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!)

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