Book Review: The Gate to Womens’ Country by Sherri S. Tepper

104344I first read this book in my teens, and remember thinking it was wonderful. I’ve decided to re-read it again (twenty-something years later) to see what I make of it now. Review to follow.

Update: I’ve just finished this re-read and, once more, I am blown away. There’s so much to praise about this book – the story, the writing, the characters, the themes of nature vs. nurture, femininity vs. masculinity etc – but it’s the irony that’s sticking with me at the moment: In an attempt to breed out violence and the (supposed) male tendency to wage war, the (morally corrupt?) women end up sending their men to war.

It’s the kind of book that fills my head with questions and leaves me pondering the answers.

5/5 – It was amazing!

Book Review: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

1768603I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it a fascinating and highly emotive read. What appears at first glance to be a rags-to-riches story becomes so much more. The descriptive writing made me feel as if I were actually in India; the sights and smells and tastes came through so clearly. By the end, I found myself incredibly angry about the corruption and injustices faced by the poor of India. Very thought provoking

5/5 – It was amazing!

Book Review: I’m Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti

110428This is the vivid story of nine-year-old Michelle Amitrano, who, out playing with his friends in the scorching Italian summer of 1978, discovers a secret so devastating that he is forced to choose between obeying the parents he loves and doing what he knows is right. Disturbing, heartrending and unputdownable. The ending left me desperate for more.

5/5 – It was amazing!

Book Review: The Orchard on Fire by Shena Mackay

970684In this rich and exquisitely evocative novel, nine-year-old April moves with her family to a quiet Kent village and becomes the best friend of Ruby (the neglected daughter of the local publicans) and the object of the sinister Mr Greenidge’s affections, and, along with a cast of convincing characters, brings 1950’s life into sharp and nostalgic relief.

5/5 – It was amazing!

Book Review: Ox-Tales – Fire

6526563From a father trying to have a relaxing holiday whilst juggling a pre-occupied wife and two whiney children, via an over-parented student trying to figure out what’s going on with her mysterious new boyfriend, to a woman left to die on a deserted island by the man who has been her husband for twenty years, this collection of short stories sizzles with confusion and conflict.

5/5 – It was amazing!

Book Review: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

12948Ghost story or psychological mystery? I can’t decide. This book deserves a reread, but even then I don’t think I’d be any the wiser. Maybe I’m not supposed to be. That’s not to say this isn’t a great book. It is. Although the language is dense at times – it took a while to decipher the antiquated prose, and some passages required several rereads – it is also eloquent and precise, a joy to read. Creepy in places and profound in others, it challenged this reader in more ways than one, and skilfully showed how preoccupation can so easily turn into dangerous obsession.

3/5 – I liked it.

Book Review: The Player of Games by Ian M. Banks

12012I wanted to enjoy this book so much more than I did. Having read two other ‘Culture’ novels, I had high hopes for this one, but it simply didn’t deliver. The twists and turns were unsurprising, and the game around which the book centred was insufficiently explained, meaning the narrator had to tell the reader when things were becoming exciting or that clever moves were being made. I would much rather have had enough information to figure that out for myself. And don’t get me started on the clunky sentence structure and adverb abuse!

A clever idea, poorly and predictably executed.

2/5 – It was okay

Book Review: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

10073This was my first Nick Hornby book and my first Audiobook. The combination of the two produced a very pleasurable ‘reading’ experience. I enjoy characters to whom I can relate, and I found something of that in each of them, even though I spent most of the book wanting to punch Jess and slap Martin! I can be easily confused by multiple first person perspectives, but the voices of the actors kept me on track. As for the story itself, a few of the ‘wisdoms’ scattered throughout were hammered home a little too forcefully, but the droll humour made up for it. There were even a few laugh-out-loud moments. I’ll definitely be reading/listening to more Nick Hornby.

4/5 – I really liked it

Book Review: The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

315340I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has a surreal, dream-like quality to it, that I think is due to the unusual way the story is narrated: by multiple characters (in both the third omniscient person and the first person) and in the present tense. The tale starts off as a 19th Century murder mystery, but it becomes so much more than that. By the end of the book it almost doesn’t matter whodunnit! It’s about the many characters and the way their difficult lives in the harsh Canadian winter intertwine and about their individual increases in self-awareness. There are some loose ends at the end, and a fair chunck of time is spent on characters who don’t seem to have any place in the overall story, but this just makes it seem more real and believable.

4/5 – I really liked it.