REVIEW: 2011, My Year So Far ...In Books

Throughout the year I go through books at varying paces depending on how busy I am at work, what type of holiday I'm on and generally what's going on in my life, but I'm a massive fan of reading.  I can read nearly any genre, but my fave's tend to be anything historical, dramas, thrillers and the odd bit of fantasy.  I'm also seriously drawn in by anything set in Ancient Rome or any Mediterranean country!

I thought I'd share these brief reviews of the of the books I've read recently in 2011

This historical novel is the sequel to Robert Harris' Imperium, which I read and loved last year - though Lustrum could easily can be read on it's own.  The book follows the life and political career of one of Ancient Rome's greatest Republicans, Cicero, and is told from the point of view of his faithful and loveable slave, Tiro.  Cicero lived through very turbulent times in the history of the Roman Republic, at it's fall just as Caesar inserted himself as the 'first among men' and set the precedent for Rome to be ruled by Emperors for centuries to come.  I actually studied Ancient History at uni so had a good background knowledge of the various characters and events in the book, otherwise I suppose it could be a bit hard to follow if you are a newbie to the period.  Don't let the fact that this book is based around history or politics put you off though, you don't have to have much knowledge of Ancient Rome to know who Caesar and Mark Anthony (of the Cleopatra fame) are - both feature heavily in the book.  Nor do you have to have even the slightest interest in politics, as this book is very much about relationships the relationship between Cicero and Tiro, between the big men of Rome, their fight for power and the various dirty tricks they play in order to get it - including wars, murders and affairs with feisty and ambitious Roman.  You can't help but let Robert Harris brilliantly transports you back 2000 years, this book actually makes you feel like your experiencing the life, grime and sleaze of the streets of Rome and the powerful people who ruled it.  Think the HBO Rome series in book form!  I can't wait for the third in the trilogy to be released later this year!

(I don't have a picture as I lent this book to my mum as soon as I finished it)
This book is a real tear jerker and probably not a read for someone prone to depression!!  I picked up this book without having heard any of the recent hype so had no idea what to expect.  Told in the voice and from the point of view of a just-turned five year old, the story explores the life of this young boy, Jack, and his mother.  Their whole world is an 11ft by 11ft Room and like Jack, the readers understanding of Room, Jack's Ma and their world develops and unfolds with the plot.  Ma starts explaining to her child that they are both prisoners in Room, how she, and ultimately he, came to be improsoned in Room and that there is in fact a very big world outside - very much to Jacks dismay.  Obviously I don't want to say much more incase you want to read the book for yourself.  This for me was a book that I couldn't put down and literally read in one weekend, however just bear in mind that this book has many parallels with recent and horrific case of Josef Fritzl.  You have been warned. 

I'm currently reading

I thought I'd briefly mention this book, despite having only just started it.  This book is very heavy going, particularly for me as I very much enjoy a good novel - usually the more lighthearted the better - and I have pretty much no knowledge of Italy's recent history, leaders or involvement in either World War I or World War II.  So far I've found this book to be a factual and fascinating biography of the Italian Fascist Dictator, Benito Mussolini, Il Duce.  As a child he can really only be described as a swine and a bully, something that he carried into his young adult life.  As an adult he was moody, prone to depression, violent, short tempered and a rather eccentric womaniser.  However Mussolini certainly was intelligent, forging a career as a successful political journalist, newspaper editor and even founder of his own paper.  I've also been shocked as to how much sympathy the author seems to have for the dictator, often claiming that in reality, in certain situations he got rather more bad press than was deserved.  I've not read any further than his journalism career and military service in WWI but this book is definitely a page turner.

Let me know if you'd like to know my thoughts on Il Duce and this book when I'm done!

What I'll be reading next

The following books I'll be reading as soon as I've managed to drag myself through the Mussolini biography.  Both of these were birthday presents from my boyfriend.  Chris is not a reader whatsoever, only ever having read his favourite BMX-ers autobiography, so I thought it was really sweet that he had put so much effort in picking out books that I might like!

I'm really looking forward to reading these!  Let me know if you'd be interested in hearing my thoughts on these, or any of the other books I read recently, throughout my tripping around New Zealand in December and over New Year...

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Stolen by Lesley Pearce

- Charlotte



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