Monday, 20 April 2009

Steven Carroll - Twilight in Venice

This is an interesting little book. It really is the story of a summer romance and set in beautiful Venice. However when the protagonists are a 23 year old girl and a 61 year old man things become thought provoking, who is exploiting who?

It is easy to read and not very challenging. It would make an excellent novel to take on holiday.

However, it would also make an excellent book for a reading group because there are various themes that could be discussed. The joy is that this edition has reading group notes in it and author interview making it so easy to use for this purpose.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Judith Martin - No Vulgar Hotel

If you are thinking of going to Venice or perhaps are just a Venetophile then this is the book for you. It is great fun from an American author who clearly loves the place, oh and has money. If you want to know what it is like to hire a palazzo for your holidays then here is the insight. It is also however full of other titbits not least a whole chapter on literary Venice!

Louise Penny - Still Life

If you like a classical murder mystery, in the style of Agatha Christie then this is for you. It is set in present day Canada in a small unique village of Three Pines. An accident or could it be murder occurs and Chief Inspector Armand Gamach arrives from Montreal with his team to solve the mystery. I was so consumed by this story that I read until 2pm to finish it, I just could not put it down. To me that is a true sign of a successful classic crime. Oh and I did not work out who had done it!

This book was runner-up in the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award in 2004.

I already have reserved the next book in the series!

Barry Unsworth - Land of Marvels

This would make an excellent reading group selection. It is another novel set in an archaeological dig. This time it is 1914 and we are in Mesopotamia. This is a superbly written novel, lyrical and astute. The unfolding of the characters and their actions are key. I particularly like the way that chapters were blended in from various viewpoints so that whilst the characters may not have understood each other and their motivations, we the readers did! I imagine a reading group will have much to say about all their actions! The period too is interesting, as all the powers race to grab what they can before war starts. The question of morals I think would feature highly in discussions! I cannot say too much without revealing too much, just recommend that you read it.

Ann Cleeves - Red Bones

This is the third book in what is to be a quartet. They are set in the Shetland Isles and are British crime writing at its best. Ann is particularly good at atmospheres, that feeling of whilst living in a wild open space, there is the claustrophobia of knowing that everyone is aware of your business. However secrets do lurk! In Red Bones we have an archaeological dig revealing buried bones and some are more recent than expected! Skeletons rattling from the Second World War.

I particularly like the way we have come to know her detective so intimately over the novels and look forward to seeing how the life of Jimmy Perez continues.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Jenny White - The Abyssinian Proof

Once again an excellent crime caper from Jenny White. I found myself snatching time to read this and read it in a couple of days. Once again we follow the hero, local magistrate Kamil Pasha as he attempts to solve the crimes of murder and smuggling. Set in Istanbul in 1887, this is a quality historical crime novel and extremely enjoyable escapism. This has enough in it to make it a reading group selection but it would raise the thorny issue of religion! Oh and once again there is the sniff of romance!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Sebastian Barry - The Secret Scripture

This book was shorlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Costa Coffee Book of the Year. It is also shorlisted for the Galaxy British Book Awards, Author of the Year 2009.

This would usually mean that I will not like it! I am really not sure if I do. It is beautifully and almost lyrically written but it is so melancholy. Read this book if you want to be sad, you want to be angry at injustice, if you like a dark, Irish novel full of misery and regret. I found it really hard going. If you liked The Gathering by Anne Enright then this is for you!

It will make an excellent reading group choice because of its many themes.

I really need to read something light and jolly next before I slit my wrists...........

Michelle Moran - Nefertiti

This is an enjoyable if not challenging historical novel. It would make an excellent holiday read or a pure escapist read. I do not think it is very historically acccurate but if you suspend this then it is an enjoyable Egyptian romp.

Lindsey Davis - Alexandria

This is episode 19 of this long running series and if you are a fan like me then it will well live up to the rest of the series. Of course the fact that I am a librarian and the chief librarian is murdered will of course add the the spice for me. The fact that the university/ library and the politics behind it are so recognisable today is absolutely delicious!