- Inkspell – Cornelia Funke. I didn't enjoy the sequel as much as I liked Inkheart last month however it was an enjoyable fantasy novel and must keep in mind that it was aimed at teenagers not muttersomethingsomethingsmutter.
- Matter - Iain M Banks. It took me ages to finish off this one - see post here. I didn't go to see him speak in the end as it was not last night as thought but Wednesday. Doh. Luckily I checked the ticket yesterday before turning up as that could have been a bit embarrassing!
- My Lover's Lover - Maggie O'Farrell. On normblog, Angela Young recently wrote an excellent piece about “After You’d Gone” that says so eloquently everything I wish I could about Maggie O’Farrell’s writing style. I read “After You’d Gone” last year (that is a must-read book) and deliberately delayed reading another of her books as I wanted to eke them out rather than gorge myself. When I allowed myself the treat of starting My Lover’s Lover last Sunday afternoon, my good intentions crumbled and I ended up gulping the book down in one sitting. I just had to keep turning the pages…
- Facing the Light - Adele Geras. This is my inaugural POTM read* and at £3.50 from amazon it's a blooming bargain. The plot revolves around an extended family gathering to celebrate the seventy-fifth birthday of its formidable matriarch, Leonora. She is the daughter of the famous Edwardian painter Ethan Walsh, whose paintings are kept at the family home, Willow Court in Wiltshire. Facing the Light is an unputdownable (a word? I doubt it) family saga/mystery book filled with finely nuanced characters and vivid descriptions - the paintings in particular are beautifully portrayed. Luckily, Adele Geras has written other books for adults and I shall be buying them all.
- A Dark-Adapted Eye - Barbara Vine. Firstly I had better mention my factoid of the day - I did not know that Barbara Vine was PD James until now... Swiftly drawing a veil over my ignorance, I found this to be a well executed and very emotionally precise book that very skillfully moves the reader towards the inevitable tragic conclusion (as you find out that a character is hanged for murder in the first chapter) . I am told that the tv adaptation briefly features my father-in-law sitting in a train carriage with Helena Bonham-Carter so that gives me an added incentive to watch it.
- A Lost Lady - Willa Cather. A short, and deceptively simple, story about a vivacious married woman living in a small backwater town that's told through the eyes of a boy as he comes of age. The edition I read was from the Virago Modern Classics collection with an introduction by AS Byatt – I bought it as part of a ten books for just £9.99 deal at the book people which is great value.
- V for Vendetta - Alan Moore & David Lloyd. "Good evening, London. It's nine o'clock and this is the voice of fate broadcasting on 275 and 285 in the medium wave... It is the fifth of the eleventh nineteen-ninety-seven." Set in a dystopian England following a devastating war that changed the face of the planet, an anarchist masked revolutionary begins an elaborate, violent and theatrical campaign to bring down the government. I bought this graphic novel as I loved the film and knew that Alan Moore was unhappy with the adaption but that David Lloyd was pleased. I think David is right to be pleased as to my mind it's pretty close to the original material. Craft project: make your own origami V mask.
- The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro. This is only the second Ishiguro book I've read (the other was the beautifully disturbing "Never Let Me Go") and it's clear that he's a very versatile and talented author. The repressed emotional tension, the meticulous attention to period detail and stark vulnerability of the two lead characters made this book a heartbreaking delight to read. I've not seen the film, but I can imagine Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson to be as near to perfect casting as you can get.
- Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. “Fahrenheit 451: The temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns”. In this disconcerting vision of the not too distant future, firemen don't put out fires - they start them in order to burn books which are now forbidden. Although this was written fifty years ago, it's perhaps even more fitting now in this age of reality tv and dumbed down news reporting. A short book that I suspect will linger in my thoughts for longer than it took me to read. I leave you with the book’s start quote from Juan Ramon Jimenez “If they give you ruled paper, write the other way”.
* This is a purely honorary award bestowed after careful deliberation by the distinguished Bookling panel (me) for being my Pick of the Month read. The books are rigorously tested against a range of purely subjective measures that may or may not change from month to month.