If I thought my reading list the last couple of years was pitiful, this year has been atrocious, but there are a few worth mentioning.
As You Wish by Cary Elwes is a must for any fan of The Princess Bride if only for the many reminiscences and stories behind the scenes of the cast. I finally read J.K.Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy with high hopes, yet I’m unsure how I feel about this book. I can appreciate the story, but the style was a little too much tell rather than show for me. I didn’t watch the television series because I have heard they insisted on a rather more upbeat ending. Not having the series to compare to the book, all I can say is I have no reservations about the end. It’s a consistently bleak book, but not all stories need to be promising.
I read all the Dexter volumes being a fan of the series and had no problem separating the stories from the show. As many things are similar as they are different. I’m making the rare choice here in preferring the show. The series did far more with the character.
I cannot recap on this year’s reads without mentioning The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen, the first of a series of Lethbridge-Stewart books ‘The Brigadier of Doctor Who fame’. A good opening setting for a well-loved character. I have reviewed the book and will repost that review sometime in the new year.
The Fault in Our Stars was a surprising read, far more poignant than I expected it to be while A New York Winter’s Tale left me wondering whether I’d read something incredible, audacious, or ultimately aimless and futile. I’ve such mixed feelings over the book that I really cannot decide and maybe in that the book served the writer’s intention. It’s neither a romance nor a steampunk fantasy though it put me in mind of one. The only recommendation I can make is to read the book and discard the movie that is a truly poor adaptation of a far-more-complex story.
I finally caught up on George R.R.Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones’ novels and like so many await more releases. Daughter of Ashes, by Esther Mitchell, is worth a mention for the world-building.
I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading, L.Joseph Shosty’s book Old Wine & Black Hearts. The title and the cover had me already, appealing to the Dark Fiction themes I enjoy. The contents were an odd but pleasant surprise because there’s no way to anticipate these stories. The book is divided into two sections. Old Wine contains an eclectic mix of the bizarre and disturbing. I thought the first story in the collection the weakest, but it proved to be a more gentle introduction into an unorthodox selection of unpredictable tales. A couple of favourites are Strings, which has a deeper layer and could mean different things to different people while They Burned Old Ben has a thread of dark humour that’s unsettling.
A Sincere Warning About The Entity in Your Home, by Jason Arnopp, is a short release of a semi-predictable horror story but told in a way that captured my interest. I’d never heard of the writer before, but his resume and style will have me looking up more of his work.
So I end the year on Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn…another book that has left me with mixed feelings. I don’t like books told in the first person as much as third especially when more than one viewpoint is used and perhaps owing to this for the first third of the book it didn’t really work for me. The character presented in her early diary entries was so instantly unlikable I didn’t care what had happened to her, was merely curious. Perhaps the writer in me kept me reading because I had several theories. I don’t want to give away the story so it’s easier to keep to the impression I’m left with. This is a story about two complex but unlikable people who deserved each other, which doesn’t seem like the basis for a good novel; however, it’s clever and thought-provoking. Definitely, one that when read you want to discuss. Unfortunately, it also has one of the worst sentences I’ve come across in such an acclaimed book; had I written such a sentence and not edited it out, any one of my editors would have had me walking on hot coals. I keep thinking it has to be an error, but I have a sad feeling it’s not.
As always, hoping to do better with my reading this coming year.