All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Mini Reviews {6} – What I’ve Been Reading Lately

on August 28, 2019

Every now and then I do a quick little post to cover a few books I’ve read lately in order to get back on top of things or perhaps of books that I don’t really have a lot to say on or it’s been a long time since I’ve read them.

From Here On, Monsters 
Elizabeth Bryer
Picador AUS
2019, 288p
Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

In a city locked in a kind of perpetual twilight, antiquarian bookseller Cameron Raybould accepts a very strange commission – the valuation of a rare codex.

Within its fragile pages Cameron makes a curious discovery. Although seemingly ancient, the codex tells of a modern mystery: an academic missing for eleven years. Stranger still, as finding the truth becomes ever more of an obsession, Cameron begins to notice frightening lapses in memory. As if, all around, words, images, even people are beginning to fade from sight. As if unravelling the riddle of this book may be unravelling the nature of reality itself. And something frightening and unknown is taking its place…

This for me, started off in a really promising way. I love books that revolve around books and the main character Cameron runs a bookstore and values collections and individual pieces. She is approached by an enigmatic woman about a job and from there, a series of quite strange events occur. Her best friend is a journalist becoming concerned by her articles being edited and changed without her permission. The way that this occurs is so normal that it’s almost like no one even notices that it’s happening. The only people that do seem to notice are a mysterious group who gather up the top of the building the bookstore is on.

Parts of this were really good. The very beginning I thought was incredibly interesting and I thought the introduction of the character of Jhon was powerful and a really current and prominent message. Cameron’s concern for his probable predicament is very identifiable and I loved their interactions. Her ‘second job’ which allows her to help Jhon starts off as interesting and then becomes completely and utterly weird and quite a bit ominous. I think the scary way in which everything seems normal is supposed to be an observation on society and the way in which people, incidents and words can be overlooked but instead just came across as bizarre in that why would these people do this/put up with this?

And the ending? I’m just not into books that end that way at all, so the last part of this book was a real struggle for me because it got a bit more and more out there and went in directions I’m just not really a fan of. And the ending is the type which really just frustrates me. So it was like finishing on a really sour note for me.


Book #130 of 2019

The Most Difficult Thing
Charlotte Philby
Borough Press
2019, 432p
Copy courtesy Harper Collins AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

On the surface, Anna Witherall personifies everything the aspirational magazine she works for represents. Married to her university boyfriend David, she has a beautiful home and gorgeous three-year-old twin daughters, Stella and Rose. But beneath the veneer of success and happiness, Anna is hiding a dark secret, one that threatens to unravel everything she has worked so hard to create.

As Anna finds herself drawn into the dark and highly controlled world of secret intelligence, she is forced to question her family’s safety, and her own. Only one thing is certain: in order to protect her children, she must leave them, forever. 

And someone is watching. Someone she thought she could trust. Someone who is determined to make them all pay.

It’s really unfortunate that I don’t like books that ended the way that From Here On, Monsters did above. Because this is the book that I read next and it had a very similar open ending that infuriated me.

Charlotte Philby is the granddaughter of Kim Philby, perhaps the most well known double agent in the world so it’s no a surprise I guess that her novel here tackles espionage. Anna is a young journalist intern when she meets a charismatic star reporter and he influences her life in a way that will dominate it for years to come and impact on a number of people.

Anna is an idiot. Sorry but there’s no other way to describe her. She’s one of the most unlikable people I’ve had the displeasure of reading about in quite a while and she’s so dense and incompetent and desperate and pathetic that it’s honestly amazing she fools anyone and then you realise she literally hasn’t anyway. She goes into this situation with such a lack of information and she’s willing to throw someone she supposedly cares about straight under the bus and thinks he’ll be grateful for it? Her arrogance is astounding.

The beginning of this book sucked me in and I was thinking hey, this is going to be really good, because it begins with someone basically leaving their family behind forever having lived a double life. But then it goes back and forth in time and the more I read, the more I realised it seemed like there was a real lack of actual story and that shock moment of the beginning was not going to play out through the whole book. Then there’s another character introduced as a narrator and everyone begins betraying everyone else and then at the end there’s another ‘something happened’ moment and you turn the page and it’s blank. So you’re left hanging, wondering what happened. Are you supposed to make it up? Have it end however you prefer in your mind? Like choose your own adventure but with no real confirmation, just your brain. Some people like those types of endings but I don’t. Never have. Even if that’s the ending the author imagined the whole way through, it always feels like they couldn’t decide how to end it or didn’t get the ending they wanted through so just left it hanging for the reader to decide.

Promising start but this disintegrated really quickly and any tension built anywhere within the novel always dissipated with more of a whimper than a bang.


Book #131 of 2019

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