Thursday, 29 October 2009

More mini reviews

I was first drawn to this book after it won the National Book Award in the US. Then the cover and the post-war "noir" setting did the rest.
But as much as I enjoyed reading it, it didn't stay with me for long. I suspect that this is one of those ones that I'd have loved more at 13 or 14. It definitely reminds me of the YA books I used to read at that age anyway.
It wasn't so much a mystery as a coming of age story ( and aren't they all?) of a girl, Evie, who discovers first love, first heartbreak, and first painful clash with reality.
The writing was excellent, and so was the characterizations. I probably wasn't crazy about the story, as I was always waiting for something more exciting to happen, which it never did. Maybe that's why I was a little disappointed. Nevertheless, a good read.

How can you not love Paddington? He's a cuddly fuzzy little bear from Peru! And he loves jam sandwiches. And he's messy and curious and tries hard to be a good bear but he's always in trouble. I want to keep him! Enough said.

In the Hand of the goddess is the second book in the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. Last year I read the first one, and although I wasn't crazy about the writing I enjoyed reading about a strong young woman who disguise herself as a boy to become a knight. I have a soft spot for fighting women (see Buffy to name one!) so I couldn't skip it.
A lot happens in this second book. Alanna takes part in her first war, faces the chamber of the ordeal, survives countless attacks from Duke Roger, both Prince Jonathan and the thief lord George fall for her, and she even tries on her first dress willingly!
There's so much happening that everything feels a bit rushed and sketchy. Times flies and before you know it Alanna is eighteen and almost ready to leave the school. Also, the fact that Duke Roger is behind everything bad that happens at court and beyond is so obvious that it's puzzling how anybody can't see it, even Alanna at times. But if you don't ask for anything deeper than a bit of "sword & sorcery" fun, then Alanna's adventures aren't the worst.

Done! Next time I'll try to post a proper, articulate and insightful review. Until then, goodnight:)

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Lots of catching up to do

I'm still here! Gawwd I don't even know where to start! I've been reading great books lately and I can't wait to share my thoughts about them, but first I'll try to do a very speedy weedy catching up cause I can't bare to not say something about some of my favourite reads of the year. I wont' even pretend to post proper reviews, just residual impressions on stuff I've read up to 3 months ago...

I'll start with The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
It's just every bit as good as everyone is saying. I started reading it on the plane to Sicily, and those two and a half hours passed completely unnoticed! This rarely happens. I'm nervous at every shake, and can't wait to get down. This time though, it went so smooth, I kinda wanted it to last a bit more so I could keep reading! It wasn't just about the story. The writing was just as captivating. So clever. And so heartbreaking. The movie didn't completely do justice to it, but it could have been much worse!

Next is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Another book that, if you haven't read, you probably are tired of hearing about. Gripping it was. Exciting, fast and moving, too. The only thing it wasn't was being unpredictable. You can pretty much guess the ending, although this won't stop you from frantically keep turning those pages. Catching Fire was just as exciting. I probably enjoyed it a bit more because I knew the characters and cared for them. And I honestly didn't know where it was going. I'm definitely looking forward to the third one, because the ending left it veeeery open to anything!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I'm so not ready to talk about this book now. All I can say is that it was beautifully written and I didn't expect that. Also I don't think I understood it completely, especially the final part. It was bleak, melancholic, suffocating, but lyrical too. I think I should read it again one day, when I'm ready to take everything in.

This summer I've started reading a (kind of ) new author to me, Sandra Scoppettone. I read a couple of her young adult books when I was younger, but nothing more. She's more well known for her series centred around the lesbian detective Lauren Laurano and that's what I've been reading. Unfortunately the Italian publisher hasn't released them in the proper chronological order, so I didn't follow the time line, but even then, I completely enjoyed them. There's something about the summer+beach+crime fiction combination that I can't explain, but that just works so well for me. These books were especially easy to enjoy in the sun, although they deal with tough subject such as rape, aids and violence against women. They are always socially conscious, but also ironic and funny. The writing style wasn't very polished, but it didn't matter much. I loved reading about Lauren and her love of her life Kit. In the first book I read, Everything You Have Is Mine, they had been together for 11 years and still rocking it. It's not usual to find such attraction and intimacy in a long-term relationship, not even in fiction. I loved their relationship so much that the mystery didn't even matter that much in the end. In the second book I read, Let's face the music and die, the mystery was an utter disappointment because I guessed it from the start. But Lauren's personal story made it worth reading. There was so much tension, what with her dealing with the man who raped her years before, and at the same time dealing with her growing attraction toward a much younger woman, while Kip is away. I think Sandra Scoppettone put so much into these story-lines that forgot to put some mystery into the mystery itself!

In the first story, I loved seeing Lauren trying to come to terms with computers and technology. The book has been written during the early days of internet, and I have to say the word "bulletin board" didn't mean anything to me, but it has a central role in the story so I had to look it up. Seriously prehistoric internet stuff! She becomes an internet junkie later on, and with that I can relate:P

I recommend these books as a light read with some edge and some good gay romance. Unfortunately they're not easy to find in the shops, but maybe libraries still stock them?

OK, I'll finish here, cause I'm tired. I hope I'll manage to finish the catching up part soon, so that I can talk extensively about the latest amazing reads!