I've Been Reading #2

Sunday 21 September 2014

Hello all! I've managed to get a lot of reading done lately (one of the very few perks of job hunting), and thought I'd tell you a bit about some of my recent favourites in an I've Been Reading post! Some of these are books that EVERYONE is talking about at the moment, while others are ones I've had on my list for a while!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This book is the talk of the town in the booktube community at the moment. I finally caved and downloaded it on to my Kindle after hearing so many people discussing it - it's in the YA sort of genre that I'm a huge fan of, and I haven't read a bad review of it yet.

The book centres around the life of Cadence, a teenage girl from a wealthy American family, who have their own private island. Every year Cady, her mother, her aunts and cousins spend the summer on the island with their grandparents, and she has an incredibly close bond with two of her cousins and a family friend. The family is far from perfect, however idyllic life on the island may seem, and tension bubbles beneath the surface from the very start of this book. Things take a turn for the worse when one summer Cady is involved in an accident - she has lost her memories of the events leading up to the accident and the incident itself, and the book sees her try desperately to piece together what happened to her, two years after the event. It's the first time she has gone back to the island, and the carefree summers she spent with her friends are most definitely a thing of the past.

I'd heard before I read the book that once you find out what happened, you cannot believe you didn't see it coming. I think it clicked for me just minutes before it was revealed, not everything, but certain elements of the twist. I'm looking forward to reading it again to pick up on all the clues Lockhart leaves throughout the chapters leading up to the big reveal!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Another book getting a lot of media attention at the moment is If I Stay, thanks to the movie adaptation starring Chloe Grace Moretz which is in cinemas now. I picked this up after Kate from gh0stparties mentioned it in a "Top 5 Books" post a couple of months ago, and I'm really glad I did.

Another story featuring a teenaged girl, this novel explores what is a really complicated question. 17yr old Mia is a cello prodigy from Oregon, living with her eccentric, music loving parents and eight year old brother Teddy. She has a boyfriend named Adam, who is in a rock band, and is on the cusp of graduating high school. Her incredible talent pretty much guarantees she will have a future in the classical music industry, and life, overall, is pretty good. Within the first couple of chapters, however, Mia and her family are involved in a life-changing accident. The book takes place over the space of a couple of days, when Mia is unconscious in hospital, but her spirit seems to have escaped her body and she is left with a massive decision to make - does she want to live or does she want to die? If she stays, her life will be unrecognisable, but deciding to die will never be easy. The book really gets you thinking, and I will admit to having shed a few tears while reading it. I'd definitely recommend it - it's such an interesting concept.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went is the follow up to If I Stay, and, in the interests of not giving anything away, I'll say right off the bat that this book is narrated by a different character. Where She Went follows Adam, Mia's rock star boyfriend, a couple of years after the first book ends. It explores how his life has panned out as a result of the decision Mia made, and I'm so glad that Gayle Forman decided to write a book from another character's perspective. In a situation like this, it's fascinating to see how someone on the outside deals with such a massive, life altering incident. I won't say anything else about the plot since I'm writing it in the same post as I've talked about If I Stay, but I will say that if you read the first book, definitely go and read the second one - a lot of people preferred Where She Went, though for me, If I Stay pipped it to the post!

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

I've been keen to read The Sense of an Ending for a while, and I picked it up in my local library last week. It won the Man Booker Prize in 2011, and is a really quick read - it's only about 150 pages in total. It explores the life of a retired English man named Tony, and the book is split into two parts. What really drew me to it was the fact that this is a story that deals with how we remember things, and how our minds can play tricks on us when we try to remember things that happened in the past. We did some work on this in my higher drama class and it just always struck me as a really fascinating subject - those moments that you are sure you can remember from when you were a tiny child, but if you think really hard you might find that you can only picture it because people have told you the story so many times. The first half of the book sees Tony describe his relationship with his three best friends from high school, through the early years of university when they were then separated. In particular, it examines his friendship with a deeply philosophical and intelligent boy named Adrian. The second half sees some of the truths Tony has held on to all of these years begin to unravel. It looks at the complexities in friendships and relationships, and how easy it is to block out moments from your past you would rather forget. It's not exactly a cheery read, but for me, the subject matter was what counted. I don't think it will be everyones cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it.

How to Fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern

Ahhh Cecelia Ahern, how I love thee. I haven't had even indifferent feelings to one of her books yet - I've loved them all.

How to Fall in Love is the story of Christine Rose, a recently separated thirty-something who is at a bit of a cross-roads in her life when she meets Adam. She finds him set to jump off the Ha'penny Bridge, in Dublin, and in a split second decision she convinces him not to kill himself, and promises to show him how wonderful life can actually be. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on her, and those around her are not entirely convinced she has made a sensible decision.

We see her try every trick in the book (she has an obsession with self-help books) to help change the course of Adam's complicated life, from his attitude to his job, his family situation, love life and overall view of the world around him. As ever, with Cecelia Ahern, there is something sort of fantastical about this story - what I love about her books is that element of magic that flows through each of them, even though they tend to explore the lives of normal, every day people. It's warm, entertaining, romantic (as the title suggests) and philosophical, and it was an absolute joy to read.

Fractured by Dani Atkins

Last on the list is Fractured by Dani Atkins, an author I had never heard of before. I downloaded this in the Kindle sale for about 90p one night, and what a fantastic decision that was!

I'm just going to say right away that I adored this book. I have a bit of a fascination with time travel and parallel universes, and this book definitely fits into those categories. Rachel is 23 and returning to her home town for the first time in 5 years, to attend her best friend's wedding. At 18, just before she was due to head off to university, Rachel and her friends were involved in an accident (why do so many of these books include accidents!?), which completely altered the course of her life and claimed the life of one of her friends. 5 years on, Rachel's life is pretty dark, and certainly didn't turn out the way she had hoped as a carefree teen. Her first night back at home sees an incident take place which, once again, seems to alter the course of her life - she wakes up to find that everything that she has known about her life and everything that has happened to her since the night of the accident appears to have been erased, and replaced with a totally different life. The book then sees Rachel struggle to cope with this new life, and try to explain to her loved ones why nothing makes sense. She has to try to figure out what's real and what isn't, and come to terms with a life she barely recognises, albeit a much better and happier life than the one she was living before. It was a really, really interesting concept and a lovely book, and I'd recommend it in a heartbeat!

That's it for this edition of I've Been Reading - it was a long one, so I apologise for that, in future I think I'll try to keep it to three or four books at a time!

Let me know what you've been reading lately in the comments below! Hope you enjoyed that and thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. All these are on my to-read list. I'm a massive bookie, can't wait to start doing more book reviews on the blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these!

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