Image Map

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Recently Read: August & September

Clearly this isn't that recent and apologies that this is so very late. I actually have to get my October/November reads up too. Gaaaah.
*early New Years resolution- be more organised!*

Not included is the Stephen King trilogy I wrote about HERE because I felt they deserved their own post.

Fat Chance: My Life In Ups, Downs and Crisp Sandwiches by Louise McSharry
This was a book club read and had mixed reviews from us. Louise McSharry has had an interesting life so far, to say the least. The first part of the book details her childhood, where she had to learn quickly how to deal with her mother's mood swings- she suffered with bipolar disorder and so Louise became a mother to her younger brother also. Obviously this was a difficult start for her but Louise seems to have had many other obstacles in her life, including being adopted by relatives after her mother failed to care for her, to being diagnosed with cancer in her twenties. I thought the way she wrote this section was so well done and I can only imagine how helpful this must be for anyone in a similar situation. I had watched her Fuck Cancer documentary on RTE earlier in the year and genuinely, my heart had gone out to her so I felt like I had a good grounding on what the book would be like. As well as the details of her cancer battle, there was also discussion about getting the career you want and her fertility issues post chemo, which again I think would be very helpful for women in a similar situation. At the time of reading it, I enjoyed most of it but felt that the inclusion of some of her columns from Buzzfeed were a bit unnecessary, purely because I've actually read them online before I ever picked up the book. That's not going to be the case for everyone however, although several of the girls in the book club felt the same as I did. All that said, it's an interesting memoir and different from your usual, run-of-the-mill celebrity fare. It's also really great to read a book about an Irish woman overcoming many setbacks to find such success.

Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman by Lindy West
Lindy West is an American journalist, feminist and writer whom I love. I've followed her on twitter and read her articles for The Guardian for a long time now and so I jumped at the chance to see her in conversation with our own Louise O'Neill a while back. She was talking about this book, which comes in the form of essays about her life and what she has learnt over the years. Honestly, she's just so witty and smart that I spend most of it either completely fascinated or chuckling away to myself. There was a whole section on the men who spent their time abusing her online that really spoke to me, as well as respecting your body, regardless of your size. I highly recommend this one, I think everyone should read it but particularly the budding feminists in your life. 

What We Didn't Say by Rory Dunlop
This was a NetGalley read (thanks guys!) which I was drawn to because it's recommended for those who loved The Versions of Us and One Day, both of which I really enjoyed. This takes a look at a marriage in crisis, told from both sides, in a heartbreaking but darkly humorous way. Jack and Laura have separated and Jack thinks it's time to tell Laura why it's all her fault. So he writes it down and sends it to her. She reads through it and makes corrections as she goes, teacher style and replies with her version of events. I thought this book just flowed perfectly. I never put it down in exasperation and I loved how realistic it was- they both remembered everything that had happened between them completely differently and I spent a lot of it shouting at the two of them to sort it out but still wanting to know what would happen! The format of the book was so different to anything else I'd read too that although it drew the aforementioned comparisons, it still felt fresh and new. 

The Sick Rose by Erin Kelly
Over the years I've read most of, if not all of Erin Kelly's books but The Sick Rose (also known as The Dark Rose in some countries) was more of a miss than a hit for me. The timeline of this jumps all over the place and because I was listening to it on audio, I found it quite confusing. So Paul, as a child is lead into a life of crime by Daniel, his protector from bullying and local tough guy. He's with him one night when Daniel kills someone in a burglary gone wrong. To avoid prison, 19 year old Paul agrees to testify against him and is moved to a witness-protection facility where he meets gardener, Louisa. She has her own secrets, including an ex-boyfriend whom she was deeply infatuated with and who she has hoped to never see again following her dangerous actions. Unfortunately, Paul is the spitting image of her ex and so they start a relationship. Somehow, both of their pasts end of catching up with them, to disastrous consequences. This was probably a much better physical read but on audio, it was a mess. I finished it not caring what happened to any of them and I'm not sure I could even tell you what did in fact happen to them in the end. 

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
This was a book club choice a few months back and we all loved it. Set just after the end of WW1, ex-serviceman Tom returns to his life in Australia and takes up a foreboding position as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an isolated island that takes half a day to reach from the mainland. After a couple of trips back he ends up marrying Isabelle and brings her with him to live and work on the island. Their otherwise happy marriage is marred by a series of traumatic stillbirths and miscarriages until the day a boat containing a baby washes up on the island. Grief-stricken from her losses, Isabelle convinces Tom to keep the baby girl and they fall in love with her quickly. Although their lives seem idyllic after the arrival of Lucy, they soon learn that their decision has had serious consequences back on the mainland. This is a beautifully written book- the description of the nature surrounding them, the love Tom and Isabelle have for each other and for Lucy and the affectionately written accounts of the technical work that Tom does in the lighthouse all sing from the pages. The characters are all really well developed too and I genuinely found myself sympathising with them while sometimes also being shocked and angered by their actions.
Honestly, this is one of the best books I've read this year- go get it!

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
This is the sequel to If I Stay, a YA novel about a teenage girl who has the misfortune to be involved in a horrific car crash with her family and has to decide (from her coma), whether or not to come back to life and to her boyfriend or to die. In Where She Went, the narrator shifts from Mia, coma girl, to Adam, her boyfriend, who is now struggling with the huge success he has as part of a rock band, while Mia is attending Julliard and is getting on with her life, without him. Firstly, I'll say that when I read If I Stay, I was a sodden mess. I read it in one night and wept throughout most of it. Big, dirty, ugly tears. Himself was like: "Who did this to you?! I'll kill them!" Me *through sobs*: "the book..her brother..I can't.." etc. That did not happen with Where She Went. I was glad of the opportunity to keep reading about their lives but it felt a lot flatter than its predecessor and I'm not sure if I'd bother reading the next one to be honest. 

Skagboys by Irvine Welsh
I wanted to read these before the second Trainspotting film comes out in January, unfortunately I haven't read the third book yet that the film is based on, but that's my plan for early in the new Year! I'm a fan of Irvine Welsh's writing anyway but he's really at his best with the Trainspotting series. In case you don't know, the story follows Leith (dodgy part of Edinburgh) based lads Mark Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie, Spud and Tommy and their downslide into drug addiction and general misery. You might be thinking why that would be entertaining but the writing is perfect- so dark but equally hilarious. This was written well after the huge success of Trainspotting and is a prequel so if you want to know how someone like Mark, who actually had a lot going for him, became a heroine addict then this is the place to start. I actually preferred this to Trainspotting because it gives so much background to characters that I've completely fallen in love with. I'd happily read about their exploits for the rest of my life.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
The storyline is pretty in-keeping with the film adaptation but there are some noticeable differences and again, the characters are much more developed in the books and the writing is so entertaining that it's really worth reading these yourself. Obviously it is also incredibly grim so if reading about people injecting heroine into their penises in lieu of an appropriate vein elsewhere* is too disturbing for you, then maybe don't read these.

*Happy Christmas, everyone!

And that's the lot for now! What are you currently reading? 
Anything I need to add to the book pile?

No comments:

Post a Comment