Recent Books

Lots of my friends (online and IRL) are readers, so I thought I’d do brief reviews of books I’ve read recently (or semi-recently).  Some I’ll recommend, some I won’t.  Definitely no spoilers.  Here we go:

200px-The_Casual_VacancyThe Casual Vacancy – J K Rowling

A book I truly loved.  It took a little bit to get into, but once I did I couldn’t get it out of my head.  There were lots of characters to keep up with, which was ok after you got to know who was connected to who.  They felt like real people to me and I got seriously attached to them, even though I truly despised almost all of them.  There wasn’t much action, but it was a very good character exploration of small town English life.  Sounds boring, but it really wasn’t.  I had trouble getting it out of my head after I finished it.  I highly recommend this book.

P. S.  Don’t read it if you have a problem with swearing.  It’s not full of swearing, but it is regular.  Almost all of it is done with purpose (even if the purpose is just to show that the characters aren’t nice).




the-litigatorsThe Litigators – John Grisham

This was a book I bought in England coz I ran out of reading material overseas.  It’s the latest Grisham novel.  I thought it’d be an easy holiday/plane read.  I was right.  It was easy to read, but sadly it was the least engaging John Grisham book I’ve ever read.  He is famous for lawyer/conspiracy books that keep you on the edge of your seat, but this was a (half) exception.  It was a lawyer book, and a decent one, but there was no conspiracy.  Perhaps I went into it with the wrong attitude, because I was waiting for the conspiracy element to appear and it never happened.  It was a decent book, but nothing special.  If you’ve got nothing else to read, then give it a go.  Otherwise, there are many more books worth your time ahead of this one.





220px-InheritanceCycleCoversThe Inheritance Cycle – Christopher Paolini

I read this (rather long) series of 4 books because a few of my students had read it and loved it.  I generally like to read the things my students are reading to understand why things become ‘fads’ and to learn a bit more about my students.  This one, I sort of get why high school students might like it, but it annoyed me.  The storyline was ok, but it wasn’t very well written.  It was very teenagery.  I know it’s aimed at teenagers, but I have a huge problem with authors dumbing stuff down for teenagers.  It’s poorly written at times, and they make adults with vast experiences behave like teenagers.  Teenagers acting like teenagers is one thing, but adults doing it?  That’s just terrible writing.  Like I said, the storyline is good (not brilliant, but good), but I didn’t love it.  I obviously liked it enough to read all 4 books, but they were very long and I got a little bored with it at times.  The author often seems to use overly big words to make it sound sophisticated when it really just sounded like he was trying too hard.  Big words are good, but these felt like they were there for the sake of it.  They didn’t actually add anything to the story.  So my recommendation is ‘maybe’.  It depends on what you like.  It’s an easy read, but it’s not brilliant.  I’d recommend it for high schoolers, not adults.


sarahs_key_imageSarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay

This is an incredible book.  I highly, highly recommend it.  It is actually two stories that converge.  One is in modern day Paris, the other is in 1942 Paris.  The 1942 story is about a young Jewish girl, her family, and her experiences during World War II.  The modern story is about journalist researching the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup (of Jews in Paris).  This book is so engaging and so well written.  It keeps you interested and works together the two stories brilliantly.  I don’t want to spoil anything about this book, but it is seriously moving and impressive.  I feel like I shouldn’t hype it up too much (even though I already have!) so I don’t get set you up with ludicrous expectations that will let you down, but I seriously adored this book.  I couldn’t not put it down.  I found the characters and the story so engaging.  Everyone I know who has read this liked it, perhaps not as much as me, but they still really liked it.




room-coverRoom – Emma Donghue

This book was also incredible.  The biggest thing to know about this book is: don’t know anything about it.  If you look up anything it will ruin a massive reveal.  The book starts off a little cryptic, but you piece together what is really going on fairly quickly.  Putting together the pieces at the start is half the excitement of this book, so don’t read any reviews at all!  It’s written from the point of view of a small child, which sounds like it might be frustrating, but it’s really not.  It gives you a really interesting perspective on the world and helps you think about what things look like from the point of view of someone who doesn’t have all the information or experiences of an adult.  I can’t really tell you anything about this book without ruining the premise, so I’ll be very vague.  There are very few characters and you feel very attached to the two main ones.  It’s an excellent, quick read (meaning it’s not a particularly long book).  I don’t know anyone who has read this book and not liked it.




The_Language_of_Flowers_Vanessa_DiffenbaughThe Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I also loved this book.  It’s the story of a young girl who has been in and out of foster care her whole life.  She’s pretty screwed up and trusts nobody.  The book starts with her turning 18 and being released from government care (group homes).  She is now on her own and wondering how to make it in the world.  She knows all about flowers and ends up working in a florist.  The story is a beautiful one of self discovery and self defeat.  Once again, I won’t ruin anything, but I loved the way the book explored how people with good intentions manage to screw things up.  There is plenty that happens in this book, but it’s also a wonderful character exploration of not just the main character, but also many of the other characters.  I really enjoyed the story as well as the way that flowers (and their meanings, hence the title) become metaphors for the characters and their journeys.  Most people I know who have read this really liked it.




Shadow-of-the-Wind-The---Carlos-Ruiz-Zafon-925073325-2887690-2The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This was another book I loved.  It was a slow-burn unravelling of a mystery and I loved every second of it.  One of the underlying themes is the love of literature and how authors live on forever in their works.  I found it really inspiring and it really struck a chord with me.  There are lots of relationships to untangle and understand, as well as an unravelling of a mystery about people who are either dead or trying to forget the past.  It was a really enchanting read.  It is about 500 pages and I read it very quickly because I couldn’t put it down.  Other people I know who have read this liked it, but didn’t love it the way I did.  I found it really engaging, but others only liked it instead of loving it the way I did





So there you have it.  These are some of the books I’ve been reading.  I’ve only picked a few from the last year or two that were memorable/recent.  I might review some more another time.


7 Replies to “Recent Books”

  1. My word, girl, you do read a lot, don’t you? When on earth do you find the time to read all these books?

    Also, good to see that The Room was finally adapted into a book and from a child’s perspective. Denny must make a great main character.

  2. That’s a lot of books! And spoiler-free reviews are good – I read lots of reviews and haaaate accidentally reading spoilers of books I’m about to read.

    Talking of books I’m about to read, I have The Casual Vacancy waiting for me. I should find a spare weekend and start reading it. And I’ve heard lots of good things about The Shadow of the Wind, too!

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