The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga

‘The White Tiger’ won the Booker Prize earlier this year (2008). It is a tale of two very different Indias – Balram is a poor, former teashop employee, who lands a job as a chauffeur to a rich landlord. The differences between the two lives are revealed, as Balram’s aim to become as rich as his employer take shape.

I was interested to see if it could live up to all the hype. Unfortunately it didn’t. The book started off badly, with a letter from Balram, to the Chinese Premier. The informal, chatty tone grated on me, and the letter (which lasted for the majority of the book) seemed and distracted from the real story that was being told. On a positive note, I liked the suspense of how Balram’s crime was gradually revealed to the reader.

The plot was fairly average – nothing stood out as being particularly clever, or insightful. The characters lacked any depth or personalityunrealistic, and as a result I felt no compassion for their situation.

It was a reasonable read, but instantly forgettable. I wouldn’t recommend it, and it’s certainly not worthy of a Booker Prize.

Also reviewed by You’ve Gotta Read This and Mysteries in Paradise

Other Uncategorized

Story Code – Website Recommendation

Storycode is an original way to find new books to read. Unlike the majority of other sites that get book recommendations for you, this site does not give you books based on other people’s preferences. Instead it has a more scientific way to find books you’d like. Each book is ‘coded’ based on a large number of characteristics, including number of characters, ease of reading and importance of plot. It then compares all books that have already been coded into the system and comes up with suggestions of similar books to read. I have had great success with it, and read many books that I may otherwise not have come across.


One of my favourite books is Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller. This book isn’t very well known, so wasn’t in the system. I ‘coded’ it myself, which took about 10 – 15 minutes, answering a large number of questions using a sliding scale. When finished it suggested that A Kestrel for a Knave  by Barry Hines was the best match. I have just finished reading it, and loved it. This is about the fifth book, that I have found, and loved using storycode. I cannot recommend this site highly enough!


Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

I had read some great reviews for ‘Out Stealing Horses’, so was expecting a beautifully atmospheric tale of one man’s life in an isolated part of Norway. I was very disappointed. The writing style was too simple for me. I failed to be drawn into the book, and became bored by several sections.


The plot was OK, but there was nothing inspiring, and the only interesting bit seemed to be over in a couple of pages. Perhaps some of the magic was lost in translation, but when the story is this simple, the writing needs to be very good in order to compensate for a lack of momentum. I won’t be quick to pick up any of his other books, and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Disappointing.


Also reviewed by Fresh Ink Books


Whit by Iain Banks

‘Whit’ by Iain Banks was my reading group’s choice for November, and I wasn’t expecting to like it at all. Science fiction is the one category of books that I just don’t seem to like. I thought Iain Banks was a science fiction writer (he has written a lot of science fiction books in the past, but this isn’t one of them) and the cover image reinforced this expectation.

The back cover didn’t help:

A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing. Innocent in the ways of the world, an ingenue when it comes to pop and fashion, the Elect of God of a small but committed Stirlingshire religious cult: Isis Whit is no ordinary teenager.

When her cousin Morag – Guest of Honour at the Luskentyrian’s four- yearly Festival of Love – disappears after renouncing her faith, Isis is marked out to venture among the Unsaved and bring the apostate back into the fold. But the road to Babylondon (as Sister Angela puts it) is a treacherous one, particularly when Isis discovers that Morag appears to have embraced the ways of the Unsaved with spectacular abandon.

Truth and falsehood; kinship and betrayal; ‘herbal’ cigarettes and compact discs – Whit is an exploration of the techno-ridden barrenness of modern Britain from a unique perspective.

It just sounded weird!

So I picked up the book, expecting to have given up within a few pages. I was wrong! It did start off quite slowly, but I quickly began to like the main characters. It was very well observed, and even made me smile in a few places. The plot was a bit strange, but many aspects of it were very clever. By the end I was totally hooked, and will try to search out more books by Iain Banks in the future.

Surprisingly good.

Other Uncategorized

November’s reading plans

At the moment I’m reading ‘Bitter Fruit’ by Achmat Dangor. It has a very similar style to ‘Purple Hibiscus’. I’m about half way through it, and really enjoying it.


Then I plan to read ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ by Brian Selznick. I ordered it last week, and when it turned up I was very impressed. It has to be one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen. It has gold page edges, and the illustrations are stunning. I can’t wait to read it!


I think I’ll then read ‘Amsterdam’ by Ian McEwan, as I have lots his of books in my too read pile, and so far I haven’t read any!


I’ll finish off the month with my book club read, which this month is ‘Whit’ by Iain Banks. This isn’t something I’d ever chose to read, and I have to admit that I’m not looking forward to it, but hopefully it will be much better than I’m expecting.


Happy reading everyone!



The Arcanum by Janet Gleeson

‘The Arcanum’ tells the true story of the invention of European porcelain.  At first I found it very interesting, but I didn’t like the non-fiction writing style – it was like reading a text book. I like to see some emotion in the characters I’m reading about. I got bored by the continual facts and figures, so didn’t make it to the end. It would have made a great basis for a historical fiction novel – I’m hoping someone else picks up and the story, and adds some life to it.