Tag Archives: book review

What I’ve been reading

Elizabeth Costello

Thanks to my wonderful auntie, I’ve discovered my most favourite author ever: J M Coetzee. The first book I read of his was Elizabeth Costello. It’s about a woman who is a writer, and through a series of keynote speeches, and a interesting ending (which I won’t spoil), tries to come to terms with her purpose in literature. I won’t say much about the book, other that Coetzee is an absolute genius.

disgrace

Brilliant. I can’t get enough Coetzee. This book is about a South African professor who is disgraced when he gets a formal compliant from a student regarding his inappropriate relationship with her. He then goes to live with his daughter and the disgraces continue. It’s an insightful look into the male psyche and Coetzee’s writing style, with its restrained, crafted and powerful prose, is, in a word, inspirational.

Kafka

Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Wow. I loved it. Amazing story about a salesman who wakes up as an insect. I found the exploration of themes such as the economy, isolation, family and alienation very powerfully, and thought provokingly, interesting. I look forward to reading more of him.

Shallows

Wicked writing style. Really good, brilliant descriptions and powerful imagery. I started reading this book and was absorbed instantly. Totally absorbed. Halfway through I was enjoying the writing, but cared less about the story, and at three quarters, I didn’t care anymore at all. It’s my first Tim Winton book and probably was a poor choice to start with. I won’t discount him yet, but I won’t be rushing out to pick up another.

Love affairs

This was a really interesting and clever book. Beautiful writing style, packed with huge words (glad I read it on the kindle with built in dictionary), and is extremely insightful. It is about a man called Nate, he’s an author, reviewer and obsessively non0committal in relationships. The story revolves around the women Nate dates and the ideals and justifications that make or break the relationships. Nate is a sensitive, interesting guy who, in the end, comes to terms with some of his thinking. I liked it. Found it lacking in some respects, but great in others. Worth a read.

Jesus_Australia-678x1024

Currently reading Coetzee again, The Childhood of Jesus. Which, and not to put too finer point on it, is bloody amazing! This man is a genius. I don’t profess to have much understanding at what he’s alluding to in most of it, but, so far, I’m lost (in a good way) in it.

 


A few books of late

Well it’s been a while since I did a book review. So here is a very brief catch up on a few book I’ve read recently:

 

StrongSensitiveBoyThe Strong Sensitive Boy by Ted Zeff

Great book. It’s really a parenting book for parents with sensitive boys. I’m not a parent of such a person, however I am sensitive, according to all the evidence. Not sensitive in the mushy sense, but I have a heightened nervous system so noises, smells etc really have an effect on me. The book was insightful and I learned a lot about myself, which was the point in reading it. 7/10

 

The Night BookThe Night Book Charlotte Grimshaw

I loved it. She writes fabulously and the story was riveting and fun to read. The ending was terrible, but luckily there is a sequel. Well worth a read. 7/10

 

the-vintners-luckwebThe Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox

Interesting plot. A love affair between a wine maker and an angel. This story really was a lot of fun, beautifully written, although a tad over-descriptive at times, and had a strong plot. I read it in one weekend. And I see there is a second book to follow, though I don’t know that I liked it enough to read the sequel. 7.5/10

 

shadowofthewindThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Incredible. Easily in my top five favourite books. There is too much in it that it purely fantastic to really review it. Just go and buy it, you won’t be disappointed. 10/10

 

American_godsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman.

I’ll be straight up with you. I hated it, but then I loved it, then I hated it worse, then I put up with it, then I liked it, then I quit at page 480 with 100 pages still to go. My reason for quitting is that it was just too disturbing. Not really my cuppa sorry, I know lot’s of people really love it. 1/10


David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

davidg

Wow, it’s been a while since I did a book review. It’s actually been a while since I’ve finished a book. I’ve made the mistake of reading too many books at once, and not finishing any… Also I went on a Breaking Bad watching binge 🙂

So anyway, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. I really loved it. It was an exploration of the advantage of disadvantage and the disadvantage of advantage. “You wouldn’t wish dyslexia on your child. Or would you?”

The book explores different people in different situations that have overcome some giants in their lives (hence the title), but also he looks at people who have reacted poorly to giants and made bad decisions. What I liked most about about the book was the story of the ‘Impressionists’ who had to rethink the way they expressed their art; would they be little fish in a big pond or big fish in a small pond. Also Gladwell wrote a very readable book. It flowed smoothly, was insightful and was free from tedium.

Overall I give it a 8.5/10 and would recommend it 🙂


A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

shadow

Some are saying this book is a modern masterpiece and I would have been inclined to agree, would have. It started off amazing, compelling and unique. I raced through half the book and was both intrigued and a bit confused. It’s written beautifully despite some mistakes and packs a lot into each sentence. However at the halfway point it dragged on, and it’s already a very slow paced book. I managed to get to about 80 percent and then just could not go on, oh the boredom of it all. 

Not really worth the read but the video below gives a pretty good review of it. My rating, 2.5/10. 


In the year 2889 by Jules/Michel Verne

Jules

A fun frolic into the future by Jules, or more likely his son, Michel Verne. This book is a glimpse (30 pages) into a day in the life of Fritz Napoleon Smith, editor of the Earth Chronicle, in the year 2889.

The story is very short and sharp and could easily have been fleshed out in many ways. However, it was amusing to see Verne’s imaginations of the future.

Elements were very skimmed over, such as the unsuccessful resuscitation of a hundred year old dead doctor, which frankly was a bit odd. My favorite bit of the book, just near the end, is when they use the ‘Piano Electro-Reckoner, where the most complex calculations can be made in a few seconds.’ Also a variation of modern day Skype was through ‘the transmission of images by means of sensitive mirrors connected by wires,’ – brilliant.

Oh yeah, and instead of reading the news online like we do now: “Instead of being printed, the Earth Chronicle is every morning spoken to subscribers… each subscriber owns a phonograph, and to this instrument he leaves the task of gathering the news whenever he happens not to be in a mood to listen directly himself. As for purchasers of single copies, they can at a very trifling cost learn all that is in the paper of the day at any of the innumerable phonographs set up nearly everywhere.”

So overall it was a quick and amusing read, more than likely not for everyone though. I give it a 4.5/10.


Rise of a Merchant Prince by Raymond E. Feist

Feist_-_Rise_of_a_Merchant_Prince_Coverart

 

Definitely better than it’s predecessor; this is the story of Roo and his rise to riches in Krondor. But it’s more than just Roo’s wheeling and dealing, it’s the financial foundation for what will be the biggest war we have seen yet, according to Lord James.

Erik and Roo part ways for a time. Erik goes off to do some damage to the Pantathians, and Roo stay’s in Krondor to accumulate riches, which he dies fairly easily. But there are others who wish he would come to ruin and others who are out to divide him both morally and financially.

Pug plays a very minor role, but we glimpse him at the end as things start to rev up for the next book. Miranda is still there, just hanging around, and we are still not quite sure what her part in all this is. It seems like it’s been a slow build up to the coming war, very slow, and I am hoping that the Rage of a Demon King brings about some intrigue and action, which the first two Serpentwar books seem to have lacked.

Overall good, I give it a 5.5/10. Not amazing, but steady.


The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

no1ladiesI really liked Mma Precious Ramotswe from the first page and continued to like her more and more until the end. What a great setting for a great story. It was a nice and uplifting look into Precious’ idea to trade in her fathers cows for a detective agency in Africa. She then sets out to solve numerous cases for friends and other community members.

It’s not a book that has much depth but it’s a nice and enjoyable frolic with a fun lady. Smith writes well too. I feel like he captures the essence of the characters simply and doesn’t waste time on unimportant waffle.  So if you are in the need for something light, or are sitting on the beach, this would be a good choice. An 8/10 for being a fun and delightful read.