Archive | January 2021

Two Wrongs, Rebecca Reid

Two Wrongs, Rebecca Reid

Two Wrongs by [Rebecca Reid]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Mystery and Thrillers, Women’s Fiction

Sigh…women’s fiction. Again. C’mon guys, its 2020 not 1820, men read books like this, men write books like this, lets get rid of this genre please?

So, having got that off my chest once again, what did I think of this book? Well, puzzlement mostly.
Puzzled by how Chloe gave up what until now had been her dream, to just fall in with Zadie’s plans, abandoning all the uni stuff she’d looked forward to, making friends, learning, throwing herself into the life. Zadie has a certain allure sure, but its clear Chloe is just a plaything for her, a toy to be picked up and put down when she loses interest. Then there’s the puzzle of Max, he seems a nice-ish guy, albeit a somewhat amoral one. What does he see in Zadie, other than having been childhood friends? Why does he stay so close to her? I’m puzzled by Chloe’s decision at the party, puzzled by her obsession over the next 15 years about what actually happened, when in her heart she’s already decided. For a long while I was puzzled too by why Rav kept so close to Max, going out of his way to stay involved with him, telling Chloe its for work, yet arranging dinner parties with him when he knows how she feels about him.

Chloe was like a puppy in her adoration of Zadie, blowing off Lissy and others attempts to befriend her, absorbing Zadie’s views on people, taking them as her own even though they are contrary to ones she’s always held. She irritated me, her willingness to just ignore what was happening until of course it all goes wrong. Even then she made some weird decisions, considering what she was worried had happened.
I didn’t like Zadie, she just felt truly selfish, an unpleasant person. She had no thought about her actions on others, it was all about what she wanted, when she wanted it and tough if that affected anyone else. I could see she was unhappy underneath and clearly had problems, but she was so selfish, so much a user of people. It didn’t matter what Chloe wanted or needed, Zadie came first in her own mind, all the time, every time. Can you excuse people’s selfishness, unpleasant actions, just because they have issues? For me the answer is no.
Max was something of an enigma, he seemed to just go along with whatever Zadie wanted, just clean up after her, indulge her, but it didn’t seem that he actually loved her. They had a curious relationship. I don’t think he cared enough to put himself out for her, yet she seemed to feel he adored her.
Rav, I didn’t think he took Chloe’s feelings seriously enough, her fears over Zadie at the time, but then neither did Max. Then over the years he just keeps quiet, even when she’s still obsessing and wondering. You’d think he’d say “ for heaven’s sake either let it go or track her down”. He just seemed to turn his head away, in the same way he ignored Chloe dislike of Max and continued to arrange nights out for them. Strange guy.

It seemed weird the events that happened and the followup – quite jarring, and I did understand for Chloe it felt unfinished but…its been fifteen years and she’s still got that same obsession that she had with Zadie at university. It just felt odd. Twenty year olds do obsess, but surely by now she’d have either tracked her down via a PI or something or let it go. Chloe’s view of their friendship doesn’t really fit how outsiders would view it, or even Zadie herself. Chloe thinks they are friends, equals, yet its all Chloe that makes the running, the sacrifices, and Zadie that makes the decisions. Its a very unbalanced relationship.
Then all of a sudden its disclosure time, Chloe tries to force the issue, takes an action I really couldn’t go along with but the consequences, wow, I did not expect that! I didn’t necessarily believe the same things as Chloe did, but I certainly didn’t see that revelation coming. The ending is somewhat ambiguous, but after all the shocks and revelations I finally found common ground with Chloe, time was needed. Lots of time to absorb what happened, for everyone.

Stars: Three, I didn’t really like any of the characters, for me that tends to be a real problem and affects how I feel about the story. The only nice person was Lissy, and she’s very much on the fringes of the story. There are shocks and revelations at the end but overall it seemed to drag for me, I just found the whole mystery of Zadie overdone, I wanted to know what happened, but when we finally did it was almost an anticlimax in the face of other actions.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Charmed Wife, Olga Grushin

The Charmed Wife, Olga Grushin
A beautifully written, powerful re-imagining that picks up thirteen years after Cinderella and Prince Charming said ‘I do”

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy, Women’s Fiction

Sigh…women’s fiction. Again. C’mon guys, its 2020 not 1820, men read books like this, men write books like this, lets get rid of this genre please?

So, having got that off my chest, what did I think of this book? Well, I’m not really sure, that sounds like a cop out but I’ve some very mixed feelings.

I enjoyed the idea of “what happened next”, the more in depth look into the fairy tale, and of course the way the story brought in so many other fairy tales, with the original endings, Grimm’s grim ones, not the sanitised Disney version. At times though that got just a bit too much, felt a bit overworked,. It reminded me of going to an art class years ago, where the tutor described when he was learning, and saw how a few highlights really brought his work to life. So added more, and more and then in his words “ it looked like Blackpool Lights instead of a gentle evening landscape” sometimes Less is More.
The mice suffered from this too, they were fun to begin, I really enjoyed them and their part in the tale ( or tail!!), but then it began to drag, getting so in-depth, tied up in yet more stories of right and wrong, and almost feeling like a moral lecture.
The Witch and the Fairy Godmother had some terrific lines, they really were great. Some of their interactions were the best parts of the book.
The main characters though, Cinderella and the Prince, well, we hardly met the Prince, mostly through secondhand stories and the odd interactions with Cinderella.
Cinderella herself, well, I wasn’t sure what to make of her. Was she always this meek and mild person, content with afternoon tea and telling fairy stories to the children, or did she really want more from life? As we didn’t know her before I couldn’t tell. And then slowly her discontent comes through, and she takes action, and the twists begin.

There are long journeys, a quest almost, and that’s where many of the other fairy tales get woven in. Cinderella isn’t totally blameless yet as the book says “ we’re all heroes in our own story”. That really resonated with me, its so true. How we see things isn’t necessarily how they are, and that brings me to another part that I’m uncertain about. The last twenty per cent maybe, everything gets turned on its head, all we’ve read and believed so far takes a different viewpoint, and though for others it’s perfect, it works, I felt kind of cheated.
I didn’t expect that, and for me it explained a lot but I just didn’t like it 😉 It reminded me a little of the Dream trope, and that’s one I really don’t like.

Stars: Three, I enjoyed parts, its well told, but for me personally it had too many issues, things I dislike but that others won’t necessarily, and I found it hard to really enjoy.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Silk House, The thrilling new historical novel from the bestselling author of The Botanist’s Daughter, Kayte Nunn

The Silk House, The thrilling new historical novel from the bestselling author of The Botanist’s Daughter, Kayte Nunn

The Silk House: The thrilling new historical novel from the bestselling author of The Botanist's Daughter by [Kayte Nunn]

Genre: Women’s Fiction.

Gah, no, there are so many more genres this book fits and its gets dumped with that outdated, no-place-for-in-,,2020 women’s fiction. That category should not exist, why would some men not enjoy this? I can think of some that would – as I can equally think among my female friends of some who’d hate this.

Anyway – me? I loved it. My first read by Kayte Nunn, and I’m looking for more.
Its a fascinating story, I’m not a huge fan of past present format but some stories can’t be told any other way. I’m impatient and I hate stopping at a crucial moments so as usual did a bit of flipping forward, then back. I just had to know what would happen.

It took quite a while for the three threads to begin to connect, but when they did it was fabulous. I loved the historical descriptions of silk weaving and weavers, and that led me on to a wiki 15 mins reading about the famous lady silk weaver in London, from whom this character was formed. Fascinating to think how hard back then to be a success as a woman in a mans world and a mans tradition. Kayte describes very well the barriers facing women, practical ones, not just financial. Men who held the finances just wouldn’t believe women could do certain things.

I liked all three women, though I didn’t like the way Mary was with Rowan when she first met her. That class divide even got through to the lower end of the spectrum. Even now that still holds sadly. I enjoyed the descriptions of daily life, the issues each faced and how they overcame them.
I was worried at one point that this would turn into the kind of ghost story I avoid, I’m easily scared, get nightmares over nothing. I put it aside that night to finish in daylight 😉 but it was nothing, there is a slightly spooky element of the supernatural, but its not a scary spooky, more emotional spooky. It was actually incredibly interesting how the Church treats certain supernatural elements, described here in the story, and true in real life. I’m open to the idea of thoughts of strong emotions remaining behind after we’re gone etc.
There were moments when I was so sad for some of the characters, life tosses us around and sometimes there seems no way of leaving where it puts us. There were twists I didn’t expect, especially in the last quarter, and a huge one at the very end I really didn’t see coming. It led me to think back to see if I could have picked up on it but I couldn’t. I didn’t really see what the last sentence was about, keep casting my mind back to work out who. I think I’ve an idea but I’m terrible at remembering descriptions, have my own visuals of characters and they tend to overtake what the author writes !

One last thing. Termites….The book is set in UK, we don’t have termites. We’re lucky, a lot of the world does, but being an island has saved us so far I guess. I did check to see if I was mistaken, I’m not.

Stars: Five. Fab read, thoroughly recommend. Kept me engrossed with the detail and the events, just the right level of supernatural for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Wild Signs, Patricia Briggs

yay, just been approved for the latest Patricia Briggs egalley Wild Signs 🙂 I’m easily pleased.

Wild Sign: An Alpha and Omega Novel: Book 6 (Alpha & Omega 6) by [Patricia Briggs]

Its been weird this last year, I find it really hard settling to anything, where I can ususally lose myslef for hours in a book, my mind is restless, thinking about what weird times we live in, how live has changed so very much in such a short span. So I’ve done a lot of rereading old favourites where my mind doesn’t have to work so hard as I know the story. I’m on the last book in my rereading of PB’s other series ( Mercy Thompson – I’m still in love with Adam though I have a soft spot for Ben, and Sherwood is fast growing on me too) for the Nth time…..so maybe a time to reread this series.

 

Yesterday I read Spinning Silver Naomi Novak but….I didn’t really enjoy it even though I stayed up way too late to finish, I hate when that happens. It was one of those where i had to see what happened, and how they got there.
Spinning Silver by [Naomi Novik]
I loved Uprooted, her first book, so was disappointed not to enjoy this.
Uprooted by [Naomi Novik]

The Push, Ashley Audrain

The Push, Ashley Audrain

Genre: General fiction (adult), Literary fiction.

Well, disturbing, disquieting, uncomfortable, thought provoking, all words that spring to mind now I’ve finished this. Its very much a nature v nurture debate with Blythe having a neglectful, abusive mother, who was in turn neglected and abused.
She’s worried the women in her family just don’t have the nurturing gene, that she can’t be a good mother.

Fox, her husband, insists she’ll be great, she’s worrying over nothing, but when baby Violet comes along Blythe’s fears rise again. Violet is difficult, doesn’t seem to like her but adores Fox. Fox tells her she’s imagining it. You feel – is he right? Is she right? Is she suffering from depression maybe? Fox really isn’t much practical help, the wonderful man he seemed to be at first gradually becomes weak in my eyes, and I really didn’t like him then. Even more so later in the book, I was so angry at him.

There’s tragedy here, child deaths, heartbreak, betrayals, and throughout poor Blythe is wondering, are they right? It it her at fault? Could she do more, is she imagining things? I so felt for her. Truthfully though, seeing it through her eyes coloured my thoughts, and looking from outside I thought maybe she was seeing things that weren’t there, especially when some shocking events happen. Then she does some things that seem just plain strange, weird, not normal, and yet I understood her need, the comfort she derived from it. Its not so strange looked at that way.

Fox and his telling her about something that happened when Violet was young – he infuriated me. That should have been dealt with, looked into, professional help sought, but he was so weak, so willfully blind to events he just made more excuses. He just ignored something that if was properly investigated could maybe have prevented later tragedies. His mother too, she seemed so pleasant, to really love Blythe, and yet she too turned a blind eye to events that should have been red flags and help sought. They made me so angry!

The ending, in a way its predictable and yet its chilling and not what anyone would have wanted.

Stars: Five. Its a disquieting read, not one I’d re-read and yet its gripping, had me glued to the page, though there were a few parts that I skim read, felt a little padded and unnecessary. I like long reads, but I hate parts that don’t add to the story, feel extraneous to the story.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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