TONY PARSONS – The Family Way

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Bought 12 Oct 2005 – The Works

I could go on and on about this one, so I’ll try not to. Like his other books (why, then, do I read them?) this was incredibly manipulative and trite, spouting the bl**ding obvious in the guise of great wisdom. Kind of the “Love Actually” of fiction. I won’t say “literature” there. Simplistic, patronising, and I predicted several of the plot “twists”. Not great, and I feel a bit queasy from reading a lot of it today!

MIRIAM TOEWS – A Complicated Kindness

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Acquired via BookCrossing 24 Jan 2006 – BookRing

An interesting book. I found it quite trippy and spacey, disconnected and confusing, much as the teenagers’ lives are in the book. Or maybe it’s because I read it while sickening for and getting a cold-with-a-temperature! Anyway, it’s a good small-town coming-of-age book, set apart by the well-observed and wryly done Mennonite background (I particularly liked the descriptions of the other groups – those ones wear polka dots and have beards and kerchiefs, etc). I didn’t find the ending as shocking as I think the reviewer who wrote the blurbs on the book did, but then I have read a few in this genre. Glad I got to read it at last.

REBECCA WELLS – Ya-Yas in Bloom

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Bought 12 Oct 2005 – The Works

Hm. I got this, the third Ya-Ya book, for the sake of completeness, and unfortunately it felt like it was written out of the need to stretch the series out, or because of demand, rather than out of the joy of writing the book. It was OK, but seemed to go over some old ground, more a set of interlinked stories than a novel as such. Will keep it for the sake of completeness, too, though.

KATE HARRISON – The Starter Marriage

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Acquired via BookCrossing 21 Jan 2006 – BookRing

I say I’m not one for the chicklit – but I like my Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly and Marian Keyes, and this came up to standard. A touch of the Wendy Perriams in there too, I felt. It had the chick-lit themes – pastel cover, woman character overcoming adversity, amusing friends etc, and I have to admit I wasn’t hugely into the *idea* of the book – but it was actually very good, well written, exciting and well done in general. You could care for the characters. And for me, it was absolutely lovely to see my home city, Birmingham, written about so well and accurately. So excited when they went to Kings Heath – where I live! And Hudsons was in it too (I’m thinking of making sure a copy is always in the Hudsons OBCZ – even though it’s “old” Hudsons that’s in the book!)

I will look out for a copy of her other book, “Old School Ties”, when I have a less mountainous TBR. Another triumph for BookCrossing!

CLAUDE MICHELET – Scent of Herbs

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Bought 12 Oct 2005 (The Works)

I did enjoy this – although it’s the 3rd part of a trilogy, the background was explained well, and it was interesting to see the portrayal of French rural life in the 1970s. I even misted up a bit at the end. My only problem with this book was that it was translated from French – and the translation wasn’t bad, but the sentence structures were still very French. I sound so pretentious saying this, but I really noticed it. And the language wasn’t that hard, so I probably could have managed it in French.

Cr*p Towns II – The Nation Decides

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Acquired via BookCrossing 21 Jan 2006 – birthday RABCK from Laura0141

An amusing read and it features Birmingham!

I’m doing a special bookring for this – see the Journal Entry at
for further info!


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Argh! No sooner had I mentioned the words “No, I didn’t get any books for my birthday” than I was made very pink (and, I see, shiny – thanks for capturing that, caffcaff…) by a big bag of books, chocolate and Lush bits from my BookCrossing friends!

I’ve done a public thank you but thought those of you who watch my book acquisitions and reading might be interested to know that, as well as Lush and choc goodies from the weebles, heaven-ali etc, a yet-to-be-spent Amazon voucher from caffcaff to add to the one from Matt, Lush spree, 3 bottles of coloured inks and a pair of earrings from Matt, bath goodies from sjr1969 and celticstar, a handknitted scarf and a string of beads from best friend Em, a lovely leather box from Catherine, a Chocolate Moose from WistfulDragon… I’ve now added to Mt TBR thanks to Wistful, WyldeTwo and Heaven-Ali…

Shauna Singh Baldwin – What the Body Remembers
Crap Towns II (featuring Birmingham!)
Ruby Ferguson – Jill Enjoys her Ponies
Larry McMurtry – Horseman, Pass By
Kamila Shamsie – Salt and Saffron
Carolyn Slaughter – A Black Englishman
Robert Winder – Bloody Foreigners

Whoo hoo! Thank you everyone who reads this and thank you to the others anyway!

CHARLIE CONNELLY – Attention All Shipping

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Acquired via BookCrossing 16 Jan 2006 – BookRing

An excellent “quest” book in which he travels to all the named areas from the Shipping Forecast. A good mix of travel, humour and history; funny, sweet and informative. He’s amusing enough, and a good enough writer, not to need to ape Bill Bryson – the use of “startling” had never jumped out as a Brysonism, but it must be, as every time I saw it I thought of him. And this guy can stand on his own two writing feet!


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Acquired via BookCrossing 05 Oct 2005 – trade with katybean

Hmm… not sure where the author was supposed to be getting or, indeed, why she wrote the book! A memoir of some incidents from the 1970s, it shows her and her fellow subjects in a very poor light – and we can all narrate embarassing tales and philosophies from our past without the need to publish them, can’t we?

Please note that I did ask for this and thought I would like it – so katybean not held responsible at all for my dislike of this one and its narrator!

LESLIE CHANG – Beyond the Narrow Gate

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Acquired via BookCrossing 03 Oct 2005 – in trade with Lotusflower77

Another good one! A wonderful book telling the story of the author’s mother and 3 contemporaries emigrating from 1950s China to America, and musing on her own and her generation’s cultural identity. Explains the history clearly, and is clear-sighted where it needs to be, emotional where it needs to be.

Will be offering this on a ring too, when the last batch has gone out.

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