Friday, June 26, 2009

Number 19 is Mad Kestrel by Misty Massey. Basically, all I can say about this one is it has pirates, main character is female pirate captain, there's magic, and main character (Kestrel) has pre-requisite "I'm attracted to you but I hate you, I hate you, I don't trust you, I have to trust you, I hate you still, ok, you're trustworthy, I love you" relationship with other character who is sort of one of the main protagonists. Not a great book, but fun enough. I like pirates.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Numero 18 of the year is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. This is another of those books that keeps getting recommended or I sort of keep meaning to read, but every time I pick it up and read what it's about, all I can think is 'how can this not be gawd-awful depressing?' Because really, what about a 14 year old being raped and killed isn't gawd-awful depressing?

And yet, it isn't. I don't know how Sebold managed to pull it off, but the book's not depressing. Yes it is sad in places as we watch main (dead) character Susie Salmon watch her family slowly disintigrate after her death, but because not every family member collapses completely, there is a sort of... triumph to this book. The grief is heavy, but not insurmountable for some. And of course, we see the different ways in which they all grieve.

And because we get the tale from Susie's POV, she is not a hole of loss in the book; she is still very much a going concern and is, dare I say it, alive to the reader.

I did have some problems with the book though; I admit, I really would've liked it had there been a little more justice for Susie. Also, I wasn't really sure about the ending, but I think it also ties into the wanting more justice for Susie.

Anyway, I did enjoy this book, and my main reason for finally picking it up; reading that Peter Jackson is doing a movie adaptation of it, means I will be checking out the film when it's released as well.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hmm, not sure why the sudden increase in getting books read, but I've managed to polish off two more:

Number 16 is the Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden. This is a fictionalized account of a young, Scottish doctor who gets sucked in by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin's charisma during Amin's reign 1971-1979. The book does a very good job of making you understand why the doctor is simultaneously intreuged and repulsed by Amin, but I'm not entirely sure it does a good job of displaying how brutal Amin's regime was. Oh it is shown, but perhaps because the doctor himself seems so... dispassionate about it, it's hard for the reader to feel outrage either. In fact, it really isn't until the doctor is threatened with bodily harm and imprisonment himself that he realizes how bad the situation actually is and decides he needs to get out of Uganda. It's hard to feel bad for him because he doesn't seem to feel bad for those around him. But still, overall, this is a very interesting book and definitely makes Idi Amin a larger than life character; it doesn't glamourize or humanize him, I think it does try to show him for what he was. I would definitely like to check out the movie version now.

Number 17 is How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young. I previously read Young's follow up to this memoir, so it was nice to actually read this book, his first 'take' on making it (or not) in the US. Toby gets a chance to work at fabled magazine Vanity Fair, but basically bollocks it up. He has a very entertaining view on the life of upper class New Yorkers and he desperately wants to be part of that elite, but at the same time, he detests it. I've also seen the movie version of this book, and was quite surprised at how... deep the book is compared to the movie. Toby is more interested in the class hierarchy of New York, something he didn't realize was there, and something that he feels is even more restrictive than the supposedly increadibly restrictive class system of Britain. HtLFaAP seems less a memoir and more a sociological thesis of a Brit living and working in New York. Very interesting from that point of view. And the funny thing is, Toby doesn't come across sounding like sour grapes in that he didn't make it as a writer there; I think he was greatful for the experience, and even more greatful to find out that in the long run, it really just wasn't for him.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Well, I'm remiss in posting again I see. Mainly due to a VERY busy May, and now June is all about getting ready for when the baby arrives...

So just a quick run-down of the last three books I've read:

Number 13 is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susannah Clarke. Long gone are the days where I can polish off a 1000 page book in a matter of days. Now it takes me a couple of weeks at least. Anyway, this was a book I'd always been meaning to read, but never got around to. The size didn't deter me, but I'd heard a few times that it was really boring, and I guess that put me off. But I finally grabbed it from the library and found that I quite enjoyed it. Taking place during the Napoleonic Wars, it centers on two magicians, the older Mr. Norell and his young 'apprentice' Jonathan Strange. They want to bring back English magic, and put it to work for their country fighting Napoleon. But of course, they have wildly divergent personalities, which eventually clash. Overall, I really liked this book, Clarke's writing style did a nice pastiche of early 1800s novels, and she sets up a very nice internal consistency of how magic works (or doesn't work) in her world, and I very much like her mythology of Faerie and the Raven King.

Number 14 is Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. Ok, I honestly cannot remember if I'd read this puppy before, as a friend of mine had lent me the first Thursday Next book, The Eyre Affair , but I did enjoy that, and enjoyed this one too. Fforde's world is a strange mix of sci-fi, crime novels and a degree in English literature. Kinda reminds me of the comic book Fables, in that fictional characters have a life of their own outside of the works we see them in. Anyway, I like these books for their literariness, but I find Thursday to be a bit of a cypher herself; somehow I just don't find her that interesting of a main character.

Number 15 is The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde. The Wuthering Heights anger management self-help group was worth the entire price of admission of this book.