JUDITH CUTLER – Dying To Score

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Acquired via BookCrossing 10 May 2006 – RABCK from Minty

Read this quickly – a bit chicklitty for me but I did, as predicted, enjoy the references to Birmingham (though some of her routes were a bit suspect). The end was v odd though – all wrapped up very quickly and conveniently and not very convincingly.

Oh well – interesting to go out of my usual genres and nice to read about my city!

Passing on to colleague Estella, who is going to Edgbaston, where a lot of the action is located, at the weekend!

DEBBIE MACOMBER – Between Friends

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Acquired via BookCrossing 13 Mar 2006 (BookRelay)

I have discovered a new author! After The Shop on Blossom Street and now this one, I know she’s going to be a favourite – and wonder if I can get her books over here! She’s up there with Fannie Flagg and much kinder and less melodramatic than Anne Rivers Siddons. Hooray!

This was a lovely family saga telling the story of two women, their families and friends from their births in 1948 to the present day, told through the medium of letters, notes, journal entries, ephemera and emails. Telling the story of America too, main events are touched upon, and often directly touch characters in the book, but in a believable way and with a light touch. Macomber’s writing and characterisation is faultless, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her novels.

I am going to offer this on a BookRing, to share it with as many others as possible, although I do want to wait for at least one of my current Rings to come back before I offer up another tranch! Rest assured, this will travel!

ADRIENNE DINES – The Jigsaw Maker

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Acquired 28 Apr 2006 – gift for doing my article for Transita publishing

This was lovely – Transita can do no wrong! Set in a small Irish village, we move between the late 60s and the present day as we see how things have changed in the village, the effect of a family tragedy on a pair of sisters, and the effect of an itinerant jigsaw maker coming into the village. The author doesn’t put a foot wrong, and I particularly like her subtlety, leaving some things to the reader and not stating the blooming obvious. I look forward to her other novel, which I think I also have.

SAHAR & BOBBY HASHEMI – Anyone Can Do It: Building Coffee Republic From Our Kitchen Table

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Bought 27 February (Amazon – Matt’s token)

This was a good and interesting book about how they built the Coffee Republic brand up from an idea and a concern run from the kitchen table, to a huge business.

However, more of the book than I’d expected was actually a proper guide to setting up your own business, rather than just the story of Coffee Republic. This looks like it would be very helpful to a budding entrepreneur, or someone who works with small businesses.

I’m therefore going to set this free, and offer it as a Rabck, or Ray, if more than one person is interested.

JENNY UGLOW – The Lunar Men

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Acquired Feb 2006 – loan from Bridget

I really enjoyed this history of a group of inventors, doctors and other intellectuals in the eighteenth century, mainly based in the Midlands. The author is very accomplished, managing to control and make recognisable quite a large cast of characters, summarising 18th century history in an accessible and informative way. Of course, I loved the parts showing the development of the city of Birmingham, and am looking forward now to some trips to the main locations.

NICK THORPE – Eight Men and a Duck

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Acquired via BookCrossing 16 May 2006 – BookRing

Subtitle tells exactly what it is: an improbable voyage by reed boat to Easter Island. A well-written, warts-and-all tale of what it was like to be a late joiner on a trip by reed boat from South America to Easter Island. No glossing over the facts here – he and the other crew members mess up, argue, and make up. Lovely epilogue featuring Thor Heyerdahl himself. I really enjoyed this.

DEBBIE MACOMBER – The Shop On Blossom Street

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Acquired via BookCrossing 12 May 2006 (BookRing)

I loved this and galloped through it. A new author! Funnily enough, since I asked to join this ring, I have found a few others by her and picked them up speculatively – now I’m really looking forward to them (and A Good Yarn, of course (which I’m also on a Ring for) – wish I hadn’t read that tempting opening chapter at the end of this one). It was so beautifully written, the characters all carefully drawn with their flaws and attributes. Everyday life and unexpected happenings were all believable and it was a real page-turner.

There were comments from some previous readers that they either loved or didn’t like so much the theme about knitting – I don’t knit but I do cross-stitch, so I could empathise with the many projects in progress, the thrill of the materials etc. It’s interesting that I got similar comments on my Ring for How To Make An American Quilt (although there, half the people loved the quilting and didn’t like the story, and the other half loved the story and could have left the quilting!)

JILL CONNER BROWNE – God Save the Sweet Potato Queens

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Acquired via BookCrossing 10 May 2006 (BookRing)

This was hilarious and sweet – I loved it just as much as the first one. I always think that this is what the Ya-Ya Sisterhood should have been! Haven’t looked at their website but apparently they have other books – I’ll have to see if we can get them in the UK. I just loved the feisty, jolly ladies, taking their pleasure where they can, supporting each other, and having a laugh!

IAN SANSOM – The Mobile Library: The Case of the Missing Books

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Bought 27 Feb 2006 – Amazon (Matt’s voucher)

I had great hopes of this – it’s about a Jewish librarian who goes to start a job in Ireland to find that the library’s disappeared…

Unfortunately – well, it was good in parts, and funny in places, but I found it a bit silly (I think it might be a “cosy mystery” and wondered if these were usually silly) and a teensy bit offensive about one at least of the characters.

It passed the time but could have been a lot better; so I’m not going to keep it, and I’ll be offering it on a ring on BookCrossing when a few of the current ones are a bit further on.

Hay Fever

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The products of our BookCrossing girly weekend in Hay-on-Wye… ** now complete **

13 May

– Sensible Books £1 Basement (I think) –
ANNE RIVERS SIDDONS – Up Island – a find from this excellent American author, hard to find here
HARRY HARRISON – The Stainless Steel Rat Goes To Hell – for Dawn/RatWoman

– Booths Bookshop –
DIANA PULLEIN-THOMPSON – The Pennyfields – pony book
CHRISTINE PULLEIN-THOMPSON – Three To Ride – pony book

– Bookends £1 bookshop –
CLAIRE ALLEN – The Mountain Of Light – Novel about a London Indian restaurant, its staff and customers
THALASSA ALI – A Beggar At The Gate – My own copy of this lovely book I was given by Ali at Christmas
LUKE COX – Rude Food – for Minty/mujisan’s Rude Books Challenge
TARAS GRESCOE – The End Of Elsewhere – travels among tourists looking at what makes them tick
KATHERINE LAPWORTH – Trade Secrets – pointer on all sorts of topics, from the TV series
PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR – The Traveller’s Tree – wonderful travel book about the Carribbean islands
AJAY SINGH – Give ‘Em Hell, Hari – A political odyssey from India to America
MARLENE STUBBS – Ahead Of The Class – memoir of the teacher who took over the school where the headmaster had been killed
LAURA THOMPSON – Life In A Cold Climate – biography of Nancy Mitford

– Cinema Bookshop Pavilion –
WILLIAM JACK SIBLEY – Any Kind Of Luck – gay, Southern fiction with a chihuahua-toting Southern Belle – what’s not to love
HELEN J SIMPSON – Healing Juices – juicing book for Matt, king of the juicers

– Cinema Bookshop –
Golden Hands Encyclopedia of Dressmaking – simple dressmaking with patterns and instructions – v useful
AGNES FURLONG – The School Library Mystery – kids’ book from the 50s or 60s – couldn’t resist the title!
VED MEHTA – The Craft of the Essay: A Ved Mehta Reader – I collect his autobiographical volumes, couldn’t find them, so this was the next best thing
JOHN PEARSON – Facades: Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell – I read this book years ago and have been looking for it ever since

14 May

– Bookends –
SPENCER VIGNES – The Server – quest non-fiction about playing tennis on every court he comes across while travelling across the UK

– The Hay-on-Wye Bookshop-
Popular Book For Girls 1936 – to feed my habit for these. My most expensive buy at £8.00

– Children’s Bookshop –
CHRISTINE PULLEIN-THOMPSON – The First Rosette – another pony book!

– The Sensible Bookshop (upstairs, 4 for £10)
The Wonder Book Of Why And What – charming 1950s kids’ encyclopaedia
ALAN BENNETT – Writing Home – I’ve had 2 copies of this in the past, one I recall giving away and one has disappeared. This is a nice hardback to match the recent copy of his latest
MICHAEL HOLROYD – Augustus John – been looking for this ever since I spotted it in Charing Cross Library, never to be seen again

– The Castle Bookshop, various outsidey bits with honesty boxes –
CHARLOTTE BRONTE – Jane Eyre – duplicate copy for BookCrossing (these were 30p each!)
JANE SMILEY – A Thousand Acres – duplicate copy for BookCrossing
ZADIE SMITH – White Teeth – duplicate copy for BookCrossing
MIRANDA SAWYER – Park and Ride – duplicate copy for BookCrossing
ROBERTSON DAVIES – The Manticore – duplicate copy for BookCrossing


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