#19 - BROOKLYN // Colm Toibin
Lizzie bought me this for our Christmas book swap with the promise that it was a book she'd read and really enjoyed. And I agree! It's a quiet story, telling of Ellis Lacey's life after emigrating to New York. She struggles to find her footing at first and just as her new life starts to settle into place, she gets called home to Ireland. The narration felt authentic and it was easy to see the world through teenage Ellis' eyes; books written by men as women often don't sit quite right with me, but Colm Toibin got this spot on. My only irritation came from Ellis' slightly fickle nature and I had to remind myself on a few occasions that she was only young and her naivety could be forgiven!
#20 - THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER // Stephen Chbosky
My second read of the month was a book club choice and another I really enjoyed. It's a coming of age novel with awkward protagonist Charlie writing to an unknown character, which reminded me slightly of Wonder. The setting felt believable, although I struggled to see the appeal of the friendship with Charlie from Patrick's (older) perspective. Easy to get immersed in, I started and finished this in a day although somehow managed to miss a fairly big reveal towards the end...perhaps because of how easy it was to get caught up with racing through the pages. Despite enjoying this, I think I'm perhaps a little *too* old for it to really resonate with me.
#21 - ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY // Charlie Jane Anders
A new release this year, All The Birds In The Sky had quite a bit of hype online when it hit the shelves so I was eager to get started with it. The blurb made it sound like a magical realism or fantasy book, but I found it led far more towards science fiction for my liking. Magically gifted witch Patricia and engineering genius Laurence went to school together before drifting apart as young teenagers....and now that the world is falling apart around them, powers unknown are working to bring them back together in an attempt to save the planet. The characters were fun and appealing, but the plot line was not. The scientific theme was strong and it felt like a lot of the story went above my head. This one really didn't live up to my expectations.
#22 - GIRL IN THE DARK // Anna Lyndsey
Anna has a unique and extreme form of photosensitivity, whereby any level of light above a dim glow (flourescent, natural or otherwise) creates a burning sensation and leaves her confined to a dark room. At the point of purchase I didn't realise this was a true story, but Anna led a normal life with a normal job and happy new relationship until her disease took hold. As the story develops we watch as Anna's symptoms get progressively worse and she searches to find a cure whilst also accepting her circumstances and trying to live with them. Another one I read in a day, it was easy to get through and written both lyrically and appealingly. But as much as I hate to say it, I didn't like Anna. Undeniably she's been dealt an incredibly tough hand and I can't even begin to consider how I'd cope in her shoes, but it's her long-suffering partner, Pete, who I felt more sorry for. Anna at times came across as self-indulgent, controlling and petulant and as much as I don't like to admit it, it tainted the book for me.
#23 - BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT THE BOY // Helen Fielding
I was a teenager when I first read the original Bridget Jones, yet somehow I still related to her. In Mad About The Boy, Bridget is a 50-something mother of 2 and the result was it felt more like reading a book from my mum's perspective with us 10 or so years ago. I'm reluctant to discuss the storyline too much for fear of giving away any spoilers, but I will say that although I enjoyed the book overall I don't feel it was a necessary or worthwhile addition to the series. Bridget's situation has changed drastically, so much so as to make her unrelatable and unrecognisable from the original singleton we all grew to love. It's still very much written with Bridget's distinct tone and featured typically funny/embarassing moments but it felt like a re-write of the original concept rather than anything new.