Review: Mrs de Winter – Susan Hill

mrsdewinterMrs de Winter is a sequel of sorts to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. For anyone who is new around here – Rebecca is my most beloved book and du Maurier probably my favourite author. Reading this sequel written by Susan Hill was pretty much predetermined to disappoint me and, honestly, I wasn’t wrong. This book was one I purchased at my favourite bookshop after the manager pointed it out to me, I can’t ever say no to one she recommends, so I’m sad this disappointed me.

I will start with the pros. The premise was good, I quite liked the premise. Susan Hill also has very fluid language that actually compliments du Maurier’s, generally the prose and scene setting was beautiful and rich in description. In that respect it was a fantastic companion piece. Also, many thanks to her for NOT naming the second Mrs de Winter and having her remain under that name. I think she gets a star for that in fairness.

However, I don’t feel this was a good book. Not in any stretch of the word. I don’t feel that the characters were the people we ended with in du Maurier’s novel – Mrs de Winter who, in the original novel, became a strong, feisty woman reverts back to the drippy 19/20 year old we first met in Monte Carlo under Susan Hill’s writing. Maxim becomes a drip too, I just don’t understand that! I really don’t think this is the after-story I had in mind for them. Yes, the revelation about Maxim and Rebecca in Rebecca is something that changes your life BUT this is not the life I could see it resulting as.

As a result this is, sadly, a 2* book. I really didn’t like it and the only reason I finished it was I was on a long bus journey and had no other source of reading and completed it out of sheer boredom. Saying that, I am glad I read it as Susan Hill IS a good author, she should just not have attempted this ‘sequel’! The 1* comes primarily for her vivid descriptions of countryside and the sheer audacity for her to attempt such a feat, sadly it didn’t work for me!

Review: All My Friends Are Superheroes – Andrew Kaufman

allmyfriendsaresuperheroesAll My Friends Are Superheroes is a sweet book just over 100 pages. It is one that I have had on my radar for quite some time but only actually picked up a few months back. I’m really glad I took an hour out of my day to read this.

Like the title suggests, we follow Tom a man who has friends who are all superheroes. Now, they’re not your cape-wearing, crime fighting type but they’re every day superheroes with mundane super powers. There’s The Amphibian who can live both on land and underwater; Hypno who can hypnotise like a pro and Tom’s new wife, The Perfectionist, whose source of power is her need for order. Anyway, we follow Tom – our perfectly normal protagonist –  and flash back through Tom and Perfs relationship and he tries to think of a way to get her to see him again after Hypno made him invisible to his wife. There are interludes where we learn about other superheroes and their powers and that’s quite a nice touch – doesn’t add much to the story but was nice nonetheless.

This is a perfectly sweet little book that I read in about an hour. It had all the elements of a fairy tale, the right amount of romance and just enough silliness to make me smile. It was good, not mind-blowing, and just really short and sweet. I can’t really say much more about it, it’s only 112 pages long so I don’t want to spoil it completely! All I will say to tie it all up is that I’m glad I read it and would say, if you have an hour and this on your shelf, don’t put it off because it’s a really nice little read – 3/5 from me on this one.

July Wrap-Up & August TBR

As with the start of every wrap-up ever, HOW IS IT THE END OF ANOTHER MONTH?! July is at a close and I really don’t understand how we’re only 147(?) sleeps until Christmas. It’s actually insane.

However, July has been a fantastic month for me – reading and otherwise. I’m thinking I might do a blog post or two in the future discussing some of the things that I’ve seen and done in July. There were theatre trips, visits to London, exam results (which weren’t so good but the fall out has been quite positive) and lots of other general life goods. But that’s for another post or two, as I said.

So, bookish goodness time.

July Stats

July has been a very well varied month. I read a total of 11 books which totalled 4576 pages. There was a split of 5:6 male to female authors. I read very similarly to how I did last month in that I read a lot of different genres – there was young adult, classics, light-fantasy, biography, popular science, children’s fiction and a short story collection.

My average rating this month is, again, 4/5. Towards the start of the month there were 3 or 4 books I gave 5 stars to, then I read The Count of Monte Cristo which just blew them all to pieces and I wanted to change their ratings but I couldn’t bring myself to. I gave them 5* for a reason and I stuck with it! My average page count was 416, which was considerably raised by the help of the 1200+ page epic in the shape of The Count of Monte Cristo.

I read most of my TBR, but Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche escaped me again. I picked it up once or twice but as I was suffering with a migraine towards the end of the month, when recovering small writing wasn’t really what I needed! Not sure when I will get around to Half of A Yellow Sun but I do want to read it.

Though I have several 5* books and some 4* books that I really enjoyed, my favourite of the month has to be Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. That book was fabulous, I loved it and it left me in a book hangover for a while. While other books this month have been easier reads, or even more enjoyable to read (Jeremy and Amy came close second) this book has just shaped me. Definitely my favourite book of the year so far!

August TBR

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So August is a weird month for me as I’m planning to start my research project towards the middle to end of the month so will be in labs. But that generally doesn’t stop me reading with an hour commute each way!

Anyway, this is a very weird TBR as they’re books that I’ve wanted to read for a long while on the most part.

From the bottom. Middlemarch by George Eliot is going to be my classic for the month. I’ve wanted to read this for ages and actually put it aside for the Summer! Next is Creation by Adam Rutherford which is a cool non-fiction book that has two halves and you can work back to middle or front to middle… I’ve not read one of those books since I was a kid!

Murakami is featured here too. Been a little while since I read some of his books so Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman found it’s way in to my August TBR because it is just so very pretty. More non-fiction is fourth from Emmeline Pankhurst’s My Own Story. With Suffragette coming out in October(?) I really wanted to read this and I picked it up a few months ago and just haven’t made the time. I’m making the time in August. Then there is Philip Pullman’s addition to the Cannongate Myths series, The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ which I’ve heard a lot of good things about.

Finally we have a Persephone book that I picked up in the Persephone shop when I was in London. The Montana Stories by Katherine Mansfield. Now I believe she is a New Zealand author and that’s something that is desperately lacking in my reading life! I’ve heard wonderful things about her so I’m really looking forward to this book.

So. That’s it for the month. I’m hoping to read 11 or so books again this month, I managed it in both June and July so I think it’s doable again.

Anyway, until next time!

Review: The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales – Kirsty Logan

9781907773754frcvr.inddAfter reading The Gracekeepers not so long ago, I fell in love with Kirsty’s writing. It was a couple of people, but mainly Christie who encouraged me to actually buy this. I’m so glad I read it. I had mixed feelings about The Gracekeepers, her writing was beautiful but this – these – are fabulous.

The titular story, The Rental Heart, featured first and I just devoured it. It was a great start to the book; there were so many great things in it – a bit of the sci-fi, fluidity of sexuality, a great character and ultimately, beautiful prose. It’s set in a world wherein you just rent a heart, when you go through a breakup you just get  your deposit back and get a new one. This story made me very excited to read the rest of the book so… on I went!

I always feel I should avoid doing a point-by-point breakdown of books like this, because I feel it ruins the surprise. All I will say is on the whole this was fantastic. The book contains a total of 20 stories, covering a variety of themes. Throughout the book she you move backwards and forwards in time, playing with sexuality, fairy stories, myths and folklore. Everything is told with this beautiful, sometimes flowery, prose and offset with a sudden burst of straightforwardness. Something I appreciated a lot is while there is a focus on same-sex relationships it isn’t the focus of the story, the point is it’s love and the emotions are the same whether the two people involved are of the same or opposite genders – I loved that. There are also stories of varying lengths, some are quite lengthy while others are more flash-fiction, which I really appreciated. It was a collection I had to keep putting down between stories because I just wanted to think about what I had just read.

Reading this, I really cannot wait for Kirsty’s next collection which I have on preorder. I read a review on goodreads which compared her short stories to the early work of du Maurier and, honestly, I can see that as a lover of du Maurier’s work. This collection was honestly one of the best collections I have read in a long time, there were a few stories that I didn’t enjoy which ultimately brings this down to a quite harsh 4* – I may end up changing it to 5* with more time to think on it!