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Willoyd's reading 2010-2011

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Book list for 2010

Jan

1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (9 Jan) *****
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (11 Jan) reread ***
3. The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell (16 Jan) ****
4. Raven Black by Ann Cleeves (23 Jan) ***
5. Burning Bright by Tracey Chevalier (28 Jan) ***
6. Footprints in the Sand by Sarah Challis (30 Jan) *****

 

Feb

7. The Tiger That Isn't by Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot (6 Feb) ****
8. Leviathan by Philip Hoare (21 Feb) *****

 

Mar

9. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant (5 Mar) *****
10. A Question of Upbringing by Anthony Powell (6 Mar) ****
11. A Buyer's Market by Anthony Powell (15 Mar) ***
12. Why does E=mc2? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw (27 Mar) **
13. Crow Stone by Jenni Mills (28 Mar) ***

 

Apr

14. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (6 Apr) reread *****
15. A Noble Radiance by Donna Leon (8 Apr) ****
16. The Affinity Bridge by George Mann (9 Apr) ***
17. Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill (11 Apr) *****
18. Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor (13 Apr) unfinished **
19. Who's Afraid of Jane Austen by Henry Hitchings (25 Apr) ***
20. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf - reread (28 Apr) ******

 

May

21. Persuasion by Jane Austen (2 May) reread *****
22. The Years by Virginia Woolf (15 May) ******
23. Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd (16 May) ***
24. Moondust by Andrew Smith (24 May) ****
25. The Ghost by Robert Harris (28 May) ***
26. Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans (30 May) unfinished **

 

Jun

27. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (3 Jun) ***
28. Boom! by Mark Haddon (20 Jun) **

 

Jul

29. A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin (4 Jul) ****
30. Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos (24 Jul) ****
31. Echoes of the Dead by Johan Theorin (28 Jul)*****
32. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre (30 Jul) ******

 

Aug

33. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (10 Aug) ****
34. Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene (22 Aug) ***
35. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (30 Aug) *****

 

Sep

36. A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R King (2 Sep) *****
37. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (6 Sep) ******
38. The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (17 Sep) reread *****
39. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland (25 Sep) ****

 

Oct

40. Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (Oct 27) *****
 

Nov

41. All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque (Nov 11) ***
42. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (Nov 13) */**
43. Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon (Nov 14) *****
44. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Nov 20) ****
45. Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris (Nov 26) ***

 

Dec

46. Dry Store Room Number One by Richard Fortey (Dec 10) ***
47. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaardner (Dec 21) **
48. The Well-Beloved by Thomas Hardy (Dec 23) ***
49. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Dec 25) ****
50. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (Dec 26) *****
51. Mrs Dalloway's Party by Virginia Woolf (Dec 27) *****
52. Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Adele Geras (Dec 27) ****
53. The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri (Dec 29) ****
54. Toast by Nigel Slater (Dec 30) **
55. The Crime at Lock 14 by Georges Simenon (Dec 31) ****


 

Book list for 2011
 

Jan

1. The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone (Jan 8) ******
2. Cleopatra, Last Queen of Egypt by Joyce Tydesley (Jan 16) ***
3. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (Jan 26) ****
4. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Jan 29) *****

 

Feb

5. Orlando by Virginia Woolf (Feb 12) ****
 

Mar

6. The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif (Mar 7) ***
 

Apr

7. Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers (Apr 24) ****
 

May

8. The Existential Detective by Alice Thompson (May 4) ****
9. Dreadnought by Robert Massie (May 24) *****
10. World War One, A Short History by Norman Stone (May 27) ***
11. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch (May 30) *****

 

Jun

12. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (Jun 11) ******
13. Blue Afternoon by William Boyd (Jun 14) unfinished **

 

Jul

14. Virginia Woolf by Hermione Lee (Jul 9) ******
15. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Jul 14) ***
16. Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (Jul 19) ***
17. Voyageurs by Margaret Elphinstone (Jul 30) ******

 

Aug

18. Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes (Aug 6) ***
19. Germania by Simon Winder (Aug 24) **
20. Blackout by Connie Willis (Aug 26) ****
21. All Clear by Connie Willis (Aug 30) ****
22. Kept by DJ Taylor (Aug 31) unfinished **

 

Sep

23. Westwood by Stella Gibbons (Sep 11) ****
24. Henrietta's War by Joyce Dennys (Sep 18) ***

 

Oct

25. Jane Austen by Claire Tomalin (Oct 8) ****
26. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Oct 27) *****

 

Nov

27. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Nov 5) ****
28. Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson (Nov 12) ****
29. Friends In High Places by Donna Leon (Nov 15) ****
30. Whoops! by John Lanchester (Nov 20) *****
31. Death Comes To Pemberley by PD James (Nov 26) ****

 

Dec

32. All Hell Let Loose by Max Hastings (Dec 4) ******
33. A Boy At The Hogarth Press by Richard Kennedy (Dec 5) ***
34. The Nativity, History and Legend by Geza Vermes (Dec 8) **
35. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (Dec 11) *****
36. Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf (Dec 20) *****
37. Fludd by Hilary Mantel (Dec 21) **
38. Snowdrops by AD Miller (Dec 22) ***
39. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (Dec 23) ****
40. A Clubbable Woman by Reginald Hill (Dec 23) ****
41. How I Won the Yellow Jumper by Ned Boulting (Dec 25) *****
42. At the Sign of the Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper (Dec 25) ***
43. A Parcel of Time by Richard Kennedy (Dec 25) ***
44. Maigret and the Idle Burglar by Georges Simenon (Dec 26) ****
45. Petals in the Ashes by Mary Hooper (Dec 27) ***(*)
46. The Xmas Files by Stephen Law (Dec 28) ***
47. Flush by Virginia Woolf (Dec 28) ***
48. The Battle of Pollock's Crossing by JL Carr (Dec 29) ****
49. The Awful End of Prince William the Silent by Lisa Jardine (Dec 30) ****
50. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (Dec 31) audiobook, reread ******


Ratings
* Didn't like, almost certainly unfinished.
** OK, but in some way disappointing. Sometimes unfinished.
*** Enjoyable read, if nothing to get too excited about.
**** Very good read, reluctant to put down.
***** Excellent - a book with something that really makes it stand out.
****** The very best (sixth star often only added after a while!)

Edited by willoyd

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I want to read 'Moby Dick' soon ... I've also got Philip Hoare's 'Leviathan' to read so glad to see that you liked both of those :lol:

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I want to read 'Moby Dick' soon ... I've also got Philip Hoare's 'Leviathan' to read so glad to see that you liked both of those :lol:

 

I read Leviathan as a follow-up to Moby Dick - I think that was the best way round. Moby Dick demands a lot - not bedtime reading - you need to be wide awake - but it was also fantastically rewarding. One of the most challenging reads I've had in a long time, but never tedious!

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The Years by Virgina Woolf ******

 

For the first three-quarters of the book, this was heading into my all-time list (6 stars) no questions asked: wonderful images with Woolf's descriptive powers and her internalised style of writing totally captivating and pulling me in to the narrative. She demands that you read every word and line - miss one thing and you can lose your way in seconds. I loved the way she took micro snapshots - individual days every few years - to get inside the history of the Pargiter family. However, the last scene at the party (occupying some 80 pages or so) lost me a bit, and it wasn't until the last few pages that things picked up again as dawn arrived. But I read this when quite tired, and my concentration levels weren't that high, so that might have had had more influence. So, I may change the grading later - this certainly got thoroughly under my skin, and I will almost certainly reread in some not too distant future - but for now will rate it 'just' as 5/6 (although I'd rate it higher than any 5 star read this year other than, perhaps, Susan Hill's book). But, having just recently reread Mrs Dalloway and changed my opinion (for much the better), The Years has certainly left me really keen to try more of her work.

 

Later: thinking further - this felt so much better than my other 5 star reads, so I've given it a full 6.

Edited by willoyd

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Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd ***

 

A good fun read, but not in the same league as his previous book, Restless. Just challenged credibility on too many occasions, in particular the scene which set up the rest of the story. I never really related to any of the characters either - no real depth there; they were all just a bit too, well, almost comic strip in style. Certainly, I never felt as if I engaged at all with them. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable - it was - but having read Restless, it was all a bit ordinary in comparison; I expected more. 3 stars out of 6.

Edited by willoyd

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Moondust by Andrew Smith ****

 

I find this a very difficult book to try and summarise.

 

Andrew Smith interviews Charlie Duke (Apollo 16) on the same day as news comes through that Pete Conrad, commander of Apollo 12, has died from injuries sustained in a motorbike accident. Duke makes the comment "and now there are only nine." This triggers off a search by the author for those nine, to found out how their lives were affected by taking part in what is so far the ultimate journey/exploration.

 

So, the book is made up of the interviews (Smith doesn't get to sit down with them all, but does get to meet almost all in one way or another), Smith's own recollections of the moon programme, recounts of some of the incidents (the description of the first moon landing is as gripping as it gets) and the story of the author's efforts to track the astronauts down. It's a bit of a mish-mash, but it's a fascinating one at that.

 

Some of the insights were eye openers to me, from the relatively straightforward facts (all the commanders were oldest siblings or single children, unlike the rest of the teams), to the more argument based (for instance that the short-termist approach of the Apollo programme, stimulated by JFK's famous declaration about reaching the moon before the end of the decase, actually had a seriously negative impact on longer term deep space exploration). Whether they were to the more knowledgable, I don't know, but overall, this book provided me with a perspective I've never come across before. There was no doubt that in all sorts of different ways, the experience had all sorts of effects on the men involved, and Smith's exploration of that kept me reading to the end. A book I thoroughly enjoyed, even if one or two of the more spiritual discussions lost me a bit on the way.

4/6 stars.

Edited by willoyd

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I had a few weeks where I didn't post here, and found I couldn't update my 2009 list, so am including here for future reference:

 

Do you mean because the 2009 blogs are locked? If you want to change or add to your past blog you could ask a mod to unlock the thread for you and go and do the changes you want :) Ask the mods -thread is where you could ask them to do so ;)

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Thanks Frankie. I'm fairly relaxed about it - I've got the updated list at the top here, so that'll do for the moment. Not sure what I'll do at the end of this year yet!

 

Later edit: now updated, and posts on this thread edited to reflect that.

Edited by willoyd

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Thanks Frankie. I'm fairly relaxed about it - I've got the updated list at the top here, so that'll do for the moment. Not sure what I'll do at the end of this year yet!

 

Well, fortunately you have plenty of time to figure that out. In the meantime, keep on reading :(

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The Ghost by Robert Harris ***

 

A nice, easy, switch-off read, which is what I wanted. Took a while (as in most of the book!) to get off the ground, with all the thriller-stuff packed into the last quarter of the book, and a reasonably decent twist at the end. A bit too many cliches, a ghastly piece of product placement (I assume) that almost stopped me in my tracks, and one or two plot devices that simply didn't ring true, so about par for the airport thriller course (which is what this is). I've never rated Robert Harris as highly as some, but have enjoyed his books sufficiently to continue reading when I can pick them up cheaply - most have promised much but tended to fall flat near the end, so to that extent this was a bit different. Given the reviews, this has proved to be a better film than book, which doesn't come as much of a surprise.

 

All in all, does what it says on the tin. 3/6.

Edited by willoyd

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Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissie Evans **

 

Made it to about half way through and decided enough was enough. Plotwise, nothing in particular seems to be happening, with the narrative jumping backwards and forwards between at least three apparently unrelated threads (and I'm not that bothered to see how they might connect later), whilst the characters are skin thin - I still haven't got a handle on the main protagonist Catrin (at least I assume she is the main protagonist, because she's the one mentioned in the blurb), other than she's young, comes from Wales and is as a result not taken seriously by anyone, with an artist husband who is very selfcentred and obviously going to have an affair at some stage. They might have been developed further - the rundown matinee idol, Ambrose Hilliard, shows some promise (also selfcentred, but with some interesting internal monologue) - but as soon as you start getting vaguely interested, the narrative chops away to another thread. The setting is quite well established, but it's the early years of WW2 in the propaganda film industry, and the whole emphasis is on how cheap, dull and tawdry it all was, not something to really get one involved.

 

So - no plot, no characters, and a setting that emphasises how dull it all was. On the plus side, it's well written, but that's not enough to keep me going for four hundred pages. All in all, I hope this isn't Lissa Evans's finest hour (and a half), but given that it was long-listed for the Orange prize, maybe I'm missing something. Not quite a 1-star read, but not far off. 2/6.

Edited by willoyd

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The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe ***

I find the space race story fascinating - so it was almost inevitable I'd read this one day, a 'classic' account of the first manned space programme, Project Mercury.

 

Wolfe is good at bringing the characters to life, and the book flows smoothly through the story - the comparison between the X-plane and Mercury projects was particularly well drawn. However, after a while, I just got a bit weary with the folksy style which Wolfe decided to adopt, whilst some of the accounts pertaining to be told from a particular perspective (e.g. Gus Grissom's controversial landing on the second flight and Chuck Yeager's crash with the NF-104) just didn't work for me. Not to say they weren't well told - just didn't suit me.

 

Wolfe obviously decided to take a particular approach to this story focusing on the social culture that surrounded the programme, and that was certainly worthwhile. But as a result, it also felt somewhat repetitious on occasions - the sections focusing on the wives was particularly susceptible - whilst missing out on some other areas.

 

All in all, I enjoyed the book, but am a wee bit uncertain as to why it has achieved such cult/classic status. Maybe because it is so different from the usual history. For undertaking that Wolfe has been rightly applauded, but it didn't quite come off for me.

Edited by willoyd

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Catching up on a handful of books

 

Boom! by Mark Haddon **

Children's book read in connection with school work. OK, but not overly struck. Will appeal to some of the boys in my class (Year 5).

 

A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin ****

Another space history book, and possibly the best to date. A history of the Apollo programme, Highly readable and sustains interest even after the excitement of Apollo 11 and 13.

 

Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos ****

Another thoroughly readable non-fiction book, this time looking at aspects of maths and how it relates to the wider world. Each chapter is reasonably discrete, so could dip in and out, but was interested enough to keep with it the whole way. Filled in a number of holes very satisfyingly.

 

Echoes of the Dead by Johan Theorin *****

One of the best Scandinavian crime stories I've read - certainly as good as or better than Mankell, and up with Stieg Larsson, although nothing like the latter in spite of the claims on the cover. Very atmospheric - a real sense of place. Ending definitely caught me out, but that wasn't that important, as it had proved thoroughly satisfying all the way.

Edited by willoyd

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Another catch up

 

.....on books read over the summer:

 

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre ******

Have enjoyed previous Smiley books, although not The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, but whilst these were all pleasantly diverting, this is in a league apart. The intricacies and twists of the plot gripped throughout, characters shone through, and there's a whole sense of coloured atmosphere that completely passed me by with TSWCIFTC, which was just unpleasant and redolent of a whole tranche of 1950s-70s fiction which I find just dully grey and grim. Brilliant.

 

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James ****

Loved this to start with, but found the whole story, especially the character of Isabel, increasingly frustrating and irritating. I just couldn't relate to what was going on and why she did what she did. Very thought provoking though. I just wish I could have empathised with at least one of the characters more.

 

Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene ***

Fun, diverting, but in the end not a lot more.

 

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell *****

I love this sort of Victorian writing - can get totally wrapped up in it - which is perhaps why I struggled a bit with the Henry James. I've just been studying part of my family history based in a similar part of Manchester, so that added a certain frisson to the story, but the characters and the setting were still beautifully evoked.

 

A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R King *****

King just 'gets' Sherlock Holmes in a way that so many others don't quite manage, whilst at the same time developing her own totally entrancing character. The mysteries themselves may not be strongly plot driven, but I like the way it's her characters and the setting which are at the centre of these books.

 

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis ******

I thoroughly enjoyed Willis's earlier book on the theme of time travel,The Doomsday Book, but the humour and pastiche on the Victorian country house life added even more appeal - interesting to see her take such two different approaches to something so similar. Very rare this happens, but the book actually made me laugh in places, whilst at the same time keeping me enthralled in the central mystery. Even the odd inability to quite get the language right (gotten?!) didn't spoil the enjoyment.

 

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis *****

Wanted to reread this after the previous book. In spite of being on the same topic - time travel back into history from c2050AD - it's a completely different style, but then the subject matter (The Black Death) was somewhat different too! Even on a second (if somewhat distant) reading, the story gripped from start to finish. Again the odd unnecessary Americanisms creeping in (mufflers seem to feature every 2 minutes!), but again it's handleable within the context of an otherwise great piece of story telling.

 

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland ****

Picked this up almost as a follow on to the Black Death theme of the previous book. Another great piece of story telling, unputdownable (almost literally!), even if very dark and grim, but I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying - too abrupt, and too many loose ends. A few are realistic, but there were too many questions unanswered for me about the characters. With a bit of reworking at the end, this could have been a five/six star review. It's the first of her books I've read, and will definitely follow up on others - being her first I'm hoping that she continues to develop.

Edited by willoyd

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And another catchup

....not overly long as really only read one full book in October, even if it was a good one! (Stars out of 6)

 

Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens *****

As a light hearted look at early 19th century English life, this was superb. As a piece of fiction, it was very enjoyable, but a bit too episodic and lacking in underlying direction to achieve the highest ranks.

 

All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque ***

I can see why this is a classic, but it left me uninvolved. The language was just a bit too spare. Am beginning to wonder if this is something to do with German literature, as have not got anywhere with pretty much all German writers I've tried in the past couple of years.

 

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe */**

Wooden, repetitive, fussy. I really enjoyed the Alex Kington TV drama, but couldn't progress much beyond one-fifth the way through.

 

Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon ****(*)

Read this whilst on holiday in Venice. This series just grows and grows on me, and whilst individual books may 'only' rate 4 stars or so, the series is fully worth 6 stars. A particularly thoughtful story this one, with Paola taking the law into her own hands much to the anger of Guido.

 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain ****

Enjoyable, in parts brilliant, this is the story of how Huck Finn grows up, physically and morally. The journey down the Mississippi is beautifully evoked, but the episode with Tom Sawyer, whilst serving the purpose of emphasising how much Huck had grown up and away from him, was much less satisfactory - it was too far fetched and convoluted for my taste.

Edited by willoyd

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Pickwick Papers is probably my favourite book full stop. It's episodic, certainly, but don't forget that in its original form it was published as a serial. I read it again about a year ago, and it still makes me laugh.

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Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon ****(*)

Read this whilst on holiday in Venice. This series just grows and grows on me, and whilst individual books may 'only' rate 4 stars or so, the series is fully worth 6 stars. A particularly thoughtful story this one, with Paola taking the law into her own hands much to the anger of Guido.

 

I love the Inspector Brunetti series, and have read all the way up to About Face. Interestingly, my brother (who read a few as he loves Venice) hates them as he thinks Guido is just a doormat, where I think he often seems like the perfect man!

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Pickwick Papers is probably my favourite book full stop. It's episodic, certainly, but don't forget that in its original form it was published as a serial. I read it again about a year ago, and it still makes me laugh.

 

I do agree - great book. This is the second time I've read it, having first completed it as a set book at school at 14 - loved it then too, and don't know why I've taken so long to return to it. I appreciate its history, and can see why it is structured the way it is - as a story told in magazine instalments it would hit 6/6 for me. Sam Weller is easily one of my favourite literary characters. But in the single book format, that episodic nature, the sequence of set scenes, wandering round the countryside, didn't work quite as effectively for me, and thus the single star docked. However, a 5 star book is one I'd strongly recommend to anybody, and I certainly won't be waiting another 40 years to read it again!

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Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris ***

 

Enjoyable enough, but too dependent on the one twist, which is all too easily spottable fairly early on (certainly not much later than halfway through the book). Once it's revealed, it all tends to fizzle out into a bit of an anticlimax. I enjoyed the writing style, even if I thought the premise a little unlikely and too many characters somewhat stereotypical, and will almost certainly try out others of her books. This one's really popular, and, to be honest, I can't really see why. However, three rather than two stars, as I did want to read through to the end. 3/6

Edited by willoyd

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I love the Inspector Brunetti series, and have read all the way up to About Face. Interestingly, my brother (who read a few as he loves Venice) hates them as he thinks Guido is just a doormat, where I think he often seems like the perfect man!

 

I think Guido as a character is brilliant - anything but a doormat, as he shows in Fatal Remedies, where he tells Paola exactly what he thinks of her activities. He's only a 'doormat' to the extent that he recognises that for a marriage to work, you've got to be prepared to give and take, to work towards finding common ground, to at least try and see things from somebody else's point of view. One of the reasons I love this series is that he and his family are so 'normal' - so many detectives are fatally flawed when it comes to relationships, and can't quite make it as normal human beings. I can relate to him in a way that I can't with so many others.

 

Whilst in Venice, we spent some time tracking down some of the places mentioned in his book, including the street he is meant to live in. Definitely increased my enjoyment of the book and series. OH is completely addicted too now!

Edited by willoyd

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I quite agree, the Brunetti family life is one of my favourite things about the novels. Your visit to Venice will definitely have enhanced your pleasure in the series as a whole - I'm not much into travelling, but Venice is one place I would love to go.

 

Are you into cooking at all? I am very tempted by A Taste of Venice: At Table with Brunetti but I have sooo many cookbooks already that I am trying hard to resist!

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Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

 

A good fun read, but not in the same league as his previous book, Restless. Just challenged credibility on too many occasions, in particular the scene which set up the rest of the story. I never really related to any of the characters either - no real depth there; they were all just a bit too, well, almost comic strip in style. Certainly, I never felt as if I engaged at all with them. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable - it was - but having read Restless, it was all a bit ordinary in comparison; I expected more. 3 stars out of 6.

I've only read Restless and Blue Afternoon by Boyd, and enjoyed both. I have to say, even though your rating is only a 3, you've peaked my curiosity.

 

 

The Ghost by Robert Harris

 

A nice, easy, switch-off read, which is what I wanted. Took a while (as in most of the book!) to get off the ground, with all the thriller-stuff packed into the last quarter of the book, and a reasonably decent twist at the end. A bit too many cliches, a ghastly piece of product placement (I assume) that almost stopped me in my tracks, and one or two plot devices that simply didn't ring true, so about par for the airport thriller course (which is what this is). I've never rated Robert Harris as highly as some, but have enjoyed his books sufficiently to continue reading when I can pick them up cheaply - most have promised much but tended to fall flat near the end, so to that extent this was a bit different. Given the reviews, this has proved to be a better film than book, which doesn't come as much of a surprise.

 

All in all, does what it says on the tin. 3/6.

 

Saw the film, bought the book on strength of the film....still in the TBR stack. hmmmmm

 

 

Another catch up on books read over the summer:

 

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre ******

Have enjoyed previous Smiley books, although not The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, but whilst these were all pleasantly diverting, this is in a league apart. The intricacies and twists of the plot gripped throughout, characters shone through, and there's a whole sense of coloured atmosphere that completely passed me by with TSWCIFTC, which was just unpleasant and redolent of a whole tranche of 1950s-70s fiction which I find just dully grey and grim. Brilliant.

 

 

A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R King *****

King just 'gets' Sherlock Holmes in a way that so many others don't quite manage, whilst at the same time developing her own totally entrancing character. The mysteries themselves may not be strongly plot driven, but I like the way it's her characters and the setting which are at the centre of these books.

 

 

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland ****

Picked this up almost as a follow on to the Black Death theme of the previous book. Another great piece of story telling, unputdownable (almost literally!), even if very dark and grim, but I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying - too abrupt, and too many loose ends. A few are realistic, but there were too many questions unanswered for me about the characters. With a bit of reworking at the end, this could have been a five/six star review. It's the first of her books I've read, and will definitely follow up on others - being her first I'm hoping that she continues to develop.

 

Love LeCarré, am working my way through in order slowly but surely. :smile2:

 

Agree re Laurie King's Mary Russell series, although I have to admit the last several have suffered, at least for me, from a lack of Holmes himself. I like Russell, but prefer her in combination with SH himself.

 

Also agree, the ending of Company of Liars was a disappointment for me. To.......easy. Shudda been more to it.

Edited by pontalba

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I've only read Restless and Blue Afternoon by Boyd, and enjoyed both. I have to say, even though your rating is only a 3, you've peaked my curiosity.

Don't let the 3 put you off - I still regard that as a decent read. I certainly want to read more of his books - have Blue Afternoon on my TBR shelf.

 

Saw the film, bought the book on strength of the film....still in the TBR stack. hmmmmm

I get the impression this would make a better film than book, but have yet to check the theory out!

 

Love LeCarré, am working my way through in order slowly but surely.

Me too. Thoroughly enjoyed Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality, but this was in a different league. Possibly the best spy novel I've yet read.

 

Agree re Laurie King's Mary Russell series, although I have to admit the last several have suffered, at least for me, from a lack of Holmes himself. I like Russell, but prefer her in combination with SH himself.

Didn't realise that - agree, it's the combination I really enjoy.

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Dry Store Room Number One by Richard Fortey ***

The author goes behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum in London, taking a look at the people who work there, the work they do, and a bit of the history on the way. An enjoyable read. It lacked a bit of focus, wandering backwards and forwards across the museum landscape, occasionally stopping off to focus the lens on an individual and/or their work, before nipping off to look elsewhere. It certainly passed the time very pleasantly, and I enjoyed the insights into a museum that I used to frequent a lot as a a child (and still do with children I teach every now and again), but it lacked a certain bite, a real raison d'etre, as well as maps of the museum (it sounds like a real rabbit warren) and background in the history and development of the building itself. Anecdotal, chatty, eminently readable, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but was ultimately left asking the question - why?

3 out of 6 stars.

Edited by willoyd

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