Saturday, 1 December 2012

Reading round-up: November


It seems silly to be doing another round-up just one post after the last one, but I've totally failed at creating any blog posts this month. One of my new year's resolutions is going to be to update this thing more (although I'm sure I said that last year, too...)

Anyway, November was a month of books with gorgeous covers. Shame the books themselves weren't more gorgeous.

75. Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway - 8/10 (full review). An odd, fragmented collection of what might be called short stories, or chapters of the same story told from very different perspectives. Brilliantly written and immensely intriguing, but rather frustrating and far too short!
76. Dolly by Susan Hill - 6/10 (full review). Hill's newest ghost story is an atmospheric tale about a haunted doll and a curse spanning generations. It started really well, but after a near-perfect beginning, the rest of the book was too rushed and the ending abrupt and disappointing.
77. The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen - 5/10 (full review). Strange and fairytale-like, this is the story of a girl who lives on a tiny island with a small group of eccentrics, and her mother, who has gone missing. It had a bit of charm about it but overall I found the twee, whimsical tone too much to bear.
78. Diving Belles by Lucy Wood - 7/10 (full review). This collection of short stories combines mundane everyday life with elements of magic drawn from Cornish folklore. I absolutely loved the characterisation in this book, but the stories were more like scenes and lacked any structure or resolution.
79. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers - 4/10 (full review to come). A semi-autobiographical novel focusing on two soldiers during and after the Iraq war, this turned out to be one of the most disappointing books I've read in a while. It was overly florid in style, focused too heavily on a weakly depicted friendship and completely failed to address any of the questions or issues I'd assumed it would tackle.

My favourite book of the month was definitely Hawthorn & Child - I may have found it disjointed, but I loved the way it was written so much, my main problem was that there just wasn't enough of it. I suppose Diving Belles would have to be my second favourite - I struggled to get past the lack of structure to the stories and many of them felt kind of pointless, even though I adored the characters and how their relationships were portrayed. In any case, I'm really interested in what Lucy Wood will write next (hopefully a full-length novel). The other books of November were all rather disappointing, I'm afraid. I seem to be in a tiny minority with my dislike of The Yellow Birds, but I just can't see what all the fuss is about.

I've got my reading schedule sorted for December, there's lots of books I'm excited about and I (more or less) have them lined up waiting to be read. I just hope I have the time - and energy - to get through them all!

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