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Showing posts from March, 2011

Help! My wish list #18

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One more title from my ever-expanding reading wish list.

** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. **

Falling Angels
By Tracy Chevalier

Amazon's product description: 1901, the year of Queen Victoria's death. The two graves stood next to each other, both beautifully decorated. One had a large urn -- some might say ridiculously large -- and the other, almost leaning over the first, an angel -- some might say overly sentimental. The two families visiting the cemetery to view their respective neighbouring graves were divided even more by social class than by taste. They would certainly never have become acquainted had not their two girls, meeting behind the tombstones, become best friends. And furthermore -- and even more unsuitably -- become involved in the life of the gravedigger's son. As the girls grow up, as the ce…

Book review: The Savage Garden

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My "Italy in Books" reading challenge continues with The Savage Garden by Mark Mills.

In 1958, Adam Strickland, a Cambridge art history student, travels to Tuscany to study the sixteenth-century garden belonging to Villa Docci. His intention is to write his thesis on the Mannerist garden that occupies a sunken grove near the imposing villa. His Italian summer, however, will teach him much more than he could have ever imagined.

Conceived by Federico Docci in 1577, the garden had been created in memory of his beloved wife and was inhabited by classical statues that re-enacted their tales of love and longing amidst grottoes, fountains and triumphal arches. Instantly fascinated, Adam seems to think that the apparently clear display of grief and love hides a secret message.

Adam is also intrigued by the Docci family. There is Signora Docci, the matriarch, who takes a shine to the English student. There is her son, Emilio, whom Adam finds oddly suspicious. And then, Antonella, the “w…

Help! My wish list #17

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One more title from my ever-expanding reading wish list.

** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. **

Breakfast In Brighton: Adventures on the Edge of England
By Nigel Richardson

Amazon's product description: Inspired by Brighton as a state of mind as much as a place, Nigel Richardson returns after a gap of 20 years to capture its spirit. The narrative is woven from strands of memoir, travelogue, reportage and fiction.

Why I want to read this book: Because I live in Brighton and absolutely adore it!

Kimberly Menozzi and... Mail Call!

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It's been one of the most difficult things to get used to, here. Having been raised in the suburbs outside of a smaller town in the United States (not an urban upbringing by any stretch of the imagination), I'm accustomed to a postal service which leaves mail in a mailbox alongside the road in front of my house, or even, when the occasion calls for it, places a package on the front porch or by my front door for me to find when I return home.

Nothing could have prepared me for the row of mailboxes on the wall outside the main doors of the palazzo where I now live, or for the ringing of my rather alarming doorbell which brings to mind the change of classes in my high school days. How many times have I been startled by a prolonged, startling ring of that bell, which scares the cat and shakes me with the sudden unexpectedness of it? Alternatively, how do they time it so perfectly to catch me at the most inconvenient time possible? Are they spying on me? Does my doorbell have a hidd…

Book review: The Lost Symbol

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By Dan Brown

Having enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, I approached The Lost Symbol with certain expectations. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Robert Langdon, professor of religious iconology and symbology at Harvard University, is invited to hold a speech during an important event at the Capitol. When he arrives in Washington, however, there is no gala dinner. Instead, he is welcomed by the gruesome finding of Peter Solomon’s severed hand. A dear friend and significant member of the Freemasons, Peter has been kidnapped by a man who calls himself Mal’akh and who’s determined to gain access to the legendary Mason's Pyramid and the power that it contains. Professor Langdon has only a few hours’ time to try and save his mentor.

True to his style, Brown has created a thriller capable of keeping your interest at all times. The narrative is fast-paced, packed with sudden twists and revelations. Some of these might become predictable as events unfold but not so much in advance that…

Help! My wish list #16

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One more title from my ever-expanding reading wish list.

** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. **

The Journal of Dora Damage
By Belinda Starling

Amazon's product description: London, 1859. By the time Dora Damage discovers that her husband Peter has arthritis in his hands, it is too late - their book-binding business is in huge debt and the family is on the brink of entering the poorhouse. But Dora proves that she is more than just a housewife and mother. She resolves to rescue her family at any price and finds herself irrevocably entangled in a web of sex, money, deceit and the law.

Why I want to read this book: I must admit that, apart from the mention of the book-binding trade, the description above doesn't really make me want to read this novel. The fact that it has been compared to Sarah Waters's work, howev…

Book review: Relatively Norma

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The LGBT reading challenge continues and this month I’ve read Relatively Norma by Anna Livia. Described as a “widely read lesbian feminist writer and linguistic theorist”, she was active in London during the 1980s and she was apparently “one of the most widely read of that generation”.

Relatively Norma, published by Onlywomen Press in 1982, was her first novel and “a wry exploration of coming out”.
As the blurb on the back cover reveals, Minnie, a lesbian feminist from London, travels to Australia to see her mother and come out to her. That’s it. 220 pages and nothing really happens. Even the coming out only sort of happens.
I really wish I could write something positive about this book but I didn’t enjoy it one bit. The narrative is almost non-existent. There are many characters, mostly female – Minnie, her mother Beryl, her sister Ingrid, her foster-sister Laura and a couple of Australian feminists. All have their issues, presented in a messy and tangled way which seems to have no log…

Book review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

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By Carrie Ryan
Published by Orion Books

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is not the kind of book that I would normally go for but I was attracted by its cover and – after reading the blurb on the back – I was hooked.

Carrie Ryan describes a world dominated by fear. Fear of the Unconsecrated, zombie-like creatures that populate the forest surrounding the village that’s home to Mary and her family. Life is governed by the rules of the Sisterhood and is protected by the Guardians, who strive to keep the mass of hungry Unconsecrated on the other side of solid fences that run around the whole perimeter of the village.

Despite making the village a safe place, in Mary’s eyes the fences become the symbol of her imprisonment. She was born after the Return and she craves a life that she has not known but that she has glimpsed through the tales of her mother. She grew up hearing about the ocean and buildings so tall that touched the sky. “Fancies,” people call them. To Mary, however, they are as real a…

Tips for aspiring writers – part 2

Amanda Sington-Williams on: First person narrators.

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Choosing the type of narrator to tell your story is as important as knowing your character. If you choose to tell your story using a first person narrator, some readers might be confused about who the narrator is and who the author is. Authors must be clear about their role, so that they don’t slip into autobiographical mode. This is why character building is so important.

When writing in first person, the narrator is the character that drives the story. The author must be able to ‘possess’ their character so it reads authentically. Using a first person narrator can be limiting, as the view of the world is restricted to how he/she sees it.

You might choose a first person present to narrate your story, or a first person past. Alternatively you might use a combination of the two.

First person present gives a strong sense of immediacy and allows the narrator to explore the consciousness of the character. It has a sense of ‘freshness’ ab…

Help! My wish list #15

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One more title from my ever-expanding reading wish list.

** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. **

Once on a Moonless Night
By Dai Sijie

Amazon's product description: Beguiling and ambitious, this new novel by the author of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is ostensibly a search for an ancient text and a love story. But beneath that is a haunting tale about language and identity, about the shifting layers of history under the confusing surface of Chinese life and politics, with a final Buddhist twist. A young French woman in Peking in the late 1970s interprets between Chinese professors and Bertolucci for his film The Last Emperor. Afterwards, she follows a disgruntled old professor who tells her about a text believed to be taken directly from Buddha’s teachings and inscribed on silk cloth centuries ago. It was w…

Book review: Next World Novella

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By Matthias Politycki
Translated by Anthea Bell
Published by Peirene Press

Next World Novella, the English translation of the German Jenseitsnovelle by Matthias Politycki, is the fourth title published by Pereine Press, which specialises in contemporary European literature.

Hinrich Schepp wakes up one morning to find his wife Doro sitting at the desk. He thinks that she must have fallen asleep while editing one of his writings but as he gets nearer to her slumped figure, he realises that she is dead.

Not wanting to let her go so quickly, he decides to read the last comments she wrote – her last words to him – while she’s still there with him. During the following hours he will experience a spectrum of emotions – tenderness, anger, forgiveness, astonishment – as he re-reads through Marek the Drunkard, his only attempt at novel-writing.

Far from being simple comments on his style, what he finds on the margins is his wife’s account of their marriage. Years of a life shared misunderstanding aft…

Book review: Kill Chain

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By Meg Gardiner
Reviewed by Natazzz

I'm a big fan of crime novels. In fact, it's one of my favourite genres when it comes to books. Over the years I must have read hundreds of crime novels and I have a pretty good idea of what they usually entail and what I like and dislike about them. I picked up the paperback of Kill Chain by Meg Gardiner (2006) at a book fair last year because the cover appealed to me and I thought I would enjoy it. The book didn't disappoint but it also did not stand out much.

Kill Chain tells the story of Phil Delany, whose car is found at the bottom of a ravine. The cops think Phil just wanted to disappear but his daughter Evan finds out he's been kidnapped by some very bad people. They tell Evan her father will die is she doesn't give them something they want within 72 hours. In order to do so she has to figure out what exactly they are looking for and where to find it. Evan ends up travelling all around the world, stopping at nothing to save h…

Help! My wish list #14

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One more title from my ever-expanding reading wish list.

** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. **

The Bell Jar
By Sylvia Plath
Amazon's product description:The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath's only novel. Renowned for its intensity and outstandingly vivid prose, it broke existing boundaries between fiction and reality and helped to make Plath an enduring feminist icon. It was published under a pseudonym a few weeks before the author's suicide. 'It is a fine novel, as bitter and remorseless as her last poems . . . The world in which the events of the novel take place is a world bounded by the Cold War on one side and the sexual war on the other . . . This novel is not political nor historical in any narrow sense, but in looking at the madness of the world and the world of madness it forces us to consider the great …

LGBT reading challenge - March reviews

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Thanks again for joining the LGBT reading challenge 2011! If you haven't joined yet, don't worry: there is still time.

Below is a list of all the book reviews that have been submitted in March (via this link). Hopefully you will all find new and interesting titles to explore - I, for one, am sure to gather another few books to add to my TBR list!

Whether you already know the books that are being discussed or not, I strongly encourage you to leave comments below and on the other blogs. I want to hear your voices! Despite its name, the reading challenge is not simply a competition, more of an opportunity to share ideas and bond over our common interests!

Let's begin!
01. Natazz read and reviewed The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson. 02. Lucy read and reviewed Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner. 03. Juliet read and reviewed Secret of the Sands by Sara Sheridan. 04. Orange Sorbet read and reviewed Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult. 05. Irene read and reviewed Demonglass by Rachel Ha…

"Italy in Books" - March reviews

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Thanks again for joining the "Italy in Books” reading challenge 2011! What? You haven't joined yet? No worries, there is time to sign up until the very last day of the year...

Below you can find a list of all the book reviews submitted in March (via this link). I am sure that everyone will find it useful to learn about new and interesting reading ideas - in fact, I suspect that as a result of this challenge my TBR list will expand dangerously!

Whether you know the books that are being discussed or have never heard of them, I strongly encourage you to leave comments below and on the blogs themselves. I want to hear your voices! Despite its name, the reading challenge is not a mere competition, rather an opportunity to share ideas and bond over common interests!

Let's begin!

01. Jose read and reviewed Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio.
02. Barbara read and reviewed God's Spy by Juan Gomez Jurado.
03. Juliet read and reviewed La luna e i falò (The Moon and the Bon…

LGBT challenge - Link for March reviews and prize draw

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It’s March and the LGBT reading challenge 2011 continues!

This month, courtesy of Constable & Robinson, two of you will have the chance to win a copy of The Mammoth Book of New Gay Erotica edited by Lawrence Schimel.

To participate in the prize draw, all you have to do is:

Read a book - fiction or non-fiction - whose author is LBGT, whose topic is LGBT and/or whose characters (even minor ones) are LGBTShare your review (or opinion, if it sounds less intimidating!) by clicking hereEasy, isn't it?

IMPORTANT! Please note that you need to have signed up for the challenge to be eligible for the prize draw. If you haven't signed up yet, you can do it here (full instructions here). If you can't remember whether you have or haven't signed up, you can check whether your name is listed here.

Happy reading!

"Italy in Books" - Link for March reviews and prize draw

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It’s March and the “Italy in Books” reading challenge 2011 continues!

This month, courtesy of Hersilia Press, two of you will have the chance to win a copy of Blood Sisters by Alessandro Perissinotto. To participate in the prize draw, all you have to do is:
Read a book set in Italy or about Italian culture & languageShare your review (or opinion, if it sounds less intimidating!) by clicking hereEasy, isn't it?

IMPORTANT! Please note that you need to have signed up for the challenge to be eligible for the prize draw. If you haven't signed up yet, you can do it here (full instructions here). If you can't remember whether you have or haven't signed up, you can check whether your name is listed here.

Buona lettura!

LGBT challenge - February winner

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11 reviews. All books that I didn’t even know existed… my wish list is getting longer and longer!

Did you miss the reviews? Don't worry, follow this link and catch up with all the bookish goodness! And if you’ve just come across the LGBT reading challenge 2011, you can find all the information you need by clicking here. Joining couldn’t be easier!

And now, the long-awaited moment of the prize draw!

The lucky reviewer who, courtesy of Serpent's Tail, will receive a copy of Wavewalker by Stella Duffy is:

Saranga, who read and reviewed Antique Bakery by Fumi Yoshinaga & Midnighter: Anthem by various writers and artists.

"Italy in Books" - February winner

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23 reviews: a few books that I had heard of but mostly books that I wasn't familiar with. That's what I call a good month!

Did you miss the reviews? Fear not, follow this link and catch up with all the bookish goodness! And if you’ve just come across the Italy in Books reading challenge 2011, you can find all the information you need by clicking here. Joining couldn’t be easier!

And now, the long-awaited moment of the prize draw!

The lucky reviewer who, courtesy of Duckworth, will receive a copy of Why Italians Love to Talk About Food by Elena Kostioukovitch is:

Coffee and a Book Chick, who reviewed The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland