Sunday, 24 February 2019

Books and audiobooks on a weird-weather morning...

It’s wild and windy outside this morning, although the sun has broken through a few times, but we’re expecting high winds and rain, rain, rain all day today… not great for going outside for a long walk, but great day for staying in and reading!
I read two books last week and finished listening to an audiobook, so this might be a long post.  The first book I read, or should I say devoured, was The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.  Artist Alicia Berenson is in an institute for the criminally insane after stabbing her husband to death.  For seven years, she has not spoken a word, not even to defend herself or explain her actions. Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber, convinced that he can break through her wall of silence and get her talking, gets hired on at the institute and takes on her case as his personal challenge.  But as he digs deeper, he discovers that her silence is covering up secrets far more complex than he ever imagined. And he must consider whether, ultimately, he really wants the truth revealed. This debut thriller sucked me in right away, and kept me flying through the pages until the very last paragraph.  It was one of the best “unreliable narrator” novels I’ve read in a long time, and the plot twists were so sudden and shocking that I had to stop and think about it all until everything fell into place and I was amazed at the final picture these puzzle pieces created. This would be a great novel for anyone who enjoyed The Silent Wife (ASA Harrison), The Widow (Fiona Barton) or Before I Go To Sleep (S J Watson).
And I read a Young Adult novel, Firegirl, by Tony Abbott.  This novel is narrated by Tom, an unremarkable grade seven student who is pudgy and lacks confidence.  He has few friends, and a huge crush on Courtney, the beautiful, flawless, smart girl in class. Tom does alright and things are fine… until a new student joins his class and his life changes forever.  Jessica suffered severe burns to her face and body and is undergoing treatments in Boston, which is why her family moved to the area. Of course, everyone is uncomfortable around her because she looks different and strange, and on the occasions she speaks, she does so very quietly.  Because Tom lives near her, he is forced to interact with her when, after she misses a day of school for treatments, their teacher asks if he can bring over her homework assignment. What he discovers shakes him to the core, and he tries to reconcile his feelings with what he has always known as his reality.  This book was short but powerful, and it reminded my of R J Palacio’s bestseller Wonder.  I didn’t love Wonder, but I did enjoy this novel, probably because I prefer shorter novels that say alot.  This novel really looked at friendships and connections, and explored the idea that who you are inside is so much more important that what you look like on the outside.  It was a good novel that I would recommend to anyone in grades 5 and up.
And I finished listening to the most recent “Cormoran Strike” novel by Robert Galbraith, Lethal White, and it was awesome!  I won’t go into the plot too much, as the book was pretty long and the plot complex, but it begins with Robin’s wedding to Matthew, and the uncomfortable working relationship she has with Strike afterwards, since Matthew is dead set against her working for him after her recent attack on their last case.  Along comes Billy, a homeless man who clearly has mental health issues but insists that Strike help him discover the truth behind his memories of a strangled girl from his childhood. Strike also receives a request from a cabinet minister to help him discover dirt he can use to fight recent blackmail attempts.  Are these two cases connected? And if so, how? Spanning decades and uncovering loads of family secrets, the investigation reveals more than they could have ever anticipated as Robin and Strike race to find all the answers before someone else dies. It was a great listening experience, and I hope they never change the narrator - they have all been narrated by Robert Glenister so far, and he does an amazing job.  The plot was a bit over-the-top, but the character development for Robin and Strike, as well as the development of their relationship, gave this novel that added dimension that so many detective novels lack. It was also the reason this novel was so very long (20 parts, or more than 22 hours of listening!). I would recommend it to anyone, but you need to have read at least the first book in the series, if not all of them, to fully understand their complex relationship.
That’s all for today.  Oh, today is the start of Freedom To Read Week, and in honour of that, I’m using my “Banned Books” mug for my chai tea this morning!  My favourite banned book is probably Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence, but unfortunately I don't have time to read it this week, as I have a book club meeting on Saturday and have barely begun reading our selection.  Happy FTRW, everyone, and read a banned or challenged book today!

Bye for now…
Julie

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