Reading Round Up – November

58. Frankenstein

Mary Shelley

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Frankenstein: The 1818 Text

Mary Shelley’s seminal novel of the scientist whose creation becomes a monster.

I read this at Halloween, looking for the creep factor, and it certainly delivered. The scenes are wonderfully painted, as are the characters. You really feel for everyone involved, and experience both characters’ pain as both Frankenstein and the monsters worlds crumble.


59. The Guest List

Lucy Foley

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Guest List

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body 

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why? 

I really enjoyed how different this story felt, with multiple point of view in first person as well as the tie jumps. I expected a straight forward whodunnit, but enjoyed the addition of trying to work out who died. By the time you find out, you hate this character just as the murderer (and everyone else on the island!)


60. The Glass Woman

Caroline Lea

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Glass Woman

1686, ICELAND. AN ISOLATED, WINDSWEPT LAND HAUNTED BY WITCH TRIALS AND STEEPED IN THE ANCIENT SAGAS.

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim… 

** spoiler alert ** This book did a really good job of placing you in the mindset of the people of this time, and all the restrictions that face main character Rosa. The downside was that the mysteries were answered way too soon and that the reveals just felt a little… flat. Additionally, despite what I said about the differences in society at this time, I wish this book hadn’t included the Bury Your Gays trope. Rosa got a ‘happy’ ending, why couldn’t Jon?!?


61. You

Caroline Kepnes

Rating: 4 out of 5.
You (You, #1)

When a beautiful aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age.

hat a creepy book! I went straight from it to watching the TV show. I really enjoyed both, but you can see how the TV show tried to make Joe more likeable (quickly having his Saves the Cat moment by being kind to neighbour kid Paco). In the book… I don’t think anyone comes off well! A fucked up story about fucked up people, that’s deeply uncomfortable to read, and yet so good!

In conclusion… I’ve set my Instagram account to private!


62. The Hunting Party

Lucy Foley

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Hunting Party

Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

After really enjoying The Guest List, I borrowed this one from the library and… I almost thought I was reading the Guest List again. Different circumstances, but same bunch of rich entitled people, the poorer character who doesn’t fit, and the staff all in a remote location with the same time jumps. I did get into the story eventually, but couldn’t shake how repetitive it felt. And yet while it was telling the same story all over again, it didn’t even do it as well, with the end reveal feeling… meh. 
I don’t know what other books the author has out, but it’s put me off of reaching for another of hers quite so quickly.


63. The Pariah

Anthony Ryan

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Pariah (Covenant of Steel, #1)

From the international best-selling author of the Raven’s Shadow and Draconis Memoria series comes the spectacular first novel in an all-new epic fantasy trilogy.

Born into the troubled kingdom of Albermaine, Alwyn Scribe is raised as an outlaw. Quick of wit and deft with a blade, Alwyn is content with the freedom of the woods and the comradeship of his fellow thieves. But an act of betrayal sets him on a new path – one of blood and vengeance, which eventually leads him to a soldier’s life in the king’s army.

Fighting under the command of Lady Evadine Courlain, a noblewoman beset by visions of a demonic apocalypse, Alwyn must survive war and the deadly intrigues of the nobility if he hopes to claim his vengeance. But as dark forces, both human and arcane, gather to oppose Evadine’s rise, Alwyn faces a choice: can he be a warrior, or will he always be an outlaw?

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a fantasy now (like two months 😱) so I decided to get back into it with The Pariah. I’m not a huge fan of the narrative style. It’s told in first person, with main character Alwyn looking back on his life, so not only do you know he lives long enough to write all this down, but he gets to say things like ‘little did I know…’ or ‘he would meet his end in a much worse way…’ It’s fine, but it’s not my cup of tea. 
I’ve been spoiled a little by my run of thrillers and romances, so suddenly having to keep track of the bajillion characters present in fantasy was a little much, and I often forgot names. Mostly this was okay, with the text providing enough to jog my memory, but there were a few scenes (including the climax) where I had to go back and reread to work out what had been revealed and about whom. Similarly, on its length, I would say it could have used a trim. There is a lot going on in this book, and perhaps cutting back on characters would have helped to have a more concise story. 
All that aside, when I finished the book I was curious to know what came next, and unlike other fantasies I’ve read recently, nothing about it pissed me off. So that’s a bonus!

2 thoughts on “Reading Round Up – November

  1. Your deja vu moment was “The Hunting Party.” My deja vu moment this last month was a combined book-movie experience. You know the movie “Blade Runner”? I saw the theatrical cut when it was first released. But I’d never read the Philip K. Dick book on which it was based, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” So I went and read the book last week, then streamed the “Final Cut” of the movie. It was weird filtering the viewing through the book and my dim memories of the original theatrical cut.

    This type of experience raises an interesting problem. To what extent does one include one’s own personal experience into reading and judging a book? Into reviewing a book for others? Suppose you had read “The Hunting Party” and “The Guest List” in the opposite order?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right of course. And I’ve googled it now and the Hunting Party came out first so really I should have judged The Guest List for its repetitiveness. Though if I ignore that complaint, I do think The Guest List was the better book.

      Liked by 1 person

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