Saturday, 22 June 2013

Recently Read

Again, I've been a busy little reading bee of late, these are my very eclectic collection of recently read books:
World War Z by Max Brooks
Ah here, this took me forever to read. I love a good zombie story as much as the next zombie-lover but this just dragged a bit for me. It has a really promising premise- a quickly spreading virus across the world causing a zombie outbreak, but instead of happening in the present tense, the book follows the main character around different continents interviewing survivors of this zombie war that ended ten years ago. Parts of it are really nail-biting, exciting stuff, others parts are really interesting (I'd find myself thinking- hmm, that could happen like that, couldn't it?) but a lot of it is less than enthralling interviews with army dude types that I struggled through a bit. This is a weird one cause while I was reading it I couldn't wait to be finished it but looking back on it now, it was a pretty cool read, different to anything else I've read lately and I will of course be going to see the film version, if for no other reason than Brad Pitt.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Margaret Lea is a mild mannered woman who works in her father's book shop and writes historical biographies but there's something missing from her life, leaving her with an ongoing feeling of loneliness.
She's approached by world famous author Vida Winter who requests that she comes to stay in her old mansion and transcribe the story of her life- an elusive tale (the 13th) that the public have been waiting for- but this is no fable, it's real life and Ms Winter's past holds some very dark secrets. I liked this book, as it's pretty much an homage to the Bronte sisters. Jane Eyre amongst other classics are referenced throughout the novel and in general this is a bookworm's paradise. Having said that, the book moves along slowly in places (particularly the parts where Margaret is on her own, soliloquy-ing it up) which was slightly annoying but overall, this was a good read.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
This is the first part in a trilogy of Young Adult books (The Wolves of Mercy Falls) about Grace- a high school student who following a wolf attack when she was a child has left her fascinated with what she believes to be a pack of werewolves living in the woods near her home. She grows obsessed with one wolf in particular, Sam, who she ends up falling in love with in his human form. Unfortunately for the young lovers, Sam only has a limited time where he can continue to change from human to werewolf and back again before he changes into an animal permanently. The book basically focuses on the teenage angst that dating a werewolf brings, which gets a bit wearisome after a while. I said once I finished it that that was it, I wouldn't bother reading the next two but after the ending of the first book I find myself intrigued and may need to read more!

Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
I love Davis Sedaris. I've read a few of his previous books so couldn't wait for this to come out. Sedaris is a comedian and author and tends to write mostly autobiographical, self-deprecating short stories about his upbringing, family and travel experiences. I got this one on audio book, and the fact that it was read out by Sedaris himself just made it even more hilarious. I listened to this on my daily walk and regularly found myself laughing out loud on the street- I couldn't help it, it's just too funny. 

Carrie by Stephen King
I just love King's writing, it's such an unusual mix of horror and humour. The fact that the settings for his novels are so common place (in this case, a small town high school in America), makes the scary scenarios that bit more terrifying. You probably know the story of Carrie by now, considering this was a highly successful horror movie and this was the book that basically launched King's career, but if not- Carrie is a 17 year old girl who has been cruelly and perpetually bullied by her peers her entire life as well as being psychologically and physically abused by her religious zealot of a mother. Unfortunately for the small town Carrie lives in, she's been honing her telekinetic abilities (the power to move objects with your mind) and intends to get her revenge. This really is a fantastic read- I finished it in two days because I could not put it down. I would highly recommend! 

A Room With A View by E.M.Forster
Written in 1908, this is set in the Edwardian era in England and follows Lucy, a young woman travelling around Italy, chaperoned by her irritating older cousin, Charlotte. While in Florence, Lucy meets a young Englishman George, who falls for Lucy but confused by her feelings for him and by Charlotte's disapproval of him, Lucy returns back to England and agrees to marry Cecil, a more sophisticated and well off young man, who appears quite pretentious and eager to change Lucy. Unexpectedly, George and his father move into the area, reigniting old feelings and leaving Lucy questioning her engagement and her place in society as a woman- does she even want to marry when doing so means she'll lose all independence? The novel actually gives a really good insight into the role of women and feminism at the time the book was written, which is really interesting but overall this is a nice light-hearted Summer read.

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes
I've read the two previous novels written by Haynes, Into the Darkest Corner and Revenge of the Tide, and I really enjoyed both of them, particularly the former so I was eager to read this, in spite of the really unappealing title. The book begins with Annabel, a data analyst for the police who stumbles upon the rotting corpse of her next door neighbour- apparently having been there for a long time without anyone noticing her disappearance. Disturbed by this, Annabel does some research in work and finds that the community has an unusually large number of similar cases and she begins to wonder if there is something more sinister behind these occurrences. This interest eventually leads her into danger herself. One thing I really liked about this book was the past/present narrative structure and the fact that the story is told from the perspective of Annabel, the dead and another main character. It certainly isn't a book I'll be forgetting in a hurry and the storyline is very different from the usual crime/thrillers on the market. Having said that, if you're of a sensitive disposition I would avoid this like the plague- there's an awful lot of very graphic descriptions of decaying dead bodies, which is quite unpleasant. 

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris 
This is the 11th in the Sookie Stackhouse series (there's 13 in total). I had stopped reading these ages ago cause I found they had gotten quite repetitive but I was looking for something light to read and you don't get any easier than the True Blood books so I said I may as well finish off the last three, starting with Dead Reckoning. This is the usual jazz, Sookie finds herself in grave danger and has to use her psychic faery powers with help from her vampire boyfriend to get herself out of trouble. As I said, it is very repetitive in places (sometimes it feels like Charlaine Harris is just trying to reach her word count and doesn't really care how she gets there) but I still enjoyed it and am looking forward to starting the next one.

That's my lot for the moment, I've already started three new books but I'd love to know what you're reading and if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!


  1. I couldn't read the Thirteenth Tale, I just couldn't get into it at all, I found it dragged so much! I've four on the go at the moment - Mother's Milk by Edmund/Edward St. Aubyn (boring as hell but I'm determined to finish it); Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Cinderella as a Cyborg - yes, really); Last Letter to Your Lover by Jojo Moyes (only about 20 pages in and I love it already) and The Dark Water by Helen Moorhouse (follow up to the brilliant ghost story 'The Dead Summer'). x

    1. Really want to read that Jojo Moyes! I read Dead summer so I'd be interested to see what The Dark Water is like, let me know how you get on with it! x

    2. OOh, I've been wanting to read Cinder, is it any good?

  2. Human Remains sounds like a really good read may have to make a purchase tomorrow thank you :-) x

    1. You're very welcome! Be prepared for the goriness though! :-/

  3. Nice mix! I haven't read anything by David Sedaris but I've been meaning to for ages