17 October 2014

Books of 2014: Part 8


I am now finally up to date with my latest batch of 5 read books!  This post takes us through books 35-40, 10 more books then I aimed to read this year, so I'm pretty happy.  Don't forget if you want to keep up to date with what I'm reading you can follow me on goodreads.  Once more most of the books I've read this time have been lent from my sister.  That's why the top picture is looking a little sparse.  They've been sitting on my shelf for a long time so I am really happy I am finally getting through them!

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol

It is 1897, Dieppe. Oscar Wilde, poet, playwright, novelist, raconteur and ex-convict, has fled the country after his release from Reading Gaol. Tonight he is sharing a drink and the story of his cruel imprisonment with a mysterious stranger. He has endured a harsh regime: the treadmill, solitary confinement, censored letters, no writing materials. Yet even in the midst of such deprivation, Oscar's astonishing detective powers remain undiminished - and when first a brutal warder and then the prison chaplain are found murdered, who else should the governor turn to for help other than Reading Gaol's most celebrated inmate?

The final book in this series and its every bit as good as the others.  In this we find a much more solum Oscar Wilde, in prison and dealing everything that comes with it.  However despite his depression we still see his mind is sharp as he manages to solve another murder.  This is a great murder mystery, that stays smart and give an insight into the victorian prison system.
****

The Last Day of a Condemned Man by Victor Hugo

A man vilified by society and condemned to death for his crime wakes every morning knowing that this day might be his last. Graphically detailed, this first-person chronicle describes both the prisoner’s wretched environment and his thoughts, reminiscences, and despair at his impending doom. 

There is defiantly a reason this book is considered a classic, and I can see the how it worked to change many a mind about the death penalty.  Told from the unique perspective of a man condemned to death you see the world through his eyes in his last few hours.  It puts a personality behind the condemned and is so well written, it creates an air of sympathy for the main character without laying it on too heavy.  The only thing that lets this book down is the unnecessary 'fluff'.  This book is very short and the main title even shorter, so it is filled with different essays and short stories that end up dragging the main title down, and this is why I can't give it higher then 4 stars.
****


The Three by Sarah Lotz

Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe.
There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged.
And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone.
A message that will change the world.
The message is a warning.


Read my full review here but in short, go read it!
****


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion... she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect for Lola, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend.
That is, until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt that Lola thought was long buried. So when talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally face up to a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Could the boy from Lola's past be the love of her future?


This book follows new characters from the same world as Anna and the French Kiss.  Like Anna, this was a fun easy read but I'm still not getting what all the hype was about.  It's good for a speed read and it's nice and light, great for those times when you don't want anything too heavy.  I'll probably pick up the last title in the series just to finish it off but I won't be rushing out to get it.  I preferred this one to Anna because I liked lola's eccentricity more, and the characters in general, but it got a bit too cheesy for me towards the end.
***


Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

In 1960, when he was almost 60 years old, John Steinbeck set out to rediscover his native land. He felt that he might have lost touch with its sights, sounds and the essence of its people. Accompanied only by a distinguished French poodle named Charley, he travelled all across the United States in a three-quarter-ton pick-up truck equipped with miniature ship's cabin and named Rocinante. His course took him through almost 40 states. He saw things that made him proud, angry, sympathetic and elated, all of which is related with remarkable honesty and insight. The book was was first published in 1962.

This was well written but I just couldn't really get into it.  I don't enjoy Steinbeck's non-fiction as much as his fiction, I also think that his portrayal of America just wasn't a big enough interest of mine to really get through this.  There were some passages I really enjoyed but they were far between.
***

What is the best book you've read this year?  I am looking for some recommendations! 
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