I’d hoped that going away on honeymoon in September would mean plenty of opportunity to get down to some good old reading time – the plane journey over to America for me is always a good excuse to read with no interruptions, and the downtime on holiday usually gives plenty of reading time. What I hadn’t anticipated though was just how much we were packing into this trip, along with a book that sadly just took me forever to get through! I ended up reading almost as much when I got home in the last week of the month as I had during our 3 week trip!
The Adults by Caroline Hulse* – 6.5/10
Plot: Claire and Matt are divorced but plan a Christmas trip in a holiday village in Yorkshire for the sake of their daughter, Scarlett, but with a twist – the new partners are in tow, and they’ll all be sharing a lodge. On top of that, Scarlett’s imaginary friend Posey comes along too – a giant purple rabbit. They said they’d all be grown ups, but can it really all work out?
My thoughts: This a pretty light-hearted, fun read, even though it deals with the pretty heavy topic of divorced parents and new families coming together. Told in alternating voices by the various characters, including Scarlett, it was a very unique way of looking at a blended family’s trip and the struggles they come across, which are – of course – many. I can’t say it was an outstanding book, but it made for something light and easy to read on the plane, with parts that were touching, such as Scarlett trying to come to terms with the new family dynamic, to pretty hilarious – adults who really aren’t acting as they should be!
The Anomaly by Michael Rutger* – 7.5/10
Plot: The crew of a YouTube documentary series that investigates archaeological anomalies around the world travels to the Grand Canyon where they’ve heard rumours and read reports of a mysterious cavern, discovered in 1909 but never understood. The secrets the cave conceals are unknown but turn out to be stranger than you can imagine, as the documentary becomes a fight for survival.
My thoughts: Well, this was an interesting one that I read in one sitting on the plane – I was totally immersed in it because of this! The story was scary, with points that made me jump or hyperventilate, the atmosphere was claustrophobic (only heightened by being on a plane, I think!), and the plot was totally action packed. And I really enjoyed it, to my surprise! It’s compared to Indiana Jones crossed with the X files, and I totally agree here. I love creepy, weird things, so this totally appealed to that for me, plus it just kept pushing forward and forward, so I think I’d have struggled to put it down had I not been able to read it in one go.
I’ve since found out that Michael Rutger is a screenwriter, and this totally makes sense. Due to the level of action and the way it flowed, it felt more like an action movie that I could picture on a big screen than a book. There’s nothing wrong with this and I do enjoy books written this way occasionally, but I can see it would jar with some. Like I said, I really enjoyed it, so maybe give it a go and see if it surprises you too!
The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams* – 5.5/10
Plot: Jane Kamali is an agent of the Justified with one job: to collect “gifted” children from around the universe and return them to the Justified’s base. The reason? To stop the Pulse, a wave of energy that had thrown some worlds back to prehistoric technology while sparing others, from returning. But with the Pax on her tail, it’s not so easy.
My thoughts: This is the book I’ll admit I struggled to get through on holiday that really slowed down my reading pace. It’s not that it wasn’t good, because I think in other circumstances I might have enjoyed it a little more, but it turned out not to be for me at all. It felt like Star Wars – another action-packed read for the trip! – but in written form, and as someone that’s not really a fan of Star Wars (sorry!), this just didn’t appeal. I’d expected something that focused more on the Pulse itself, the effect it had had, the reasoning behind it and more – while I did get this, it was packed amongst a lot of fighting and killing which just isn’t my style. I also struggled to identify with the main character, and at first, I hadn’t realised it was a woman! I can’t say whether that’s because she was deliberately written more gender-neutral as a character thanks to her role (and the fact that some species in this world were also gender-neutral, so maybe it’s not so much of a thing as it is here), or whether it was simply because she was written by someone who didn’t write well from a female perspective. Either way, this meant I couldn’t click with the story as well.
On the good side, I did like the premise of a Pulse that had thrown worlds back to ancient technologies and the idea of people like Esa being born with powers to save that. Esa’s character was wonderful, as was Javi who had me laughing out loud occasionally. I also enjoyed the idea of spaceships with personalities, and learning about different species in different worlds. If this is your thing, you’ll love it, sadly just not for me.
The Corset by Laura Purcell* – 8.5/10
Plot: Set in Victorian times, Ruth Butterham is incarcerated in a women’s prison for murder; Dorothea Truelove is a wealthy, young women who visits women in the prison to study their heads – feeling the bumps for signs of their madness or lack thereof. Ruth’s story has her intrigued though – a young girl who seems more victim than murderer, believing herself to have not only killed the person she’s been arrested for, but many, many others – and all with just a needle and thread.
My thoughts: Having read and loved Laura Purcell’s previous book, The Silent Companions (reviewed here), I was so excited to see she had a new release and I wasn’t disappointed. Purcell’s gothic settings are, in my eyes, perfect, and make for a good wintery read. Told in alternating chapters, I preferred reading Ruth’s story, even though it was the more harrowing of the two, however Dorothea was also an interesting character too – I find it’s often hard to balance having two interesting characters in alternating chapter viewpoints, so it was definitely well done.
The Corset is, admittedly, a harrowing tale, that merges murder, phrenology, madness in Victorian times, poverty, workplace (and child) abuse and sewing all into one story. It’s a lot to pack in but does it very successfully in my opinion.
Open Me by Lisa Locascio* – 4/10
Plot: Roxana applied to a study abroad program in Paris, but due to some mistake, ends up in, what seems to her, dreary Copenhagen. She’s met at the airport by her guide, Soren, however his guidance even begins sloppily, missing the trips and visits she’s supposed to take and taking her out on the town instead, kicking off a romantic relationship between the two. When he asks her to come to his uncle’s home, a small town in northern Denmark with him for the rest of the summer, she agrees. It isn’t as she expected though: a small apartment in a dead-end town with a relationship with a stranger that quickly sours.
My thoughts: I really hate to give negative reviews to books, but – I’m sorry! – this was just a step too far for me. Rather than the coming of age novel I’d expected, or at least, as this began, it devolved into an account of a young woman with a lack of motivation to get up and do anything aside from sit around an apartment in her own filth, cleaning up only in time for Soren to return, to do nothing again the next day, the next and the next. It didn’t feel like coming of age or learning to me – it felt like someone who didn’t know what they wanted to do falling into a cycle of depression and not knowing how to escape, but these themes weren’t explored enough for it to have enough of that depth for me, only explored in parts such as flashbacks to her relationship with her friend back home and her parents – these parts for me worked really well and I would have liked to explore them in more detail. I feel like it could have been done a lot better had the time not been spent on detail that I really didn’t want to read unfortunately.