Top Ten Tuesday: To read or not to read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is ‘Top ten books I’m not sure I want to read’ (books you have bought but aren’t sure if you want to read them anymore).

This was a pretty easy list to compile as I am a book buying addict and I have loads of books which I intend to read but haven’t yet!

Room1. Room by Emma Donoghue

I’ve had this book on my shelves for a couple of years. I have heard rave reviews of this book, and I’m sure it is probably brilliant but I am put off by the subject manner. I’m not sure I want to read about a woman and her child who have been kept locked up for years and suffered abuse. It does not sound like a happy book.

More Than It Hurts You2. More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss

I bought this a few years ago after hearing a great podcast interview with the author. Again I’m a little put off by the ‘heavy’ subject matter, in this case Munchausen by Proxy. The book also has vey low rating on GoodReads, which doesn’t bode well.

Inheritance3.  Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

I’ve read the other books in this series and I feel like I should read this one, just so I have finished the series. However, ‘Brisingr’ was a real struggle and I haven’t manged to pick this one up yet, even though I got a copy as soon as it came out in paperback.

The Snow Child4. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This look like a book I would love. The cover is beautiful and feels lovely and soft, the author has a lovely Welsh name, it has a wintery setting, it has great reviews; it all looks so promising. However, I read the first couple of chapters and it was so DULL and I haven’t bothered to pick it up again since.

The Un likely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry5. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Just like the book above, this book has great ratings and loads of buzz about it, but I was bored stiff by the first few pages and couldn’t bring myself to continue with it.

Mutiny on the Bounty6. Mutiny on the Bounty by John Boyne

I bought this ages ago  because I’m fascinated by the story of the Bounty. However, I have never felt inclined to pick it up, even though I thought The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by the same author was pretty good.

Vicky Had One Eye Open7. Vicky Had One Eye Open by Darryl Samaraweera

I bought this book in a period when I was reading lots of books by Sri Lankan authors (my father was part Sri Lankan), after hearing it well reviewed on a podcast. However, the cover is so ugly I can’t bring myself to read it!

The Harsh Cry of the Heron8. The Harsh Cry of the Heron by Lian Hearn

This was another book I bought because I had read the rest of the series and felt duty bound to read another addition to the series. However, I think I’ve left it too long between reading these books and don’t feel familiar enough with the previous books to be compelled to read this one.

The Executor9. The Executor by Jesse Kellerman

I really enjoyed The Brutal Art by the same author, but this one has nowhere near as good online reviews, so I’m reticent to read it in case it spoils my opinion of the author.

The Little Friend10. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

I absolutely loved The Secret History and I have been meaning to read this book for 10 years! But the cover is so so ugly and creepy that I just can’t make myself pick it up when there are so many beautiful books alternative to choose from.

Have you read any of these books? Are there any which I should definitely overcome my reticence and read?

Review of ‘Eeny Meeny’ by M J Arlidge

Eeny MeenyI listened to the audiobook version of this book. It’s a very compelling crime story which starts with a very interesting and original premise but trails off a little towards the end as it starts to fall into some of the usual crime thriller tropes.

The book starts with the kidnapping of Sam and Amy, who are locked in a disused swimming pool and left with a gun and a mobile phone. They receive a phone call telling them that only one will survive and one must choose to shoot the other in order to gain his or her freedom.

I thought the book was going to follow Sam and Amy’s storyline, but very soon one of them is dead, one has been released and theirs is just the first in a series of similar kidnappings. The book actually follows police detective Helen Grace who is responsible for the police investigation into these crimes.

The book has a strong opening and the description of the plights of the people who are kidnapped is compelling if a little too grisly at times. I particularly did not enjoy the description of two of the victims eating maggots from a head wound, revolting.

However, I did not think the conclusion of the book was as strong as it falls into the trap of a major cliche which I really dislike in crime novels – that of involving the investigating police as victims of the killer and making the killer target the investigating officers. This is such an over-used plot device, I was really disappointed when a book which seemed to have such a fresh idea for a crime descended into such a cliched conclusion.

I also thought that the book had a few unnecessary scenes which I guess were supposed to be ‘titillating’ but which I thought were just cheap shock tactics such as a lesbian sex scene and the scenes where Grace visits an S&M prostitute. Particularly the latter didn’t fit in with the rest of the characterisation of her as a very efficient police officer.

For the most part the audiobook is well read. I was confused by the need to have four narrators when 90% of the book is told in the third person by the same narrator so the other narrators are only used for one or two chapters. I didn’t like the voice of the woman who read Amy’s chapter (she seemed to have a Northern accent, even though she is supposed to be from Southampton), so I was relieved not to have to listen to her much. This is the clip they use on the Audible sample, so don’t let her voice put you off getting this audiobook.

I have the next book in the series ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ from NetGalley and I’m interested to see how that book follows Helen Grace’s character progression.

Review of ‘What Happened To Goodbye’ by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to GoodbyeI enjoy reading Sarah Dessen’s books. They have beautiful covers and there’s something warm and comforting about them, despite the fact that all her books follow the same basic storyline: teenage girl with family/personal issues which mean that she doesn’t let people get close to her, rocks up in a new town and meets a cute boy next door who eventually leads to her letting her guard down and resolving her issues.

This book is no different, it is entirely predictable; you know exactly what is going to happen from the beginning, you know what issues the main character Mclean will face and you know exactly how those issues will be resolved. However, for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on, it is still enjoyable to read. I think this is because Dessen writes friendships and slow burn relationships so well. It’s enjoyable watching the relationships build slowly and unfurl.

I always find it hard to believe that her lead females are so reticent to jump into relationships with the cute boy next door figures. The boys are always so sweet and perfect, with slight issues of their own which make them more sensitive and interesting. As a teenage girl, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to resist a boy like that even if my family life was screwed up.

In this book the boy next door is Dave a child genius with over-protective parents who just wants to spend a year being normal. He’s not quite as compelling a character as the boys in some of her other books, but he’s nice and sweet and a good foil for Mclean.

Dessen’s books are a warm summery hug, they never do anything particularly new or different, but what they do they do very well.

Review of ‘Trouble’ by Non Pratt

TroubleI bought a signed copy of this book at YALC after seeing Non Pratt in a discussion with other authors about handling sex in young adult fiction. This book definitely covers sex! As an adult, I was a little shocked at the graphic language which Pratt had managed to get published in a book which would be sold to children. Although, I am fully aware that many teenagers speak and behave in the sexual manner described in this book. This was the main argument at the discussion at YALC; teenagers talk about and have sex, therefore books for them should also talk honestly about sex and its consequences.

Warning, this review will include spoilers so don’t read it if you haven’t read the book.

The book is the story of Hannah, a fifteen year old girl who discovers she is pregnant with her 18 year old step-brother’s child. In order to keep the true parentage of her baby a secret she accepts an offer from Aaron, a troubled new boy at school, who offers to pretend that he is the baby’s father.

I found it hard to like Hannah, although she definitely improves throughout the book. She is the kind of girl I would have detested when I was in school. She doesn’t try at school, she dresses like a slut, she hangs out in the park drinking alcohol, she sleeps with other girls’ boyfriends and her best friend is a bitch. Frankly she deserves to become a teenage mum. She is every parent’s worst nightmare of how their daughter might turn out.

Aaron on the other hand is lovely, he cares about people, he tries hard at his school work, he doesn’t take advantage of girls, he generally has his priorities right. However, he is haunted by the guilt of a terrible thing that happened in his past, which is why he wants to help Hannah out.

Thankfully Aaron’s friendship helps Hannah to realise what is important in life. That it is better to have nerdy loyal friends who will stand by you than to be part of the skanky, popular cool gang who will drop you at a moment’s notice. Hannah’s friendship helps Aaron to get over his depression and realise he can still be important to people even though he has done something awful in his past.

This is an interesting book, it’s very easy and quick to read as it is narrated in short chapters from Hannah and Aaron’s alternating points of view. However, I don’t think it deals with the consequences of teenage pregnancy thoroughly enough. It ends with the baby being born and everyone is happy but doesn’t go into the difficulties a fifteen year old school girl would have bringing up a baby.

It also doesn’t really deal with the consequences for Jay, the 18 year old who has impregnated his under-age step-sister and refused to take any responsibility. Even though the book makes it clear that the sex is consensual and that it is Hannah’s idea not to use protection, I still think we should have seen Jay and his family have to deal with what he is done. He should get into more trouble, you can’t just go around getting your 15 year old sister pregnant and then go off to university and live happily ever after. Theoretically, he could go to jail.

Maybe the ending didn’t show these consequences in order to leave it open for a sequel. There’s certainly a lot more depth about being  teenage parents which could be covered by another book. Also, Hannah and Aaron’s relationship could be explored further; although they’ll never be able to get married as she called the baby Tyler and if they got married it would become Tyler Tyler (whoops!).

Review of ‘The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight’ by Jennifer E Smith

CoverI’ve been a bit quiet on the review front recently. I had some momentous news a month ago and I’ve barely read anything since. I’ve wanted to but I’ve just found it really hard to concentrate on reading. Determined to get over this reading slump, I decided to pick up a really easy, short YA book which would get me back in the swing.

I chose ‘The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight’ by Jennifer E Smith, which I had received as an ARC copy from Headline via Bookbridgr. I could tell from the title that it was going to be just the right type of light fluffy read I was looking for.

The book is about Hadley, a teenage girl who is travelling to London to attend her father’s second marriage to a woman who she has never met. On the flight she meets hunky English boy, Oliver, and as you’d expect they hit it off pretty well.

This is a very predictable YA love story, but it is enjoyable in it’s predictability. It’s incredibly easy to read and has a touching, satisfying ending. It’s forgettable but very sweet and likeable.

I wasn’t entirely convinced by the details in the description of the flight, it felt like it could have been better researched. For example, on trans-Atlantic flights everyone gets their own TV screen and you don’t have to pay for alcohol. However, this is my only criticism; the book generally does exactly what it sets out to, it made me cry and it made me smile.