Sunday, 31 July 2011

July and the Month Ahead

I think I had a good month reading wise. First of all I finished a readalong. I was reading Shantaram by Gregory Roberts. It was supposed to continue into August but I was enjoying it that much I spent one weekend reading the last 200 pages.

This book was also one for the Books I Should Have Read By Now challenge and so I substituted it with another book I had planned for the challenge this month. Once again I managed all three books although I feel a little guilty since I had been reading Shantaram over a period of two months. For the challenge I read;

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
Lullaby Town by Robert Crais
Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts.

My favourite is probably Shantaram although I also liked the Mitchell book. I am still on track for voracious reader. Augusts books will be;

Mary Tudor by Anna Whitelock (since it was replaced last month by Shantaram)
The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
The Bachman Books by Stephen King

I had planned on reading the second book in the George R. R. Martin series. Turns out I actually have the second part of book 3 and not book 2. Means of course I will have to buy book2 this week. If I read that and part one this month I can add part 2 to next months list. Sigh!

This month I read;

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (trying to read one classic a month)
Lullaby Town - Robert Crais
The Railway Children - E. Nesbit
Hospital Babylon - Imogen Edwards-Jones
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Garnethill - Denise Mina
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet - David Mitchell
The Summer of the Bear - Bella Pollen (book group)
The Return of Captain John Emmett - Elizabeth Speller
The Killing Kind - John Connolly
Yes Sister, No Sister - Jennifer Craig
The Burning Wire - Jeffery Deaver
A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin (re-read).

I don't think I could possibly choose a favourite. There are so many in there that I loved and for different reasons. When each book is very different it's hard to make a choice between them. My least favourite is probably The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver. I still enjoyed it but I don't think Deaver's heart is with this character any more. I have discovered though that I am growing fond of historical fiction. It shouldn't really be too surprising since I love history. My fondness for a good mystery is also growing.

August is a special month. My blog will be one year old and it's also my birthday. I have decided that I will have a giveaway to celebrate both. I haven't decided what book I am going to pass on as yet but I do have a wee question in mind. That will be the only rule to the giveaway. Answer the question. No need to follow if you don't want to or anything else. Plus the question is book related so I am sure many of you won't mind. I'll post the giveaway near the end of August so please look out for that.

I don't really have much else planned for the month reading wise. I'm not really one for planning what I read that far ahead. I do start college again at the end of the month so I will be savouring the luxury of lots of reading time. I also haven't planned what my classic is going to be. It's a draw between the two I bought last week (Wharton and Bronte) and Wilkie Collins. I have a feeling the lovely edition of the Wharton book is going to win.

How was your reading month?

Saturday, 30 July 2011

I've Been Bad!

After months of being good and only buying my book group books I went a little mad this week. The plan was to buy just one but it didn't pan out that way. I ended up with six and could quite easily have added more to the pile. Initially I was just going to buy one from my TR list and it was going to be one that another book blogger had recommended. I picked Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn because this was the first blogger recommendation on my list (recommended by Gabriel Reads). It kind of grew from there.

Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie (second Poirot story).
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (third book in his series).
Silent in the Graves by Deanna Raybourn (blogger recommendation).
She-Wolves by Helen Castor (some history, had my eye on it since I saw the hardback at Christmas).
Villette by Charlotte Bronte (buying a classic somehow made me feel less guilty).
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (again a classic but the truth is it's a nice edition).

Who knows when I will get to read them all but it's sated my book buying for a little while anyway (maybe).

A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

Every house in the Seven Kingdoms has a saying. The Stark family motto couldn't be more relevant, Winter is coming. The summer has lasted ten years and for every long summer follows a long winter. The eyes of the black watch are on the north as their numbers dwindle and more of their men disappear as they head over the wall. Meanwhile all other eyes are on the South. Since the dragons were removed from the throne and Robert has ruled there has been an uneasy peace among the seven kingdoms. Eddard Stark reluctantly moves from his northern home to become the Kings Hand after the death of his friends. There he realises he can trust no one as he tries to discover what his friend learned before he was killed and what did it have to do with his Queen and the rest of her Lannister family.

This is a re-read for me. Five years between books is too long for my poor memory so if I wanted to read the rest I had to read the first one again. This was in no way a chore. It's been a long time since I got lost in a good fantasy story and it didn't matter that I had read it before. It was nice to remember events as I read them and there were plenty of surprises in there too (yes, my memory is that bad).

I think when I read it the first time round I enjoyed it for all the fantasy aspects. It had magic, dragons, strange legends and unexplained events and of course good battles. This time round I was looking at it from a different point of view. I read it for the political aspects which I always enjoy in a book. The Royal intrigue and of course the in depth characters. What's interesting is that although we have the good guys and the bad guys there is more to them than that. Tyrion Lannister is a good example. His family is trying to usurp the crown and being part of that family (despite being an outsider too) he fights on their side and sees the Starks as his enemies. He isn't a bad man though nor is he evil. He is a good man who has had a rough life and just wants acceptance from his family. There are many similar cases and even within the side of the good there are unsavoury characters.

I also like the historical aspect. King Robert very much reminded me of Henry VIII although I am sure that's not who he is based on. He is selfish, egotistical, has an eye for pretty girls and cares only for pleasure and glory. However, the book is actually based on events from before Henry's reign. It was based on the War of the Roses which lead to Henry's father taking the throne. My knowledge of that time is a little vague. I only know it briefly from a few history books I've read from Henry VIII time. It was certainly interesting and well done. I love the integration of history into fantasy. I think that for this reason someone who enjoys historical fiction might like this.

It is a large book but I always like them like this. The kind that sucks you in and you get lost in. Before you know it you have read those 800 pages and find yourself looking for more. Thankfully the others in the series are almost as large. I definitely can't wait to read the next one.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Book Blogger Hop

This is a meme from Crazy For Books. This weeks question is; Highlight one book you have received this week (for review, from the library, purchased at the store, etc.) that you can’t wait to dig into!

Truth is I haven't been buying books. Been very good and trying to stick to getting through my tbr pile. However, the week this question (or prompt) comes up happens to be the week I decided that I should get a treat for months of good behavior. I actually bought some books.

I am looking forward to them all but the one I am looking forward to the most is Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn. Yep, I know I don't like romance but it's got some crime in it and has the historical aspect. Plus Gabriel from Gabriel Reads highly recommended her books and it was then I added them to my tr list. It's the historical aspect that I am looking forward to more than anything. Read a few historical fiction this year and it's a genre I am growing to love.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Mary and Max!

I'm going to do something I have never actually done before - review a film. A friend of mine who loves animation picked up Mary and Max by chance. She tends to collect most animated films and couldn't pass this one up. She then loaned it to me and I don't know if I should love her for it or never forgive her because I just spent some part of it sobbing my heart out.

The film is about friendship and acceptance. Mary is from Australia and she is lonely. She is a little girl with no friends and very little attention from her parents. One day she finds a New York phone book in the library. She has a lot of questions about America and so decides to write a letter. Max's name is chosen at random.

Max is also lonely. He's a grown man who always tells the truth (which leads to some very funny moments) and has trouble making friends. In fact one of his life goals is to have a friend. After a small break down he decides to write back and the two strike up an unlikely friendship.

This is one very sweet and yet hilarious film. Both Max and Mary don't understand that there are some things you just don't share which lead to some very funny letters. I found myself laughing most of the way through it although there were some things I probably shouldn't have laughed at. I wasn't expecting the slightly dark turn near the middle but it was necessary to highlight some of the series aspects of the film (such as mental illness, depression and alcoholism).

Toni Colette I immediately recognised as the voice of Mary. I have always liked her as an actress and she was perfect for Mary. Unfortunately for her I think she was drowned out by the man who voiced Max. I had to look it up to discover that it was Philip Seymour Hoffman. Completely unrecognisable which I think shows just how talented this man is. He certainly was able to bring Max to life.

As for the animation itself I loved it. The colours were muted which fit in with the film and the mannerisms of the characters were perfect. The soundtrack was also done well I felt. For me music is also a nice addition. It doesn't make a film for me (although I would certainly miss it if there was none and I do have a few favourite soundtracks). In this case though it was very much a part of it. It noticeably increased the mood at certain parts.

I think I am going to have to go out and by myself a copy.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

World Book Night

I decided not to take part in the top ten Tuesday after all this week. I was having difficulty coming up with ten books I hadn't listed before. I was feeling a little repetitive and for that I wasn't getting as much enjoyment out of it. If you read the blog Dead End Follies you will know how wonderful it is (one of my favourite book blogs). Ben is taking a break and is concentrating on his read instead. After all the whole point of blogs like mine is the books we read. I am not sure if I will take a break from it altogether but I am not going to take part as often as I have done. Instead I think I will try to find some other topics to write about rather than relying on these prompts. I used to write my own at the start of my blog and maybe I should go back to that.

That being said I was reading another entry on another favourite blog of mine 2606 Books and Couting. The author of this blog usually takes part on TTT too but also opted out this week. Instead he mentioned world book night. Last years book night was a success but also was filled with complaints and controversy. I thought it was a good idea myself. My only real complaint was that the public had no say in this list of books. This year we do. We get to pick out top ten favourite. This will create a list of the countries top 100 and the judges will pick 25 from that. Everyone has until the end of August to pick out their top ten favourite books.

So having said that I am still doing a top ten list. This is a list of books I would want to see given out to people. If you head over to see Falaise you will see his top ten choice and the current top ten leaders as well as some interesting facts.

My top ten are;

1. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
2. Jpod by Douglas Coupland
3. A Prayer For Ownen Meaney by John Irving
4. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (my token classic)
5. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (my token sci fi)
6. Magician by Raymond E. Feist (my token fantasy)
7. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (my token crime)
8. The Stand by Stephen King (my token horror)
9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (my token kids book)
10. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (my token non fiction).

I am not sure this will stay my top ten but I wanted a fairly rounded representation of some of the books I like. What would you choose?

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Burning Wire - Jeffery Deaver

An unhappy man is using electricity to kill. He know exactly how to use it with horrific results. It's up to Lincoln and Sachs to find this man before more innocent people are killed. Meanwhile the Watchmaker is on the move and Lincoln is trying to help the Mexican police capture him. Lincoln is determined that this time he won't get away.

This is the ninth Lincoln Rhyme book and the latest which means I have caught up. At this point though I am definitely getting bored of the Lincoln Rhyme character. I find that a lot of his issues these day come into the story for no real reason and I'm finding it a little boring. Mainly because it's the same issue in every book. This time though Sach's desperate need to have children is left alone which made for a nice change. It's the repetitiveness of these issues that gets to me really. Finally though there may be light at the end of the tunnel for some of them (you'll have to read for yourself to find out what). I think that and the fact that I am growing to like the character Kathryn Dance more meant that I wasn't that excited about reading this book (she also makes an appearance of sorts in this book).

The story itself I felt wasn't quite up to the usual standard. Maybe Deaver himself has moved away from this character (a Kathryn Dance title has been announced for 2013 but none for Rhyme). It could have been interesting and certainly the premise of using electricity could have been a good one. It just seemed to lack something. I was extremely disappointed with the way things ended with the Watchmaker. I was hoping for a really good book where Rhyme and Sachs try to track him down. Unfortunately that just didn't happen.

I still liked it, just not as much as the others. I would still read another Rhyme book in the hopes that it would pick up again but I seriously think Deaver has got everything he can out of this one character.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading!

This is a book meme by Sheila from Book Journey. A fun way of sharing our reading week.

This week I read;
The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller. Fantastic historical fiction and a good mystery.

The Killing Kind by John Connolly. Third book in the Charlie Parker series. Managed to give me a fear of spiders.

Yes Sister, No Sister by Jennifer Craig. Interesting but not the best autobiography or non fiction book I've ever read.

Just now I am reading;
The Burning Wire by Jefferey Deaver. This is the ninth Lincoln Rhyme book. It's okay so far. Starting to go off Rhyme a little.

Next I plan to read;
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. This will be a re-read for me. I read it about six years ago and I loved it. Bought book 2 and it got lost amongst my large tbr pile. Book two is on next months list of books I should have read by now challenge. It's been so long ago I need to read the first one again. Looking forward to it though.

What has your reading week been like?

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Yes Sister, No Sister - Jennifer Craig

Jennifer Craig trained as a nurse in Leeds during the 1950s. She went there virtually from school and was unprepared for the regimented way nurses were then trained. In her memoir she writes about her thoughts and feelings from the time of her training and then into her first few years as a nurse. Back then Britain was still recovering from the war and this could still be seen in the way that Jennifer was trained.

I have to confess that out of all the nursing memoir books I have read of late this is not my favourite. I was a little bored by it at first. It was brave of the author to mention her naivety at the time but it actually grated on my nerves a little. As did her hero worship of her friend Judith who didn't seem to return her friendship in quite the same way.

Once she moved to the wards it did begin to get interesting. I could understand her initial fear. Who wouldn't be nervous at first. Plus she seemed very open about her feelings when a patient died on her. Her time spent on the Surgical ward and then in casualty were the most interesting to me. I could have read more about those times if I was honest.

Once she graduates the author then rushes through the next few years. She uses letters she has written to friends and family to help speed her way through them which I also found to be irritating. At one point she is training again. This time she is taking a midwifery course and she doesn't take the time to talk about it other than to say that she hated the hospital.

Eventually she goes back to the hospital she was originally trained and is first a night sister and then a ward sister. There were some interesting points here. I liked the fact that she wanted to use her ward to teach fellow nurses as well as to treat patients. Again though she began to rush through her time there with more family letters.

An interesting read but a little frustrating at times. This is the last of the books that I got in on nursing. As I said it wasn't the my favourite. I think Hospital Babylon was probably the funniest although from the point of view of a Doctor. Nurse Nurse by Jimmy Frazer was the most helpful and Bedpans and Bobby Socks was the most fun. I will probably leave it here now as I think this genre could easily become boring.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Killing Kind - John Connolly

It's been a few years since the events of Dark Hollow and Charlie Parker has been keeping his investigations to White Collar Crime. Now that he and Rachael are in a good place he wants to keep it that way by staying away from the violent crime. Then John Mercier asks him to investigate the death of Gracie, a girl Parker was once close to. He wants to say no but feels he owes it to her somehow. Her death is linked to a private religious sect which disappeared years ago but he's getting nowhere into his investigations. Already he has Pudd, a fairly scary, red headed man, trying to convince him to keep his nose out. A man that even the mafia are terrified of and have reason to be.

I said I wanted light reads this week. Well, it was light but thank you John Connnolly. I now have a new phobia. In the past I was the one to move spiders when they appeared because everyone else is scared of them. Well no more thanks to this book. The first part alone was enough to put me off them for life. The rest of the book just confirmed it. If you have a spider phobia read with caution.

It's a little different from the other books. In the first two we learn who's behind it all as Parker does. With this one though we are ahead of him and it just adds to the suspense. We get to read excerpts of Gracie's thesis through out the book which always puts the reader that one step ahead. Honestly at one point I thought I was going to shout at the book trying to pass on that information to Parker.

I liked the developing relationship between Parker and Rachael although it felt like I was missing something a little. In the last book she was keeping away from Parker after the events of book one. Now their relationship has developed and he's the one stopping it from going that step further. Louis and Angel also made an appearance and I get the impression this will be the case in all the books. Actually I hope it will be. They add to that touch of humour although Parker can be funny on his own. For two characters at odds with the law I have grown to be quite fond of them.

I only have one tiny wee problem with the book and it really is small. Not enough to stop me from enjoying the book but it did niggle. The character Gracie was meant to once have a relationship with Parker. Just a summer fling but I got a feeling it happened during their college years. However, as the book went on the younger Gracie seemed to get. She was studying her PHD (which doesn't really give an indication of age) and her friends seemed to be of college age. It could be just my perception of them but I got the feeling that Parker saw them as just young girls which didn't really fit with the story of how Gracie and himself knew each other.

Otherwise a great instalment in the Parker books. This is definitely one of my favourite series. Connolly definitely has the power to describe horror. Seriously, watch out for those spiders!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Book Blog Hop - Genre's

This is a meme over at Crazy For Books. Each week we answer a new question about books or reading.

This weeks question is - What's the one genre you wish you could get into, but can't?

In all honesty this isn't a problem for me. There are one or two books that I don't like which everyone seems to love. I wish I could see what everyone sees in them. I don't let it bother me too much though. In general there really aren't that many genres that I don't like. Romance is the only one I tend to avoid because it just doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. There are lots of genres that I wish I had tried before now and would like to read more of. Crime is one example. I think I have read more of it this year than I have in my entire life. For now I seem to be working my way through a lot of popular crime authors but I would also like to try noire, spy thrillers (thinking of LeCarre here) and of course more Poirot. Dan Brown and similar authors/books are the only part of that genre I'm not interested in. Historical fiction is another genre although I didn't go our of my way not to read it. I just happened to have not read that much of it.

I would also like to read more Scottish authors. I am ashamed to say that I haven't actually read that many which is a shock considering I'm from Glasgow. That's something I am also slowly working on and I am improving. I haven't read as many classics as I would like. The last few years I read very little of them but I am reading more this year. I am attempting to read one a month and have a few aside that I am looking forward to. Although it's an age group and not a genre I have went on a bit of a YA slump. So there have been lots of new releases this year that I would have probably read by now in years past. This one actually doesn't bother me that much. It's the 20 or so YA books sitting in my TBR pile that are taunting me more than anything else.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Return Of Captain John Emmett - Elizabeth Speller

It's 1920 and Great Britain is still recovering from the effects of the Great War. Laurence Bartram is one of the lucky ones who survived although he lost his wife and child. How he's just trying to pick up his life again. He then gets a letter from the sister of an old school friend, John Emmett. John survived the war too but only long enough to then take his own life. His sister wants to know how he could do that after the loss of so many. Laurence helps by investigating the life of Captain John Emmett during and after the war. What exactly did John feel he had to atone for?

Although I have read very little historical fiction I am growing to love it. When done properly it can make for a fantastic read and this book was no exception. Actually I think I have been lucky in this respect. I think I could say that about all of the historical fiction I have read

The 1920's is famous for being glamourised but this book ignores that whole side of it. Sure it shows women as being stronger and more independent and a society that is slowly and reluctantly coming round to that. More importantly it focuses on the impact that the war is still having on both men and women alike. For Laurence he is a little lost. He feels guilty at losing his wife and survivors guilt although he doesn't really show it that much. He sees the end of the war as an opportunity to do something he enjoys but is at a loss for what to do. Solving the mystery of what happened to John Emmett gives him time to make these decisions and so he throws himself into it (also helped along by the pretty Mary Emmett).

One of my favourite characters is best friend to Laurence. He shows another facet of the after effects of war. He thrived during it and is now bored. He needs the excitement in his life still and so dives in and helps Laurence with his investigation by using his connections. I liked him because he added a little light heartedness. He has a love of mysteries and compares the investigation to some popular fiction of the time. In fact he makes several comparisons to Agatha Christie's Poirot.

One of the things I liked about the book is that it showed the women's side. Mary was one of thousands of young women who have been left at home wondering and in fear for the loved ones fighting. Whereas Captain John's nurse, Eleanor Bolitho, saw only too well the effects of the war and is living with those effects every day as her husband lost both his legs.

The mystery itself is a good one and very sad. We start off believing that it has something to do with the convalescent home that John is taken to. From there the story takes a whole new spin and I honestly couldn't predict the outcome. I was kept guessing almost right to the end. The investigation brings up the issue of shell shock which comes a big part of the story. It made for a very sad but interesting read since I think it's something that our society struggles to understand even today.

The book I felt was well researched. The author lists at the back a number of books she used to help research the era and the issues she covers. Not once does she give the war that romantic glamour that some books do. Instead she writes about the horrors that everyone faced both on the front and back home.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Loved As a Teen

This is a book meme over at The Broke and the Bookish.

I realise that the theme this week is actually top ten books that every teen should read. As a tutor though I learned that so long as the teen is reading at all to leave them alone. Don't get me wrong, I am all for encouraging them to broaden their horizons so I'm not completely against the idea. Plus all those books about the right of ascension I usually hated. Instead I thought I would list top ten books that met a lot to me as a teenager.

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I know I hated all the characters and most of them have been listed on one of my top tens in a negative way. I still loved that book. Must have appealed to my dark side as a teen because it was back then that I read it over and over again.

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Not the first classic I read but certainly one of the first classics by a woman (if you don't count children's classics). I devoured this book and loved every page. Sadly I haven't read it since. It's overdue a reread.

3. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. The first Dickens book I read was the Christmas Books. The first one I loved was the next one, David Copperfield. I think this was my real introduction to classics and how wonderful they can be. I loved ever it and loved all the characters. Even the nasty Uriah Heep who still manages to give me the creeps.

4. Foundation by Isaac Asimov. I think this was my first science fiction book which led me to so many more. I loved the entire series plus it was something my mum, dad and I would pass round each other.

5. The Stand by Stephen King. Not the first King book I read but certainly the largest book I had read at that point (it was early in my teens). I was steadily working my way through King books at the time and this one stood out above the rest. They were all about good and evil but there was no getting away from that theme here. It fascinated me at the time.

6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I picked this book for an extended essay and although I must have had to read it about four or five times I never got bored of it. It was my introduction to dystopian novels which was quickly followed by Fahrenheit 451.

7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This is a fantastic book. It means more to me than just a fantastic story though. I had loaned it to a friend. When another friend saw her with it and asked if she was reading it she scoffed at the idea (I am sure this other friend couldn't care less). It was then I decided that I wasn't going to be like that. I wouldn't let anyone embarrass me just because I liked to read.

8. To Kill A Mockingbird by Lee Harper. Okay, I am going to eat my own words here and say everyone should read this. It was one that got passed round all my friends and I don't know a single person who has read it and not fallen in love with it.

9. The Diary of Anne Frank. Well, I admit I wasn't a teenager when I first read this. I don't know how many rereads I was onto as a teen. I think though, as I neared the age Anne was I understood the real horror of it.

10. Dracula by Bram Stoker. If you don't count the point horror books I read this was my first real introduction to vampire stories. I compare all vampire books to this one now.

What's your top ten?

The Summer of the Bear - Bella Pollen

It's 1979 and Nicky Fleming is a British diplomat in Germany. It's the cold war and so when he dies from falling from the roof everyone suspects him of defecting. Letitia takes her children away and moves back to the Hebridean Island she was brought up on. There she shuts down as she wonders how much did she really know her husband. Meanwhile her children have their own problems. Georgie is trying to hold the family together while she dreams of boys and her future away from the island. Alba is angry and takes that anger out on everyone around her, especially Jamie. Jamie believes that his father will come back to him. After all he promised. He spends his time wondering the island look for the bear that broke loose, believing it to be a sign from his father.

The book jacket describes it as a part suspense-thriller, part fairy-tale. The fairy-tale I can understand but for me there was very little suspense. The mother tries to uncover what happened to her husband. Did he really betray his country? There was very little of that until the end though and then the truth proved to be dull and disappointing. It was an aside almost until the discovered what had really happened.

The rest of the story though was extremely sweet. Jamie is a lovely character who sees the world in a very different way to the rest of the family. He's a sweet little boy who is waiting for his dad to come back because he promised he would. The author managed to write his parts with out making him so sweet he is irritating. Instead he is extremely lovable. Alba's character on the other hand was a little too hard to take. Children can be viscous. She is angry and to top it off she's going through puberty. A difficult time for anyone. She redeems herself in the end but I find it hard to believe that this girl was really that nasty. I think there were times when the author took it too far. In saying that she wasn't a completely unlikable character. Especially by the end of the book.

I loved the setting of the book. Island life in Scotland is fascinating. I think I would have liked it had there been more of that in there. I also felt that there was still unfinished business with some of the islanders at the end. I would have liked those loose threads to be brought together. I think it would have made the ending that much more satisfying.

If you are looking for a suspense book this isn't it. I can honestly say that it will only disappoint. If you are looking for a story of a broken family who are trying to pull themselves back together then this is it. It is a lovely story in that sense and once I reconciled myself to the fact that it wasn't going to be exciting I very much enjoyed it.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading!

This is a book meme by Sheila over at Book Journey. We all share what we have read and what we plan to read over the next week.

This week I read;
Garnethill by Denise Mina. A Glasgow based crime novel which I very much enjoyed.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell. An historical fiction novel. It went from being a book I was about to give up on to one of my favourites by this author. I read this as part of the Books I Should Have Read By Now Challenge.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. This was part of a Readalong and Books I Should Have Read By Now challenge. I can't recommend this book enough. I would say it's at the top of my favourites read this year.

Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen. This was for my book group. It was a sweet story.

I'm currently reading;
The Return Of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller. I have read a total of two pages so can't comment on it for now. A friend loaned it to me and it's been one that I've been wanting to read for a while.

Next I plan to read;
The Killing Kind by John Connolly. I have decided to have a week of just light reading. Love this series and I'm looking forward to this one.

What are you reading?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

Lin arrives in India on stolen passport having escaped from prison in Australia. He's not sure what to do next but is on the run and this passport will only get him so far. Straight off the bus in Bombay he meets Prabaker who guides him through the city. Lin quickly realises he loves India and doesn't want to leave. He finds some work for himself and discovers other sides of Bombay along the way. He falls in love, rescues prostitutes, lives in the slums, creates a free clinic, joins the mafia and so much more.

This book has been sitting on my shelf collecting dust for a couple of years. It's a fairly large book which doesn't normally daunt me but I think the fact that it wasn't the sort of book I would normally pick up delayed me reading it. I added it to my list of books to read in the Books I Should Have Read By Now challenge and I spotted a readalong for this title. Two signs that I should read it.

I am glad I did. The entire book is extremely descriptive. Normally that can be a negative but in this case I liked it. It was almost as if I was standing in the streets of Bombay with him. It also helped me to fall in love with characters such as Prabaker, his family and Johnny Cigar. Prabaker was probably my favourite character. I loved all his scenes. He seemed to have no concept of sarcasm and so would answer Lin as though he had asked a serious question. It made for some very funny moments and just endeared Prabaker all the more to me. One of my favourite moments was when he was living in the slum. Lin was in a bad mood as he hadn't had much sleep and Johnny Cigar woke him up early as there were patients waiting for him. He put the bad mood down to Lin's toilet issues which set off all his neighbours discussing how regularly Lin went.

I actually have lots of favourite moments and they all involve Prabaker or one of the others who lived in the slum. They seemed to have more to laugh about and I liked their philosophy on life. They were honest men who just wanted a happy life. I read in another review (I think it was a comment by Aths who is also taking part in the readalong) that the book was patronising at times. I can see where this view comes from. Although Lin loved living with Prabaker and his friends, enjoyed their company and saw them as friends I don't think he every really saw them as his equal. I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe it was the tone he used when talking about them. It was almost like he saw himself as their saviour.

There were a lot of difficult moments too. It wasn't all lightness and fun. The cholera epidemic that hit the slums whilst Lin was living there was one. Although I don't think Lin saw himself as being in any real danger then. The real danger was when he was falsely imprisoned and had to fight his way to survive. Then of course his time in Afghanistan. He was in constant danger then. I think it was from those chapters that the tone of the book changed completely. It already had a little when he got out of prison and was learning the ways of the mob. But it truly changed then. The heart warming stories were few and far between. In fact there was only really one after Afghanistan and that once again involved Johnny Cigar.

The mob or mafia didn't interest me quite as much. I felt that Lin had doubts about the work he was doing. He knew it was wrong but even after he had paid off his debts for getting out of prison he didn't stop. It couldn't have bothered him that much. It was after that point we learned more about Karla, the woman he loved. She was a mysterious character from the start who had her own sad story.

The only negative thing I can say about the book itself is that I don't think Lin quite knew how he wanted to be portrayed. One minute he was the saviour and he wanted to be everyones friend. Accepted by everyone (which he just about was). On the other hand he wanted to be the hard man. There was a little of that before he joined the mob but it was more pronounced then. It somehow didn't quite sit well with the character because more times than not he was the good guy and the voice of reason.

If I was to talk about all the things I loved about this book I would honestly be here all day. It's one of those books that I'm not going to forget in a hurry. Although I eventually finished it earlier than the readalong planned it's still the longest time I have spent on a book. I am actually very glad for that. It gave me the chance to enjoy it in more detail before moving on to the next book.

Despite the size of the book it still felt that there was more packed into there than could possibly fit. Having finished it I came away surprised that it wasn't longer than it actually was. Believe me it was worth every page. I know the follow up is meant to be published this year. I'm not sure I will be able to hold off until the paperback as I want to know what happens to Lin next.

Oh, and one last thing. The book itself is meant to be semi -autobiographical. I know that Roberts did escape from prison, spent time in India before getting caught years later. He himself states that most of it is fiction. It would be interesting to know which of it is fact. Although according to wikipedia Prabaker was based on a real person.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet - David Mitchell

It's 1799 and Jacob De Zoet is a Clerk for the Dutch East India Company. Japan has opened is allowing the Dutch to trade with them and they even have their own settlement near Nagasaki. After centuries of a non outsider policy the Dutch are determined to take advantage of this. Jacob is sent there to help clean up the Dutch side of the trade and rid it of corruption. This proves to be a challenge to Jacob who wants to do the best job he can so he can go home and marry his love. Very quickly though, the mysterious Aibabagawa catches his eye and he becomes infatuated. Unlike the other women who have free entry into the Dutch area she is not to be touched. She is a midwife and is there to learn under the Dutch doctor. That doesn't stop Jacob from falling for her although he is little prepared for the results.

I have read two other books by David Mitchell and loved them both. Both books were extremely different in style and this one proved to be no different. An historical fiction novel set during a period when Japan was reluctant to allow outsiders to step foot on her land or influence her people. It's an area of history that I know very little about and it proved to be interesting. Having read a little behind the book I know that the author spent four years researching it. In fact he got the initial idea from his visit to the Dejima museum (Dejima was the name of the island that the Dutch had to keep to).

I have to be honest though. My initial reaction to the book wasn't a good one. I was excited about it originally for two reasons. It was written by an author that I was growing to like and it was set in Japan, a country I am fascinated with. As it seemed to be mainly from the point of view of the Dutch and their concerns with trade I thought it was going to turn out to be extremely boring. I had no interest in reading a book about that and was considering giving up on it not far in (which isn't like me). It quickly picked up though and I realised a lot of the start was necessary to get an idea of the characters who would have an important part to play later in the book.

The characters were fantastic. Every single one of them had their own story to tell. Including the few important Japanese characters. At some point in the book they were all able to tell their own story and I loved that fact. It made them more real and even gave me the chance to sympathise with characters I probably wouldn't have liked. Such as the British Captain in the third section of the book. It was a little difficult to want him to be defeated since he was a character I knew I would grow to like.

Even the women in the shrine that Aibagawa was sent to. It was a cult and they welcomed it. I wanted to dislike some of them for their cruelty and their naivety but I couldn't. I wanted Aibagawa to get away but not if it cost these women their lives. Basically I was made to go through the dilemmas the characters themselves faced. It made for an interesting read.

The one similarity this book has with his others is that it is separated into sections. He seems to like that writing style and has used it in different ways. For each book it has worked and this one proves no different. I particularly enjoyed the second section. Whilst more disturbing at times due to the descriptions of the shrine it was certainly the most interesting. Mainly because it was from the point of view of the Japanese.

Whilst I didn't like this book at the start by the end it has become my favourite by David Mitchell.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Garnethill - Denise Mina

Maureen is quite vulnerable. She's just starting to pull her life together after time spent in a mental hospital. Still haunted by the sexual abuse of her childhood and having to suffer through her families many problems. Much of which she is blamed for. So when she wakes up one morning to find her therapist boyfriend murdered she is hardly in a place to handle it. Determined to prove her innocence she starts her own investigation. She soon discovers that the real victims are others like herself who have little voice. Now she has to uncover who the murderer is for their sake as well as her own.

I met the author of this book a few years ago and she is a lovely and very intelligent lady. Although I wasn't a crime reader at the time it was always at the back of my mind to read this. Scottish authors are famous for writing crime and out of the handful I have read (all of which I have enjoyed) this one is the best. For a change it's from the point of view of a victim rather than one sole police man. It makes you feel that much more desperate for the truth to be revealed whilst reading. You have more of an emotional involvement.

Maureen was my favourite character at first but she grew on me quickly along with her best friend Leslie and her drug dealing brother. Whilst her brother is a drug dealer you love him for supporting Maureen in a family that refuses to believe her. The police come across as unhelpful at first but that soon changes and some of them stand out as characters too. It has great suspense. Even when you have worked out who the murderer is and that Maureen is trying to flush him out you aren't sure exactly what she is going to do.

I loved the fact that it was set in Glasgow and I was therefore able to recognise quite a few places. I always enjoy that when reading books set in Scotland. It did have just enough Glasgow slang to make it authentic without being too irritating. It certainly isn't enough to put off any non-Scots.

Even without the Glasgow setting it made for a great read. There are two others in the series and those have been added to my list. Look forward to seeing what Maureen gets up to next.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Authors I'm dying to meet.

Top Ten Tuesday is a book meme over at The Broke and the Bookish.

I actually don't want to meet my favourite authors. I fear disappointment and that they will turn out to be completely different. Still, I have met some authors who became favourites. They were so lovely in person I tried their books and loved them (John Connolly is an example).

1. Haruki Murakami. I actually don't think he will disappoint. He comes across as quite shy and retiring. Hates to be the centre of attention. This is the sense I get from rare interviews. I think this would come across in person. I would love to talk about his books with him.

2. Jane Austen. I bet the humour that came across in her writing would also come across in person. I think she would have been fun to meet. Despite having read all her books I actually know very little about this author personally so it would be interesting too.

3. Jasper Fforde. I have actually met him and embarrassed myself by running away. I remember it amused him but he did come across as lovely. If anything I need to redeem myself.

4. Derek Landy. The man who wrote some of the funniest teen books I have ever read. I would love to meet the creator of Skulduggery.

5. Stephen Fry. He does count since I have read his autobiographies and have one of his works of fiction on my shelf (still to read it mind you). My favourite celebrity.

6. Stephen King. His books meant so much to me growing up and I still enjoy them now. Would love to talk to him about my favourites.

7. Neil Gaiman. I have heard a horror story about someone who met this author. I actually don't trust this persons accuracy and so would love to meet him for himself. Plus, he is into so many different things he could never be boring.

8. Douglas Coupland. Mainly because he is the first contemporary fiction writer I could list on under favourite author. I still love his work.

9. Margaret Atwood. Another talented Canadian. I actually read her book of essays. She has lots of interesting views on other books. Would love to know if she has read some of my favourites.

10. Susannah Clarke. Actually I really just want to know if she is planning on more books and will it be linked to the Mr Norrell universe.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading!

This is a great meme by Sheila of Book Journey. A way for everyone to share their reads.

This week I had a fairly good week and read;
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Actually started this the week before. A fantastic classic. Recommend it to everyone.

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. I needed a light read after the Russian classic and this was perfect. Such a sweet children's story. Wish I had read it when I was little.

Hospital Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones. There is a whole series of these but this was the only one I was interested in. A very funny light read.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. A moving story of boyhood friendship. Very grateful to my friend who insisted I read it despite my reservations.

Just now I am reading;
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts as part of a readalong. I am still loving it. There is a few weeks to go but I am considering trying to finish it this week.

Garnethill by Denise Mina. A Scottish crime novel. Loving it so far.

Next I plan to read;
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell. This is part of the books I should have read by now challenge. It's been collecting dust on my shelf for over a year now. I love David Mitchell too. Plus it's set in Japan, an added bonus!

What are you reading?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

Amir is the son of an important and wealthy man in Kabul. Hassan is the son of a servant. Despite these differences in status the two were raised together and Hassan worships Amir. Unfortunately Amir's jealousies and desperateness for his fathers approval gets in the way of that friendship and tears them apart. Years later Amir has made a life for himself in America. He is a famous author and he finally got his father's respect and love. The guilt over what he did to Hassan is still there and when he given a chance to redeem himself he takes it. Even though that chance puts him in danger.

When this book was made such a fuss of a few years back I didn't understand it. Not once did it appeal to me. I actually didn't know much about it other than it was supposed to be a moving story of a boy from Afghanistan. To be honest at that time I was devouring light reads and YA novels in particular. Even now when my BF said I should read this I just nodded and moved on to talk about other things. A year or so of nagging and I finally agreed to borrow the book. It still took a few months to pick it up. Especially after she raved about A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and I honestly can't see her obsession over that book.

The reason I mention this is that I had no actual idea of what the story was really about and when I picked it up I was expecting to dislike it. A few pages in and I was addicted. In fact I think I would have read it in a day had I the opportunity to. I was immediately drawn to the friendship between Amir and Hassan. Particularly because of Hassan's unending loyalty to Amir who quite frankly didn't deserve it. From very early on you are aware that Amir does something to finally betray that friendship. I dreaded that moment. I wanted Hassan's innocence and brotherly love for Amir to remain untarnished. I basically wanted nothing bad to happen to this good natured character. Of course it wouldn't have been much of a book if I had my way.

That's not to say that Amir was an unlikeable character. He himself knew his own faults and narrated his regrets which centred around Hassan. It was difficult not to sympathise with his situation. In the end all he really wanted was for his father who didn't understand him to respect and love him. It took Amir giving up on that dream and losing everything for it to happen. Which is sad in itself.

I have read some mixed reviews on this book. It seems to range from one star to five star ratings with very few in the middle. Those who hate it criticise it for it's portrayal of Afghanistan and it's one sided view of some of the people. Maybe they have a point but that wasn't what the book was about. It was about friendship. It was about a man redeeming himself by standing up to that bully he was to scared to face as a child. The rest is just setting. At least it was for me anyway. Plus I am sure, since the author did spend some of his childhood there, that the customs were accurate and those alone were interesting.

I'm glad my friend persevered in nagging me to read it. I would have missed out on a fantastic book if she hadn't. I can't wait to hand the book over and tell her how much I loved it. I expect surprise as she has assumed that since I didn't like A Fine Balance that I probably wouldn't like this one. It surprised me too. I love it when that happens.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Hospital Babylon - Imogen Edwards-Jones

This book follows the footsteps of one doctors last shift in A&E before the dreaded black Wednesday when he himself will move on to another hospital and student doctors will flood through the doors. He's been there six months so nothing much throws him. He knows the routine, knows the team and knows what to expect. Still you can never really predict what's going to happen during a shift in A&E.

This book is part of a series. The first one was the popular Hotel Babylon which went on to become a television show. I've not read any of those. I did have a friend who loved them and recommended Air Babylon when it was released. As I am not a good flyer at the best of times I avoided it and any conversation where she brought it up. I imagine this one is quite similar though and it's supposed to shock people into the goings on of the NHS. The author is actually more like an editor whilst the doctor, colleagues and patients are kept anonymous.

If you have kept up with my blog posts in the last month or so you will know that I am going into nursing and picked up a whole bunch of books like this to give me a taste. It actually didn't shock me too much. It read more like "Blood, Sweat + Tea" by Tom Reynolds (which I highly recommend). Lots of stories about funny situations. Occasionally there will be one that will make you feel sad. A missing father turning up after two years only to have his son try to dump him on A&E is one example. You could sense the frustration the doctor has when it comes to some aspects of the NHS (much like Reynolds).

Only one part truly shocked me although I had heard stories of it so shouldn't really be that surprised. A man comes in having had a heart attack after taking too much Coke. After they have helped the man one of the other doctors takes the Coke and uses it. The doctor narrating actually considers joining him and the only thing that stops him is the idea of going back home to continue his fight with his girlfriend whilst on the stuff. One consultant is very rarely at work for a similar habit and yet is still paid by the NHS. It's disgusting and yet I've heard vague stories about things like this before. I am sure this is not completely atypical.

Over all I did enjoy the book. I'm not sure I learned anything from it as I did from The Nurse Nurse book. I didn't really expect to since it was from the point of view of a doctor. The good thing about it is that it in no way glamorises working in A&E. I am pretty sure that whilst I would maybe like to spend some time working there it's not where I would want to spend my entire career. I'm not sure I would read any of the others in the series either. None of them interest me quite as much.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Railway Children - E. Nesbit

Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are happy in their home with everything they need and loving parents. They don't realise just how lucky they are when thing change. Two men visit their father and he disappears. Then they have to leave their lovely home to a small house in the country. They make the best of things however and are soon friends with all the locals. They have many adventures which include becoming heroes. The only thing that's missing is their father.

I hold my hand up and admit that I love the BBC film version and have done since I was little. I watched it every Christmas and I don't mind admitting that the end brings a wee tear to my eye even now. A few years back a friend of mine (the devourer of all children's books) was horrified to discover that I hadn't read it. As we were book shopping for our holiday at the time she forced me (almost broke my arm) to buy it there and then. It has since collected dust on my pile. As it's been a while since I have read a children's book and I needed something light after Anna Karenina I decided to pick it up. This was the perfect book for my mood.

If you are looking for an uplifting read then this is it. Despite the upset of the children's father leaving it's an cheery read. Every chapter reveals a good ending to a great adventure or a good dead. Mr Perks, the station porter, is a firm favourite of the children as he is their first friend in the country. He quickly became a favourite of mine too (helped along by the image of Bernard Cribbons who played the character in the film). Even the crotchety neighbours couldn't help but fall in love with these children with hearts of gold. That's not to say that they were irritatingly good. They squabbled and had their faults.

There are points in it that are a little annoying such as the Doctors view of the differences between men and women (women are weaker and softer so they don't hurt their babies). But since it was published in 1905 I took those minor faults with a pinch of salt. In the end it's a genuinely sweet story. I confess that I had to give up reading it in public today and finish it at home. I felt myself welling up as I got to the end and knew what was about to happen. My only regret is that I didn't read this as a child. I know if I had it would have been up there with The Secret Garden and Little Women as a favourite.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is beautiful, wealthy, a mother to a son she adores, well loved and married to a man high in society and moving higher. She believes herself happy with these things. That is until she visits her brother in order to reconcile him and his wife. There she meets Count Vronsky and as much as she tries to prevent it she falls in love. From then on caution is thrown to the wind and she becomes the talk of society. She willingly loses everything just for him.

Not really what I was expecting at all. I was expecting a big torrid love affair. Okay, so there was some of that but the book isn't just about Karenina and the scandal she causes. Sure it's a big part of it but there are other characters in there who had just as large of a story to tell. I liked the story of Anna and Vronsky. Although I have to say I felt very little sympathy for them. He came across as selfish and spoiled wanting a new toy only to discard it when he grew bored. Eventually though he grows up and actually becomes a more likeable character for it. Anna begins as likeable and slowly throws that away. She becomes jealous and irrational and despite how much she loves her son she still leaves him behind.

The two character I really loved were part of the secondary storyline. I loved Kitty and Levin. I have always said that I don't have a romantic bone in my body but I couldn't help but want the best for these characters. I wanted their romance to spark and for them to be happy. Sure, Levin was a little irritating, moody and self involved at times but that didn't stop me from liking him. I also loved Anna's sister in law, Dolly, who is a suffering wife but clearly dotes on her children.

If none of these things appeal to you then there is the political aspect. It portrayed the Russian elite as spoiled, frivolous and at times work shy. Through Levin and a few other characters it gave a sounding board to some of the political changes that were beginning to take place in Russia then. That alone was interesting. I always seemed to concentrate on Russian history whilst at University which is why I found it so fascinating.

So many different facets to this wonderful book it would need more than one post to cover it all. I think that most people would get something from it. It's not just a tragic love story. Needless to say that this is now one of my favourite classics. I definitely recommend it. I will say though that if you aren't used to Russian literature (which I'm not) the names can be confusing. Stick with it though as you do get used to it.

If you are wondering about this lovely cover it's part of the Penguin red classics series. Not only do you get a pretty book but 50% of the profits from this book goes to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. I don't work for penguin, honest.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Rebels in Literature

TTT is a book meme over at The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks list is of characters or authors who have stood up for what they believe in no matter what.

I was originally going to do a post featuring authors or books that have been banned. However, going through lists of these I have read surprisingly few. So instead I have decided to go to one of my favourite types of book which are filled with rebels. In any dystopian book there is usually one character who rebels against the regime and so this post is for them.

1. Offred - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. She remembers a time when she was free and had her own family. She rebels against the regime in order to get information about her daughter and to be allowed to read. Despite knowing what could happen to her if she is discovered. This book was listed as being banned because of some of its sexual content.

2. Winston Smith - 1984 by George Orwell. Winston is responsible for Big Brother's propaganda and yet he rebels against it. Another banned book. It was banned in Russia as Stalin believed that it was a book about his regime.

3. Bernard - Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Bernard always new he was different from the other Alpha's and so became vocal about the things he spotted in this so called perfect society. I believe that this book was banned for promoting promiscuity (it doesn't promote it but that was the belief when it was banned).

4 I330 - We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. She is a member of a rebellious movement who want to up-rise against the one state. She revels in the old ways.

5. Guy Montag - Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradburry. Guy is a fireman who is responsible for burning books. Eventually he becomes uncomfortable with this and even reads a book himself.

6. David - The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. David is a telepath who lives in a society where anyone deemed abnormal are destroyed. He has to hide who he is but also try to discover more about himself and others like him. This is one of my favourite Wyndham novels.

7. Seph and Callum - Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. Seph and Callum have been friends from a young age and fall in love. The problem is she is black and the daughter of a renound politician. He is white and therefore a member of the serving class. I loved this series.

8. Eddie Russett - Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. Society has taught Eddie that he should live according to his perception of colour. He falls in love with a grey though and decides to fight against his society.

9.Tally - Uglies Scott Westerfeld. Tally has always wanted to be pretty. It never occurred to her to become anything else. However, when she is faced with a choice of betraying her new friends or getting her dreams she goes with her friends and breaks away from her society.

10. Evey Hammond - V for Vendetta by Alan Moore. Evey is rescued by V and through him she learns that her world is far from perfect. Instead of accepting that she learns that it's better to fight against it.

Lullaby Town - Robert Crais

Private Investigator Elvis Cole has been hired by the famous director, Peter Alan Nelson, to find his ex wife and son. Peter hasn't seen his ex wife in over ten years after leaving them and now wants to be part of his sons life. Elvis believes it to be a simple case of finding her and passing on that information. However, Karen Shipley has now changed her name and built a life for herself. A life she is reluctant to give up. The problem is she has a secret and Elvis finds himself stuck in the middle of it.

This is the first of this months books for the books I should have read by now challenge. It was one of those books I picked up cheap when I decided to be more open minded about crime books. Although had I realised it was the third book in a series I probably wouldn't have done so at the time. That being said not once did I feel that I needed to have read the others to follow the story. It's one of those books that where the main characters is the same the story itself is different. There might have been a few hints to previous books but I just put it down as background information on Cole and moved on with the book.

I did like it. I decided to read it as a break from Anna Karenina and Shantaram. I am loving both of those books but they are both very series and I needed something light. This was perfect. Other than John Connolly I haven't read many crime books where the main character is a PI so I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it. Cole though is a likeable character. He is tough but has a soft side which you see when he decides to help out Karen. You don't actually learn too much about him at all. I wonder if that happens in the first book. If so it's refreshing that later books in the series don't regurgitate it all as some serial books are prone to do.

My favourite character though is his enigmatic partner, Pike. He actually reminds me a lot of Ranger from the Stephanie Plum series back in the early days. I'm talking the first few books when he doesn't say much and really doesn't need to. Pike has that quality about him with just a twitch of the mouth to show his humour.

The story itself was good. I wasn't expecting the ex wife to have the problems she had which turned into the main story line (I won't say for fear of spoiling it). In the first few pages I thought the first character narrative was going to be irritating. It seemed like the author felt the need to use it to tell every single movement of the main character (which can be a downside to first person). I did think that it was going to put me off so much that I wouldn't continue but it settled down. I also was not impressed by the Hollywood aspect. I've never really been enticed by stories like that but that turned out to be a minor part of the book.

As I said I did like it and I would probably read more. I think if I was going on holiday I would happily pack a couple of these into my bag. Having said that I don't think I would feel the need to read every single book in the series. It's not one I would feel loyal to.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading!

It's Monday is a book meme by Sheila over at Book Journey. We share what we have read and what we plan to read next.

Last week I read;

When God Was A Rabbit - Sarah Winman. Bit of a slow week as this was the only book I finished. I loved it though. Another favourite for this year.

I am now reading;
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I just finished reading the chapters for week 6. Still enjoying it but there are a couple of things that are beginning to annoy me. Not enough to take away the enjoyment of the book. First few chapters for this week were quite horrific.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I started this early last week and I thought I would have finished by now. Not that I am complaining as I am very much enjoying it. Not entirely what I expected but that's a good thing.

Next I plan to read;
Lullaby Town by Robert Crais. This is a book I picked up a few years ago and so I am reading it for my books I should have read by now challenge. Looking forward to it. Think it will be a nice change from all the other books I've been reading lately.

What have you been reading?