October Books List

Thursday 31 October 2013

A round up of the books I've read throughout October:-

(1)  The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
Eco Disaster Science Fiction - "In the 21st century, fluctuations in solar radiation have caused the ice-caps to melt and the seas to rise.  Global temperatures have climbed, and civilization has retreated to the Arctic and Antarctic circles.  London is a city now inundated by a primeval swamp, to which an expedition travels to record the flora and fauna of this new Triassic Age."

I'm a sucker for science fiction that focuses on eco disasters of epic proportions, so J.G. Ballard's contemporary classic, The Drowned World has been on my to-read list for quite some time. It's set in the 21st Century (well it was written back in 1962!) and plunges the reader from the outset into a London that's turned into a humid jungle swamp.  Large reptiles are now ruling this new habitat and and a handful of humans have returned to take a closer look at this strange new world.  Admittedly there's a lot of psychobabble science depicted in the story (a lot of the hypothetical technology etc), but Ballard's description of this hot and sticky environment is beautifully vivid and appears to play homage to a lot of the lush literature that Joseph Conrad wrote in The Heart Of Darkness.  It's a dream like state of awe that you're pulled into when you read The Drowned World, and one that's difficult to find your way out of.  [4/5]

(2)  Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by H.P Lovecraft & Others 
Old school Dark Fantasy / Horror anthology - "A pantheon of horror and fantasy's finest authors pay tribute to the master of the macabre with a collection of original stories set in the fearsome Lovecraft tradition." 

A real mixed bag of short stories, two by H.P Lovecraft (including the classic, The Call Of The Cthulhu), and the others are by authors who have been influenced by him.  Some of the stories are wonderfully weird and creepy, a couple were just painfully dull to get through and a few had a lot of racist/sexist references which annoyed me (but I can understand the times in which they were written originally - most of these are from the 1920s onwards so its to be expected to some degree).  My favourites were The Return Of The Sourcerer by Clark Ashton Smith, The Space Eaters by Frank Belknap Long and Jerusalem's Lot by Stephen King.  [3/5] 

(3)  The Lost Girl by D.H Lawrence
Literary Classic - "A classic Lawrence novel of sensual awakening and the yearning for freedom, and winner of the 1920 James Tait Black Memorial Prize." 

Shamefully this is the first novel by D.H Lawrence I've read (my English Lit friends must hate me!).  The Lost Girl is slow and brooding and it seems like a book that focuses much more on the rich and beautifully textured nature of the English language, rather than the actual story if you catch my drift.  I found myself completely enraptured by some of Lawrence's prose (this is a very descriptive book), but almost bored by other parts, especially when it comes to the characters who I developed no real feelings towards.  A strange one, but I can certainly appreciate his writing, if not his overall concepts.  [3/5] 

(4)  Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
Contemporary Satire - "Victor Mancini's a medical school dropout with a problem.  He needs to pay for elder care for his mother, who's got Alzheimer's.  So he comes up with the perfect scam: pretending to choke in upscale restaurants and getting “saved” by fellow diners who, feeling responsible for Victor's life, offer him financial support." 

Choke is the third book I've read by Chuck Palahniuk and man, do I just love this guy's writing.  The story didn't massively appeal to me when I first picked it up, but I was instantly sold by the dialogue which is pure hilarious satire-meets-rambling streams of consciousness multiplied by a bucket load of witty phrases and one liners.  Victor, our down and out protagonist, is one of those classic antihero guys that you love to hate.  He's obscenely disgusting, whether he's playing at his choking scam or enthralling us with his sordid tales of sex addiction.  But like a car crash, you can't stop reading, however vile it gets.  That's the Palahniuk charm - you'll either love it or hate it!  [4/5] 

(5)  The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K Rowling) 
Crime Fiction / Mystery - "A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide which doesn't appear to be as straightforward as it seems." 

I though this was OK, but like many, I don't think I would have picked it up had it not been for the famous author hype surrounding it.  At first I struggled to get into The Cuckoo's Calling as Rowling has an annoying habit of using a lot of adult language (e.g swearing, big words that simply aren't necessary to the text or add anything to it etc) to make her adult novels, well more 'adult'.  Once I got pass this, I delved into what was actually happening plot-wise, and although it wasn't exactly gripping material, I did want to find out who had killed Lula, our supermodel who falls to her death and whom the mystery is based around.  Despite an interesting take on the traditional plot twist, the majority of The Cuckoo's Calling is packed full of so many cliches and stereotypes that they start to wear thin after the first 100 pages or so.  Even the killer is the most predictable person!  I was hoping for something a bit more fresh and original from Rowling's first crime novel, but sadly this wasn't it.  [2/5]

What have you been reading recently?

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  1. The cuckoos calling was a book I have in my wish list, it sounds disappointing though x

    1. I just found it way too predictable unfortunately - wasn't what I expecting! x

  2. I really liked the sound of "The Lost Girl" and "The Cuckoo's Calling". I'm glad you did this review because I was looking at these books a while ago. Don't think I'll bother reading either now. I don't like books I can't get into.

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    1. The Lost Girl is one I'd recommend to anyone interested in their classic English Literature but I couldn't get into the story myself so it depends what you like? I thought The Cuckoo's Calling OK, but it was just that, OK and nothing more sadly! x

  3. The Drowned World sounds really awesome. I'll have to add it to my to read list. I really like these kinds of posts! It helps to remind me to keep reading!

    1. I enjoyed reading it, some of the prose and description is so beautiful :)

  4. The drowned world sounds really interesting! I'm actually looking for a good science-fiction read, so might give this one a go Do you have any other science-fiction recommendations? :) xx

    1. I really enjoyed it, loved the idea of London being transformed into this crazy jungle with crocodiles everywhere! What kind of science fiction do you like? If it's classics, I'd recommend The War Of The Worlds, The Time Machine (both H.G Wells), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood), The Dispossessed (Ursula K. Le Guin) and of course Nineteen Eighty Four (George Orwell). For something more contemporary, I loved Far North (Marcel Theroux), Cat's Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut) and Extinction (Ray Hammond). And lastly, if you like YA Sci-Fi, I'd recommend The Giver (Lois Lowry), Unwind (Neal Shusterman), Wither (Lauren DeStefano), Matched (Ally Condie) and Divergent (Veronica Roth). Hope that gives you a couple to start with! ;) xx

    2. wow thanks, certainly does! :) x

    3. no probs! I'm a big sci-fi fan :) x

  5. The Cuckoo's Calling is on my To Read list and I'm planning to read it by the end of the month so I didn't read your review yet! :) X


  6. The Cuckoo's Calling sounds pretty disappointing, especially coming from Rowling! :(


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