Nov
08

The Crow Road – Iain Banks

crow road 2The Crow Road by Iain Banks was published in 1992 and subsequently filmed as a mini-series by the BBC. The untimely death at the age of 59 in June 2013 of Banks, the best-selling author of 29 books, prompted me to revisit his work and The Crow Road was one of his novels that I had never previously read.

Born in Dunfermline, Fife, Banks’ novels are inherently Scottish in tone.  In 2008, The Times named Banks as one of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″, but something that I hadn’t realised was that he was also the author of several science fiction novels writing under the name of Iain M. Banks and was described by The Guardian as “the standard by which the rest of SF is judged”. [Read more…]

Oct
14

Dear Daughter – Roy Sheppard

DD groupDear Daughter: What I Wish I’d Known at Your Age by former BBC reporter and media presenter Roy Sheppard is a self-help guide aimed at 15 – 25 year old young women. Roy is also the author of Dear Son: What I Wish I’d Known at Your Age for young men in the same age group.

As well as Roy’s take on ‘what he thinks young women should know’ in his role as a writer and speaker on personal and professional relationships, the book contains articles and insights from a selection of savvy women from all walks of life, both professional and amateur, encompassing a variety of careers and highlighting different viewpoints. [Read more…]

Sep
11

Inferno – Dan Brown

Inferno groupInferno, the fourth novel by Dan Brown, once again features Harvard University symbologist Dr. Robert Langdon. It follows on from Angels and Demons, the amazingly successful blockbuster The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, and continues in the thriller genre that Brown has become known for.

This time our protagonist, the Harris Tweed clad Langdon wakes up in hospital with mild amnesia and is saved by the stereotypical blonde and beautiful Dr Sienna Brooks, once a child prodigy, who helps him to escape an assassin. The villain of the piece is geneticist Bertrand Zobrist, who believes that the Earth is nearing Doomsday population overload, when resources will finally run out and people will begin to behave like those in Dante’s Inferno. [Read more…]

Aug
26

‘That’s Not my Lion’ – Books for Baby

book lionThere are some great books to keep your baby entertained out there and not doubt we all have our favourites. Some of you may remember Spot the Dog from your childhood, or you may have read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to your children at bedtime.

Having recently been introduced to the fabulous award winning books from Usborne Children’s Books in the ‘That’s Not My…’ series, I can highly recommend these as another sets of books that no nursery shelf should be without. [Read more…]

Aug
19

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Making its way straight to the top of the New York Times bestseller list after its release in June 2012 in the USA, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has also proved to one of the most popular summer reads in the UK.

This is the American author’s third novel. Her first, Sharp Objects, won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller and her second, Dark Places, amongst other accolades was the Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2009 and Chicago Tribune Favorite Fiction choice. Not surprisingly the movie rights to both have already been sold. [Read more…]

Jan
29

Reading Lolita in Tehran – A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

 

Reading Lolita in Tehran – A Memoir in Books

Azar Nafisi

The sub-title of Reading Lolita in Tehran is A Memoir in Books, and that is just what it is! The book was first published in 2003 and is a memoir by the author Azar Nafisi about life in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which now seems to have great resonance in light of the current Arab Spring. Nafisi recounts how every Thursday morning for two years she taught Western fiction to a group of students secretly within her home, including classics by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James and Jane Austen, but the book that Nafisi references mostly is Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita which she uses as a metaphor for life in Tehran.  For the reader, having a prior knowledge of the classics that feature in Reading Lolita in Tehran certainly helps to gain an understanding of the parallels drawn between literature and life. [Read more…]

Dec
14

The Suspect – Michael Robotham

The Suspect

Michael Robotham

This is the thriller that might just turn you into a crime fiction convert! Maybe a little slow to start… but give it a chance and you will find yourself hooked on a story that is gripping and, eventually, fast moving.

Meet clinical psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin who seems to have it all. Joe is 42 with a beautiful wife and a clever eight year old daughter, Charlie. However, all is not quite as perfect as it seems. We find out that Joe was recently diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease, and when the police ask for his help in solving the brutal murder of a young woman, his whole world seems to fall apart in spectacular fashion. It turns out that Joe knew the victim, a nurse called Catherine McBride, who was a former colleague and patient. When another patient of his, Bobby Moran, starts behaving in an odd manner Joe realises that there might be a connection between Bobby and the murder of Catherine. [Read more…]

Dec
08

Room – Emma Donoghue

Room

Emma Donoghue

Room is the seventh novel from 40 year old author Emma Donoghue, one that has earned her universal acclaim and that put her on the shortlist for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for fiction.

A précis of the narrative makes it sound like a horror story, but Donoghue herself says that Room ‘is a universal story about parenthood.’ A mother and her son are kept imprisoned by their captor, who only visits to deliver supplies and rape the mother in the 11’ X 11’ shed that is their cell. We see the world through the eyes of 5 year old Jack. The reader has to do a lot of emotional work to figure out what is going on in Jack’s head, trying to interpret through Jack’s naïve pair of eyes what he thinks about the modern world. [Read more…]

Oct
25

Book Review: Indigo – Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans by Jenny Balfour-Paul

Book Review: IndigoEgyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans by Jenny Balfour-Paul

Who would have thought that there would be so much to say about indigo, the distinctive blue dye that nowadays is mostly associated with denim? Jenny Balfour-Paul is an author, artist, lecturer and traveller whose book Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans is the definitive work on the dye, tracing its exotic history from the times of the ancient Pharaohs to the present day. [Read more…]

Sep
12

Bel Canto – Ann Patchett

Bel Canto

Ann Patchett

Bel Canto is an award winning novel by American author Ann Patchett. When terrorists invade the Vice President’s mansion in an unnamed Latin American country where a lavish party is taking place to celebrate the birthday of visiting Japanese businessman, Mr. Hosokawa, a series of events is set in motion that alters the life of every person incarcerated during the siege that follows. The only woman not to be released by the kidnappers is American opera diva Roxane Coss, who has been flown in especially to perform at the party in honour of her greatest fan, Mr. Hosokawa, and it is her singing that becomes the catalyst for the narrative and music that becomes the common language that binds the hostages and captors together in an emotional exploration of love and friendship. [Read more…]