Sunday, December 28, 2008

The appeal John Grisham

Just the same as all the others.. fine to read and just filled some brain space.


The boy in striped pyjamas by john Boyne

was recommended this by mum and dad,.. read in 3 days was really impressed.. children's story really reminded me of the curious incident..

fab ending.. not what I expected


All he ever wanted - Anita Shreve

Enjoyed this story about a Victorian academic in New England who marries a free spirit and is forever jealous of her. I was expecting a more dramatic ending, but actually worked very well. I found the characters very convincing but no one was especially likeable, particularly not the narrator. Any recommendations for what else I should read by Anita Shreve? I liked the plot and style of The Pilot's Wife much more.


Friday, December 26, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Excellent read. The story of two women and their lives in Afghanistan. Their personal lives and perspectives are blended into a very realistic insight into life and the repressive culture in Afghanistan over the last 30 years or so. A marathon read (over 700 pages) but well worth it.


Monday, December 22, 2008

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Oh dear I actually read this before Melvyn but hadn't got round to putting it on the blog. Excellent book written for older children...I expect it will used a lot in schools to compliment work on WW1.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Excellent read. Written for children but fast, clever, captivating story for all ages, and very touching - very emotional. One reveiwer said "Did we need another holocaust book? We needed this one."

Hilary's copy has been read by Eileen then me and is now with Katy. Sarah you could reserve it and read it in a couple of days over Christmas.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

London Fields by martin Amis

My first book by Kingsley or Martin Amis (father and son). Very enjoyable but almost too clever for his own good. Clever story about three people living in west London in the 1970s with many strange or invented descriptive words and very sharp social observation. Dickensian complexity to the story and the language so it took ages to read - but enjoyable. Will wait up to a year before trying another Amis!


Monday, December 08, 2008

Ciderhouse Rules - John Irving

Really enjoyed this, although took me quite a long time. I've found John Irving quite slow epic stories. I liked the characters in this, in fact I thought most of them were very sympathetic. The main story is subtle but interesting.
Will


Almost Perfect - James Goss

My dalliance in to sci fi! It's a story about the characters in Torchwood (the Dr Who spin off), involving aliens and body swaps. It was very funny. I'd certainly read something by james again, but perhaps not the rest of the torchwood series.

score? 10/10 of course!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Winter Moon by Dean Koontz

I was desperate for something to read and found this in the club house. It started off ok as a police in New York story. Unfortunately the plot starts to involve alien invasion and not Wyndam style so I just kept thinking about horror movies. Only read it if you've nothing else available.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The glass blowers - daphne du maurier

the story of Daphne's family who were glass blowers!! goes through the revolution in 1800s (oh dear my french history is appawling!).

no gripping dark moments lik rebecca but a good story that keeps you all the way through.


The bean trees - Barbara Kingsolver

the same woman who wrote the poisonwood bible.. not as amazing, but very nice and gentle to read.. varied who was telling the story.

About a girl who lives in small town america.. bit of illegal imigrants.. bit of feminist issues.

interesting quick read


Hungry Hill - Daphne du Maurier

not as thrilling as her other stories.. it's about a family who live in a big house and the lives of the hiers as they come into ownership.. so it's goes through about 4 generations in the end.

Obviously I liked it because it was late 1800s onwards and it was daphne... not one of her bests though so wouldn't recommend


Monday, November 10, 2008

Regeneration by Pat Barker

Didn't know what to expect but wanted to read this trilogy because of what people say about it. Found it surprisingly easy to read - coherent, a good novel but about real people which draws you in. Ready for second book now.


The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Glad I bought and read this. A scientist's very critical (to say the least!) view of religion and religious people and their affect on our society and world. My own views on the subject have been crystalising over the last year or two and Dawkins has reinforced them and clarified them. But not a perfect or easy read - sometimes repetitive or long-winded. But a good read if you are prepared to give his views a hearing.


Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz

Some light reading. Usual strong/fast adventure story with Koontz's usual science fiction or fantasy twist in it. OK but not worth recommending.


A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve

Interesting book that I found in the apartment about some college friends who meet up after about 30 years at a wedding. Usual sort of story where people keep referring back to an incident taht happened when they were friends and had an affect on their lives.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

This month's Book Club book so I thought I'd read it anyway, even though I suspected it would be like the other books I've read recently about Afganistan. The author lived with the bookseller and his family for four months and so it's an authentic account of life in Afganistan. Very interesting and revealling and I think on a par with "The Kite Runer" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns".

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

I found this in the apartment....not sure who left it. It's very American in style, a love story told by a man well into his 80s with a wife who has alzheimer. A quick, easy read but I didn't find the style too exciting.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker

The second book in the Regeneration Trilogy and just as good as the first. This book concentrates more on Billy Prior (from the first book) and reinforces the difficult decisions people had to make during the war.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Becoming Strangers by Louise Dean

I got this as a book swap. I'd not heard of it but thought the blurb sounded interesting. It's about two couples who meet on a luxury holiday in the Caribbean. One man is dying and the woman in the other couple is showing signs of dementia, so not a happy setting. The book explores their relationships and can be ammusing although pretty sad as well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley

I decided to read this after reading Mary Wesley's autobiography. You can see a lot of her experiences in the book. A good read about how war can change people's lives.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Rachel Papers - Martin Amis

We'd been talking at work about the film that most summed up the 80s and this was in the shortlist. then I saw the book in a charity shop for 50p and took it home.
Slightly odd read that it's a story written in an evening and it keeps flicking back and forth. I could kinda remember the story from the film, but not completely.

Funny, quick read.


Small World - Martin Suter

No idea who's book this is or where it came from, but I found it on my bookshelf so thought I'd read it.
About a man in Cyprus who has been adopted by a rich family and then develops dementia. He starts remembering things (which I htought was the opposite of dementia) and the family worry that some big secret will come out.

the front of the book says 'as gripping as any hitchcock' so you know there is going to be some kinda twist at the end. and it was really gripping!!


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wild Mary by Patrick Marnham

This month's book club, I wasn't really looking forward to it as I'm not a great fan of biographies. It's about Mary Wesley who became famous as an author in her 70s with the novel "The Camomile Lawn". In fact once I got into it, I enjoyed it more than I expected. Quite a remarkable women who lived an unusual life which formed the basis of her novels.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Dead Heart - Douglas Kennedy

Lue lent me this. About a guy who goes travelling in Australia and has quite a unique experience.. quite good, scary and funny at the same time. Totally unbelievable though!


Hercule Poirot's Christmas - Agatha Christie

Not sure where this came from, it was just on my shelf.
Was struggling with a different book so thought I'd have this as a filler. and it was that perfectly. Good story. Fab unexpected ending.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Life Class - Pat Barker

The problem with Pat Barker is that once you get in to her story it seems you're trapped and have to finish this. I read Life Class in less than 2 days in Rome. It's very sad, quite gruesome, but also a beautiful story and I am still thinking about the characters even though it's a vedry short novel.
It's not another Regeneration, but I think that would be asking a lot.

available for borrowing!


Ann Veronica - HG Wells

I really really like HG Wells it turns out. This is a good read - set in London (and the home counties) just as the suffragetes are active. It is very domestic - about a young girl leaving home (this is why I thought it was a bit jane austen katy) - but also a big political theme. Some of the characters are hilarious and some just weird, while the main character Ann Veronica became less likeable I thought as the book went on. The ending's a bit weak, but the notes say that Wells sort of gave up on it which seems plausible.
But will definitely read more of his, probably some more sci fi next.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Heaven or Hell by Don Felder

An autobiography by one of The Eagles - the one who got thrown out just after the band reunited after 14 years apart. OK. A bit bland or twee but with a lot of insights into the relationships amongst the Eagles - interesting to me but not to anyone who is not a real Eagles fan.


Bristol Story by Eugene Byrne and Simon Gurr

A loan from katy. A conventional sized paperback which is a comic book approach to the entire history of Bristol - a very clever and modern format. So, easy to read but with a deceptively large amount of content - a long read! Very enjoyable and informative for nerds like me. I may buy another of their books: a graphic history of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (told you I was a nerd!)

7/10 (for me)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Morvern Callar by Alan Warner

Not sure who recommended this book but I got it as a book swap a while ago. A very strange read about a girl living in the Highlands who finds her boyfriend dead one morning. Without giving the story away, what she chooses to do next is rather odd and not without a touch of black humour. It's a quick read once you get used to the style. There's a film out of the book which I might fancy seeing although it could be a bit disturbing I think.

The promise of Happiness - Justin Cartwright

Hmmm... I think I bought this from amazon because I need to make up the cost for free delievery and I liked the cover.

The book was interesting. about a family all coming together after various crises had sent them all over the globe. Quite interesting but a slightly glib ending.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

A surprisingly enjoyable read. Bill Brysons' light style runs through this book but it is a really easy-to-read biography. It also clarifies fact from the many myths about Shakespeare and paints an interesting picture of life and 'social politics'inthat time. Thanks Katy or Sarah for this book (was it for father's day?)

9/10 (for me. Maybe 7/10 for you)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

This month's Book Club read is written by the same man who wrote "Cloud Atlas" which I found interesting but quite a hard read. I probably wouldn't have chosen this book for myself but in fact it's a very good read. It follows a year in the life of a 13 year old boy and could be compared to "Adrian Mole" except that I think the style is much better. Very amusing in parts, it still manages to bring a tear to your eye.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Baby in the Mirror

I am a bit confused by this - enjoyed a lot of the description of the studies, and in general his description of the developing relationship with his daughter (who I met in Australia just for the record - she's rather more grown up now and was looking veeeery bored with a conference wine reception). But I'm not sure it was a "good read" more like work I'm afraid. It's a great summary of the literature, but I found the narrative quite hard and I didn't like the way he kept jumping around between ages. Relatively low score as i was hoping for something more chatty - but good as a work book (can't believe i tricked mum in to reading it).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini

Fantastic book..I enjoyed it even more than "The Kite Runner" and I gave that one 9/10. It's based around the lives of two women married to the same man in Afganistan and shows how bad life can be for women in that country. Life there is just a million miles away from our experiences here and we think we have it hard sometimes.

The baby in the mirror by Charles Ferneyhough

One of Sarah's claims to fame! I must confess that I thought this would have been easier to read, but it's aimed at people with more than a smattering of psychology knowledge I think. Lots of technical stuff but still an interesting read. Couldn't understand some of the illustrations...were they meant to be so blurry or did he use a cheap camera?
7/10 (but that's only because I'm not very clever)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Julius - Daphne du Maurier

Read this thinking, 'hmm it's not very spooky it's not really very DdM' and then like a Ian McEwen novel it came out of the blue and was proper scary.

So whilst the first 200 pages were an interesting story about a self made man in late 1800s in london, the last 100 are perfect DdM.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

chasing unicorns - Bella Pollen

Lue lent me this.. I think mainly I just liked the name of the author

written from 2 people's point of view, who swap each chapter. one is an american journalist and the other the dead brother of the main charactor in the book. centred around upper clas families, so I'm always giong to be happy but a bit of a daft ending!!


I capture the castle - dodie smith

Saw this for borders book club and thought about going.. didn't just read the book.

About a family who are very poor and rather eccentric. very gentle and not a huge amount happens.. but quite enjoyed it. written from the youngest (about 14) daughter's view point so there are big bits of the rest of the family you don't know what they are thinking.

nice though


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Second wind - Dick Francis

well at least I'm reading something... borrowed this from Alex for a light read in between playing shops with connie.

3/10 (and that's only because it was so quick to read)

Once upon a time in the North - Philip Pullman

enjoyed this short read. I actually read it ages ago, but forgot to post it here!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mum, can you lend me twenty quid? by Elizabeth Burton-Phillips

This is this month's book club read, otherwise I'm not sure if it's the sort of book I'd normally read. A true story from a local Reading lady about her twin sons who were both heroin addicts. One son died and the other one is no longer a user.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Redemption Falls by Joseph O'Connor

A natural sequel to Star Of The Seas, though barely linked to it. Interesting novel set in the the untamed territories of America just after the civil war. The same victorian style that makes it hard to read - not a quick read - but strong portrayal of characters and relationships make it worth reading.


Monday, June 30, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory

Read this for book club..

hmm I have no desire to read any more of these books but it was quite interesting. Interesting as you know the ending but not sure how it's going to come about. Not sure how historically accurate it is, some bits is says are more accurate than others.


Friday, June 20, 2008

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Not sure whether it's better to read a book before seeing the film or other way round, but I think it helped to see the film first in this case. The book reads like a film script...very fast moving and lots of quick dialogue. Nevertheless it's a very well written story which keeps you feeling tense and I'm not sure any writer could match the tension in the store scene between Chigurh and the shopkeeper. The sheriff's thoughts (written in italics through the book) are very despairing.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Once upon a time in the north by Philip Pulman

Lovely short story about what happend to Lee Scoresby and Iorek Brynison before the setting of His Dark Materials. Maybe it doesn't have the depth that the trilogy does but still worth a read when you want a quick enjoyable read.

Old Filth by Jane Gardam

This is this month's book club choice...probably wouldn't have read it otherwise. Having said that, it's a really good read about the life of an old lawyer looking back on his life. He was born in the east and sent back to UK as a child to be educated. Quite amusing in parts and gives a good impression of what life was like under the British Empire.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A safe place - Lorenzo Carcaterra

Thanks for the lend dad. This is the same guy and family as sleepers.. Interesting story of life in 50s (??) new york and a really wierd slant on the feelings of those in an abusive relationship.

Didn't change my world, but interesting to read.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

the Siege - Helen Dunmore

This was the bristol big read a few years ago, so I got a free copy of it, but just never got round to reading it.
It was very moving, and rather amazing. Gentle style very much like my blue eyed boy, but a very different story, about the siege of leningrad during the 2nd world war..

would defo recommend although I've just lent my copy to Nick (mark's mate).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs

Kathy Reichs is the real-life pathologist who also writes novels and is aclaimed - if that's the right word - as being a better writer than Patricia Cornwell. But her books are becoming formulaic and this one certainly is. It was OK but I wouldn't recommend it.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Regeneration by Pat Barker

Only read the first book of the trilogy but thought it was fantastic and reminded me how great the poetry from the First World War is. A very harrowing read dealing with officers with break downs during the war and the conflict they suffered by not wanting to appear uncourageous.
Have other books I must read before the next in the trilogy, but already looking forward to it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Your Blue-eyed Boy - Helen Dunmore

Think I borrowed this from mum AGES ago.. About a woman who's got a lot on bringing up her family in remote british countryside (I assumed it was Norfolk) and an ex boyfriend gets in touch.

Very gently with an unexpected ending.


Death of a Stranger - Anne Perry

Found this as a book crossing book in a pub in town so was v keen to read it as a change. It was actually a dul victorian (??) murder mystery that I can see why someone would want to give it away.

Very cliche and a reasonably predictable ending.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bel Canto by Ann Prachett

This was my Florida read and took most of the holiday...not because I didn't enjoy it, I just seemed to have little time for reading. It's about what happens when terrorists take over a gathering of people at a birthday party, hoping to kidnap the president of the country. He doesn't attend and so begins several months of seige in the vice president's house. One of the hostages is an opera singer and the love between her and a Japanese business man provides a main theme of the book. Another of the hostages falls in love with a terrorist and the story examines relationships, until the authority storms the building and causes the fate of the main characters.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

I borrowed this book from Lynn at school. It's an interesting read but not a must. Irene Nemirovsky lived in France during the Second World War and began writing "Suite Francaise during then. She died in Auschwitz before finishing it. I have to confess that I didn't read the appendices as other books took over, but I'm sure they are very thought provoking. Clearly she wrote from first hand knowledge of living in occupied France.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Once Upon A Time In The North by Philip Pullman


Lovely to see and hear him talk about this book in Oxford. But as a read it was quick and simple and stylised - as he said, a western set in the cold north. It pre-dates the Dark Materials trilogy and introduces a young Lee Scorsby who meets the bears and particularly Yorek Berinson (apologies if the name is not right) for the first time.

So, a short story which is a quick and easy read but it is not in the same league as any of the Dark Materials books. Bit sad, that.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A thousand speldid suns by Khaled Hosseini

This is our new book club book. Liked it a LOT more than his first book which I thought really glossed over the fact that it was set in afganistan where as this one showed you a lot more from the view of women living in Kabul.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

The book of lost things - John Connolly

hmmm. seen this in sooo many bookshops I bought it on a 3 for 2. Quite a wierd story. about a boy who goes into a magical world. A bit lion the witch and the wardrobe with really strong morals. There is a bit at the end about how the author meant it to be an adults book. I'm not convinced he managed it.


Two caravans - Marina lewychka

very similar to short history of tractors but a better story. About polish youths who come over to be cheap labour, initially strawberry picking but then a series of rather unbelievable events mean they end up doing all sorts.
pleased to read it finally but I wouldn't rush to read it again


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan

At last I've read On Chesil Beach. Loved it, but so so sad. I liked the way the end seemed to move so quickly after such a slow focus for most of the book.
It nearly made me late for a meeting this morning...


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Favourite Wife - Tony Parsons

I've read all his other books, and mostly loved them.. This was very good but I didn't really bond with the story. Was about a couple who move to China and get confused by the chinese/expat culture.

Still cried at it obviously!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Morvern Callar - Alan Warner

Recommendation from Sarah Mitchell. A short story about a girl from the Scottish Highlands who goes on something of a rampage after her boyfriend dies. It's quite weird, not quite sure the whole way through whether you are meant to like her or not. The contrast between the places she visits and her home are brilliant. Has left me thinking about it a lot, but it is quite an odd one.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor

February's Book Club read and to be honest I'm not sure if I would have wanted to read it otherwise. The style is written like a Victorian book and didn't look appealing to me. However I soon changed my mind and got very hooked by it. It's about a group of people who sail from Ireland to start a new life in America. It concentrates on the lives of a few of them, showing connections before they are brought together on the ship: an Irish landowner and his family, their maid servant, a murderer and an American writer.
Well worth a read; not sure how much is fiction, but certainly based on facts from Ireland in the mid 1800s.

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

generally quite twee but a gentle story and am glad I've read it as I think it got a lot of rave when it wasa first published.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Bristol Story

This is the reading adventure book for bristol. gillions of free books are given away to encourage all of bristol to read the same book at the same time.. This year it was a purpose written cartoon all about the history of bristol
Very interesting and I learnt a LOT about my city. Clearly written for children but still very interesting.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Regeneration Trilogy - Pat Baker

is my choise for book club, which we haven't had yet so not sure what everyone else thought.

Not read any other books baout WW1 or any other war really so was really interesting to see how the 'boys' felt. Liked that it was linked to real events but not entirely.
thanks for the recommendation Sarah

10/10 (yes you have to read it too now!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Surprisingly good read, though mum was reluctant to recommend it - to me, anyway.
A very intimate observation of an American 1960s family who's lives are dogged (an understatement! Maybe crippled and wrecked is better.) by a tragedy and a secret. Lovely insight and often very touching. Made me cry at the end!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

Like his best seller, it's an easy read but still quite a disturbing one. The "Bother" seems to me to more than a spot for anyone and you wonder if any family could really cope with all the things that happen. There's a father having a break down, a mother having an affair and both children having non standard relationships. If that's what a wedding causes, maybe we should be glad of our situation!

The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw

This was my Book Club's book for this month. It's set in Malaysia and about the lives of a Johnny, a successful, but dubious business man and his wife, Snow. Their story is told from 3 people's point of view: Johnny and Snow's son looks back on their lives, Snow tells her story through diary entries and Peter Wormwood adds another side of the story as he looks back on his time with the couple. At times I felt parts of the story was missing or confusing, but then someone else would add more light to it. Not a must to read, but glad I read it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gulliver's Travels - Johnathon Swift

A good read, and all the way through I couldn't quite get over the fact that it was written (or first published) in 1726. Although some of the language and the style are dated, in general it just seems more modern.

The first two stories (the little people and the giants) were good to read in all their details, but what's intriguing then are the later travels which are more political and adult.

Took me quite a while to read, but glad I finished it.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bel Canto - Ann Patchett

Sue from bookclub recommended this after we'd read Run by the same author.

Again quite a slow style but enough story to keep you wanting to read more. About a VIP dinner that gets taken over by terrorists

I liked the ending but the epiogue was jsut ridiculous.


Monday, January 28, 2008

If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

lovely lovely lovely,

think you've all read this already so I won't say much.

lovely and gentle with confusing switching between times and centre of attention.


Friday, January 11, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Good read about a woman, Margaret, who is asked to write about the life of a famous writer before she dies. The story uncovers a mystery around twins which links in with Margaret's past.
The style is quite easy to follow and the plot interesting.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

Boring, boring, boring. Grisham's first non-fiction book I suspect he had it ghost written - by a zombie. The story of farcical small town policing and bigotry and an innocent man sent to jail for 12 years for a horrific rape and murder(until DNA proved him innocent). Could have been good but just went on. And on. And onnnnnn. Don't even think of wasting your time on it. Is this a balance review? Yup!


Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Abortionist's Daughter - Elisabeth Hyde

Liked this a LOT. was a basic murder mystery with a bit more story behind it. Not that obvious who done it and nicely explained why they did. It also had 2 chapters of the actual day and how it happened right at the end which was a bit like a columbo backwards!


Monday, January 07, 2008

Run - Anna Patchett

Read this for Lou's book club.

About a family who are involved in a car accident and the fall out from that. I really liked it, although I've already heard the girl who picked the book hated it.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cit of God - Paulo Lins

Probably read this more in 2007 than 2008 but finally finished it today.

Was a book before the AMAZING film and crickey it was a violent book. I'd forgotten how violent the film was but I might watch it again.

All about gangs in brazil, drug dealing and some very young children getting involved.