Friday, 30 September 2011

45 Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch

'I was born twice. First in a wooden room that jutted out over the black water of the Thames, and then again eight years later in the Highway, when the tiger took me in his mouth and everything truly began.'

Saved from the mouth of an angry tiger, Jaffy Brown's life changes when he is introduced into the world of Mr Jamrach and his menagerie of strange and exotic creatures. He is given the job of looking after the animals and then finds himself on board a ship bound for the Indian Ocean on a rather peculiar commission to find a creature that might not even exist.

But things are not easy on board the Lysander and he has to battle dragons and demons that walk on the surface of the water.

This book is quite literally astonishing, the story is quite simple, no doubt there have been hundreds of books written over the years about a young boy taking to the sea and travelling across the world. But what grabs you about 'Jamrach's Menagerie' is the stunning way it is written. It is beautifully written and to be honest it was a shame when I came to the end, I just wanted it to go on and on and never stop ! It is an emotionally powerful story loosely based on two real life events during the 19th Century. This may have become my favourite book of the year and of my 52 book challenge. Read it.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

44 Forbidden Mind by Kimberly Kinrade

Sam is nearly 18 and has the ability to read people's minds. For as long as she can remember she has lived with other children with amazing powers and has been looked after by Rent- A-Kid. Some can walk through walls, others can tell if people are lying. All her needs have been met and throughout her life they have sent her on various assignments where she uses her gifts to help others.
But one day a boy arrives through the doors who can also read minds and she discovers that all is not as it seems. Rent-A-Kid has promised that she can leave when she turns 18 but Drake informs her that they have other, more sinister plans. The world that she has known starts to crumble at her feet and she has to escape before it's too late.

This is a wonderful little page turner, well written and full of imagination and originality. I loved the main character and could really feel her fear and her world being ripped apart at the seams. 'Forbidden Mind' is a YA book but this 40 year old bloke enjoyed it and maybe will have to read more from this genre.
I would recommend anyone of any age to try this book and I'll have to read more from Kimberley Kinrade It's nice to read something different and twisty, something that makes my imagination go into hyperdrive.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

43 Angels and Demons - Dan Brown

An explosive device is hidden somewhere in the Vatican and four cardinals have gone missing on the day that a new pope is to be elected. Robert Langton is awaken in the middle of the night by a phone call, on the other end of the line is somebody who thinks he may be able to help.

Perhaps I am not the best person to review this book as thrillers aren't really my cup of tea, unless the story is especially imaginative, original or evocative in some way. What I did like about this book was the fact that Dan Brown takes you to places you wouldn't dream about going to. We are taken to America, Switzerland, Rome and finally to the Vatican ( where we are taken on a rather unorthodox tour.We even exhume a pope, visit the pope's bathroom and discover the tomb of St Peter.)I also like how I always end up learning stuff by reading his books although the accuracy of his historical facts are a hot topic of discussion !
I actually enjoyed 'The Da Vinci Code' but I wasn't as impressed with this. In fact in some ways the two books are almost carbon copies of each other and maybe that is what bugged me more than anything. Also I found this book was just too much like any other thriller and didn't keep my interest and didn't give me anything new.
Surely there are only so many times you can read a book or watch a movie where somebody is trying to stop a killer or where somebody is trying to stop a bomb from going off?

Angels and Demons isn't terrible but it didn't make me go 'WoW.' But it didn't rock my world either.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

42 Sweet Savage Charity by Margaret Lake

I have just had the pleasure of reading this novelette by Margaret Lake. By doing so I have killed two birds with one stone by reading a historical and a romance and an wonderful little tale it is too.

This story is set in the New World in 1621, where Charity Williams moves with her Puritan husband to start a new life in Plymouth Colony. Shortly afterwards her husband dies leaving her isolated in a world where she feels she doesn't belong.

It's a while since I've read any historical fiction and this little nugget has reminded me of what I am missing. I am interested in history but admittedly no expert but I love the opportunity that stories like this give for me to go back in time. And it also makes me wonder whether I should one day attempt writing historical fiction myself.

I also enjoyed the romantic side to this story and I really must read more from Margaret Lake in the future, she creates a good story.The past has so many great tales to tell us and so much more to teach us and even though this novelette is short, it has opened my eyes to another world.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Book 41 The GateCrasher by Sophie Kinsella

A book by Sophie Kinsella writing as Madeleine Wickham.

Well I said from the beginning of this challenge that I wanted to read a wide variety of genres and I have just read what some would call my first Chick Lit ! Now this book probably (obviously) wasn't written for a 40 year old bloke with a bald head who likes football and Newcastle Brown Ale drunk straight from the bottle. And so it was interesting to take a look at this particular kind of book from an aspiring (neurotic) writers point of view.

Fleur Daxeny is an attractive and charismatic woman who gatecrashes funerals with the sole intention of befriending very rich widows . As it says on the front cover, she is ' a shoulder to cry on and a hand on your wallet.' This time she meets Richard and is soon drawn into his close family circle and all appears to be going well until her daughter arrives on the scene and Fleur also realises that she is not the only one after Richard's money.
On the surface I shouldn't have liked this book. I am not by any means of the imagination ' intended reader' and there is nothing new or original in ' The Gatecrasher'. It is littered with cliches and an incredible amount of spelling mistakes ( I have never read a book with so many, especially in the first half).
The characters are very much one dimensional and the plot was simple and paper thin.
However this book had a good hook which carried it along nicely and it was a light and easy read, not to mention the fact that I fell in love with Sophie's photograph on the inside cover! At the end of the day, despite its faults, this is not a bad read. However I will say that quickly and move on before my wife or somebody elses decides that I am turning in my old age.

Oh go on 7/10 !