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!


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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.

M. C. BEATON – Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet

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Borrowed from Ali

Ali’s feeding me all the volumes of A.Raisin as she reads them – hooray! In this one we’ve settled into Miss Raisin, bear-like eyes and no-nonsense attitude taken for granted, but she shows a softer side as she interacts with her pet cat and tries to pursue her handsome neighbour. The new vet turns her head a little… but is he all he seems?


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Acquired via BookCrossing 12 Nov 2009 – bookring

I saw Ali was reading this and managed to squeeze into the Bookring after her (thanks to Katrinat who was running it)

A bit darker than History of Tractors and on the edge of what I can cope with as regards violence and upsetting scenes – I was glad Ali had warned me about the chickens although there was also some human stuff that was quite graphic. Having said that, I did enjoy it once I’d managed to pick it up and start it.

I liked the different voices and, although I found Emanuel’s letters written in such a naive style that it seemed patronising, I thought about the language of people from his part of the world and realised it was just another reflection of the variety of voices in our wonderfully diverse nation.

The book was a little reminiscent of Rose Tremain’s The Road Home, showing our country and indigenous population through the eyes of an immigrant thinking of England as the promised land. Very interesting and I liked the way the author worked in all sorts of English people, whether the traditional middle class family, eco-warriors in a camp or mad drivers, and then the characters’ fellow-migrants, slightly further up the legal scale than them, such as the Australian restaurant worker and the African nurses having to go to the bottom of their profession to start again in the UK.

I didn’t find it hilarious but there were moments of black humour and some touching sections too. I’m glad I had a chance to finally get round to reading it.

DEBBIE MACOMBER – Old Boyfriends

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Acquired via BookCrossing 21 Oct 2009 – from Gill

This was one of the comforting books Gill waved under my nose at the Cafe one Sunday when I was in the middle of a big worrying time. I was allowed to read these out of order of acquisition, when the mood took me…

It took a little while to get into this one (oh – it’s called Susannah’s Garden in the US in case anyone thinks it’s a different book!) but I enjoyed the usual multi-generational family relationships, the strong women characters and the celebration of marriage.

Susannah feels trapped in her job, her marriage, and now between the demands of her 19 year old daughter and elderly, ailing mother. The need to go across State to care for her mother gives her an opportunity to look up an old boyfriend… who looms large and romantic in her imagination. Meanwhile, her mum keeps “seeing” her dead husband George, and her daughter starts to make the same mistake choosing between a man and her family that Susannah once made herself.

I *did* read this out of order, as when I came to choose a book the other day, I only had mysteries and other books I didn’t really want to read over dinner. Finished this in the company of a hot bath and Mr Radox (was careful with it) after a day that started with a 9 mile run.

This is loosely part of the Blossom Street series, so I will see if the “usual suspects” want a read of it…

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