Piranesi

I bought this having read her other book Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell only very recently. 

This one is as short as her first book is long. However, it is just as unique. An unbelievably imaginative story that is beautifully written and will keep you enthralled all the way through. There was a magical quality to the book that I can’t put my finger on but it seemed to lighten the soul whenever I delved into it. I really can’t explain it. A real rare talent. 

There’s no point me going into the story as it’s all just very fantastical but it is is both melancholy and uplifting all at the same time. No wonder it’s won awards.

Eight Detectives

As you will see from the sticker, this was a buy one get one half price. I was forced into buying this with three other books by the checkout lady as this would ‘effectively be free’. 

I’m always wary of impulse buys but this was actually quite good. Another original concept in that it essentially takes the form of 8 short stories, each of which is a short murder mystery. Rather than a collection of very good short murder mystery stories, it tries to tie them together. The suspense that keeps you reading is how the author might do this. The ending doesn’t quite live up to the suspense it builds, not quite as clever as you imagine it might be. As such it won’t be a real classic but that’s not taking away from the fact that it is very nicely and concisely and confidently written. And it is quite clever in places. Worth a read. 

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

I can’t remember how I came to buy this book. Subsequently I have seen it numerous times on lists of modern classics and the best books of the last couple of decades. I realise now this is for good reason. 

This book is quite unlike any other I have read and yet is superb. It’s a long one (4x standard book length I’d say) but it never felt as if it was going on. In fact, although I wasn’t willing it to go on any longer, I was also not willing it to finish any sooner. It was perfectly balanced and the writing was so smooth and a pleasure to read. Her style is, without the reader really noticing it, somehow effortless. Not a sentence out of place and every word counts. It would be a good one for aspiring fiction writers to study I suspect. 

The world she manages to build over this epic is wonderful and all encompassing. Whenever I sat down to read this, I was entering the world – escapism as it should be done. I am aware that there was a tv adaptation of this but I don’t think I’ll watch it. Invariably these shatter the impressions already perfectly created by the words. 

One from the very top drawer this one. 

History

Love Miles Jupp. Love history. Love History. 

This was a scenic walk of a book. Lighthearted, funny, (twice quite literally lough out loud), and also very perceptive. In short exactly what one might imagine a book by Miles Jupp about a history teacher at a private school in Wiltshire would be like. I would thoroughly recommend this. 

 

 

On the Road

This is one of those that they say everyone should read. Clearly made a big impact when it was first released but a different time perhaps. For me, it was a bit of a slog. I didn’t really enjoy it that much. Frenetic and disordered for much of it, and it didn’t really grab me. Perhaps I’ve missed the point a bit but to say it was amazing would be a bit pretentious of me. Cool picture on the cover though in the edition I had and was a smaller sized pocket version so it made me feel a bit like a giant. 

The Appeal

This was one of my impulse buys. These are always risky but in this case, I was pleasantly surprised. An unusual format here, with the story being told through the emails, texts and letters of all the characters, leaving you to try and figure out the mystery towards the end. Well written and original. Perhaps went on a bit but otherwise, I enjoyed it. 

Box 88

Bought on a whim and was accordingly wary that it would be a bit of a trashy thriller with little substance. In this case, I really lucked out. I absolutely loved this book. Written thoughtfully and with sophistication, it adds an unexpected coming of age element to the story with a hint of classic and plausible espionage that has been diluted in so many modern equivalents. This is just a really well written book and I will be looking into reading the next installment which is apparently out soon. 

The Mountain Shadow

This is a hefty book that is the followup to Shantaram which I enjoyed. I think on the whole, I liked this better. It’s a long book but at no point did I get bored. It is heavily philosophical to the point where some people I think might find it a bit pretentious but I am not one of those people. The characters are well rounded and believable, if not a bit exaggerated. It’s a bit of a fantasy world in a way but gives a feel of such a different way of life to my own that it peaks the imagination. 

Some lovely writing…”Moonlight wrote tree poems on the road”. 

This is recommended. 

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

After my last book, I needed something that I cold devour. I had heard good things about this one so I took a shot. 

What can I say, other than this book has shot its way right into the top five, maybe even top three books I have ever read. It is awesome. The premise is that of a traditional murder mystery in a country estate, the idea of which I love. But, the added feature here is that there is a sort of supernatural aspect in which the main character lives the day of the murder several times, Groundhog Day-style. Knowing this, I was cautious. 

The thing with this is that it would be so easy to get it wrong, or not put enough into it. Not so with this genius. He’s absolutely nailed it. My mind boggles when I think of all the tangled pathways he must have had to have in his head to make this work. But it really does. Bloody awesome. Read it as soon as you can. Apparently his second book is even better!

Nomad

Those who know me will realise that this book was never going to get a bad review. But I challenge anyone to read this and not laugh out loud. It is billed on the cover as ‘the funniest book ever written’ and that is no exaggeration, perhaps rivalled only by the previous book I Partridge. 

It’s essentially like reading a feature length episode of classic Partridge except all of that unique Partridge-ness gets to showcase itself even further through the extra machinery of the written word (and through pictures, diagrams, tables etc..). 

I needed this book right now.