re:View – The 2015 Bookshelf
August + September: slow progress
The 2015 bookshelf continues to grow slowly. I haven’t really had a lot of time to read over the summer as I spent my time raising six kittens. More on that later. First, it’s time to catch up on some reviewing while I still remember what I’ve read. My summer reading has been quite random so no major themes going on this time…
Carpet Diem: Or…How to Save the World by Accident by Justin Lee Anderson
The first book I ever picked up because the author followed me on Twitter. Good promotion strategy, really. I guess he found me because I tweet about books, fantasy, Pratchett and Gaiman. This book tries to position itself as “a spiritual successor to Good Omens”. Well, let’s start with a reality check: It’s not Good Omens, nor does it play int he league of Gaiman and Pratchett in terms of depth, literary achievement or legacy. And just the fact that it has an angel and a demon bitch-fighting over who wins the apocalypse doesn’t quite make it a successor to the great classic. However, it is a bloody good, funny fantasy novel that sees a cast of absolutely loveable characters going on a mad adventure to save the world. I like that kind of stuff, so I breezed through this thoroughly enjoyable book in a matter of days. And I sincerely hope there will be a sequel. I just don’t agree with the publisher pushing it from the Good Omens angle, but then that’s a sales strategy and has no impact on my rating of the book itself. (And as someone whose life was changed by reading Good Omens, I am really hard to please on that front…)
Pens: 4 out of 5
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
I don’t tend to pick up over-hyped books, but a friend recommended this one (and I mean by putting the actual book into my hands) so I gave it a go. Turns out the hype is justified – this is a wonderful, sad but uplifting story about life and death and getting a second chance long after you’ve given up hoping for it. Harold Fry is one of the most loveable characters I’ve ever met in a book and with every step he takes on his impossible walk across the length of England, you feel more empathy with him, until his journey pretty much becomes your own. I laughed and cried and cried some more, and closed the book with a smile and the feeling that people maybe aren’t all as bad as I like to think. What more could you want from a book…
Pens: 4 out of 5
The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
The anticipated, the dreaded, the devastating final book of Discworld. I know a lot of people who haven’t been able – for various reasons – to read this yet, so I’ll keep it spoiler free. Whether Pratchett wrote this book knowing it would be his last or not, I don’t know. But I can see him tying up a lot of loose ends, as well as opening new doors – which will now lead to the forever unknown as his daughter has announced the series will not continue. When Pratchett passed away this year and it was revealed that he’d left behind a manuscript for another Tiffany Aching book, I felt immensely comforted, because she was one of the characters who got me hooked on Discworld in the first place and her storyline will always have a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. However, when the book arrived, it turned out that the end was bittersweet. While I don’t agree with the direction Pratchett decided to take with the characters in The Shepherd’s Crown, I can also see that it was necessary and how the circle has been closed. But that doesn’t mean I will ever get over it. And neither will I get over the fact that this most gifted of storytellers is no longer among us, because he clearly had so many stories left to tell.
Pens: 4 out of 5
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor
This book came through as a free review copy from NetGalley at a moment when I needed something light and sweet, and for that kind of mood it is spot-on. It reminded me a lot of Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, in that it’s mainly told from the perspective of a little boy who tackles the big problems of a grow-up world. Milo is an absolutely adorable little boy who wont’ let his difficult family life and debilitating eye condition prevent him from uncovering a misuse scandal in the local retirement home while helping a Syrian refugee and sorting out his mother’s love life. It’s one of those innocent, feel-good stories for a Sunday afernoon when the world just needs to be put right.
Pens: 3 out of 5