About Me

Glasgow, United Kingdom
My name is Lynsay, and I've decided to start blogging about the books I've been reading, so that I have reviews that I can look back on about the range of books and genres that I have read. I was very lucky to receive a Sony eReader for my birthday, and since then, I've been reading even more!! I read anything and everything, happy to give any style or genre a try!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

After Birth, by Elisa Albert

I'm not a mother yet, but my sister and two of my best friends have fairly recently become mothers, and its been enlightening to hear what childbirth and motherhood are like from people who are close enough to give all the untarnished, gory details, instead of just saying 'Oh it's great, and the pain is absolutely nothing when you hold the baby in your arms!'  Don't get me wrong, they love their children very much and wouldn't change what they have for the world, but motherhood is not the easy breezy cakewalk that TV adverts and hippy earth mothers would have you believe. 

This is why I was intrigued by the synopsis of After Birth, by Elisa Albert.  Ari is a young woman who gave birth to her baby boy a year before the book takes place.  Although a year has passed, she still feels out of place and disconnected to everyone she knows, including her husband.  Finally Mina moves to town, who's a bit older, a bit different from the norm and pregnant, and she slowly becomes a friend to Ari, which helps her start to become more comfortable in her role as a mother. 

Although a fairly short book, this is not an easy read.  Some of the words that came to mind while I was reading were searing, visceral and stark.  However, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, as I think that the themes addressed in the book are vitally important.  Ari clearly loves her child, but also finds him at times to be a burden, irritating and a thief of her time (she's attempting to complete a PhD in Women's Studies while raising her son).  There's a great scene where Ari describes attending mother/baby groups and finding that she just doesn't fit in with the mothers there.  Another big theme in the book relates to identity, as Ari feels that she has lost her own identity and personality in being a mum to Walker and a wife to Paul.

Elisa Albert unleashes on a culture that turns its new mothers into exiles, and expects them to act like natives 

I personally feel that there is a lot of pressure on new mums to 'fit in', and I don't believe that it is ever really made socially acceptable for a new mum (or an any mum) to put her hands up and admit that she's struggling or feeling a bit down, which is terrible! Part of the blurb states that Elisa Albert unleashes on a culture that turns its new mothers into exiles, and expects them to act like natives, which I think is very apt. I believe that this book would resonate with a lot of parents, and would heartily recommend to them, even if just so that they would know that its OK to sometimes feel overwhelmed. Parenthood is hard, and everyone has an opinion, down to strangers on the bus.

It sounds strange for me to say that this book rang very true to me, considering that I haven't had any children, but in a way, it's nice to know that motherhood isn't sunshine and rainbows for everyone. I really enjoyed this, and it stayed with me for a long time after I finished reading it. The writing is sharp and clever, and I believe i'll be thinking about it for a long time in the future.

Disclosure - I received this book for review from Netgalley.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

What I'm Reading Now...

Say You Will, by Kate Perry.  This was a quick, 'chick-lit' read, as I wanted something quick and easy to read.  This is the start of a series (the Summerhill series) about a wealthy, upper class family of six sisters, all named after Shakespeare heroines.  At the start of the book, they are attending the funeral of their father, who by all accounts is a terrible person, who has died in a car crash with his mistress.  However, they can't locate his will, and its urgent that they find it in order to ensure that they don't lose all their property and money.  Throw in a half sister that no one knew about, and a love interest and the story romps along from there.  It was an engaging read, and the rest of the series follows each of the sisters in turn.  It will probably be a decent series, but I wasn't really in a rush to pick up the next one. 

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.  This is the first David Mitchell book i've ever read, although I have seen the film of Cloud Atlas.  I did try and read Cloud Atlas several years ago, but just couldn't get into it.  I feel that this is a good place to start with David Mitchell, as the story starts off with a fairly basic premise - Holly Sykes has a massive fight with her mother, and runs away.  Her younger brother ends up going missing on the same day.  However when Holly was running away, she ends up having an unusual encounter with a stranger, which will impact on the rest of her life.  I don't want to say any more about the rest of the plot, but I really enjoyed this book, despite it veering into sci fi towards the end.  The books is structured into 6 sections, which follow Holly and various characters through her life.  It was really interesting and i'd definitely recommend it - i'll definitely be making more of an effort to read more by David Mitchell. 

The House of Fiction, by Susan Swingler.  This is a memoir of Susan Swingler, whose father Leonard was married to a famous Australian author, Elizabeth Jolley.  It's an interesting story, but quite unusual.  Susan tells the story of how her parents, Leonard and Joyce were friends with a woman called Monica (who later changed her name to Elizabeth and apparently changed her name several times through her life).  However, Leonard and Monica were having an affair unknown to Joyce, which resulted in both Joyce and Monica having children within weeks of each other.  Leonard leaves to go to Scotland for a job, but it later turns out that he has moved to Scotland with Monica, then they move from there to Australia, where they stay for the rest of their lives.  The odd part of the story is that Leonard asks Joyce not to contact his family, and he then carries on communicating with his family as though he is still with Joyce.  This is then all found out when Susan becomes an adult, and the book deals with how Susan unravelled the tangled web of lies that she discovers and how it impacts on the rest of her life.  Its an interesting story, but incredibly odd and unsettling. 

Something Wcked This Way Comes,  by Ray Bradbury.  I choose to read this in the week running up to Halloween, as I wanted to read a good horror classic, and it didn't disappoint.  The language used in this story was absolutely amazing, and it was extremely creepy in parts.  It tells the story of two boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, who are intrigued to learn that a circus is coming to town, but the circus is not what it seems, and the fate of the towns survival lies in the boys hands..  I'd definitely recommend this, its fairly short and a great read.

Friday, 17 October 2014

What I'm Reading Now...

Hi all, another weekly update about what I've been reading this week...

It Would Be Wrong To Steal My Sister's Boyfriend (Wouldn't It?), by Sophie Ranald.   I picked this up as part of my Kindle Unlimited subscription, as I wanted something light and easy to read. I really enjoyed this, I found it to be a cut above the usual run of the mill chick lit - I could mostly tell how the characters were going to end up, but it was done in a clever enough way that I didn't find the book boring or draggy,  like this genre can often be.  I think it was a good idea for a book, as it was a bit of a different spin on a genre than can be a bit formulaic!  I'd previously read another book by this author, called A Groom With A View, and I had also really enjoyed it - I'd definitely read more by Sophie Ranald! 

What You Wish For, by Mark Edwards. I've previously read two of Mark Edwards books,  Because She Loves Me and The Magpies, and really enjoyed them, finding them to be good psychological thrillers. This one however,  just wasn't up my street. The story is about a photographer called Richard who falls in love with a woman called Marie... who believes in aliens.  Four months into their relationship,  Marie suddenly disappears, and the rest of the story is concerned with Richard searching for Marie through the underworld of alien and UFO believers. I just don't have a lot of time for alien conspiracies, but so much of the story was focused on it! I read it to the end,  but it was only 200 pages so it wasn't too much of a time investment.  In the authors comments at the end of the book, he says that he starting writing the book approximately 15 years earlier, and ended up scrapping it all and rewriting it, just keeping some characters intact.  I think it shows to be honest - there's not as much finesse, and to be honest, I just didn't find it as clever or as engaging as his other books.

Prep, by Curtis SittenfeldI wanted to try something by this author, before I read her version of Pride and Prejudice, which she is writing as part of the Austen Project.  I read Sisterland and really enjoyed it, so I bought a couple of others to try and this is the first one. Lee is a 14 year old girl attending a prestigious school and struggling to fit in. She's quite and shy, and finding that she doesn't really fit in with the elite. I'm only about 20% into the story, but I'm really enjoying it so far, im interested to see how it goes!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

What I'm Reading Now....

Hi all!
I thought I'd just post a quick update to let you know what I'm currently reading - in depth reviews to follow!

The Innocents, by Francesca Segal. I'm reading this for my book group, and really enjoying it! It was chosen by one of the other members,  and is about Jewish families in North West London.  Adam has been with Rachel for 13 years, and at the beginning of the story they've just gotten engaged.  However, Rachel's glamorous cousin Ellie appears on the scene, will she lead Adam into temptation or will he stay in his safe little cocoon of a life?

The Girl With All The Gifts, by M R Carey. This was a recommendation from a friend. The story focuses on Melanie, who lives in a locked down facility that's staffed by the army and scientists. She's kept locked up at all times and isn't told anything about the current world.  This is a good take on a common theme, but in all honesty, I've had to force myself to pick it up a few times, im finding the story to drag a bit in places and most of the characters are fairly unlikeable. I'm about 80% of the way though now so will definitely see it through to the end.

Red Or Dead, by David Peace. I've only read one other David Peace novel previously,  1974, which was good, but fairly harrowing, so I've still to return to the rest of that series. Red or Dead started being talked about on various media outlets quite a while ago. It could be seen as a companion book to The Damned United - the cover photo is the the same one on both books - and both are a type of fictional nonfiction.  A lot of the information is correct, but there's a lot of information which simply couldn't be known by the author. A lot of the buzz around this book regarded the writing style, which is extremely repetitive.  I thought I would find this irritating, but after the first page or two, it becomes extremely hypnotic. I am enjoying this book,  but I do find its taking me quite a while to read. I'd recommend it though, even to non football fans - it's an interesting read!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

From the outside, Nick and Amy Dunne appear to be happily married.  On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick get up and goes to work as normal, only to receive a worried phone call from a neighbour, who tells him that the front door of his home is lying open. Concerned, Nick rushes home to investigate, to find that the house shows signs of a possibly deadly struggle and there is no sign of his wife.  He calls the police, who start questioning him, asking probing questions concerning the state of Nick and Amy's marriage, clearly convinced that Nick has had a hand in whatever has happened to Amy.  After telling the police that he hadn't had a disagreement with his wife that day, Nick thinks to himself - and the reader - 'That was the fifth lie I told the police that morning.'  From this point, the story spirals into a twisty, dark tale, which serves to confirm that no-one ever truly knows what passes behind closed doors. Perhaps not even the people behind those closed doors…

  Gillian Flynn is an accomplished writer, who crafts an incredibly clever story which questions how well any person can truly know another person, no matter how well they believe they do.  This story is told in the main by Nick in the present day, recounting the days after Amy's disappearance.  However, the clever concept in this is that we know that he lies, because, after all - he told us that he lies!  Nick's parts of the story are interspersed with excerpts of Amy's diary, starting from when they first met, leading up to the fateful day of their first anniversary.  I'm reluctant to reveal any more of the story, in case I ruin it for anyone, as one of the aspects of the story I really enjoyed was a genuine, slack-jawed, wonder at what could possibly happen next!  That isn't a feeling that too many books inspire, especially if you are a frequent reader.  I have given this book to many of my friends, and they have all had a very positive reaction.

This is Gillian Flynn's third book, and upon finishing this, I went back and read the previous books, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects.  Both are also extremely good, but I think that Gone Girl remains my favourite for the moment.  I can't wait to see what Gillian Flynn will bring out next, in my view she's one of the most exciting authors of recent years.  I first heard of this book on a podcast called Books on the Nightstand, which is a consistently reliable source of great reads.  Both hosts absolutely raved about this tale, recommending it so highly that I couldn't wait to read it.  I'm so glad that this was the case, as this has easily been my stand out book of this year.  It's not a light, easy read, but if you like good writing and great storytelling, you should definitely give Gillian Flynn a try!

As always - all comments are welcomed!!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver

2011 was a big year for film adaptations of books, and We Need To Talk About Kevin is a great film version of a fantastic book.  This is one of the first books I always recommend to people, as I absolutely love it!  Whether you love it or hate it, there's always plenty to talk about, and I love speaking to people after they've read it to get their point of view on the issues that it raises.

The story is told in letters, written by Kevin's mother Eva, to his father Franklin.  As the story begins, we already know that Kevin has carried out a school shooting (its in the blurb on the back of the book).  Eva is writing to Franklin, discussing their life together, from when they met, to when they had Kevin and everything that led up to the school shooting.

Eva runs her own travel book company, and has always had a wanderlust. She loves to travel, and revels in taking off to far-flung destinations at the drop of a hat.  Her business grows and grows, and she ends up with a more settled lifestyle running the company that she has founded.  Once she has become reluctantly settled, she falls pregnant with Kevin, which is when the trouble begins.

Eva is a reluctant mother, as she's not really sure she wants to be a mother at all. Franklin is thrilled by the idea, and cannot wait for her to have the baby, so she cannot be open about her misgivings.  After Kevin is born, the problems increase.  Eva cannot bond with Kevin, and feels like he's an awkward, fractious baby on purpose.  Franklin bonds instantly and doesn't understand Eva's issues with him.  This continues throughout all the stages of Kevin growing up, with Eva never bonding with him at all, and Franklin not understanding.  

The main theme of the book is nature versus nurture.  Would Kevin have been so bad, and instigated a school shooting, if Eva had been able to bond with him?  Did he know, subliminally or otherwise, that Eva didn't want him, and was all his bad behaviour a result of feeling unloved or neglected?  Franklin did think that he had a great relationship with Kevin, but Eva feels that Kevin sees his dad as an idiot, and fakes the bond with him, while all the while looking down on him.  I always wonder whether or not Franklin realised what Kevin was really like, but just glossed over it.

One of the main points of the book is that its all from Eva's point of view, so the issue of bias runs through the story.  Was Eva selfish to have a baby that she didn't really want?  A few years after Kevin was born, Eva decides to have another baby, and does so, without really involving Franklin in making the decision.  She has Celia, who is the polar opposite to Kevin.  An interesting point in the story is that Franklin doesn't really take to Celia - I think partly because Eva tricked him with the pregnancy, but in my opinion,  I think that Celia is very like Franklin, whereas Kevin takes after Eva.  

I'm reluctant to say too much more about the book, as I always want people to read it and talk about it!  I recently saw the film, with Tilda Swinton, and I'm happy to say it more than lived up to the book.  Slightly uncomfortable viewing (as it should be), it encapsulates the eerie build up to the school shooting and how the relationship between Kevin and Eva imploded and rippled out to impact on the lives of everyone that they knew.

Please feel free to leave any comments!!

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Sherlockian, by Graham Moore

To start with... I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan. MASSIVE! I've read all the short stories and books, multiple times, and still go back to reread them fairly regularly. They were my first introduction to one of my favourite genres, and I still think that they stand up as much today as when they were first printed, which says a lot about any story. I've also even visited the museum!

With that said, you can guess that I was very intrigued by the premise of the Sherlockian. I haven't really read much about Sherlock Holmes apart from the official canon, so I was interested to see how I would find this tale of a man called Harold White, who is inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars, which is the one of the most famous Sherlockian society in the world, renowned for meeting every January for a weekend of study and celebration of Sherlock Holmes and the stories that made him famous.

Anyone with even a passing interest in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes will remember that Sherlock Holmes was infamously killed off by Conan Doyle, who was tired of writing Holmes stories, and longed to write something with more substance and gravitas. This mourning period lasted for eight years, during which time Conan Doyle received death threats from Holmes devotees, who could not believe that their favourite detective had been cut down in his prime.

After the 'Great Hiatus', Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles, arguably one of the best, and best-known Holmes stories. However, it has never been explained what caused Conan Doyle to finally crumble after eight years of resistance and start writing Holmes stories again - its one of the great mysteries surrounding the legend of Sherlock. What adds to this though, is the true fact that the diary of Conan Doyle which would cover this period has always been missing, and unless the diary is found, no one will ever know Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's reasons for resurrecting the character he had so decisively killed off.

In The Sherlockian, Harold White is the newest inductee into the Baker Street Irregulars, but the big interest of that weekend is centered around another member, Alex Cale, who has announced that he has discovered the long lost diary, and intends to unveil it to the world at the conference. However, before he can do so, he is mysteriously murdered, and Harold White takes it upon himself to discover the murderer and the missing diary, which was stolen from the room of the murdered man.

The book follows an interesting structure, with the chapters alternating between the modern day story of Harold White investigating the murder and the missing diary, and flipping back to the start of the century to show Sir Arthur Conan Doyle investigating a series of murders which strike close to home for him, with the help of none other than Bram Stoker.

I think the premise of this story was absolutely fantastic, but there's something about it that just fell a bit short for me. I wasn't that keen on the ending, as I feel it was a bit of an anti-climax, after a fair amount of twists and turns throughout the novel. I didn't really connect that closely with Harold White either, which may have been a part of the problem.

I actually think that this book may serve as a good introduction to the genre and the world of Sherlock Holmes, and I enjoyed reading a bit more about the background of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, along with the modern day fans of Sherlock Holmes, and it certainly made me want to find out more and seek out more non-fiction concerning them. However, I doubt I would ever re-read this book, which is unusual for me, as i re-read frequently. I think if the premise intrigues anyone, they should definitely give it a try, but I was definitely left with a wee sense of disappointment at the end.

Three stars from me, which is a generous score, purely based on the very clever premise - I just wish it had been executed slightly better!