Sunday, 29 April 2018

Where did March and April go?



You may have noticed that I didn’t upload a post about the books I read in March. Despite this, I have (somehow) kept up with my reading challenge so far this year and so I have combined the books I read in March and April into one post instead of two. 


So here are my thoughts on all of these lovely books:



Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I loved Eleanor Oliphant. When I first started reading it I was very stressed out about the way she was living her life and I did worry that this would affect my enjoyment of the novel because at times it drifts into cringe territory and that made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Having finished the novel though, I think that’s supposed to be the point.
Parts of it make you feel uneasy and you’re not sure how certain situations are going to pan out for her, while with others you definitely know it’s not going to turn out well but you have to wait for Eleanor to catch on to that herself. From the start of the novel it’s clear that she is holding something back from the reader and the actual reveal is really satisfying and it was lovely to see Eleanor grow as a person as you read her story. I know some people haven’t been able to get into this book but I absolutely loved it.



Engleby by Sebastian Faulks
I’m pretty sure this is the third time I’ve attempted to read Engleby and honestly, if it didn’t have Sebastian Faulks’ name attached to it and I hadn’t mentally placed it into the group of authors that are generally believed to be ‘good’ and I therefore should read, I probably never would have persevered with it.
Nevertheless, third time’s a charm as I finally finished Engleby and although I have mixed feelings, I am surprised at how much I sort of liked it. I also kind of didn’t like it, but I think that was the point. If not, then I am giving the book way too much credit for what I believe was its intention but hey, that’s literature isn’t it?
I thought the novel started off really dull and Mike Engleby was a really dislikeable character and then he got slightly more likeable and then the story descended into a missing person case and that’s when it got really interesting… and then it went back to being dull for quite a while.
It’s the sort of novel that I really do appreciate having read – it’s extremely well-constructed, clever and insightful – but although I enjoyed the destination, I don’t think I could really say I enjoyed the journey.



Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
I had really high expectations for this novel because I loved The Girl on the Train but I’m sad to say I didn’t really like Hawkins' second novel.
I do think a lot of it is because of how clever her first novel was and it may be unfair to compare them but I can’t help it so as a result, Into the Water was very disappointing. I felt it played into a lot of tropes of the thriller genre and they weren’t necessarily carried out well. A lot of thrillers tend to punish women for various reasons and sometimes this is done well and raises important issues and other times it seems to just be for the sake of it and that’s a trap I feel Into the Water fell into.
For me, the story almost felt exploitative at times. There was no satisfying ending like in The Girl on the Train, which may have been a deliberate choice but the actual big reveal at the end just felt like a let-down and I felt morally questionable themes were just pushed into the narrative without being fully explored. Save yourself the time and just reread The Girl on the Train.



The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
For those who don’t know, Ann Rule was a true crime writer who was commissioned to write a book about a series of murders that were happening in Seattle in the 1970s. Shortly after she had agreed to write the book, she found out that her close friend Ted Bundy was suspected of committing them.
This is a truly fascinating read and so unique in the way that at times Ted Bundy is almost pushing the narrative himself through his letters and phone calls to Ann where he is discussing the very book you’re reading.
 I thought I knew the Ted Bundy story before I read it but there was so much I’d never heard of. I had no idea he had escaped, I didn’t know he represented himself and I had absolutely no idea that he fathered a child. If you like true crime, there’s a good chance you will love this book. If you don’t like the dark and the morbid, don’t go near it. It’s not one for the faint hearted.



Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m obsessed with Call Me by Your Name. Is it any surprise I read it again? No. Did you read the description of the last book I had read? I needed a break and something to make me happy. If you do happen to be interested in my thoughts on CMBYN, I wrote a whole blog post about it here.



The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I didn’t know a lot about this novel before I bought it, I’d seen people raving about it online and while I was reading the blurb in Waterstones a bookseller told me it was really good. So I was sold.
I have mixed feelings on THUG. I really enjoyed the story and I think it’s an important story to tell - especially in this political climate - but I found the narration really jarring. I didn’t realise it was a YA novel before I bought it and the style reminded me of Turtles All The Way Down in the way that I felt it was really obviously written by an adult trying to adopt a teenage voice that I didn’t find entirely convincing.
There were also a few times in the narrative where Starr comments that ‘If I were into girls I would totally date her’ and ‘If I wasn’t straight I would totally date her for saying that’ about her friend Jess. I can’t help but feel that there were less lazy methods Thomas could have used to show that Starr appreciated her friend and that she had the right ideas, despite being white. This might just be me being a little sensitive but I was surprised to see ignorant comments about sexuality in a novel that focuses so much on other people’s ignorance with race issues.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed it and I would recommend it if you like YA fiction.


I have been the worst blogger so far in 2018 and that’s partly because I’ve been so busy with work and other things. I want to get back into adding to this little corner of the internet so hopefully you will see more of my blog in the next few weeks as I attempt to make it more of a habit.

I’m giving no promises because I am rubbish at keeping blog-related ones but my fingers are crossed all the same!!!


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2 comments

  1. I read a full book in years but it’s definitely something I’d love to get back into - and top of the list is your wonderful recommendation of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman”

    Emma | www.lifeofemmax.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should definitely pick up a copy, it's a fab book. Let me know what you think of it!

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