bakery bookshelf

Bakery Bookshelf: March 2016

As you may have noticed, there wasn’t a book post last month. That is because I was trying to get through the tomb of a book that you can see in the photo above.

There were a few reasons why it was ‘trying’ but one of my main issues – and this applies to all books – is that my main reading time is bedtime, and for years, years I tell you, I have had trouble getting to sleep. Reading was a good way to pass the time. It would never send me to sleep, but it would help. Anyway, for the past few months I barely make it three pages in before I am rudely awaken by the book slapping me in the face, because I have fallen asleep and the book has tipped (nine times out of ten) towards me (sometimes it falls towards the cat dozing on my belly, which means we both get woken up abruptly and I also get a dirty look). I think it is the combination of a new(ish, now) job and the fact that I cycle to and from work every day (unless it is throwing it down with rain or blowing a gale), so I am pretty exhausted. Oh, and I seem to have found the most comfortable spot on my mattress and being all snuggled in and cozy and comfy = zzzzzzzz.

Although I should not complain, because sleep is always a good thing, it is bloody annoying when you like to read and find that you aren’t getting through books as quickly as you used to!

So, the above factors coupled with small print meant that it took me a while to get through the 613 pages of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Although . . .

I have to say that it was a very disappointing book. I read a quote from someone that said if you haven’t got into a book by page 50 you should abandon it. Now, by page 50 I hadn’t invested in any of the characters, I wasn’t particularly bothered about them, but something, probably mild curiosity, kept me turning the pages, albeit slowly, along with the hope that it may turn into the book I thought it was.

Let me share with you the blurb on the back:

Run away, one drowsy summer’s afternoon, with Holly Sykes: wayward teenager, broken-hearted rebel and unwitting pawn in a titanic hidden conflict.

Over six decades, the consequences of a moment’s impulse unfold, drawing an ordinary woman into a world far beyond her imagining. And as life in the near future turns perilous, the pledge she made to a stranger may become the key to her family’s survival . . .

Sounds intriguing, right? Just like any good blurb on the back should, it makes you want to a) find out more, b) read it.

In my mind, I had already marked this as a fantasy type novel, I mean, the phrase “a world far beyond her imaging” kind of indicates that it might have a fantasy element to it. Then flicking through the first few pages (the ones that have all the praise and adoration for either the author or the book) I came across quotes such as:

At once a gripping thriller and a far-out fantasy, a brilliant mash-up that pulsates with energy, satire and wit.

Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler

Side note – Sebastian Shakespeare is so obviously not his real name . . .

And

I was completely blown away . . . an incredibly explosive, surprising, intelligent, dark and magical story.

Lucy Frith, Stylist

So in my head, this was a fantasy novel.

But it is not.

Granted, for about 50 pages around three quarters of the way in, there is a glimmer of the fantasy novel about it and it actually got fairly interesting. But then the glimmer fizzled and disappeared, and let’s point out that three quarters of the way through a book that is 613 pages long, it a long wait.

I feel that I should state at this point that I enjoy books of all kinds of genres (except chick-lit, you can keep that), so it is not that I thought that this was a fantasy book and then it turned out to be straight up fiction and I don’t like straight up fiction which makes it disappointing. It is the fact that I feel as if I was duped. That’s the galling part.

It is well written, I can’t criticise that, although there are more words than there needs to be. This book could be half the length and still get the same story across. There are chunks that even now I have finished it, I have no real ideal why there were there, other than to provide way too much back story and bulk out the page numbers.

Also, as we travel through to the future, it takes the predictable turn down dystopian road. It is so boring to read books that turn the future into some horrid desolate barren land where it seems humans have plummeted back into the dark ages. Whilst this may be where we are heading once oil runs out and we haven’t got our arses into gear with regards to a new energy source, not every book has to take this approach. It has been done now, several times, authors please move on to something else.

And here is the main problem I have with this book, besides all of the above, I have absolutely no idea what it was about. None. Nada. Other than it follows a woman called Holly Sykes through her life and her very very brief flirtation with a world she didn’t even know existed.

So in summary:

  • It is twice as long as it needs to be
  • It is not a fantasy novel
  • I have no idea what the story was really about

*shrugs shoulders and pulls a ‘meh’ face*

Have any of you read it? Have you read any other David Mitchell books? Did I pick a bummer as the first one of his to read? Let me know.

Now onto book number two, Mrs Jeffries on the Trail by Emily Brightwell, which given the slimness I thought I would finish in a week or so, but sadly it took a little longer due to falling asleep . . .

This is the third book of series of a decent size. I received a collection of them for Christmas, which bizarrely starts with the third book, not the first, which would have made a bit more sense, but never mind.

I think that they are very similar in their inception to the Agatha Raisin books, but these are set in Victorian London.

Mrs Jeffries is the housekeeper of Inspector Witherspoon of Scotland Yard, who to all intents and purposes it made out to be a little bit inept. But whenever he gets a new murder investigation Mrs Jeffries coaxes the details out of him so that she and her little gang – made up of various other household staff and neighbours – can solve the murder for him, feeding little snippets back so that Inspector Witherspoon feels that he has solved it himself. All very harmless . . .

This particular book involves the murder of a flower girl.

They are easy to read and not too taxing on the brain. Great to read in between two more arduous tombs if you are looking for something like that. Or if you want something relatively quick.

The only issue I have, and it is only small, is that they are written by an American, and their interpretation of Victorian London can be a bit . . . inaccurate (apologies to all Americans) especially in terms of the speech, which can be a bit too much “how’dya fink I knows ‘im?” and “bleedin’ scallywags gettin’ in ma bleedin’ way all the time”, if you know what I mean. It can all get a bit Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Enjoyable nonetheless.

As always, if you have read or purchased any good books recently, let me know in the comments below. They don’t have to be fiction, all genres considered.

 

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5 thoughts on “Bakery Bookshelf: March 2016”

    1. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve picked Cloud Atlas up and read the back and been so, so, close to actually reading it but something has always stopped me. Maybe it was a premonition. That said, my mum read Slade House (his latest one) and said that it was good. I don’t know if I have the strength . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I will be careful to avoid Book No. 1.
    Book No. 2 sounds marginally better, but I am SO with you on Americans leaving period England well alone. It only works if they write in parody, in which case one is prepared to forgive gross inaccuracies for the sake of the comedy. I was recently disappointed in a couple of Pride & Prejudice ‘sequels’, where the characters were saying “OK” to each other, and calling their children “cute”, innkeepers ‘barkeeps’ and waistcoats ‘vests’. Whatever next?

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    1. I was traumatised a couple of years ago by an episode of Murder She Wrote. I remember watching it when it was first on and really enjoying it, but this particular rerun was an episode that was set in London. My, it was bad. Bad with a capital B. The dodgy scenery, the appalling accents . . . Americans really do have this weird misconception of old Blighty. That aside I do always find it entertaining to see their interpretations.
      I think I have seen reviews on the Pride & Prejudice sequels you mention and they said similar things about the language used.
      On a similar note, have you ventured into the world of Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, or Sense, Sensibility and Sea Monsters? Complete mickey takes, and some people think they are sacrilege, but I found them a lot easier to read than the originals, with which I have always struggled!

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      1. Having always loved the originals, I’ve always wanted more! There is one author who does it quite well, and I have several of her books: Rebecca Anne Collins. I hoped this one would be more of the same, but Marsha Altman uses inappropriate language, far-fetched storylines and messes around with established character traits. And no, I haven’t tried the zombies one, or PD James’ detective story set at Pemberley…. I suspect I’m much too grumpy a reader to enjoy them!

        Liked by 1 person

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