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Lucybird

Lucybird's Books 2013

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So glad Peaches was a good read, on that is on my wishlist.

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So glad Peaches was a good read, on that is on my wishlist.

 

I hope you enjoy it too then. I hear that there may be another in the series planned as well.

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Still Alice- Lisa Genova

 

This book was read as part of the wishlist challenge.

 

Synopsis (from amazon)

 

When Alice finds herself in the rapidly downward spiral of Alzheimer's Disease she is just fifty years old. A university professor, wife, and mother of three, she still has so much more to do - books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But when she can't remember how to make her famous Christmas pudding, when she gets lost in her own back yard, when she fails to recognise her actress daughter after a superb performance, she comes up with a desperate plan. But can she see it through? Should she see it through? Losing her yesterdays, living for each day, her short-term memory is hanging on by a couple of frayed threads. But she is still Alice.

 

Review

 

I read a review of Still Alice on a blog quite some time ago (long enough ago that I can't remember whose blog it was, sorry!) which made me put it on my wishlist. By the time I actually bought it I couldn't really even remember what it was about.

 

In terms of books about Alzheimer's I found it rather emotive and there were moments I just felt so, not despairing exactly, but almost pityful for Alice. At times it was just gut-wrenching.

 

I liked Alice a lot, even as she forgot more and more, and I think that's part of what made it so emotive. However I did not like John. He didn't seem supportive at all, and I found him rather selfish.

 

There were a couple of little things which annoyed me. First Alice was a psychology professor but still didn't recognise her symptoms as being Alzheimer's, however I was able to forgive this. Even if you know something it's easy to pretend it isn't happening, or to attribute it to something else. The second thing was that one of her daughters had noticed something but said nothing. I can see it being awkward to talk to her Mum about it, ut I would have thought that she might at least have brought her thoughts up with someone else in the family.

 

4/5

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Glad to read you liked this book. I bought it a while ago but haven't got around to reading it yet.

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Glad to read you liked this book. I bought it a while ago but haven't got around to reading it yet.

 

It's worth it. As far as emotional fiction goes it's quite an easy read too, which helps

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Last Train From Liguria- Christine Dwyer Hickey

 

Synopsis (from amazon)

 

In 1933, Bella Stuart leaves her quiet London life to move to Italy to tutor the child of a beautiful Jewish heiress and an elderly Italian aristocrat. Living at the family's summer home, Bella's reserve softens as she comes to love her young charge, and find friendship with Maestro Edward, his enigmatic music teacher. But as the decade draws to an end and fascism tightens its grip on Europe, the fact that Alec is Jewish places his life in grave danger. Bella and Edward take the boy on a terrifying train journey out of Italy - one they have no reason to believe any of them will survive...
 
Review
 
I was surprised to find that this book had three storylines running through it, as only one appears in the synopsis. The first (and probably main) story is the story of Bella. A spinster essentially (considering her age and the time she was living in) who is sent to Italy in the reign of Mussolini by her father to care for a young boy- Alec.
 
The second story, which takes place in modern times,  is that of a woman who watches as her Grandmother slowly dies in front of her eyes and finds out that, despite being brought up by the woman, she barely knew her at all.
 
The third is the story of a man who flees his home after killing his sister in a drunken rage- also set during the run up to the second world war.
 
Somehow all the storylines were a little too much. We enter the story with the last storyline, which put me off a little as it was not at all what I expected. In some ways this story added a flavour to the story- and maybe explanations for later on, but it wasn't really needed.
 
The second storyline just frustrated me because it took me away from the story I was interested in, and it definitely wasn't needed. I'm not even sure why Dwyer Hickey decided to include it.
 
The main story itself did take sometime to get going. But it did mean that I felt like I was building a relationship with Bella, and although at times it did feel a little like it was dragging ultimately it made me care about her, enough that her story ended too abruptly for me.
 
I loved the way atmosphere was built in this story. The beauty of Italy contrasting with the increasingly tense atmosphere. It was like some sort of reverse pathetic fallacy (is there actually a term for that? I'm sure there is but really cannot think of it).
 
As a war story, Last Train From Liguria is different, maybe it is more realistic in its way. Bella seems very naive but maybe she was just in denial? I'm sure there were plenty of people like that.
 

3/5

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City of Women- David Gillham

 

Disclaimer: This book was provided for me free of charge, by the publisher (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

 

Synopsis (from amazon)

It is 1943 - the height of the Second World War. With the men taken by the army, Berlin has become a city of women. And while her husband fights on the Eastern Front, Sigrid Schroder is, for all intents and purposes, the model soldier's wife: she goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law. But behind this facade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former Jewish lover, who is now lost in the chaos of the war. Sigrid's tedious existence is turned upside-down when she finds herself hiding a mother and her two young daughters: could they be her lover's family? Now she must make terrifying choices that could cost her everything.

 

Review

 

I read Lisa's review of this book a month or two ago  which made me immediately search for and request it on netgalley. I'm  big reader of World War fiction and this one sounded a little more unique, plus the review made me think it would be well done.

 

It was an interesting subject. I think we should really admire Germans who harboured Jews during Hitler's reign. It would be so easy just to ignore what was going on around you and stay safe (or at least relatively safe).

 

I quite liked how Sigrid battled with wanting to be a 'good German' and not being able to ignore what was going on around her. It showed that she wasn't some sort of saint, but that this was the way she reacted to the situation. In thatsense it makes the idea rather hopeful, that anyone could do something amazing for a fellow human-being, given the right circumstances.

 

In many ways she was just trying to get through the days, waiting for the war to end. And I can imagine it was that way for a lot of people.

 

The story was very sad, but also hopeful. I really felt for Sigrid, even if I didn't always like her. Again it just showed that she was human.

 


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me. - Martin Niemöller

 

4/5

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I added City of Women to my wish list too.

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Lost and Found- Tom Winter

 

Synopsis (from amazon)



It started with a letter …


Carol is married to a man she doesn’t love and mother to a daughter she doesn’t understand. Crippled with guilt, she can’t shake the feeling that she has wasted her life. So she puts pen to paper and writes a Letter to the Universe.


Albert is a widowed postman, approaching retirement age, and living with his cat, Gloria, for company. Slowly being pushed out at his place of work, he is forced down to the section of the post office where they sort undeliverable mail. When a series of letters turns up with a smiley face drawn in place of an address, he cannot help reading them.



Review

 

Lost and Found is a rather quaint story. I don’t exactly have much to say about it. It’s not exciting, and although not exactly predictable nothing happens which you wouldn’t really expect, it could quite easily be true.

 

That is not to say that it isn’t enjoyable to read. It had quite a conversational style which I enjoyed, and the characters were believable and likeable, especially Albert.


I didn’t really like the ultimate decision which Carol made, but I did understand it, and maybe if she had made the other decision it would have made for a less enjoyable story.

 

3.5/5

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Night Waking- Sarah Moss

 

Synopsis (from amazon)


Historian Anna Bennett has a book to write. She also has an insomniac toddler, a precocious, death-obsessed seven-year-old, and a frequently absent ecologist husband who has brought them all to Colsay, a desolate island in the Hebrides, so he can count the puffins. Ferociously sleep-deprived, torn between mothering and her desire for the pleasures of work and solitude, Anna becomes haunted by the discovery of a baby’s skeleton in the garden of their house. Her narrative is punctuated by letters home, written 200 years before, by May, a young, middle-class midwife desperately trying to introduce modern medicine to the suspicious, insular islanders. The lives of these two characters intersect unexpectedly in this deeply moving but also at times blackly funny story about maternal ambivalence, the way we try to control children, and about women’s vexed and passionate relationship with work.

 

Moss’s second novel displays an exciting expansion of her range – showing her to be both an excellent comic writer and a novelist of great emotional depth.


Review


I found this book rather emotionally tough at times. I really liked Anna but because we could see in her head I often found the things she thought, and sometimes even the things she did made me feel uneasy, especially when it came to her children.

 

In fact it was quite well done because you could understand Anna’s thoughts and approach to things, even though you might not agree, and they were easy things to judge her for.


A lot of the book was about Anna as a mother. At times I did actually find her to be a good mother, but at others she completely lost the plot. Maybe that made it authentic, I really don’t know, I maybe hope not. I suppose all parents get frustrated with their kids sometimes, but Anna didn’t always deal with it well.

 

There was something about the kids. I think Raph maybe wasn’t meant to be ‘normal’, certainly he seemed ‘too clever’, but I did really like him. Moth was presented at the ‘normal’ kid but I work with two year olds, and he seems rather infantile.


The letters I found rather frustrating. They seemed to break the story, but the way they eventually linked in to the rest of the story made them worth reading.


It’s far from the easiest read, but I did end up abandoning my paperback in favour of finishing Night Waking, and I think that says a lot about how it captured me.


4/5

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The Lifeboat- Charlotte Rogan

This book was read as part of the wishlist challenge
 
Synopsis (from amazon)
 
I was to stand trial for my life. I was twenty-two years old. I had been married for ten weeks and a widow for six.
 
It is 1914 and Europe is on the brink of war. When a magnificent ocean liner suffers a mysterious explosion en route to New York City, Henry Winter manages to secure a place in a lifeboat for his new wife Grace. But the survivors quickly realize the boat is over capacity and could sink at any moment. For any to live, some must die.
 
Over the course of three perilous weeks, the passengers on the lifeboat plot, scheme, gossip and console one another while sitting inches apart. Their deepest beliefs are tested to the limit as they begin to discover what they will do in order to survive.
 
Review
 
There was a lot of talk going on around The Lifeboat. It was one of the Waterstone's 11 last year, and there were a hell of a lot of reviews around.
 
It was on my wishlist for a long time, but once I actually got it it took me three months to actually get around to reading it. Partly because of my requested reviews backlog. I had actually been excited about reading it.
 
I had expected to like the part of the story focused in the lifeboat itself to be the most interesting (it was split between a tale of what happened on the lifeboat, and Grace's impending trial), but actually I found that rather slow moving, and you didn't get the moral debate I had expected. In fact the idea of people being sent from the lifeboat, or jumping was barely discussed at all. It was more a story of what extreme situations can bring out in people.
 
There was also a vague mystery aspect which was interesting, except we never really got any answers. It was almost as if Rogan had started another storyline but forgotten or been unable to finish it.
 
The sea scenes were rather well done, and you could imagine very easily what it might be like to be on a little lifeboat in the middle of the ocean.
 
4/5

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