Tuesday, 28 April 2015

April reads: Part 2

1. The Queen Of Whale Cay is the biography of Joe Carstairs, an eccentric and wealthy speedboat racer in the 1940s who retired to live out her days on her private island, Whale Cay. A quick read and interesting enough, but I never felt entirely engaged.

2. The Year Of Reading Dangerously recounts the year when author Andy Miller undertook to read the Great Unread: books such as Middlemarch and Moby Dick, as well as classics by Austen, Bukowski, Bulgakov and others. I'm a great lover of reading about reading, so I thoroughly enjoyed this.

3. My Salinger Year recounts poet and author Joanne Rakoff's year working, as an assistant fresh out of college, for an unnamed literary agency in New York, where the bulk of her workload consists of dealing with fanmail for J.D.Salinger (not to mention encounters with the man himself). Rakoff evokes the sense of a company on the cusp of the digital age - beginning work in 1996, she finds herself typing letters and contracts on an ancient typewriter, and there is much debate in the office about whether to invest in a single office computer - and although nothing much happens, it does so in an elegantly written way. Much like Salinger's work, in fact.

4. & 5. I just loved these two books. A bit of YA melodrama is never a bad thing, and I devoured them one after another while sitting in the garden on my day off (getting a bit sunburnt in the process). In If I Stay, we hear the story of Mia - her beloved family, her relationship with boyfriend Adam, her passion for playing the cello - as she lies in Intensive Care after a devastating car accident. Where She Went catches up with Mia and Adam three years later, and this time we hear Adam's point of view as he struggles with rock stardom. I don't want to say too much else as anything I do say would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say that I loved both books and think they'd be well worth a read if you, like me, are a big soppy romantic at heart.

6. Never Always Sometimes* was a light, quick read. High school seniors Julia and Dave are best friends who, 4 years previously, had written a 'Nevers' list to avoid becoming teenage cliches. With only months until graduation, they decide to try out everything on the list just once and high jinks ensue. I appreciated the lack of - appropriately enough - YA fiction cliche in the novel, and if some of it seemed a little far-fetched, then so what.

7. The Secret Place is the most recent in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, which I've recommended here before. French writes crime novels that are a cut above the rest of the genre. With a keen eye for characterisation and dialogue that is whip-smart, the teenage girls in The Secret Place leap off the page, all hormones, lip gloss, and friendships that feel like the centre of the universe.

8. Ready Player One was recommended to me by a friend, who insisted I'd love it. In a dystopian future in which the oil is rapidly running out and the only escape from the drudgery and danger of everyday life is the Virtual Reality universe, OASIS, orphaned teenager Wade begins a quest to uncover the Easter Egg hidden in the OASIS by it's creator. A discovery which, if successful, will net him untold billions in wealth. Although some of the 80s, geek and gamer references were way above my - 90s child who only ever played Sonic The Hedgehog - head, I still really enjoyed it.

* This book was kindly provided for review by the publishers via Netgalley,  but all opinions are entirely my own.
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  1. Book number 8 looks right up my street, I love a good dystopian/post apocalypse novel!
    I cannot recommend many good books ATM as I am not reading much these days (bad me!) Although I recently enjoyed the Nazi Officers Wife & A Street Cat Named Bob!
    Two books high up on my wish list are I Used to Be in Pictures by A & H Mutti-Mewse and (continuing my new found cycling enthusiasm) Eat, Sleep, Cycle by Anna Hughes. I wonder if you have read any of these and what you think of them? x

  2. Ooh 3 sounds pretty cool, as does 8. I clocked it on your instagram and was hoping you'd talk about it, the title sounded sci-fi ish, definitely my kinda read :)

  3. The year of reading Dangerously sounds really interesting! Ha, that sounds like me avoiding and then trying War and peace! (have YOU read it by the way!)
    What did I do wrong? You unfollowed me on Bloglovin!!!! Sorry if I offended you!x

  4. Nope, definitely didn't unfollow you - your still on my follow lists and your posts are showing up in my feed.

    For an English teacher, I'm shockingly badly read - the list of classics I have never read is v long!

  5. Ready Player One is ace! Lots of fun.

  6. I read an interesting review of I Used To Be In Pictures recently, it sounds good. But I haven't read any of the books you mention.

  7. I've been thinking of buying My Salinger Year, solely because I am a huge huge Salinger fan and I kind of figured - how could I not? Would you say it's worth buying?

  8. I really liked it - it's one of those books where actually, nothing much happens, but Rakoff writes in such an engaging way. I think I'd read it again. Maybe one to wait for in paperback?