Very Valentine – Adriana Trigiani

After splitting with her boyfriend, Valentine Roncalli leaves her teaching job and goes to work for her Gram at the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of custom made wedding shoes, opened in the 1950’s by her grandfather. Valentine meets and falls in love with italian chef Roman Falconi but the relationship doesn’t run smoothly.

The shoe shop is near financial ruin, which Gram is in denial about but can Valentine save the business or will brother Alfred have his way and sell the place. At eighty years old will Gram ever retire?

The plot in this book was very weak, while the art of shoemaking is close to the author’s heart, I don’t think it was enough to make a story from. The characters were bland, Valentine being a typical 30 something looking for love. I didn’t warm to her at all.

The book is described as hilarious and romantic but it didn’t make me smile although the romance was there. The descriptive passages were far too long, if you took half of them away the book would have been so much better, included in the passages were three quarters of a page devoted to tomatoes growing from seed to fruit, too much describing for me.

On the plus side, as the book was italian/american, plenty of italian food was mentioned and the recipes to the food mentioned were included at the back of the book which I thought was a nice touch.

There’s a sequel to this book called Encore Valentine, it’s not one I’ll be reading I’m afraid.

The ASBO Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Asbosen

I don’t think there’s much to review with this book, the title says it all I think.

It’s a collection of fairy tales told in modern language using modern situations. The stories include Snow White and the Seven Dads, The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Bailiff, Little Red Riding Hoodie, The Princess and the Oven Chip, Blingerella and Mouldy Locks and the Three Bears.

This book was quite funny to begin with, using situations such as The Jeremy Kyle Show in a story or two. In the end the book just got a bit repetitive, the female characters being ‘blinged up’ precocious princess’s and the male characters being ‘bad boy’ drugged up chavs.

It’s ok if you don’t take it serious but to be honest with a title like The Asbo Fairy Tales, how can you take this serious, A quick and light hearted read.

On Cats – Doris Lessing

This is a book by Doris Lessing and her life with cats, the book is based on her love of the feline creatures that habitats her life, included in the book are two chapters on two cats she was particularly fond off, Rufus and  El Magnifico.

This book is a lovely read, the style of writing is exquisite and she describes all manner of the cat’s personality and their traits. I wouldn’t say she has a particular love of cats but she sees certain qualities in them that draws them too her affectionately, referring to some cats at the beginning of the book as grey cat or second cat and not by name. Lessing chronicles all the feline’s behaviour from their fussy habits, who is the top cat to the way they move, the descriptions are exceptional.

I didn’t think I would enjoy this being a dog lover but it was a fab book, I’ll look at cats differently from now on. If your a lover of cats then I recommend this book to you.

The Best Of Men – Claire Letemendia

There’s  a civil war being fought in and while Laurence Beaumont is fighting in it, he’s also deciphered a coded plot with the help of his old tutor Seward. They discover that it’s a plot to kill the King but who’s written it and who was written too?

Set in England in 1642, it’s told in the third person narrative. This book was ok, I especially liked the character of Beaumont who stands to gain a lot with his noble birthright but being a bit of a cad he just doesn’t find it appealing. The other characters were good, however there was a downside to this book for me, too many characters, I lost sight of who was siding with the King and who was siding with Parliament. It did slightly spoil my pleasure in reading this book. In fact I got too about page 200 and started it again as I had lost sight of who was who. I wasn’t much wiser the second time around but wanted to finish it to see what happened with certain characters.

I would recommend this book but while the plot was accessible, too many characters made it distracting.

Call The Midwife – Jennifer Worth

This book is the true account of Jennifer Worth in the 1950’s when she was working as a midwife. She was working in appalling conditions in the East End of London, commonly known as the slums.

I first read this book in 2008 and having had a home birth earlier this year I thought it would be interesting to revisit this book to compare the differences from the 50’s to today’s modern world and what differences they are!!

Worth writes marvellously, on some stories I felt I was a fly on the wall they were so realistically written. Not all the stories are to do with midwifery but some involve general nursing. The other chrarcters in the book are fabulous and you will either love them or hate them.

I haven’t really got much more to say on this book, except it’s a fantastic book and for me it’s one to keep. A must read.

 

The Initiation Of Ms Holly – K. D. Grace

Sex with a mysterious stranger aboard a train leads Rita Holly to an initiation into the exclusive and secretive Mount club. Sophisticated and deviant rituals await Rita, as do the endless intrigues and power struggles deep within the heart of the organisation.

I’ve never read Erotica before but I had this sent to me to review through goodreads.com. I enjoyed it, it’s not the type of book that can be read start to finish, for me it was more of a dip in, dip out book. I loved the characters, especially Rita and Edward but some of the characters infuriated me a bit.

Good sexy fun in the book with very explicit, descriptive acts going on, It felt quite naughty just reading it, I think the author must have a very vivid imagination to come up with some of the things. A perfect book to read with the other half in bed. I would recommend it.

My Sh*t Life So Far – Frankie Boyle

This book is basically as the title says, Frankie Boyle’s shit life so far. I only normally read biog’s about celebs I know of but my son said this was brilliant and I had to give it a go!! I’ve never seen Boyle on TV and only heard of him as he had caused a contraversy a few months ago that I saw on the news.

With some of the things he’s says I’m laughing but with some things I’m cringing, he’s quite a cynical fella isn’t he! He says in the introduction that he lies a lot in this book (and I could certainly see where he was lying!) so how can this be a memoir if you don’t know if it’s the truth or not, or is it just his sense of humour, I don’t know.

With that in mind a decided to read this book with a little scepticism and by doing that I enjoyed reading this book more than I thought I would. He’s quite an articulate and intelligent man. Very honest about his drinking and drug taking.

Some parts of the book though were crude, obscene even and made it slightly uncomfortable reading in parts. I’m not sure why he wrote this book, celebs lately seem to bring out an autobiography every few years detailing their lives and I thought that would have been everything Boyle stood against but maybe he’s just another ‘celeb’ out to make a buck or two.

Not sure if I would recommend this book, if your a big fan of Boyle then I would but if not then it might not interest you.

The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton

On the eve of the First World War, a little girl is found abandoned on a ship to Australia. A mysterious woman called the Authoress had promised to look after her, but has disappeared without a trace.  On the night of her twenty first birthday, Nell Andrews learns a secret that will change her life forever. Decades later, she embarks upon a search for the truth that leads her to the Cornish coast and the strange and beautiful Blackhurst Manor, once owned by the aristocratic Mountrachet family. On Nell’s death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes into an unexpected inheritance. Cliff Cottage and its forgotten garden are notorious amongst the Cornish locals for the secrets they hold, secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family and their ward Eliza Makepeace, a writer of dark Victorian fairytales. It is here that Cassandra will finally uncover the truth about the family, and solve the century-old mystery of a little girl lost.

Kate Morton, winner of the Richard and Judy’s Summer Read 2007 with The House At Riverton, has written a fabulous book in The Forgotten Garden. It’s told in the third person narrative and set across two continents. Each chapter goes back and forth in time (1913, 1975 and 2005) depending on which character your reading about, either Nell, Cassandra or Eliza. I loved these 3 characters, they were all regarded as wonderfully strong women but each had suffered tradegy in their lives which made them stronger still. I enjoyed the other characters as well, even Mrs Swindell and her bad traits.

I was totally gripped by this book, the story is enchanting. It’s 645 pages long and I thought it might be too long for such a story but everything was unravelled brilliantly. Each chapter would give a fabulous cryptic clue as too what was coming next, just enough to guarantee you to want to turn the page. Near the end of the book, all the loose ends I was questioning are cleverly tied together.

I couldn’t put this book down, I was totally gripped by it. This book will definitely be on my Top 5 of 2010 list. I couldn’t find a fault with it. She captured the language perfectly within each timescale. I can’t wait to read her other works.

Highly recommended.

Sh*t My Dad Says – Justin Halpern

Justin Halpern is 28 years old and has moved back home with his parents after splitting up with his girlfriend. This is a hilarious collection of gems his father blunty comes out with, such as…

ON SHOWERING WITH REGULARITY   “You’re ten years old now, you have to take a shower everyday….I don’t give a shit if you hate it. People hate smelly fuckers. I will not have a smelly fucker for a son”

and…

ON UNDERSTANDING ONE’S PLACE IN THE FOOD CHAIN   “Your mother made a batch of meatballs last night. Some are for you, some are for me, but more are for me. Remember that. More. Me.

A fabulous assortment of anecdotes. I dare you not to laugh while reading it.

 

Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey

 

Late on a hot summer night at the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by a knock on his window. His visitor is Jasper Jones. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie.

This story is based in Australia and told from Charlie Bucktin’s point of view. It started off slow and I felt the pace didn’t pick up much. It had pages of descriptive details that had no significance to the story and it got slightly tedious reading them.

Charlie was a character that was older than his years, I have a 15 year old, an intelligent 15 year old but even she wouldn’t use the words chose by Charlie, they were just to advanced for his age of 13 years. He looked up to Jasper Jones, saw him as a ‘cool guy’.

Some of the romantic scenes were quite touching in a schoolboy meets schoolgirl kind of way. More of the story came out in the last few pages than in the whole of the book.

So to sum up, I didn’t really enjoy this, felt it was too young for me but the dialogue chosen would be too difficult for my 11 year old as it was too advanced.

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