Latest Entries »

by Fiona Snyckers

This is book 3. The next book in a series you started. I reviewed the first in the series as my book published in 2018. Both have been published this year so far.

Just like with Hacked, this book was easy to read, engaging and entertaining.  As cozy mysteries, both books are wonderfully accessible and gentle to read.

That does not mean, however, that this books is simple in construct or crime. There is still the sense of mystery and wanting to work out who did what to whom and why. Snyckers keeps you going; there are enough exciting scenes between the friendships and family politics (all filled with love and familiarity) to whizz the story along.

By the end of the book I felt like I had been on a wonderful adventure with people I knew and liked.

I will certainly keep reading each book as it comes out as I am more and more interested in the characters and their relationships, but also like the way the crimes are solved. Perfect cozy mystery really.

 

Advertisements

The Secret History

 by Donna Tartt
 
I read this for 30. A book with characters who are twins. And by read I mean listened to.
 
This book went on and on, and bloody on.
I got bored at least twice, and got irritated by the author. And then the story would get engaging again and I’d be happily listening once more. Had I been actually reading I am not sure I would have got past the first third of the book.
 
That being said, once the story played out, I was glad to have stuck with it. It just felt like it was so swathed in unnecessary detail and what felt like Tartt showing off her knowledge or research skills, the actual story and the flashes of wonderful writing were lost to me.
 
So yeah, I’m a bit mixed when it comes to this book. I won’t be dashing off to read another Tartt just yet, but maybe in the future. Seems unfair to judge an author on their first novel when they have gone on the write so many more.
 
Or maybe she’s just not for me.

Hacked

 by Fiona Snyckers
 
This is my read for book 34. A book that’s published in 2018.
 
In this, the first of a series of books to be produced with the same protagonists, we are introduced to Eulalie Park, her friends and family, her home, and, most importantly, the way she works.
 
In this single book there are three crimes she deals with and helps to solve all while establishing a relationship with the police, balancing her past and her present, and possibly even quite fancying a rather delicious, if slightly odd sounding, man. Throw in a sex club, a slightly interfering granny and some mad skillz, and you have Eulalie in Hacked.
 
All of this activity makes this book easy and enjoyable to read. It is not cluttered, but it is full. In this story Eulalie investigates the murder of a prominent businessman in order to clear her best friend of suspicion. This investigation takes her to some interesting places, often by rather unique methods. The crime and its solving are very plausible. I do hate it when authors throw in some random thing at the end the reader had no way of knowing in order to make the ending unexpected. Snyckers does not patronise her reader in this way. I had worked out what had probably happened about midway through the book, but there were enough other things going on for it not to matter. Also, the reading was so enjoyable I wanted to finish the book anyway. The solving of the crime was only part of the enjoyment of this book.
 
Besides the action and crime, I so respected the obvious research done by Snyckers. If a community is to be used in a work of fiction, I think it essential that it be portrayed accurately and with integrity. And Snyckers does this with the B&D community she involves. It shows an authenticity the reader has to respect.
 
Eulalie is a likeable character and I am certainly interested enough in her complexities to be looking forward to the next book. Because this is a complete book (no cliffhangers here!) I am hoping that as the series progresses so do the characters and the readers knowledge of their pasts. It feels a bit like I have met someone I quite like and am looking forward to getting to know her better.
 
And I know that the getting to know Eulalie is going to involve some fun adventures.
 
What a wonderful thing to be looking forward to. Get writing Ms Snycker – I really want to hang out with Eulalie again.

By C.S. Lewis

This is my book for Book 26. A book with an animal in the title

I read it because, although I know the book and get references to it and could probably con even myself I have read it, I don’t think I ever did. I seem to have missed a chunk of children’s book in my youth – I think I jumped from Famous Five to adult books because that’s the gap I have.

This book has been reviewed so often it makes little sense to talk about what its about in this note. We all know the story, even those of us who hadn’t actually read the book. And we all know the Christianity allegory etc etc.

What I found interesting to notice, and really mind, is the sexism in this book. I know it is not unusual for its time, but it is a clear indicator that we need more modern kid’s books for the children of today. The boys are Magnificent and Just while the girls grow up to be Gentle and Valiant; the boys go to battle and the girls administer cure-all drops to the injured men-folk, the girls cry over dead Aslan because, I assume, boy tears wouldn’t mean the same in terms of empathy.

The only strong female character is of course, evil.

What were we telling children in their bedtime stories in the 50s and beyond? I wish that this was some kind of weird historical example of what books used to be like, but sadly its not. These are the messages we continue to read to children. And then wonder why boys grow up entitled and girls grow up apologetic.

It really is time for more kid’s books that empower girls and tell boys it is okay to feel emotions. Everyone wins when we get there.

by Janet Fitch

This is my book for Book 32. A book from a celebrity book club. Apparently this was a recommended book in Oprah’s book club in 1999.

I don’t really know how to review this book – it is so magnificent is feels like anything I say will not be enough.

The narrative deals with the life a young girl, and then young woman, lives after her single mother is sent to jail for a murder. Astrid, the daughter, passes through foster homes and had some terribly sad and distressing things happen to her. She also develops as a human being and artist.

The themes of this wonderful book are love and entanglement, expectations and reality, and the line between love and control.

Ingrid, the mother, is a character with whom my relationship changed during the book, mirroring the changes in the relationship between Astrid and Ingrid. Fitch manages to change how the reader feels about Ingrid so subtly I barely noticed until it was irrevocable.

Is there anything more complicated than the relationship between a mother and a daughter? In this book Fitch takes those familiar complications and relationships, and unpacks them, using Astrid and Ingrid’s relationship, as well as those she develops with other women.

My heart broke for Astrid, and for all the real children in her situation across the world. Foster care can be brutal and without drama or gratuitous nastiness, Fitch exposes various aspects of this through Astrid’s experiences.

This is one of the very few books I have reread and I can imagine reading it again and again.

A simply stunning tale told beautifully.

by Cynthia Owen

This was my book for Book 2: True Crime

Harrowing
How people survive what Cynthia did is beyond me. And then they become valuable, kind, caring human beings.
It’s amazing

That people do this kind of things to each other, to children, to their own children just floors me.

I am speechless

 by Jo Nesbo
 
This is the book I read for Book 5. Nordic noir.
 
I have read some Nordic noir previously, without knowing it was even a genre. And this fits perfectly in that style of writing.
Not a great deal actually happens, it is slow and detailed, and there is weather. There is always snow and/or sun or darkness, and/or weather. And lots and lots of space.
 
All of these factors create a harsh but beautiful backdrop for the stories of this genre.
 
This particular story is about a man who runs from a real drug kingpin because he owes him money and corpse, and hides in the middle of nowhere far north of anywhere sensible.
 
I enjoyed the story – it is quick to read and pulls you in. I was invested in the characters.
I thought the end of the book was rushed and less than believable. It felt like it was tied up too quickly and too neatly and I didn’t really buy it all.
 
But I’ll read another Nesbo for sure – perhaps one of his Harry Hole novels as I have read they are deeper and more complex.
 
An easy read of a genre I really want to explore more – which is the point of the challenge really.

by Andrew Gross

This is my book for 50 – A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge
I experienced the book as an audio book and it was the perfect story for that.
I found myself wanting to shout at my phone – run run run, or swear at it when things went awry.

Apparently this book is based on a true story which makes it even more thrilling.

The basic story is of a Jewish man who escaped Poland and got to America is asked to go back a camp to rescue another prisoner with valuable scientific information. We all know enough about the World War II concentration camps to know what a terribly dangerous idea this was.

What i loved about this story was that i expected a crazy chase and not much else, but instead I got well rounded characters with extensive backstories, all of which was interesting and gripping.

A war story with complex characters and enough emotion to have me smiling and crying along.

Not my usual fare but thoroughly engrossing nevertheless.

My (first) book for prompt 15. A book about feminism

I say first because I also have Roxane Gay’s Hunger lined up and one can never read too many books on feminism

I really enjoyed this selection of very short pieces by more than 50 women.

The contributors include immediately recognisable names as well as possibly less well-known feminists. It also includes mothers, scientists, artists, authors, politicians and actors. It is, unfortunately, quite British contributor heavy but considering it was published in the UK I guess that is to be expected.

There is such a wide varieties of writings that some will resonate with some readers, while others will speak to other readers. As the compilers said, this could easily have been 500 shades of feminism there are so many voices to be heard.

As a slice of interesting feminist writings, this is a great book.

The short pieces of poetry between some of the writings are also wonderful and I have a few written around my work space.

 

Really well worth reading

 Edited by Jo Glanville
 
I read this for Book 7. A book set in a country that fascinates you.
These short stories are amazing. They offer slices of life in Palestine as experienced and then told by women. Many of them are not political in any overt way – they deal with childhood memories of being mischievous, of buying shoes and not buying into societies ideas of what feminine is, of being a child in a beautiful country.
 
Others show how the political situation defines and determines so many actions and activities those of us in freer countries would perform without thought. Imagine spending a whole day travelling a short distance to visit relatively because of the numerous road blocks? Road blocks with what seems like very little purpose other than to show power.
 
And yet other stories talk very specifically about the awful vortex of death and killing that exists in this part of the world. You kill my child, I will kill two of yours – back and forth until all the children are dead.
 
All of the stories are powerful in their own way. Not a single one can be read and just flipped past, forgotten, consumed like junk food. They are all important and valuable. Each deserves time taken to read and digest. I will return to them all to reread and reconsider.
 
In each story the very humanness of the characters is so powerful. When we read of deaths and bombings or see footage on tv it is easy to forget that the victims, and perpetrators, are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, siblings – people just like us with all the same relationships and complications.
 
These stories show the humanity of the people caught up in the violence, and remind us that it is not politicians who live with the daily fear – it is the people.
 
In addition, there is a strong feminist thread through these stories. These are women getting on with it, making things happen, surviving often in the most dire of circumstances.
 
A wonderful collection of stories. Simply wonderful.
 
In the spirit of fairness, I shall also be reading a collection of Israeli short stories. And I am sure that the same humanity, experiences, fears and disruptions exist on that side of the story too.