Sunday, 17 May 2015

May mini book reviews


Cheryl Strayed

I picked this up after seeing the film trailer and Essiebutton featuring it on one of her ‘Button’s Bookshelf’ videos. I thought it had the potential to be dull, and it wasn’t my usual read considering the whole premise of the story is about walking. The book is non-fiction and follows Cheryl as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail following no training and just a hope for finding herself. I did enjoy this book and was pleasantly surprised – I didn’t find it boring though I did find some of the descriptions of the trail a bit repetitive. I like books that have a deeper meaning and this was honest too – a tale of hope that follows one woman through tough challenges in life that she overcomes in a magnificent feat of endurance. After finishing the book, I was intrigued to read more about Cheryl’s life after she finished the PCT and, considering the book is ultimately about her life, I think it would be nice if there was more detail included as an afterword in the book.

The Husband's Secret
Liane Moriarty

This isn’t my usual read and I only picked it up after seeing it cheap on Kindle. The cover looks like it would be a chick lit which is what put me off at first, but actually I was quite impressed. I thought the book definitely improved nearer the end and I particularly loved the message in the final chapter. A mystery following some Mum’s in a small village, it is a story that interweaves throughout various people’s lives. I didn’t love any of the characters but I also didn’t find it difficult to follow the story as the chapters swapped to different voices. A relatively quick read that is gripping, mysterious and enjoyable.

Elizabeth is Missing
Emma Healey

I loved this book. It was heartbreaking and hilarious all at once, and the writing was wonderful. As the book progressed, you could definitely tell the deterioration of Maud’s condition, despite any of the characters pointing it out and I think that’s the mark of a good author. I loved both the present and past stories – the latter making the book a psychological mystery. I empathised so much with Maud, and I loved the addition of Katy, her character definitely lightened the tone of some of the chapters. It’s a terribly sad story but with humour throughout, and this made it a joyful and touching read. I am sure a lot of people will be able to relate to the story with their own relatives and will touch home to most – it certainly did for myself. This is Healey's debut novel and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

Martin Sixsmith

This book is less about Philomena and more about her son – his journey through life, not hers. I wasn't surprised to read that the original title of the book was 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee', which makes so much more sense. It’s a touching book and one based on a true story – starting with the horrors that happened in Ireland in the 1950s. I did feel for Mike throughout the book although found him hard to relate to at times. I learned a lot about American politics and jerrymandering in particular – it’s a book that has been researched incredibly well and written in to a story that is gripping and thoughtful. A lot of important issues were brought up in the book and I think they were handled honestly and with care. Quite a slow read but interesting none-the-less.

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes
Jay Asher

This book had me eager to turn the page but not because I was gripped with the story, but because I was eager to find out if I was right. This book was just so predictable and, dare I say, a bit boring. The story was fine but it felt a bit like one of those Channel 5 TV shows you stick on of a Sunday afternoon because there isn't anything else to watch. I was pretty surprised to find it had such glowing reviews on Amazon because I wasn't enthralled. It's a quick, light read that you'll finish quickly. It's written well but I didn't love the characters and at some points in the book I was (figuratively) slapping my forehead because I found the protagonist, Rose, so unbelievably stupid in her actions. This is the first in a series following the character but I won't be picking up the rest. It's actually the first book in a long time that left me feeling disappointed.

One Day
David Nicholls

I mentioned in my last mini book review post that this was on my to-read list. I don’t know why I had left it unread on my bookshelf for so long – I absolutely adored this book. Once again, it enforced my belief that David Nicholls is an incredible writer and this was one of those books that you finish and feel as if you’ve lost a friend. I was immersed in Emma and Dexter’s world – I loved both of them and the story that entwined their lives. The chapters flick between their voices but it was easy to follow, with each chapter catching up with them on the same day on different years. You were able to discover their lives without needing to read about particular events, the emotion and trials of each character coming through remarkably well. I was heartbroken with the ending, and I don’t want to leave spoilers but those who’ve read it will know what I’m what I’m referring to. If I can recommend any book to you from this list, it would be this one. I’m thinking about watching the film but I doubt it will capture the magic of this book – and I also don’t think I’ll be able to concentrate with Anne Hathaway’s terrible English accent narrating Emma (!)

(Illustration by me, please do not use or repost without permission)

1 comment

  1. I agree with you about One Day. I loved the book. The films is good as well. I don't think I even knew Ann Hathaway was American. Anyway, well worth watching .
    keep the reviews and book covers coming. Derek