lundi 24 novembre 2014

Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 - Reviews Part One

Been AWOL for a few weeks: between the launch of a new computer system at work that kept me busy, plus some medical visits for my son, haven't had much time to get on and write reviews. Since I have been reading mainly books that were nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards, I thought I would do a single post with small reviews of what I have read.

Considering the number of books read, I've decided to split it into two posts.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss (Fantasy Nominee)

An interesting but uneven fantasy novella, centred on a single character in Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles series, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is not for everyone (a fact that Rothfuss himself recognises in the foreword). As a character study, it is engrossing and fascinating. As a story, not so much. 3 stars.

How To Fight Presidents by Daniel O'Brien (Humour Nominee)

Ambitious in its attempts to provide an overview of every U.S president from Washington to Ronald Reagan (as well as how to defeat them in a punch-up), How To Fight Presidents is let down by its execution. The humour is nowhere near as funny as it would like to think, but it does provide some interesting factoids about the various Presidents that some people might not know. 3 stars.

Eating Wildly by Ava Chin (Food Nominee)

Part introduction to urban foraging, part memoir, Eating Wildly is an interesting look at a life choice I had no idea about. Ava Chin provides a glimpse into the world of foragers, where parks and backyards provide edible plants for delicious meals. While the foraging part was interesting, the memoir didn't catch my attention. 3 stars.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty (Memoir and Autobiography Nominee)

A memoir set in the world of crematoriums, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes works well thanks to Doughty's voice, a keen mixture of philosphical musings and dark humour, necessary for the sort of work she does. A coming-of-age story, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes deals with some rather dark themes in an accessible and humorous way. 4 stars.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Young Adult Nominee)

A Young Adult novel touted as the new Gone Girl for its twist ending, We Were Liars actually lived up to a lot of the hype, working as a taut thriller and employing an excellent example of the unreliable narrator. 5 stars.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (Young Adult Nominee)

A touching, haunting and heart-breaking historical fantasy, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is part family history, part coming-of-age tale, part historical thriller. Dealing with faith, family and death, and told with the beauty and complexity of a fairy tale, Walton's novel is deserving of lots of praise. 5 stars.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (Humour Nominee)

Definitely not for everyone - and a book that I can't quite make my mind up whether I enjoyed - Not That Kind of Girl is as polarising as the woman who wrote it. If you like Dunham and her work in Girls, you will probably like this book. If you don't, your mileage may vary. Whatever you think of her, though, it is difficult to deny that Dunham speaks for a whole generation in a voice that is self deprecating, funny and totally unique. 3 stars.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (Humour Nominee)

Another memoir from a female comedian, Yes Please is much less likely to be polarising than Dunham's. Although I know little of Poehler from her work on TV, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and went straight away to watch the first episode of Parks and Recreation! 4 stars.

Sous Chef by Michael Gibney (Food Nominee)

A truly unique cooking memoir, Sous Chef is told in second person, a treacherous undertaking but one that pays off in spades here. Providing a look into the high pressure life of a gourmet kitchen, Sous Chef puts the reader on the front lines. Told with energy, intelligence and intent, the book will either have you reaching for knives or running away in fear. 4 stars.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes (Memoir and Autobiography Nominee)

"Mawiage. That bwessed union..." "You killed my father. Prepare to die." "Have fun storming the castle." A movie of a thousand quotable lines, The Princess Bride was the go-to-movie for me as a kid when I was ill. Cary Elwes' memoir of this time working on the film, from casting through to the resurgence in interest years later, is a joy to read, full of anecdotes, surprises and interjections from other members of the crew. 4 stars.

The end of voting for the Choice Awards is tonight! So if you haven't already,

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