A round up of the books that I've read last month:-
Mystery / Contemporary: "Alice Butler is a quirky, fiercely intelligent loner with an affinity for secret codes and mathematics. She works for the huge toy company named PopCo, where she creates snooping kids' kits - KidSpy, KidTec and KidCracker. But everything is not what it seems to be."
Books with an inquisitive strong female character always appeal to me, and having read another of Thomas' books earlier year (the rather brilliant, The End of My Y), I couldn't help but pick this up when I spotted it in a second hand book shop recently. PopCo features Alice, a young woman who has a special aptitude for decoding complex codes and has a huge passion for cryptography. She applies her skills to her job at the PopCo toy company where she helps to invent the latest toys targeted at the teen market. However, her mind often strays as she sees the world very differently and she soon comes into contact with a group of rebels who want to sabotage PopCo. Cue a story full of intrigue, some clever (though not so subtle) politics about the evils of advertising and consumerism, and Alice's personal journey of finding out more of who she actually is and what she wants to stand for. Although the book veers off on a couple of tangents here and there, it still kept me hooked, but it felt like the ending was very rushed. [3/5]
(2) Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker
Historical Fiction / Literature: "Confronting the psychological effects of World War I, Regeneration focuses on treatment methods during the war and the story of a decorated English officer sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight."
It's been a long time since I plowed my way through a whole book series, but Barker's Regeneration trilogy just grabbed my attention from the very first page and held it until the very last. The first book Regeneration, begins the setting of World War 1 and looks at the issues shell shocked soldiers had to deal with when they returned home. Barker uses real people from history to fictionally mold some of her characters, but her dialogues are nonetheless utterly convincing and gripping. We see the likes of the revered war poet Siegfried Sassoon, being treated for shell shock by the acclaimed psychiatrist W.H.R Rivers at the infamous Craiglockhart hospital for instance, which is what much of this story is about. Through the characters, we get a cold hard glimpse into the horrors of war which is reflected in Rivers' emerging self-doubt about sending men who are traumastised back onto the battlefields to fight in an absurd war. I really enjoyed this trilogy and I'm happy to hear that English literature students are still studying this text. To read the rest of what I thought about this series, check out my Goodreads page. [4/5]
(3) Lisey's Story by Stephen King
Horror / Thriller: "Lisey Landon lost her husband Scott two years ago, after a twenty-five-year marriage of profound, sometimes frightening intimacy. But what begins as a widow's effort to sort through her husband's effects, becomes a perilous journey into the heart of darkness."
As much I usually love King's books, I have to admit that I really struggled to get through this. It started off promising enough as we experience the grief that Lisey's going through and begin to explore and unravel some of her husband's previously hidden past. Unfortunately after the first 300 or so pages, the story doesn't feel like it progresses much and it's a long hard slog until to the end. I felt compelled enough to finish it because I hate giving up on books, but I was very disappointed with this, definitely not one of his best. [2/5]
(4) Watching The English by Kate Fox
Non Fiction / Anthropology: "How does The Naked Ape behave when he's dressed? The quirks and habits of the English laid bare."
I studied an anthropology module last year and was fascinated by the different social customs and behaviours of people around the world. Watching The English is one of the most accessible (in that you don't need to be a student to pick it up - it's much more conversational, rather than a dry academic text) books on English behaviour and what makes English people, well, English! I laughed out loud to so many parts because Fox doesn't sugar coat anything and instead tells it just like it is, warts and all. Whether you're English yourself and just want to see how you compare to the 'average' person, or you're visiting England soon and want an insight into English customs, this book will keep you informed and entertained throughout. [4/5]
What have you been reading lately?
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