Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Grave Secrets - Kathy Reichs
I have to be honest that I was unsure of this one at first. I wasn't sure I liked the complete change of setting. It just didn't feel right. That quickly changed however and this became one of my favourites. It made a nice change that Tempe was working with a different group of people. Although that didn't last long as her investigation soon headed back to her home in Canada (what are the chances right? Mind you one of the girls was the daughter of the Canadian Ambassador). Of course this also means that detective Ryan is involved. I know I said in the last review that I wasn't really interested in Tempe's personal life but more in her work. This is still true but it filled in the gaps that reading book 6 ahead of time created. It didn't quite fill in the gaps in regards to her daughter so I must be missing something there.
I did like the plot and again I wasn't really expecting the ending. I should have guessed though as everything tied in together. Not unusual you say but in a Reichs book even something that seems unrelated somehow ties in. This was definitely the case here. What I love about these books though is that Tempe's other work still continues even if she is helping a murder investigation. She goes home for two days and is back in the office working on some other projects. For that reason it has a touch of reality. In real life everything else doesn't just stop.
That's me read all my Tempe Brennan books. Will be a while before I pick up more but I definitely will. I'm not bored of them yet.
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Fatal Voyage - Kathy Reichs
This is the book I should have read when I read book six a while back (stupid boxset listing them in the wrong order). I didn't feel like it filled in any gaps though. Temp's personally life is still up in the air with her daughter gone awol and her not knowing where she stands with Ryan. I have to admit that for once the personal life of the main character doesn't really interest me all that much. In these books, for me anyway, it's all an aside. I could live without it although it does of course add to the main characters personality. It did amuse me how Ryan, a Canadian detective, was worked into the story.
I enjoyed the plot itself and felt Temp's frustrations as so many people were willing to believe that she would do a bad job and tarnish her reputation. At the same time though it was a little unbelievable how quickly it happened. She was frozen out straight away and not a single person above her was willing to question it or stand up for her. I think in reality it wouldn't have happened quite like that. For the purpose of the book though it had too. I also wouldn't want to be a friend of Temp's. They all seem to appear in each book, Temp is close to them and then they are murdered or badly hurt.
A good ending too. Wasn't quite expecting it. I never really do expect it with her books mind you. There is usually always some big conspiracy theory going on and this one was no different. It certainly makes them different.
Monday, 27 February 2012
It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
This is a fun book meme by Sheila of Book Journey. It's a great way for book bloggers to share their reading week.
This is really two weeks worth of reading as I didn't join in last week. It was a very busy week and I'm just glad that it's now over. As a result though my two weeks of reading I probably could have fit into one any other time. I've also only reviewed one book but I will catch up with that this evening.
In the last two weeks I read;
Dreamcatcher by Stephen King. Not the best King book in the world but I still enjoyed it for the most part. One or two of my favourite things about this author were still in there.
Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs. I finally went back to reading these in the correct order (stupid boxset listing them wrong). I love Reichs even though there are so many things about her books that should annoy me. Exactly what I was needing when I was stressed.
Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs. Again this is just what I was needing. A book I can enjoy without thinking too much.
Just now I am reading;
The Book of Dave by Will Self. I actually started reading this a few weeks ago and read those Kathy Reichs books in between. The mood I was in I really needed something I didn't have to think about and this wasn't it. It took me some time to get into it because of this. I am loving it now though which I am glad as I have yet to meet a dystopian I didn't like.
Next I plan to read;
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I plan on reading this for the classics challenge. I actually began reading it about three years ago. Was loving it but because of work I put it down and for some strange reason never picked it up again. Going to start from the beginning and I am looking forward to it.
So that's been my last two weeks. Not much going on. How has your reading week been? Anything exciting to share?
Friday, 17 February 2012
Dreamcatcher - Stephen King
So this paperback version was published in 2001 and that's exactly how long it has been sitting on my shelf. Disgusting right? Well since I was humming over what book to read I decided it was about time I read the book sitting on my shelf longest. I don't know why it took me so long as I have read several and re-read a few King books in that time. Anyways, it's done and I can now look at my tbr shelf with less guilt.
Not the best King book I have to say. It has aspects of it that I love about his books mind you. For one thing he has a talent for writing about friendship. Particularly the kind that starts off as kids. Anyone else noticed that? I only ask because I mentioned it to a friend who was a fan and she gave me a look that said I was crazy. It was a big part of this one. Like other books this connection between them makes them different. So that only they can save the world/town. There were lots of flashbacks into the past and what they did with that connection and how they got it in the first place. I enjoyed those because it took me back to some of his other books.
Like a lot of his books he connected this with another. Something else I have always loved about them and to be honest I always found this to be the creepier part of his writing. Sure he can write some scary stories but this connection always gives me the shivers when I come across one. Or at least it used to. When I came across the link (and there were hints through out of what it would be so it came as no surprise) that shiver wasn't there. Possible because I was expecting it and because it was during the day. That didn't mean I didn't like it though. I did.
It was also quite gruesome. I know, it's a King book, I have to expect it. There was many a scene that I found myself wincing at. The one that almost had me putting the book down involved a ball point pen and an eyeball. I am sure you can guess what happens but I'm not giving you the details surrounding it. It will be a long time before that image goes away.
The book itself was too long. I have read The Stand which is probably his longest and it was worth every page. This one though I felt that huge chunks could have been cut out. His detail is normally what I like best but in this story it seemed almost unnecessary. The plot too seemed a little weak/pointless. It's hard to go into reasons why without giving too much away. I think it's obvious that this one is about aliens. The aliens when they arrive at other planets they are benign. Here on Earth though something changes and it's never quite explained why. Then the chase itself whilst a good climax to the story was too long and to be honest also a bit weak. Lastly Duddits too wasn't really explained all that well. We know he is what connect the friends (not giving anything real away here) but it doesn't actually explain how he was able to do it.
I still liked it and it was certainly better than the film version it just won't be high up on my list of King books.
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
February Book Haul.
I told you it wasn't as large as last time. Plus only one of them was for purchased with a challenge in mind. So here is my haul;
Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
Roots by Alex Haley
The Old Curiosity Ship by Charles Dickens
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
The Jules Verne book is the only one that was bought for a challenge. I'm looking forward to reading it as I loved Around the World In 80 Days. Plus this one might be my favourite vintage cover to date. I'm afraid you will have to wait until next month to see it though. The Harkaway was one I have known for months that I would buy it as soon as it was released. I don't think it will be lying on my shelf for too long. Roots I picked up because I know a lot of people are reading it for a read-along. Whilst I won't be joining in I have been enjoying the posts of those taking part enough for me to pick it up. The others were because I am still going through my classics phase and I can never resist those vintage cover.
Anyone else bought any good books recently?
Sunday, 12 February 2012
It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
This is a book meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. A fun way for everyone to share their reading week.
As predicted my reading slowed down. Not sure if it was more to do with savouring rather than being busy as my only book last week was a good one.
This week I read;
Dracula by Bram Stoker. I read this as part of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge. This is one of my re-reads for the challenge. A good one too as I loved this back when I was a young teen. Despite the time between readings it was so familiar and welcoming. An odd way to describe a horror, I know.
I am now reading;
Dreamcatcher by Stephen King. After my indecision last week I decided to stick with the horror theme and read one of the books that has been sitting on my tbr shelf the longest. I think I have owned this since it came out in paperback which would be about 2001/02. I was initially going to go with one of the few YA that survived my book cull but the one I had my heart set on turned out to be book 3 (don't you hate it when that happens?). I am about 1/3 of the way through and enjoying it so far. I don't know why I left it so long since I have read a fair number of King books in that period.
Next I plan to read;
The Book of Dave by Will Self. This was one of my possibles from last week and someone said I should go with this as it's amazing. By the time I saw the comment though I had already started Dreamcatcher. So I will read it after that. Looking forward to it as I have heard lots of good things.
I have read this months quota of challenge reads so I am now working my way through some of my tbr. I did go book shopping the other day though so will post an update on that later in the week (not as big a spree as January).
What have you been reading/buying?
Saturday, 11 February 2012
Dracula - Bram Stoker
This is the second time I have read this book. I was a young teen the first time and loved it then just as much as I loved it now. It was one listed under The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge. Reading it again was far from being a chore. After my disappointing break from reading classics sinking into this book felt like coming home. I love the style of it. I always have liked that writing style. Written as a series of letters and journal entries in its entirety. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but I love it. It makes the first person less tedious I think.
It has been a long time since I read it before but I think I remembered most of it as I was reading. One of those books I guess that has never left me. I loved each of the characters, especially Van Helsing. Even his odd speech which is shown throughout didn't bother me as it normally would. It was an endearing part of him. Almost like he was the Yoda of the group (at least that's who jumped into my head at times but I am sure that Stoker didn't have him in mind since it was well after his time).
It was more than a little sexist I have to say. That's one thing I don't remember noticing back when I read it the first time. Or maybe I did and just ignored it. Mina Harker was portrayed as everything a lady should be, sweet, honest, pure and brave. As was Miss Lucy at the start. I had to laugh when the men decided that Mina should have no part in their talks to protect her from nightmares. It's a product of it's time though and despite the sexism it still had a very strong female character in the shape of Mina.
As for Dracula himself, I loved his character too. Ruthless, evil and cold. All the characteristics every good vampire should have. Was a shame though that at one point he was described as a child. It really took away some of his scariness. The first half of the book was scarier than I expected. I can't remember thinking it so the first time round. However, the descriptions of Dracula and then those scenes on the boat gave me the creeps. If you are ever going on a long boat journey be sure to check that there are no large boxes filled with earth lying around!
It had a great ending too. The ravings of the lunatic (yep, it was very un-PC too), Renfield, kept it interesting until the great chase at the end. He was an interesting, if somewhat disgusting, character too. As I said though the ending was great. Very exciting and I especially enjoyed it since that was the one thing about the book I couldn't remember. A fantastic horror tale with a real vampire!
This was read as part of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Challenge hosted by Hanna of Booking In Heels. If you want to read what others have thought of these books you can do so here. As for comparing the character in the graphic novel (or film since I haven't read it) that Mina seemed harder. Far from the sweet person she is meant to be in Dracula. The only similarity they really have is their strength. Mind you the League Mina is a vampire which would account for these changes.
Again this is one of those beautiful Penguin Clothbound editions. I loved the black but it did start to rub off onto my hands.
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Happy Belated Birthday Wishes Mr Dickens!
I should have really posted this on Tuesday as that was Charles Dickens actual birthday. No excuse other than I spent most of my time on twitter and facebook posting what everyone else was saying about him. Feels wrong not to mention him here though. Especially since he is one of my favourites. I can thank Mr Dickens for introducing me to the world of classics and what a fantastic introduction. It started with David Copperfield back when I was 12 or 13. To this day David Copperfield has a special place in my heart. I even love the creepy Uriah Heep in a odd sort of way. Every couple of years I read one or two of his books and I still have a long way to go before I finish them all. I'm glad about that as I think I would feel sad if I didn't have more to look forward to. Last year I came across one that knocked Great Expectations and David Copperfield from the top of my list, A Tale of Two Cities. It has one of the saddest and best endings I have every come across.
The truth is that I know virtually nothing about the man himself. I've came across bits and pieces obviously but I have yet to read any of the many biographies out. There is a relatively new one out by Simon Callow which has been highly praised so perhaps I should at that to my TR list. As a result though every time I think of Dickens himself this image of him pops into my head. Yes, I know another Doctor Who reference. However, if you are interested you can find out more about that episode here.
Any Charles Dickens fans out there? What's your favourite book?
Tuesday, 7 February 2012
The Woods - Harlan Coben
I finished this on Saturday night and I don't usually take this long in getting round to reviewing a book. As I mentioned in another post I have been on the fence with this book. I originally rated it as a three on Goodreads but have been considering bringing it down to a 2. Whilst I did enjoy the book I had lots of problems with it. I am trying to decide if it is my bias towards the author or if it is my worry of being biased that is putting me off pushing it down. The truth is I have met this author before. He was signing books at an event my friend was organising and whilst he was very nice to his fans he was pretty horrible to the staff. Including my friend who got so upset she threatened to quit her job. So it's been a long time in me picking this book up. Now my friend was probably slightly over sensitive as she was under a lot of stress and I am sure authors have their off days (although having said that another friend of mine now refuses to read Terry Pratchett for similar circumstances - authors booksellers are your fans too, worth remembering). So I did my best not to let it put me off the book.
As I said I did actually like the book. It was a little slow in starting for me but quickly built up a fast paced and kept it. I stayed interested in the story right to the end after that. I liked the plot. If I am honest it was a little far fetched but I have liked other books for that reason and I liked this one too for it. It kept me guessing and in the end I was unable to work out for myself who was responsible for what. A good sign of a thriller I think. It was easy to read and distracting. I picked it up for that reason. I needed something like it to break up those classics.
Here is where my problem lies. I hated the main character. He is young, successful with political aspirations. He is looking after a young daughter on his own since his wife died of cancer. He relies on his sisters family to help him out. Sounds good but he is also a smart mouth. As I read more and more crime books I am discovering this is a common theme. Probably to add humour to a story that's really quite dark. In this character though it didn't seem at all appropriate. Not to say that he shouldn't have a sense of humour but I just felt that someone with his ambitions would have behaved a bit more professionally. Then there was his description of his sister in law. A woman who uprooted her family so that he wouldn't have to cope on his own. Who is there for him and who would do anything to protect him and his daughter. Yet (I'm paraphrasing) he describes her as ugly and clearly he got the hottie in the family. He doesn't say it like that but he might as well have. Then there is his relationship with his six year old daughter which comes across as very cold. He has brought her up on his own and yet she is never excited to see him and often seems to be taking teenage strops. It doesn't seem to bother him either.
Lastly there was the constant need for pop culture references. I swear I would almost think that Google and Apple were paying for advertising space. Need to find out something about anything? Just google it. I am sure we are all guilty of that but for every character to do it at every opportunity just seemed a little off. Plus it didn't feel a natural part of the book. Almost like it was shoved in there. Same with the constant iPod references. He did rebel a little and mentioned using Yahoo and then gave an unnecessary description of all the favourites saved on the characters page. Had it been early on in the book when we need to be able to relate to him then fair enough. This was quite late on though.
I am keeping in mind that this is a stand alone and maybe the author does better with series. I know I prefer Deaver's series over his stand alone books. I did like it in the end so I am keeping it at its 3. I feel a little guilty as there are other books which have similar problems but I enjoyed more. But then I liked the characters in those. I don't think that I will be reading any others by the author. As much as maybe I should give him another chance I think I will just annoy myself if I do.
Monday, 6 February 2012
It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
This is a book meme by Sheila of Book Journey. It's a fun way for everyone to share their reading week.
I honestly can't believe it is February already. Doesn't seem so long ago since we were all celebrating Christmas. It's started out a good month though. I finished a challenge and I am still keeping up with the others. Had a good week reading wise too and there were a few posts other than book reviews.
This week I read;
Shakespeare by Bill Bryson. The last book I read for the Shakespeare Month Challenge. I loved this book. Quite a good one for people like me who had little knowledge of the Bard himself.
The Bell by Iris Murdoch. I read this for the classics challenge and have already completed this months prompt. Had been looking forward to this as a friend recommended it and she has never steered me wrong yet. A fantastic read with multi-faceted characters.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I read this as part of the sci fi challenge. A fantastic sci fi classic. Just sorry it took me so long to get round to read it.
The Woods by Harlan Coben. To be honest I am mixed about this one. So much so that I have been wondering whether or not to change it's rating on Goodreads from a 3 to a 2. Hopefully I will make up my mind and review it later today.
Just now I am reading;
Dracula by Bram Stoker. This is part of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge. This is a re-read for me so I already know I love it. Have read the first part where Jonathan Harker meets the creepy Dracula.
Next I plan to read;
To be honest I am completely undecided. I feel I should take a break from classics and try to get through some of the books that have been lying there longer. I tried to do that with The Woods though and it didn't go well. So do I read the other two Kathy Reich's that I have sitting there? Or do I read one of the contemporary fiction I have lying around? The Book of Dave has been eyeing me up but then so has Michael Chabon and Doris Lessing. Then there is that one classic that has been sitting since August, the next Sherlock Holmes. I guess for once I will wait to see what I feel like when I finish Dracula.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
Classics Challenge - February Prompt
This month prompt is about the character and we can choose any we want from the classics book we read. I decided to go with Dora Greenfield who was one of the main characters from Iris Murdoch's "The Bell". I can't think of anyone who looks like how I envisioned her but Brittany Murphy in brunette days is as close as I can get. Dora would have more curves though. I know the book describes her as having golden brown hair and blue eyes but I just couldn't picture her like that. Actually I found her description of her hair a bit odd. Described as growing in 'flat strips'.
Anyway, the author immediately begins describing what life is like for Dora. She is young and unhappy in her marriage. Her much older husband scares her which makes her want to run away which she does in the first chapter. She also regularly goes back to him for the same reason which again she does in the first chapter. The first two sentences of the book tell you this. Murdoch describes how Dora thinks and feels and from that we get the impression she is rather flighty and probably too young to have married. She hasn't experience much of life yet and married life didn't quite meet her expectations. It's clear that her husband loves her but she feels repressed by him which encourages her to push away from him. It doesn't seem to occur to her that moving in with another man is wrong.
My opinion of Dora changed as soon as we seen her from another characters perspective. From hers I liked her. I didn't approve of how she dealt with her problems but I put that down to age and her naivety. She came across as almost an innocent. When through the eyes of others though I disliked her. She was callous of her husbands feelings and came across as a tease. Instead of being innocent she was selfish with no thought of others. That feeling would change again as soon as I was reading from Dora's view. Dora herself didn't change until the end of the book. Even then she didn't change all that much. It was just that circumstances meant she had to change. She began to take charge of her own life and become independent which was what she really wanted at the start but just didn't know it. Her character was certainly believable. She wasn't this perfect individual and neither was she a bad person. She was human and Murdoch was fantastic at showing the different sides of people. Seeing her through others eyes certainly helped with that. Would I want to know her? I'm sure she would be a lot of fun but I wouldn't expect much out of her as a friend. She's too flighty and unreliable.
This prompt was for the Classics Challenge hosted by Katherine of November's Autumn. If you want to see what other characters are being written about you can do so here. You can also see my review of The Bell here.
Saturday, 4 February 2012
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick
I absolutely loved this book. It's been a long time since I have gone back to reading some classic sci fi. I forgot just how good it could be and this was one I found hard to put down. I have seen the film but that was years ago. From my vague memories of it though this book has very little to do with it. For a start the main characters sole obsession isn't to track down and retire androids. To him that's just a job and a means to an end. That end being to own his own real animal. After the war animals are so rare that everyone seeks to own one and will pay silly amounts to do so. Deckard himself isn't actually bothered which animal he owns just so long as it's real.
Along the way though he begins to empathise with the androids. Something he hasn't done before. He begins to see them as people who aspire to be free. This doesn't stop him from doing his job but it does confuse him. It makes him question why he is doing it. It also worries him slightly.
There is a section about half way through that was particularly exciting. Thanks to one of the androids, Deckard becomes so confused he begins to doubt even himself. I though at this point the book was going to take a whole new turn. It didn't really other than Deckard never really recovered himself no matter how he tried.
Empathy is another big part of the story. Empathy for animals and each other. Things that we do today are seen as horrific in this world such as eating lobster, hunting and eating animals such as dog (okay none of these things are my cup of tea but it's not the crime it is in Dick's world). I can't help but think this is part of the effects of the war and not just some way to show the difference between humans and androids. The war has clearly devastated the planet and very few people have stayed. In order to prevent another war people are made to show empathy.
This is the third or fourth Philip K. Dick book I've read and is so far the best. It's everything a classic sci fi should be. This was the book of the month for Ellie's Sci Fi challenge. I decided to go with it rather than reading my own because it was one I had planned on reading it for the challenge at some point. I'm glad I did as it made me realise how much I have missed the genre.
You can see what others are reading for the challenge here.
Friday, 3 February 2012
The Bell - Iris Murdoch
Have you ever come across a character that you at one minute like and pity and the next find irritating? I'm sure most people have but the difference with Dora is that I liked her when the story was told from her point of view. Then found her irritating when she was seen through the eyes of others. She really is afraid of her husband who's passions and jealousy scares her and yet she gives him every reason to be jealous. She teases him without realising she is doing it. Yet she has an innocence about her because she has no idea of what she is doing. It doesn't occur to her that she could hurt anyone and as a result instead of coming across as malicious or a bitch (as one character suggested) she does seem a little naive. I thought that was very well done on Murdoch's part and definitely made Dora seem like a whole character. She was one of my favourites despite her irritating qualities.
The story line which was really central wasn't the bell or Dora although they did have their part to play in the end. It was really Michael. The leader of the group who is trying to deny who he is. He is trying to escape his homosexuality through his religion. Life doesn't work like that though and his trying to hide his passions and loves have a disastrous effect. Not just on him but on those around him. I liked Michael too. He was so confused about what he really wanted. I felt so sorry for him but at the same time I couldn't help but think that letting his emotions get the better of him was wrong (the two people involved may have been of consenting age but were under his care as a teacher and then as a spiritual leader). Again Murdoch did very well in this story line.
The book actually doesn't have that much dialogue. It doesn't have some but it relies quite a lot on description and the thoughts of Toby, Michael and Dora more than anything else. It means that we got to see so much more of the community and so many different aspects of it. For example through Toby it was a wonderful adventure. It was a place that he loved and he greatly admired those within the community for being a part of it. Dora saw it as quite restricting and she felt she was being judged. Michael saw it as an escape, a new start and at times a bit of a chore.
Once again my classics loving friend has steered me right with a new author (new to me). This is supposed to be one of her best but I have nothing to compare it to. All I can say is that I very much enjoyed it and look forward to reading more. As Ellie rightly said this cover is by Vintage classics. Another reason why I love them.
Thursday, 2 February 2012
There seems to be a lot of new books coming out in the next few months. I am trying not to go mad in my book buying but I may have to buy a few that I have been looking forward to. One of those is the next Hilary Mantel which I have already talked about in one of these posts.
I actually only recently discovered that Nick Harkaway is the son of John Le Carre. I have never read a Le Carre so can't compare but I loved Harkaway's first book. I have been impatiently keeping my eye opened for another from this author ever since and it's finally here. This one seems to be very different from The Gone-Away World (a post apocalyptic novel) which I am actually glad about. When an author starts off with so much potential it's nice to see that they aren't going to pigeon hole themselves. This one is a noir/comedy and couldn't be more different and so I am very excited to read it. I expect this will be my next book purchase since it came out today.
Revenge of the Tide by Elizabeth Haynes. Published 15/3/12
This is another author who's first book I very much enjoyed (although not as much as Harkaway) and I'm looking forward to the second. Again this one is slightly different than the first. The first (into the Darkest Corner) was about a woman gaining control of her life after an abusive relationship. It had it's elements of crime but it was more about the regaining of her life than anything else. This one seems to be focused mainly on crime. Will be interesting to compare the two.
A second book but this time it's a sequel to Anno Dracula. The first one was set during the reign of Queen Victoria. The Queen has married Dracula and has herself become a vampire making it a fad amongst the aristocracy. This time it's WWI and Dracula is at the head of the German army. The first one was really more of a murder mystery. Who is Jack the Ripper who is killing of vampire prostitutes? An interesting read and I loved the addition of so many historical figures and well known fictional characters. Can't wait to see what this one brings.
Anyone looking forward to any books being released in the next few months?
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