Saturday, 23 March 2013

Reading a Little...March 2013

I haven't done a book review for months, possibly even a year! It's definitely time I found my reading mojo again. I think I say this every time I remember to do a book review post, don't I? Hmmm... 

Anyway, here are some of my recent reads that I thought I'd share with you.

Before I Go To Sleep - S. J. Watson

 This was a fabulous book that I really enjoyed. It really got me thinking about memory, things that we hold dear and how terrifying it would be waking up every morning, not knowing who or where you were, who that person next to you is or any of the details of your life.

Christine is an amnesiac. Every day she wakes up and has to be told who she is and details of her life. Slowly she starts to piece things together but there are flashes of memory that don't make sense to her. You start feeling immense sympathy for a character who repeats herself regularly and spends most of her time wracked with emotions she isn't sure belong to her memories. Can she trust herself or what those around her are telling her? 

I thought this was a brilliant book - very well written and it absolutely sucked me in from the first few pages. It isn't massively long and is a fairly quick read, but it is intense reading. You have a sense of foreboding in places, followed by relief when things you feared are proven not to be true by other characters. In a way you start to live the roller-coaster turmoil of emotions that Christine goes through every day. It may not have been quite as punchy as it could have been, but I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. Definitely recommended. 

The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey
I've been recommending this book left, right and centre since I read it a few weeks ago. It's loosely reminiscent of the tales of Snegurochka, a figure of Russian fairytales. Sneg is snow in Russian, and Snegurochka is the daughter of the snow. In the fairytales she invariably ends up melting so with that in mind I read this with a sense of foreboding from the beginning. This isn't a re-working of the same old story though and while I wasn't that impressed to start with, I became more and more involved with the characters and the story.

In the early twentieth century Jack and Mabel move out to the Alaskan wilderness. Partly to prove something, partly because they are both wracked with unspoken emotion about the loss of their stillborn child. Now beyond the years of childbearing, they try to build a new life for themselves. But Alaska in 1918 is not an easy place to live and they find it hard trying to keep going. Until they start to see Faina, a young girl who seems to truly be a little snow child. She can't sit too close to the fire and disappears back into the woods every evening. Both Jack and Mabel have different ideas about Faina, but her sudden appearance helps the couple greatly and gives them a purpose. 

This beautiful story is written against a harsh, but vivid, landscape, with some beautiful description and a gentle plot line that allows you to really get to know the characters and come to feel strongly for each of them. A lovely read that I really enjoyed. 

The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
I really enjoyed this - the story goes back and forth between different times and different generations but essentially it is an unravelling of a mystery to do with an abandoned child. While I wasn't surprised by any of the events in the book, I did enjoy the style with which is was written, the pace and the language. I can't really write much without spoilers so I'll keep this one short and sweet. I liked it and would be interested in other works by Kate Morton.

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