5 November 2013

Books of 2013: Part 1

So here's a new feature I've had in mind for a while, I've been unemployed for a large part of this year and as such I've done a lot of reading.  So I decided that every week I will share 5 of the books I've read this year with very short reviews (lets see how well my memory serves me!).  In 9 weeks its the first week of January (scary right!) and seeing as I have already read 34 books and plan on reading at least 40 (hopefully somewhere between 40-50) I realised I need to start now to be finished by the start of the new year.  So without further adieu:


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

"HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. 
1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.
SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION - THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH.
It's a small story, about: a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.
ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW - DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES"


This almost doesn't count because I finished it at exactly half past midnight which probably tells you a great deal about how much of a party animal I was this new year!  I asked for this for christmas and just devoured it, from the opening paragraph I knew i was going to love it.  The writing style is amazing and having it narrated by Death adds a great deal to the stories tragedy and charm (yes, Death can be charming).  I enjoy character driven books and this has some fantastic characters, but overall it is the writing that is the main draw.  I was warned that it would make me cry but I managed to keep the tears inside.  There is a film of this book coming out in the new year and I will defiantly be checking it out but I am quite sceptical, there are certain things that make this book special that I just don't think they can translate to film which leaves it at the risk of being just another war film.  Overall I highly recommend this book to pretty much anyone
*****


Wonder by R.J Palacio

"I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?"

I picked this up on a whim at Tesco after hearing great things about it.  Technically it's a children's book, vaguely aimed at the 10-12 age range but I'd heard so many adults rave about it I thought it was worth picking up.  It was an enjoyable read, although I only gave it 3 stars almost everyone else has voted it higher (its at almost 5 stars on Goodreads!) and I just felt it was missing something.  This could be because it's not aimed at my age range.  I did really enjoy the different perspectives, each chapter is told be a different person in Auggie's life and it allows you to see things from different angles.  I challenge you not to be moved and fall in love with the protagonist, he's one of those characters you just want to scoop up and make everything ok!
***

One Day by David Nicholls 

"Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows? 

Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY."

Ok, I'm going to be really controversial here, I do not like this book at all.  I know everyone loves it and it's some what of a modern classic but I just found it really boring.  To be honest I don't like romance novels but so many people had told me how great this book was I thought they had to be something to it.  But no, it just proved once more it's just not for me, dull dull, dull.  I also thought the guy was a doosh and it all seemed kinda shallow.  Every time someone saw me reading this and I told them I wasn't enjoying it they gave me a look like I'd just kicked a puppy.  I still gave it 3 stars but I can't remember why, there must have been some redeeming features.  I do remember relating quite a lot to the female character
***

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

"The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” But not only are they the equal of fairy tales we now know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter"

So another confession, until last year, I'd never read Harry Potter, more then that I knew nothing of the story!  I managed to read all the series before June when we went to Florida to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  At the end of the year I read Mysterious Beats and Where to Find Them and Quiditch Through the Ages and that just left this cute little book.  As a companion novel it's a great edition, the stories are short, simple and cute
****

The Acid House by Irvine Welsh

"Made up of a collection of Welsh's most powerful stories, all come from the rough, tough badlands of the schemes of North Edinburgh and take us into a dark but hilarious world of drugs, deviant sex and football hooliganism fired by Welsh's passion and fierce steaming rock and roll.
Stories include: The Shooter, Eurotrash, Stoke Newington Blues, Vat '96, A Soft Touch, The Last Resort on the Adriatic, Sexual Disaster Quartet, Snuff, A Blockage in the System, Wayne Foster, Where the Debris Meets the Sea, Granny's Old Junk, The House of John Deaf, Across the Hall, Lisa's Mum Meets the Queen Mum, The Two Philosophers, Disnae Matter, The Granton Star Cause, Snowman Building Parts for Rico the Squirrel, Sport for All, The Acid House, A Smart Cunt: a novella"

Like with all collections of short stories, it's a bit hit and miss.  Some stories are always going to be more engaging and personal choice dictates you'll always like somethings more then others.  Welsh hits the mark most of the time and his unique writing style is evident throughout, although it usually takes me a couple of pages to be able to understand the language and I occasionally have to google the odd Scottish slang word that I don't know.  
****

So there you are, what do you think of my new feature?  Have you read any of these books?  Let me know and we'll start a discusuion
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