Monday, 31 January 2011

January Book Review

So I’ve decided not to drop the book reviews altogether. I have decided to make them as short as possible though, and taking inspiration from Harry Hill’s TV Burp I have decided to do each month’s books “in a nutshell” but single out one of them for the accolade of Book of the Month and write a bit more about that one.


January's Books in a nutshell

Under the Dome – Stephen King
Good vs Evil. Massive cast list. Huge catastrophe. Standard King stuff (as he writes nowadays – honestly, things haven’t been like the old days of Christine and The Stand for quite some time). He has got to start writing less – this book was ridiculously large and I couldn’t carry it anywhere which meant that I didn’t get into it as much as I could have if it was actually portable.

The Dog Who Loved – Jon Katz
Hello? Is that the Marley and Me bandwagon? Yes I’d like to jump onboard please.” Disjointed and just generally poor. And bizarrely not really about the dog mentioned on the front cover.

Before I die – Jenny Downham
16 year old girl with leukaemia. Has a list of things she wants to do before she dies. I dare you to read the last 20 pages without crying.

The Tenth Circle – Jodi Picoult
14 year old girl gets raped. Or did she? Boy who commits the rape is killed by her. Or is he? Parents in rubbish marriage. Girl runs away to Alaska. Is found. Everything all solved in the end rather predictably. Not her best.

Book of the Month

The One from The Other - Philip Kerr

Surprise one this one. Out of all the books that I read, crime is a genre I don’t usually dabble in. I have no idea why, it just never appeals. This book came free with the Waterstones Quarterly magazine a while back though and I’m not one to turn my nose up at a free book.

This is one from a series of books about a man called Bernie Gunther, a man living during Second World War Germany. Normally I absolutely hate trying to read a book halfway through a series, I’m the kind of person that can’t watch a film if I’ve missed the first 10 minutes, but I found it didn’t matter in this case. I’m sure you would have a certain depth of feeling about Bernie as a character if you’d read the others but everything ‘made sense’ and I didn’t feel I was missing some key piece of information.

It’s 1949 and Bernie has set up his own Private Investigation firm and gets a request from a lady who wants to find out if her husband is dead – this sets off a trail of events that involves secret gangs and the murky depths of post-war Germany and Austria. It was absolutely riveting, I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it.

The level of detail is astounding, but I don’t mean unnecessary oh-my-god-I-don’t-need-to-know-what-he-had-for-breakfast detail, I mean street names and the like. He must know Munich like the back of his hand, and even though I obviously don’t know Munich, knowing that he got off the tram at such-and-such a stop and walked up a certain street just made me feel that bit more absorbed in the world.

And somewhat coincidentally I was listening to the Open Book podcast from Radio 4 (I’m woefully behind, this was from September or something ridiculous like that) and Philip Kerr was on it, talking about the latest Bernie Gunther novel he has written, Field Grey. The One from the Other is book number 4 in a total of 7 (number 8 has a planned publication date in October of this year) and was written a rather stonking 15 years after the third novel was written.

I have no idea why I’m telling you this.

So yes. There you go. Well done Philip Kerr. Your Bernie Gunther novels are now officially on my list of Books I Want (which stretches for some thousand miles).


Ta-da! And that is the new look Monthly Book Review. Any thoughts?

(Such as that it doesn’t really seem different due to my inability to talk concisely?)


  1. Oh I think I would like that Philip Kerr one, I do like a good crime book! Before I die sounds sooo sad :( There is a new book club starting at if you would be interested?? x

  2. Phew, I felt a little bit breathless reading the first few there, don't know why I read them so fast, I just felt I should, it seemed a pacy moment. For my part, I think you can afford to write a little bit more about each book, unless it's really bad and not worth writing about.

    I've got into the dangerous habit of having my Amazon wishlist open in a separate window when reading blog book reviews and consequently it's now the length of the A1... Didn't feel compelled to add any of these though I have to say, crime books just don't really appeal to me either.

  3. I think the Philip Kerr series would be right up my brother's street, so thanks for the recommendation.

  4. I love crime books - I'm definitely adding Philip Kerr to my Wish List.

    I'm glad you're doing your book reviews. I really enjoy them.

    Didn't see any Rushdie on there yet ;)

  5. A friend bought me 'The One From The Other' the Christmas before last. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it, too. I've subsequently lent it to two more friends who also loved it! I've got 'Berlin Noir' on my wishlist.

  6. I like the new approach. I definitely will add Philip Kerr to the list of authors I look for in the library. I always visit the crime section before I go home, so this will hopefully make it into my bag before long.

  7. Where do you find the time to read? Not having a commute I have to squeeze my reading time into just before bed or sneaky peaks when noone is looking.

    Such a lot of different types of book here, I really like the new style of review!

  8. My Amazon wishlist is horrendously long. I'm finding that having the iphone app is A Very Bad Thing as I can buy books in about 20 seconds now. I wish there was a lock function on it or that I could just develop some more self control.

    I'm reading quite a lot of crime at the moment - suits my rather dim brain this month. I prefer Golden Age mysteries but quite a lot of the modern stuff is really good fun too.

  9. I like the changes - but I liked how it was before too! Always good! :) xxx

  10. My book post for January is this so far:
    "I read The Red Queen and liked it, but it had less sex than The White Queen. I am glad I was not a plantagenet woman."

    I DO have a bookular recommendation though, if you've not already read them - The Traveler, by John Twelve Hawks. It's very good, but I was too scared to read the second and final books. Andy loved them. Oh and David Baldacci - Total Control - was SO AWESOME that I sneaked little reads of it at work under my desk, in the middle of files etc. I've never done that with a book before. Bloody good book.

  11. It may be some time before i get to read a proper book with a little chick to look after!
    Thank you so much for the kind comments you have left on my blog following the birth of Sophie! Its a bit of a struggle to get on line as often but I enjoy keeping up to date with everyone's posts!


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