Friday, 7 December 2012

Journey's End

Well here we are at journey’s end.  It has taken me 11 months longer than I thought it would but it has been an interesting, informative and inspiring journey, which was uplifting in parts and depressing in others.  Most of the books I read were ones that I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up.  Some were great and a few were not.  My favourites were The Book Thief by Markus Zusack (Germany), Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Democratic Republic of Congo & Congo Brazzaville) and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Ethiopia and Eritrea).  My least favourites were Cameroon with Egbert by Dervla Murphy (Cameroon), which was informative but very dull and Tailor of Panama by John Le Carre (Panama), which I didn’t understand!  Would I do it again?  Yes but not for a while.  My next reading challenge is going to be closer to home and will combine 2 of my hobbies – reading and ‘collecting’ islands  – Around the British Isles in 80 Island Books.  Here endeth this blog.  Thank you for reading it.   7th December 2012

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Book 80, Countries 86 & 87 – Wales and England

I think I Love You by Allison Pearson – first published 2010

With only one book to go to the end of my reading journey I realised I still had 2 countries to visit.  This was the only book I could find in a hurry, which was set in both Wales and England. 

The first part of the book is set in a South Wales town somewhere near Swansea in 1974.  Petra and her friends are all mad about David Cassidy and avid readers of the Essential David Cassidy Magazine.  Unknown to them a man named Bill, who works in an office in London, is paid to write articles for the magazine, as if he were David Cassidy.  Petra and her friend Sharon enter the Ultimate David Cassidy Quiz run by the magazine.   24 years later, after the death of her mother, Petra finds a letter that her mother had hidden from her saying that they had won the competition.  Petra rings the publishers of the magazine and although it is no longer published Bill still works for them and they agree to pay for Petra and Sharon to fly to Las Vegas with Bill to meet David Cassidy.  An agreeable feel-good story.  7/10

24th November 2012

Book 79, Country 85 – Ireland

It had to be you by Sarah Webb – first published in 2004

This is an above average feel-good chick lit book.  Molly, Paige and Kate are 3 friends who live in a small town near Dublin.  Molly is the manager of Ireland’s only specialist romance bookshop and an aspiring author herself, Paige is standing for election to the national parliament and Kate is a shop assistant in a trendy shoe shop during the day and by night she runs a dummy dating service.    They all have issues to deal with in their personal lives but by the end of the books these are all resolved and everyone lives happily ever after, which is also the name of the bookshop where Molly works!  7/10

1st November 2012

Monday, 17 September 2012

Book 78, Country 84 - Scotland

Death of a Nag by M.C. Beaton - first published in the UK in 1995

This is the first of the many Hamish Macbeth murder mysteries I have read.  I have never seen any of the 1995-97 TV series, starring Robert Carlyle in the title role.  Hamish goes on holiday to the fictional village of Skag on the Moray Firth.    He stays in a guesthouse where the food is awful and there are several other guests in residence.  He has only been there a couple of days when the unlikable husband of one of the fellow guests is murdered and he offers to help the local police with their enquiries.  The book has an old fashioned 'Agatha Christie' kind of feel to it  e.g. no one feels very sorry for the deceased and the murderer must be one of the fellow guests.  7/10

1st September 2012

Book 77, Country 83 - Iceland

Tainted Blood by Arnaldur Indridason - translated from Icelandic and first published in the UK as Jar City in 2004

An excellent crime novel set in and around Reykjavik.  A man is murdered in his flat and a cryptic note is left behind by the murderer.  Detective Erlendur and his team delve into his past and discover that he was accused of rape 40 years earlier.  As they unravel more they discover that the true story is far more complicated than it first appears and involves Iceland's Genetic Research Centre.  The same team of detectives appears in other novels by the same author but each novel stands up well on its own.  Maps of Iceland and Reykjavik are included, which are useful for those of us whose geography of Icleand is minimal.   8/10

25th August 2012

Book 76 - Country 82 - Greenland

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss - first published in the UK in 2009

 A team of 6 archaeologists travel to a remote and unpopulated place on the west coast of Greenland to excavate a Viking settlement.  However the group members fail to 'gel' and gradually they realise that their leader hasn't brought enough food or made firm arrangements for them to be collected at the end of their stay.  The story is narrated by each of the team in turn but mostly by Nina, who soon becomes aware of a ghostly stranger in their midst.  She thinks it is a Viking, who is unhappy that the team are digging up human skeletons in a graveyard.  The rest of the team think Nina is just neurotic.  Meanwhile back in the rest of the world a flu pandemic is spreading across the world.  Then the team's communication links with the outside world fail and no one comes to pick them up, as the long dark cold Arctic winter approaches and their food runs out.   The story then ends abruptly with the survivors having been rescued and returning to their homes.  However details of the rescue are absent and it all feels a bit unsatisfactory and unclear with several unanswered questions, e.g. who rescued them, and what was the outcome of the pandemic.  The book reminded me of Michel Paver's Dark Matter but it much less convincing or terrifying than that excellent book, which is set on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the 1930s.      6/10

10th August 2012

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Book 75, Country 81 - Canada

No Cry for Help – Grant McKenzie – first published in the UK in 2010

The wife and 2 young sons of Canadian bus driver Wallace Carver vanish from a shopping mall in the USA.  The police suspect him but he is innocent and has no idea why they have been taken.  Wallace is determined to get them back and he enlists the help of a friend and his friend’s relatives.  The book is a real page-turner and the pace rarely lets up.  However I thought the plot was a bit thin and unbelievable.  There is quite a lots of violence and several people come to various sticky ends at the hands of each other and Wallace and his friends.  I found it hard to believe that an ordinary law abiding citizen would have had the skills and mental and physical strength to survive all the events in the book.  6/10

9th July 2012