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Book Club No. 15



Hey bookworm gang, I hope you're all having fantastic weeks and have been reading some good books. In this Book Club post, I'm going to share a variety of books with you that are all works of fiction and some that I very much enjoyed and others that were just okay but might sound appealing to some of you who enjoy that particular sort of fiction. So let's get into the reviews:

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
The Lie Tree is a book I hadn't even heard of nor had come across, but after a visit around some local charity shops doing some book-spotting, Matt handed this to me as he figured I would like it after reading the blurb. The title of this book gives some strong indication as to what it's about so I know by giving you a brief description, I'm not going to spoil anything for any of you who might want to give it a read in the future! The Lie Tree follows the main character Faith as she deals with her father's mysterious death after the family (herself, her parents, and younger brother) relocate to Ireland. Faith's father is a renown natural historian as well as being a Father of the church and thus has an interesting life. When he mysteriously dies, Faith is the only one who seems to be concerned by the possibility of foul play and thus makes it her mission to find out just what happened and why. Upon rifling through his notes, journals, and countless collectables and oddities, Faith discovers a strange plant which she comes to discover is much more than your typical plant.

When I first started reading The Lie Tree I thought it was just okay. The story was easy to follow and it was an easy read, but it just wasn't grabbing me for some reason. But after Faith's father dies, the plot truly comes to life. It has a wide range of quirky characters who range from the stereotypical to the outright bizarre of the Victorian, "explorer" era. The frustrations of being female and therefore shunned from certain lifestyles and activities is peppered throughout the story too which I really liked. Although it's easy to guess the general storyline as you continue to read, there were some occasional twists and turns that I wasn't expecting that helped the story take a darker course and also throw some curve balls into the mix. The story definitely has some of those classic murder mystery vibes, but it also has a uniqueness as it's a story about growing up, being a strong woman, and wanting answers.

Although I initially wasn't totally sucked in by this book, I can honestly say I was by the end. It's high-action and it has you rooting for particular characcters whilst hating others. It makes you empathise, question, feel utterly frustrated, and curious all at once. One thing I liked about this story especially was the level of description Hardinge shares in her writing. This is the first book by Hardringe I've read and I'm certainly going to check out more as I find her descriptive language great for setting the scene, but she doesn't over describe so it gives you wriggle room for character appearances, buildings, landscapes etc. that is never contradicted or comprised further into the novel. Faith is a strong main character and whilst a little predictable, still a good protagonist to follow. Hardinge totally won me over once I got the "dreams" Faith has and I'll leave it there before I tell you all too much! You can pick up a paperback copy of The Lie Tree for £6.49 here



Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Back around this time last year, I raved about the first novel in this triology and for my birthday this year I was kindly gifted the final two books so I could continue reading this epic story. For those of you who don't want to read my last review of the first book, Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children follows the lives of just that - Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children she has in her care. They each have weird and wonderful abilities and have been alive for hundreds of years. Due to things that happen on their quiet welsh island home (I can't say anything more than that without ruining the first book's plot for you all!), the peculiar children and Miss Peregrine start the arduous journey to London, seeking answers, allies, and friends.

This second novel was so *so* enjoyable for me. I really loved the first book and was keen to get stuck into this next one and I'm so pleased I did. I enjoyed Hollow City so much more than the first and that is a huge rarity for me with trilogies. The action, drama, and anticipation is stepped up a notch in this novel and feel like the doom and gloom is stepped up too which makes the story all the more heart-racing to follow. Despite a year-long gap between reading the first novel and the second, as soon as I picked up Hollow City I was instantly reacquainted with the characters and their personalities and it was as if I had read the first novel yesterday. Riggs is a brilliant storyteller and the life he gives to each and every character is palpable and really immerses you in the story. So many additional and new characters are brought into this second novel and each of them are as unusual and unique as the original troop and thus make it just as exciting to read.

I'm making sure I read the third and final book in this series ASAP because I don't want to wait another year to see how it all pans out, but I can't urge you all enough to give this book a try. You feel part of the main group in this tale of adventure so much so, I found when they were discussing their next plan of action and taking into account everyone's thoughts and opinions on each matter, I was thinking to myself "well I'd agree with Bronwyn in this case because..." and that's exactly the sort of level of lost I want to feel in a book. Grab a copy of Hollow City here for £7.83 in paperback



The Red House by Mark Haddon
The last book to mention is the one I've finished most recently and that is The Red House by Mark Haddon. You will possibly recognise Haddon's name as he is the author of the very popular (and one of my favourite books) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which I have to be completely honest, is the sole reason I picked up this book in the airport. The Red House sounded kind of interesting from the blurb as it made it seem like the book would reveal some sort of dark secret and it would take a dark turn at some point which, let's be real, are my favourite kind of books. Unfortunately I didn't quite get that dark reveal but weirdly, I didn't put this book down a lot either.

The plot of this story basically follows an estranged brother and sister agreeing to go on holiday together in a remote Welsh cottage with their partners and children. The storytelling does not have one sole narrator and is instead shared through a stream of consciousness from each and every character. This sort of storytelling can work and often reads so much better aloud or as poetry but for this book? I just don't think it worked. The paragraphs jump from one character to the next throughout the week-long story and whilst its obvious which character is which and it's easy to make the transition as a reader, it just seems forced and can be jittery and disjointed. I feel like this stream of consciousness could have been executed in a much cleaner way if Haddon didn't spend a lot of the time describing things found in charity shops or the colour of the coffee in the café. The over description throughout this book meant I often got bored of what I was reading, but the relatable characters that are mirror images of anyone and everyone's family members are what kept me hooked. They each go through real-life events such as thoughts about divorce, pregnancy, teenage lust, discovering yourself, and even the small thoughts of an 8-year-old which feel huge at that time, making it a very relatable and comforting read if only Haddon didn't flit from character to character in such a jerky fashion. The more you read the book, the smoother the ride gets, but it's unfortunate that it reads as mismatched as it does as it ruined the actual storytelling element of it for me. If you enjoy books that have that stream of consciousness, very contemporary almost poetic vibe to them, you can grab a copy of The Red House for £8.46 here




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