Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Currently Reading?

Do you ever look at the pile of books you're currently reading and not feel inclined to pick any of them up? This is how my reading situation stands at the moment as the books on my bedside table pile up. I have a few books on the go but so far none of them are really grabbing me, and although I'm fine with DNF-ing books it's not something I do easily. I like to think I've given the book fair chance, especially if it's so well loved by others. But with my current reads, I feeling like wiping the slate clean with them all and starting my currently reading pile afresh. To help me make up I mind, I thought I'd jot down what I'm reading at the moment and how I feel about each of them. So here we go:

Little Nothing by Marissa Silver (2013)
One World Publishing

This one came in my March Moth Box and unlike the previous books I'd received through from the Box, this one I'd heard of. It's a literary novel blended with fairy tale elements and it's set in an unknown country at the beginning of the last century. The story has a mysterious feel embedded within its pages, and although this isn't a typical book for me to reach for, I was intrigued by it.

I'll give it the benefit of the doubt: I thought the story started off well and I was fascinated by the tale of Pavla, a child born with dwarfism as we follow her struggles through childhood. The writing style is delicate and whimsical, but I slowly started to become less and less interested. I'm only 80 pages in, but I've been reading it for close to a month now and I have no desire to continue with it. Perhaps I should just sit down with it for an hour and see where it takes me, but otherwise I think this will be one I'll have to abandon. 

The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis (2016)
Two Roads

I bought this back in January after hearing it's praises being sung all over BookTube by numerous people who I'm forever taking bookish advice from. As a fan of historical fiction, I find it's a genre that doesn't get discussed as much as others, so when I heard about The Butcher's Hook I got really excited. Set in London in the Summer of 1763 we follow Anne Jaccob, the young daughter of wealthy parents whose home life is anything but happy. On the brink of being married off to a man twice her age, she finds joy when she meets Fub, the butcher's apprentice, and starts to fantasise about a life of passion with him. 

It sounds amazing and again, this is one that started off well and then slowly started to lose my interest. I'm around half way through and 169 pages in but I feel like nothing has really happened. I don't need masses of plot to enjoy a book, but I'm not connecting to the characters either. The story is plodding along very slowly and the writing style started to grate on me after the first few chapters. It's literary but wordy, and I find it comes off a bit 'try hard'.

This is one I thought I was going to love and sadly I'm left disappointed. I may try and read another chapter to see if my interest picks up after a few days away from the story, but ultimately this is a 2 star read for me at best. 

My other reads lately have also been pretty hit and miss. Just yesterday I finished Perfume by Patrick Suskind (a book from The List) and gave it 2 stars. I was close to DNF-ing that too, but it was so short that I powered through. What I need is a really good book. Since reading The Alice Network my reading has become a barren wasteland for books I want to abandon. I've a few books in the pipeline which I'm hoping will drag me out of this funk.

In other news, I'm just two books away from reaching my reading goal for the year! *inserts dancing gif*

Happy reading, book lovers!


Friday, 4 August 2017

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

William Morrow Publishing  528 pages

It’s 1947. The Second World War has ended and American socialite Charlie St. Clair is unmarried and pregnant. After she’s shipped off to Europe by her family to have her ‘little problem’ taken care of, Charlie decides to take matters in to her own hands and head to London. She is clinging on to a small hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi occupied France, may still be alive and she thinks she’s found the person who will have the answers. Meanwhile, former British spy Evelyn Gardiner spends her days drunk and alone, still haunted by what she endured during her espionage in the First War. That is until a young American shows up at her door uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in years. This meeting forces two unlikely women together as they go in search of the truth, no matter what the cost.

Historical fiction is by far my favourite genre to read, yet I haven’t read many books set during and around the world wars. It’s not really a period I reach for when I want to get my teeth in to a good historical novel. With The Alice Network however, I made an exception and the payoff couldn’t have been better. I've been a fan of Kate Quinn for years and I've been anxiously waiting the release of this book for months, although I’ll admit I was a bit tentative when I found out she’d branched out from her usual stories set in Ancient Rome and Renaissance Italy to write something completely different. But from the first page I knew I had nothing to worry about because this had me hooked from start to finish. It’s raw and brutal and utterly mesmerising. This is historical fiction at its very best.

The story is brilliantly paced, each chapter alternating between Charlie’s story in 1947 and Eve’s espionage in France in 1915. Both women have their own stories to tell but you know ultimately that both narratives will come together and Quinn weaves them together masterfully. Some parts of the narrative were slower than others but even when events weren’t unfolding on the page at rapid speed I was always engrossed in the story, wanting more and more from the next chapter. Quinn’s signature style is abundant throughout and it’s laced with her usual humour which had me crying one moment and gasping the next.

Quinn is undoubtedly a masterful storyteller, but it’s her characters which never cease to amaze me. The Alice Network is influenced by real events and so some of the characters are based on real people, who Quinn fleshes out wonderfully. Charlie and Eve came alive on the page and the supporting characters were all equally brilliant. The whole plot is wrapped in secrets and gradually both Eve and Charlie uncover the truth – I can’t say any more than that but both timelines come together wonderfully. The story and the characters have stuck with me long after I turned the final page and I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. 

If you’re looking for a gripping page turner then look no further. This book captivated me and left me on the edge of my seat. It’s compassionate, emotional, and an enthralling reading experience I would whole heartedly recommend. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.

Overall rating: 5 stars
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