Thursday, 3 October 2013

Four Mini Reviews

Although I've been reading just as much as ever, my review writing and posting has kind of gone out of the window since the start of the new academic year!   Rather than go back and write individual reviews, I've decided to just write brief thoughts on some of the books I have read recently.

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger
Amina met her new husband, George, on an online dating site in which Western men can meet non-Western women.  After leaving behind her life in Bangladesh for a new one in America, Amina has the complexity of a marriage to deal with, as well as getting used to a brand new culture.

I found The Newlyweds to be a simply stunning book.  It was well written and showed life in full technicolour glory, with all it's trials, complexities and disappointments.  Despite the unconventional way that George and Amina came together, the ups and downs of their marriage and the development of their relationship is one that most people would be able to relate to.  The issue of infertility was dealt with sensitively and realistically, and all of the characters have to face some hard truths.  There was a wonderfully bitter-sweet ending, in which all of the characters got what they thought they had wanted, only to question whether they wanted it at all.  Don't expect a fairy-tale.  5 out of 5 stars.

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
I am a big fan of the Song of Ice and Fire Series, so was keen to pick up Fevre Dream for the RIP VIII challenge.  Abner Marsh is a destitute steamboat captain on the Mississippi river when he is offered a lucrative proposal by Joshua Yorke, a man has odd eating habits and keeps strange hours.  As you might have guessed, Joshua is a vampire and Abner is soon pulled into the murky and blood-thirsty world of vampire politics, when Yorke comes into contact with a vampire that leaves a trail of horror behind him.

If you like Anne Rice, you'll love Fevre Dream.  It's got the same atmosphere and I loved the idea of vampires on steamboats on the historical Mississippi.  It had some genuinely creepy moments, the story moved on at a decent pace and Martin may have come up with the idea of True Blood before the TV show.  All in all, it was good fun and an ideal autumn read.  3.5 out of 5 stars.


Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Another RIP read.  There is a parallel London alongside real London, populated by the people that have fallen through the cracks of modern society.  When Richard Mayhew takes pity on an injured girl, Door, he becomes sucked into London Below, full of monsters, angels and knights.  There really is an angel at Islington and friars at Black Friars tube station.  As he helps Door find out what happened to her family, he comes up against danger at every step.

As always with Neil Gaiman, I was in awe of his creativity and the genius of his ideas.  However, something about Gaiman's writing just doesn't click for me and this prevents his books from being truly enjoyable.  I admire them, but I don't love them.  I did enjoy Richard's character growth and the choice he eventually makes about who he wants to be, but I just couldn't connect with the writing and that made the whole experience sadly underwhelming.  3 out of 5 stars.


The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
In the last volume of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Percy, Annabeth and the rest of the half-bloods must battle to save Mount Olympus from the invading Titans, and the Prophecy about Percy's 16th birthday is finally played out.

I don't want to say too much about this one as I don't want to spoil the ending of the series, but I found it to be a most satisfying finale to the whole thing.  As always, the events were fast paced, the plot was action packed and there was a good amount of character development mixed in for good measure.  In fact, the whole thing wrapped up so nicely that I'm not sure why Riordan went on to write the Sons of Olympus series, featuring some of the same characters.  Although I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as The Battle of the Labyrinth, it still gets top marks for being such a great final volume.  The whole series was such fun and I loved racing through them.  5 out of 5 stars.

Have you read any of these books?  If so, I'd love to know what you think of them.

26 comments:

  1. I'm curious what I'll think of Neverwhere. I have enjoyed Gaiman's writing for younger readers far more than his adult stuff (with the exception of The Ocean at the End of the Lane). We'll see how it goes! :)

    And I definitely need to seek out The Newlyweds!

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    1. The only Gaiman I have genuinely loved so far has been Stardust, although I liked The Graveyard Book.
      And I think you would love The Newlyweds :)

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  2. That's kind of how I felt about Gaiman's Stardust. I just didn't like Neverwhere overall - wasn't convinced by the characters or the world. I've heard Gaiman speak at a book festival before and thought he was great, but haven't really loved the books of his that I've read.

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    1. Stardust is actually my favourite Gaiman out of all the ones I've read so far, although that may have something to do with the brilliant film!

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  3. I love the sound of Newlyweds! I will have to look for it.

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    1. It was very good, I'm so glad I picked it up.

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  4. Argh, so much to say...

    1) I'm really, really glad you liked this! I bought it on a whim because of the pretty cover (not the same one you have though), but then I've been reading kind of 'meh' reviews lately so it put me off. Thanks to you I'm looking forward to it again though! Yay, go you! :D

    2) However, something about Gaiman's writing just doesn't click for me and this prevents his books from being truly enjoyable.
    I'm going to embroider this onto a pillow. This is EXACTLY how I feel about Neil Gaiman but people always look at me in a crazy way whenever I say it! He has such a wonderful imagination, but his prose is so shallow that I really struggle to 'click' with it, as you say. Oh, with the exception of Good Omens, but that was co-written with Terry Pratchett.

    3) I love Percy Jackson. Those books are just so perfect somehow. I like how the romance is barely there as well. It only just qualifies as a sub-plot and that makes a nice change!

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    1. 1) My cover is gorgeous but unfortunately it's on the kindle so not as special as having it in real life! I think you will like it, I was expecting to enjoy it but not as much as I actually did.
      2) I would love to own Gaiman's imagination, it's so brilliant. I'm glad that other readers who don't love his writing style are coming out of the closet :)

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  5. The Newlyweds sounds really intriguing! I knew Martin had other books, but I've never looked into them. I might have to check that one out! I kind of have the same issue with Gaiman. I really loved Good Omens, but I liked-not-loved Stardust, and I started American Gods, and I read bits at a time then put it down for a while. He has such great ideas about things that seem like something I would really love, but his writing never wows me. And I agree, The Last Olympian was a great ending to the series!

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    1. I really liked Fevre Dream, but it is very different from Ice & Fire.
      I bought American Gods at the same time as Neverwhere and now I'm kind of dreading starting it, especially as it is such a long book.

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  6. These books are all new to me. I'm curious about Newlyweds, though. That might be right up my alley.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You should try Newlyweds, it's well worth it.

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  7. My experience with Neverwhere was identical. When bf asked after I finished it what I thought of book then I said I can appreciate it and Gaiman's creative mind, but it just didn't click with me, at all.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not alone - I feel a bit guilty for not loving Gaiman's books...

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  8. Hmmmm I'm intrigued by Fevre Dream! I've only read his Ice & Fire books, I'm curious to see how he does writing other things. I'm glad you liked it.

    And I should read Neverwhere, even though Neil Gaiman isn't usually my jam. There's just something about his writing that I don't usually get.

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    1. I did like Fevre Dream, although it's very different from Ice and Fire, it's a lot of fun :)

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  9. I loved Neverwhere. It was both sinister and beautiful at the same time. :)

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    1. I wish I had loved it was much as you did, I really wanted to but just couldn't.

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  10. I have read The Last Olympian and I too really enjoyed. A great finale and as you said it really wrapped things up nicely so much so I haven't gone on to read The Sons of Olympus series. I love the sound of Fevre Dream but should maybe finish the epic Song of Ice and Fire before I consider more Martin's books!

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    1. I'm not sure if I will read Sons of Olympus as I liked the end of The Last Olympian so much.

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  11. I really liked The Newlyweds too :) And I LOVE the cover of the one you've shared here. So cool!

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    1. It is a great cover, if only I had a real version rather than kindle...

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  12. I'm really intrigued by The Newlyweds, definitely going to have to check it out. Also definitely going to have to get to the Olympus books, I'm sure they'd be my cup to tea!

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  13. I'm really intrigued by The Newlyweds, definitely going to have to check it out. Also definitely going to have to get to the Olympus books, I'm sure they'd be my cup to tea!

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  14. I have to remember to pick up The Newlyweds on one of my upcoming library trips. I read a short story that was pulled from that novel and I thought it was excellent. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much!

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  15. I love Neil Gaiman but I completely understand what you're saying. I think his imagination outruns his -- I don't know. Something else. There are non-clicking things that happen in his books, and I cannot put my finger on what they are. It's okay for me because I love the fruits of his imagination very, very much.

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