Book Review- The Water Cure

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Title: The Water Cure
Author: Sophie Mackintosh
Published: 31st May 2018
Pages: 240
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 2.5/5

Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia, and Sky kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them - three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.
Hypnotic and compulsive, The Water Cure is a fever dream, a blazing vision of suffering, sisterhood, and transformation. -Goodreads
My thanks to Net Galley and Penguin Books UK for the review copy.

This is one of those novels where the blurb does not give you a particularly in depth or detailed description of what the novel contains. Admittedly I was drawn in by the similarities that were mentioned between The Handmaid’s Tale and The Virgin Suicides and I thought it seemed like something different to what I normally read, and I love The Handmaid’s Tale so I had quite high hopes.
Honestly I just don’t think this novel was for me. I’ve seen many others have really enjoyed it; both other bloggers, and people I speak to in work. It just didn’t work for me!
The plot had quite a few holes in it, I understand that there is an air of mystery around the novel, as we are not sure what has happened to the world, and we are just not sure what is true. However, there just was too much confusion around too many things for me to really get a grip on the novel, Even at the end of the novel nothing was much clearer, and honestly I questioned why I had bothered reading the novel at all, as I ended with more questions and confusion than I started with.
The novel is narrated in turn by the three sisters, although Lia does the most narrating. I quite liked how unreliable all the narrators were, and how quite often what they had said would be contradicted or completely falsified by what a sister said in the next chapter. However, the unreliability became wearing when nothing was ever clarified or explained at all.
Unfortunately I also found the novel to be quite predictable. As soon as the men turned up, things went almost exactly as I thought they might, and that was quite disappointing. I wanted more tension and more twists and turns, which would have helped elevate what is quite a dark and sombre novel into something more.

Annihilation- Movie Adaptation Review

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Title: Annihilation
Written/Directed: Alex Garland
Adapted from: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Released: Netflix March 2018

I read and reviewed the novel that this movie is adapted from at the end of 2015, and to put it lightly I really didn't enjoy it. You can check out my pretty scathing review here. However, despite this I was intrigued to see how a director would go about adapting such an interesting and also a visually demanding idea in novel form into a movie.
In terms of the visual aspects, the movie is beautiful. I watched it on my laptop and it was stunning, the landscapes and scenery that we see, but also the sci-fi aspects and more ethereal elements just looked amazing on screen. If you could see it on a bigger screen, it would only look better!
Having read this novel in 2015, and it not having made a huge impact on me, and my not really enjoying it means I don't really remember much of the plot. Unfortunately this means I can't really comment on how accurate an adaptation this is. I did read on IMDB that apparently the director didn't refer to the novel much after his first reading, and adapted the novel rather like a "dream remembrance". I'm not sure whether I like this as a method, I normally like a movie adaptation of a book to stick quite closely to the source material. However, because I don't really like the novel all that much, it didn't really matter as much.
One of my main criticisms of the novel was that the novel didn't really make much sense to me. The movie is the same, although perhaps not to the same extent. I definitely had loads of questions after the movie had ended, and whether any of these are answered or not in subsequent movie we shall see.
The cast performed well, there was some controversy around a few of the characters, namely Lena being described as part Asian yet being played by Natalie Portman, which is always disappointing. However, according to IMDB again, the ethnicity of Lena isn't mentioned until Book 2 in the trilogy, which the Director hadn't read when he created the movie.
In terms of the other cast members, I love Oscar Isaac so I obviously enjoyed his involvement, and I thought Tessa Thompson was really great as Josie.
This movie is rated 15 and it does feature quite a lot of blood and gore, and quite a lot of graphic footage of violence. I would say that the rating is warranted and just a warning if you're sensitive to these things.
This novel is also very tense, the whole movie is wracked with tension from the very first minute, and the pressure only seems to build as the movie goes on. The novel was a very claustrophobic read, and the movie is no different.
Overall, this movie was a psychological horror/sci-fi movie which filled in 90 minutes of my time. If you enjoyed the novel, this movie is a perfectly adequate adaptation.

Book Beginnings And The Friday 56

Friday, 6 July 2018

On Fridays I will share excerpts from whatever I am reading that day. First, Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader  then The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

First share the opening lines of your novel, then turn to page 56 (or 56%) and share a few lines!

This week's book is The Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson

Beginning: "The rain has freshened the air again, leaving one of the soft springtime evenings she used to love best, the clouds harried on their way by an eager breeze, a spangle of late sunshine on the water."

Page 56: "On the evening of the thirtieth of July, the day of his son's birth, Olafur Egilsson is standing on the deck of the slave-ship, looking out at the sinking orange sun." 

Thoughts: This is Waterstone's Scottish book of the month for July, and it looks amazing. I can't wait to get more read this weekend!!

Happy reading!!

Book Review- A Shout in the Ruins

Thursday, 21 June 2018
Title: A Shout in the Ruins
Author: Kevin Powers
Published: 15th May 2018
Pages: 272
Genre: Fiction, Historical

Rating: 4/5 stars

"A masterpiece. Powers has written a novel that includes all the ferocity, complexity, and racial violence of the American South" --- Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust Set in Virginia during the Civil War and a century beyond, this novel by the award-winning author of The Yellow Birds explores the brutal legacy of violence and exploitation in American society.
Spanning over one hundred years, from the antebellum era to the 1980's, A Shout in the Ruins examines the fates of the inhabitants of Beauvais Plantation outside of Richmond, Virginia. When war arrives, the master of Beauvais, Anthony Levallios, foresees that dominion in a new America will be measured not in acres of tobacco under cultivation by his slaves, but in industry and capital. A grievously wounded Confederate veteran loses his grip on a world he no longer understands, and his daughter finds herself married to Levallois, an arrangement that feels little better than imprisonment. And two people enslaved at Beauvais plantation, Nurse and Rawls, overcome impossible odds to be together, only to find that the promise of coming freedom may not be something they will live to see.
Seamlessly interwoven is the story of George Seldom, a man orphaned by the storm of the Civil War, looking back from the 1950s on the void where his childhood ought to have been. Watching the government destroy his neighborhood to build a stretch of interstate highway through Richmond, he travels south in an attempt to recover his true origins. With the help of a young woman named Lottie, he goes in search of the place he once called home, all the while reckoning with the more than 90 years he lived as witness to so much that changed during the 20th century, and so much that didn't. As we then watch Lottie grapple with life's disappointments and joys in the 1980's, now in her own middle-age, the questions remain: How do we live in a world built on the suffering of others? And can love exist in a place where for 400 years violence has been the strongest form of intimacy?
Written with the same emotional intensity, harrowing realism, and poetic precision that made THE YELLOW BIRDS one of the most celebrated novels of the past decade, A SHOUT IN THE RUINS cements Powers' place in the forefront of American letters and demands that we reckon with the moral weight of our troubling history. -Goodreads

My thanks to Net Galley and Hodder & Stoughton for a review copy.
This is an incredible novel which spans over 100 years of American history during and after the Civil War. Encompassing civil war and slavery the author manages to touch upon so many important and historically powerful themes.
The author has entwined a number of characters’ narratives together throughout this novel, creating a beautifully interwoven thread of a plot and novel.
Thus, this novel features a wide range of characters, whose relationships to each other only become fully clear towards the end of the novel. In this way, the full picture of the novel isn’t clear until the end which makes the eventual moment of complete clarity all the more satisfying.
Powers has a very neat writing style, his precise language and imagery conveys all the emotion and gritty realism you would expect from a novel about themes such as slavery.
The timeline of this novel is ever-shifting, this at first takes some getting used to, but once the reader is accustomed to it, it adds to the sense of intrigue that permeates this novel, and the eventual understanding that comes.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel, I gave it 4/5 stars, and I am intrigued to see what else Powers has written!

You can buy the novel on The Book Depository here! (an affiliate link)

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Book Review- American War

Thursday, 14 June 2018
Title: American War
Author: Omar El Akkad
Published: 4th April 2017
Pages: 333
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi

Rating: 4.5/5

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war – part of the Miraculous Generation – now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past, his family’s role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others. -Goodreads

My thanks to Net Galley and Pan Macmillan for the review copy.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this novel, I had no idea it was going to be such a dark brutal and bleak read. This isn’t to say it’s a bad novel, it just isn’t a cheer-you-up novel. It also isn’t a particularly fast read, due to the dark and serious nature of the novel I had to take quite a few breaks to allow my brain to process everything and recover! But don’t for a second think that I didn’t enjoy this novel, it was breath-taking, and it was an incredible read.
This novel tells the story of Sarat, a woman who faces such hardship during the Second American Civil War, and is eventually turned into a weapon, a killer of the Northerners. The story is told by Benjamin, her nephew when he himself is an old man. This reflective style of plot allows a deeper understanding of the events of the plot, and also allows the reader to understand the effects the events had on the overall course of the war, and history in general.
I will admit that I don’t know very much of American geography or history, so it took me a while to fully understand what exactly was happening in this novel, and to fully grasp the ins and outs of the war itself. The author has done a brilliant job of developing the world, and you can tell that a lot of thought had gone into creating the premise of the novel.
The characters in this novel are fascinating to read about. Sarat is a particularly interesting character, we follow her from a small child through to womanhood, and the changes that she undergoes, some as a direct result of the war she survived are incredible and harrowing to read about. Sometimes she seemed so mature and much older than her age, and at other moments she could be so childlike and naïve. I grew very attached to Sarat, and really sympathised with her, even though she did some pretty terrible things.
I enjoyed reading about Sarat’s family too, although I didn’t grow as attached to them. I didn’t quite get the emotional punch that certain events featuring Sarat’s family were supposed to pack, but they were still an interesting group of characters to read about.
The author is very clever with the way he has written the narrative of the novel. By interspersing the story of Sarat and her life with articles from newspapers and other official documents about the Civil War, and events that occur before and after the storyline we are following. These are a crucial part of the excellent world building and historical detail and accuracy that the author has included, and I really enjoyed the other dimension that these more official documents lent to the diary-like narration of the majority of the novel.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel, I gave it 4.5/5 stars, it was bleak and harrowing but it made me think a lot about war and the effects it has on civilians, and the novel is definitely relevant today.

Buy the book from The Book Depository here (affiliate link)
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