Mini Book Reviews – All these books were written by men

I got a decent bit of reading done last month after falling behind last year. I’m determined to make a hefty dent in my to-read list in 2014. The reviews below can be found on Goodreads also, but I’ve extended them here. These three books are written my male authors, unusual for me. The vast majority of books I read are written by women.

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woodburyThe Road to Woodbury

I saw this book facing out in a second-hand bookshop in town one day and grabbed it. I enjoy the TV show, The Walking Dead, and this seemed like it could be a fun companion novel.

Hmm. The zombie deaths, attacks and hordes were described well, but I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters. There came a point when I thought to myself if Josh (who is one of the few decent guys) calls Lilly “baby” or “baby doll” one more time, I’m throwing the book out the window. I was missing The Walking Dead on my TV screen when I started reading this, but it didn’t fill the void.

The romance, what little there was, just didn’t do it for me. Women write romance better, as far as I’m concerned anyway. In this book, the love scenes are less than great. One line, when Lilly and Josh finally sleep together just made me roll my eyes and groan. It went something like, “It was better than they had ever dreamed…” Oh, dear.

If you’d like to learn more about The Road to Woodbury, (remember the zombie scenes are great, it was just the romance side really that let this book down for me), you can check it out on Goodreads and Amazon.

I realised when reading The Road to Woodbury I don’t read many books by men. Growing up, I read some Stephen King and lots of the Point Horror books, but I’m struggling to think of any other male authors I read these days. Is this normal? Do women tend to mostly read books written by other women? In my experience men tend to almost always only read books by men, at least the men in my life. They will rarely pick up a book by a woman. I’m curious to hear from others on this. In your experience, do you find the same? I’ve gone totally off the point of the review now, so I’ll stop right there, but if anyone wants to talk about this in the comments, I’d welcome all opinions.

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neverNever Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

If I had to describe the atmosphere in this book in just one word, I’d have to go with “rainy”. I pictured this story in grey while reading this, which is fitting, because the characters aren’t considered real people by the vast majority of society. The dreary English weather, the cold brick building of Hailsham, the slow pace of story-telling… Rainy, grey tones permeated Never Let Me Go, but that’s not to say this book was lifeless and stark. I found it quite the opposite.

Hints as to the disturbing and sinister nature of this world are dropped from the beginning, as Kathy, now a thirty-one year old woman and a “carer”, heading towards being a “donor”, takes us back through her life, starting with her time at Hailsham, her childhood home, a boarding school type institution. There, we get to know three best friends, the headstrong and bossy Ruth, angry, football playing Tommy, and the quiet and observant Kathy.

I cried even before I got to the end. A profound sadness saturates the pages of Never Let Me Go. It seems so unfair, yet this is their world. They’ve known nothing else. They don’t even say the word “die” or discuss heaven or what happens after. They just willingly “complete”. There is no talk of running away or trying to avoid what lies ahead. They don’t have surnames, just a letter, like Kathy H. They wouldn’t have birth certificates or passports. They are almost non-human, as far as the world is concerned at least.

Poignant, well-written, sad, heartbreaking, real. Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon.

I had to go back and watch the film after reading. It does the book justice for the most part. In the movie, Kathy is played by Carey Mulligan, Ruth by Keira Knightley and Tommy by Andrew Garfield.

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dark curtainsDark Curtains by Evans Light

A short and creepy read. I love haunted house stories, and this one was on the disturbing side – the description about human nails being a part of the decorative curtains? Gah, gross.

I particularly enjoyed the details of the grand Victorian house. If you like your ghost stories on the dark side, this one’s for you. The author also includes an alternative ending, which was great to read. I’m still not sure which ending I preferred.

Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon.

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I’d love to read another Kazuo book. Which one would you recommend?

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About Emma

Buffy fan, avid reader, writer.
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22 Responses to Mini Book Reviews – All these books were written by men

  1. Jo-Ann Carson says:

    Emma
    You amaze me. You must read really fast. It’s wonderful that you give us so many reviews.
    Best
    Jo-Ann

  2. beckyday6 says:

    I’ve wanted to read Never Let Me Go ever since I saw the movie a couple of years ago. I had no idea what it was about when I put it on and was blown away by the horrific concept and how generally bleak it was. So glad you hear you enjoyed the novel!

  3. fuonlyknew says:

    Never Let Me Go is going on my TBR right away! Sounds like an emotional, exciting story.

    Most of The Walking Dead books I’v read didn’t grab me like the show does.

    And Evans and his brother Adam are masters of short horror! Read everything they’ve written!

    Fun reviews Emma. Thanks for sharing and for a new author to follow in Kazuo

    • Emma says:

      Hope to see Never Let Me Go reviewed on your blog at some stage, Laura. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
      I think I’ve read Adam’s short stories because of you. :)

  4. Shah Wharton says:

    Wow, you read three stories I’d love to read myself. The Walking Dead – I wouldn’t read that for romance; I wonder why romance is even in that kind of book? I want suspense, horror, plot, danger and occasional triumph. I get what you mean about not caring for characters though. You need that to add suspense, horror. If you don’t care, nothing’s scary.

    I loved the movie version of Never Let Me Go. You describe it so well; the environment, the grey inertia. I’m intrigued to know the alternative ending. Um!

    The cover of the haunted house story makes me want this on my Kindle!

    I so wish I could read faster. I’ve got a handful to review over the next few months, and even that’s worrying me! Although, I should find time int he day to just read and get off my computer. That would help.

    X

    • Emma says:

      You have a good point there, Shah.. Romance is not needed for horror and zombie stories. I just felt the love story between Lilly and Josh had something missing.

      No alternative ending in Never Let Me Go – that alter ending was for Dark Curtains. I really thought the film was an excellent adaptation.

      Good luck with getting the reviews done. We put ourselves under a lot of pressure don’t we?!

  5. Mae Clair says:

    I love the cover for The Walking Dead, while the one for Dark Curtains is very creepy. Given your review on that one, it seems to match really well with the tone of the story.

    Interesting question you posed about women readers, etc. I’m probably somewhere in the middle, as many of the books I read (that are not romance) are written by men. They fall in the thriller genre which seems to have more male authors than female. And my favorite “author” is a team of male writers–Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I do agree that women write better romance.

    Insightful reviews as always, Emma.

    • Emma says:

      I suppose so many of the books I read are in the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genre, they tend to be written mostly by women. I was browsing the books on my shelves at home and more than 90% are written by female authors. I think I may need to find myself a new male author to adore, or I could go back and read The Stand for the tenth time. :)
      Thanks, Mae.

  6. I read a mix of both men and women. Maybe that’s because of the murder and horror I like to read about. LOL I like the cover for the Walking Dead and have recently caught a few episodes. I like to read about Zombies, but not so much watching them. Dark Curtains is a great cover and the Light brothers write some excellent horror stories. Thanks, Emma for the variety of reviews.

    • Emma says:

      Yeah, watching gruesome zombie scenes on the small screen can be gross. I enjoy The Walking Dead but I have to turn away at times from the guts and gore. Thanks for visiting, Sherry.

  7. Some of my favorite books are written by men! :)

    I have to read Dark Curtains.

    • Emma says:

      The Stand by Stephen King would be in my top ten list, but he’s probably the only man making it in there. Dark Curtains is short, Lauralynn. You could fit it in during a coffee break. Enjoy.

  8. Since I don’t read many romance books, most of the books I read are written by men. Weird, never thought about it like that.

  9. debsmerry says:

    One I have put to read Dark Curtains intriguing Curiosity plays the mind of Horror Emma. You do it again to me. The last time was last week I could read but not reply irritating. Hurray for P.C repairs.
    Just one thing how on earth do manage to get so much read what is the secret a locked room and food at the door it must be. :-D
    Best wishes Emma

    • Emma says:

      Damn computer problems. Thanks for persevering, Debs. I don’t read as much as I’d like to. 2013 wasn’t a great year for reading for me, so I’m making an effort this year.

  10. I wouldn’t read The Walking Dead based on your review, Emma. Although, had I known it even existed, like you, I’d have read it then due to having to wait patiently for the series to start again. As for the other two, they both sound like something I’d read.

    And, in regards to female authors writing romance better, I absolutely agree. I read some comments about male authors being perhaps better at thrillers and in my opinion only, some are, but I have to say that there are amazing female authors who most of the time manage to make me prefer reading their thrillers/suspense as opposed to those of male writers and two of them are, Karen Rose, and Debra Webb with the Faces of Evil series. They are sooo good! For some reason, I just happen to read books penned by female authors more. No offense to male authors at all, as there are some who blow me away, but again for me personally, female authors tend to reach further into my psyche no matter what genre they write.

    • Emma says:

      Re-reading that Walking Dead review, I could have been nicer, but I’m not picking up the other books now based on my experience with The Road to Woodbury. I would love to read some background on the character Daryl from the show and how he came to join up with Shane and the others.

      I’ll check out Karen Rose and Debra Webb, thanks Sandra. I was at a wedding over the weekend and we got talking about books – of course! And I got some recommendations for great books by male authors, one of the most memorable being The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, which I hope to move on to soon.

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