*** Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (Fictionalised Fact) ***
A fantastic blend of fiction and fact. This monster of a novel draws you deeply into the sights, sounds and smells of India and nabs you tightly in the clutches of the underground culture. From the amazing lifestyle of the slums to the darkest reaches of frigid Afghanistan, this book will immerse you. With intelligent, philosophical discussions, subtle subterfuge and even a few laughs, this is one story not to be missed.
Superior Saturday by Garth Nix (Young Adult Sci-fi)
(book 6 "Keys to the Kingdom")
Nothing spectacular. Another fairly blah tecchno-adventure in a series that is starting to drag on rather a lot. Not one of Nix's better novels.
The Host by Stephanie Meyer (YA/Adult Sci-fi)
A rather enjoyable, if rather light and fluffy, sci-fi-esque novel exploring what it truly means to be human. The characters are easy to identify with, distinct and (for the most part) likeable, the plot intriguing and the pace steady. My only disappointment was that it could have been a little more gripping and a little less fluffy. But then again, we all need a bit of romance, right?
*** Small Favor by Jim Butcher (audio) (Supernatural Thriller) ***
(Bk 9, Dresden Files)
James Masters read this to me on audio book. And it was good! Butcher's dry, wry humour really shines through and his word-play is so much more evident when heard aloud. The plot is typically filled with little twists, surprises, nail-biting excitement and more quirky characters and events than you can shake a blasting rod at. Another wonderful addition to the most addictive detective series ever.
*** We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (Literary) ***
A haunting and lingering book - this is not a novel to be taken lightly. It explores deep into the human psyche of what it means to be a parent and asks the time honoured question "can a child just be born bad?" The ending is both spine-chilling and frightening and I have now almost been put off having children. Of course, one has got to wonder how reliable a narrator Kevin's mother can be, but I found her both frank and candid, so I'd gather she's not embellished the truth too much. Still, it IS fiction so it's all in my interpretation anyhow!
Troll Mill by Katherine Langrish (audio) (YA fantasy)
Another light, fun, fast-paced adventure aimed at the young reader. This suffers a little from too many plots entwining with little relevence to one another, but is still an enjoyable read. Or in m case, listen to - although the baby troll's whining voice became insesscently annoying.
31 Dream Street by Lisa Jewell (Chicklit)
Sappy and light, but rather fun with it. This was a perfect follow-up for a heavier read. A little like "Amelie" and "Hunting and Gathering" - a group of misfits brought together and the person, equally a misfit himself, who tries to help them make their own lives. Quite delightful.
Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong (Fictionalised Fact)
Lyrically written and devastating, this is the heart-breaking tale of the death of an ancient ecosystem, thanks to the selfishness of human behaviour. It is the breaking away from custom and natural lore, the bitter triumph of civilisation over the wild spirit. The plight of the Mongolian grassland is set alongside the tale of a young Chinese student, who strives to raise a young wolf but ends up destroying its spirit instead. If it were not for the somewhat tedious drawn-out nature of the story, this would be a novel of stark tragedy and as I closed that final page I had tears in my eyes. Whilst classed as fiction, it reads like fact and is based on true events and experiences.
Cat o' Nine Tails by Julia Golding (YA historic)
(bk 4, "Cat Royal" series)
Another fun, far-fetched advnture this time taking young Cat Royal on a mighty frightening sea voyage to the wilds of America. With its fast pace and delightful characters, these books are filled with charm.
*** The Fade by Chris Wooding (Scifi) ***
Fans of China Mieville shuold look no further than Wooding's "The Fade". In its beneath-a-burning-earth setting of sprawling cities, dark conspiracies and conflicting races, this is fine sci-fi writing. The protagonist is a young female assassin, captured by the enemy during a disastrous battle. For all her pragmatic and rather brutal approach to her work, she is loyal to those she would label her friends. As such she is easy to identify with, and also to like and even admire. This is a girm, gritty read, and most certainly worth it.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (audio) (Literary/historic)
For all its fragmented and occasionally confusing structure, I found this an extremely enticing and lyrically evocative "read". It highlights potently the struggles of Judaism throughout the centuries - from the "clensing" of World War II, and back to the witch trials. Educational and enlightening, one must remember that much of it is fiction. It is essentially a string of short stories, running backwards through time, showing significant events in the lifetime of a very special book, the Hagadah.