Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Book thoughts on a snowy day...

On this last day of November, snow is alternately drifting and gusting outside and it finally feels like Christmas is on its way.  My steaming cup of tea is a welcome companion this morning.

I just finished reading Bleed For Me by Michael Robotham, and I must say, while it was compelling and I wanted to know what happened next, it was not one of his best.  I found it to be overly long, unnecessarily complex and confusing, and excessively violent.  I think his first thriller, The Suspect, was his best.  It tells the story of a psychologist who is helping with the murder inquiry of a nurse who was a former patient of his.  As the case develops, the evidence increasingly points to him as a main suspect, and he must uncover the truth before he is arrested and found guilty of a crime he didn't commit.  Sometimes an author's first book(s) is/are his best, because, in my opinion, he is writing from within, being true to himself and not writing for an "audience".  Once an author becomes popular, I feel that he is often compelled to deliver what his audience wants or expects, not necessarily what he really wants to write.  (I'm trying to think of an example, but nothing is coming to me right now.)  This is not always true.  Some authors get better over time, honing their skills and perfecting their technique.  In terms of crime writers, I think Peter Robinson is a good example of this.  His early books are good, but he definitely improves over time.  Since he writes books in a series, his characters grow, develop and change over the course of the series, yet the stories that are central to each novel are interesting and engaging in their own right.  Anyways, long, complex crime novels don't always put me off (remember my enjoyment of Minette Walters' novels), but Bleed For Me, in my opinion, just went on and on, offering the main character's feelings, thoughts and opinions far too often while not adding anything to the story.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a "bad" book, it just didn't appeal to me as much as I was hoping it would, although I flew through the 400+ paged hardcover in just a few days.  Let's just say that, if it were the first book I'd read of his, I wouldn't be inclined to read another.  I think The Suspect was much more low-key, which must appeal to me.

I was having trouble coming up with a "next book" to read, and someone this past weekend recommended two very different books to me:  A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson and On Hitler's Mountain:  overcoming the legacy of a Nazi childhood by Irmgard Hunt.  The first, as I've been told, is a sweet, "wonderfully warm" lovestory set in Nairobi, while the second is not so sweet and wonderfully warm, as the subtitle suggests.  Both of these books are sitting on my desk at work, waiting for me to choose one of them to read, but last night, at the end of my workday, I brought home A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, which is my next book club selection.  I have never read this short novel, in fact I haven't read many of Dickens' novels, but with the snow drifting and gusting outside, it definitely feels like the season for this novella.  In the past, I have read Hard Times for a class I took in university, then Great Expectations, which was prompted by watching a very bad movie version of this story.  It was difficult to switch my reading brain from "contemporary" mode to "classic" mode, but I'm now looking forward to it.  I'm not sure I've ever seen a whole film version of this story, nor have I read the book, so it should prove to be interesting and entertaining.  It will also, I think, be a "light" read for my book club members during this busy season.  I hope they enjoy rereading it, or reading it for the first time as I am.

That's all for today...

Bye for now!
Julie

PS Regarding last week's post and my feeling that I've "read this book before", it was, in fact, when I read The Last Weekend that I first experienced that feeling.  I really need to broaden my fiction topic selections!

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