Review : Le Bal

March 31, 2010

Title: Le Bal
Author : Irene Nemirovsky
Rating : 7/10
Great for : a rainy afternoon

I enjoyed Irene Nemirovsky’s Suite Francaise, so when I saw this slim volume peeking out at me from within my library shelves, I swooped it up immediately.   Lo and behold, however, it’s another collection of short stories!  I say “collection”, there’s two – the entire book is only 100 or so pages.

The first  is a sharply written story of a girl who has been continually neglected by a vain, social-climbing mother.  When her mother decides to throw a lavish ball to show off the family wealth and growing social status, the girl manages to exact her revenge in a very satisfactory way.  Great little read, I enjoyed it very much.  The second story is more tragic, following the misfortunes of a devoted nanny following her “family” as they abandon their wealthy lives Revolutionary Moscow and flee to Paris where they live in hardship and poverty.  A very different story to the first, but equally as enjoyable.

If you see this, do give it a try. It only took me a few hours to read.



Review: Restless

March 30, 2010

Title: Restless

Author: William Boyd

ISBN: 9780747586203

Rating: 10/10

Great For: WW2 story lovers

I would never have picked up this book had it not been for the fact that it’s this month’s choice for my book club. The reason I wouldn’t have picked it up is because it has ‘winner of’ some prize or other written on the cover, which normally turns me right off – I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a prize winning book before!

Anyway, the story starts in Paris in 1939, where Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian emigree, is recruited for the British Secret Service.  Under the tutelage of a mysterious Englishman, Eva becomes the perfect spy, learning to mask her emotions and trust no one, including those she loves most. 

Since the war, she’s rebuilt her life and become a typical English wife and mother – but once a spy, always a spy.

Like Kat, I’m a fan of anything set in WW2, and this book had me absolutely hooked from beginning to end.  I literally couldn’t put it down.  And when I finished it late last night, I felt like I’d lost a friend.  Now, THAT’s a sign of a good book.

Caroline x

March 29, 2010

Title: Missing You
Author : Louise Douglas
Rating : 9/10
Great for : that ‘feel good’ feeling

Fen works in a bookshop and is devoted to her young son, Connor, but she keeps herself to herself.  Haunted by guilt and a terrible secret, Fen lives a compromised life, isolated from her family, far from home and too afraid of the past to risk becoming close to anyone. She is constantly looking over her shoulder, knowing that one day the truth will catch up with her.

Sean, on the other hand, is enjoying a seemingly perfect life. He has a successful career, lives in his dream home and adores his beautiful wife, Belle, and their six-year-old daughter, Amy. That is until the day Belle announces she has found someone else and wants Sean to move out.

Circumstance throws Fen and Sean together. Slowly their quiet friendship turns into something much deeper and the joy they find in one another eventually gives them the confidence to trust and love again. But will the past tear them apart just as they find happiness?

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book, the second from Louise Douglas and it didn’t disappoint.  The writing was just gorgeous, the story was beautiful and it wasn’t a typical happy ending book.

Loved it.  Loved it.  Loved it

Title: The Power of Less
Author : Leo Babuata
Rating : 4/10
Great for : telling you what you probably already knew

I picked this up after MovetoPortugal had read it.  It’s a fairly easy to read book as these types of books go, but I found it slightly simplistic.

It’s much better applied into a work environment, but even then I found the principles difficult to imagine successfully implementing.  The principles make sense, but it’s what you already knew anyway. Don’t check your emails constantly, limit your internet time, focus on a small number of projects only.

The one principle that did stick with me was to concentrate on one thing at a time, one big project.  That way you are far more likely to be successful than if you have more than one on the go.

The book wasn’t all bad and maybe I’ve read too many books of a similar thread to not really learn anything from this.


Queen of the Big Time

March 25, 2010

Title: Queen of the Big Time

Author: Adriana Trigiani

ISBN: 0743462270

Good For: Escaping to the Past

Rating: 8/10

Set in a small immigrant Italian community in rural Pennsylvania, this book starts in 1921 and follows the story of Nella Castelluca, a girl who dreams of achieving more than her humble roots will allow – an education and a good job.  She lives on her family’s farm on hte outskirts of Roseto – a town of old world tradition.

When Nella meets the handsome, worldly and irresistible Renato Lanzara, she believes she has found the soulmate with whom to share her life, until an unexpected turn of events leaves her and her fellow townsfolk shaken and shocked.

I loved this book.  Having read one of the author’s books before and enjoyed it, I was anticipating enjoying this, but it just swept me away to a different world – something that hasn’t happened to me with a book for a while. 

It’s a really easy read, but so much more than just another love story, and I found myself really drawn into the beautifully written characters and their lives.  Fabulous!

Caroline x

Title: Madwoman on the Bridge
Author : Su Tong
Rating : 4/10
Great for : being left wanting

Sorry everyone for being MIA for a little while. It’s been a bit of a busy time and I’m still schlecking through Wolf Hall which is taking AGES!  Happily, APoW and I have a new contributor on board (welcome again, Caroline!) so you’re in safe hands. Last week though I went on a quick holiday and, unable to take Wolf Hall with me for falling foul of airline weight restrictions, I took Madwoman on the Bridge by Su Tong.

First off, I wanted to say that it was given to me by a friend who said “I think this is a really good book for you” – should I be offended?!

Anyways, it turned out that the book was actually a collection of short stories set in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution in China.  They’re written as though they were a collection of snapshots into little incidents in everyday life during a turbulent time.   To be honest, it’s all a bit bizarre and unsatisfying.  I wonder if something was lost in the translation?

Not really my kind of book at all – I couldn’t get my teeth stuck into it.  Happily though, a RISI swap has just landed through the letterbox and yes, you’ve guessed it! It’s a WW2 saga. SO looking forward to that though I wonder if I should plough on with Wolf Hall and finish that first…..hmmmm.


Review: Got You Back

March 21, 2010

Title: Got You Back
Author : Jane Fallon
Rating : 9/10
Great for : the bath and the beach

James is married to Stephanie, but lives a double life in two parts of the UK.  His girlfriend Katie thinks he is divorced.  When Stephanie finds out about Katie, they decide to have some fun with James and seek revenge for the way he’s treated them.

I loved this book.  Fairly chick lit in style, but sensible chick lit.  You don’t get the typical ending and the story was a really nice read.  Another one done in about 14 hours, I just couldn’t put it down.

I loved Jane Fallon’s first book as well, Getting Rid Of Matthew, so either are worth a nosy if you fancy.


What To Read Next?

March 18, 2010

I’ve almost finished the book I’m reading at the moment, and can’t decide what to read next.  The following are all in the pile.  What do you think?

Queen of the Big Time  by Adriana Trigiani

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka

Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller (loved the film)

Love Lives – Josie Lloyd & Emlyn Rees

Any advice gratefully received!

Caroline x

What are you all reading at the moment?  What’s hot and what’s not?

We need some good recommendations for books over here, so tell us what you’ve got your noses stuck into at the moment.

Review: Two-Faced

March 14, 2010

Title: Two-Faced
Author : Mandasue Heller
Rating : 7/10
Great for : getting through in a day

If you like Martina Cole, you’ll like Mandasue Heller.

Two-Faced is the story of two identical twins Mia and Michelle.  One good, one bad.  One gets into modelling and drugs, the other studying and continually gets her sister out of the do-do for little gratitude and thanks.  The write up left me expecting a story that didn’t materialise at all either.

It wasn’t a bad story, but yet again the end came all too quick and the loose ends don’t get tied up enough or too fast.  Ever had one of those books where you feel the author is on fast forward towards the end?  It just all felt a bit unbelievable for me.

But not a bad one, for the beach or the bath.