November Books List

Sunday 1 December 2013

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

(1)  Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
Historical Fiction / Literature & Romance - "The story of a timeless place that one day wakes up to find itself in the jaws of history.  The place is the Greek island of Cephallonia, where gods once dabbled in the affairs of men and the local saint periodically rises from his sarcophagus to cure the mad.  Then the tide of World War II rolls onto the island's shores in the form of the conquering Italian army."

An epic story that sends the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions through a plotline that takes you from WW2 to the 1990s.  There's love (of course), war, humour and inevitable tragedy to complete the ride.  Although Captain Corelli's Mandolin is often referred to as a romance novel, I found the parts on the war much more interesting because Bernieres has a habit of writing like a historian and goes into a lot of depth with it.  However the way he describes both love and war as themes in the book is enticing, as both are told through beautifully descriptive prose and the love triangle between Captain Corelli, Pelagia and Mandras is heartbreaking and riveting at the same time.  The ending was so disappointing though!  [3/5]

(2)  Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Contemporary Horror / Fantasy Thriller - "Sequel to The Shining, a novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals."   

The Shining is one of my all time favourite books, so I was beyond excited when I first heard of the rumours that King was writing a sequel.  It had been speculated for some time, but didn't seem real until it actually hit the shelves and was waiting for me to read it in all its glory.  Doctor Sleep finds Dan Torrance as a man struggling with adult life.  He's an alcoholic like his father was, sleeps around and generally doesn't contribute much to society. He's still haunted by what happened during that eventful night at The Overlook Hotel but numbs his 'Shining' with plenty of booze.  Danny finally hits rock bottom and moves to a different town to start over, but things aren't quite as easy as that.  This was a fun read, filled with suspense and interesting characters.  I'd recommend reading The Shining before picking this up because there are so many little quirks that'll make the book even more fun to read, but it's not completely essential as you can enjoy it as a novel in its own right as well.  [4/5] 

(3)  The Graduate by Charles Webb
Coming of Age Romance - "Classic novel about a naive college graduate adrift in the shifting social and sexual mores of the 1960s."

I've seen the film and watched it as a play years ago, so it was about time that I sat down and read the book.  The Graduate in novel form comes across as really dated and cheesy (as the film does I guess!), with some of the lines being just too cringeworthy to repeat (I was giggling like a schoolgirl throughout much of this slim book).   That aside, it's a decent coming-of-age story that makes for an easy read, but just don't spoil the fun and try to read anything deeper into it - take it for what it is.  [3/5]

(4)  Time's Arrow by Martin Amis
Contemporary Fantasy / Experimental Literature - "Doctor Tod T. Friendly dies and then feels markedly better, breaks up with his lovers as a prelude to seducing them, and mangles his patients before he sends them home.  And all the while Tod's life races backward toward the one appalling moment in modern history when such reversals make sense."  

Possibly one of the weirdest and most confusing books I've ever read.  This may be due to the fact the story goes backwards in time, which doesn't sound that odd, but it's told to the reader via a self-aware conscience that appears to be connected, yet sometimes separate, from the protagonist's body (yeah...).  Now, Amis is well known for being creative with his writing, but it's the predictability of the story that really let it down as you already know what's going to happen (Tod is a Nazi doctor at Auschwitz, you know what's coming).  I guess I was expecting more bursts of description to hook me in or a twist somewhere, but it fell too flat in too many places.  Interesting concept, just poorly executed.  [2/5]  

(5)  Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
Contemporary 90s Pop Culture / Satire - "Narrated in the form of a Powerbook entry by Dan Underwood, a computer programmer for Microsoft, this state-of-the-art novel about life in the '90s follows the adventures of six code-crunching computer whizzes." 

An amusing, fictitious journal account of an ex- computer programmer who worked for Microsoft in the booming mid-nineties and is now looking to find some actual meaning to his life.  This is classic Coupland; witty one liners mixed with lots of cynicism and the type of philosophical questions only people in their 20s tend to ask, all sprinkled with obligatory pop culture references.  An entertaining read for anyone who's ever been interested in computers, fascinated by the amount of money Bill Gates has made, or simply those who grew up in the nineties. 

What have you been reading recently?

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  1. Captain Corelli's is one of my all time favourite books ever and I cried most of the way through, including once on a plane back from Rome embarrassingly! I loved the ending although I know I'm in the minority, but I just hate a standard predictable ending. I'm so looking forward to reading Doctor Sleep as I love Stephen King. Hope it's not as scary as The Shining though! Loved this post, thanks for sharing x

    Claire | AgentSmyth

    1. My sister absolutely loves it as it's one of her all time favs too but I couldn't help but feel disappointed with the ending. One of those things I guess! I'm happy to hear you loved it though - it's amazing when a book can get under your skin like that and the prose is absolutely beautiful in it.

      I didn't find Doctor Sleep as scary as The Shining, it's definitely more of a thriller/suspense than outright horror if that helps! :) x

    2. Books are so subjective but I think it's lovely to hear people's different opinions on them. I read this as a Captain Corelli as a newlywed so maybe I was just in that frame of mind to enjoy it, which always affects a book too I think. Glad to hear Doctor Sleep isn't as scary, I won't have to put the book in the freezer then :) Love your blog so much, glad I found it x

    3. I agree, and how lovely that you read that as a newlywed! I'm lacking in that area of my life right now so perhaps I'm a little more cynical?! Thanks Nic, so happy to hear you're enjoying the blog :) x

  2. Eeep! I've been meaning to begin my forays into both Amis and Douglas Copeland, so these short reviews are brilliant in prompting me to finally make that move! Time's Arrow certainly does sound a little overwhelming, but I will definitely look into Copeland asap!

    Nell at And Nell Writes

    1. Glad they've been helpful Nell! Thanks for reading and let me know how you get on with Amis and Coupland :)


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