Friday, November 6, 2015

July Reads #BEDN

Continuing on with my catch up of book reviews. Going back to July this time!

July Reads

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a true life story about Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor-in-chief of French Elle Magazine, who in 1995 suffered from a stroke that left him with locked in syndrome. He is completely paralysed except for his left eye. Bauby dictated his book with a series of blinks to select letters of the alphabet. The book is beautiful, it's sad at times but Bauby has some wonderful insights too, using his imagination to explore all the senses he no long has the liberty to use freely. For example he imagines preparing and tastes a wide range of dishes he is no longer able to taste, being fed intravenously. It's a short read and well worth picking up.

The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements

I read the first book of this series, Vivian's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop, in January 2014 and was pleased to see this book on NetGalley so I requested it. It follows on with sisters Imogen and Anna, who have revived the ice cream shop in Brighton they inherited from their grandmother. Anna feels settled with her Italian husband Matteo and their daughter Isabella but Matteo is itching to go back to Italy. Eventually Anna agrees and they take on the lease of an ice cream shop. But Matteo's mother can't help but butt in and have criticism of everything Anna does. Imogen meanwhile is settled with her boyfriend Finn but gets itchy feet and wants to travel again. The book was an enjoyable read, it didn't suffer from second book syndrome that I get a lot from book series like this. The cover is beautiful, it perfectly fits the great summery vibe of the book!

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Speaking of second books, this is the follow up to last year's Little Beach Street Bakery, set in a little seaside resort where Polly set up an artisanal bakery after her life fell apart. Things are going well for Polly, work wise, friends wise and relationship wise until the owner of the bakery she is leasing dies. In steps the greedy relatives and things begin to fall apart. Polly needs to find a new way to keep her business going as well as deal it with issues in her relationship, This book almost fell into second book syndrome (which is where the relationship set up in book one begins to go tits up for some reason) but it managed to just about stay afloat. I still LOVE the setting of this book, as for all Colgan's settings there is something cosy, inviting and idyllic. I just want to jump into the book!

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites has been on my radar for a while but when a colleague at my job at the time read it and loved it, I decided it was time to pick it up. Based a true story from Iceland, Agnes has been convicted of the murder of her former master and is sent to live with a family to await her execution. At first the family are horrified and not at all happy to live with the infamous Agnes but slowly, the wife and daughters of the family grow to be less wary of Agnes and learn more about her life and her side of the story while she speaks to Toti, a priest Agnes has requested to be her spiritual guide. I loved how we slowly got to know the story of Agnes, how the layers of the onion are peeled back. Kent nails the setting of the book too, it's so easy to imagine the bleakness and wildness of Iceland in the early 1820s. I definitely cried once or twice reading this book too!

The Girl Who Wasn't There by Ferdinand von Schirach

This was the Fiction Book of the Month for July in Waterstones and I requested to read it on NetGalley solely for this reason. The book feels like two books in one. The first half builds up Sebastian's story, from childhood to becoming a famous photographer. The first half ends with Sebastian meeting this woman and the second half starts with him being accused of murder. But no one knows who this woman is, only that a phone call was made by her to alert that this was happening. A lawyer agrees to take on this case to defend Sebastian and the whole thing comes to a conclusion. I felt like this book was disjointed, that the two halves didn't seem to match it. It was like two different stories mashed together. If the book had started with the second half and mixed in parts of the first half to slowly tell the story and Sebastian's past, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It ultimately felt very pretentious. But I do know others who really like it so maybe it just splits people?!

July Reads

Number of books read- 5
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 4:1
Male to Female authors- 3:2
Number of eBooks- 2 (The Girl Who Wasn't There and The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop)
Number of books borrowed from library- 0

Reading Challenge Completed

A Book Based on a True Story- Burial Rites

Yay! All done with July. Pretty short month but some nice reads in there. August will be on the site in a few days.

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