Read in 2016: September


#42 - THE GIRLS // Emma Cline
I mentioned this book as one I wanted to read this summer so I'm glad I ticked it off my list.  Heavily inspired by the Manson murders, it's split between our present day narrator and looking back at the heady summer of 1969 when she got swept up in a cult who went on to kill.  It was a really interesting look at how someone with relatively low self-esteem can easily be influenced through their drive to 'belong' and I found the relationships between characters intriguing.  Emma Cline does a great job of setting the scene and I could really sense the stuffy atmosphere of that summer and the grimey conditions they were in.  It was a compelling read but it just didn't captivate me quite enough.
Rating: 3/5

#43 - THE TINDERBOX // Hans Christian Andersen
I've had this little black classic sat on my shelf for over a year now so felt it was time I finally read it.  I love fairy tales and this collection was just perfect.  I loved revisiting childhood favourites and seeing how gruesome they truly are, but also really enjoyed the wit and darkness of some that I wasn't so familiar with. Took me about half an hour to get through, which was another bonus!
Rating: 4/5

I feel I should start by saying that I've never read any of the Harry Potter books and haven't actively watched a single film I was going in blind here.  You may be wondering why I bothered; the answer is that it was part of my book club and I was assured I didn't need to know much about the characters as it's set so far in the future.  Which is true to a degree.  Obviously I know who a lot of the main characters are, so I could pretty much pick up the gist of everything as I went along.  However I did find that haven't limited background knowledge of past events hindered my enjoyment as I didn't have any perspective or understanding of the way these events affected the lives of the characters.  I read the second half sat next to my HP-buff friend and found it to be much more engaging.  It was incredibly fast-paced (almost too much so at points) and I wonder if maybe that's the effect of reading a play script rather than a novel.  But my overall thoughts as someone who doesn't particularly like Harry Potter?  Not bad!
Rating: 3/5

#45 - MODERN ROMANCE // Aziz Ansari
This was a non-fiction book looking at the dynamics of relationships in the modern era.   Written by comedian Aziz Ansari and exploring topics such as sexting, internet dating, cheating, it was a fascinating book with the benefit of being easily to digest.  You probably know I'm already happily in a relationship, but that didn't decrease my enjoyment of this at all.  I've recommended it to so many of my friends and think everyone should read it!
Rating: 4/5

I downloaded this one on a whim....something I'm so glad I did as it sits up there as on of my top books of the year.  Tom is a lighthouse keeper living on a remote island with his wife, Isabel, when a boat gets washed ashore.  Inside is a dead body and a living baby who they decide to raise as their own.  Stedman writes beautifully about the lives of the characters and the moral dilemmas raised by their actions through Tom's perspective which worked really well and was an interesting feature in a book looking so heavily at maternal instinct.
Rating: 4/5

#47 - THE NEXT TOGETHER // Lauren James
This is a YA contemporary which, if I'm honest, I only picked up to fulfill the 'romance set in the future' task of my 2016 reading challenge.  The main characters, Katherine and Matthew, are born again throughout time and always end up falling in love but losing each other.  Sounds good, right?  I found this too superficial and I wasn't invested enough in any of the characters to believe in them.  None of their stories in any of the time periods was explored with any real depth and I found the dialogue stilted and unrealistic.  Which was a shame, because I think the concept is great!
Rating: 1/5

#48 - RUBY // Cynthia Bond
Ruby is a difficult one to describe.  One of our main characters, Ephram Jennings, is in love with Ruby Bell who he met as a boy.  After leaving town for the glamour of New York, Ruby's now back and a broken woman.  I don't want to give too much away, but the ordeals Ruby's faced are horrific and the life she now lives is equally as bad.  There's almost a touch of magical realism or fantasy laced in here, with spirits and ghosts playing a big part.  I didn't anticipate enjoying this book as much as I did and I don't think any of the reviews I've seen online prepared me for how gripping it would be.  Another top read of the year!
Rating: 4/5

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