Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day 12- A Good Old Book Haul

Hello and welcome to Day 12 of Advent Countdown. Today I thought I'd do my first ever book haul. I hope you all enjoy. As a disclaimer- yes, I bought everything with my own money, and no, I'm not trying to show off. Hauls are pretty popular generally, and I thought I'd try my hand at one. Let's get into it then shall we?

This is a collective book haul, and is basically a sum up of books I've purchased in the past month. Now most of these books were bought in my local charity shops, a couple from my local pound shops, and a couple from Amazon (to make up the £25 for free shipping. If I'm going to have to spend the money anyway, may as well get something out of it). I hadn't bought any books in a while, so there's quite a few listed below.

Now as I haven't read any of these books yet, I can't give you reviews, but what I will do is post the blurb on the back (or inside cover) of the book, so that you can get a rough idea what they're about. I'll attach a link to each book on Amazon on the titles, in case you want to check them out.

The first book I picked up was: Lights Out in Wonderland by D.B.C. Pierre. 

Blurb: "Gabriel Brockwell, aesthete, poet, philosopher, anti-capitalist demonstrator, and disaffected twenty-something decadent is thinking terminal. His philosophical enquiries, the abstractions he indulges, and how these relate to a life lived in disappointment, all point in the same direction. His destination is Wonderland. The nature and style of the journey is all that's to be decided. 

Taking in London, Tokyo and Berlin, Lights Out in Wonderland documents Gabriel's remarkable global odyssey. Committed to the pursuit of pleasure, Gabriel's adventure takes in a spell in rehab, a near-death experience with fugu ovaries, a sexual encounter with an octopus, and finally and orgiastic feast in the bowels of Berlin's majestic Tempelhof Airport. Along the way we see him disintegrate and reshape before our eyes as his urge towards self-destruction transforms into a vitalising epiphany. 

Lights Out in Wonderland carries you through its many corridors of delight and horror in Gabriel's voice, which is at once sceptical, idealistic, seductive, and broken. An allegorical banquet and a sly commentary on these End Times and the entropic march towards insensate banality, DBC Pierre's third novel completes a loose trilogy of fictions; each of which stands alone and distinct as a joyful expression of the human spirit."

From the back of the cover: "Look at it, my friend: all that has ever been called love of life, is a love of things that won't happen...Our farewell dinner should be as splendid as anything since the fall of Rome. A Feast of Timalchio. A night of the Satyricon. A limbo that blisters all restraint, a cone of nimbus so high that stars are sucked inside it."

The next book I picked up was: The Beach by Alex Garland.  

Blurb: "The Khao San Road, Bangkok- first stop on the backpacker trail. On Richard's first night there a fellow traveller slits his wrists, leaving Richard a map to 'the Beach'.

The Beach is a legend among young travellers in Asia: white sands circling a lagoon hidden from the sea, coral gardens and freshwater falls surrounded by jungle. In this earthly paradise, it is rumoured, a select community lives in blissful innocence. For Richard, haunted by the glamour of Vietnam war movies, a trek into unknown Thai territory is irresistible. He was looking for adventure. Now he's found it."

Now I'm sure quite a few people have already heard of this story. There was a movie adaptation starring Leonardo Di Caprio. The movie was actually why I picked up the book. I enjoyed the film- weird and disturbingly askew as it is- and I'm a firm believer that the book is usually better, so I thought I'd check it out.

Third up is: One Day by David Nicholls. 

Blurb: "15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?"

This is another quite well known book, now famous movie adaptation. A friend recommended the book to me, but I never really got round to picking it up. I have a 'To Read' list a mile long, so it can take a while to get to books at the bottom. So when I saw this in my local charity shop, I thought I may as well pick it up.

Next up is: A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.  

Blurb: "Aged just twenty-three, James Frey had destroyed his body and his mind almost beyond repair. When he enters a rehabilitation centre to try to reclaim his life, he has to fight to determine what future, if any, he has. His lack of self-pity, cynicism and piety gives him an unflinching honesty- a fearless candour that is at once charming and appalling, searing and darkly funny."

Fifth is: Silver: Return to Treasure Island by Andrew Motion.

Blurb: "July, 1802. In the marshy eastern reaches of the Thames lies the Hispaniola, an inn kept by Jim Hawkins and his son. Young Jim spends his days roaming the mist-shrouded estuaries, running errands for his father and listening to his stories in the taproom; tales of adventures on the high seas, of curses, murder and revenge, black spots and buried treasure- and of a man with a wooden leg.

Late one night, a mysterious girl names Natty arrives on the river with a request for Jim from her father- Long John Silver. Aged and weak, but still possessing a strange power, the pirate proposes that Jim and Natty sail to Treasure Island in search of Captain Flint's hidden bounty, the 'beautiful bar silver' left behind many years before. Silver has chartered a ship and a hardy crew for this purpose, whose captain is waiting only for the map, now locked away at the Hispaniola.

Making haste from London, Jim and Natty set off in the footsteps of their fathers, their tentative friendship growing stronger day by day. But the thrill of the ocean odyssey gives way to terror as the Nightingale reaches its destination, for it seems that Treasure Island is not as uninhabited as it once was.

Featuring a cast of noble seamen, murderous pirates, and stories of love, valour and terrible cruelty. Silver is a worthy sequel to Treasure Island- one of the greatest adventure stories ever told- and a work of extraordinary authenticity and imaginative power from one of England's greatest writers."

This is a book whose cover really sells it. Just look at that gorgeous illustration. How could I not pick it up? I was intrigued when I found this in my local pound shop. Yes, pound shop. Hopefully that won't be an indication of the quality of this book. I'm interested to know what the author did which such a famous story, and whether he did it well. Only time will tell.

Up next is: The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin. 

Blurb: "The song lines are the invisible pathways that criss-cross Australia, ancient tracks connecting communities and following age-old boundaries. Along these lines Aboriginals passed the songs which revealed the creation go the land and the secrets of its past. In this magical account Chatwin recalls his travels across the length and breadth of Australia seeking to find the truth about the songs and unravel the mysteries of their stories."

Next one is: The Night Rainbow by Claire King.

Blurb: "Under the sweltering heat of the summer sun, five-year-old Pea- and her vivid imagination- run wild in the meadows behind her home on the edge of a small village in southern France.

Pea's father died in an accident, and now she only has her little sister, Margot, for company. Their mother is too sad to take care of them and has withdrawn to a place where Pea cannot reach her, no matter how hard she tries.

When Pea meets Claude, a neighbour who seems to love the meadow as she does, she wonders if he could be their new papa. But what secret is Claude keeping?"

This was one of the two books I bought from Amazon. The other was:

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. 

Blurb: "Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death. 

Curious, she opens it- and time stops.

John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.

Cecilia wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most..."

I've got to be honest. I may have picked this one up for its cover (and the author's last name). Look at it. I have no idea whether a butterfly in a jar has anything to do with the story, but my goodness it's pretty. I suppose it could represent a delicate person, beauty and being trapped. But who are we kidding really? I hope the book is as good as the cover makes it look.

Next we have: Half-Sick Of Shadows by David Logan.

Blurb: "On the eve of Granny Hazel's burial in the back garden, a stranger in his time machine- a machine that bears an uncanny resemblance to a Morris Minor- visits a five-year-old Edward with a strange request.

And Edward agrees to be his friend.

But Edward is not alone in the world. His twin sister, Sophia, is about to bring future tragedy upon herself through an all-too-literal misunderstanding of a promise she made to their father.

And so while Sophia stays at home in the Manse, Edward is sent to boarding school. There he encounters the kind and the not-so-kind and befriends the strangest child, Alf- a boy whose very existence seems to hint at universes of unlimited possibilities...and who might one day help Edward free Sophia.

A comical tragedy, a tale of childhood wonder and dismay, a story of familial dysfunction, of poetry, the imagination and theoretical physics, this novel is all of these and rather more besides."

This was another one of the books I picked up at my local pound shop, and again I'm hoping that is not indicative of quality. The final book I picked up there was:

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante.  

Blurb: "The police are convinced that Jennifer White has killed her best friend.

Amanda's body has been discovered in her home, stabbed to death and with four fingers from her right hand neatly removed. The murder is a horrifying shock to a quiet and genteel neighbourhood. Jennifer's work as an accomplished surgeon and the stormy nature of her friendship with Amanda mean that she is the prime suspect.  However, even Jennifer cannot tell if she really is responsible. Her days are spent in confusion and her memories fragmented, thanks to the Alzheimer's that is gradually destroying her one brilliant mind.

Fractured images and remembered conversations return to her over the days of the police investigation. As her condition deteriorates, she struggles against succumbing to the indignities of her illness. She frequently fails to recognise her children, Mark and Fiona, when they come to visit and cajole her, but at times she finds herself vividly reliving distinct moments from her most significant relationships- with her late husband James, her much-loved medical career and of course Amanda, who knew even her most intimate and dangerous family secrets.

Turn of Mind is a portrait of a complex friendship of vexed intimacy, with a compelling mystery as its heart. It is a powerful and moving debut that will haunt readers long after the police have drawn their final conclusions about what happened on the cold February evening when Amanda lost her life."

We're getting there guys. I know it's a long list, but next up is: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey by Pascal Khoo Thwe.

Blurb: "A member of a tiny, remote Burmese tribe famous for their 'giraffe-necked' women, student Pascal Khoo Thwe was forced to flee to the jungle during the rise of the corrupt military dictatorship. His lover had been arrested, raped and murdered by the armed forces, and Pascal became a guerrilla fighter. But a chance meeting with Dr John Casey, a Cambridge don visiting Mandalay, would change both their lives forever.

Overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles and danger, the two men strike up a scholarly correspondence that would take Pascal from the hardships of guerrilla warfare to the hallowed world of Cambridge University. This is the moving true story of his extraordinary life and miraculous journey."

Next up we have: The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall.

Blurb: "Eric Sanderson wakes up in a place he doesn't recognise, unable to remember who he is. All he has left are journal entries recalling Clio, a perfect love now gone.

So begins a thrilling adventure that will send Eric and his cynical cat Ian on a search for the Ludovician, the force that is threatening his life, and Dr Trey Fidorus, the only man who knows its secrets."

This is a book I've been wanting to read for a long time, so when I saw it today I absolutely had to pick it up. Now just to get around to reading it.

The penultimate book is: The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey. 

Blurb: "It's Jake's birthday. He is sitting in a small plane, being flown over the landscape that has been the backdrop to his life- his childhood, his marriage, his work, his passions. Now he is in his early sixties, and he isn't quite the man he used to be. He has lost his wife, his son is in prison, and he is about to lose his past. Jake has Alzheimer's.

As the disease takes hold of him, Jake struggles to hold on to his personal story, to his memories and identity, but they become increasingly elusive and unreliable. What happened to his daughter? Is she alive, or long dead? And why exactly is his son in prison? What went so wrong in his life? There was a cherry tree once, and a yellow dress, but what exactly do they mean? As Jake, assisted by 'poor Eleanor', and a childhood friend with whom for some unfathomable reason he seems to be sleeping, fights the inevitable dying of the light, the key events of his life keep changing as he tries to grasp them, and what until recently seemed solid fact is melting into surreal dreams or nightmarish imaginings. Is there anything he'll be able to salvage from the wreckage? Beauty, perhaps, the memory of love, or nothing at all?

From the first sentence to the last, The Wilderness holds us in its grip. This is writing of extraordinary power and beauty."

This was another book whose cover drew me to it. A beautiful illustration, that will hopefully will be true of the story inside.

Okay guys, last book. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

Blurb: "Six interlocking lives- one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity's will to power, and where it will lead us."

Another pretty well-known book (and movie adaptation), I am almost ashamed to say I have not read it...yet. I picked this up today, and look forward to changing my previous statement.

There we have it everyone. We got there in the end. If you made it this far, thank you very much. Give yourself a pat on the back. I hope you all enjoyed my first book haul, and Day 12 of Advent Countdown (oh yeah, that's what this was for).

See you all tomorrow for Day 13.

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