In March last year I read the ebook Young Single Homeless by Rachel Cumming. It follows the lives of several of the young people living in a hostel for young people, along with their case worker. Showing their experiences over the course of several weeks as well as the politics which they must deal with to keep the hostel running.
This book did have potential and I thought it was an interesting subject but I can't say that I enjoyed it. I almost felt like I was reading a first draft, as opposed to the fully completed story.
It was very much all telling, no showing, which is one of those weird things which you only notice when it's not being done right. I felt that it was all 'this happened, then that happened, then something else happened' without much depth. I would've enjoyed it a lot more had it gone into a little more detail about what was going on, without outright stating everything.
I also felt like this was the sort of story which should have provoked a definite emotional response in a reader, but I didn't feel anything like that when I was reading. Perhaps it was because of the way that things were told rather than described, it felt very clinical. I think that perhaps I might have engaged with the story there if there was something in it for me to connect with.
There was also an arc with the Smith brothers which felt sort of tacked on, as though it was trying to pack in more drama which was really unnecessary as there was enough going on in the lives of the other characters without that.
In short, this is a book which does have a good underlying story, but it needs a little more work to make it into a polished read.
I followed this up with Wicked Pleasures by Penny Vincenzi which I acquired in a big bag of books the year before and never actually got around to reading until the end of March. It took me nearly three weeks to read, in part because I was going really slowly, but also because it clocks in at 804 pages!
It's a story which takes place across two families, a wealthy American family and a titled British one when the offspring of the union learn that the man they have called 'father' is not in fact their father. Not only this, but they all have different fathers. The story follows the children as they seek to learn just who they are, as well as the past which led them to this point.
Alexander, the Earl of Caterham, was an awful, awful man. In fact, I found most of the characters unlikable, but Alexander was definitely the worst, literally, pure evil.
I'm surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this book considering the fact that I couldn't relate to a single one of the characters. They were all really wealthy and spoiled. Normally I look for myself in the characters of the books that I read, but there wasn't a single character that I could see myself in. It made it hard to sympathise with them when I'm guessing I was supposed to.
At the beginning it felt really slow going. The book begins by going right back to the very beginnings of the Praeger dynasty. The book jumps around between Virginia's youth, her children's youth and her children as adults, which took a little getting used to at first, but I liked how it worked at the end.
It's unlikely that I'll read it again in the future, but I found it strangely hard to put down while I was reading it.