Book Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

 

The Wonder

I have been doing the Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge for, well, 2017 to date!  Sometimes I’ve shoe horned some of my TBR pile into a category – and sometimes I’ve followed up on recommendations from friends.  However, I was struggling for some categories – but a little Google revealed that Popsugar had some recommendations for all of the categories – so I thought that would be a good place to start!

So – for the category ‘A book about food’ I went for The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.

Here is the blurb:

“An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.

Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder – inspired by numerous European and North American cases of ‘fasting girls’ between the sixteenth century and the twentieth – is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.”

First things first I was a bit shocked that the main character, and the person whose view the book is written from – the English nurse sent to investigate – is called Lib – like me. That had to be a good sign?!?

I found this a bit of a slow burner (which looking back I also did with the other book I’ve read by Emma Donoghue – the critically acclaimed ‘Room’).  I kept expecting for it to get going – but it definitely took over half of the book to do that.  There was a lot of descriptions of the Irish Midlands, and the house where the young girl and her family lived.  It all felt a bit repetitive and dull.  Lib wasn’t that nice – and definitely looked down her nose at the family she was ‘observing’ and the other ‘locals’ – particularly their religious faith.  However, most of them did need a good shake – so I can see where Lib was coming from.

I’m not a massive fan of historical fiction (or TV programmes or films) so I guess it’s not a massive surprise I found quite a lot of it a bit dreary (like the Irish Midlands by the sounds of it!)

However, about 70% through (got to love a Kindle!) the book finally picked up – and was a real roller coaster through to the end with numerous twists and turns.  This meant that overall it was an ok book – but definitely just ok rather than brilliant!

I’m not sure how much of it was based on fact – and how much was artistic licence – but terribly sad if this did happen a lot.

In conclusion, I’m not sure I’ll be rushing to read any more Emma Donoghue – but that’s another category ticked off the list.  Just 13 more categories to complete in the next 2.5 months #nopressurethen

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Iron Duke

My 2017 Reading Challenge was all about reading books out of my comfort zone – and ‘A Steampunk novel’ was a particular challenge as I hadn’t got a clue what it meant!

A bit of Googling, and good old Wikipedia revealed this:

“Steampunk is a subgenre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world wherein steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” of such technology as dirigibles or analog computers; these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or with a presumption of functionality.”

Given I don’t like science fiction or historical novels this was always going to be a challenge!  I had a search on Amazon for something with good reviews – but also the beginning of a series in case I loved it…

I went for The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook.  Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power – and fear – of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.
Mina can’t afford his interest, however. Horde blood runs through her veins, and becoming Rhys’s lover would destroy both her career and her family, yet the investigation prevents her from avoiding him.
But when Mina uncovers the victim’s identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans – and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.”

Well…………………..

It was all really complicated setting the scene – and I wasn’t sure how much I was struggling because I’ve never read this genre before – and how much because the author explains everything in minute and complicated detail.  And how much because I just didn’t care about any of it!

I tried – I considered giving up at 10% and 20% – but by the time I got to 30% I just could not be bothered to carry on any more.

I thought this would be a genre I would dislike – and I was not wrong!

Life is too short to finish books you’re not enjoying #apartfromTheGoldfinch…..

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

One of the categories in my Reading Challenge 2017 is ‘A book with a title that’s a character’s name’ and a friend suggested ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ – but when I said I’d already ready it, she suggested the follow up.  It’s not really a sequel as it’s happening concurrently – but told from the point of view of Queenie not Harold.  (When I’d actually finished the book I noted that the author had described it as a ‘companion’ to her previous book.)

This is the Amazon blurb:

“When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note had explained she was dying. How can she wait?
A new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything. In confessing to secrets she has hidden for twenty years, she will find atonement for the past. As the volunteer points out, ‘Even though you’ve done your travelling, you’re starting a new journey too.’
Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was the beginning.
Told in simple, emotionally-honest prose, with a mischievous bite, this is a novel about the journey we all must take to learn who we are; it is about loving and letting go. And most of all it is about finding joy in unexpected places and at times we least expect.”

Firstly – I should probably disclaim that this is the book I’ve been reading recently when I’ve had a lull in reading speed – it’s  taken me a month to get through it.  It’s not that I’ve not enjoyed it – it’s a really lovely book – but it hasn’t made me forego everything else to read it.  If I was to equate it with an ITV drama, it would definitely be Grantchester as opposed to Broadchurch – I love them both, but Granchester would sit on the SKY+ planner for a few days whereas Broadchurch would be watched in real time!!

But back to the book.

It is the story of Queenie – the lady who Harold Fry is walking to visit in his aforementioned pilgrimage.  She is now in a hospice and the book is a mixture of her current life in the hospice, her life when she worked with Harold and then the time in between.

It is absolutely beautifully written – and really evokes all of the various settings, from Kingsbridge in Devon (where my father in law currently lives – so I know a little) to the North East of England (which I imagine to be like ‘Vera’ – I’m totally referencing ITV dramas in this post!!)

I liked Queenie – although felt at times she was a bit of a doormat – but the explorations of her different relationships was done well.  The characters in the hospice were also excellently depicted – and a real mixed bunch.

It is funny, clever, sad, poignant, frustrating, happy and all in all a really nice book.  It just didn’t really excite me – and I feel a bit bad about that.  I also wish I’d read it sooner after I’d read the Harold version – as I couldn’t remember the whole story – and I am sure it was very clever with its interweaving – and I didn’t appreciate that as much as I probably should have!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A turn of events….

Normally my blog is filled with book reviews (even though both of my sisters say they are the posts they don’t read (how rude!) so if it’s a relevant book review to them I actually have to tag them in it!) – but I haven’t done a book review for the whole month of May.  What a turn of events and what a poor show – particularly when I’ve still got LOADS of categories to cover for my 2017 Reading Challenge…….

stack-of-books1

I find that sometimes I can read loads – but at other times real life gets in the way.

But is that because the book I’m reading doesn’t particularly grab me?

Would I make time to read if it was an amazing book?

I almost want to read ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine‘ again (which I completely adored) to see if I prove my point – but would I love it as much second time around?

Anyway – I promise to try harder – as hopefully my book review posts don’t bore everyone else as much as my sisters!!!