August was a 'firsts' month, in more ways than one. It's the first month I have read only 'first time reads'.
Teacher, Teacher - Jack Sheffield
Mister Teacher - Jack Sheffield
Sea Of Dreams - Susan Sallis
Towards Zero - Agatha Christie
The Weather Witch - Paul Stewart
You Slay Me - Katie McAllister
Daughters Of The Moon - Susan Sallis
The Warrior Heir - Cinda William Chima
TOTAL NUMBER OF BOOKS READ THUS FAR in 2008: 92
08 were first time reads
I was introduced to the Jack Sheffield books when caffyolay bought me one for my birthday - and I had to get the other one. They tell the story of a new Headmaster in Yorkshire in the 1970s. As with the Gervase Phinn books we have a lot of humour and details of the interaction with the children, only instead of seeing it from the life of a School Inspector, we see it from the life of the new Headmaster. Added to the humour and the day-to-day school happenings, there is also a hint of romance for Jack, but by the end of the second book he has, in effect, been seeing two sisters. And on the very last page of the second book drives off in the direction of one of them - but we don't know which one (isn't it January 2009, yet?)
The books contain a lot of humour but also all the other emotions as well, we see children who are driven to school in large cars and are only at the village school until they are old enough to go to the local Independent school and children who come from such poor homes that their mother has to stock up on coal during the summer just so she can afford to heat the house in the winter - and she has to keep the coal in the bath. And we also get to know recurring characters who are involved with the school in both books and again we see their lives - the happy, the moving and the sad.
They are excellent reads and if you've ever read Gervase Phinn and liked those books, then you'll like these. In fact I think Jack Sheffield and Gervase Phinn paths must have crossed because their is one story that they both tell in their books. It's when a teacher is reading the story of The Three Little Pigs to her class, and after reading the part of the big bad wolf blowing the houses down and eating the pigs a little boy's voice is heard to say 'the bastard'.
I decided to try another couple of Susan Sallis books, but I won't be getting any more. Not because I didn't enjoy them, I did; they are nice, light, friendly, predictable reads; but for me they are a 'once only' read and I tend to feel it's a waste of money if I can't read them more than once. Were I able to get out and go to the library and/or charity shops then I'd certainly pick up some more, but as it is, three is enough.
They are, like the one I read last month, set in the West Country and she tells a good story; as I said the books are predictable, you know what's going to happen, but I don't find that a problem - after all if you really take books apart you pretty much know what's going to happen in all genres. In romance girl and boy will meet, be attracted, spend most of the book at odds with one another, only to get together at the end. With mysteries/crimes there is a crime and by the end it'll be solved. So even though the details of the plots were obvious (e.g. a couple can't have children, one night she has sex with her boss, she is then pregnant, about to get rid of the child she finds out that boss was infertile, thus baby is hubby's after all) they were still enjoyable, light reads. I wouldn't recommend buying them at full price, but I'd say give one of two ago if you like general, non-heavy angst, predictable story-lines reads and can pick them up at the library/charity shop.
You Slay Me was a book recommended to me. It's a paranormal romance and can best be described as crack!fic. We have dragons who are in human form, guardians, demons - including a Newfoundland Dog who - and other mystical beings. The romance part is typical romance, but doesn't quite have the traditional ending - at least not in this book. It was a fun, light read, but I did have to wonder what the author was on when writing it :-)
Towards Zero is one of the few Agatha Christie books I hadn't read - and it is one of her best. It's not a Poirot or Miss Marple book; it involves Superintendent Battle, but his part isn't huge. Basically the book is about murder, but it points out that the crime doesn't begin with the murder, the actual murder is the 'zero point' and what's even more important is what leads up to the murder.
Borrowing the synopsis from Amazon: An elderly widow is murdered at a clifftop seaside house . . . What is the connection between a failed suicide attempt, a wrongful accusation of theft against a schoolgirl, and the romantic life of a famous tennis player? To the casual observer, apparently nothing. But when a houseparty gathers at Gull's Point, the seaside home of an elderly widow, earlier events come to a dramatic head. It's all part of a carefully paid plan - for murder!
I'd definitely recommend this one; it kept me guessing throughout and had more twists and turns than the usual Christie and certainly was a compelling read. A very good book indeed.
The Weather Witch was another recommended book; it's an older children's book and is about a brother and sister who are sent away from London for the summer holidays to their great aunt in Wales. They don't want to go, but once they are there they firstly find themselves enjoying the peace and the house and their aunt's company and secondly they fall head-long into an adventure and they have to save an entire village that vanished in the Elizabethan era to escape destruction - the only problem is the spell that originally save the village is now its downfall.
A good read, the characters were interesting (although I must say I wanted to slap both the children to start with, but that changed once they got to Wales and stopped mis-behaving) and the story-line was compelling and good. I was drawn in to the story and although I knew, given it was a children's book, it was going to have a resolved if not out and out happy ending, I was still captivated by it. And there was a small twist at the end that I hadn't been expecting at all.
The Warrior Heir was another book I bought on recommendation of a friend and again it's an older children's book. It's a fantasy book involving wizards and warriors and an age old battle between the Red and White rose. It starts off back in time when briefly meet the surviving children of a slaughtered family. It then moves to the modern day in small town America and finally moves to England.
I found it a rather uneven book; it had some really good and compelling parts that kept me turning pages and not wanting to go to sleep as I had to read more, but sadly I felt they were in the minority. The majority of the book, I felt, was rather dragged out and uninteresting and yeah-yeah. Normally I either care for characters or I don't (and if I don't there's no point going on) but here I swung from caring what happened to Jack and his family/friends, to not caring. Also the book took until about page 100 to really get going. Up until then, once we got past the prologue, it was vaguely interesting enough for me not to give up (plus I know how much my friend enjoyed it so I felt I should give it a fair chance, as we share other reads in common) but I felt it was over-long and not gripping enough.
The sad fact is, I was glad when I got to the end; I was also glad I read it, to me even books you don't enjoy give you something - even if it's only 'I won't bother with that author again', but I won't be buying the sequel. I personally can't recommend it, but I'm one person and I know others who would.