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Acquired via BookCrossing 24 Mar 2006 – on a BookRing

I was very glad of the opportunity to read this one via BookCrossing. As I said, I was getting a little stale with Trigiani. It was actually Queen of the Big Time that wearied me a bit, not Lucia Lucia. Anyway, I didn’t care hugely for this book or the characters. B didn’t strike me as very believable, and I got annoyed with the constant insistance that he was straight… I just didn’t engage much with this, and when I did, the abundance of descriptive detail, while showing off her research, made me feel a bit queasy, as it was so unremitting.

I hasten to add that I am grateful for being added to this ring and being able to read the book without committing to it living on my shelves!!

RICHMAL CROMPTON – Family Roundabout (Persephone)

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25 Dec 2005 – Christmas present from Matt

A grown-up novel in Persephone form from the Just William writer. An excellent saga of two interwoven families – a proper Sunday Afternoon novel. No sex or violence and not much modernity, just a gentle satire on pretensions, an examination of different modes of mothering, and a blooming good, absorbing read.

Yay for Persephone – go here

THALASSI ALI – A Beggar at the Gate

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25 December 2005 – Christmas present from Ali

Another wonderful installment in this fantastic series. The last one doesn’t come out till Christmas and I can’t wait. The characters are older, maybe wiser, and we follow events across the Punjab, with spectacle, danger and tears. Wonderful portrayals of the women of the different families.

ALAN BENNETT – Untold Stories

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Dec 26 2005 – Christmas present from Matt’s folks

This was excellent, a real treat. I saved it up and read it in little bits, although I had to devour the diaries in the end! A lot more open than his other books – he didn’t expect to live to see it published so said he was more honest than he has been. Some of the detail a little queasy, but pretty well all lovely, and, especially as we saw the South Bank Show on him a bit ago, with extracts from this, I could hear it all in his voice!

THALASSA ALI – A Singular Hostage

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25 December 2005 – Christmas present from Ali / Heaven-Ali

This was wonderful – so great to discover a new author. Set at the beginning of the British Afghanistan campaign of 1838, Mariana the young translator gets embroiled in various plots revolving around the disappearance of the son of one of the Maharajah of Punjab’s courtiers. Romantic without being icky, and full of information about the mysterious Sufi, the mystical arm of Islam, this is a fascinating page-turner, which leaves you longing for more.

Luckily, Ali gave me the next book in the trilogy for Christmas, too!

JULIA ALVAREZ – How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

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Acquired via BookCrossing 14 March 2005 – BookRing

I enjoyed this book – its backwards nature made it in some ways more accessible than those books on similar subjects that jump around in the chronolgy. You could see what had shaped a more recent experience, going back to their original lives.

Well done, interesting and I’m glad I read it.

LORNA LANDVIK – Welcome to the Great Mysterious

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Given 14 Dec 2005 – BCBirmingham (Not So) Secret Santa gift from Ratwoman

Well I am very proud of myself as I am reading my Christmas books in March – last year it was June!

I really enjoyed this one. I think it was the one before “Oh, My Stars” which I didn’t enjoy so much. This was a proper, old-school Landvik novel, with plenty to cheer and raise a tear, a message that wasn’t too blunt, and just a lovely, absorbing read.

I’m going to hang on to it till I get my own copy – I will offer it as a Ring when I’ve got the current offer off and a couple more back home.

SYLVIA SMITH – Appleby House

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Bought 10 December 2005 – Waterstones

The last of my £1 bargains. This author is known for her tales of everyday life. This is the uneventful story of a year spent in a house of bedsits in East London. Nothing much happens, and while the prurient glance into others’ lives is interesting, it’s an insubstantial and therefore very very quick read. It’s OK to pass the time. Will register on BookCrossing and release, though!

CHRISTINE COLEMAN – The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society

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Given to me 07 March 2006

Passed to be by Jonathan at Book Communications, who (amongst other things) run the Birmingham Book Festival (happening in October – more details from me!). Interesting on two counts – the author lives in Birmingham and much of the action is set in an accurately and affectionately portrayed Birmingham. Secondly, the publisher, transita, is committed to “reflect[ing] the lives of mature women” and this book was a good example of this.

The heroine is a seventy-five year old widow who decides she HAS to see her grandchildren, escapes from the old peoples’ home she’s been placed into by her son and his second wife, and has a fine old adventure. Very well done, amusing and affecting, and it’s lovely to have such an unusual and powerful heroine, with other characters being the older women and men and normal, decent family men who don’t usually get a look-in.

I’m going to send this on a BookRing so this local writer and interesting publisher can get to a wider audience.

Publisher is at

ALISTAIR McALPINE – Adventures of a Collector

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Bought 10 December 2005 (Waterstones)

This looked really interesting – essays about places he has “collected” while in the process of building and selling collections. They were good – but it’s perhaps a book to dip into rather than read in sequence, as the length of the pieces meant it was a bit choppy and hard going in places. Won’t be keeping it, but worth a read.

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