Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Simon Mawer

A novel about British women who were parachuted into France during World War II to take part in the French resistance. This book is surprisingly boring given the subject matter. It is a well researched novel and I enjoyed reading about war training and the way war spy's were expected to behave. However, the main character, Marian although she goes by many other noms de guerre, is difficult to like and even harder to get interested in. She makes inexplicable decisions, particularly towards the end of the book, which makes it hard to be genuinely excited as to her welfare. The plot was much slower than I was expecting and the writing, whilst not dreadful, was very average. I was disappointed in this book which deals with a fascinating subject very blandly.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

An interesting novel about the morality of the world of film.  The book starts in Italy in the 1960s, describing the idealistic attempts of a young Italian man, Pascal, to turn his rural hotel into a high class resort drawing American tourists. The book then takes us straight to the modern day and the dubious attractions of Hollywood where a young woman is torn between following her dreams and the allure of celebrity. As the plot switches between these two characters and times, their connection is gradually revealed.  The writing in this excellent book is wonderful but it is the unusual characters and interesting plot which make this a great book to read. Definitely recommended.

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I really enjoyed this well written novel about a small family from an Afghani village whose lives take them in very different directions. The novel does not have one central character but shifts it's focus through the chapters to different members of the family and the people they forge relationships with. On occasion this makes the book a little frustrating as there are times when the changes in narrative leave behind a really interesting plot but overall this style works very well with the idea of disparity amongst families and the twists of fate which change lives. This book is definitely worth reading and whilst it is not as outstanding as his other books certainly holds it's own as an engaging read.

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

A book about a young woman who runs away from her husband and family for reasons which are revealed gradually as the book progresses. The writing is gentle and the characters reassuringly stereotypical which makes this an easy to read book which keeps you in suspense. Ultimately I found the ending a bit disappointing but this is not a bad holiday choice if you're into thrillers.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

A novel about Seattle during World War II and set in Chinatown and Japantown.  This book follows the life of Henry, a young Chinese boy who is being bullied by American schoolmates at his US school and deals with racism and patriotism between nations at war.  I enjoyed this book which is exciting, well written and contains well defined engaging characters.  This would be a good holiday read as the content is interesting but not challenging to read and the plot is pacy but not dark.

On Battersea Bridge by Janet Davey

A readable book about a girl's struggle to fit into her traditional English family.  Anita is a bohemian artist who struggles with depression and has never felt a strong bond with her family.  As Anita's brother's wedding approaches Anita struggles to cope and the reasons behind her failure to connect with her family gradually start to be revealed.  The writing is acceptable and the plot is fairly griping.  Anita herself is a bit wet and difficult to like but overall the novel is an easy read and is fairly enjoyable in the moment.

The Liar's Gospel by Naomi Alderman

A novel about the life of Jesus and his followers, portraying a very different message than that contained in the Bible.  The book starts with a description of Jesus' simple childhood and goes on to describe his nomadic dissatisfied way of life in adulthood.  The book retells some of the events and parables in the Bible from different points of view and with a very different interpretation, which makes the book very interesting.  The writing is very good and although the characters are at times a little confused this is understandable given that the novel challenges the accepted roles of Jesus and his contemporaries.  I particularly enjoyed the focus on the relationship between Jesus and his mother which gave real emotion to this book.  I found this very interesting and an enjoyable read but I imagine it would be offensive to anybody deeply religious.