smrc - books 13 & 14 (m & n)

Posted: Aug 17th 2018, 1:10pm By: Sara Eames


M - Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

This was an enjoyable book with a twist - a story within a story. It is interesting to note that the twist did not come as a shock to me but did to my daughter Heather. I think the reason for this was the media we chose to experience this book. I read a hard copy, and Heather listened to an audio book. Thus, for her, the twist was delivered with emotion and emphasis that I hadn't placed on the book I was reading. It was interesting to note the difference in our reactions - I won't say too much as I hate spoiling books for potential readers. I would, however, recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good thriller.

N - North & South by Elizabeth Gaskill

This was meant to be my N book, but I just couldn't get on with it. I ...

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Bill - Blog 2

Posted: Aug 13th 2018, 4:37pm By: Debra Found


In this blog Bill talks about his Book Project and why he decided to embark upon it.

"

My Book Project About six months ago, after reading, and being bored and/or annoyed with, yet another book by an author I had never previously heard of, and whose book I did not enjoy, I decided that I should really try to increase the quality of the books which I read. The obvious(?) choice seemed to be the books which are generally referred to as the “Classics”. Like most people I had some idea of which books would fall into this category so I started compiling a list. At this point I passed on my idea and the provisional list to Debra for comment. As you will see from her blog she had joined a local book club and also had contact with other “readers” via the internet. The result of this ...

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In Memory of Bill - Blog 1

Posted: Aug 13th 2018, 4:34pm By: Debra Found


Following on from Anne's blog in memory of our reviewer (and Dad), Bill, I thought it would be nice to revisit some of his blogs. I am very pleased that he has left behind some of his opinions and comments on books in these blogs.

This first blog was published in January 2011.

"An Introduction If you are reading this posting for the first time, it might be useful to have answers to the following questions: Who am I? My name is Bill, and the reviewers Debra and Anne are my daughters. What am I? I am a retired pensioner who spent most of his working life as a computer professional. Why am I reviewing books? Because Debra asked me to and, as my wife and I have always tried to support and encourage our daughters in what they embark upon, I could hardly refuse! Being an avid reader throughou ...

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My Alphabet Reading Challenge - E

Posted: Aug 12th 2018, 8:06pm By: Anne


I first read “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell some time ago because it was recommended by a podcast I was listening to. The concept of that novel is mad but the execution is incredible leading to a unique and harrowing tale. I thought that the sequel was less successful. In my usual obsessive fashion I then obtained copies of all this author’s other novels and was blown away again by “Doc” which is a Western, a genre I don’t usually read. My E book is “Epitaph”, the sequel to “Doc”.

This book is set in and around the events of the gunfight at the OK Corral. It follows on from “Doc” but you don’t have to have read the first book. The author concentrates on the Earp brothers and particularly on the women who are associated with them. I am assuming that this is accurate his ...

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My Alphabet Reading Challenge - D

Posted: Aug 3rd 2018, 6:54pm By: Anne


For “D” in my alphabet challenge I am reading “Daddy, We Hardly Knew You” by Germaine Greer. This is a memoir/family history. The author decides following the death of her father to trace his background and family. The only clues she has to go on are some family stories he told. The book explores the actual journey of discovery and touches on some aspects of social history as well as revealing much about the author’s family life and childhood.

I like this sort of a book and this was fascinating as it turns out that the family really did not know Germaine’s father. Everything he has told them in the past turns out to be untrue, including his real name, and there is a lot of unravelling to do. This part of the book is fascinating and the social history which creeps in about Australia and Ma ...

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My July Reading - remembering a fellow reader

Posted: Aug 1st 2018, 6:12pm By: Anne


During the month of July our reviewer Bill Stilling died. Bill hadn’t reviewed for a while because of ill health but there are 66 of his reviews on the site. Bill particularly enjoyed thrillers, science fiction and adventure stories and he liked his books without gratuitous violence and with very little or no sex. He also had a tendency to prefer books by male writers. Favourite authors include Isaac Asimov, Alistair McLean, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C Clarke, Frederick Forsyth and Jack Higgins.

What Bill did in his later years, however, was to try and read some great classics because he felt that he might have missed out. His reviews include “To Kill a Mocking Bird”, “Gone with the Wind”, “Dracula”, “Vanity Fair” and “Moll Flanders” which are very different from his usual reading ...

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smrc - books 11 & 12 (K & L)

Posted: Aug 1st 2018, 9:30am By: Sara Eames


Book K was The Killing in the Café by Simon Brett. As a fan of cosy mysteries - a fact of which I am sure you are aware - I enjoy the Fethering Mysteries penned by Mr Brett. They feature a couple of mismatched sleuths - Jude and Carole - who are dragged into a number of events in their little village - the majority of which end in murder. Our two intrepid heroines bravely seek to solve each case they come across and, despite risks to their personal safety, are successful in their endeavours. The only problem is that I think Fethering is becoming as dangerous a place to live as Midsomer, due to the high body count in a small area - I don't think I'll be moving there any time soon. The Killing in the Café follows the traditional cosy mystery formula. However, my problem with this one is that ii gets ...

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smrc - books 9 & 10 (I & J)

Posted: Jul 30th 2018, 8:29am By: Sara Eames


Both of these books are part of a couple of series that I enjoy reading. They both have a strong female protagonist/detective and both are mysteries - although Book J had darker subject matter. As a fan of mysteries, I had deliberately chosen both of these books as I knew I would enjoy reading them.

Book I was "In This Grave Hour" by Jacqueline Winspear. I do enjoy the Maisie Dobbs series - and this was another good one in this series. As I read it as part of my mini summer alphabet reading challenge, I have missed some of the prequels to this book. For the mystery part, this did not matter as the story works as a stand-alone within the series. However, in terms of events in Maisie's life, some things had happened in previous books that I was unaware of until they were mentioned in this ...

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My Alphabet Reading Challenge - C

Posted: Jul 29th 2018, 4:16pm By: Anne


We have reached “C” in my reading alphabet and my book is “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese.

This book is set in Ethiopia and follows twin boys who are orphaned and brought up by doctors in a missionary hospital. It explores their relationship with the local people and with the medical staff, their sexual awakening, their relationship with each other, issues around their absent parents and the situation when they were born, civil unrest and their careers. It is quite a wide-ranging book and I sometimes found it difficult to work out exactly what message the author was trying to put across.

This was one of those books that I could only read in short bursts (partly because the book was thick and the print was small). I didn’t find it particularly easy to get into and I didn’t en ...

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smrc - Books 7 & 8 (G & H)

Posted: Jul 23rd 2018, 9:07am By: Sara Eames


My G book was Ghosts by Adrian Plass. In many ways, unfortunately, this book was a disappointment. I think the main trouble was that I came to it with expectations of what it would contain. Let me say that I am an Adrian Plass fan - I grew up reading his Sacred Diary series - and was expecting a lot of humour in this book. This was not the case. Usually with an Adrian Plass book, I read it very quickly and spend a lot of it laughing out loud - this book was so different from what I was anticipating that it took the edge off the whole reading experience for me. I admit that it was probably my fault, due to my expectations but that doesn't diminish my experience in reading this book.

The premise for the book is that a man, David, who is mourning the death of his wife goes to a reunion of C ...

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My Alphabet Reading Challenge - B

Posted: Jul 19th 2018, 11:46am By: Anne


The second book in my new alphabet challenge is “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde. It is a long poem and I read it in a version illustrated by Peter Hay and as the illustrations are very much part of the reading experience I am reviewing them as well.

The author obviously had experience of the prison system having been jailed for sodomy following a disastrous attempt to sue the Marquis of Queensberry for libel. It is a difficult time in the author’s life and I advise you to read a good biography to unpick it and understand all the issues. We do know, however, that this poem is written from first-hand experience.

The poem is written in a simple rhyming style and metre but that hides the fact that it deals with an incredibly difficult subject matter. The poem is actually quite des ...

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smrc - books 5 & 6 (E & F)

Posted: Jul 16th 2018, 9:28am By: Sara Eames


The fifth book in my reading challenge - letter E - was going to be The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker. This was another author that I had not tried before and, for a change, a different genre to those I have read thus far in this reading challenge. Unfortunately, I could not finish the book. After 100 pages or so of depression and awful characters with whom I have little or no sympathy, I had to give up. I no longer force myself to finish a book that I am not enjoying.

So, as I wanted to continue with my alphabet challenge, I returned to my bookshelves in search of another book beginning with the letter E. Once there, I quickly located Emma by Alexander McCall Smith - The Austen Project #3 - and decided to give this a try - chiefly because if suited the challenge I was pursui ...

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My Alphabet reading challenge - A

Posted: Jul 11th 2018, 11:03pm By: Anne


I was first introduced to the American novelist Curtis Sittenfeld with her book “Sisterland” which has been reviewed on this site; I can’t now remember where I got it from. I liked it but not enough to obsessively track down the rest of her novels and read those (something I have a tendency to do with authors). The second of her books I read was “Eligible” which is a modern rewriting of “Pride and Prejudice” and is part of a series of modern Austen rewrites (although that seems to have stalled with a couple of the titles not being tackled – maybe I am the only one who read them all ?). I loved “Eligible” (reviewed on this site) and so I then went on to read “Prep” which I didn’t enjoy as much mainly because the main character is so irritating.

For this challenge I chose “A ...

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smrc - Book 4 (D)

Posted: Jul 9th 2018, 9:20am By: Sara Eames


I am now four books into my alphabet challenge, still reading cosy mysteries. D is for Drink of Deadly Wine, A by Kate Charles. I hadn't realised that there were so many cosies on my shelf - until I checked my smrc reading list. However, not all 26 books are cosies, so there will be some variety in future posts.

With regard to the book, I had never come across the author before but I am glad I decided to read one of her books. I will, almost certainly, bread more of Kate Charles's books. This is a cosy mystery which is very well written. The characters are believable and the plot moves at a steady pace. I did not guess whodunit but the solution was credible. I had a lot of sympathy for Gabriel, David and Emily. Some of the minor characters veered very close to being caricatures but th ...

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SMRC - Book 3 (C)

Posted: Jul 6th 2018, 2:19pm By: Sara Eames


Book C is Crooked Herring by L C Tyler. An easy read that I expected to get through quite quickly. Fortunately, I have had extra reading time today, as the school I work at is closed due to having no water - so I took full advantage of the time and got reading. I will be starting my D book very soon (and have quite a bit of the weekend to spend reading it).

As for Crooked Herring, I love the Elsie and Ethelred series by L C Tyler - and this is another winner. It is a well-written book with good characters, a steady plot and some laughs along the way. As is the case with all these books, the murder and solution are outrageous - but that doesn't detract in any way from the quality of the story and writing. The main characters are, as always, wonderfully written - and the side characters ...

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SMRC - Book 2 (B)

Posted: Jul 5th 2018, 9:20am By: Sara Eames


I have now successfully completed my 2nd book in the smrc. This was another cosy mystery - I am aware that my first 4 books are cosy mysteries (one of my favourite genres) but there are other genres as we progress through the alphabet.

This is my second foray into the world of Inspector Singh, and it wasn't too bad. On the whole, it was a good, cosy mystery - the characters were well-written and the plot moves at a steady pace building to a climatic finale. However, I didn't like the ending as it ends on a somewhat downward note. It was, on the whole, an enjoyable read but did have a number of stereotypes portrayed which I found a little annoying at times - especially as the stereotypical behaviour increased towards the end of the book. Still, it was a good read and I will probably read ...

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My Alphabet reading challenge - introduction

Posted: Jul 2nd 2018, 10:52pm By: Anne


Last year I read 26 books which had titles beginning with each of the letters of the alphabet in order. I very much enjoyed doing this and it certainly adds some variety to the normal reading diet. Having still got one book starting with X on my shelves I thought I might do this again if I could find the other 25. Actually, it wasn’t as hard as you might think and the list is made up of books I had on my to-be-read list, which were on my shelves and I had wanted to read for some time, or were bought specially for the occasion from my wish list.

I see that my fellow blogger Sara is doing the same thing – it will be interesting to see if any of our choices are the same but I am not going to list mine now …. You can wait and see …….

The books I will be reading are certainly an interesti ...

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Summer mini-reading challenge - book one

Posted: Jul 2nd 2018, 9:27am By: Sara Eames


So, yesterday was day one of the summer mini-reading challenge (smrc). Dutifully at 3pm (approx), I rang my daughter Heather Eames (who is also participating in the challenge with me - but with her own list of books) and announced the official beginning of the smrc. My 1st book was All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark. I was fairly certain of what to expect from this author, as I have read many of her books previously - and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

My review of the book: Another good story from Mary Higgins Clark. As is usual, it was fairly obvious who the culprit was - but that does not detract from an excellent story. The characters are well-written and the plot moves at a steady pace. This is a quick, easy book to read - mainly because the chapters are so short (some are on ...

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My June reading - taking stock now we are half way through the year

Posted: Jul 1st 2018, 12:59pm By: Anne


We’ve reached half way through the year and it is time to take stock of my reading. During June I read 37 books, the majority of which I read on my Kindle although I did get three audio-books finished. Only five of those books were written by male authors which is not a deliberate choice but maybe reflects the books I currently enjoy reading.

I have now read 187 books this year which if we project forward seems to indicate that I will read in the region of 370 books for the year. That will be unusual because for the past nine years I have read over 400 books each year and on two of those years I actually read over 500 (I wasn’t working full-time in those years !). It will be interesting to see if I manage to reach 400.

I am aware that I read more books than the average reader but the number ...

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Summer mini-reading challenge - the books

Posted: Jun 22nd 2018, 12:00pm By: Sara Eames


Here, as promised, is a list of the books I am hoping to read between 1st July and 31st August. I will post a blog every so often to let you know how I am doing. Should anyone want to join me on this challenge, please feel free - and let me know how it's going for you...

Anyway, here are the books:

A - All by Myself, Alone - Mary Higgins Clark

B - Bali Conspiracy Most Foul, A - Shamani Flint

C - Crooked Herring - L C Tyler

D - Drink of Deadly Wine, A - Kate Charles

E - End of the World Running Club, The - A J Walker

F - Five Get Gran On-line - Bruno Vincent

G - Ghosts - Adrian Plass

H - Hag-seed - Margaret Atwood

I - In This Grave Hour - Jacqueline Winspear

J - Janus Stone, The - Elly Griffiths

K - Killing in the Cafe, The - S ...

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