RICHARD GRANT – Ghost Riders: Travels With American Nomads

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Acquired via BookCrossing 31 Oct 2005 – NSS gift

This was good, although I preferred the stuff about his travels and the present day nomads to the historican (and quite icky!) stuff. I love reading about the American South West so particularly enjoyed those bits.

LORNA LANDVIK – Oh My Stars

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Acquired via BookCrossing 11 Feb 2006 – BookRing

I didn’t take to this as much as her others; I missed the sense of community and women’s friendships of “Patty Jane’s House of Curl” and “Angry Housewives” and it felt a bit like she chose the themes of music in the 30s and race issues, and built the book around that rather than the characters. It’s almost like she’s trying to be Fannie Flagg – but she doesn’t need to do that. I did enjoy it, just not as much as I’d hoped.

K. M. PEYTON – Pennington’s Seventeenth Summer

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Bought 10 Feb 2006 – Kidney Research, Kings Heath

I remember loving this book as a teenager (hence pouncing on it and reading it out of acquisition order) but I didn’t remember the story at all, apart from the central character playing the piano. How odd! Oh well – it was good anyway.

BALI RAI – (Un)arranged Marriage

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Acquired via BookCrossing 31 Oct 2005 – Not So Secret gift

This was Young Adult fiction, which explains why I’d never been able to find it! Great stuff, about a Panjabi Sikh arranged marriage – from the point of view of the boy. Lively, with an authentic sounding central character, a fun and fast moving plot line with some serious things to say. Towards the end, I couldn’t put it down!

I’m going to send this out on a bookring, but only when a few of my current ones have made it home…

DAVID LODGE – Write On: Occasional Essays

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Acquired via BookCrossing 23 Oct 2005 – at a meetup

Excellent collection of essays on matters personal and literary. Not nearly as dense as his “proper” literary theory stuff.

SHARON MAAS – Peacocks Dancing

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Acquired via BookCrossing 16 Oct 2005 – at a meetup

A similar setting to the last one I read by her (Of Marriageable Age), in Guyana and Tamil Nadu, but just as good and, again, I couldn’t put it down. Memorable characters carried out believable actions but in an exciting plot with plenty of twists.

I’m going to ring this eventually, but when a few of my current rings have come back home!

KHALED HOSSEINI – The Kite Runner (Matt’s review)

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See my previous entry below

Matt’s review:

I’m hesitant as to what to write here.

The first 3/4 of the book are fantastic – beautifully written, evocative prose of the highest order – up until a certain point, which will probably be obvious to anyone who has read it, this book was easily a nine.

However at this one point things started to go downhill very badly indeed – what I would consider a clumsy and downright lazy plot device really spoilt my overall impression of the book – that coupled with the fact that the last quarter seemed particularly prosaic and contains some very unsubtle symbolism etc. makes me lower my score to a seven.

A qualified recommendation but be prepared for possible disappointment towards the end.

PAUL COLLINS – Sixpence House

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Acquired via BookCrossing 28 Jan 2006 – BookRing

OK book about nearly moving to Hay-on-Wye, ruined by his constant bitching and moaning about Britain and the British.

Half way through comments:
Love the bits about the old books and the bookshops.

Not so keen (that would be classic English understatement) on the way he continously slags off the “British” (by which he actually means “English”). I’m all for a robust and backed-up criticism of my country – who isn’t. But, for example, Bill Bryson does it with humour and affection. This guy just seems plain mean.

I’m sad that it’s helped people who don’t know the country think we’re slow-moving like the book (this is not a criticism of the person who said that -it’s a criticism of the book and its misrepresentations)

I just wanted to state, for the record, as a perfectly normal, fast-enough-moving, 34 year old woman, living in a perfectly average house with her perfectly normal partner.

1. We only drink 1-2 cups of tea per day
2. We have fine teeth, thanks! No “horse-gummed gingivitis” here
3. Not one of the rooms of our (average) house is as small as 8 ft by 6 ft

I would be very interested to hear what other UK people feel about this book. Like I said, i don’t think we’re perfect and I will happily take criticism, and criticise my country myself, but a lot of this seemed unfounded and petty, put in to give people a laugh – but will also serve to misinform.

I will, however be finishing the book, of course!!

Comments at the end:
Well, I’ve finished this now and I’m afraid I haven’t changed my opinion – in fact there were more nasty comments throughout (yes, it does get light here!). Sorry to be so negative about it – I did enjoy the bits about books and bookselling and I am glad I got the chance to read it!

KHALID HOSSEINI – The Kite Runner

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Acquired via BookCrossing 03 Jan 2006 (BookRing)

A great read – exciting – more like a memoir than a novel. Some of the patterns and dualities were made a little too obvious (I’m thinking of the lip injury bit later in the book – did we need to both be shown *and* told?) and the bits in Afghanistan seemed more real than the American sections, but these are small criticisms of an excellent and powerful read.

I finished this slightly ahead of Matt as I could NOT stop reading the last section – I will paste his review into this entry when he does it.

DIANA WYNNE JONES – The Merlin Conspiracy

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Bought 16 Oct 2005 (Borders Sale)

A lovely book full of magic and fantasy but also real characters. Loved the way she introduced up-to-date concepts – laptops, computers not working the same in different worlds, spells being organised in files in your head – amongst the dragons and salamanders. Great.

Does anyone know if this is part of a series, as there seemed to be previous history for the character Nick?

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