K. M. PEYTON – Flambards Trilogy + 1 (4 books to count)

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Trilogy (Flambards / The Edge of the Cloud / Flambards in Summer) – acquired via BookCrossing 05 Jul 2007 – wild catch, hunted down
Flambards Divided – own copy, bought 1980s

I won’t ruin the story of this excellent series of YA novels, which follow the fortunes of orphaned Christina, her cousins Will and Mark and their stable-lad, Dick. Suffice to say they are engaging, romantic and exciting, with horses, flying, hunting and the wonderful old house and farm of Flambards the central character.

MATTHEW COLLINS – Across America With the Boys

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Bought 08 Jun 2007 – Extracare charity shop

I think my slight problems with this book stem from the gap between its aims and myself as the reader, rather than any particular lacks. The narrative of a journey across America in a Recreational Vehicle with his two young sons and a couple of au pairs (Mum is left at home to develop her new career), it takes us through the journey competently but without much engagement. But, a) the book is self-published (and thus not very edited?) and b) it is quite obviously a guide on how to repeat this journey from someone used to working on travel TV programmes. So we get numbers and tourist information and details on what scares the kids, and not much depth.

I will register this on BC. It was a review copy and includes a printed letter from the author.

JOHN GALSWORTHY – The Forsyte Saga: The Man of Property / In Chancery / To Let

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Bought 21 Aug 2007 – The Works

Started this in Tunisia, read it on the journey home and this week at home/work. I’m going to pass it on to a friend who’s going to Morocco, so it can be released in N Africa after all.

This was wonderful – engaging and involving, an excellent, involved story and I don’t know why I haven’t read it before. It was a good bookend to Middlemarch, featuring another set of intertwined families and speculation about wills. I felt a creeping sympathy for Soames – we’re not meant to like him, are we?

I have another edition with the next 3 in it (I’m counting these as 3 books as you can get them separately) and Wyldtwo has the 3 after that – with a TBR like mine and Ring Build-Up, I’m going to be strong and not read them… yet!

BARBARA DELINSKY – The Woman Next Door

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Borrowed 13 Sep 2007 from the hotel library

A well done Macomber-esque novel with a Desperate Housewives style scenario of 4 households in a cul-de-sac, one couple with fertility problems, and a pregnant widow thrust among them. Competently plotted and characterised and another good holiday read/ author to look out for when I need a restful read.

ELIZABETH BUCHAN – Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman

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Borrowed 13 Sept 2007 from hotel library

A well-done, Transita-y novel about a woman whose husband leaves her for her assistant, and the fallout on their two adult children etc. The cat dies, of course, but the book is intelligently done overall with few cliches and some good supporting characters. Glad to have read something of hers at last, and a classic holiday read.

LOIS BATTLE – A Habit of the Blood

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Acquired via BookCrossing 02 Sep 2007 – BCUK NSS

I had asked for this author on my wishlist after reading “The Florabama Ladies…”. This was quite different – fairly romancey, though with some interesting characters, including the island of Jamaica itself. The family complications were resolved a bit too easily and the ending was a little weak, but a perfect holiday read!


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Acquired via BookCrossing 14 Aug 2007 – from Bright-Spark, who found it silly

I agree with Bright-Spark on this. The book is very silly but in places also very funny. My problem with it is that Coupland is capable of so much more than this so its a real shame he has seen fit to write something so flaccid and self indulgent. Self parody is all very well but it could be done with so much more finesse than this.


Silly, yes, but I didnt find it as objectionable as Matt did (possibly because I read faster than him so didnt feel I wasted so much time on it). I liked the scenes from office life and the renegade Mom; didnt like the incursion of Coupland himself as a character. I also have to salute his ability to insert a load of rando, junk into his novel and still sell it to the publisher and millions of readers!

A good holiday read…

JONATHAN LETHEM – The Fortress of Solitude

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Bought Feb 2006 (oops) (Waterstones, as a Liz and Matt read)

I’ll post Matt’s review first, as mine responds to it…

This is a book very much in two halves. The first half is told from the third person and chronicles the growing up of two boys, one black and one white, in the 1970s. Whilst somewhat derivative, evoking The Wonder Years and Stand By Me to name but two, this half is nevertheless evocative of its era and successfully portrays the racial and cultural melting pot prevalent at that time.

The central conceit of super powers is however only partially explored and does not seem central or essential to the plot.

The second half is told mostly from the 1st person perspective of the white protagonist of the first half but fully grown and set in 1999.

Sadly this half is much less successful and the story descends rapidly into an unstructured mess of delinquency and drug taking which to be fair also threatens the first half as well.

The book also peters out by the end rather than finishing on a triumphant high which is a shame given the strong first half.

Unlike Matthew, I preferred the (music journalism parts of the) 2nd/3rd parts. This book was on the whole a bit formulaic and stereotyped; though I liked Abe, the contrasts beween the 2 fathers were a bit forced, and the descriptive and discursive writing, esp at the beginning and end, a bit self conscious and over mannered. The superhero part felt bolted on and a bit silly. A good discussion read though!

PAUL SCOTT – The Towers of Silence

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Bought 21 Aug 2007 (charity shop)

3rd in the Raj Quartet series, like the others it goes over events from q different perspective then adds more to the end. Told from the POV of an aging missionary, Barbie, we meet Susan and Sqrqh, Teddie Bingham, Merrick and Lady Manners again. Perhaps a quicker and easier read than the first 2.

A. M. HOMES – This Book Will Save Your Life

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Acquired via BookCrossing 07 Aug 2007 – trade with Lil-de-ville

A curious and very good novel, ostensibly about the rehabilitation of a recluse but also a satire on the Californian search for truth and meaning. All of the characters however minor were memorable; the writer in hiding, the philosophical donut vendor, the pack of feral chihuahuas… Entertaining, well written and a good, surreal ending.

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