Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I very much enjoyed this novel but I have to admit it is one for the ladies.  It is about a young, troubled girl brought up in America by a number of different foster homes.  She is taken in by a single lady who runs a vinery growing grapes for wine and learns the Victorian language of flowers.  I found this interesting, uplifting and well written. 

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

An interesting novel about Penang, Malaysia during the Second World War. A half English half Chinese boy is taught martial arts by a Japanese neighbour. The two form a close
bond which tests their loyalties as the war hits Malaysia. There are a lot of religious references in this novel which give it a strong spiritual theme. I did find the narrative a bit difficult to follow at times - the paragraphs often jump from one time and place to another without any preparation which interrupts the flow, but overall it is a very well written novel.

Enjoyable but probably a bit too long.

The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller

An easy to read mystery novel about an unexplained death of a first world war veteran. It's fairly exciting and fast moving and the main characters are realistic. An enjoyable novel if a little forgettable.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

I found this book disappointing and, if I'm honest, pretty boring. It is about Madeleine Hanna, an American graduate who (against the advice of a friend who is secretly in love with her) marries a fellow student who suffers from bipolar. I don't think any of the characters had strong enough voices - particularly the two main characters who were indistinct and difficult to believe in. I found the narrative pompous and patronising and the dialogue stilted and unnatural. Personally, I wouldn't recommend it. Although the Amazon reviewers disagree with me, and they are very discerning - one 5 star Amazon reviewer ends his review with "Best of all, it's set in the 80s". I can't disagree with that.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Enjoyable, if a bit girly. This novel is about Mary Anning, an English fossil hunter in Lyme Regis. The historical context very interesting and although the fictitious additions are a bit thin this is a fun, interesting book which is worth a read.

1Q84: books 1 and 2 by Haruki Murakami

Long. And weird. But better than I expected.

There are of course a lot of impenetrable metaphors, allegories and similes but there is still a surprisingly readable plot (although it gets a bit too existential towards the end) and two well drawn characters which makes this easier to read than other Murakami novels. I did enjoy this a lot more than I was anticipating but it still felt a bit like plowing through an English A level reading list.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Excellently written and with an exciting, unusual plot. As the title suggests this book is about a circus which only opens at night. The atmosphere created by this book is very compelling and the characters are likeable and well drawn. There is a strong magical, ethereal theme to this book so you do need to be willing to embrace the supernatural, but the narrative makes this easy. An imaginative and easy to read novel - read this if you enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell or The End of Mr Y.