BARBARA CASSANI (with KENNY KEMP) – Go: An Airline Adventure

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Bought 17 July 2007 – Kidney Research Kings Heath

Bought this for the Never Judge challenge as it has a cover with a pattern on, then decided I wanted to read it. I do like a good business biography and this one, about the creation of the the low cost airline Go, was well done and interesting. I’m going to offer this on a book ring at some stage.

MATTHEW SKELTON – Endymion Spring

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Acquired via BookCrossing 14 Apr 2007 – lent by LindyB

A wonderful Young Adults book revolving around the history of the printed book, mysteries and a bit of magic. I loved the printing history and early books detail, as I would, and couldn’t find fault with it in the slightest, even though I would probably represent one of the more discerning readers (I haven’t been downstairs in the Bodleian though, I wonder if the other reader so far has!!). This was well done, exciting enough but with enough characterisation (I loved Duck) and description to give a more satisfying read on different levels.

Returning to Linda who will probably ring it – if she does, I urge everyone to read it!

PS I took most of the little red stars out – sorry! There’s at least one in my office and a couple in the house still, though!

ERIC NEWBY – Round Ireland in Low Gear

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Bought 31 Mar 2007, I imagine in a charity shop in KH

Lovely vintage Newby, in which he and the long-suffering Wanda, set off to ride around Ireland in the rain. Lovely gentle tales and the history made quite painless as they go along.

V.S.NAIPAUL – Letters Between a Father and Son

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Acquired via BookCrossing 19 June 1007 – bookring

I did enjoy this, but I didn’t engage with it as much as maybe I could have. The letters were between Naipaul, his father, and his sister, and this gave a broken-up feel which made it quite choppy and difficult to follow. There were flashes of interest and of course near the end it gets quite moving. I did like seeing the background to the writing and publishing of “The Mystic Masseur” and, even if I do subscribe to the “Death of the Author” way of thinking (cuts down on the background reading no end, and is no way a reflection on any of the LIVING authors I do know) it was interesting to see this background.

MAEVE BINCHY – Whitethorn Woods

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Bought 31 Mar 2007 – charity shop in Kings Heath

Like Quentins, this is a series of interlinked stories of individuals in a community (here, often portrayed from two angles) which do come together in part at the end. I don’t think these characters have appeared in previous books, which happened in Quentins; anyway, it’s a lovely, gentle and appealing book, vintage Binchy, and very satisfying.

LindyB was reading this on the same day as me, as I found out when I offered her this copy, so I’m looking forward to hearing what she thought of it!

EMILY EDEN – The Semi-Attached Couple & The Semi-Detached House

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Bought 31 Mar 2007 – charity shop in KH

I had always thought that this delightfully-named Virago Modern Classic was one novel, but no: it’s 2, packaged together! Both are as delightful as the title; Victorian romances with an acerbic touch that gives a hint of the Jane Austen. She loves her characters but brings an honest eye to them, and there are some true, lovingly-described horrors, too.

JOOLS OLIVER – Minus Nine to One: The Diary of an Honest Mum

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Bought 31 Mar 2007 – Sue Ryder in Kings Heath

Now, don’t get excited, anyone. I just like books about child rearing/ child development and spotted this in the charity shop. A jolly, funny and honest portrayal of her struggles with conceiving, pregnancies and the first years of their daughters’ lives, this is definitely a warts and all look at the issues, with plenty of advice and some good recipes at the end. Endearing.

JAN KARON – Light From Heaven

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Bought 05 Jun 2007 – Amazon (with a voucher from Xmas/Bday)

I was looking forward to this but with some trepidation, as it’s the last in the Mitford series. Both Father Tim and Violet The Cat are aging, and this is cause for worry – although needlessly, it turns out (sorry if that’s a spoiler but there’s no big events it would spoil). There is death and loss, and I found the religious aspect a bit more prevalent than in previous books. It was quiet and downbeat, with a gentle humour and promise of hope for the future.

There is apparently going to be a new Father Tim series; there was a bit in the back of this one which suggests it’s going back into his previous times. I will look out for these.

MICHAEL HOLROYD – Lytton Strachey: A Biography

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Bought 19 Mar 2007 – Oxfam books in Harborne

A wonderful, absorbing, 1200 pages about this fascinating and strange character from the edge of Bloomsbury. He crops up in all the works about the others, so I’d been looking for this for a while. Holroyd is one of my favourite biographers – always erudite, meaningful, readable, fun and never boring. He does very well here and really gets to grip with the character, and explains the other people in the story in enough detail for you to remember who they are, without going over the detail again and again.

A masterful work.

LOUISE SHAFFER – The Three Miss Margarets

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Acquired via BookCrossing 06 Apr 2007 – from LindyB

I enjoyed this Southern tale, particularly the interweaving of the three Miss Margarets’ friendship and lovely Laurel, a full rounded and complex character. There *were* a few what I would call stereotypes or cliches, but this is more to do with the fact that I have read a LOT of southern small-town fiction – it’s more commonalities. A good read.

Ali / Julie / Audrey – up for one of our mini-rings?

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