I’ve been very lazy with the reviewing of the books I’ve read recently…….actually no scrap that. I’ve just been busy and had other things on my mind, so as much as I’m still flying through books at a rate of knots, I’m just not getting round to writing about them.
Apologies for that but such is life, I have shizz to do (sometimes that shizz is just lying down but it’s important to me ya know?)…. So for this wrap up I’m cramming 6 books together instead of the usual 4. The reasons for this are twofold:
- It’ll be quicker to catch up and I won’t feel so much like a useless lazy beast
- The frame app on my phone will only fit 6 pictures in without them looking squashed so……yeah.
Lets crack on!
Seas Of Snow – Karensa Jennings
I’d heard this one reviewed on YouTube and knew in advance that it dealt with child abuse and domestic abuse and was quite hard hitting. Now I’m not a sensitive soul and consider myself quite used to reading dark and gritty fiction and non-fiction, memoirs and such like that deal with subjects like this. however I found this book a very uncomfortable read. It tells the story of Gracie and her mother. Its set in the 1950’s and flits to the present day. Gracie’s mum is a single parent raising Gracie on her own, however her brother Joe comes into their lives and that is when the abuse starts. Firstly with Gracie’s mum and then it’s not long before Uncle Joe turns his evil attentions to Gracie. This obviously is the uncomfortable part. The abuse scenes go into quite graphic detail, which for a fictional novel felt quite strange to me. I’ve read a few non-fiction biographical accounts including child abuse or sexual/domestic abuse in some way and when these books included detail I’ve been able to stomach reading it because it actually happened. You almost feel you owe it to the person it happened to to see what they went through. But as a lot of the abuse scenes were told from the perspective of Uncle Joe and how he feels about Gracie and her body etc it was almost too much to read. I found it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that this was a fictional account, it didn’t sit right with me. That’s not to say it would have been ok if it had been real….it’s just that this account was dreamt up in someone’s head and well……I was disconcerted by it.
This story also had a strange timeline which I was scared would turn out to be a massive continuity error of sorts, I only carried on reading to see whether it was an actual glaring error or whether there was a twist at the end. I was relieved when the twist did eventually come.
I would say give this book a go if you have a strong stomach for these things but will also say it has massive triggers for child abuse, so if you’re not up to that steer well clear!
The Girl In The Red Coat – Kate Hamer
I recently read Kate Hamer’s The Doll Funeral which I reviewed here and absolutely loved. This one is Kate’s debut novel I think so I had to give this one a go too. I knew that the premise of this was of a little girl who gets abducted on a day out with her mother. Carmel disappears from a literary festival and we follow both her story and her mothers story in the aftermath of this. I enjoyed the fact that this wasn’t your typical child abduction story. There was no violence or girls trapped in cellars and all that lark. It had a very different way of panning out and this was the bit that kept me reading. It wasn’t a quickly solved case, the characters developed well and the ending was ok, there were unanswered questions but I was satisfied overall. I would say this book for me wasn’t nearly as gripping or well written as The Doll Funeral but I’m glad I’ve ticked it off my list.
The Unseeing – Anna Mazzola
This is a murder mystery story set in Victorian London, we all know I’m a sucker for anything set in Victorian London right? This is the story of Sarah Gale who has been incarcerated in Newgate Prison for the murder of another woman Hannah Gale. She is petitioning her innocence with the assistance of lawyer Edmund Fleetwood. The basic premise is a did she?/did she? one. I enjoyed this purely for the Victorian detail or prison life at the time but other than that Sarah Waters does it better in my opinion. I felt a bit let down by this one. I wanted to love it but just didn’t. Sorry!
The Tidal Zone – Sarah Moss
I’ve read Night Waking by Sarah Moss and loved it. The Tidal Zone has more than done the booktube rounds and with its eye-catching cover it’s hard to pass it up. It tells the story of Adam a stay at home Dad who is simultaneously looking after his teenage daughter Miriam and her sister Rose whilst researching and writing about the WW2 bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. One day Adam’s life changes when he receives a phonecall to say that Miriam has collapsed at school and stopped breathing. She gets resuscitated and taken to hospital whereupon the hospital staff have to try and find out the cause of Miriam’s collapse and the likelihood of it happening again. This book explores how a family copes with circumstances like these, how Adam himself feels helpless in protecting his daughters from something which may or may not happen again at any time. I love Sarah Moss’s writing style, and like the way she intersperses the main thread of the story with almost a sidestory, in this case the bombing of the cathedral. Although I must admit that I preferred the main story to the cathedral chapters. People have complained in reviews that this book is dull and aside from the main medical incident at the start nothing happens. I disagree, I love stories which go into quite minute detail of everyday life and books for me don’t have to be fast-paced plot twist thrillers. I’m quite happy for a story to show how characters develop rather what is actually happening plot wise.
I would recommend this book, I really enjoyed it.
Grief Is The Thing With Feathers – Max Porter
I picked this up from the library based on the fact that I’d seen it on display in Waterstones window and the title had stuck in my head. Also I reckoned as it was such a short book I could rattle through it and it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t like it. Luckily I did. I devoured it in the bath one night. I had some misgivings about this after reading the first few pages as it is so beyond the realms of reality that I didn’t know if I would enjoy it. I’m all for a bit of magical realism every now and again but this book is just so out there. So…..let me try and attempt to explain the idea of this story. It centres around a family who have lost their mother. A man and his two young sons are grieving for the loss of their Mum/wife and struggling to come to terms with it. One night there’s a knock at the door and the man opens it to a huge black crow….yes I know….bear with it….
The crow settles himself into their lives and helps them through their grief, not always in a nice way. The story is told in alternate short paragraphs almost, which are headed Dad, Crow and Boys. There were times when I thought perhaps I wasn’t clever enough to be understanding all the meaning behind this story. I kind of want to say that the crow is a metaphor for the families grief but I may have got that wrong. Apparently this has links to Ted Hughes poetry collection ‘Crow’ and indeed the father is a Ted Hughes scholar but never having read any Ted Hughes I’m not sure how far the links stretch. I just enjoyed this book for what it was, beautifully written and unusual. And if you enjoy something does it really matter if you consider yourself not clever enough to read it?……
I’d never read any Highsmith before but had heard her talked about on booktube. She wrote The Talented Mr Ripley and Strangers On A Train which I hadn’t been aware of. I got online and browsed the titles they had at my local library and decided on This Sweet Sickness and Deep Water. Both of which were stored in the library basement so some poor library employee no doubt had to go on a mission to find them.
I started with This Sweet Sickness which tells the story of a man who is somewhat obsessed with a woman called Annabelle. Annabelle was a previous girlfriend who is now married to someone else and our protagonist cannot let her go, which ultimately is the undoing of himself and others along the way. This is one of those stories told by an unreliable narrator which I absolutely love. You’re hearing the things he’s telling you but not believing a word of it and seeing it from other peoples perspectives as it truly is. He is a character who functions normally in everyday life, flies under the radar until tragedy strikes and he begins to unravel. The pacing of this story is perfect, a slow build. I definitely enjoyed it due to it’s dark nature and I’m looking forward to reading more Patricia Highsmith.
So there we have it. As always, let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you’re planning to. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.
See you soon.