Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Best Kept Secret - Jeffrey Archer

Book three of the Clifton Chronicles.
Back home from the States and the family saga continues.
In this book the first two are brought back into play with wrongdoings from the first generations being put to rights by the younger.
All well and good if they had been up front about their actions but then it wouldn't be Jeffrey Archer.
As usual a good storytelling read, not as much humour as the earlier ones, but still entertaining.
Take it on the train.

Publisher - MacMillan

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Lost at sea - Jon Ronson

News item length articles on the strangeness of humans and how we can be manipulated or monitored, from Alpha Course to credit ratings to stranger kidney donation. There is probably an article in here to interest most people for a short period of time but is there a whole book?
For me this became a lengthy exercise with more chapters that didn't interest me than chapters that did. It also seemed a bit dated with articles from pre credit crunch and pre 9/11.
As a token there are a couple of more recent articles but the overall impression is that the book has been re-published on the back of the success of the Psychopath Test.
Not a book for me

Publisher - Picador

The Burial - Courtney Collins

Set in Australia in an era where prisoners could be freed as indentured servants and based on a true story.
Following a stint in prison Jessie is one such released prisoner, released to a man who hustles horses and expects a servant and wife.
No politically correct checks on a person were available in that day and age so it's not long before his nastier colours show.
Unusually the story is told from the perspective of Jessie's new baby including Jessie's life before prison.
The whole book attains an almost spiritual element to it by use of this device.
It's both cruel and enchanting with a wide range of characters crossing Jessie's path.
The only downside, for me, was that the story seemed to end quite abruptly. But then maybe the true story did too.
In a year in which one of Australia's greatest storytellers dies- Bryce Courtenay- this may be the Courtney to watch.
I look forward to the next book.

Publisher - Allen and Unwin

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Do me no harm - Julie Corbin

An easy read crime thriller. Dr Olivia Somes' son is the victim of a drink spiking accident. It could be a one off but that wouldn't make much of a book.
He was deliberately targeted but why?
The story of why plays out quite slowly in places with Olivia doing a marvellous job herself despite an able (good looking) police detective on hand to investigate.
With far greater forbearance than I believe the police would actually deploy he almost runs behind her picking up the pieces of an amateur investigation.
Add to this a medical incident, a determined teenager, a not very nice ex-husband and you get a book you could take on an aeroplane - and then have time to watch the film as well.

Publisher - Hodder

Monday, 6 May 2013

A land more kind than home _ Wiley Cash

A score for the Doubleday stable.
Set in a highly religious area of America the book sets the scene of unquestioning religion perfectly. The accents and language are reminiscent of Kingsolver and one of the main reasons I would love to visit this region. Are people really like this? Do they talk like this? I'd love to find out.
In a small town the church is overseen by a pastor who has a colourful past not including much religion and a very persuasive manner. He's already both adored and distrusted by members of his community. One lady takes to minding the children while service takes place to keep them away from his church. Stump is a young boy who is mute. Much loved by his parents he is taken to church one day by his mother to be cured by the pastor.The curing goes wrong and the book explains the attitudes of the various townspeople to the accident.
Very, very well written and thoroughly enjoyable.

Publisher - Doubleday

The Time Keeper - Mitch Albom

As a lover of Albom's books this was a must have for me and that fact is acknowledged at the back of the book in the thank yous to 'faithful readers, the ones who picked up this book without even asking what it was about'
Unsurprisingly it's about time and how we use it, waste it, wish it away and wish it back.
Starting pre time with a curious person tracking the moon and with the story hopping backwards and forwards in time this is Albom using his creative brain best.
Scenarios include teenage life and the end of life all intertwined with Father Time as popular conception alongside a watchmaker in current time.
As always with Albom there's a touch of the religious but the overriding feel is that of Aesop and a modern fable.
Does not disappoint.

Publisher - Sphere

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The day the voices stopped - Ken Steele & Claire Berman

Semi auto-biographical story of a life with schizophrenia from a relatively normal childhood to adolescence and the onset of illness.
Ken is unable to confide in his parents so takes the opportunity to leave home and fend for himself. After a short stint in employment illness overtakes and he begins on the drug discovery journey with doctors prescribing without necessarily having full detail of Ken's history.
The book tries to help us understand how hard it is to have multiple voices in your head giving instructions, having arguments with each other and undermining your confidence constantly. And how susceptible such a sick person is to life's predators. It almost seems as though Ken's sexuality was not allowed to develop before it was decided for him.
Despite his illness he tries to hold down several jobs and also campaigns to get as many mentally ill people as possible to vote.
Finally a medication is used that stops the voices. But that's a whole new life to become accustomed to. Is there enough time left to make a life for himself and can he discover 'normal'.
Well written and enlightening book.

Publisher - Basic Books

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Lock Down - Sean Black

Lurking on my bookshelf for a fair while this is an action thriller of the Die Hard variety.
A researcher's son is kidnapped shortly after he hands in his notice at the animal testing facility where he works. Is it the fault of the activists? They're definitely available to be accused. Add in a shooting of an activist and life gets interesting.
Enter Ryan Lock, ex-services and now a bodyguard. Using his forces acumen he deduces that the shot could not have been from an amateur.
Thus begins a race to find the child and the sniper.
The book has some surprises, the main one being that the mystery is apparently solved about halfway through and then it's not. There's still a shoot out to be had.
If you like action thrillers then it's pretty good, it's quite easy to see as a film.
Enjoyable rollercoaster.
Publisher - Bantam

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Wombling in Colchester? May update

And it all adds up to: 3 hats, 1 pair of earmuffs, £2.50, 1 necklace, 1 car park ticket, 1 fake rose and a £25 top man voucher.....so far

Where there's smoke - Simon Beckett

An early Simon Beckett with a very unusual premise.
Single woman Kate wants a baby and seeks a donor. That's pretty much how the classified ad runs.
Just how good a judge of character is she though when it comes to the potential father of her child?
She wants a baby with no complications and doesn't know any men that could fit the bill.
After an initially disappointing response to the advert up steps Alex Turner, suitably polite, suitably educated and happy to get to know her on a platonic basis before providing the necessary samples.
But life's not that simple and Kate finds herself more and more attracted to the person rather than the donor.
And then again, Simon Beckett is not that simple either so this is unlikely to be flukily the partnership made in heaven.
With an angry ex-boyfriend lurking in the sidelines nothing is easy but there's another level as well as these two- I'll leave you to discover a clever thriller writer with just enough pace to maintain the suspense. Classic thriller from Beckett.
Publisher - Coronet