The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry Review

 

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So I fell in love with the cover as I’m sure most have you are also just as mesmerised by.  However I had flashbacks to Jesse Burton’s The Miniaturist … another book with a fancy cover and flashy marketing. I was worried that like The Miniaturist – The Essex Serpent would be completely over-hyped and would be impossible to fill any readers expectations.

I don’t blame the authors… I blame the publishers for tricking readers into buying books by putting some releases on such high pedestals that people can’t help but be a little disappointed.

To manage my expectations I went into the book expecting nothing at all.  And YAY it done the trick…

At first I was quite irritated with the writing style. Although textbook “beautiful”, I felt the choice of words and imagery was a little forced and didn’t flow. Words such as ‘implacable and ceded’ were thrown around a little too often. But I won’t criticise the book on its word choice because of my ‘limited’ vocabulary :D. As the story progressed (with my Thesaurus beside me) I got in the rhythm of things.

I felt Sarah’s characters were very balanced, loveable and charismatic. Sarah Perry was able portray most of the main characters quirks and emotions so the audience was able to relate to them. From their feelings of jealousy and temptation to embarrassment and guilt, the complex group dynamics was comical and full of emotion.

As a reader who really doesn’t enjoy Fantasy, Science Fiction or even the slight Magical Realism; I wasn’t sold on the whole serpent tale. It didn’t keep me gripped or in suspense. But I loved how it was used draw the characters together. Cora Seaborne is definitely my favourite, she’s the star of the show. Without her there would be no show. We didn’t get to know Cora on a very personal level as the narrative was a little distant. But like the Serpent Cora was used to hold the story together.

The Essex Serpent  has put me in the mood for Historical Fiction 😀 and I’m sure I’ll find plenty of those to keep me warm through the upcoming Autumn/ Winter. It’s a shame the book wasn’t released in Autumn because it would’ve been a perfect Winter Read.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Have you read this? What did you think of the book? Impressed / not?

Where to find me:

Email: bookcrumble@gmail.com

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Chinua Achebe – Things Fall Apart

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As much as  Anxiety has stolen my appreciation for most social media platforms… I somehow seem to have
found my balance with Instagram …and it was on Instagram I stumbled accross  Chinua Achebes Things Fall Apart.

The book is split into two parts. I really enjoyed Part One  – I’ve never read anything quite like it, the few African literature I have read have been set in post colonial era so I found reading about Okonkwo’s daily life and tribe’s culture before European involvement very refreshing and insightful.

The tone changes within part 2. You do feel  Okonkwo’s loss of power and things falling apart in every sense for Okonkwo and his community.

I’m aware some readers have felt Okonkwo is a very obnoxious character and couldn’t bear hearing his journey or appreciate the novel because of that. But I think most people  can put that aside and maintain a neutral opinion of him throughout as I think the author may have intended.

Things Fall Apart hasn’t left me in a rush to read the rest of the trilogy any time soon,  but if you haven’t read it I would recommend it to those of you  interested in post colonial or African literature, even if you read it as a stand alone book.

My Rating : 3.75 Stars …to be precise

Goodreads

Book Review: The Virgin Suicides (Jeffrey Eugenides)

After seeing a few great reviews floating around the interweb – I decided to add this to my to read pile.

Synopsis:

In an ordinary suburban house, on a lovely tree-lined street, in the middle of virgin-suicides-fashion-photo-shoot-neon-mamacita071970s America, lived the five beautiful, dreamy Lisbon sisters, whose doomed fates indelibly marked the neighborhood boys who to this day continue to obsess over them. A story of love and repression, fantasy and terror, sex and death, memory and longing. It is at its core a mystery story: a heart-rending investigation into the impenetrable, life-altering secrets of American adolescence.

My Thoughts :   I  must admit I didn’t particularly enjoy this. (don’t you just feel like the Grinch whenever you say you don’t like a cult classic?)

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I felt it was definitely tailored to a younger/ teenage audience . I probably would’ve appreciated it a little more if I read  it a decade ago  – but truly feel a good book can be appreciated at any age.

Apart from exploring  the characters roaring sexuality – which is a topic I did tend to enjoy moreso during my teen years, I found the book  very bland. The first suicide happened quite early in the book whilst the  final 4 suicides happened within the last few pages – As grim as it sounds D: , this left a gaping hole in between where you were kept waiting for the pin to drop.

It was a very poignant book – I felt a great sadness throughout, but the boys obsession with such a sad situation was very unsettling. images I just sat there thinking why are they idolising such unhappy people – WHY DOESN’T ANYONE DO ANYTHING? !  It’s almost as if the sister’s sadness was adding to their appeal! I wanted to crawl into the story and give the sisters all a big hug. I suppose the protagonist was writing from a reflective perspective – and hence did not realise how serious the situation was at the time.

Overall it just wasn’t for me – as usual I was ever so tempted to put it aside half way through – but i was determined to get through… so  yay me for making it through 🙂

Rating : * * (two stars) (  However I think i’ll give the film a try – I have a strange feeling i’ll prefer it)

Have you read  the book or seen the film? Tell me what you think 😀

Where to purchase:download

Amazon

The Book Depository

Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt (No Spoilers)

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Storyline: The story starts out with a typical misfit character – ‘ Richard’ who is trying to find his place in the world as he just can’t relate to his family or his hometown in California. He decided to transfer to Hampden college and after much resistance he is slowly welcomed into the exclusive and somewhat ‘pretentious’ Ancient Greek clique.

The group of ‘friends’ get get caught up in a very sticky situation. Not one but TWO murders take place and the group of ‘friends’ are left dealing with the aftermath. As you would expect, such a heavy secret is hard to keep and the group are left crumbling from guilt, paranoia and anxiety.

My views?:  This is the first book I have read by Donna Tartt and I’m oh so impressed I might keep an eye out for more of her books – although from amazon reviews online some feel The Secret History  may actually be her best book to date – I won’t be deterred though I for one hope it only gets better. There really wasn’t a dull moment throughout. At some points I even found it was comparable to an episode of Jeremy Kyle / Eastenders –  with the few outrageously juicy scandals that were hinted / revealed. GO DONNA!!  I’m all for a good ‘fictional’ scandal or two! 😉

The language was beautiful, I usually like very straightforward, concise  and plain writing styles but this was an exception. I didn’t want it to end. This by far has to be one of the best books I have read for a while, I’ve been reading a few books that i’v e had to force myself to finish 😦  (I just hating starting books and not finishing them).

Any Meh parts ?

I did go through a small stage  of the book really disliking ALL of the characters… I  must say that was a little off putting ( I  wanted to expose them myself if i could). But it wasn’t for usual reasons  which others who’ve read the book mentioned i.e. of group being pretentious.  It was because i couldn’t help but judge the group for allowing themselves to get caught up in such a disgusting situation. At one stage I really wanted them all to get caught and smothered in prison … that put a little dampener on the book for a little while. But after I got over that and took more of an objective neutral stance to the characters I begun to enjoy the book again.

Overall This is the first book I have read by Donna Tartt and I’m oh so impressed I will have to keep an eye out for more of her books – (although from amazon reviews online some feel The Secret History  may actually be her best book to date – I won’t be deterred though I for one hope it only gets better).

Ratings: 4.5 Stars! 😀

What did you think of the book? Feel free to leave any comments or questions below!!

Where to purchase:

Amazon

For Other Reviews:

Goodreads

That Worn Book Smell

Book Review: The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

Well boo, I haven’t sat down long enough to get much reading done. I’ve very slowly been reading Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for absolutely ages but  I’m just over half way. I also blame trying to pack light, I do most of my reading whilst travelling but  lately I’ve tried to carry small bags which = no book. If it wasn’t for having The Rosie Project on my iPhone I wouldn’t have even finished that.

The title first caught my eye in WH Smith a little before I heard  and saw the amazing reviews. I’ve been trying to stay away for sensationalised books,  especially since my disappointment with Gone Girl…The Miniaturist and Miss Peregrine’s home for Peculiar Children… but after a while I must admit I did give in and I’m happy I did!

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Summary: Don Tillman is a genetics professor in his early 40s. He has decided it is time he should find a suitable wife. He hasn’t had much success with women in the past, (due to his social skills) but he’s hoping to find someone that is compatible with  his very particular needs. However he meets Rosie, and although she isn’t quite what he expected his ‘suitable’ partner to be, he’s happy.

I found myself reading this before bed.  I was able  log out of Netflix, close my Youtube browser and put aside my laptop. I must admit  I rarely read at home but once I was half way through I was completely engrossed in the storyline. The Rosie Project was a different perspective on Romance. Don’s autism gave me a clean and humorous view of relationships without the mushy heart wrenching feelings. Nevertheless it still remained very relatable.

It was such a  fun light read I’ve already begun reading the sequel.

 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Read other reviews on Goodreads.

Available From: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones,

Book Review: The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – NO SPOILERS

Summary : George and Sabine image (1)move from England to live in the Beautiful Island of Trinidad in the 1950s for work. Now it’s 2006 and Sabine is feeling resentful. She’s stuck in Trinidad in the sweltering heat and political corruption. Whilst clearing out their garage, George discovers a box of letters his wife had written to the former prime minister, Eric Williams. The letters have not been sent. However George feels betrayed, insecure and guilty upon learning of his wife’s unhappiness throughout their marriage. From here forward George begins to try and make things right for his wife. But is it a little too late?

The book is separated into 4 sections. The present day (2006), 1956  when they arrived to Trinidad, 1963 & 1970. I found this book really refreshing. I enjoyed it from the very first page and was determined to read the whole book. Some parts did drag a little because you aren’t sure what to expect. There wasn’t so much of a plot, more of just an exploration of their new life as expats. I loved that the book was set in Trinidad. Although the characters were much older than me and in perhaps a different life stage I was still able to relate to their situation and feelings. I was shocked by the amount of resentment  from Sabine and ‘love’ from George that was present in the relationship after all those years. I thought by your 70s your feelings would be more towards contentment rather than a continued insecurity and willing to please. And with George I thought the burning feeling he felt for his wife would have also simmered naturally.I’m not sure how realistic the portrayal of the characters in their seventies were. But it has lead me to question my perceptions of an older persons relationships. What if security, bliss and content isn’t at the end of the road? I have read a few goodreads reviews that have said the political movement was biased and portrayed negatively. Also a few shocked readers who believe this wasn’t worthy to be shortlisted for the Orange Prize. I don’t agree with either views.

  1.  Monique Roffey writes very beautifully. You can tell a lot of thought and effort goes into her writing.
  2. I believe Sabine’s perspective is just that. One person’s perspective. It hasn’t lead me to form any opinion about Trinidad & Tobago’s government and politics that I didn’t have prior to reading this book. I do not think those were the authors intentions.  However I can empathise with these critiques of superficiality and ignorance on Sabine’s part, if this book were set in my homeland (Jamaica), I would probably feel exactly the same too.

I will definitely be reading more from Monique Roffey when I get the chance, possibly Sun Dog. The book was a breath of fresh air and I’m glad I decided to give it a chance. I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone as there isn’t much of a plot… if any. . But for those who don’t mind books without a main plot and are interested in the Caribbean  or Caribbean history I would recommend.

Here is a kink to a  Podcast by Monique Roffey about the background of her novel, including her research and inspiration.

WARNING the Podcast does contain SPOILERS!!

Available from: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones Goodreads

Book Review: The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist 

Author: Jessie Burton 

 

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Another gift from a special someone. This book was brought to my attention in a book haul by Books and Quills a few months ago and i had to wait patiently for it to be released! I won’t lie… The cover illustration  of the miniature house  and the promised secrets of the miniaturist in the synopsis was what first drew me to this book. This is probably the first hardback I have acquired since the Harry Potter releases. I prefer my books to be as light as possible for my commutes, but I was way too excited to wait for the paperback edition.

Brief overview: Nella has recently moved from the countryside to join her new husband  (whom she barely knows) in the city of Amsterdam. Her  husband Johanne isn’t around much to begin their new relationship together and her  sister in law Marin  is very cold and unfriendly towards her.  To compensate for his absence both physically and emotionally, Johanne presents Nella with a  late wedding gift …a replica of their house. As the book progresses it is revealed why Nella’s husbands is so distant  and why Marin is so harsh towards Nella. Nella’s relationship with her husband (and to some extent with Marin) grows towards the end of the novel but it is for different reasons than you would expect.

I had high expectations for this book and it did not disappoint.  The reader goes on this new journey with Nella Oortman as she starts her new life in a big city.

Many online reviews I have read describe The Miniaturist as beautifully written. It isn’t exactly my idea of beautifully written but I do love the J.B’s effortless writing style, it’s very thoughtful , clean and precise… and anyways …personally I’d  much rather precise than ‘beautiful’.

Jessie Burton definitely keeps you in suspense throughout the book. I wasn’t impressed with how Nella dealt with the situations  that were occurring,  but considering her background and the time period I’m not sure I would have done things any differently. I would’ve appreciated if occasionally the story was written from different perspectives to give the reader a little more insight  into the other characters e.g. Johannes, Otto, Jack, Frans, The Miniaturist. However having Nella as the only protagonist added to the straightforwardness of the story. And as I’ve said before I sure do love a good  straightforward story!!!

I loved the main storyline, just  so scandalous!!  At times I do feel Nella’s emotions were not explored thoroughly, which made her appear quite naïve, weak and a tad simple.

Overall I assumed the miniaturist would have a greater role in the story … (I’m sure i’m not the only one ),  but nevertheless I enjoyed it.

Rating: 4 stars

 

Purchase: Amazon Book Depository

Reviews: Goodreads

The Telegraph: Review