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Showing posts from September, 2012

What's in a Name challenge review: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elizabeth Tova Bailey

No sooner hand I finished the previous review when I picked up the next book in the challenge and read it through in a single sitting. It was that fascinating and that good.

This is my fifth and second-to-last book of the challenge, the creepy crawly (a snail), and the only one so far that has not been on my TBR list. Just to be clear, the TBR books are the ones I have owned for over a year. 

The reason I didn't choose a TBR book for this category was simple: I only have one unread book about creepy-crawlies that fits the plus-one-year rule, and it's a reference book as thick as a telephone directory that I have no intention of reading from cover to cover. 

The author was struck by a mysterious illness while on holiday in Europe and the outcome was a debilitating condition that made her an invalid. Stuck in a cycle of slight recoveries and violent relapses, she was bound to her bed when a friend brought her a pot of wild violets and a forest snail. She began observing the s…

What's in a Name challenge review: The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates

My fourth What's in a Name challenge book was this delightful short novel, the first in a series of (I think) 5 books that have also been used as the basis for a television series. The challenge category is # 6, the something you'd find on a calendar, that of course being the month of May.

Cedric Carlton, a clerk from the Internal Revenue office arrives at the Larkin family farm to find out why Pa Larkin hasn't filed his taxes. He meets the Larkins' oldest daughter, Mariette, and falls in love with her at first sight, which comes in useful for Pa, who clearly has no intention to pay his taxes and uses Cedric's infatuation with Mariette to dodge all questions about the matter. Cedric, renamed Charley by Pa, quickly forgets why he came and takes sick leave in order to stay with the family and be near Mariette, who seems quite interested in him too.

This is one of those lovely novels in which a formula as old as literature is used to good effect to tell an entertaini…

What's in a Name challenge review: The Marsh Arabs by Wilfred Thesiger

This is the third What's in a Name challenge book I finish, the topographical feature, that of course being a marsh. This means I am halfway there, and one more TBR book down.

The Marsh Arabs is a travelogue that, along with another travelogue by the same author, Arabian Sands, often appears on lists of best travel books and classics of the genre. It's easy to see why. The style is straightforward and no-nonsense, yet never dry or boring and it was refreshing for a change to read a travelogue by someone who knew exactly who he was and what he was doing, rather than the more common "searching for meaning and/or identity" travelogue so common today.

In 1951 to 58 Wilfred Thesiger spent several months of each year in the marshes of southern Iraq, getting to know the inhabitants, their way of life and customs. He seems to have travelled to this particular area in search of people who were not yet too modernised to have lost all connection with their past and the land, …

Reading report for August 2012

It suddenly occurred to me that I had yet to post a reading report for last month. 

I finished 12 books in August, out of which one was a reread. It was a mixed bag this time: autobiography, travel, popular science, romance, urban fantasy, mystery and suspense. Some of my favourite genres, in fact.

The TBR challenge is inching along, with 3 books in August, and I got going again with the Brother Cadfael mysteries, reading three of them back to back. I finally got hold of the final book I needed to complete the series and now there is nothing holding me back from finally finishing it.

The Books:
Alison Arngrim: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch. Autobiography.
Andrew Beahrs: Twain's Feast: Searching for America's lost foods in the footsteps of Samuel Clemens. Travel and food.
Georgette Heyer: The Convenient Marriage. Historical romance. Reread.
Sam Kean: The Disappearing Spoon: and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world, from the periodic table of the el…

What‘s in a Name challenge review: The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, translated by Alexandra Keeble

Here is my second What‘s in a Name challenge read, no. 5, the something you‘d carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack, that thing being a diary.

The Motorcycle Diaries shows famous revolutionary Ernesto Guevara as young, roguish and immature but already beginning to form the ideas and ideology that would later lead him to join the Cuban revolution and attempt to carry through revolutions in the Congo and Bolivia, the latter which would cost him his life. How much of that revolutionary spark that can be seen here and there in the book is his own fiction and how much is true is impossible to know, as he edited the diary he kept of the journey and may have added to it to make it more interesting for his political brethren. The final chapter, his mini-manifesto of support for the downtrodden and for the revolution he believes in, is certainly a later addition, written to give the book a climax and a real ending.

For the most part, however, this book is about the joys of travel. Guevara an…