Holiday reads round-up

I’ve just come back from my hols, and I managed to read six books in total. I don’t have the time or energy to write up six reviews right now, so here is a summary of the books I read and what I thought…

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
last anniversaryThe novel is set on the island of Scribbly Gum in Australia where, many years ago, two sisters found an abandoned baby and brought her up as their own. Many years later, the baby – Enigma – is all grown up with a family of her own and she still lives on the small island. Slowly we find out more about Enigma, the two sisters and their extended families – and we also unravel the mystery of the abandoned baby…
There are a lot of characters in this novel, but the author does a great job of giving them each a distinctive voice and personality, which works really well and makes the book much easier to get your head around (I recently read and reviewed The Girl on the Train and I think the author of that novel could learn a thing or two about distinctive voices from Moriarty!). It did take me a while, however, to really get into the book but about halfway through it began to all slot together.
But then towards the end I found the book got more and more ridiculous, with too many odd subplots and an almost farcical ending – and a twist that seemed obvious from very early on (and I am not usually one to guess the twist!).
So although this was well written in many ways, I ultimately found the story to be a bit of a disappointment.
My rating: 6 out of 10

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh
lemon groveJenn and Greg are on their annual holiday in Spain. Then Greg’s 15-year-old daughter Emma arrives with 17-year-old boyfriend Nathan in tow – and Jenn finds herself instantly drawn to him.
What follows is a tense and sometimes steamy novel, and I really liked the Spanish setting which was described well. However, the plot didn’t always work for me and the characters were hard to believe at times, especially Emma and Nathan who seemed much older than 15 and 17 respectively. But the book was redeemed by a cliffhanger ending which I loved!
My rating: 6 out of 10

An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender
invisible signOur narrator, Mona, is a very happy girl until her father contracts a mysterious illness when she is 10. As her father withdraws from the world, so does Mona, who finds solace in numbers and finds herself teaching maths to a small class of young children.
Ultimately I found this book a bit too quirky and soon got tired of Mona’s odd behaviour, such as eating soap to make her feel sick around potential boyfriends! I never really got into the book which was a shame as I really liked The Peculiar Sadness of Lemon Cake (which was also a bit weird now I think about it!). But this one just wasn’t for me.
My rating: 4 out of 10

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter
This book follows two fifteen year olds, Renee and Flo, who live in Guernsey. They aren’t friends to begin with, but they soon find themselves becoming inseparable, despite their differences. paper aeroplanes
I found this the perfect holiday read as it was written in an appealing and straightforward way, and the narrators were both very endearing. The novel deals with lots of serious issues – drinking, underage sex, bereavement – and although this is a good thing, I did think at times some of these issues were dealt with in too simplistic a way – and the novel even brushes over some major issues. Overall I felt it could have done with less issues and just concentrated more on the main story, but despite this I really enjoyed reading this novel and it was a good, easy holiday read.
My rating: 8 out of 10

The Commitments by Roddy Doyle
commitmentsThis very well-known book follows a group of young men and women in Dublin as they form a soul band. The book is quick and easy to read, and is mainly made up of witty dialogue between the characters. Reading it made me want to watch the film again, which I haven’t seen for many years.
My rating: 8 out of 10

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
This novel is made up of short chapters, and from the start we alternate between two characters and their individual stories. One strand tells the story of Sarah, living in Paris in 1942 during the Vel d’Hiv round-up, where thousands of Jews were taken by French police to a velodrome before being taken off to Auschwitz. Sarah is 11 when the police come for her family, and she locks her little brother in their secret cupboard, believing she will soon be back to rescue him. The second strand takes place 60 years later as an America journalist living in Paris, Julia, writes an article about the round-up and finds herself directly connected to the story of Sarah.
sarahs keySarah’s thread of this story was incredible – heartbreaking and horrible, and I found myself going online to find out more about the horrific round-up.
However the book was marred by the sub-plot involving Julia’s (awful) French family and her revolting husband Bertrandt. This whole thread did add another perspective to the story, but by the end of the novel had completely taken over and I could have done without it – especially the end of the book which all seemed very contrived and unnecessary. It’s a shame as I felt this could have been a brilliant book but was let down by the change of emphasis from Sarah’s story to Julia’s.
My rating: 6 out of 10

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