Monday, 27 April 2015

Catching up on some reading thoughts

Netgalley short reviews

While I have been studying hard this semester I have also taken some down time and read quite a few books thanks to Netgalley's proof system.  I read a lot of these a while ago and so they are simple reviews, nothing in depth but they should hopefully give a flavour of the book.

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
This was another book about an older person undertaking an epic journey, this time Etta is walking across Canada to see the sea.
I'm afraid that this one didn't make much of an impression on me, it just felt like more of the same. Nothing wrong with the book and the back story was interesting, just a bit 'meh.'

Station Eleven - Emily Mandel
A book set in Canada with a Shakespearean plot plus a world rebuilding after an devastating 'flu outbreak. This had a lot of elements that I really liked, and I can see why there is so much positive buzz surrounding it, however I spotted the 'twist' really early on which surprised me and disappointed me slightly.  I will try more of Mandel's books and this was an interesting read overall.

Hausfrau - Jill Alexander Essbaum
This was another book that had lots of buzz surrounding it and I really liked it.  It wasn't at all what I was expecting and it really was refreshing to read a book that was so different. Once more I spotted how it would end, just not how and I do recommend the book - be warned however as it is a little (!) bit racy at times.

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes - Anna McPartlin
An unashamed weepy, chick lit novel and perfect for those who like Marian Keyes.  You will need tissues.

Laughter in Ancient Rome - Mary Beard
A fun read about what the Romans found funny, an accessible yet academic look and as to be expected from Beard stresses that what survives is from the elite, male class and we still don't know much about women and lower classes found funny.

Disclaimer - Renee Knight
This is a page turning thriller that like the best scary book has a very realistic setting.  At the front of a book there is usually a disclaimer that the characters and actions included are fiction...this time the book stresses that the story is real. The book also appears mysteriously on Catherine's bedside table. I'm not going to talk about the plot anymore as anything could be construed as a spoiler and I surprised myself by really enjoying the book as it really isn't my usual type of story at all.

The Truth According to Us - Annie Barrows
A few years ago the book Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society burst into the book world and quickly became one of my favourite books of all time.  The surviving author of that book has now written her first novel and happily I think it is just as good.  It is set in West Virginia during the Depression and is written so visually that I thought I was there in the oppressive summer heat. The plot revolves around the research undertaken for a new town history and slowly the truth unravels...brilliant reserve it from your local library now ready for when it is published in June.

The Little Paris Bookshop - Nina George (translated by Simon Pare)
I loved this book, another whimsical French novel.  Jean Purdue runs a bookshop on a barge in Paris but when he discovers that an incident in his past wasn't quite what he thought he pulls his moorings and, along with an author suffering from writer's block, sets sail for the South of France.  It is perhaps a bit far fetched at times but is wonderful escapism, and as Jean calls himself a book doctor I was instantly smitten - after all we run this service at the library!

The Oregon Trail - Rinker Buck
I'm only half way through this but I'm finding it hard to put down.  Rinker writes very much like Bill Bryson and on finding out a little about the Oregon Trail decides to recreate the epic waggon journeys of the 18th century.  Along with his brother he sets out in a covered waggon with three mules to travel 2000+ miles.  The book is a mixture of history, humour and autobiography and so far the balance is perfect. As a fan of the Little House on the Prairie series of books, and having visited some of the frontier towns in the USA,  finding out more about the journey behind the westward expansion is great.  I hope the second half is as good.

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