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Showing posts from October, 2012

When book titles collide

Disclaimer:  I do realize that many authors do not have control over what title is stuck on their books (by the look of it by bored editors who think readers don’t care about these things), and my heart goes out to them when I see a particularly unoriginal or over-recycled title. So don‘t take this little rant of mine as criticism of authors (like someone did when I originally posted about this subject on my original 52 books blog, nearly 10 years ago). This is what I wrote back then:  I conducted a bit of accidental research into the subject of recycled titles with a book I came across in the library a couple of weeks ago. I had read a favourable review of a novel titled The Devil’s Bargain , but could only remember the title. I found the title in the library and took the book home to read. Just in case, I re-checked the review, but discovered the book in the review was by a different author from the one I had found. So I turned to Amazon UK, where I have often been able to find

Reading report for September 2012

I finished 12 books in September. They fall into several genres, with romance being the most popular one. Half of the books could be called romances, although only three are labelled as such. The other three have strong romantic elements. Of the remaining books, five were non-fiction, of which two belong to my favourite non-fiction genre: travelogues. There was one reread, or rather re-listen, as it was an audio book. The books: Elisabeth Tova Bailey: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating . Memoir/natural history. H.E. Bates: The Darling Buds of May . Humourous fiction, romantic. Bathroom Reader's Institute: Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into History . Trivia. Calista Fox: IOU Sex . Erotic romance. M.J. Fredrick: Road signs . Contemporary romance. Ernesto 'Che' Guevara: The Motorcycle Diaries . Travelogue. Steven D. & Stephen J. Dubner Leavitt: Superfreakonomics . Economics. Debbie Macomber: 311 Pelican Court . Women‘s fiction, cosy, romantic.

Review: Reflections on a Marine Venus, by Lawrence Durrell

"Is not Lindos the official beauty-spot of Rhodes? The contrast with Cameirus is remarkable—for where Cameirus is refined, turned in upon itself in sunny contemplation, Lindos is bold, strident. Cameirus has all the stillness of an amphora in a Museum, with its frieze of dancers caught in a timeless dancing; Lindos, under the sweetness of its decoration, is like a trumpet-call, beaten out in gold-leaf and vibrating across the blue airs of time." Novelist Lawrence Durrell was the oldest brother of naturalist Gerald Durrell, and they shared the ability to write beautifully evocative texts about things that interested them. I must admit that I have never read any of Lawrence's serious fiction, but I have enjoyed his humorous works about life in the diplomatic corps, Esprit de Corps and Stiff Upper Lip , and did not have much left of Bitter Lemons , his travelogue about Cyprus, when I had to return it to the library and then somehow never remembered to borrow it

Review: Bitter Almonds: Recollections and recipes from a Sicilian girlhood, by Mary Taylor Simeti & Maria Grammatico

This book is the memoir of Maria Grammatico, owner of a famous pastry shop in Erice in Sicily where she uses recipes learned while living as an orphan in a convent in the town. Simeti recorded her story, translated it and organised it for the book, which is the narrative of Grammatico's life, her 15 year stay with the nuns and a little of her impoverished childhood in the Sicilian countryside before that.The loss of her father threw the family into even deeper poverty, and her mother was forced to send her and one of her sisters to live with the nuns, who took in orphans, so she could could feed the rest of the family and ensure the two girls were well looked after. What followed were years of hard work and deprivation, but also of opportunity. Grammatico learned to form and prepare the pastries the nuns sold to supplement the convent's income and, being a clever girl, she was able to learn the recipes - which the nuns guarded from the girls - by simply watching them bei

What's in a name challenge review: Daughters of the House by Michèle Roberts

This is the sixth and final challenge book, the type of house. The choice was limited - there were very few books in my TBR+1 pile that had any kind of abode in the title, let alone a type of house, so I ended up choosing the common, generic word. This literary novel, shortlisted for the Booker the year after it was published, is the story of two cousins, one French, the other half-English, half-French, who grow up in a big house in a small village in France in the 1950s. One of them returns to the house after 20 years in a convent and family secrets and lies are uncovered and events in the village explained as the story plunges back into their childhoods. This is a beautifully written little book, full of descriptions of everyday things loaded with symbolism and metaphor. The story it tells is that of a typical love-hate relationship between two cousins, one who is special and another who longs to be. The narrative is full of twists and hints about dark deeds and while some plot p