Monday, 31 December 2012
Mixed bag month really, Guterson, Porup, Fante and Smith all fairly good, no - very good.
Coben, Mills and Everett, not too bad in an okay, averagely reasonable sort of way.
Cleave and Stevens - the 2 least enjoyable. Perhaps if they banged heads, they might make a decent book between them.
Lou Berney - smashed it out of the park, to coin a phrase, top banana and a highlight of the month.
Full list read in December was.........
David Guterson - Snow Falling On Cedars
Dan Fante - Corksucker
Chris Cleave - The Other Hand
Chevy Stevens - Never Knowing
J. M. Porup - The Second Bat Guano War
Aidan Smith - Heartfelt
Harlan Coben - Tell No One
Lou Berney - Gutshot Straight
Mark Oliver Everett - Things The Grandchildren Should Know
Sgt Dan Mills - Sniper One
Having removed it from the car over Christmas I actually managed to get stuck in.
Can't say I'm the biggest fan of the Iraq/Afghanistan excursions, but that's another story and a fairly old and boring one at that. Having said that, I have admiration for those that are in the services and the sacrifices that they and their families make.
Sgt. Mills has written a fairly decent book, perhaps a bit gung-ho in places, but hey he was there I wasn't. I'll be interested to see if he morphs himself into an Andy McNab/Chris Ryan purveyor of thriller-esque military/mercenary tales in the future. Might be worth a look if he does.
3 from 5
Another cheapskate charity shop offering from Willen Hospice, bless them.
Once in a while you come across a book that just reinforces all you love about reading and ticks every box that needs ticking at that particular moment in time .........humour, action, violence, sex, character, dialogue, pace, plot, curveballs.
I absolutely loved this from first page to last, which was sometime the same day, albeit late in the evening.
Berney's first novel and it's a peach. It's been likened to Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen which I won't disagree with having read plenty of both and enjoyed them too.
If you fancy a caper-heist type romp, you could do a lot worse than trying this for kicks.
He has a second book - Whiplash River which has been added to the Keane wishlist.
5 from 5 and very probably book of the month.
This was purchased for me from Amazon, and was one of my favourite Christmas presents by my better half.
A speculative charity shop purchase after reading the blurb on the back.
I was/still am unfamiliar with The Eels and there music, even after a scouting mission on You Tube to try and familiarise myself with some of their music.
Nope - just don't recognise any of the tracks.
I think I was drawn to the book, more from a curious rubber-necking perspective. How does someone cope with the loss of their entire family and still find the resolve to get up out of bed each day and carry on?
Everett deserves admiration for his strength of character and total lack of self-pity. Probably for his music too, but I can't comment on that.
Hopefully the next few years will deal him a kinder hand.
4 from 5
As stated above a cheapo purchase from a local charity shop.
and his wife Elizabeth was kidnapped and murdered.
Dr Beck re-lived the horror of what happened that day every day of his life. Then one afternoon, he receives an anonymous email telling him to log on to a certain website. The screen opens on to a web cam - and it is Elizabeth's image he sees.
As Beck tries to find out if Elizabeth is truly alive, and what
really happened the night she disappeared, the FBI are trying to pin
Elizabeth's murder on him. And everyone he turns to seems to end up
Well, my third Coben book in a couple of months and whilst not the greatest thing I've ever read in my life, it's far from the worst either. A slightly implausible plot, which I'm not going to disect. Face it with all fiction you need to suspend belief, so hey just go with it.
Was I entertained? Yes.
Did I want to discover how it all panned out, and by definition keep my head stuck in it, oblivious to the pre-Christmas chaos around me? Yes.
3 from 5, and 1 book closer to catching back up with my wife!
Purchased a few years ago, from a charity shop - judging by the sticky label on the back.
Hey, I do buy new sometimes!
Friday, 28 December 2012
Thursday, 27 December 2012
Well having contributed to several Lonely Planet travel guides for the region, the author has a familiarity with the locale and paints a vivid picture of the seamier side of Lima.
Friday, 14 December 2012
Finally ready to hear the truth, Sara discovers that some questions are better left unanswered: her biological father is an infamous serial killer, a wanted man who has been slaying women every summer for over thirty years.
And now he knows he has a daughter.
Sara soon realises that the only thing worse than finding out your real father is a killer, is him finding out about you...
Well I had quite high hopes for this after reading and enjoying her first book - Still Missing.
Plus my wife seemed to enjoy it without having her socks blown off.
Well if it was 200 hundred pages shorter, and the main character was someone I could have empathised with, and if she had a child that I warmed to, we might have been okay, but it wasn't, she wasn't and I didn't.
Not going to waste too much time on the review - as I've wasted too much time reading the book.
2 from 5 - hopefully my wife will steer clear of her next book, as I'm quite happy never to read anything else by her again.
Bought on the cheap from Oxfam, which is a minor consolation I suppose.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and Costa Novel of the Year, this international bestseller has become a reading group classic.
We don't want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.
Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this:
This is the story of two women.
Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice.
Two years later, they meet again - the story starts there...
Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.
The book sets out to be deliberately opaque and mysterious...........ooh read this, don't tell anyone what happens it's so special, tell others about it but don't spoil it for them, etc etc etc.
A fantastic, thought-provoking read that stays with you for weeks and months afterwards, invading your thoughts at unexpected moments?
Or an extremely clever marketing ploy?
Being a grumpy, miserable cynic and having read the book - I choose marketing ploy.
Well then what to write...........A meets B and C, who are married to each other, at location X. D who is A's sister is present at the meeting, which is soon joined by E and another group we'll call the F's. A disagreement occurs. Fast forward a while, A contacts C, now in location Y. This upsets C greatly, and has a calamitous effect on him, B and her close friend G and her child H. The rest of the book introduces other minor characters that I shall refer to as I, J, K and L. (I might have missed out an M and a N, but none of these are major players, so don't worry too much.) The climax of the book involves A, B and H, along with some O's at location X.
Had the blurb presented the book in a more traditional fashion, I'm no marketing guru, but I would guess a fraction of the copies actually sold would have been. One of the characters in the book, G actually espouses the same opinion. The topic under debate, doesn't typically interest people, until such time as the right wing tabloids want to beat the drum and whip up some populist fury.
I would probably have passed it over.
That said, it was enjoyable enough, but perhaps I needed to be wearing my magician's cloak to feel the magic.Well, I wasn't.
3 from 5, must dash or I'll be late for Quidditch practise.
I do have another Cleave book on my shelf, Incendiary, as yet unread. I'm unsure what ploy enticed me to buy the book, but I'll need to check the blurb on the back to refresh my memory. I'm also unsure if my purchase of Incendiary predates my purchase of The Other Hand, not that it matters too much.
Seduced by the marketing fiends, I bought this new a few years ago.
I've had this on my bookshelf probably 15 years or so, ever since one of my sister's bought it for me as either a birthday or Christmas present. It was the sort of book that you went, hmmm that's nice, all the while thinking I'd have preferred socks. I have tried a couple of times over the intervening period to get into it, but it was always discarded after a chapter or two.
Anyway, this time with a new found resolve, to reduce the "stop-start-put aside" pile, I tried again.
Extremely glad I did, as it was well worth the effort.
I'm fairly sure this book appears on those lists of 100 best books or 100 books to read before you die type thing and did win the PEN/FAULKNER award for fiction in 1995.
Cutting to the chase, Guterson writes of a mixed community; American and Japanese-American still divided and struggling to deal with the aftermath of Pearl Harbour and the Second World War. The Japanese interned shortly after Pearl Harbour, losing everything and dependent on the goodwill of those more charitable neighbours who viewed them as friends and fellow Americans and not as an inscrutable Oriental enemy to be feared.
A truncated mixed race and clandestine teenage love story, which along with a land-deal that gets reneged on when the Japanese-Americans are interned, festers over the years in the hearts and minds of the protagonists.
Guterson explores racism and discrimination both from an institutional level with a large swage of the Japanese community unable to legally become landowners and on an individual basis where neighbour mistrusts neighbour because of the happenings of the previous ten years.
With a fisherman found dead in his nets, and a cursory investigation leading to his Japanese childhood friend, who was supposedly at loggerheads with him over the previously lost land, the murder trial allows the resentments and grievances of the past to resurface.
Guterson's writing is very descriptive and he brings the plot slowly to the boil, rather than providing a fast paced read. The sense of isolation on the island when the storm gathers is palpable.
Usually one of my yardsticks of measuring enjoyment from a book is to ask myself if I want to read more from the author. In this case, probably not, having read a selection of his short stories either late last year, or earlier on in this one. No particular reason why - maybe too many other books to consider.
Still very well written and enjoyable though,
4 from 5......not such a bad present from my sister after all!
"A running commentary on the truth behind Los Angeles' gleaming façade - a life of brief encounters, desperation addiction and the chasm-sized distance between people - Corksucker digs into the dark landscape of the real America. In eight brutally-honest short stories Dan Fante takes the traditional cab driver 'knowledge' to a deeper place fuelled by raw emotion, wine guzzling existentialism and fleetingly hopeful poetic epiphanies. Here, the City of Angels' halo has definitely slipped..." Ben Myers
Eight short stories about a cab driver in Los Angeles. A bleak, grim existence; terminal drudgery interspersed by joyless sex, alcohol abuse and domestic discontent.
Not much to envy in this hack driver's American dream.
I've been interested in reading Fante, after some web-browsing threw up his name alongside the likes of father John, Charles Bukowski and Hubert Selby Jr.
Dan Fante - an authentic literary outlaw says The New York Times.
He has written a series of 4 books about an alcoholic writer cum alter-ego Bruno Dante, that I'm looking forward to reading;
1. Chump Change (1998)
2. Mooch (2000)
3. Spitting Off Tall Buildings (2001)
4. 86'd (2009)
On the whole; sad, amusing and entertaining and I'm looking forward to his full-length work.
4 from 5.
I borrowed this reading copy from Leighton Buzzard Library.
As a further aside, Corksucker was the title of the UK edition, Shortdog is the US equivalent.