3 Oct 2009

Monthly Reading: September'09

I really thought I'd have done more reading this month... but I guess going to bed late and tired and having to get up early for classes the next day kind of limits my bedtime reading habits. And I'm not finding much time to read elsewhere! I need to start going downtown on the bus instead of the car just to be able to read! :p

Agatha Christie's Sparkling Cyanide and Elephants can Remember
It's always nice to re-visit old friends when one feels the need for some comfort, and familiar books fall into that category. I've probably read all of Agatha Christie's books (including her two fabulous memoirs), although I'm not sure I'd recognise one I hadn't read if I came across it! I tend to prefer her books that don't involve Poirot (he annoys me), my favourites involve those intrepid detectives Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.
I borrowed these two off a friend here in Liège (in previous visits I'd already borrowed his other volumes) and read each of them in a couple of days. And although I couldn't remember the "whodunnit", methinks either my subconscious whispered the answer to me halfway through the books, or else I've read so many Christie books that figuring them out has become second nature. Anyhow, they're still enjoyable many years down the road, once I've forgotten the plot again! ;o)

Mutiny on the Bounty by John Boyne
I picked this one up last Spring as a Father's Day present for my Dad since I'd read good things about other books by the same author and my Dad enjoys both Mutiny on the Bounty movies. Also, let's be honest, with the afterthought if reading it myself when he'd done! :p (I love Historical Fiction as you'll have noticed by now, and stories that paint "history" from a different point of view to the one usually acknowledged are always very interesting)
In this case we've got the entire voyage of the Bounty laid before us, from their departure to their abortive attempt to round the Cape of Good Hope. From the escapades of several officers in various ports to their arrival in the Eden that is Tahiti. From the evolution of Captain Bligh as a man reluctant to use disciplinary measures to one almost tyrannical when imposing discipline in Tahiti. To the fateful night of the mutiny. All told as a memoir, in first person narrative through the eyes and voice of the Captain's cabin boy. One that aims to be "more impartial" than previous tellings (i.e. where -if my memory serves right- Bligh is the flat-out villain and Fletcher Christian is a saint), but in a fight one chooses sides, so no re-telling can ever be truly impartial.
In any case I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it!

The Fire by Katherine Neville
A much looked forward sequel to the absolutely wonderful The Eight... which was a complete let down! Ok, so not that complete... it was nice to see what had happened with these characters 30 years later, but it was so confusing and way too complicated for its own good! The technique that was so original in the first novel, that of telling two parallel stories (that of Cat and Mireille) with a common thread (the Montglane chess game) in two different historical periods (late 18th century and 1970s), has since been copied and over-used in way too many novels. And this one kind of feels like one of those. The second storyline (centred on Mireille's son Charlot and Haidée as well as a few other secondary characters from the first time) doesn't really earn its space in the book. It doesn't really provide much necessary information for the main plot, and its constant interruptions into the main plot are annoying. Also, the new characters in the main plot (2003) feel like watered down versions of the original and the story leads to a rather predictable ending.
It's a totally unnecessary sequel too... the original novel impeccably wrapped things up in its own storyline and left you feeling good about where all the characters were at. I never even felt the need for a sequel until I heard it had been published and I've been impatiently waiting for it to hit paperback! Sigh, but if you're like me (i.e. a BIG fan of The Eight) it doesn't matter what I say you'll go read this anyway (like I did even though two friends told me they were very disappointed, the only advice I followed was to not re-read The Eight beforehand otherwise the contrast between the quality in the two would have been too much). If not, then just ignore this book and head out and grab a copy of The Eight! ;o)

4 comments:

  1. Hi Cris! My "books read" has plummeted to an all-time low these past few months! I actually went to the library this week, aaaahhhh an English library! I used to read through those mystery best-sellers in one sitting. I took out a Jonathon Kellerman book, he's a top seller I think, hope it's good! Oh, also, a book called "Wicked Woods, Ghost Stories from Old New Brunswick", lol....can't help myself!
    :-)

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  2. ooooooh! a LIBRARY?!?!?!

    I'm turning green with envy Rain!

    The Liège library has such a limited crappy schedule I can't get to it... and there wasn't one anywhere remotely near my house in Alicante.

    I miss libraries... I'm sure my shelves would be more reasonably stocked if I had access to a decent library... ;o)

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  3. YEAH! Sorry to make you green Cris, lol. A library that isn't a 90 minute drive away too, ha ha! They have limited varities of books though - but at least they are in English, I guess I'll have better access when I start at the university in January.

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  4. I actually have a problem with any library that doesn't have a decent (and regularly updated) selection in English, French and Spanish... in other words I'll probably never be perfectly happy with a library! :p

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Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)