Dear Teacher - Jack Sheffield
Stiffs And Swines - J. B. Stanley
Murder On The Short List - Peter Lovesey
Never Say Sty - Linda O Johnston
Rafael Nadal: The Biography - Tom Oldfield
Corked By Cabernet - Michelle Scott
Gentlemen And Players - Joanne Harris
The Secret Dreamworld Of A Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
Shopaholic Abroad - Sophie Kinsella
Shopaholic Ties The Knot - Sophie Kinsella
Shopaholic And Sister - Sophie Kinsella
Shopaholic And Baby - Sophie Kinsella
TOTAL NUMBER OF BOOKS READ THUS FAR in 2009: 43
07 were first time reads
05 were re-reads
Dear Teacher is the latest book in the series about a Yorkshire Headmaster in the 1970s. The book contain a lot of humour and details of the interaction with the children, seen the eyes of the Headmaster, who is now in his third year. Added to the humour and the day-to-day school happenings, there is also romance for Jack and by the end of the previous book he had, 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 didn't know which one.
The third book, rather than sorting this out at the beginning, keeps us guessing and on our toes until the very end, by which time he has made his choice. Actually, he'd made his choice long before that, but he wasn't quite ready to admit it to himself. I can recommend the series highly, the books are really enjoyable reads and the characters are real and not one-dimensional or cardboard cut-outs.
Stiffs And Swines is another 'latest in the series' books; this time it's Supper Club Mystery Series'. The 'gang of five' who call themselves 'Flab Five', are still there. Although one of their number has lost so much weight, the 'flab' really doesn't fit her. In this book they are actually out of town, they've been invited to judge various food related competitions in another town. Their diets pretty much go out of the window here as once again they fall headlong into another murder, which of course they solve. It's a very quick and light read series, but again, a good one.
Murder On The Short List is Peter Lovesey's latest book; it's actually short stories and I am a tad embarrassed to admit I didn't know that until it came. I just saw 'Peter Lovesey' and 'new' on Amazon and bought it *wry grin*. It is actually a book his best ever short stories, and featuring some of his most popular detectives - Bertie, Prince of Wales, Sergeant Cribb and Rosemary and Thyme. Despite having several of PL's short story books, I didn't recognise any of the stories - but I enjoyed all of them. A good solid read.
Never Say Sty yet another 'latest in the series' this time the 'Pet Sitter's Mysteries'. In my review of her previous book, I note that I said I hoped that was her last. Well, I decided to give her one last go. And this I'm sure will be it (although being the completist I am, it can be difficult not to click 'buy' on series books). The wonderful character we had in the first few books has vanished and whilst the interaction with the animals is still fun, I just don't care about Kendra anymore.
Rafa Nadal's Biography, right. I don't read a lot of biographies or autobiographies, but when I do they are usually tennis related. Nadal is my current favourite player and even though I knew there couldn't be much of a biography, given his young age, I decided to buy it. Apart from having confirmed what I already knew, as it was obvious from his interviews and the way he's popular with the other players and his relationship with Uncle Toni, that he is a very modest, family-oriented, lovely young man, the book was really just about his tennis matches. That isn't quite as boring as it sounded as the writer had a good touch; the only problem was that for some reason he (and his editor) couldn't chose a name or description/title and stick to it. Thus in the same paragraph we had 'Rafa' 'Nadal' 'The 'Spaniard' and if that wasn't enough we also then had 'Federer' 'The Swiss' and when the author was doing either the French Open or Wimbledon 'The Champion'. It was like having six players on court at once *g* It wouldn't have been as bad had it switched between paragraphs, but this was within paragraphs even sentences. I got quite giddy at times.
Corked By Cabernet was . . . You've guessed it, another 'latest in series'; this one being 'Wine Lovers Mysteries'. I didn't care that much for the previous book, it wasn't set 'at home' and bored me. But this one was very much back on track. Another light, enjoyable read with some good characters (including the almost obligatory gay couple) that had depth to them.
Gentlemen And Players was a book caffyolay reviewed on her book journal. I looked it up on Amazon and whilst I hadn't enjoyed a couple of Joanne Harris books I'd started, I decided to give this a go. It's basically a black comedy and a story of obsession and revenge with a major twist at the end, which I had not foreseen at all. It's basically told in the first person by two different people and if I had one major criticism it would be that their voices were identical. It took me a few chapters, despite the chess figures at the top of each chapter to really figure out that one of the twists wasn't that they were the same person. Actually, that irked me, as I felt that I shouldn't have to spend that long working that out. Thus it was a testament to the fact that the story intrigued me enough to go on with it.
It's set in St. Oswald's an old and long-established boys' grammar school in the north of England and I think that you have to have at least a vague understanding of how that kind of school works, what it stands for to maybe truly get the full impact of this story. You could hate that kind of school and still enjoy the story. I have to say I had no sympathy at all for the 'criminal' and found their motivations dubious and difficult to truly understand and at times I was annoyed with them. But I still enjoyed the book, was caught up in it, was totally misled by the major twist at the end. I felt, perhaps, it was somewhat over padded and although the deception was completely necessary, at times, once the truth had come out, I felt it was rather forced. As much as I enjoyed the book, and I did, I'm not sure it is one I'll be reading again.
Sophie Kinsella is a chick-lit writer, a genre I don't read a great deal of. However, her books are excellent and I really do recommend them. For me what is so good about her characters is that you find them not only believable, but can also look at them and see part of you in them. In her Shopaholic series Becky, the main character, is obsessed with shopping and spending money and her exploits evoke a huge range of emotions. At times she irritates you and you think 'grow up' but nonetheless she's a good person. And I doubt there are many people around who can't put their hand on their heart and say 'I have never, ever bought anything that I didn't need and/or I don't have anything in my wardrobe, on my book shelf, CD cabinet, DVD cabinet that I don't wear/read/listen to/watch'. Becky just takes that to a different level. She does cause trouble mainly for herself and gets into all kinds of messes, but nonetheless she is not a hurtful or cruel character. It is a really good series.