This is my attempt to wrap up all the reviews from this year, which I have not yet written. With these done, I will still have a few Classics Club books to write about (very conflicting ones for me - The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which is the second best book I read this year, and The Turn of the Screw, to which I gave 1 star...)
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
I wanted to love this book and I didn't. When reading Thursday Next books, I sometimes had this feeling that Fforde has too many ideas and that he is trying to cram them into a too small of a space, but in case of Thursday Next books, there is always this thread, this link that keeps me on the story and does not let it linger away - the literary references. In Shades of Grey, there was just too much of everything and at times too little of explanations and motives. I still appreciate this book as another witty story from one of my favourite authors, but it does not compare to Thursday books for me.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Whoa, what a surprise there! I never planned to read this book, but as I saw it for a ridiculous price (2 dollars or something) in Kindle store and vaguely remembered this book being loved by fellow bloggers, I bought it, and read it, and - liked it a great deal. The Sisters Brothers is full of this kind of dark humour that some of us particularly enjoy (me included) and the character of Eli Sisters was just... so good.
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden
This is a piece of non fiction that is extremely hard to read and write about. North Korean concentration camps are considered prisons with no way out, but this one man managed to escape and tell the world what goes on in the camps. I feel I must warn that people with very sensitive nervous system should be extremely careful before picking this book up, although on the other hand I feel like every Citizen of the World is obligated to know and acknowledge what goes on in totalitarian countries.
Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien
I'm one of 'em Tolkien fans, so not even going to pretend not to be biased here, but I also truly think this is a very good piece of children's literature. It's full of charming creatures (some of them a bit scary, but only a little!), a little bit ridiculous wizard, travelling to the Moon (be still my beating heart) - in conclusion, Roverandom kept a silly smile on my face the whole time I was holding it in my hands. The book contains a few drawings by Tolkien himself, a super nice treat for fans.
UFO in Her Eyes by Xiaolu Guo
This was another spontaneous read, I snatched this book during TBD 25-hour sale for some ridiculous price and was drawn by the fact that this is a translation from Chinese. UFO in Her Eyes is a weird book presented in strange formats - mostly interviews, but also e-mails, drawings (maps), notes and reports. Despite of what may seem as a bit of a gimmicky presentation, the subject matter is serious - a very primite village in China, which suddenly gets an opportunity to use some funds to carry out innovations, and how that affects the life of "regular" people. Also an interesting thing about this book is that since all the formats of narrative are so subjective, I found myself constantly asking if I can trust everything that is being said.
Parasite by Mira Grant
Parasite is an intriguing horror-dystopian story about what happens when people's habits on hygiene go overboard and someone gets an idea to develop a parasite (tapeworm, in this case) that would cure humans from all diseases. Of course, not all the things go as the scientists have planned... Even though Parasite has highly interesting premise, it fell more into the "meh" category for me. It had its strengths (I have read many books with worse character presentations for example), but I completely failed to form any kind of emotional attachment to any of the characters.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
This book has gotten a lot of buzz since The Goldfinch was published this year and I bought it out of pure curiousity. Almost all the characters in this book are extremely dislikeable, but that didn't stop me from immensely enjoying the book itself - it was just gripping. I would not want to befriend those folks, but it was very interesting to observe their psychological troubles and downfalls. I expected to get a very captivating, well and intelligently written whydunnit, and that is exactly what I got, hence
UFO in Her Eyes sounds like it would be my kind of thing. And congrats, you're the first person to actually make me interested in Donna Tartt!! I know she's gotten a lot of buzz lately, but I wasn't that curious to check her out until now :)ReplyDelete
I never finished Shades of Grey, but I tried it before I read Thursday's books... maybe I should go back and give it another go. I remember it being a bit slow-going.
The Secret History was quite a long book (one of the chunksters), but didn't really feel that long. I am pretty sure I will be checking out The Goldfinch as well. I was also very doubtful whether I would like what Donna Tartt does (people's opinions are sooo varying), but I'd say if you go in without mega expectations, her work is enjoyable.Delete
I think I would like to read the second book in Shades of Grey series, the idea of that future world itself is very captivating and maybe I just read this book at a bad time.
I really enjoyed The Sisters Brothers too, I'm actually hoping to reread it at some point. And I picked up UFO in Her Eyes in the library yesterday, but left it on the shelf rather than bringing it home. I do have another of her books (I think it's called Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers), which I'm looking forward to starting.ReplyDelete
I read the sample of Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers on my Kindle and it was very... different? I got very curious about Xiaolu Guo's writing and I hope to read more from her in future :)Delete
You're reading a very interesting mixture of books!ReplyDelete
I definitely need to read Roverandum, sounds exactly like my kind of book... no, no, not just because of Tolkien, shush! ;)
Oh, and coincidentially I loved The Unbearable Lightness of Being like you did, and also like you I haven't written a review about it yet. I'm sort of putting it off because I'm afraid I won't be able to express what I felt while reading, much less put it into coherent sentences.
Thanks for commenting, Cassandra :) I do indeed like to read from many different genres. Roverandom is definitely worth the few hours it takes to read it!Delete
I have the exact same problem with The Unbearable Lightness... somehow this book was so special (even though it was a re-read for me) that I feel like whatever words I may come up with, it is not even close to express anything worthy of the book. I don't really have a good idea how to solve the problem of reviewing this one, but maybe one of those days I'll just try to come up with something :)
Nice reviews! I've not read any of the books you've shared your thoughts on, but there are a couple I'd really like to read...or, in the case of Shades of Grey, did want to read but now I'm not so sure.ReplyDelete
Oh, I definitely don't want to discourage you from trying Shades of Grey! It's such an interesting concept and I think it's one of those books that very much depends on whether you click with it from the beginning or not. If I hadn't read Thursday Next books before that, I'd probably have liked it a lot more.Delete
I have Shades of Grey- but haven't read it yet. I hadn't heard of Escape from Camp 14- but it sounds really good! Thanks for sharing these mini-reviews with us. :)ReplyDelete
Thank you for the lovely comment, Jess! I had been eyeing Escape from Camp 14 for some time and read it on Kindle. I also noticed they have film based on this book, so I'm gathering courage to check this out at some point...Delete