Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett
Pratchett bravely tackles the eccentricities of football in his latest book, referencing the varying views on the popular sport. You see the wizards of the Unseen University learning to master it, and the street urchins displaying unfathomable skill which seems magical to the wizards. An interesting dissection of how sport crosses all cultural divides, and how it’s perceived by those not directly involved in it.
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
Deeply delicious, this book follows the unlikely tale of a hostage situation, where a house full of wealthy people are captured and then held for over 3 months. The relationships and entanglements that form out of this situation are strangely dark, yet sweet; and though the end is inevitably tragic the journey is unforgettable.
Milo’s Marauders, by Danny King
It’s hard going straight when crime seems so appealing, but despite the best if intentions our hero is talked into pulling one last heist on a supermarket. Cue weapons training, a disreputable team- and a safe which opens at 8am, not 8pm. Oops. Now Milo has a supermarket full of hostages and 12 hours to go till he can get any of the cash- that is, if he manages to get away and spend it. Very entertaining, with local colour and descriptions that bring the story to life.
Survivor by Chuck Palahnuik
I really, really wanted to like this book. I loved Fight Club and Lullaby and even semi-liked the film Choke so had high hopes for this text. They were utterly destroyed- it’s not so much the characters were unlikeable, more that they were whiny, and though the concept is interesting it’s not followed through with any charm or intent. The protagonist is an unlikeable survivor of a cult, trained to live in domesticity and serve others. he rises to fame through a unscrupulous agent and a sexy psychotic psychic and it all starts to unravel.
Sebastian Faulks On Green Dolphin Street
Beautifully written but rather lacking in content, there’s only so much descriptive prose you can take before wishing for something more light-hearted and plot driven.
Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey
It can’t be easy having a mother who’s a mass murderer and hated by many, especially when you wish to marry the Queens daughter. Imriel is sent to kill his mother in order to retain a place in court, but along the way his world falls under an evil enchantment which only his mother’s know-how can help. Full of sex, intrigue and magic, this book finishes the Kushiel saga with appropriate aplomb,
Shyama Perera, Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet
Four girls grow up, but they do not grow together, with the disparity in their circumstances forcing them very far aprat. The vivid depictions of the 1960’s and 70’s are incredibly accurate, and the tone includes references to cultural songs and icons of the age. It’s interesting to view how four firms friends can separate so much, into beatniks, prostitution and formal education, and evokes the feeling of disconnection mixed with excitement that is so prevalent today.
Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey
A small town that officially doesn’t exist hosts an assortment of unhappy frustrated residents and petty crime flourishes. Into the mix we see Loup Garron, whose father had blessed her with genetically modified powers., that are more of a curse than a blessing. Gritty, dirty and full of adventure, this tale doesn’t end well, but worth a read for the sweat and blood. Oh, and there’s some light lesbianism thrown in for the thirteen year olds.
The Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Agents of the night battle the day, with the fate of the world in the balance once more. I love the Russian references, and the world Lukyanenko details is filled with mysterious allure and shrouded figures. Slightly by-numbers account of tribulations, is a good yarn nonetheless.
Must Love Hellhounds by Charlaine Harris, Nailini Singh, Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brooks
Now I’m not really a fan of short stories, preferring something a little longer and grittier to get my teeth into. However these stories were for the most part compelling and gritty reads, even based around the stupid premise that each had to have a hellhound in it somehow- and the authors used this forced device to make them everything from a shape shifting sight-dog to a prison guard. The writers differed in quality, Harris was entertaining and to the point, creating a world of uncanny realism where Beitling agents serve as hocus pocus bodyguards for a fee- which made me want to read more of her work. Singh however favoured the ‘bodice full of desire’ style of writing, and I wasn’t so keen on all ‘the heat coursing though me as I stared at his…’ a little unnecessary. Andrews was readable if not exceptional and Brook was mix of bodice ripping and dog-tainment. Overall it’s worth a read, if only for the intro to new writers, and I’ll definitely be looking up more stuff by Charlaine Harris again. (Note: She’s the creator of True Blood- and I love the TV series).
Confessions of a Reluctant Recessionista, Amy Silver
Think Kinsella’s Shopahlic series with half the humour. Shopaholic does recession would be another good name for this book, but as Kinsella is sooo funny, being half that level is actually quite passable. AS you have no doubt guessed the protagonist loses her job, her boyfriend and her self-esteem and doesn’t stop spending. Cue interventions by friends, poor but insightful bloke and life lessons. Rent. Don’t buy.
An Artist In a Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro
Ageing painter Ono has to adjust to a world where his skill and expertise is seen as old fashioned, yet his past continues to haunt the futures of his daughters, Touching, with elements that create a fully fleshed picture of Japan.