March books

Apr. 9th, 2016 09:22 pm
slemslempike: (nemi: argh)
[personal profile] slemslempike
The Exclusives - Rebecca Thornton
The Worst Journey in the World - Apsley Cherry-Garard
Amanda's Wedding - Jenny Colgan
Looking for Andrew - Jenny Colgan
Do You Remember The First Time - Jenny Colgan
The Siren - Kiera Cass
Working Wonders - Jenny Colgan
Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty
A Petrol Scented Spring - Ajay Close
Angels - Marian Keyes
Sex and Stravinsky - Barbara Trapido
The Accidental Woman - Jonathan Coe
Carry On - Rainbow Rowell
Briefs Encountered - Julian Clary
Puberty Blues - Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey
Score! - Jilly Cooper
Daughters-in-Law - Joanne Trollope
Shopaholic to the Stars - Sophie Kinsella
The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty
Talking to Addison - Jenny Colgan
700 Sundays - Billy Crystal
Wat Happened at Midnight - Courtney Milan
The Day Job - Terry Wogan

The Exclusives was a [livejournal.com profile] lsugaralmond rec, I think - mysteryish book set in a girls' school. I thought it was very good, but it was too painful with the break up of friendships and sexual assaults etc to be really enjoyable. I quite liked the moving between present and past day, especially with the main character genuinely not really knowing what was going on.

Antarctica! The Worst Journey in the World is a story of Great British failure. There is a chapter at the end that is quite wonderfully defensive - yes the Norwegians got there first, yes they were sensible enough to use different methods, but, but... I loved this book. I have stupidly deleted the annotations I made, but my favourite bits were being snippy about women, being defensive about eating the ponies and general animal welfare, and how pleased they all were when one man who had previously been immune got frostbite. I also noted that they didn't have enough provisions for everyone, but did have a special tablecloth for Sundays. Priorities.

I'd dismissed Jenny Colgan a while on the basis of not liking the covers of her paperbacks. This turned out to have been a minor mistake, I rather enjoyed them all, and will read more when they come up at Edinburgh library. I liked Looking for Andrew best, I think, though it did make me blink when I realised that it was not written/set before the internet as I'd thought, but in the early days - nonetheless, checking out "Andrew McCarthy" on askjeeves would surely have been a good start to the journey to find out what had happened to him in the 2000s?

The Siren wasn't as good as the Elite etc series, I thought, but interesting. The Sea uses Sirens to drown people, and among the drowned she sometimes finds girls who she takes to be new Sirens. This is about one of them, and how she falls in love with a human man, endangering them both.

Liane Moriarty was definitely an [livejournal.com profile] lsugaralmond rec (thanks Lizzie!) and I have really enjoyed her books - interesting, funny, thoughtful. I didn't much like the end of The Husband's Secret, which seemed a bit too neat, and I don't think your child losing limbs is the same as a child being murdered. The book didn't exactly posit an equivalence, but it was close enough. Big Little Lies was excellent, I loved the coterie of mothers at the school, and moving back from the fateful party without knowing who the victim was, or the crime, or anything else. I found out on google that she's Jaclyn Moriarty's sister - a talented family!

A Petrol Scented Spring is a novel about suffragettes and imprisonment. In particular it focuses on hunger strikes/force feeding, and the relationship between one particular hunger striker, and her prison doctor, the alliance between them cut away to remind me that there could be no equality when one has such forceful power over the other.

Angels was an only vaguely remembered reread, in fact I think the only bit I remembered was the sex scene where she is tied to the bed. And now I can only barely remember the ending again.

Sex and Stravinsky is set in the UK and South Africa, stories of three families intertwined, and parenting and being screwed over. Again, a too-neat ending - two couples swap partners, and it all works out mostly-happily ever after. The relationship between Rachel and her mother - her horrible, passive-aggressive, deceitful mother, and the reaction when she dies and discovers just how evil she is, is brilliant.

The Accidental Woman was just funny enough not to be horrendously depressing - except for the descriptions of her abusive marriage and horrible little boy. That bit could be read in conjunction with We Need to Talk About Kevin as a reason not to have children.

I didn't love Fangirl as much as other people, so it's not fully surprising that Carry On left me rather cold. Also for a Harry Potter-esque fanfic takeoff, there was far too little porn for verisimilitude. (Perhaps my fic reading has been more obscene than other people's, but I bet not by much.) Simon was a bit washy - actually, he reminded me a bit of [livejournal.com profile] sarahtales fic where Draco is in Ravenclaw, and points out that Harry is obvlivious to everything around him.

Julian Clary <3<3<3 Briefs Enountered is set at a house he owns which used to belong to Noel Coward. In the book he's given it to an actor who plays Noel Coward, and Julian has moved out. He gives himself some cruel cameos alongside Paul O'Grady. The book is half present day, half Noel Coward moving in, and the mysteries the house holds and creates. I thought it was very good, although I could have done without the villain being the female secretary, deeply in love with him forever, having stolen what she thought was his sperm to create the son he eventually has sex with. (It's not his sperm, or his son.)

After reading quite a few Kathy Lette novels, I was expecting Puberty Blues to be funnier - it was great, but so, so merciless about the situation the girls find themselves in. It reminded me of Girl by Blake Nelson, so incredibly bleak about early hetero-sex and girls being discarded.

Also bleak, but probably not meant to be, was Score by Jilly Cooper. I did actually quite like reading about the process of filming an opera, and I hope Rannaldini was in immense pain when he died, but the constant rape and abuse was more than a little much. ALSO I think that Venture television must make the most boring programmes imaginable, as they film their local goings-on at the drop of a hat. Does it make me dreadfully non-U that I can't imagine conductors and horse riders being as famous as she makes them out to be?

I haven't read any Joanna Trollope for years and years - the first surprise for me was that Daughters-in-Law wasn't set in or around a church community. (Keira Knightley was in the TV version of A Village Affair when she was little!) The novel was quite fair-handed, showing how the mother-in-law was so awful sometimes, but also how the daughters-in-law were awful in their own ways, and no moral high ground was held by anyone.

I read Shopaholic to the Stars because they are a habitual easy read. Becky will get into a scrape because she is so thoughtless, be unable to tell anyone, especially Luke, what's wrong, get further and further in and then magically escape from it at the last minute. This was not very different, but at the end she sets off on a cross country adventure for something that isn't her fault. Also she's in her late 30s now, I think, and I'm certainly not very mature myself, but she does read like a youngish teenager.

700 Sundays is the book of Billy Crystal's stage show about his father. His father died quite young, and Billy guesses that he had 700 Sundays with his father. So this is not quite a memoir, not quite a biography, with his own life looked at through memories of his father and his absence.

I think What Happened at Midnight is the first Courtney Milan I've read that isn't part of the Brothers Sinister series - it was a pretty good novella featuring a woman escaping from an abusive relationship in the 1800s (can't recall which end of the century), and then thwarting some would be thieves of her father's partnership. I liked that the heroine didn't just rely on the hero for saving, but had to be brave, and that she took responsiblity for the things she'd done wrong. I'm not entirely sure that her allure was a satisfactory reason for the hero not being a bit angrier for longer, but it worked pretty well.

The Day Job came up in the library after Wogan's death, so I thought I'd give it a whirl - not very keen on Wogan, but I'd thought that about Bob Monkhouse and his autobiography turned out to be great. This wasn't, but then it wasn't an autobiography - it was a brief reminiscence of his early years, followed by short chapters on in-jokes from his radio shows, and letters and poems from listeners that might have been very amusing if I had any idea what they were referring to.
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