Elefant – Martin Suter

38232605When homeless alcoholic Schoch sees a glowing pink elephant in his cave, he decides it’s time to stop drinking. When he wakes up, the elephant is still there. Seeking help from a local vet, Valerie, Schoch becomes the little elephant’s carer and protector, hiding her from genetic engineering scientists who are only interested in profit and don’t give a damn about her welfare.

This book was totally not what I was expecting. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. There were some elements of this story that I really enjoyed: the relationship between Schoch and Valerie was very organic and lovely, and I also really liked following the story from the perspective of a homeless man. It was very interesting.

However, chunks of the book were made up of lengthy descriptions of elephant care and genetic modification, and were quite boring. I found myself skim-reading a lot.

Overall, there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the story or the writing, but if you chose to pass on this book, you wouldn’t be missing much.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Murderer’s Ape – Jakob Wegelius

30153285Sally Jones is a gorilla. Smart and resourceful, she lives with her friend, the Chief, working as an engineer on his cargo boat. But when the Chief is convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, and Sally Jones finds herself alone and on the run. In an adventure that crosses continents, Sally Jones meets new friends and powerful enemies and must use her many talents to find the one person who can clear the Chief’s name.

The Murderer’s Ape is a true delight. Brilliantly written, and with beautiful illustrations, I enjoyed every second of this book. The story is pretty long, but incredibly well told and very easy to follow with short chapters and quite a simple writing style. I’m not sure if the simplicity is due to the original writing or the translation, but it is really effective because it adds a layer of authenticity that the book is written from the point of view of a gorilla.

There are a lot of different locations and characters, all of whom were interesting to read about and bought something unique to the story. Overall, this book was a lot of fun and a pleasure to read.

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Birds Art Life Death – Kyo Maclear

birdsartlifedeath.pngThis intriguing memoir explores Kyo Maclear’s year spent following a musician friend on his birding excursions. Searching for a way to manage her grief over her father’s terminal illness, she discovers the beauty and importance of birds. She questions how our passions shape us, and the significance of knowledge.

I really liked this book. It doesn’t follow a particular storyline, instead it is made up of chapters based on different aspects of Maclear’s self-exploration. Because of this structure, the book does not ‘flow’ and is quite a slow read considering its length (only around 250 pages), but it is still well-written and enjoyable.

I personally do not have any particular interest in birds. I appreciate their beauty and like to see them around, but am not a bird watcher by any stretch of the imagination. I probably don’t fit into the target audience for this book, but it did not hinder my reading experience at all. Maclear’s thoughts are insightful and intriguing, and I really enjoyed learning a bit more about birds and birding in general.

I especially loved the images and sketches included in the book. I wish that I had read a physical copy rather than an ebook because I do think that the reading experience of this book didn’t live up to its full potential on a kindle (not something I think about many books).

I recommend this book even to those who are not especially interested in birds or memoirs. It is approachable, easy to understand and really quite thought-provoking.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bertie’s Gift – Hannah Coates

32332059Can one dog bring a family back together in time for Christmas?

Well, we already know the answer to that question is “yes”. But, to be fair, it’s not entirely predictable how.

In this festive tale, Bertie the beagle is separated from his sister and adopted into a family struggling with grief. It’s a challenging time for Bertie, as he fights to get his sister back and bring his new family together.

Now, I have always struggled with stories told from the point of view of pets (for this reason, I never even finished Warhorse – I just waited for the film instead). However, I persevered with Bertie’s Gift and, although I never warmed to the pet-perspective style, I did enjoy the story.

The book is certainly not the best written. While still enjoyable, the story is kind of flat and the characters are quite two-dimensional. There were parts were the dog behaviour was well observed, and other parts that felt weak. It is articulate, but not imaginative. That being said, it is a heart-warming tale, with some fun aspects (the cats were actually my favourite, even though I don’t like cats very much). Perfect for a light, Christmas read.