WAHH

Title : The Widow and Her Hero
Author : Thomas Keneally
ISBN :dunno, have already swapsied it on RISI
Rating : 2/10
Great for : those who like to read about military operations

The Widow and Her Hero is, yes, a WW2 story.  The narrator is Grace, in her 80s, widow of Leo.  She re-tells Leo’s account about his various raids on ships in the Singapore Harbour.  The last raid is unsuccessful, Leo is caught by the Japanese and gruesomely beheaded.  Grace spends the rest of her life bitter and confused. 

I didn’t enjoy this book in the slightest.  I love Schindler’s Ark so was a bit like Grace, bitter and confused.  Why? I couldn’t get it out of my head that Thomas Keneally couldn’t write as a woman.  Grace narrates like a man, recounting all of Leo’s military escapades with technical precision.  It wasn’t the voice of an elderly lady.  Where was the heart, Mr Keneally?  You showed it so well in Schindler’s Ark.   One reviewer (who admittedly gave a stellar review of this novel) described it as a “subtle” account of heroism.  Too subtle for me.  I guess it left me a little bit cold.

By the way, an interview with Thomas Keneally here.

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areyoumymother

Title : Are You My Mother
Author : Louise Voss
ISBN : 978-0552999038
Rating : 7/10
Great for : the twist at the end

My new fave author Louise Voss didn’t disappoint with this one either.  Granted it took a bit of time to get going, but Once I hit page 150, I was hooked and couldn’t put the thing down.

Emma decides to search for her birth mother after her adoptive parents are killed.  She also brought up her sister, whom was a surprise child for her adoptive parents.   The journey to find her birth mother brings about events Emma didn’t anticipate and yeah you’ve guessed it, there’s a nice happy ending, but not the one you expect!

I find her novels really easy reads.  Off to find more.

Saturday was pretty tiring: a 5k run (meh!), a de-cluttering of the spare room (gah!), a trip to Tescos (blergh!) and a pootle round a local ceramics fair (yay!) left me pretty knackered.  Sunday, I declared grandly to the other half, would be  henceforth known as BONE IDLE DAY.  I turned off the computer, put my phone on silent and got stuck in to my annual re-read of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

To properly celebrate BONE IDLE DAY, I realised I needed a few important bits and bobs to hand:

1.  The Tea

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Sometimes it’s green tea, mostly it’s good old English Breakfast (milk please, no sugar).  When I’m feeling very much in need of something warm and soothing I’ll make a Chai tea. With lots of sugar.  And always, but always, use your favourite mug or cup.

2. A Lil’ Somethin’ Sweet

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Disclaimer : I didn’t bake these macaroons.  Though obviously I would have done (ahem), had it not been BONE IDLE DAY.  Something sweet is pretty important when you’re settling in for an afternoon of reading.  You don’t want your concentration to be drowned out by a rumbling tummy.  My biscuit of choice is usually a milk chocolate digestive, or a ginger snap.  I used to favour a good old rich tea biscuit but the dunking process is messy, and way too distracting when you’re trying to read.  If you haven’t got a sweet tooth, I find a hot buttered crumpet or english muffin works a treat. Or toast.  I suppose I’m just advocating buttery carbs.  Atkins schmatkins.

3. Music

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Yes, that DOES say Smooth Radio!  Don’t judge me, it’s lazy like Sunday morning, right?!  It’s impossible to read when you’re trying to listen to anything with a high RPM.  It’s impossible to read to your favourite music either (don’t you just end up singing along? I do).  Smooth Radio works for me.  Failing that, Madeline Peyroux makes me feel very sophisticated. (And Smooth Radio are playing Marvin Gaye as I type. Awesome).

4. The Book!

One would say, the most important accessory for an afternoon of reading.

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte  is pure gold.  It’s a book with very modern themes, considering when it was written (and I think Anne Bronte got panned/applauded for that at the time).  The heroine suffers terrible wickedness at the hands of her rogue husband and finally runs away from him to rescue her son from his influence.  She begins a new life, but will the past come back to haunt her?  Well, dear reader, read it and the answer shall be yours! 🙂  Failing that, there is a 1996 film adaptation starring the delectable Toby Stephens, talented Tara Fitzgerald and omnipresent Pam Ferris.

Kx

get

Title : Get Off Your Arse and Lose Weight
Author : Steve Miller
ISBN : 978-0755317653
Rating : 3/10
Great for : pointing out the obvious, embarrassing the librarian, wasting 74p library reservation fee

I appreciate this book won’t appeal to all bookworms, but I saw a recommendation of this book on another blog (can’t remember which – leave a comment and I’ll happily point to you) and thought I’d give it a go.

After embarrassing the librarian, it finally arrived at the weekend.  I devoured it in about 1 hour flat.  Self styled life bitch Steve Miller points out the obvious as to why people don’t lose weight (eat too much, exercise too little) and tells you what you can do to lose weight (eat less, exercise more).  Certainly not rocket science.  Given, he does it in a very hard hitting, plain talking manner which I liked, but it was actually a bit too condescending in places for me.  If I dared to fall off the life bitch wagon, I was only allowed back on if I sent him an email saying what I had learnt and what I was going to do different next time.

He obviously isn’t aware of the ups and downs of weight loss.  I fall off the wagon so many times I’ve lost count.  If I’m not on the wagon, I’m the one running alongside it trying to get on and miraculously when I get on there for a few days, I only end up falling off into a pile of chocolate dirt before dusting myself down and having another go.

I did lose 74p though and about 90 minutes of my life collecting and reading the thing though!

Title : Singled Out
Author : Virginia Nicholson
ISBN : 9780141020624
Rating : 8/10
Great for : dipping in and out

As APOW mentioned, I’m off on a wee little jaunt to France.  I’ve no idea what internet reception is going to be like, so I’ve scheduled a few posts.  Save for a lack of waffly comments, you won’t even notice I’m gone! Anyhoo, must learn to stop blathering. 

I must confess my obsession with the wars continues apace.    Singled Out isn’t  a novel (though it does sound rather like a chicklit title, no?).  It’s an fascinating account of a phenomenon I’d not even heard about: Britain’s “surplus women” during the inter-war years.  I suppose it’s obvious when you think about it.  During WW1 about one million brave young men lost their lives.  Add to that a high male infant mortality rate in the early 1900s and it meant that in about 1920 there were about 2million more women than men.

 A whole generation of women were told to expect never to find love, marry, have children.  There just weren’t enough men to go around. Imagine that!  They had to be financially independent, find jobs, battle society’s prejudices.  It’s sad, inspiring, and gently humourous.  There’s a wonderful glimpse into “personals”  columns of the day:

MATRIMONY – Spinster, 38, loving disposition, fond of children, entertaining and country life, is anxious to correspond with a wounded officer of cultured tastes, with a view to a matrimonial alliance; one with some means.

Or advice for single young women going about their business:

Girls who go about much alone in big towns (especially in certain parts of London) sometimes complain of being spoken to by strange men.  This will rarely, if ever, happen if you walk along briskly and purposefully, not staring at anyone.  It is loitering and aimless strolling that are to be avoided.  If spoken to in spite of precautions, a decided answer or cold stare will usually end the annoyance.

I liked Virginia Nicholson’s style, it’s simple and to the point.  I have to say I suspect it took her a while to get into her stride – I found the first chapter or two hard to get stuck into.  I found the best way to read this book was to dip in and out of it with another book on the go but either way, a wonderful addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

We got two awards

September 22, 2009

award

kreativ blogger

Thanks to Caroline over at What’s Happening At My House and Shoestring Alley for giving us these awards.  Me and K were only saying the other day how much we are enjoying writing this blog.  So it’s great to hear you guys like it as well.

KAPOW

Dan Brown – Yay or Nay?

September 20, 2009

So, cryptic thriller merchant Dan Brown has knocked it out of the ballpark again with his new novel, The Lost Symbol.  Well, he has according to book sales anyway – it’s stomped all over previous adult fiction sales records with well over 1m copies being flogged in the US, UK & Canada in the first 24 hours alone.   (Seems to me Mr. Brown has found his holy grail! Ker-ching!)

Considering he’s been panned for shabby writing and gross historical inaccuracies, he’s done rather well for himself.  Even my other half (a man who reads, on average, 3 books a year) maintains “Dan Brown snobbishness”….though it may be because I once spent two entire days of a holiday neglecting him and reading The Da Vinci Code instead.

I have to say, Dan Browns are a guilty pleasure for me.  I love the fast paced plots, crypto babble and gothic bad guys.  I can live with historical inaccuracies (I don’t know any better) and well, if the writing’s a little bit poo, there’s always another murder or religious madman to liven things up.

Are you a Dan Brown fan and will you be rushing out to buy The Lost Symbol? Or are you one of those 1m+ who already own it?

October’s book of the month

September 19, 2009

My crime fighting partner has foolishly skipped town for a bit and left me to choose a book for October.

The pressure of choosing a book was too much, so I turned to my old friends Richard and Judy for inspiration.

So here you go, our book for October.   The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.  The clever one will post some thought provoking questions when she returns.

houseatriverton

Frivolous Friday Frippery

September 18, 2009

So I’d just finished typing out a post, and I signed it off with my usual  “Kx” when it suddenly occured to me that this should never have been a straightforward book blog at all.

Oh no.

If you take a little bit of me (K) and a little bit of “the other one” (APOW) what do you get?!  A little bit of Batman crime-fighting awesomeness!

kapow

Holy guacamole, Batman. This so should have been the Comic Book It List.

lifesaver

Title : Lifesaver
Author : Louise Voss
ISBN : 978-0552771559
Rating : 8/10
Great for : keeping you awake till the early hours

My first encounter with this author and I wasn’t disappointed.

Anna wants a family, but after several miscarriages and a stillbirth, her marriage is suffering.  Out of the blue comes contact from the Father of a little boy whose life Anna saved with a bone marrow transplant a few years earlier.

Anna begins to weave a double life, engineering a meeting with the little boy and his Father, but ends up falling up love with him.

As always, the truth is out in the end and although the ending may be easy to guesstimate, the story does not disappoint and it kept me for three hours in the middle of the night recently.

Definitely a new author on my list.  Off to find some more of her books!  Anyone else read any of her books?