Review: The Colony by Nicolas Debon

My rating 9/10

This was such a beautiful book. I am so pleased that I stumbled upon it. It’s a graphic novel about a man who seeks an ideal life in a communist community at the beginning of the twentieth century in France. He builds and creates and develops the space in which he lives and soon others come to join him. And then…well, read it for yourself.

It’s so far from what I usually read but the illustration were gorgeous and the story was so moving. I loved it. Thanks for the review copy via #netgalley. I would recommend this book without hesitation to anyone who loves a good story, regardless of whether they enjoy graphic novels. Perfect.

I will say though, it was a little cumbersome to read on my Kindle as I had to keep zooming and moving around which might have taken some of the impact away. Still, it was excellent.

Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

My rating: 10/10

Minor spoilers. Nothing that will actually spoil your enjoyment though.

It has been around three weeks since I finished reading this book. I still don’t think I have the words to truly do it justice in a review.

It is an immense, weighty book in every way. It sat on my shelf for several months before I decided to read it. I was intrigued by it, but also daunted by its length. Still, seventy percent of my way through, I was wishing it was longer. I never wanted this book to end. I wanted to stay with Jude forever.

I was not prepared for the content of the book and I was not prepared to love the novel so deeply or to be so severely moved.

The beginning of the book sets the reader up to be taken off guard. It’s a story about young, poor university students in New York, trying to find a home, trying to build a life. As the book continues, it becomes increasingly apparent that the book is not a happy tale of post-university life. It is about Jude.

As I read further I found at times that I had to step away, and take a break from the book, because it was so emotionally engaging and moving. There was no trigger warning, no notice of the unfolding of abuse and trauma, but I knew the disclosure was coming.

Still, I adored this book. I’ve elevated it to status as my favourite novel and I have told everyone who will listen that they should read it. Actually, that’s untrue. I have been selective about who I have told because it’s a hard read. I think there are some people who would have a terrible time reading this novel, because of the content rather than the actual quality. With that caveat, I recommend this book to you.

Review: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Challenge: Around the Year in 52 Books

Prompt: A book by an author whose last name is one syllable

My rating 7/10

I’ve read many of Fforde’s novels and will continue to do so. However, I didn’t feel that this was one of his best. It lacked some of the originality and humour of his Thursday Next or Nursery Crimes novels. That said, it was enjoyable, with likeable characters and a plot that engaged and kept me interested. If you’re new to Fforde, start with one of his others. If you’re already a fan, you will enjoy this book.

Review: You Are Not Alone by Hendricks and Pekkanen

Challenge: Around the Year in 52 Books

Prompt: A collaboration

Rating: 8/10

After having read Hendricks and Pekkanen’s first two novels, I was very pleased to have been approved for an ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I read a wide range of genres, and I wouldn’t say that psychological thrillers are my favourite (ironic, as I am currently writing one!) but their works have got me into this genre. The plot twists and turns in this novel were excellent. I didn’t guess at the ending, and I was hooked all the way through. The characters were well written, I liked the protagonist and was rooting for her.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

My rating 9/10

Challenge: Mommy Mannegren

Prompt: an author’s debut

I read this book in two sittings, as I could not put it down. It starts off as a story about a woman going on a road trip with her boyfriend, to visit his parents, and escalated into an amazing, gripping psychological thriller. In fact it’s one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in the past few years. If you enjoy that genre, you will love this book. It is somewhat disturbing, so be prepared.

Without giving away too much, the novel begins with the story of a woman contemplating ending things with her boyfriend. From there, the book starts to become more disturbing. It felt like slipping into a nightmare. Rather than wanting to wake up, I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next. A good solid 9/10.

(I understand there’s a movie adaptation in the works. Read this now before you see the film!)

All About Us by Tom Ellen

My rating: 7/10

Challenge: Popsugar 2020

Prompt: a book released in 2020

Thanks to the publishers for providing me with a free advance copy for review through NetGalley.

With echoes of Danish Nicholls, Nick Hornby, and Richard Curtis rom-coms, this is an engaging book. It’s a familiar story of boy meets girl, boy wonders “what if?” about another girl, and…well, you’ll just have to read it to see what happens.

It’s set, mostly, during the Christmas period, so if you’re looking for a festive read this would be a great choice.

The protagonist is likeable, even at the times that he does things that aren’t very likeable. He is human, flawed, and believable. I wanted him to make the “right” choices and so the right thing. I was hooked on the story and couldn’t put the book down.

That said, it is what it is, and as such it’s a pretty predictable book. I could see from about a quarter of the way through where the narrative was heading, and how things would end. It was still a pleasure to read, but I would have preferred the writer to leave it a little more grey, rather than the black and white picture he painted.

By about three quarters of the way through I wasn’t enjoying the book so much. I loved it, then I liked it, and then it kind of felt a bit flat in sections, which did affect my overall enjoyment.

That said, I know that this genre has so many fans that will absolutely love this book, and I’m sure everyone will be talking about it.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Challenge: Popsugar

Prompt: a book that passes the Bechdel test

My rating: 10/10

I have had this book on my TBR pile for many years, but somehow I never got around to reading it. I had never even read an Atwood novel until I read Oryx and Crake last year. I know. Incredible! I was determined to read The Handmaid’s Tale this year, and I have actually been pushed to action by the newly formed book club that I have joined.

All I can say is that I am disappointed…

…in myself for not having read it sooner. I loved pretty much everything about this book. It’s a great story, and Atwood’s description is so vivid and colourful (no pun intended, no spoilers intended) that the Tale felt so real to me. I remember first hearing about this book when I was a student midwife, a long time ago, and my lecturers talked about the representations of birth and reproduction within society. I didn’t know quite how these scenes and storylines would affect me. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’m not going to head into more detail.

I loved this book. I can see myself rereading it in the future. I’m looking forward to reading The Testaments, but I’m planning on saving that until the middle of the year. I also have the rest of the MaddAddam trilogy on my list, so Ms Atwood and I will be sharing a lot of time this year!

Christmas at the Log Fire Cabin by Catherine Ferguson

Challenge: Popsugar 2020

Prompt: a book featuring a main character in their 20s

Rating: 5/10

I received this book as a gift from a Secret Santa, and it’s certainly not the type of book that I would usually think of reading. Still, it was Christmas, so I gave the book a chance. I enjoyed the story, although it was very predictable. The protagonist was likeable, on the whole. There were a few times that the plot felt very far fetched and unrealistic. There were a large number of grammatical errors in the book, which affected my enjoyment of it.

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Challenge: Around the Year in 52 Books
Prompt: A classic book you’ve always meant to read
My rating: 8/10

I chose to read this book specifically because it is set in Cornwall and I am spending the Christmas period in Padstow. I enjoyed reading Rebecca for the first time earlier in the year, so I had positive expectations.

I don’t usually read this type of book. I don’t enjoy historical fiction on the whole, but I found myself engrossed in the story. I enjoy the way that Du Maurier writes, she made me feel like I was actually on Bodmin Moor at the Jamaica Inn. I could smell and feel and see and hear the pub and its patrons, and then the wild moorland. It was captivating.

I felt that the character of Aunt Patience was somewhat weak. There wasn’t enough time spent exploring the character and what had made her the way that she was, and she seemed very flat and two dimensional in comparison to the other characters in the novel, and I did notice this somewhat.

There were a few typos in the edition of the book that I read, which detracted a little from my enjoyment.

Overall, I found the story solid and engaging, and difficult to put down! It was an excellent choice for a holiday read.

The Cage by Lloyd Jones

Challenge: Popsugar Challenge

Prompt: A book with the same title as an unrelated movie or TV show

Rating: 8/10

Well, this was quite a random selection for me. I listened to the audiobook via BorrowBox, after browsing to see what was available. As it’s the end of the year and I’m feeling flexible in my book choices, I thought I would give it a go.

From the outset I was intrigued by the premise, and I wanted to know more. Two strangers arrive at a hotel in a small town, after escaping a past that they don’t want to talk about. Before long the townsfolk have welcomed them by keeping them safe in a cage in the yard of the hotel, and have a Trust established to observe and make decisions on the men strangers. It’s a fascinating allegory, an investigation of xenophobia and of human nature.

This book was different from anything I have read, and I enjoyed it and want to recommend it to anyone who would like to read something that will make them think.