I have been meaning to do this post all month, and I think I can just about squeeze it in before this month finishes.

I read, alot, well not as much as I would like but I have alot of books on the go at once; I like to have at least one book in every room, plus something on my hudl and I will be reading at least 5 books at once on my kindle, so it can take me a while to actually get to the end of a book, unless it is bloody brilliant, but it turns out I am quite fussy with books and it is quite rare for me to actually really like something.

When people find out I like to read they ask me if I have read so and so by so and so, but my poor sieve like memory cannot remember, so I write lists, I am always coming across a notebook I have started with books I have read and thoughts about it, and lists of books I am going to read, I also have a little spreadsheet going with the same thing. But of course there are many times I forget to write the bloody things down. So let me start another list…

Here is what I read last month:

the stand - stephen king

The Stand by Stephen King

“First came the days of the plague. Then came the dreams.

Dark dreams that warned of the coming of the dark man. The apostate of death, his worn-down boot heels tramping the night roads. The warlord of the charnel house and Prince of Evil.

His time is at hand, His empire grows in the west and the Apocalypse looms.

When a man crashes his car into a petrol station, he brings with him the foul corpses of his wife and daughter. He dies and it doesn’t take long for the plague which killed him to spread across America and the World.”

I do love an ‘end of the world’ book, and this was a big end of the world book, 1325 whole pages. Stephen King wrote this in the 70s and it was re-released in the 90s when there was a mini series made of it, and it looks like a 4 part film of it is in the making right now.

I can see how that will work as it is not a fast moving book; there are lots of characters and different stories leading up to the same place. It is told in a step by step way; right from the beginning with the start of the plague, nothing was sped through, you almost live it; how the stunned survivors cope, or not, and what happens when they are split into good and bad.

I didn’t feel the urge to read it all in one go, but I did enjoy going back every day or so to find out what was going to happen next, it is thought provoking as it goes into great details of what people would do when faced with starting all over again and it is quite depressing to read and assume that we would probably make the same old mistakes.

The ending wasn’t a big surprise and you could imagine the book pootling along forever with how the world and its survivors continue after a huge catastrophe. I am glad I read it and I would recommend it to anyone who likes the apocalyptic theme, but I wouldn’t read it again.

the casual vacancy

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

“When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town of war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils… Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has ever seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations.”

A bit different for Harry Potter! More grown up, more miserable. I am unsure why but some of the things that J. K. Rowling wrote made me feel uncomfortable, it was like your mum writing something rude and it just felt strange to read.

Barry Fairbrother dies within the first few pages and he is the only likeable character. His dying leaves his position on the local council vacant ‘a casual vacancy’ and the story is about who is going to fill this position and how they go about trying to achieve this and the people it affects. A lot of the characters are just plain horrible and the rest of them might be nice enough but I mostly felt pity for them.

It is actually quite a good story and very well written, and there are some funny bits in it, but mostly it is just quite depressing and it does leave you feeling like you want to read a Harry Potter book for some light relief.

 coming up roses

Coming Up Roses by Rachael Lucas

“Would-be gardener Daisy can’t believe her luck when her parents announce they’re off on a new midlife crisis gap year’ leaving her in charge of their gorgeous garden. After a turbulent few months, a spot of quiet in the countryside is just what she needs.

A shoulder to cry on wouldn’t go amiss other – so when Daisy comes across Elaine and Jo, she breathes a sigh of relief. But her new friends are dealing with dramas of their own…

As Daisy wrestles the garden into something resembling order, her feelings for handsome Irishman George begin to take root. Daisy’s heart’s desire – her parent’s garden – is under threat, and Daisy’s forced to confront nosy neighbours and fight greedy developers. Village life is turning out to be far from peaceful.”

This was okaaay, I am not really a chic-lit fan and I give up on most but this wasn’t too bad. I think the setting helped; I do love the idea of a pretty village, cute cottages and beautiful gardens, where immediately you make lots of unlikely friendships where you frequently socialise in the local pub and pop in and out of each others houses for chats, sigh.

So the main character is Daisy who moves back home with a broken heart, her parents are travelling so she must alone mend her heart and bring life back to their neglected garden, whilst doing that she makes a variety of friends and picks up a couple of admirers on the way. And that is all there really is to it; the ending is happy and predictable. A nice enough read.

twenty thousand leagues under the sea

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne

“French naturalist Dr Aronnax embarks on an expedition to hunt down a sea monster, only to discover instead the Nautilus, a remarkable submarine built by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. Together Nemo and Aronnax explore the underwater marvels, undergo a transcendent experience among the ruins of Atlantis, and plant a black flag at the South Pole. But Nemo’s mission is one of revenge and his methods coldly efficient.”

I am trying to read some classics, although admittedly I very rarely finish one, I suppose the writing is just to clever for me, but this one I managed to get all the way through. So the story is about the adventures of Captain Nemo and his crew aboard their submarine and home, the Nautilus. Captain Nemo hates men and war, and he and his crew have taken it upon themselves to sink warships in their giant mysterious submarine which people believe is a ginormous whale. The story is told by marine biologist Professor Pierre Aronnax; who is captured along with his servant Consiel and Canadian Whaler Ned Land whilst they were on a ship that was trying to kill/sink the giant whale/Nautilus. The three of them are then held indefinitely and he tells the story of getting to know Captain Nemo and life aboard the amazing submarine.

I liked the idea of this book; exploring the world whilst under the sea, a great location for all sorts of adventures, and some of these adventures were good, meeting amazing sea creatures whilst amongst beautiful underwater landscapes but some of the scientific descriptions went on, and on, and on. I am glad I read the book, and wanted to know who this Captain Nemo was and why and how he chose to live this strange life and would his well-looked after prisoners ever live above water again, and the ending was satisfactory but it is not a book I would go back to again.

 house rules

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

“Jacob’s behaviors are hallmark Asperger’s, – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel – and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder.

Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma, it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.

And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?”

I enjoyed this book as I do most of Jodi Picoult’s books; she followed her usual formula of controversial subject matter plus some heart-wrenching family issues and mixed them up in a courtroom. Aspergers was an interesting subject, it certainly got you thinking and by the end of the book I was really educated about the syndrome, but maybe a little too educated as the symptoms of Jacob’s Aspergers and Autism was gone over time and time again, but I suppose that was necessary for the story.

So Jacob is accused of murdering a close friend and all the evidence does point to him, and his mother, brother, estranged father and local newly qualified lawyer have to prove his innocence whilst trying to ignore those niggling doubts. What I like most were the main characters, alot of work had gone into them and I really felt all of their pain, I was rooting for them all. The outcome wasn’t all that surprising and maybe I was hoping for a bit more of a twist but it was still a good book to read.

Phew, now I had better start on what I have read this month…