Title : Forbidden Places
Author: Penny Vincenzi
ISBN: 9-780755-332649
Rating : 9/10
Great for : Losing an entire weekend

I couldn’t put this book down.  It gripped me totally from Page 1 and I just didn’t want the story to end.

The story is centred around three women and their marriages through the First Word War.  There are some great sub plots in this story and some twists that you just don’t see coming.

I could really picture a lot of this story through the way Penny describes things.  Having this set through the war was fascinating as well.  You can only imagine what it must have been like for people then.

Having only just discovered her books, I’m already on my third one and I can’t recommend her enough. Apart from their size being a slight pain if you want to take them on holiday, they keep me occupied for a few days, so for that alone, they get a thumbs up from me!


Wednesday Whip-Round

July 29, 2009

We haven’t asked you all for a while, but what books are on your night stands, in your bags or by your toilets at the moment?


Title : Prisoner of Tehran (One Woman’s Story of Survival Inside a Torture Jail)
Author : Marina Nemat
ISBN : 071956252X
Rating : 8/10
Good for : Keeping your life in perspective!

I don’t usually read autobiographies but every time I went into my library this book kept looking at me from the “our staff recommend” section. 

The title also sounds a bit like a story from Arabian Nights or something, and in fact if it had been a work of fiction I would have probably said oh, the story is too far fetched and not very believable (I’m quite a cynical reader, aren’t I?).  But good God, the story of Marina Nemat’s life as a victim of the Islamic revolution is a real one, and that makes this an amazing read.  

As a sixteen year old, Marina Nemat gets arrested under trumped up charges and thrown into Evin, a prison for political prisoners.  Death and torture surround her – but she survives.  The story flips between her life before, and during arrest and all I can say is I am in utter admiration of this brave lady.

Prisoner of Tehran is an easy read, considering the content and the context.  The author doesn’t get too bogged down in historical and political fact, though it does feature now and again to lay the backdrop to her story.  It’s a wonderful story of human spirit and survival against an unimaginable and surreal historical moment in time.

And now a quick apology to those (esp Holly) who might have been expecting a review of my Weekend Healer experience.  Unfortunately I haven’t yet managed to do it as the weekend brought nothing but misery in the form of a nasty cold (I’m hoping not swine flu!).  I couldn’t face doing much other than eat soup and watch telly!  I will get on to it in a couple of weekend’s time though!


Source: Book Crossing
Cost: Free – just how we like it!
User friendly: 3/10
Overall Rating : 3/10

It might be free, but I’ve never come across a book crossing book!

The idea is you ‘release’ your book in a public place and track this via the website.  Via a sticker in the book, the finder of the book should track the books’ progress and release it again once they’ve read it.  So in theory, you could track your book on its journey around the country or even the world!

I’ve released a few and they’ve not been tracked at all, save one I released to Caroline.

So the scores for this are slightly low, only because the chances of finding one of these are very low, but it’s a great idea for recycling books.

Go to the site and search to see where books are released in your area.  They are often scheduled in advance, so if you find yourself at a loose end one day, hop foot it a book crossing release.  Oh and make sure you come and tell us about it!

How did you get on, Book Groupers?  From the early comments about The Resurrectionist, it’s not looking good!

I have to say I wasn’t overly enamoured myself.  It started okay – the atmosphere was building, the descriptive prose was very good.  Then there was a lot of angry to-ing and fro-ing which I couldn’t quite make head nor tail of, and a not very believable romantic entanglement, and an even more bizarre tacked-on ending.  Hm!  Have I summed it up correctly or are you outraged? Here are some questions to get the discussion going:

1. Did you get a sense of the character of Gabriel Swift?  As with the main character in Behind The Scenes, I really failed to get a sense of the main character.  In BTSI didn’t think it mattered that much as she was almost narrating a story around her, whereas I thought it would have benefitted this novel if we really got under the skin of it’s main protagonist.

2.  Did anyone else think the relationship with Arabella was completely contrived?  Very much a leading and not very impartial question there, sorry.  It seemed to me like a “love” interest being stuck in for the sake of it.

3. Most or all characters in the book could be seen as “villains” or at least “flawed”.  Did you like any of them? 

4. Did the gruesome imagery put you off, or do you think it added atmosphere to the book?

5.  What did you make of Gabriel’s time in Australia?  Is it his “redemption”?  Do you think this ending added to the story?  Interesting to note that the author is actually Australian!

6. What, out of 10, would you give The Resurrectionist?  I would give it a 5.  I don’t think it was awful or unreadable, but I did want it to end sooner than it did 🙂 

I think we need a solid read for August.  What does everyone think about doing The Time Traveller’s Wife before the film?!


Title : Sheer Abandon
Author: Penny Vincenzi
ISBN: 9-780755-320813
Rating : 8/10
Great for : Getting stuck into.  Bathtime. Holidays. Making you cry.

Hot on the heels of this review comes another from the same author.

One thing I like about her books is the length of them.  Size is something!  Nothing worse than getting stuck into a book and then it ends all too quick.

Well this book is a good read.  Predictable at times, but not at others.  This had me weeping in the bath and not many books manage to do that.

There are lots of stores involved in this book, but it centers around three women who first met travelling during a gap year and continues 16 years later when their paths meet again.

It’s difficult to give too much more without ruining the plot, but if you like her books, this is one for you.

I’ve just emptied the library of all of her books, so expect more reviews soon.

Anyone got a favourite Penny Vincenzi?

Weekend Healer Whipround

July 16, 2009

Okay, I know I said in my previous post that I’d be MIA for a few days but I wanted to ask all you lovely bloggerfolk a question before I went.

This morning I trundled down to the library to return a few books.  I only picked up one novel, because I knew I’d be reading The Resurrectionist which I already had (thank you, Tescos 2 for £7!).  I felt a bit empty-handed so on my way out I also picked up The Weekend Healer by Jane Alexander.  It’s a cute little book with “essential programmes to refresh body, mind and spirit…each programme will help you get the most out of the weekend with advice on making time for yourself and ways to give yourself a boost. Experience the positive effects of a range of natural therapies and techniques for restoring body, mind and spirit“.  Flicking through it’s got ideas for healthy foods, simple mental and physical exercises, creative ideas, homemade spa treatments, that kind of thing.

I’m a bit of a sucker for things like this.  In order to do a proper review of the book, I thought I’d try my hand at one of the “programmes”and as I’ve got a relatively free weekend coming up soon, I’d love for you to choose one that you want to hear about or think I should attempt. Okay, it’s not *entirely* book related but hey 🙂  If you can learn things from books then so much the better.

Okay, the onesto choose from are:

Body Awareness Programme – “What kind of relationship do you have with your body? Are you good friends with each other? Few of us are really in touch deep down with our bodies and the consequences can range from niggling aches and pains to a chronic disease.  This weekend will help you redefine your relationship with your body in a way that will set you on the road to better health”

Energising Programme – “Energy is a vital commodity: if we could buy it, we’d all be racing to the store.   Almost everyone complains they don’t have enough energy.  It is not surprising as we are all living lives which are too busy, too stressful, too exhausting.  When you feel in desperate need of revitalizing, try this weekend”

Relationships Weekend – “If our relationships were plants they would probably have withered and died years ago! We neglect our nearest and dearest in the most appalling ways.  This weekend is planned to nourish and support every partnership: if your relationship is new it will help you to know each other better; if you have been together a long time it will help rekindle that early sparkle”.

Rearranging Weekend – “Do you like your life?  Are you happy with your home, your work, your relationships? Or do they need  a little rearranging, some genuine decluttering?  If you feel that your life needs some tweaking so you can function at your best, then try this weekend: it should blow away your cobwebs and freshen up some parts of your life”.

There we go : which one should I do next weekend???? There were more to choose from, but these were the ones that called out to me first (and I got bored of typing). 🙂

If you like the sound of this series I’m happy to do more, and if you like, I’ll post the details of what they entail and you can do some with me!

Kat x

DIVISADEROTitle : Divisadero
Author: Michael Ondaatje
ISBN: 9780747592686
Rating : 7/10
Great for : A rainy day with a mug of cocoa

This is the fourth book by Michael Ondaatje, the author of the mindblowingly wonderful The English Patient (and while I love that book to bits, I must admit I think I love the film even more – how rare is that?!). 

Divisadero is made up of two plot lines which are tenuously linked.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say it seems as though MO has written two short stories and decided to publish them together as one novel (I’m sure he hasn’t done, but that’s what it feels like).  The first story arc follows Anna, Claire and Coop after an “incident” that scatters the three characters and changes their lives forever.  The second arc revolves mainly about an author who lives in a French country idyll, and MO explores his relationship with his neighbours and his surroundings.

There are many interesting physcological themes (the idea of the self and identity being a central one) and there are some beautifully written passages in this.  Perfectly written, I think.  I’ve always thought of MO as poetic novelist, and Divisadero certainly doesn’t disappoint.  MO’s a mesmerising wordsmith through and through.

Unfortunately I’m very much a plot-driven reader.  I crave conclusions – perhaps I’m a bit simple, but I like to know how things turn out! I don’t want anything to be left to my imagination, that’s not why I’m reading a book.  This book doesn’t deliver with a plot-conclusion and yes, I got a bit frustrated.

Right, I’m off to start our book group book, The Resurrectionist next – after APoW and Caroline’s early comments, I’m very intrigued!  I’ll be away for a long weekend (going to visit the out-laws up in the Peak District) so will be a bit silent on the blog front for a few days.  Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Kat xxx

Doing things by halves

July 13, 2009

I know my posts are sadly lacking at the moment.  It’s not for the want of trying.  I very rarely give up on a book half way through, but seem to be doing it so much at the moment.

First up was Another Woman’s Husband by Sarah Duncan.  I’ve previously read one of her books and quite enjoyed it.  But this one, no way, couldn’t get into it, got really bored of it and chucked it on the ‘take back to the library pile’

Next up.  The Dream House by Rachel Hore.  It kind of got going, then got really boring and then got even worse.

And finally, I’m sorry to say, our book of the month followed suit.  I tried really hard guys, I promise to get into this, but I divulge more of the reasons why this one went back on the pile when we discuss it soon.

So another three books on the go.  I hope to write a proper review on one of them soon!

One of my favourite books of all time, The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger has been made into a film, the release date is next month.

I’m not sure I’m ready. 

I LOVE the book.  I have a signed copy that I trekked across London in the brutal wind and rain to have signed by Audrey Niffenegger herself.  When I got to the head of the queue, all I managed to say in a pathetic whimper was “thank you for writing this!”.  I have very stern opinions about people who DON’T like this book.

I’ve just seen the trailer for the film.