Thoughts: Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare

This is going to be an absolute monster post, so bear with me.

I don’t usually talk much about the authors of the books I read, because I like a work to stand on its own merit. But Cassandra Clare is a bit of a special case. I was very aware of her before she ever got her first book deal, and what she was known for was plagiarism. Fanfiction plagiarism, so the stakes are in some ways lower, but as fanfiction really exists on sufferance (especially nowadays, with more crossover between fanfiction and trad publishing) it’s a crime of honour. And Clare did particularly well out of fandom in general – it’s hard to imagine, for instance, that her huge internet following played absolutely no part in her being given the publishing chance she was – and people have long memories. Perhaps if she’d ever taken responsibility or apologised then things would be different, but here we are.

Anyway, I’ve read all of the Mortal Instruments books, and by the end she started to weave them in with the Infernal Devices trilogy (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess) despite the time difference between the two series. You can imagine how annoyed I was that the ending of the Mortal Instruments loses something if you haven’t read the apparently separate, standalone series set over a century earlier. Not to mention the spoilers for the Infernal Devices ending (which, admittedly, I had mostly forgotten by the time I got there). So I put the Infernal Devices on my TBR because why not, and people had said her writing had improved and I wanted to see if they were right.

So, has she improved?

Hmm.

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts: A Hologram For The King, by Dave Eggers

This was my first Dave Eggers, and I was almost sad it wasn’t the extravagantly-titled, Your Fathers, Where Are They? And The Prophets, Do They Live Forever? but we can’t have everything. This is another starkly-written one, and it took me a little while to settle into it. It’s a very jerky style, with lots of little sections that don’t always deserve to be standalone sections.

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts: Sympathy For The Devil, by Howard Marks

I deserve all of this. I brought this one on myself. Howard Marks has written memoirs and all sorts but I was just not in the mood for more non-fiction and he seemed like a bit of a dodgy character, to be honest, so I put down his first foray into crime fiction on my list, despite the, er, mediocre reviews. Let’s say it had some interesting features, but on the whole wasn’t deathless prose.

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts: Fateless*, by Imre Kertész, translated by Tim Wilkinson

This is going to be a hard one for a few reasons. The book is a semi-autobiographical account of the author’s/main character’s experience in concentration camps, so yeah, that’s heavy. And as it’s a translation from Hungarian, a language that I have zero familiarity with, it carries with it the usual tangle of curiosity – how much of the style of the prose is the author’s and how much the translator’s? And the ending may not be what you expect, either. The ending is difficult.

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts: Legends of the Fall, by Jim Harrison

I’ve definitely seen the film of this, a long time ago, and all I can remember is an expansive film score and a lot of gorgeous scenery, so I wasn’t sure what to expect of the book. All I really remember of the film is bigness, so it was a surprise to find that the book is in fact a novella, collected here in a volume with two other novellas.

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts: The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue, by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman

Yeah, can non-fiction books have shorter titles, please? It’s like German film titles. Anyway, we saw a lot of films based on true stories last year, and most of them were books first, so here we are.

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts: The Taliban Shuffle, by Kim Barker

The Taliban Shuffle, by Kim Barker, is in some ways the anti-13 Hours (at least in my very limited non-fiction reading experience). Where 13 Hours had such a narrow focus as to be almost useless to a reader who wants to learn anything about the situation in Libya, The Taliban Shuffle is almost impossibly broad. Partly a reflection of the (old-fashioned now, probably) foreign newspaper correspondent’s life, in which one person is expected to keep tabs on multiple countries‘ worth of news.

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts: Hotel du Lac, by Anita Brookner

This is not the first Booker Prizewinner I’ve read, but I haven’t read that many so it still gets a mention. It is the first book I’ve read where the author had to apologise for its winning a prize though! I’ve never read Ballard’s Empire of the Sun and I’m sure it’s great, but come on, guys. Being angry at a book because some people chose it over a different book is not polite. And it’s… really unfortunate that the book that won is about female experiences and the book everyone wanted to win is a war book. It just looks unfortunate. And as a total outsider to this fight that happened before I was born, I just have to lay that out there. It would be dishonest not to.

Anyway, Hotel du Lac was really good.

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts: Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison

I don’t always put children’s books on my list, but I must confess, I stalk the Goodreads of all of my friends and I have a friend or two who received these books very kindly so I put it on just to see how it would be.

Continue reading

Share

Thoughts: 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, by Mitchell Zuckoff

Oh boy, so upfront, this is another one that really wasn’t for me, and it wasn’t for me right from the start. Lionisation of US foreign policy is not the way to win my heart and mind.

This one resulted in a film that we got at Sneak, which is why it’s ended up on my list.

Continue reading

Share