Mini Book Reviews: November 2016

Book reviews November 2016

Well, I had a lot of time for reading in November it seems! The cold and dark nights help, plus the fact that we’ve taken the panel off the bath in our en suite bathroom, so I’m not using that shower at the moment, instead having baths meaning…more time for reading! That and the RSI in my wrist which stopped me from using a computer for 3 days…not that I’m complaining because there have been some AWESOME reads in here! Check out The One Memory of Flora Banks and Faller below for some new favourites on the 2016 list:

Good Me Bad Me review

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land – 8/10 (Kindle edition)*

Plot: Annie arrives at her new home with a new name, a new family and a new identity. She has handed her mother in to the police for devastating crimes she has committed, the details of which become more apparent during the book, and is now in foster care as her mother’s trial approaches at which her evidence will be among the most important. But the blood of a murderer runs through Annie’s, now Milly’s, veins – is she her mother’s daughter or is her new identity a fresh start?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. It’s a psychological thriller than really plays on your best sense of judgement, especially if you’re me and you tend to think the best of people! Milly is a strong character who is well defined. I love the way her relationships with her foster family are defined and described, the way that they push and pull against each other, each falling apart and holding it together in their own way. The way that things are strategically shown through Milly’s eyes and not shown to the reader makes this a read that keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting to find out whether Milly is the “Good Me” or “Bad Me” that the title suggests.

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman review

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman – 10/10

Plot: Jane Hudson teaches Latin at Heart Lake in the Adirondacks to girls who have ended up at the school as an almost last resort. She herself is an old girl of the school, having left years earlier following a series of tragic events involving her best friends and the boy she loves. And now it seems that the events of her senior year are repeating themselves as pages from the journal that never turned up when she left the school start to appear and the girls are in danger.

My thoughts: Ask me what my favourite book is and any day of the week, I will respond with this one. I hadn’t had a reread of this for a while, so thought it was about time! I read it first in 2010 and wrote a terrible “review” of it, but have raved about it, and Carol Goodman (who I’ve spotlighted on the blog before) ever since. As I said in my original review, it’s a modern day Greek tragedy with all the trimmings – from teenagers determined to have a good time being teenagers while still being Latin geeks (yay!) to confused parentage many times over – with a mystery on top of that as to why history is repeating itself. I love that the language of the book echoes what’s going on within, such as the lake seeming to metaphorically and literally turn up old secrets, and I love the descriptions of the icy, moaning lake and how it freezes over winter – it’s now one of my random facts!
I can literally spend hours talking about this book, and have actually done so before (ask Ben…), so don’t get me started! Just read it.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr review

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr – 9/10 (Kindle edition)*

Plot: Flora Banks is a 17 year old girl with anterograde amnesia, meaning that her last permanent memories are from before the age of 10 – she can’t remember what’s happened the day before, she can’t remember people that she’s met after the age of 10, and she frequently loses touch with what’s happening in her present situation, leaving her confused and disorientated. Fortunately, she has worked out over time ways of dealing with this, with notes on her hands, with notes around the house, and with notebooks packed with notes to help her trace her way back. But that all changes when one day she kisses a boy and remembers it the next morning, so she sets off on a quest to find the boy that made her remember.

The One Memory of Flora Banks review

My thoughts: I was hooked on the idea of this book the moment I received the email from NetGalley which came with the above note and a request to vote whether she should trust her mum or not – the mystery was already embedded in my brain with this single piece of marketing! And then as I opened the book (can you say that when it’s on Kindle?!), I was presented with a testimonial from my friend Sarah!

The One Memory of Flora Banks review

Nevertheless, the book definitely stood up in its own right and did have me completely hooked all the way through – it’s been added to my list of favourite reads in 2016 (/2017…when it’s released). It’s powerful and addictive, one of those books where you’re rooting for the protagonist, especially as we can see and understand things that she can’t, things that she’s bypassing, not knowing because of her memory. It’s a girl falls in love with boy storyline with the big twist of one being far more vulnerable than the other in ways that we can’t quite imagine until we’re put into her head. I found myself emerging from the book having got so deep into her mind that I was glancing around for notes to tell me where I was and what to do, before realising that was just the story, duh! That’s got to be some excellent character building there for that to happen!
I definitely recommend this book – for a YA read, it’s tough in parts to swallow but is so brilliant. It’s available to read in January 2017 and I recommend that you reserve your copy now – it’s one that will have people talking.

Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson review

Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson – 8/10 (Kindle edition)*

Plot: Life for a young girl in poverty-stricken Victorian London is never going to be easy, but Clover Moon fights to get by and stay positive – not an easy job with a horrible stepmother and more than a handful of younger siblings and half-siblings as well as other kids in the street to look out for. She dreams of a different life but can’t imagine leaving the younger kids behind, until one day she is forced to leave by circumstances and find a new life for herself.

My thoughts: Jacqueline Wilson was my favourite author ever when I was younger – I read all her books until I was about 14. You just weren’t cool enough if you didn’t have a copy of Tracey Beaker tucked under your arm in break time at school! I’ve occasionally picked up more recent releases by her and looked nostalgically at them, always thinking how lovely it is that she’s still writing in the same tradition as the books I used to love when I was younger and happy that young people have new ones to read now, but I haven’t read one very recently. I saw this on NetGalley and pretty much jumped at the opportunity to give Jacqueline Wilson another read – I’d say it was only for the good of the people as I’d be reviewing it, but in reality, I just really wanted to read the book!
I loved reading Clover Moon! It was just like I remembered when reading Jacqueline Wilson novels, with a young girl that we could all relate to in some way (if not her life circumstances, at least her mind and imagination) and a story that plunges you straight into a world you can’t stop reading about. The characters were colourful as always and the story was really good – predictable to an older reader now (in thebest kind of way!), and I would have devoured it when I was younger. If you’ve got tweenage or teenage daughters, this is an excellent one for them. And for young adults. And for anyone…because Jacqueline Wilson is awesome.

Faller by Will McIntosh review

Faller by Will McIntosh – 8.5/10 (Kindle edition)*

Plot: He wakes up confused about where he is. He gathers himself up off the road, just like everyone else around him, and tries to figure out where he is, who he is. As does everyone else around him. Using the “clues” he finds in his pockets including a photo of himself and a woman, a diagram drawn in blood, and a toy soldier with a parachute, he tries to make sense of the world around him, which has become increasingly smaller all of a sudden. He takes a leap of faith off the edge of his small patch of world, only to discover further floating islands around him, replicas of himself and others he knows, and a villain who hates him for reasons he can’t remember.

My thoughts: I really loved this book – and this is another that’s been added to my list of favourites for 2016, possibly the last one of the year! As I read, I could picture this on the big screen – the story and characters were so vivid. It had everything I love in a book, from a dystopian future world where impossible things are possible (and are explained to you through physics – I love it when things actually explain how we’ve got to this point!) to a fantastic storyline that really did keep you gripped right up until the very end. The story is told in two opposing storylines – the past and the present – which you know will converge at some point, with clues leading the reader through the book just like the clues leading Faller through his new world.
I read this book super quickly (half because I was off work with my RSI so couldn’t use a computer, half because I loved it). I’d definitely recommend this one, and I hope to see it come out as a film at some point in the future – it’s got a good balance of action and storyline with some scenes that would look awesome on the big screen!

West Palm Part 1: The Undertaker's Apprentice by Joss Cordero review

West Palm Part 1: The Undertaker’s Apprentice by Joss Cordero* – 6/10

Plot: A man working as an undertaker’s apprentice decorates the corpses by night in Christmas decorations, until he’s caught by his boss and sent away. He then spots a woman alone on a yacht and decides he’s the only one who can “help” her.

My thoughts: This was a super speedy 70 page read that I was catching up on from my list of NetGalley downloads when I first was accepted to NetGalley and requested everything I could find! It’s part 1 of 4 eBooks, but now seemingly impossible to find to download! The story was good but not great. If it had been longer, I don’t think I would have been kept interested enough, but with the length it was, it wasn’t a bad read.

Cracked: Why Psychiatry is doing more Harm than Good by James Davies review

Cracked: Why Psychiatry is doing more Harm than Good by James Davies – 6.5/10 (Kindle edition)*

Plot: I can’t really say “plot” here as this is a non-fiction – a sort of extended essay on the topic of psychiatry, starting back when psychiatric diseases started to be recognised properly and treated right up until modern day. The author tackled topics such as overmedicalisation, the difficulties of diagnosing mental health problems and the way that drugs are marketed and sold to medical health professionals.

My thoughts: This was another fairly random and quite old NetGalley read, woops! It definitely had its moments of being sensationalist, but it was definitely an interesting read. I’ve watched TV programmes recently on similar topics, such as overmedicalisation, so it was interesting to get another viewpoint on this. I also came away having learnt quite a lot of new facts! I did however find myself skimming over sections which felt a little bit overly wordy, sometimes seeming like the same thing was being said over again, just in different words. It’s one that’s worth reading if you’re interested in this sort of thing, and it’s one that has made me think twice about certain aspects of mental health diagnosis and treatment.

 

* Titles marked with a star were provided for review by publishers.

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