Posts Tagged ‘books’

Book Blog Tour ~ The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

The Frog Theory CoverKim and Flow are best friends, living on a council estate, making money selling marijuana and dreaming of bigger and better things. Clate is a girl from a nice neighbourhood, living with her her mum and her violent stepfather. The Principal runs a college for problem teens, excelling professionally but struggling with secrets she conceals.

Mordaunt does a great job at showing that appearances can be deceiving; while Clate has a well-to-do family, and a nice house, underneath it all, she’s suffering at the hands of a violent abuser. Flow on the other hand, may come from a council estate, and already, at 17, have a criminal record, but he’s ambitious, loyal and a great friend to Kim. Kim, who is really the central character of the four, also has ambition, but his home life has been a hindrance, and he also has to overcome previous trouble with the police to do the things he wants to do.

In the middle of all this, we have the Principal, referred to by her job title throughout almost the entire novel. She has demons of her own, and adds to her problems by pursuing an ill-thought out sexual relationship. While the three young characters are easy to engage with, and get to know, I found it harder to care about this woman.

The Frog Theory is only a short novel, and explores some interesting themes, but I feel it loses its way a little in the final third. Everything becomes a little bit overblown, and instead of keeping things simple as a way to resolve the narrative threads, it instead goes all out to show how far these people have come. Clate’s way out of her situation is all just a little too convenient, leaving it feeling entirely far-fetched. Instead of showing how a young woman can find help to find her way out of an abusive home, she’s given a magic solution that doesn’t feel entirely satisfying.

As it only took me an afternoon to read this short book, it doesn’t really matter to me that it didn’t quite live up to early expectations. It’s just not one that will stay in the memory for very long.

 

 

January 2017 Books

January

Not a stellar start to the year for reading in terms of numbers – I was hoping to start as I mean to go on with plenty of reading, but January got away from me. Luckily, in terms of quality, it was a good month; three really good books!

The Dry by Jane Harper *
This is the story of a murdered family in a small farming town in Australia. The inhabitants are already having to deal with the years-long drought that is devastating their livelihoods, so when the family are murdered in an apparent murder-suicide by the husband and father of the victims, tensions run high. Into this comes Aaron, childhood friend of the chief suspect; as a police officer he is drawn into the investigation, and finds secrets from years ago resurfacing. You can read my full review here; it’s a taut and tense thriller with the brutality of the drought conditions adding to the oppressive atmosphere.

The One Memory of Flora Banks *
Flora Banks has anterrograde amnesia, preventing her from creating new memories. She remembers everything since before she was ten, but since then, she relies on information that her mum gives her via a book to discover who she is; she had a brain tumour that caused her memory problems, but she has a best friend and parents who love her and who will always look after her. This has been her life for seven years, but when she kisses a boy on a beach, she suddenly finds herself with a new memory that she is able to retain. She is in love with the boy from the beach, and despite her limitations, she ends up on a journey to Svalbard to find him. This is a beautiful story, and though it might seem as though it’s a lazy YA book about a boy and a girl, it’s really not. It’s a journey of self-discovery for Flora, and although she thinks she has set out to find a boy, what she’s really done is set out to find herself. As cliched as that may sound, the story is anything but. It even turns itself into a bit of a thriller at the end, and it’s well worth a read. 

English Animals by Laura Kaye *
19 year old Mirka is Slovakian, drawn to the UK to escape a family situation at home. She finds herself in the employ of an upper-middle class couple at a country house, helping them with their new taxidermy business. To say too much about the story would be to give things away, but the story follows Mirka for a year as she becomes a part of this couple’s life, and things take a turn. Written from the perspective of Mirka, a woman whose first language is not English, emphasis is place on the otherness of people like Richard and Sophie, the couple for whom she works. Read my full review here.

Books marked with an asterisk were sent to be by publishers for a review.

Because my start of the year posts never got written, I never got around to rounding up last year’s reads, or setting myself a target for this year. I still might right a round up of 2016 in books, but for now, I’ve decided on 75 again. I didn’t manage it last year, but I’m nothing if not a tryer.

Books in 2017 – 3

Book Blog Tour ~ The Dry by Jane Harper

download

The worst drought to hit Australia in a century is already causing tensions to run high in Kiewarra, a small farming town that hasn’t seen rain for two years. Things become unbearable when a local family is murdered, and the only suspect is Luke, husband and father, who appears to have killed himself after gunning down his wife and son.

Luke’s childhood friend Aaron Falk is the protagonist who leads the reader through the story. As a police officer himself, he is drawn into the investigation into the family’s deaths, and his presence in his childhood home forces him to confront some of the lies and secrets that caused him to leave in the first place.

Through the clever use of flashbacks, the reader learns that Aaron and his father were implicated in the death of a teenage girl decades earlier, after she drowned and left a note showing only one word – their surname. This old mystery runs alongside the current investigation into the murders of the Hadlers, and though Aaron would rather leave the past in the past, secrets refuse to stay buried, and the two cases become intertwined.

The crime at the centre of the novel is a strong one, and one that will keep readers guessing. The oppressive feeling of returning to a place long consigned to memory is compounded by the heat of the weather; Aaron is struggling with his return to a community that effectively ran him out of town, and this feeling is emphasised by the brutality of the drought conditions. There is no respite from the weather, or the lack of weather as far as rain is concerned, and the pressure mounts throughout the novel as it becomes clear that this community is on the brink of total devastation.

The Dry is my first read of 2017, and it was a pleasure to read it. The film rights have already been acquired, and it’s obvious that in the right hands, this could be adapted to a taut and atmospheric crime thriller.

Friday

Book Review ~ Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

30253864Lauren Graham feels like a celebrity you could know. She’s amazing at what she does, but she doesn’t feel as though her life is so completely out of step with my own; she easily feels like someone I could grab a coffee with. This is probably due in part to her role as everyone’s favourite television mum, Lorelai Gilmore, but it’s an impression further strengthened for me by reading her memoir, Talking as Fast as I Can.

Now seems the perfect time for this book, not least for all the publicity opportunities, but because it is bookended, more or less, quite perfectly by Graham’s two experiences of working on Gilmore Girls, first time around and for the recent revival. Her memories of the latter are helped by the fact that she kept a diary, and the reader is treated to excerpts of this as she writes about how it felt to return to the role that so many people hold close to her heart.

Her experience of the original run of the series is less well remembered, which is a shame. For the purposes of the the book, instead of reaching back into her memories, Graham rewatches the series and comments on it, almost as though she wasn’t there. We get the odd insight, but for the most part, this is slightly disappointing.

All in all, it’s an enjoyable memoir, and one that I love because of my huge affection for Gilmore Girls, and for Lorelai Gilmore, a fondness that extends to Lauren Graham. But those hoping for juicy gossip from behind the series, particularly the original series, are sure to feel a little disappointed.

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
First published: December 2016
ISBN: 9780425285176
Virago
Provided by publisher

Talking As Fast As I Can ~ Book Blog Tour

29th-november

Today I’m excited to be taking part in a blog tour for Talking As Fast As I Can, the memoir by Lauren Graham. When you’ve been planning a Gilmore Girls party to coincide with the much-anticipated release of four new episodes, and you open your inbox to find an email titled ‘Calling all Gilmore Girls fans’, that’s a pretty good day right there. The party went ahead on Friday with nary a hitch, and I’ll be blogging about it (and my thoughts on the new episodes) later this week.

But for now, to celebrate the release of Talking As Fast As I Can, I’m going to share a couple of my favourite Lorelai Gilmore moments. As an actress, Lauren Graham has done more than just portray one of the titular girls of the Gilmore family, and she’s also written a New York Times bestselling novel. But she will always and forever be known as the wise-cracking, sarcastic, fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore.

To provide a little context to this clip, my favourite, laugh-out-loud Lorelai moment, you need to know this. Rory has been at a party which has descended into chaos due to the fact that Jess, Rory’s boyfriend, and Dean, Rory’s ex-boyfriend, have had a fight, because they are stupid boys fighting over Rory.  Lorelai is asking for the details, and at first, it seems as though Rory is going to get into trouble: “This fence is broken because of you. This crap is on the ground because of you…”

When she starts singing Wind Beneath My Wings at Rory, it makes me laugh out loud. It’s hilarious, but it also exemplifies everything that is great about Lorelai and Rory’s relationship. When Rory needs to be told that what she is doing is wrong, Lorelai has no trouble doing it. But in a situation like this, Lorelai gets to show that their relationship can switch easily between mother-daughter, and best friends, and for me, that’s part of what makes the show so great. Also, did I mention that it makes me laugh out loud? Every single time I watch it.

There’s also this one, in which Lorelai pretends that her mother’s phone is broken, pretending she can’t hear her and proceeding to leave a message on her answer phone.

I was reminded of that particular one when I was searching YouTube for ‘Lorelai phonecall’, because I wanted to include Lorelai’s standout moment from the revival episodes – the phone call to Emily while she stands and looks at the view. To say more would spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but if you have, you know what I mean.

talking-as-fast-as-i-canTalking As Fast As I Can is out on December 6th, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be reviewing it here just as soon as I have my hands on it.

What’s your favourite Lorelai Gilmore moment?

1 2 3 4 5 35