Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Libraries versus Bookshops?

I just couldn't resist this. A little late for Chinese New Year I know...... please don't send any dragons after me, unless they are from Pern and I can ride one.

Browsed for too long and no joy on a decent book? Then remember we have the back stock to end all back stock. I challenge you to not find a good book in your local library. If you still do not like it remember you can bring it back for free and swap it - and come and join a Book Group while you are at it!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Beatrice Colin - The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite

Now this was just fabulous. I cannot recommend it more highly and it would make a fantastic book group read. This was a Richard and Judy title and it only goes to show how strong that brand was and what a hole is left in the book world when that show finished.

This book follows the life of the young woman of the title from being an orphan to becoming a silent screen star. What makes this interesting is that we begin in 1899 and go through two World Wars and this is Germany.

Here like The Book Thief, we have the attempt to reintegrate Germany and it's people of this period into the consciousness of the rest of the world without the necessary stigma of Nazism. We see the weeping defeated Kaiser leaving on his train. Yes, Hitler features, as do the death camps but the novel is filled with real suffering people and we are asked - what would you have done? To save your husband would you have returned from Hollywood to star in a film for Goebbels? And to save her would you have been prepared to pay the ultimate price also?

Throughout this book we have a real insight into one person's love for Berlin and follow the bitter suffering that this love results in. It is about the resilience of the human psyche, how the past always returns, catching up with us, and how love can transcend poverty and deprivation. This is truly a novel on the grand scale, and will remain with you long after you have read it.

Kate Ellis - Playing with Bones

Kate Ellis writes the long running Wesley Peterson detective series based in Devon.
This is the second in a new series with Detective Joe Plantagenet, set in a medieval market town. As such the most is made of the atmosphere of the town. Her we have a serial killer at work repeating unsolved crimes of the 1950's, surely it cannot be the same killer? A copycat? Once again there is the hint of the supernatural and a sense of place and history. They really are well written and I cannot recommend them enough.
I would have thought there was enough in this one to make it an excellent recommendation for a crime book group.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Christopher Fowler - Bryant and May on the Loose

Phew, back to adult books, from one age related book to the other spectrum. Our septo/octogenarian detectives are again on great form. This once again teaches about the wonderful quirky underworld that is London history. It also cunningly reveals modern society and the shifting population and culture of London/British society today. These are great fun and very clever. I am so glad to be back in the land of the adult, surreal it may be but predictable it is not.......

Lauren Kate - Fallen

I seem to be on a cross over bent at the moment. Another book aimed at the Twilight fans, this time we have Angels. Good ones and fallen ones. Once again due to mysterious circustances our heroine finds herself in a form of reform school, but as usual all is not what it seems.
The problem with this book is that it is very American, and written in I presume teenage US speak, and at a low literacy level. It seems to have been written perhaps in a hurry and poorly edited. Perhaps it really is not intended for grown ups.......I can only stand hearing about teenagers "snickering" so many times with out thinking of something brown and log shaped and it wasn't chocolate!

Effective cover though, that is why Ipicked it up!

P.C. and Kistin Cast - Marked

This is the first of The House of Night series, and is a classic cross over novel aimed at the Twilight market. I have to say I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes that genre and is an appropriate age. I found it a little bit too teen for me, but it was intelligent and clever. Good idea though. Teens become marked with a magical tattoo that signals that they may become vampyres, or they may die. As such they have to go to a special school, and so we have all the usual new girl on the block angst etc. It was well wriiten and I did want to finish it. It is part of a so far 7 part series so should keep one occupied for quite a while, I am passing at the moment but might be tempted later..........

Barbara Kingsolver - The Lacuna

I have to confess that I have not read The Poisonwood Bible despite it being a reading group classic. I certainly shall now. This is a beautifully written novel. It is richly textured and multi-layered. I was immersed in the characters, and learnt so much about Mexico, America after WW1, during the Mccarthy era and quite a bit about art, communism, and cooking!

This book follows the life of Harrison Shepherd, born in the US but up rooted to mexico as a boy by his irresponsible(?) fly by night mother, who you just can't help liking. Whilst in Mexico he meets Diegi Rivera and hhis wife Frida Kahlo, becoming their cook, then they offer a haven for Lev trotsky and life becomes dangerous and interesting. He returns to America after the assassination and becomes a famous writer, but is then caught up in the McCarthy witch hunts.

The plot is so complex this does not do it justice. It jumps from scene to scene like a rich tapestry interspersed with the eponymous lacunae of the title. A brilliant novel, should win a prize or several and an excellent reading group choice!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Paul Hoffman - The left hand of God

This is a very interesting book. Ah ha I hear you say that usually means she is not keen on it! Well that is not quite correct I did enjoy it but was a little confused as to whom it was targeted. Clearly this is a cross over book. It is aimed very much at the Trudi Canavan market. However, it has some really witty and sly commentaries going on about teenage boys, - and girls for that matter, and society as a whole. This really appealed to me and shows the range of the author. However it did mean that the novel was a bit of a see-saw between these conflicting areas. there was also a great deal about tactics and weaponary, and a teen romance.... so you can see that this book attempts to be all things to everyone. Does it work? I am not sure.Clearly with the release of the advertising video below it is expected to be big, so time and the public will tell.

This book is set in a fantasy world of the early middle ages type, our hero a 14/15 year old boy escapes from the brutal regime of the Redeemers and explodes on the world as a naive, witty, violent and ignorant young man. I have to say that he is really rather cool ( Am I showing my age here? is anyone cool these days?), a bit of an Edward Cullen for the fantasy world.

I should warn that it is part of a trilogy and like all good fantasy it finishes on a cliff hanger....