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Saturday, 19 June 2010

Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Angel's Game

This is his second book after the phenomenal success of Shadow of the Wind, see review below.

To be honest I feel that this book is a shadow of "Shadow" , it is also set in Barcelona and very cleverly brings in and thus fills us in on some of the characters from the previous book. It is in effect a prequel.
It is beautifully written, very gothic, even surreal but for me just does not hit the right note. The first half of the novel was just fabulous but when he moved the story on and attempted to explain what was happening I did not feel it worked. I can get that I am perhaps not supposed to "get" the premise of the book, if the Boss an angel , the devil, etc but the ending where things were resolved, sort of , just left me flat............ and I had no idea what the message of the book was, if indeed there was one.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Janet Skeslien Charles - Moonlight in Odessa



I have just heard this has won the Melissa Nathan prize and it well deserves it. I read it a couple of weeks ago but have not had time to review it.

It is great a real feel good read and really compelling, I read it solidly over a few days and could not put it down. It would make a great holiday read. Another book I read late into the night and at the end had a tear...

It is the clever and humorous story of the highly intelligent Daria from Odessa, (and what a wonderful sales pitch for the place this book is! ) who becomes involved in the mail order bride business as she will not sleep with her boss. Disillusioned she becomes a bride herself and achieves her ambition to leave Odessa and go to the promised land of the USA, but all is not what it seems. The clever insights on both societies are fabulous and very funny.

This would make a superb book group read, there is so much in it to get talking about, the first being men!!

It is always a sign of a good book when you are left wanting more. I hope there is a sequel as I would like to know what Dara does next......

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Friday, 11 June 2010

David Hewson - Blue Demon

This is another great book in the Nic Costa series , this is book number 7. I am a big fan and this book has not failed to impress. Superb plotting, a very interesting case.

The G8 summit is descending on Rome at the same time an official with the security plans is ritually murdered. This method of killing recalls a previous old case, has the killer begun to kill again after such a time, is it a copycat or someone manipulating Rome during the summit?
David writes so well and compellingly that you just have to keep on reading perched metaphorically on the edge of your seat (or even literally) for the next exciting revelation.

I loved the conspiracy theories. The anarchic temperament of the Romans. The elderly lady taking on the "spooks" was fantastic! Once again I am surprised, delighted , challenged and above all entertained.

Can't wait for the next one, how many more deaths in the team?????????


Thursday, 10 June 2010

Lorrie Moore - A Gate at the Stairs


This book was on the Orange shortlist and I do try and read as many as I can before the competition ends. This year the shortlist has been phenomenal and this book is no exception.
It concerns a college student in mid-west America who becomes the part time nanny to a couple to supplement her income. However this is no ordinary couple, they are seeking to adopt and Tassie is included in all the interviews for a child. The couple eventually foster a part African-American child with a view to adoption but all is not what it seems.
This novel is superb at getting into the minutiae of Midwest life. I loved her characterisation of Tassie, the typical student with her "quasi" this and that but atypical in her thinking , observations and life.
We also are given a look into Midwestern life and prejudices. How does a country with a black president react to a white couple with a black baby. The horrible apocryphal story of the adopted black 13 year old child with white parents being shot by police in his own home when the burglar alarm goes off sets the tone.
However, this is also a wryly amusing book mainly because we see it all through Tassie's eyes, we see her grow up , become wiser, and we realise that she is worth more than most of the other 'adult' characters put together.
I cannot give too much away as I might spoil it. It is a magnificent book and would make a superb reading group choice.

Orange prize

So we now know that Barbara Kingsolver has won the Orange prize with her The Lacuna. Do see my review, I am so glad that in february I spotted that this book should win prizes.
Anyway in Bournemouth Libraries we have bought extra copies for reading groups of this and her previous Poisonwood Bible as it is bound to spark interest! We also have copies on order in Spoken word format and large print when available........

Monday, 7 June 2010

Rosie Alison - The Very Thought of You



For those of you following the Orange Prize , here is another of the shortlist, see my reviews for Wolfhall and The Lacuna below.

This was fantastic It concerns an eight year old evacuee called Anna, who is sent to a large Yorkshire stately home. The owners have turned it into a temporary school.

The elegant Ashton's have problems of their own, Thomas is convined to a wheelchair as a result of adult polio, his wife is desperate to have a child. Imagine then the arrival into their lives of large numbers of children....

This is well written and Rosie really gets us inside the head of her characters. It is an amazing study of how disability impacts on a marriage, and then adding the lack of children and it is pretty intense stuff. Anna is nicely drawn, we see much of the world through her eyes, we watch her grow mature and become irresistable drawn into the events unfolding on the estate.

I also liked the subplot of her mother, suddenly finding freedom in war torn London and finding satisfation through working for the BBC.

So far this is my favourite book on the list......... it would make an excellent book for a reading group.