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!

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!

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connolly

Its been a while... I've had a very busy couple of months, but I'll be posting regularly again from now on! The book i'm going to blog about just now is probably familiar, as the film adaptation of this novel was recently released, starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Philippe and William H Macy. I always want to read a book before I see its film version, and this was no different. I love a good courtroom drama and was keen to see the film, so I made a point of picking the book up beforehand.

I had previously read one of Michael Connolly's books, The Brass Verdict, which is actually the sequel to The Lincoln Lawyer, and features many of the same characters. I had enjoyed it, but just didn't get round to picking up any of his other novels until now.

Mickey Haller is the Lincoln Lawyer of the title, a lawyer who defends small time clients ranging from prostitutes to con artists, drug dealers and drink drivers, disillusioned and working purely for the money. He operates from the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, staying mobile and moving from court to court to pick up whatever clients he can find, until one day, a veritable goldmine falls into his lap.

Louis Roulet, a Beverly Hills estate agent from a well-to-do, well-respected family, is arrested for the brutal beating and attempted murder of a girl. He's a franchise client, which means that he can afford to pay for his defence costs, which is rare with the type of clientele Mickey's used to having. He requests Mickey Haller specifically, protesting his innocence, and Mickey believes that he may finally have that elusive catch amongst criminal defence lawyers - an innocent client. This is difficult for Haller, as he was taught by his father that one of the most difficult clients is an innocent man, due to the fact that if they end up being imprisoned, it will remain on the lawyer's conscience. He quotes his father as saying;

"There is no client as scary as an innocent man."

However, as time goes on, Mickey starts finding holes in the case, and a disturbing similarity to a previous case that he has dealt with, and he has to decide whether or not he has a client that he can trust... or one that is guilty of the most heinous crime, and has been manipulating the situation all along?

I thought this book was fantastic! Tightly plotted, this book pulls you through all its twists and turns until you can't wait to find out what happens next and how it all works out. Interestingly, Mickey Haller is not the most sympathetic of characters. He is not shown in a favourable light throughout the novel, making many selfish and foolish decisions, but I like that he wasn't fallible, or perfect. After all, who is? He's shown throughout the book to be looking out for his own interests before others, including vulnerable clients of his, but he's also shown to have a heart, and he does his best to do the right thing. I'm looking forward to re-reading the sequel, as I think i'll view it in a different light with the backstory from this book to add to it, although I believe that all of the novels can be read as standalone books.

A good summer read, if you like a solid courtroom drama, then this is definitely worth a look. I did go and see the film after reading the book, and also enjoyed that. Its one of the best book-to-film adaptations I think I've ever seen, following the book quite faithfully, without butchering the story to a shadow of its former self. Three stars from me - I think this is setting the scene for a strong series of novels, and will stand up to later re-reading.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Secrets of Eden, by Chris Bohjalian

If you've had a look at the list of blogs/podcasts that I follow, you'll see that one of the list is Books on the Nightstand (which is my absolute favourite!). BOTNS is run by Ann and Michael, who both work for Random House, and create a weekly podcast to talk about books they'd like to recommend, new books to watch out for and back catalogue books that they've just loved so much they want to share them with people. This year, they are also organising the BOTNS retreat, which will be a gathering of podcast listeners, blog followers and BOTNS-favourite authors. Unfortunately, I won't be making it to the retreat, but I wanted to read work from some of the authors who are going to attend.

The first book I picked up was Secrets of Eden, by Chris Bohjalian - the story of a murder-suicide that takes place in Vermont. I found this story absolutely compelling. The narrator changes several times, to allow us to experience different points of view in the story, and through the whole tale there's a creeping sense of dread, and an undercurrent of things just not being quite right...

Alice Hayward is a battered wife. This isn't really a secret in her town, and is known by people including her fifteen year old daughter, Katie; her best friend Ginny, and her pastor, Stephen Drew. Alice decides to get baptised, and after it's complete, she goes about her day like any other Sunday, little realising that within 12 hours, her husband will have strangled her, and then shot himself in the head. Although as time passes in the town, rumours and theories start to spread that the circumstances may not be as clear cut as originally thought.

The story starts off being told by Reverend Stephen Drew, the man who baptises Alice on the day of her death. The narrative role switches between several different characters, allowing an insight into how the deaths of Alice and her husband George have rippled out to affect other people, not only their own daughter but people that they had never even known. As the pastor states early on however;

“Believe no one. Trust no one. Assume all of our stories are suspect.”

This is a powerful statement to make in the opening chapters of the book, but I liked it, and it stayed with me throughout. As the tale winds on through the aftermath of Alice and George's death, we start to realise that this earlier statement is, and was very significant to the tone of the entire tale and something that should be kept in mind, not only in terms of the story but in terms of real life. People can hide behind half truths, or lie by omission, and no one can ever really be sure they're being told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I feel that I haven't went too in-depth into the actual ins and outs of the story, but I feel that if I write much more it could possibly ruin the story - some books just have to be read!

I wanted to blog my review for this book as i finished it weeks ago, I've read several books in the meantime, and I'm still thinking about this! I have went in search of other works by Chris Bohjalian (Midwives will be my next read from him), and I'll be listening eagerly to the reports from the BOTNS retreat to learn about possible upcoming works!

This book gets a solid four stars from me, and I highly recommend you check it out (along with Books on the Nightstand!)