Saturday, November 28, 2009


Pages: 227
Date: 28/11/2009
Grade: 4.5
Borrowed from a friend and bookclub member

This is the story of the morning in August 1974 when Phillipe Petit managed to connect the not yet completely finished Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York with a wire and walk from one tower to the other, not just once, but several times.
Petit tells of the first time he saw a picture of the towers and how the idea was born, only to subsequently turn into an obsession.
We read about the preparations, the set backs, all he ways in which the project should have failed, and the ultimate triumph that was his walk across the wire.
Petit, as portrait by himself, is not a nice person, but then I suppose only someone completely obsessed with himself and his dream could conceive of and successfully pull of a coupe like this.
This book was written in English, but at several points in the story the French background of the author shone through. I'm glad that wasn't edited away because it adds to the authenticity of the story.
This was a fascinating book which would have been highly unbelievable had it been fiction. it was also a great follow-up to Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin." (Click here to read my review.)

Friday, November 27, 2009


Pages: 333
Date: 27/11/2009
Grade: 4+

It is really nice to be surprised by a book every now and again.
Challenged to do so by the Frontline Library course I'm doing, I picked this book very uncertain as to whether or not I would like it. In fact, I was all set to only read a chapter or two and then discard the book, again as suggested by the course. Especially since I had tried a book by Atkinson before, only to give up on it.
However, once I had started this book, I found myself intrigued by the story and its main character, and putting the book aside unfinished was no longer an option.
This is the story of Ruby Lennox, as narrated by her, literally from the moment of her conception. it is also the story of her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandmother, whose lives we visit in separate chapters called "footnotes".
None of these women's stories are happy. In fact, tragic would probably be a better word to describe their lives, yet the book had me laughing out loud on several occasions.
And Ruby's journey through childhood and to the point where she is at peace with herself, her past, her life and her family is fascinating.
I may have to give another book by Atkinson a try soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Pages: 311
Date: 23/11/2009
Grade: 5
Details: no. 2 Joe Plantagenet Mystery

I like this series a bit better than the Wesley Peterson one. Although I love the archaeology aspect of the Peterson books, I prefer the characters in this series and adore the ghostly angles these books come with.
When the strangled body of an 18 year old girl is found in Singmass Close, it appears to be "just" a horrific murder. But from the start, things are more complicated and sinister than that. After a case of mistaken identity has been cleared up, Joe Plantagenet and his colleagues discover that during the 1950's four women were murdered through strangulation in the same close. In all cases their big toes were cut off and dolls left beside the bodies, just like happened this time. Has the murderer from the past, who was never caught, resumed his murdering ways, or are they dealing with a copycat?
At the same time, the police are dealing with the escape of a convicted child killer, and the disappearance of another teenage girl.
And Singmass close has a reputation for being haunted by ghostly children.
Lots of angles, lots of possible suspects, lots of unexpected connections and a few shocking revelations, not to mention the twist at the end.
A wonderful mystery.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Pages: 576
Date: 21/11/2009
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 Matthew Shardlake Mystery

It is 1540 and it has been three years since lawyer Matthew Shardlake undertook a very distressing investigation for Thomas Cromwell.
He is asked to defend a girl who has been accused of murdering her young cousin, but it appears his efforts are in vain when the girl is granted a ten day reprieve from torture on Cromwell's orders. In return, Shardlake has to undertake another investigation for Cromwell.
The secret of the legendary and very destructive Greek Fire has been found in one of London's dissolved monasteries, and in ten days time, Cromwell has to demonstrate it's power to King Henry VIII. But when Shardlake, accompanied by Jack Barak, a servant of Cromwell's, goes to retrieve the stuff he finds it gone, and those who were working on discovering it's secrets brutally murdered.
Now Shardlake is facing two investigations that both have to be completed within 10 days. Failure to do so will certainly result in disaster for those involved. And both investigations come with dangerous opponents, devoid of anything resembling a conscience and willing to sacrifice anything and everybody to get their way.
This series is very well written and gives a detailed, at times brutally honest and fascinating picture of the 16th century in England. A time filled with conspiracies, uncertainty and violence. It is not an easy, comfy or fast read, and I prefer to put some space between two books in this series, but as historical mysteries go, these are among the best and the most realistic I have come across up to now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Pages: 375
Date: 14/11/2009
Grade: 4-

This book is not especially well written, or well plotted, but appropriately enough, it was a comfort read.
It is the story of Gus, who after being hit by tragedy creates a life and a future for herself and her two daughters as the host of a very successful show on the Food Channel.
Now she's about to hit 50 and her ratings are running backwards. There is a real chance she might lose her show, and the alternative she is more or less forced into is not going to upset just her life.
Kate Jacobs does tend to put too many characters with too many issues into her books. As a consequence none of the story lines gets the attention it probably deserves, and the ending feels a bit rushed and unfinished for some of the characters.
Still, this was an easy read, with characters I enjoyed spending time with.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Pages: 354
Date: 12/11/2009
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 2 Jo Beckett Mystery

Jo Beckett, a forensic psychiatrist is called out to San Francisco airport when a man appears to be going crazy on a plane.
After examinations and scans in a hospital, it's determined that Ian Kanan has been contaminated with something that has affected his brain, meaning that he can't form any new memories.
But this discovery is only the start of a nightmare. People want Kanan to hand over the contaminant, and have ways of forcing him. But with Kanon being contagious, but not aware of it, and the substance highly volatile, far more is at stake then Kanon's personal interests. With Kanan on the run to fulfill his mission, not finding him could spell disaster for San Francisco and the rest of the world.
This is more of a thriller than a mystery and I wouldn't have minded a bit more detecting and a bit less action.
Still, I'm growing to like the characters and the story is both well written and a real page turner. So, I will be back for more of Jo Beckett's adventures. If only to see how her emerging relationship develops.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Pages: 232
Date: 08/11/2009
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 3 Dave Robicheaux Mystery
              Edition: Three Great Novels
                             Robicheaux the Early Years

Either these mysteries are getting better as the series goes on, or I'm developing a taste for them. Either way, I can now see myself continuing with this series.
Mind you, Robicheaux is still a very troubles character, and the story continues to be dark, and filled with violence and characters you'd prefer never to encounter, but it's a very well written story and a thrilling read.
In this instalment, Roubicheaux is just about managing to keep his demons at bay when he encounters a blast from the past in the form of Dixie Lee Pugh.
When he decides to help Dixie Lee, reluctantly and against his better judgment, he soon finds himself facing the mob, as well as a murder charge.
Now he has to investigate to keep himself and little Alafair safe, as well as to prove his own innocence.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Pages: 352
Date: 05/11/2009
Grade: 3.5

I read in a review by somebody who's name I can't remember that if this book had been written by a woman it would be classed as Chick-lit, and whoever it was, I think they were right. And not very good Chick-lit at that.
This is the story of Eilis, a girl living in Enniscorthy in the south of Ireland with her mother and sister in the 1950's.
Because there is no work to be had for her, it is decided that Eilis will move to Brooklyn, where she finds a job and a room in a boarding house.
Initially she is very lonely and home sick, but eventually she finds her place starts a course and starts dating.
Just when her new life is starting to take shape, disaster strikes back home in Enniscorthy sending Eilis on a trip back home. And while there Eilis has to try and make sense of what she wants with her life and where she wants it to be, only for her to realize that she doesn't really have any choices.
I really didn't like this book very much. It was written in such a distant and analytical way that I never got to feel close to the main character or to care about her. Maybe Toibin should refrain from writing from the female perspective. In this book at least, it wasn't working for me.

Monday, November 2, 2009



Pages: 337
Date: 02/10/2009
Grade: 4
Details: Reading Group read for November

A story about Africa, although mainly set in England.
A story about corruption and abuse of power.
And a story about innocence and naivety and the high price you may have to pay for trying to do the right thing.
This is the story of Bruno Salvador, Salvo to his friends and enemies, a 29 year old orphaned son of an Irish missionary and a Congolese headman's daughter.
Having been raised both in the Congolese province of Kivu and in England and with a good head and ear for languages he grows up to become an interpreter in minority African languages. This specialism means that he works freelance for the British Secret Service.
It's is through these languages that he meets Hannah, a nurse from Kivu working in England, who opens his eyes to his faulty marriage to white and upper class Penelope, and with whom he spends a night of passion.
It's also because of his language skills that he is whisked away to a secret location in the North Sea where he is to interpret a secret meeting between Western financiers and East Congolese warlords.
What at first appears to be an attempt to secure a safe and prosperous future for Kivu, soon turns out to be a farce with only one objective; to enrich the Westerners.
The actions Salvo takes upon discovering the risks to the land Hannah and he love, will change both their lives for ever, put them in danger and open their eyes to the realities of the world; Where nobody is ever as good or as honest as they seem and the interests of a small African province fade to nothing when up against Western economical and financial interests.
This book was beautifully written and a fascinating read. My only qualms with the story were that maybe Salvo was a bit too naive and trusting to be realistic. Does any 29 year old, living in England really know so little about how devious people can be, especially if he has been married to a tabloid journalist?
Coincidentally I came across a picture taken in Kivu in this weeks Sunday Times Magazine, which shows that the situation there is at least as bad as described in the book. I have torn the picture out and will keep it for the group discussion. A discussion I expect to be interesting.