Now Reading: Alastair Reynolds – Century Rain

alistair-reynolds-century-rain1This book is a sci-fi book (borrowed from Mike), which will be another change for me, I’ve not read much sci-fi before. It looks quite interesting though, I always used to be quite interested in sci-fi tv programs, but somehow fell out of watching them. The description on the back of the book says:

“Century Rain is not just a time-travel story, nor a tale of alternate history. Part hard SF thriller, part interstellar adventure, part noir romance, Century Rain is something altogether stranger.”

I hope to finish this book this weekend. The weather is pretty cold and miserable out, so I will probably just be sitting around the house with Vicky, who is home from uni for a few days. I need to catch up a little bit on my 100 books challenge, I think the last few books have put me back a bit, but there’s still over 10 months left yet, so plenty of time!

On a totally unrelated note, only 12 days until the start of Spring Training! I can’t wait for baseball to start up again, it seems a long time since the end of last season. If anyone has any good baseball books to recommend, leave me a comment! I’ve already pre-ordered Dirk Hayhurst’s new book Out of My League, which is out at the end of this month. If it’s half as good as his first book The Bullpen Gospels, it’s gonna be awesome!

Review: Michael Morpurgo – War Horse

photoAfter seeing War Horse at the cinema a couple of weeks ago, I was expecting this book to be brilliant and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a kids book, so it was very easy reading and didn’t take too long, but it was entertaining and very well written. I think it would definitely be aimed at older children, some parts were quite upsetting.

As I expected, I couldn’t help but compare the book to the film, and I did find myself waiting for certain things to happen. The film was definitely more dramatic than the book, but I suppose that’s what happens on the big screen. With a book you can fill in the story with your own imagination, but with a film they tend to spell it all out for you.

The book was slightly different from the film in that it was written completely from the perspective of Joey (the horse). It’s quite unusual for books that I read to be narrated by a non-human character, but I felt it really made this book more effective. You can feel how completely helpless he is caught up in the war, and when he’s stuck in the middle of no-man’s land, you can sense the confusion and nervousness more than you could in the film when seeing the horse through the soldiers in the trenches.

I was glad to find that one of my favourite lines in the film was actually from the book. When Joey is in no-man’s land, a soldier goes out to get him from each of the English and German trenches. It’s quite a tense moment in the book as the German soldier gets to Joey first, and you immediately think that Joey and Albert will never be reunited. However, they flip a coin to decide who gets to take Joey, and this quote from the German when he loses made me smile:

“That’s the face of my Kaiser looking up at me from the mud, and he does not look pleased with me. So I am afraid you have won.”

As it’s a kids book, you can probably tell how it ends, but not without a few hiccups along the way, including Joey being struck down with tetanus and almost being sold away from the Army in an auction at the end of the war.

All in all, I’m very glad that I read this book, although as usual I wish I had read it before I saw the film – when will I learn?! I do think after reading the book that the film was a very good book-film adaptation, one of the best I’ve seen in a while.

5-5

 

Now Reading: Michael Morpurgo – War Horse

photoThis book is one that I stole borrowed from the bookshelf in my brother’s room. I recently went to see the film at the cinema and I really loved it, one of the best films I’ve seen in a while. It’s not the usual way that I do things, I usually like to read the book before I go see the film, but I wanted to make sure that I saw it before it dropped out of the cinema. I didn’t want a repeat of Jane Eyre all over again, where it took me too long to read the book and the film had stopped showing.

I know that this is a kids book, but I wanted a change from the last book and this one seemed perfect. I’ll try not to compare it to the film while I’m reading it, but I guess that’s unavoidable…

Review: Gabriel García Márquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude

20120129-113323Well, this is probably going to be a shorter review than usual. It’s not often that a book takes me this long to read, and it’s been quite a while since I found it so hard to get involved in a book. It took me a long time to just get through the first few chapters, I was enjoying it, but I just couldn’t  find any motivation to actually read it. Even though I liked the book, it just didn’t grab me enough to want to read it non-stop like my favourite books usually do.

The last time I had a book like this, it was an F. Scott Fitzgerald book and I ended up leaving it to come back to later. I persevered through this book when maybe I shouldn’t have done. I think because I wasn’t 100% involved in it, I didn’t get as much out of it as I could have done, so I would like to read it again in the future.

I found the actual book quite strange, and wayyyy outside my comfort zone. All the reviews of the book and the comments that I had read said that this was a great book, so I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t get into it as much as I would have liked. I’ll definitely be reading this again, hopefully I’ll be in a different mindset when I do and I’ll enjoy it more.

I think my next couple of books will be easier going. I’ve not decided which one will be next yet, but I think it will either be War Horse, or a ‘quick read’ that I picked up at Morrisons by one of my favourite authors; Tony Parsons. I’ll decide which one tomorrow…

2-5

Now Reading: Gabriel García Márquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude

20120129-113323Now onto the third of the books that Mike leant me. I have high hopes for this one, it looks really interesting, and I’ve heard good things about it. There’s a quote on the front from Salman Rushdie which says:

“The greatest novel in any language of the last fifty years”

That’s pretty high praise, so I’m sure I will enjoy it. It is 400+ pages long though, so could take me a while to finish.

Review: John Fowles – The Collector

20120124-191933I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book after I read the description, but I was pleasantly surprised. Even though it was kind of creepy, and definitely not a book I would have bought for myself in a bookshop, I found it very enjoyable.

A couple of people have said how this sounds like the kind of book they would want to read, so I’ll try not going to spoil the storyline too much.

The first half of the book is written from the point of view of the kidnapper ‘Ferdinand’. The way he speaks is so matter of fact, it’s like he believes that everything he is doing is perfectly normal, of course we can all see that it’s not, and he comes across as very unbalanced. He’s constantly making excuses for himself, like this one after he uses Chloroform to knock her out (and not for the first time):

“I am not really that sort and I was only like it that night because of all that happened and the strain I was under. Also the champagne had a bad effect on me. And everything she said. It was what they call a culmination of circumstances.”

The end of the first half is left on a cliffhanger, and then we are being narrated by Miranda, the girl he has kidnapped. The book goes back in time, and we relive pretty much the whole thing again, but from the opposite viewpoint. I liked that the book did this, the books that I’ve read in the past that have multiple narrators have switched back and forth throughout the book, but this flowed a lot better. We also find out a lot about Miranda and her life, the people she knows and her passion for art.

Like I said, I’m not going to spoil the ending, but all I can say is that after 270ish pages, it didn’t really surprise me, although the last few pages were possibly the creepiest part of the entire book.

I definitely enjoyed this book, I don’t think it will be one of my favourites from this year’s reading challenge, but I’m glad I read it.

4-5

Now Reading: John Fowles – The Collector

20120124-191933I’m now starting the second of my borrowed books (thanks Mike!). It sounds a bit weirder than the last one, the description on the back of the book says:

… a nutty clerk captures and holds the art student he has become fixated upon, and there follows a fiendish interplay of sanity and insanity…

Sounds like it will be another book that’s out of my ‘comfort zone’, but that’s what I’m hoping for from this reading challenge. I want to broaden my horizons and find out what other genres I like but have never tried.

This book is only 280 pages long, but the writing is really tiny, so it could take me a while to read. I think I’m still on track though, I just need to read this book and one more before the end of the month.

Review: Sam Savage – Firmin (Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife)

photo-21-e1327183641300I didn’t really know what to expect from this book, all I knew was that it was about a rat that lives in a bookshop. My only experience of rats in books/films was Ratatouille, but I could take a guess that it would be nothing like that Disney/Pixar vision of happiness.

From the first chapter I was completely hooked, I would have read this in a day if I hadn’t had other things to worry about this weekend. I initially wondered how I would feel with a rat narrating the book; I usually like to have a strong connection to the main character, and I didn’t see how I would get this from a character that wasn’t human, let alone from a rat!

I needn’t have worried though, right from the start you are sucked right into the mind of Firmin, immediately made to feel for him as the ‘runt’ of the litter, and then as the only one left behind in this bookshop, alone and lonely, soaking up as much literature as he can without being spotted.

He’s such a clever rat and Savage has written the narrative so well that at times you could completely forget that he was even a rat. I felt every emotion right along with Firmin, from the shock at being spotted by Norman, to the anguish at the park incident, and the joy at being rescued by Jerry and finding a companion that would look after him. Soon followed by the grief at the loss of his friend, and the recognition of the coming of the end.

The backdrop of the book was the demolition of an area of Boston called Scollay Square, which was actually a true story (although with a few fabrications). It did make me smile to read that the ‘take as many books as you can in five minutes’ story was actually true. Made me smile, but then sad with the loss of livelihood and the way that even though Norman had no shop left, he still wanted the books to be enjoyed.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’m so glad that I was lent it, as it’s not the kind of book I would ever think to buy. I guess that goes to show I need to broaden my horizons a bit!

5-5

Now Reading: Sam Savage – Firmin (Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife)

photo-21-e1327183641300Now that I’ve finished the Lily Bard series that my parents got me for Christmas, it’s time to change it up a little bit. Mike has lent me a few books to read, so that has me sorted for the next week or two. Definitely good to not have to spend ages choosing which book to read, and I always like reading books that other people have suggested, it’s a great way to discover new authors, or different genres that I wouldn’t usually choose.

The first one I’m reading is Firmin, which is about a rat that lives in a bookshop. Sounds a bit unusual, but I’ve read the first couple of chapters already and it’s looking pretty good. Can’t really judge it until I’ve read some more though!

Review: Charlaine Harris – Shakespeare’s Counselor

photo-201So this book review is a little late, my Grandma has been in hospital the last few days, so this wasn’t a priority. She’s home now though and looking much better!

I really really liked this book, although it was a bit weirder than the other 4. In this one, Lily finally decides to go for counselling to overcome the problems from her past. Then, a woman turns up dead in her counselor’s office, and it turns out that her counselor is being stalked. Having now given up most of her cleaning clients to train to become a private detective (under the tuition of Jack), Lily decides that she needs to find out who the stalker is. We spend a good portion of the book unable to decide if it is the counselor pretending to be stalked, or if it is the mysterious police woman who has just arrived in town.

Running alongside that storyline is the relationship of Lily and Jack. She got married to Jack, and now they are living together (apart from when Jack has to to back to Little Rock for business). She finds out that she is pregnant in this book, but unfortunately she only finds that out when she’s having a miscarriage.

The only thing that disappointed me in the book was the ending, as I had feared it might do. It just kind of tailed off at the end, with no definitive finish. It made me wonder if Harris had originally planned to write another book in the series and then decided not to. All in all, it was a good book though, and a brilliant series. Exactly what I would have expected from Charlaine Harris, although not quite as good as the Sookie Stackhouse series.

5/5