Friday, 28 November 2008

Chocolat - Joanne Harris

When an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud identifies her as a serious danger to his flock - especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial. War is declared as the priest denounces the newcomer's wares as the ultimate sin.

Suddenly Vianne's shop-come-cafe means that there is somewhere for secrets to be whispered, grievances to be aired, dreams to be tested. But Vianne's plans for an Easter Chocolate Festival divide the whole community in a conflict that escalates into a "Church not Chocolate" battle. As mouths water in anticipation, can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate eclair?

You can also read more about the book here. It also has an interesting piece from the author about how she came to write the book, the inspirations behind it and the motivations behind the main two characters.

Just as I'm told to lose 2 stone in weight I choose this book to read, which has descriptions of foods and tastes so good it sets your mouth watering. Perverse or what? LOL
There's a strongly Pagan theme that runs throughout the book which appealed strongly to me (naturally enough) but there's also so much more in there: a mother's love for her daughter; hypocrisy; love of and enjoyment in life; magic; friendship; facing your demons; human nature at it's worst.... and best and much more - all mixed together with a wonderful descriptive style that helps you to visualise the people and the area and which also helps to lighten some of the slightly dark aspects in the book.

A fascinating read and now I've read the book I'd like to see the film, to see how faithfully they've stuck to the original concepts and if they've done it justice... or not. :0)

This is registered with Book Crossing and has now been released into the wild. :0)

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Choosers of the Slain - James Cobb

With its sleek outline hiding its awesome capabilities, the USS Cunningham is no ordinary warship. The world's first stealth missile destroyer, her offensive power is matched only by her baffling ability to evade her enemies. And she has no ordinary captain: behind Commander Amanda Lee Garrett's elegant exterior lies a lightning sharp intelligence and a will of steel.
But now both ship and commander are about to be tested in the heat of battle for the first time, as the Argentines launch a military takeover of the Antarctic peninsula, with only the Cunningham standing between them and their mineral-rich prize.
Faced with the full might of the Argentine navy and airforce in the freezing, fog-shrouded waters off the Antarctic Circle, the Cunningham and her crew are about to find out just how good they really are.

I opted to go for something completely different with this read. LOL
I'm not usually a fan of war themed books, as I usually find them too full of gung-ho macho stuff for my liking....... plus I'm generally a pacifist at heart. This was, on the whole, a nice exception to the rule. There's still enough gung-ho and technical stuff in there to keep any male readers happy but there's also a really good female main character that makes it an interesting read for women: enough of a role model to satisfy even the strongest women's libber. LOL

The battle scenes are well described and keep the tension going through the book - certainly exciting enough, if you forget about the mounting fatalities....... it certainly brings home just how devastating war (especially high-tech war) can be.

On the lighter side: there are some nice twists of humour and there's also a potential love interest in there which slowly develops through the book. That is left open ended but there are further books based on the same characters, so presumably the interest will continue to develop through those and I'm now curious enough about how that develops to want to read them.

All in all, so long as the thoughts of fatalities etc were put to one side, I found this an absorbing book..... a really good read. :0)

Registered this with Book Crossing and it's now available for anyone who wants to read it - or wants it for their OH to read. :0)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Ingo - Helen Dunmore

Everything is wet and shining with mist. The rocks hidden, the sea hidden. Everything slippery and dangerous... the sea pulling me like a magnet.

Swimming, surfing, exploring - Sapphire and her brother Conor enjoy life by the sea in Cornwall. But why does Conor start disappearing for hours on end? And who is the mysterious girl talking to him on the rocks?

Following Conor down to the cove one day, Sapphire discovers Ingo - an exciting and dangerous world beneath the waves, where all you breathe is adventure....

You can also read more here.

This is another Children's Fiction book, one of a series based on the undersea world of Ingo and Sapphire and Conor's interactions with it. Not a Prize Winner this time but a reasonably good read nonetheless, bearing in mind that it's primarily aimed at children - though I'd say older children due to the language level and concepts that are dealt with in it. The synopsis doesn't mention that the children's Dad disappears one night whilst out fishing on his boat, so the book touches on issues that result from losing a parent and the changes that can ensue, which may not sit well with some younger readers.

So far there are two further books in this series, so they should develop the story further and start to tie up some of the loose ends left at the end of this first one. I'm a fan of fantasy books and films so thoroughly enjoy this type of escapism into other worlds/realms and was captured enough by the storyline to want to know what happens next. :0)

Another one that will be registered with Book Crossing and which is now available for anyone who wants to read it next.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Raven Black - Ann Cleeves

No one knew he had this beautiful creature to visit him. She was his treasure, the raven in his cage.
It is a cold January morning and Shetland lies beneath a deep layer of snow. Trudging home, Fran Hunter's eye is drawn to a splash of colour on the frozen ground, ravens circling above. It is the strangled body of her teenage neighbour Catherine Ross. As Fran opens her mouth to scream, the ravens continue their deadly dance.

The locals on the quiet island stubbornly focus their gaze on one man - loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But when detective Jimmy Perez and his colleagues from the mainland insist on opening out the investigation, a veil of suspicion and fear is thrown over the entire community.

For the first time in years, Catherine's neighbours nervously lock their doors, whilst a killer lives on in their midst...

You can also read another synopsis here.

Another murder mystery but this time set in the modern age. The author Ann Cleeves is, as far as I can remember, new to me.

I enjoyed the storyline (not particularly gory for a murder mystery), as it kept me guessing "whodunnit" through much of the book, due to there being red herrings aplenty, and there are some good/strong characters who's stories unfold through the book but the ending was a bit of a disappointment to me. I feel it leaves too many unanswered questions about what happens to some of the main characters and I hate being left wondering - all I can think is that perhaps their stories continue in further books where those questions will, hopefully, be answered.

Despite the disappointing ending I will be keeping an eye open for more of her books....... partly in the hopes of finding out what happens to the main characters, but also because the book was an enjoyable read and I liked her style of writing.

This is registered with Book Crossing and is now on its way to a new reader.

The Candace Robb book has now been released into the wild: I took it with us when we went to Market Rasen on Saturday and released it in the Tourist Information area within a cafe there. Now waiting to see if it's picked up and journalled on. :0)

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Journey to the River Sea - Eva Ibbotson

Synopsis: The girls in Maia's class told her what to expect when she reached the Brazilian jungle. "There are huge mosquitoes which bite you. You turn as yellow as a lemon and then you die."

But Maia, an orphan, can't wait to start the long sea voyage. She is to begin a new life with relatives she has never met, a thousand miles up the Amazon river. And Maia's classmates could never, even in their wildest dreams, imagine the adventures that await her on the shores of the River Sea.

You can also read more here.

This is another Children's Fiction book, this time a winner of the Smarties Book Prize Gold Award, and the writer, Eva Ibbotson, is a prolific children's book author. Aimed at and about children it is, nonetheless, another interesting read that shouldn't be discounted by adults. There's a good storyline and, even though you can guess at the way some of it will develop, there's still enough in there to keep you interested to the end.

It was also heartening to read a story that had a vein of sharing, caring, giving, co-operation and other good values running through it without it being overly cloying....... or resorting to ramming them home with a mallet.

All in all, an positive and enjoyable read with a satisfying ending.

I have registered this book with Book Crossing and it has now been wild released via the local Hospice Book Shop. :0)

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The House at Riverton

Last night i finished The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, it held my interest right from the first page. Unfortunately i have to return it to the library at the Community Centre so cannot pass it on. It takes till the final page for you to read what 'actually' happened.

Within its four walls lay a secret that would last a lifetime

Summer 1924: On the eve of a glittering Society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again.

Winter 1999: Grace Bradley, 98, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet's suicide. Ghosts awaken and memories, long-consigned to the dark reaches of Grace's mind, begin to sneak back through the cracks. A shocking secret threatens to emerge; something history has forgotten but Grace never could.

A thrilling mystery and a compelling love story, The House at Riverton will appeal to readers of Ian McEwan's Atonement, L.P. Hartley's The Go-Between, and lovers of the film Gosford Park.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Daughters of Fire - Barbara Erskine

The Romans are landing in Britannia.....

Cartimandua, the young woman destined to rule the great tribe of the Brigantes, watches the invaders come ever closer. From the start her world is a maelstrom of love and conflict, revenge and retribution. Cartimandua's life becomes more turbulent and complicated as her power grows, and her political skills are threatened by her personal choices. She has formidable enemies on all sides as she faces a decision which will change the future of all around her.

In the present day, historian Viv Lloyd Rees has immersed herself in the legends surrounding the Celtic Queen. Viv strggles to hide her visions of Cartimandua and her conviction that they are real. But her obsession becomes ever more persistent as she takes possession of an ancient brooch that carries a curse. Bitter rivalries and overwhelming passions are reawakened as past envelops present and Viv finds herself in the greatest danger of her life.

There's also a slightly different synopsis here.

With the mix of Celtic history and spirituality, spirit hauntings etc etc it was almost a foregone conclusion that I would like this book but I wasn't prepared for being totally hooked by it. Normally I'm just a bedtime reader, preferring to leave days free for house jobs, stitching, cardmaking, the occasional visitor and the like, but not with this book: any spare few minutes and out it came. I needed to know what happened next, so very little else got done until I'd read it all.

This was my first Barbarar Erskine book - it certainly won't be the last. Thanks for introducing her books to me. :0)

Julie: I'll get it ready for posting but it may have to wait until next weekend before it goes to the PO - depends how work goes for DH. ;0)

Friday, 7 November 2008

Maximum Ride, James Patterson

Yes this is a book series aimed at teenagers but is a truly enjoyable read,
These James Patterson books are just great!

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

Do not put this book down. I'm dead serious - your life could depend on it.
I'm risking everything by telling you - but you need to know.
IN for the thrill ride you'll want to take again and again! From Death Valley,
California, to the bowels of the New York City subway system, you're about to
take off on a heart-stopping adventure that will blow you away...
FAITHFUL COMPANIONS: Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel. Six kids who
are pretty normal in most ways - except that they're 98 percent human, 2 percent
bird. They grew up in a lab, living like rats in cages, but now they're free.
Aside, of course, from the fact that they're prime prey for Erasers - wicked
wolflike creatures with a taste for flying humans.

Maximum Ride: School's Out-Forever

Max is sure that a microchip has been inserted under her skin—leading freakish forces of evil to ambush them at any moment...AND WORSE!
She and the others are supposed to save the world.
Max will stop at nothing to find answers. One thing she does know: it's got something to do with an astonishing ability they have that no others can claim.

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel have always worked together to defeat the forces working against them—but can they save the world when they are torn apart, living in hiding and captivity, halfway across the globe from one another?

Maximum Ride: The Final Warning

Maximum Ride is a perfectly normal teenager who just happens to be able to fly, the result of an out-of-control government experiment. Max and the other members of the Flock–six kids who share her remarkable ability–have been asked to aid a group of environmental scientists studying the causes of global warming. Their ability to fly could help the scientists conquer this epic problem. The expedition seems like a perfect combination of adventure, activism–and escaping government forces who watch the Flock like a hawk.
But even in Antarctica, trapped in the harshest weather on our planet, Maximum Ride is an irresistible target in constant danger. For whoever controls her powers could also control the world....
I have just finished reading the last two books and I think there is a strong chance of another book.
There is even a website dedicated to these books~ where you can read a chapter of the books.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


Hi Everyone I have finished the Big Stone Gap Trilogy and I am going to ask my friend if I can offer them to anyone who wants them. So watch this space . Interesting to read the you have just got the House at Riverton Julie, I got a bargain yesterday The Forgotten Garden by the same author,it was on offer in WH Smith with a purchase of the Times £2.99 instead of £7.99. I think it is on all week if anyone else if interested. I started it last night and I am hooked. Looks as if all are enjoying Barbara Erskine I cannot bear to part with any of her books sorry. I was spoilt on Saturday DH bought me The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory and also Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy.I will look out some books soon to swap or just to pass on as we are going to need yet another bookcase at the rate we are going we already have 4 large ones and one wall in the lounge is floor to ceiling - never mind the t chests in the loft. I think we need a clearance firm lol. Perhaps a list of authors or books we would like to have may be an idea.
Anyway I am now off to make a cuppa and either stitch or read hmmmm Take care all Barb

Monday, 3 November 2008

The Champion - Elizabeth Chadwick

Karen very kindly passed this one on to me after she'd finished reading it and you can find the synopsis for it here. :0)

After one of those deja vu feelings I realised I'd actually read this one some time ago and remembered that I got a bit fed-up with it then, feeling things could have been moved along a little faster than they were, and admit to giving in to speed reading some parts. This time around I read it through properly - there were still a couple of bits that I felt could have been hurried along a little but have to say that, on the whole, I did enjoy the read much more.

The historical details are especially well researched and give a good idea of what life in general would have been like during that period of history - worth a read for that alone.

I shall be registering this book with Book Crossing and offering it on the Swap Site. :0)

Kate Morton?

Has anyone read any books by this author?

One of the ladies at the stitchy club recommended her, she said from the very first page she got your attention ... I borrowed The House at Riverton from the library and decided to give it a try. It certainly did what she said, the first time i sat down i read 250 pages! I've not had the chance to read much more since as i've been busy moving 'Princess Amy' into her new little palace LOL

I thoroughly enjoyed Midnight is a Lonely Place by Barbara Erskine, who wants it next? its enveloped up, just needs an adress adding to the front!