JAN MARSH – William Morris & Red House

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Bought 19 May 2007 – Bookends

A lovely coffee table book about the beautiful house built for Morris, which he lived in with Jane and their children for a few years at the beginning of their marriage. Skillfully interweaving the story of Morris and his associations with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and founding of Morris & Co, with the full history of the house after he left it, this has great illustrations and is well-researched without being tedious.

ALISA CRAIG – The Grub-and-Stakers Quilt A Bee

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Acquired via BookCrossing 08 May 2007

I did originally register and release this for Never Judge, it ended up on my iLounge OBCZ where it lingered for a couple of months. I got more into the Cozy Mystery genre and decided to give it a go.

This was a light-hearted and fairly silly romp of a mystery, hitting the ground running with a committee meeting of strangely named small-town characters and not looking back. The language was hilarious and the story/mystery well done – and I will look out for more by this author.

CHRISTINE COLEMAN – Single Travellers

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Bought 03 Apr 2007 – from the author at the Birmingham BookCrossers’ author evening

This was a great selection of poems. I particularly liked those featuring Christine’s daughter (“That Place” is one I have heard read out loud and is wonderful) and my all time favourite was “Becoming A Seal”, especially the lines:

“… Sometimes I lurk
by plastic ponds in garden centres.
After a little practice, Koi carp
slip down smoothly as noodles.”

JIM DeFEDE – The Day The World Came To Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland

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Acquired vis BookCrossing 25 Jul 2007 – bookring

The story of what happened when 38 planes were diverted to a small town in Newfoundland on 9/11 when American airspace was closed down.

Reading this book was a profoundly moving experience for me. I wept my way through it – tears from how much I was touched by the lovely stories, the beautiful demonstrations of man’s humanity to man, to alter a phrase.

This is the first 9/11 book I’ve been able to read. Although I was literally unaffected by the terrible happenings, they left a huge mark on my life. When it happened, I was working in South London. We saw the 2nd plane hit, on the internet. At the time, there was a terrible, terrifying rumour that there was a plane headed for Canary Wharf, the tall landmark tower by the Thames. My friend Matthew worked in one of the buildings of the complex. He was evacuated, and I spent a fraught few hours trying to contact him as he made his way home. I could see Canary Wharf tower from my flat’s bedroom windows and for months I coulnd’t look at it without imagining a plane flying into it. We talked for hours that night, shared our first kiss on October 04 2001 and have been living together for 5 years.

We had just left central London when 7/7 hit. All those places we had been so often. More images, survivor guilt this time. Sobbing for hours on the anniversary.

So, this book was hard for me to read on many levels, but so beautiful and inspiring, and helping to redress the balance of those terrible days. I believe, too, there is more goodness in the world than badness. The actions of those lovely people outbalance the vile people who spat at my friend’s parents, long-serving members of their wider community, because they were Muslims.

Sorry – I’ve gone on too long. But I wanted to express this. The book is wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone. My favourite parts: the Orthodox Jewish people, the Tent Girls, and the Mountie who, when he realised the outgoing passengers were disappointed to see him in a plain police uniform, got dispensation to wear the classic red jacket.


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Bought 11 Apr 2007 – charity shop

Ostensibly a decent guide to raising boys, and thus falling into my childrearing interest area, this was actually floored by its own prejudices and fights. For a book written in the 90s, the author sure is angry still about feminism, and allows this to permeate through what would be a good and sensible book. There is even some stuff about banging drums in woods – very Iron John!

Too dated to keep in the collection. A shame as there are some good points amongst the barely-concealed rants.

T.H. WHITE – The Book of Merlyn

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Bought 16 Apr 2007 – charity shop

The “lost” 5th book of the Once And Future King series. I got very excited when I found this, but actually, it Wasn’t Very Good. Heavy-handed political satire, demonstrating Communism through the ants, etc – just didn’t really work and was very clumsy. I did like the idea that Merlyn was timeless and had seen all of the centuries after Arthur died, and the bit rounding up things at the end was quite good, but I think I am going to let this go.

ROBERT ARTHUR – The Mystery of the Moaning Cave

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Bought 02 May 2007 – charity shop

For years, I was wondering where I’d read about young investigator Jupiter Jones and his cohorts. Then I found this Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators novel and had my answer.

The conceit of the series is that J Jones is reporting on his adventures to the great film director (with an aim of filming them? I won’t know till I have the first one!). While dated now, published in the 1960s, this was still fresh, amusing (none of the boys is let off for their private tics, Jones’ long words being the main culprit!) and a good enough puzzle. I actually had to add 5 minutes to my lunch break to read to the end of the chapter!

If anyone finds any of these in their charity shop huntings, please think of me…

BALI RAI – Dream On

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Acquired via BookCrossing 23 Apr 2007 – Rabck from Gill

Although this is a Reluctant Readers book and therefore more simplified than the usual YA books I read, this is a classic Rai novel with intercultural friendships, life in the mean streets of the Midlands, and excellently portrayed adults. More a novella or a long short story but we’ll count it as a book (thank heavens I’m not on the Book Diet any more, but raising money for the Indian Library Fund by sponsoring my own reading!!)

BALI RAI – The Crew

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Acquired via BookCrossing 19 Apr 2007 – Rabck from Gill

An excellent book – the more I read by Rai the more I enjoy the books and respect the author. In this YA novel we get inside a multi-racial “crew” in the back streets of a Midlands town (Leicester, I think). As usual, the parents are done really well, the complex role-model Rastafarian Nanny, the most wonderful character. This both tells a story and, while not being overtly didactic, guides its young readers towards acceptance of other races, how to behave when arrested, how to accept others for who they are and the choices they’ve made. Violence is present but not glamorised. Brilliant.

JANE LAZARRE – The Mother Knot

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Bought 04 Apr 2007 – book sale table at work

Back again to third wave feminism with yet another Virago. This one chronicles what had not been done up to then – the everyday life, frustrations and experiences of motherhood. It seems a bit done-to-death these days, but this really was a big step forward at the time. Lovely to hear the history of the first consciousness-raising groups etc – how I wish I’d been older and able to experience all that upswell of feminism myself.

Keeping the flame alive, though. I hope.

PS I’ve worked my way through a number of smaller books this week, so be prepared for an onslaught of reviews!

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