Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Homesman by Glen Swarthout


Re published February 14th by Simon & Schuster 
Format: Paperback
Page count: 256


This was my first Glen Swarthout book so I had no idea what to expect from this. Like others (probably) I've seen the trailer for the film and liked what I saw. I then proceeded to rush out and buy the book so I could be all pretentious with the whole “ I liked it before it was a movie line”

This was a hard book to review. My god it was bleak. Really bleak but it doesn't try to be anything other than bleak. Considering the subject matter how could it be anything else?

In return for saving his life Briggs agrees to help Mary Bee Cuddy ferry 4 women who have lost their minds across the western plains back home to their families. Not exactly a laugh a minute.

But for all its bleakness there is beauty in it. Mary Bee is an amazing character. She lives alone as all the men have wrote her off for being plain as tin. They refuse to look beyond to see what a remarkable woman she really is. She lives alone and manages to stay sane and strong. Something women with a husband for support have not managed to do. They seem to think that having a husband and a lock of kids will solve everything. When it clearly doesn't !

When it comes time to bring these poor women home she commits the ultimate act of selflessness by agreeing to take on this seemingly impossible task.

I was so utterly disgusted by how easy it was for the husbands to just wave the wives off. Glad to be free of the burden. I know it was common at the time especially with the lack of asylums but it didnt make it any easier to read, or accept.

I found the pacing very very slow. The story trundles along very much like the wagon itself. The landscape seems to affect every aspect of this story. The journey is fairly uneventful until the unexpected twist near the end. I have to say I didn't see it coming at all but when it did happen I could see why it happened. It didn't make it any less heartbreaking though.

I'm still torn on the ending. It was almost like Swarthhout just ran out of material. It was strange.

If your looking for a slow burning western that's a little bit different then I'd definitely recommend The Homesman

Rating:

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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Monday, 15 December 2014

DNF : Victorian Murderesses by Mary S Hartman

                     

Published: June 2014
Publisher: Dover
Format: Kindle eBook


A copy was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review


In my head I had this idea that Victorian women murdering people and getting up to all sorts of unspeakable things would be more...shocking? I suppose in the 1800's it probably WAS incredibly shocking...but now, not so much.

Victorian Murderesses uses court transcripts and letters to re create the murders. It's well written but for some reason that just wasn't enough to hold my interest. The stories were brief but the author constantly skipped back and forth between unrelated crimes which really interrupted the flow. 

I would regard this book as a sort of stepping stone to individual cases of interest as it's not detailed enough for those who have already read extensively in any of the individual cases.

It's too dry for a pleasure read so I can imagine this book appealing to a limited type of reader. That reader just wasn't me .

Rating:

DNF

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Discussion: Do you review every book you read? Should we?




At this point in time there are 10 books on my goodreads "to review" shelf. I keep books I have just read on this shelf until I can get a chance to write a review.

Lately the amount of reviews I have been posting have decreased dramatically. This isn't because I have been reading a lot less. It's because I don't really feel like I have much to say about some of those books.

Some of them have been published a few years ago and I feel like I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said. Others are there because I cannot bring myself to review them. 

The past few books I've read have been mediocre at best and the only word that comes to mind when wanting to review them is "meh". Best review ever.

This lead to me asking  if I really have to review every book I read if I don't have anything unique to say about it. 

I have always been a believer in quality over quantity but There is a fine line between posting quality infrequently and loosing readers because of infrequent posting.

If I receive a review copy from Netgalley or a publisher I obviously feel obligated to write a review because it's part of the deal.  They're expecting a review in return for providing the book regardless of how I feel. This has led to me being extremely choosy when requesting books .

I should also point out that I don't mean that I only want to review books that I enjoy. I want to write about books that make me feel something...anything.  Even if I hated it!

So what about you? Do you feel obligated to review every book you read? Even if you have paid for it yourself?


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Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

                         

Published: July 2014
Publisher: Picador
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 435


Another disappointing read. I seem to be getting a run of them lately. I thought this would be one of my favorites of the year. Reading other reviews is making me wonder if I was reading the same book.


The blurb lead me to believe I was getting a mystery I could really get into. I was hoping for something along the lines of Tracy chevalier or Michelle Moran. It didn't even come close unfortunately.


Nothing really happens in the book. It's badly paced and I almost gave up around the halfway mark. The endless droning on about sugar drove me mad. 80% of the book is one long pointless conversation


The story centres around Nella Orrtman. An uninteresting young woman who has married into the Brandt household. Her new husband is rather aloof and more interested in his work than her. In an attempt to show some interest in her, he presents her with a cabinet. An exact replica of the Brandt household for Nella to decorate as she pleases.


Nella contracts a miniaturist to begin crafting replica's to place in the cabinet. However she soon realises that these pieces have more significance. Each piece seems to tell a tale of what is to become. I wanted more of this. More mystery and suspense but the books namesake never really takes her place in the story.


It's hard to really put a finger on what I didn't like about this book. It just didn't grab me. It was mundane. The characters are one dimensional and completely lack in emotional complexity. Nella and Johannes show no real interest in each other so I felt no emotion towards the end when the tides turn against him.


Nothing is ever really explained. Nothing was convincing, so nothing was believable  

Rating:

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

                   

Published: October 2014
Publisher: Ballantine 
Format: Kindle



I've said it before and Ill say it again. Jodi Picoult doesn't write novels anymore. She just documents what ever it is that she's obsessed with at that point in time. This time...it's elephants.

I had legit pink elephant dreams after reading this. Like the Elephant Parade song from Dumbo.





For the most part, Leaving Time reads like a non-fiction book on elephant behaviour. Which actually sort of saved it for me. As a veterinary nurse I have a huge interest in everything zoological.

I can imagine the endless recording of behaviour will drive others mad though. Just like the Hopi Indian element in vanishing acts drove me utterly insane.

The rest of the book is a bit of a mess. Are we really expected to believe that the investigators were that incompetent that they missed a wallet in a tree, a tooth on the ground and a nail fragment in a sweater. Really? ….ok

Lately Jodi seems to just stumble through her novels. It's almost like as if she can't wait to get to the plot twist which she hangs the entire story on, which in turn makes everything you've just read sort of redundant. As a reader this sort of structure just leaves me with a sort of empty feeling.

I appreciate the amount of research she put into this. Which is why I gave it 3 stars and not 2 but it doesn't make it any more readable.

I really miss her courtroom drama's. It was one thing she did really well and I feel her stories suffer when she abandons them. I hate to say it but Jodi is no longer a go to author for me anymore.

Rating:

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Perfect Mother by @ninadarnton

        

Published: November 2014
Publisher: Plume
Format: Kindle



This was such a gem! I stumbled across this by chance on Netgalley and requested it on a whim. I'm so glad I did . The past few books I've read have been mediocre so this was a breath of fresh air.


The perfect mother is a work of fiction but is very reminiscent of the Amanda Knox case.


Jennifer gets a late night phone call from her daughter. When your a parent late night phone calls always set alarm bells ringing. When your child is in a different country it's 10 times worse. Her daughter Emma has been arrested following the murder of a much loved Spanish teenager whom she accuses of trying to sexually assault her.

Emma expects to bailed out by her mother because thats the way its always been. If Emma has a problem mommy comes to the rescue and offers excuses or gentle persuasion so things swing in her daughters favor. Jennifer is the perfect mother. The mother all the other teenagers look up too and feel they can share their problems with. 



This resulted in what seems to be an utterly detestable spoiled teenager. I really just wanted to slap Emma and yell "start telling the truth girly or face life behind bars"! I love it when an author is talented enough to provoke such a reaction in me though! When the media get wind of the case the run with the promiscuous American angle. The whole country is baying for her blood as nothing she says seems to add up and Her sole focus is to protect her vigilante boyfriend Paco. I thought it was very interesting that Paco was such a strong character even though he didn't have a voice in this book.


Jennifer's character is the only one that shined for me. I hated Emma and her fathers attitude to the whole event was so blasé that it was almost unbelievable.


I have to say that the pacing was perfect. I raced through this and found it extremely hard to put down. I changed my mind about Emma several times during the book and was compelled to keep going at the end of every chapter.


The ending was entirely surprising giving Emma's actions throughout the story but it still left my mouth hanging open. I would have loved just one or two more pages!


If you like crime fiction but are looking for something a little lighter than usual then I'd highly recommend The Perfect Mother. It's a highly engaging, emotionally driven read.


Rating:

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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