Reads Feb 2024

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone, Benjamin Stevenson
All the clues needed are here, some so subtle it’s easy to pass over them, but it all ties together in the end. For me, it’s the style in which it’s all presented that made this book so engaging. I’m not usually a fan of first person and I’ve seen that the fictional author of the book talking to the audience has annoyed some readers, but I loved it. Others call it confusing and say it’s all been done before by better. That can be said for many books, but that doesn’t negate other novels. I wasn’t confused and don’t feel it’s fair to assess a book against another. All I know is I had fun with this. I did, however, set my sights on the suspect(s) before the denouement, but not early enough to spoil the outcome. I may check out other works by the author.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, Laura Imai Messina
Based on a real phone box people visit to talk to their departed loved ones, this is a gentle story even though its subject is one of dealing with loss; of how to open oneself up to a future in which one can find the right balance to live a hopeful and love-filled existence, even though genuine grief’s a close companion through life. Snippets and minor details intersperse the chapters to the section just read, which lend the book a certain unique charm and style. Yes, the story lingers afterwards, although I its emotional aspect failed to move me.

Citizen Alex (Let Freedom Ring), Bruce Campbell (ebook)
A lighthearted, short, fun read. The main character of Alexander Madison could easily be the lead in a series, and the writing shows Bruce’s sense of humour well. Maybe not as funny as I expected, but there were moments with political satire woven in.

The Lost City of Z, David Grann
The only trouble reading a book like this is it does nothing to lower the to-be-read mountain because I couldn’t help wondering if the author’s written any more than half as good. If only all my history lessons could have been so entertaining and informative. A factual historical adventure as gripping as fiction, the book follows in the wake of Percy Harrison Fawcett into the Amazon to answer the question of what happened to Fawcett and whether he was on the track of an amazing civilisation. Often brutal, this tale is also enlightening. We know all about the destruction of the rainforest in recent years, but this reveals how deep that ruination goes, of how early explorers began that devastation in pursuit of the land’s resources more years ago than most of us probably imagine. Many of the hostile tribes greeted these men in defence of that land and in response to the enslavement of their people. The treatment of indigenous races and pack animals is harrowing. The description of diseases and insectile hazards may make you itch. If I have one criticism, it’s that the version of the book I have had seriously small writing, which made the experience less pleasant, if pleasant is a word one can use when reading this type of book. Note: The film on Netflix based on the book takes only the main part of the story and dramatises it. The film’s worth a look, but I preferred the reading experience as it’s much more in-depth.

The Power, Naomi Alderman
I didn’t expect to enjoy this book, although ‘enjoy’ doesn’t feel like the right word. This is a dystopian look to a future in which women develop the ability to emit an electrical discharge, turning almost all women into a walking weapon. The resulting upheaval in societies and cultures all over the world plunge the planet into wars on both the small and large scale. There’s too much in this novel to go into without writing an essay. The meaning may well be different to different people, based on their own biased views. To me, it screams that there is no better or worse, just the corruption of power, and we should all be equal. But, sadly, though likely accurately, this shows that equality also includes all human traits, both good and bad. The book shows what people are capable of, questioning gender equality on a grand scale. It’s thought-provoking, though touches only lightly on a subject that has greater depth than you’ll find here. Some might feel it’s a feminist novel, but it speaks more eloquently of the failures in human nature. Creative and possibly provocative for some.

About Sharon

Writer of Dark and Light Fiction. Fact, fiction, poetry, short stories, articles and novels. Cross-genre, slipstream, non-traditional romance, gothic, horror, fantasy and more... Visit this diverse writer's site.
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