Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Jellybird by Lezanne Clannachan

An enjoyable, surprising novel with a very striking writing style, this book is easy to read and enjoy.  It is about a young jewellery designer, Jessica, who makes a new friend in Libby and then finds her past slowly impeding on her new life in London.  Jessica is a well drawn character who is likeable but a little unrealistic.  As she struggles to cope with her past catching up with her, her methods of coping become increasingly unhealthy, and I thought this was portrayed very sensitively.  The plot is gripping but again a little unrealistic.  Overall, a very good book which is worth a read.

The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge

A short but powerful book about two young English women who work for an Italian wine manufacturer in London.  The girls arrange a factory outing to the countryside and the event has life changing consequences for the factory workers who attend.  The writing is excellent and the plot wonderfully observed.  The novel describes the heart breaking implications of misunderstandings and miscommunications in a touching and sometimes humorous way.  I very much enjoyed this book.

Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam

A very chilling book which will remain with you for some time.  It is about a fifty five year old man. David/Gary, who takes an 11 year old girl, Tommie, on a long road trip across America to his cabin in a remove part of middle America.  The book is written from the point of view of David, who is subtly manipulative, so the reader is forced to identify with his way of thinking which is very disturbing.  The plot is gripping and captivating but although the relationship between David and Tommie is not physically or sexually abusive it is not always easy to read.  The language is simple but very well written which increases the power of this book.  A very good book and an interesting take on the topic but perhaps too dark to truly enjoy.

Hector and The Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord

A very interesting, deceptively simple book about happiness and the meaning of life.  I very much enjoyed this novel, which is written by Hector as he takes time out from his job as a psychiatrist in order to attempt to discover a "cure" for his many patients who are unhappy for no discernible reason.  The language is beautifully straightforward and easy to read whilst raising questions of psychology and challenging social assumptions as to what makes us happy.  I would definitely recommend this book.

The Innocents by Francesca Segal

An easy read about a young Jewish couple in North London and the expectations placed on them by their close knit community.  The plot is fairly engaging but not especially unusual.  There are some interesting, if two dimensional characters, which makes this book enjoyable whilst reading but it is not a book which will live long in the memory.

May We Be Forgiven by A M Homes

A long book about the breakdown of a successful TV executive, George, following a car accident.  George's brother, Harry, attempts to help his brother's wife and two children but this only leads to a further disaster, evidencing George's complete mental collapse. Ultimately, Harry struggles to keep George's family afloat as they deal with their father's breakdown.

The book is intended to be a darkly comic narrative about contemporary life and the strain it puts on our relationships and on individual bread winners.  However, I did not find it at all amusing and it went on very much longer than it really deserved.  Harry is a very strange character who is hard to get to know - his personality comes across as very fluid and therefore very difficult to relate to.  The fourth quarter of this book is definitely the best as the children's characters are more developed and the plot picks up.  Overall, a slightly boring book with an odd story and bulky characters. 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Ignorance by Michele Roberts

Bleak and depressing.  The novel is about two girls who grow up in a small French town during the German occupation.  I enjoyed the writing but the plot is dull and the characters under developed. I expect it will win a prize.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I really enjoyed this novel. It's a little hard to get your head round as the plot is being continually revised and rewritten. It's a very interesting concept which is dealt with very cleverly and clearly which prevents the story becoming overly confused. The main character, Ursula, is excellently written and likeable and the dialogue is very well observed. Definitely worth a read, and would make a great holiday read.

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

A good book about an Irish family living in London who gather together following the disappearance of their father. The book is about the relationships between family members and how these are affected by secrets and half truths told within families.  I enjoyed this novel which is easy to read but still engaging. The characters are easy to like and to relate to which makes the novel a very enjoyable read.

Wonder by R J Palacio

A very  interesting novel about a young boy who suffers from a genetic disorder which meant he was born with a severe facial deformity. The book is written in very simple but often powerful language and raises some challenging questions about prejudice. I enjoyed this book although I do this the simplicity of the writing was a little overdone - the book could have benefitted from some more in depth analysis of the themes of the plot.

After The Fall by Charity Norman

An average book about a family who move to New Zealand from a sleepy town in the UK to try and start again following the collapse of the father's business. Distinctly unremarkable.

The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

I really enjoyed this unusual book about a young eccentric boy, Alex, who befriends a local widower.  Alex is a very well drawn, likeable character whom the reader feels a real affinity with.  The writing is very good and the plot engaging and fast paced.  I would definitely recommend this novel.

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

A very forgettable novel about a young English girl forced into a marriage and a move to South Africa in order to escape a life of poverty in Manchester. Set in the 1880s the book has an interesting sub plot about the African diamond rush and the exploitation of the native African workers but this is not properly explored.  The main character, Frances, is silly and bland so the book is difficult to truly engage with but it is an easy and inoffensive read.

The Travelling Hornplayer by Barbara Trapido

An easy read about a novelist and his small family, particularly his dysfunctional daughter, Stella. The book is about Stella's gradual unravelling as she struggles to settle at University and after her second year ends up unsettled, seriously ill, pregnant and single. The novel is written from different character's points of view and particularly focuses on Stella's father and his relationship with his daughter. Enjoyable and interesting but not especially challenging.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

An excellently written novel which is a surprisingly dull read. The book is set in a hillside village on the foothills of the Himalayas and follows a young girl, Sai, living in a dilapidated house with her grandfather and their cook.  Sai befriends her tutor, a young man who becomes embroiled in India's political unrest, and the novel follows the tension this puts on their relationship and on Sai's small household.  Excellent writing but too boring to be an enjoyable read.