I've been reading a lot of books as usual, and I'm currently on the lookout for more! My bookshelves are empty of new reads, so if you have an recommendations for me I'd love to hear them. I've posted mini book reviews before (you can find them here if you're interested), and they're just quick summaries of some of the books I've read and whether I think they're worth a read! I try to keep all my mini-reviews spoiler free but it can be difficult to explain the context of some books without them. With that in mind, the reviews below of 'Me before You' and 'After You' do contain some plot reveals, so if you want to keep them as a total surprise, don't read on!)
I’m not 100% how I feel about this mystery crime thriller – it was a quick read and I found aspects of the plot interesting, but it lacked something within its pages for me. I did warm to DCI Lennon, the main character in this story, and at first was annoyed that the end of the book was left open with elements of his life. After learning this is a series, it makes sense that the author is letting his personal story unravel slowly and this is the first introduction. The book switched views to different characters and the writing changed to suit the narrator, but I disliked some of these switches and found some passages of the writing quite crude. I didn’t guess the story or the ‘whodunnit’ aspect but I found the whole thing unbelievable, too fictitious and very clichéd. I enjoyed learning about Lennon’s story and am intrigued to find more, but I’m not that fussed about reading more of the series and probably won’t bother.
I loved this book. I’d heard lots about it but I only picked it up last year and I devoured it. It was gripping and I couldn’t stop reading. There were a lot of parallels between Louisa and I, and I think that’s why I felt so connected to the book. The story wasn’t alienating even though it’s not a common subject and it was very interesting and sensitively written. After I finished the book, I cried my eyes out. I’ve never had a book that’s affected me in this way and I’m putting it down to the similarity I felt of my life and Louisa’s – of always being safe, never taking risks and feeling the full weight of the decisions I am (and am not) making. Now the sequel ‘After You’ has been released, I do feel the title ruins the ending of this book a little so it certainly took out some suspense for me. At the end of ‘Me Before You’ there was the first chapter of the sequel, and it left me reeling. I bought it as soon as I could…
Which brings me on to the review (and this one is not really a 'mini' review either – I've got a lot to say on this one!) Unfortunately I was really disappointed, after enjoying the first so much. I know it’s always difficult for authors to follow up a book that was so highly regarded, but I feel like the sequel was lacking in more than one aspect. Apart from the first and last few chapters, I found it a slow read that didn’t really seem to have much happen. When I look at the size of the book I’m surprised by how the pages are filled. The main storyline, which I won’t give away, actually made me roll my eyes as soon as I read the definitive line and it felt like an episode of Eastenders rather than something that could have feasibly been passed off as real. ‘Me before You’ is being made into a film, and with this knowledge I feel that ‘After You’ was heavily influenced with the big screen in mind. Even though the original had a storyline that was quite out there and different, this one just felt like I was reading fiction – so many parts of the book being played out predictably and I real felt Moyes’s writing lacked it’s usual magic. There were a lot of new characters but none that I fell in love with or even liked all that much. Louisa, although understandably grieving, felt like she had lost her usual spark even by the end, and I felt no chemistry between her and Sam. The storyline about Louisa’s parents was out of place and I have no idea as to why it was included or what it added to the main plot at all. I read the book without feeling involved in the characters, which is in stark contrast to the first. The ending and the whole book itself didn’t leave me with a feeling of enlightenment or hope, which I think is what is suggested. Ultimately, it just made me feel a bit deflated and won’t inspire me to pick it up again in the future.
I adored this book and it will be one that I’ll keep nestled in my bookshelf for a long time. I thought it was fascinating and gripping throughout, and I loved the viewpoint from which the story was told. There are so many beautiful passages in here and I’ll definitely be reading more of Zusak’s writing. I fell in love with all the characters and could empathise with them all, and it was fascinating to read about the Second World War from the 'other side’. This is a book that’s had a lot of high reviews and deservedly so – I would recommend this to anyone.
Having really enjoyed Haig’s non-fiction ‘How to Stay Alive’ I saw this at a market and decided to pick it up. At first I struggled with it – the book is based on an alien who is visiting earth on the premise of destroying information. His way of life is so different to ours and I found the comments and valuations on the human race a little daunting – they were terrifyingly correct in the way they saw us. But there is a lot of hope in this book and I was left feeling quite satisfied, if not a little sad for the way that things turned out. This was a quick read and it covered quite a lot of subject matter, including multiple deaths, the ‘meaning of life’ and attempted suicide, but it was written in a light-hearted fashion while still giving enough compassion and knowledge on each subject too.
I don’t want to give too much away for this book because I think it’s best read without any prior knowledge as to what it’s about. I went in blind, and though the beginning is slow – stick with it. If you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean when I say I was totally blindsided with the middle, more so than The Girl on the Train and I was left wondering whether it was me who had been making the assumptions. Clare Mackintosh is an excellent writer and her history with the police makes the detective element of the story believable. I found some elements a little tedious but it was a gripping read and a real page-turner in parts. The story jumped around a bit which I found slightly disorientating at first as I tried to work out the timeline. Overall I think it’s a good book and if you like psychological crime books, you’ll enjoy this one for sure. It's a lot more gripping than 'From the Cradle', so if you're into these sort of books, I'd hit this one up first.
(Illustration by me, please do not use or repost without permission)