Inspired again

So, four more books for you brings the total for the year so far a little closer to respectability. (I am so far resisting checking where I was up to by this time last year.)

6. I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
Coriander lives between a fairy-tale and a world where fairy-tales seem to have been forbidden, and must find her own place, with the inconstant help of often helpless friends, and the threat of power-hungry authority figures. Coriander tells her own story in seven sections, but never seems to have everything explained to her. I enjoyed the book, but some questions never really got resolved, and there were a few cliches along the way.

7. Set Me Free by Estie Florans

And this one was full of cliches, unfortunately. The writing really wasn’t bad, nor was the story, but I can’t see any excuse for its being 684 pages long, especially since an authorised play-script of the book is advertised at the back, so there must be a shorter version. I really don’t want to be completely negative about the book, but this really needs some stuff cut out of it. And I like long books!

8. The Host by Stephenie Meyer

This is a very American post-Apocalypse novel, that addresses many of the same issues as the Twilight series (but better), and owes a lot to the Star Trek episodes about the symbiont species the Trill. Basically, it’s about accepting that one species is not inherently better than another, and one individual has no more right to life than another. It’s also about making difficult compromises when there is no ideal solution to the problems at hand.

What I found interesting is that we have by the end a similar but actually more severe problem that’s obsessed over in Meyer’s other series – ie where one in a couple is immortal and the other isn’t – but it’s ignored here where there’s no solution of making the mortal party immortal. I haven’t heard any suggestion that there will be a sequel to this, and I’ll be quite happy if there isn’t, as it stands alone well. It might even stand up to a reread, but that won’t be yet, as I have other books to catch up on.

9. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

So, I’m finally catching up with my podcasts, too, and got to the end of Julie’s reading of this Christie classic. I’d actually only ever come across Tommy & Tuppence in cameo roles in a television version of a Poirot story (no idea which one), so it was intriguing to meet them properly. I really should get around to reading more of Christie’s tales at some point, but like I said, there’s a long list to work my way through.

Anyway, as always Julie’s reading is great. As both she and Dr Gemma discussed on their podcasts, she isn’t trying to do the accents, but she gives a great sense of the personality behind each character, which I think is more important. She’s also got the sense of which random English names won’t be pronounced like they’re written, to check them out beforehand. (I actually like how the American character the first time pronounces it “Holey-head”, whereas the British ones always say “Holly-head” – I suppose I’ve been through Holyhead far too many times to even consider it could have been said any other way.)

As for the mystery itself – I really enjoyed it. I guessed who the villain might be reasonably early on, but got distracted away from him a couple of times. (We’re told near the beginning that a man is behind the troubles, so I amn’t giving anything away.) I don’t go for mysteries just because of the genre, but the good ones tend to be fun, even when they’re fantastical.


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