Random Ramblings; books, music, films, other stuff…
OK, so I managed to read zero books last month due to work being crazily hectic. I’m enjoying the Summer holidays and hoping it gives me more time to indulge in a good book…or ten! I’m on catch up for my 50 book target!
Battle Royale – Houshun Takami
I’ve seen the film adaptation of this book and loved it so was pleased when it was picked out of the hat for leedsbookclub. Really enjoyed the book and despite not everyone agreeing me at book club, the plot was totally ripped off for The Hunger Games. However, this is not a book for the faint-hearted. It’s violent and unforgiving. There’s a lot more characters here than the Hunger Games; close to 40 at the start if I remember correctly so it’s much harder (nigh on impossible) to connect with the characters and its pretty obvious who will be the last standing from the frequency of how often characters appear (and indeed if they manage to survive the chapter in which they’re introduced!). For me, this didn’t detract from the story which I found fast-paced and well-written (although not always well translated). There was one character death that left me a bit choked up – “not them!!”. I watched the film again after reading the book and struggled to get past the bits that weren’t true to the book. My advice; read the book, then watch the film
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane – Neil Gaiman
I think I’m developing a new obsession with Gaiman’s work. After reading Bad Omens when gifted a World Book Night copy, I quickly discovered I’d found a new favourite author. I have a copy of Anassi Boys also waiting for me on my Summer reads pile. This is Gaiman’s first adult release for some time so I was excited to read it after hearing Gaiman interviewed on podcasts such as this. This book doesn’t disappoint. It’s magical and almost childlike in its storytelling; there’s a sense of wonder, horror and imagination here that’s just wonderful. I devoured the book in a couple of days and can’t wait to plough deeper into Gaiman’s back catalogue. Splendid.
The Red House – Mark Haddon
Let’s start with the positives. I adore The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, one of my favourite reads so I was excited when I picked this up in my local bookstore to see what Haddon’s writing for adults was like. I don’t quite know how to sum this book up; at the start I hated it – it was hard going, I struggled with the writing style and “voice” of the story; then I hit a rhythm and devoured about 50 pages. It was pleasant but still the book hasn’t gripped me. Then I got way-laid and didn’t pick the book up for a few days. When I did again I finished pretty quickly but more in a “lets get this out of the way” sense than an “I can’t put this down” sense. The premise is good, a homage to the modern family, to the merging of families through re-marriage. Lots of different voices are present but for me there was a lack of plot. It almost felt like Haddon had an idea of the premise but not where to take it. I’ve seen tweets from people who loved it but an equal number from those who didn’t. A Marmite book, it appears. Sadly I’m in the latter camp.
The President’s Hat – Antoine Laurain
A random purchase from just browsing the paperback top-sellers. So glad I took a chance on this one! In stark contrast to the previous read this has a magnificent, imaginative storyline. The writing is lovely, an easy read but gives plenty back. On a fickle note, I adore the look and feel of this book and the internal perforated bookmark is a nice touch although my book OCD wouldn’t allow me to rip it out. A Twitter follower made a good suggestion; why not just give the bookmark loose (for freaks like me?). Im sure there’s some French political commentary hidden within that passes us Brits by, there’s definitely a theme of power that runs throughout the novel but this is still a great book, however lacking your French political history knowledge. Will definitely be seeking out other titles by this author.
The Book With No Name – Anonymous
I have our great leader at Leedsbookclub to thank for this recommendation which I think stemmed from our discussions of John Dies at the End which you can read my review of here. She knows I like bizarre, surreal and magical stories and this didn’t disappoint. Originally published online by an anonymous author this book is described in the blurb as “Tarantino meets the Da Vinci Code” and this book certainly channels the violence of the former and the intrigue of the latter. A bizarre story, well-written and a complete page turner. Who cant be impressed by a hitman dressed as Elvis?! Another book I devoured in a couple of days. I was left wanting more and I knew there was a sequel. Turns out there are four books in the series. Sound like a project.
Books read January: 6
Books read February: 2
Books read March: 3
Books read April: 4
Books read May: 4
Books read June: 0
Books read July: 5
Total books read 24
Books to read : 26 (still behind!)
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Head of Teaching and Learning in a medical and behavioural PRU
History teacher at Stephen Perse Foundation, Cambridge. Always learning, and eager to connect.
Pythagorus 572 - 497 b.c.
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