Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

14497Things I loved about this book:

1. The narrator – a sardonic character in his/her own right who weaves words into the most vivid of images and plays his/her cards close enough to his/her vest to keep me intrigued to the end.
2. Richard – this guy goes on such a journey, and it’s a believable journey. He has a wicked sense of humour too which only really emerges as he starts to find his feet in London Below. The poor guy is dragged into a world he doesn’t even know exists and flounders horribly for most of the book, but when the time come for him to rise to the occassion, he does just that.
3. London Below – what an amazing alternate reality. The whole time I was reading I kept thinking ‘Damn! I wish I’d thought of that!’
4. The way Gaiman plays shamelessly with tropes and cliche. I imagine he had enormous fun writing this book. The Wizard of Oz references (the obvious and not-so-obvious) are highly amusing and satisfying.
5. The Marquis de Carabas – he reminded me of Captain Jack Sparrow. In a good way.
6. Croup and Vandemar – it’s true; they have no redeeming features, but they are so funny in a macabre kind of way. (Does that count as a redeeming feature?)
7. The lack of romance – refreshing!
8. The ending – I shan’t spoil it, but I think it was perfect!

Things I didn’t like:

1. Um … nothing!

5/5 – It was amazing!

Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline D’Engle

117980It took me longer to read this little book than I expected it would because I found it hard to concentrate on the story. There’s an odd superficiality and matter-of-factness to the writing which made it difficult for me to connect with the characters – especially Meg, who I found quite disagreeable at times. Overall, I found the book interesting, but I’m left wondering what it was all about. There seem to be a lot of themes in this book! I also found the use of bible quotes a bit heavy-handed and rather strange; they seemed to come out of nowhere and then disappeared again.

2/5 – It was okay.

Book Review: The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh

1050450I really liked this book, read it in the space 24 hours. Rilke captured my attention right from the start with his dichotomous nature: both moral and immoral. I liked the fact that the mystery of the photos was never really solved, instead, a current crime (white trafficking) was uncovered and a young woman set free from slavery. Having said that, there was one loose end that I felt should have been tied up: throughout the book there are hints of something dark in Rilke’s past, something to do with his family and several characters owe him one, but for what we never find out. I kept asking myself why Rilke cared about the photos, and I’m sure it’s tied up in his past, but by the end of the book I was none the wiser. I feel a little unsatisfied by this. Also, I wasn’t quite sure that the explicit sex scenes were really necessary. I suppose that the author was trying to compare Rilke’s actions and attitude to sex with McKindless’s, but she used a sledgehammer to do it. And McKindless? Kind-less … yep, he was not a kind man!

4/5 – I really liked it.

Book Review: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

287861A thoroughly enjoyable page-turner. Although it was slightly predictable in places, the confidence of the narrative voice completely made up for it. At times it reminded me of Star Wars, at other times, Stardust (by Neil Gaiman) and all the way through I kept thinking ‘This would make a great movie!’ I thought the main characters were interesting, likeable and well-rounded, and some of the writing was inspirational, especially the use of metaphor and simile in the descriptions of places and actions. As a story, it mesmerised me, exploring some big themes (such as love, terrorism/freedom fighting and environmental issues) without bashing me over the head with the author’s opinions. My children are too young for this book at the moment, but I will be keeping it so that I can pass it on to them when they’re ready. Oh … and I’ve ordered the other three books in the series. I know this are classified as YA (and there’s no way I could be described as young anymore), but I’ll never be too old for good writing and storytelling.

5/5 – It was amazing!

Book Review: Insignificant Gestures by Jo Cannon

9453298A strong collection of heart-touching stories. Each one took me deep into someone else’s life, someone else’s emotions. It’s an uncomfortable read at times, and challenging, but ultimately it evoked in me compassion and empathy, so much so that after each story I had to put the book down and take a break before continuing. With short-story collections each easy to zip through, consuming each tale one after the other as if munching through a bag of pick n mix, but each of these stories deserves to be savoured and pondered.

5/5 – It was amazing!

Book Review: The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton

161540I remember reading this in my teens because I had a huge crush on Han Solo. Having recently spotted it on a shelf in a second-hand bookshop I decided to buy it and reread it, just to relive those heady teenage days. What a disappointment. I ended up putting it in the recycling after only 150 pages. What the author did to Leia and Han’s characters was unforgivable!

1/5 – I didn’t like it.

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!