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Friday, December 31, 2010

Review - P D James - An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

In this day this title sounded a bit strange and this is why I picked it up. I love P D James
and Adam Dalgleish her famous detective but this was another detective - unconnected to the famous one and this is the first book of the Cordelia Grey series.
Mark Callender is found hanging in his room with a suicide note beside him. Although not known to be depressed, mentally ill or having shown any signs of being other than normal, his death is ruled as a suicide. His father a very eminent scientist hires Cordelia to find out the why - he does not dispute the suicide just wants to know why.
P D James never does anything by halves. All your preconceived ideas of the who/why/where go out of the window. I loved the rich description of Cambridge - the countryside surrounding Cambridge as well as Cambridge are so beautifully described that one wants to move to that part of the country, and preferably also experience the unique position of being a Cambridge undergraduate.
Cordelia in this her first job on her own follows her mentor's instructions to the letter. Still reeling from his death (also a suicide) Cordelia very cleverly maneuvres around Mark's supposed friends as well as bystanders who seem disinterested and at the same time surreptitiously very interested in knowing what Cordelia is going to do next.
Solving young Mark's death is not the only interesting feature of this book. We have Cordelia's relationship with others involved in the case and this is one feature which makes the book slightly different to normal detective stories.
A quick, easy read. Different from her normal Adam Dalgleish series this was a pleasant change.

Review - The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley

For the last few days of my stay in Melbourne I have chosen lighter reading and this my first foray into the writing of Tessa Hadley.
Fortyish Kate has decided to give up a 20 year career and go back to Cardiff to the crumbling family home to look after a senile mother. Something that a lot of people have to face and a rather tough choice to make.
Kate confused over her decision as to the right or wrong of it connects up with David who shares her love of the arts and music. David's wife Suzie finds opera pretentious and is scathing in her views of this kind of music.
The story deals not only with the breakdown of the relationship between David and Suzie but also deals with the traumatic relationship that develops when an older parent becomes the child and the child has to become the parent. There is also the sexual relationships that develop in the story - notably the one between Jamie who is David's son and Kate. The complexities of this relationship crash headlong into the attraction that David has for Kate. To add to the complexity you have the change in the nature of quiet, family loving Suzie who becomes totally alienated from her husband who is so puzzled that he does not know what has hit him.
One review described the book as a quiet one - this is very apt. The book takes you along whilst it drifts from one situation to another and it is done harmoniously.
A 337 page book which is a perfect light read.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden by M C Beaton

This was my second foray into Agatha Raisin and this is going to be my last. I know it will be heresy for the thousands who love her books but I find the naivety of a middle aged woman a bit too tiring for comfort!

In this one a most implausible story involving Agatha and her search for a permanent love in her life leads her to potions - both love and for the loss of hair, a muddle of murders, mayhem
and mystery but it was for me boring.

Sorry to end this review on such a laid back note but this book did not do anything for me. I did finish it though as that is for me almost a matter of principle.

To all my blog readers a very Happy, Peaceful and Joyful 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review - Barbara Erskine's Time's Legacy

This is not going to be an easy book to review. Before I start I must say I love books on vicars and vicarages and such (this is why I love Susan Howatch) but this though it does start with straight forward vicars is much much more.
It is a story of a moment set in time - set hundreds of years before and how it relates to the present. So the story constantly fluctuates between now and Roman times. We have Abi a lady vicar and Keir her mentor as it were opening the story and then the antagonism and tension that evolves around their ministry. Erskine keeps you on your toes throughout the book, you never know what is happening, what is going to happen and whatever you think is going to happen doesn't and something totally different happens.
If all this sounds very mysterious, it is because it is. I cannot even imagine the extent of the creativity that someone could possess to imagine, evaluate and make a story out like this. If I have tittilated you enough, it is good.
Whether you like history, fantasy, Romans or Englishmen you should read this book. There is Christianity, paganism, witches, druids, fantasy and the famous story of Jesus actually visiting Glastonbury in Britain. The writing is simple and straightforward and you just want to finish it as quickly as possible which is what happened to me. The writing is so good that you actually feel that you are in turns living in Roman times with the druids and the Romans who settled in the area and then you can actually live and breathe the sounds of the church, the orchard, the birds and the bustle of the present century.
Please read this book and let me try to find out whether there are any more from this author in my local library. This was an amazing book to read.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review - The other family by Joanna Trollope

I have read all Joanne Trollope's books (I think so) and this one did not disappoint me just like the others. The slight difference is that normally the setting is one of idyllic countryside which people tell me does exist. It is not a fantasy. The time the settings are a bit more urban - but it works beautifully.
The theme of the story is sudden bereavement on the one side, not planning for the future of not just yourself (you die and go away and thats that) but what about all whom you leave behind totally unprepared to face the worst and how this thoughtlessness and carelessness can disrupt families so much more than grief at an actual death.
Richie Rossiter dies suddenly of a heart attack leaving behind Chrissie his "wife" of 23 years along with three daughters. Only thing Chrissie is not really his wife. He has a wife of a long time ago and a grown up 32 year old son - the wife whom he never bothered to divorce although she would have given him one. This leaves Chrissie feeling not just bereaved but cheated and miserable. Her misery rubs off on the three children who are all caught up in this entire web not of their seeking.
Add to this a bequest of a Steinway grand piano, Richie's love which he had secretly bequested to his actual wife and you set the cat amongst the pigeons literally when the bombshell bursts. The taxes which have to be paid on inheritance (English tax laws do not take cognisance of 3 children and 23 years of living together) and the complicated mess that the Rossiter's find themselves in, form the story.
This is a good book - 320 pages - but an eye opener for all - particularly middle aged men.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mailbox Monday 27th December 2010

Mailbox Monday is the brainchild of Marcia of The Printed Page. It is now on a blog tour. Last month the host was Knitting and Sundries and for December it is Lady Q at Let Them Read Books.
In my Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.
Every week we post what books we have received - either thru our library/purchase/a win or a gift! Those who link to the meme should try to visit each others blogs and leave some comment. It is not compulsory that you participate every week.
This week too my books are courtesy of my local library in Carnegie, Melbourne. For some reason my computer is playing up and not uploading the pictures of the books properly so I will only give you the list.
Joanna Trollope's - The Other Family. Normally Joanna Trollope writes stories of human relationships in idyllic country surroundings. This time the relationship part is very evident but not the countryside. The story is riveting.
Barbara Pym's Excellent Women - a new author for me. I like the time period in which she writes and have tried to read as much as possible of this period whilst I have been here in Melbourne. I will not be able to get this kind of books back in Sri Lanka.
Barbara Erskine's -Times Legacy - another recommendation of a blogger. It looks good. Set in the fenlands of Western England sounds mysterious.
Agatha Christie 's The Body in the Library - ideal for this period when I need a real comfort read.
Christmas was to put it mildly uneventful but today Boxing Day I hit the sales. Not a thing I have ever done before as we do not have this in Sri Lanka. I loved it!!!

Review - A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym

This was one of the books I chose to read over the few days of holidays. I will get through a fair amount of reading as unlike most bloggers this is a very quiet Christmas for us.

The author came recommended on a blog with another book (which I have also got) - I wanted lighter reads but this does not actually fall into that category though it looks as if it was!

The story is one that could be applicable to any period - a comfortably placed woman, comfortable both with money and complacent with her husband, no children, household duties all attended to by others - she is bored with nothing to do and her mind just wanders from one subject to another. Could she do good with the clergy, with Mary who needs taking in hand particularly with her clothes, or could she befriend her friend's brother Piers who looks as if he needs some guidance, anyone needing help should she exert herself in one way or the other?

The book was complex - an almost affair, things happening around our chief party Wilmet but actually nothing happening to her, two surprising marriages, and also she finds out that she should not really be that complacent over her husband who may be more aware of other women and happenings than she ever imagines. Wilmet seems naive not to realise that Piers is gay until she meets the 'colleague' he has been talking about and then realizes the element of homosexuality which is very understated in this book.

Wilmet is narrow in her outlook, conservative and rather discriminatory but this could be just indicative of the times she lives in. What Wilmet tries to do is improve herself - by trying to learn from things happening around her.

Another part of this book which was enjoyable was the major role played by clergy - Anglican clergy in the story. They formed the major part of the background of the story and this was interesting for me. My knowledge of clergy Anglican or otherwise is a bit limited and I liked this part of it as well.

The book was in a large print which I liked and at 305 pages an easily read one.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone the best of the holiday season. May peace, joy and happiness be
with you always.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review - The Wild Irish by Robin Maxwell

The story involves two very strong women - on the one side the powerful Elizabeth I and on the other the Mother of the Irish Rebellion - an indomitable Grace O'Malley, a woman in men's clothing, fearless, a captain of a pirate army and a force to be reckoned with. In 1593 the two women met - a historical meeting and the story evolves from there.
The brutality of the Irish towards their own men is horrible, let alone the treatment of the Irish by the conquering English. This was unbelievable and though the story is partial towards the Irish this part of it should not be forgotton.
Within the context of this battle is the thread of Elizabeth I's love affair with Robert Devereaux the Earl of Essex. This is Elizabeth's last affair of the heart and one in which she at turns loves him and at the same time hates him.
The Wild Irish has many smaller stories within the framework of the large one - the political maneuvres which were prominent during Elizabeth's time and which proved to be the foundation for the strength of the Crown is seen in this story. Also the fact that this period was the most brutal in Irish history - the devastation of land, people and cattle is unimaginable. Elizabeth is also seen as a person not just the Queen in this story - a woman who longed for marriage and children and was deprived of both, and Grace O'Malley who longed for peace and stability for her country and who loved her people deeply and cared for them unlike the other feudal lords of Ireland who were only in it for their personal gain.
A book of 400 pages this is one which cannot and should not be read quickly. One cannot absorb the many stories within the framework of the main if you read it quickly. For those who like historical fiction this is a good one as it gives us another aspect of Elizabeth I, one which has not got much exposure.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two short reviews - The long good boy by Carol Lea Benjamin and Once upon a Christmas by Lauraine Snelling and Lenora Worth

There are two stories here. Its described as a novella anyway. The first one deals with a love story which is fairly straightforward and rather simplistic. The second one did not impress me at all. Set in the bayou country the redeeming feature of this was that it educated me on bayou food which sounds very good, the language or patois which is interesting and a very hoity toity attitude by the landed gentry!

I fell for the cover not the book! Dash short for Dashiel and Rachel Alexander are the detectives in this murder mystery. A mysterious call in the middle of the night - murder of a hooker and transvestite hookers being anxious over their fate as they feel they are being targetted by someone forms the basis of the book. A bit complicated for me and not really right for this season but that is my fault, not the authors. This is No 6 of the series so there is a fair amount of reading here.
I still have a fair amount of books to go through before the end of the year. I am starting on The Wild Irish as I want to have a change of scene from really soppy Christmas fare!

South Asia Challenge 2011

I have been wanting to join one or the other Challenges for quite a bit but have hesitated always not knowing whether I will be able to get the books necessary to complete the challenge. Books are tough to get in Sri Lanka mainly due to the cost, also a wide range is not necessarily available and it is only on my frequent visits to Melbourne that I do get updated on my reading material!
This challenge though is one I definitely will be able to handle. South Asian authors are popular in Sri Lanka and with our close proximity to the Indian sub continent we have a fairly good choice of Indian authors as well. I am hoping that I can extend it to the whole of South Asia and have a fairly widespread choice of books for my readers.
The challenge is being conducted by Swapna from S. Krishnas books. If you are interested please go over and link yourself there.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review - Country Pursuits by Jo Carnegie

This Christmas week I was looking for cozy, warm reads if there is a thing like that and I did find them (see my Mailbox Monday). This was hefty book which was difficult to read while in bed though!!!

Again the idyllic village of Churchminster faces a crisis - its verdant Meadows is being ear marked for "development" alias a housing estate, and the party behind it is a very unsavoury character! Well it is upto the village to do something to save itself and this they definitely do in very surprising and wonderful ways. Those of you who are in the fund raising line should definitely read this book.

At the same time we are dealing with a bunch of women - in one family we get Camilla, Caro and Calypso - different as sisters could ever be with varying degrees of problems to be faced and handled. We also have the other women in this village - some characters seem to be very typical whilst others are not so. How these women
handle the issues life throws at them - head on by the way - and sort their lives out makes for interesting reading.

A big book but which was just right for the season.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mailbox Monday 20th December 2010

"Mailbox Monday" is the brainchild of Marcia at The Printed Page.

Mailbox Monday is now on a blog tour. November's host was Knitting and Sundries. December's host is Lady Q at Let Them Read Books! So be certain to stop by her blog and show her some love!

"In My Mailbox" is hosted by The Story Siren.

Every week we will post about what books we have that week (via your mailbox/library/store bought)! Everyone that agrees to participate will try to visit each other's list and leave comments! Everyone is welcome to join! You can join at anytime and you DO NOT have to participate every week.

All my books are from the local library in Carnegie, Melbourne.
No purchases of any books were made. Several wins have come in but these are all being posted direct to my home in Sri Lanka.

Country Pursuits by Jo Carnegie deals with a bunch of racy women in the idyll of Churchminster. The cover is different to what I have - I may not have picked the book if this was the cover actually!!!!

The Long Good Boy by Carol Lea Benjamin is touted as a Rachel Alexander mystery (6) and I like serial mysteries. It also helps that there is a dog on the cover.....

Once Upon a Christmas by Lauraine Snelling and Lenora Worth is my Christmas read for the season. Its described as two joyous romantic Novellas and I thought it is just what I need right now.

M C Beaton's famous Agatha Raisin series the No 8 - I have read a few before this and a light cozy mystery is something I need as well.

This week I have chosen lighter books to get me through the Christmas week as these are ones which for me suit my spirit during the period. This is a Christmas I am away from home after around 28 years - the last one was when I was in Dubai on work!!!! Not one I want to duplicate for another 30 years (if I am around!).

A very happy Christmas to all of you. May peace, love, joy and prosperity fill your hearts and homes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winner of my first Giveaway!

Winner of my first Giveaway - gift card sponsored by CSN. Stores

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 82
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Sniffly Kitty said

I like the Nikko Ceramics Blanc Fleur 16 Piece Set

Congratulations! I will be emailing you for your address and will forward it
to CSN.Stores so that they could send you your gift card.

Sorry for the glitch where the earlier post got accidentally published without all the details.

Winner of my first giveaway!

Review - Sarah Waters - Fingersmith

I read The Little Stranger sometime ago and had been making a note of Sarah Waters and her books. This one is as you could say "a strange bird". Till page 175 of the book I really did not know which way it was going - there was Sue - a girl of the Borough of London, rough, street smart, a thief and there was Maud - a ladylike girl brought up very protectively with an uncle, and then there was Gentleman (anyone more unlike one never saw). When I came to this part of the story, the whole thing unfolded and confounded me. It was totally different to what was expected and took you completely out of any preconceivd ideas of how the book was going.

It is difficult to write about this book - about the story that is without giving it away. Set in Victorian England the book deals with topics which were very hush hush in polite society of the time. Lesbianism, thievery, erotic literature which was obviously so well established at the time all take one slightly aback. It adds to the storyline though and forms an essential part of the book.

The book is so descriptive of the 1860's in England - the poverty, the gentry, the landscape and the way of life that, that alone makes it worthwhile reading. Add to this the twisted tale it carries and you have to read this book. At the beginning I found it slow going but midway it sort of drags you along till you have to finish the book.

548 pages in a small font which made it difficult for me to read but that is a problem I have to learn to live with!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

All I want for Christmas!!

This is relating to books people!!!! ok you can add snippets of other things as well!

The meme is hosted by A Tapestry of Words and you can go to the blog and list your linky there.

This is a feature/meme where I choose a book/s leading up to Christmas and say why it's made it onto my wishlist – and I'd love to see what books everyone else is hoping to get!

I came to the meme myself rather late but there is still time to go so all you fellow bloggers lets hear it for the books!

My books are as usual recommendations from book bloggers.

The Four Ms Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton (courtesy of At Home with Books)

Mia, Lainey, Betts, and Ginger, best friends since law school, are gathered for an impromptu reunion as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her Supreme Court appointment. Nicknamed "the Ms. Bradwells" since their days at the University of Michigan in 1979—when only three women had served full Senate terms and no woman had ever been appointed to the Court—the group has long supported one another through career changes and failed marriages, births and deaths. But when the Senate hearing uncovers a thirty-year-old skeleton in the friends' closet, the Ms. Bradwells find themselves reliving a much darker period in their past—one that stirs up the secrets they've kept for, and from, one another and that could change their lives forever.

I also thought the cover amazing!

The next one was from Savidge Reads - A Diary of The Lady - I liked the emphasis on The Lady!

Meant for ladies over 45 (certainly fall into that category) the title intrigued me.

There are heaps more of course but lets not be greedy. These two should suffice for the moment!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review - 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This is one of the books like the Dorothy Whipple, Barbara Comymns and Marghanita Laski which I thought I would only have to read review after review about. It was most unlikely that it would turn up at the library and certainly not in Sri Lanka. But, as I say often miracles do happen.

The book comprising a series of letters from Helene living in New York and described as a typical New Yorker to Marks & Company a very charming second hand bookshop in England.

The correspondence initially with Frank Doel who looked on Helene as part of his private correspondence goes on throughout the years of war and rationing to a more peaceful time and books going forth from England to America. The sums quoted for the books are unimaginable - 2 shillings getting Helene the best of what the bookshop can offer.

To anyone who loves English literature, history, architecture, its Kings and Queens, its colorful heritage - this book is a must. It is a trip which is nostalgic in the extreme. You need not have seen Westminister Abbey or Buckingham Palace or Hampton Court, Cambridge, Trinity or the numerous places finally visited by Helene, neither would your knowledge of Latin be necessary to appreciate the nuances of this very tender, heart warming story of individuals separated by an ocean and still finding great friendship and love (though not seeing each other for years and years) and sadly in Frank's case not at all as he dies before Helene can actually visit England.

The book is a small one of just 232 pages - and one you could easily slip into a handbag! Once started I couldnt put it down. It had to be done in one go. I am only
sorry that Helene Hanff couldnt do something similar with a New York background.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review - When we were orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro is a Booker Prize winner, his books have got international acclaim and this is his fifth book.

The story - a strange one and I was not very happy with the ending. Not particularly as it is not a happy one but because it seems very much up in the air. Well I suppose everything does not have a distinct end but it left me feeling slightly unsettled.

Its a book which has to be read slowly - we find Christopher affectionately referred to as Puffin, an only child of British parents living in Shanghai in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Christopher is a protected, innocent child and like lots of only children a bit isolated from the rough and tumble of the real world. However even from a very young age, he is insightful of emotions, relationships, and specially able to read between the lines. This was unusual for such a young child.

We have two distinct stories here - one the international community in Shanghai and the uncertainities faced by them, along with the determination of the British to cling on to the all important opium trade, and then we have Christopher's story of trying to solve the abduction/disappearance of his parents and his subsequent banishment to England. This lack of intimacy amongst the family which he has lost affects the man Christopher to a great extent in his life. He remains a distant figure clever, distinguished but without close ties.

The book is suspenseful and keeps you wanting to know more but unfortunately the ending does not give you much more. Though having this drawback, I still am glad I read this book. 335 pages.

Teaser Tuesday - 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.
Grab the book you are currently reading and randomly post a couple sentences

" Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out of print books. The phrase 'antiquarian book sellers', scares me somewhat, as I equate 'antique' with expensive.

Even before this review I know that I am going to just adore this book. It was a real stroke of good luck that I extended my stay in Melbourne and whoever it was returned the book early!!!!!

My review will be up very, very soon! thanks to the several bloggers who brought it to my notice.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review - Going as far as I can - Duncan Fallowell

I love travel memoirs - maybe its a hankering of my own to travel and to places I would like to go to but cannot and when I saw this cover I think I expected much more than I got. I fell in love with Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes ages ago and so I expected something like that. I got something different. Not bad but different.

When the author was left some money, he had a idea of travelling as far as he could, and that far meant New Zealand. Fallowell was looking for a utopian dream of the best place for exile which has led him to places of architectural interest, sexual interest and hitherto unknown painters!

The book was confusing to me - because so many things are thrown at one. Were the two men in tight shirts, and tighter jeans with beer bellies just farmers or were they sending a signal to him of their availability, the clarity of light in New Zealand which seemed strange, the pronounciation, the accents all differing and ranging from German to Polish to Indian, (this is common anywhere with an immigrant population - come to Melbourne for the worldwide experience not found anywhere else!),and what is always thrown at one that you are in God's own country. I found that a bit repetitive as I think most people think that their country would be God's own country, well the un-jaded ones anyway.

I was sorry that I found the book hard going - not an easy book to finish. It was only my sheer determination that kept me going till the end. 279 pages.

Mailbox Monday 13th December to 19th December 2010

"Mailbox Monday" is the brainchild of Marcia at The Printed Page.

Mailbox Monday is now on a blog tour. November's host was Knitting and Sundries. December's host is Lady Q at Let Them Read Books! So be certain to stop by her blog and show her some love!

"In My Mailbox" is hosted by The Story Siren.

Every week we will post about what books we have that week (via your mailbox/library/store bought)! Everyone that agrees to participate will try to visit each other's list and leave comments! Everyone is welcome to join! You can join at anytime and you DO NOT have to participate every week.

All my books are from the local library in Carnegie, Melbourne.
No purchases of any books were made. Several wins have come in but these are all being posted direct to my home in Sri Lanka.

Robin Maxwell's The Wild Irish is described as a stunning portrait of the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign set against the backdrop of the Irish conflict. Having read so much about Elizabeth herself I thought reading about the end of her reign would be a nice change

This book was one which was recommended on several book blogs which I follow. It was also one I never thought I would be able to get my hands on. From October it has had so many reservations on it, that it was almost a miracle that it was there and no one had taken it. I just grabbed it!

Kristina Olsson's The China Garden was a book which I had not come across on any of the blogs I read. An impulse choice. I also liked the cover!

Having read her books before this was one on my TBR pile and I am really looking forward to this one. This book has been shortlisted for both the Man Booker and The Orange Prize.

My first introduction to Anita Brookner was with Dolly which I liked very much. I haven't read any others despite her being quite a prolific writer so I am looking forward to this one.

I do hope everyone had a very good Mailbox and that you will find time for reading and relaxation this week. Most of you have very hectic schedules and even reading about the stuff that people do makes me realize that most of you are very good managers of time!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review - The House Sitter by Peter Lovesey

I like mysteries and murders and detectives and most often I like it when it is in a series like the P D James version with Adam Dalgleish or Patricia Cornwell with Scarpetta and Marino so this was what attracted me first when it read as a Peter Diamond mystery.

A body discovered on a beach supposedly sunbathing in the presence of hundreds of similar folk and no one ever saw the murder. Handled initially by Hen Mallin a chain smoking detective and later on by the Peter Diamond the story becomes more and more complicated and seemingly random.

The victim Emma is a profiler who has worked with Bath police on several cases and the murder of the next victim is naturally linked to her murder. Trying to get a connection and a grip on the murderer seems tough - the murderer is very cocky and actually leaves a note as to who his next two victims are going to be. All this in verse - Coleridge to be exact and providing round the clock security to two famous figures is easier said than done. When the next murder takes place despite the round the clock security, Diamond and his cohorts realize that they are up against the big time. A murderer who is very clever, smart and streets above the average copper.

Mallin and Diamond work together to solve this mystery - this is the eighth book in the series and I have to look for the rest now. A nice light read for a Sunday - just 346 pages and highly recommended for those who like this genre.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review - Chasing Shakespeares by Sarah Smith

No picture again. My son's computer has gone into protest and lockdown and this laptop is so old that I never know what it will do next so please excuse any mistakes in this post.

Two graduate students both lovers of Shakespeare are both looking for that elusive thing - a subject for their dissertation and something that will make their career
especially in the rarefied atmosphere of English literature. Joe is the son of a Vermont hardware merchant and Posy daughter of a rich man born with a proverbial silver spoon in her mouth are together in this search. One with a genuine love of literature and learning, the other just for a more high profile and profitable if possible, career move. Chalk and cheese together.

Whilst going through a collection Joe finds a purported confession by Shakespeare attributing his works to another. Heresy apart from the bombshell it will be not ust to literature but to tourism in Stratford on Avon!

The story proceeds on a fascinating path and Sarah Smith handles this rather different world very well. 337 pages and my only pet peeve a tiny print which really made it tough to read. For lovers of English, literature and Shakespeare a must read.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review - Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger.

For a book that was first published in 1943 this particular story was for me very contemporary. Jerry an airforce pilot injured in an aircrash and his Joanne move to the countryside for peace, quiet, no gossip, and for a bit of isolation on strict doctor's orders.

What they find in Lymstock is anything but. A quaint old fashioned village on the surface and simmering underneath discontent and everything that is found in the big cities in equal measure!!!

Throw in anonymous letters send to all and sundry of the most disgusting kind, a suicide which turns out to be murder, an actual murder and we have the full quotient of Agatha Christie's mayhem and murder and mystery.

This was a very, very enjoyable read for me. Just 160 pages long it was an ideal, quick, very relaxing read. A smallish font which was very clear nevertheless!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Giveawat Time - $ 45 Gift Certificate to Stores

My first giveaway and I couldn't be happier to offer this one - just in time for not only Christmas but for anyone wanting to splurge a bit!

My friends over at Stores would like to offer a $45 Gift Certificate that can be used at any one of's 200 + stores. Stores offers everything from clothes to furniture to Le Creuset cookware and what about this fabulous set of the famous Delsey luggage. Stores offers you such a wide range of products that you will be spoiled for choice!

All you have to do to enter the drawing is leave me a comment on this post letting me know what item you really like from any of the 200+ Stores. The drawing will end on the 18th December 2010 at 12 midnight Australian time and I will post the winner the next morning.

Please note that this giveaway can only be extended to my US and Canadian readers. Please also note that for Canada, international shipping charges may apply.

Good luck everyone!

TeaserTuesday - When we were orphans

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.
Grab the book you are currently reading and randomly post a couple sentences.

It was the summer of 1923, the summer I came down from Cambridge when despite my aunt's wishes that I return to Shropshire, I decided my future lay in the capital
and took up a small flat at Number 14B Bedford Gardens in Kensington.

I remember it as the most wonderful of summers.

Two sentences from

When we were orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
336 Pages
Vintage International Press

Review - Deanna Raybourn's Silent on the Moor

My second read of this author and I loved this book as well. I was actually looking for Dark Road to Darjeeling and found this one. The other book is on order and I think it will take ages to get here and then there will be so many reserves on the book.

The book deals with Lady Julia Grey and the fact that this determined lady is not going to give up on the love of her life Brisbane. Nicholas Brisbane is one of those mysterious heros whom we would all love to meet up! Enigmatic, tough, principled and to top it all with second sight. What more could one ask for. We have the Lady Judith filthy rich, bold for her times, unconventional - a real go getter of course backed by brothers and an influential father who can and has got her out of scrapes before. We have the bleak beautiful moors and the mad, egocentric Allenby family.

A story of daring, adventure, romance - all mixed in one. A very nice read and I do hope the saga has not ended for these two. 465 pages in a very comfortable font.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book review - Alligators. Old Mink and New Money by Alison Houte and Melissa Houte

I love op shopping (the equivalent of thrift stores in America and second hand shops in the UK) and in Australia you do get gems in these shops. When I saw this book it actually cried up to me although for me the title was a bit off putting till I started reading and realized that the author's love for alligator skin purses was a passion! I got it then.

The book is a memoir of Alison's life and how she set up her vintage clothes shop Hootie - a derivation of her own surname. How she struggled and succeeded beautifully to not only be a financial success but also to be a force to be reckoned with in society. Her love of couture, labels, good design, fine workmanship and details all come through in this book.

I learned a lot of this craft in this book. I am not very much into clothes, vintage or otherwise. This book draws you in and educates you on everything to do with vintage clothes, modern clothes and accessories. A lovely read. 242 pages (small font!!!)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mailbox Monday 6th December to 12th December 2010

"Mailbox Monday" is the brainchild of Marcia at The Printed Page.

Mailbox Monday is now on a blog tour. November's host was Knitting and Sundries. December's host will be Lady Q at Let Them Read Books! So be certain to stop by her blog and show her some love!

"In My Mailbox" is hosted by The Story Siren

Every week we'll post about what books we have that week (via your mailbox/library/store bought)! Everyone that agrees to participate will try to visit each other's list and leave comments! Everyone is welcome to join! You can join at anytime and you DO NOT have to participate every week.

This book is by Alison and Melissa Houtte and the description is One woman's Adventures in Vintage Clothing. With my love for op shopping (not clothes but just op shopping not knowing what gem I will unearth somewhere - an eternal optimist thats me) I grabbed this one.

This by Deanna Raybourn is a good one. I was looking for Dark Road to Darjeeling and stumbled on this. I will read whatever I can get hold of as I have said umpteen times before. Beggars cannot be choosers!

This book of course has got mixed reviews all over the blogosphere and when its like that I really want to read it. If everyone goes ga ga over it I am sometimes a bit skeptical. A good example was Wolf Hall. Why I found it tough going I cannot say but it was difficult to read!

This book by Sarah Smith I picked up mainly because I had not read anything on it and the title intrigued me.

I do hope your Mailbox is good as well.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review - Nella Last's War

I like this period of history because from the time I was little I heard my grandmother and my mother both talking about the difficulties of the time. How rice was in short supply, and how one year for Christmas my mother was given a tin of plum jam!

This book (recommended by Simon from Stuck in a book) did not disappoint. I love the
intimate diary feeling of someone actually talking to me after decades and speaking of both mundane as well as not so average matters. Nella Last's diary is awesome in its detail.

The story outlines Nella's life as a wife and a mother of two sons Cliff and Arthur and the average ups and downs of life just as the war ended and how difficult it seemed for the demobbed to get back into civilian life. The endless rationing which everyone thought would end, did not, the coupon system continued, the blackmarked thrived and the economy was in shreds. I am talking Britain here.

Nella Last thought herself and it is mentioned several times as an uneducated person, someone who was not exposed to much education as her father did not think it necessary for girls to be educated. She was sacrificing to the last - it was always her life's work to be there for the comfort and wellbeing of both her husband and children and the book is a testament to this. Covering every aspect of her life during and after the War it also covers topics ranging from food (very important part of the book) to marriage and relationships. I liked her way of seeing how the presence of Americans as well as POW's from Germany and Poland affected the life of the ordinary person in the street.

A lovely book which will appeal to most readers I think irrespective of whether they are interested in the War or not. It is a book on human nature, its resilience and courage in the face of adversity, it also reveals the strength of human beings to survive at all costs.

Nothing to do with Books just Christmas in Melbourne

It has been decided I stay behind for Christmas with my daughter who cannot for various reasons come back to Sri Lanka - so the family is all over. Son and eldest daughter with my husband and me and second daughter here in Melbourne.

I am feeling rather mixed up - by now I would have done so much - changing curtains and decor of the house, the ornaments would have been pulled out and arranged and we would be awaiting my son's return to do the tree which is totally his job. The excitement would be building up.

This year I feel as if I am watching from a distance. I read the blogs and everyone is so Christmassy and taking such a lot of effort over Christmas and here am I doing absolutely nothing. The house we live in Melbourne hasn't a single decoration - when I asked my daughter do you want a tree she looked at me as if I was asking her a very silly question. I thought ok we make the best of what we've got but obviously no. I have not even thought of food or even whether we will visit a friend who has left an open invitation for us to spend the entire Christmas season with her or my brother who has said come over for Christmas lunch, what to get everyone for Christmas - actually anything. Its the first time in my 55 years here on earth that I am behaving like this and actually I am puzzled.

I thought I'd get in the mood by listening to some Christmas music but I only seem to get very modern versions of what I like and what I like is the traditional version. Charlotte Church was a good choice though and now I must try to find a church which would have a nice service on Christmas day. I better get cracking as I now realize that there is very little time.

My son leaves for Sri Lanka on Monday and it is going to be very lonely after that. Ok enough of the grumblings, lets get to grips with my general lackadaisical attitude.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review - Agatha Christie - Appointment with Death

I often go back to Agatha Christie (same with Jane Austen) when I want a comfort read. I know murder and generally very convoluted murders shouldn't be a comfort read but its strange but it works!

This book set in Jerusalem initially and then moving into Petra involves the Boynton family with an evil, malignant matriarch at its head. Add to it Sarah King a newly fledged doctor, several other characters and Poirot who just "happens" to be around. Murder seems to follow Poirot like a magnet almost.

The strange thing in this story is that everyone feels that the old lady - Mrs. Boynton must die. That it is absolutely no loss to anyone if she pops off and this is a different feature of the Poirot series.

As usual it is always the unexpected that will happen and the murderer is someone whom you would not point the finger at initially. I wonder whether anyone has truthfully been able to solve the murders in Agatha Christie before the end?

A light read of just 252 pages. For fans of murder mysteries and Agatha Christie a must read.

Tuesday Teaser - Going as far as I can by Duncan Fallowell

This is my first go at the Teaser Tuesday
meme! Wish me luck here!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Page 170

Yesterday the boys of Christ's College celebrated the end of term in grey suits
round collared shirts and ties of horizontal black and white bars.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review - The Solitude of Prime Numbers - Paolo Giordano

The title of this book fascinated me for months. The cover was equally good.I knew I would never find it in Sri Lanka so this was one of the first books I put on reserve here in Melbourne so that I could get to it before I left! I found it tough going!

A prime number is one that can be divided by itself or by the number one. We find Alice and Mattia both odd children, both single individuals who do not fit in anywhere - family, or school or later in society. They are odd balls and they know it.

In Alice's case an over ambitious father drove her first to a skiing accident and then to terrible anorexia which the family conveniently ignored. In Mattia's case one of a twin who was autistic and whom he was secretly ashamed of - disappeared due to his negligence whilst still a young boy. Mattia never forgave himself and he withdrew into an inner shell, mutilating himself over and over again. Mattia was a brilliant brain excelling in mathematics and this was his lifeline. Alice and Mattia found themselves with something in common. One a cripple physically and one a mental crippled for life.

I do not think I am a gregarious person - I enjoy my solitude as much as anyone else but this book for me was too "alone", and the characters were so isolated and at the same time for me, anyway, miserable in their isolation.

I did finish the book as I normally do. It was 352 pages but it did nothing for me. I know the book won a very prestigious award for its author but the over riding sadness of the book dragged me down.

Review - Fallen Angel by Don J. Snyder

The book deals with Terry who from an early age realizes that he is different from the very rich and famous "summer" people who visit Rose Point. Terry's father is the caretaker cum odd job man and never forgets his place. He works almost as an invisible man and attends to everything that needs to be done.

Fast forward to Terry's success in California and with the death of his father Terry returns to just finalize things in Rose Point and return as swiftly as he can to his life of quick deals and fast money.

The story has a Christmas feel and is also touted as a Christmas read because we see Terry changing from a hard boiled man about town to a feeling, caring person very quickly. This of course is due to his meeting up with Katherine and her daughter Olivia who teach him values which have nothing to do with money.

This book was not a light read but it was certainly an interesting one. 304 pages and in a font which could have been better. I am beginning to realize how important an easily readable book is!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review - Rose Tremain - Letter to Sister Benedicta and Annabel Goldsmith's No Invitation Required

I read a Rose Tremain last week and loved it. After that this book was a bit of an anti climax! The other book was mind boggling and kept me going from beginning to end. This was a slower book at a much slower pace!

The story involves Ruby - fat and fifty in her own words - and this seems to set the tone for her story. She has been a dutiful wife and mother, subservient to both her husband and children - now all grown up and not wanting to have anything to do with her. We see Leon her husband gravely ill after a stroke but with all appearances of surviving. The story is set in a backdrop of hospital visits and remincences of her life as a child in India - the Sister Benedicta is the nun of India who seemed to have had a hold of Ruby's heart and mind. India also has remained in the back of Ruby's mind and it is only at the end that Ruby decides to take hold of the balance part of her life and do what she wants to do.

The book brings out forcibly what most women do throughout their lives. Specially over the last few centuries. They remain dutiful daughters first, then subservient husbands and caring mothers. Nothing very wrong with that but their entire needs and personalities seem to get completely forgotton in the caring and nurturing and looking after process.

The book is a small one of just 175 pages and I finished it overnight almost!

My next book was the antithesis of the above. Annabel Goldsmith aristocratic, born with a silver spoon in her mouth and a lot of light fun to read. I had heard little of this author and my only knowledge is that she was Imran Khan's mother in law. No small wonder in a cricket mad nation like Sri Lanka where Imran Khan was pin up boy plus cricketeer par excellance!

The book is light hearted and intimate at the same time - divided into chapters of the people who seemed closest to the author and all these characters are well known. The infamous Claus von Bulow and the equally famous David Frost are part of the characters.

To get a small glimpse of British society in its higher echelons as it were this is the perfect read. A book of 177 pages in a nice big font (!!) this was a good read.

I thought Monday was going to be very busy but plans got cancelled so I have a good day for reading. It was forecast as being rather chilly but the sun has come out so its a bright day.