Saturday, 30 June 2007

Books I read in June

I've now read 43/100 books! Yay for Perfume.

Total: 16 books

Perfume (Patrick Süskind)
Conversations With God (Book Two) (Neale Donald Walsch)
The Book of Lost Things (John Connolly)
Why Men Don't Have a Clue & Women Always Need More Shoes (Allan & Barbara Pease)
Brethren (Robyn Young)
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Alexander McCall Smith)
The five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom)
The Stolen Child (Keith Donohue)
Shanghai Baby (Wei Hui)
A Spot of Bother (Mark Haddon)
Little Lady, Big Apple (Hester Browne)
Chart Throb (Ben Elton)
A Place Called Here (Cecelia Ahern)
Cage of Stars (Jacquelyn Mitchard)
How Slow Can You Waterski? (Guardian Books)
The End of Alice (A. M. Homes)

I bought Perfume from Borders Oxford Street after seeing a trailer for the film. The film looked somewhat scary but tempted me to look at the book. I'm sort of curious now I've read it to see how they've turned a book that is all about scent into a film... I finished this book on Friday 29/06 on my way up to Derbyshire for a weekend of seeing folk (the lovely Dave and Lizi) and the Kinder BOH concert. A nice original idea - Grenouille murders to capture the scent of innocence - and easy-to-read; I liked this book. I think I shall keep this one.

Conversations With God (Book Two) was the result of a swap with bexster (UK) for my copy of Successful Interviews Every Time. I read this in one day (26/06) but... don't bother! Without wanting to quote a book completely without context, let me supply you with a little gem: "When you have been a man long enough - when you have suffered enough through your own foolishness; when you inflicted enough pain through the calamities of your own creation; when you have hurt others enough to stop your own behaviors - to replace aggression with reason, contempt with compassion, always-winning-with-no-one
-losing - then you may become a woman". Apparently the words of God. I'm sure fans of this book would say I'm not ready to accept the "life-changing" spiritual truths in this book but I mostly thought that it felt like some bloke's opinions written under a more authoritative banner. There are so many spiritual books I'd recommend before this one. It went straight back onto ReadItSwapIt and it went to rachelsparks (UK) in a swap for Travels With My Aunt.

Yay, another fantasy book! The Book of Lost Things is a very pretty fairy-tale story in a very pretty cover. Lots of Brothers Grimm - Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel. I bought this on that Easter Borders (Oxford Street) trip with Dad and I think this is probably the last of them all. I finished this on 22/06 on the way up to Lancaster for Sinki's leaving weekend (a crazy-long journey due to flooding). A popularly wishlisted book but I shan't be giving it away.

Why Men Don't Have a Clue & Women Always Need More Shoes was a bit too self-helpy for my liking, much more so than Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps. I have started reading this book before (it's been on my shelf for ages), and it didn't take me long to remember this time why I gave up - this book feels very patronising. This book is full of top tips for 'training' the men in your life to respond without nagging, to shop, to obey 'fart-free' zones and it all feels a little bit painful. The later chapters skim over what makes us attractive over the opposite sex but was so condensed it wasn't really worth anything at all (and if I wanted to fill in a quiz to work out how men saw me I'd buy a copy of J-17 or the like). I'm not hanging onto this and I doubt very much I'll bother reading anything else they might write. I read this book in two chunks, finishing after Brethren on 20/06.

Brethren is yet another of those books in the style of The Da Vinci Code. I've read a few of these now and surprisingly they've all been pretty reasonable, this one is no exception. I struggled a little to get started with this (but only briefly) and it's perhaps a little long but this was generally an enjoyable read. I've had this sat on my shelf for long enough that I can't remember where exactly it came from so it's nice to finally be able to cross it off the TBR list. I started this on Monday because I didn't have enough of the other books I'm reading for them to travel with me. Possibly my longest (time and pages) read so far this month, I finished it on Wednesday 20th. It was a good book but there are so many very similar good books that I won't be hanging on to it - I have rehoused it with tracyjane41 (UK) in a swap for Empress Orchid.

Having sat on my shelf pretty much since it was released in paperback (2006 sometime), I suspect that Friends, Lovers, Chocolate did not really get the attention it deserved. I read this on a Sunday afternoon (17/06) whilst in one of those strange moods where I wanted to do everything and nothing all at the same time. It wasn't quite as meaningless as a book for such a mood should be. This is the second in a series of books about Isabel Dalhousie, editor of a philosophy journal. I don't think this being second in a series made any real difference to how the book as enjoyed as it stands well enough on its own. I didn't like this as much as other books by this author and I probably won't bother with any of the other Sunday Philosophy Club books. I made this book available on Bookmooch and it went to anne (Japan).

Another 'I read this in a day', The five People You Meet in Heaven was my on-my-way-home-on-Friday (15/06) book (and I rarely go home on Fridays so that's something of a novelty). It arrived in the post from maire (UK) via BookMooch on the Thursday evening. Eddie arrives in heaven and is greeted by five people whose lives he changes and they explain his earthly life to him. It's an easy read and very enjoyable. I'm hanging onto it for now I think.

The Stolen Child was bought in the Easter Border's (Oxford Street) trip with Dad that has provided many of the books read over the previous two months - it's the first of these for June. A slightly-dark story of changelings which I really liked. It's an easy enough read but with plenty of depth. I read this over three days and enjoyed taking some time over it (I finished it on Friday 15th on my way to work). One to keep for a while I think.

Shanghai Baby came following a suggestion on the BookMooch forum to check out Kalle Makinen's (Finland) inventory. I didn't mooch this book from him (though I did mooch i, Lucifer from him instead), but spotted it in his inventory and mooched it from Gavin (UK) instead. I was hoping for something a bit like The Girl Who Played Go or Memoirs of a Geisha but this is a pretty western novel in style. I read this in one day on 12/06 but was really quite bored with a lot of this book. It was back on Book Mooch before I'd reached the end as I was pretty sure I'd be parting with it. I swapped this on ReadItSwapIt with romyashley (UK) for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

A Spot of Bother - I didn't like this as much as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime but it was a rather tough act to follow. The Curious Incident... was hugely popular and really very good. I think also that I may have identified slightly more with boys that numbered pages using primes than a fifty-seven year old retired gentleman suffering with depression and anxiety. Still, this book is a very pleasant read and something I'd wishlisted (if only out of curiosity) since it came out in Hardback before Christmas last year. I picked this up as a Borders (Oxford Street) offer of the week on 07/06 and having started it on Sunday afternoon, relaxing in the sun, finished it on Monday 11/06 on my commute home. I made this book available on BookMooch and it was snapped up within minutes, hopefully I've made marilyn wikinson (UK) a very happy bunny.

Little Lady, Big Apple arrived on my doormat as the result of a Read It Swap It exchange with debbie66551 (UK) for Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination, a book I have struggled to get rid of on swap sites. I'd read the first one (The Little Lady Agency) and not hated it, so I figured it was worth a go. I read this one over the weekend in sunny Lancaster (and it was very sunny), sat in Graham's garden, finishing on Sunday afternoon. I don't think this is nearly as good as I remember the first one being. Chick lit isn't my thing, so I was always going to struggle with this and I did get bored. It's an easy, not unpleasant, read but just didn't hold my attention. Read it if you liked the first one and you can be bothered reading another one. I won't be reading it again and it's waiting for someone to mooch it from me.

Having spotted Jude reading this in the office when it was out in hardback and have him sort of recommend it, I bought a copy of Chart Throb when I spotted it as a Borders (Oxford Street) half price offer of the week. It's Ben Elton's latest offering and it has a similar feel to both High Society and Dead Famous (I've not read either Past Mortem or The First Casualty). I started this on Thursday 7th (the first day of that week I didn't finish a book ) and finished it off on the train up to Lancaster on Friday. I'm beginning to think I'm really not that keen on some of his more recent stuff (and indeed some of his older stuff). I liked the concept but really didn't find most of this book all that funny. It's ok and not a book you slog through but I would be very unlikely to read it again. That said, if you do come across this book, read the telephone sex scene (it was the only point at which I laughed aloud). I put this onto BookMooch once I'd finished with it and it's been claimed by Claire (UK).

A Borders (Oxford Street) half-price offer of the week, A Place Called Here is another of those books I read in a day (06/06) but don't be misled into thinking that means it's any good. It's a very, very naff book with all the cheese you can stuff into 484 pages. The book follows Sandy Shortt, a woman who hunts missing things until she finds herself "missing". It's not a romantic novel and it is easy to read but that's about all it really has in its favour. It's not badly written but it really isn't worth wasting your time over. I gave it away quickly to Alex McG (UK) through BookMooch - I hope she thinks more of it than I did. (I have read another of her books which was a romantic novel and was actually better - PS, I Love You . That one I expected to be pretty bad, it was a Tesco (Minehead) buy when teaching English to Russian students at Butlins in Summer 2004 and was bought after reading almost everything else they sold. I think the world can find better authors to spend time reading).

Cage of Stars has a bit of a Jodi Picoult feel to it (with a bit of Picolt-ish cover art too) without being a crime novel. The book follows Ronnie Swan who, having seen her younger sisters murdered at twelve years of age, plans her revenge on the schizophenic Scott Early. I read this in a day (05/06) and really enjoyed it. It's very similar style to Picoult and is just as readable. I bought this from Borders Gallions Reach (buy 1 get one half price) with Graham and Kimball over the second May bank holiday weekend. I have given it away (swapped on Read It Swap It for The Kite Runner with sally3:UK) but may seek to reread it in the future.

How Slow Can You Waterski is a collection of science behind the news articles from the Guardian. It was a Christmas present from Graham which I have been reading one or two stories at a time before bed since then. I finally finished it off on Monday 4th June. I expected to enjoy these and was not disappointed though there are some bits of the world I wish I could persuade myself to show more interest in. It's staying on my shelf to dip into again and to grin at like a silly fool.

The End of Alice was bought from Borders Gallions Reach (in the same trip as Cage of Stars) with Music For Torching by the same author. Both books were bought full price after reading This Book Will Save Your Life and reading some reviews on BookMooch. I really liked this book from the very first page. The words are really elegantly crafted and made me want to read them aloud (and I did, wandering about in my lunch hour on Thursday). I finished this book on Friday 1st June and it was a very good start to the month (following some great books at the end of last month too!) I will keep this book for sure and will reread it sometime in the future. It's not especially similar to This Book Will Save Your Life and is far better (and This Book Will Save Your Life was a pretty good book too). It has a bit of a Margeret Atwood feel to it but I can't quite think what makes me say that. The topic (it's about a correspondence between a pedophile and a 19-year-old girl) caught my eye and may put some people off but it's a fine book and I recommend it.

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