Monday, 31 May 2010

May Book Review

The White Queen – Philippa Gregory
I’ve come to a realisation over the past few months. I would never have had myself down as a reader of historical fiction but it would appear it has snuck into my repertoire what with CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series and last month’s horrendous Wolf Hall.

I have never read a Gregory before and I have to say she’s going on my list now. Mainly because it’s so easy to read. The problem with the above books was that you felt you needed a PhD in Tudor History just to understand what was going on. With this book it really wouldn’t matter if you didn’t know the historical background, which is a good job because the Plantagenets I know nothing about. As the book wore on, vague recollections of Richard III and the Princes in the Tower came back to me but they’re really not important, you can just roll along and enjoy the book.

This is little historical fact. Do I really think witchcraft was involved in causing Richard III’s arm to wither? Erm no. (And that’s without the whole real-life historical debate about whether there was a withered arm or not.) Basically it’s set in ye olde times and features real-life people from ye olde times, the rest is fantasy baby.

And it was a brilliant read, entertaining and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the others in this latest series as well as her other, older books.

Duma Key - Stephen King
I’ll hold my hands up and admit my bias here. I love this guy. Can’t get enough of him. In fact I think somewhere in the realm of stored up blog posts I have a whole post about him because it’s kind of ridiculous how many of his books I have.

So. It’s about a guy who is in a near fatal accident, loses his right arm, mashes up his leg, marriage breaks down and he heads out to a seaside house in Duma Key where he takes up painting.

But wait. This is Stephen King. It can’t be as straightforward as that. And it isn’t. Strange things happen on Duma Key and when his paintings seem to take on a life of their own, the spookiness and scariness begins. Hard to say more without giving it away or just copying out the dust jacket.

It was great. I loved it. I got ridiculously scared in parts of it – hello, little girl ghosts coming up the stairs? No thanks. But mostly just laid back and enjoyed it – it was my faithful companion in hospital.

Teatime for the Traditionally Built – Alexander McCall Smith
Whilst in hospital I wasn’t up to reading anything hardcore so I turned to this guy to keep me going. Another probably biased review because I’m a huge McCall Smith fan as well, absolutely love his 44 Scotland Street series and La’s Orchestra Saves the World is simply beautiful. All his books are engaging and non too taxing on the brain, without you feeling like you’re wasting your energy reading them.

For all my love of McCall Smith though I haven’t really read his most famous series The Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Couldn’t tell you why. I picked this one up because it was The Times Book of the Week for £2.99 a while back. Even though it’s a fair few books in to the series this is still totally readable, I didn’t feel lost at all and I loved the pace of the book, it just rolled along slowly and purposefully, much as I imagine you would do under the hot Botswanian sun.

Probably only one to read if you’re already a fan of his work and/or have read the other books in the series though.

Twenties Girl – Sophie Kinsella
Not a book I’d buy but a friend lent it to me and I felt obliged to read it. (She’s also lent me 3 Jodi Picoult books, I don’t know that I can read that many in a short space of time so I’ve warned her it may be a while before she sees them again.)

I’ve read a few of Kinsella’s books before – the Shopaholic series is funny (and is of course now a film) and she’s up there in the elite of chick lit authors.

Lara starts being followed around by the ghost of her dead Great-Aunt, Sadie, who wants Lara to track down a missing necklace. Hilarity and confusion ensue of course with a bit of romance (obviously the main ingredient in any bit of chick lit) thrown in for good measure. Naturally all ends well and everything is tied up with a lovely bow.

I sound like I’m knocking it and I’m really not, it was the perfect read for me after my release from hospital and I raced through it in a couple of days, if it wasn’t good I couldn’t have done that but I really enjoyed it. It’s just that there’s not a lot to say about it – if you like this kind of thing then it’ll be right up your street, if probably wouldn’t pick it up in the first place.

The winner?

I want to say Duma Key but I honestly don’t know if that’s the bias talking so I’m going to go with The White Queen. Buy it, don’t buy it, but it’s being bestowed with the very great honour of being May’s book of the month.

*allow for applause*

I do apologise if this monthly feature is a little boring. It has crossed my mind that it is and I think I’m mainly doing it for myself so I can look back at the end of the year and most likely berate myself for not filling my head with more sensible stuff.


fuelforbodyandsoul said...

I've not read that particular philippa gregory but I have enjoyed some of her others :) Not got time to read the rest of the reviews sadly but I'll catch up hopefully at work tomorrow! Another good historical novelist is... not quite springing to mind! But I shall find out for you!

Jill said...

I've read quite a few Philippa Gregory novels and have rather enjoyed them. Though I haven't read The White Queen yet.

I love Alexander McCall Smith - his books are such easy reads and I find them quite comforting, if that makes sense. Though I'm not a fan of the 44 Scotland St series, I love The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Isabel Dalhousie series.

Thanks for the reviews and hope you're feeling OK.

mooncalf said...

I originally started reading your blog when one of your book review posts made me laugh a lot. Please keep up the book review posts. They are one of my favourites. said...

Great reviews! I haven't read any of those, so I will keep an eye out for them. No, put that eye back in! Ha ha! Sorry I have been AWOL, since Friday, had a lively weekend, and have't actually got on the puter at all! I feel like I have withdrawal symtoms! Hope you are ok! Suzie xxxx

gill said...

I've enjoyed several Philippa Gregory books and have just ordered her latest from amazon!!

The Curious Cat said...

You get up to an awful lot don't you?! Impressive! I enjoy Philippa Gregory...she's a good writer - brings history to life and makes you want to go away and read up on the facts...I'll admit I have never read a Stephen King...I really should...I tried when I was too young and it seemed too I went with Christopher Pike instead - do you know him? Probably time for a King revisit...have you read all of his books?!xxx

Flitterbee said...

Apparantly, I pick up books in charity shops and book stores after being mildly influenced by your blog. I didn't even realise this until I scanned the list (and archives)

I've been doing a fair bit of reading, lately.