreamer by Elise Celine – 6/10

I think I’ve mentioned before that I use NetGalley for review copies of books, and I’d managed to get a bit of a backlog of books on there that I needed to read and review, so I decided to get going on those this month. This story begins a bit suddenly, with a girl waking up alone in a big white room and confused as to where she is and why. Six other people also appear just as suddenly and just as confused, all strangers, but one who she feels she recognises. A man called The Guardian then enters the room, seemingly from nowhere, and explains (somewhat begrudgingly) that they are there to fulfil their dreams. The dreams they all participate in are shocking, surprising, strange and confusing, but well described. There is of course the typical YA romance, and it has a fairly predictable storyline, but again, a nice easy read, probably better for younger readers.

The Deja Vu Experiment by J. G. Renato – 4/10

I hate being harsh on books because there is so much hard work put into writing each one, but I didn’t enjoy this book. I wasn’t sure what it would be at first, but I knew it was non fiction. I thought it might be something to do with psychology behind deja vu experiences, stories about it, something like that, but it turned out to be entirely different – very philosophical, and to be honest I couldn’t really describe it accurately to you. I started off fairly interested to see what it was about, but got quickly bored and read it fast so I could get through it. After reading Ancient Greek philosophy in the original language at uni, this just fell very far short for me, and I often felt it was demeaning to those original authors in the way they were criticised at points (I believe one sentence said: “Bless them” talking about an expert in a particular field). It may be interesting for someone else, but wasn’t for me.

Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes – 7.5/10

Weirdly I wasn’t expecting to like this book that much, but I did. It’s set in the late 1300s in Britain, a medieval world very different to the one we know today, with completely different customs and laws. A group of men, plus the main character Mear, a woman who has lived years disguised as a man, set out to get justice for their sons’ deaths who had died in a fire, the door of the house tied shut with an intricate knot. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction in this era, but it had great reviews, so I decided to go ahead with reading it anyway. The journey they undertake, travelling from their village to London on foot with their sons’ bodies on a cart through the depths of winter is long and treacherous, as is the prose. There were times early in the book where I wasn’t entirely sure what exactly was happening and was getting a bit fed up, but I persevered and ended up really enjoying it. The people they meet on the way are particularly fascinating, and the way that women are treated is so completely different. I would definitely recommend this, but be prepared for a long read that’s at times difficult to get through.

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert – 8.5/10

I reviewed a couple of Natasha Mostert books in my last lot and very much enjoyed them, so I decided to save the last book I had of hers until later so I didn’t get through them all in one go! Her books in general combine the supernatural and transcendent with everyday life, and that’s one of the things I like most about them. This one started a little differently from the others, and I was at first worried it wouldn’t be as good as the others, but once it got into the story, I really enjoyed it. It follows computer hacker Gabriel who is able to enter another person’s head as a “remote viewer”, in the past a skill he used to help find missing people. He is approached by a man asking him to help find his missing son, and the man’s wife turns out to be an ex of his from his former life. He reluctantly agrees to help, and is drawn into a world where everything is not as it seems, frequenting Monk House, the assumed site of the disappearance, and the other-worldly sisters that occupy it, drawn in by their spell. As with the other Mostert books I’ve read, the descriptions are my favourite part. With Windwalker, I stopped breathing during the cave diving scenes, and this book was no different. When Gabriel enters the world inside people’s heads, the description and experience is unforgettable, and I was completely drawn in. The novel also includes somewhat of a study into extreme memory skills and how they have been used in witchcraft, alchemy and other disciplines, and I found this fascinating. This was a must-read for me, and would recommend others to read it too. It’s pretty easy to get through, with an intriguing set of characters, enthralling storyline and simply amazing descriptions.

The Quick by Lauren Owen – 6.5/10

This book has received some rave reviews, although it is pretty hard to review without giving away the main twist and spoiler (which I won’t do!), so I decided to read it. The premise seemed good – a young man from a rather distinguished country home in Yorkshire in the 1890s travels down to find his fortune in London, and is sucked into the world of seedy Gentlemen’s clubs, in particular the Aegolius, only to disappear and his sister to be forced to travel to find him. The book starts with the pair in their childhoods, remembering specific events that make an impact on their lives, including their father’s death, before heading into the next part set in London. I really enjoyed the beginning then lost focus a bit when it moved to London (maybe because London scares me and I love Yorkshire?!). There were times when things got a little confusing as many characters were introduced, and at times we saw the storyline from several points of view. I enjoyed the story as a whole, although the twist didn’t quite shock me as much as it has others apparently, but it might be due to the type of book I normally read, and it took me a little while to trawl through it. It certainly wasn’t bad, and to be honest I would recommend it, but I suppose I’m giving it a slightly lower rating because it didn’t, for me, live up to the reviews I’d read.

The Age of Miracles – 7.5/10

I bought this book recently on a whim because it sounded good; I suggested it for our next book club alongside another, but we decided to go with the other, so I thought I might as well read it now. I started (and got most of the way through it) last night in the depths of my pain, so annoyingly, the story will now be twined in my head with that, but I finished the book in less than 12 hours, reading it during the night and finishing it this morning. It is both a coming of age story and a dystopian present novel, focusing on an 11 year old girl and her few friends and family as the earth’s rotation begins to fairly dramatically slow. Days at first are only tens of minutes longer, but quickly become hours and hours longer, until late in the book daylight will last weeks at a time. You know I love dystopian novels, and coming of age books are always good for a quick and easy read. This one was great because it didn’t delve too far into the scientifics or too far into the teenagery side, a pretty good balance overall. I did very much enjoy it, and was fascinated by the things that happened both physically and mentally to people, animals and the world in general as the earth’s rotation slows – I keep worrying about it happening in real life now! I’d recommend it to younger teen to older teen readers, and people who like coming of age and YA books.

 

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