Monday, 16 November 2015

Book Review

I read a lot, and since it’s back to school time and the weather is getting cooler I thought it was a perfect time to start sharing some of the books I've read so you might read them too! 
Revival – Stephen King
I am biased as I could read Stephen King all month, but this was another really good book that draws you in and gets into your head. As usual it’s not a book for anyone who doesn't like violence, death or gory details in their reading, as he doesn't spare your imagination in a lot of the novel. The start was interesting, set in a rural American town and from the perspective of a child. I found the characters really easy to get behind and you get the sense of gathering danger, tension and something brewing. The relationship with the preacher and the effect it has on the characters throughout their lives is a constantly evolving story, at the start you think he might be the good guy but that soon comes into question. The middle was also interesting about how the main character had turned out as an adult, the topics of drugs and recovery were well told from the perspective of an addict. Also a different setting than many of his books, and I enjoyed the change. I liked the beginning and middle much more than the end. I don’t want to spoil the ending but it went a bit beyond what I thought it would and was a little unbelievable. It was also kind of depressing, I know they are not usually the brightest books but this one actually made me a bit sad! 
Overall – 9/10 A great read and I finished it in a few days, but not my new favourite Stephen King novel.

The Book of Fires – Jane Borodale
To be honest I picked this up at random from the library because they didn't have any of the books I was looking for and I just wanted something to read.
I found the story slow to get going, and the main character Agnes a bit hard to get to like as we know nothing about her at the start other than she is poor and pregnant, to me she was very passive to what is going on in her life and around her. Once she gets bit of motion and the story picks up a few chapters in I was a little more interested, and in the middle to end of the book I started to like her better. However main character aside the descriptions of England in the 1750’s are very detailed and paint a wonderful picture, as with the fireworks and the sights and smells of the workshop. I found the writing style a little different at the start, but got used to it. I found myself skipping over sentences that were overly descriptive, but then finding other areas jarring and the writing very curt. The ending was unexpected and you really don’t know what Agnes is going to do about this baby until right in the last few chapters, which alternately annoyed and intrigued me. I wanted her to just make a decision, she makes this big change in the first few chapters then cannot seem to put any plan into action after that. I also found it a little unbelievable that she fell into a job straight off the cart from the countryside, there was little to no struggle or hardship for her on arrival to the city which would be more realistic.
Overall – 6/10 Not my usual reading but was interesting in parts, if the main character had a little more about her it might have been better but that is probably written to show how women of the period behaved.

Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses - Catriona McPherson
Again a book I picked up off the quick choice section of the library because I didn't really have time to look around, must go to the library with more time!
The book is a good read, I figured out the big twist pretty early on (it came to me while doing the washing up) but it didn't ruin it for me. The story follows Dandy Gilver and her partner on a trip to a girls school to figure out why the mistresses are disappearing, and there are a few side stories also. I feel like this would be a good holiday read, a story good enough to keep you interested but not too demanding or depressing. It’s quite an entertaining book, with insight into the period and attitudes towards married women working. The characters are well developed and relate-able, and this is part of a series but also works fine as a standalone book. The motivation for some of the characters to do certain things was a little vague for me, but I think the story as a whole is credible enough to work. It did stick in my mind, as mentioned I found myself thinking about the story while not actually reading the book which is always a good sign. I would be interested in possibly reading some of the other books of the series (which maybe feature her partner a little more as he was a bit part at best in this one) if they cross my path but haven’t so far rushed out to get them.
Overall – 7/10, entertaining and decent read, but for me lacking something maybe a few less twists for the story and a little more time spent on the main plot and motives of the characters would have helped.

The Martian - Andy Weir
I actually read this a few months ago but loved it and the film is out so want to include it. I would never usually pick up a book on space, but my work does a 6 book challenge over the summer where they pick books for you, and it’s great for expanding your reading. I'm sure the film won’t be as good, the book is always better, get in and read it before the film ruins it :)
I was truly gripped by this story from the start, it starts on Mars when an astronaut is left behind after the rest of the crew leave. This is where the story stays, with only short interludes back to earth to see what is happening with his colleagues. The writing has to be good to keep this one character Mark and his day to day activities as basically the whole book without the reader becoming bored. I found his character to be realistic and I could identify with him although we have NOTHING in common. There was humour and failures as well as really technical information that would usually bore me to tears but I found it interesting when related to a practical issue, i.e. what he could do with it to survive. You also really do not know what is going to happen and whether he will be rescued, I was reading literally holding my breath at the end! The only downside I could think of was that the book does end right at the rescue attempt, I was kind of sad not to see a little of the aftermath and the perspectives of the other characters on what had happened after being so invested in the plan to rescue him.
Overall – The best book I have read this year, funny, interesting and oddly quite real although about a man stuck on Mars.
Have you read any good books recently? Always looking for recommendations! x 

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