Friday, November 20, 2015

We that are Left by Clare Clark

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 464

Source: Publisher

Genres: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication date: October 13th, 2015

Read on: 1st to 12th of November, 2015

I was contacted by the publisher and offered a copy of this book for review. My opinions are my own and haven't been influenced in anyway by them

Thoughts: When I first received the e-mail from the publisher offering me to read this book, they compared it to Downtown Abbey. Now, I have never actually watched the series (cue gasp), but as you probably know by now, I do love a good Historical Fiction novel, so I accepted. I was happy I did.

The book opens in 1920, giving us an idea of what’s to come. But the real story starts in 1910 and follows for the most part the lives of Jessica and Phyllis Melville, two sisters that couldn’t be more different, and that of Oskar Grunewald, a shy, quiet boy that just might change both their faiths. Jessica, the youngest of the sisters, is more than happy with her privileged life, and sees working as a fun endeavour, something to do before finding herself a good husband. Phyllis on the other hand would be called “down to earth”, she wants to see the world, be independent and doesn’t care about going through hardships as long as she can achieve her goals. Oskar just loves numbers and is through this love that he will get to go to university. The three lives keep crossing through the years and as kids turn into adults, passions flare up, love gets a chance and secrets get uncovered.

Clare Clark has a great prose; captivating and she sure knows how to build the environment around her characters. All through the book, whether the scene was taking place in Ellunghurst or in London, the atmosphere created was impeccable. From description of the scenery to everyone’s clothes Clark takes her time to set you in England during the 1910s. The main characters were all interesting in their own way, from the spoiled Jessica, to the stubborn Phyllis, none of the characters was perfect, but they were all exciting to get to know better.

That said, at several points I felt like the whole story was taking too long to develop. Some of the side stories (I feel) didn’t really give enough to the whole body, at least not enough for the amount of time spend in them. For example, and avoiding spoilers, the whole ordeal with the medium, I felt that part could’ve been removed and still get the point across on Eleanor’s character.

I enjoyed the idea of knowing where the story was going to end, but not how we got there. This is a perfect example where is not the destination, but the way there that matters. I knowing what I know about Downtown Abbey, I do believe that people who love the series are the perfect target for this story.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Challenges and goals update: How did I do in October

October was a very good month reading wise. Blogging wise...not so much. I was mostly active on my other blog, but with a lot of things going on at the lab, I neglected this site once again. I have some news I would like to share: I got my Canadian residency! Both A and I are very happy that I won't need to be renewing visas and other permits for a long time. But anyway, let's talk books!

Diversifying 2015: Ironically enough, this month was the #Diversiverse month and I only read one book of a POC author: El amor es una droga dura (Love is a Hard drug by Uruguayan author Cristina Peri Rossi. It was quite good and very different from what I had been reading. I should do better next month.

Read Harder: For this challenge I tackled the "A book that someone else has recommended to you" part with Le vieux qui ne voulait pas fêter son anniversaire (The Old guy that didn't want to celebrate his birthday) by Jonas Jonasson. It was completely hilarious and I recommended it wholeheartedly. Also for "A Book published by and Indie press" I read The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. I liked it but I had very high expectations for it, and it didn't fully attain them. It was interesting didn't really resonated with me. Finally as a "Retelling of a classic story" I read Fairest by Marissa Meyer.

My goals:

Read at least 1 POC author per month / Read at least 1 book in Spanish per month:: Only one this month:
El amor es una droga dura (Love is a Hard drug by Uruguayan author Cristina Peri Rossi.

Read CanLit book per month:For this goal I read Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood, a series of short stories. I absolutely loved it, particularly the first ones that get intertwined. I think there's no book of Atwood that wouldn't find delightful.

Read at least 1 book of nonfiction per month: As mentioned I read The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison.

Finished series:To get "ready" for the final book in The Lunar Chronicles, I finally read Fairest by Marissa Meyer, book 4 of the series. I am so enamored with this world! Seeing a bit of Levana's story surely puts a lot of things in perspective!

Read more already owned books: Off the 10 books I read this month 3 were my own, 1 was borroed and the other 6 came from the library.

Read the picks of the month for each book club: The Sword and Laser pick for this month was The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson.It definitely had an Ancillary Justice vibe, and who knew economics and politics could give you such a rush. While I am happy I got to know this story, I am not sure I love it. Very enjoyable and a great world building, but I was left with the sensation that something was amiss.

Besides the books I already mentioned I also read In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. It was my first book by the author and I liked it. It was an audiobook, and the narrator (Kathleen McInerney) did a wonderful job. I will eventually give it a try to her YA novels. I also read Still Alice by Lisa Genova; this one got me crying in no time and then I decided to watch the movie, and oh boy, the waterworks!. I think the author does an outstanding job making the reader feel what Alice is going through. Also a first, I read Reality Boy by A.S. King and it got me thinking, why on Earth didn't I read her books before? Her characters are so well built and so complex and real! This might have been a first, but it's certainly not a last one. My last read of the month was Before she Dies by Mary Burton; a thriller, bit of noir novella, was enjoyable, and I never managed to foresee who the bad guy was, which is a good thing!I'm glad I chose it for my Readers Imbibing Peril X challenge.

Well that was it for October. How was your reading?