Monday, 28 May 2018

ARC Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Harper Collins

Published: May 2017

Pages: 386


Summary


Smart, warm, uplifting, the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realises the only way to survive is to open her heart.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. All this means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the story of a quirky yet lonely woman whose social misunderstandings and deeply ingrained routines could be changed forever - if she can bear to confront the secrets she has avoided all her life. But if she does, she'll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship - and even love - after all.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

ARC Book Review: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Penguin

Published: February 2018

Pages: 229


Summary


In a city far away, bombs and assassinations shatter lives every day. Yet, even here, hope renews itself, welling up through the rubble. Somewhere in this city, two young people are smiling hesitating, sharing cheap cigarettes, speaking softly then boldly, falling in love.

As the violence worsens and escape feels ever more necessary, they hear rumour of mysterious black doors appearing all over the city, all over the world. To walk through a door is to find a new life - perhaps  in Greece, in London, in California - and to lose the old one for ever...

What does it mean to leave your only home behind? Can you belong to many places at once? And when the hour comes and the door stands open before you - will you go?

Saturday, 24 March 2018

ARC Book Review: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Canongate Books

Published: April 2018

Pages: 198

Summary


Now that all the others have run out of air, it's my turn to do a little story-making.

In Homer's account in The Odyssey, Penelope - wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy - is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan War after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumours, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously. When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters, and sleeping with goddesses, he kills her suitors and - curiously - twelve of her maids.

In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her twelve hanged maids, asking: "What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?" In Atwood's dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing. With wit and verve, drawing on the story-telling and poetic talent for which she herself is renowned, she gives Penelope new life and reality - and sets out to provide an answer to an ancient mystery.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

ARC Book Review: Of Women: In the 21st Century by Shami Chakrabarti

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Allen Lane

Published: October 2017

Pages: 229


Summary


A powerful, urgent and timely polemic on why women still need equality, and how we get there.

Gender injustice is the greatest human rights abuse on the planet. It blights First and developing worlds; rich and poor women. Gender injustice impacts health, wealth, education, representation, opportunity and security everywhere. It is no exaggeration to describe the position of women as an apartheid, but it is not limited to one country or historical period. For this ancient and continuing wrong is millennial in duration and global in reach. Only radical solutions can even scratch its surface. However, the prize is a great one: the collateral benefits to peace, prosperity, sustainability and general human happiness are potentially enormous. All this because we are all interconnected and all men are of women too.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Published: May 2014

Pages: 531


Summary


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, National Book Award finalist, more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list.

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure's reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfenning, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

ARC Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Penguin

Published: February 2018

Pages: 359


Summary


Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice's life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice's grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate - the Hazel Wood - Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away - by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD.

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began...

Sunday, 4 February 2018

ARC Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Published: January 2018

Pages: 370


Summary


Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hare him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him - and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

ARC Book Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Published: September 2017

Pages: 267


Summary


From the author of the unforgettable New York Times bestseller We Were Liars comes a masterful new psychological suspense novel -- the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

ARC Book Review: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Transworld

Published: November 2017

Pages: 238


Summary


It's not the journey that counts, but who's at your side.

Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where he is going. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved owner Satoru in the front seat of his silver van. Satoru is keen to visit three old friends from his youth, though Nana doesn't know why and Satoru won't say.

Set against the backdrop of Japan's changing seasons and narrated with a rare gentleness and humour, Nana's story explores the wonder and thrill of life's unexpected detours. It is about the value of friendship and solitude, and knowing when to give and when to take. The Travelling Cat Chronicles has already demonstrated its power to move thousands of readers with a message of kindness and truth. It shows, above all, how acts of love, both great and small, can transform our lives.