Title : Sellevision
Author : Augusten Burroughs
ISBN : 978-1843543640
Rating : 8/10
Great for : a giggle

Another of Augusten’s books and this was funny!  Set around a TV shopping channel, Sellevision, the story starts with one of the hosts exposing his penis on TV.  Add to that another host whose stalker takes great delight in pointing out every bit of her body hair, another host who is bonking the boss and another who is out for TV shopping channel host world domination, it all makes for a funny read.

The ending does go ever so slightly flat, but it was nice to read a novel by Augusten for a change rather than events from his own life.

Still well worth a read!



Review : Snowleg

November 27, 2009

Title : Snowleg
Author : Nicholas Shakespeare
ISBN : 0-099-46609-0
Rating : 6/10
Great for :getting a flavour of modern history

Snowleg? SNOWLEG?  When my friend handed me the book, Why don’t you borrow this, I think you’ll enjoy it, I must confess I wrinkled my brow. Snowleg? What kind of title is that?

Snowleg isn’t a children’s book (as I at first suspected).   It’s actually a love story, set first in Cold War Leipzig and then many years later in reunified Germany.  We first meet the main protagonist, Peter, as a teenager – a solidly characterised English public schoolboy who, after the discovery of an interesting family secret, travels to West and East Germany.  In East Germany he meets and falls in love with a girl he only knows as Snolaug (but because of the vagaries of Scandinavian accents, he can only pronounce it as Snowleg).  Snowleg herself is discovering the tribulations of living in an oppressive East German regime. She wants to escape but Peter is too scared to help her. Guilt follows, as he leaves again for West Germany without her and he spends half a lifetime dealing with that guilt.  Many years later he decides to go back and track her down.

Snowleg was longlisted for the 2004 Booker. I found reading about the dynamics of the East German regime and the aftermath of the Reunification really interesting.   The friend who lent me the book is German, and I was visiting her in Cologne in the week of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall so it made the historical aspect more personal to me.  The love story too is very gentle and touching and yes, the book is elegantly written.  So why just a 6?  Well, if I’m being perfectly honest (and I’d hate to contradict the Booker!) I did find chunks of the story just a bit dull.  I thought there was a lot of filler, especially in the chapters between Peter’s leaving Snowleg and him trying to find her again.  Yes, we had to see him struggle with guilt and how it’s affected his relationships thereafter, but…I don’t know, I was neither very sympathetic nor very interested in those parts.   There is also an attempt by the author at tying up all loose threads at the end which I found forced and unbelievable and I REALLY HATE THAT. Ah well.


Title : The Thrift Book
Author : India Knight
ISBN : 978-1905490370
Rating : 4/10
Great for : telling you what you already knew, making you feel intelligent

I waited soooo long to get my hands on this book from the library and I was, well slightly disappointed.  I’ve read a few thrift inspired books and came away with ideas from every one.  Whether I’ve just read too many, or whether this is just too same old same old as the rest, it’s not a recommendation from me.

If you don’t know vinegar is a good home cleaning product or that you could make gifts to save money, then grab the book, it will help you.  However if you have an ounce of sense about you, save your library reservation fee, definitely save your pennies by not buying  it and stick your nose into something worthwhile.

And I wonder why it took me two months to read it!

Title : Magical Thinking
Author : Augusten Burroughs
ISBN : 978-1843543633
Rating : 8/10
Great for : giggling inappropriately with some profound thinking mixed in

I’m still working through all of his novels and yet again this one does not disappoint.

It’s a series of chapters each about a specific event or time in Augusten’s life.  I just find him fascinating, hilarious and at times really thought provoking.  He’s had a seriously messed up life at times, but his thinking is spot on and resonates with me.  Difficult to give you much more without spoiling the book, so worth a read fellow booky lovers.

His latest novel has just hit the shops, so I’ll be reserving it at the library soon!  But for now, onto Sellevision.

What do you think to this?

November 22, 2009

The way forward for all book worms?  Or not?

Let us know what you think.

How about a personalised classic novel?!


Title : The Rose of Sebastopol
Author : Katharine McMahon
ISBN : 978-0-7538-2374-3
Rating : 7/10
Great for : being plunged into historical detail; a frustrating ending

Mariella Lingwood is a conventional young lady living in the time of the Crimean War.  She knits, crotches, sews, dresses fashionably and does all the things that a conventional young lady should.  In contrast, her headstrong and beautiful cousin wants nothing more than to follow in the path of Florence Nightingale and eventually the young Rosa Barr heads off to the battlefields of the mysterious east to tend to the sick and wounded.  Mariella’s fiancée, a doctor, also heads out to the war and when he falls ill, and Rosa disappears, Mariella finds herself on their trail, ending up in a place where a conventional young lady doesn’t belong.

This is an interesting read – full of historical detail but not so much that it bogs down the story.  I really didn’t know much about the Crimean War before reading this novel but it’s piqued my interest about that amazing time in history.  It’s a good excuse to branch out from my WW1/2 fascination!

Downsides : slightly two-dimensional clichéd characters that were probably more melodramatic than necessary.  I also loathed the ending but that’s because I always like everything nicely wrapped up and resolved.  This certainly wasn’t, and consequently left me quite frustrated.

Has anyone read this? I’d be very interested to hear what you have to say about the ending.


The Book People

November 16, 2009

Have you ever bought from The Book People?

They used to visit my old firm twice a year and had really good bargains. I stocked up on A LOT of Christmas/Biffday presents from there.

This year The Hummingbird Bakery Cook Book (£4.99 from RRP £16.99) has caught my eye!  Definitely worth a gander.



Title : The People’s Act of Love
Author : James Meek
ISBN : 978-1841956541
Rating : 7/10
Great for :being a bit grossed out

Ummm…I genuinely don’t quite know what to say in this review.  The book was recommended to me by a friend and he did warn me that it wasn’t a happy, light-hearted read.  And, erm, it isn’t.  Set in a bitterly cold Siberian 1919, the novel plonks the reader into a world which they’d never even been able to imagine.  As the task of doing a decent review is beyond me, I have swiped the words of the Guardian reviewer:

The history of modern Russia is so grotesque that reality outstrips invention and Meek’s story is structured around three genuine facts; that many thousands of Czech soldiers were left marooned in northern Russia by the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire; that secretive, utopian communities of voluntary eunuchs, called skoptsy, flourished there throughout the 19th century; and that there was a practice of taking a naive companion along on Siberian journeys with the intention of eating him.

Mmm..lovely eh?

Thing is, I kinda sorta maybe liked the book.  I’m not entirely sure, I think it might be the kind of thing I need to read again (if I can stomach it) as the first read was so shocking and so alien that it was quite hard to absorb.  In a way though, that was what I liked about it. The originality.  How a chap from Dundee could have written such an undeniably Soviet book is beyond me.  I can turn a blind eye to a lot if a book is well written and you can’t argue with the fact that James Meek has a masterly literary voice.  The plot is well-constructed and original.  You certainly won’t read anything else like it.

I just wish I hadn’t taken it on holiday as my beach read 🙂



Meme booky style

November 12, 2009

What book has been on your shelves the longest?
The Five People You Meet In Heaven  – Mitch Albom

Last read, current read, and next read?
Someone Special, Sheila O’Flanagan
The Thrift Book, India Knight
The Four Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferris

One book that changed your life?
The Road Less Travelled, M Scott Peck

One book you’ve read more than once?
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough

One book you’ve never been able to finish?
Sooo many, but The Lord of The Rings always beats me
One book that made you laugh?
The Ex Boyfriends Handbook, Matt Dunn

One book that made you cry?
Marley and Me, I sobbed for the last hour of reading it

One book you keep rereading?
I don’t have a book that I like enough to keep rereading.

One book you’ve been meaning to read
Buddhism for Dummies, Jonathan Landaw

Finally and I know we’ve done it before, but it always makes me smile
Grab the nearest book. Open it to page 56. Find the fifth sentence

Time I think for a return to the home-made sandwich, your perfect sandwich, created by you, with no question mark over dodgy ingredients – brought to work in a brown paper bag.

Feel free to do this meme and link back to us!