Monday, November 19, 2012

Fantastic Mr Dahl - Michael Rosen

Fantastic Mr Dahl - Michael Rosen (2012)

Ok - so I might not have actually read any reviews before I ordered this little book to read.  I may not have noticed that it was a kids book, designed me thinks for the under ten year olds.  Still, it made up for it by being filled by the lovely illustrations of Quentin Blake, that made the ten year old girls inside me smile.

So this book describes the childhood of Raold Dahl, his years in the RAF, as a diplomat and his career as an author.  I learnt a bit, even if I didn't have to write a school report about my favourite author, I feel that I could now.


The Inquisitor's Key - Jefferson Bass

The Inquisitor's Key - Jefferson Bass (2012)

I like a bit of a forensic thriller that combines a bit of history with the running , chasing and stabbing.  In this case, Dr Bill Brockton travels to Avignon in France, to investigate some old bones found in an ancient sealed box buried within a wall.

Similarities to the Shroud of Turin cause Dr Bill and his assistant Miranda to investigate whether the bones and shoud could have belonged to Christ, or whether they are later forgeries.

So a thriller with a bit of intelligence goes a long way towards replacing Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs who seem to be reproducing the same old story over and over.  3/5

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Dirty Life - Kristin Kimball

The Dirty Life - Kristin Kimball (2011)

After living the single life in New York,  journalist Kristin Kimball goes to write an article about a farmer producing organic fruit, veg and livestock to his customers.  Falling in love, she finds herself agreeing to move in and marry him.

With little farming experience, her boyfriend Mark gives her a quick introduction to the good life.  Luckily friends are able to give them land to use for a year, and they set about growing their own crops, raising chickens, pigs, and cows.  I really enjoyed her writing, and her experience as a real novice appealed to me, as she had not grown up eating simply, slaughtering animals or canning goods.

Part of the appeal too, was the community spirit shown by their neighbours and friends.  People coming to help with the planting, the harvest, canning and setting up a rustic farm wedding.  I don't know that I would have coped living with so many rats, or having cold showers, I truly admire her ability to stick with it.  5/5

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Animals and Other Family - Clare Balding

My Animals and Other Family - Clare Balding (2012)

Even going into this book knowing little or nothing about the author, it was hard not to be charmed by this memoir.  Growing up in a racing family, Clare and her brother were surrounded by the family horses and dogs, and each chapter of this book is centred around adventures with one of the animals.

With a bossy grandmother, two busy parents and visits by the Queen, I had to keep reminding myself that this was a modern story of my own generation, and not one from the twenties or thirties.  Even though I am not a horsey person, the stories were quite entertaining, and I did find myself having a quiet chuckle as I read the book during my lunch breaks.  A worthy 4/5.


Thursday, November 08, 2012

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination - Elizabeth McCracken

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination - Elizabeth McCracken (2008)

This little memoir is written by Elizabeth McCracken, who with her husband, also an author is living a nomadic life, living in both Paris and rural France.  While waiting for the impending birth, she realises that she has not felt the baby move, and at nine months has to to deliver her stillborn son.
Both parents are devastated, and this moving book is the outpouring of their grief.

I cannot imagine their pain, not being a mother myself, but only get a sense of it after similar heartbreak within my only family, one that never feels quite complete, as someone is missing but not forgotten.  I found the end of the book touching, especially when she writes about many of her friends who reached out to her, and were able to provide comfort with their words, tears and hugs. The importance of sending a card, making a call in troubling times even when you don't know what words to write.  3/5

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Life Without Limits - Nick Vujicic

Life Without Limits - Nick Vujicic (2010)

It is hard to finish this book without being inspired by Nicks amazing story. Born without arms or legs, just two small malformed feet, he has managed to form a career as a motivational speaker, travelling around the world to share his story.

Throughout the book, he uses many examples of positive thinking that have helped him and others get through tough times.  Even when things are going wrong, there is still a lesson to be learned and a different opportunity can come through the change in circumstances.

A lot of this book is about Nicks relationship with God, which isn't really my thing, but I still found that the message is really about making the most of what you have been given, and that each day we get alive is full of opportunity.   3/5

Monday, November 05, 2012

Before I Met You - Lisa Jewell

Before I Met You - Lisa Jewell (2012)

I pounced on this one and was eager to start it as the cover had teased me from various bookshelves, and one day at the library I saw it's new cover peaking out at me.  So even with six reserves to pick up, I took it out as well and started it first.

We get to meet Betty who grows up on Guernsey looking after her elderly grandmother until her death.  Finding a few clues to a woman mentioned in the will, Betty escapes to  the mid nineties Soho London with just a few pounds and a mink coat.

Alternating with Bettys story, we get to meet Arlette her grandmother who is twenty one and newly arrived in London at the house of her mothers friend.  Falling into a job at Libertys and evenings spend with a painter and his musician friends, Arlette begins to find her feet.

I found myself just a bit annoyed with this book. The characters never really sunk in for me, and I was a bit confused in the first chapter having to reread parts of it again, to figure out who was who.  I lived in midninties London, and had quite a good time, but I found myself a bit bored by Bettys clich├ęd live next to a rock star story and Arlettes live like a bohemian tale.  I guess I just found it a bit hard to click with the story and in the end I liked the cover of the book more than the story itself.  2/5

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Ruins of Lace - Iris Anthony

The Ruins of Lace - Iris Anthony (2012)

There are so many things about this historical novel that I loved - the time period, an original set of stories, the cover of the book,  the story about the history of lace, how shocking that girls at six were taken in and trained to make lace, then thrown to the street and abandoned once their eyesight fails.  Imagine living a life where you are punished for talking, for having friends?

Imagine losing your house because you ruin a lace cuff?  Being punished for carrying lace  and using dogs to smuggle lace across borders between countries, all awesome stories.

I did have some difficulty though with all the different narrators and would have found it easier following two or three stories. In the end I had to admit to being a bit confused about the ending, even though I knew it was meant to be tying all of the stories together.  I wanted to know more about the girl thrown to the streets, the baby who was meant to be a girl and other characters.   For that I have to give it a 3/5.