Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More mini-reviews

I get now why people rush to review the books they read in 2009 IN 2009. It feels a bit of a chore when done the following year. Even though it may only have been a few weeks later. I was hoping to spend more time reviewing some of these books, but I'm falling behind.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman - Wow, I'm really rubbish at reviewing short story collections. What I find wonderful about Neil Gaiman, is that everything he writes is different but everything is infused with his own brand of awesomeness. Reading each story was a treat, almost everything made me smile. It just made me happy reading Neil Gaiman's words. I also appreciated that the stories were all of varying length. I don't know about you, but I feel weighed down reading short stories where each story is very long. Fragile Things had a nice mix. And best of all, my copy at least, had a fantastic introduction by Neil Gaiman describing the thought processes behind each piece. Wonderful, highly recommended.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman - Another gem from Neil Gaiman. I wouldn't say this is a sequel as such to American Gods, but the character of Mr Nancy is in both of them. I read American Gods last March or so and really enjoyed it. But Anansi Boys blew me away. There is such weirdness to Neil Gaiman's books. I love that. Fat Charlie doesn't really get on with his dad, as his dad is always embarassing him in one or another - he's the one who nicknamed him 'Fat Charlie' after all. But when his fiancee convinces Fat Charlie to invite his dad to the wedding, Fat Charlie learns not only is his father dead, but he's also the trickster god, Anansi and that Charlie also has a brother, Spider (also a god), whom he's never met. And it only gets weirder and better after that, as Spider enters his life and tries to take it over! Honestly, I just feeling clapping in happiness at Anansi Boys. I love the characters that Neil Gaiman invents, the situations that he puts them in. I love the importance in this book on story-telling and how children are utterly embarassed by their parents. There's funny bits and scary bits and when I was finished with this book I wanted to read it all over again. One not to miss!

What I Was by Meg Rosoff - Oh Meg Rosoff, you write such beautiful books! What I Was is sort of a coming of age story and there's sort of a love story, but not really. Our narrator is a 16 year old school boy in a private school in the 1960s. He's quite unhappy with the whole school situation until he stumbles across another boy, Finn, who's living alone in a hut on a crumbling bit of beach. He really wants what Finn has, complete control and freeom in his life. Together they form a strange little friendship which eventually leads to a heartbreaking end. I do so love Meg Rosoff's writing. She sets the scene brilliantly and I was swept away a bit by the the whole story. I can see how she isn't for everyone, but I'll always be a fan!

Jackdaw Summer by David Almond - David Almond is just brilliant, isn't he? I loved Jackdaw Summer but I'm having a hard time reviewing the book. It's hard to describe how simply David Almond writes, but at the same time he's filling his prose with so much more than words. This story starts as two boys follow as a bird leads them to an abandoned baby during the hot summer. It's a summer in which violence of different varieties seep into these two boys' lives, but mostly about the violence of war. As I was reading this book, I found myself to be quite unsettled by it. I had this terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, and that's what I love about David Almond: his ability to invoke such strong feelings with his writing.

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro - This is the last book that I read in 2009. I think with every Ishiguro novel I've read, I probably missed a lot of the subtleties of the book. I didn't always understand the main conflict of the story, but I do so enjoy Ishiguro's style of writing. An Artist of the Floating World is the story of a man, in his retirement, in post-war Japan. He's spending his days out in the garden, or with his two grown-up daughters. He spends a great deal of time reminiscing about his life as an artist during the war years. The friends he had, the choices he has made throughtout his career. A great glimpse into post-war Japan and of a man struggling with his life choices. A beautiful little book.

This book is on the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list and I have read it for the 1% well-read challenge.

And that's it for today! What I love about these books is that the authors are all included on my list of favourite authors. Kazuo Ishiguro and David Almond sneaked onto the list almost without my knowledge, where as Meg Rosoff and Neil Gaiman have held onto their positions there with some fantastic writing. I've now read all of Rosoff's novels, but I love that I still have books to read by the other three.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?


  1. I picked up Jackdaw Summer from the library to read too this week. I also order Skellig as I haven't read that either.

    I have just read my first Meg Rosoff book 'How I Live Now' and really enjoyed it once I got past the incestuous relationship.

  2. Wonderful reviews Clover, thanks. I absolutely adored What I Was, Meg Rosoff continually amazes me with her writing. I must admit that I preferred Smoke and Mirrors to Fragile Things, although I did enjoy some of the stories.

    Jackdaw Summer sounds wonderful, not that I need much persuading to read more David Almond!

  3. I just bought the 'What I was' one cause it looks like my kind of book and I liked your review :)

  4. I just bought the 'What I was' one cause it looks like my kind of book and I liked your review :)

  5. Fiona - YAY! I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)


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