The bit at the beginning
Seeing as it’s almost the end of another year I thought it might be nice to have a sort of review of what I’ve read this year. What the best books have been, and the worst, and the most surprising. I’ll probably go on to talk about the books I’d like to read as a result of what I have read.
As I started logging my books from about the beginning of February those are all I will mention. My first review was written in late Febuary so on lists I will highlight books with no reviews in red, books with reviews on this blog will be linked. Those not reviewed on here are reviewed on my thread at The Book Club Forum, if you aren’t a member there (Why not?!) but would like to see a review of something mentioned let me know. I’ll post full reviews for the ‘winners’
So off we go…
Books read (45)
JK Rowling- Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban (re-read)
John Boyne- Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Johnathon Coe- The Rain Before it Falls
Jodi Piccoult- 19 Minutes
Jodi Piccoult- Change of Heart
Tracy Chevalier- Girl with a Pearl Earring
Anthony Trollope- Rachel Ray
Tracy Quan- Diary of a Married Call Girl
Nathaniel Hawthorne- The Scarlet Letter
Rosie Thomas- The Potter’s House
Stephan Fry- The Liar
Jasper Fforde- Lost in a Good book
Vikas Swarup- Q&A
Louis de Bernieres- A Partisan’s Daughter
Alice Kuipers- Life on the Refrigerator Door
Steig Larsoon- The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo
Danny Scheinmann- Random Acts of Heroic Love
Jodi Picoult- Handle with Care
Karen Joy Fowler- The Jane Austen book club
Augusten Burroughs- Running with Scissors
The Well of Lost Plots- Jasper Fforde
Emotional Geology- Linda Gillard
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Proust and the Squid- Maryanne Wolf
Dorothy Koomson- The Chocolate Run
Kim Edwards- The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
Linda Gillard- Star Gazing
Norwegian Wood- Haruki Murakami
Jasper Fforde- The Big Over Easy
Elizabeth Noble- Things I want my Daughter to know
Elizabeth Huntley Whinthrop- December
Daniel Levitin- This is Your Brain on Music
Mitch Alborn- For One More Day
Steve Toltz- A fraction of the whole
Jodi Picoult- Songs of the Humpback Whale
Haruki Murakami- The Wind up Bird Chronicles
Catherine Flynn- What was Lost
Alice Hoffman- Blue Diary
Charlaine Harris- Dead Until Dark
Charlaine Harris- Living Dead in Dallas
Gail Anderson-Dargatz- The Cure for Death by Lightening
Sebastian Fawkes- The Fatal Englishman
Gisile Scalon- The Goddess Guide
Sebastian Barry- The Secret Scripture
Stephenie Meyer- New Moon
And I gave up on The Hunchback of Notre-dame after about 100 For pages (a review does exist for those 100 pages)
A Partisan’s Daughter by Louis de Bernieres 3.5-4.5/5
Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann 4.5/5
Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult 5/5
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami 4.5/5
Oh no and now I have to pick one…can I pick 2…please! Well I guess on a personal level I pick Handle with Care, but For One More Day would probably be enjoyed more by people generally.
So I suppose…
THE WINNERS ARE HANDLE WITH CARE AND FOR ONE MORE DAY
Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
Synopsis (from amazon)
Everything breaks. Some things just hurt more than others.
Charlotte O’Keefe’s beautiful, much-longed-for, adored daughter Willow is born with osteogenesis imperfecta – a very severe form of brittle bone disease. If she slips on a crisp packet she could break both her legs, and spend six months in a half body cast. After years of caring for Willow, her family faces financial disaster. Then Charlotte is offered a lifeline. She could sue her obstetrician for wrongful birth – for not having diagnosed Willow’s condition early enough in the pregnancy to be able to abort the child. The payout could secure Willow’s future. But to get it would mean Charlotte suing her best friend. And standing up in court to declare that she would have prefered that Willow had never been born…
Before I even started this book I knew it could be one which I could connect with, and I’m glad I wasn’t wrong. When I was 7 I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, a disorder which is similar to osteogenisis imperfecta, in fact at points it had been proposed that this is what I have, although tests have said osteoporosis. My osteoporosis is nowhere near as bad as Willow’s but all the same I recognise some of the issues she has as my own problems, especially when I was younger. I can’t even remember my first break, or my second, one I got falling down a couple of stairs I was crawling up, the other falling off my parents bed (Highlight to view spoiler) somewhere about this time my parents were asked about child abuse, in a less blatent way than Willow’s parents, and it wasn’t until after that they found out the question they had been asked was one asked to parents who are suspected of child abuse. When I was just finishing my first year of primary school is the first break I can remember, I broke my femur falling off my scooter, I was in traction for the whole Summer holiday. I broke my leg again falling over on my crutches, then my ankle when my foot slipped off the foot rest on my pushchair while I was still recovering. After that I had no breaks until just before I joined here, in more normal circumstances this time, I was hit by a car. I had the same bisphosphonate treatment as Willow in my teens, which was rather successful. All the same I do fear things, I fear falling a little, I’ve never been skating, or learnt to ride a bike, I’m scared of heights, I hate ladders and am not always comfortable with stairs unless I already know them. I am better than I once was, I know that just falling is unlikely to harm me, although my recent break is somewhat of a set back. I have never pitied myself, it’s just the way I am, but this book has made me think about myself, and my illness (I say for want of a better word)
oh my (Highlight to view spoiler) I never expected it to end this way. I don’t understand why. Why did Willow have to die, and in such a way? Was it so nobody really lost the court case? Seems extreme measures. I would like to think that at least it meant that Pippa and Charlotte, and Emma and Amelia became friends again.
For me I think this may be my new favourite Picoult book, not because it has the best plot, or is the most well written- both those are good but maybe not her best- but because it touched me personally. It didn’t make me cry but it did bring me close a few times (and generally books don’t even do that). Sometimes because of Willow herself, sometimes because I could see myself in her, and sometimes because it brought my own memories forward.
I adored Willow, she’s so brave, and somewhat unfazed, she doesn’t feel sorry for herself. Some of that people say I have but I don’t know if I could if I was as bad as Willow is. I really liked Amelia too (Highlight to view spoiler) in ways I felt more sorry for her than Willow because Willow’s pain was mainly physical, Amelia’s was psychological and in a way that is harder to get over.
I liked how we always saw Willow through other people’s eyes. Except for the one chapter where Willow spoke. (Highlight to view spoiler: )I liked how Willow didn’t see the money as really being hers so much as something that had brought her family back together. She didn’t so much care about what the money gave to her as that it made her family happy. This part made me close to tears at first because everything that had happened it didn’t really matter to Willow, she just wanted her family to be happy.
I also liked the recipes throughout the book, they made for something different.
Other people may not like this book as much, I am not sure, but I still think everyone will enjoy it.
For One More Day by Mitch Alborn
Synopsis (from Amazon)
‘Every family is a ghost story …’ As a child, Charley Benetto was told by his father, ‘You can be a mama’s boy or a daddy’s boy, but you can’t be both.’ So he chooses his father, only to see him disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence. Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been destroyed by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits rock bottom after discovering he won’t be invited to his only daughter’s wedding. And he decides to take his own life. Charley makes a midnight ride to his small hometown: his final journey. But as he staggers into his old house, he makes an astonishing discovery. His mother – who died eight years earlier – is there, and welcomes Charley home as if nothing had ever happened. What follows is the one seemingly ordinary day so many of us yearn for: a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain the family secrets and to seek forgiveness.
Having read and enjoyed 5 People You Meet in Heaven by the same author I had high hopes for this book- enough that I was worried it would never meet up to my expectations. I was not disappointed. This book was beautiful, I think that is the only word for it. Short but sweet, and in a way I think it would have lost some of it’s charm if it was longer- it would have been overly complicated. The narative, despite it’s strange topic was somehow believable and written in a way that you could actually hear Charley talking. Despite the tough topic of someone you loving dying this story managed to be, maybe not happy, but hopeful. It left me thoughtful and contented.
Am going to end it there. Next section coming soon!