What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for February was a book set in the future. I chose to read Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks.

I approached the book with a lot of misconceptions. I had expected it to be a long and difficult read, full of stuff I just didn’t get. But while the world Iain M. Banks has created (The Culture) is thoughtful and Consider Phlebas contains many literary themes, it is, at its core, an entertaining novel of high stakes adventure.

I have long wanted to read the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks but kept putting them off for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I started with the wrong book. I tried to read The Algebraist (not part of the Culture series) and had a very difficult time. I didn’t finish the book. Being so long ago, I barely remember anything but being mystified and bored (most likely due to being mystified). But there was something about the book that made me keep trying until I eventually put it aside, figuring I’d try again on audio sometime. Continue reading “What I’ve Been Reading”

What I’ve Been Reading

I gave up participating in reading challenges a few years ago when I figured out that I really only ever got around to reading one or two of the mountain of books assigned. I’m a mood reader, meaning I’m not really sure what I’m going to read next. It might be one of the books staked in the ‘maybe I’ll read this next pile’ (or, let’s face it, one of the several ‘maybe I’ll read this next piles’ dotted around my house), or it might be the book I found at the library last week. The book that showed up on my ereader from a library hold or preorder. Or one of the nearly 400 books on the ‘to be read’ bookcase in the bedroom. The collection I lean toward and away from while doing yoga, thinking to myself, I really should get around to that one. Or that one. Or that one.

Obviously, I don’t need to challenge myself to read. And yet here I am, participating in #WritersRead. Continue reading “What I’ve Been Reading”

Review: One Step Too Far

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

I couldn’t sum up the premise of One Step Too Far any more eloquently than the official blurb:

An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life to start all over again? Has she had a breakdown? Was it to escape her dysfunctional family – especially her flawed twin sister Caroline who always seemed to hate her? And what is the date that looms, threatening to force her to confront her past? No-one has ever guessed her secret. Will you?

Emily’s secret keeps the pages turning, compulsively and obsessively, to the very end. The revelation doesn’t make the book, however, the story and the characters do. Snippets of the past from the point of view of Caroline, Ben, Frances, Andrew and Angel are not only engaging, but central to the plot. It is the convergence of these stories (in part) that set the scene for Emily’s apparent breakdown and flight. Her quest to start afresh is both extraordinary and heartbreaking, particularly as I am a mother. I could not imagine leaving my child behind, ever.

One Step Too Far is a strong debut novel. I enjoyed the experience of reading it (in fact, I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a day) and quite liked the writing style. There were so many small observations that drew the reader into the narrative and placed them there. Emotion was finely wrought. I couldn’t decide if the way Seskis hid the secret until the very end was more cunning or clever. Both, probably. When the deception of words became clear, I experienced a surge of anger, but I quickly forgave her. I was too caught up in events and at that point, the story was far from over.

This is not a light novel, despite moments of levity. The tragedy that befalls some characters is shocking and sometimes extreme. But it’s written with a lot of sympathy on the part of the author which I think translates well to the reader. I’ll be on the lookout for another novel from Tina Seskis.