Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Other Side of the Stars

An unforgettable story of a young woman striving to find herself amidst the glitz and glamour of the film world.

Actress Lara Latner is enjoying a golden summer - her new play is the toast of London's West End, and she and her boyfriend Alex are setting up their first home together. But when her agent calls with an extraordinary opportunity - her potential break into Hollywood - she is plunged into turmoil. For the part, the lead in an American remake of a classic French film, is the role that made her mother, tragic actress Eve Lacloche, a legend. Lara does not know what to do. How can she bear to leave Alex, and their precious home for the months of the shoot? How can she ever hope to measure up to Eve's luminous performance? But perhaps it is only by stepping into her mother's shadow that Lara can hope to truly understand her, and to lay the past to rest.

About the Author
Clemency Burton-Hill is an actress, journalist and broadcaster. She is a contributing editor for the Spectator, has written for many UK publications including the Observer, Guardian, Telegraph, Daily Mail and New Statesman, and appears regularly on arts and current affairs programmes including Question Time, Andrew Marr, and BBC Radios 3, 4 and 5. She was a presenter at the BBC Proms and on the series Visionaries, and her recent acting credits include leading roles in Poirot, The Palace, and Party Animals. The Other Side of the Stars is her first novel.

A book about relationships, this was an easy read, mainly because the characters were all likeable, Lara in particular! Good storyline with paths leading to a number of assumptions that are all cleared up at the end. However, it does make true the adage that one should never assume as to assume makes an ass of u and me!

I will keep this book for a week if anyone would like to borrow it.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett

Miss Perspicacia Tick, a witch of some renown, is worried about a ripple in the walls of the universe--probably another world making contact. Which is not good. This errant activity is centred on some chalk country--where traditionally good witches simply do not grow well. Fortunately, Miss Tiffany Aching of Home Farm on The Chalk, nine years old, misunderstood and yearning for excitement, wants to be a witch and has just proved herself to be of great potential by whacking a big Green Monster from the river with a huge frying pan while using her annoying younger brother as bait. Miss Tick is impressed. So, after travelling to the chalky downs at once and dispensing some stop gap advice to Tiffany about holding the fort until she gets back with more help, Miss Tick is off.
Any hesitation Tiffany may have had about the seriousness of the situation expires when the Queen of the fairies kidnaps her younger brother. With the help of a talking frog, loaned by Miss Tick, and an army of thieving, warmongering, nippy, boozy wee free men called the Nac Mac Feegle (who used to work for the Queen but rebelled), Tiffany sets off rescue her kin.
There's humour at every turn, and the situations that follow are both wonderfully dramatic and preposterously unreal. Pratchett really is the master of his genre and it's difficult to imagine a more entertaining read.
I loved this one, (I got my son to borrow it from the school library)
I don't think there is a Pratchett book I did't enjoy, maybe that is the child in me! LOL
The Nac mac Feegle are just a superb group of Pictsies!!
If you fancy some light fun reading then this is for you!

Whispers in the Sand - Barbara Erskine

The gripping suspense story is set in richly mysterious Egypt, where past and present elide. Recently divorced, Anna Coburn decides to cheer herself up by retracing a journey her great-grandmother, Louisa, a renowned artist, made in the mid-nineteenth century -- a Nile cruise from Luxor to the Valley of the Kings. Anna carries with her two of Louisa's possessions -- an ancient Egyptian scent bottle, and an illustrated diary of the original cruise that has lain unread for a hundred years. As she follows in Louisa's footsteps, Anna discovers in the diary a wonderful love story from the Victorian past, and the chilling, more distant secret of the little glass bottle. Meanwhile, two men from the tour party are showing a disturbing interest in these mementos, and developing an unfriendly rivalry for Anna's attention. And, most frightening of all, Anna finds herself the victim of a haunting, a spectral presence that grows in strength and threat as the dramatic stories from three different eras intertwine in a terrifying climax.

I only need one word to describe this book ... AMAZING, i think it's the best one i have read by her. It is so exciting and really grabs the attention. I was sad that it ended. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

I know you have this one Karan, but if anyone else would like it please let me know, otherwise i'll drop it off in the charity shop in the village next week.

Happy reading!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Camelot's Shadow - Sarah Zettel

When Nineteen-year old Lady Rhian discovers her father promised her at birth to a sorcerer in return for her mother's life, she runs away to join a convent. Determined to exact his payment, the sorcerer waylays her on the road, but is thwarted by a valiant knight. Sir Gawain gallantly offers to escort Rhian to Camelot, and Queen Gunevere's protection.

Gawain has taken a great risk in stopping to help Rhian - he must warn his uncle, King Arthur, of impending war. But when they are attacked by a band of Saxons, Rhian proves that her skills include more than tapestry and gossip - and Gawain will be captivated as much by her bravery as by her beauty....

Forget the Victorian romantic versions of the story of Camelot, with knights in shining armour and the chivalric code of much later years: this book tries to be more in keeping with the real history of the time when King Arthur etc could have lived. Rather than being based on Arthur and Guinevere and Merlin, whose stories have been told and re-told in varying versions over many years, it weaves it's story around the other characters in the Camelot legend.

If you want a truly historical tale then you need to be looking at Non-Fiction....... but if you want a little escapism in the form of an entertaining read with a little true romance then this is definitely the right book for you. :0)

Registering it with Book Crossing and it has been added to my Swap List - shout if you'd like it. :0)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Hiding from the Light - Barbara Erskine

Across the peninsula the mist rolled in, its icy fingers curling up the cliffs. Inside their houses people stirred in their sleep and children cried in the dark.

The parish of Manningtree and Mistley has a dark history. In 1644 Cromwell's Witchfinder General tortured scores of women there, including Liza, the herbalist, whose cottage still stands, and Sarah, daughter of the manor. And the spirits of his victims still haunt the old shop in the High Street, they say.

Emma Dickson gave up her high-flying career to live in Liza's cottage but now, as Helloween approaches, she is being driven half-mad by visions of the terrible past. In despair, Emma turns to the young rector for help but he, too, is in the grip of something inexplicable and dangerous.....

Unfortunately, as a Pagan, I took exception to her presentation of Wicca and making the local witch the baddie as it buys into all the old stereotypical clap-trap about linking Paganism and Wicca with Satanism and Black Magic. Yes it's only a story but this kind of thing continually reinforces all the negative imagery that was perpetuated by the church to stamp out the old religion and which, unfortunately, still persists today in some quarters and is spouted whenever modern Paganism and Wicca are referred to.

What the author seems to have completely ignored is that we (Pagans and Wiccans - and other earth-based belief systems) don't believe in Satan - he's a Christian concept - and that no decent self-respecting Pagan or Wiccan would ever violate the Rede, as was persistently done by the Wiccan in the book. I guess sticking to the real facts would have got in the way of the story *sigh*.

Apart from that exception it was another gripping read from the author, keeping me turning the pages into the early hours and picking it up during the day to find out how it ended.

Book will be registered with Book Crossing and is now available to anyone who would like it. :0)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

Detective Jimmy Perez is the first investigator on the scene. He grew up on the neighbouring Fair Isle and is familiar with the locals and the way of life. Determined to get a head start before the Senior officer and his team arrive from Aberdeen on the mainland, Jimmy begins to question the locals. Luckily for Jimmy his senior officer, the driven energizer-bunny Inspector Taylor, is wise enough to recognize that Jimmy's local knowledge is an asset and allows him to have his head. Together they try to unravel the inter-connecting relationships and secrets to discover who killed Catherine.

RAVEN BLACK works well on a number of levels. First off it's a first-class whodunit. All the clues are there if you can figure it out (I didn't). On top of that, the author gives the reader a glimpse of life in a small isolated community. A fascinating layer-cake of things determine attitudes; an unacknowledged hierarchy revolving around how long a given family has lived on the island and their prosperity or otherwise; open secrets that aren't spoken about; the difficulties recent arrivals have in being accepted and a whole host of other things. I could give you examples but that would spoil half the intrigue of the book.

Karan sent me this one, it was a lovely book to read, although like Karan i did want to know what happened to the main characters in the book as it seemed to come to a bit of an abrupt end. There are 3 more books set on the island so maybe there is news of them in the others. I have to keep an eye out for these when i visit the charity shops failing that take a trip to the library if i run out of stuff to read!!

Thank you Karan for recommending this one, it was a nice one to read in the middle of the night nursing a sick kitty cat!

I'll hang onto this for a week if anyone wants it let me know, otherwise i'll release it into the wild.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Area 7 - Matthew Reilly

It is America's most secret base, hidden deep in the Utah desert, an Air Force installation known only as Area 7. And today it has a special visitor: the President of the United States.
He has come to inspect Area 7, to examine its secrets for himself. But he's going to get more than he bargained for on this trip. Because hostile forces are waiting for him inside....

Among the President's helicopter crew, however, is a young marine. He is quiet, enigmatic, and he hides his eyes behind a pair of silver sunglasses.

His name is Schofield. Call sign: SCARECROW. Rumour has it, he's a good man in a storm. Judging by what the President has just walked into, he'd better be....

The book is actually meant as a sequel to Ice Station but you don't have to have read that before reading this one - it works well as a stand-alone. More about the author and his other books can be found here.

After reading and thoroughly enjoying Riverton I opted for a complete change of pace....... and got it! The book started out a little slow and had me wondering if I was going to get into it..... then the action started......... and kept right on going. Phew - it certainly is as action-packed, pacy and full of non-stop thrills as the blurb claims it to be and is definitely not one I'd recommend as quiet bed-time reading. LOL Neither would I recommend it if you're at all squeamish as it does tend to be a tad on the gorey side at times. Yes, I'm realistic enough to know that similar situations IRL would turn very gorey indeed but it does feel, occasionally, that the author writes these sections with a bit too much relish. Now and again the amount of action had me wondering if the main character is actually a Superhero in disguise. Just the kind of thing that Hollywood loves, so am now waiting to see if they turn this into a movie. ;0)

Registered this with Book Crossing and have done a controlled release: handed over to my DBro to read then wild release. :0)