My Personal Reviews For Some of My Favourite (And Not So Favourite) Summer Novels
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
I am no romance lover.. but this is different..
I am normally not one for romances or love stories, however I kept getting 'Me Before You, A Novel' recommended to me. It seemed as though every time I turned around another friend was telling my how touching the novel is and how it should be on my 'must read' list. I took advantage of the holiday sale and bought the book at audible, as well as the kindle book. I am the type that likes to listen and read along.
The author, Jojo Moyes, introduces us to Louisa, who lives in a small town in England which has one main tourist area which is an old castle. Louisa has been in a fairly stagnant relationship with her long time boyfriend Patrick. He has recently become obsessed with working out and they really have nothing in common anymore. She figures she'll marry him, and have his babies all the while living in the same five mile radius in which she grew up.
Louisa lives with her mom, dad, grandfather, sister and nephew in a tiny home barely built for all of them and her parents rely on her wages at the 'Buttered Bun' to help make ends meet. When Louisa is told that the owner of the 'Buttered Bun' is closing down his restaurant, she is forced to find another job. Surprisingly, she does find a job as a caretaker for the wealthiest family in town.
Louisa is in charge of looking after Will, who was once a very successful business man and a daredevil. He traveled the world and lived life by the seat of his pants. He was miserable in his state of having to be taken care of around the clock, with little control of his movement and bodily function. When Louisa finds out that the job is a contract position for six months, her suspicions arise and she figures out that Will has given his parents six months to try to convince him to continue to live, but after the six months is over, he will go to a clinic in Switzerland where there are legal procedures for people who wish to die.
Louisa and Will develop a very guarded and intimate relationship, and soon Louisa finds that her sole purpose in life is trying to convince Will that he is indeed a person that is loved and needed in this world, despite his body's failure. Does she convince him to live forever? You'll have to have a listen to find out.
Me Before You is definitely a page turner. The characters are all very earthy and I loved them all. The narration was performed by several different voices (people) and they all added their own point of view on the situation. I enjoyed this as I delved further into the characters and what their thoughts were. My heart ached for Will's mother, who of course under no circumstances wanted her son to die. This is a very emotional book and it deserves to be read or listened to with full attention. There is so much humanity and ultimate love and sacrifice. It provides hope to the reader that people still do care about others, and it also presents things to people who have no physical ailments. Those of us not suffering with debilitating diseases take advantage of our health, which is something we may want to think twice about.
I am rating this novel 5 stars across the board. This is not a typical romance, but instead a gritty, character building novel with a rich story line and a lot of heart.
We Are Water- By Genius Writer Wally Lamb
Love the Lamb!
I've always loved Wally Lamb. Ever since 'She's Come Undone' and the story of Delores and her struggle with her family and weight, and then the amazing store 'I Know This Much is True,' I've been hooked on his writing/story telling style. While I sort of thought 'The Hour I First Believed' was a little discombobulated, I pre-ordered 'We Are Water' and looked very much forward to the day of it's release. I listened to the novel, told by several points of view, in a day and a half. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next, and I absolutely loved it and especially loved the narration by Lamb himself.
Voraciously, I ate up 'We Are Water,' and now I am disappointed that it's over and I have to wait years for Lamb to write another book! The story tells the tale of the Oh family. Patriarch Orien Oh and his wife Anna have raised three children, a set of twins and a younger daughter. After over twenty-five years of marriage Anna decides to leave Orien and marry Viveca, her female lover, and very rich art dealer who has made Anna a success. The book centres around the reactions of the Oh family to Anna making such a shocking decision.
As with any family, there are a lot of 'Oh' skeletons in their closet. Orien's father really never had anything to do with him. The twins are in a state of constant disarray, one wanting to be artificially inseminated at a young age, and the other turning to God and Jesus to reinforce his feelings about his mother's sexuality. The youngest is struggling to become an actress and Anna herself has had a tortured past. Anna tells her deepest secrets to the listener, like we are her best friend. We are horrified, empathetic, disgusted and at some points, pleasantly entertained.
All of the characters are due to get together for Anna's wedding however, of course, things go far from the way they are planned. The novel is dramatic, suspenseful, at times laugh-out-loud funny, and it ties together like the perfect bow on a gift. A gift from Wally Lamb.
5 starts, loved every minute of it. Can't wait for his next book.
Andy Weir's 'The Martian'
Funny, Odd, Highly Entertaining
Weir first published the book by himself but it later got picked up by Crown Publishing. There is of course, a movie being made of the book which will be released in November 2015, and it will star Matt Damon and the film will get it's direction from Ridley Scott. Looks like it will have the potential to be a blockbuster.
The book is about an astronaut that is left alone by his colleagues on Mars. He knows that he will die without food and resources so he has to make water out of different elements, and he has to ration his calorie intake- and keep sane while waiting to be rescued. It's like Tom Hanks in Cast Away- and a mixture between a sci-fi movie.
The storyteller tells of his situation in the first person and he has a great sense of humour. It's a fascinating read, and it got me thinking 'Gosh, what would I do in this unimaginable circumstance?' The book is told in the first person and Weir makes this uncomfortable- yet has an almost impossible knack to make things funny with his self sarcasm. Does he get saved? You'll have to read or wait for the movie to find out!
Picoult's 'Leaving Time'
Disappointing To Say The Least
First let me say that Jodi Picoult is hands down, one of my top favourite authors. I've struggled with her ridiculous, and, at times, non-existing endings over the years. However, I always pre-order her books and look forward to their release. The reason I like Jodi so much is she makes the reader think of uncomfortable situations and deal with them. She also has a real knack for story telling.
Sometimes though, Ms. Picoult has a habit of ripping off other authors' ideas. For example, her book 'Change of Heart' could have been titled 'The Green Mile Rip Off.' Anyone who's read it will know what I am talking about.
Having said that, 'Leaving Time' is a bunch of very well done research about the mourning habits of elephants. It has some wonderful information on elephants in general, and Jodi has done her research. However, the story line might as well be called 'Elephants and the Sixth Sense.' In fact, maybe she could get Bruce Willis to play the hero, and perhaps grab Whoopie Goldberg (who, I swear the 'medium' character is written for), to co-star.
Leaving Time focuses on a little girl who is trying to find her mother. Her mother is a specialist in the elephant kingdom, as was her father. Her mother, however, left when the little girl was extremely young and she was never found. So, a psychic and a police detective decide to help the girl find her mother.
The book is mostly filler- it could easily be a non fiction book about elephants- but the story line develops throughout the filler, and ultimately left me with the 'ARE YOU KIDDING ME' face. Jodi needs to be a bit more original if she's only going to come out with a book every year or two. Her publicist should be fired..
Omens- The Beginning of the Cain Series by Kelley Armstrong
Different and Delectable!
I have never ever read anything by Kelley Armstrong. I was thrilled to find out that she had written a book called 'Omens,' I really enjoyed it, and I will buy the next in the series as soon as I can get my hands on it.
Kelley's heroine is 24 year old Olivia, who is a very high society girl and engaged to an equally high society rich, dashing young entrepreneur. Olivia, however, was not born into the wealthy lifestyle she lives. She was adopted. When it comes to the public eye that Olivia's real parents were notorious serial killers who brutally murdered several couples- cult style, Olivia is forced to remove herself from her home and friends. Her mother can't handle the stain on the family and Olivia herself is hurt, confused and bewildered. She is also without money.
Olivia decides to take the time after the shocking revelation to go back to her roots and find out more about her serial killer parents. In doing so, she meets several people who help her find what she's looking for. And I have to say, what she finds is shocking. The little town she is from is full of secrets, and Olivia learns that she has some characteristics unlike those of any other people.
Olivia starts to understand that she was meant to come back to the town in which she was born. She belongs there for several reasons. And she goes on a quest to find out what really happened when her parents were taken from her by police at a young age. It's beginning to look like her parents have been in jail for years, with absolutely no evidence pointing to them.
Omens is a very exciting and high paced story. I loved it, and I listened to it in just two days. I found myself listening in the car and on breaks from work. I can't wait to find out what happens next.
4 stars across the board.
Into The Darkest Corner
Deep Tension Psychological Thriller
We are first introduced to Lee when we see him pleading guilty to abusing and stalking a woman, in the courthouse. Haynes then skips back in time to when Lee and heroine Catherine meet.
Catherine and Lee have a wonderful new relationship. Although his 'work' has perplexing hours, and Catherine doesn't know why he won't tell her more about it, he otherwise seems like the perfect guy. He is dashing, handsome, and he truly cares about her. Catherine's friends are over-the-top jealous and they believe, as she does at first, that she's caught the perfect fish.
As Catherine and Lee's relationship progresses, Catherine begins to get a little edgy. Lee starts to be very controlling and then he gets to the point where he is stalking Catherine. He then begins to abuse her in many gruesome ways. Catherine cannot believe that she's let herself become 'one of those women' who allows for things like this to happen. Her friends shame her for breaking up with Lee, because he's a charmer and talks to them about his broken heart. As abusers often do, he projects Catherine as the horrible person and himself as the one who's just trying to do the best thing.
The book is a psychological thriller with a deep tension. It's sort of different because we already know that Lee is the bad guy, it's not a surprise. It's just a constant mind game with a very interesting climax and denouement. This book is not for the faint at heart, but I would recommend it as an excellent thriller to anyone who loves a great, suspenseful novel.
The Silent Wife
Liars and Cheaters
I recently finished reading 'The Silent Wife' by A.S.A Harrison. It was very good- much like 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn. Each chapter flipped flopped to tell two sides of a story. One chapter would start with 'Her' and then the next chapter would start with 'Him' but they were all told in the third person.,
Jodi and Todd have been together for twenty years. They never married because they didn't feel the need to. Jodi ignored Todd's occasional indiscretion and Todd provided very generously for Jodi.
Todd was having an affair with his best friend's much younger daughter and ends up getting her pregnant. Todd decides to marry her, but he's torn because he still loves Jodi and he still likes to have his indiscretions. When Todd serves Jodi papers telling her to vacate the condo they've lived in for more than a decade, Jodi decides to take action;
The Silent Wife was very good, and it was a real page turner. I really liked the way the story was told, and there were many 'shockers' that kept my interest piqued. I highly recommend 'The Silent Wife' if you've not read it yet.
I hope you've read this article, a few of these books have piqued your interest. Please let me know if you decide to ready any of them, and if you do- what do you think?