Saturday, 30 April 2016

Review - The Knot by Mark Watson

Simon and Schuster

Synopsis (From Amazon) - Dominic Kitchen is a wedding photographer. Every Saturday since his career began in the sixties he has photographed a bride and groom on the happiest day of their lives, captured the moment they tied the knot forever, and then faded away into the background.

But throughout his life, Dominic has felt a knot inside him tighten, threatening his own chance of a happy ever after. And as the years go by, it becomes more difficult to ignore, until the ties that bind threaten to tear him apart…

My Review – Reading this book was like going down the Rabbit Hole and into Wonderland; utterly disturbing, but hard to look away.

I struggle to talk about this book because I want to discuss it, but I also never want t have to think about it again. I can’t say why without spoilers, but trust me, as good as this book is, it left with a bad taste in my mouth.
        Watson does not fail to deliver a poignant novel with excellent writing. I really enjoyed reading about Dominic’s life; it’s very rare you read a book where the whole life of the protagonist is told. I liked his character; I liked Victoria, and all of the supporting characters. However, there is one aspect that I found very hard to get anything from other than disgust and unease, if you’ve read the book, you know. It’s quite a central plot point but it made me feel gross for even reading the book. At one point I was sure the book wasn’t going to go there, but oh boy did it. Obviously I know you are not supposed to condone what happens, but I spent most of the book hoping it wasn’t heading in the direction that it so obviously was.
        As I said, I never want to have to think too much about this book again, but it does stay with you, and I guess that is to its credit. It is very much reminded me of reading Lolita, illicit with amazing prose. If you don’t mind being a little sickened, I would recommend it, it is an interesting book, and the writing is faultless.

(Images not mine)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Review - 'Am I Normal Yet' by Holly Bourne

Usborne Publishing

Synopsis (From Waterstones) - All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there’s only one thing to tick off her list… But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?

My Review - I am not going to lie; I was a little bit apprehensive about reviewing this book. The protagonist has OCD, a condition I do not suffer from, so I did not feel like I would able to talk about book and do it justice. However, I really enjoyed this book and wanted to talk about it.

I have never read such an honest YA novel. There was no pretence or sugar coating. Evie’s struggles are very realistic. Bourne’s portrayal of OCD, to me, is nothing short of remarkable. I have known people who suffer the way Evie does and it is very true to life. What I particularly liked was the way Evie wasn’t written as a complete victim. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her, but she isn’t perfect. Evie herself admits that her illness can have a negative impact, not just on her, but those around her. It was also awesome to read a YA novel where the main character feels isolated and different, but doesn’t fall into the ‘I’m so different from everyone’ trope. You know the one, where the main character has an aversion for conventionally ‘girly girls.’ I have seen this too many times and it needs to stop, okay?

Now, let’s talk about the other ladies in the book. Lottie and Amber are wonderful. They were far more than throwaway side characters. I loved the conversations the three friends had about feminism. It reminded me a lot of the sort of talks I used to have with my friends at that age. I enjoyed the reference to the Bechdel test, something I have given a lot of thought about in recent years. In keeping with the subversive themes, the romantic plotline in the story is far from clich├ęd. Throughout the novel Guy, the object of Evie’s affections, is standoffish and distant one minute and the complete opposite the next. I am sure a lot of younger girls have encountered a guy like this before, (at least I know I did as a teenager!). I just loved the way the book subverted the classic brooding, good looking male love interest plotline.

I would highly recommend to this to anyone who wants a realistic look at mental illness as well as a more accurate depiction of being a teenage girl.

(Images not mine)

Thursday, 7 April 2016

My Favourite Genres

So, I thought a good way to ease back into this was to write about my favourite genres and some of my favourite authors. As a general rule, I will read just about anything, but obviously there are genres and authors that, shall we say, I am more partial to.

Firstly I would like to start with Mystery and Crime novels. I got into this genre when I first picked up Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when I was 12. I was enthralled, but that is a post for another time. Anyway, this soon started a great love of the genre and I started reading a lot of novels along the same line, for example The Invisible Detective series, Anne Perry, Kathy Reichs and Agatha Christie.

Another of my favourite genres is Historical Fiction. I have read so much from this genre. The author I would recommend the most, and is my personal favourite, is Phillippa Gregory. She focuses on the Tudor period, so she isn’t for everyone, but for someone like me, who loves the time period, she is perfect and simply wonderful to read. I took one of her novels on a trip to Nottingham once, and had finished by the time I had gotten back later that day. Historical fiction, when written in the right way, can really make you feel like you’re in the time period you’re reading about.

I am not sure if they count as a genre on their own, but I have also read a lot of Victorian classics. In fairness a lot of this comes from studying English Literature at A-Level and Uni. However, my love of older fiction stems way back. I remember reading books like The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, The Railway Children, Oliver Twist before I had reached secondary school age. I really enjoy the language and storylines that are hard to find in modern fiction. Although not Victorian one of my favourite authors is Jane Austen. Think whatever you like, I love her books. I am also a fan of Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Arthur Conan Doyle (as already mentioned), Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins and many others.

        I also read quite a lot of YA. Most of time it is because of recommendations from various people, but I usually enjoy them. I won’t say too much about this genre, again I want to write a whole separate post about YA.

Anyway, as I said I will read pretty much anything whatsoever, and like to think I am very open-minded when it comes to books. Hope you've got to know a bit more about what I like to read!

Take care and happy reading!