The Other Son (Nick Alexander) plus others

I have slight problem with ebooks. Although to be frank the problem is not really the actual e-books, the problem is with me.

I love a bargain.  I get a daily email from BookHippo and Bookbub suggesting books I might like, many of them less than £1.99 or free.

The problem is I ‘buy’ them but I am usually in the middle of reading something for review, or busy with other things.  I do try and read my new purchases but some get forgotten about especially when you don’t actually see a pile of books to be read!

The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard

One of those was The Not so Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard by Robert Bryndza.  Apparently (and this was a shock to me) I bought it in August 2012!    I also have books 2 and 3 in the series of Coco Pinchard books but haven’t read these yet:   Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding and Coco Pinchard, the Consequences of Love and  Sex.

It was when I was reviewing a copy of Robert’s brilliant debut crime thriller The Girl in the Ice that I read he had previously written romantic comedies.  I recognised the Coco Pinchard title but wasn’t sure if I had read it. Apparently I hadn’t read it.

I managed to clear my NetGalley shelf and decided to start reading some of the books in my Kindle library.

This was first on my list.  It is bonkers, it’s farcical but it is well written and very funny.  I liked all the characters, especially her awful mother-in-law.

Coco should have been enjoying a wonderful life.  Her first novel has been published, her son Rosencrantz has grown up and her husband …. well  he is just starting his mid-life crisis. He gives her an iphone for Christmas – not what she wanted.

When she catches her husband in bed with a younger colleague she dumps him.

Poor Coco, she seems to go from crisis to crisis in a run of bad luck.  Luckily she is able to email her (eccentric) friends using her new iphone and her story is told mostly in the form of emails to them.

At the age of forty something she finds herself single and manages to get herself a love interest but even that is not without its trials. As she starts to pick up the pieces with the help of her friends it looks as if things will work out but even the long road that elusive success is filled with hilarious incidents and you begin to wonder if things will ever go right.  A very entertaining book.

The Other Son

This one hadn’t been lurking in my Kindle library for quite so long.  I bought The Other Son by Nick Alexander in early January this year.

It tells the story of Alice and her relationships with the three men in her life – her husband Ken and her grown up sons Tim and Matt.

I felt as if I knew Alice.  She has been married to Ken for a long time and has two grown up sons but she doesn’t seem to enjoy a particularly happy or fulfilling life.  Ken is one of these men who have to control everything, not just the finances but also who his wife socialises with.  He is a bully.  One of her sons is successful, married with two sons of his own.  He and his wife place great importance on material wealth.  The other son has always been different.  He has spent time travelling and is now living abroad.  Alice hasn’t seen him for a while.

I felt the book touched on several emotions:  anger, frustrations, sadness, happiness, worry, sympathy.

Initially I thought I had much of the story worked out as it seemed quite predictable, but in a good way.  However there are a couple of nice twists.  There is quite a neat ending but it is also open enough to allow the possibility of a further book.

It didn’t take me long to read this book (not that it’s particularly short).  Once I had started it I got quite engrossed.  This meant I spent most of the day reading instead of cleaning the house.


All the Light We Cannot See

This is another book I bought a few months ago when it was on special offer.  I liked the description and I thought it might be worth reading – it is a prize winner after all – winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2015.

It took a few attempts for me to get started (it was quite a busy time for me).  I would read a couple of chapters then put it aside to read other things.  Two months after buying it, I finally sat down for the third time and started to read it ‘properly’.  I’m so glad I came back to it.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a wonderful book.  It’s the story of Werner, a young German orphan destined to become a miner but whose talent for electronics gives him the opportunity to escape that destiny, and Marie-Laure, a young, blind French girl who lives with her father.

This beautifully written story tells of how they, and those around them, are affected by World War 2.  We are told the story from both sides.  Both children have completely different lives and interests and yet there are unexpected connections and coincidences in the story.  They each have their own story but you get a sense of their stories converging.  Will they survive?  Will they meet?  What happens to the people around them and the people left behind?

The book begins in 1944 in St Malo, where we meet the main characters, who are unknown to each other, just as the bombs are about to fall on the town and destroy most of it.

Much of the book spans the war years, and tells the story of how Werner and Marie-Laure each came to be in St Malo but we are also taken to 1934 when Marie-Laure and Werner are aged 6 and 7 respectively.

There are a few flashbacks in the book but these are made quite clear at the beginning of the different sections and it is not difficult to follow the story as it moves backwards and forwards through the war years.

Both children grow up in the course of the book.  Werner has to leave his sister Jutta behind; Marie-Laure and her father have to flee Paris and go to stay with a reclusive uncle in St Malo.  Marie-Laure has to learn to be independent despite her blindness.

The writing is beautifully descriptive in parts but never over the top.

It’s a wonderful book and I’m so glad I stuck with it.  Once I got into the story I found it hard to put down.

*****

Well that’s three books from the virtual To Be Read pile that have been read.   I bought my first Kindle in 2011 and I have been buying e-books since then.  Glancing through the list of books I have in my library there must be hundreds of unread ones there.  Some will be good, some will be less good and there may even be a few that I will find unreadable (I won’t blog about those ones).  The actual Kindle is long gone (worn out maybe?) and I now simply use the Kindle app.

Maybe it is just as well the To Be Read pile is somewhere in the Cloud and out of sight!


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Filed under Anthony Doerr, Coco Pinchard, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Nick Alexander, Robert Bryndza, The Other Son

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