The Testaments – A Review

I’ve always been a fan of Margaret Atwood.  Since this was announced I have been desperate to read it. Fortunately my fiancé got it me for Christmas, but as I was working through the books reviewed below I only got round to it recently. As this review may contain spoilers, if you haven’t read it, maybe skip this review and then come back when you have.

The Testaments

The Testaments is narrated by Aunt Lydia, which for me was such a good move by Atwood. The Testaments are provided by two girls Agnes, a young woman living in Gilead; and Daisy a young woman living in Canada. So from the get go there’s massive juxtaposition to the lives the two girls lead, though some very subtle similarities.

But as this develops and you realise that the two girls are connected, it enables them to use their unique differences to get them through tough times. However, by far, the best thing about this book is the amount we learn about Aunt Lydia, from her life pre-Gilead, to the days of first arriving there. Reading the plotting she weaves to bring down Gilead is so thrilling, and the interactions with the Commander make you hold your breath.

This was a page-turner (I finished it in two days) and well worth the wait, the only downside for me was the last chapter (I know it’s a small gripe to make) but I just don’t think I liked it being set so far in the future, with the authenticity of the testaments being doubted slightly. Other than that, a great read.

Star Rating out of 5: 4.5

Have you read it? What were your thoughts?

Happy Reading.

G.
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Time’s Convert – A Review

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while will know how much I enjoyed the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Although Time’s Convert isn’t strictly part of the trilogy, it’s part of the series and focuses primarily on Matthew’s son, Marcus and his fiance’s transition into becoming a vampire.

Time's Convert

It was great to read about the familiar characters again, and have a glimpse into what was going on in the lives of Matthew and Diana and their steps into parenthood. BUT as I mentioned above this was focusing mostly on Marcus and Phoebe. 

Once again, Deborah Harkness, did a great job of the flashbacks aspects of the book, when Marcus tells his story of his life before being made a vampire. This part of Marcus’ life was really well written and at times, quite emotive. You really can tell that Deborah has a passion for portraying history and historical events authentically.

We then learn about Marcus’ early days as a vampire and the years following. It was these latter years, after Matthew and Juliette kill off most of Marcus’ children that it started to all get a little too convoluted for me. I had the same issues with the latter part of the last book in the All Souls Trilogy, in the sense that things felt a little rushed and almost too easy.

Whilst aspects of Phoebe’s transition were interesting, I just felt that alot of it was kind of disappointing, and again, the last part of her transition was rushed and easy. What saved this book for me were the parts about Marcus’ past. Which thankfully, there are quite a few chapters of. 

Not a bad read, but not great.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

Do you have an opinion completely different to mine? I’d love to hear it. Comment below with  your thoughts.

Happy reading.

G.
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The Virgin Suicides – A Review

I’ve never seen the film, whenever this book is mentioned, people always mention the film or assume that as you’ve read the book then you must have seen the film. But I haven’t. 

The Virgin Suicides JE

I read this one on holiday, it’s been sat on my Kindle for some time and I got if for 99p. And I have to say I am thankful that I didn’t spend a lot on it. The book in itself is pretty easy reading, but it just lacked something for me.

I know Jeffrey wrote the story so that the suicides of the Lisbon girls would always remain a mystery and unknown. But it makes the whole read quite convoluted. And it’s a shame because there were character dynamics that could have been discovered more and made the book so much richer. It just left me kind of empty.

Is that what he wanted from us as readers? Did he want us to feel that same sense of emptiness and questions that will never be answered as the male protagonists? Because if he did, he certainly achieved that, so I commend him. But if the whole point was for us, as readers, to create our own ideas, then it completely missed the mark with me personally.

It served it’s purpose as a quick and easy beach read, but it’s not the most mind blowing book I’ve ever read.

Star Rating out of 5: 2.5

Is my opinion completely wrong? Do you love this book? If so, I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts, please comment below.

Happy reading.

G.
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Norwegian Wood – A Review

This book has been sat on my bookshelf for quite a long time. I’m yet to read many books that have been translated from Japanese to English, but if this one was anything to go by I will certainly be reading more.

Norwegian Wood HM

After hearing The Beatles song of the same name,Toru Watanabe is overcome with nostalgia as he remembers his first best friend, his first girlfriend and his life as a student, and his unexpected meeting of another girl named Midori.

It’s hard to talk about the book without giving away too much, but there’s an almost ethereal quality to this, which really adds to the feelings of loss, regret and nostalgia, that I feel Haruki Marukami really wanted to get across. The characters are well written, interesting and all have an air of mystery about them, which means you’re never quite sure what they’re going to do.

I really did enjoy this book, and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. The first Japanese to English book I read was The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide but it didn’t blow me away and made me reluctant to want read anymore Japanese literature. However Haruki Marukami has made that change.

If you’ve read any of his other books and have any recommendations, please feel free to leave them below.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

Happy reading.

G.
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My Name is Why – A Review

Lemn Sissay is without doubt one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet. If you’re not familiar with him, google him, listen to him talk and you will know exactly what I mean. He’s a naturally poet and storey teller and can captivate an audience with his words and voice. 

My Name is Why LS

When Lemn Sissay was just a baby he was given up for temporary adoption by his birth mother and this book is all about his time in the Care system. Through a mix of actual reports and recollections, Lemn pulls together and tells the story of his life. It’s hard to put into words the feeling you get reading this book, because there’s a mixture of them. 

It’s a hard story to read, but not in the sense that it’s badly written, but more in the sense that it’s hard to believe that so many people who were meant to be providing an environment of understanding and nurturing, could be so blind. Some of the reports written about Lemn are quite upsetting, painting him to be problematic and uncooperative when in reality he was just hurting but struggled to vocalise it, be heard, taken seriously or understood.

I really don’t want to give away too much, but this is an important book to read. If you wish to have a better understanding of Lemn’s journey, and the journey of many other children in the care system, then this is an insightful read. But more than that, it’s a testament to strength of character, spirit and the magic of what can happen when someone is finally given a voice.

Definitely worth a read.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

I’d love to know if there’s anyone else out there who have read this and hear your thoughts, please comment below.

Happy reading.

G.
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All Souls Trilogy – The Book of Life (Book 3) – A Review

This is the final book in the trilogy and it was the one I took my time with the most, I’m sure all fellow bookworms out there can relate to the pain we feel when a good book series comes to an end. 

The Book of Life DH

After travelling back from 1590’s London, Diana and Matthew, now married, face bigger challenges than the Congregation and tracking down Ashmole 782, a disavowed son of Matthew’s by the name of Benjamin. A truly hellish creature who uses methods of torture to see if witches are capable of getting pregnant to a vampire. So not only do Diana and Matthew have to battle for their relationship, but their survival too.

As with all the books in the series, there’s a great mixture of the supernatural, science and history in the book. And plenty of drama to keep you interested, however the ONLY thing I felt was a bit of a let down was towards the end and the meeting with Diana and the congregation. In a bid to get inter-species marriage allowed and recognised. I felt that it was resolved far too easily, considering that a large chunk of the battle was to get people out of their antiquated mind set.

That being said, it did tie everything up nicely and I really did love the series. It was the first book in a long time that made me want to know what happened next, and really helped re-ignite my passion for reading.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

What did you think of the last book? Do you agree with my comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please comment below.

Happy reading.

G.
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All Souls Trilogy – Shadow of Night (Book 2) – A Review

This is the second book and the series, and in my opinion, the best one. This book is all about Diana coming to accept that she has magic within her and that she’s actually a weaver, a rare breed of witch. The decision is made that if Diana and Matthew are to have any hope of gaining answers about Ashmole 782 and Diana is to get the guidance she needs to understand her power more, the pair must time walk to 1590’s London.

Shadow of Night DH

What I really loved about this novel, were the historical aspects. It’s very clear to see that Deborah Harkness is a historian and a fan of history. Her style of writing actually made me want to go out and learn more about history. Her descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells were almost tangible. It made the experience of reading the book richer, it was so easy for me to get lost in the pages.

The pair search for Ashmole 782 whilst scouring the streets of London for a suitable teacher for Diana. In this book, Diana definitely becomes stronger and more determined, less scared of her power and more willing to control it so that she can use it if necessary. She gets to see part of Matthew and his past which gives her more understanding of him and deepens her love and respect for him. 

There are some great characters introduced, especially Philippe de Clairmont, Matthew’s father, a man, otherwise surrounded in mystery. The moments with Matthew and Philippe were particularly well written and it was hard not to feel a bit emotional, likewise with Diana and her father, who was savagely murdered by other witches, along with her mother, when she was just a child.

There are ups and downs, but this book is one hell of a ride. As I said, personally for me this was the standout book because there were so many elements I loved, especially the historical descriptors.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

Do you agree that this is the strongest book in the series? Or do you disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Comment below.

Happy reading.

G.
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The Sleepwalker – A Review

The Sleepwalker is the third in the Aidan Waits series of books by Joseph Knox. You may have seen that I have posted about Joseph Knox and his incredibly captivating protagonist in previous posts, a character who has so much hidden in his past but we know very little about. He makes you want to go back for more.

The Sleepwalker

And this book is no exception.  I honestly have to say that the way the book starts, very much sets the whole tone for the rest of the book. There’s a sense of tension building throughout, a feeling that whilst reading, settles in the stomach and makes you on edge about what is to come. Aidan is once again catapulted into an investigation that is complex and has connections to some old familiar faces.  The relationship between Aidan and his new partner, Naomi Black, could have easily have fallen flat but somehow Joseph manages to introduce enough intrigue and tension that makes the dynamic between the two believable. In this book we find Aidan very much looking over his shoulder at enemies from his past, work colleagues, suspects and his new partner.

It’s hard to talk about the plot line of this book without giving away too much but it is much grittier than Knox’s previous work, and dare I say, his best one yet. Once again we see softer aspects to the otherwise mysterious Waits and the way Knox highlights the issue of the Spice epidemic in Manchester and its impact upon homeless people and those incarcerated is particularly hard to read, but incredibly important. It is the moments that take place within Strangeways and an inmate there that made me particularly emotional.  Once again Joseph has penned a masterpiece in Crime Fiction/Crime Noir.  Giving us plenty of drama, intrigue, twists and turns and also moments that will make you wince. This book is not for the faint hearted and the best thing is how he ends it. There’s no way of knowing what will come next, and that is why you should read it.

A rip roaring, page turner and one I highly recommend to those who love a good detective novel, trust me, there are things you will not see coming and they will leave you reeling.

Star Rating out of 5: 5

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have read it, so comment below. Happy reading!

G.
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Breaking the Silence

As you can imagine, I’ve been adjusting to life and trying to find my feet again. I’m hoping to get back into writing again soon, as well as carrying on with the book reviews. Now I have my book bug back, I think I’ll be reading a lot more than I have been or was.

Image result for reading gif

I’m attending a book event on Thursday evening in Manchester, with the author Joseph Knox. I read his first book Sirens and tore through it. I think the fact his books are based in Manchester (my city) make it easier for me to imagine the surroundings more, I also liked the way he named the chapters of Sirens after Joy Division songs (one of my favourite bands) His style of writing is great and he makes it easy for you to fall into the story without trying too hard. I’m currently reading his second book in the series (The Smiling Man) and I’m finding it hard to put it down and figure out who the culprit is. He’s brilliant at weaving storylines within one another, often linking one with the other through the most subtle of means.

I’m really looking forward to hearing him read an excerpt from his new book ‘The Sleepwalker’ and what he has to say about his methodology when writing, his favourite character(s) and of course whether there will be any other Detective Aidan Waits books.

I’m hoping I can use reading/writing as a cathartic process and hope that at some point I may even be able to write more poetry and eventually start writing short stories again.

G.

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It’s Been a While…

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted much, I am reading a few things at the moment and hope to have reviews up for them soon.

It’s been a weird few months with lots going on but I feel much more clear headed and I’m looking back at how far I’ve come and feel proud. I’m going to be sharing some pieces of writing with you…They’re not ground breaking or earth shattering but things I wrote when I was working through some stuff. And who knows? Perhaps it might help someone out there going through something similar.

Thanks for the continued love and support on here.

G.

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