Book Reviews: April and May

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I promised I’d be back with more books soon, didn’t I? I thought I’d better get on with posting some reviews before I got too piled up with lots of them again. Since we were in Florida over April/May, I managed to get more reading done than I normally would do in a normal 2 week span, although not as much as I expected I would, but that’s mostly due to the fact that my family isn’t really the sunbathing type and we spent a lot of time in the parks and being busy instead! So, let’s just get straight on with the books today, shall we?

Intervention by W. R. R. Munro – 5/10

I didn’t dislike this book as such, since I wanted to continue reading it and was mildly interested by the storyline, but it wasn’t entirely what I expected. As you know, I favour books to do with future worlds driven awry by disease etc., and from the blurb that’s what I expected this to be about. In essence, it was, but there was a lot more to it than that, and a quite substantial amount of stuff that didn’t particularly interest me, for example, it got a bit too “science-y” for my liking at points. It begins with Ayden Walker, a field researcher, exploring a problem with bees and pollination, before he realises it’s much deeper than he thought and ends up in a world of secrets and lies. I did enjoy aspects of the relationships going on, the way that technology might have evolved in 20 years time (for example, they used what appear to be a very sophisticated version of Google Glass) and how issues such as overpopulation were being faced. It was enough to get me to finish the book, but not enough to recommend it to many people (although I think it would make a great film!).

This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers – 7.5/10

This was a long book, more than 800 pages! I read this as my book club book for the month. It’s written in diary form (a “Pillow Book”), following the life of Cordelia Kenn from 16 up until the present age of 19, written for her unborn daughter to read when she’s 16. She writes honestly about everything in her life, from her first serious relationship to how she is now, including issues with her family and her relationship with her best friend. It sounds very young adult, teenagery, but to be honest, I thought there was a lot more to it than that. It’s really obvious how much she changes as a character throughout. There was a strange section in the middle that really threw me, as the book is written in an A/B form with the A storyline on one page, B on the other – the problem was that I was reading on my Kindle, so sentences just suddenly stopped and started in the middle of what they were saying, plus I didn’t have much access to the internet to check if it was just my version of the book being weird! I eventually got it though and think it would work well if it was in real book form! We haven’t yet discussed this in book club, but I ended up actually writing notes for this one, since I knew I would forget otherwise. Overall, I enjoyed it, and would probably read more by the author, who surprised me by being a 79 year old man! He wrote so cohesively about the life of a teenage girl that I couldn’t believe it!

Enchantment Adventyr by Carol Elizabeth Skog – 5.5/10

I got this book off NetGalley, thinking from the description it would be a fairytale type story of Sweden – it was that, but it was fairly different to what I expected. I think I thought it would be a “grown up” fairytale, but in reality, it’s probably one I would rather read to children. That’s not to say it was bad, because it was certainly very interesting. A woman wanting to discover her Swedish heritage travels from America to meet a Count who will tell her about her ancestors, but is cast into a spell pushing her back in time where she sees these ancestors with her own eyes. I loved the folklore aspect of it, but as I said, it was more something for children, perhaps those with Swedish roots. It was very short, but interestingly had an explanation of the story behind it and traditional Swedish recipes in the back too.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – 7/10

I bought this book off Amazon after seeing rave reviews because I’m frequently swayed by these, then read it while on holiday, expecting fully to love it. I did like it, but I wasn’t crazy about it as some reviewers are. A baby is born in snowy England, but passes away before she breathes for the first time. A baby is born in England and screams, then goes on to live her life. Ursula Todd is born time and time again, dying in a different way, then going on past that point and living longer before dying again. It’s a really interesting premise that I’ve seen lots of in book descriptions recently, and done very well. Some people apparently find it difficult to grasp, but it seemed okay to me. Sometimes her life continues pretty much exactly the same as the previous, sometimes it is entirely different because of one small change – for example, spending time in Germany in the run up to the war or working in England clearing up the debris of war-stricken London. The timing of the book during the war was fascinating, and it meant you got to see it from all angles and all possibilities too. In the end though, I found myself a little bit frustrated that she would just keep dying! A good book that I would recommend, but not quite up to the rave reviews.

Then and Always by Dani Atkins (Fractured) – 6.5/10

This is being released as “Then and Always” in the US, and is available in the UK as “Fractured”. This was another NetGalley read, and actually one with a fairly similar premise to the last book: Rachel suffers in an accident on the night she celebrates before she and her friends are about to embark on their future lives at uni. She is horribly injured, it ends her relationship with Matt, her best friend Jimmy dies, and her hopes of a career are no longer. Five years later she returns to her hometown for an old friend’s wedding, but suffers another accident from which she wakes into an entirely different life: she is engaged to Matt, she has her dream job, and even more surprisingly, Jimmy is still alive. The story was pretty good and very easy to follow. I liked Rachel’s character and the way her relationship with the others in her “new life” develops throughout the book, but I found it fairly simplistic at times. It was a nice easy read, but a little bit too predictable at times. It’s another with rave reviews that I didn’t feel it lived up to in the end.

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey – 8/10

With the tagline, “How do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?”, Maude is 82 years old and suffers with her memory. It’s quite clear to the reader that she has Alzheimer’s, but all Maude knows is that her friend Elizabeth is missing. She lives alone with carers and a daughter who drop in daily to help her out, and she keeps notes for herself all over the house, in her pockets, and in her bag to remind her of anything and everything. The story flickers between past and present, which I really loved reading because it shows how Maude’s brain is working – quite often, things from the past impact on her present, the major thing being her friend Elizabeth being missing having parallels to her sister’s disappearance when she was younger. The deterioration of her mind is obvious throughout, and it’s both interesting and saddening, but at the same time she tells her story in a hilarious way. Both stories come together neatly at the end. I really enjoyed this book and read it pretty quickly – it’s a fantastic insight into how the elderly mind works as well as being a great story, one I would definitely recommend.

The Accident by C. L. Taylor – 7/10

I decided to read this because of the parallels drawn to Gone Girl with it, which is one of my current favourites, but I found it wasn’t quite as close as I thought which meant I was constantly expecting bigger twists and was disappointed to find that the big twist was the predictable one! Sue’s daughter Charlotte is in a coma after being hit by a bus. She comes across Charlotte’s diary and finds an entry that suggests that everything may not quite be as it seems in her life, so delves further to try and work out what happened and why. The narrative is punctuated by excerpts from Sue’s own diary from her youth where she writes about her life with her boyfriend. She begins to mistrust everyone, from her daughter to her husband to the people around her, but knows she must figure it out before Charlotte retreats further into the coma. Overall, it was actually a pretty good read, but not the best. I read this one fairly quickly too, mostly because I was waiting for the twist and heard that it came towards the end, so raced there and found it wasn’t that exciting, but I would still recommend it.

1 Comment

  1. May 27, 2014 / 1:24 am

    Hi beautiful,
    I was just browsing through & stumbled upon your lovely blog – It looks gorgeous and it has interesting posts that I can relate to. I’m now following you via gfc, keep in touch love x

    Benish | Feminist Reflections

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