I think I reached the limit of how much info you can put in a page with my I just read... page, so here is a continuation of that! Scroll down for the most recent review.

Edie Investigates - Nick Harkaway (Kindle Book)

This short story was supposed to be a teaser for Angelmaker introducing one of its main characters. It's a testament to how much I loved Angelmaker that I read it anyway, given my aversion to short stories generally and the fact that I've already read Angermaker. It was a very readable little story and I enjoyed it very much. 21/07/2013

 


 

 

The Light Between Oceans - M. L. Stedman (Kindle Book)

This is a beautifully written and very sad story of good people thrown by circumstances into doing something morally wrong, and then being caught in a horrible dilemma  with no easy solution. Set in the dramatic location of an island lighthouse off the coast of Australia, the starkness of the setting echoes the emotional turmoil of the characters. 26/7/13

 

 

The Gone Away World - Nick Harkaway (Kindle Book)

I couldn't tear myself away from reading another Nick Harkaway. I'm reading his books the wrong way round, (not that it matters) as The Gone Away World is his first. It took me a little longer to get into than Angelmaker, and it is less sweet and quirky, but still fabulous. Again, the  book has a complex yet easy to follow plot with beautiful structure like a master symphony. This time it's a bit sci-fi or even horror, with a post-apocalyptic world where thoughts and dreams can become reality with all the terribleness that that would actually realise (think of the island where dreams come true in C.S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, or the Tooth Fairy's castle in Terry Pratchett's Hogfather - and if you haven't read them, stop reading my blog and go and read them now). I thought I had guessed the twist at the end, but it turned out I had only skimmed the surface of it, and there was enough surprise left to leave me gobsmacked. Like the Angelmaker, the  book had bags of heart and soul and like the Angelmaker, there were martial arts and bee themes (I want to write a book with a bee theme - bees are awesome!). 01/08/13

 

The Cleaner of Chartres  - Salley Vickers (Kindle Book) 

This was my book group read for August, and one that I chose, so I was anxious that it be good! I chose it because I loved some of Salley Vickers' other books. I don't know if I loved this book, but I certainly liked it. It was a gentle and pretty read, atmospheric and enjoyable without being gripping or shocking. Set in France and with some nice characters and enough intrigue to keep things moving along and a nice happy ending. It would make a good holiday read, especially if you were holidaying in France. (Even though I still love my kindle, I was a little envious of the book groups members who had the paperback, as it's a very pretty cover.) 11/08/2013

 

The Gates - John Connolly (Kindle Book) 

I used to read to my children at bedtime, and my youngest, Christy was the last to be read to, but sadly, he didn't want it any more when he moved up to 'big school' six years ago. One of the books that he and I both loved was The book of Lost Things by John Connolly. I think Christy would have loved this book too, maybe when he was mid primary, as it's gentler and less dark than The Book of Lost Things - definitely a kids book, but still really well written and both funny and genuinely gripping. Maybe I'll read it to  my grandkids one day.... 14//08/13


 

Crossing - Andrew Xia Fukuda (Kindle Book)

I don't really know what to make of this book - in some ways it felt a bit Disney/High School musical, and in other ways it was horribly dark and depressing. The issues of a young teen feeling out of place - having  a financially struggling single mum and being Asian in a mostly white school were dealt with quite well. I thought the series of unfortunate coincidences which led to the boys ultimate downfall were a bit unbelievable. I do like books where seemingly insignificant things become very significant at the denouement but this one felt like it was stretching credulity just a little too much. Still a pretty good read though. 16/08/2013

 

The Detective's Daughter - Lesley Thomson (Kindle Book) 

I don't normally read detective whodunnit type books, because I find them boring (although I quite like watching them on TV) but this one was compared to Kate Atkinson books, which I do like, so I gave it a go. For the first half of the book, I struggled a bit and wondered why I was wasting my life reading a style of book that I just don't enjoy, but I have to admit that I did get more and more into it towards the end and actually quite liked it overall. 26/08/2013

 

 

The Man Who Lived At The End of The World - Robert Davies (Kindle Book)

My first impression of this post apocalyptic novel was that it was over-written and under-edited - too many superfluous adjectives and metaphors (often, less is more) and clumsy writing with overuse of certain words etc.  but, saying that, once I got into the story I became more and more impressed with the clever plot structure and sensitive characterisation, and either the writing improved, or I just started to 'get' it because by the end I really liked it and thought it was well above many other books of the same genre. 30/08/2013

 

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card (Kindle Book)

My son  read this book and raved about it, and figured out how to put it from his kindle on to mine, so I read it and really enjoyed it too. Written more than thirty years ago, the writer is spookily accurate in many of his predictions regarding computers and internet. The book is futuristic sci-fi, set in a time after the Earth has recovered from a devastating alien attack and are working away at being ready if the aliens (named somewhat embarrassingly 'The Buggers') come back. The protagonist, Ender, is a small child who is gifted at a kind of virtual reality game used in the child soldier training school. The book has lots of clever and deep things to say about politics and life generally (without being preachy or boring) and the twist at the end was well done and surprised me. I also really liked the epilogue which wrapped things up in a satisfying way. I hope the movie doesn't ruin it. 04/08/2013

 

The Last Runaway - Tracy Chevalier (Kindle Book) 

This is a nicely written book about Quakers and quilting and the American Civil Rights movement.  I enjoy Tracy Chevalier's style of writing which shows depth of characters and historical interest without sacrificing plot interest and pacing. 13/09/2013

 

 

 

 

The Man Who Wasn't There - Pat Barker (paperback) 

This book  was recommended by a book group friend, so I bought a second hand copy and gave it a go. It's more of a novella or long short story than a novel, written from the perspective of a small boy imagining the father he never knew. The main protagonist lives in an imaginary world of spies and espionage and the story he tells in his head is interspersed with and reflects what is happening in his real life. Strangely, I found his made up story more compelling than the 'real' story, but maybe that was the point? 20/09/2013

 

 

The Night Rainbow - Claire King (kindle book)

I loved the title of this book, which is why I bought it. Set in France and told from the point of view of a small girl whose father has recently died and whose pregnant mother is losing the plot, I found the naive voice at times a little jarring and annoying. Saying that, it held my interest, and I didn't see the plot twist coming, even though there were major clues which niggled at me as I read, so that was cleverly done. I liked the ending.  28/09/2013

 

 

Galapagos - Kurt Vonnagut (kindle Book)

Wow! Now this book I loved! Narrated by a ghost from the distant future who didn't interact with the characters, but gave clever, funny and oddball observations and predictions which carried the plot with great verve. I can't put my finger on what I loved so much. The book is set on an ill-fated cruise which coincided with a culmination of events leading ultimately to mankind's almost extinction. The characters are interesting and rounded and the writing just flows effortlessly. I haven't read anything else by Kurt Vonnagut, but now I want to. 05/10/2013

 

The Cry - Helen  FitzGerald (Kindle Book)

I don't know why I keep getting taken in by the kindle deal of the day on Amazon and buying books that I know I'm not going to like. I'm like Charlie Brown always believing the little girl is not going to take away the football at the last minute (ask your parents, if you don't get that reference)  and I get taken in by the glowing reviews saying this one is clever and deep etc. I'm sure lots of people like this kind of thing, but I'm not one of them. The book is about a young couple whose baby tragically dies due to an accident, and they try to cover up by pretending he was snatched from their car. Okay, but too much plot and not enough depth for my taste. 15/10/2013

 

The Twin - Gerbrand Bakker (Kindle Book) 

Reading  this book after The Cry was like coming home after having to spend the day chatting to weird people - as soon as I started reading I though, yes, now this is a well written book. Set in Holland, the bleak landscape is a much a character as the long dead twin, and the surviving twin, Helmer who narrates the story. Helmer has lived most of his life trying to replace his brother, putting aside his own dreams to fill the void. As his aging father nears death, it is finally time for Helmer to start making choices for himself, from redecorating the farm house, to going travelling and meeting up with old forbidden friends. It was my book group read for October,  and I'm very pleased Sheila suggested this book (it was recommended to her by her favourite bookseller from the No Alibis bookshop in Belfast). 20/10/2013

 

The Uncommon Appeal Of Clouds - Alexander McCall Smith (Kindle Book) 

I've had this book on my Kindle for a while, but tended to chose others over it as I was getting a bit bored of A. McC S but when I did finally read it I actually really enjoyed it. It's lighter and more optimistic than The Twin, while still being well written and thought provoking. I'm a bit late writing this up (it's well into December as I'm writing this), and I'm struggling to remember what actually happened, but I do remember being surprised by how much I enjoyed it! 27/10/2013

 

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year - Sue Townsend (paperback)

I loved this book. It was funny and sweet without being sickly or too obvious, which I sure is a mark of the genius of Sue Townsend's writing. I found most of the cast of characters sympathetic or at least understandable and believable and the book actually did make me laugh out loud and cry real tears. I want to read more by Sue Townsend now. 2/11/2013

 

 

 

Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan (Kindle Book)

This was an interesting book, which I found very enjoyable to read. It cleverly juxtaposes modern computer technology with ancient societies and treasure hunt type clue solving and manages to pull it off really convincingly. Hats off to Robin Sloan for a clever idea well executed. 05/11/2013

 

 

 

Raising Steam - Terry Pratchett (Hardback Book)

I bought the hardback version of this, even though I love reading books on the kindle, because I have a shelf of Discworld books and wanted the complete collection. I love TP and couldn't wait for this book. It feels very disloyal to say anything bad about a Terry Pratchett book, but this one didn't delight me as much as others, and at times it was even a chore to read. It's still a good book, and so much better than many other books, but not, to me at least, up to the standard of others in the series (although way better than not having a new Discworld book, and I hope there are more to come). 30/11/2013

 

 

Monsignor Quixote - Graham Green (Kindle Book)

This was my book group read for December. I would never have thought of reading this book were it not my book group read, but surprisingly I really enjoyed it.  Based on Don Quixote by Cervantes (which I haven't read but I looked up on Wikipedia to get the gist of) it's a lovely gentle and yet thought provoking story about faith and conviction vs the unfeeling establishment be it religious or political. A road trip by two friends, a naive but well meaning priest and his friend the ex-mayor and communist party member leads to some hilarious scenarios with brothels and police chases and kidnapping. Lots of fun! 3/12/2013

 

 

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats - Jan-Philipp Sendker (Kindle Book) 

I initially thought I wasn't going to like this book, the writing style annoyed my - I'm not sure why, I maybe felt too forced or too obvious or something, but I did actually get really drawn in to the story and found myself coming round to the writing style once I'd got used to it. It's the story of a  modern day American woman tracing her father's tragic life story in Burma, discovering for the first time that he spent much of his young life blind from cataracts. (I just looked on Amazon and learned that the book is a translation from some other language, which could explain the strange style). It was worth persevering with. 10/12/2013

 

 

 

John Saternall's Feast - Lawrence Norflok (Kindle Book) 

At first I found this book very confusing and didn't know what the heck was going on, but once I got my head around it, I found it very readable. Set in medieval England, a woman whose knowledge of herbs and plants for use in midwifery and cookery made the townsfolk run her off as a witch, taught the mysteries of 'the feast' which basically meant fancy cooking to her son who ended up head chef in some big manor house/castle type place. I liked the bits about cooking, and the relationships etc, but I got bored with all the talk of fighting and war stuff (I'm a girl, okay!). Overall a good book. 15/12/2013

 

 

The Rabbit Back Literature Society - Pasi Llmari Jääskeläinen (Kindle Book)

This book  was translated from Finnish, which was interesting, as different cultures and languages tend to have different literary styles. I could relate pretty well the the style and the characters, although the plot was a little odd. Set in a small town where a revered famous children's author had historically taken on mentors to train up as the next generation of writers. The story is told by the latest recruit to the society who discovers strange and unsettling things about the group. Part mystery, part horror with undertones of magical realism and ghost stories, it was a pretty compelling if slightly unsettling read.  20/12/2013

 

 

Fortunately The Milk - Neil Gaiman (Kindle Book) 

This was super cheap on Amazon,  and I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman, so I bought it even though it is very  much a kids book. It's a fun and imaginative story which I might try reading aloud to a class of upper primary school kids if the situation arises (I'm working as a substitute teacher at the moment to try and pay some bills). The kindle book had some extra features eg Neil Gaiman reading the book aloud, and some videos of Chris Riddell the illustrator doing the drawings which didn't work on my Kindle paperwhite, but did work on my kindle app on my new iPad which was a present from my mum (thanks Mum! I love it) 21/12/2013

 

 

The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert (Kindle Book) 

This is a fabulous book! It's the first book I've read in ages that I literally didn't want to put down, and I yearned to get back to it when I had to put it down. It's a long and wide reaching life story, beginning with the childhood of the main character's father, so we really understand where she comes from. Her father was a poor petty criminal child who stole plants from Kew Gardens in London in the 17th century but impressed the gentleman owner with his self taught knowledge of botany, so was sent on ships around the world to look for rare plants. He made a fortune discovering and marketing plants for use in pharmaceuticals  and settled in America with a Dutch wife (because he admired the work ethic of the Dutch!) and had his daughter, the main protagonist of the novel. She was intelligent and hard working and became a rare female scientist studying plants, specifically mosses. Her life story was rife with disappointments in love and is truly tragic and moving. The book is beautifully written and very cleverly constructed and I enjoyed reading it very much. 04/01/2014

 

 

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Gilbraith (J.K. Rowling) (Kindle Book)

There's a certain type of detective whodunnit book that I really like - for example I loved the Kate Atkinson Jackson Brodie books, and I love many of the classics like Dorothy Sayers Peter Wimsey books, but generally I hate modern 'bestseller' books in this genre. I did like The Cuckoo's Calling quite a lot, but I can't for the life of me decide if I liked it so much because I knew it was by J.K. Rowling (who can't write a word wrong, as far as I'm concerned)  or if I'd have liked it so much if I'd never heard of this Robert Gilbraith chap? I did find the plot a little confusing, although it all came together in the end. I mostly enjoyed the character development of the detective and his new 'temporary' secretary. I'll definitely be reading the next instalment! 10/01/2014 

 

(My  blinking cat just walking across my keyboard and deleted a bunch of stuff I'd just typed in! I can't figure out how to get it back so I'll have to just do it again. grrr. One day the other cat sat on my keyboard and managed to turn my monitor display sideways - I had to go and get my son to come and fix it for me. They regularly open up powerpoints and type gibberish into them - are they trying to tell me something?)

 

 

The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown (Paperback)

Both The Cuckoo's Calling and the new Dan Brown book were going cheap on kindle in the Amazon January sale so I bought them, then realised that I hadn't read the previous Dan Brown, and since it wasn't cheap on kindle I ordered it as a second hand paperback (gotta watch those pennies!). What can I say? Typical Dan Brown, I guess, quite exciting, but spoiled by how everything is explained, and then explained again, and then, in case the hard of thinking in the back didn't quite catch it, it's explained again. I'm like, yes, I get it, please move on. It did make me feel more sympathetic toward free-masons (bless them, they just want peace and love) and I guess I mostly enjoyed it. I was slightly annoyed by the physical book being so bulky in my hands (I'm so in love with my kindle) and despite the condition being described as 'excellent' by the seller, having a spine that was broken in at least two places and kept flopping open strangely. 18/01/2014

 

 

David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (Kindle Book) 

I was  talking to a friend recently about our favourite Dickens books (mine are Bleak House and A Tale Of Two Cities) and he said David Copperfield was not only his favourite Dickens, but in his opinion one of the best books ever written. Wow, I thought, I should read this one. I don't know if I just wasn't in a Dickens mood, or if it's because I'm quite cross with Dickens having heard about him leaving his wife and mother of his lots of children for a nineteen year old actress when he was 45, but I didn't warm to this book. I got bored in the middle, and in light of what I now know about the writer, I found the saccharine goodness of his heroes to be hypocritical and just made me crosser. There were some very funny characters and laugh out loud moments though, and the ending was pretty satisfying (or was I just glad it was finally over?) 14/02/2014

 

The End Of Your Life Book Club - Will Schwalbe (Kindle Book) 

I generally only read fiction and really don't like biographies or memoirs, so I probably wouldn't have bought this if I'd have realised what it was, which is the memoir of the last months in the life of a elderly lady dying of cancer told from the perspective of her son, Will, who went to her chemo sessions with her where they talked about the books they'd recently read and ended up agreeing to read the same books and discuss them like it was a book group. I'm really glad I started reading it under false pretences, because I very  much enjoyed the book on many levels. Firstly, my own dad was in the end stages of his battle with cancer as I read it (he passed away just a week ago as I write this) so a lot of the emotions that the writer went through struck real chords with me. Also, many of the books they talked about are books that I have read and loved and I really got what they said about them (or felt that they 'got' me, even though we'd never met) and I was very excited about some of the books they discussed which I had either never heard of or had just never read, and I  intend to read as many of them as I can get my hands on. 18/02/2014

 

 

Big Machine - Victor LaValle (Kindle Book)

This is the first of my 'recommended by the end of your life book club' books and boy is it a doozy! It is a book I'd never heard of, although apparently it was a big New York Times best seller (which reaffirms my faith in the American people!). It is a very strange book in just the way I like. It's weird like an episode of Lost, with magical realism, angels/demons and switching beliefs in who's the good guys and who're the baddies. With a really flawed but likeable main protagonist and a galloping (if at times baffling, in a good way) plot, I loved it! I don't think it would be to everyone's taste, and not one for the easily offended as there are references to sex, drugs, and natty dressing as well as digs at organised religion and some nasty violence (although not too much or it would have put me off too.) 22/02/2014

 

 

Death At La Fenice - Donna Leon (Paperback) 

This is my second 'recommended by the end of your life book club' books. There are a few murder mystery writer that I like, such as old classics like Dorothy Sayers and the occasional Agatha Christie, as well as Kate Atkinson and the new series by JK Rowling (under that pseudonym) but mostly I hate the genre. The nice old lady in the end of your life book club said this book did for Venice what the No 1 ladies detectives did for Botswana, so I decided to give it a try. I'm not sure if I'm totally sold, but I liked all the Italian references and I'm intrigued enough by the main character that I want to read the next one or two in the series before I decide whether or not to give up on them. 28/02/2014

 

 

Homestead - Rosina Lippi (paperback) 

This was an impulse buy, or rather, the best I could find in the charity shop at the time. I was in town, trawling the charity shops to buy suit jackets for my teenage sons to wear to their Grandad (my Dad's) funeral, and I had neglected to bring my kindle with me, but I needed to have a sit down and a bite to eat (and couldn't contemplate sitting in a cafe without a book!) so I bought this from the shop where I got a nice dark grey jacket for oldest son. It looked more 'literary' than the array of thrillers and corset busters they had on offer, and it was. The book is beautifully written, with slow atmospheric wording matching the main protagonist which is the setting - a small Austrian mountain village. The book spans a period of just over seventy years, and each chapter follows a different character at a different point of time. I can see the artistic merit in the style, but for me, it felt too much like short stories and I'm not a fan of such. I like a narrative thread to keep me hooked, and this really didn't have it. Great though, if you like well written 'slice of life' type stories. 3/03/2014

 

 

Continental Drift - Russell Banks (Paperback) 

This is my third of the 'recommended by The End  Of Your Life Book Club' books. I think I'd have really liked the lady from that book because even though she was elderly and a devout christian, she was not offended by books with real nitty gritty characters and language, sex etc. Not that I look for those things in a book, just that it would be a pity to miss great writing because of tut tutting over content like that. She described this book as 'the most depressing thing I've ever read' but still recommended it to lots of friends because of the great writing. Following two main characters, one an American man, the other a Haitian woman, the book is a series of foolish decisions, bad luck and consequences and life for both characters just goes from bad to worse until the tragic ending. I would agree that it is depressing but worth reading. I'm looking for more books by this writer. 17/03/2014

 

The Minor Adjustments Beauty Salon - Alexander McCall Smith (Kimdle Book)

What can I say - lovely Mma Ramotswe , lovely Botswana, typical lyrical gently storytelling. I'll never tire of the No 1 Ladies.18/03/2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Van - Roddy Doyle (Kindle Book)

This was my book group read for March, and I probably wouldn't have read it otherwise (or I might have started it and given up). There is a lot of swearing. I know I just said in my review of Continental Drift that I admired people who aren't put off good books because of language etc, but this is wild - pretty much every other word in parts is eff this or worse! We recently had a run in with the neighbours from 'the estate' whose garden backs onto ours when our tree blew into their garden during the storms. There was a lot of shouting and effing and threatening physical violence (from them to us - we just whimpered a bit), and my husband's colegue, who grew up on a similar estate told us not to worry, it was just the normal way to deal with stress. Right enough, when standing at the bus stop with people from 'the estate' they do seem to use the eff word pretty much more than any other, even when they're not at all cross. I know I sound very middle class and judgemental, but I guess I am what I am, and most of the books I read are written by equally (or more so) middle class people, so a genuine 'working class' Irish voice is a rare thing in a book, and if they swear constantly in the book, I guess it's because they swear constantly in real life. Because it was my book group book, I kept reading and once I got past my inward tutting over the swearing, and got the know the characters it was a good human drama with interesting characters with feelings and insecurities not unlike my own. The book was very funny in parts as well, although because it realied very heavily on dialogue it felt a little shallow in places, more like a screen play than a novel. 26/03/14

 

 

Perfect - Rachel Joyce (Kindle Book) 

This is the new book by the writer of  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which I loved and recommended to all my friends (my Mum just read it and loved it too for her first night at her new book club). This book has dual threads one which follows two childhood friends and unravels the traumatic even that shaped them, and the other which meets them again during  adulthood and shows how the effects have moulded them. There's kind of a twist which I kind of worked out before the reveal (although not completely) but I still really enjoyed getting to know the characters and the lovely writing. Good book. 30/03/2014

 

 

The Shock Of The Fall - Nathan Filer (Kindle Book) 

This book, like Perfect which I read just before it,  is about mental health, and childhood trauma and the relationship between the two. For me, it suffered by following such a good book which I loved so much, so I inevitably compared the two, and for me this one came up lacking. Saying that, I did persevere with it, and once I got used to the strange narrative style (which is strange because the book is supposed to be the slightly mad ramblings of the main character as therapy while he is in a psychiatric hospital and therefore the strangeness is valid) I did grow to like it more and more, and see that it was unfair of me to compare the two just because they share the same subject because the styles are so different but equally commendable. 6/04/2014

 

Brilliance - Marcus Sakey (Kindle Book) 

This is not the kind of book I would normally like, and yet I really did enjoy reading this (mostly). It's a futuristic thriller set in a world thirty years on from a gene mutation which occurred in one percent of the population producing individuals with savant abilities without the mental illness or limitations that go along with some types of autism (hence the term 'idiot savant') ie, they could see huge calculations as if they are obvious, or remember everything, or notice everything in a room or read patterns very well etc, which made them able to crack any computer system and crash the stock exchange and basically out-compete the normal people, and a kind of terrorist led civil war is beginning.  The book follows a good guy who goes deep undercover to fight the bad guys but there's all kind of grey areas so he has to decide who the good guys really are. The slightly annoying part was the beautiful male and female protagonists inevitably falling into each  other's beds, but hey, it's American. 12/04/2014

 

MaddAddam - Margaret Atwood (Kindle Book) 

I love this trilogy by Margaret Atwood that started with Oryx and Crake and The Year of The Flood and I couldn't wait for this third instalment. Thankfully the book began with a summery of the previous two volumes, as it's been a while since I read them and I'd forgotten loads (I really should have re-read them just before reading this one, but I was too impatient!). This book is at least as good as the other two. It follows the new society of humans and the bioengineered Crakers in the postapocalyptic world trying to make a new life and work together. It's optomistic without being cloying and funny yet sad, strange yet fabulous! I loved it and missed it when I finished reading. 14/04/2014

 

The Crow Road - Iain Banks (Kindle Book) 

Oh dear.  My opinion of this book probably suffered by having read it after the fabulous MaddAddam,  but I just couldn't warm to it. I didn't really like any of the characters, who all seemed to drink so much it's a wonder they didn't all die of liver disease. The family mystery that underpinned the plot didn't really excite me, and when the reveal finally came all I thought was well that's that out of the way at last. It wasn't badly written, and it's probably a worthy book, just not my cup of tea. 25/04/2014

 

 

 An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful - J. David Simons (Kindle Book)

I didn't instantly love this book, but it grew on my until I did like it a lot. An elderly writer returns to Japan where he lived for a time as a young man and where he wrote his breakthrough novel. Flashbacks from his youth at the tail end of WWII, and throughout his life intersperse with present day events and weave the tail of a life of success but also of loneliness  and regret. The ending is sad but fitting. 2/05/2014

 

 

 

(The First half of...)The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon (paperback)

This is another  End of Your Life Book Club recommendation, which I bought as a second hand paperback because it was cheaper than the kindle version. Big mistake. The paperback copy I have is quite chunky (so hard to hold for my wee arthritic hands) and the print is small (so hard to read for my aging and never very good to begin with eyesight) which coloured my opinion of the book unfairly. I'm actually really enjoying the writing style  and the plot and characters, however I stopped reading half way through, because I got into a panic about getting my book group book read in time (as it happens I got the dates mixed up, so I would have been alright) but now I've got distracted with other kindle books, and I'm reluctant to return to chunky tiny print but good Kavalier and Clay (I'm writing this about a month after the fact). It's a pity, because the book is rich and funny and tragic and real and I must force myself to go back to caveman days and read a real paper book, and I will, after a few nice kindle books.....10/05/2014

 

 

The Secret History - Donna Tartt (Kindle Book)

This was my book group read for June, and I was really looking forward to it. I have never read Donna Tartt before, but heard so many good things that I was glad to give her a go. I'm not sure what I expected, but The Secret History surprised me by being different to the vague notion I had of what it would be like. It took me a while (perhaps because of this wrongfooting) to get into the book, but once I did I was proper hooked. The style reminded me of The Great Gatsby, and in fact after I'd thought that, the main character tells us that it's one of his favourite books. The story it told from the point of view of the 'everyman' who tries and fails to fit in either with his working class uneducated family, or the group of elitist wealthy classics students he finds himself a part of. A lot of the plot hangs on this need to fit in and how weaker characters will follow charismatic leaders even to the brink of destruction. I'm interested to see what the rest of the book group thought. (Book group got postponed until 20th June, so I'll write it up in the 'my book group reads' section of the website sometime after that.) 20/05/2014

 

 

The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring - Alastair Puddick (Kindle Book)

This was the Amazon Kindle Deal of The Day, which is always a gamble - some have paid off in spades, others, not so much.  I really wanted to like this book, I love the title, and the premise, and I liked the first chapter which introduced the affable but slightly pathetic (in an endearing way) George Thring. The plot quickly became utterly ridiculous, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, and other books have carried off a silly plot with great writing. Sadly not this one. Perhaps Mr Puddick should try his had at children's writing, where  obvious painfully over-explained ultra simple writing may be a strength. The writing style is to subtlety what boulder throwing is to needlework. I finished the book, and didn't totally hate it, but it could have been so much better with a bit more style. 30/05/2014

 

 

Americanah - Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie (Kindle Book)

I loved Adichie's other books, and this one was recommended by one of my book group buddies, so I gave it a go. I liked it a lot to begin with (which could be that lovely satisfying feeling of starting a book by a great writer after reading a book by a less-than-great-writer - like stepping into a perfectly warm bath) but kind of half way through I felt a bit like I was being preached at, and it was one of those books you feel you ought to read rather than you want to read. Saying that, I think it picked up a bit again towards the end, and I missed the book when it was over, which is always a good sign. 12/06/2014

 

 

Tigerman - Nick Harkaway (Kindle Book) 

I love, love, love Nick Harkaway. The plot of this book, about a retired shell-shocked soldier who turns vigilante against a corrupt group of crime king pins on a remote island would have totally turned me off, and there's no way I'd have read it if I didn't love everything else by this man so much. The writing is so skillful and deft and the characterisation so believable and wonderfully sympathetic that I even enjoyed the fighty actiony bits. The sergeant's character reminded me of Sam Vimes of Discworld fame when Terry Pratchett was absolutely on the top of his game which is about as high as praise can get from me. I probably didn't love this as much as the other Harkaways I've read, but that's like saying getting given a million pounds wouldn't be quite as good as getting a million and ten pounds (ie, I still really loved it). I hope Nick Harkaway hurries up and writes many more fabulous books. 16/06/2014 

 

 

 Bertie's Guide To Life And Mothers - Alexander McCall Smith (Kindle Book)

I'm a bit late writing up my books (again!) and I'm struggling to remember much about this one. I do like Alexander McCall Smith's writing, which is formulaic, but in a comforting, if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it kind of way. I guess the genius of it is that one feels a fondness and attachment to the characters, like catching up with old friends. Some of the storylines (as ever in this series) were a little far fetched (Bertie's mother being mistaken for the wife of a Sheik for instance) but it's sweet and I have enough of a sweet tooth that I'll keep coming back for more. 18/06/2014

 

 

The Long Mars - Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Kindle Book)

I loved the first two books in the series, but I thought this one was a little lacking. The first book had the advantage of setting the scene, and the novelty of the parallel universe premise, which this one doesn't, but I like that the books go beyond that to the what happens next, how does normal life reassert itself. I think I missed Lobsang, the artificial intelligence/reincarnated Tibetian motorcycle repairman, who was a very witty character, who was in this book, but not as much as in the others. I'll still keep reading the books as long as new ones keep coming out though. 24/06/2014

 

 

The Silkworm - Roberth Galbraith (Kindle Book) 

This book, and The Long Mars were birthday presents to myself, because I love the writers and what I read is usually dictated by what's going cheap on Amazon, so it's a rare treat to be able to chose a book I really want. This is the second in the private detective series by JK Rowling. As with the first one, I got a bit confused about who was who and what was going on for a while but eventually got my head around it. The reveal in this book was so well done that I didn't see it coming, but when it did it seemed so obvious. Not one to read if you're very offended by bad language, but if you can see past that, I find these books very readable, with likable but complex main characters.30/06/2014

 

 

Every Dead Thing (Charlie Parker Collection) - John Conolly (Kindle Book) 

When I still used to read bedtime stories to my son Christy, (oh cruel time, to tear our children from us) we both very much enjoyed The Book Of Lost Things, by John Connolly, so when Amazon had the first four books in this thriller detective series going cheap, I gave it a go. Although the writer is Irish, the book is set in America and has, to me at least, an authentic American feel to it. It kind of blurs the genre lines between mystery/thriller/supernatural horror and mostly grabbed my attention (which is saying a lot because generally action books bore me). A little gruesome in places, but having read Connolly before, I knew to expect that. I'll read the other three books at some point, but with a bit of a break in between. 10/07/2014

 

 

Tell The Wolves I'm Home - Carol Rifka Brunt (Kindle Book)

This book must have been the kindle deal of the day on Amazon at some point in the past, because it's been on my kindle for a while and I'd forgotten what it was about, but read it because I loved the title.  If I'd have known it was an American young adult fiction book that would have put me off, and I'm glad it didn't because I found this book really compelling and I thought it was wonderfully written. The writer, though American, lives in England, and although the book has been classed as young adult, she sees it as adult fiction. It's a coming of age story, set in the eighties about a young teen who's beloved uncle dies of AIDS and who befriends his lover who she hadn't known the existence of before and who is also dying of AIDS. I found the characters really believable and empathetic and I could identify especially with the main character, June, on lots of levels. The complexity of family relationships is handled deftly and sympathetically and the plot is believable yet enthralling enough to keep you hooked. 16/07/2014

 

 

SlaughterHouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut (Kindle Book) 

I really enjoy the odd (odd is an understatement) madcap black humour of Kurt Vonnegut's writing. This book is nominally about the experience of a group of American men in the second world war in Germany, although true to Vonneguts style, one of the characters randomly hops about through time in his own life, including a period where he is abducted by aliens and kept in a zoo with a beautiful young woman so aliens can watch them procreate. I didn't love it as much as Galapagos,  but I still liked it a lot. 23/7/14

 


Beware of Pity - Stefan Zweig (Kindle Book)

This book  was written in 1939 by an Austrian Jew, and is set during the first world war. The main character is a young soldier who makes a faux pas at a party by asking a young crippled girl to dance, and feels so guilty he starts to visit and send gifts. His actions are misconstrued as courtship by the girl and her family, and things go from bad to worse. The writing is often profound, and many passages are worth remembering and quoting, however the writing is of the 'more is more' or 'why say in one paragraph what you could spend several chapters saying' school of thought, which made me a little impatient at times. Still, it was a worthy and fairly enjoyable read with a tragic ending. 18/8/14

 

 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler (Kindle Book) 

I enjoyed reading this contemporary family drama with an interesting twist. 23/8/14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut (Kindle Book)

More vintage Vonnegut craziness, this time set on a fictional island state with it's own religion (with lots of wise teachings included in the book) and facing certain destruction. 3/9/14

 

 

 

 

 

Cider With Rosie - Laurie Lee (Kindle Book) 

This was my book group read for September, and I've written  up what the other book group ladies thought of it (everyone loved it). I loved lots of things about it too; the poetic language, the sense of nostalgia, the aspects of family life that everyone can identify with, but I do have to admit to getting a bit bored by it about half way through (shame on me) - I did get back into it, and was sorry when it ended though. 3/9/14

 

 

 

 Dark Hollow (Charlie Parker Collection) - John Connolly (Kindle Book)

I quite liked the first book in this series, but I have to admit I found this one a bit of a chore to read. It had a lot of fighting and gun fighting and describing what type of guns people were using, and what type of bullets, and what damage these bullets did etc, and for me there are few things more boring than stats about guns, it was also quite gory, and I didn't think the plot was as strong as in the first book. I like the characters of Charlie Parker's two friends though.

 

 

 

The Garden Of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng (Kindle Book) 

This book was much more to my taste. Set in Malaysia, it is told from the point of view of a Chinese Malaysian woman who has just retired as a judge due to showing the first signs of a type of dementia. She decides to write a memoir of her life, so we learn about her life piecemeal, jumping through time like a jigsaw puzzle finally coming together only when all the pieces are in place. She was taken as a prisoner of war by the Japanese as a teenager, and her sister died in the same camp. After the war, she has a relationship with a Japanese gardener which is at first distrustful, but then healing. There are lots of interesting facts about  Chinese, Malaysian and Japanese culture, and I found it a beautiful, compelling and enjoyable read. 27/9/14

 

 

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion (Kindle Book)

I don't know why I always seem to identify with characters who are to some degree on the autistic spectrum (!) but there are many books I've really enjoyed with autistic protagonists, and this is one of them (another that instantly springs to mind is The Language of Others by the wonderful Clare Morrall - but not the dire and dismal House Rules by Jodi-can-you-every-write-anything-original-Picoult). The main character is a lovely say-it-as-it-is autistic genetics academic in search of love (because statistically, men in steady relationships life longer). By accident and misadventure, he finds the very different, but equally loveable Rosie, and romance ensues. I liked it a lot. 30/9/14

 

 

The Dirty Parts Of The Bible - Sam Torode (Kindle Book) 

I had a love-it/hate-it/quite-like-it relationship with this book.  I thought it opened well, and I was hooked pretty quickly, and then it started to irritate me and it seemed like every cliche possible to put into an all American coming of age novel had been thrown in - naive small town boy with religious upbringing doesn't realise he's going into a brothel (really) and then has all his money stolen (yes he did) so he decides to ride the rails and befriends a wise old ethnic guy (you couldn't make this up- oh wait, yes you could, without too much effort). I stuck with it, and felt mildly interested in the characters development. I can't remember now how it ended... (to be fair, I'm two months late in writing this up, and my memory is not great, so it's not necessarily the  books fault that I forgot the ending.) 7/10/14

 

 

How Dogs Love Us - A Neuroscientist And His Dog Decode The Canine Brain - Gregory Berns (Kindle Book) 

I rarely read non-fiction, but I really got hooked by this book. A guy who did research using functional brain scans on humans, to see which parts of the brain light up when we do/or think about certain things, decided to train his dog to lie still while looking at or smelling certain things so he could do functional dog brain scans. A lot of the book was about the training process, and the upshot was that when dogs smell urine or sweat (ew) from their human family members, the same part of the brain lights up as when humans are shown photos of people they love - so he's proven by science that our dogs really do love us :-).  15/10/14 

 

 

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larsson (Kindle Book)

 I had not planned to read this trilogy, thinking it would not be my cup of tea, but it was recommended by the lady in The End Of Your Life Book Club, and since I seem to have overlapping taste with her, I caved and gave it a go. I was actually pleasantly surprised. I found the writing engaging and the plot and character development interesting and compelling. I watched the movie after reading the book (the original foreign one) and thought that was pretty good too, although the film left out the bits where the journalist guy jumped into bed with pretty much anyone. 21/10/14

 

 

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Steig Larsson (Kindle Book) 

More Steig Larsson fun. I thought this one started quite slow, but it did pick up and was once again exciting and compelling.1/11/14


 

 

 

 

 

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest - Steig Larsson (Kindle Book) 

Perhaps it was a mistake to read all three books in a row like this (although if I don't do that with book series, I forget who everyone is) because I was getting a bit sick of it all by this book. There didn't seem to be any new plot, just a very long epilogue from the story which was pretty much sewn up at he end of book two. I was good to get more closure, I guess, but it felt far too dragged out - some snippy editing might have helped. I guess when something is very successful, people think they can get away with dragging it out. 8/11/14

 

   

Love, Nina - Nina Stibbe (Kindle Book) 

This was my book group read for December,  and probably wouldn't have been a book I'd have read otherwise. In the form of letters sent from one sister to another over a period of a couple of years (I think) and supposedly actual letters not a novel (although I don't believe that, unless the letter writer was planning to publish all along - too self concious to be real letters). Although it was set during the era when I grew up, I didn't  identify with any of the characters, or the mood or anything really. Lots of name dropping too. Didn't really like it. 13/11/14

 

 

The True Tale Of The Monster Billy Dean - David Almond (Hardback) 

I've always enjoyed David Almond books because they are quite original and often odd (in a good way). This one like his others was somewhat disturbing and dark, and somewhat otherworldy which is why I liked it. Set in a post apocalyptic  world where secrets and superstition merge with reality until we don't know which is which, it is the story of boy hidden from birth coming of age and emerging into the strange world he's never known. 18/11/14

 

 

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton (Kindle Book) 

 I enjoyed this historical novel set in 17th Century Amsterdam - I liked the writing style, and felt quite sympathetic towards the characters. About a young girl sent off to an arranged marriage having to find her place in the household full of secrets and bad feeling. One aspect of the book I particularly liked was the almost magical way the mysterious miniaturist sent packages to the young bride of models that showed an uncanny knowledge of the intimate happenings of her household -I felt this part of the story wasn't properly resolved (unless I missed something - I do occasionally fall asleep when reading, and then I might get a bit muddled about what I've read and what I haven't!). I liked the ending. On the whole I wasn't blown away, but still an enjoyable read. 4/12/14

 

 

The Boy That Never Was - Karen Perry (Kindle Book)

This was one of those Kindle deal of the day 99p books so I thought I'd give it a go (I've found some real gems that way - and some duds!) It's not the kind of book I really like - a thriller/relationship drama about a couple who's small son is missing presumed dead in Morocco. It reminded me of the TV drama The Missing, because while the mother was staring to move on with her life after several years, the father was obsessed with the notion that the boy might still be alive and he has to find him. I didn't hate it as much as I often hate this type of book, so from me that's praise indeed!. 25/12/14  

 

 

The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe - Alexander McCall Smith (Kindle Book)

I'm a sucker for the books about Mma Ramotswe and friends and as long as A McC S keeps writing them, I'll keep buying them! I love the gentle philosophical musings and the sweet characterisations, and I don't care that they're all pretty much the same, in fact, I wouldn't have it any other way! 30/12/14 

 

 

 

 

The Rosie Effect - Graene Simsion (Kindle Book) 

I loved The Rosie Project, so I was looking forward to reading this book which continues the story of  Don and Rosie the seemingly miss-matched but lovely couple who got together in first book. It took me a while to get into this instalment, and I wondered if it had fallen prey to 'the rule of the sequel' (my husband's oft mentioned theory that sequels are always rubbish, which is I have to admit, at least sometimes, true). After sticking with it, though, I did feel more and more drawn in and actually ended up feeling gripped and satisfied with the ending. I don't know if any more are planned, but if I see them I guess I'll buy them and read them. 5/1/15

 

 

 

The Invention Of Wings -  Sue Monk Kidd (Kindle Book)

This was my book group read for January. (You can read what we all thought about it in My Book Group Reads.) The book is set in America before the Civil War, and is about slavery, and women's rights, and the influence of the church and society in shaping peoples views on what is acceptable and what isn't. The book is mostly based on a true story, (which I didn't realise until after reading it) and is told from the points of view of a slave owner turned abolitionist and her former childhood slave. It's a really enjoyable and interesting read with sympathetic characters and lots of insight into the terrible things that happened in those times. 15/1/15

 

 

 

The Ballad Of Mo and G - Billy Keane (Kindle Book) 

I really loved this book. It is an example of how great the Irish can be at black humour (If you liked In Bruges or Calvary you'll love it). I found the narrator totally sympathetic, I felt like I knew, loved  and understood him from the very start. He's telling the story of the girl he's always loved who is married to a terrible abusive criminal husband, but turns to him as a friendly ear to share her troubles. The book is shocking and disturbing at times, but with moments that made me literally laugh out loud. I carried my kindle about with me for the two days it took me to read it so I could snatch every available few minutes to read some more. I hope Billy Keane writes more like this. 17/1/15

 

 

Lila - Marilynne Robinson  (Kindle Book)

I remember being totally blown away by Marilynne Robinson's first book, Housekeeping way back in the late eighties when I was doing my A levels at Kitson College in Leeds, and telling everyone on my course about how much I loved it and them all looking at me funny (I was doing science A levels!). I didn't love Home or Gilead as much, but this book, Lila takes me back to that blown away feeling of totally loving a book and feeling such synchronicity with the characters (that's probably not the right word, but I like the sound of it so I'm keeping it - I just meant sympathy, I guess, or kinship). I really liked how both main characters were so scared of sharing their true feelings, and so sweet and gentle while still being crippled by their reticence, I loved the gentle unlikely love story, and how going through bad things can leave a person scarred but they can still be good people, and noble and they can still find and give love. I'm a few weeks late writing this up (as usual!) and I'm still missing this beautiful book. 30.1.15

 

 

Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey (Kindle Book) 

I enjoy reading this book. It's a clever mystery written from the perspective of a sufferer of Alzheimer's  who is remembering snippets of the disappearance of her sister from her childhood while finding herself in the middle of a similar missing person case in the present day as her best friend Elizabeth seems to have vanished. Both mysteries remain unsolved until the end of the book when they unexpectedly collide with a satisfying ending for the reader at least, although we fear that the narrator will forget the outcome that she managed to unravel. 9.2.15

 

 

The Book Of Strange New Things - Michel Faber (Kindle Book)

I didn't really know anything about this book before I read it, so I hadn't realised that it was a sci-fi alien encounter type book.  Not that that would have put me off, it just came as a bit of a surprise. It was better not to know, because there was a time while the reader didn't know what big step the main character was about to take (sorry, I've spoiled that for you now, if you are thinking of reading it - forget everything I just said, it's really about a librarian in Dudley). I found this to be a very interesting and enjoyable book - not fast moving, but thoughtful and atmospheric, if a little depressing to see the journey of the lovely sincere Christian couple when faced with various trial and tribulations that came their way. It was a book that lingered in my mind when I wasn't reading, and it ended up being carried about with me so I could snatch every available minute of reading time. 14.02.15 

 

 

A Vision Of Fire - Gillian Anderson (Kindle Book) 

I think  Gillian Anderson is a fine actress, and I liked the premise of her first novel, so I gave it a go. It started out okay, but sadly went downhill from there in my opinion. Lots of books get a bit boring in the middle, and I forgive them if they redeem themselves with a satisfying ending, but I thought the ending of this book just got a bit silly. Too new agey for me. Ancient lost souls communicating telepathically - yeah right. Oh well, I don't think I'll bother with the remaining two books in the trilogy. 20.02.15

 

 

 

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn (Kindle Book) 

I saw the film of this book, and though it was a pretty good thriller but probably not worth reading the book, so when it was suggested at my book group read for Feb/March, I thought 'oh no!'. Saying that, the book wasn't as bad as I though it would be. I didn't have the impact of trying to work out what was going on, having already seen the film, but I did have to advantage of hindsight to see things pan out knowing what was coming. The book had a little more substance than the film, and I actually quite enjoyed reading it. It's not a deep literary essay full of allegory  and metaphor, but still. 25.02.15

 

 

Still Alice - Lisa Genova (Kindle Book) 

 It was interesting reading this book so soon after reading Elizabeth Is Missing, as both books are told in the perspective of women suffering from dementia. This book deals with a fairly young and intellectual woman who discovers she is in the early stages of dementia, and we follow her journey through the pain of discovery and the growing confusion and frustration of losing who she was. I have to say that I very much preferred Elizabeth is missing, because the sense of confusion we got from the unreliable narrator where glimpses of real life were clues we had to work out, I think, gave a much more tragic and empathetic feel for what the character was going through than this book which was just the narrator telling us 'this is my symptom and this is how I feel about it, this is my next symptom and this is how I feel about it....' it did get more confused towards the end of the book, but there was no story to be worked out, just watching the character succumb to her condition. 03/03/15

 

 

 

After The Bombing - Clare Morrall (Kindle Book) 

 I have loved other books by Clare Morrall, I always seem to identify with her characters who tend to be insular and reclusive to their own detriment. This one took me a little longer to get into than her others. It's a dual time novel set during the war at a well to do girls' school and then some time later (about forty years later, I think) at the same school with the main schoolgirl character working as a teacher. It's about the long reaching effects of war and loss and it's quite sad. The war time school girl bits reminded me of the Mallory Towers and St Clare's books I used to read as a child! 14/03/2015

 

 

The Martian - Andy Weir (Kindle Book)

I enjoyed this sci-fi book about a man stranded on Mars having to fight for his survival. Although it was set on Mars, it could equally have worked in any inhospitable setting where the main character had to use his wits to survive with minimal resources.  The main character was fortunately both a botanist and an engineer, so was well equipped to jury rig the bits of equipment and survival gear with him on Mars that was only supposed to last for much less time than he is forced to stay there. There's quite a lot of science, explaining how he's doing things - eg, how he was able to introduce bacteria in to Martian soil and play around with the humidity and oxygen levels in the habitat building to grow potatoes from the small number of actual potatoes which were sent to Mars for the astronauts to celebrate a 'proper' thanksgiving dinner. It reminded me of Castaway and The Life of Pi - I believe it's being made into a film. 20/03/2015

 

 

 

Glorious Angels - Justina Robson (Kindle Book) 

I was looking for inspiration about what to read next by going on Amazon and looking at books I've loved and seeing what was in the 'people who bought that also bought this' section (I can't now remember which book I was looking at) but this one was there, and it was cheap so I bought it. Big mistake. Terrible book. Only got about twenty percent in and then gave up. 28/03/2015

 

 

 

 

History Of The Rain - Niall Williams (Kindle Book)

This is a very beautiful book set in Ireland and told by a bedridden young woman surrounded by books and stories from her father and grandfather. She tells us their stories interspersed with her own, with snippets of their and her favourite fictional characters' stories and bits of mythology. I loved all the literary references, and I loved how every word felt like well considered poetry. Although I loved the book, I sometimes found it a little heavy going, and I had a break in the middle of reading it and re-read (for the umpteenth time) Good Omens (I shelled out for a kindle copy since my paperback is falling apart). 12/04/2015

 

 

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman  (Kindle Book)

 As I said in the previous review, I took a break in the middle of reading History Of The Rain to re-read this, my all time favourite book. Partly because History Of The Rain is quite heavy going (but worth the effort) and partly because I was feeling a bit meah - not quite depressed by not cheery either, and Good Omens is a book that always makes me laugh and everyone knows that laughing and smiling lifts the spirits. (if you've read the book, then you'll get the unintended pun, and if you haven't read the book - READ IT NOW!!) I'm so sad about the death of Terry Pratchett who's wisdom, wit and wonderfulness shines through this lovely if irreverent book. 10/04/2015

 

 

Hope - A Tragedy - Shalom Auslander (Kindle Book)

What a strange sad, funny, deep, interesting book! A Jewish American man, Solomon Kugel, moves to an old country farmhouse to have a fresh start with his wife, young son and aging mother, only to discover that Anne Frank (yes, the real Anne Frank) is living in the attic. She's very old and difficult, and had to hide the fact that she survived the war because it would hurt her book sales. Poor Kugel is caught in the middle of family squabbles, money worries and angst over wanting to get rid of Anne Frank but fearing the backlash if he threw her out. It's a book that stayed with me for a long time after I read it, and one I've wanted to tell friends and family about. 15/04/15

 

 

A Pale View Of  Hills - Kazuo Ishiguro (kindle book) 

This book messed with my head! It is an interesting if sad story of Etsuko,  a young mother's difficult early life in Japan before she moved to England - full of the Japanese control and understatement, Etsuko tells the story of herself and in parallel a woman she befriends. It's not until the final paragraph of the book that a single sentence makes the reader say 'hey, wait....what?!' and completely re-think the whole book. It's one of these stories where all is not as it seems, but the ending is left open for the reader to draw their own conclusions. I had to go on-line and read lots of comments and forums to make sense of what was going on, and even then there's no real consensus of opinion. Even Ishiguro admitted that it was obtuse!   Good book, though. 17/4/15

 

 

 

The Miracle Inspector - Helen Smith (kindle book)

 I really liked this book. It's a dystopian ... not really future, maybe alternate reality. I loved the subtle undercurrent of menace and the less is more approach to telling the story leaving the reader to read between the lines. It felt very Orwellian with a sort of 'thought controlled' society with men in charge and women in the kitchen and I found it very compelling. My only criticism was that it is a really short book, more of a novella, and I'd have liked it to be longer - saying that, it didn't have the boring middle that longer books often do. It inspired me to look for more by the writer. 19/4/15

 

 

Three Sisters - Helen Smith (Kindle Book) 

I bought this and two other books in the series by Helen Smith because I loved The Miracle Inspector so much. Well, apart from also being very short, this book is very different to The Miracle Inspector -it's much lighter and more comedic. I liked it, I guess, it was readable enough, although I felt the title of the book somewhat gave away the 'mystery' of someone being murdered and then appearing again  alive and well. I'll read the other two at some point, but I don't feel as excited by them as I was after reading The Miracle Inspector. 20/4/15

 

 

A New York Winter's Tale - Mark Helprin (Kindle Book) 

Wow - I loved this book.  It's very long - its little line of dots on the kindle went almost all the way across the page, whereas most of my books only go about a third of the way. I had to stop in the middle to read my book group book, but then I came back to it. It's a lovely mix of fabulous characters (the settings of New York City and the ethereal 'Lake of the Coheries' being characters in their own right) magic realism, historical fiction, family drama and a perfect love story. I have to admit to being often quite confused while reading, but enjoying the ride so much that I didn't really mind. I watched the film after reading the book (both myself and my husband Paul really liked the film, in spite if it being panned by critics) and it missed out a lot of stuff, but made what was going on a little clearer (I felt). 15/5/15

 

 

Nora Webster - Colm Toiben (Kindle Book) 

This was my book group read for May. It's set in Ireland and opens with a newly widowed mother of four and follows her over a year or two as she starts to cope with life again. It shows both the claustrophobic lack of privacy and the web of support offered by living in a small town with extended family and friends close at hand. The writing is beautiful and quite understated.  My book group all loved it, although I had to admit to getting a bit bored by it. It turns out that the book is based on the experience of the writer as a child, so it's really more of a memoir about his mother, which is maybe why I liked it less because 'slice of life' or biographies aren't really my cup of tea - even if they're well written and beautiful, I like the structure and completion you get with fiction more than the meanderings of real life. 6/5/15

 

 

Aberystwyth Mon Amour -  Malcolm Pryce (Paperback)

My friend Sheila, who runs our bookgroup loves the No Alibis  bookshop in Belfast, and has quite a rapport going with the owner David. Every time she goes in he recommends books to her and she invariably buys them! This was one she bought and lent to me. It's a pastiche or homage to the classic noir detective thriller except it's set in Aberystwyth! I enjoyed the book - it is very stylish, and the protagonist is likeable. The plot became a little far fetched but I guess it was supposed to be humorous and it does manage to be both funny and touching while still quite compelling. I didn't like having to read a real paperback again - after spending most of my life gushing over how I love everything about books, I now am spoiled to paper by the kindle and my experience of paper books will never hit the mark again. I've added other Malcolm Pryce books to my kindle wish list! 20/5/15 

 

 

It's been two months since I've updated my I Just Read Page (I feel like I'm in the confessional - forgive me father....) and in that time I've read at least 8 books - I'll try and remember as much about them as I can and in what order I read them (I'll have to make up the  dates, but hey, you can forgive that, right? It's now 23rd July and I'm almost finished reading The Bone Clocks - which is FABULOUS!)

 

A God In Ruins - Kate Atkinson (Hardback)

I won this from Waterstones with the deal being I write a review on their website when I've read it (which I am yet to do - shame!) It is a companion book to Life After Life, but can easily be read without having read the other and although it follows a character who appeared in Life After Life, it's a very different book. The central character is a man who we meet as a small boy and again as an old man, but the main part of his story we learn through flashbacks of his time as a fighter pilot in WW2. The story also revolves around his extended family, although as we got to know them I found myself wishing the book would get back to the war scenes, which is odd for me, as I wouldn't willingly read a book about soldiers and war if I could help it. It is a book which works on lots of levels - family drama, war time thriller and more (don't want to give away spoilers) and I grew into it until I didn't want to put it down and I found the ending, which took a while to sink in, to be with hindsight, perfectly right. 30/05/15

 

 

The Grimm Legacy - Polly Shulman (Kindle Book) 

This book kept cropping up in lists of people who liked this also liked.. and I liked the premise of a library or museum of genuine fairy tale or magical artefacts. I found the style a bit emetic - very American pre-pubescent 'Oh gee, I'm a nerd but I have feeling for this really cute guy...' yeah. Putting that aside though, I enjoyed the story and although I didn't get all the American cultural references, I liked the darkness, because true fairy tales are always dark, and a true reflections of the actual Grimm fairy tales. Not bad. 8/06/15

 

 

 

The Homesman - Glendon Swarthout (Kindle Book)

This was my book group read for June. When it was suggested as our next read, I was pretty keen having seen the film (really good) I thought it would be a good book, and it was. The reading was slightly spoiled (or enhanced) by knowing what was going to happen, and being more attuned to spotting differences between the book and the film to just enjoying the book.  It's a tragic tale of the hardships faced by pioneers in the American west and the effects on peoples lives and mental states. A single women (brilliantly played by Hillary Swank in the movie) volunteers to transport three women driven mad by the traumas they'd been through by wagon to the nearest city for them to get help. She hires a rough gruff characters (again, brilliantly played by Tommy Lee Jones in the film) to help her and they go on a journey both physically and metaphysically. The writing is simple yet profound and I enjoyed reading it. 15/06/2015

 

 

 

The Long Utopia - Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Kindle Book) 

This it  the fourth instalment in the Long Earth series, co-written by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (I'm guessing that Stephen Baxter will just continue the series on his own now?) I liked this one better than the last one, and I'll continue reading the series. 20/06/2015

 

 

 

 

 

Burial Rites - Hannah Kent (Kindle Book) 

 This was my book group read for July (I'm two months and eight books behind in my write up - and it's the school holidays so I don't even have an excuse). From what I remember, I enjoyed reading the book - the main character evoked a strange mix of sympathy, fascination and wariness in me - When we first meet her, she is being treated very badly by the soldiers (or police?) who are in charge of her, and we know she has been convicted of murder. We get to know her better with the family who are forced to take her in while the details of her execution are worked out (the right axe being purchased, etc) with them we are initially suspicious, but soften and warm to her as we realise she is not a monster, just a normal woman. As she tells her story, we feel more sympathetic, although there's always a hint of suspicion, especially when her version of events doesn't tie in with the police reports from the scene of the crime. The country and the historical context are well realised and fascinating and all in all it was a good read.30/06/2015

 

 

 

A Tale For The Time Being - Ruth Ozeki (Kindle Book)

A japanese Canadian woman finds a package washed up on the beach containing a diary and other objects written by a teenaged Japanese girl in Japan. We get the dual story of the Canadian woman trying to research and translate various bits to get the true story, and we see things from the point of view of the diary writer, a girl who had grown up in the USA but returned to Japan when her dad lost everything in the dot com bubble crash. She is horribly bullied by her Japanese school mates, and has a pretty rough time of it as her dad keeps trying to commit suicide and she is sucked into prostitution. Things improve for her though when she is sent to spend the summer with her aged Buddhist monk grandmother. The book was quite shocking, and even the protagonist behaved in ways that disturbed me, and I wondered if I was seeing things with my own cultural bias. The book stayed with me though, and made me thoughtful. 05/07/2015

 

 

 

When Mr Dog Bites - Brian Conaghan (Kindle Book) 

This is the relative rarity of a young adult book that didn't really annoy me. In fact I really liked this tale of a troubled teen with Tourette's. I think the writer was criticised for having swearing and sexual language in a young adult book, but obviously a book about Tourette's is going to have that, and young adults have seen way worse from lots of other sources. I found the boy's interactions with his friends to be believable, and his home family story was sweet and uplifting without being preachy or saccharine. Good book, I liked it. 10/07/2015

 

 

 

Gould's Book Of Fish - Richard Flanagan (Kindle Book) 

This is an odd fish of a book (pun intended!). It's the tale of a man (Gould) transported to Australia for fraud and having escaped, being sent to Van Dieman's Land (now Tasmania) where there was a penal colony for hardened offenders, run by various insane or corrupt officials (according to Gould). Gould has a talent for drawing and painting, and manages to escape death on more than one occasion by impressing those in power with his art. The book has cold hard brutality as well as humour and lightness and it descends in to a kind of kaleidoscopic hallucinogenic madness when Gould, who has been commissioned to paint an encyclopedia of fish believes he is turning into a fish, and the reader is left to decide if Gould is mad, or if he did in fact turn into a fish (I think as a spiny seahorse - if I remember rightly). I found it quite compelling reading (if a little long) and I enjoyed it.18/07/2015

 

 

 

The Bone Clocks - David Mitchell (Kindle Book) 

Now this book I loved! The book follows the life story of Holly who begins as a troubled teen in the 1970s and continues until her old age in a dystopian future. We get other points of view as well, and it sometimes feels a little jarring at first, like, 'wait, who is this now?' but then as the reader realises that everything centres on Holly and the interactions of these people with her then you can breathe an 'oh right' sigh of relief and move on. Then there's the supernatural magic realism side of the book, which I also loved - immortals both good and evil fighting for their own ends and using mortals as pawns - it reminded me a bit of A New York Winters Tale (which I also loved) as well as the better Nick Harkaway novels (which is the pinnacle of praises in my book). Can't wait for the sequel/companion book to get cheaper so I can buy and read it!! 24/07/2015

 

 

John Dies At The End - David Wong (Kindle Book) 

This book apparently started life as a continuing blog post story (my son Christy, who is 18 is familiar with David Wong's blog) and it is often very madcap and very puerile (it never misses an opportunity to use a willy related joke). Saying that, I actually (mostly) really enjoyed the book. I found the characterisation, plot structure and building tension to be superb and was drawn into the plot (which made a lot more sense in the book than the dire movie which I watched on Netflicks after having read the book). The friendships and blossoming romance was cute and I loved the talking dog. There were intricacies and surprises that kept me on my toes and the ending was satisfying. I was reading it on the plane going on holiday with my book group ladies, and the look of confused horror on their faces when I explained what the book was about was priceless! 29/07/2015

 

 

The Secret River - Kate Grenville (Kindle Book) 

Like Gould's Book Of Fish, this book is about a man  (William Thornville) transported to Australia, this time for theft. He was saved from hanging by the efforts of his wife, who wrote letters appealing to various gentlemen to act on his behalf. It's a very different book to Gould's Book Of Fish, a Thornville is not sent to a penal colony, but given as a slave to his own wife, so effectively they are free to make a life for themselves in Australia - the true story is about the hardship and difficulty of being poor and trying to scratch out a living on hard infertile soil with the ever present danger of 'the blacks' which is the indigenous people, who are built up in stories as savage monsters making the convicts nervous and savage back to them. I found the book a little slow to get into, but once I had I became engrossed and couldn't wait to get back to it. It shows both the worst and best of people being brought out in difficult circumstances, and it stayed with me after I finished it. 07/08/2015

 

 

The Crane Wife - Patrick Ness (Kindle Book) 

I read this book  fairly recently but only when I went to write up another Patrick Ness book I just read, and looked back to refer to this one, I realised I never wrote it up, and I can't remember what date I read it (I wonder if there are other books I read and forgot to write up - a forgotten library of ephemeral memories?) I do remember that I found the book to be as near to perfect as a book can be - a modern day fairy tale with real characters and magic and love and sadness and art. Patrick Ness is becoming my new favourite writer. (??/??/????)

 

 

The Crash Of Hennington - Patrick Ness (Kindle Book) 

Like David Mitchell, in The Bone Clocks, Patrick Ness manages to perfectly meld the real and the abstract. This book is set in a dystopian future where all records of history prior to about 75 years ago have been erased and for some reason a herd (or Crash) of rhinos roam freely around what otherwise seems like a normal town. The chapters are told from different points of view, including the POV of the female leader of the rhinos, and deals with love, religion and politics as they butt heads and inevitably, tension rises to a cataclysmic conclusion. I really enjoyed the book and was sad when it was over. (Oh, and there's some magical realism in there too, which every great book needs.) 13/08/2015 

 

 

The End Of The World Running Club - Adrian Walker (Kindle Book)

I liked this book, I think. It's starts off quite excitingly with an apocalyptic world wide asteroid shower strike. A man (I can't remember his name now) hides in a cellar/bunker with his wife and young daughter, and they manage to survive until the military 'rescue' them.  Things are pretty chaotic though, as only a few straggly junior soldiers who survived are alive, and groups of murderous teens are waging war on then. Then it turns into a road trip (like 'The Road' only not as good) because most of the people are sent off by helicopter to get on a boat to somewhere (I think Australia or New Zealand) that wasn't hit by asteroids, but our hero is separated from his family so must travel by foot from Scotland to the south our England. They meet some creepy people and have some adventures, and the ending is kind of sad and noble. 20/08/2015

 

 

More Than This - Patrick Ness (Kindle book)

I'm having a bit of a Patrick Ness orgy at the moment, because I love The Crane Wife so much (and The Crash Of Hennington almost as much) but this book didn't quite hit the spot as much for me. This one is a young adult book, and a little preachy. Saying that, it's still better than lots of other books, and the premise was really interesting and thought provoking (don't want to give too much away, except to say that the main character dies at the beginning and the rest of the book is not a flashback, but rather a what happens next.....) I was really looking forward to the new Patrick Ness book: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, but it's a YA book too, so after reading this one, I'm not so sure.... 28/08/2015 

 

Ajax Penumbra - Robin Sloan (Kindle Book) 

This is a prequel to Mr Penumbra's 24 hour bookshop, which I really liked, and it's been on my kindle for a while, but I was put off reading it because sequels/prequels so often disappoint.  I'm happy to say that it didn't disappoint. It's a short book (more of a novella) but every bit as quirky and satisfying as the first. 29/08/2015

 

 

 

 

 

The Humans - Matt Haig (kindle book) 

Yay - great book, loved it! It starts with an eminent mathematician, who seems to have been a very bad husband and father wandering naked and confused about the university campus where he worked. He thinks he's an alien, inhabiting the body of the mathematician in order to prevent the human race from progressing too quickly due to the amazing mathematical proof he'd just.... proved. It has all the sweetness of an innocent and confused alien trying to come to terms with humanness, which it does really well without being annoying or sentimental. I especially loved mad human/genuine alien's communications with the family dog. 31/08/2015

 

 

The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett (Hardback Book) 

The Last ever Discworld Book - waily! waily!  I was a little unkind in my review of the discworld book before this one (Raising Steam) but I didn't find fault in this one - lovely Tiffany Aching wise witchy lady and funny Nac Mac Feegles, wonderful story telling, heart aching sadness that this is the last time I'll read a discworld book for the first time again (if you know what I mean). My heart is as heavy as my shelf full of lovely Sir Terry Books. RIP great man. 04/09/2015

 

 

English Passengers - Matthew Kneale  (Paperback) 

This was my book group read for September, and judging from the emails that have gone around the rest of the girls are finding it hard to get into.  I actually really liked it. Like The Secret River, and Gould's Book of Fish, it's set largely in 'Van Diemen's Land' (now called Tasmania) and deals with issues of the abuse of aboriginals by British military, and everyone else, as well as the convicts  and societies growing out of convict settlements, and also the conflicts between the church and the early ideas about geology disagreeing with the biblical idea of creation. The book is told from lots of different points of view, following three main story threads which all come together at the denouement. I liked it's dark humour and interesting writing and I loved the ending. 12/09/2015

 

 

The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet - David Mitchell (Kindle Book)

Once again I'm dead late writing up what I've been reading (two months and ten and a half books late....)  so it'll be a testament to the books if I can remember much about them! I do remember this book - not as fabulous (in my mind) as The Bone Clocks, but still a fairly engrossing and rewarding read by David Mitchell. A straight tale of a Dutch trader working in a tiny island off the coast of Japan (because non-Japanese were not allowed on the mainland) trying to fit into the customs while staying honest amidst rife corruption and falling in love with a Japanese girl, around (I think, the early 20th century? or maybe earlier) I found myself becoming interested in both Japanese and Dutch history, and googling along to my reading, and also telling my husband (who is sadly not a reader) about the plot and things in the book that moved or shocked me. The side story of what became of the Japanese love interest still stays with me in a haunting way. 19/09/2015

 

 

Station Eleven - Emily St John Mandel (Kindle Book)

 Again (see previous review) it's two months since I read this, but I do remember quite a lot about it. It's a dystopian post apocalyptic novel but refreshingly different from most in the genre. The writing is beautiful and poetic and lyrical and the plot structure is interesting the way it switches perspective and chronology giving us pieces of the jigsaw so the full picture of the story emerges piecemeal and everything makes more sense as it goes along. It's my first book by Emily St John Mandel, and from her picture and bio she seems beautiful, accomplished and elegant, and I can't even hate her for it, because I love her writing so much that it makes me feel like a kindred spirit (not that I can write like that, but that I feel an empathetic bond). 23/09/2015

 

 

The Magpies -  Mark Edwards (Kindle Book)

(I did have a rant here about Mr Site not letting me put in any more pictures, but my clever hubby Paul did something to sort it out, so rant over) 

Talking of things that I hate..... This Book. I should learn that even if thousands of people on Amazon like a book, if it's in this genre (brain dead, best-seller, pulp fiction, trashy thriller) I won't like it. Fair play to Mark Edwards, he's obviously tapped into a market that lap up this kind of drivel (most people it seems) but for me, I'd rather poke needles in my eyes than read this kind of book (I'm wouldn't really rather poke needles in my eye - I'm not mental, but in case a fan of Mark Edwards is reading this review and doesn't understand figures of speech that aren't explained many times in small words - I just meant I hated it).28/09/2015

 

 

Last Night In Montreal - Emily St John Mandel (Kindle Book) 

I bought a couple more Emily St John Mandel books because  I loved Station Eleven so much. This one didn't blow me away as much as Station Eleven, but I still found it engrossing. A young American follows the mysterious girlfriend who disappeared from his New York Apartment up to Canada where he has a lead on where she might be. Like Station Eleven, the story is told from several perspectives and jumps around in time. The characters' motivations and quirks make sense only when the reader had the full picture, which turns out to be a complex and tragically sad human story. I liked it very much. 30/09/2015 

 

 

The Radleys - Matt Haig (Kindle Book)

I bought this because I loved Humans by Matt Haig so much, and this one also didn't disappoint.  A modern day twist on the age old vampire story with real heart and soul that doesn't just fall back on gory shock tactics. Matt Haig is becoming one of my new favourite writers! 3/10/2015

 

 

 

 

Humans: an A to Z - Matt Haig (kindle book) 

This is just a fun little companion book to the wonderful Humans - a quirky look at all things human in a handy alphabetical format for visiting aliens. Made me chuckle. 5/10/2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lola Quartet - Emily St John Mandel (Kindle Book) 

This is the third of the four Emily St John Mandel books that I bought on the strength of loving Station Eleven so much.  It has similar themes to her other books - people searching for lost loves who are running away and hiding. It's probably my least favourite of her books that I've read so far, but since she sets the bar high with such good writing, it is still an excellent and book, very worth reading. 08/10/2015

 

 

Time (Manifold Book 1) - Stephen Baxter (Kindle Book)

I bought this because I love the Long Earth series of books by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett, so I though I would check out something that was just by Stephen Baxter. He's a very prolific and well liked Sci-Fi writer, but I have to say I found this book a bit of a slog. I think it was too hard core sci-fi for my taste - lots of science and way out space stuff, with not as much gentle humour or character empathy as the Long Earth books (I guess those were the bits supplied by Terry Pratchett? Great for hard core sci-fi fans, but not for me. 19/10/2015 

 

 

Career Of Evil - Robert Galbraith (Kindle Book)  

I'm glad that JK Rowling's pseudonym of Robert Galbraith got outed or I wouldn't have read this series of detective novels. I do enjoy them. The 'will they/won't they' relationship between the detective and his female assistant while possibly a little cheesy, is so compelling, and I really do like the characters. I made the mistake of reading this while eating my lunch one day as very gruesome murder details were described and I genuinely felt very sick. The ending left me desperate to read the next book. 30/10/2015

 

 

The Girl With All The Gifts - M.R.Carey (Kindle Book) 

This book was ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS! The writing was fabulous, the characters were fabulous, it started well and continued well and ended well. It is a wonderful twist on an old genre (I don't want to spoil it by saying what the genre is - it really is better if you come at this book not knowing what is going on). I really was bowled over by how good this book is. I hope M. R, Carey writes more (or is it a pseudonym  of a more established writer?) because I really want to read more of what they have written! 3/11/2015

 

 

 

How The Marquis Got His Coat Back - Neil Gaiman (Kindle Book) 

 I bought this by mistake, thinking it was a full length novel and was cheep because it was the kindle deal of the day, when actually it was just a 'recommended for me' kindle book and is in fact a short story. If you've read many of my reviews, you'll know that I generally don't like short stories, but I do love Neil Gaiman, so I probably would have bought this even if I knew what I was getting. It's a nice little story that slots into the Neverwhere book (one of my favourites, and I watch the tv adaptation regularly) so worth a read if you like that kind of thing. 3/11/2015

 

 

The Hundred And Ninety-Nine Steps - Michael Faber (Kindle Book)

Again, (see previous review) I didn't realise this wasn't a full length novel. It's more then a short story - a novella I guess. I have mixed feelings about it - bits felt a bit cringe-worthy (like chick-lit romance) but there were things about it that I really did like. The dog is a great character, and the suspense of the three main plot threads ( the main character's painful lump, the will they/won't they romance and the unravelling of the ancient scroll of a dying man's deathbed confession) hold the attention fairly well, and were resolved satisfactorily. Not as good as other things I've read by this author, though. 14/11/2015

 

 

Echo Boy - Matt Haig (Kindle Book)

 Matt Haig is fabulous. Echo Boy is a young adult book (but don't let that put you off) about a girl whose family are killed by a supposedly totally safe artificial intelligence robot thingy. It reminded me of the tv series, humans (which I loved) and the films AI and I Robot (also great) but with Matt Haig's awesome writing thrown in for good measure. Adventure, peril, love, loss etc - loved it! 15/11/2015

 

 

 

The Boy Who Made It Rain - Brian Conaghan (Kindle Book) 

 This book was hyped up on Amazon as being all amazing, and I was really disappointed when I started reading because I thought it was awful! I kept at it though, and while never becoming a book I enjoyed/ admired, it did get better and start to hold my interest. It's told in lots of conflicting points of view, and jumping through time around some un-revealed terrible happening (which turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax). It was okay, but not great, I thought. 24/11/2015

 

 

 

Bete - Adam Roberts (Kindle Book) 

Now this book I loved! Set in a dystopian future where everything is smart chipped (so wine glasses tell you when you've had too much, or mirrors tell you if you need to lose weight etc) some animal rights activists put smart chips into farm animals and they somehow fuse with the animals neurological networks to become something more than just a computer chip, effectively making animals sentient. The chips get into the animal worlds food chain so all kinds of rats, mice, birds, wild creatures etc are now sentient. The protagonist was a meat farmer, but now that animals have rights, he's out of work and itinerant with a wonderfully black sense of humour. He meets up with a sentient cat (who must be one of my all time favourite fictional characters) who also has a black and sarcastic sense of humour, and they form an unhappy alliance. I loved the black humour and flawed characters. I didn't know Adam Roberts before, but will now look out for more of his books. 29/11/2015

 

 

 

The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood (Kindle)  

I loved Margaret Atwood's  dystopian Oryx and Crake trilogy, and this is similar in feel. Set in a future where unemployment and crime are rife, a solution is offered where people are sent to a highly controlled environment where they spend alternate months as prisoners and as free working people. The environment inevitably is not so great as it's made out to be, and as secrets are discovered, a daring escape ensues. I liked it a lot, but it's not on my list of all time faves. 05/12/2015

 

 

Our Endless Numbered Days - Claire Fuller (Kindle) 

This is a strange yet compelling book, which is ultimately disturbing ( I had to go and google the book when I'd finished to make sense of what I'd read and my interpretation of it). A young girl is taken by her father to a remote cabin in a forest somewhere in Europe and told by him that the rest of the world was killed in some great catastrophe. It's a coming of age, survival story, family drama with a dark twist. I enjoyed reading it (I think) and it certainly made me think and ponder after I'd finished reading it. 09/12/2015

 

 

 

By Light Alone - Adam Roberts (Kindle) 

Inspired by having loved Bete so much, I tried this one.  I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Bete, but still liked it. It's set in a future where humans have been genetically engineered to photosynthesise through their hair. Society has split into two classes - the ultra rich who shave their heads and still eat food and consider hair to be distasteful, and the very poor who can be made to work for nothing since they don't need to be fed, and who can live but not thrive on only sunlight. The plot revolves around the kidnapping of a rich child by the poor underclass. It's more about inequalities and the character flaws imposed by both being very rich and being very poor than about the sci-fi element. An interesting and enjoyable read. 09/12/2015

 

 

 

Reasons To Stay Alive - Matt Haig (Kindle) 

 I love Matt Haig's fiction, and this book about his own personal struggles with depression and anxiety and journey through darkness to comparative lightness was going cheep on Amazon, so I thought, why not. I've had mild bouts of depression and anxiety myself, although reading this book put them into perspective as nothing like as bad as he went through. There are lots of uplifting and funny moments in the book. It has short chapters with lists and quote and is the sort of book you could (and should) dip into regularly to remind yourself why not to despair. 29/12/2015

 

 

 

The Girl In The Red Coat - Kate Hamer (Kindle)  

I don't normally like this kind of modern family thriller, and yet I really did like this book.  It's about a little girl who is abducted by a man claiming to be her grandfather, who is actually a travelling faith healer who is convinced she has a healing gift which he could profit from. The book follows the girl and her mother over the years following her abduction, and it is well written and subtle and deep, unlike many similar thriller type books. 22/12/2015

 

 

 

The Sea Detective - Mark Douglas-Home (Kindle)  

Again, this type of thriller/detective story can often bore me stupid, but this one I also really liked! Set in Scotland and following the multiple threads of interesting characters in the police force, a PhD student who is an expert in sea currents and tides and who is researching the history of his grandfather from a remote Scottish island, and a young Indian girl smuggled to Scotland as a sex slave and how their stories intertwine. I can't wait for the next book in the series. 26/12/2015

 

 

 

My Name Is Mina - David Almond (Kindle)  

I had high hopes for this book, having loved other David Almond books I've read, and initially I didn't really warm to the structureless stream of conciousness type of narrative, even though it is suited to the point of the book, which is that sticking to plans and structures, and a 'one size fits all' approach to education doesn't suit everyone.  It is the diary of a little girl who is taken out of school to be home schooled by her mother when the school seemed to approach her differences (presumably she is on the autistic spectrum, although this is not spelled out)  as something to be punished rather than working out strategies on how best to facilitate her (which I thought was a bit unrealistic - surely school could do better than that?). Still, I did warm to the style, and actually found the resolution to be very uplifting. Not my favourite David Almond, but still worth a read. 28/12/2015

 

 

The Last Family In England -Matt Haig (paperback)

This was Matt Haig's first published book, and doesn't seem to be available on Kindle so I was forced to go back to the dark ages and by a second hand paperback. Apparently it's a reworking of Shakespeare's Henry V with talking dogs. Since I'm not familiar with the plot of Henry V, I can't really comment on that side of it, but taken at face value I liked it very much. There was intrigue and murder and adultery and family and honour and so on and it was well done and believable. 30/12/2015

 

 

A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L'Engle (kindle)

I've had a really bad coldy/fluey thing over Christmas, and my sleeping patterns are completely messed up, so I've been waking in the middle of the night feeling sorry for myself for hours on end. One such night, I knew the only thing to comfort me would be to re-read one of my favourite books from my youth, and even though I have it on paperback downstairs I bought it on kindle via my ipad in bed at about three in the morning and read it in two sittings (finishing it in the middle of the following night). What can I say? I love this book and it brought back lots of memories and made me all contemplative about life and ageing and being the same person and yet a different person now that I'm 46 and not 16 (when I read it first) . 01/01/2016 (Happy New Year!)

 

 

 

All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr (Kindle) 

This book was recommended to me by one of my book group friends, and I agree with her that it is an excellent read. Told from two points of view - one a young French girl who loses her eyesight and the other a young German boy in events leading up to and including the German occupation of France during WW2. It's a story of people caught up in their circumstances and underpins the humanity and complexity of both characters in seemingly opposing roles. The two narratives eventually come together in an unexpected and yet fulfilling way, and the story highlights the best and worst and just everyday normality of people in extreme situations. 04/01/2016

 

 

 

The Giver - Lois Lowry (Kindle)

This is the first in a series of four young adult dystopian novels written in the early nineties. It was the kindle daily deal, so I gave it a go, and loved it. It's American, but not in the bad way. The story is creepy and draws the reader in compulsively. Everyone lives in a very controlled society with all the memories, emotions and even appreciation of colour are held by one chosen person so everyone else can get on with their pre-selected roles in a state of (if not) blissful ignorance, at least sleepy compliance. The hero is the next chosen keeper of memories, and with him we discover the extent of control the society has and we share his indignation. The story ends on a bit of a cliff edge, so I went ahead and bought the next book right away. 06/01/2016

 

 

 

Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry (kindle) 

Since I was desperate to find out what happened to the hero of the previous book in the series, I was annoyed (at first) to discover that this book while set in the same world as The Giver was about totally different people with no overlap. Once I got passed that, I appreciated that this was a totally different but equally engrossing and thought provoking book set in a village which seemed less controlling than the town in the first book, but actually the control was just more subtle and insidious. 07/01/2016

 

 

 

Messenger - Lois Lowry (Kindle)

After reading the first two books in the Giver Quarter, I hardly paused for breath before buying and devouring the third.  This one follows one of the characters from the second book, and we finally get some hints about what happened to the star of book one. Again, this book is different to the others, but equally gripping and intelligent. 08/01/2016


 

 

 

Son - Lois Lowry (Kindle) 

With the final  book in the Giver Quartet we come full circle and back to the town from book one. Like the other books in the series, it follows a new main character, but we do finally get to learn what happened to the main characters from the other books. These books are a masterclass in how good young adult dystopian fiction can and should be - not slushy or overblown with earnest romance, but full of truly delightful and devastating human emotion and motivation - love, honour, pain and sacrifice. Fabulous. 10/01/2016

 

 

 

Undermajordomo Minor - Patrick DeWitt (Kindle) 

This is a very strange surreal novel. It feels kind of old fashioned and kind of European and kind of otherworldy. A young man leaves his hometown and gets a job as a sort of butler in a big house with very eccentric occupants, set in a place that is in the middle of a civil war/guerrilla fighting something or other. There's romance, menace, coming of age-ness and lots of oddity. I really liked it! 15/01/2016

 

 

 

 

The Little Red Chairs - Edna O'Brien (Kindle) 

This was my book group read for January. It really wasn't what I was expecting from an older Irish writer. A strange foreign alternative healer turns up in a wee Irish town and the townsfolk are shaken up and excited by his arrival. It turns out he is a wanted war criminal from the Balkans (the novel is a fictionalisation of the story of Radovan Karadzic). The main character, Fidelma,  falls for him, and wants to have a baby with him, which is okay until some enemies from the Balkens turn up and there are some quite shockingly violent scenes. The second half of the book is about Fidelma, who has fled to London and is having a terrible life and an array of refugees that she meet and who share their own harrowing tales with her. It got mixed reviews from the book group ladies, but I quite liked it (although I found it quiet disturbing). 24/01/2016

 

 

 

Holy Island: A DCI Ryan Mystery - L J Ross  (Kindle) 

I think this was a kindle daily deal, and because I loved The Sea Detective, I thought this might be similar, and it got good reviews so I went for it. Oh dear. I very quickly grew to hate the two main characters, and the prose which felt like how I imagine a Mills and Boon romance novel might read - the male and female leads were just so beautiful and handsome and the sexual tension between them was hammered into the reader at every available opportunity. That really annoyed me. Saying that, the actual plot was okay, and I did finish the book and found the murder stories fun enough. 01/02/2016

 

 

 

The Dressmaker - Rosalie Ham (Kindle)

Now this book I really liked.  Set in a small town in Australia, it's about the return of Tilly, who was sent away as a child after the death of a boy in her class at school which was blamed on her. Neither Tilly, nor her wonderfully cantankerous and tactless mother, really remember what actually happened, and we discover the truth along with them as things jog their memories, or people add bits of information. Tilly is a fabulous dressmaker, and the women of the town are torn between hating her and wanting her to make them dresses. Its funny, sad and great fun to read - I also loved the film which I watched after reading the book. 04/02/2016 

 

 

 

All The Birds In The Sky - Jane Anders (Kindle) 

I liked this book - the two main protagonists, both misfits in their own way and drawn to each other, were a female natural magician (Able to talk to birds and do spells etc) and a genius techy boy - who as a child designed the best ever artificial intelligence which played a major role later in the book. It began when they were children, and had a kind of young adult literature feel, but quickly becomes quite dark and adult. I'm months late (as ever) writing up my review, so I'm going on what lingers in my memory after so long, which is, compelling plotting and enough magical realism to keep me happy. Overall, I really liked, but didn't quite love. It is almost but not quite as good as the likes of Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker. 10/02/2016

 

 

The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro (kindle)  

This book read like a fable or adult fairy tale and I found it very compelling reading. The old couple who were the main protagonists lived in a world where the air or mists caused continual memory loss, and as they journey to find their son, who they vaguely remember as having moved away, hints of things they have forgotten threaten to ruin their relationship and their peace. It is an interesting read on many levels, addressing the questions about memory and how we see ourselves - I've always been interested in the way we shape our memories to paint our own pictures of the past which may vary hugely from what actually happened, and how our memories shape who we are compared with how who we are shapes our memories. 16/02/2016

 

 

 

Not Forgetting The Whale - John Ironmonger (kindle) 

I really liked this book. It's about a London trader who has made a very sophisticated computer programme machine that predicts ripple effects from lots of different events and how they will effect the world markets. His programme has some teething problems which causes his company to lose a fortune, and he runs away to a little isolated coastal town. When his machine predicts a massive apocalyptic  event, he sets about trying to stockpile enough stuff to save the whole town. I liked that it is a lovely optimistic book with a genuinely good character inspiring others to do good. 17/02/2016

 

 

 

The Coincidence Authority - John Ironmonger (kindle) 

 Having liked 'Not Forgetting The Whale' so much, I sought out more books by John Ironmonger. This one is about Thomas, a statistician, who uses maths to explain away seemingly significant clusters of events as being merely random coincidences and Azalea, who came to him because her life seems to follow a starling pattern which she can't believe can only be due to random chance. It's a very interesting story - we learn Azalea's incredible backstory as her relationship with Thomas grows and the story become part sweet romance, and part a kind of detective problem solving story . I liked it a lot. 20/02/2016

 

 

 

The Notable Brain Of Maximilian Ponder - John Ironmonger (kindle)  

This is number three in my John Ironmonger reading marathon, and it is quite different from the other two, while still retaining the skilled writing style and quirkiness I'm coming to expect from the author. This one is about a rich eccentric  probably autistic young man who decides to catalogue his every though and experience and piece of knowledge and is told from the point of view of his friend whom he employs to help him. Both characters kind of descend into madness as the plan of mapping the mind of Maximilian takes on a more sinister aspect. It was quite gripping. 24/02/2016

 

 

 

Slade House - David Mitchell (Kindle)  

I love David Mitchell, and I loved The Bone Clocks, so I couldn't wait to read Slade House, which while not really a sequel to The Bone Clocks, is set in the same universe. This book is insidious (in a good way, if that's possible)  in that the sinister aspects of it creeps up on you and a general feeling of unease becomes a deep routed terror as we share the protagonists fears. Loved the magical realism, loved the building tension, loved the characters - love David Mitchell. 27/02/2016

 

 

Since I am now FIVE MONTHS (!) behind on writing up what I've just read (shameful, I know) I am just going to list the books I've read, and fill in reviews gradually, if I have time (and if I can remember what the books were about). Sorry if my reviews are short and not very detailed (or possibly just wrong) it's because I'm working with my less than perfect memory...

 

 

 

Secrets Of The Sea House - Elisabeth Gilford (Kindle Book) 

This is one of those dual time stories from the point of view of someone from the past (a vicar and would-be scientist) and someone from the present (a young pregnant woman ) who both lived in the same house. The present time woman found remains of a 'mermaid baby' with fused leg bones when her and her partner were renovating their house and we learn from the back story about the young vicars obsession with mermaids and the selkie myths and how the bones ended up under his house. I quite liked the book, there were some interesting facts about how mermaid/selkie myths originated, and the writing was pretty good. Not on my 'wow' list of all time favourites, but not bad. 3/03/2016

 

 

 

The House Where It Happened - Martina Devlin (Kindle Book) 

 This was my bookgroup read for March 2016, and I was the only member of the group who really didn't like it. Set in Carrickfergus (just down the road from us in Belfast) in the early seventeen hundreds, it's the story of a witch hunt told from the point of view of a young housemaid. I thought the writing was poor, but since the other book group members all really liked it, maybe it was just not to my taste. 11/03/2016

 

 

 

The Woman Who Walked Into The Sea - Mark Douglas-Home (Kindle Book) 

 I bought this because I loved The Sea Detective so much, and if I remember rightly (sorry, I'm really late writing this up) I liked it as well, although maybe not quite as much as the first book. I will definitely want to continue reading the series though (I'm waiting for the next book to go down in price before I buy it ...). 19/03/2016

 

 

 

 

The Possession of Mr Cave - Matt Haig (Kindle book) 

I'm a big fan of Matt Haig -  I find his books very insightful and also very readable - he writes about complex and flawed characters, and the main protagonist of this book is both. Following the death of his wife and more recently his son, Mr Cave descends into a kind of paranoic madness, he is over protective of his remaining child, a daughter and is also 'possessed' by the spirit of his dead son. The book is dark and rich and well worth reading. 22/03/16

 

 

 

The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine - Alexander McCallSmith (Hardback) 

More typical sweet and warm  Mma Ramotswe philosophical musings mixed with gentle mystery detective work. If he keeps churning them out, I'll keep reading them! 26/03/2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Grace - Anthony Doerr (kindle)

I thought this book was fabulous.  It's Anthony Doerr's debut novel, and so well written  - one Amazon reviewer described Doerr as a scientist with a poet's soul' which I think sums it up very well. The main character is a specialist in water (specifically ice) and I loved the science bits about snowflakes, he also had premonitions (it's ticking all my boxes because I love books with magical realism too) which always come true, and when he dreams that he causes his baby daughter's death, he runs away from his young family to the Caribbean where is hides for many years, never knowing if his baby lived or died. Eventually he returns to the USA to search for the truth, and we feel every step of his agonising journey. 02/04/16

 

 

Bright Young Things - Scarlett Thomas (kindle)

This book started really well - a mysterious newspaper ad drew 'interesting' people for an interview who then ended up on a remote island not knowing what was going on. I wasn't sure what to make of it as it went on though - not that much more happened, although it was an interesting study on human nature - how different people react to the mystery and danger of their situation. I liked it enough to add more Scarlett Thomas books to my wishlist on Amazon. 18/04/16

 

 

Florence and Giles - John Harding (kindle) 

This was an interesting book -  a strange atmospheric tale of of a girl raised in an isolated county mansion, forbidden to learn to read, who learns anyway and has to keep her reading a secret. There's an evil nanny involved and some shocking violence - I liked it, I think, but didn't love it. 14/04/16

 

The Girl Who Couldn't Read - John Harding (kindle) 

 This is the sequel to Florence and Giles, although a quite different book. Set in a Victorian 'lunatic asylum' the book was gripping and I thought the complex flawed characters were pretty well drawn. Again it had some quite shocking violence, and quite a satisfying ending. 21/04/16

Fallen - Lia Mills (kindle book) - BookGroup

This  was my bookgroup read for May, and it was also the 'two cities one book' title for Dublin and Belfast to coincide with the 100 years anniversary of the Easter Rising. I enjoyed the book, which is really kind of  a coming of age story of the main character, a girl who's brother was killed in the first world war, and is caught up on the fringes of the troubles surrounding the Easter Rising in Dublin. 28/04/16

 

The Underground Man - Mick Jackson (Kindle book) 

I liked this book - about an elderly eccentric rich landowner who is obsessed with  exploring the underground tunnels running from under his house to various locations in the village and countryside around him. As we get to know him we discover the fears and memories that shape him. The book touches on mental health issues and the reliability/unreliability of memory. 05/05/16

 

The Manual of Detection - Jedediah Berry (Kindle Book)

This book was fun -  a sort of mysterious magical realism noir thriller about a clerk who inadvertently becomes a detective in over his head with murder and mayhem following him. I liked it. 13/05/16

 

The Narrow Road to the Deep North - Richard Flanagan (Kindle book)

I loved this book - it was a readable yet harrowing account of Australian  prisoners of war in Japan during the second world war. The story jumps about chronologically, and we learn quite a lot about the protagonist life outside of the prison camp as well. Very good book. 23/05/16

 

Death of a River Guide - Richard Flanagan 

 Having enjoyed The Narrow Road to the Deep North so much, I immediately read another Richard Flanagan book. Again I really enjoyed this book. It tells of the last few minutes in the life of a drowning man (the river guide) who sees visions from his own life and the lives of his family members which tell us the story of his life and history as a part aboriginal in Australia, as well as celebrating Tasmania and nature. 03/06/16

 

Medusa's Web - Tim Powers 

This was a clever, creepy atmospheric, supernatural, mystery, family drama. I liked it - a good one for fans of David Mitchell or Nick Harkaway (ie me!) 11/06/16

 

Tess of The D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy -  BookGroup

 I found Tess to be quite gripping in places, but also a bit longwinded. I was outraged at the treatment of poor Tess, and of women in general as well as of the lower classes by the English aristocracy. I'm also horrified by the fact that the readers of the time it was first published thought Tess was a bit of a trollop and deserved everything she got (!). It makes me glad that society has progressed as much as it has (at least in some areas). 23/06/16

 

Hideous Creatures - S.E. Lister 

A fabulous book - a road trip, coming of age, historical fiction, magical realism, love story told with great beauty and skill. 28/06/16

 

The Shell Collector - Hugh Howey 

I generally like dystopian futuristic novels, and this one started quite promisingly, but sadly for me anyway it fell short of my expectations. Firstly, I just couldn't get that excited (or empathise with the excitement of the protagonists) about shells - I thought all the fuss about shells would lead to something else, but it didn't. Just shells. Secondly, I found the love story between the two leads to be cringingly, sickeninlgy, obvious and annoying and ruined what without it may have been an okay book. 03/07/16

 

The Immortals - S.E. Lister 

I read this because I loved Hideous Creatures so much, and this, while a very different novel was also fabulous.  An epic literary tale of time travel as a genetic abnormality and the pros and cons of living that kind of life. Well done, S.E. Lister for writing such great books. 09/07/16

 

The Unexpected Gift of Joseph Bridgeman - Nick Jones

I didn't realised when I started reading this that it was also a time travel novel (like The Immortals which I read immediately before it) and it was interesting to compare the two. This book is less literary and contemplative and more anecdotal, but still good. Like in The Immortals, the main protagonist (sorry, I always say protagonist because I can never remember the names of people in books I've read!) jumps about in time due to a genetic abnormality, and has little control over it at first. He has to hone his skill in order to rescue his sister who went missing when she was a child. I thought it was very well done, I liked the love story and that the time traveller went back in time and bought a winning lottery ticket (even if his plan didn't exactly got smoothly) and it addresses the issues of changing things in the past having ripple effects on the future well, I though. Good book. 15/07/16

 

The Stress of Her Regard - Tim Powers

I've enjoyed other Tim Powers books, and I love the premise of this book -  it plays around with mythology combining lamia, and vampires, and muses and sirens to name a few. I like that famous literary figures (Byron, Keats and Shelly) are bonded with these mythical creatures who give them their creative spark in return for sharing their life force. What I didn't like was that it was sooooo loonnnngggg (sorry that says so long) I though it should have been edited down to about half the length - I'm not going to read the sequel. 01/08/16

 

The Little Paris Bookshop - Nina George 

I bought this for my trip to Paris, and started reading it just before leaving Belfast and during the first half of our stay. It doesn't actually have that much Parisian stuff in it, as the bookshop, which is on a boat on the Seine, takes off from Paris and travels up river for much of the book. I very much enjoyed reading it anyway - I loved that the bookseller made reference to lots of books that I've read and loved, I loved the romance of the language and the story and I spent some very happy evenings sitting in the sunshine in the Luxembourg Gardens reading this little gem of a book. 06/08/16 

 

Fellside - M.R. Carey 

I bought this because I loved The Girl With All The Gifts so much.  Fellside is different but also fabulous - Set largely in a women's prison, it reads like a surreal version of Orange Is The New Black (that's a good thing!). I loved the characters, and the insight into their backstories, and of course I loved the supernatural element of the story, and the many twists and turns. Great book. 08/08/16

 

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness 

Patrick Ness's The Crane Wife is one of my all time favourite books, and I also loved The Crash Of Hennington. This is a Young Adult book, and set in America,   two things which often annoy  me about books, but I actually found this one very enjoyable - a little tongue-in-cheek, and poking fun at the genre, it still manages to be a very readable and fun book. Some people were annoyed by the many 'issues' the young protagonists were facing, but I thought that was part of the gentle teasing of the whole young adult book vibe and I thought the 'issues' were tackled well - sympathetic without being overly sentimental or preachy. 12/08/16

 

When The Floods Came - Clare Morrall 

 I have loved other books by Clare Morrall, especially The Roundabout Man and The Language of Others, largely because I seem to identify with her slightly odd characters. In this book, it was the setting rather than the characters that was 'odd' in the sense that it was  a dystopian future with an strange mix of advanced technology and old style survival skills. The novel started almost like a normal family drama (where the family are the only people living in a deserted city), but became increasingly dark and sinister with the arrival of a lone traveller who is charming, but maybe not all he seems. I enjoyed the book, but it's probably not one of my favourite of Clare Morrall's novels. 19/08/16

 

The Museum of Extraordinary Things - Alice Hoffman 

I really liked this book which tells the dual stories  of  a girl raised by an overbearing and scheming father who runs a 'circus of freaks' type museum in New York's Coney Island area in the early twentieth century, and a young immigrant Jewish man who is disillusioned with his father and his community and resentful of the rich business owners who take advantage of them. I thought the story was beautifully told and I loved both the historical details and the romantic story between the two protagonists. 27/08/16

 

The Gift Of Rain - Tan Twan Eng 

 You know when you watch a really deep and meaningful arty foreign film, and you know it's probably considered really good, but you're actually finding it pretty boring (or is that just me?) well, that's kind of what I think about this book. It's about a half Chinese, half English young man in Malaya prior to and during the second world war, who's best friend is a Japanese man. The book is all about his struggles with identity and knowing where his loyalties lie and what's the right thing to do in very difficult circumstances. I thought it was way over long - (I think it was almost 600 pages long) and I found the regular descriptions of the martial arts fighting that went on to be beyond dull (I guess that really just doesn't interest me). I've read better books about the atrocities that the Japanese subjected people to during the war (for instance, The Narrow Road To the Deep North). The language was poetic, I suppose, but I was glad when I finally reached the end. (I loved The Garden Of Evening Mists, also by Tan Twan Eng) 09/09/16

 

The Lie Tree - Francis Hardinge

It took me a while to get into this book, finding the style a bit old fashioned and almost patronising to begin with, but once I got my head around it I started to really like it. I had suggested this one to my book group, but the other ladies were put off by the magical realism aspect to it. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that magical realism is one of my favourite things in  fiction - I think it turns a story into a fable and even though I know that's not how the world works, I kind of wish it was. So I ended up really enjoying the story and have added more Francis Hardinge books to my wishlist. 14/09/16

 

The House At The Edge Of The World - Julia Rochester

I enjoyed this book. It's about twin siblings who lost their father as children when he fell/jumped off cliffs near their home in Devon. As adults they begin to suspect that all is not at they were led to believe and start to investigate what actually happened all those years ago. I liked the mystery aspect, and the family drama and how the little clues fell into place. Good book. 16/09/16

 

The Malice of Waves - Mark Douglas-Home

 I like the character of Cal, the 'sea detective' and this is the third book in the series about him. Set in a small Scottish island community, the book is more about the people on the island than about Cal, and while still an enjoyable read, I didn't like it as much as the first two because I missed Cal being the centre of the story. I thought the mystery was cleverly resolved though, and while there was some will they/won't they romance stuff, it didn't detract from the story as it may have with a less deft handed writer. 20/09/16

 

Ruby - Cynthia Bond  

This book was beautiful and shocking and heartbreaking and magical - Although Ruby was the title character, and we learn her terrible story and understand how she descended into madness (or was she really haunted...?)  for me the main character was Ephraim, the gloriously meek yet determined man who loved her enough to bring her back. Ruby's life story was all the more shocking for being plausible - as a poor black woman in America's past she was completely powerless. Sexual abuse, ritual abuse (voodoo and occult) poverty, abandonment, loss, poor Ruby had a lot to put up with, and the well meaning (?) church ladies were only making it worse. I loved Ephraim for defying both the church and the pagan bullies to come to her rescue. Great book. 25/09/16

 

Cuckoo Song - Frances Hardinge 

This is a fairy story which is both modern and ancient.  Modern in that it's set in the not too distant past (post war Britain) and ancient in that the fairies are not the Disney winged glittery things, but powerful complex and dangerous magical beings (think Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell). With fewer places to hide in the modern world, the magical people behave like any other creature whose habitat is under threat and become more aggressive. A family is caught up in the struggle and as in all fairy tales, the normal family jealousies and petty squabbles give power to the fairies mischief. The story was both exciting and cleverly thoughtful - I really enjoyed it. 30/09/16


All My Friends Are Superheros - Andrew Kaufman

This is a short wee book, more of a novella, but totally lovely. I really, really enjoyed it - it's sweet, deep, totally original, wacky, beautiful - the list goes on. I had it on my kindle for a while without reading it, and boy am I glad I finally did. It's now up there with my all time favourite reads.  01/10/16

 

Born Weird - Andrew Kaufman 

This is a longer book than All My Friends Are Superheroes, and more set in the real world (although of course with a hefty dose of magical realism). A family come together at the time of the death of their grandmother only to discover that she had attempted to bless them as babies, but that the blessings had worked out more as curses and explained their strange and unsuccessful lives. Again, I loved it,  a mix of fable, family drama, humour and pathos - great! 02/10/16

 

The Tiny Wife - Andrew Kaufman 

 A man discovers that his wife is shrinking - at first imperceptively, but soon the shrinking becomes more noticeable, and then dangerous as the couple fear the wife will disappear completely if they don't figure out how to stop the shrinking. Andrew Kaufman has once again produced a beautiful, wise and entertaining fable which I loved! 03/10/16

 

The Waterproof Bible - Andrew Kaufman - 5.10.16

Dark Matter - Blake Crouch - 8.10.16

Swimming Home - Deborah Levy - 11.10.16

A Year Of Marvellous Ways - Sarah Winman - 16.10.16, 22.10.16

The Wonder - Emma Donoghue - 28.10.16

Dark Matter - Michelle Paver - 01.11.16

The Long Earth, The Long War, The Long Mars, The Long Utopia, The Long Cosmos - Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett - 6.12.16

A Boy Called Christmas - Matt Haig - 15.12.16

Here I am - Jonathan Safran Foer - 21.12.16

The Thing Itself - Adam Roberts - 27.12.16

 Gold Fame Citrus - Claire Vaye Watkins -10.01.17

All The Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy - 20.01.17

Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion - 27.01.17

My Brilliant Friend (Neapolitan) - Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein - Bookgroup - 3.02.17

Stone - Adam Roberts -13.02.17

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S Thompson (18%) -18.02.17

The Novel Habits of Happiness - Alexander McCall Smith - 24.02.17

Wild - Cheryl Strayed - 2.3.17

The Wolf in the Attic - Paul Kearney - 09.03.17 

 People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks - 18.03.17

The Lonely - Andrew Michael Hurley - 26.03.17

Jailbird - Kurt Vonnegut - 31.03.17

Handling The Undead - John Ajvide Lindqvist -