Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Books books books

Been awhile since I updated where I am at with my reading challenge - 52 books in 52 weeks. Current tally: 42!!!
As you can see I am basking in the joy of reading - really reading - again.

Best from the past couple of months include:

The Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. I mentioned these books with respect to the current Tri'Coterie yarn club: Angels. We have used characters from these books to design patterns and yarns for the club so they were
somewhat "homework" reading - really good though. Not literary, knock your socks off intellectual works but a solid, interesting urban fantasy universe with a strong heroine and just the right mix of hot angel sexiness. Singh is a New Zealander and has another series I am quite keen to investigate too.

Water for Elephants - I have already exclaimed over how much I enjoyed Gruen's Ape House and this is her more famous novel - apparently her Nanowrimo manuscript (not sure if that is intimidating or inspiring). Water for Elephants follows the story of a young down on his luck man who accidentally finds himself as the veterinarian for a huge train circus during the 1930's. The story has everything from romance, intrigue, and action plus a gorgeous elephant Rosie who steals the show somewhat. Robert Pattinson (of Twilight yes, but also of Remember Me in which he was excellent) plays the lead role against Reese Witherspoon in the movie version which is released here tomorrow. I'm really keen to see the movie and have high hopes for the big top circus scenes but also hoping they don't butcher it too much. This was my audio book for March and it was a really excellent listen - two distinct narrators that allow the flashbacks to feel very real.

World War Z was a book recommended by my mum (from her 'best books of all time' that she gave me). I never ever thought that my mum (ex-librarian that she is) would read a zombie book, or that I would enjoy this as much as I did. Enjoy might be the wrong word perhaps - a riveting, engrossing read that I devoured in two days, but also fairly stomach-dropping and harrowing in its portrayal of war and human survival. I don't know why I read books like this, especially given what we have been through here lately, but like the Last Surivor's series I read earlier in the year there is an almost morbid fascination with end of the world type scenarios. This is a book about war, about a global event that changes everything, yes also zombies, but really the heart of it is human endurance and survival. Excellently done and one that will stay with me for a long time.

The Sparrow is another one where the potrayal is done very realistically - this one is sci-fi - and will also stay with me for a long time. The SETI programme discovers life elsewhere and a mismatched crew of Jesuits and civilians board a ship that will take them to a distant planet. The story is crafted in parallel - present and past where you know "something" has happened, but it is unveiled slowly , piece by piece our assumptions are discarded until we find out the (awful) truth of what happened. Cleverly done and though about Jesuits, a priest in emotional exile who has a conflict of conscience, I didn't find the theological themes overdone. Lots of thinking about colonisation (and perhaps the arrogance of humans) though. A really intriguing read.

Heir to Sevenwaters is written by Juliet Marillier. This is book four in the Sevenwaters trilogy (though I guess with 5 books now it is more aptly described as a series). I own and love the first three books - read years ago the storylines are still vivid and it didn't take me long at all to remember the wonderfully rich druid-ish world of these books despite the years that have past since I read book number three. I think one of the things I love most about Marillier's writing is how well she fleshes out her characters - picking up this book and remembering everything was like meeting an old friend again. Heir to Sevenwaters is another excellent read and I am eager indeed to get my hands on book number five!

What have you read lately that you loved?


  1. The sparrow is one of my faves of all time. People either love it or hate it, it seems. Thanks for the other reviews, always great to have a list of good reads around!

  2. If you'll allow audiobooks to fall under 'reading', then the Dragon Reborn series by Robert Jordan. We're currently listening to book 5 and loving it. Still have a ways to go before we're done and looking forward to the journey :-)

  3. Ooooh, I got "Water for Elephants" as an audiobook download from Audible last year and it is one of my favourite audiobooks EVER! I loved the two different narrators, and the story was intriguing. . .

    The best actual physical book I have read recently (rather than audiobook) was "Room" by Emma Donoghue. Difficult subject matter but very readable and thought-provoking. I also have a soft spot for "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer, (probably influenced by the fact that I spent some time in Guernsey as a teenager, back in the day.)

  4. I liked The Sparrow too. At the moment I'm reading Q&A. I must be tha last person who hasn't seen Slumdog Millionaire (based on Q&A), but I am enjoying the book.