Monthly Round-Up: February, 2016

So February is one of those months where you can say where did it go…but it is only 29 days long so you also can’t complain too much about time flying. For me, it was a good month because work wasn’t too insane and I got a holiday in the middle of it. I also read some great books and some good books and not one that I wish I hadn’t picked up…

There weren’t that many but here’s what I thought about them…

Loved It: Disclaimer by Renee Knight where fact means fiction in this clever thriller / suspense debut.

Liked It A Lot:  One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis, the story of a woman who leaves her life behind but still finds everything falling apart.

Liked It: The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton, a far-fetched but enjoyable thriller involving a race across Alaska to save a husband and father.

Liked It: The Sisters by Claire Douglas, a good but not great debut about a twin trying to cope with the death of her sister by making friends with another set of twins.

I did read more but didn’t get them reviewed. What about you, what did you read…and what should I be looking for in March?

Emma

 

January Round-Up

I’m sure this will be a recurring theme in my round up posts this year but where has the month gone? January seems to have flown by! For the most part, it’s been in a good way – though I have been fighting a stinking cold this last week – and (unlike December, which was a wash out) I actually got some blogging done. It’s been a bit sporadic but I’m ok with that. Here’s a round up of what I read and managed to get reviewed….

Loved

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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, which has a twist I didn’t see coming and changed the book for me completely half way through. Suddenly I was seeing everything I had read with different eyes. That’s hard to do, especially for a debut author, leaving me loving the book.

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The Vegetarian by Han Kang, the first book in a long time I can honestly say I’ve devoured. I finished it in a day and story, set in modern day Korea, has stuck with me. It is a dark, at times disturbing book, that gives a glimpse into a highly structured world where it seems like it would be hard to be a woman.

Liked a lot

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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell, a book I read in my late teens and found still had the same impact today. Written a 100 years ago it takes on the plight of the working man and makes an impassioned argument for socialism.

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Cut The Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough by Ella Leche, which is full of great recipes that are ideal for veggies like me and helped me eat a little healthier without beating me over the head about how bad my diet probably is. Gorgeous foodie photos too.

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Cripple Creek by James Sallis, my first book of the year and a good one. The second in a trilogy featuring Turner, a former cop turned prisoner turned psychiatrist turned deputy sheriff, whose life can be as complicated as his CV.  I love James Sallis’ books with their pared back noir style.

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, which I actually read in December but didn’t get round to reviewing till January.  I stepped out of my comfort zone here for this piece of young adult fiction, which was more complex than I expected and funnier.

Liked 

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The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, a good – if not great – debut. The story was a good one but the characters needed to be a little more developed for me, including the central character, Ani, who I struggled to not really dislike.

Not for me

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Eat, Nourish, Glow by Amelia Freer, a book which had been recommended to me but I couldn’t get to grips with.  By the time I had finished, I didn’t feel like I was any healthier, just that I’d been beaten over the head with all the things I do wrong food-wise.

And that’s, as they say, all folks.  It’s been a pretty good month for reading, I must say.  What about you – what did you read…and what should I be reading in February?

Emma x

 

After Anna by Alex Lake

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A girl is missing. Five years old, taken from outside her school. She has vanished, traceless.

The police are at a loss; her parents are beyond grief. Their daughter is lost forever, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved.

But the biggest mystery is yet to come: one week after she was abducted, their daughter is returned.

She has no memory of where she has been. And this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare.

I seem to have read quite a few books recently involving children, I’m not sure why.  I haven’t sought them out but they have been catching my eye.  There have been a real mix, from ones I just couldn’t get into like The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer to those I loved like The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson.   This sits somewhere in between.

There are real pluses to After Anna.  The story itself is different from others I’ve read and not what I expected.  It is more a thriller than crime for a start – the police here are secondary to the parents (Julia and Brian), how they react when she goes missing and when she returns.  And there is a good twist at the end – one I thought I saw coming, then decided I was wrong, only to find out I wasn’t after all.  I had a few problems with how Alex Lake got there, including a character who pops up after only being mentioned in one chapter near the beginning of the book, but I thought overall it was clever.

The main downside for me was the characters themselves.  I really couldn’t care for any of them.  I found Julia selfish in the extreme and Brian weak.  That was Lake’s intention for Brian I’m sure – you are told often enough that Brian doesn’t have a backbone – but I can’t believe they wanted Julia to come across the way she does.  For me, it meant I ended up with no one to root for and so I didn’t care about either Julia or Brian or, as a result, about what happened to Anna herself.  Instead, I found myself turning pages to get to the end rather than because I couldn’t wait to read what happened next.

It’s a shame and I might not be in the majority here as the book is getting good reviews on goodreads and Amazon but it just didn’t do it for me.  Liked it, but not as much as I’d hoped. Have you read it? What did you think – have I missed something?

Emma