Human Croquet – Kate Atkinson

The acorns and conkers decorating the cover of this book led me to believe it would be a perfect read to kick-off  the autumn. Human Croquet certainly had that fairy-tale quality that I crave when the weather turns, but I did feel that something was missing.

I’d hoped that Human Croquet would live up to the brilliance of Kate Atkinson’s more recent novel, Life After Life. Unfortunately I didn’t get off to a good start. In fact, it took about 90 pages to get into the book, even though I could see it had lots of promise. There was just about enough to intrigue me and keep me turning the pages, but it’s hard to ignore such a slow start. Continue reading

Nod: A Novel – Adrian Barnes

I’m one of those people that really appreciates a full eight hours of sleep. When I have a bad night, everyone suffers the next day. I become grumpy and impatient – I’m sure it’s no fun to be around me! So imagine if the whole world suddenly became insomniac. How quickly would society break down? The answer is very quickly.

Welcome to Nod, a world where only one in every thousand can sleep.

A depressing choice for a holiday read this might be, but I found myself oddly drawn to the plight of the narrator. Paul, a sleeper and a writer, records his experiences in this new world of chaos, while trying to survive long enough to outlive the zombie-like awakened. Continue reading

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple

I was very pleased to spot Where’d You Go, Bernadette on the bookshelf of my B&B in Edinburgh. I snapped it up and jumped right into it on my flight home. It’s a perfect aeroplane book – so easy to get into and with a simple, but catchy storyline.

It also contains some wonderful characters. Bernadette being my favourite, with her big sunglasses, silk scarves and eccentric personality. She doesn’t fit in with her neighbours in Seattle and  the other mothers of Galer Street school resent her. This leads to some very comical arguments between Bernadette and an especially unlikable Audrey Griffin. Continue reading

My Favourite Character from Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina took up about six weeks of my life and left me with a huge book hangover. Months later, I still find myself thinking about the novel, but it’s been difficult to put my thoughts into a coherent review.

There are many things I’d like to discuss about Anna Karenina – the characterisation, the writing, the themes explored. So I’ve decided to do something a little different and write a number of shorter posts about the book. Today I’ll start with a few thoughts about my favourite character and, in my mind, the real protagonist of the novel.

Levin made quite an impression on me, with his constant contemplation of life, religion, love and death. Continue reading

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

the-luminariesSet during the gold-rush era in Hokitika, New Zealand, The Luminaries is an ambitious and incredibly detailed novel, inventively structured around astrological charts from that time.

The reader’s curiosity is piqued within the first few paragraphs. Twelve unlikely men are secretly gathered in the smoking room at the Crown Hotel, when in walks Walter Moody, fresh off the boat. Suffering from a terrible shock, he is unaware that he has stumbled upon a clandestine meeting. And so there are already two puzzles for the reader: what are the twelve men discussing? And what has shaken Walter Moody? Continue reading

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardbrobeI recently wrote about my favourite winter reads. If I had written this list with children’s books in mind, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be right at the top.

Stepping through the wardrobe with Lucy for the first time was one of the most memorable reading moments of my childhood. It’s the sort of magical memory that lasts a lifetime and can easily be summoned up when eating particularly heavenly Turkish delight or walking along a snowy forest path in the twilight.

As a child, I felt I knew Narnia inside out, but reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as an adult, I now realise a lot of that must have been my own imagination. The writing style is simple and not overly descriptive. Lewis gives the reader a scene to work with and they conjure up the rest themselves. Continue reading

Man at the Helm – Nina Stibbe

Man at the HelmA couple of years ago I wrote a rave review about Love, Nina and I’ve been keen to read more by Nina Stibbe ever since.

Man at the Helm was also right up my street. With a similar tone to her first book, Stibbe has not lost her natural and laid-back writing style. This fits in well with the voice of the narrator, nine-year-old Lizzie Vogel, who is based on the real life nine-year-old Stibbe.

We are introduced to Lizzie’s dysfunctional family one morning Continue reading