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Acquired via BookCrossing 05 Jun 2008 – rabck from Camis after I posted on BCUK having bought what I thought was the second book in the series…

An absolutely lovely book, with a simple narrative and strong female central character much in the mode of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels, but longer, more complex and more satisfying.

Life on Tahiti is harder than it looks, tensions exist between the French, Tahitian and tourist population, and things can be a bit of a struggle. But the “big dreams on a little island” of the characters shine through, and it’s an uplifting, funny and moving story.

I though this was the first in the trilogy, but that turns out to be Breadfruit, so I’ll try to get hold of a copy of that, read it and then the third one and then send them on a book spiral.


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Acquired via BookCrossing 21 Jun 2008 – random RABCK from Karen07814 who found my name on the releasing map and PM’d me to see if I’d like it!

A *wonderful* book and I’m so glad to have had the chance to read iy! I would never, ever have come across this book by myself.

Written in the early 1970s and set round about now, I think, this looks at what might have happened after a fuel, food and economic crisis (!!!) causes some of the West Coast of America states to break away and form their own country. Although it’s written with a real 70s feel to some of the preoccupations (sex and women’s rights being the main ones – the unadorned, strong women are very much the feminist ideal being put forward at the time), so much that has happened now – ecological awareness, recycling, interaction with others through phone systems (OK, he didn’t quite manage to invent the internet) etc. The political stuff about America is scarily spot-on, too.

As well as all this political, social and economic stuff it’s also a damn good read, as prime American consumer Will finds there just might be an alternative way to live.

FATIMA MERNISSI – The Harem Within : Tales of a Moroccan Girlhood

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Borrowed from a colleague June 2008

An excellent book looking at life in a family home in Fez in the 1940s. As well as talking about everyday life and the effect of the French, Spanish and American forces in the town, Fatima explores concepts of “harem”, boundaries and women’s issues. Her mother rails against confinement while trying to live harmoniously within a two-family-plus-extras household. Fascinating, rich and enjoyable.

T. CORAGHESSAN BOYLE – The Tortilla Curtain (DNF)

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Bought 25 Mar 2008 – PDSA Charity shop

I really wanted to read this book, especially as it was a pick for the BookiesToo reading group. It’s about immigration, contrasting the experiences of a family of US liberals and a family of Mexican illegal immigrants.

Unfortunately, due to the subject matter probably necessarily, this is a very bleak and unremitting book, and I couldn’t handle it. I do have an understanding of what illegal immigrants go through, so I decided enough was enough.

BRIGID KEENAN – Diplomatic Baggage : Adventures of a Trailing Spouse

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Bought April 2008 – bargain bookshop, not Bookends, you know the one…

Amusing memoir of life as an EU Ambassador’s wife – some poignancy as she struggles to come to terms with a new country and culture every 2-4 years but also many hilarious moments, well told.

TIM GUEST – Second Lives

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Bought 23 August 2007 (Amazon)

A somewhat melancholic exploration of not only SL but also EverQuest and other virtual worlds. Interesting on the familiar struggles to run your avatar etc and on some of the people who use the worlds, maybe a bit too much concentration on the crime aspects.

Matthew’s thoughts:
Having read the articles in Edge on which this book was based, it was interesting to get a bit more background into the stories and the author himself.

HARUKI MURAKAMI – Norweigan Wood

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Acquired via BookCrossing 26 April 2008 – at the Bham meetup from Juliako

An elegaic and melancholic book. Interesting and evocative but a bit too depressing for a beach read! I felt it used a lot of metaphor, some of which was beautiful but a lot of it went over my head, I am sure. Haunting. Also not sure in part if it was full of elegaic eroticism or an exercise in writing up different permutations of sex…

The translators note at the end is interesting.

Matthew read this too… his thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, it reminded me of a number of Japanese films and to me is quite unlike English or American novels.

GEORGE HAGEN – The Laments

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Picked up from the book pile in the hotel reception on holiday

Not the barrel of laughs that Roddy Doyle promises on the cover, but a bittersweet novel, quite captivating even though there are some shocking moments. Will, child of his parents by accident, tries to hold his family together as it declines, moving from continent to continent. A bit reminiscent of Brady Udall in the evocation of boyhood through matter of fact language.

LUCY KELLAWAY – Who Moved My Blackberry?

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Acquired via BookCrossing 14 May 2008 – University OBCZ

A very silly “satire” on office life that I’d been wanting to read for a while. My mistake!! My two-part review:

Hm, I got about a third of the way through this, it was marginally amusing in an Adrian Mole kind of way but really silly and then it got into all sorts of office affairs that just were not amusing – it seemed to have a gaping hole where its heart should have been! So… off it goes in sunny Spain!

Update: Argh! I ran out of reading material and even with one decent book picked up from the pile in Reception, I had to retrieve this one and read it! It didn’t get any better, he didn’t get his comeuppance and it was really just something to read!!

DOUGLAS KENNEDY – State of the Union

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Acquired via BookCrossing 24 May 2008 – from the Bham meetup

Sick of not coming up to her radical parents’expectations, Hannah makes one mistake in the early 70s which lies dormant until, in the middle of an unconnected trauma to do with her daughter, it blows up in her face. A skillfully plotted and well written page turner. Although I guessed some of the plot outcomes (Im not sure how in one case) it certainly didnt spoil my enjoyment.

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