It’s been nearly two years since my last batch of NetGalley reviews, and I have a habit of nabbing “read now for first 50/100/200 requests” books so have quite a few more that I’ve read (and more that I’ve not read). I’m listing them in reverse order of when I got them, and the further back we go, the more likely my reviews are going to be “er, don’t remember much…”
The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert (Penguin, 2018)
(received December 2017; read March 2018)
Seventeen year old Alice has spent her life on the road with her mother, running away from what appears to be a host of bad luck. After the death of her grandmother, the borderline between reality and fairy tale merge as characters from her grandmother’s stories appear to be hunting Alice…
The Hazel Wood has a great concept, with some very dark and disturbing tales. I do like stories where humans and faerie meet, but it’s not my top genre and overall I found The Hazel Wood merely meh. It just wasn’t my kind of book.
The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Nevermoor 1 – Jessica Townsend (Orion Children’s Books, 2017)
(received October 2017; read October 2017; bought)
Ten year old Morrigan has been blamed for all local misfortunes since her birth. As a cursed child, she’s fated to die on her eleventh birthday, but instead she gets whisked away to the magical city of Nevermoor…
If I was reviewing the NetGalley release of this, it gets zero stars. The formatting made the book almost completely unreadable. However, I just about managed to read the first few pages and decided to purchase the book on the basis of those and the synopsis. And the beautiful book cover, and being half price didn’t hurt 😉
This is the first book in a magical series and it is wonderful (or possibly Wundrous). I’ve only given four stars because I think it’s one that I’ll need to re-read to get more from, and see how the series progresses, but it’s definitely a must read for anyone who likes children’s fantasy and magical worlds. I’m looking forward to more.
Why Mummy Drinks – Gill Sims (HarperCollins, 2017)
(received September 2017; read September 2017)
I follow Peter and Jane and Mummy Too on Facebook. and generally half love / half dislike her posts, so when this came up as Read Now I grabbed it out of curiosity. And actually, it was much better than I was expecting.
Being fictionalised works for Gill Sims, and her main characters worries about middle-age, middle class problems, children, husband, not feeling like she fits in anywhere are amusingly captured. The main thing that bugs me is wondering if it really is that easy to write an app, as it seems to take her no time to throw together? I’m sure it doesn’t work like that. But I still found it a fun read. Enjoyable popcorn.
Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough (HarperCollins, 2017)
(received August 2017; read August 2017)
Why, oh why, do I always fall for synopsis that promise amazing twist endings. This one even has its own hashtag #wtfthatending.
***POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT***
This book is genre fiction. It becomes very obvious with the dreams and the doors that this is heading in a particular direction. And although I may have got a detail of the ending wrong, the general gist of it seemed pretty obvious. The title is a complete give away too. Sigh.
Understanding Autism in Adults and Ageing Adults – Theresa M Regan (IndieGo Publishing, 2017)
(received April 2017; read April 2017)
I went through an autism book phase last year and I can’t remember the details of this one. I don’t think it used much problematic language and was up to date with current research.
There is a definite need for more books about autistic adults, and this is a welcome addition to increase awareness of why there are undiagnosed adults and how this can be addressed.
As I said, I don’t remember in great detail, and it wasn’t as good as Luke Beardon’s Autism and Asperger Syndrome in adults, and I’m sure it had some problematic areas, but it’s on the good end of the autism book spectrum.
How To Stop Time – Matt Haig (Cannongate, 2017)
(received April 2017; read April 2017; bought)
I’m sure this bestselling – and soon to be converted into a Cumberbatch-headlining film – novel needs little introduction.
I find Haig’s twitter and facebook posts generally awesome. In a handful of sentences, he defends mental health and describes depression and anxiety so well. I appreciate his insight.
And I do like his work. I liked The Radleys, The Humans, the Christmas trilogy, I appreciate Reasons to Stay Alive, I will be buying Notes from a Nervous Planet as soon as it’s published. And I did really enjoy How To Stop Time. Enough to buy it in hardback, and again in special edition illustrated hardback. But it’s still not an all-time favourite. I think, for me, Haig is someone I need to read twice to be able to appraise fully, and once I’ve done that I might be able to give a better review.
Let The Dead Speak – Jane Casey (HarperCollins, 2017)
(received February 2017; read March 2017)
We are now deep into “I can’t remember this book” territory, and it will get worse.
This is a thriller / crime thing. I like them as popcorn. I probably ought to write a post on adult thrillers and why I bother to read them, but I think my opinion will come through on the several books in this post.
This is the seventh in a series, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. Not knowing the backstory of the characters wasn’t detrimental, although maybe it would have increased my enjoyment if I’d known the characters longer. But I did enjoy it. It was a good read. I just can’t tell it apart from any other crime thriller.
See You In The Cosmos – Jack Cheng (Puffin, 2017)
(received February 2017; read March 2017)
The eleven year old main character of See You In The Cosmos has an asperger-esque / Curious Incident Christopher feel to his personality so, although stereotypical, I thought I might warm to this story.
But it’s just lacking somehow. It’s not the heartwarming tale it seems to want to be, and a year later I can barely remember it. I think Zoe Toft’s review on Goodreads describes See You In The Cosmos beautifully. It didn’t work for me.
Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister (Penguin, 2017)
(received January 2017; read January 2017)
If you liked Gone Girl, you might also enjoy Everything But The Truth.
This is not a compliment.
Two unlikable characters in a relationship and having a baby. Poor child. They’re both awful as far as I remember and I don’t know why they were together or why I was supposed to care about them staying together. I do not like books with unlikable main characters. What is the point? I disliked Gone Girl, and I disliked Everything But The Truth.
Good Me, Bad Me – Ali Land (Penguin, 2017)
(received October 2016; read in 2016)
Back into twisty thrillers that don’t work for me territory. It’s an interesting concept: a teenage girl whose mother is a serial killer, given a new lease of life being fostered into a rich family and trying to be normal.
And it’s just as predictable as you’d expect it to be, given the title and the synopsis. Quite fun in a horrific way (the mother murdered children), but ultimately just meh. Why do I keep falling for thriller synopses?!
Missing, Presumed – Susie Steiner (HarperCollins, 2016)
(received August 2016; read March 2017)
Crime thriller popcorn.
I read this back to back with Let The Dead Speak and I can’t remember them from each other. From the synopses, it seems that Let The Dead Speak is the one that I remember details from, so I’m not sure if they’re muddled up together or I just don’t remember this one at all. I think I don’t remember this one at all after flipping through some Goodreads reviews.
A Boy Made Of Blocks – Keith Stuart (Little, Brown, 2016)
(received May 2016; read in 2016; bought)
At first, I thought I was going to really dislike this book. Marriage appears to break up because of autistic child, dad can’t deal with autistic child, isn’t autism a strain for the parents etc. The beginning of the book was a hard read.
But it’s not one of those books after all. The main protagonist learns to connect with his son via Minecraft, and he grows throughout the novel realising that he is the problem, not the autistic son. It’s a delight having a novel from an “autism parent” perspective that shows that it’s the parents’ viewpoint that can cause issues, and by trying to understand what autistic people are feeling and thinking, instead of expecting them to conform, works.
Baby Doll – Hollie Overton (Century, 2016)
(received April 2016; read in 2016)
Baby Doll is more-or-less Room (Emma Donoghue) written from the mother’s perspective instead of the child’s.
And the mother has a twin sister.
Okay, so I don’t remember much of this, but I remember being bugged by the child. She has a daughter who may as well be a stuffed toy for all she ever seems to react to anything. It seemed a bit lazy, not really bothering to see anything from the child’s viewpoint. I forget most of the rest. Another popcorn read but if you only want to read one captured teen escaping after many years, then read Room.
M Is For Autism – The Students of Limpsfield Grange and Vicky Martin (Jessica Kingsley, 2015)
(received August 2015; read August 2015 & July 2017; bought)
M is for Autism is a small, very colourful book, telling the fictionalised story of a teenage girl who chooses to be called “M”, and her journey to an autism diagnosis, based on lived experiences of autistic teen girls.
M is for Autism should be pressed into the hands of every teen/tween autistic (or suspected) girl and her parents. It is wonderful. The artwork is from the students of Limpsfield Grange, a school for girls on the autism spectrum.
There is a sequel YA novel, M in the Middle, which I also thoroughly recommend.
The Quality of Silence – Rosamund Lupton (Little, Brown, 2015)
(received August 2015; read April 2017)
A mother and her deaf daughter drive across the treacherous icy roads of Northern Alaska in search of the missing husband/father who they’ve been told is dead.
There were bad guys and totally implausible bits, and I don’t remember too much now but I think it was okay.