30 December 2014

The year in books: December

This is a double whammy post in that I am reviewing both November and December's books (because I finished them both in December actually).

November...

Richard Flanagan - The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013)

date finished: 24 December 2014     |     ASIN: B00J4SNT48     |     pages: 353 (Kindle)


The story of Dorrigo Evans, a doctor in the Japanese POW camps building the Burma Death Railway, following his life during and afterwards. Winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

A friend recommended this one to me, describing it as "a little bit harrowing". I thought, what the hell, I'll take it with me to Hawaii, it can't be too upsetting for a holiday. A little bit harrowing?! Descriptions of the living conditions, health of the POWs and the treatment by the officers and commanders was often difficult to read! One element in particular took me by surprise, and was actually quite upsetting (not that it all wasn't of course): cue a wobbly chin and damp eyes. There is an intertwined love story that frankly, mostly annoyed me. And there were elements of the story that got a little boring. Whilst no-one's life is linear, I wasn't sure why they were included. In the end, I found it a bit of slog, hence me not finishing it until Christmas Eve, however, that was likely due to the subject matter. The end left me in a similar frame of mind as when I read David Mitchell's book Ghostwritten; I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. For me, this was an average read.
 

rating: ★★★



December...

John Sweeney - Elephant Moon (2013)

date finished: 29 December 2014     |     ASIN: B00C2UORQ4     |     pages: 300 (Kindle)

Not the artiest of photos: I took it just now at my desk! 
As the Second World War rages, the Japanese Imperial Army enters Burma and the British rulers prepare to flee. But the human legacy of the British Empire will be left behind in the shape of sixty-two Anglo-Burmese children, born to local women after affairs with foreign men. Half-castes, they are not acknowledged by either side and they are to be abandoned with no one to protect them. Their teacher, Grace Collins, a young Englishwoman, refuses to join the European evacuation and instead sets out to deliver the orphans to the safety of India. She faces impossible odds because between her and India lie one thousand miles of jungle, mountains, rivers and the constant, unseen threat of the Japanese. With Japanese soldiers chasing them down, the group s chances of survival shrink - until they come across a herd of fifty-three elephants who, with their awesome strength and kindness, quickly become the orphans only hope of survival. Based on a true story, Elephant Moon is an unforgettable epic tale of courage and compassion in the midst of brutality and destruction.
This was a Kindle book I came across when trying to escape from the horror of The Narrow Road to the Deep North in Hawaii, and at just £1, I thought I'd give it ago. Although, I wasn't sure I expected much in terms of respite with it being set in the same era I was hoping the appearance of elephants would bring some light relief. And I have to say, they did. Whilst the elephants are the backdrop, you still get to know the characters. I found Grace to be a little wimpy at times, and the 'bad guy' was quite cliche, including his demise. But, on the whole, I really quite enjoyed it. The average rating on goodreads shows that enjoyment is above average though.

rating: ★★★




And with that, my first year in books is over! I must say, I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I shall be back with a post summarising the year. I encourage you to take part in 2015's project that Laura is kindly running again! I'm still debating whether to take part again myself, I probably will but may not do the individual posts.


What are you reading?

Jen


Want to take part in The Year in Books project in 2015?
Visit Laura's January link-up post at The Circle of Pine Trees blog to add yourself to the list and grab the  button she's very kindly created. You can take part using the hashtag  #theyearinbooks on Instagram and Twitter. There is also a Pinterest board and a Goodreads group. I know; great, right?

1 comment:

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