What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Published: May 2010Goodreads badge
Publisher:
PanMacmillan Australia
Pages: 476
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

I could not get excited by this book. I couldn’t understand why Alice couldn’t just simply state things outright and ask people what she wanted to know. I get she may have been in shock and what have you, and her personality wasn’t the tough assertive one she develops, but she lets people just talk at her, or ignore her. It annoyed me so much she didn’t just shout out ‘what part of I remember nothing do you not understand?’ Even when she doesn’t tell anyone she never asks questions, just wonders what it all means, what she has to do. Even when she does outright ask who someone is or what is happening, people don’t just answer her. I can’t understand, why wouldn’t you tell someone the full details? It would make them look like less of a fool and not annoy me as much I assure you.

The whole premise is Alice is missing ten years of her life, and in that time she loses friends, makes new ones, and becomes a person with a new personality. It’s not good just telling her that she’ll understand when she gets her memory back, or that she won’t feel as confused, it doesn’t help her in the moment. Yes Moriarty is trying to create suspense, and make us realise that there is more than just memory loss at stake, but truly. It was so frustrating having to put up with so many non-answers and people somehow unable to comprehend what no memory means. Even Alice’s mother just prattles on at her, not even having a proper conversation. Ugh. Of course when we do find out even a tiny something of what happened it comes in a weird one scene rush and answers are given and it feels like a trick having this information just given to us after we’ve suffered so far unawares.

Anyway. I could complain about this book for ages and not say anything constructive. You do start to get a small hint that something isn’t as it seems around halfway through. You’ve accepted Alice is Alice, and all these characters are just being their own weird selves so you focus on the story. Moriarty draws out the suspense in that way, you are meant to hang on as Alice almost gets answers and then loses them, almost gets her memory back but fails.

The story takes place over a week or so since Alice’s accident but a lot happens in that time. You see how Alice’s family have changed and evolved, you see how personalities have shifted, friends aren’t as close anymore. I really liked Alice’s sister Elizabeth; her chapters are fun and interesting, filled with emotion and intrigue. I also didn’t mind Franny’s parts either; it was a nice change having her blog provide bits of info and a commentary on what’s going on. Having that alongside Elizabeth’s journal you get relief from Alice doing all her stuff. Those two characters make the novel worth reading in my opinion, them and perhaps Alice’s children, they were quite fun.

You can purchase What Alice Forgot via the following

QBD | Book Depository | Amazon

Wordery | Dymocks

Fishpond | Booktopia

 

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Published: 1st September 2005 (print)/28th September (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Little Brown and Company/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 310 pages/8 discs
Narrator: Julie Powell
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Non Fiction
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Trapped in a boring job and living in a tiny apartment in New York, Julie Powell regularly finds herself weeping on the way home from work. Then one night, through her mascara-smudged eyes, Julie notices that the few items she’s grabbed from the Korean grocery store are the very ingredients for Potage Parmentier, as described in Julia Childs’ legendary cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And The Project is born. Julie begins to cook – every one of the 524 recipes in the book, in the space of just one year. This is Julie’s story, as gradually, from oeufs en cocotte to bifstek sauté au beurre, from ‘Bitch Rice’ to preparing live lobsters, she realises that this deranged Project is changing her life. The richness of the thousands of sauces she slaves over is beginning to spread into her life, and she begins to find the joie de vivre that has been missing for too many years.

The complete title of this book is Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living which is a nice fun mouthful. I’ve also seen it more commonly be called Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I chose to read this because I love reading the books movies are based on, and I enjoyed the movie so I thought I would give this a go, even if it was nonfiction. I have to say, the movie was, not better, I guess, but certainly more interesting.

The odd thing is I didn’t dislike this book, I liked the premise, it is told well. I listened to the audio book which was narrated by Julie Powell herself so that was good. The issue I had was that I wasn’t invested, nothing really happened. I had to keep reminding myself this was a nonfiction book based on a blog so that explains the lack of story, because life doesn’t have key moments planned out and an arc that propels you along. But Julie’s told her story well, there is a rise and fall of events, you follow her journey and are meant to celebrate with her and mourn her mistakes. And I did for the most part.

The problem was, I realised that I could tune out for a time and come back and not have missed anything, not be lost or need to rewind. There are a lot of detailed instructions about the cooking Julie does, understandably, and the lives of her friends and herself. Understandable as I say, it isn’t a memoir really, it’s a book based on a blog about cooking, there will be a lot of cooking mentioned. This is why I am confused. I didn’t dislike it, it just…was. Pleasant enough but it felt like it dragged on. Again, it’s nonfiction it is what it is, but towards the end I was losing interest in her journey.

I was intrigued by the parts about Julia Child. There aren’t many but it was interesting to have snippets of her life included, as a story and not as facts. It was a true side by side of their lives.

I actually watched the move afterwards and realised a lot of what was in the book had been included, save a few changes here and there. So that was nice, seeing it told in almost truth.

You can purchase Julie and Julia via the following

Booktopia | Wordery

Fishpond | A&R BookWorld

Amazon | Dymocks

Book Depository

Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman

Published: January 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 HarperCollins Children’s
Illustrator: Adam Rex
Pages: 30
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Chu is a little panda with a big sneeze.
When Chu sneezes, bad things happen.
In dusty library, diner pepper, circus tent,
Will Chu sneeze today?

This may be the shortest review I’ve done yet, even for a picture book. I just don’t have much to say about it. After seeing Gaiman talk about writing and publishing this book for so long I was excited to find it at the library. Having now finished it, I have to say I’m a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was cute. But I also kind of expected more.

The layout is nice, it’s suspenseful in how Rex and Gaiman have set out the text and the illustrations, but there is just something missing. I don’t even think I know what it is, but I finished and kind of went, is that it? I’ll give it credit, it’s cute, the story I can see would appeal to some people, but I found it a tad anti-climactic unfortunately.

Raw by Scott Monk

book-bite


Published
: 1st April 2005Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Random House Australia
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Brett Dalton is filled with hate and not afraid of a fight, but when he is sent to The Farm, his only opponent is himself. Brett Dalton is a tough guy—hardened, angry, uncaring, and always ready to use his fists. When the world hates you, you might as well hate it back. But when Brett is busted by the cops for stealing and sent to The Farm for rehab, there are no fences to keep him in and anger—and love—get in his way. Brett’s trapped in a grave new world, a world where he’s not hardened at all; he’s raw.

What disappointed me most about this book is how much I didn’t really like it. I adored Monk’s other book, Boys ‘R’ Us, and it’s a shame that didn’t happen with this one.

Brett is a hard character to like, he demands things, he never listens or learns, and you want to yell at him yourself for a lot of the book. He fights against those trying to help him, which is to be expected, but he isn’t someone you want to root for either. Just when you think he is starting to learn he goes and does something stupid again. It just makes you hate him even more.

It’s the standard story, Brett hates the world, gets into trouble a lot, gets sent to a rehab facility to straighten him out and befriends the man in charge who uses tough love and friendship to get him to change his ways. It leaves you feeling unfulfilled and while there is character development, it’s unsatisfying and a bit cheesy at times.

It wasn’t overly bad, but Brett manages to get himself in a lot of situations that are sometimes his fault and others they aren’t. It’s a typical story that was enjoyable enough but not one I would read again. It has been on my TBR list for about 15 years so at least I can say I finally crossed it off if nothing else.

You can purchase Raw via the following

Dymocks | Book Depository

BookWorld | Kobo

Booktopia | Audible

The Bad Decisions Playlist by Michael Rubens

Published: 1st August 2016  Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Penguin Books Australia
Pages: 296
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★  – 2 Stars

A stranger rolls into town, and everything changes…

…especially for Austin Methune, when the stranger turns out to be his father, presumed dead, and his father turns out to be Shane Tucker, a big time musician—just the role Austin wants for himself.

Austin has a long history of getting himself into trouble, with the assistance of weed, inertia, and indifference. And he’s in deep trouble now—the deepest ever. He’s talented, though. Maybe his famous father will help him turn his life around and realize his musical dream.

But maybe Austin has inherited more than talent from Shane, who also does drugs, screws up, and drops out.

Austin is a tour guide to his own bad decisions and their consequences as he is dragged, kicking and screaming, toward adulthood.

I am not one hundred percent sure I would have read this book if it hadn’t have been for the review I’d read from Jess over at The Never Ending Book Shelf. Having finished it, I’m a little sad to say I stand by that opinion, though my 2 stars is more of a 2.75 really.

I didn’t like Austin at the beginning, I really didn’t. I thought he was foolish, another weed smoking idiot who didn’t take anything seriously and in doing so often ruined the experiences of others. He didn’t care what happened or who he hurt and his apathy was just as frustrating as he inability to be sensible and sincere. I was probably supposed to find it endearing or some charming characteristic of being a teenage boy but it never got past being an eye rolling annoyance. It wasn’t until the halfway point that my dislike turned to tolerance. I accepted Austin, I was disappointed in Austin and annoyed, but even I ended up with a little hope for Austin, albeit begrudgingly. All of which is growth in some way. I can’t say I liked him any better at the end, but you could say he learned some lessons and saw some improvement and that’s admirable.

This is certainly a coming of age story, learning who you are and what matters to you in the world. Each character has things to learn and grow, Austin probably more than others, but no one is without something. I liked that Rubens touches on how a bully is created, and understanding that bullies can be bullied themselves. Not to spoil anything I’ll just say I also liked the friendships in this story. I like that it often isn’t really a friendship and there are different kinds that work well together. It was unconventional and really interesting to read.

My favourite person was Josephine and I actually really liked Austin when he was with Josepine. She was strong and self assured, she knew who she was and had respect for herself which was fantastic. She also brings out the best in Austin and he seems quite nice when they are together. A lot of characters had aspects of them that I really liked. Rubens writes well developed characters, they are established and have their own complexities that make them feel real and allows you to have sympathies, opinions, and connections with them. I don’t want to say this book was terrible, because it actually wasn’t. I just didn’t get too excited about it, I didn’t mind the plot I thought it was clever and had interesting moments, but when I finished the book I wasn’t that impressed, which I’m a bit sad about to be honest. But it’s quite possible that it’s just me.

You can purchase The Bad Decisions Playlist via the following

Amazon Aus| Amazon

Dymocks | Booktopia

Book DepositoryBookworld

QBD

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