Tuesday, 28 January 2014

January Books - Different Points Of View

Back in 2012 I managed to keep a pretty good record of all the books I read thanks, in part, to playing along with Julie's Month in Numbers.  MiN fell by the wayside in 2013 and I'm sad that I have no proper reading log for the year.  So I'm going to try and post some book reviews at the end of each month.

Margartet Forster's Shadow Baby The first book of the year was from a batch of 10p novels that I picked up at  the library sale last year:  Margaret Forster's "Shadow Baby". A strange parallel tale of two baby girls born out of wedlock nearly a century apart who eventually seek out their natural mothers.  Back in the late 19th century, life in an orphanage was hard, life with distant relatives harder still and searching for your mother was nigh on impossible.  Public records mean that the modern-day birth mother is easier for her daughter to track down, but her fear of discovery and the emotions awakened are just as painful as the earlier mother's.  Forster explores the emotions of the four women in great detail as they each tell a part of their (shared) histories.  Quite an emotional and thought-provoking start to the year.

A Week In December by Sebastian Faulks
I had two books to read for my first Book Club meeting (December's discussion is replaced by a party in the bakery café where we meet), the first of which was "A Week In December" by Sebastian Faulks.  This was not my cup of tea at all: a large number of  unsympathetic (selfish, opinionated, unpleasant,over-privileged) London folk whose paths criss-cross during a seven day period just before Christmas.  There is also much to much information about hedge funds - pages and pages and pages of the stuff!  Combine this with some literary in-jokes and I had the feeling that I was not the intended audience for the book.  A potential suicide bomber and a drug overdose victim added a tiny bit of tension but it was seven days I really had no interest in!

M.L. Steadman's The Light Between Oceans
M.L.Stedman's "The Light Between Oceans" was much better with engaging characters, an interesting dilemma and the western Australian setting made a refreshing change.  The story (of the consequences of the discovery of a tiny baby and a dead man by an island lighthouse-keeper and his wife) takes place shortly after the WWII and also explores the effects of the conflict on the Australian population.  This book taught me a lot about the eponymous lighthouse but, in contrast to the ins and outs of futures and derivatives, by drip feeding the details in digestible amounts, I was able to enjoy the process.  Several characters took turns to tell the tale, allowing me to focus on different aspects of their dilemmas.  A wonderful debut novel!

Phantom by Jo NesbøI haven't read any of Jo Nesbø's Harry Hole novels since last January so it took me a while to get into the swing of "Phantom" and get to grips with some of the characters' relationships.  This was another novel that was told from several viewpoints - including a dead junkie and a mother rat separated from her babies!  On top of that there was real-time action interspersed with historical recounts; not the clearest of storylines to follow.  Fast paced, slightly confusing with a shock ending!

I'm still on the look-out for the first Harry Hole adventure "The Bat" on the my library shelves - it was translated from the original Norwegian long after the third book in the series!

Mo Hayder's Hanging Hill
Another detective series I've been enjoying is Mo Hayders Jack Caffery books ("Birdman"was the first) but in my haste at the library, I'd grabbed a stand-alone book of hers: "Hanging Hill".  This time we have a female police detective on the hunt following a brutal murder of a teenage girl - who happened to be friends with the daughter of the detective's estranged sister!  The twists and turns come thick and fast as you follow the sisters in their separate struggles with evil deeds.  No sooner do you think you've understood what's happening than the turn of the page confounds your expectations.  Again, the ending was a total shock and left me wondering just what might happen next.

What are you reading right now?  Do you enjoy books with several narrative voices or do you find them confusing?  What's the weirdest fictional point of view that you've come across?


Missus Wookie said...

Well done on reading so much - and writing reviews. I've never managed to keep track of the books I've read. The closest is the Monday daybook and even there I forget some.

Weirdest narrative - hmm, Neil Gaiman and Iain M Banks both have very odd turns. I like books with different aspects and points of view - enjoy series where that happens too. Orson Scott Card has gone back to his classic Ender series and filled in some of the prequels but also other threads to the story, some of which I like and others I don't.

Currentlly reading? Business text books, reports and not much else :sigh: But that too will change - my word for the year :)

Louise said...

I'm reading a free kindle download...surprisingly it's not bad. Interesting post on your reads!

Lesley G said...

Interesting to see and hear about the books you read. I like stories where all the characters eventually come together - boring I know. I have an ipad and a real bookshelf full of unread books of all kinds - MUST start!!!!

Ladkyis said...

I have just read Cauldstane by Linda Gillard - fabulous book. I tried hard to read it slowly to make it last and it is one of those rare books that I will certainly read again.
Now I am reading Orchestrated Death by Cynthia Harrod Eagles, the first in the Bill Slider series - tis good. I would much rather be reading it than doing anything else.

Sian said...

I've just finished reading the latest Harry Hole "Police and it's definitely worth seeking out. Just sayin'

My all time favourite book in different voices is Adam Thorpe's Ulverston, which moves through history very cleverly

furrypig said...

love your book reviews. I have read and enjoyed several Sebastian Faulks in the past but not that one. my book clubs read the light between the oceans and it led to lots of interesting discussions about what we would and wouldn't do in a similar situation.
I suggest you use Goodreads to record all your books on I use it all the time and it is brilliant will send you a link via FB if I remember!

alexa said...

I am very admiring of your ability to write so cogently about what you read. I tend to be more of a non-fiction reader these last few years ... But you are prompting me to go and look!

Sandie said...

I really enjoyed this post Jemm and I may look out for the first two books you mentioned. I dip in and out of lots of books, I love recipe books, fiction, and non fiction and I have just finished 'Miss Peregrines home for peculiar children'. It's a fantasy book that looked intriguing and I highly recommend it. I am waiting for the sequel to come out in paperback and looking forward to reading it.

Sandra said...

I love reading book reviews, so I'm glad you did this post :) I joined Goodreads last year so I could keep a list of the books I read

Melissa said...

What a great mixture of books! I enjoy lots of books & different points of view are always interesting. The most unusual was from the point of view of a 5-year-old boy in Room.

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

An interesting post that I enjoyed reading.

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.