Read in 2016: October


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This was a dark read set in Georgian London where our protaganist, Anne Jaccob, carries out some disturbing deeds after becoming obsessed with the butcher's boy.  It reminded me of The Crimson Petal and The White in the atmosphere it created and how encompassing and vivid it was.  At points it felt almost stifling but I really enjoyed being that swept up in the scenery.  Some of Anne's actions seemed far-fetched, but then equally she was a genuinely complex character from whom nothing would surprise me.  I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected from the online hype surrounding it, but I'm glad I read it nonetheless.
Rating: 3/5

One from our book club, this also ticked "murder mystery" off my reading challenge for 2016.  I'd heard some negative things online, so although the blurb caught my attention I wasn't expecting too much.  The writing was a little 'basic' for my reading tastes and I felt there was a lot of emphasis on characters' physical was done in an almost chick-lit way, so once I got my head around this it was easier to gloss over and focus on the story instead.  And the story I actually enjoyed!  There's a killer on the loose, heavily inspired my Jack the Ripper, and it's a race to uncover their identity before the next victim gets claimed.  Overall perhaps a little too long and I could have done without a few of the twists and turns, but an unexpected like!
Rating: 4/5

#51  - THE TREES
This was the perfect autumnal read and I urge you all to track it down!  Set in a world where a forest have sprouted up overnight and destroyed life as our characters know it, Adrien's on a mission to travel to Ireland  and reach his wife.  He's not your typical hero and there's an element of The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry here as he picks up a motley crew of travel companions as he goes.  There's also a dose of magical realism/fantasy within, which to be honest I didn't enjoy by the end even though I liked the touches of it throughout.  The characters were complex and the relationships fascinating yet real.  One of my favourite reads of the year.
Rating :5/5

I'd never read any Jane Austen before and if I'm honest always felt a little intimidated.  I didn't need to be and once I'd got my head round the language and writing style, I found it to be a witty and enjoyable book.  I bought it on a day trip to Bath which made it all the more fun to visualise the characters' surroundings, as our protaganist Catherine Morland settles in to her first season there.  There's a lot covered in this book; romance, a love triangle, mystery and friendship, and I found Catherine's naivety charming to read.
Rating: 4/5

Like The Trees and The Butcher's Hook I think October was the perfect month to read this book.  Jean-Paul Grenouille is born with no scent of his own but possess an almost superhuman sense of smell.  Which ultimately sets him on a quest to bottle the scent of a virgin and make perfume from it.  Sounds fanciful, disturbing and dark....which it was!  At times I found this felt almost fairy tale-esque as the author dipped into decorated backstories for some of the characters, and as with The Butcher's Hook the setting felt real and heavy in atmosphere.  I raced through this and although the ending was crazily overdone it all just worked.  Loved it!
Rating: 4/5

I hadn't read this since studying it at school and I think I actually enjoyed it all the more for having that background knowledge.  Second time through I appreciated it more without the need to analyse and unpick everything, and I'd forgotten how sad this book is.
Rating: 4/5

Another book I whizzed through and despite reading the blurb and seeing a few reviews online I still wasn't fully prepared for the book I got.  Beth loses her eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, at a festival and the book is a dual narrative of both their experiences.  Carmel is kidnapped and raised by religious fanatics, one of which tells her he's her grandfather and that her mum has died, while Beth is left picking up the pieces of her shattered life.  I loved the first half of this book and the emotional anxiety really pulled me in, but I felt like the second half dwindled and the end was slightly abrupt and left too many things up in the air.
Rating: 3/5

I'm finding it hard to put into words my feelings about this book as I feel it's really hard to express thoughts on the book itself without appearing to review the author, Yeonmi Park, and her experiences.  Which are horrific.  This is the true story of her escape from North Korea and the ordeal she had to go through for freedom.  There was a lot of background and it wasn't until quite far in until you got to Yeonmi's actual experience as it focused on the political situation in North Korea and her family dynamics.  It was an eye-opening read and learning more about secretive North Korea was shocking.  The juxtaposition of Yeonmi being sucked in to human trafficking whilst China was preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics was crazy to get my head around.  And all of this happening while she was just 13 is even more upsetting.  But at times I didn't enjoy the writing style of this book.  Sometimes it wasn't in depth enough (not in terms of gory details, I just felt like I wanted more information) but on the other hand the political and economic particulars of North Korea were a bit too much for me.  
Rating: 3/5

  In the past I've found Sophie Hannah's books to be clever psychological thrillers but sadly this one just didn't hit the mark.  It could be because my reading tastes have grown vastly since I last read one of her books, but I felt this was a bit basic and there were parts of the dual narrative which I really didn't care about or enjoy reading.  In a nutshell, Alice Fancourt returns home one day to discover that the newborn baby sleeping in the nursery is not her daughter.  Or so she thinks.  Her husband disagrees and with no one else to corroborate what follows is Alice's quest for the truth in the face of everyone else's doubts.  Alice's story made me want to read on, and her husband's treatment of her was shocking, but I didn't enjoy the detective's side of the story and found the ending to be a letdown.
Rating: 3/5

1 comment

  1. I read In Order To Live after seeing Yeonmi Park speak at Stylist Live last year. I found her in-person talk so much more compelling than the book - I enjoyed the book but felt like it was missing something that I can't quite pin down. x


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