Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Wombling in Colchester Dec 2012

What's to be found? 17th December 2012
1 hat
1 necklace
1 car park ticket

The Patchwork Marriage - Jane Green

Several reviews gave the impression that this one was more than women's fiction and headed towards the clever “what if” of Jodi Picoult. For me it didn't make it. A step family and the dynamics with a father devoted to his daughter and a stepmother trying hard to create a new family. Unlikely situations and reckless teen behaviour abound with a definite lack of presence from the actual mother-disappointing.
Would I buy another? No, I'd trust my instincts
Publisher – Penguin Books Ltd

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Lighthouse - Alison Moore

On the Man Booker list which usually means I won't like it. Another one I heard of via twitter.
This is the story of the oddest character I have come across in a long time. Socially dysfunctional and brilliantly described it tells of the collapse of a relationship and the absolute unknown of the future. Given freedom it's surprising how many options there are. The lead character heads off to Germany and once there stays in the lighthouse of the title “Helle Haus”, a local inn. On meeting the landlady and her possessive, aggressive husband he is clearly unable to begin to see, let alone understand the undercurrents between the couple. The book flips between watching the lead character on his journey and the couple in their hotel. As he travels on and makes more and more bizarre decisions we are given glimpses into their relationship progressing rapidly downhill. The husband has great capacity for creating imagined scenarios but he is given cause to exaggerate by his wife.
Brilliantly written there is an element of finishing the story in your head as you reach the ending. Worthy of it's place and the list and well worth the cover price for a thin read.
Would I buy another by the same author? Yes
Publisher - Salt Publishing

The Library Book - Various

With selections from various authors including Stephen Fry, Zadie Smith , Alan Bennett and Lionel Shriver this is must read, dip in and out of kind of book that anybody brought up reading will recognise themselves in at least once. Ranging between the topical with library closures and the reminiscent there's something for everyone.
All royalties go to the Reading Agency's literary programme.
A good incentive to borrow as well as to buy.
Publisher - Profile Books Ltd

Blue Monday - Nicci French

Psychotherapist Frieda Klein is introduced in the first of a series with a client who is confused by his dreams, a child abducted 22 years ago and a recent child abduction in a book that has the makings of a tense thriller.
Working alongside the police although at times randomly and worryingly independently Frieda seems to have hit the lucky intuition branch on the way down. Taking a long 100 pages to really get started the book then races away with an incredible amount of fortuitous circumstances and a particularly useless policeman as the token officialdom. It's not hard to guess some of it but there is a final twist-a completely unresolved final twist.
A good read but seems a bit of a lazy story. Almost as though it's part of a production line of books.
Would I read another? Possibly an earlier one that established the name and created the popularity. Not in a rush to read the next Frieda Klein.
Publisher - Penguin Books Ltd

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Virgin Cure - Ami McKay

Much blogged the history behind this one appealed. When it arrived it wasn't as academic looking as I had thought it would be.
Based in 1870's New York tenements the lead character is 11 year old Moth. The only child of a single mother who makes any occasional cent any way she can Moth is able to read but writing is not even an ambition. Around her she sees girls taken for the virgin cure by men who believed that a virgin would cure them of syphilis. She's as envious of the local girls with smart clothing living in the local brothel as she is of those selling flowers and tries very hard to stay out of the hospital established to help children like her since they don't receive any money there. The reader sees Moth sold by her mother to a woman she believes to be high born and the unhappy consequences prior to her “rescue” by a local prostitute. From there on the book focuses on the workings of the brothel and the hopes and despairs of he working girls.
Overall this was not my style of book at all- reminiscent of Catherine Cookson with some sex thrown in, albeit in a historical context. I think I'd rather read the biography of the women who set up the hospital for the fallen waifs.
Would I read another one? No
Publisher - Orion Books Ltd

Ice Trap - Kitty Sewell

This book came to me via bookcrossing with the comment “It's an ok read”
Yawn. I gave up at about page 80 when still nothing had happened. A quick look at amazon reviews as I do when a book defeats me showed nothing there to convince me that I had missed anything unpredictable. And yet reviews on Hive seem to think it's quite good.

The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

Is it or isn't it a fairy tale? I spent the first half of the book wondering. I also spent a fair amount of time soaking up the atmosphere and setting of the book and likening it to Night Circus without the fantasy aspect.

The harsh cold and hardship of self sufficiency along with the sadness of the parents is brilliantly described, you find yourself wondering what the same diet every day for an entire winter would be like. The two mothers are so different and yet both so real, one blustery and one almost naïve and withdrawn. The sadness of a barren woman and the patience of her husband despite his own loss take the book to a different level. The hardest person to relate to for me is the 'snow child' but it feels as though that's the way it should be.

Overall an ambitious book that achieves it's aim.

Would I buy another? Yes

We bought a zoo - Benjamin Mee

Since I was at Dartmoor Zoo and this is one of a very few adult books available for sale. But they have hundreds of this book! A shame because at a venue like this I would usually spend at least £20 on non-fiction books.

Since becoming a film it's been pretty well known that Benjamin Mee and his family took a wild leap in the dark to purchase a run down zoo. Partway through the purchase of the zoo Benjamin and his wife discovered that she had a terminal illness. Although this is a part of the period of time covered in the book it does not overpower it at all.

Different tales of the animals, their temperaments and their escapes make this a quick read for a journey. The learning process as Benjamin came to grips with the scale of the enterprise adds to the appeal of the book. A light entertainment book. Well done to the Mee family, the zoo is great and one of the favourites was the black cat!

Would I buy another? Probably not, been there, done that

Freeman - Leonard Potts Jr

Came to me via a Twitter recommendation.

The story of a slave just at the point of liberation and the differing attitudes of north and south America.

Some of the most fascinating aspects were the people's confusion over their actual status now that they weren't slaves any more. What did they do? Some had the way of life so ingrained that it was now impossible to remember freedom, some had never had freedom, some now had the freedom to lose their minds.

Add in to the story a white woman with enough money and determination to do good by providing a school for coloureds and a couple separated by slavery and you have a well written, thought provoking tale from someone little known in the UK.

Would I buy another? Probably not, not because of the author but because his other titles don't appeal.

Rider- Several months after I finished reading this book a circumstance in the street gave me cause to remember a paragraph from the book. Sign of a good book.