This month I have managed to work my way through four books, two of which were hits and another two which didn't quite live up to expectations.
Before I Go To Sleep - SJ Watson
This book seems to be everywhere at the moment, in the front window of Waterstones and WH Smith and in the bestseller lists so I thought I should give it a go to find out what all the fuss is about!
The basic premise of the novel is that of Christine, a woman who wakes up every morning with no memory of her life. Each day she finds out more about her previous life, and her current life with her husband, Ben, however every night, when she goes to sleep, she forgets everything she has learnt and wakes up again the next morning with no recollection of any of her life’s previous events.
The idea behind this book sounded intriguing and indeed I did find the first half of the book fairly absorbing. However the second half dragged for me, I could see what was coming next a mile off, and I was getting increasingly frustrated with Christine as a character as I just didn’t find her likable, and as a result, had very little sympathy for her. Perhaps I was taken in by the hype surrounding this novel, but based on this effort, I don’t think I will be rushing to purchase Watson’s next book.
The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman
This is technically a children's book although I personally think it could be rather scary for children, - hey, even I was a little scared! It revolves around a boy named Bod, who grows up in a graveyard after his family is mysteriously killed by a person known only as 'The Man Jack' and focuses on his escapades as he gets older and on the undead who bring him up as one of their own.
This was my first Neil Gaiman book after dismissing his fiction previously as fantasy, which I didn't use to think was to my interest. I thoroughly enjoyed this, against all expectations, and will certainly be looking to read more of his books.
Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea - Barbara Demick
This had been on our bookshelves for some time and recent events in North Korea prompted me to pick this up. Barbara Demick is an American journalist who lives in Seoul and through a series of interviews, she pieces together the lives of 6 defectors from North Korea, telling of their experiences and views of the regime.
I found this highly fascinating, although often heartbreaking, as tales of whole families split apart are told and the population seem to accept it unthinkingly, believing there is no way out. A very informative read and it makes you feel thankful for the life that you have and often take for granted.
The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories - Michel Faber
This is a collection of short stories based around the characters from 'The Crimson Petal and the White', and fills in some gaps in the character's lives, such as what happened after the conclusion of 'The Crimson Petal'.
I very much enjoyed Michel Faber's 'The Crimson Petal and the White' and even went along to a talk by the author at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year where Michel spoke about the recent BBC adaptation. I have enjoyed pretty much everything he has written but I felt this fell well short of his usual high standard, and almost seemed as if he was continuing the story in order to profit more from his hugely successful cast of previous characters. If you are seeking answers or a continuation of the story from the 'Crimson Petal', you will be disappointed as I felt, a little infuriately, almost all the stories raised more questions than answers.
Have you read any good books lately? I'm always looking for more recommendations to add to my wish list!!