Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Little bit of self-promotion

For anyone who is interested in finding the evidence for clinical practice, I have co-written a book. Searching skills toolkit: finding the evidence, is due for publication on the 9th January 2009. I have never done something like this before, so it isn't perfect, but it is a starting point.

On a lighter note, I finished Twilight, and am now completely hooked on the series, hurtling through New Moon. I am going to see the film...I think, although I fear it will not be as good as the book. Saying that though, the trailer looks great!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas holidays - reading time at last!

Well, Christmas is upon us, and I have been enjoying the time in front of a cosy fire and lots of good books. I read The Way Men Act, an ironic tale about relationships, by one of my new favourite authors, Elinor Lipman. It was a fun story with lots of diverse characters, focusing on one lady who was convinced that men had a particular way of acting, while actually, she was the one making things complicated. Nice story though, although still not replacing my favourite. I have the Tales of Beedle and Bard and Magic, on the sideline, but in the meantime, I am so engrossed in Twilight, that I am about to rush out and buy the sequel. I haven't seen the film, and I cannot imagine how it will translate, but it is beautiful. So sensitive, but thrilling, so sensuous, while maintaining the innocence of two "young" lovers. It is breath-taking, and I have been struggling to put it down, only doing so because otherwise my in-laws will think me extremely rude :-)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Word of caution

I have just finished reading The Knitting Circle which is full of engaging characters, but it is just so sad. If you are feeling emotional, be warned, there are some very tragic, and also disturbing stories in this book. It is a good book, but it isn't light reading, which is what I thought it would be.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A new hobby in the pipeline!

I found, quite by accident, that Kate Jacobs had written another book. I had really enjoyed Friday Night Knitting Club, and Comfort Food follows a similar theme. This story however, is about a television chef, dealing with the complex relationships in her life, and her battle to keep her program as new, younger chefs join the competition. I really enjoyed this book. There was a point in the middle of it, where I felt it was just so stressy, but it all came together in the end, and worked out beautifully.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Elinor Lipman continued and something new!

The latest book I have read by Elinor Lipman, is The Ladies Man. I found it quite uncomfortable, the nature of this story, about a womaniser, who although I imagine was supposed to be charming, I found quite irritating. So, although this was a well-written story, it wasn't my favourite. The Inn at Lake Devine still holds that award!

So, the new book that I read is called The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama. I loved this and didn't want it to end, although it did end the way I wanted to. It was beautifully written, and provided such rich images of India and the customs and culture, that I just want to go there and become immersed among the interesting people that live there. I learnt so much from this book and I am looking forward to more by this author.

I am currently reading Once Upon a Time in the North, by Philip Pullman, a spin-off from his Dark Materials trilogy, which I am absolutely loving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Knitting books

Not what it seemed. I have just finished the sequal to Divas Don't Knit by Gil McNeil. Needles and Pearls continues the story about Jo, the widow of a philandering husband, with two young children, who left her high-powered media job to take over her granny's knitting shop. In all honesty, I think I preferred the first one. This one was a little too complicated and made me feel a bit uncomfortable in places. Saying that, I finished it and was keen to know the outcome. It has left room for another installment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oh wow...absolutely brilliant!!!

I have just finished The Inn at Lake Devine by, yes, my current favourite author, Elinor Lipman. This is definitely my favourite out of all her books. It was so enlightening. Surprisingly, I hadn't appreciated the levels of prejudice faced by Jewish people in the 1960s and 1970s. I laughed and cried with this book. It was harsh in places, but also such a lovely story. I really enjoyed the characters and the excellent story-line, and I would love to find the The Inn at Lake Devine.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Still on the same author!

I have just finished The Dearly Departed by Elinor Lipman, and again really enjoyed this story. All of her books seem to have the same theme, with some character having a surprise double life. This one has a half-brother and half-sister meeting for the first time at the funeral of their parents. The book is full of interesting characters and has a good storyline. In honesty though, I think my favourite is still the first one that I read: Then She Found Me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

In love with books!

Another book from Elinor Lipman, has distracted me from pretty much all other activities. The Pursuit of Alice Thrift is a great story about a trainee surgeon, whose lack of social skills causes a few problems. I enjoyed this one so much, I moved straight onto another book by the same author, and I have another one waiting after that. Roll on half-term holidays. I think I am becoming a serial chain-reader!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Not sequels, but same author...

Well, I thought I would give the author of The Jane Austen Book Club another shot, so I read The Sweetheart Season. This one took me a while to get into, I have to admit. I got a little confused because of the flashbacks, but by the end I was completely gripped again. Interesting characters, complicated relationships, but well written, and set in the post-second world war period, it is about an all-female baseball team.

I have also just finished My Latest Grievance, by my new favourite author, Elinor Lipman. Slighly uncomfortable at times, but brilliantly written. She tackles some unbelievable issues with humour, compassion, and excellent plots. I loved this one.

Monday, September 15, 2008

New author discovered!

Well, new author to me. I picked up Elinor Lipman's "Then She Found Me". I hadn't realised that it has just been released as a film. I read it in a weekend and really enjoyed it. It was about a teacher just getting on with her life when her birth mother, who is a talk show host, makes contact. It is quite a simple story focusing on the emotions and confusions arising when an adopted child meets their birth parents. It was a very entertaining read, with romance, humour, sadness, and some lovely characters. I am looking forward to reading more of her books. I also read When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, and that was an interesting story about a detective trying to find out what happened to his parents who disappeared in Shanghai when he was a child. The story is so innocent, but has an unexpected ending. It was beautifully written, describing childhood friendships intertwined with politics and corruption.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Latest Laurie Graham

Well, not really the latest, but the latest one that I have read. Gone with the Windsors is about the rise of Wallis Simpson and her eventual relationship with the King of England. It was very entertaining, although I did feel a little uncomfortable at times with what seems like a very calculated and manipulated relationship. The descriptions of the lives of the wealthy in those times sounded so frivolous, but the book contained some very interesting debates about the politics of that time. Laurie Graham's books all sound very factual, but there is never a bibliography included. I would like to know how much of her books are based on fact.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New favourite author!

Well it is the Summer holidays and I have discovered a new favourite author, which is why I haven't been blogging. I had already read one of her books The Unfortunates, but then I read a write-up about Laurie Graham's The Importance of Being Kennedy, in the Sunday Times, and I could not resist! It was so interesting. I learnt so much about history, but in such an easy-to-read way, full of rich character, and stories about different lifestyles. It is about a country girl from Ireland who becomes nursery maid to a family in the United States of America, in 1917. The family turns out to be the Kennedy family and so begins a description about the development and roles of each member of the Kennedy family. The prelude says that these are the memoirs, published by her nephew, but the publishers say it is a work of fiction, and yet, it is so believable. A really good read. So, the next one that I bought was called The Future Homemakers of America. No famous family in this one, but again some brilliant characters, the main ones being the wives of US air force pilots based in Norfolk during the war, and what happens while they are in England and when they get back to America. Again, absolutely brilliant, and really good to read. The next one, by this autor, is Mr Starlight. Quite different, although focusing on particular characters, two of whom are musicians who move from England to America to become celebrities. As the title suggests, one makes it while the other doesn't or does he....there is so much to this book, and the ending has an unexpected modern twist, but in keeping with the times, 1930s onwards, through the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. My next on in the Laurie Graham series is "Gone With The Windsors". The title is ace in itself. Can't wait to read the rest... I did deviate slightly by reading Sepulchre and The Sonnet Lover, both by authors that I have read before. Sepulchre is by Kate Mosse and is set in 19th century Paris and the South of France. It is similar to Labyrinth, in that the story is set in two eras, but joined, and the main subject is tarot cards. It was enjoyable, although a bit harsh in places, but the story was very romantic and dramatic, and made me want to return to France day! The Sonnet Lover is by Carol Goodman, who also wrote the Lake of Dead Languages, among others. This was set in Italy, and was also very romantic and dramatic, and the key focus was on Shakespeare's sonnets, and whether or not he had a romance in Italy. It was very good, beautifully written. So, this is why I have been so bad at keeping this blog up-to-date. There just isn't enough time in the day :-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Current state of play...

Just finished The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. I was a huge fan of her first book, The Secret Life of Bees and was delighted to find this book in a second-hand bookstore. She writes beautifully, although being religious, it did raise some confusing feelings. However, the end was good and as it should be, and I finished reading with no unease. It is a story about saints, legends, and relationships, and it is set on a mythical island off South Caroline. It was very thought-provoking and a wonderful tale.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ballet Shoes

I have just finished Ballet Shoes and am beginning to pick up on a pattern. This is the second of Noel Streatfeild's books that I have read, and both have involved 3 children, whose circumstances have changed so that they need to help support the people who are caring for them. I like the way the author seems to identify two of the children as high achievers, with one person being a "plain jane" or "plain john", the latter child coming to the rescue of his/her siblings. They are good books as they are very descriptive of the characters and their surroundings, and make you realise that anything is possible if you are prepared to work for it.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Secrets and adventure!

I have just finished another children's book, The Secret Passage, by Nina Bawden. An adventure about three children who are sent to live with their seemingly grumpy aunt. There are lovely descriptions about the adventures they have and their surroundings. The people that they meet all really believable, and the author displays such sensitivity about their characters. I am looking forward to reading more of her books.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gosh! How time flies!

I hadn't realised how long it was since my last post. My life has been a little complicated and work has been hard, but good, but my brain has needed some easier reading. And reading is exactly what I have been doing lots of to relax and escape. As previously, I have reverted back to childhood and read some recognisable titles, with a grown-up viewpoint. The Enid Blyton Omnibus is an old favourite - good vs bad, right vs wrong - no hazy areas, everything clear. If you are nice, you get a reward from the fairies; if you are bad, then the goblins will get you!

I was delighted to find two Chalet School books by Elinor M Brent-Dyer, in one of my local charity shops recently. They are such a pleasure to read. The perfect grammer, and beautiful descriptions of the characters and the scenery. I would have loved to have been a pupil there. I love the use of different languages to make you feel that you are experiencing the different cultures attending the school. I have just read Jo of the Chalet School and am looking forward to the next one. I am also going to keep a close eye out in the charity shops to find some more. I know I can get them on eBay, but there is something special about finding them by accident!

I then went onto some classics. First of all, I read Anne of Green Gables, by LM Montgomery, which is such a great story about an orphan moving to Prince Edward Island, who has such a wonderful imagination and keeps everyone in her village entertained, including the family she lives with, who were originally expecting a boy to help them on the farm. I then read A Little Princess, which is just lovely, and similar as it is about a little girl who users her imagination to conjure up the most exciting stories. I love the scenes with the Indian friend and his monkey, and the magic they created. After that, I read The Painted Garden by Noel Streatfeild, which was accidently most appropriate because one area of this story was about a little girl acting in the film of A Little Princess, so I could re-visit the book I had read earlier. I did enjoy this book although sometimes the children quarrelling was a little too realistic!

Another book I got from the charity store is Jumping To Conclusions by Christine Jones, a story about a woman who moves into a little village to open a bookshop. This is my dream! Anyway, it is an easy read, describing the horse-racing industry and rural life. Very much a good holiday read!

I have been taking advantage of 3 for the price of 2 offers, and have recently read By The Shore by Galaxy Craze, which is a story about a 12 year old girl living with her mother and brother in a guesthouse by the sea. The story is told from the girl's point-of-view and it is just a really good tale. The second book out of this collection was The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson, which is the story about a woman who finds the body of her neighbour's daughter floating in her swimming pool. The story looks at her complex relationships, with her own daughter, her husband, her family, in particular her sister, drawing on past history, and watches her work out what has happened to this girl in her pool. It is very entertaining, sad in places, but keeps you turning the pages until the end. The last one in this collection is Gifted by Nikita Lalwani, about a girl, born in England to Indian parents, who at the age of 5 is discovered to be a maths prodigy. From that discovery, her life changes as her father becomes obsessed with her fulfilling this prophecy that she is a maths phenomenon. The story looks at the differences between East and West, and the expectations of Asian females in England. It is a very human story, because you can feel that the father just wants the best for his daughter and is supporting her as best he can. But you can also sympathise with her, because as she grows into a teenager, she has different desires, and inevitably clashes occur.

So, I have been reading, and enjoying all my books, I am currently reading The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, so I am going to log off for now, and get back to finishing that one.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Seeking inspiration!

Well, after I finished Charmed Life, I couldn't find anything else to read, so I re-read some old favourites, including Anne Tyler, Alice Hoffman, Peanuts, and Asterix and Obelix. A friend of mine, has recommended "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." The film is one of my favourites, so I must get a copy of this book. I have however, just finished a fabulous book: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It was fantastic, the intrigue and twists, and it was beautifully written. I have to admit, I couldn't get started with it at first, but I think that was my frame of mind and not the fault of the book, because a couple of weeks later, I started it again, and was gripped to the extent that the book came with me everywhere so that I could carry on reading whenever I had a break. The characters were brilliant, and the final twists were completely unpredictable.

I did forget to mention another book that I greatly enjoyed, and that was The Savage Garden by Mark Mills. I read this quite recently, and it was set in Italy and described the interpretation of the design of a landscaped garden, and the resulting torrid love affair. Again, full of mystery and intrigue, with wonderfully, rich characters.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Potter replacement

Well, having finished all the Harry Potter stories, I decided to try the Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. I didn't really like The Northern Lights. It was so dark and I really didn't like Mrs Coulter, so much so that I didn't see the film. However, I thought there must be something to it, and I was curious to see what would happen to the characters. So, I went to buy the Subtle Knife and the lady in the shop said that I really should buy the Amber Spyglass because once I had finished the Subtle Knife I would just want to carry on. And, she was so right! I did, and it was superb. So after that, I needed another replacement, so I decided to try Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, about two children who have been orphaned. One of them is a witch, but rather arrogant and spoilt. I haven't finished this one yet, but I am three-quarters of the way through and I am really enjoying it. One book I have just finished, which was fantastic, was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It is so wonderfully written, and completely unexpected. It is narrated by death and tells the story of a girl living in Germany during the Second World War. It is entertaining, but also incredibly moving. Not sure what I will read next. Recommendations gratefully received!