Happy Friday everyone! I’m happily up north by the sea right now! I always say that I’m going to do these reading round ups more regularly, and then months go by between them! My last “What I’ve Been Reading” post was back on May 1st.
Holmes by Mitch Cullin
I read this purely because the movie was coming out and I’m massively obsessed with Sherlock Holmes (seriously, I wrote my college entrance essay about him) and I found this book massively disappointing. It was plot light to say the least, and of course, an ageing, forgetful Holmes is incredibly depressing. That said, done well, it could have been really touching. I was less than touched. Maybe the film will be better? (It’s been getting generally positive reviews, so it must be I suppose.)
Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce
I LOVE a good modern fairy tale, and this was definitely one (or was it?) Is the missing sister a victim of Stockholm syndrome or was she spirited away by the fairies? All is revealed, but I actually wish it was less clear and left more up to the reader’s own imagination. Still, definitely an enjoyable read.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Very Hunger Games, Divergent, Selection-esque but it’s a fun world to be in and I will definitely pick up the others in the series as they are released as quick, light reads.
The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
I like the concept of the novel more than the novel itself. Brockmeier establishes an ever-growing city of the dead. When you die you go there, and you only move on “elsewhere” once nobody left alive remembers you. So some pass on “elsewhere” more quickly than others. Some live lifetimes all over again with deceased loved ones. I love the concept but this and the separate plot line occurring in the Antarctic just don’t provide enough material for a full novel. It would have been a brilliant novella.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
I loved the story in this novel, and the unique setting of the Alaskan wilderness. I enjoyed the depth of most of the characters, and the faltering marriage that manages to avoid stereotypes. However, there was a slight stumble 3/4 ths of the way through, and I finished the novel with so many questions (not that that’s a negative.) The description of Alaska is stark and beautiful. It part made me want to travel there, and part avoid that level of cold at all costs.
The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
Little kids can be super creepy and Jensen definitely writes some creepy children. And as far as character’s with Asperger’s go, I find Jensen’s portrait of Hesketh Lock to be much more well-rounded than that of Don Tillman of “The Rosie Project”. I want there to be a sequel because there is just so much that I still do not understand about this book of children that turn feral.
Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore
This was just a fun, goofy romp. Imagine if Terry Pratchett was writing about demons living in a town in California and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what it was like to read this novel. I’ll definitely be reading more by Moore when I have time to kill on my reading list.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
I’d seen the BBC television series years ago, but I’d read an interview with Gaiman where he mentioned that he was never disappointed with the telly series, but that “Neverwhere” wasn’t truly depicted as he imagined so knew I’d get round to the book eventually. The show and the book are very close but there’s a mind-blowing amount of detail in the book. I’m not sure I’d ever venture into “London Below” but I enjoy reading about it.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Why-oh-why has this book been advertised everywhere? I found it so incredibly disappointing. The writer is clearly good but the melodrama is tawdry at best and you never actually care about any of the characters. I can get on board with some melodrama, but I have to care first. And Waters hugely missed the mark by not creating even one single character that the reader gives a damn about.
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
I was definitely on a school-shooting train this summer as it’s been a common thread through several of the novels that I read. I found myself getting really sucked in to the novel despite the obviousness of it all. When you read a Picoult novel, you know exactly what you’re getting (just like reading a Nicholas Sparks one) but I embraced it with open arms and deeply felt for the young antagonist.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
For me, this was a victim of its own hype. Had I just stumbled upon it, I would have read it and loved it. But everyone and their mothers were saying it was ‘the best book ever’. And a really good book, it was. For sure. The world was painted so vividly and it was full of imagination. It was beautiful, truly. Best book of all time? Not in my opinion.
The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
I think Jacquetta is one of my favourite Gregory women. She’s full of personality and quirks, very strong-willed and I always am game for a mystical sub-plot. In terms of the novel, it lacks the depth of some of the others, but there was far less source material for Gregory to work with.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
A troop of actors in post-apocolayptic America? It sounds like the ideal set up for a book that would interest me. And interested, I was. I found myself caring about the characters and genuinely excited to pick up this book and read.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I’m sorry but this is not “this years ‘Gone Girl’ ” I didn’t even think “Gone Girl” was the bee’s knees, so the hype of this one just makes me roll my eyes. I think the characters are predictable and undeveloped and the twist is less a twist than an “oh, yeah, okay, that makes sense”. Don’t hate me if you loved it but I’d say skip it unless you desperately need to be in the know with all the pop-lit references this year.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
I so heartily endorse this novel. I absolutely love it. I think it’s brilliant. A female character that doesn’t think being a mother is the be-all-and-end-all is refreshing even though it serves a darker purpose plot-wise. Oh man. And the husband? I just wanted to shake him. The movie is well acted by Tilda Swinton, but you have to read the book. And I recommend reading the book first.
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
I feel the same way about most of Gregory’s books – I never end in post-reading ecstasy, but I definitely put them down feeling very satisfied. This one is no different, despite how annoying I find Margaret Beaufort. Alas, I really wanted her to get it on with Jasper Tudor and *spoiler alert* that never happens.
The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston
The description on the back of the book really drew me in, but the book never lived up the the expectations set by the excerpts. While the flashback Bess was very intriguing, the modern day version was very one-dimensional, and the reader was never given enough time or plot to actually care about Tegan.
Graveminder by Melissa Marr
I picked this one up at the library because I was rushing out and I needed a few books for my commute and it was in arm’s length. And I enjoyed it more than I expected to! It had a bit of a “Southern Vampires Mysteries” vibe, minus the vampires. Not a work of “literature”, but a quick summer read.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently? What hasn’t lived up to its hype in your mind?
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