A load of short reviews

Its been ages since I looked back at the books I’ve read, so its time for a bit of a catch up.

Since the wonderful, The Hate You Gave by Angie Thomas, these are the books I’ve managed to read since.

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean Paul Didi-Laurient

A short quirky french book. One you’d probabbly file under ‘charming’.  Hard to know what to say about it. First of all I really enjoyed it. Its about Guylain, a kind but lonely man who works in a place that pulps books – a job he hates. He rescues pages from time to time, and begins to read them on his commute to work the eponymous 6.27. There’s more to the story obviously, but you’ll have to read it to find out more.

Its about the power of words, and friendship and a love of books. Its beautifully written, and although short, you may find you want to slowly read in order to relish the writing

My Goodreads rating – 5 stars.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

A victorian fantasy/mystery/love story. Not a fantasy in the elves and magic genre, but more in the fact that it touchs on the mystical and folklore and the fantastical. Set in Essex and london, it tells the story of Cora Seaborne and her relationship with Reverend Ransome and his family.
With a supporting cast of villagers and well to do Londoners, the story skips along at a nice pace, with a story centred around a local tale of a sea serpent/dragon creature that frightens the locals and intrigues the scientest in our Hero Cora.

Lots to enjoy in this story plus a strikingly gorgeous cover for those that judge books by that kind of thing. I managed to get a hardback copy in a local charity shop for the grand price of €3

My Goodreads rating – 4 stars…bargain!!

Skintown by Ciaran McMenamin

Another charity shop bargain, this time for the miserly sum of €1. I read my first ever proof of a novel. Skintown is Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. Its a drink, drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll look back at a period of time towards the end of The Troubles. Lots of humour, and irreverence. Anyone with fond memories of the Rave scene may enjoy parts of the book, and it comes with a suggested Spotify playlist. Well worth checking out

My Goodreads rating 4 stars
The Fifth Season (Broken Earth #1) by NK Jemison

Considering at one point I read almost entirely only fantasy or science fiction, I read very little now relatively speaking. Its great then to find something new in the genre. Jemison creates a world in constant flux, where natural forces (or are they Gods?) seem to be out to kill the population.

The world ends at the beginning. The story is told through the eyes of three different characters at three different points in time explaining the social starta that exists in ‘The Stillness’ (a slightly clucky name, but tbh that’s very much nitpicking.  One a young girl snatched from her family as she is a hated Orogenes who can control natural forces. Then there is Essun, whose husband has murdered her son and kidnapped her daughter. and Syen a young powerful orogene on a mission. Personal stories all part of a bigger story that spans the world and generation.

I’m kind of waiting for part 3 to come out before I get to part 2, as I’d really like to read them together and suspect part one is merely the introduction to a bigger story. Excellent start, looking forward to seeing what comes next. World building and interesting characters are at the heart of any good fantasy series. This one is guaranteed to leave you wanting more.

My Goodreads rating – 4 stars

If Then by Matthew De Abaitua

Another fantasy, of the science fiction variety. Set in a post apocolyptic future, an English town survives under the watch of a system of algorithims called The Process. Everyone is given a role, including James, who is the bailiff, that ensures the rules are adhered to. Then the process starts making soldiers. Why?

This is a book of ideas. Plenty of philospohical musing follows. Its a book of two halves. If, intruduces us to life under the process. Then looks at war, and I guess whether it can be avoided by studying what happened, why and the influences of certain people.

Its a hard one to review. I enjoyed it. Probably best read in long sittings rather than in bits. There’s plenty to think about and work out. Its an interesting thesis on the end of capitalism, and IF, we concede decision making to an AI, whether THEN we might lead to a more settled and better life. Draw your own conclusions.

My Goodreads ratings – 4 stars

Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This was a monthly read for the Rick O’Shea Book Club which happens on Facebook and which I’ve been part of from early on. I’m kind of ashamed that it took being nominated as a monthly read for me to buy the book and read it. I got a nice hardback anniversary edition though in a second hand shop.

Anyway the book. I loved it. Still resonates strongly for me. The wall to wall mindless entertainment. The idea being perputated that we should live our lives in ignorance and not worry about having to think too much, that ideas are dangerous, let our betters look after us. Funnily enough, part of the themes of my previous read, ‘If Then’.

We live in a dangerous world. Ideas drive people to do terrible things, but equally ideas protect us from people that seek to do terrible things. We need to find the beauty in the everyday and the banal. We need to keep creating, and to fight against the tide of elitism. I think Bradbury would both love social media for how it can spread ideas, and baulk against the propoganda of mainstream media (of whatever flavour you care for), but would shudder at the steady stream of hatred and utter shite it manages to spew out each day too.

Overall though, I think he’d like the idea of ideas being set free and shared around the world.

The book is still powerful, and I would urge people to go read it.

Goodreads rating 5 stars

A Doubters Almanac by Ethan Canin

The story of a genious, or actually a family of genious’s..geneii? A great novel. Peppered with mathamatical equations, or references to equations or problems that I barely understood, but which did not take away from my enjoyment of this novel.

Its kind of in the style of John Irving which is a plus for me. Lots to enjoy in this. Plenty of humour and a great story.

Goodreads ratings – 4 stars

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

An Irish novelist writing about the American Indian wars and American Civil war, with some nods to Brokeback Mountain. The story of a young Irish lad from Sligo, impoverished in Ireland and impoverished in America, who joins the army, and goes to fight for land and for the freedom of slaves.

Its written in the venacular of the time (I assume), and it adds nicely to the dialogue in my opinion. The writing is wonderful. Language is to be enjoyed, and Barry uses it plenty of different ways. Misery in battle is particularly well written.  Some (in the ROSBC) haven’t found it an easy read but I had lots of praise for it.

Goodreads rating – 4 stars

Distress Signals by Katherine Ryan Howard

This was a quick read for me. Went through it a few hours. A good decent mystery, who a good ending. Satisfying read that will keep you hooked in throughout the book. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. A good holiday read I guess.

Goodreads rating 3 stars

The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates by Des Ekin

Oh I was so disappointed in this. I read about it somewhere and sought it out in the library. Pirates from the Barbrary coast  came to Ireland and captured almost an entire village. Over 100 Irish people taken as slaves, with only 2 ever or see Ireland again.

I thought or hoped I was going to read their actual stories, but a lot of it was conjecture and surmising from contemporary accounts.

Maybe I’m being a bit hard. I found the writing style not to my liking, with the story padded out. It would have made a really interesting long magazine or newspaper report, but didn’t quite work as a book for me.  Some really interesting parts padded out with guesses. I couldn’t quite work out if he thought the captured villagers were subjected to a life of misery and drudgery, or a life of relative luxury.

I wouldn’t put anyone off it, as the story itself is interesting, but…

Goodreads rating – 2 stars

 

The Best of Adam Sharp – Graeme Simsion

I wanted to love this. I didn’t. I really liked half it. I was pushed about the other half. The bit I liked was the use of music and songs as plot devices, and connections to different parts of his life. How some songs were important and were linked to different events that happened to him. I thought it was going to be a decent take on the second chance romance, a bit of a rom com.

Then it got a bit silly I thought. I just couldn’t find the premise believable. I lost interest in the characters a bit. I couldn’t decide if I wanted them to hook up or not.

It was ok. Not great, not terrible. Bit of a mixed bag really.

Goodreads rating – 3 stars

The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan

Who doesn’t love a good zombie novel? Well, I liked it, I didn’t love it.  The good. It was well written, atmospheric, good idea, and promises more to come from the sequels. The bad – few gaps or unanswered questions, that may be answered if I read the sequels. So who are the sisterhood? How the village come to be? Where do the other paths go? Why is Gabrielle different and who was she anyway? I think I might have preferred a longer novel that answered those questions rather than being left wondering if I should get the sequals.

Goodreads ratings – 3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: paumurp

I am a youth worker in Ireland. Easily pleased and slow to anger. I love to read, listen to music and to take photographs

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