Read in 2016: May, June & July

11.8.16

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Last time I had a huge backlog of books I promised it wouldn't happen again.  But it has.  As I said here, settling in at work scuppered my blogging plans for a while....but not my reading ones!  I've been reading more than ever, so for this post I'll (try to) keep my mini-reviews even shorter - there's a lot of them!

#24 - MIDDLESEX // Jeffrey Eugenides
Hermaphrodite Calliopes (or Cal) is the lynchpin of this epic novel.  It's a part coming of age, part family history tale which I wasn't quite expecting.  Spanning right back to our main character's grandparents lives in Greece, I really enjoyed learning lots about historical events I previously knew nothing about.  It's a fairly gentle ride with a lot going on.  It divided our book club, but I loved it.
Rating: 5/5

#25 - BRAIN ON FIRE: MY MONTH OF MADNESS // Susannah Cahalan
Now this is the kind of book I wish Girl in the Dark was.  In her earlier twenties Susannah was struck down by a mystery illness which saw her hospitalised and nearly sectioned.  At the last minute she received her elusive diagnosis which has ultimately paved the way for hundreds more to be correctly diagnosed.  It's told in a really captivating way with none of Anna Lyndsey's (Girl in the Dark) bad attitude in sight.Another really good read, and I'm eagerly anticipating the film's release.
Rating: 4/5

#26 - ARISTOTLE & DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE // Benjamin Alire Saenz
This book has won a tonne of YA awards and I foolishly expected it to be a game changer.  Sadly it wasn't for me, and whilst I can see why some may love it, this coming of age love story just wasn't for me in terms of plot.  It was an easy read that I whizzed through however, so all was not lost!
Rating: 3/5

#27 - THE GRACEKEEPERS // Kirsty Logan
I doubt you haven't heard of this yet.  Set in the future in a world where land has predominantly been submerged by the sea, North lives and works on a travelling circus with her bear.  Meanwhile, Callanish is a gracekeeper tending the graves of those who died at sea.  Both have a secret in this whimsical, magical and compelling tale.
Rating:4/5

#28 - THE READER ON THE 6.27 // Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
This was another one I managed to finish in a day or two, but sadly was also one I didn't particularly enjoy.  The "reader" is Guylain Vignolles who turns books into pulp for a living, yet his unusual hobby is reading salvaged pages on the train to work each morning.  Until he discovers a diary and falls in love with its author.  Despite its fast pace throughout, the ending felt really rushed and the insta love was the final nail in the coffin.
Rating: 2/5

#29 - BEFORE WE MET // Lucie Whitehouse
As I sit down to write this post I find I can barely remember a thing about this book, which doesn't bode well.  One thing I do recall?  The author's insistence on calling it "the Berkshires"....as a person who lives nearby, I can assure you the county in the UK which I think she was referring to is "Berkshire".  No plural!  Details like this can make or break a book for me, and I'm disappointed this wasn't checked over more thoroughly.  Besides that, this is the classic "can you ever really know somebody" book, where Hannah begins to question her whole life when her husband fails to come home.
Rating: 3/5

#30 - THE LAST TESTAMENT OF MARY // Colm Toibin
This was nothing like I'd usually read and documents the events surrounding Easter Sunday and Jesus' death from his mother Mary's point of view.  It was a really interesting take, placing Jesus as cult leader as Mary offers more rational explanations for the things taking place.  I didn't particularly enjoy the writing style, but it did raise questions about perspective.
Rating: 2/5

#31 - MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES // Fredrik Backman
After A Man Called Ove I had high hopes for Backman's second novel.  Whilst the charm was still there, this one lacked the magic and spark of Ove.  After her grandmother's death, seven year old Elsa embarks on a treasure hunt of sorts as she learns more about the dynamics of her neighbours living in her apartment block.  Enjoyable nonetheless, but don't go into this expecting to be wowed.
Rating: 3/5

#32 - VINEGAR GIRL // Anne Tyler
Vinegar Girl is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series and is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, which I'd say most of us know under the guise of 10 Things I Hate About You.  The key traits of the characters were still recognisable, and having never read any of Anne Tyler's work before I found myself really enjoying the pace and skills with which she led the reader through the relatively gentle story. Not only that, it's got a beautiful cover and I managed to finish this within two days!
Rating: 4/5

#33 - THE MARBLE COLLECTOR // Cecelia Ahern
I have to confess, I'm pretty sure I've not read anything by Cecelia Ahern either.  This didn't wasn't a  challenging read and at times felt a bit too much like basic chick lit for me.  As I got further into the story - Sabrina attempting to piece together the mystery of her father's life following his recent memmory loss - I found I enjoyed it more, probably because her father, Fergus, and the characters surrounding him were easier to warm to than Sabrina.  There was an eye-rolling moment towards the end surrounding the creation of a new marble (seriously, who knows anyone who makes marbles?) but overall I liked this one.
Rating: 3/5

#34 - MY NAME IS LEON // Kit de Waal
Not long after Leon's baby brother Jake is born the boys find themselves taken into foster care following their mother's breakdown.  Only it's not long before Jake gets adopted and Leon is left behind....because Jake is white and Leon isn't.  Set in the early eighties and told through Leon's eyes, I finished this in a morning and really enjoyed it.
Rating: 4/5

#35 - A REUNION OF GHOSTS // Judith Claire Mitchell
This is a joint suicide note written by 3 sisters which, similarly to Middlesex, looks back at the family history and the legacy of suicide which has been perpetuated.  It's cleverly written, but at the points where it wasn't looking back in time I found it slightly irritating to not have a clear narrator.  It's written in a borderline over familiar tone which I actually quite liked, and again featured real figures and events from throughout history.  If you like unusual books, this could be for you.
Rating: 4/5

#36 - EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU // Celeste Ng
Despite its tranquil cover, this book packs a punch.  When favourite child Lydia goes missing, all manner of hidden feelings and resentments bubble to the top of the family dynamic.  Set in the 1970s this one covers race and feminism, and isn't afraid to showcase complex, and at times, unlikeable characters.  Reminiscent of The Lovely Bones, this one's turned out to be an unexpected favourite of the bunch.
Rating: 4/5

2 comments

  1. Thank you for reviewing these! I need new books for my next holiday <3

    Abigail Alice x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love your book reviews. And the fact you give them ratings. I am definitely going to pick a couple of these up.

    ReplyDelete


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