Wednesday, November 04, 2009

October Reading Round Up

Bones to Ashes / Kathy Reichs
Discovering the skeleton of a young girl in the neighbourhood of a childhood best friend who had gone missing thirty years earlier, Temperance Brennan investigates suspicions that the victim and her friend are one and the same.~ from the blurb
The usual - but still enjoyed it. 

Pliny's warning / Anne Marie Nicholson
"Vulcanologist Frances Nelson is in Italy to work with an international team assessing the world's most dangerous volcano, Mt Vesuvius, responsible for the destruction of ancient Pompeii. Instead of the straightforward scientific task she expects, Frances is thrust into a sinister web of nepotism as greed, corruption and Il Sistema fill the streets with violence and pollute the countryside with toxic waste. To her horror, she realizes her work is being compromised, her team's findings suppressed and the people of southern Italy put into a perilous situation. A vivid and compelling story unfolds, drenched with the flavours of Italy, the ghosts of the past and the spice of dangerous passions in the streets of Naples and the Aeolian Islands. Meanwhile, the tragic events of a fatal explosion on White Island, in New Zealand, provide a dramatic emotional counterpoint. The shadow of her recent past adds poignance to her budding relationship with a colleague, providing a romantic twist to this fast-paced contemporary novel." -- Back cover
I liked this one.  It's a nice mix of romance, mystery and crime with sufficient character to make it an enjoyable read for a holiday on the beach.  Nothing too intense. 

Harriet & Isabella / Patricia O'Brien
A novelisation based on a nineteenth-century sex scandal traces how the downfall of Henry Ward Beecher divided the nation and severed the loving relationship between his sisters, author Harriet Beecher Stowe and suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker.~ from the blurb
This was quite good but I did get a bit annoyed by the structure of the novel.  It had alternating present time/flash backs that got a bit disjointed at times I felt.  Still, I was interested enough in it to see if the library had the author's previous novel. It doesn't. *insert rant about lack of acquisition budget for Waitakere Public Libraries*

An imperfect lens: a novel / Anne Roiphe
"With a keen mind and dedication to his work, young Louis Thuillier has impressed his mentor - famed scientist Louis Pasteur - enough to be sent to Alexandria as one-third of the French mission searching for the source of the cholera that is terrorizing the city. Along with the other members of the French mission - scientists Emile Roux and Edmond Nocard and their enterprising servant Marcus - Louis longs to find the cure, bringing glory to himself and to France. Este Malina is the lovely daughter of a respected Jewish doctor, whose family has lived in Alexandria for hundreds of years. A life of comfort has made Este a romantic, and she hopes to marry a man with the heart of a poet. Neither expects to find a soul mate in the other, but when Este begins to assist at the French mission's lab, a deep bond forms. Este, though, is engaged to another, and Louis is not Jewish - her family would never allow them to marry." "In spite of their many differences, the lovers' desire grows and their fantasies threaten to distract them from their work. In Alexandria, the disease rages on, as mysterious as it was a thousand years before. Political intrigue threatens to separate Este and Louis permanently. Their love, as fragile as the glass slides they use in the lab, is in danger before it has had a chance to thrive."--BOOK JACKET
Totally enjoyed this book despite the sad ending.  It followed on quite nicely from the book I read about diseases and the discovery of their cures or vaccines against them.  Made me very glad we have clean water to drink!

The spectacle salesman's family / Viola Roggenkamp
How do you look to the future when all around you are living in the past? This coming-of-age story explores life in a 1960s German Jewish family with all its contradictions, frustrations and occasionally, mesmerising glimpses of light. ~ from the blurb
Not sure I got what the author was trying to do, the writing style was a bit hard to get into.  Parts of it were great, not sure about the ending.  I certainly got a sense of that intense, confused time that I remember from growing up.

Farewell to the East End / Jennifer Worth
This final book in Jennifer Worth's memories of her time as a midwife in London's East end brings her story full circle. As always there are heartbreaking stories such as the family devastated by tuberculosis and a ship's woman who 'serviced' the entire crew, as well as plenty of humour and warmth such as the tale of Megan'mave, two women who shared the same husband! Other stories cover backstreet abortions, the changing life of the docklands, infanticide, as well as the lives of the inhabitants of Nonnatus House. We discover what happens with the gauche debutant Chummy and her equally gauche policeman; will Sister Monica Joan continue her life of crime?; will Sister Evangelina ever crack a smile? And what of Jennifer herself? The book not only details the final years of the tenements that but also of Jennifer's journey as she moves on from the close community of nuns, and her life takes a new path.~from the blurb
Last in this autobiographical series.  Mostly wraps things up - bit sad in places.

Blood of the Isles / Bryan Sykes
Bryan Sykes, the world's first genetic archaeologist, takes us on a journey around the family tree of Britain and Ireland, to reveal how our tribal history still colours the country today. In 54BC, Julius Caesar launched the first Roman invasion of Britain. His was the first detailed account of the Celtic tribes that inhabited the Isles. But where had they come from and how long had they been there? ~ from the blurb
Not as easy to read as his previous book, The seven daughters of Eve - the "meat" of the book is in the last chapter.  Still, it was interesting and gave me some insight into my genetic ancestry.

Daisy Fay and the miracle man / Fannie Flagg
"Sassy and irreverent from the get-go, Daisy Fay takes us on a rollicking journey through her formative years on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. There, at The End of the Road of the South, the family malt shop freezer holds unspeakable things, society maven Mrs. Dot hosts Junior Debutante meetings and shares inspired thoughts for the week (such as “sincerity is as valuable as radium”), and Daisy Fay’s Daddy hatches a quick-cash scheme that involves resurrecting his daughter from the dead in a carefully orchestrated miracle. Along the way, Daisy Fay does a lot of growing up, emerging as one of the most hilarious, appealing, and prized characters in modern fiction."--Publisher description.
Classic growing up story - love the honesty and quirky characters.

The Darcys give a ball : a gentle joke, Jane Austen style / Elizabeth Newark
As Jane and Lizzie make plans for a lavish ball at Pemberley, the Darcys' second son falls for the Collins's daughter, Juliet Darcy nearly elopes, and Georgiana's timid daughter Lucy becomes caught up in Caroline Bingley's meddlesome plans, in a story of the next generation of characters from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.~ from the blurb
Kind of cute and a bit twee but also fun.  A bit of froth ;-)

All my patients have tales : favorite stories from a vet's practice / Jeff Wells
A heartwarming and funny collection of stories by a dedicated veterinarian featuring wild horses, porcupine-quill-covered dogs, male cats in labor, an extremely ornery pygmy donkey, an enormous hog, as well as many other domestic, and not so “domestic” animals.~ from the blurb
Kind of things you might expect from an autobiography of a vet!  I like reading about animals and their antics.

I haven't read the book of the month because I'm still on the hold list!!  But some of the other book club girls have reviewed it.  You can see their reviews by clicking on the links in my side bar.


  1. As usual your reading list puts mine to shame. This month I went to the library a couple of times and got out piles of exotic magazines. Something I haven't done before. I worked out that I read (or browsed) through over $500 worth of magazines. From 'O' mag to DPhoto to Gourmet Traveller to Psychology Today to various gardening and house and garden tomes. It was fun for a change but I need to read a real book again. Still waiting for the November book club one to come up (I'm 9th on the list - was 26th wehn I reserved it.)

  2. I'm planning on starting a reading round up on my blog also, but mine is going to look really wimpy compared to yours! I'm so impressed. I'm also writing down your titles for my "to read" list.

  3. Yay, you read "Blood of the Isles"!

    I loved the book. In fact, it would be my favourite read this year.

    Mind you, I think I may be a wee bit biased because I've been researching family history for the past couple of years, so it was extra relevant to me and answered some of my long held questions.

    Will have to check out his earlier book now I know you highly recommend it.

    Thanks again, Penny :)

    PS. Will check out the vet book too. (Long time James Herriot fan here, so right up my street)

  4. Sounds like some great books there. I only seem to manage one a month ....

  5. I've been on a steady diet of Dorothy Dunnett for weeks, I'm part way through Race of Scorpions at the moment.

    Also, there's an award waiting for you over at my place :-)