Wednesday, May 04, 2011

March-April Reading Round Up

Indian takeaway : one man's attempt to cook his way home / Hardeep Singh Kohli.
"Hardeep Singh Kohli loves many things in life - but none more than food. He loves to eat it, he loves to cook it. So when he decided to travel round India in search of his roots, what seemed the obvious thing to take with him? It was shepherd's pie and Yorkshire pudding." "Indian Takeaway is the hilarious story of Hardeep's attempts to cook his way round India, dishing up very British meals for the people he meets. How will a Goan garage mechanic, a Delhi socialite or a Mysore hippy cope with fish and chips, or a Full English Breakfast? What will they make of his madcap quest? And will Hardeep find a kitchen to call home?"--BOOK JACKET.
Funny, interesting and made me hungry.  Tries to be introspective but doesn't really succeed.

The Holmes affair / Graham Moore.
As the world mourns the demise of Sherlock Holmes at the foot of the Reichenbach Falls, Conan Doyle has a new preoccupation. A chance encounter sets him on the trail of a brutal killer targeting suffragettes. Together with Bram Stoker, he roams the streets of Victorian London searching for clues. And in present-day New York, Harold White's lifelong obsession with Sherlock Holmes turns into something far more sinister. The world's leading Doyle scholar is found murdered in his hotel room, and only Harold is familiar enough with the Holmes novels to recognise the clues the killer has left. Clues which will lead him not only to a murderer, but also to Conan Doyle's missing diary - and a secret that Conan Doyle, a hundred years earlier, risked everything to hide.~from the blurb
Two parallel stories - one from Conan Doyle and the other from modern day.  An interesting tangled web of deceit and lies.  Well written.

This body of death / Elizabeth George.
"While DI Thomas Lynley is still on compassionate leave after the murder of his wife, Isabelle Ardery is brought into the Met as his temporary replacement. The discovery of a body in a Stoke Newington cemetery offers Isabelle the chance to make her mark with a high profile murder investigation. Persuading Lynley back to work seems the best way to guarantee a result: Lynley's team is fiercely loyal to him and Isabelle needs them - and especially Barbara Havers - on side. The Met is twitchy: a series of PR disasters has undermined its confidence. Isabelle knows that she'll be operating under the unforgiving scrutiny of the media, so is quick – perhaps too quick – to pin the murder on a convenient suspect. The murder trail leads Lynley and Havers to the New Forest, and the eventual resolution of the case. Its roots are in a long-ago act of violence that has poisoned subsequent generations and its outcome is both tragic and shocking."-- Publisher description.
I had to get over my pique that George had killed off Lynley's wife in the prequel to this.  George always writes comprehensively and with great skill to weave a multiplicity of threads through her books.  

Persona non grata : a novel of the Roman empire / Ruth Downie.
Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, become embroiled in a family scandal when Severus, the family's chief creditor, winds up dead.~ from the blurb
Another in this series that I enjoyed.  I seem to be reading a lot of mysteries lately.  Must be in that sort of mood.

Twitterature : the world's greatest books in twenty tweets or less / Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin.
 Famous literature presented in Tweet form.  Mildy amusing.  You do have to be a Twitter user to really appreciate it I think.

Blackout / Connie Willis.
When a time-travel lab suddenly cancels assignments for no apparent reason and switches around everyone's schedules, time-traveling historians Michael, Merope, and Polly find themselves in World War II, facing air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history--to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control.~from the blurb
All clear / Connie Willis.
When three Oxford historians become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler's bombers attempt to pummel London into submission. Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians' supervisor and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle to find them.~from the blurb
It's been a while since Willis wrote the first book in this series (The Domesday book).  These sequels have been worth waiting for.  I found them gripping and couldn't put them down (managed to muck up dinner a couple of times because of it). I do recommend them.  They are classified as sci-fi but I think if you're a fan of historical fiction you'd find them good too.  Especially if, like me, you have fantasies of travelling back in time to experience what it was like.

The scarlet contessa : a novel of the Italian Renaissance / Jeanne Kalogridis.
Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased. Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea. Dea reviews Caterina's scandalous past and struggles to understand their joint destiny, while Caterina valiantly tries to fight off Cesare Borgia's unconquerable army.~from the blurb
Kalogridis has written about this era before and she doesn't disappoint with this one.  Good writing, suitable amounts of conflict and relationships will appeal to many.

Passage / Connie Willis.
A clinical psychologist obsessed with near death experiences, Joanna Lander joins forces with Dr. Richard Wright, a neurologist who has come up with a way to manufacture NDEs in the laboratory with the help of a mind-altering drug, but the experiments may yield far more than she ever anticipated.~from the blurb
Set in modern day and somewhat different in style to her time-travelling sci fi, this book explores the experience of death in quite an imaginative way.  I didn't like it as much as her time travelling series.

An empty death / Laura Wilson.
This is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 'Stratton's War'. It is summer, 1944: London's exhausted inhabitants are living hand-to-mouth in a world of dust and dereliction, and war-weary DI Ted Stratton is no exception. In this novel he must investigate the suspicious death of a doctor.--Publisher.
Another mystery!  Good stuff, classic crime with a psychological twist.

Scapegallows / Carol Birch.
A convict colony in New South Wales, Australia, is the setting for Birch's new novel, based on real events. Margaret is stranded at a settler's homestead as the floodwater draws in and she finds herself facing death, as she has several times before.~from the blurb
I liked this book and found it engaging.  I enjoyed the historical aspects to it (as usual) and also the Australian links in it.  Based on a real person and their letters back to the old country it explores the themes of justice, truth and law.

The lovely bones / Alice Sebold.
Susie Salmon looks down from a heaven which looks a lot like her school playground. There are counsellors to help newcomers adjust, and friends to room with. Everything she wants appears as soon as she thinks of it - except the thing she wants most: to be back with the people she loved on Earth.~from the blurb
I've resisted reading this one for a while, purely because I thought it might be too gory and distressing.  As it turns out, I was wrong and the bit I was scared of wasn't at all as bad as I thought.  I liked the story and thought the approach to be quite original in many ways.  I wasn't so sure about one part close to the end where Susie returns to earth briefly in someone else's body - that didn't work for me.  But overall, it was a good read.

The river knows / Amanda Quick.
Teaming up with wealthy and handsome Anthony Stalbridge, who suspects prominent society figure Elwin Hastings of hiding dangerous secrets, Louisa Bryce of late-Victorian London investigates her beliefs about Hastings's criminal activities.~from the blurb

Lie by moonlight / Amanda Quick.
Hired to tutor four orphaned girls at remote ramshackle Aldwick Castle, Miss Concordia Glade is pleased to find her pupils both eager and bright. Indeed, they are bright enough to have noticed some oddities about their situation. Provided for by an unseen benefactor, they are surrounded at all times by hard-eyed guards in the guise of gardeners - and their previous tutor, she learns, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Stepping into this uncertain atmosphere, Concordia sees at once what must be done. Of course, even the best-laid plans can go awry... and even the most independent, strong-minded lady must occasionally accept an offer of help.~ from the blurb
These two were a bit of fluff, suitable camping reads. :)  Nice to have some unchallenging romance now and again.


  1. I read Lovely Bones about a few years before the movie and when a friend recommended it, I wasn't sure if it was my cup of tea. I have to say I enjoyed it as much as one can, given the events.

    I watched the other day a wee documentary about Conan Doyle and why he killed off Holmes and his writing career, quite interesting actually.

    I often think about going back in time, so I might check out "All Clear" lol.

    Oh I watched over the Eastre Break series 3 or 4 of the Inspector Lynley series. His wife was still alive then.

  2. Interesting reading your reading roundabout. I have hardly read a book over the last couple of months

  3. I have resisted The Lovely Bones for the same reason. Maybe one day. Must look out for the Connie Willis books - I read the first one years ago and quite like her writing.

  4. Have added Indian takeaway to my tbr pile. Looks interesting!