Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A month in books - April

To be read ... 
A surprisingly short list of books read this month. It's amazing the difference between at-home-me-with-broadband and travelling-me-with-rubbish-wifi. I blame Twitter!

I have got back into my Audible.co.uk audiobooks as I have being walking in and out of Eastbourne several times a week to get to work. At an hour's walk a day, it's a great opportunity to don my sparkly gold headphones. There's two audios in this month's list and I am currently just over half-way through A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki too so expect my review of that in May.



The Happy Hoofer by Celie Imrie
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy the audiobook from Audible via Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

I downloaded Celia Imrie's autobiography from Audible. She reads the book herself and, despite bemoaning the sheer work involved in other audio narration within her story, she does a good job. There was a lot of Celia's life that I was completely unaware of and details of her early life were sadly shocking. The book did become a bit staid later on, more a list of acting roles with an anecdote about each. However, overall this is an interesting glimpse into the life of a strong and independent woman.


An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy the audiobook from Audible via Amazon.co.uk
Buy the hardback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

I got this book on download from Audible too and it is read by Hadfield himself. Listening didn't feel like hearing someone read a book, more as though Hadfield was simply chatting about his life which was fascinating. I had not previously considered how much work is needed to become an astronaut and what a tiny percentage of the job is 'glory' so I now have a real understanding of what these people go through. I liked Hadfield's constant inclusion of his family and the effect of his career choice on their lives. Some topics are repeated too much for my liking - perhaps the book was initially overlapping essays - but the motivational and life lesson segments are inspiring, eminently practical and surprisingly down to earth!



When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

Interesting novel with many scenes and events that I recognised from my own childhood and adolescence. The descriptions of time and place are great and the relationship between Elly and her older brother Joe is utterly convincing. I wasn't so convinced by the talking rabbit - perhaps I'm too old and cynical to believe! However, I did buy in to the latter stages of the book which, while also magically believable, gave an emotional sense of hope.


Hunting Unicorns by Bella Pollen
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

I liked the premise of this novel although having one of the narrators speaking from beyond the grave is an odd device. The continual switching between first-person narration and a third-person-explaining-first-person narration does make the story tricky to follow at times. The descriptions of the paupered lifestyles and eccentricities of the English aristocracy are amusing and much of the book's humour is provided by culture clashes and etiquette failure. This makes for good reading and it's a light tale that passes quickly. The characters, especially the film crew, are nicely portrayed but several of the cameo aristos came across as caricatures. Most convincing was the relationship between the brothers. The only part I didn't like was the unnecessary romance being shoehorned in. I didn't think it added to the story and actually showed the protagonists behaving completely against their characters, presumably just for the sake of a happy ending?



Railway to the Grave by Edward Marston
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

This is the seventh in the Railway Detective series of mysteries but it didn't seem to matter that I haven't read any of the others. Back stories are minimal and simple so easy to catch up on. The whole book is an easy, holiday-type read, firmly entrenched in the attitudes of its period and without excess soul-searching getting in the way of its story. I liked the characters of South Otterington, many are caricatures rather than rounded people but they are all distinct. By contrast, the three Detectives I thought let the story down. Tallis is unbelievably judgemental, Leeming far too easily led, and Colbeck is just too Good to be true. Still, the mystery wends it way to a satisfying conclusion. I'm not sure I would make a special effort to look out for other books in the series, but should one cross my path, I would take the time to read it.


Corrupted by Emmy Yoshida
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository

Corrupted has a pretty good story line of a young woman seduced by money and luxury who finds out that when something looks to good to be true, it usually IS too good to be true. The main characters are nicely drawn and I liked the switch from Ria's first person narrative to third person narrative for the other characters as this added interest to the tale. Unfortunately, the story is let down somewhat by the writing style. There is a lot of superfluous description and repetition, together with irritating errors - formerly for formally, cue for queue, etc. This could be resolved by a good editor to make a stronger novel overall. However, don't be put off! For its price - Corrupted was £1.02 on Kindle when I bought it - the book is good value and would be a good racy holiday beach read.


So that's it for March. Must try harder in April! The photo shows all the books I've still got queued up from travelling, the Lucifer Box trilogy by Mark Gatiss that I'm looking forward to reading again, and my latest Book Crossing swap, 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman which was a World Book Night book this year.

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