Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Thursday, 30 June 2011

So Much For That by Lionel Shriver

I enjoyed this novel (although not as much as We Need To Talk About Kevin). It is about two American families and the effect of the US health system on their lives, relationships and jobs. It's quite political and definitely worth a read for those who moan about the NHS in the UK (and for all men - regardless of nationality - considering penis enlargements). The writing is very good although it does tend to chop and change between different character's view points without much explanation which is a little confusing. The characters themselves were well drawn and I particularly thought Glynis was very realistic and refreshing. This is an enjoyable novel, easy to read and although it is probably about 100 pages too long, it is definitely worth persevering.

Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

An easy read about a banker who's risk taking career takes a nose-dive, an eccentric teacher who talks to her dogs and a confused teenager. It is set in an American town and is quite an interesting take on the banking crisis. This is not a particularly memorable novel and there are some bits which are a bit odd (the relationship between the teenager and the banker is incongruous and unrealistic) but overall a fairly inoffensive easy read. The manly equivalent of chicklit (although there's no guns or fighting).

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

C by Tom McCarthy

Scene at the publishers

Dave: Where's the synopsis for the back cover?
Jo: I thought you were doing it?
Dave: Nope
Jo: Shit. OK let's write one together now. Right - what happens?
Dave: I can't remember.
Jo: Didn't you literally just finish it?
Dave: Yes - 10 minutes ago - but I can't remember a single thing about it. It's like a black hole. Oh my God - I've had a stroke or something.
Jo: No. I finished it yesterday and I can't remember anything about it either.
Dave: Are you sure? I'm not brain damaged?
Jo: No, seriously, I am not sure anything about it registered in my brain in the first place.
Dave: Maybe we could say something like "The mastery of Tom McCarthy is that he can produce an effect remarkably similar to rohypnol through the medium of the written word."
Jo: We don't want to open that can of worms. We must be able to remember something?
Dave: I think there may have been a bit about a war.
Jo: Which war?
Dave: First? Maybe.
Jo: And I am pretty sure the main character is male.
Dave: Hmm... That's probably not enough.
Jo: Well I'm not reading it again. It might enduce a coma the second time round.
Dave: Fuck it, we'll just tell him the book is written with such an intense, global force that's too powerful to be summarised and that readers shouldn't be patronised by a trite 'Readers Digest' synopsis.
Jo: That actually sounds quite good.
Dave: Well, it's pretentious and condescending. I expect he'll love it.
Jo: Definitely. And everyone will think it's really, really clever so all the critics will be too scared to say it's impenetrable bollocks in case someone thinks they don't understand it. It'll probably win a prize!
Dave: Just fill the back cover with white squiggles - and for Gods sake keep our logo small.

This concludes my review.

The Stars In The Bright Sky by Alan Warner

This book is excellent and I very much enjoyed it. It is about a group of young Scottish girls, who have known each other since school days, going on a summer holiday with an English girl who knows one of them from university. It is excellently written, funny and frighteningly accurate. The characters are very realistic and well drawn and the plot is perfectly timed. It is a real shame that this didn't make it onto the short list as it is definitely one of my favourites from the long list. I would recommend it to anybody as this is one of those books which contains some really meaningful messages but which you can read for entertainment. I was slightly disappointed to finish this book and leave these girls' world behind. Definitely recommended.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell

A good holiday read. This book follows two young women - one in the early 1950s and one in the present day - who are ultimately connected. The connection is not particularly surprising and the plot is more gentle than shocking but it still grips your interest. I enjoyed the writing, which is subtly good in a very unassuming way. The characters are a little one dimensional but enjoyably so. This book is great for an engaging, not too depressing beach read but is not very challenging, so not for those who like their novels with a lot of intellectual weight.

Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson

I didn't enjoy this very much. It is about a girl (Grace) who is born with a deformity which prevents her communicating with the outside world and who is sent to a hospital by her family when she is about 11. The book is written from Grace's point of view about her experiences whilst at home, in the hospital and then in sheltered housing once the hospital closes. Not only is it very depressing, it is also very flat. The language, the characters and the plot do not have any colour so I did not find this at all inspiring or particularly powerful. The best character is Daniel, Grace's best friend, who is much more believable and interesting than Grace (who has surprisingly intellectual and lucid thoughts for someone who has such a young mental age). Overall, a distinctly average book which I wouldn't particularly recommend.