April Book Round-Up

By some strange fluke, I’ve managed to finish no fewer than EIGHT books this month, and several of them were really chunky ones of well over 500 pages, so I think I must have discovered some strange and previously undiscovered talent for time dilation, as I seem to have managed to squeeze twice as much reading time into a single month!

RATINGS:
Like a Star @ heaven Dire – don’t waste your time
Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven OK, but nothing to write home about
Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven Very good – worth a read
Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven Excellent
Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven Superb – read it immediately!

BOOKS FINISHED:
17. Ben Elton – Meltdown Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven
The plotting seems rather erratic at times – rather a jumble of back-and-forth through different times – but it does all come together quite neatly in the end. It’s not as clever, funny, or even as god as some of Elton’s other works, but it’s still a pretty good read and worth it if you’re a fan of his dry wit and satire. Don’t expect to be blown away by Meltdown, but take it at face value and enjoy it for what it is – a look at how far one can fall, how quickly it can happen, and how one copes (or doesn’t) with the aftermath.

18. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (Inkworld 1) Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven
It’s seldom that I am so successfully transported directly into the heart of a book, but Inkheart must have a kind of magic about it, because that’s exactly what happened. I was absolutely right there in the thick of things with Meggie and Mo, and Dustfinger is one of my favourite characters ever! The writing is sublime and the characters really do come off the page as though read out by Silvertongue himself. And what a story! Really, just go and read it, if you haven’t already. Or, if you’ve read it, go back and read it again!

19. Philippa Gregory – The Red Queen (Cousins’ War 2) Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven
Having read The White Queen last year, it was wonderful to discover the other side of the story. Although I found Margaret absolutely impossible to like, I did feel sorry for her at times, and also in awe of her sheer ambition (tempered, always, by piety, of course!) and courage. Time and again, she pits herself against those in power in order to bring her own son to the throne of England, showing immense strength in the body of a woman who would, at best, have been seen merely as a stepping stone to money and social position by potential husbands. The story is interesting and Gregory’s writing is very engaging.

20. Cornelia Funke – Inkspell (Inkworld 2) Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven
I loved this sequel almost as much as the first book in the series. It’s a fair bit longer than Inkheart (which is well over 500 pages), making this a hefty tome, but its well worth picking it up (even if you do sprain your back doing so!) as not a single page, nay, not a single word, is wasted. Funke weaves words in a spellbinding way to create a story that is so special and alive; you could almost believe it’s true!

21. Tove Jansson – Finn Family Moomintroll Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven
I picked this up to read to Xander on a long bus journey and he lapped it up! He loved it so much we had to get hold of the original Moomins TV show I used to watch as a child and guess what? He loves that too! This is actually the second Moomins book, but it can be read without previously having read Comet in Moominland (which, incidentally, I plan to get hold of as soon as possible!). It’s a magical fantasy with adorable creatures and exciting adventures following through a whole year with the Moomin family and will capture the hearts of children of all ages from one to 100!

22. Philippa Gregory – The Favoured Child (Wideacre 2) Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven
Another cheapie – I got this one for £1 in Asda a while back. I read Wideacre (the first in the trilogy) in 2007, but it was memorable enough that I was able to pick the sequel up and carry on as though I’d had no lengthy break in between. This wasn’t quite as good as Wideacre, and I found it rather predictable in places, but it was still rather an entertaining read and I may well find myself getting hold of the third novel (Meridon) at some point to wrap everything up.

23. Jean Plaidy – The King’s Secret Matter Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven
I’d only ever read one other novel by Jean Plaidy (The Lady in the Tower) and I loved it, but this one was a little disappointing by comparison, which is a shame, because it follows the story of Queen Katharine of Aragon as King Henry VIII tires of her and tries to divorce her. It just wasn’t as engaging as I’d hoped and I found it a little plodding with lots of repetition, and rather a slog to reach the end. The story is there, I just think it could have been handled better.

24. Tracy Chevalier – The Lady and the Unicorn Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven
I found this fictionalised account of how a very famous set of tapestries came into being engaging and believable. The characters were warm and I could identify with them all as the project completely changed the lives of each of them. I will certainly be trying more of Chevalier’s work – possibly Girl with a Pearl Earring, as it’s awakened an interest in me of stories based around works of art…

BOOKS STARTED (carrying over to May):
Cornelia Funke – Inkdeath (Inkworld 3)

I have to confess, I’m not enjoying this one even half as much as the other two, possibly because the action is transferred almost entirely into the book with very little happening in the “real world”. I’m not even certain whether or not I’m going to finish this one. I’ll perhaps give it another couple of chapters, and see how I feel after that…

Jeanne Kalogridis – The Borgia Bride
I started this one because Inkdeath was too chunky to cart around in my handbag, and I’ve found myself more drawn to this one and actively avoiding returning to the other, as I’m enjoying this one a lot more. The characters and setting are both rather fascinating.

PRIORITY FOR MAY:
Eoin Colfer – Plugged
I’ve been sent Colfer’s latest novel for review, so I’ll be starting this one as soon as I’ve finished The Borgia Bride. I love the Artemis Fowl books, so I’m looking forward to this!

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