Monday, 29 August 2011

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


IMWAYR is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey and is a little round-up of the week for bloggers that read.

Another slow week, you wouldn't have guessed it was a bank holiday weekend, I just couldn't concentrate on my reading!

Books I've read:

At Sea by Laurie Graham

Light-hearted fun onboard a cruise ship.

The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

Crime drama in Boston's Chinatown.

Currently reading:


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Nostalgic gaming set in a not too distant future.

Upcoming reads:

The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu

I also blogged about:
Twenty Questions | The Canons

The Silent Girl

A severed hand discovered in Chinatown leads Rizzoli to a case from nearly twenty years ago. A restaurant shooting where the blame was placed with the chef who then committed suicide. But someone out there believes the chef was innocent and it's time for the secrets of the past to be uncovered.

The Silent Girl is the 10th book in Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series. Normally I can plough through one of these books in an evening but I kept putting this one down. There seems to be a lot of redundant material in the first half of the book, some of it does tie together at the end but I didn't think the drama around Maura testifying against a cop was relevant, except to give her a bit more of a role in this book. However it did pick up in the second half and I enjoyed piecing together the clues.

The tag line for this edition is "No one could hear her scream" which has nothing to do with anything. I don't think the marketing person who thought that up actually read the book or the synopsis! The title does make sense by the end though.

There was a tendency for an "expert" to go on at length about a bit of evidence. I know this happens in a lot of crime books but it didn't sit right that the entire team would head across town to find out what animal a hair came from when they could have been informed over the phone. I think this contributed to the lack of pace in general. On the other hand, I did like the inclusion of the Monkey King myth, not long after I'd first encountered it in Kitty's Big Trouble.

I think it's worth reading for fans of Gerritsen but I wouldn't recommend starting off here as it's not her best.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Canons

I while ago I mentioned how the cover of Life of Pi was putting me off reading it. A few days later a Canongate catalogue dropped through the door and lo and behold, what has been revamped? Life of Pi as part of their new imprint, The Canons!



It's one classy piece of cover design if you ask me, I'd love to own a set though I'd have to find a way to display them so the covers could be seen. You can see all the titles here.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Twenty Questions

I saw this over on Leeswamme's Blog and monkey see, monkey do...

1. Which book has been on your shelf the longest?
Out by Natsuo Kirino. No particular reason, it just has never got read. I even had two copies at one point because Amazon accidentally sent it twice.

2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?
I've just finished At Sea by Laurie Graham, am currently reading The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen and will probably read The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu (but I always reserve the right to change my mind).

3. What book did everyone like and you hated?
I'm not sure I ever really hate a book but I must admit to not getting along at all with James Patterson's books (the ones he writes himself at least). I tend to put a book down before I get to the hatred stage!

4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel...it's just so big!

5. Which book are you saving for “retirement?”
Maybe I'll retry The Iliad and The Odyssey...I certainly hope I finish the Gormenghast trilogy before then but if not it will be on my list! Retirement is a long way away.

6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?
Why would anyone read the end first? I am a big believer in not knowing much about the book at all before starting it. I avoid cover blurbs and like to read the opinion parts of reviews rather than the synopsis.

7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
It depends on the author. Sometimes they can be funny or fascinating but more often than not they are just a list of meaningless names.

8. Which book character would you switch places with? 
It would have to be a character in Terry Pratchett's Discworld just to experience that world, maybe Tiffany Aching (post-puberty of course) or Angua. Though speaking of werewolves it would be pretty cool to be Elena from Women of the Otherworld and get to run round like a proper wolf.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)? 
I don't think the actual stories trigger memories so much as I remember where I was when I found the book or where I read it.

10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way. 
Isn't all book acquisition interesting? Probably the best are those gained from “book dips” at ReadItSwapIt meets. We all take a book we've enjoyed, wrap it up and everyone picks one at random (or by the prettiness of the wrapping paper).

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person? 
All my special friends get books!

12. Which book has been with you to the most places? 
The Historian has made it through a house move and a holiday (it came with me to Florence via Pisa).

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later?
Again with the hate! I don't re-read much as it is so I'm unlikely to pick up something I didn't enjoy before. I didn't like Steinbeck but then I still haven't found a “Great American Novel” that I like.

14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?
I wish I found more strange items in books, I love the Forgotten Bookmarks blog. Mostly it's postcards or receipts.

15. Used or brand new? 
I prefer them new but I do get a lot of second hand books through swapping and charity shops. I hate to see a badly treated book though.

16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses? 
I think he writes a good story but I'm not sure about literary genius.

17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book? 
The Black Stallion. I adore the film and the book just doesn't have the same effect.

18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid? 
The recent film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was pretty poor though I enjoyed the cheesy BBC series from years back.

19. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks being excluded from this question? 
Lots, there's so many that depict lovely food but the ones that comes to mind is Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani.

20. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take? 
I'm the person who always seems to be giving the advice amongst non-blogging friends! There's a core of favourite bloggers that I'm more likely to pay attention to but I've yet to find someone with the same brain as me...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

At Sea

Lady Enid has been quietly accompanying her professor husband, Bernard, for years on cruises where he provides guest lectures. But when a passenger is convinced he knows Bernard from somewhere, Enid starts to wonder if it really is just a case of mistaken identity or does her husband have a hidden past?

On one hand, At Sea is a wonderfully funny parody of cruise ship life, just imagine being stuck on a ship for weeks on end with the same people and not being able to escape them! That's exactly what Bernard thinks of his fellow passengers but Enid is much more inclined to give people a chance.

Enid has been through life accepting her lot however during this fateful cruise she begins to learn not just more about her husband but also what she wants out of life. And maybe what she wants is to let her hair down now and then. There's some fantastic moments where Enid is learning about the internet for the first time and then goes on to try and explain things to Bernard who is having none of it. They are both examples of certain a generation who either embrace new technology and the things it can for them or shun it as nonsense.

As Enid would say, Bernard is a rather beastly character and I'm not sure you'll feel much sympathy towards him but I loved Enid and slowly began to like her little cruise ship family even if they were a little unorthodox.

It's really not the sort of book I would be drawn to and I think I am a little younger than the intended audience but overall I found it an enjoyable read. Definitely one to pack in the bags if you're heading on a cruise any time soon!

At Sea will be released in paperback in the UK on 15th September 2011. Thank you to Quercus for sending me a copy to review and providing me with a few laughs.

Monday, 22 August 2011

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


IMWAYR is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey and is a little round-up of the week for bloggers that read.

It's been a bit of a slow week blogwise. I struggled a bit through one book and then got distracted at the weekend by the airshow and having a bit of a clearout on eBay.

Books I've read:

Ashes by Sergios Gakas
Greek Noir

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
Legal Drama

Currently reading:


At Sea by Laurie Graham

Not something I'd normally pick up but it's turning out to be a fun read. Thanks to Quercus for sending me a copy!

Upcoming reads:

The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu
The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

I also blogged about:
Top Ten Titles | Flowers of Scotland | Win a Myth!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Salem Falls

Jack has just got out of prison for a crime he didn't commit, statutory rape against a student at the posh private school he used to work at. He arrives in Salem Falls and takes a job at a diner run by Addie, who has problems of her own. As soon as the men of the town find out he's a sex offender, they set to work trying to run him out of town until the unthinkable happens and a teenage girl accuses Jack of rape and his ordeal starts all over again.

As always Jodi Picoult is not afraid of tackling controversial subjects and I found the first half of the book to be uncomfortable reading at times. A lot of different viewpoints are included in the book, from the girl who cries wolf to the genuine victims who don't think they will be believed, from the wrongly accused to the guilty.

Loosely based on The Crucible, it is very much a modern day witch hunt which is only highlighted by the fact that the girls are practising Wiccans. As a reader we instantly like Jack and want to believe his innocence, so it's difficult when the town is so hostile towards him. You really think they would have the intelligence to know the difference between statutory rape and a violent crime, whatever your views on the matter they are not in the same ballpark. As you read on, you learn that the locals are in no position to judge either.

Doubt creeps in when the trial starts and evidence mounts up. Even Jordan, who you may know from other books, is only doing his job in defending him. I admit, I seem to be reading Jordan's stories backwards as I have previously read Vanishing Acts and grown to like him as a person. Jacks' life is told backwards from the day of his release right back to his birth and the more you read, the more you think he is not the type of man to have committed these crimes. The defense's investigation and the ensuing trial are pacey and gripping making this another quick yet substantial read. I'm not sure I'll ever get through one of Jodi's novels with a dry eye!

Annoyingly, my copy had more typographical errors than the average uncorrected proof and this is from an edition published four years after its original release. I'm a bit disappointed that no-one thought to correct these.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Ashes

A house in Athens is burned to the ground, three are dead and one women is left fighting for her life. The women, Sonia, was once a great actress and her ex-lovers, her alcoholic landlord and a policeman, are the only ones who wish to find out what really happened the night of the fire.

I liked the idea, the narrative is split between Halkidis and Piertzovanis, the two ex-lovers, interspersed with memories of Sonia. However I found that I was missing the inflections we are used to in speech to know what the character is feeling. There is a point near the start where Halkidis is questioning Piertzovanis about the crime, and it seems fairly genial until the end where it is explained that they were being quite hostile to each other. It really did not come across that way in the wording, perhaps it's been lost in translation but it happens again throughout the book. Now I know one of the characteristics of the noir sub-genre is a tough guy protagonist but I would still expect some sort of emotional response.

The women came across as much more rounded characters, the prostitute, Rina, that takes a liking to old Piertzovanis and Sonia herself, although she is mostly a memory, I found her interactions with the men charming. Sonia might be a little stereotypical but she was a breath of fresh air as I was struggling to connect to the men.

The resolution of the crime mystery aspect also seemed a bit out of place. The actual culprits didn't really feature in the story until the reveal and I didn't find it very plausible. Maybe I'm just not familiar enough with Greek culture.

To be fair to the book, I was left feeling very much the same as I did when I tried to read James Patterson's Alex Cross series...which is hugely popular and Ashes may well appeal to the same audience.

Ashes was originally written in Greek by Sergios Gakas and has been translated into English by Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife. Currently published in hardback by MacLehose Press. Thanks to Quercus for providing me with a copy to review.

Win a Myth!

To celebrate 300 followers (well at least the ones I can see), I'm giving away a book of your choosing from the Canongate Myths series. If you're not familiar with these books, you can check them out here.

Closing Date: 30th August 2011

Rules:

1. You must follow me via any of the following methods: Google Friends Connect, Blogger, Twitter, Goodreads, Networked Blogs, Google+, Facebook (if I know you) and/or RSS.
2. Open internationally providing The Book Depository ships to you.
3. Prizes will be ordered direct from the Book Depository or Amazon.
4. Prize will be a paperback copy of a Canongate Myth of the winner's choosing OR a hardback copy of Ragnarok.
5. Entry is by the below form only.




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