Monthly Archives: March 2012

Ella Minnow Pea by Matt Dunn

DATE FINISHED: March 29th, 2012

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  The tiny island of Nollop has built its life and customs around the revered lipogram, ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’. When – due surely to the passage of time – the lettering on the memorial statue begins to fall away, the Nollopian council decrees that useage of the fallen letters must likewise fall from use.  The island’s story is told through a postal correspondence, of correspondingly limited letters.

THOUGHTS:   I was worried that the story would suffer at the hands of its premise and turn into a technical exercise at the expense of narrative flow, but luckily this fear was unfounded.   Read more of this post

Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks by Christopher Brookmyre

DATE FINISHED: January, 2012 (catch-up post)             

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  Showman & psychic Gabriel Lafayette submits himself to tests under controlled conditions, to prove his ‘powers’. A student at the university is convinced he can prove Lafayette a fraud, but why is he so determined? Following his involvement with the project, sceptic Jack Parlabane narrates from beyond the grave as he tries to figure out if & what is the greater scheme afoot.

THOUGHTS:   Although (potentially) fraudulent mediums are a subject which interests me, I felt that rather heavy weather was made of what should have been an entertaining storyline.   Read more of this post

Mystery Man by Bateman

DATE FINISHED: January, 2012 (catch-up post)             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  The young, witty, reclusive, hypochondriac owner of a bookshop specialising in the crime genre, is dragged into various investigations (mostly against his better judgment) when the detective agency next door never re-opens (under possibly mysterious circumstances).  Add to this an unexpected relationship with the beautiful girl who works across the street, and who knows what might happen next?

THOUGHTS:   The setting in an independent bookshop invites not unwarranted comparisons with TV’s Black Books: very wry, slightly sarcastic, deadpan delivery. Very funny, too.   Read more of this post

Endings

“The sort of books I like best are those in which I can completely lose myself.  At first, you sit with the unopened book on your lap waiting to meet the main character with that sense of anticipation you get on blind dates.  Is this person going to be your new best friend?  And then there’s a moment – normally just over half-way through – when your heart grows until it’s too big for your body because all these dreadful things are happening in the book and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  You can’t even tell the character they’re making all the wrong decisions.  You’vve just got to keep on reading.  But then you get to the last words and you can’t believe it, you keep your fingers on the end sentence because it can’t all finish there.  It’s as if they’ve shut the door and left you on the other side, unwanted.  And you cared so much.  And there’s no way to make them see how much you cared.”

from Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway

Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway

DATE FINISHED: March 29th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Naïve social misfit Verity Bell is concerned about many minor and major issues in her life, such as her leering boss, and her best friend Sally’s affair with a married man. Everything changes when she acquires a relationship of her own with an equally married man, with whom she knows she has found the secret to love and happiness. Although he is suddenly more reluctant to leave his wife, and increasingly finds fault in little things Verity knows she can change… Of course she is not in denial!

THOUGHTS:  You would be forgiven for assuming from the cover artwork and synopsis that this is just another frothy, throwaway chick-lit novel. It isn’t. Read more of this post

A scene in a novel comes back to him

“A scene in a novel comes back to him in every detail, complete with the corresponding page layout, typeface, smell of glue and paper, and even the blank spaces, the punctuation, the word-break at the end of a line, with part of it hanging on by a hyphen and the balance forlornly embarking on the next line.”

from The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Peju

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The Girl from the Chartreuse by Pierre Peju

DATE FINISHED: March 28th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  A bookseller driving his van through the crowded streets of a small French town knocks down a young girl whose mother has failed to collect her from school.  While the girl is in a coma, Vollard tells her stories from his immense memory; and Eva’s mother drifts in and out of the hospital, more trapped than ever.  Both must live with their guilt over the child’s situation, and what will happen if & when the child wakes up?

THOUGHTS:  Despite the appealing jacket and the emotionally drama-wrought potential of the synopsis above, this is a very quiet novel, about two adults who are lost in different ways, for different reasons.   Read more of this post

Will I ever read these books?

 I collect books.  If it looks interesting, for whatever reason, it finds a home on my shelves.  Usually, eventually, I get around to reading it.  Sometimes, a particular interest may have passed, or something no longer appeals, so I remove it from the shelf & pass it onwards (unread books are sad and lonely creatures: far better to find a new and loving home).  But there are some books which I really do want to read, but somehow never quite have the impetus to pick up and…read.  Some I have started and put back to try again at another time; others have not even made it that far.  But I definitely do not want to move them on.

Although I have no intention of making a resolution to read my languishing books asap (books should only be read when the time is right, for best results!), I thought that making a note of them for myself might somehow nudge them closer to their time.  The current books I have in this category are: Read more of this post

What I’ve read so far in 2012

As I have been neglecting this blog, lately, I am adding this post as a ‘filler’, with the intention of updating throughout the year (unless I get back into the swing of things), so I still have a record of what I have read.

JANUARY

The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – 3/5 
Not many thoughts about this, really.  Innocuous fare, not as clever as I had hoped from the jacket blurb.

Mystery Man by Colin Bateman –  3.5/5  (extended review added retrospectively, March 29th)
Very funny in parts, but not quite as good as I remembered Chapter & Verse to be (or Turbulent Priests).

Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks by Christopher Brookmyre –  3/5   (extended review added retrospectively, March 29th)
I was looking for something Bateman-ish in style/tone, so it took me a while to adjust to the fact that this was not.  A little too much self-reference to previous adventures (which did not whet my appetite for them).  Might try another in the future, but as this was the storyline which most appealed to me, currently undecided on that.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt –  3/5 
A very easy-going narrative & short chapters made the novel easy to get into, but became very same-y all too soon.  Has a fantastic cover design, though!

Paper Moon by Joe David Brown – 3/5 
Enjoyed the first part a lot more than the latter, with the descriptions of the scams pulled by father & daughter.  Was disappointed by the Pollyanna-ish turn as the book progressed (something I assume I would have been prepared for if I had first seen the film…).

FEBRUARY

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