A few mini-reviews:
The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton
This is one I had been looking forward to, but when I finished it I couldn't help but feel it was a very average book which had been marketed very well. There were a couple of storylines – one around the dollhouse full of miniature figurines, and another based around Nella's relationship with her new husband.
There were many loose ends left at the end of the book; I couldn't see the connection between the two storylines, and I think the book would have worked just as well if the dollhouse plotline had been omitted. The story of Nella and her husband was interesting enough without adding on a gimmicky storyline that was distracting at best. Disappointing
The End of Mr Y - Scarlett Thomas
The story revolves around a supposedly cursed book called The End of Mr Y. Our protagonist stumbles upon this book in a second-hand bookstore, and attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding it. This leads her to a world of talking mice, time travel and strange men (possibly from the CIA) who are trying to kill her. It is an extremely cerebral and strange novel. It's the third book I have read by Scarlett Thomas, and I have enjoyed all of them on some level. This one was the oddest of all, and I know I lost track towards the end as I couldn't wrap my brain around all the concepts covered. Still it's well worth a read, but not a relaxing one!
End of Watch - Stephen King
This is the last in the recent Stephen King trilogy, which started with Mr Mercedes.
Bill Hodges is still operating as a private investigator with his sidekick Holly, and together they are pulled into a number of recent murders. Evidence at the crime scenes suggests that Brady Hartsfield (from the earlier books) is somehow responsible, even though he is in a vegetative state in a nearby hospital.
Overall, this was a very disappointing finish to the series (which never wholly grabbed me anyway). A supernatural element was added and this changed the whole tone of the series into something that was frankly silly.
The Sixth Extinction - Elizabeth Kolbert
Non-fiction book which covers the 5 extinction events that have happened since life began on Earth. Some scientists believe that we are now in the midst of the 6th extinction, helped along by our impact on the environment. The book breaks down each of these extinctions in separate chapters. There are also detailed sections covering some specific current extinctions (ie. particular species of frogs and bats). These - especially of the bats - were very upsetting to read. There was also a lot of focus on what effect humans have had. Pretty depressing overall.
Last Night in Montreal - Emily St John Mandel
I loved Station Eleven, but this is a completely different genre, so perhaps it's unfair to compare the two. The main character, Lillia has a habit of abandoning boyfriends, literally overnight and with no explanation. When she does this with her current boyfriend Eli, he decides to dig deeper into her life and her part to find out why she does this.
I wasn't all that taken in with the explanation and I found Lillia to be selfish, rather than an interesting character. I couldn't fully get her motives and found the premise behind it to be weak. Average.
The Jigsaw Man - Paul Britton
Written by a forensic psychologist who has assisted in many high profile cases. Here he speaks of them and how his input has assisted in finding the guilty person.
It has to be said though that he has now been disbarred from assisting the police after his involvement in the investigation of Rachel Nickell's murder (on Wimbledon Common). I wasn't aware of this when I started reading the book, and I think if I had it would has changed my mind about it.
As it stands, I did enjoy it and it has to be one of the most interesting books on true crime I have read.
The Circle - Dave Eggers
Set in the near future, The Circle is an organisation which links everything via social media to the nth degree. Full transparency and sharing of experiences and feelings is encouraged. Mae joins this company somewhat naïvely and is soon fully involved in this new lifestyle of sharing and oversharing. It begins to invade her private life and that of her family and friends. It's a very exaggerated view of what is happening today with Facebook and twitter etc., but perhaps too exaggerated so it lost some of it's impact.
I thought this was a pretty poor book, followed by an extremely poor movie.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon - Brad Stone
I thought this was a very balanced view of Amazon (and Jeff Bezos), and how it has grown to be the humongous company it is today. It is critical and complimentary in equal measures, but you can sense the admiration that the author has. It's hard to believe how much the company has achieved in such a short space of time. I liked reading how unique Bezos is in his management style, though I imagine he'd be pretty brutal to work for. Recommended.