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. 

Rivers of London

I picked this as a simple read after a heavy non-fiction. I’d had it recommended to me and so thought I’d give it a whirl. It is essentially a police procedural in a fantasy version of London. For me, it didn’t quite come off. It was fairly mundane and the fantasy aspects just didn’t gel together. It felt as if it had been edited to within an inch of its life, no doubt to make it into a fast reading page turner and I do wonder if a more fleshed out version exists somewhere.

Either way, a middle of the road story at best, a bit like an average episode of the Doctor Who reboots stretched into an entire book. There’s a lot of other books in the series as I understand but I don’t think I’ll be giving them a read. 

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. 

White Teeth

This was a great read. Not the sort of book I would usually pick out but it was bought for me and I am glad. First novel apparently which makes you feel a bit sick. The writing is immense. My favourite bit amongst many – commenting on a character who is high on morphine… “his head opened up like a deck chair.” Great stuff. 

This is a long read, perhaps a bit too long being my only criticism, but it is one of great wisdom and it is well thought out enough that it is all leading towards something which is not something I necessarily anticipated. I was fully prepared for it to peter out a bit but the ending was surprisingly satisfying. A thorough exploration of race and the intertwined attitudes of all parties.