Tuesday, February 01, 2011

January Reading Round Up

Zoia's gold / Philip Sington.
A novel based on the hidden life of Zoia Krukovskaya, the last-known survivor of the Romanov court and an artist who learnt the secret of painting with gold. ~from the blurb
Found this one intriguing from the mystery point of view, and also the art history behind the story.  I wanted to find out more on this artist, but haven't managed to yet.

January Blogosphere Book Club Book of the Month

Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress / Dai Sijie ; translated from the French by Ina Rilke. New York : Knopf, 2001. ISBN: 037541309X

During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, two boys, both sons of doctors, are sent to the top of a mountain for "re-education". An education that involves carting buckets of excrement up and down precipitous paths. But their lives take an unexpected turn when they meet the beautiful daughter of a local tailor and stumble upon a forbidden stash of Western literature. ~from the blurb

This is a short and sweet book which I really enjoyed.  The struggles of the young men seemed so poignant and dare I say, romantic. I wanted to know more of the seamstress though.  I particularly liked the imagery of the Chinese country-side.

The timewaster diary / Robin Cooper.
The year starts badly for Robin, losing his job for sending so many letters in work time, and for his wife Rita, who sprains her ankle (yet again). But Robin has a cunning plan - his marrying of the crossword and sudoku into his devilish 'crossoku', which might just make their fortune. ~from the blurb

I laughed dear readers, I laughed over this book.  It was also an interesting read in juxtaposition with The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith (which has been recreated as a blog).  They have much in common! 

Secrets / Freya North.
"They drive each other crazy. And they both have something to hide. But we all have our secrets. It's just some are bigger than others! Joe has a beautiful house, a great job, no commitments -- and he likes it like that. All he needs is a quiet house-sitter for his rambling old place by the sea. When Tess turns up on his doorstep, he's not sure she's right for the job. Where has she come from in such a hurry? Her past is a blank and she's something of an enigma. But there's something about her -- even though sparks fly every time they meet. And it looks as though she's here to stay!"--Publisher description.
Typical chick lit but good stuff.  I liked.

The Detective Branch / Andrew Pepper.
A robbery at a prawnbroker is a headache for Pyke and a valuable religious artifact appears to have motivated the robbery. Then several suspicious murders later Pyke must face up to forces within the police and the church who would rather the secrets from the past remain buried forever.~from the blurb
A good crime novel - winced a bit at some of the dodgy behaviour of the detective but it was all in aid of a good story.

Singing saltwater country : journey to the songlines of Carpentaria / John Bradley with Yanyuwa families.
John Bradley's compelling account of three decades living with the Yanyuwa people of the Gulf of Carpentaria and of how the elders revealed to him the ancient songlines of their Dreaming. ~from the blurb
Started this one with high hopes but didn't completely finish it.  It was a bit repetative to totally hold my attention but I can see for people who live in that area it has valuable insight into the values of the local tribes.  What was interesting was trying to get my head around some of the different ways of knowing described in the book.  It was also interesting to see again how important story telling is to the human race for information transfer as well as entertainment.

Nine dragons : a novel / Michael Connelly.
The murder of John Li, a South L.A. liquour store owner, hits LAPD Detective Harry Bosch hard, and he promises Li's family that he'll find the killer. As he uncovers a link to a Hong Kong triad--a lethal and far-reaching crime ring that follows many immigrants to their new lives in the U.S.--his world instantly explodes and the person he holds most dear is taken from him. ~from the blurb
Typical crime thriller genre but still enjoyed it.

Ruso and the demented doctor / R. S. Downie.
Army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso is waiting for the gods to smile on him. But, on a posting to the hostile North of Britannia, he’s in for a long wait. Not least because the locals have a new hero who likes to strap antlers to his head and scare the Romans silly, while Ruso’s slave girl, Tilla, is stubbornly refusing to identify the culprit in a police line-up. But when Ruso is waylaid at the Fort of Coria, where a fellow doctor has confessed to a grisly murder, it’s a case of out of the cauldron and into the fire. With Tilla thrust outside the fort (and into the arms of a former lover), Ruso is landed not only with Doctor Thessalus’s patients but also the tricky task of getting him to retract the confession. Something smells fishy about this murder and Coria is miles from the sea … Ruso faces a nightmarish investigation trailed by the secret police, hunted by the Stag Man and betrayed by Tilla, is it any wonder he’s seeking solace in the rather-too-watery local beer?~from the blurb
Interesting mystery story with some twisty bits and great historical flavour!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:17 pm

    Been considering picking up the Pyke novels (Andrew Pepper) for a while. Worth it, in your view? Do you have an "if you like (insert author here) you'll like Andrew Pepper" reader's advisory soundbite for me?