Mini Book Reviews: October 2018

October was a pretty awesome month in terms of life in general. After a couple of months over summer feeling very uninspired with no motivation to do pretty much anything, October was a month of doing everything. I’m hoping it’s a new way of life rather than just the “honeymoon period” of the second trimester! The only downside of this was that since I posted everyday in October (partly for Blogtober, partly just because I had a lot to say!) and spent time doing all sorts of other things (furiously clearing, tidying and cleaning the house being some of these), it didn’t leave a whole lot of time for reading! Nevertheless, here are my October book reviews:

How to Grow a Baby by Clemmie Hooper – 8/10

My thoughts: Or by its full title: “How to grow a baby and push it out: A guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife’s mouth”, and the book is exactly what it says on the tin! I picked this up in the library when I went to pick up the below one and spotting this on the shelf next to it.
To be honest, I don’t think there was a huge amount in this book that I couldn’t find for free on the internet or on apps, but having it all in one place to read and reference when I liked was very handy. I liked the honesty it’s written with, from the stories from births Clemmie herself has attended to to the explanations of how pregnancy and birth work. It was a good overview that had some good points to think about.

Your Birth, Your Baby by Hollie de Cruz – 9/10

My thoughts: As above, this is another pregnancy book I grabbed at the library, although this one specifically focuses on hynobirthing – a technique of birthing we intend to use.
Personally, I loved this book. It was very down to earth with hypnobirthing, reassuring me that it’s not the hippy, wishy-washy birth practice many people think it to be. I learned that hypnobirthing doesn’t need to be a specific type of birth – most people think it means “natural” pain-free birthing – but can be compatible with all types of birth, even emergency c-sections. Because I had to return this book to the library, I ended up snapping photos of specific techniques on pages so I have them ready to reread and reference! I loved reading about the medical concepts that are going on in your body, physically and psychologically, while giving birth, which is a big part of hypnobirthing – understanding what’s going on so that you can mentally prepare yourself to be in that situation, even if that situation is an adrenaline spike!
If you’re at all interested in the concept of hypnobirthing, I would highly recommend giving this a read. It’s made me actually excited about the process of giving birth and preparing for it!

The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon* – 6/10

Plot: Will meets Phoebe during his first month at a prestigious university. Feeling like a misfit, he’s in disbelief that the beautiful girl he’s dreamed of is interested in him. Phoebe, however, has her own problems she keeps hidden, including guilt over the recent death of her mother. This makes her the perfect candidate to be drawn into a cult which is ultimately named as responsible for a bombing that kills several people. Will is still drawn to Phoebe though, to the point of obsession.

My thoughts: The premise of this book, talking about cults tied to North Korea, a misfit boy and love, faith and loss had me intrigued, but sadly, it lacked the spark of a very good book for me.
I struggled with the lack of speech marks in dialogue – I know it can be an effective technique, and I can understand why it’s used here, to make the confusion of what happened even more vague, but it really doesn’t help me gel with characters. I enjoyed Phoebe’s backstory, the way she’s brought up, and the way it’s seen only through Will’s eyes – a very unique viewpoint where he tries to understand her but doesn’t really – but this technique also made it hard to identify with her as a character and I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to be disliking her for her actions so far or falling in love with her through Will’s eyes.
I just didn’t connect with this book, and it didn’t quite deliver on the promises of a scary cult for me – in fact, everything that happened in the book seemed to be told in short in the blurb and not much extra added! I found we just weren’t seeing enough of the cult to understand the threats it posed with a slow introduction which could have shown how easily it could build to something dangerous, but it seemed to continue slowly to a bang, then back to slow again. It was interesting but not done well enough to really intrigue me.

A Little Bird Told Me by Marianna Holmes* – 6.5/10

Plot: In the summer of 1976, Robyn passes her days with her brother and best friend at the Lido. Their home life isn’t “normal” – they’ve moved recently and suddenly to the town for reasons that are currently unclear, and their mother brings home crying women. Rumours about their mother abound, and a strange man keeps approaching Robyn. Meanwhile, we follow a storyline 12 years in the future where Robyn and her brother have returned to find out the truth of what really happened, only to find a town that still has roots in the past.

My thoughts: The premise of a mystery that took place in the long, hot summer of childhood is always one that has me intrigued, but sadly this one didn’t quite live up to the promise of it for me. Neither of the timelines really had me interested as it felt like information was deliberately being withheld in both of them to keep the mysteries going, but it just felt a bit contrived for the benefit of the story.
The writing was very good, however, and really fit the hazy hot days of the summer – it was lyrical and lilting, told with a child’s innocence in parts and the rawness of an adult in others. While I found the story too slow to keep me gripped, I kept reading for the writing.

Her Watchful Eye by Julie Corbin* – 7/10

Plot: Ruby works as a CCTV operative, keeping an eye on the city streets and helping the police with investigations where need be. But one day she spots Hannah and she can’t keep the cameras off her, despite it being both illegal and morally wrong. But is just watching her really enough?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this book and the story: so vivid and interesting was the CCTV camera part of the storyline that it had me watching over my shoulder wondering if I was being watched on camera wherever I went! The plot is deeper than it first appears – Ruby and Hannah are tied in some way, but it takes a while for this to unfold, and Ruby is more than she at first seems. It’s a good thriller with some good twists – one I’d definitely recommend.

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