This post was originally written on September 30 and the books mentioned were read mainly in the first fortnight of September. Another reason, why I will be better in October.
We all have days of laziness, I have fortnights. There are weeks where I just enjoy reading in my spare time – on the train, at lunch at my desk, curled on the couch. The last few weeks I’ve been reading endlessly with a night being all that passes between one book ending and the beginning of another.
It was soothing. Having a character hold my hand through the mundanities of life. Exciting at times, thrilling at others, sad in between. I consumed these titles like it was all I had to do between one journey and another. While working, my mind came again and again to the people waiting between the pages ready to start their journey as much as I was.
Blackwater Moon by Michael Radburn was a gentle but almost horrifying journey. A small boy in a small town tries to escape his violent home life and becomes a part of a town secret that has haunted many and will scar him forever. The story unfolds from the now into the then and tracks the life of Andy (our protagonist) and the man responsible for changing his life. We see both sides of evil, the struggle of a young man and his triumph in circumstances that he has not brought about. Interspersed between the story of Andy and his past, is his present. A failed marriage, a baby and then the loss of it all when war looms.
Macabre at times, playing on fears and innocence found in all children and many adults, this book was a sad journey. Like others of its kind, it’s enjoyable because you can’t look away from the terrible events that unfold; hoping as you read that perhaps the hero will come out stronger. I enjoyed the equal time given to our hero and villain, if they can be called that. All villains were once the victim is what I took away and all heroes have gray through them. 4stars for the plot and characterisation that keeps you reading.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell was disappointing. It had so much potential to be a great book but I feel as if where the story was intended to go, wasn’t quite the destination it arrived at. Eleanor moves to Park’s small town in Southern USA and their blossoming friendship cum romance forms the crux of the novel. Divided in chapters from each characters perspective, this book starts off really well. Both characters have an interesting story to tell, Eleanor lives in a dilapidated house with her mother, four siblings and abusive step-father; Park’s mother is Korean and his father an ex Army officer in a town where racial prejudice runs deep but has somehow overlooked Park for being half foreign. My main problem lies with Park’s character being a half hearted attempt; sure, he starts off with alternate chapters for his story, but one third of the way through, he becomes a secondary character to Eleanor’s story of bullying, abuse, weight issues, the blossoming romance.
It’s like he takes a moment to start his story, the complicated relationship with his father, the underlying issues with friends, his mother’s heritage, everything is mentioned and touched upon but both Park and his foreignness become third rate to Eleanor’s family issues and problems at school. If a book is going to be titled with both characters names, then it should provide equal focus to them. What was Park’s childhood like? Was he ever bullied? How does his mother being Korean impact upon him? Apart from a few sentences on his perfect facial structure, there really isn’t much. His mother, the only non-white character becomes a poster child for stereotypes. For me, the beginning was where the sparks fizzled out after a brief show. 2stars for strong, emphatic Eleanor, but minus 3 for ignoring the other half of the story.
Black Powder War /Temeraire #3 by Naomi Novik was strictly okay. Lawrence’s character evolved but sadly the story does not. It does of course provide us with a a different view of the Napoleanic era, our might Temeraire and his fellows help the Prussians battle Napolean after a journey from China down to through the Middle East and a meeting with the Turkish (I think) Sultan. Fans may love it, but I feel like the author took too long to get the story movie and it took me much longer to work my way through this story then it had the prior two. Maybe skip it and head straight to book #4. 2stars as well for a great concept but not the strongest delivery possible.