Book Reviews: January 2017

It’s the last Wednesday of January, that means it’s time for the first book review post of 2017. It’s been a… pretty interesting month of reading, as you’ll see:

books_17-01

Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris:

As I’ve said, my reading goal for this year is to read more mysteries and thrillers, so I started with this book, which has been on my to-read list since forever. It’s set at an English private school for boys, with alternate chapters told from the points of view of an unnamed narrator who has infiltrated the school with the intention of bringing it down, and a teacher on the brink of retirement trying to figure out who the saboteur is. I was drawn to it because of the setting and because apparently there was a mind-blowing twist at the end. Now that I have read it, I have to say that the twist is not that mind-blowing as I expected – I guessed it, about halfway through the book – but it’s a very captivating, edge-of-your-seat kind of story nevertheless. 4/5

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø:

My second attempt at a mystery novel is another Harry Hole book. I’ve read Nemesis for work a while ago and thought it was enjoyable but not particularly memorable, and I was hoping that this one – which is probably the most popular of the series, considering it’s being made into a movie – would be better. It sees the anti-hero detective Harry Hole on the trail of a serial killer, who kidnaps and kills women and always leaves a snowman at the scene of the crime. I like it better than Nemesis, and the last few chapters are super suspenseful, but my impression of it remains – it’s all very standard. Harry Hole is your standard troubled detective struggling with alcoholism and an obsessive streak; his partner is your standard loose cannon; and the serial killer is your standard psychopath. It’s fun, but not great. 3.5/5

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness:

After the two mysteries, I want to read something shorter, so I went with this, even though it’s not particularly light either – it’s a dark fantasy story about a boy, whose mother is dying of cancer, that gets visisted by an ancient tree monster and is taught some Important Lessons about truths and death. A lot of people talk about how haunting this is and how it makes them cry, but I have to be the unpopular opinion here: I don’t get what the fuss is all about. It’s not bad, exactly, I just don’t have any emotional connection to it. It feels very… predictable and formulaic, to be honest. The fact that the author didn’t come up with the original idea (another writer did, but she passed away before she could write it) probably have something to do with it. I can’t help but think that if the original author had managed to write it, or if it was picked up by someone like, say, Neil Gaiman, who did this kind of stories quite well (The Graveyard Book and Ocean at the End of the Lane, anyone?), it would’ve been amazing. Sadly, it just fell flat. 2/5

Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling:

This 18th century collection of stories can best be described as a Chinese version of The Twilight Zone, as they all feature ghosts, demons, spirits and other fantastical elements. I’ve read the odd stories here and there, but didn’t get a chance to read the entire collection until now. They’re not really scary, and some can be repetitive (I’ve lost count of how many stories that are about a young man meeting a beautiful woman who turns out to be a fox demon), but they’re kinda fun too. A good “bathroom book”, because the stories are short and you can put it down anytime 😛 3/5

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4 Comments on “Book Reviews: January 2017”

  1. Mike says:

    I forgot that today was book review day. Sadly, I haven’t finished reading anything for mine coming up, though I still have a few days before I post so I think I’m good. And I have some pretty interesting books going right now, which I’m pretty excited about.

    All of your reads sound pretty interesting. Thrillers, generally speaking, are definitely NOT my m.o. (one book I read in the past helped with that judgment call) but mysteries sing a different story for me, depending on how well they’re written. And I’ll be willing to give thrillers another chance in the future sometime. We’ll see.

    The last book you read here catches my attention as I like to focus on books written by Asian authors.

    Cool! Looking forward to your next review.

    • Kezzie says:

      Mike, I am commenting here as well as my blog. Your name doesn’t go straight to a URL when I click on it so I don’t know how to get to your blog. Before, when you left me a link (and I can’t find where you pasted the link…), I couldn’t get onto it as it would only allow WordPress users to go into it so please do send me the URL and I will try again!)

      • Mike says:

        Thanks for letting me know Kezzie. I’ll resend you the link on your blog.
        It will be going public soon so it should be a little easier to access by then. Still trying to tweak it before I put it out there. Thanks for wanting to follow!

  2. Kezzie says:

    I ALMOST bought a Patrick Ness book in the charity shop on Saturday but didn’t. Now intrigued…


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