Friday, 30 December 2011

Phil Rickman - The Secrets of Pain

Another excellent offering from Phil Rickman. These suspenseful murder mysteries are great. It is another large book but once I had hit half way I just could not put it down. Here we have a police investigation into the murder of a local landowner, and we enter again the complicated world of DI Franny Bliss. For Merrily, the Diocesan Exorcist, this is the 11th book in the series, and it is worth reading the back list, we have a highly challenging situation surrounding once of her colleagues who has recently re-enlisted in the SAS as their chaplain.
I found the aspect dealing with the SAS absolutely fascinating, and once again this is a book where I came away having felt I had learned alot. I cannot say to much more about the plot without spoilers.
Phil Rickman is a master at creating brooding suspense and his creation of the atmosphere of Hereford and the Welsh borders really gives you a sense that you can be there, with the hairs on the back of your neck rising in sympathy. I also like the story arc concerning Merrily and Lol and of course her teenage daughter Jane, who always just seems to get it wrong!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Mario Reading - The Third Antichrist

Well here it is at last, the final volume in the Third Antichrist Trilogy, and it has been worth the wait! You can read it as a standalone novel but it is so much richer if you have read the previous two novels.

This is a large book, bordering on 666 pages (!), it is fast paced and witty. Unusually for this type of book it is also erudite. I love a book in which I learn alot and am entertained!
The glossary is also helpful as it answers all the in jokes/ entendres concerning the names of significant characters!
So, this book is mainly set in Moldovia and Romania, but ties up the threads of Nostradamus in France and the Mayan Codex from Mexico. I cannot say too much without spoilers but I can share that as Adam Sabir, Calcque and the intrepid gypsies rush to the climax, chased by the Corpus ( the wicked De Bale family - did I say my maiden name was Bale?) we find out not only who is the Third Antichrist but also who is the Second Coming!

If you like fast paced, mystery or conspiracy type thriller this is the book for you! Just the thing to curl up with at this time of year.............

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christopher Fowler - Bryant and May and The Memory of Blood

Another cracking novel in the Bryant and May series. This time Christopher turns his hand to the locked room mystery. Add to that the fact that the murder may have been committed by Punch from Punch and Judy, then you have the scene set for another delicious blend of mayhem, mystery and murder.

These books just keep on getting better. If you want to know more about the history of London and all its quirks, these books will entertain. Add to this the great duo of Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit and you have a really special quality read. Although these books do stand alone, the story arc of the Peculiar Crimes Unit is great to follow, do I detect a slight softening towards Raymond Land?

These books are also well written and I love an author that plays with words and teaches me new ones.

I am very worried about this new condition I am sure I have abrakophilia !

Christopher has a great BLOG too follow the links on this page!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Man Booker Prize 2011

Well this year it was as controversial as always. I have to say that once again none of the books really appealed to me. The only one I attempted prior to the result was this one.

It certainly was not challenging but was very odd. This is a violent and peculiar western. It is very strange I am not sure what was the point of the book, was it to tell us that all sons need and crave their mothers? If anyone can enlighten me please post.

On the announcement of the winning novel, I decided to read it. Again an easy read, and very short, almost a novella. It is beautifully if somewhat self consciously written. It is about a 60 something year old man returning to an event in his past. I can't say too much as it would then contain spoilers.

What I could not decide is whether this book is absolutely brilliant or dreadful. It is as I said very lyrical, but none of the characters appeal, there is really no point that I can perceive to the story. There is no real denouement. The revelation at the end you could see coming, and it really doesn't solve anything BUT that is real life. Other human beings frequently are a mystery to us and there is no 'closure' that can be had, and some people we meet in our lives are just unpleasant or weird.

I am glad I read it , it will be excellent for reading groups as I suspect it will divide the readers into two camps and lead to a lively discussion.

Friday, 4 November 2011

End Of The Line - ed Jonathan Oliver

So what can I say about this collection of horror short stories? They are all loosely based about underground railway systems. They are incredible! A stellar cast of authors have been collected by Jonathan Oliver, Christopher Fowler, Adan L G Neville, Gary McMahon, Pat Cadigan, Paul Maloy, Ramsay Campbell, John L Probert, Nicholas Royle, Simon Bestwick, Al Ewing, Conrad Williams, Mark Morris, Stephen Volk, Michael Marshall Smith, James Lovegrove,Natasha Rhodes, and Joel Lane.
I found I had to read this book very slowly reserving time to read one story a day. They are haunting, terrifying, and very clever, they also stay with you, hence the desire not to overload the synapses.
I should say that next time I take the tube in London I am going to pay very close attention to everything, and be very afraid. I found it absolutely fascinating but not surprising to see how different author's imaginations run when given such a suitable topic. Am I the only person that has always been slightly uneasy on a tube platform?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

October has been a busy month!

Phew, we have had a busy month here in Bournemouth. Firstly our reading groups have reached 52! We have been running a survey with them and they have feed back that they would over whelmingly like Readers Days, on Crime, General Fiction and Historical Fiction. So please keep your eyes open for advertising for future author events.

In October we had the excellent Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival. As part of this there was the interestingly named Horrorlitic events. Bournemouth has a wealth of literary connections,the author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley is buried here, as is the heart of her husband! Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde while living here, and the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker used to come here on holiday!

So we had the eminent horror writers Ramsay Campbell and Stephen Laws to the Bournemouth Library for tea with a specially commissioned horror cake. Over 40 people came to be chilled by readings of some of their latest short stories. Later they were grilled by the audience on how they wrote, where they got their inspriration from and whether they were normal! ( Their wives said yes!) Waterstones were there to sell books for a signing and I bought a particularly chilling collection of short stories. Review to follow!

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Whaleboat HouseAmagansett

This is the same book, so do not be fooled! The publisher clearly thought the original title had to be simplified. Certainly the new cover fits in with those of his later books.

Once again we have a murder mystery/thriller. This time it is set in Long Island, USA in 1947.  Having read this book last in the series, I was impressed as to how deep and structured it was. All the elements I have come to recognise in my fest were there. Once again we are immersed into a rich, complex and textured community, that at the same time is finite in the sense that we have a small cast from which to find our murderer. I loved the character of Hollis the detective. There were all the elements of classic film noir that added to the atmospere.
 It was also very clever how we were drip fed details of Conrad through out the book, so that we were never quite sure what his next move might be. It was not until quite some way into the book that I realised his age!

Again there is much here that would make it an excellent reading group book but also an entertaining read that will keep you pleasurably lost in another world.

Keep writing Mark as I have now run out!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Mark Mills - The Information Officer

The Information OfficerThis book is more of a murder mystery, than his previous books I have reviewed, as within the setting there is a serial killer on the loose. Once again though it is the setting that is so fantastic. Here we are in Malta in the 1940s. For those of you who loved a Pair of Silver Wings by James Holland here is a novel set in the same time frame and the same place. As such it would make a very interesting reading group challenge, to read the two books together.
Once again Mark has produced an atmosperic thriller with an interesting puzzle. In this novel we also have the added frisson of chapters written from the viewpoint of the murderer. This is an  clever device as clearly we have a small cast from which to pick the murderer, and I found myself, re-reading sections to find clues, as to who it might be. It certainly racked up the tension and once again I was ready until late in the night!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Mark Mills - The Savage garden

The Savage GardenWell having searched my BLOG it appears that I did not review The Savage Garden, so here goes.
The thing that Mark does do well in his writing is atmospere, and as I stated in my previous review it is this which kept me reading. Yes there is a puzzle, yes there is a death, but it is the sheer ability of  his skill to immerse you in the period in which he casts you, that holds you and keeps you reading long into the night.
This book is set in the 1950s in Tuscany, Italy. Our hero is tasked with investigating the history of a historical garden for his thesis, the family owning the garden being friends of his professor. As he investigates mysteries begin to surface and he gradually comes to realise that the family that have welcomed him into their midst may have their own secrets. Secrets that may echo those embedded in the garden whose mystery he has set himself to solve. Classy, elegant and much to entertain a reading group. It was a Richard and Judy recommendation and once you have read it you realise why.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Mark Mills - House of the Hanged

House of the HangedI  have just finished a Mark Mills fest. Started on the back of reading this book. I just could not get enough. So more reviews to follow.
This is his latest book and it really is great. It is set in France in the 1930s. It is an engaging thriller and I could not put it down, it took me two days and nights to read it.
I was a big fan of his Savage Garden, see review below, and this is up to that standard.
This would make a good reading group book as there is much that can be discussed in relation to the time period. It is very atmosperic, and you feel totally immersed in the setting that Mark has created.
The book starts in Russia, and then switches to France, it abounds with spies and murder and is thoroughly enjoyable. As with all these thriller there is very little about the plot that can be told without introducing spoilers, however it is to be recommended.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Dan Wadell - Blood Detective

I read this on holiday and have only just got round to reviewing it. Dan Waddell is an expert on genaeology, He wrote the Best Selling ' Who Do You Think You are?' to accompany the TV series. This is his first novel.
It really is a great idea and fairly unique I would have thought in crime. Here we have an expert in genealogy helping the police solve crime in the present by researching family and local history.

Here we have a serial killer in Victorian London and another in present day London. There appears to be a link can our genealogist, Nigel Barnes, find the link?
For those of you fascinated by family history or in researching your house, or street, this has a wealth of ideas tucked in among the fiction. It works really well as a Crime Novel and I look forward to the rest of the series.
On a personal level, I particularly liked the setting in Ladbroke Grove. I lived there years ago and several times people knocked on our door looking for Rillington Place, as yes I lived in Wesley Square........
I throoughly recommend this. It would make a good reading group read and I think it would also be enjoyed by a local history/ family history group as well.

Friday, 2 September 2011

David Hewson - The Fallen Angel

Another wonderful offering from David in his Nic Costa series set in Rome. I am completely hooked on these.

This is an intriguing puzzle and as usual it kept me guessing to the end.
Nic has a potential new love interest ( I do hope so he deserves a little bit of happiness!), whilst out meeting with her they hear screaming, running to the scene they see a young g irl bent over her dead father who apparently has fallen from a balcony that is under repair. Is it an accident? Of course it isn't, but the intricacies of their lives will keep you guessing.
As usual I learnt so much more about Rome and in particular the story of Beatrice Cenci, a sixteenth century noblewoman still honoured by women today.
I shall tell you no more as it would contain spoilers!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Ann Cleeves - Silent Voices

Another all nighter or so it seemed, well wee hours anyway. I just had to finish this. It was really exciting, kept you guessing and maintained the tension throughout.
This is the fourth in the Vera Stanhope series. The only trouble is that after the TV series Vera, I firmly have Brenda Blethyn in my head now but the plus side is that as a Southener I can now hear the voices as I read.
An interesting book, I love the touches of humour, the Health Club was acutely observed, as I too swim before work. I must say I did look around the steam room this morning!
I thought the plot was good, very topical, the murder victim being a a social worker who had worked on a high profile case where a child was killed.

I think because of the subject matter it would make a good Reading Group book especially for a Crime Reading Group.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tatiana de Rosnay - Sarah's Key

This I believe is Tatiana's first book in English. I looked it up having enjoyed The Secret ( review below) so much.

I also enjoyed this one and again it will make an excellent Reading Group read. This is another dual time novel set in the present day and war time Paris. This is Paris of WW2 the time of the Vichy government. This story concerns a shameful and little advertised fact of that time. The French Police (not the Nazis) rounded up over 13,000 Jews most of them women and children, in the summer of 1942. They were kept in inhumane conditions before finally they were then deported in cattle trucks and killed in Auschwitz. Most of over 4000 children were French. They did not survive.

This is the story of one little girl and a modern day journalist's obsession with finding out her story.

It is a good book, that keeps you guessing until the end. I read it quickly over 2 days as I was desperate to find out what happened.

As is often the way the older story had more resonance. I thought the journalist was a little naive in every sense but then we are all flawed aren't we, so it was true to life!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Sarah Winman - When God Was A Rabbit

This is a very funny book. It will also make you cry. At the same time it is very deep, dealing with complex issues that really make you examine your own opinions and reflect on your own childhood.
The book is about the growing up of a sister and brother. A rite of passage novel if you will but, it also brings in the global triumphs and tragedies as a commentary on their lives, on our own lives.
Again an absolute must for Reading Groups. It even helpfully has reading group notes in the back.
This book will have you laughing out loud, in the scene with the nativity play I nearly fell out of bed - and then she delivers the punch line that brilliant sentence that sums up the world as it really is.
Her characters are well drawn and by the end of the book you really feel you know them. I could go on for pages but better still pick up a copy at your local library and be prepared to read something really special.
Is the book realistic, probably not but as a social commentary it is priceless.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Tatiana de Rosnay - A Secret Kept

This is a fantastic book and would make an excellent reading group book. There is a lot here to discuss.
This is basically a dual time mystery novel set in France. I cannot say too much about the plot as I would give it away. What I can say is that this was one of those books that had me reading into the small hours of the morning to find out what happened.
This book is also full of relationships, and the psychology that drives them.
What I also found interesting is that this book is about French protagonists and it fascinating to get behind the psyche of a different race.
I thoroughly recommend it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Natasha Solomons - The Novel in the Viola

Oh I am just so jealous. Natasha writes like a dream she is fantastic. I loved her previous novel, Mr Rosenblaum's List. This book is set during the Second World War in Austria and Dorset, UK.
It is the story of Elise, a middle class Jewish Girl, born into the glamorous world of her opera singer mother and writer father. They send her to England before the outbreak of the war on a domestic ticket. This girl who has never had to lift a finger before, who speaks little English arriving from the bustling Austrian city of Vienna coming to rural Dorset as a servant. A village in Dorset that is going to be requisitioned by the army.( This really happened, a village still sits there on the coast, bombed out for target practise, a village of ghosts)
This is a novel of many genres, historical, coming of age, romantic, sad and above all brilliant. Again this book is as much about, what is the essence of being English as it is about being a refugee.
It would make an excellent reading group novel, there is a wealth of discussion points to delve!

Olivia Darling - Temptation

This is a great big girlie piece of chick lit. I did not expect to enjoy it but I did. It was well written, amusing, a little sardonic and of course everyone gets their just desserts.

We have three women a successful Opera Diva, who divorces her philandering husband - a famous tenor. After financial problems she finds herself agreeing to tour the world with her ex-husband. We have an impressionable banker, ( successful but naive) who slowly realises that the rotter at the bank, ( married corrupt) will stop at nothing to get the money he needs. Including getting her the sack.

We then have a young black girl encouraged to sing at school, introduced to Opera by an inspired teacher. She works as an office cleaner now but dreams of being an opera singer. As the book progresses the lives of these three women inexorably begin to cross over and entwine leading to the explosive climax.

This is absolutely a book to take to the pool or beach this summer!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Conor Fitzgerald - The Dogs of Rome

This is a debut novel and has been nominated for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger 2011.
I picked it up as reaaders of my Blog will know that I devour Italian crime novels. This one is set in Rome. It is gritty, complex and as usual cynical as to the Roman Underworld/police force.
I did not warm to our detective Alec Blume. I think it may be the Americanisms, he seemed neither one nor the other, however it may be a useful story arc for the future. It was well plotted and uses Rome to full advantage. I found that after I had got about halfway I could not put it down a sure sign that the dramatic tension is right. It also made me look up Cane Corso's so I learnt something too.
I await the next book in the series to see how this series will progress. This is a competative field and there are some masters to challenge ( Dibdin, Hewson, Leon et al), this is not quite there yet but has massive potential.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Kate Atkinson - Started Early Took My Dog

Another excellent book in the Jackson Brodie series. The vision of Jason Isaacs has now superceeded any visions I had of Jackson in my head - I had not imagined him quite so buff!)
I absolutely love how Kate takes three apparently disparate threads and then inexorably weaves them in and out until they come to the climax of the book. It is a fascinating web that she weaves and I am hooked.
I hope he finds his thieving ex-wife and she gets her comuppance. I hope he gets some closure over his sister's murder and I also wish Tracy Waterhouse all the best in her new life!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dawn French - A Tiny Bit Marvellous

Having long admired Dawn French and found her hilarious, I was really interested to read her foray into fiction. And best selling at that it is currently number one on the Bookseller Top 50.

If you are like me then I can predict you will love this book. After years of watching French and Saunders you can just hear Dawn's voice in the background with her funny voices.

This is the story of a modern family. Told in the Diaries of Mo, nearly 50, a successful child psychologist and her two children. Dora nearly 17, full of raging hormones and angst, and having had one of my own, yes it is realistic. She also has a son aged 16, intelligent, amusing, and desperatly chanelling Oscar Wilde. In the background is the stalwarthusband and Dad and Granny Pamela.

This is a short passage in their lives as Dora hits 18 and Mo 50. It is genuinely funny, I found myself howling with laughter and waking my husband as I read into the small hours.

Note to all Mums it is so worth being friends on Facebook with your young.

This would be a great reading group book just be aware that some of the language is challenging but amusing, it was interesting to see how teenage language has evolved in the 10 years since my two were that age. I thought it was a very clever device to use Dora's diary. A typical, non -communicative daughter to her mother, but oh so eloquent in her diary. It also rings true to life, the successful child psychologist at work, is useless at home!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Donna Leon - Drawing Conclusions

This is the twentieth book in this marvellous series. All the wonderful ingrediaents are there. Mystery, murder and of course wonderful Venice. In this book we look at the problems with someone who believes in complete honesty, not everyone wants to know the truth or have it revealed. It starts with the death of an elderly woman, touches on battered wifeas and as usual we delight to the trumping of Vice Questore Patta.
Once again it is all resolved due to the superior mind of Guido and the infomation gathering skills of Signorina Elettra.
This is unmissable for her fans.
I am so grateful for Donna Leon for introducing me to modern Venice I cannot wait until I go there for the fifth time in the Autumn!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Alden Bell - The Reapers are the Angels

This is a post-apocalyptic zombie genre book. Our heroine is a 15 year old girl born into this world. A kick ass survivor. She travels America in a restless way, encountering others as she goes.
I am not sure what readership this book is aimed at really. It is not deep enough for hard core fantasy fans. It might be aimed at teens as it is an easy read and non challenging ( other than the gore of course). I read it in a day.
The only surprise is that he kills the goose that lays the golden egg. Have Aiden or his editor never heard of a series? Or is this a one off, cashing in on the current all things zombie craze?
There is certainly nothing here for a reading group. On thought though was why and how was the electricity still working after 25 years? Not likely I would have thought, I am afraid this is the sort of things that really bugs post apocalyptic aficionados mad.
Read The Passage it is so much better. (see below) Or read the Walking Dead graphic novels on which the TV series is based.
This is also another of those irritating books without punctuation. Is this an affectation or laziness?

Friday, 22 July 2011

Rona Jaffe - The Best of Everything

Sometimes one comes across a book where superlatives seem trite. This is just such a book, you find yourself reading slowly, savouring the words, and at the end you are left bereft as you do not want it to end, you want to know more.
This book republished to coincide with the TV Series Mad Men, was a novel written in 1958, set in 1952 to appeal to the 'modern woman'. To attempt to give them a 'voice'. If this book wasn't read by the creator of Sex in the City, I would be very surprised.
This is the story of 4 girls who came to New York to work, they all start at the Fabian Publishing House. This novel tells their story. It is compelling, beautifully written and I loved it!
It would make a superb reading group choice, there is just so much material here, a great deal to talk about. Has the world changed that much for women since then? Is it better or worse? I encourage you to read it and you decide.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Alyxander Harvey - Haunting Violet

I think this might normally be categorised as teenage paranormal romance but I have to say that this is so much more. It reveals the underbelly of Edwardian life, where, for example, a girl in her undergarments is more shocking than murder!

I found all the spiritualist/medium parts fascinating.

Violet assists her mother, a fake medium, only to discover at 16 that she has the true gift and she can suddenly see ghosts and communicate with them. This leads her into the dangerous situation, where she feels impelled to assist a ghost in revealing her murder, exposing the murderer and saving, her living, sister from the same fate.

I found this book fast paced and well written. I read it in 24 hours on holiday and found it hard to out down

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Katherine Webb - The Unseen

This is by the author of The Legacy, see below, which won the Channel 4 TV Book Club, last year.

I also loved this book. It had it all, deception, murder, and is a classic time slip novel.

Interwoven with this is a subplot involving the suffragettes and particularly the different treatment/punishment meted out to women dependant on their class.

This would make a superb reading group novel, there is just so much to discuss. An innocent and naive vicar and his wife, theosophy, forgery and an interesting modern story involving the archaeology of the War graves Commission in France - something I had never thought about before. Just how do they identify remains that turn up in a field in Northern France.

All in all I thoroughly recommend this book, it will keep you enthralled and immersed in it up until the end.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Danny Miller - Kiss Me Quick

Another of our stars from the Bournemouth Libraries Crime Festival. This is a debut novel from a very experienced script writer.
This book is set over one weekend in Brighton in 1964. We follow the investigations of Detective Vince Treadwell, sent down to Brighton whilst recovering from a head injury, to investigate a murder. However, Vince knows Brighton well, he grew up there, he knows the players. A tee total, honest cop, he has to tread warily through the morass of underground crime and police corruption ( sound familiar - no tabloids though).
This is the sixties we have, miniskirts, sex and drugs, pornography, oh, and mods and rockers fighting on the beach.
This is a fast paced, edge of your seat ride. I read the book over a couple of days, you can appreciate the skills of the script writer here, the prose is sparse, edgy and gripping. I challenge you to put it down for long!


Well I am back . Returned from holilday, having read masses of books, so keep tuning in for the reviews which hopefully with time allowing will now come Fast and Furious.

There are some exciting events coming up. On 8th September at Westbourne LIbrary we have Crime Author Graham Hurley. Then a month later we have Horolitic. A horror lit fest, a return to real horror perhaps? Featuring Graham Masterton, Stephen laws, Ramsey Campbell and Christopher Fowler, and Who Deliberately Tried To Run Over Stephen King?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Karen Maitland - The Gallows Curse

Another of our star authors for our Bournemouth Libraries Crime Writing Festival tomorrow. This is a book of love and treachery set in England at the time of King John. A young and innocent girl is tricked into being a sin eater. This are necessary because all churches and thus religious, weddings, funerals and of course absolution has been suspended. People are thus fearing for their immortal souls, well, the good people at least!
This book is full of mystery, atmosphere and wonderful writing. I really felt I was there, immersed in the period. Not a nice time but very interesting. I enjoyed the twists and turns, skillful plotting and suspense.
This would make an excellent reading group book with so much to discuss.
A brilliant idea is that the story is narrated by the mandrake!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Simon Hall - The Death Pictures

I am full of excitement about our first, forthcoming, Crime Writing Festival this Saturday, 4th June at the Bournemouth Library. There to host the day is the wonderful Simon Hall BBC's Crime Correspondent for the South West and author of 5 crime novels featuring the TV Detective.
This is the first book and a gripping novel ,no doubt blurring fact and fiction as we may well find out on Saturday.
This book skilfully blends a number of threads. We have a serial rapist targeting young single mothers in Plymouth. We also have a famous painter setting a riddle of the 'Death Pictures' before he dies of cancer. However he is then murdered. Are the cases linked? Why kill someone shortly before they will die of natural causes. What are the clues to the riddle of the Death Pictures and can we solve them. All the answers are in the book, and kept me gripped to the end. I have now ordered the next 4 books and can't wait to read them. This would make an excellent reading group book as there would be much to discuss, especially about the media, the press, and death.........

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Jon Courtenay Grimwood - The Fallen Blade

This is a great book. It is a vampire and wherewolf novel but it is a superior and grown up one. It is great to read a novel that has inserted the horror back into the genre. This novel has the added advantage for me that it is set in Venice in 1407. It is therfore very atmospheric, very gothic , very bloody. It also is a very clever reworking of Shakespeare's Othello. The Moor of Venice is the head of the Assissini for the Duke and Prince of Venice. Not asn easy task as the court is a nest of intrigue and murder. Into this scenario comes a young man who has interesting hungers, does he have the potential to be the successor of The Moor?
This is one of those fabulous books that occassionally comes a long that just hits the spot for you as a reader, I loved it. I am very excited that it is "Act one" and so I am eagerly awaiting the next "Acts" to follow!

Amazon have a fantastic video to advertise the book I have included a link below!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Bournemouth Crime Writing Festival - a day for readers

This is a wonderful opportunity to come and listen to and meet some well established crime writer as well as some debut novelists that could become stars of the future and you will have met them!!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Sarah Challis - The Garden Party

This is another winner from Sarah Challis. Alice is approaching 60, she has been married for nearly 40 years. Her husband is newly retired and she wants a party. She has never made a fuss in all her life but this time she is determined. She wants a marquee with a pale pink lining,( it flatters an older skin apparently) - she wants caterers and above all she wants to lose weight and have all her family around her.

There is much to empathise with here, no matter what your age, as we follow Alice, her husband, their four children their various partners and children through the ups and downs that lead to the great event. ( the high powered business woman daughter, the born again teacher and his dissatisfied and guilt ridden wife, the hopelessly romantic hippy daughter, and of course the all round good egg of a son with step daughters, oh and a tempted husband!) I just couldn't put it down and ended up reading it in a day. I also love books set in Dorset!

It would make an excellent holiday read.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Kathy Reichs - Mortal Remains

I have been a big fan of Kathy Reichs over the years. I like her faced paced style , the level of science she includes and the story arc of her family and relationships. ( See Christopher Fowler you taught me a new term!)

However although I enjoyed this new book and speedily read it over a weekend, I get the feeling it is rather thin. It a bit like Donna Leon, their books are getting smaller. I used to rush to buy them in hardback but now I am not convinced they are value for money, thank goodness for the library!

But all said and done, I would still recommend this as a read, I just love the clever twists.

I also love the TV series Bones but they bear absolutely no relation to the books. Tempe is a completely different person!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Daisy Goodwin - My Last Duchess

Here is another novel partially based in Dorset. This book was selected for The TV Book Club 2011. I have to say having watched the programme they were rather sniffy over this book, but my advice is ignore this media snobbery and indulge in this book. I loved it! This book is a rights of passage novel for women. It is 1894 and young wealthy American Cora Cash comes to England to marry a title, shoved by her ambitious mother. There she enters a world of duplicity and rules that she does not understand. Yes, it is fundamentally a romance but there is so much more in this. It would make an interesting book group title, the contrast between the two worlds, the aristocrats of the US have money in the UK they have breeding. Cora's maid is black. In the Us she has restrictions imposed on her, in England there is no prejudice and she can openly have a relationship with a white manservant. She has a freedom within the constraints of her class that she could only dream about in the US. This would also make an excellent holiday read, ( four days off at Easter!) easy to read and carries you along at a great pace.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Natasha Solomons - Mr Rosenblum's List

65 people attended a wonderful evening of cakes and refreshments with Natasha Solomons at Westbourne Library. It was a fascinating insight into her writing and world. How she researches her novels and how she draws upon her own family history and of course her love of Dorset. We were mesmerised for over an hour and a lively question and answer session ensued. We were also treated to an advanced reading from her new book out in May.
This is a fabulous book, it hits the spot on so many levels. it is wonderful to read a book full of humour and yet so multi-layered. Mr Rosenblum, a German Jew arrives in England with his wife in 1937. He is given a tract by the Jewish Refugee Association on how to get on in his new homeland. He takes this list and adds to it determined to become the perfect English gentleman. He flourishes through hard work and a successful carpet company in the East End. The only thing that eludes him is membership of a Golf Club. Remember this is the 50s and no club will have him. So he packs up and moves to Dorset buying enough land to set up his own golf course what follows is just brilliant and I will not spoil it, other than to say when you are in Dorset do look out for the woolly pig!

Her second novel, The Novel In the Viola is out on 12th may a review will follow!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Deborah Harkness - A Discovery of witches

This is a great book. It is witches and vampires etc for grown ups. It is well written, well researched, adult, esoterically clever and I liked especially the science angle. The best thing for a librarian is that the book starts in the Bodleian Library and we have lots of action there. Our heroine is an American history professor based at Oxford University. She is descended from a long line of witches but has turned her back on this. She is an expert on the science of Alchemy. However, her heritage catches up with her when she manages to access a long hidden alchemical work in the Bodleian. Through doing so she attracts all sorts of interest from the supernaturals living around us, witches, daemons and of course vampires. She meets and falls in love with Matthew Clairmont a charismatic vampire old in years, ( he was at the crusades!) with a keen intellect, a love of yoga, and of course absolutely gorgeous. He is a professor of genetics and hopes to unlock the gene that creates the supernaturals. Togther they begin to attempt to decode the treatise she has found and Diane discovers that supernaturals do not mix and certainly do not fall in love.......... Loved the book, cannot wait for the sequel!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Richard Zimler - Warsaw Anagrams

Over 75 people packed out the large meeting room at Bournemouth Library to see Richard Zimler talk about this new book, as part of Jewish Book Week. They were not disappointed Richard is a brilliant speaker and was happy to discuss all his books with the audience. This book is stunning and very unusual. It is a murder mystery set in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940, just before the uprising. So for those who know their history there is already a sense of menace hanging over the inhabitants of the ghetto. We follow Erik Cohen a psychiatrist in his 60s forcibly moved into the ghetto when his flat was requisitioned. Unable to work, he grumpily moves in with his niece and her son Adam. Then Adam goes missing, and finally is found murdered, in the barbed wire surrounding the ghetto. Erik decides to investigate his great-nephews death. Richard captures the enclosed, claustraphobia of the ghetto brilliantly. WE are presented with the whole gamut of the human race in that confined place . What unfolds is a gripping tale of evil, horror, hardship, friendship, heroism and hope and above all the resilience of one elderly man who refuses to give up no matter what the consequences. I hope this book wins an award it certainly deserves to.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Lee Carroll - Black Swan Rising

This is a fun book. It is a sort of graduation for Stephanie Meyer fans I think. We have a lovely male vampire, faeries, Gnomes, dragons and of course monsters. I really enjoyed it. It is fairly light reading but had some great ideas. I loved the idea that those of us who suffer migraines with visual disturbance, actually have the ability to see the faerie world if only we were taught how to use it. I also love the plug that faeries love libraries as they are free, safe places to be!
This is part of a trilogy and I am looking forward to the next instalment. Only criticism, it is set in New York and there seems to be an assumption that everyone knows New York and its landmarks etc. For those of us in Europe it would make it very much more interesting if we understood some of the references and it might help tourism!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Michele Giuttari - A death in Calabria

Another excellent series, these just get better. Michele is a bestselling author in Italy. This book takes place in New York and in Calabria. Murders in NewYork lead to a team visiting Calabria to find the key to these events. Michele Ferrara is now Chief Superintendant of the Anti-Mafia Investigation Department, and is tasked to help the New York detectives all he can. This book involves a type of Mafia called the 'Ndrangheta situated in the remote and beautiful area of italy called Calabria, it was absolutely fascinating, and an exciting read. I particularly like the authors notes at the end tying this up with real cases and history. I eagerly look forward to his next offering.