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!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Prayer for the Dead, by James Oswald

I've read several of the previous books from this series before, so I was pleased to get a copy of the newest in the series for review.  The main character is Inspector Tony McLean, a young-for-his-position police officer who often finds his personal and professional life mixing a little too often for his own comfort. 

The new addition to the series picks up after the last one, involving a largely familiar cast of characters, who will be well known to previous readers.  The primary mystery revolves around a missing journalist, who is soon found dead - having been ritualistically murdered - in a tourist attraction.   The story follows many twists and turns, involving the ex-wife of the murdered man, as well as his colleagues and the subjects of his newest investigation... a shadowy collection of potential cultists and conspiracy theorists.  What i've enjoyed about this series are the themes that it deals with - identity, how your past can impact on your future - and to which extent, family, loss, isolation, faith.  The stories introduce a very very subtle hint of supernatural activity, but this is in no way the main focus of any of the stories - I found it to be more of a counterpoint against which to view the beliefs of some of the characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found the mystery engaging and entertaining.  The tale rolls along at a good pace, the characters are well portrayed and multi layered.  This isn't your usual maverick cop, plays-by-his-own-rules trope that is so often portrayed in this genre.  Inspector McLean is flawed, and doesn't get it right all the time.  He's intelligent, but to a point that often isolates him from the rest of his colleagues.  Even if / when he achieves something from his work, he's not necessarily wholly accepted by his colleagues, many of whom distrust him and his motives. 

I'm reluctant to go too in-depth into the story, considering the potential for spoilers, but I definitely recommend this as a strong example of the crime / detective genre.  It does stand alone, although it does refer back to previous novels in the series, however, it is not essential to have read the previous books in order to enjoy this one.  Although - why not?  If this type of story is your bag, then you'll enjoy the whole series.   Personally, I prefer reading entire series' in order, although this can sometimes result in not working my way up to the most recent installment for quite a while!  But if a series is written well, then I find that it adds a lot of depth to the story to have read all the preceding parts.  Although there are some authors who are worse than others at framing a new story so that it ties in enough with the rest of the series without just retelling all of the previous stories - its a fine art!  I feel that this is a good example of a story that calls back to previous stories just enough, while keeping its current story ticking along. 

Comments are welcome - what do you like about series' of books?  Do you have to read them in order or can you dip and out?

Disclosure - I received this book for review from Netgalley.

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.