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Monday, 31 December 2007

The Shoe Queen - Anna Davis

This book was the last Tesco Bookclub book. It is light hearted and a fun, quick read. It is not particulary deep but good for a dull afternoon, or perhaps on holiday.

I did not find any of the characters interesting or appealing, and I do not think that in a face to face book group it would have any value, there was not enough to talk about, and it certainly is a woman's book. I am not sure what men would think of the pages devoted to describing shoes!

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak


This is a brilliant book. It is narrated by Death and is set in Germany during WWII. Do not let this put you off. I found it utterly fascinating and it is a fantastic book for a reading group. It is about moral dilemmas, whether you would value your family first over the people you do not know, about loss, betrayal, the sacrifices that war brings to everyone, and how a nation could be persuaded/bullied into turning a blind eye. It was the last book that we read at Westbourne Library's reading group and we talked for over an hour about the themes and issues that this book raised.

The Holocaust Memorial trust has some excellent Reading Group questions, here is the link

http://www.hmd.org.uk/files/1216725956-214.pdf

Thursday, 13 December 2007

The Dig - John Preston

This is an interesting book, as it is a fictionalised account of the most famous archaeological dig in Britain in the modern age - that of Sutton Hoo.
There are touches and flashes that this book could have held so much more but perhaps in a book that is about real people the author was contrained by what he knew of them.
It is a gentle story that makes you want to read more. It is well written but ultimately not very exciting.
It would appeal to people who like archaeology, who like the time period - 1939, but it does not have enough in it to make it a worthwhile read for a reading group.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Alibi - Joseph Kanon

This is a gem of a book. Quite old now published in hardback in 2005. It is set in Venice just after the end of WW2. A former US Army war crimes investigator in Germany has come to Venice to forget, but then he falls in love with Claudia, a Jewish survivor of the war, and things do not go as planned.
This book is well, written, atmospheric, a real book noire, Venice in winter, the fog, the water, the cold , you feel it all.
The plot twists and turns with many suprises and the central moral dilemma and outcome, would make it an excellent choice for a reading group.

I have just reserved his book , 'The Good German', which was recently made into a film, we have the DVD in the library, I can't wait to indulge in both!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

This book could have had so much going for it. History, a glamorous location - Venice, Venetian Courtesans, political intrigue, but oh dear what a disappointment. It was poorly, sloppily,written, with stereotypical characters, cliche ridden and evil baddies. One almost expected Monty Python to appear with " no one expects the Spanish ( whoops Venetian!) Inquisition"!

When books like this are published it makes one despair. It is written by an American author, clearly for an undiscerning American market. At one point the modern history graduate heroine, turns to her history(!) student travelling companion, on landing in Italy, (the student had not heard of the 2nd World War - one wonders do they have an education system?), and instructs her that without the Americans, Europeans would all be speaking German! It is this crass, lack of respect that typifies this novel. If I had been in a gondola the book would have been confined to the watery depths!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Man Booker Winner - The Gathering by Anne Enright

I am not a big fan of the Booker prize winners on the whole and this is no exception. Anne Enright does write lyrically, but after a while it appears rather self conscious. This is a really bleak book and certainly one could not describe the read as enjoyable. It also has the Booker hallmarks of being difficult to fathom, memories turning out not to be memories, confusion and general murkiness. It also does not really seem to go anywhere, there is no plot as such, nothing appears to be resolved and no decisions are made, perhaps that is true to life but does not, I think, make great fiction.

Monday, 29 October 2007

The Ghost - Robert Harris

I read this novel in 24 hours flat. It is absolutlety brilliant and impossible to put down for long. The story twists and turns and it is difficult to talk about the book without spoiling the plot. However, the major charm of the book is that no matter how much Robert Harris has disguised the protagonists, as you read you just see Tony, Cherie, and Robin! Delicious and wicked! - Oh and heaven help us if the CIA are that influential, do we believe it? Oh - ?????????

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Making Money - Terry Pratchett

I have to say I am completely biased, I adore Terry Pratchett. This book is no exception. I read a review which said that this had none of the side -splitting laugh out loud jokes in it. There are a few but in this book the humour is more wry, after all is banking amusing, perhaps not, but Terry Pratchett's commentary is. Moist returns in this witty look at the world of banking, and do we think Northern Rock has a vault of gold...hmmm? Anyway I am sure if you are a fan of the Discworld, you will enjoy this latest outing. If you have not read any Pratchett then do start with The Colour of Magic and I guarantee you will be hooked! Incidently we were left with a bit of a cliffhanger, is Terry Pratchett going to tackle the Inland Revenue in the next book??

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

I thought The Lovely Bones was brilliant, but this book is even better.
In The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold almost convinced me that the killing of another human being was justified. I would never have thought that I would feel sympathy for someone who had killed their mother.
Alice Sebold's quality of writing in this book is superb. I desperately wanted to finish it and find out what happened but at the same time on several occasions my reactions were so intense, that I had to put the book down, walk away and return a few hours later. It is the subtlety with which she leads you to discoveries, the gradual unfolding of Helen's life.
We are gently led and left to make up our own minds. I particularly liked how she has engaged the readers in the plot, through Helen's no nonsense and brutally honest narrative, the way we are left to consider how in the end it might be resolved and perhaps how we think that it ought to be resolved. Do I think Helen is a murderess? Well yes, but then again no............
I can see that this book will be so right for Book Groups, the arguments and discussion will be continuing for hours, I can't wait to share it with someone!

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Oystercatchers, Susan Fletcher

Hi, I have just put this book down. Frankly I was bored, read the end and still did not care. Has any one else read it? It was highly recommended. Guess you cannot please everyone

Birth of venus, Sarah Dunant

Hi, had an excellent evening last night with the Penn Hill bookgroup. We read the Birth of Venus. I think it was the longest discussion we have had so far. This is a real meaty book with lots to discuss. We also downloaded some Reading Group questions that were really in depth and kept us chatting for hours.

So well worth a try!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I have also just finished this book by Khaled Hosseini, it was brilliant, and I agree I think it was even better than Kite Runner, but is that because I am a woman??

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Welcome to a new Reader Development initiative in Bournemouth

Hi, welcome to the new Reader Development Blog for Bournemouth. This is where we can share ideas, reviews, and issues relating to books and the reading groups that we support.