Wednesday, 25 January 2012

What I've been reading

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The Tenderness of Wolves
by Stef Penney

"1867, Canada: as winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year old boy disappears. Tracks leaving the dead man's cabin head north towards the forest and the tundra beyond. One-by-one the assembled searchers set out from Dove River, pursuing the tracks across a desolate landscape home only to wild animals, madmen and fugitives."
I liked the style of writing, interesting subjects, plot in the background, but so atmospheric. The cold, the wet, the isolation, the descriptions of people who would choose to move there (Norwegians and Scots - makes sense, I suppose). In a reversal of the usual routine, I'm giving this one to Lola II to read next.

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Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
by Jeanette Winterson

"This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God's elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. Innovative, punchy and tender, this book is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession."
Mr A was having a clear-out and this book came to light, even though it was one of mine rather than his. Rather than get rid of it straight away (as I did with some of my university Industrial Sociology textbooks that appeared in the same clear-out) I thought I'd read it again. It's much better than I remember: kind, gently funny, highlighting the quirks of the slightly unhinged evangelical mother and her supportive daughter, who finds that her own convictions clash irreconcilably with those of the Church. Maybe Lola II will like this one too?

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The House of Silk
by Anthony Horowitz

narrated by Derek Jacobi
"Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. Intrigued by the man's tale, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston."
This is a Sherlock Holmes story written by a modern author in the Conan Doyle style, and it's better than the last lot of short stories I read by the original author. Half way through I started to think he'd opened too many different story strands, and I was having some difficulty remembering how we'd reached this particular situation, but it resolved very well in the end. Skilfully written, and worth reading.

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It Just Occurred to Me...
by Humphrey Lyttelton

"The legendary band leader and jazz trumpeter, broadcaster and humorist looks back at his extraordinarily rich and varied life and the many colourful characters he has known and played with - from Duke Ellington to Louis Armstrong."
This was lying around after Mr A's book clear-out, and I started browsing it. I've actually read it before, just over two years ago, but didn't remember a word. Still good, lovely light reading.

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Obesity: The Biography
by Sander L. Gilman

"An account of the history of obesity, looking at the changing attitudes towards the body, from regarding it as 'God's temple' to more mechanical and practical concerns from the Enlightenment onwards."
Not as interesting as I was expecting, it described the history of obesity as described in various lay and academic sources through the ages, both in the Western and the Oriental world. The view of 'acceptable' fatness has changed, although the side effects in terms of ill health and early death have been recognised for longer than I imagined. Still no answers, though.

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The Light Fantastic
by Terry Pratchett

narrated by Nigel Planer
"The Discworld is on a collision course with a malevolent red star, and only one person can save it. Unfortunately, it's the cowardly wizard, Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the planet. "
I was led to believe that it was worth following up the fate of Rincewind (thanks, Hugh), and this sequel is just as good as the first, especially now I have come to understand the style and look forward to some of the jokes. Reminiscent of the wit of Douglas Adams, and clearly providing inspiration for the work of J K Rowling, the wizards, trolls, dwarves, dragons and luggage all have personality and a sense of humour, although I'm still not entirely sure why the Discworld wasn't hit by the red star. I'll probably read some more of this series.

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The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold

"On her way home from school on a snowy December day, 14-year-old Susie Salmon is lured into a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer. Susie struggles to accept her death while still clinging to the lost world of the living, following her family's dramas over the years."
Another good one, with the notable feature that at no point did the story go where I was expecting, right up to the very last page. Not that it ended badly, but I was looking forward to the usual resolution - killer brought to justice, lovers in their rightful places and everyone happy, and it didn't happen. The movie of the book has an interesting cast and director, so I might watch it if reviews are good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love oranges are not the only fruit! But then I like most books by Jeanette Winterson.

- Marjolein