One of the most silliest, most oddest, most charming books you’ll read. When, in the opening pages, I was given detailed instructions on how to make a cup of tea, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. By the end, I got it. Not one to read cover to cover in one sitting, just pick up and put down when you’re pottering, read a few pages, drift onto something else. I’m off to organise my herb rack now…
An interesting, but flawed book. Perdie is a victim of domestic violence, and with Ella (the Devil) looking over her shoulder, waiting to influence outcomes, she has an opportunity to try a different route through her life.
Interesting, because it was a good idea, kind of like a Sliding Doors concept.
Flawed, because I felt the execution wasn’t quite right. Ella’s voice, while initially interesting, broke the plot too often for too long, with monologues that contributed less than intended. Also, it was a pity the alternative timelimes were limited to just one – after the setup, I felt there was scope to play with this, with more divergence, or parallel threads perhaps.
Still, a good holiday read! 4/5
This is a fantastic read.
Bregman’s premise is that humans are a pretty decent species, and not the monsters that the media portrays through dodgy reporting and dubious science. The sections where he tears into widely reported examples of human selfishness and aggression – such as the Stanford Prison Experiment, the Milgram experiment, the self-destruction of Easter Island, Kitty Genovese’s murder (all of which I’d heard of and believed the established narratives) – was eye-opening and shocking, shocking in the sense that they’re still being used today, decades later, in school text books.
Right now, where societal divisions are being utilised for politcal gain, and it’s too easy accept that society would implode without the controlling hand of the state, it’s refreshing to read that humands are better than that. Leaders have to try hard to instill the hatred that’s the cancer of our current time, so when that leadership changes, there’s hope for us all.
An excellent book, read it.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold is definitely a marmite book – you’ll hate it or love it. The story is undeniably charming, well structured and original. The issue is with the writing. Forget what you’ve been told about good writing – “don’t jump point of view”, “show, don’t tell”, “trust the intelligence of the reader” – all those rules are broken multiple times on every page. If you can tolerate that, and it was a struggle, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful story.
This beautifully written debut novel follows an unamed tight-rope walker (called Mouse by her friend) – her ups, her downs, and her bad but well intended decisions. The magical realism is nicely played, and the story structure is excellently created.
The reason why I gave it 4 stars and not 5, was the narrators voice was mature, confident, educated. Mouse, hence her name, is timid, hides under lorries to watch the world, and states as a teenager that she’s only conversed with four or so people in her life. This gave me the impresion that this was the writings of an older lady, at the end of her life, writing her memoirs, which wasn’t the case.
Still, a very enjoyable book, and highly recommended.
This is the second book by Adrian that I’ve read, the first being Walking to Aldebaran. Both are well written, with strong plotting, but this one would be my least favourite. The Doors of Eden took a long time to not go very far. The cat & mouse chasing, well, rats & trolls, could’ve been slimmed down, extra chapters didn’t add to the story.
The biggest issue for me was the characterisations. With such a large PoV cast, half a dozen or so, it’s hard to get attached to any of the characters. The story begins with Mal, who could’ve led the story, but by the time weaker characters diluted her presence, that emotional involvement in their plights dissipated.
A solid 4*, an interesting story, but the execution could’ve been better.
A Cosmology of Monsters is described as a literary horror novel, which isn’t a bad description. The plotting is strong, especially for a first novel, but I found the writing style barren and unemotional. I got used to it by the end, but it did feel like I was reading a newspaper account rather than a literary novel.
The book keeps a sense of dread throughout, people keep disappearing, the tension is ratcheted up well. I was hoping for a big ending, which didn’t work for me. I was expecting explanations, conclusions, but I found the lack of clarity in the ending unsatisfactory.
Still, a solid 4 stars, and an author to look out for. I’m sure the quote from Stephen King on the cover will ensure this book finds its way into many homes.
The Vanishing Half delves into identity – does colour, or sex, define you? Or is that just the given, and you can identify and become whoever you choose?
The book spans 30-40 years – following the lives of two young twins living in Jim Crow southern states, where being black means you can be killed without retribution. And as the title says, one of those twins decides it’s time to move on.
Well written, with believable characters and good voices, this is an excellent novel.
Men have XY chromosomes, women have two Xs. That extra X gives women a level of redundancy – if something bad happens, whether that be dodgy DNA or an infectious disease, the female body can chose between those two Xs and select the stronger. As a result, women live longer healthier lives.
That’s the jist of the Better Half – but Sharon goes into various anecdotes and case studies, that though often go a bit too deep into medicine for a lay person, are always interesting. Some of the conclusions seem a little stretched, such as the XY benefited the women in the Donner Party (the American pioneers who resorted to cannibalism when trapped over the winter) – I suspect it’s more to do with the men out hunting in the cold – but there’s lot of useful information packed into those pages.
Well worth a read. I would’ve given it a 4.5 (as too much medical info) but rounding up to a 5!