March 28th, 2011

  • cat63

Book 20 for 2011

Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer. 329 pages

After the rather dismal atmosphere of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I was in the mood for something rather more light-hearted, so I picked up this book.

And it was more light-hearted, though not quite as much so as I'd expected. This third outing for Fowl and company was certainly fun, but there was a bit more underlying seriousness as well. Not a bad thing, but unexpected.

This time, Artemis has developed a powerful micro-computer based on fairy technology. When it's stolen by a business man even more unscrupulous than Artemis himself, he needs the help of the LEP to get it back and prevent the  fairy world from being exposed.

The ending used a plot device I particularly dislike, although to be fair, it's something that's been established from the beginning in the series, but it makes me wonder where the author is going to go with the fourth book.
winter trees

Books 28 & 29: Sister and The Woods

Book 28: Sister.
Author: Rosamund Lupton, 2010.
Genre: Crime Fiction.
Other Details: Paperback. 375 pages.

"You're missing. I'm coming to find you ....." - cover tag-line, Sister.

The story is told in retrospect by Beatrice, a successful young woman living in New York who has come home to London due to a frantic phone call advising that her younger sister, Tess, is missing. The narrative takes the form of a letter written to Tess that has a stream-of-consciousness feel to it. Beatrice's account moves from the present time to the early days of her investigation and all points in-between.

It is a very unusual crime novel that also examines the nature of the bond between sisters. Lupton creates an atmosphere of brooding isolation, even in the middle of modern-day London. Overall it did evoke some comparisons with recent Scandinavian crime fiction, which is very much in vogue at the present time. I found it compulsive reading that elicited a growing sense of unease as the story progressed.

This is an impressive début novel that has been enjoying quite a bit of buzz in the UK though it won't be published in the USA until June. If you decide to read it though do avoid spoilers as it is one best read 'cold' just allowing Beatrice's tale to unfold.

Opening Chapter of 'Sister' - from Rosamund Lupton's website.

Book 29: The Woods.
Author: Harlan Coben, 2007
Genre: Crime Thriller.
Other Details: Paperback. 442 pages.

Paul (Cope) Copeland is currently a County Prosecutor for Essex, New Jersey. Twenty years ago while he and his older sister were at summer camp, she and three friends went into the woods one night and disappeared. Two of the teens were found murdered but there was no trace of Cope's sister and one other. Now as Cope struggles with his demanding career and bringing up his daughter after his wife's death a homicide victim is found with evidence on him that links to Cope and the secrets of the past. There are plenty of twists and turns as Cope begins to unravel what happened that fateful night.

This was the second Coben novel selected by one of the reading groups I attend. It was quickly evident to me that he had improved vastly as a writer since the rather cheesy 'Play Dead'. This was a page-turner that was entertaining and undemanding. However, when the reading group met to discuss the book what emerged as a consensus was that although it was an easy read and an effective thriller there really was no substance to its narrative or themes that would generate a group discussion. I'd certainly read more of his work for those times I want an escapist crime thriller.

# 17 The Night Bookmobile

The Night Bookmobile

Audrey Niffenegger

This is a very, very short graphic novel which seems to be made to look like a young child's picture book. It is clear, however, that this is definitely a book for adults, as it touches on some very complicated, dark themes.

How could I not love a book about a mysterious book mobile that appears at random in the night, and whose only collection consists of every book a person has ever read?

I defintely did love it, but even so, it left me feeling a bit...disturbed and off-kilter. It may be because I felt like a 5-yr-old sitting with a picture book open on my lap, while at the same time, the book becomes very dark and a bit morbid.


# 18 Major Barbara

Major Barbara

George Bernard Shaw

Barbara, a major in the Salvation Army, is in the business of saving souls. Her father, a wealthy arms dealer, is in the business of war, death, and destruction. He sells weapons to anyone who wants them, without regard for the aims or ideals of the buyer.

The conflict between Barbara and her father is at the heart of this play, which addresses social and philosophical questions in a brilliant and witty manner.

This play made me both laugh and think, which had to be exactly Shaw's intention.


Books 7 & 8

Book 7: "The Double Comfort Safari Club" by Alexander McCall Smith

Mma Ramotswe herself smiled at the recollection. “I went in at the shallow end,” she said. “It was not very deep, and I found that I could stand. But then I made a very interesting discovery.”
“That you could swim?”
Mma Ramotswe shook her head. “No, I did not find that I could swim. I found, though, that I could float. I very slowly took the weight off my legs, and do you know, Mma, I floated. It was very pleasant. I did not have to move my arms-I just floated.”
Mma Makutsi clapped her hands. “That is very good, Mma! Well done! Perhaps it is something to do with being so traditionally built. A thin person would sink. You floated.”
“Possibly,” said Mma Ramotswe. “But it was good to discover that I could do a sport after all.”
Mma Makutsi was not certain that floating could be called a sport. Was there a Botswana floating team? She thought not. What would such a team do? Would they have to float gently from one point to another, with the winner being the one who arrived first? Surely not.

Mma Makutsi's fiancee Phuti ends up in hospital after being injured in an accident, and she is thwarted in her attempts to care for him by his over-protective aunt tries to keep her at arm's length. On the other hand, it was nice to see a very different part of Botswana when Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi travelled to a safari camp in the Okavango Delta in search of a beneficiary to a will. But overall this isn't one of my favourite books in this series.

Book 8: "The Mother-in-Law" by Eve Makis

If he were't obsessed about Elvis, he'd be obsessing about something else. At last Elvis is a positive role model. I obsess about him myself sometimes, dressed in that black leather jumpsuit.
'Positive role model? Heavy drinker, pill-popper, philanderer?'
'We all have our foibles, Lydia. If Elvis drank stinky green tea and went to bed at eleven-thirty, do you think he would have been a rock and roll legend?'

Electra, the daughter-in-law, is a warm and vibrant woman, and a night-owl who uses eleven-thirty as an example of an early bedtime, but I didn't really warm to her, her husband Adam, or their family and friends, or care about their problems. Electra'a best friend Lydia, with her inadequate mothering style and bratty son, was especially annoying.