Tuesday, 3 February 2015

January in books


I spotted Island Wife by Judy Fairbairns in a shop months ago and thought it seemed like an interesting memoir.  A woman moves to a remote Scottish island with her husband, buys an estate and learns how to make it work.  Since I lean towards this type of living more and more, I was looking forward to reading about someone who did it first and seeing what I could learn from her.  The moral of the story seems to be Don't Do It, because you'll end up broke and depressed.  The timeline isn't very clear, although they did live there for many years, but I'm sure the five children they had probably didn't help the whole situation.  I'll just have dogs and cats :)  If anyone can think of a similar but less morose book that I might like, please let me know!

I was attracted to Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon as soon as I picked it up.  It's a retelling of the classic story The Little Mermaid, told from the perspective of the mermaid, Lenia, and the princess that ends up marrying Lenia's rescued prince at the end of the tale, Margrethe.  I loved that someone thought to give the princess a voice in what was an other-worldly type of story until now.  I'd like to go back and reread the original again, but if you're even a bit familiar with it, you'll find similarities and differences.  I don't want to spoil the story but it was mostly great, if slightly ridiculous towards the end.

I think I read the blurb of The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris on Goodreads and thought it sounded like a good 'easy' read, so it was added to my list.  The reality of it was a terribly written, overlong, predictable story that even my teenage self and all her romantic notions would have scoffed at.  The book starts with Molly getting engaged to Ryan in Central Park, seemingly after they've been apart then recently got back together.  The rest of the book weaves between past, present and future in a slightly confusing manner, contradicts itself on more than one occasion and features so many stereotypical chic-lit tick boxes that I still can't believe I got to the end.  (I wanted to know what The Thing was, ok?  Hint - you'll definitely guess it.  Probably even quicker than I did.)

Luckily things got much better with the next book on the pile, Who is Tom Ditto?.  I'm a big fan of Danny Wallace and although I enjoyed his non fiction books more than his debut fiction novel, Charlotte Street, he's back on hilarious form with this one.  Tom finds a note from his girlfriend saying she's gone away - but not left him.  Surely typical of most people, Tom doesn't quite know how to deal with this and sets out to find the truth with a new friend he makes along the way.  There's also a DJ character that made me think of Pat ('just sack Pat!') in the Alan Partridge movie.  That can't be a bad thing, right?

I nearly put The View on the Way Down by Rebecca Wait back on the library shelf and I'm so glad I didn't.  The blurb didn't give much away, it just hinted at an emotional tale of a girl and her family.  This was slightly misleading because, although we start by following teenager Emma, the story of her brothers (one alive, the other dead) soon takes over, with the middle section a series of letters written by the surviving brother to their father.  It was hard to read at points with varying stages of depression being at the core of the book, but it was definitely worthwhile.

Technically, I finished Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones on the first day of February, but it felt like I spent ages reading it so it's going in with January's books!  The story bore similarities to the famous anime movie, but as with most book to movie adaptations, there was so much more to discover in the reading.  Sophie is unexpectedly cursed by a wicked witch and turned into an old woman, and part of the curse is that she can't tell people what happened to her.  So instead of staying home and trying to make her stepmother understand what's going on, she takes refuge in a floating castle drifting outside the town.  Inside is all manner of magical happenings, stirred up by moody magician Howl, his apprentice and a fire demon.  The friend who gave it to me didn't realise there are two sequels to this book so I had to order the next one from the library as soon as I'd finished.

A mixed bag last month, but I'm attempting to restrain myself from picking up more library books and taking care of the Christmas pile instead.  So far so good, since I've got Yes Please on the go and I'm loving it...

:)

10 comments:

  1. I loved Danny Wallace's non-fiction but I've not read either of his fiction books. I will have to give them ago - he's great! (met him once, and he was very nice too).

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    1. Oh cool, I always think he'd be fun to know in real life :)

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  2. I've never read any of these but the Mermaid one sounds so intriguing! It's going on my book list!
    ~ Samantha

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  3. I remember reading The First Last Kiss on holiday a couple of years ago and bawling my eyes out - like you say, it was predictable though (especially as the book I'd read right before it had a very similar twist) and took ages to get to the bawling part.x

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    1. Yeah not a great pay off really! :)

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  4. Damn, The Island Wife sounds like something I'd like, but not its going to put me off any notions of doing something like that! Howls Moving Castle is on my to-read list (and I guess the sequels will be too!) but I really need to watch the movie again; I know I liked it but I think I'm getting it muddled up with Laputa....

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    1. The movie was pretty much just a trimmed down version of the book so hopefully you'll like it, yeah don't go near Island Wife though!

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  5. I need to tell you a story... I am OBSESSED with mermaids. Ever since seeing Splash! when I was little, I have had this ever increasing obsession. Every film, book or item which is mermaid related I have to own.
    I love the Emily Windsnap series.
    This retelling of The Little Mermaid has me intrigued, thanks for the recommendation! x x x

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    1. Haha awesome, you have good taste! The Little Mermaid was the first film I saw at the cinema so I have a soft spot for them too :)

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