Month: December 2017

Book Review: Murder on Christmas Eve

My dad gave me a few ‘festive’ crime/detective books for Christmas, and this is the first of the three I have read so far. It contains short stories from a selection of well-known authors in the genre, including Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and eight others. All taking place during the holiday season, the tales center around bizarre events that appear to have no rational explanation.
The stories and crimes are all very strange and it’s really interesting to see how the cases were solved. Who knew a cat could solve a murder? And the case of the missing manuscript had a very unexpected conclusion indeed.

I got the sense from these stories that I would have appreciated them more if I had read other works by the authors beforehand. Still, the stories were really interesting and had that classical mystery/detective feel to them. 3/5 stars.

Advertisements

Book Review: Apple Tree Yard

Who doesn’t like a good thriller novel?

The narrative of this book is quite unique, being recalled as an account from the past. Yvonne, the narrator, often refers to “now” and unknown events that have yet to take place in the story. This definitely builds the suspense a lot.

Yvonne takes us through the development of her extramarrital relationship with the unknown “you” (or “X” as she refers to him in her letters). Later, we will learn the identity of Yvonne’s lover, but throughout the book we are given only speculations about his life that Yvonne theorises to be accurate.

This affair is, I suppose, both shocking and familiar at the same time. Yvonne is a successful, loved wife and mother with a safe home and good career. She loves her husband and her children. Her affair is, in this respect, unexpected and outrageous. But at the same time, as Yvonne summarises at the end of the novel, her “one-off” offence falls perfectly into the typical category of people like her. People who do not cheat on their partners because they don’t love them. Unline “you”, who cheats repeatedly for the excitement of it.

Most of the book is dedicated to the devlopment of the relationship, with other details of Yvonne’s life and comments about the present included here and there. Yvonne is eventually sexually assaulted by a coworker/acquaintance. Amazingly, this event leads to Yvonne being on trial for murder.

The court case is described fantastically, with plenty of detail about all the little things that really set the scene. The narrative throughout the book is also fantastic – it really has the ‘feel’ of a middle-aged woman. 3.5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

Book Review: Hurt

I am going to try to avoid spoilers as much as I can in this book, but I’m afraid there will be some. I’d also like to say that this book includes a lot of graphic details and references to rape and suicide.

At first I felt that Mathéo was a bit too in love with Lola – he’s only seventeen, and his adoration for her was bordering on sickly. But then I suppose young love does feel as all-consuming and important as Mathéo made it out to be. Lola, his girlfriend, was a beautiful young lady who moved into Mathéo’s rich town. Unlike him, her house is small and cluttered and comfy – very different to his strict and orderly lifestyle.

First, Mathéo’s rich-boy lifestyle is too much for him; he’s not happy. But then his memory of the most awful night returns, and things get a whole lot worse. After a diving accident (Mathéo is expected to win an Olympic gold medal in a year’s time) and a couple of near-death experiences while on holiday, I really thought Mathéo’s life couldn’t get any worse. But it did. Oh god, it did.

I will not give away the ending, but it honestly made me cry. Maybe it just hit a little too close to home, or maybe the contrast of such a lively, bright character with such a dark event was just too much for me. Either way, the ending was so unexpected and so, so sad. But I liked how the epilogue sort of tied things up, without being too sappy or “feel-good”. I felt like this was a brutally honest story. Not to mention that the events/themes in this book are incredibly important to talk about – I really appreciated that this focused on a male rape victim.

Although I kind of felt like Suzuma had written the openening this book with a theosaurus on hand, seeing how many new words she could include, I got sucked in really quick. I really wanted to know more about what had happened, what was going to happen, and I really got emotional for Mathéo. His relationship with his little brother, and the development of their relationship, was really nice. And the epilogue… God, it’s sad, but it’s honest. Most people don’t stay in touch after school. Most people do move on and forget each other.

The ending was fantastic, so I’m going to have to give this 5 starsBookmarked Signature Logo

Book Review: The Other Wind

68059I think this has been my favourite of the Earthsea novels. It tied all the previous stories together, and included two of my favourite characters – Tenar and Tehanu.

Again, there were times where I felt a little bored or lost, but when I was able to sit and really focus on reading it, I really did enjoy this book. I guess it’s not really a “light” read.

This story focused more on dragons, and how humans had broken an ancient promise by seeking immortality. Women – who were previously seen as lesser than men – are invited to Roke, and help to bring peace amongst dragon and mankind.

The history of dragons and men being one species was a really interesting concept, as was the “other wind” that Irian and Tehanu long for. The ending was pretty sad, too – the bond between Tenar and Tehanu was so strong, but they knew that they would have to let each other go.

I definitely found this the most interesting out of the series. The writing is lovely (if a little archaic, but that fits the universe Le Guin has created) and I love some of the characters. 3.5 stars.

Check out the whole series here.

Book Review: Wintergirls

22310019Another book based on eating disorders, which I’d definitely not recommend for anyone recovering or struggling with these issues. It also includes a lot of self harm and suicidal references, so just be warned.

This was another amazing book. I personally suffer with both anorexia and self harm, so this was so incredibly relatable to me. One major difference is Lia’s relationship with Cassie – her best friend who suffers with bulimia. The two of them encourage each other through their weight loss journeys, giving tips and even challenging each other to become the thinnest. I could not imagine having a relationship like this. I know several other eating disordered people, one of whom is a good friend, and we would never dream of acting like this. It was quite sick, honestly – I hate all the pro-ana stuff. But I suppose some people do it.

A quick observation: they never actually use the terms “anorexia” or “bulimia” which is interesting. There’s often a sort of rivalry portrayed between the two disorders, and the diagnosis of anorexia is held as some sort of accomplishment. It was refreshing to read a book that doesn’t mention that, and even sees them ‘working together’.

At the very start of the book, Cassie dies. Lia eventually learns how exactly that happens, but refuses to let it affect her because her and Cassie had fallen out a while ago. Lia’s eating habits seem to be getting worse (again) and her family think it’s Cassie’s death that’s triggered her, but Lia denies it. But when Cassie’s ghost starts haunting her and begging her to join her, Lia realises how out of hand it’s become.

The little details of the eating disorder were fantastic. The way Lia always quotes calories whenever talking/thinking of food, her estimating every other woman’s BMI against her own, even her initial “I want/need food” that she denies. It all felt so much like my own experience.

The ending was definitely one of those “inspiring” types; who ever would’ve thought Lia would actually work with the unit she’d been admitted to so many times and actually try to recover? I liked how honest this was, though. It wasn’t just a simple, clean recovery. There were fears and bad days and also the realisation that she had been avoiding real life, afraid of it. It’s hard to confront the underlying issues of a disorder like this.

I really loved this. It was just so accurate and inspiring and actually made me cry a bit. It did trigger me at times, but that’s probably just because I’m in a bit of a wobbly place right now. The ending has definitely provided me with hope, though. (Usually these books are focused on younger girls, but Lia is my age. It makes me feel like maybe I still have time to find my motive to recover.) 5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

Book Review: Tales From Earthsea

68055This is the fifth installation of The Earthsea Cycle.In this book is a collection of short stories from different eras and locations within Earthsea. There are tons of links to other tales in this series throughout this book, including character crossovers. There’s even a whole section on describing Earthsea at the end, giving a real in-depth history of the land and it’s cultures.

I am getting a little bored with this series, but I think it’s just because of how the writing has a rather archaic feel. This writing really does help create the universe, but it’s just not my thing. I appreciate how effective it is in creating the world of Earthsea and immersing you in the book, though.

My favourite tale in this book is the final one, where a woman is allowed entrance into Roke School. I’m interested in seeing if equality returns to Earthsea – women with power are looked down upon, whereas sorcerers, wizards and especially mages are respected for their power.

I will stil finish reading this series, despite not loving it as much as I maybe should. 3 starsTales from Earthsea map