Monday 30 March 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | Books 6-10

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I'm back with my next round up of book reviews. I have tons of Netgalley eARC's to get through so I am focusing on those before I make a start on my huge paperback TBR pile! Give me an add on Goodreads if you want to share reviews there.

Here's what I've been reading lately.

6) Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano - 5/5 

Blurb: A luminous, life-affirming novel about a 12-year-old who is the sole survivor of a deadly plane crash.

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 191 passengers aboard: among them, a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.

'Dear Edward' depicts Edward's life in the crash's aftermath as he struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. In his new home with his aunt and uncle, the only solace comes from his friendship with the girl next door, Shay. Together, Edward and Shay make a starling discovery: hidden in his uncle's garage are sacks of letters from the relatives of the other passengers, addressed to Edward.

As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront some of life's most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given? And what does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Review: Wow. This is an absolutely beautiful bildungsroman and I'm not even ashamed to admit that it made me cry.

Eddie and his family are on a plane from New York to Los Angeles. The plane crashes and Eddie is the only survivor. He moves in with his aunt Lacey (his mother's sister) and uncle John, while missing his mother, his father but especially his older brother Jordan. The story alternates between the stories of all the people who were on the plane and Edward's life (he decides to go by Edward after the crash) as he's trying to come to terms with what happened.

We learn that Edward becomes friends with Shay, his next door neighbour, he attends school with her, he visits a therapist called Dr Mike, and he helps his principal look after his ferns all while trying to find his place in the world after such a tragedy. His relationship with Shay is wonderful and it's such a moving story about grief and how to cope with his feelings and what he should do for the best.

The family members of people who died in the plane write to him, hence the title of the book, and he decides that he needs to live for them. Even though I knew the outcome of the plane crashing, the writing is exceptional and my eyes were filled with tears at the last letter.

7) All About Us by Tom Ellen - 4/5 

Blurb: One moment in time can change your life forever...

Ben's always loved the month of December, but with his marriage to Daphne on the rocks, this year it's missing its usual magic. So when his old flame Alice gets back in touch, Ben can't help but wonder: did he make the right choice all those years ago?

Yet everything changes one night when a twinkly-eyed stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch, the hands frozen at one minute to midnight. Opening his eyes the next morning, Ben is astonished to find that he has been catapulted back to 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

Review: This is a cute little book.

Ben has been with Daphne for years but in 2020, he feels like not all is perfect between them anymore. He arranges to meet up for drinks with a girl he was friendly with in his uni days on 29th December, five days away.

He goes for Christmas Eve drinks with his friend Harv, ready to tell him how he's feeling but as they don't usually talk about the serious stuff in life, he chickens out. This is where the story takes a sort of Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol' turn.

A man in the pub gives Ben a broken watch, with the hands stuck just before midnight. Ben then goes travels through time to the same date in the past, present and future, to show him things that he hadn't realised in the past and to see what his present and future held.

I honestly thought that it might be a little cheesy but it wasn't at all. It is written seamlessly and I didn't guess the ending at all. An enjoyable read! 

8) The Night You Left by Emma Curtis - 5/5 

Blurb: When Grace's fiancé vanishes without a trace the night after proposing, her life is turned upside down. But has Nick walked out on her, or is he in danger?

As Grace desperately searches for answers, it soon becomes clear that Nick wasn't the uncomplicated man she thought she knew. And when she uncovers a hidden tragedy from his childhood, she realises an awful truth: that you can run from your past - but your secrets always catch up with you...

Review: This book is fantastic and I couldn't put it down!

Grace and Nick have been together for seven years. On the night he proposes, he disappears. Grace is sure that something has happened to him and sets out to find answers.

The story flits between the present time and back in 2000 when Nick would have been 16 years old. His family along with two others are holidaying together and a tragedy happens. The two stories tie together really well and kept me guessing right 'til the end.

9) The Stranger In Our Bed by Samantha Lee Howe - 4/5 

Blurb: I ended my marriage for a man who didn't exist...

I have everything money can buy. I'm a good wife, but sometimes I feel trapped. And when I start an affair with a stranger called Ewan, my life changes in ways I can't begin to understand.

Because Ewan breaks apart my marriage piece by piece and then he just disappears. He uses a fake name and leaves no trace behind: it's like he doesn't even exist.

Someone did this to me and now they're waiting for me to unravel, watching my every move. I can't trust anyone, not even myself - not even the people I love.

Review: This was an interesting one!

Charlotte is married to CEO Tom and wants for nothing, but she has to put up with Tom's overbearing mother Isadora. She loves Tom and is a great wife. She meets Ewan and they begin a secret affair. Charlotte prepares to leave Tom then suddenly, Ewan disappears without a trace and cannot be found. It's like he never existed.

She ends up back with Tom and they go on to have a baby but she still can't stop thinking about what could have happened to Ewan. She doesn't know who to trust and secrets and lies are revealed.

It's a dark, twisty book that makes you think.

10) The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney - 2/5 

Blurb: Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he's her husband. He's a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley's most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she's a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife.

Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband's motives - and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her half a decade ago?

Review: My rating might seem a bit harsh but as the parent of an autistic child, I just could not get on board with this book at all which is a shame because I loved 'Believe Me'.

Tim Scott owns a large tech company in Silicon Valley. We learn that his wife Abbie is dead (presumably, no body found) and five years on, he has built his own "cobot" (companion robot) of her by making her look exactly like Abbie and downloading all of her memories and thoughts.

Abbie and Tim have a ten year old son called Danny who has Heller's syndrome (children's degenerative syndrome) but it is mostly described in the book as autism. This is where my problem with this book lies.

I understand that the author has an autistic son and a lot of this story has personal influences. Delaney talks a lot about ABA, which the autistic community class as an abusive form of therapy to control autistic children's behaviours and stims to make them behave as neurotypicals.

I don't agree with statements such as "The mother of a child with autism knows her feelings for him will never be reciprocated. Her child will never say 'I love you'..." He goes on to say that they will never bring a girlfriend home or have children. Wrong and infuriating. There are a lot of comparisons between an autistic brain and the programming of the brains of the robots that our main character Tim Scott was building, insinuating that there aren't that many differences between them.

The main storyline between Tim and his "cobot" version of Abbie is great. She acts and feels like a real person but discovers that Tim hasn't given her all of her memories and she wants to find out what really happened to Abbie.

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