Mini Book Reviews: April 2010

These are (usually) shorter reviews I wrote on books before I decided to start my blog. Although short, I hope they provide a quick overview of the book!

After the Quake: Stories by Haruki Murakami

I’m not usually a fan of short stories, but Murakami’s are brilliant. He paints such an intricate world in your mind in a few carefully chosen words. All the stories have a link (sometimes large, sometimes small) to the Kobe earthquake and how it has affected various individuals. I would love to see any of these stories in a longer format.

I dread the day I run out of Murakami’s works to read. 9 out of 10.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

This is a sequel that is truly worthy of the original- fast paced, exciting plot…a complete pageturner. Dealing with a new adventure (sex trafficking in Sweden), this follows Salander and Blomkvist again with even more twists and turns. I couldn’t put this down (lucky I wasn’t working this Easter). The translation is excellent. I think I’ll need to wait until another long weekend to read the next book…

What Kate did next by Lisa Heidke

First of all, I received this book as part of an early reviewers programme. In a similar vein to the main character, I’ll list what I liked and didn’t like about this book:
Likes:
1. It was Australian. Reading an Aussie book is like slipping on a pair of favourite jeans. You know what David Jones is, you can easily picture places in the book.
2. Very easy read. Despite a death in the family while reading this, I could pick it up and actually remember when I was.
3. The characters of the children (Lexi and Angus) were cute. Not kids I’d like to have, but funny.

Dislikes:
1. Lots of plotlines jumping around, none explored in explicit detail- mothers remarrying, infidelity, naughty teenagers, re-entering the workforce, losing you creative outlet…all touched on and revisited, but not battled out until the nth degree. Although if one had been focused on, we would have had a less funny book.
2. Couple of typos- one that sticks out during Kate’s fantasy is that a man licks her ‘naval’. How did that one get past?
3. The ending- felt a bit rushed and we missed out on the wedding.

All in all, a good, light read. If I saw the author’s other novel in an airport, I’d pick it up to take to read.  7.5 out of 10.

Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics, and Professional Hedonism… by Thomas Kohnstamm

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll…that’s what you get when you agree to update Lonely Planet Brazil- and that’s just the first few chapters! Thomas Kohnstamm recounts his trip on little money, dodgy encounters, beautiful women and unique people. It’s a light, fun read that will make you think twice before blindly following the Lonely Planet on your next trip. Thomas writes well and had me laughing on a packed commuter train. It’s a little bit same-y in places (sex, drinking, repeat), but hey, that’s life! 6.5 out of 10.

Free Gift with Purchase: My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup… by Jean Godfrey-June

This is a light and fluffy skimming of the author’s life as a beauty editor at Elle and Lucky. However, don’t expect an indepth look at the world of a beauty editor. Personal memories, experiences, mentions of gift bags and freebies with some beauty advice make up this book. While I did enjoy it, I probably would have enjoyed a copy of Allure just as much. It’s a very easy read. 6 out of 10.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

If I had to summarise this book in a word, I’d say restrained. It’s not a very long book for startes, plus the feelings and thoughts of Eilis, the main character, seem a little distant.
However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not a great book. I’m still thinking about it, long after I’ve closed it. Did Eilis make the right choice? What options did she have?
The prose is great- explained in few words, but so eloquently that I feel I could find my way around Eilis’ neighbourhood and recognise all the characters. 8.5 out of 10.

Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

Let me preface this by saying that I haven’t seen the movie. I tried on an aeroplane, but we hit turbulence and I couldn’t concentrate. I did like what I saw, so I decided to buy the buy when I couldn’t find a theatre showing the movie.

I really hope the movie is not as bad as this book. What a waste of George Clooney if it is.

Up in the Air starts off innocently enough. Ryan Bingham, businessman extraordinaire will hit the magic one million frequent flyer miles this week. After that, he plans to quit his job, convinced that another company is about to poach him. Throw in a bit of crazy family, even crazier clients, then some strange moments, paranoia, drug taking and an even weider conclusion. I was left wondering it is was all real, whether it was being written or edited under the influence because some parts just did not make sense. In short, it was weird. At least the movie has George Clooney eye candy. 3 out of 10.


7 responses to “Mini Book Reviews: April 2010

  1. At some point, I think I’ll get around to reading the Larsson trilogy. I did see and like the film Up in the Air. I haven’t read the book, but the adjectives you use to describe the book do not match how I would characterize the film.

    • I’d spend the time re-watching the movie. Although a great idea about the FF miles, it became quite disorganised towards the end. When you read the Larsson trilogy, persist beyond the first 100 pages – it really takes off from there.

  2. Love this review form :) Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? sounds pretty fun! And I still haven’t seen Up in the Air either!

  3. Pingback: Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan « Sam Still Reading·

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