End of year summary

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Can’t face answering all those questions so…

I’m happier, fitter and probably about the same amount richer/poorer

I’ve been to Tunisia. I stood on the Chott El Jerid and sat in a cafe in Kairouan, both times deleriously happy to be able to return there.

I love Matthew and my friends and my heartstrings were stretched by the sufferings of people dear to me.

I achieved getting a permanent position at work and being able to run, first a 5 km then 4.5 miles, the longest so far. By doing this, I achieved getting my blood pressure to normal and staying off bp medication.

I met Ali N and drew closer to my friends in the Midlands (or sometimes further afield) and recemented some friendships with those further away.

TONY HAWKS – A Piano in the Pyrenees

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Bought 31 Aug 2007 (will they never end, these August books???) charity shop

Another installment of Mr Hawks’ life, but this time it’s serious, not for a bet, as he buys a house in France, ships his piano out, and launches himself into the local community. It’s fairly standard expat in Europe stuff, amusing enough, but unfortunately he just doesn’t come across as very likeable (he admits himself that he’s a bit immature and needs to settle down…) and this is a drawback.

Sorry if you read this on google alerts, Mr H!

It was an amusing read and I liked the stuff about how he learnt French. Glad I read it, glad I didn’t buy it full price.

Just 150 p. of my other book to read and I’ll have a clean slate for the New Year…


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Acquired via BookCrossing 29 Dec 2007 – RABCK from Audrey

Mrs Merkle comes into the chaotic lives of Seth and his twin sons, just in time to weave some other-worldly magic around Seth, his family and friends. Mrs Miracle, indeed.

Read this on the bus yesterday and to and from Lichfield today. A lovely book, gentle and sweet but not avoiding the issues that befall couples and families. Wrapped around a Christmas theme, a lovely read.


Christmas Books!

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Hooray! Lots of lovely books for Christmas! I think this is it now, so I’ll post them and add them to Librarything…

DENIS MACKAIL – News From Greenery Street (from Matthew) – this is the follow up to the lovely Persephone Greenery Street. It’s a second hand out of print copy. Will lend to B and Ali, though!

EMMA SMITH – The Far Cry (Persephone) (from Matthew)

JESSICA MITFORD – Decca: The Letters (from Matthew)

My First 1000 Words in Hebrew (from LindyB)

DOROTHY WHIPPLE – The Priory (Persephone) (from Ali)

ELIZABETH ANN HART – The Runaway (Persephone) (from Bridget)

CHRIS PASCOE – A Cat Called Birmingham – from Gill

FIONA FRASER – Town Hall Birmingham in Pictures – from Gill

Reading Women (from Jen)

SANJEEV BHASKAR – India (from Julian & Laura)

OLIVER SACKS – Musicophilia (from Julian & Laura)

JEREMY DRONFIELD – The Alchemist’s Apprentice

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Borrowed from Matthew Dec 2007

I would probably not have picked up this book had I not got sick of Black Swan Green on our journey down to Harrow and had Gods in Alabama firmly buried at the bottom of my rucksack.

Not a normal LyzzyBee type read, I can’t really decide on the genre, but suppose it’s metafictional magical realism; some people on Amazon describe it as “light fantasy”. It’s hard to describe it without giving the plot away, but it’s an amusing romp through time and place, with people who might be ghosts, books that write themselves, and books (or is it people?) that write reality.

More hardcore sci fi feeling than Jasper Fforde, and, interestingly, I felt the style reminiscent of the early to mid Iris Murdoch novels (in fact, she is referenced in a description of another of his works in the back of the book).

Weird and unsettling – but good.

JOSHILYN JACKSON – Gods in Alabama

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Acquired via BookCrossing 23 Dec 2007 – BookRing

Thanks for adding me to this ring, Heaven-Ali. Even though it had a nasty bit in, I coped fine. An excellent first novel with a real feel for characterisation, it took the Southern Novel stereotypes – the good, blonde cheerleader, the Mum On Pills, the popular jock, and twisted them a little to show what was underneath. I particularly liked the interactions between Burr and the Southern family, and the plot was well done and twisty enough without being silly.

I think there’s another one by this author doing the rounds? Yes, please!

DAVID MITCHELL – Black Swan Green (DNF)

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Acquired via BookCrossing 18 Oct 2007 – Rabck from Madmadge

I’d been told by a number of people that I’d enjoy this book and asked for it to take on holiday to Tunisia. It was a bit complicated but we got it in October and I took it to Harrow as a joint read for me and Matt.

I hated it. It’s queasy, very male-orientated and Adrian Moley, there was a dead cat by p. 19 and I don’t think I got to p. 50!

Oh well, we’ll see if Matthew likes it! I had to steal his “The Alchemist’s Apprentice” and start reading that on the coach down!

CATHY KELLY – Past Secrets

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Bought 24 Aug 2007 – Red Cross charity shop (when will the August books end?)

Very good novel – Kelly is reliably a good read, a successor to Maeve Binchy. This one is most involving, with 3 women who live on the same street dealing with past secrets and worries. A very good holiday read.

Linda, have you read this one?

MARGARET REYNOLDS / JONATHAN NOAKES – Iris Murdoch: The Essential Guide

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Bought 23 Aug 2007 (Amazon)

Actually an essential guide to 3 novels (The Bell, The Black Prince, The Sea The Sea) but well done and with an excellent bibliography. This might go round me, Ali and Audrey a bit when we’re doing A Murdoch A Month!


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Bouth 18 Aug 2007 – Sue Ryder in Kings Heath

An excellent travel narrative – one of my top reads all year. Hessler goes to a small Sichuan city for 2 years with the Peace Corps, as a teacher. He describes exactly what it was like to live there, how he learnt Chinese, how he made friends. It’s told without egocentricity or arrogance, he doesn’t ignore the bad bits or stay grumpy for long; it’s absorbing and wonderful and I hope he has written, or writes, many more books.

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