Set in the 1920s, this book is just about as far from the decadent, glamorous 1920s of my imagination as it is possible to get. A retelling of an old Russian fairytale, this is spellbindingly atmospheric. The descriptions of the bleakly beautiful Alaskan countryside are mesmerising, and the hard labour involved in working the land is vividly brought to life. The characters are so wonderfully drawn, with their own quirks and personalities, and I wanted to meet each and every one of them in real life! My favourite character was the wonderful, no-nonsense Esther who comes bustling into Mabel's life and opens her eyes to a whole new way of living.
Ivey's writing throughout the book is poetic and beautiful. She tackles the themes of grief and loss in a sensitive and realistic way, countering this with hope and love in many forms. There is a subtle magical thread throughout the book, lifting the story with fairytale qualities from what could otherwise have been really sad and quite depressing. But Ivey makes this a wonderful, uplifting and hopeful book that is well deserving of its Pulitzer Prize Finalist tag. 4 stars
This book will shortly be re-published with a gorgeous new cover (seen above) which I think matches the writing within gorgeously. ...more
Copy received from the publisher for honest review
First of all, let it be known that I am a huge fan of the Crime Fiction drama. If I could only readCopy received from the publisher for honest review
First of all, let it be known that I am a huge fan of the Crime Fiction drama. If I could only read one genre for the rest of my life, I would probably choose Crime Fiction. So it was with some excitement that I received this novel for review, the first in what will hopefully be a long and thrilling series by Sarah Hilary!
It is quite difficult to say much about this book without giving away the plot. It is a gritty and cruel piece of fiction with a believable twist (take note Gone Girl fans!) that I did not see coming. The women in the refuge are a sad and desperate group screaming out for your empathy. DI Rome herself is a woman struggling to come to terms with a tragic past and at times I just wanted to give her a hug (though I'm not sure she would appreciate it!). My one little niggle is something silly ... it really annoys me when police officers go off on their own, putting themselves into situations you just know are not going to end well. Don't they ever learn?!
The book contains some fairly graphic and descriptively gruesome violent scenes, but this just adds to the grittiness of the novel. Several different plot lines weave together to create an intriguing and memorable debut and I am waiting impatiently for the second instalment in this series. Hurry up Sarah Hilary! A glowing 4 stars....more
First of all, can we just appreciate the beauty of this book cover?! It's shallow, I know. The picture(received from the publisher for honest review)
First of all, can we just appreciate the beauty of this book cover?! It's shallow, I know. The picture truly does not do this book justice - it is gorgeous!
Ok, so that's out of the way ... I read this book after The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, and I was in the mood for something light and fluffy. And that is exactly what I got. I wouldn't say that 'chick lit' is one of my favourite genres, but every now and then a light fun read is what is needed. This books fills that spot nicely, although I did have some issues with it.
The main characters in this story both have flaws. One is suffering from mental illness as a result of a tragic 'mystery' from his past (which really isn't that much of a mystery, to be honest) and the other is a workaholic, dedicating her life to a charitable cause. But everything just seems a bit too perfect, in spite of their difficulties - Ben is hugely successful in his career, rolling in money, gorgeous looking, adored by women everywhere and Effy is beautiful, successful in her charitable endeavours, loved by everyone who meets her. It all just felt a little bit too easy and perfect, and this was not helped by a several ridiculous coincidences within the story.
This book was well written, though sometimes a little formulaic, and at times it felt the author was trying a little too hard to be funny and on trend. Due to the mental illness aspect of the plot, I couldn't help but compare this to The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer which I read recently, and unfortunately Paper Swans pales in comparison to Filer's book. But I think I am wrong to compare the two - Paper Swans is primarily a love story rather than a novel about mental illness.
Having said all this, I did not dislike this book. It is a nice, light read, a sweet story in which love conquers all. It is ultimately uplifting and positive and I think it will appeal to fans of Katie Fforde and Jill Mansell. A perfectly acceptable 3 stars from me....more
Sigh. I really wanted to like this. Maybe it was the translation. I found the writing to be really awful, the characters were really immature and juveSigh. I really wanted to like this. Maybe it was the translation. I found the writing to be really awful, the characters were really immature and juvenile (I know they're high school students, but come on! How many times do I want to read about who has a crush on who, do you have a crush one someone?, he has a crush on her, she has a crush on him! YOU ARE ABOUT TO DIE AT THE HANDS OF YOUR CLASSMATES, PEOPLE, FFS!!!). The idea, however, is a good one, and I liked the final section. I'd like to say I would read a different translation to see if it's any better, but to be honest I don't think that's ever going to happen. Sad that I didn't love it....more
I read this short story collection slowly throughout the month of August, in between other books. My first experience of Jhumpa Lahiri, and an interesI read this short story collection slowly throughout the month of August, in between other books. My first experience of Jhumpa Lahiri, and an interesting collection of stories. Look forward to reading more of her work....more
I always approach hyped books with some trepidation, YA hyped books even more so. They rarely seem to agree with me. So I was a little hesitant to borI always approach hyped books with some trepidation, YA hyped books even more so. They rarely seem to agree with me. So I was a little hesitant to borrow this one off my teenage daughter's shelf. But I'm glad I did.
As with most people, I knew virtually nothing about this book and was happy to go into it blind - I knew it was set in summer, based around 4 teenagers and one of them befalls a terrible accident. That's about the level of detail I like anyway, so it didn't bother me in the slightest, although I do understand those reviewers asking why all the secrecy ...
Anyway, I really enjoyed this story. It was a quick read, I really had no idea how it would turn out (I rarely do! I must be dim :)). I was intrigued and I think for the first time I can remember I actually physically literally came out in goosebumps! Definitely worth the couple of hours of your time this will take to read....more
I nearly gave up on this book so many times, but kept plodding on because everyone seems to love it so much and I thought it had to get better!
Two extI nearly gave up on this book so many times, but kept plodding on because everyone seems to love it so much and I thought it had to get better!
Two extremely irritating, horrible, unlikable characters, ridiculous plot - what was all that hype about?! This one was not for me ... this may be an unusual case of the film being better than the book, though I won't be rushing out to see it!...more
So best friends Sarah and Jennifer draw up a list of things they should never do, but despite this they end up being abducted anyway. The story follows Sarah as she looks into the life of Jack Derber, her kidnapper who is up for parole, 10 years after she escapes from his basement.
The blurbs on my edition of this book promise something gripping and terrifying. Elle Magazine state it is "as gripping as Gone Girl" (side note: I had not read Gone Girl when I picked this book up ... If I had I would definitely not have bothered with this because of this comparison!) and Tess Gerritsen, an author I love, states it is one of the scariest thrillers she has ever read. So I had really high hopes.
Overall, this book did not deliver on its promise. Now that I have read Gone Girl, I can safely say that the Never List rates much higher in my opinion, but it was definitely not as dark and creepy as I was expecting. There is no doubt that Jack Derber is cruel and sadistic. The story is cleverly written in a way that the cruelty and abuse is alluded to and left to your imagination rather than explicit descriptions. The reader cannot help but feel sympathy with the abducted girls, but Sarah, who suffers from PTSD, does seem to have an amazing ability to overcome her symptoms when the need arises and puts herself in some very unlikely situations.
After reading this book, I gave it 4 stars but on writing this review and thinking more about it, I think I would give it 3 stars. It is an interesting story, fairly well written with a pacy plot and a good twist. I would recommend this to those that enjoy a good mystery/thriller, but don't expect anything too dark or creepy!...more
This book had been sitting on my shelf for quite a few months before I finally got round to reading it. There was a lot of hype surrounding it when it won the Costa Book Award, and I was reluctant to read it for fear of being let down. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded.
The story follows the life of Matthew, a man who suffers from schizophrenia following the death of his brother, which he may or may not have had a hand in. I really enjoyed the use of different fonts, letters and drawings throughout the book - I think this gave the book a disjointed and confusing feel which reflected the state of Matthew's mind wonderfully. Along with this, the book flips backwards and forwards between the past and the present as Matthew remembers what happened to his brother.
Although this book deals with some serious issues - grief, death, guilt, mental ill health - it does so in such a sensitive and realistic way, and still manages to remain ultimately uplifting and wonderful. This is a story that will stay in my mind for a long time to come....more