October books

106. Perfect People – Peter James
Story – X and Y watched their first son die from an incurable genetic disease, so when the opportunity arises to manipulate the genes of a future child to ensure their health, they jump at the chance. But the list of genetic manipulations they are offered is staggering, and even as they go ahead with the process the doubts begin to creep in. Doubts that deepen into fears as the promised singleton pregnancy turns out to be twins, whose rapid growth and fearsome intelligence make the parents wonder just what kind of designer babies they are dealing with.
Thoughts – Good premise, pretty well written. There is something of the uncanny about twins, so that worked well, and the idea of being able to map and manipulate the genome isn’t so far off reality in some ways. I didn’t really connect emotionally with any of the characters though, which lessened my enjoyment a little. I really was surprised by then ending though, and thought it was an excellent finish to the book.

105. Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosch
Story – Cartoons about adulthood and depression.
Thoughts – I’ve read Hyperbole and a Half online for a long time, and I love it. The stories and pictures are hilarious, and the honesty about her emotional struggles raises it even further. Love it.

104. The Child Who – Simon Lelic
Story – A chance phonecall gives Leo Curtice, a public defender, the case of his career. A brutal murder of an eleven year old girl…and the accused is a twelve year old boy. Leo has to find a way to maintain his family’s safety and defend the unimaginable in the face of a community howling for blood.
Thoughts – I read this last week and actually thought it was pretty interesting and quite good at the time, however when I came to catch up on my reviews I literally could not remember a single thing about the story apart from the basic ‘boy accused of crime’. So, clearly it wasn’t that memorable.

103. Here’s the Story – Maureen McCormick
Story – The biography of the actress who played Marcia Brady.
Thoughts – I love the Brady Bunch, so I read this one as a bit of a sneak peek into that particular thing, but it was pretty good even apart from that. Maureen McCormick was basically a hugely successful child star, who then struggled to create and maintain an adult career as she dealt with her drug addiction and undiagnosed bipolar disorder. It is one of those books that is interesting but also very hard for me to read – I see what happened to her with an untreated mental illness, and it’s a very uncomfortable scenario for me to picture as it hits so close to home.

102. The Year We Turned Forty – Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Story – Three friends on the eve of their 50th birthday are taken back in time ten years, to the pivotal moment of their 40th birthday when the decisions they made would shape the following ten years.
Thoughts – This book took a little while for me to get into, because I guess I wasn’t expecting the straight up magic element of the magician sending them back in time with their full knowledge and agreement! I mean, I knew from the blurb what would happen, but somehow that just stretched credibility…not sure why, when just waking up ten years earlier would have been more acceptable to me! Maybe a spooky fortune telling machine like in Big? Or just waking up in a different body like Freaky Friday? But once I got over that I enjoyed it. She wrote the way changing something apparently simple led to a whole shift quite well, and the characters were okay. It’s not wildly memorable, but it was a fun read for a weekend.

101. Letters for Scarlet – Julie C. Gardner
Story – Corie and Scarlet have a past that haunts them. Best friends in high school, time and tragedy have separated them and as adults they don’t speak. But ten years on, the past is becoming impossible to ignore and Corie and Scarlet find themselves on a collision course.
Thoughts – I liked the writing and the characters in this one, but it was so slow! I mean, you knew there was some kind of catastrophic event that occurred when they were in high school from about the first chapter, but the rest of the story involved them just skirting around it in their lives. Honestly, if this hadn’t been an e-book I would have probably just skipped ahead and read the last page to see if I even wanted to bash through it. I would give the author another try though, and see if maybe it was just this book that had pacing issues.

100. Before I Let You In – Jenny Blackhurst
Story – As the psychiatrist, Karen should be in control. But her new patient, Jessica, makes her uneasy and soon Karen is wondering if Jessica is more involved in her life than she ought to be…
Thoughts – I liked this one more than I thought I would. It was well done and it kept me guessing – I did work it out, but I also had other plausible theories so it was an interesting story.

99. It Gets Worse – Shane Dawson
Story – Stories by Shane Dawson, an awkward, overweight youtuber.
Thoughts – I am not of the youtube generation, so I have no idea who this person is, but I thought I’d try it out since I often enjoy awkward memoirs. It was…okay, I guess. Some of the humour was just stupid, but other parts were pretty funny. I suppose I’m overall pretty ‘meh’ about this one.

98. Juniper – Kelly and Thomas French
Story – Memoir from the parents of a baby who was born at 23 weeks and overcame incredible odds to survive.
Thoughts – This one was amazing. The things that baby survived! It made me think though, about what I would have done in that situation, and it wasn’t necessarily a comfortable thing to think about. Because they said ‘do everything’, and today they have a normal daughter, but I honestly think that if I’d been in that situation there was a moment where I would have said ‘enough’. Which would have been the wrong choice, so I am fervently glad that I was never in a situation where I had to make that call. This book definitely made me count my blessings of healthy babies.

97. Phantom Limbs – Paula Garner
Story – Otis and Meg were everything to each other until the night that Otis’ little brother Mason died, and things changed for them both. Three years on Otis is a promising high school swimmer, coached by amputee Dara, and hasn’t spoken to Meg for years. But when Meg’s parents separate and she and her father arrive back in town, Otis and Meg are both going to be forced to face the past and reimagine their future.
Thoughts – Initially I didn’t really like this book. The relationship between Otis and Dara made no sense to me – it was one of those fictional relationships where the people are actually kind of awful, and I just wonder who in real life would put up with that kind of crap? I was also a little sceptical about the Otis and Meg ‘eternal love’ thing, considering they had been fourteen at the time. The book won me over though. Dara was still kind of a jerk, but to be fair she had lost half her arm. And I really liked the resolution between Meg and Otis, and the way that the story emphasised their healing as individuals, rather than it being the miraculous romantic love that was expected to save them.
His name was Otis though, so…

96. Tell Me Something Real – Calla Devlin
Story – This is the story of Vanessa, who spends time travelling to and from Mexico with her mother and two sisters, so her mother can access an alternative treatment for cancer.
Thoughts – This book really surprised me, going in a totally different direction to the way I expected. It was a good surprise though. I liked Vanessa, and I loved reading about her relationship with her sisters, and the way what happened affected her way of thinking. It was a sad book though, and probably not one I’d reread.