#BookReview ANIMAL by LISA TADDEO #20BooksOfSummer2021



This is book 12 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021


ANIMAL by LISA TADDEO

Meet Joan

I drove myself out of New York City where a man shot himself in front of me. He was a gluttonous man and when his blood came out it looked like the blood of a pig.

That’s a cruel thing to think, I know. He did it in a restaurant where I was having dinner with another man, another married man.

Do you see how this is going? But I wasn’t always that way.

I am depraved. I hope you like me


PUBLISHED BY BLOOMSBURY

MY REVIEW


This book is dark, disturbing, messed up….. my kind of read!! It’s a book that will shock and horrify and just when you think things can’t get any darker, you’ll be proved wrong!!

Joan is the woman at the centre of this story and she is no normal young woman! She isn’t a girls girl, and knows exactly how to use men -she prefers the married kind! – and her sociopathic personality allows her to distance herself from any kind of empathy. And you wonder just how she got to be like this – the more we hear of her story, the more it all begins to make sense, but doesn’t excuse how she has turned out. Even she acknowledges her ‘depraved’ attitude to life. But she knows no different….

When she sees a lover kill himself in front of her in a restaurant, it begins a new journey in her life as she looks to leave that life behind, in search of the next chapter/victim! But she keeps looking back over her life – her childhood, the relationships, sexual experiences – mainly to explain herself and justify her actions.

She has an extremely cynical outlook on life, and is always making assumptions. The one thing that keeps her focus is ‘Alice’, a name she has been tracking for many years and you soon learn the relevance of this character in her life. For someone who shies away from female friendships, you wonder just how she will approach this woman when she tracks her down.

The language is brutal, as are the sexual exploits of Joan, but that just goes along with the ferocity of this story. It’s dark, it is damaged and to the extremes. For Joan, sex is to be used, not enjoyed, and you fear for her sanity at times with the levels she is willing to sink to. It explores the actions of the ‘other woman’ and how she deals, or doesn’t!, when faced with the consequences and repercussions of decisions she has made.

She is not a character that will endear herself to the reader with many of her actions, but it’s an extraordinary book and story so brilliantly portrayed and executed. 


★★★★

#BookReview ANNA by SAMMY H.K.SMITH #20BooksOfSummer2021



This is book 11 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021


ANNA by SAMMY H.K.SMITH

A chilling feminist novel set in a near-future dystopia, Anna explores the conflicts between selfhood and expectations, safety and control, and the sacrifices we make for the sake of protection.

Beaten. Branded. Defiant.

Anna is a possession. She is owned by the man named Will, shielded from the world of struggles by his care. He loves her, protects her, and then breaks her. Anna is obedient, dutiful, and compliant. Anna does not know her place in the world.

When she falls pregnant, Anna leaves her name behind, and finds the strength to run. But the past – and Will – catch up with her in an idyllic town with a dark secret, and this time, it’s not just Anna who is at risk.


PUBLISHED BY  SOLARIS


MY REVIEW


Woah…. this is a read and a half!! One of those books that you find yourself open mouthed at during some passages, and just wondering where the heck this journey is going to take you! But it’s a journey worth sticking with and despite the bleakness, it can be seen as hopeful and inspiring.. showing just how strong a woman can be when pushed to the limits.

In a dystopian world, Anna is captured by a man meaning she is now his property. To do with as he wishes. And that involves torture, beating, assaults….. all under the name of ‘love’ and ‘protection’. It’s the rules of the Unlands where she found herself so there is no help. She just has to rely on herself to get through this and the hope that better times are ahead.

When she falls pregnant, she manages to escape to start a new life, with a new name in a world very different from the one she left behind. But, weirdly, just as unsettling and fraught with fear.

The middle of the book does take on a whole different feel, and it felt a little out of place when I started it, but it soon all made sense again and the fear, tension and claustrophobic feelings soon returned!

This was horrifying at times and brutal to read, but in Anna you have a character to connect with and just admire her determination, resilience and spirit in the lowest, bleakest of times.


★★★★

#BookReview THE DREAM WEAVERS by BARBARA ERSKINE #20BooksOfSummer2021

This is book 10 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021

ABOUT THE BOOK


The new gripping historical novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Lady of Hay.

A nest of vipers, they called us. But that is not how it was.

Mercia, 775 AD. In the grand Saxon halls of Mercia, King Offa rules with ruthless ambition. Aggressive and relentlessly acquisitive, his three daughters are destined to marry advantageously in service of their country. Eadburh, the youngest, is neither the cleverest nor the most beautiful of the three. But, with her father’s ruthless spirit and the secret gifts passed down from her mother, she is determined to carve her own path in the world.

2021. Simon Armstrong has escaped to a secluded cottage on the English-Welsh borders, desperate to finish his book about Anglo-Saxon King Offa. But he soon finds himself disturbed by unsettling noises and visions. Calling in local expert Bea to identify the issue, Simon hopes to get back some peace – but soon Bea is as embroiled as he is, feeling increasingly connected to a ghostly presence that is growing ever-stronger in its desire for revenge.

And when Simon’s daughter disappears, centuries of secrets and resentment begin to tumble out…

An epic tale of deceit, revenge and exile from the queen of timeslip historical fiction.

Time is running out as the past and present collide… 

PUBLISHED BY HARPERCOLLINS


MY REVIEW

An epic tale that totally engrosses you in the history! Even though it’s a bit of a chunk of a book – over 500 pages – the time spent with these characters and in their worlds, just flies by and I loved every single minute of it!


Transported to the Welsh hills, we follow the story of a writer who is seeking solitude to complete his latest book. It is focused on the history of the area, specifically that of King Offa and his family, and what a story they have to tell! Their story comes to life when the author, Simon, starts hearing voices around the cottage he is living in and calls in a local woman, Bea, who has a ‘gift’ for being in touch with the spiritual world. But the dreams and voices she encounters at this cottage are like no other she’s experienced before, and she finds herself fully immersed in the past through her dreams and visions.


I loved the setting and the characters of this book. You totally understood Simon and his need for quiet, but with the past connecting with the present he gets a little bit closer to the time period he is concentrating on. And in Bea, you can understand her battle in not really wanting to get too involved, but getting totally swept along in the romance and darkness of the past. The characters of Eadburh and Elisedd, are so captivating as we watch their stories play out too and I can’t choose between which time period I loved reading about the most!!


With the added mix of family becoming involved in the drama and danger, and the present mirroring the past, I totally lost myself in these worlds and didn’t want it all to end!! Enthralling and captivating!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE LAST BOOKSHOP IN LONDON by MADELINE MARTIN #AudioBook



ABOUT THE BOOK


Inspired by the true World War II history of the few bookshops to survive the Blitz, The Last Bookshop in London is a timeless story of wartime loss, love and the enduring power of literature.

August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and blackout curtains that she finds on her arrival were not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop nestled in the heart of London.

Through blackouts and air raids as the Blitz intensifies, Grace discovers the power of storytelling to unite her community in ways she never dreamed—a force that triumphs over even the darkest nights of the war.


PUBLISHED BY HANOVER SQUARE PRESS



MY REVIEW


I listened to the audio version of this book – brilliantly read!

This was a really endearing and often emotional read, set in WW2, and showed that importance of escaping into books at such a torrid time for the inhabitants of London. The refuge of books and a bookshop became so important to everyone, not least those managing to work in them.

Grace is the centre of the story and she moves to London in 1939 with her friend, as they want a more exciting life! An unfortunate time to move as things turned out! She’s eager to work in a bookshop and her dream becomes reality when her landlady helps her get a temporary post at a nearby bookshop. The owner is very set in his ways and reluctant to have someone else help out, but she soon proves invaluable as she starts to tidy and rearrange the store to attract new customers.

I loved that she wasn’t really into books when she started working there, but the enthusiasm of the visiting George, helped start her on her book journey and soon she’s devouring books in numbers and able to recommend books to customers who are looking for an escape from life in London during the war.

Seeing life go on amidst the war was really well captured – how life would appear normal one minute, and then they’re all in shelters the next. How people adapted to the horrors of bombing raids and coming to terms with death and destruction around them just proved how resilient humans can be, no matter how heartbreaking life could prove to be.

It’s a book of hope and I found it really touching that the characters became family to one another and supported one another.


★★★

#BookReview EDIE RICHTER IS NOT ALONE by REBECCA HANDLER #Audiobook

ABOUT THE BOOK


Funny, acerbic Edie Richter is moving with her husband from San Francisco to Perth, Australia. She leaves behind a sister and mother still mourning the recent death of her father. Before the move, Edie and her husband were content, if socially awkward―given her disinclination for small talk.

In Perth, Edie finds herself in a remarkably isolated yet verdant corner of the world, but Edie has a secret: she committed an unthinkable act that she can barely admit to herself. In some ways, the landscape mirrors her own complicated inner life, and rather than escaping her past, Edie is increasingly forced to confront what she’s done. Everybody, from the wildlife to her new neighbors, is keen to engage, and Edie does her best to start fresh. But her relationship with her husband is fraying, and the beautiful memories of her father are heartbreaking, and impossible to stop. Something, in the end, has to give.

Written in clean spare prose that is nevertheless brimming with the richness and wry humor of the protagonist’s observations and idiosyncrasies, Edie Richter is Not Alone is Rebecca Handler’s debut novel. It is both deeply shocking and entirely quotidian: a story about a woman’s visceral confrontation with the fundamental meaning of humanity.

MY REVIEW

I listened to this on audiobook.

This is one of those quiet, unassuming books that you find you can’t stop thinking about once you’ve finished the last page. It’s the story of Edie Richter who is dealing with a father who has dementia, and the stresses and strains that places on her and her family – and the feelings when he’s not around anymore and the consequences of her actions that can never leave her.

Edie is a very quiet character – seemingly just getting on with what life throws her way, while never showing what’s on the inside. We get inside her head so see the quandry and dilemmas she faces and that really comes to the fore when her and her husband move from America to Australia, and a different way of life and being so far from home allow her thoughts to fester and the strain begins to take its’ toll.

It’s a really touching book, full of humorous little sides, alongside the more heartbreaking and deeper emotional points that the reality of humanity shows us. The little observations that Edie encounters are perfectly portrayed and that inner battle with herself is just haunting to watch, as she finds it easier to open up to a stranger than her own family as she still puts on that brave face to most of the world.

The relationship with dad and daughter was extremely touching, and having had relations with dementia, I found myself totally understandin the ‘playing along’ with scenarios to keep the peace and not upset the sufferer. The unpredictability of the illness would make life very precarious for the family and watching people deal with it differently also added a different dimension.

A short read that really packs a punch!


★★★★