Books we’ve read recently
Reading allows you to escape into a world far different than your own and allows you to live any life imaginable. Dr. Seuss said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
We love reading at DHR Communications and we’re lucky here on Francis Street, situated next door to Oxfam which constantly has an interesting array of second hand books to peruse. Below, some of our staff members have chosen to review some of the books they have recently read.
Sarah – Account Director
I’m a card-carrying Book Club member, and in June this year, we chose to read The Girl on the Train, the best-seller that everyone’s been yammering on about. I’m usually a bit behind (or miss the boat completely) when it comes to reading books that are on the best sellers list, so that’s a definite benefit of Book Club for me! The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller written by former journalist Paula Hawkins. I was looking forward to reading this book on holiday, as I’d heard it was a page-turner – and I definitely turned the pages quickly, zipping through the book in one day on the beach.
The book tells the story of Rachel, who is recently divorced and takes the same train into London every morning. En route, she becomes obsessed with a couple she spots having breakfast on their balcony, and one day she witnesses something shocking take place – what unravels is a story of betrayal, loss, jealousy, addiction, fear, manipulation and abuse, with an intriguing and unreliable narrative. There’s no denying it, The Girl on the Train is an absorbing read. For these reasons I would recommend the book, although this recommendation wouldn’t come without a few caveats – I felt the book became predictable at a certain point, it was difficult to empathise or like any of the characters, many of whom were pretty one-dimensional. It’s definitely not a literary masterpiece but nevertheless it’s a gripping read and I would highly recommend it as a beach companion.
Stephen – Account Executive
The last book I read was Lady of the Shades by Darren Shan. While he’s more widely known for his works targeted at young adults, Lady of the Shades is his latest foray into adult fiction, after finding success with The City trilogy. Lady of the Shades tells the story of Ed Sieveking, an American horror writer, who travels to London to research his latest novel. While travelling to the English capital, he meets and eventually falls in love with a woman who turns out to be the wife of a notorious gangster. From there things start to unravel for Ed as he’s plunged into a dangerous world of criminals, assassins, conspiracies, and even ghosts. With his life and sanity at risk, Ed must uncover the truth as to how exactly one woman has changed the very meaning of existence for him.
The first half of the book is well written but quite slow, as it is used to explain to the reader just how each character is connected to one another. The pace quickens in the second half as revelation after revelation is unveiled and the struggle to keep up with each shocking discovery starts to set in. In general, it’s a complicated yet easy to follow supernatural/crime thriller. Although you’re never really sure which way it is trying to lean.
Having read the majority of Darren Shan’s works over the years, I can safely say that Lady of the Shades holds its own compared to that of his critically acclaimed novels. While the pacing is flawed and the reader is overloaded with information at times, it still manages to produce a gripping story that will keep your attention until the very end.
Sebastian – Account Manager
In preparation for my summer holidays, I recently picked up a couple of books from our Francis Street neighbours Oxfam Ireland. Among the books I chose was Joanne Harris’s novel ‘Five Quarters of the Orange’ which was first published in 2001. Joanne Harris is probably best known as the author of best-selling novel Chocolat, whose film adaptation, starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp, was released in 2000. Five Quarters of the Orange follows Chocolat and is the second in Harris’s ‘food trilogy’ which concludes with Blackberry Wine.
Five Quarters of the Orange opens in present-day France and tells the story of widowed Framboise Dartigen who returns to the remote Loire valley village of her childhood from which her family was expelled during the Second World War. The novel alternates between two timelines, one led by the narration of the protagonist in her mid-sixties, the other by her nine year old self, caught in the repercussions of a country at war.
Although the timeline jarred with me occasionally, I enjoyed the way in which Harris develops her main characters and her close observation of the changing village dynamics as black-marketeering, resistance, suspicion and betrayal creep in and ultimately lead to catastrophic results. Harris manages to create an ominous darkness which pervades large parts of the narration and which reeled me into the story bit by bit. Something that struck me were the persistent but subtle references to smells – the cake in the oven, the water of the Loire River, the oranges in the market stalls, the polish of the German soldiers’ boots – every scene is accompanied by an abundance of phantom smells which tickles the reader’s senses.
Five Quarters of the Orange is by no means a masterpiece of world literature but in its own little way, it is a captivating story of personal war-time experiences which often fall by the wayside in grander accounts of the War. A good holiday read.
Joanne – Account Director
The Zero, by author Jess Walter, tells the tale of US cop Brian Remy, who wakes up in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on his city after shooting himself in the head. Although it never categorically says the city is New York, it’s understood that the book is set there post 9/11. Following the shooting incident, the divorced Remy finds himself signed off duty with a bad back, even though it’s his eyes that are the issue, and working for a shady intelligence agency.
He is also dead to his teenage son, who has told anyone who will listen that his hero father perished in the attack. Going for days without any memory at all of what happened during those hours or the identities of most of his colleagues, friends and foes, Remy never really knows what’s going on, with the result that the reader doesn’t either. Nevertheless, The Zero is a darkly comic, satirical and poignant look at a society darkened by tragedy and it’s well worth a read!
John – PR & Events Intern
I have recently finished the Wayward Pines book series by Blake Crouch, which the hit FOX mini-series Wayward Pines, starring Matt Dillon, was based on. The series consists of three books but I won’t name them because it will spoil some of the details! I don’t understand why authors choose to do that…
The story revolves around Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke, who is sent on a mission with his partner to the town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, to find two agents who have mysteriously disappeared from there. After waking in Wayward Pines Hospital from a car crash, which his own partner disappeared from, Ethan begins to question everyone and everything about this seemingly idyllic town. A series of uncomfortable and peculiar circumstances make Agent Burke draw the conclusion that Wayward Pines is no ordinary town, and that he must get out of there as soon as possible. However, this is easier said than done.
After multiple attempts to try and leave Wayward Pines, Ethan finds it a near impossible task. And what he stumbles upon on the outskirts of the town in trying to do so leads to more questions than answers. He soon realises that in order to survive this town, you must obey the rules. And not doing so leads to public execution. What on earth is going on here?!
The book is well-written and depicts scenarios and settings beautifully without Crouch appearing pompous in his knowledge of the vernacular. It’s not a difficult series to read but it is an intense one, one that has you rooting for the protagonist as if you were him yourself, suffocating and fighting to get out.
All images via Wikipedia