Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Library Is Open

The Drag Race reference was just too tempting to not use. 

The shade of it all...

Okay, I'm done. 

With my bookshelf currently brimming with recently read books, and a massive Book Depository order en route, I thought I would share with you the last few books that I've read, let you know my thoughts on whether they were a hit or a miss, as well as fill you in on what I'm currently reading.

Book Reviews / Life in Excess Blog

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - 'For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth. In this magnificent, deeply moving novel, the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.'

Historical, war-time novels are not usually my first choice when it comes to books to read; however All The Light We Cannot See is so much more than that. It's instantly gripping and beautifully told, choosing to focus on the intertwining paths of the main characters, rather than allowing itself to become too bogged down with historical facts. Anthony Doerr offers an interesting and at times, moving glimpse into the lives of those affected by the Second World War. It's one of those real page-turners and I absolutely loved every minute of it. 

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey - 'Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.'

One of the taglines on the book states that The Girl With All The Gifts is, 'The most original thriller you will read this year' and whilst to some extent, I do agree that it has quite a unique storyline, this book definitely lost me along the way. Without wanting to give away too much detail, this novel ventures quite far into the Sc-Fi realm and although it has great potential and an interesting point of view, I found myself willing it to be over towards the end. That being said, it has been made into a film, (you can watch the trailer here) and on the face of it, it looks like it could be one of those that works much better on screen that it does on paper. Time will tell, I'm sure. 

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue - 'Lib Wright, a young English nurse, arrives in an impoverished Irish village on a strange mission. Eleven-year-old Anna O' Donnell is said to have eaten nothing for months but appears to be thriving miraculously. With tourists thronging to see the child, and the press sowing doubt, the baffled community looks to an outsider to bring the facts to light. Lib's job is simple: to watch the girl and uncover the truth. An educated sceptic, trained by the legendary Florence Nightingale and repelled by what she sees as ignorance and superstition, Lib expects to expose the fast as a hoax right away. But as she gets to know the girl, over the long days they spend together, Lib becomes more and more unsure. Is Anna a fraud, or a 'living wonder'? Or is something more sinister unfolding right before Lib's eyes, a tragedy in which she herself is playing a part?'

Right from the start, this book has a heavy religious theme and reads quite dated down to the era in which it's set - not a negative but just something to bear in mind. Although not rich with striking events or characters, I did still find myself being compelled to turn the page and wondering as to how the story would unfold. Right up until the end, I wasn't sure how this one was going to turn out, it kept me guessing; however the ending wasn't entirely what I'd hoped for. Not that I had a particular feeling as to how I wanted The Wonder to conclude, I just knew I wanted something a little more than what was offered. That being said, it's still an intriguing, and at times quite eerie read. 

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty - 'Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death. 

Curious, she opens it - and time stops. 

John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others. Cecelia wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most.'

This book read like a middle aged woman's Wednesday night, book club feature. Too scathing? As a serious read, I found this to be predictable and packed with cliches, although not necessarily bad, I could see this being an easy book to take away and read on holiday, it's neither memorable nor left me feeling anything when it had reached its conclusion. I like a book to inspire/shock/sadden me, make me feel happy, make me feel something and this did none of the above. 

Onto what I'm currently reading...

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy - 'They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much.

This is the story of Rahel and Estha, twins growing up among the banana vats and peppercorns of their blind grandmother’s factory, and amid scenes of political turbulence in Kerala. Armed only with the innocence of youth, they fashion a childhood in the shade of the wreck that is their family: their lonely, lovely mother, their beloved Uncle Chacko (pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher) and their sworn enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun, incumbent grand-aunt).'

From the get go, this book reads unlike anything else I've ever read. It's beautifully written, poetic almost, with incredibly vivid descriptions and a unique writing style that really grabs you and reels you in. The plot itself is complex, with many facets; however it works to tell a powerfully enthralling story. I'm currently just over half way through but The God Of Small Things is proving itself to be a stunningly compelling read.

Book Reviews / Life in Excess Blog

Have you read a good book lately or have you read any of the books mentioned here in this post? Let me know your thoughts and also leave me your recommendations for books to try in the future. I have quite a few to work through but I love to hear suggestions. 

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