CARO FRASER – A Perfect Obsession

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Acquired via BookCrossing 04 Jul 2009 – in my Unconvention goody bag

Fifth in the Caper Court series and, while we might be starting to tire of Leo and his exploits, he himself is doing so too. Chay’s art gallery is about to open and brings together in the trustees and other interested parties some interesting characters indeed. Leo meets up with an old pupil, Gideon, and they start a tenuous friendship, but at the same time Leo is further tangled with the evil Sarah, and yearning for a more innocent and stable life. Fraser keeps the threads fresh and clear and reminds us whenever we might get lost. I did enjoy this one and wanted to keep reading.

Roll on No 6!

IRIS MURDOCH – A Word Child

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Bought 21 Jan 1995

Next in our Iris Murdoch a month project and I think we all enjoyed this one. We follow the misfortunes of Hilary Burde, who has always been one for words rather than deeds, who works in a rather mad office in the Civil Service and has set days for seeing people, over-protects his virginal sister Crystal and constantly harks back to the losses of his earlier life. When someone from his Oxford days makes a reappearance, Hilary finds history repeating itself alarmingly. Will he break free of his guilt, his own structure, his odd colleagues… or will Fate claim him for its own?

Full of atmosphere and London scenes, this is a good read with some memorable events. Really looking forward to discussing this one.

POLLY EVANS – It’s Not About The Tapas

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Acquired via BookCrossing 27 Jun 2009 – picked up at Mozfest

I think I’ve read a later book by this author about travelling in New Zealand. Anyway, in this one she sets out to cycle 1000 km in Spain, in two chunks, north and south/middle. This arrangement seemed a bit odd to me but there you go – the actual narrative was good, with a lot about her learning to actually ride the bike without falling off and interesting encounters with wildlife, dogs and residents. A jolly read and a likeable author.

ELIZABETH NOBLE – The Girl Next Door

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Bought 21 Nov – charity shop

Another BookCrossing destined book. This is right up to the edge of my chick-lit tolerance and wasn’t the best read in the world – I found it a bit manipulative. It follows the stories of several residents of an apartment block in New York and the background setting is done well, however there’s quite a lot of telling as well as showing in the actual description of the characters and their doings, which made it a little too undemanding. A decent holiday or travel read.

MIRANDA INNES – Cinnamon City

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Bought 21 Nov – charity shop

Read out of order because I have BookCrossing plans for this one.

Another tale of falling in love with and buying a house in Marrakech (at first I thought I’d read this already but that was another one a few months back!). Innes is an interiors writer and journalist and this shows in the confident and atmospheric descriptions of the house and Marrackech itself; but she also shows the emotions, good and bad, and the process of buying a wreck and trying to turn it into a palace. Delightful line drawings by her partner, Dan, although I’d have liked a plan of the place at some point in the book.

Nothing new, but a very good read.

MAEVE BINCHY – This Year It Will Be Different

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13 Jun 2009 – Oxfam, Birmingham

I fell on this newer Binchy excitedly in the Oxfam shop (I remember this trip; it was just after Hay and I really shouldn’t have been buying MORE books, esp not the massive Ted Heath bio that is next to read after the current crop!) but I’m afraid it disappointed slightly. Short stories, fine. About Christmas – also fine. Binchy writes a good family and a good story. But these were *very* short, often almost vignettes, and I missed the depth and mix of pathos and humour which she is so good at. Don’t get me wrong – a good few of these were excellent – but it wasn’t as marvellous as I’d hoped.

Will retain to register and BookCross on Christmas Day in the park.

JEREMY AYNSLEY & KATE FORDE (ed.) – Design and the Modern Magazine

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From library

An interesting short volume of essays about design and magazines from the 1880s onwards, including portrayal of black people, typographical design and the use and re-use of material when advising people how to furnish their homes. Obviously fairly academic, but reasonably accessible and mostly interesting.

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