My February wrap-up is a little later than planned as I wanted to get a couple of book reviews up before hitting publish on this post.
Last month I had a relatively good month for reading, finishing off seven novels and one audio book. Two of the books are upcoming releases and both not out until June, so I’ll be putting up full reviews in the next couple of weeks.
Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes (SF Masterworks) – 4/5
“Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a floor sweeper, and the gentle butt of everyone’s jokes, until an experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns him into a genius.”
I was a bit wary going into Flowers for Algernon, as it’s billed as science-fiction, which isn’t normally my cup of tea, but I’m glad I put those reservations aside as it transcends the genre. After an experiment Charlie’s IQ starts to soar beyond belief; Flowers for Algernon focuses on artificial and human intelligence, the nature of intelligence and the divisive nature of it. I really enjoyed how the book was written in periodic reports from Charlie’s point of view; as a reader we saw him grow, decline, love and suffer. Originally published in 1958, this feels like a modern story. I recommend reading this if you’re interested in stepping into science-fiction, but don’t want anything too ‘out there’.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven – Chris Cleave (Sceptre) – 5/5
A WWII novel like no other, Everyone Brave is Forgiven follows Mary, Hilda, Tom and Alastair as the bombs start falling in London. Focusing on home life during the war, this is full to the brim with love, humour, courage and friendship. My full review can be read here. Spoiler: I loved Everyone Brave is Forgiven and have recommended it to plenty of friends and family since finishing it.
I See You – Gregg Hurwitz (Sphere) – 4/5 (a newer version of this novel has been published under The Crime Writer)
Having read, and loved, one of Hurwitz’s more recent novels – Orphan X – I went into this novel with high expectations. After a massive brain haemorrhage Drew Danner wakes up in hospital with no memory of the past 24 hours. With blood on his hands, he is accused of his ex-fiancée’s murder. Once discharged Danner makes it his mission to find out who framed him for murder. We follow Drew as he unearths the clues to the mystery. One thing that I found a little jarring at times is that I See You is a book within a book, with Danner writing his story as he tells it – it felt an unnecessary addition to what was otherwise a great, action-packed, thrilling read. Whilst the plot wasn’t particularly complex in places, I See You was still puzzling and was a fast-paced, enjoyable read with a sprinkling of dark humour thrown in.
The Museum of You – Carys Bray (Hutchinson) – 3/5
The Museum of You is a quaint novel about belonging and family. Clover grows up during the height of her father’s mourning and in the shadow of her dead mother, with more questions than can be answered. She wants to know her heritage, her background and more about her family, so decides to create her own museum at home; curating her parent’s belongings into a shrine for the Mother she never met. This was an endearing, cosy novel, looking at grief from both a parent and child’s perspective. I thought the premise was great but unfortunately, The Museum of You just didn’t keep me engaged – I didn’t connect with the characters and was left wanting more.
Closed Casket (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries #2) – Sophie Hannah (HarperCollins) – 4/5
In Closed Casket, the eponymous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot returns to solve another murder mystery; this time we’re at Lady Athelinda Playford’s estate in Clonakilty, County Cork. The Lady of the house gathers friends and family to inform them of a change to her will. Expecting uproar and her imminent murder Playford has also invited Poirot and Catchpool along for the ride, to keep her safe. When the evening takes an unexpected turn, Poirot steps in with his little grey cells to solve the gory, twisted murder. The charactes, in true Christie fashion, are eccentric and unlikeable. I’d heartily recommend this if you’re a fan of murder mystery, but don’t expect Christie’s traditional Poirot as there are subtle differences, with Hannah breathing new life into the detective.
In Every Moment We Are Still Alive – Tom Malmquist/ translated by Henning Koch (Sceptre) – 4/5
I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy from Sceptre. Originally published in Swedish, Henning Koch (author of The Dinner) has translated this stunning memoir. In Every Moment We Are Still Alive we hear of the horrifying moment in which Tom gains a daughter but loses his soul-mate, in a cruel twist of fate. I found this heart-breaking, tender and hypnotic – rich and raw, I couldn’t put this down. A full review of this will be up on the blog in March.
Planned UK release date: 01st June 2017
One Little Mistake – Emma Curtis (Black Swan) – 4.5/5
“You trusted your best friend…you shouldn’t have” – as soon as I saw the front cover I knew I was going to love One Little Mistake. This gripping, psychological novel follows Vicky and Amber’s ‘perfect’ friendship, until one day Vicky makes an irreparable mistake, which sends their lives tumbling apart. From the first page I was hooked with this domestic thriller, so much so that I finished it off in two sittings. The publishers kindly sent me an advanced copy for review, which I am in the process of writing up – it will hopefully go live next week.
Planned UK release date: 29th June 2017 (already available to purchase on eBook)
The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press) – 3/5
The Princess Diarist recounts what really happened behind the scenes of the first Star Wars movie, after Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept whilst filming. I listened to this one on audio book and I wish I’d read it instead. Narrated by Carrie Fisher herself there were a number of humorous parts, but I found it a little slow in places – I wasn’t invested in the stories and often felt my mind wandering instead of focusing on the narrative.
As usual, I’d love to hear from you. What did you read in February? Have you got any recommendations for me?