Review of ‘The Storied Life of A J Fikry’ by Gabrielle Zevin

AJ FikryThanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown for the ARC of this book.

This is a book lovers book. Set in a bookshop on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts, it follows the life of a widowed bookseller who adopts a small girl who is abandoned in his shop and as a result his sad lonely life is made whole and happy again.

I really enjoyed it. It is probably over simplistic and is definitely prone to schmaltz, however sometimes it’s nice to read a simple sweet book about people who love each other. This is a quick, easy read; the kind of book you can snuggle up with a cup of hot chocolate on a cold Sunday afternoon and lose yourself in for a few hours.

It’s not astonishingly original or exciting, but the characters are sweet and the setting is lovely and the writing is sparse. There is no unnecessary detail, it doesn’t go into the struggle to bring up a toddler, or how difficult it is to adopt her. One minute the child turns up and a couple of pages later he has adopted her and they are living happily together as father and daughter. The book just concentrates on the positive stuff, the closeness of the relationships, the power of books to bring people together and the importance of having a book shop in your town. It’s a warm hug of a book.

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Review of ‘Apple and Rain’ by Sarah Crossan

Apple and RainThanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the ARC of this book.

This book is marketed as YA fiction, but I think it reads a bit younger. The writing is simple and the storyline is familiar and formulaic. I think you would need to be as young and naive as the lead character Apple not to know exactly how the story is going to pan out,

Apple was abandoned by her mother when she was 2. Her mother turns up ten years later and Apple moves in with her after pining for her all these years, only to discover that she is not everything that Apple had hoped and dreamed.

The book is jam packed with tropes from these sorts of books and films; the disinterested father who has moved on with a new wife, the feckless parent, the surprise sibling, the older crush who is actually a let down, the boy next door love interest,  the inspiring teacher. It’s thoroughly unoriginal and predictable but adequately well written and will probably work for its target audience of 11-12 year old girls who haven’t read or watched this story premise a million times before.

Review of ‘I Am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes

I am PilgrimThanks to NetGalley and Transworld for the ARC of this book.

I’ve been wanting to read this book since I heard reviewers rave about it on the Radio 2 Book Club way back in August 2013, so I was really excited when I got a copy through NetGalley. However, I have to confess it has taken me ages to get around to reading it because I was put off by its length (624 pages). I should not have let this delay me picking it up because it’s great.

‘I Am Pilgrim’ is fabulous thriller reminiscent of the finer works of two of my favourite authors William Boyd and Robert Harris. It follows an American secret agent who has to find and stop an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist who is planning to release a smallpox virus in America and destroy the West. Mostly he must work alone to save the world and he is brilliant, but he is also able to acknowledge his mistakes and short-comings.

It’s a real page-turner, exciting and full of foreshadowing and clues without being predictable. I really enjoyed it.