Happy New Year

December 31, 2009

Thanks for visiting our little corner of the blogosphere this year! We hope you’ve enjoyed it, we’ve certainly enjoyed having you round.

May 2010 bring you all you wish for.

The Book It List x

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Any books in your stockings?

December 27, 2009


Come on all you booky lovers

Did the fat man bring you any books?

Tell us all…..

Title : The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author : Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
ISBN : 978-0-7475-9668-4
Rating : 9/10
Great for : a wet and windy weekend

Charming, gentle, funny, gorgeous, touching and moving.  Those are the words I’d use to describe this book…

TGLaPPPS (for short!) is an epistolary novel, written in the form of correspondence between various characters.  The main character is Juliet, a successful authoress looking for subject matter for her next book.  She begins, by a random series of events, correspondence with the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and ends up uncovering the sad and moving story of the island under German occupation.   The beauty of Guernsey and it’s simple way of life are scarred by events so ugly they’re beyond comprehension, yet little snippets of human bravery and intergrity shine through so that this is not a sad read. It’s a heart-warming one.   I won’t really reveal any more, as it needs to unfold in it’s own way.

A small warning – the first few letters are baffling, because of the epistolary form. You’re not quite sure what’s going on and you feel a bit confused and left out.  But, once you get into it, you really get into it.

Go and find this book and enjoy!

Kx

Not The End of The World

December 22, 2009

Title : Not The End of The World
Author : Kate Atkinson
ISBN : 978-0552771054
Rating : 2/10
Great for : nothing really

It might as well be the end of the world.  I gave Kate another go and this being a selection of short stories, I thought I’d be ok.  When it got to the point of forcing myself to read them, I knew it wasn’t for me.

I managed three of them before it was relegated back to the library pile.  Maybe I am unintelligent, but I got to the end of the first story and just didn’t get it.  At all.

Sorry Kate!  It’s the end for me and thee!

So the lovely Frugal Trenches asked what the January book group was going to be.  Unfortunately it seems as though one won’t be happening in January either, I’m really sorry!

A few days ago I got a terrifying telephone call, from home, that my dad was being rushed into hospital for emergency heart surgery.  The good news is the surgery went really well and he’s on the mend (he was even just on the phone to me complaining about hospital food).  The bad news is he lives about 5,000 miles away.  My parents were due to fly in to the UK to spend Christmas with me, but of course that won’t be happening  now so I’m booked on a flight to see them.  Unfortunately I can’t go until next week because of ridinkulous Christmas prices and lack of seats generally (and no doubt the BA situation isn’t helping) but at least I get to go!

He is doing really well though, so not so much a case of me looking after him as padlocking the cheese compartment in the fridge and throwing out his port! (Yes, his diet was a major contributing factor)

I’ll still be online but the book group will have to wait I’m afraid.  What a timely reminder of the importance of health and family this Christmas!

Kat x

Review : Alias Grace

December 17, 2009

Title : Alias Grace
Author : Margaret Atwood
ISBN : 1-86049-259-2
Rating : 9/10
Great for : cuppa by the fire

A friend and I were rattling around a rather smelly (sorry, but it’s true!) charity shop in Guisely when she picked up a weighty tome and thrust it in my hands.  Have you read it? It’s amazing, she said.  I hadn’t and, for 50p I was willing to take a punt.  I’m pretty happy that I did because she was right, it is amazing. I really loved it!

Margaret Atwood takes the bare bones facts of a real life murder case and weaves a sinister, but thoroughly enjoyable story around the “celebrated murdress”, Grace Marks.   The question of her innocence divided her community at the time (the murder took place in the mid 1800’s).  At just 16 when the murders were committed, people queried whether Grace was a fiendish femme fatale who murdered out of love and jealousy, or whether she was a naive young innocent who was caught up in a murderous plot by the shadowy James McDermott.

The book has so much going for it – one part whodunnit, one part historical fiction/drama, add a touch of class conflict and psychological thriller….it’s juicy and riveting. I’m just surprised it never made it to the big screen.

Kx

Confessions of an Eco-Shopper

December 16, 2009

Title : Confessions of an Eco-Shopper
Author : Kate Lock
ISBN : 978-0-340-95567-6
Rating : 9/10
Great for : inspiring the eco warrioress amongst you

I really enjoyed this book and as normal, it sent me scurrying for my pad and pencil to start writing things down.  From changing the way you approach your weekly shop to making your own beauty products, it’s no nonsense approach to all things green.

Some green guides can be a bit pompous and stilted, but this book is funny and really informative.  If you think one person can’t change the world, think again.  Every one of us can do our bit to help the environment and it’s simple and easy stuff.

It’s also left me with a strange yearning for a shopping trolley and a desire to ditch deodrant!

Title : The Behaviour of Moths
Author : Poppy Adams
ISBN : 978-1-84408-488-3
Rating : 7/10
Great for : late night reading

Having seen this book everywhere – the library, the bookshops, in the grubby hands of a grey-suited commuter, friend’s bookshelves, even Tescos – I finally succumbed and decided to give it a go.   And…yeah…it’s okay.   I think having seen it everywhere it was probably over-hyped in my mind and that’s never good is it?

The narrator is the rather batty and selectively perceptive Ginny, a reclusive old lady who rattles around in her rather old and derelict house.  After forty-odd years of separation, her sister Vivi finally comes to visit and, as is the way of the world, dark secrets begin to unravel and sibling rivalries start to bubble to the surface.

What I particularly appreciated was the claustrophobic atmosphere Poppy Adams managed to conjour up.  And though Ginny is supposedly a few sandwiches short of a picnic, I found her totally believable (who knows what that says about me).

This book had lingering hints of Alice Sebold’s The Almost Moon and Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident. I don’t think it is as original and well-executed as the latter, but hey ho.

If you’ve read this – and you must have, it’s everywhere! – let us know what you thought.

Kx

Tell us…

December 13, 2009

…are you planning to give any books away this Christmas?

If so, what?

Title : The Bookseller of Kabul
Author : Asne Seierstad
ISBN : 1-84408-047-1
Rating : 6/10
Great for : a glimpse into life in Kabul

The Bookseller of Kabul caught my eye because I’d enjoyed Greg Mortensen’s Three Cups of Tea so very much.   The author of The Bookseller, Asne Seierstad, is an award-winning journalist and actually lived with Sultan Khan (the bookseller!) and his family for four months.

Asne Seierstad tells the real life story of the Khans and describes family squabbles, weddings, religious pilgrimages, everyday life, sometimes in shocking detail.   I read newspapers and watch the news so I’m not entirely ignorant about life in Afghanistan but I must confess parts of it really shocked me.   One chapter in particular turned my stomach – an unmarried neighbourhood girl is caught chatting to a boy in a local park.  Someone tells on her to her family and her father doles out a horrific beating.    I suppose she was lucky – there was a suggestion that another girl in a similar situation had been killed by her family.

Interestingly, according to Wikipedia (that reliable source!) the novel itself was contested by Sultan Khan after it was published.  He claimed that Asne Seierstad painted an erronous account of him, his family and his country.  It goes on to say that he was seeking asylum in Norway or Sweden because he felt the book made it unsafe for him and his family to remain in Afghanistan.  I wonder how true this is!

It’s not a book I’d rush back to read again, but it was worth the read, if only to get a better idea of what’s going on in the world.

Kx