#12 - THE MEMORY BOX // Eva Lesko Natiello
My book club choice for the month, The Memory Box turned out to be a dud for me. Caroline Thompson googles herself only to unearth family secrets she knows nothing about. Featuring the trope of memory loss, this book was reminiscent of Before I Go To Sleep or What Alice Forgot....only far less accomplished. The writing style was clumsy, adding in unnecessary extra details which jolted me out of the story, and felt unsophisticated. Caroline is an extremely unreliable narrator who eventually becomes an overexaggerated caricature of herself. The plot was predictable, forgettable and, in all honesty, a little ridiculous.
#13 - A CLOCKWORK ORANGE // Anthony Burgess
I approached my first 'Friend Recommends' book of the year with more than a little trepidation. I'd heard lots about A Clockwork Orange but was caught off guard with the fictional dialect used within. It was hard to adjust to, but once I realised that each of the imagined words could be translated to English (rather than just being nonsense), I was surprised with how quickly I fell into a rhythm with this and managed to read it over a weekend. If you're unfamiliar with the story, it's set in a dystopian society and tells the story of teenager Alex's (horrifying) criminal activity, subsequent punishment and eventual "treatment". It was disturbing yet captivating, posing interesting questions about morality and choice. I didn't expect to enjoy this one, but I really did!
#14 - THE WITCHES OF CAMBRIDGE // Menna van Praag
More chick-lit than my usual choices, this was a quick read to ease me out of A Clockwork Orange. As the title suggests, it's set in Cambridge and tells of the interwoven lives of 6 witches living within the community. Without being *too* magical realism-y, each has a different power, different heartache and different story to tell. It didn't take itself overly seriously, but I found myself skimming some sections as I found myself more interested in certain characters than others. This is the ideal book to take on holiday if you're after something light, but I would have liked to see the plot developed further.
#15 - THE CHIMES // Anna Smaill
The Chimes was longlisted for the Man Booker prize last year and of all those put forward was the one I was most excited by. Set in a dystopian London it's a wonderful plot featuring a mysterious organisation, the chimes which wipe the memories of all society every evening and the plight of those looking to rebel against it. I really struggled with this one. Originally drafted as a young adult book, I didn't think it had lost this and managed to successfully transition into adult fiction - by having teenage protagonists it definitely still felt YA, and more so than something like The Hunger Games in my opinion. The prose was beautifully lyrical, but the references to music which were seamlessly woven in went over my head and distracted from the story. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I read this book in its entirety but still couldn't fully explain what the outcome of it all was. After feeling so excited to start reading The Chimes I'm disappointed it didn't live up to my expectations.
#16 - LOST IN TRANSLATION // Ella Frances Sanders
After the let down of The Chimes I moved on to this beautiful book which I knew was guaranteed to be a success. It's an illustrated collection of untranslatable words from various languages and was truly a joy to read. With words such as 'pisanzapra' (the time it takes to eat a banana) and 'feuillemort' (the faded colour of autumnal leaves), this quirky book is perfect for word lovers. My only gripe would be that the typeface was hard to read at points. Well worth it, though!
#17 - THE ANNIVERSARY // various
Another of Galaxy's Quick Reads series, this was a series of 10 short stories written by well-known authors such as Rowan Coleman, Philippa Gregory and Matt Haig. As expected, it was a quick read with each story only lasting 10 or so pages. They were nice....but forgettable.
#18 - THE GIRL WITH GLASS FEET // Ali Shaw
Telling the story of Ida, whose feet are turning to glass, and her hopes of tracking down the one man she believes will be able to help her find a cure, this book was an unexpected dose of magical realism. With bodies turning to glass I was prepared for an escape from reality, but there were other elements within which really added to the mystical aspect of this book. The writing was beautiful and Ali Shaw wasn't afraid to write about flawed characters. No one in this book is perfect and it really juxtaposed the whimsical nature and added an element of realness back into the story. I do struggle with characters falling in love seemingly overnight and I'm afraid to say it did seem like this happened here (I accidentally skipped 20-30 pages though, so perhaps I missed something earth-shattering!)....however by the end the feelings felt so raw and honest I found myself whole heartedly believing their romance. A really imaginative book which I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I did.