Monday, 30 May 2011
Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan
I have to admit, as far as the happy goes, our book club has picked some fairly dismal tales, from last months apocalyptic 'The Road', to next months WWII fable 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas'. But first is 'Be Near Me', the story of an English priest in a small Scottish parish. Behold...the blurb. And bear with me, it's been a couple of months since I read this.
Over the spring and summer of 2003, Father David becomes friends with two young people, Mark and Lisa: by the year's end his life is the focus of public hysteria.
As he looks back to his childhood, and to Oxford in the fever of student revolt, Father David begins to reconsider the central events of his life and to see what may have happened to the political hopes of his generation. Meanwhile, religious warfare breaks out on his doorstep.
I didn't particularly like this story, I thought it was well written, but it was just so damn bleak. While reading it I felt the weight of the world, (seen through the characters), on my shoulders. The characters of Mark and Lisa aren't terribly likeable. They're selfish, rude, they steal and vandalise. So you have to ask, why would Father David, befriend these kids - is it because he wants to help them, or is it because he's lonely and can't relate to the other adults in his parish. I'm going with the second one by the way. Apart from his relationship with his housekeeper, he doesn't seem to relate well to the other adults and I don't think he's happy with how his life has turned out. The dinner he has with (I want to say bishop), a fellow priesty person is prime example. His views on many things, Iraq for one - the war had only just begun - didn't seem in line with the Catholic church. I'll say sorry again, I'm writing this from memory, so events are slightly fuzzy!
What I did love about this book, was after things had escalated with Father David and Mark and the 'religious warfare', you get to know the real Father David. His early days at Oxford, I like this person, not that I disliked him later, I just felt he'd lost his way. Ultimately, I don't think he ever really wanted to become a priest, and if certain events in his life didn't transpire, I don't think he would've become one.
Would I recommend the book after all that - yes. I thought it was well written, and O'Hagan's ability to make me care about characters I didn't like is a good trait for an author to have.
As a book group we were lucky enough to meet the author, as he was on a book tour, promoting his latest book Maf the dog and his friend Marilyn Monroe. O'Hagan wasn't at all like I expected him to be. I think I still had Be Near Me resonating in my head, so I thought he'd be a sad, depressed, quiet man. What he was instead, was a very funny man, with the gift of the gab. I really enjoyed his description of his early life and his reading of Maf was great, complete with accents.
Until next time, when we tackle Nazi and 'The Boy in the striped pyjamas' I'll sign of and wish happy reading to all :)
Saturday, 21 May 2011
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. The have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the men who stalk the road, the clothes they are waring, a cart of scavenged food - and each other.
Blurb taken from the back of the book.
I enjoyed this - as much as one can enjoy a scary post apocalyptic journey cross country. McCarthy is almost lyrical in his writing, it reminds me of the ballads of Homer. The way this is written helps with that general feeling also - lack of punctuation and no chapters. It's like a story told in one giant, crazy, almost suffocating breath. I think that McCarthy's desicion to not discuss the apocalyptic event that sent the father and son on their journey was the right choice. In this story it's not about what has happened, but what's before the two characters. I read this almost in one sitting, despite the subject matter it is an easy read, I didn't actually want to put it down, I wanted to know what happened to the them.
Be prepared to be horrified Of course, one can guess at what type bad things father and son will run into, but it's not until you actually see the words on the page that it really sinks in, yes 'XXXX' is going to happen, (I'm attempting no spoilers, hence the XX bizzo). But for all the horror and despair there is hope, love and joy, the smallest thing is a miracle - finding a can of coke, or food, just when they thought they wouldn't find anything.
The relationship between father and son is beautiful and I like that they don't have names, it adds to the story, brings it a strength and a belief, that this could truely be anyone. And McCarthy did what I didn't think he was going to be able to do - I finished the story feeling hopeful. All through the book I had in the back of my mind, this won't end well for anyone, but I was pleasantly surprised.
I haven't seen the movie version of this yet, but it's on my list of things to watch. But I think it's going to be one of those movies where I need to be in the right mood.
What did everyone else thing of it? - the book or the movie.
Up next for February is: Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan.
Sunday, 1 May 2011
Wild Desire by Lori Brighton
320 pages of awesome historical romance. There's danger. There's lovin'. There's paranormal elements at work. There's sexy men and bad guys. And an Elephant. Gasp! Swoon!
First He Drove Her Mad
In what feels like a moment, Beatrice Edmund goes from being a proper lady cooped up in a stuffy Scottish castle to travelling miles from anything she's ever known, in the midst of the wildest adventure of her life. And at the centre of that adventure is the most infuriating, puzzling scoundrel on earth. She cannot take her eyes off him.
Then He Drove Her Wild
Colin Fitch cannot deny he's drawn to Beatrice--but lust is all he could possibly feel for the sharp-tongued minx. Still, if there's a chance she can help him stop the madman he pursues, he must withstand her obvious disapproval. Yet withstanding the longing he feels for her is growing more troublesome by the second. . . And Colin has never been terribly good at staying out of trouble.
The blurb was taken from Amazon.com. I received this book for free, from the author through goodreads.com. So thank you Lori – it was fantastic!
This was the second book in the series, I hadn’t read the first when I started this, but while I’m sure it would’ve filled in more of the background of the story, Wild Desire was okay as a standalone read. That being said, I’m now going to go back and read the first one, (Wild Heart).
This was a lot of fun, kind of what you might get if you crossed Indiana Jones with a romance novel. Lots of swashbuckling adventure and swoony romance.
I liked both of the characters, they were well developed. Bea isn’t your typical shrinking violet, she’s innocent about much of what goes on in the world, but at the same time she wants to get out there and have adventures. I enjoyed her headstrong nature and her pluckiness. She was a fun character to get to know.
Colin is rather lovely as well, a little bit anti-hero, in the beginning he’s more interested in finding the treasure he’s after. But as the story progresses and Bea and Colin grow closer his priorities change. He’s very much the ‘man’, cocky, stubborn and he quite likes to push Bea’s buttons.
I love when the two of them first meet - he’s rolling drunk and she’s buck nekkid! The main characters have great chemistry together and I really enjoyed the way they bounced off one another, whether it was in teasing or flirting. Both characters have been hurt in the past, so it was great to see them deal with what held them back and move forward in their relationship. I started this on the plane heading to ARRC2011 and I spent the whole plane trip cackling like a crazy lady – all signs of a good book in my mind.
There’s lots of lovely tension between the couple, one scene that springs to mind is when Colin and Bea get caught up in a street riot, and Colin has to cut Bea’s corset off – just mmm wow! Smoldering comes to mind and when their consummation scene finally comes around – hells bells, it was sexy, sweet and heartbreaking all at the same time.
One thing I didn’t expect was the paranormal theme running through it and to be honest it doesn’t take over the whole story, it’s only hinted at in the beginning, if anything it added to the adventure and danger that Colin and Bea were in. It isn’t mentioned at all in the blurb and I only found out ahead of time because I’d read another bloggers review of the book. The paranormal element is explored through Colin’s back story as the novel progresses. I would assume if you were reading this after the first book, there would be more knowledge of the paranormal side of things, but as I said earlier, it doesn’t detract from the story as a standalone or if you’re reading them out of order. If you don’t usual read paranormal, this would be a great introduction to it. The story at its heart is a historical romance, but it has lots of adventure and the paranormal helps to complete the novel.
The only thing I don’t think gelled was the use of some of the language, towards the end Colin swears – shit, I think – nothing too out there, but it didn’t seem to fit with the story and on occasion Bea used ‘British’ insults and it seemed that these were only used because the character was from England. Nobody else may think anything of this but I know as an Aussie, people think we talk like Alf from Home & Away – think gratuitous use of cobber, stone the flaming crows, maaate, or you could listen to any number of Kevin Rudd’s speeches – he used slang quite a bit. It kind of pulled me out of the story a bit, but it was the swearing more so.
Overall, this was so much fun to read and I’m really looking forward to reading Wild Heart. It was a fun, easy read, perfect for my holiday and it really set the tone for my holiday – lots of fun and adventure. It’s a great historical romance and I really enjoyed the paranormal elements of the story.