Yeah, I know, for shame. I'm only writing this now and even at that I've only got four books to review. NO idea what happened there but I have been significantly busier lately (Parks & Rec busy, ahem) so I'll put it down to that.
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
I am a huge Stephen King fan and I love The Shining, a stupid amount. If you've only seen the film you should really give the book a read because it's completely different. I find myself making reference to it constantly, it's one of those books that's really stuck with me. So obviously I was very excited about the release of the long awaited sequel, Doctor Sleep and I wasn't disappointed. At the start of the book we go back to just after the end of the Shining, as both a little recap and to see the aftermath of The Overlook's reign of terror. Fast forward then to a grown-up Danny, now an alcoholic, like his dad and on a similar path to destruction. He still has his "shining", which has completely marred his life and contributed to his alcoholism, until he gets help and turns his life around. In doing so, he then leaves himself open to others with similar mental abilities, including a little girl, Abra, whom he shares a telepathic bond with. She's in danger from an evil group of immortal travellers called the True Knot, looking for youngsters with mental abilities like Abra to suck the life out of. Without a doubt, this is nowhere near as scary as The Shining but it is very creepy, there's non-stop suspense and as with all of King's novels, it runs the full gauntlet of emotions; I cried, I laughed, I felt actual chills up and down my back (not just a cliche, apparently). If you haven't read it's predecessor then that shouldn't be a deterrent for Doctor Sleep, as it references The Shining but more to fill you in rather than anything else. Regardless, this is a beautifully written book that manages to both create it's own narrative (primarily of a war between good and evil) but also finally gives us closure on a story that for me, has always needed a sequel (I always wanted to know what happened to Danny and Wendy). So basically, read it, read it now.
Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
I was looking for a Halloween read so I finally picked up Rosemary's baby. I say finally because I've read pretty much all of Ira Levin's novels and I love the film version of this. Anyways, as it turns out the book is also excellent so good news all round. Rosemary and her husband move to New York, into an old building with a bit of a dodgy history and soon attract the attentions of their older neighbours who are more than a little overbearing, especially when Rosemary gets pregnant. She starts to suspect they have less than beneficent intentions towards her and well, I can't really say anything else without revealing everything. What I love about this is that it's not really a horror in the strictest sense of the word, there's more an ongoing sense of dread throughout the whole book. We, the readers know something bad is happening but Rosemary is unaware and you just know it's going to get worse. This is actually remarkably similar to the film. Apparently Roman Polanski was unaware that he could alter the book how he wanted when making the film, so he pretty much transferred it word for word to the big screen. As that's the case, you don't really need to read this if you've seen the film but for me, Ira Levin's writing was worth it, even though I knew how it ended.
I Wished For You* by Amy Huberman
I really like Amy Huberman, she's a very witty and intelligent woman and so, having read nothing from her before (this is her second book), I was really looking forward to this, a romantic comedy about Grace, an eccentric young woman working as a stylist (although she hates her job), is approaching 30 and living with her long term boyfriend Robbie, both of whom are under pressure from family and friends to get married at last. Although she expects that they will eventually wed, she still reacts very unexpectedly when getting engaged seems inevitable. Unusually, this is a slightly different take on a Rom-com in that the heroine starts off with the love of her life but loses him through her own confusion and then loses herself a bit too. Actually "confused" isn't a bad way to describe sections of this book. Parts of it are definitely humorous and I thought it both started off and ended well but I felt it lost it's way in the middle and ventured down a couple of unnecessary routes in order to get back on track (I really didn't enjoy her new career in the vintage clothes shop, I felt it was very unfocused). That aside, it was a pleasant enough read, just not for me.
Mutton* by India Knight.
I loved this book! Again, I haven't read any of India Knight's books before this but had heard good things about this story centering on Clara, a middle aged mum of two, who pretty much just wakes up one day and realises that she is old. Builders no longer whistle at her (here, she faces a bit of feminist anxiety because although she's against the objectification, she still wants to feel attractive, which is a very realistic and very human way of looking at that, I thought) and she now has a face full of wrinkles. This is then all compounded by the return of her oldest friend from LA, where she's had some very good plastic surgery and can now pass for 36. From there, Clara faces lots of internal conflict about "messing with your appearance". This felt to me like what I would hope the latest Bridget Jones would be like; witty and a bit cringe-inducing but entertaining nonetheless. I liked all of the characters; the family dynamics made for fun reading and even more minor characters like Clara's mum and sisters were really written and resulted in quite a few loud chuckles from me. I did think that it progressed a bit slowly in parts and nothing major happened for a long time but it felt like that time was provided to get to know the characters and just enjoy a normal slice of someones life. For me there was also echoes of Caitlin Moran's brand of humour in there, which is ideal as I'm a big fan of hers. Since I finished reading it, I've come across a fair few negative reviews of this online but I suppose it really is just very subjective, I loved Mutton and will definitely be reading more from Knight.
Let me know in the comments if you've read any of these or what you're currently working your way through!
*Press sample, gratefully received. All opinions my own.