Bathroom painting!

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A rare personal post.

“Our Terry” has finished painting the bathroom. If anyone in the Midlands is looking for a painter and decorator, I cannot rate him highly enough. He has done what *none* of the other people we have had working on this house has done…

* he turned up on time, when he said he was going to, when he quoted, popped back to show us some samples, and each day he was working here (5 days)

* he brought his own lunch and as a result didn’t “pop out” for hours each lunchtime

* he didn’t have a radio

* he didn’t even drink TEA! or demand biscuits

He was quiet, professional, extremely trustworthy and I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone. He has done a lovely job in the bathroom and I am hoping the flooring (which Matt is home for – hah!) goes as smoothly!

THALASSA ALI – Companions of Paradise

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25 Jan 2007 – birthday present from Ali/Heaven-Ali

The long awaited third book of the Paradise Trilogy – and this one did *not* disappoint. We meet Mariana as she’s moving to Afghanistan with her English family, not sure if she will ever see her Punjabi Muslim adopted family again. A series of military mistakes and assumptions leaves the English cantonment in deadly peril. Mariana is torn between two cultures and must decide who to trust, and how to use the knowledge of those cultures to save as many people as possible.

A rich list of characters, some familiar and some new, and very atmospheric writing. Of necessity more action and less on the mystical Sufism than in the previous 2 books, as there’s a lot of history and explaining to do. I had to sit up late to finish this book, racing through it, as it was a tense and exciting read and I didn’t want to go to sleep not knowing the characters’ fates.

It is also a timely book and, though set in 1841, relevant to today. The English rush into a war, complacent and lacking knowledge about their friends and enemies, make mistakes that lead to their own civilians and military being horribly affected, don’t know how to deal with insurgents, or understand the tenets of a religion other than their own… hmm…

Thanks for this wonderful book, Ali (and I think I’ve been careful enough not to include any spoilers for when you read it!)

LAVANYA SANKARAN – The Red Carpet

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27 Jan 2007 – birthday present from Jen/Wyldetwo

You’ve heard about the call centres and IT companies in Bangalore, now meet some of the residents of this burgeoning city. A lovely fresh, readable collection of short stories with slightly and well interlinked characters; a quick and very enjoyable read.

I’ll be offering this on a bookring in time…

HAZEL K. BELL (ed) – Indexers and Indexes in Fact And Fiction

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22 Jan 2007 – birthday present from Gill/Katisha50

This has been on my wishlist for *ever* and I’ve been hassling Anglersrest to read her copy for about a year. So when I, sniffly from my cold, brought this out of the present bag, I shrieked, jumped up and gave Gill a big hug.

And it’s just as good as I’d hoped. Lots of amusing extracts from indexes through the ages, some laugh-out-loud funny, some raising an eyebrow and a smile, and then some examples of indexers themselves in fiction, including some lovely Barbara Pym.

Will go nicely with my compilation of librarians (can’t remember the title) and I think Linda might well enjoy it so will lend to her too.

Thanks Gill!

CARL CHINN / STEVE THORNE – Proper Brummie

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21 Jan 2007 – birthday present from Matthew

A dictionary of Birmingham dialect words and phrases. Although they claim in the introduction to know the difference, they do mix up dialect and pronunciation/accent a bit. And some of the claims to Brummie-ism for general phrases I have heard in Kent and London seem a little spurious. But generally jolly and interesting and some nice moments of recognition.

HUSSEIN DEKMAK – The Lebanese Cookbook

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21 Jan 2007 – birthday present from Matthew

Excellent book that will enable me to make some of our favourites from the only place (pretty well) that we miss in London – Sofra. That isn’t Dekmak’s restaurant, but they serve similar things. Yum.

CATHERINE CZERKAWSKA – The Curiosity Cabinet

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21 Jan 2007 – Birthday present from Linda Gillard

What an inspired choice. Set on the Hebridean island of Garve, now and 300 years ago, the author skillfully sets the stories of two very different women from the mainland next to each other, with subtle echoes in words and events never becoming laboured or silly. While maybe not as “deep” as Emotional Geology, it would certainly appeal to fans of that novel, with the island setting and abounding mysteries – and lovely, appealing characters.

This is a permanent collection book, not for sharing (might lend it to one or two!) but I heartily recommend people to rush out and buy it!

JAMES BETTLEY (ed) – The Art of the Book: From Medieval Manuscript to Graphic Novel

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21 Jan 2007 – birthday present from Matt

An interesting book, full of examples culled from the V&A’s collection, of book art, whether illuminations, illustrations, the outsides of books or (slight shudder) art made out of books. Interesting, although I would have liked maybe more traditional books and less of the peculiar art at the end. A lovely present, though!

RANDY COHEN – The Good, The Bad and the Difference

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Bought 31 Dec 2006 – Bookends

I held off reading this for a while as Matt was interested in reading it too. We often have… ahem… discussions about the rights and wrongs of things* and this touted itself as “How to tell right from wrong in everyday situations”. Well, it did, and with humour and grace, using the questions and answers (from Cohen and experts in the various fields) from a newspaper column in themed sections. Most I agreed with, one I was surprised by, and I’m interested in what Matt thinks of it.

* our most deep-seated one: we go into Starbucks. Matt thinks I should sit down and reserve a seat while he goes and buys the drinks. I will do this if there are a lot of tables, but not if it’s busy – to my way of thinking, we establish a contract with the cafe and the right to a seat at the point of payment, not just by being in the queue. It seems unresolvable! 1. what would you do, 2. does this indicate an impossible relationship??!

FANNIE FLAGG – Can’t Wait To Get To Heaven

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27 Jan 2007 – bday present from Heaven-Ali

I was so glad to read this at the same time as Ali (she beat me to finishing it) as I could find an echo to my disappointment and not feel I was being unfair. I would describe it as an OK novel, but not a good Fannie Flagg novel. I have read and loved all of her others, with their bittersweet laughs and tears, and this felt a bit shallow and a bit as if she had been compelled to write it by publisher or fan pressure. There were of course great flashes and I particularly liked Sonny, the ginger cat, but all in all a bit of a let-down.

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