Book perceptions in the year 2015

December Reading

A career in Evil by Robert Galbraith

By far this best of the three detective novels. The story is gruesome and violent and build tension incredibly well. However, I do feel that the author gets lost in the plot and it could be shortened and still maintain the quality.  It is engaging and this time a little horrifying. The characters are continued to be developed and Galbraith creates complex and intriguing relationships.

Another excellent holiday read.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Excellent characters, engaging plot

This is an entertaining page-turner that has to be read in one sitting. Thoroughly enjoyable, although at times I felt Galbraith got lost in the plot. Sometimes I felt the story could be shortened. However, it is an enjoyable novel that fits incredibly well into the detective genre. The characters are likeable and memorable.

I would highly recommend this as a holiday read.

November Reading

Guernica by Dave Boling

This was a slow starter and almost read in a journalistic factual fashion. However, as the characters developed the story became engaging. It has an omniscient narrative structure that explores the same event through a variety of characters. The characters are unique and endearing. As the reader, you engage and like them all. It is based on historical events and the author clearly did a lot of research on this tragedy. It is an excellent yet tragic read. One I am pleased to have read. I would describe this novel as poignant, historical and nostalgic for a community that was lost.

The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C Morais

Tasty, Delicious and sensational

This appeals to both ones love of food and love of different cultures. The characters are beautiful, each and every one of them and you as the reader instantly engage with them. It has a first person narrative, which is pleasurable. However, you did not really get to know your narrator truly, there still is perhaps an intentional distance. Still I would highly recommend this book, especially in terms of the context of the settings used, India (which I would like to one day visit), England (where I have lived) and France, specifically Paris (which I still love.)

This is a book I have recommended to my book club. I hope they get as much pleasure as I have!

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This book was chosen as a book club read. It has been pleasurable and uncomfortably mesmerising. I would recommend this book for its realistic restlessness created with the protagonist. It does raise important issues in terms of the defensive nature that is associated with abandonment and the ability to create relationships.

Wonderfully written and hauntingly uncomfortable. I would recommend this book. It also has made me want to research further into the language of flowers and create my own tiny flower garden.

October Reading

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Although this is not Harry Potter, it is incredibly enjoyable. It is an easy 24 hour read and absolutely perfect for the start of a holiday. The characters are endearing and thoroughly enjoyable. I would recommend this for those who really enjoyed J.K Rowling’s writing style. She writes for the entertainment of the masses and does it skilfully.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Disturbing yet excellent

This is not my typical genre and I really read it, as it is one of my daughter’s IB texts. An outstanding choice. It is based on truth and written in a factual journalistic style. The writer manages to shock you and enable you to develop empathy for the murderers. However, at points it does seem to ‘drag’. Upon reflection, the way this does ‘drag’ perhaps reflects the wait a murder has on death row. It is a powerful novel and one that raises and questions the American leg Disturbing yet excellent

I would highly recommend this, even though it is an uncomfortable read.

September Reading

The Children’s Act by Ian McEwan

Enjoyable and engaging to a point and McEwan always has interesting issues to explore and this book is no different, however, he does not seem to fully get into the topic, and the development of characters seems rushed. It is not one of his best reads but enjoyable if you are on holiday.

The Collector by Nora Roberts

This is enjoyable and entertaining but it reads like a movie script. It has a predictable plot line and stereotypical characters. There is nothing intellectual nor challenging about the read. It is just an easy 24 hour read, almost like a ‘Mills and Boons’ suspense story.

August Reading

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

I chose this because it was influential in its time and I was curious. It is beautifully written and the characters are fantastic. Uncle Tom is a beautiful character that lacks flaws, which is a little disappointing. However, in order to get the serious themes across, it seems that Uncle Tom would have to be ‘saviour-like’. I am pleased I read it, and I still think it holds relevance in society today as a reminder of how far we have progressed and how much further we need to go for equality.

I read this book with intentional slowness so that I could appreciate the seriousness of the social commentary that was made in that period of time.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I have always loved ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and I was genuinely concerned that I would be disappointed with this novel but it left me completely satisfied and appreciative of Harper Lee. I would recommend this to anyone, especially if they loved ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

July Reading

Sovereign by CJ Sansom

Entertaining, intrigue, a tad too long

As usual Sansom delivers a good mystery with lots of intrigue. This time it does seem to drag a little, although it is still entertaining. His characters, the hunchback lawyer and his companion Barack, are enjoyable, as is his chosen time period but I wonder if he could have made it hundred or more pages shorter? Still an enjoyable holiday read.

Overall, a good summer holiday read!

The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud  by Ben Sherwood

Entertaining, Easy, Sweet

This is an airplane read. It is quick and easy and compelling enough to finish. However, it does have a sickly sweet religious context that some may not enjoy. It is basically about life and death as the title states and where one goes upon death; it has a ‘cheesy’ romantic plot line. However, for all of this nonsense I still enjoyed it and started and finished it in a 24 hour sitting. It will not be to everyone’s taste but take it for what it is: Entertainment. You do not have to believe in miracles to enjoy it.

The audience is specifically a female audience and those who love a good romance. Just like a Nickolas Sparks read.

The Buried Giant by Kazou Ishiguro

Slow-paced, Steady, Memories

I have loved most of Ishiguro’s writing and this book was a disappointment. The themes are the same as most of his other novels and the pace is slow. It was easy to put and a challenge to pick up again. It felt like I was forcing myself to finish because I have loved his other books so much.

It saddens me to say that I would not recommend this book but highly recommend his earlier novels. I hope Ishiguro will experiment more with his writing and perhaps explore different themes.

June Reading

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Exquisite, Superb, affecting

I was drawn to this book as I am doing the Porto to Sanitaigo de Compostella pilgrimage in August with a very kind and caring friend. My friend is wise and an experienced walker/hiker. I am Harold Fry, the main protagonist. I have not prepared for this trip but am eternally optimistic that it will all work out.

This book draws you in with extra-ordinariness of being ordinary. The characters are crafted beautifully. We all probably experience some of this journey along our paths. I would highly recommend this novel, even if you are not doing something as crazy as I am, or as crazy as Harold Fry’s adventure.

This is a perfect holiday companion.

May Reading

We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Engaging, perceptive, satisfying

This novel has a number of twists and turns. It explores human nature and the nurture we experience that informs the adults we become. The narrative style was thoroughly engaging and enjoyable, although the 1st person narrative was irritating at the start. I was pleased that a friend encouraged me to continue with the novel, as early on I was ready to put it down. This is a must read and one should persevere with the start of the novel.

This is a MUST read!

April Reading

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

Interesting, confusing, sad

Murakami is an author that is so popular it feels wrong that one has not read any of his works. This collection of short stories are interesting, not fantastic but interesting. The main emotion surrounding these short stories is sadness and I do not even claim I have understood his writing. I am not sure I will read another of his novels or short stories, unless someone can give me a good reason why I should!

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Compulsive, interesting, unsatisfying

This is not as good as ‘We need to talk about Kevin’, although it has claimed to be better; it covers the issue of weight and our obsession with the way we look but I think it really does fail as the perspective mainly focuses on excessive weight gain and does not explore the whole issue. However Shriver has a writing style that makes it compulsive and difficult to put the book down, even if you are left disappointed at the end.

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom

Historical, entertaining, sensory

A hunchback lawyer is sent by Cromwell to solve a murder and seek the dissolution of a monastery.

This was an engaging read that captures the smells; the chaos and the fears of Henry VIII’s England.

This is an excellent holiday read.

March Reading

When we were Orphans by Kazou Ishiguro

Nostalgic, content, satisfied

This is a beautiful journey that the narrator takes to find his parents. It is reflective and demonstrates the beauty of man’s flawed nature. You, as the reader, journey with the narrator through his memories to the end, where you too are left feeling and understanding his position.

Kazou Ishiguro is becoming one of my favourite authors. I intend on reading all his novels. I am looking forward to his new release.

Modern Man in search of a Soul by Carl Gustav Yung

Non fiction

Interesting, challenging and sometimes confusing

An introspective look at man and man’s needs in life. Sometimes I did not understand what Yung was trying to show the reader and sometimes I felt it was pure nonsense and a stretch of the imagination.

It will need a re-read to get more out of the text.

February Reading

The Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro

Poignant, delicate and gentle

This book is beautifully written, the narrative voice is a a reflective soul who struggles to understand the progression of time. The narrator is fiercefully loyal and honourable; it reflects and era that valued noble gestures.

There is a sadness to this story, in particular the narrator’s inability to understand love.

This is a must read.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles

Slow, unusual and interesting- in bits

This book is not an easy read and it takes a while to get into. I am not sure it is worth persevering. Life is short and one needs to be selective.

The most interesting aspect is when the author speaks directly to the reader about the development of the characters or aspects of writing. However, one feels the Fowles is trying too hard.

The two alternate endings were not really satisfactory and there was no real climax to the story.

If you like Hardy, you may appreciate this but personally, I would not recommend it!

January Reading

Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Shocking, surreal and poignant!

It must be difficult to write about one’s experiences, especially the experiences of war and Vonnegut manages to convey the Bombing of Dresden in 1945, in a tragic and broken manner.

His fragmented writing style breaks the horrors of Dresden and allows the reader to read on but one does not read for the plot or the character, one reads for the tragedy that we make ourselves.

This is my first Vonnegut novel. I was inspired to read it based on a collection of graduation speeches that he gave and by the simple fact that it is one of the most popular taught texts in America, today. I am pleased I picked it up.

I read it slowly and carefully. It is not a book to be rushed.

It is a beautifully crafted, beautifully tragic, if one is able to find beauty in tragedy!

I would recommend it; if you have not already read it.


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