Friday, 5 September 2014

the year in books - September

I am linking up with Laura over at Circle of Pines. On her beautiful blog Laura hosts The Year of Books 2014 where bloggers share their reads. I have found some great reading suggestions there and I am sure there is a book waiting for you, too.

August was definitely a bumper month for fiction. I read and read and read and when I didn't read, I was listening to audiobooks.

I started the month by reading "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay. It was a touching read and there were moments when I felt like crying. Sarah's story is skilfully weaved into a modern day narrative in which the narrator Julia is investigating the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup of Jewish families during the German occupation of Paris. What I did not like is the Julia's personal story, which is both predictable and saccharine. It did give weight to Sarah's story, which was really what makes the book a good read.  

At the beginning of the month I had to return the children's library books and came home with books for myself. I don't often read library books (I don't like the smell). Two of the books had to be returned within two weeks. As you can imagine, my nights were long!

I am probably the last one in this country to read "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt and I don't need to tell anyone what the book is about. I enjoyed it for its writing and a story well told. Having said that, I the novel is longer than it needs to be, sometimes I couldn't help thinking "yes, ok, I get it now, get to the point and move on".

Next up was "The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden" by Jonas Jonasson. This story starts in the 1960s in a township in apartheid South Africa and follows the life of Nombeko, a child genius with no future. In parallel we read about the lives of Holger 2, who does not officially exist and his twin brother, Holger 1. Both live in Sweden. Predictably, the two lines of narration eventually merge into one. The book is quite frankly hilarious, completely unbelievable and the characters are loveable, even the annoying ones. I think what makes it work is the almost childlike logic and interesting aspects of modern history and politics.

In parallel to reading these two books I also listened to both "The Cuckoos Calling" and "The Silkworm" by Robert Galbraith. I enjoyed both very much for the relative simplicity of the plot and the lack of forensic evidence even though Cormoran Strike does fit my "modern day detective identikit" to the dot. I also liked the fact that neither of the books featured at deranged serial killer. It seems to me that most crime fiction these days centres around forensics and serial killers which is a shame because there is so much more that can make a well crafted crime novel.

I also read James Oswald's "Natural Causes". It is the first book in a series that centres around inspector McLean. He has (of course) a painful past. He is (of course) troubled by an incompetent and unlikeable senior officer. McLean is inevitably overstepping his boundaries and is personally linked to the crimes. There is plenty of gore, too many murders and too much forensic expertise in this book mostly in the form of a superhuman forensic pathologist who appears to be living in the mortuary and perform post mortem examinations around the clock. Despite the formulaic plot, I enjoyed this read, probably because my brain is saturated with otherwise lofty thoughts of academic identity and in need of a bit of downtime. It is a shame though that crime authors are not more daring and don't deviate much from the tried and tested rules of a bestseller crime novel. Maybe I should write my own.


For September, I am choosing the book at the top the pile. It is "As Green As Grass" by Emma Smith and is set during the second world war. I am also finishing "Elizabeth is missing" by Emma Healey. More about these books next month! Happy reading. Cx

P.S. A great big thank you and a great big virtual hug go to Leanne at Today's Stuff who has sent me a surprise gift yesterday. I am ever so touched by Leanne's kindness and feel a little tearful, too.

20 comments:

  1. I haven't read The Goldfinch! So far I've been put off by the thickness of it, perhaps I should get over that and give it a whirl. All your other August choices look interesting too. How kind of Leanne to send you something. I'll pop over to her blog and "meet" the lovely lady. Enjoy the weekend xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have had Sarah's Key on my iPad for ages, ready to go but I never seem to get to it. I for one was not in love with The Goldfinch, as you said it was way tooooo long, The story went on and on and on especially in the middle. I want to listen to The two new books by JR Rowling and have them on order from my library.
    Hugs to you and thanks for the other suggestions.
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Christina,

    I hope you didn't have to pay any extra postage!! The queue at the post office was out of the door, and Olly was being a piglet. So I weighed it at home, put all the stamps that I had on it, pooped it in the post box and hoped for the best. And I agree with you about The Goldfinch. It was wonderful to be immersed in such rich text, but it did go on a bit!
    Leanne xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No extra postage Leanne. If you are anything like me, you probably put too much on anyway, just in case. I am a bit weird. Cx

      Delete
  4. I haven't read the goldfinch. I'm only vaguely aware of it from these year in books posts. I've no idea what it's about and am not particularly interested (unless it's actually about birds!). I never read what everyone else has read. Glad you enjoyed the Oswald book. I know what you mean though, Oswald is very similar to Booth's crime novels (which I love!) set in the Peak District. The stories and details are different of course, but the format the same. I don't mind though, they're my 'easy reads' - chance to forget all else and just devour a book!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have the goldfinch in my pile to read sometime! It looks very long to me!!! Leanne really is a gem of loveliness isn't she, so very kind. She gave me a chin up buttercup earlier in the year and it really helped me and I will never forget it. xx

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oooh I want to read that Emma Smith, be interested to read what you think. I've read her novel "The Far Cry" about India just post war (it's a Persephone) and that was fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
  7. As Green As Grass looks interesting - I like books about WWII. You read so many books in a month and have such a varied selection. I tend to stick to the same genre.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi, I've been reading your blog on and off for a while now. Love the way you write and the things you write about. It's so natural, unaffected and real. Love it!
    Bronwyn - New Zealand

    ReplyDelete
  9. I read 'Elizabeth is Missing' ... an uncomfortable read at times, maybe you agree? I like the look of your last book, may have to read up about it... and you're not the last person to read the Donna Tartt book! I know lots of my friends haven't read it, and neither have I. It doesn't appeal.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You are not the last person to read The Goldfinch as I've just started it for September. I'm really enjoying it despite it being a little over long. I enjoyed The Cuckoo's calling for the exact same reasons as you. And I really liked Cormoran Struke

    ReplyDelete
  11. I haven't read the Goldfinch yet either wasn't aware it was really long but would still like to give it a go at some point......the other books you have read sound really interesting too :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm another who's yet to read The Goldfinch. I seem to have fallen out of love with fiction at the moment. Laura's idea has thrown up some great recommendations though, for when I'm in the mood again :o)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have never read The Goldfinch either. Yes Christina, please do write your own detective novel, sounds like you must have some ideas? X

    ReplyDelete
  14. I was thinking of getting Sarah's Key - good to read your review.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love reading these reviews. I feel like they mean so much more when "real people" write them, as opposed to professional book critics. I haven't read The Goldfinch. It's so long and I didn't particularly love her previous books so I haven't bothered yet. Maybe someday. I did go to the library this morning for a big bag of new books and I'm looking forward to settling in with one tonight before bed. I've been bookless for almost a week! This is no good. I hope you have a good week. :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow. I've found where my reading mojo went! Over to you ;) I read the Goldfinch. I enjoyed it but did find it a little tiresome towards the end (oh do get on with it please! I could hear myself say). I love hearing your views on the books you've read. It makes me add more to my kindle wishlist!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love reading your reviews, Christina. I never know what books to read and you give me lots to put on my list! xx

    ReplyDelete
  18. Love your reviews and you've given me some new books to explore. I loved the James Oswald Natural Causes and the following books. He's been at a few good book events in Glasgow recently and his new book (5th) is coming out in Feb of next year. He's really interesting to listen to and if you get a chance to hear him its worth attending. If you do write a new kind of crime thriller I'll definitely be in the queue for a copy.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx