Shelf Life – August 2014

I knew that finding a book to top Home (my final book of July), was going to be near on impossible, so I didn’t even try. I went rogue from my lucky-dip jar and chose something completely different – Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody. I have been meaning to start this series for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately, it was not at all what I had hoped it would be and I’m not sure whether I am going to keep reading the series. I’ve been told they get better (man, I hope so), and that she began writing this first one at age 14 (it shows!), so maybe I should cut her a break, but with all the good books in the world, not to mention the fact that the next books in the series are massive, I’m just not sure it’s worth it.

With the perfect memory of Home still in my head, combined with the far from perfect memory of Obernewtyn, I moved on to the trusty Vampire Academy series, hoping desperately that Mead wouldn’t let me down. Which, to a degree she didn’t, but the ending was far from ideal. And left me, for the second time this month, unsure of whether to keep going with a series.

After two rogue choices, I decided it was time to go back to the lucky dip, and had The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud chosen for me. I’ve never read anything by Messud, but have heard good things – good things about her writing, that is, I’ve heard she’s a bit of a prickly character in person, but I’ve never let a writer’s personality stand in the way of me reading something – I made it through Outlander didn’t I? Anyway, that’s beside the point. The Emperor’s Children was long. Really long. There were so many words, and at times not enough story to justify that many words. There were also a lot of really confusing sentences. I like a good aside as much as the next person, but there’s only so many you can put in the one sentence before the original train of thought is gone.

(apologies for the uber amateur photography, I just felt the need to show the world the plant that I grew...)

(apologies for the uber amateur photography, I just felt the need to show the world the plant that I grew…)

So, not the most successful month so far. Time to go rogue once more and end the delayed gratification I had been putting myself through by reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the final book in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Surely, this wouldn’t let me down. Except…it kinda did (you can read my thoughts here: End of a Series).

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Man, I’ve been complainey this month. Thankfully, I was able to end the month on a high – I finished with The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and it did not disappoint. I read somewhere that this is the original dystopian future novel, and the one that books like the Hunger Games and Divergent were inspired by. I don’t know if this is true or not, and it doesn’t really matter – what matters is that Atwood is the master of creepiness, intrigue, suspense and, crucially, believability. I would have loved to have read this back when it was first written, because I’m sure that storylines like the Hunger Games have stripped me of any sort of ability to be shocked, but I reckon The Handmaid’s Tale would have been seriously shocking back in the day. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still relevant today – almost scarily so in parts – and if you like dystopian fantasy novels, you should definitely read this one.

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I hope you’ve had more success than me this month. What have you been reading?

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7 replies »

  1. Congrats on growing your plant 🙂 I read The Handmaid’s Tale so many years ago that I can’t recall a thing about it and your comments, along with me just reading Atwood’s latest, really makes me want to read it again.

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