I’ve been a bit absent for the past two weeks, breaking my new goal of posting twice basically straight away.
But I’m back from my holiday, which means that I can now share with you all my holiday reads.
As I was reading on my Kindle, I don’t have any nice photos to share with you, so have some pictures I took whilst I was away.
1. Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba
I really didn’t know how to rate this one. Right away the novella, as it’s only around 100 pages long, begins with a tragedy in which the main character Marina loses her parents. She’s then catapulted into a new life at the Orphanage, sent off with only a new doll and left to fit in with the other girls. An outsider, she’s automatically viewed as different to the other girls, who seem to both love and despise her. By day they’re teasing and violent, but by night they’re transfixed by her doll game, in which one of the girls is picked to act like a doll for the duration of the night, and the game ultimately goes too far. It’s not that I didn’t like the book, I just didn’t really get where it was going. It’s definitely on the psychological novel spectrum, and shows the fickle nature of children, and just how cruel they can be.
2. Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin
I’ve been trying to read some of the Man Booker prize nominees, and Fever Dream was one that made this year’s shortlist. Again, I had no idea how to rate this one, I neither loved it nor hated it, I was mostly confused. Confused however is basically the mindset I’m assuming the author tried to create, as as the title suggests, the novel is literally about a fever dream. The main character Amanda is on holiday with her daughter Nina when she is being told a story by her neighbour Carla. Carla explains that her son David isn’t hers, and starts to tell the story of how be became sick and the sickness had to be separated from his body to allow him to live, which made the person left in David’s body ‘not David anymore’. All a bit much to handle, Amanda goes to visit her at her workplace with Nina, who complains of a wet, strange smelling liquid soaking her, which Amanda realises she’s also soaked with. Immediately falling ill, Nina suffers from the same fate as David- a seemingly normal occurrence in the small town, where many of the children are disfigured in some way. Throughout the book the story is broken up by Amanda talking to David whilst she’s in hospital basically on her deathbed, due to her taking ill, where David guides her through ‘what’s important.’ To be honest, I’m still not sure either. It’s a quick read though, and if you’re in the mood to be confused, maybe this is for you.
3. Nod by Adrian Barnes
Right off the bat, I’m not particularly a fan of science fiction, but the premise of the book intrigued me enough to pick it up. Essentially, one random night most people are suddenly unable to sleep except a few people, who are quickly referred to as sleepers. After the days pass and people aren’t sleeping, the world quickly goes mad, with the awake turning to crime and looting. Many die, and as the days go on, some of the awake begin to band together, believing the main character Paul’s novel Nod which explored old words and ideas to be prophet of their reality. With only a matter of time until they go insane and start dying due to lack of sleep, it’s up to Paul to survive, and try to protect Zoe, one of the mysterious silent children that live wild in the park and are still able to sleep. As far as premise goes, it’s definitely an interesting one, and as dystopian fantasy worlds go, it doesn’t make any fantastical claims about what society might be like if something weird and paranormal happened like some other books tend to do. I think i’d have liked it more if I was more interested in science fiction, but I gave it a 3/5 star rating because I did like the idea. Paul wasn’t particularly likeable or dislikable, but his partner Tanya I really wasn’t a fan of. If you like sci-fi and dystopian set novels definitely give this one a go.
4. Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
This was by far my favourite book that I read whilst away. I even gave it 4/5, which is pretty rare for me these days to be honest. Basically the society in Gather the Daughters could be referred to as a cult, they have basic rules of society set in place which everyone has to follow- and are pretty horrific. The males in a family work in a specific trade, with the women housewives and expected to have children who aren’t ‘defective.’ In summer, children are allowed to run completely wild, and leave home and don’t return until the seasons change. This continues up until a girl gets her first period, in which in the summer she enters her ‘summer of fruition’ which is geared towards marrying them off to the men on the island. Regardless of their age. If that wasn’t creepy enough, their fathers also sleep with their daughters, which is done from a very young age, and is widely viewed as acceptable, because they’re basically his property. Horrific. Some of the girls however want to break that tradition, and after one of the girls who wanted to escape is murdered, a group of daughters try to change their fate, until a huge number of them on the island are wiped out in a sickness. As awful as the concept is, I actually did enjoy this one, and would recommend it if you’re a fan of cult fiction.
5. The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre
I found The Girl in 6E to be quite an easy read, but I can’t say i’ll be continuing on with the rest of the series. I think this is the first of three books, which centre around Deanna, a 21-year-old with homicidal thoughts who hasn’t left her flat in three years. She works as a camgirl, and basically simulates sex with her clients for a living, including fulfilling or entertaining some of their fantasies. One of such fantasies involves a very specific girl, Annie, and she worries that something will happen to this little girl as a result of her client’s deprived fantasies. She doesn’t have long to wonder though, as 6-year-old Annie goes missing and is all over national news. She enlists the help of one of her clients who also happens to be a hacker, and she finds out where he might have taken her, and she decides to go and save her from his sick fate. BUT there’s also a romantic subplot (of course there is) with delivery driver Jeremy who has been wondering about the mysterious girl in 6E for three years, always hoping to one day meet her. Of course they do and hit it off straight away, with her borrowing his car in order to save Annie. It’s all quite farfetched, but it was okay to read. Not one to read in public, as some of the chapters start off with descriptions of sexual acts. Which might be a bit awkward when someone looks over your shoulder and thinks you’re reading about mens anal sex. Just a pre-warning. I gave it 3/5, but I didn’t like it enough to want to continue.
6. Women by Charles Bukowski
Straight off the bat I didn’t realise that this was part of a series. I’m not sure if it’s the second or third book in the series, but it doesn’t really matter because I didn’t think there was anything in it that didn’t make sense (except from every action any of them take in the novel) and would benefit from reading the others first. I’ve never read anything by Charles Bukowski before, but I’ve wanted to pick one up for ages. I absolutely hated this book. Hated it. The story follows Henry Chinaski, a popular poet who is finally seeing the results of his work and has women basically chucking themselves at his feet because they really enjoy his work. The novel literally just follows the different women he’s sleeping with. There’s not really any specific plot, there’s not a moral in the story either, he doesn’t change his ways at the end. An alcoholic, he basically just drinks and has sex with various women, whether he’s in a relationship, whether they’re in a relationship etc. And it just so happens that almost all the women he’s with are depicted as crazy. I didn’t like a single thing about this book and I rated it 1/5. No regrets. I will try another one of his novels in the future, as long as I read the synopsis first…
7. Alice by Christina Henry
The final book I finished whilst away is Alice, a retelling of the traditional Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Back when she was younger, Alice was taken to The Rabbit’s area of the Old City by her best friend, who wanted to sell her off and exploit her for being a magician, a fact that she had no idea about. After getting away by stabbing him in the eye, she returns home but is put into an asylum by her parents until one day she dreams of fire and accidentally sets the Jabberwock- the essence of the most evil magician to have existed free. She’s then taken on a mission to stop the Jabberwock by Hatcher who stayed in the room next to her in the asylum. It’s up to them to try and find the sword which is said to have the power to kill the Jabberwock, and sees them visit areas of the Old City controlled by Cheshire, The Caterpillar, The Walrus and The Rabbit, who are all essentially out to get her, or are amused to think of her returning to The Rabbit. On the way she discovers her magician power, although she needs a bit of help along the way to understand how to use it. I rated it 3/5, I do actually like Alice in Wonderland, and it was quite interesting to read a twisted, different version of essentially the same story. Wasn’t a fan of the ending, I found it quite disappointing, however it is the first of two books, so I may continue with the second book to see what happens in the next stage of Alice and Hatcher’s journey.
I’m still doing my goodreads challenge, and these seven books took me up to 26 out of 50. I’m trying.