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Monday, December 31, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 
Mailbox Monday is hosted by Suko's Notebook for December.
 
This week has been a generous one. A win from Judith at Leeswammes Blog. I mixed the wins last week for which I apologize again.
 
 
The other two books are both purchases of mine (using reward points which expire today!) Two gorgeous novels.


I can't wait to sink into this one!!!! just love her books.

I was one of those dissenting voices which did not like Wolf Hall but I think I'd like this one! talk of being contrary.......

I almost did not get this post done as its the last day of the year. I did not realize that some of the banks were closing at 11 am and others were working the usual working day. I was really caught flat out trying to get money across to our workers a distance away, very badly effected by the floods and fortunately found a lorry driver going that way who agreed to take the wages.

The other meme I follow is

hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

The book I am reading right now is Purge by Sofi Oksanen. I am finding it a bit hard to get into as it seems a bit erratic at this stage but I will finish it eventually. Definitely the next book will be the P D James's one. It is absolutely too much to resist and be good and diligent and go in the order that was scheduled when I have a P D James just waiting to be read!

To all my readers a Happy, Prosperous, Peaceful and Healthy 2013.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A DANGEROUS FORTUNE by KEN FOLLETT


Starting in 1866 the story sets out in detail the workings of a banking family - the Pillasters and the machinations of a horrible matriarch who sets out to make her husband first the Senior Partner in the bank and then proceeds to make her son the same. How she sets about doing it is immaterial to her and who she sets aside in the process is also immaterial to her.

The story is also about Hugh - the blacksheep nephew of the family. Blacksheep through no fault of his own. His father did an unforgivable thing in the bank - pulled out his money, ended his career with bankruptcy and then committed suicide. Talk of the sins of the fathers falling on their children. Hugh ostracized from birth by the Pillaster family, and despite making enormous profits for the bank through sheer hard work could never be acknowledged for what he was actually worth, purely due to the hatred his aunt had for him.

The lust for power and money is the over riding feature for this story for each and every character. Even for our hero Hugh, his ultimate aim is to be made Senior Partner and though he is certainly not going through the murderous path of his Aunt and cousin he is quite determined to achieve his ambition even though frustrated at every turn. A lesser strong willed character would have given up at the first obstacle but our Hugh does not. It turns out to be a happy ending for Hugh and a twisted ending for the rest of the Pillaster family!


Follett does an amazing job with this story. After having read two very different kind of stories and settings before from this author, I now went to another era, another setting and liked the book so very much.  The saga of a family, almost a memoir of a banking family was an interesting one. The details of the craft of banking in those times, so different to now added to the interest in the story.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

THE RELUCTANT WIDOW by GEORGETTE HEYER


For me Christmas is usually synonymous with a Georgette Heyer read and I was lucky I had this on my pile to read in a day!

A bit unusual in that we have a feisty heroine bamboozled into marrying someone she doesn't even know and whom she met accidentally, by getting into the wrong coach (she thought she was going to be a governess for Mrs Macclesfield but ended up with Lord Carlyon!) and we go on from there. Eustace Cheviot dies very conveniently the next minute and we have Elinor a widow in a few hours and in the midst of French spies, emigres, the British administration and a missing document which will cause havoc unless found and found quickly.

Unlike other Heyer heroine's, this one is a working girl keen on her independence with marriage furthest away from her mind. Not a simpering miss or a rich heiress, the daughter of someone very respectable who committed suicide in the face of gambling ruin she certainly is different. We have our hero -a Lord of course - but one who needs to sort out the mess his cousin has led the family into and trying to avoid dragging the family name into a major scandal.

Falling in love and ending of course happily ever after  is what Ms. Heyer aims for and such it is.

I have to apologise to Jo from Jov of Book of Pyramid from the UK who sent me the book Purge won from her blog. I mixed it up with the book Without Mercy which I won from Judith of Leeswammes blog. Apologies to both parties.

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

HAPPY CHRISTMAS



Wishing all my readers a very Blessed Christmas. May the blessings of the Christ child be with you always.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?


Mailbox Monday hosted by Suko's Notebook.

Only one book this week courtesy of a win from Judith of Leeswammes

This was Purge by Sofi Oksanen. Thanks Judith.


The other meme which I follow and enjoy is that sponsored by Book Journey.


Reading another Ken Follett - another genre this time set in the 1800s.  A Dangerous Fortune sets out the history of a banking family and their matriarch's determination to hold on to power (at whatever cost). Just 100 pages in and liking it very much.

To all my readers a very Blessed Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

EVERY SECRET THING by SUSANNA KEARSLEY


This was the second book sent by the author herself. So very different from The Winter Sea this is more of a modern crime/thriller/mystery genre and the difference was the one thing that made me enjoy it so very much. I found it amazing that Kearsley could switch from the historical fiction of the 1700s so easily to the more modern WWI days and of the 20th century.

We have Kate a modern day journalist working in Canada who is taken completely unaware by a series of apparently un-connected events and meetings which form the crux of the story and set our journalist on a path she never thought she would travel.

Kate does not take much notice of the first event as it unfurls when Andrew Deacon an elderly gentleman mentions that his story involves one of a murder which was not solved. Or rather justice not meted out. She puts it out of her mind until a few minutes later when she is the witness to a hit and run driver who mows Deacon down. Even then Kate does not know that it is murder. She just thinks it is a random accident but further events which cannot be described as coincidence any longer puts Kate and anyone whom she comes in contact with at risk.  Kate begins to realize that the plot is much more convoluted than what it seems and goes back decades and is something that the British government is not willing to be made public and even years later someone in power,  will kill and kill again to see that the truth, the embarassing truth will not come out.

Kate must now use all her journalistic skills to analyse and seek the truth. She must use her personal judgement to know whom she can trust and who will betray her. Different to the early Kearsley reads but enjoyable all the same. Liked it very, very much.

On another note, Sri Lanka is having widespread floods. 80,000 people displaced and 27 killed upto now. The floods are now hopefully abating - and help is being given to all those in need. This is a sad prelude to Christmas - so many people destitute now.

In the capital city Colombo itself, there is no flooding and the festivities seem to be in full spate. I do hope that people do not forget the less fortunate citizens.



 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ON WINGS OF EAGLES by KEN FOLLETT


My first read of this fabulous author was Pillars of the Earth. It was stunning. After that book, this was a complete change of both style, period and story. It took me  a while to get going on this one even though the story was such a fast paced, interesting one. I think my mind was set in the 1700's from the last book and just could not move forward to the 20th century!

Set amidst the onset of the Iranian revolution, the ouster of the Shah and the installation of the new goverment it is such an unlikely tale that it almost seems untrue. But, it is true. How Ross Perot the head of EDS Computers set out on a mission to rescue two of his employees held in an Iranian jail on no charges with a motley crowd of employees and how he succeeded in getting them out with no casualties and in fact came back with one more person (an Iranian) without whose help the mission could not have succeeded.

Breaking several laws (passport fraud, border controls, money illegally brought in and taken out, smuggling of human beings over a border, bribery at every turn) the story goes from one unbelievable escapade to another because it is actually escapades! unbelievable ones at that and you hold your breath wondering when the bubble will burst and when it is all going to come tumbling down.

There is a lot of questions as to the suitability of Follett to handle this story. Whether historical fiction and an adventure of this sort could be written by the one and same author. I think Follett may not have understood very much of the Iranian revolution itself, but this particular story is very well told. It is full of suspense and a cliff hanger. It holds your interest to the end.

Follett is full of surprises and I am now waiting to get to his next book with me!

Monday, December 17, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 
Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Suko's Notebook in December.
 
After a whopping big mailbox last week I am in a drought season again. No books came into the house but I certainly have plenty to keep me going this week.
 
 

It's Monday What Are you Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  I am in the middle of reading Every Secret Thing which was the second book sent by Susanna Kearsley (I mistakenly said The Rose Garden! sorry). Finding it absolutely fascinating.

I have had a very stressful two weeks with my husband in hospital and work piling up by the day.
Reading had to take a back seat but in between doctor appointments and waiting for someone to show up, reading does get done.

We are having a bit of rain right now, very welcome weather as it was so very hot and dry.
 
 
 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

THE WINTER SEA by SUSANNA KEARSLEY

 
I was very late to read Diana Gabaldon. I loved her books and then came to Susanna Kearsley - she sent me two books and this is the first of the lot. Reading this book I was wondering  whether I was reading about  Susanna Kearsley or about Carrie the author in this story! The story was so authentic and realistic that I actually felt that this was Kearsley writing her story and not a novel.
 
We have Carrie a successful author of repute writing historical fiction and through a series of "happenings" which one does realize is part of a bigger picture we find Sophie through a reason of deduction an ancestor of Carrie and then we have the twist to the story where Carrie actually writes her story and then subsequently realizes through research that what she writes is what actually happened in real life. The series of her writing this story slowly unravels Sophie's entire life story from its very tortuous beginning to its very sad middle and to its glorious end. More would be spoilers because I doubt anyone reading the book would have ever imagined how the story ended.  My imagination would definitely never be up for it and I loved it.
 
The uprising of 1708 in all its gory detail - the futility of the uprising and all the historical detail is beautifully descriptive. On top of that the contrast in chapters where we go from the present day ruins of Slains and all other places of interest and how they actually were in the 1700s makes for a beautiful story.
 
The story is poignant, rich in detail and so warm that I am definitely looking up the rest of the books from this author.
 
Thank you Susanna Kearsley for the books.
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'LL NEVER BE YOUNG AGAIN by DAPHNE DU MAURIER


A book which I had never heard of before. First published in 1932 it has a slightly old fashioned feel to it as well.  We have Dick - young, impetuous and the son of a very famous writer. The father seems cold and indifferent and very distant. Mother follows father's instructions and Dick is always left out in the cold. He longs for recognition and affection but does not get it from his parents. After a falling out, he leaves home and stays away from home for years.  Dick when he leaves home is desperate and wants to end it all, but at the back of his mind is always the hope that some good Samaritan will come along and save him in the nick of time.

This does happen and Jake becomes the pivot of Dick's life. The story continues with adventures on the high seas, adventures in Scandinavia ending with a tragedy and then his meeting a young American woman and life changes once more. This is not a happily ever after story anyway.

The story portrays Dick as selfish and self centred. Reading the novel one does not have any sympathy for the young man and in fact one can become a bit self righteous saying "serves him right"!  At the beginning of the story you can always put it down to the workings of an unmatured youngster but as the story unravels you realize you are dealing with a totally selfish man.

I've read a host of Du Maurier and found this totally strange. Strange and different.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?


Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Suko's Notebook for the month of December.

After a drought I got some delightful books!

 
 

After The Pillars of the Earth I am a huge fan.

Next was a bonanza!!!! Christmas came very early in the form of Santa Claus alias Susanna Kearsley who sent me two books.

 
After The Shadowy Horses and Mariana and my plaintive cries that her books were not available in the Melbourne library when I was there, this was the result. I am so very happy over these gems.
 
 
 
Sorry the wording is blurred. The book is The Other Elizabeth Taylor by Nicola Beauman and was a win from Laura . Thank you ever so much for this book.




This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  My reading this last week was very little. I finished The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett which was a huge tome and then I have just finished today I'll Never be Young Again by Daphne du Maurier.

This was a hardback published in 1932 and is her second novel. One that I had never ever heard about so I was curious to see what it was like. Review will follow.

I am dying to read The Winter Garden next but there are several books which I should finish first so maybe I will try to stay on the straight and narrow and finish what I've started!

My Christmas shopping and distribution of gifts are over. The children were delighted with their gifts and I enjoyed the whole experience myself.

 
 
 
 
 


Photos not very clear as they are taken from a phone. They couldn't wait till I got the stuff out of the car. Finally the distribution took place from the car!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

CAT'S EYE by MARGARET ATWOOD


It has been a week of little or no reading and this book was read over several days and I dont think I did it justice like that.

The book took me back to my school days and it brought into focus how vicious young children can be. Elaine is just one of a group and how she is ostracized, humiliated, mentally tortured by the machinations of three very young children is unbelievable. What is also unbelievable is how we want always to be accepted and admired and how we are ever willing to put up with a lot of heartache in order that we can be part of a pack and not a solitary person.  What mental trauma is endured just to be accepted by all is one of the highlights of the story.

This was not a happy, easy read for me. It was tough and I found it difficult when I saw how Elaine's parents seemed oblivious to their daughter's plight. It is true that Elaine kept things  well hidden and always  overt, but I do hope my parenting skills were better and I was more in a position to protect my own children, rather than leave them unguarded in situations which were way beyond their comprehension or understanding.  I started questioning myself as to whether I was guilty of the same sins of being blind and I was very uncomfortable with the feeling it brought about!

The story goes on gradually into Elaine's adult life and her success as a painter as well as a mother of two girls.

The book is an introspective one and one that would make you think. I've only read The Handmaid's Tale before this one and that was dystopian. It was also not an easy read but it was certainly easier than this one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by KEN FOLLETT


Set in the 12th century in the fictitious town of Knightsbridge this is a whopping good read. Not just for lovers of medieval times or historical fiction but for anyone who wants a good story. A cathedral is the centerpiece of the story for me and how the fascination of a builder - in this book not just one but a couple of them evolve into a major storyline which will keep you glued to this 1100 page book from the first page to the last.

The story is long, twisted and complicated. There is so much love, hatred, lust, envy, hunger for power amongst not just the knights and kings but also amongst the monks (that was a good one for me!) and the machinations of one seemingly very simple Prior who was in essence a good man but who wanted to do more for his people and in a very simple, unassuming way did exactly what he wanted to get what he wanted.

We have simple family units of Tom and Agnes and their two children, we then have Ellen coming into the picture (looked on as eccentric by some and as a witch by others), we have Aliena and Richard and in Aliena's case a catalyst for so much of the violence which erupts wherever she is,  we have the power hungry Hamleigh family - vicious to the last, out to screw everyone out for whatever they can get, determined to be Earls of Shiring and do better than anyone else and to do this rule by just the power of terror, we have rival Bishops and Priors who support one king against another, just depending on which way a good wind is blowing and all with the ulterior motive of holding on to their own wealth and more importantly increasing it and at the same time hopefully bring down whoever they feel is a threat to them.

A very raw, emotional read. Makes you glad you are not a serf or a peasant in the 12th century where your current Lord can walk into your mill, your house or your fields and take off with whatever he likes, including your daughters or your wife. Makes you very glad you are an independent human being not dependent on someone's goodwill, support or guidance.  A descriptive book which details life in the 12th century - the domestic trivia of agriculture, dairy, herding and housewifery was intrinsic to the story - on top of that we have detailed descriptions of building practices and how a mighty cathedral is actually built using very simple, primitive tools and then we have the most important human element of people being added to the mix and then you have a wonderfully unusual story.

It took me a while to get through this book but I enjoyed every page of it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Nothing new came into my Mailbox but I am trying to play catch up. I am expecting a whole lot of
new reads tomorrow but that will go into next week's Mailbox.

Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Suko's Notebook for December.




This meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I started on Ken Follett's book



Its 1000 odd pages and I am now in the mid 600s. Its absolutely fantastic. An amazing read so far. A mix of Wolf Hall and Sarah Dunant styles!!!! Everything else has got kept aside - Michael Ondaatjie and Julian Rathbone are still half done only.

 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

WHEN SHE WOKE by HILLARY JORDAN



I am sorry the cover is all blurry because I just could not find an image that was better. The images for this book are all a lurid black and white and this is the one I got as a win from Shannon.

This is a story set in the future and what was creepy about it was that it was not all fantasy or too futuristic  - it was very believable and very apt and something that you could imagine happening in America.

Hannah is a young single woman who gets pregnant and who aborts her child. She is melachromed (skin color changed to a startling red shade) for a fixed period of time. She serves a very short sentence and is then sent out into the world. This world does not accept those who are Yellow, Blue, Green or Red as these all indicate a crime of some nature or the other. The average man on the street is frightened of them and in turn ostracize them and ridicule them and also try to hurt them. Apart from that there is a vigilante group which deliberately seeks to kill them, trying to eliminate them from society altogether.

What does a defenceless young female do in such circumstances. The story of Hannah's flight and eventual arrival in Canada helped along by a group of underground supporters who do not hold with the government's views on the subject of melachroming and its over riding powers over people's lives, brought me very much to the same way the underground Resistance worked in Europe. A network of one person helping the other along and each one only knowing who your immediate contact is so that the entire network does not get blown apart.

This is not a genre which I generally read. I tend to be a bit skeptical about the futuristic novel, but this was one I just couldn't put down. I read it till 2.30am one night, skipped Grey's Anatomy and Junior Masterchef so you can imagine how enthralling the book was.

The story once again of a human's search for survival despite overwhelming odds is again told.
An amazing story and thank you Shannon for sending this on to me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TRACE by PATRICIA CORNWELL

 
 
Kay Scarpetta has moved on. She is no longer the very famous Virginia forensic expert, the one everyone turns to when there is a body around and no clues.  However, surprise surprise the same office that fired her now wants her back to get her opinion on the death of a 14 year old girl.
 
Coming back to Richmond was an uneasy business for Scarpetta and Marino. She knows the case stinks from the time she is ushered into her former office by a man who is surly and rude but so very frightened of the shoes he has got to fill, knowing he is falling short. Marcus also knows that everyone weighs him against the charismatic, gorgeous Kay Scarpetta. Fortunately no one still knows about his phobia re the garbage man and old Buicks!
 
In this story all the main characters have matured and moved on. Lucy always on the very edge of either breaking the law or avoiding a break of the law, Marino no longer hot headed though a bit stupid where the women are concerned and Kay herself is in a relationship with Benton which in this book seems to be going nowhere.
 
The murder itself seems to be just another part of the book - not the main focus. We have the usual list of suspects, we have another murder seemingly random, we discover more and more bodies as the story goes on again seemingly random and then in the usual Cornwell style, it all ties down together beautifully so that we wonder where it all began.
 
The murderers are always quirky in Cornwell's books. Not for her the sudden murder by someone who could not hold his liquor or was passionate over something. Her murderers are clever in their own way, meticulous over the planning and execution and always trying to cock a snook at the authorities - in this case Kay and her niece Lucy.
 
Liked the writing as usual though I did miss Kay Scarpetta's cooking. She normally dishes out fabulous food in the books which I thoroughly enjoy reading about.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?


After two weeks of absolute nothing I got some good books this week. Mailbox Monday is being hosted for November by Bermudaonion.


This was a win from Giraffe Days. Thank you Shannon.


My second foray into this gorgeous author!

 
The precise and almost dry sense of humour of this author is what attracts me here. Always a favourite of mine.
 
 
Recommended on several blogs. Quite a heavy tome so I am keeping this aside for a bit.

I've never chosen an Oprah Book Club pick so this was a first for me.
 
 
 

This meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Right now I have a Julian Rathbone and a Patricia Cornwell going side by side! the Cornwell is gaining over the Rathbone rather fast. I also have the Hillary Jordan waiting on the sidelines.

Monday mornings are generally busy and tomorrow is again a holiday being the full moon Poya day so there are things that need to get done today and fast. Its a public holiday tomorrow so all banking and any office work must be finished now.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

THE LAST MUGHAL by WILLIAM DALRYMPLE

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

William Dalrymple is a favourite author of mine so I was very happy when a friend of mine from Australia gifted me this book in August this year. Why it took me so long to read it is a puzzle. I started it and found it very slow going, put it aside and came back to it this last week.

The story which is self explanatory is about Zafar - the last of the great Mughal rulers who ruled India for nearly 350 years and the way the dynasty ended - in banishment, penury and senility with the Emperor not being given any status or position as befitted his stature. Zafar was the last in a long line of very eminent Mughals - Genghis Khan and Timur the Great being the two most well known. For much of British history in India this last Mughal was insignificant. He was a weak emperor ruled and influenced very much by others who surrounded him. He seemed indecisive and could not be seen to act independently. He also never wanted to take on the responsibility of what he started and all the time said that it was in the hands of God, specially when things turned disastrous.

This story is set in old Delhi which was the pivot of the Mughal dynasty of the time. In the Emperor's time the Muslims and Hindus lived in harmony, the Emperor himself had a mother who was Hindu and he was very tolerant of Hindu rituals and customs both within and outside his own home. Although by now a vassal of the British, he lived a life of considerable ease, not imposed on by the Britons or anyone else. The tension arose with the rise of fundamentalism amongst the Islamic ulema or clergy who saw the disintegration of Islam, the rise of Hindu influence going step by step with total British control and more importantly, what they perceived the conversion of Muslims and Hindus to the Christian faith.  The destruction of Delhi and the Mughal dynasty were linked to the war which arose between the Muslims and the British rulers.

The callous murder of English men, women and children, the murder of Christian converts, the widespread looting that followed with no sense of justice and fairplay on both sides was horrific. The British murdered everyone in their path in a move which they saw would wipe the slate clean. For some officers in the Army it seemed to be a game of who could kill the most. Even those people who had given safe haven to fleeing English women and their families were not spared. They were killed merely for being Indian.

On the other hand the sepoys who ran berserk killed any Englishman or convert who crossed their path. The stories of rape were just stories and unlike other pictures of war, Englishwomen were not raped but the story was not the same when it came to the English army.

The violence depicted in this story is brutal and it was for me an eye opener. I had read of British atrocities in India when India was a colony but I never imagined anything on this scale in the 1800s. Detailed descriptions of the flight of English families who had lived in India for 30 or 40 years and who considered Delhi home was so sad, the loyalty of servants was incredible despite personal danger many did not leave their masters and were subsequently punished for it, and I especially liked the detailed footnotes which gave little snippets of information so very vital to the whole story.

Dalrymple was excelled himself once again.

Book reading and reviewing has taken a back seat this last week with a heavy workload. The Christmas gifts are still not finished and beginning to take on the look of a nightmare now as it has all got to be packed and ready by the 30th of this month. I have however been determined this year to become a little Christmassy around my own home (for the last three year I have not even put up the
tree. This year this is hopefully going to change!).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

WHAT CAME BEFORE HE SHOT HER by ELIZABETH GEORGE



Elizabeth George never disappoints. This one was totally different to all the other books of hers I have read. No Inspector Lynley other than in the dramatically, explosive and horrifying end. The moors reminiscent of many of her books, the quiet countryside all left far behind for a inner city full of squalor, fisticuffs, gang warfare and more.

Ness, Joel and Tobe are abandoned by their grandmother who is deported to Jamaica. Their mother is in a psychiatric unit and their father was killed in a shooting incident. The children have learned not to depend on any adult - no adult has won their trust or confidence and it was heartbreaking to read of how each child coped or rather tried to cope on their own, with sheer bravado and non chalance and a stiff upper lip maintained throughout. The concept of saving face was I thought an Asian idea and here I was totally fazed to see that it is very much part of the story here. Whatever you do, you must not let the other side know the inner workings of family, the skeletons in the closet, who is doing what with whom. These must always be strictly maintained with a curtain drawn over the whole unsavory business so that we continue to maintain a facade of gentility and family unity when the actual fact is actually blood curdling devastation.

The children end up with their aunt Kendra who has no skills in parenting but who feels she must love them  as they are family and they are all she has and vice versa. Trying to bring up a young teenager in this block of flats would be a nightmare for anyone let alone an aunt suddenly thrust with a defiant, sexually active, street smart, foul mouthed niece who feels she must rant, rave and steal if she wants to maintain her position in the world she moves in. We next have Joel , a level headed twelve year old who has his disabled brother as part of his responsibility and knows that this is something that he can never let go.

How circumstances force the entire family of three into a spiral of despair, truancy, robbery, blackmail and murder at the end is how this story comes about. From the opening line of the book we know that the end is not going to be pretty or even one where a murder is very cleanly solved. You know this is going to be a sordid story and sordid it is.

The author keeps you rivetted and I read it through till 4.30 am (and now being unable to keep up in office!). I was alternately horrified, angry, disbelieving that a situation like this can exist but then I have no idea of how a ghetto of this kind operates. My knowledge of gangs is restricted to books only and I was stupefied that twelve year olds could be influenced to behave in the manner that they did. Nothing was beyond them and what one of these characters would do in their twenties (if they live to tell the tale) would be worthy of another book.

There is no systematic looking for clues and interrogation of suspects in the story as the book deals with the very story of how the situation of the "shooting" comes about. As a result it is a story of the life of three sad children who through circumstances only of birth come to the end that they do. The slick investigation of Elizabeth George's novels through the suave Lynley, Havers and Nkata are only brought in at the very, very end and even then it is only Havers and Nkata. Lynley is just a name mentioned.

Strong stuff here but very good reading.

Monday, November 19, 2012

MAILBOX MONDAY/IT'S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 
Mailbox Monday hosted for November by Bermudaonion.
 
Only one book came to my house this week given by a friend -  this Daphne du Maurier is unknown to me so I was delighted to receive this.
 
The next meme for Monday is It'sMonday! What Are You Reading hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
 
 
I have several reads going on at once. An Elizabeth George totally different from the rambling English countryside or a bleak moor setting but an urban sprawl complete with squats, squalor and all and the Julian Rathbone from last week which is slow reading but which I am hopeful of finishng one of these days.
 
Going back to my children's Christmas shopping, today was another marathon - six of them wanted dolls, three wanted doctor sets, one wanted a bead jewellery set and three wanted specifically Winnie the Pooh teddy bears. Got it all except the latter. Now have to look for them plus thirteen of them still have no special dresses for Christmas. Somehow I couldn't find clothes for the 12 to 14 year olds.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

SLAMMERKIN by EMMA DONOGHUE


Set in the 1700's we start with Mary in prison. We then work backwards as to how she got there and that is how the story originates. So we start knowing almost all -  because we know also that getting into prison is easy and getting out of it in those times was almost impossible and that probably either our Mary will be hanging on a gibbet or sent out to the Americas. A bleak prospect either way.

Mary is very young, living with her mother, step father and baby brother when she is thrown out of the family home for getting pregnant.  With no money and no home, she ends up with a sympathetic prostitute Doll who takes her in, nurtures her back to health (Mary has suffered a complete breakdown by now) and also Doll introduces her to prostitution and the world of prostitutes in London.

For me the description of London from Doll's and Mary's point of view was an eye opener. The rampant poverty, the sheer struggle to survive against all odds, each man for himself only but despite this Doll looks out for Mary and the two become very close, definitely close friends almost family.
From the start we see how Mary's life is determined by poor choices and circumstance. Mary always wants something better and is determined to get it. She is not happy with the philosophy of her mother of being content with your lot and of knowing your place in society. She yearns for what she does not have and wants to get it by whatever means possible. She thinks it is unfair that someone has position and power just because the person was born into a position of such. This is what leads to Mary's gradual downfall.

It was a difficult thing to read because you knew that Mary's ambition was not going to get her anywhere. I would have been satisfied after the long trek to Monmouth to be taken in by the Jones's family and to be taught a trade and also earn your independence but Mary was not me. She wanted it all. This was a girl born into the wrong century - born two centuries later Mary could have got what she wanted through her determination and spirit and hard work. In the eighteenth century this was just not possible.

An interesting read definitely though very slightly depressing!
 

Friday, November 16, 2012

DEAR FATTY by DAWN FRENCH

 
 
My only knowledge of Dawn French stems from The Vicar of Dibley which I found to be hilarious, irreverent and absolutely funny.
 
This memoir starts from the time of her being part of  a RAF family and the warm family atmosphere she grew in to her growing up, becoming a teacher of drama and then moving on to her career in comedy. The memoir in a series of letters to friends and family, especially those to her Dad shows how much she misses her Dad (who committed suicide when she was nineteen). Reading about her in various articles made it known to me that she has since left her husband so those letters in the book addressed to Len are particularly poignant.
 
A very frank and self critical look at herself this book is an honest look by Dawn French at Dawn French. A little more information about the Vicar of Dibley series would have been nice (for me!).
A very nice memoir.
 
Going back to the shopping, yesterday was full on!!!! Sixteen different salwar kameez sets, five sets of blouses and skirts and for one girl a dress! ordered 35 pairs of sandals which will come in by the 1st - and now for the little ones black patent leather shoes to go to church!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SHORT REVIEW! MERCY by JUSSI ADLER OLSEN

 
This was a win from Judith at Leeswammes.
 
The book was a very cold and clinical read. I just wanted it to end as quickly as possible hoping that the end would make it all worthwhile (which it did).
 
Someone is kidnapped and held for a number of years in a sealed compartment and the inhuman treatment meted out is breathtakingly brutal. I was very uncomfortable reading the story but it does keep you rivetted as one does want to know the outcome.
 
A new type of genre for me - murder and kidnapping in another form.
 
Started on an Elizabeth George and a Emma Donoghue book. Both murders and mysteries and a fair amount of intrigue and gore but somehow different.