Tuesday, January 06, 2009

November / December Reading Round Up

The pyjama girls of Lambert Square / Sara Donati
For John Dodge, moving to new places and reviving ailing businesses is a way of life. So when he sees an ad for Scriveners, a stationery shop in a small town in South Carolina, he decides to take the plunge. As soon as he arrives in Lambert's Corner, Dodge falls happily into the whirl of gossip, gifts and quintessential Southern hospitality. But the one person who really catches Dodge's eye is Julia Darrow - the beautiful but aloof pyjama wearing-owner of the Cocoon, a popular store specializing in luxury linens. Dodge tries to befriend her, but she remains elusive and mysterious. Everyone knows that she is a widow, but no one seems to know why she came to town or why she never leaves Lambert Square-or does she? Like Dodge, Chicago-born Julia is fleeing a tumultuous past. But with the help of a hilarious and endearing cast of characters, Julia and Dodge learn that, sometimes, you don't need to go far to find home."--Provided by publisher. Loved this book and recommend it. Interesting characters, romantic humour; although the plot is a little predictable the setting is neat, and there are few little twists here and there.

La belle saison / Patrica Atkinson
Patricia Atkinson moved to rural France as an outsider hoping to put down roots. But her dream turned to tragedy as her husband James became ill and died. It was then she realized that the small vineyard they had bought together was her sole means of support.~ from the blurb. This is the sequel to her first book. I found it interesting to follow the development of the vineyard and the gastronomic adventures of the writer. As with the last book, significant characters die in it! But still a good read. I so want to go to France. *Le sigh*

Deep France: a writer's year in the Bearn/ Celia Brayfield
Novelist Celia Brayfield had never lived more than a taxi ride from Soho, until one day she decided to take a year off. With the computer and the cats in the back of the car, and the blessing of her student daughter, she drove south until the dawn came up in the Bearn, the most romantic, remote and rustic region of France." "Deep France is the diary of a writer's year in a tiny French village, trying to meet her deadlines when a good thunderstorm could blow out the computer and there were always artichokes to pick. It's a walk in the swashbuckling footsteps of the Three Musketeers and King Henri IV, full of funny and perceptive anecdotes about the year in which France had to face the euro, the World Cup and Le Pen's presidential campaign. ~ from the blurb. ~from the blurb. Good read - again, I am in a "go to France" mood so it fed my travel lust.

White rose rebel / Janet Paisley
Anne Farquharson is a young Highlander - tempestuous, bold, determined to be her own woman. Yet the clan Farquharson - like its close neighbours and rivals - is under threat. The Highlands suffer at the domineering hand of English King George, while there are rumours that Bonnie Prince Charlie, in exile in France, is seeking to return and hoping to raise an army in a bid for the throne. When she agrees to marry a clan chief, she is doing much more than taking his bed. For she and her supporters are drawn into the heart of the brutal and bloody conflict, and as the Jacobite Rebellion escalates, she and her husband find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield. In a time when civil war is tearing the nation apart, Anne believes she can be a match for anyone. ~ from the blurb. Didn't finish this one because the heroine got too annoying.

Girlie / Gillian Ranstead
In a remote rural valley in the New Zealand hills, two cultural traditions interweave. The land is owned by Maori, and there are many Maori in the community. But the other families regard themselves as Celtic, with ancient memories stretching back through the centuries, to Culloden, and before. A traumatised people speaking Gaelic have been dispossessed and driven out of their homeland, to seek refuge in New Zealand, only to find themselves caught up in a history that has dispossessed the original people of the new land. Two great traditions blend - and also clash. Growing up in the extended family is the girl Mara, the one they call Girlie, abandoned by her free-wheeling journalist mother and brought up by uncles and aunts. A free spirit herself, Mara struggles to understand the power of the past. Then a great flood devastates the valley and the community is scattered. Introduced to the liberating world of books, the teenage Mara begins to understand the connections between memories, ancestors and history~ from the blurb. Very well written and an engaging book. I'd recommend it. It has a real NZ flavour to it.

Berlin: the downfall, 1945 / Anthony Beevor
The Red Army had much to avenge when it finally reached the frontiers of the Reich in January 1945. Political instructors rammed home the message of Wehrmacht and SS brutality. The result was the most terrifying example of fire and sword ever known, with tanks crushing refugee columns under their tracks, mass rape, pillage and destruction. Hundreds of thousands of women and children froze to death or were massacred because Nazi Party chiefs, refusing to face defeat, had forbidden the evacuation of civilians. Over seven million fled westwards from the terror of the Red Army." "Antony Beevor, using often devastating new material from former Soviet files, as well as from German, American, British, French and Swedish archives, has reconstructed the experiences of those millions caught up in the nightmare of the Third Reich's final collapse. Berlin - The Downfall 1945 is a terrible story of pride, stupidity, fanaticism, revenge and savagery, yet it is also one of astonishing endurance, self-sacrifice and survival against all odds.~from the book jacket Didn't finish this one. It got too much (especially after reading about the Goebbels children being murdered by their own mother). Having said that, the historical research and era is rather fascinating and the book itself is well written. Despite some of the complex machinations that went on, Beevor manages to bring them together cohesively.

The seven daughters of Eve / Brian Sykes
A scientist describes how he linked the DNA found in the remains of a five-thousand-year-old man to modern-day relatives and explains how all modern individuals can trace their genetic makeup back to prehistoric times to seven primeval women. ~from the blurb. This one was fascinating for me. Although it has a scientific basis it is very easy to read for the lay person, and quite compelling.

Looking back at my reading history on my library record I've totalled up the numbers of books read in different genres from the 31st May 2008 until 31st December 2008. I think I can safely say there are some trends there! LOL!

Crime: 7
Romance: 5
Historical Fiction: 16
Literature/fiction: 2
Poetry: 1

Non Fiction
Scrapbooking: 5
Food (incl. cookbooks): 15
Travel/ other countries: 7
Other: 6

Total: 64 books in 7 months
Average books read in a month: 9
Extrapolating for the months I missed, I estimate I have probably read about 100 books this year. Is that bad or good? Not sure it really matters anyway - heh. ;-) I don't have any particular agenda in my reading - I read what catches my attention and interest. I don't have any aspirations in terms of achievement in what I read either so this is reflected in the number of "Literature" fiction books! I really am a Edna Average when it comes to taste in fiction ;-)

Take a look at Con's lists - similar reading rate but entirely different genres. I like the way she has broken down her reading habits and I think I shall do something similar for this year's summary in January 2010 ... if I'm still in the body as my Dad would say (just to rark up my Mum).


  1. wow con realy broke down that reading, was interesting to see male and female authors broken down too. It seems to me you liek cook books and historical fiction.

    Girlie sounded ood too, might add that to my list. So you sound like the type of woman who could organize an online book circle for her bloggy readers.....

  2. mmmm White Rose Rebel sounds interesting, might have to look for that one.

  3. Wow that is some reading- I'd say its a great thing, I don't read near as much as I use too and I do miss it. If I gave up scrapping I might be right LOL