I have always had a soft spot for Agatha Christie, ever since 'devouring' most of her books in my teens. This remains one of my favourite stories - I'm not sure why - it could be the ugly duckling love story that lurks amongst the murder and mayhem. It is far from her best mystery but somehow the main characters are (for me anyway) very ‘real’. The back story is a lovely little romance and there is one chapter near the end that is nothing to do with the crime but is extremely appealing (if a little cliched!). The denouement is as satisfying as usual and I like this book a lot.
Thursday, 27 January 2011
My favourite genre is crime/mystery/thriller and I love the alphabet series by Sue Grafton. The characters appeal and Kinsey Millhone (the 30 something PI and solver of crimes) is a feisty single woman with strong morals, a sense of humour and a penchant for trouble. I enjoy the predictability of her lifestyle and the details of the lives of those closest to her. The series is now 21 books strong so if you enjoy her you have a lot to look forward to. I had somehow missed D so when I saw it recently in a second hand bookshop it was a must. Her later books have become more complex, but going back to one near the beginning was very refreshing. Good story, brilliant characters and a satisfying ending – what more can you ask. I can’t wait to read book 22 – and there should still be 4 more to go!
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Trouble was a charity shop buy. I haven’t read his parents novels (Joanathan and Faye Kellerman) but had read a reasonable review somewhere of this story. Unfortunately this book wasn’t for me. The writing style was too terse for my taste and I didn’t engage with the characters at all. I did get to the end but found this as unsatisfying as the rest of the book.
Monday, 24 January 2011
I have enjoyed a number of Michaels Crichton’s thrillers although not enough to buy them new (this was another charity shop purchase) but, sadly, this book was a bit of a let down. The author was obviously passionate about his subject – the unethical use of genetic material by large corporations and the patenting of individual genes – but this novel was unfocused with characters I had little interest in. The plot began to seem non-existent and about two thirds of the way I had had enough. I did skip read to the end but couldn’t really tell you what happened.
Sunday, 23 January 2011
I loved this book. It is the story of two sisters who have been apart for all their adult lives. One sister has stayed reclusively (autistically?) in the family mansion to continue her father’s ‘work’ studying the habits of moths and the other returns after 47 years. Why did she leave? The book concentrates on how these two lived together as children and young women and how their relationships with their parents ‘worked’. It looks at their differing views on events in those childhoods and through their lives; how these have affected them and how their personalities and characters affect their memories and views on events. The family is a little creepy and very dysfunctional. The main outcome after the 47 years is quite easy to guess but this didn’t distract from the story for me and there are plenty of surprises – I loved the details about moths too.
Saturday, 22 January 2011
Sarah Dunant is a relatively new author to me and I am very glad to have found her. I have seen reviews of ‘The Birth of Venus’ trilogy but not really considered reading it despite enjoying historical fiction from time to time. I recently read an interview with Sarah Dunant that was interesting so when I saw a copy of ‘Mapping the Edge’ in a charity shop I bought it and started it almost straight away. It is very, very good.
It’s the story of Anna who goes missing on a trip to
of what happens to her (or may have happened to her); and of the ‘family’ she leaves behind. The structure of the book is fascinating and was a bit strange to start with but just a few chapters in I could not put this book down. It works as a tense thriller (at times I was almost literally on the edge of my seat), and as a story of intricate relationships. I loved it and can’t wait to read her other thrillers and the historical trilogy. Italy;
Thursday, 20 January 2011
Set in the early 50′s this is the story of Penelope and Charlotte, impoverished society girls who are looking for love and adventure but are seemingly hampered by their families, their decaying homes and their height! This is, of course, far from the truth and these two create a stir wherever they go. This is a simple story that evokes the era beautifully (my mother’s era though not mine!). For me, however, the writing was a little laboured at times and the story a bit too frivolous and I found myself skipping bits towards the end. The ‘secret’ was all too obvious and not really very interesting. A pleasant read nonetheless.
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones is an extraordinary book. I didn’t really know what to expect from it after seeing it reviewed on several blogs, except knowing it is used as an exam text in schools I did expect good writing and some kind of ‘message’. Both were evident in a powerful and shocking story which is very hard to leave behind. I find myself still thinking about it several days later.
The story concerns Matilda, a girl living on a tropical island and how the conflict in the civil war going on in the area affects her and the other people in her village. This includes Mr Watts, the only white man in the village, who uses Dickens’ Great Expectations to ‘teach’ in the village school. Unforgettable and definitely one to be re-read.
Monday, 17 January 2011
If I had to choose one crime writer to read it would be Minette Walters. I think she is a brilliant story teller and inventor of really appealing characters - and some not so appealing - but all fascinating. I love all her books but The Devil's Feather would probably be my first choice … only 'probably' though.
This one introduces Connie, a hard hitting journalist working in war torn
and other war ravaged countries. She is kidnapped and humiliated while working for Reuters after she has tried to expose a suspected serial killer. Connie returns to the Sierra Leone , terrified and suffering from panic and anxiety. How she confronts her fears and the help she receives from new ‘friends’ makes for a tension filled thriller with a wonderful ending (in my opinion anyway). For me this book is compulsively readable and sits firmly on my ‘favourite’s’ shelf. UK
Sunday, 16 January 2011
I expected The Little Stranger to be better than it was. I enjoyed the first half of the book very much but felt it ‘tailed off’ quite drearily in the end with no real surprises. The book felt too long and as though Sarah Waters didn’t quite know what to do with her story. I am surprised that this was in last years Booker shortlist. I need to read some more Sarah Waters. Fingersmith and The Night Watch are on my ‘to be read pile’ so hopefully will get to them soon.