Nikki (nakeisha) wrote,
Nikki
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Books read in May & June 2009

I never did post my end of month book round-up in May; so here is a double 'issue'. Hmmm, there must be something about May, because when looking back on my posts from last year, I discovered I did the same thing - a double post at the end of June *g*

MAY & JUNE (17)

The Various Haunts Of Men - Susan Hill
Homicide In Hardcover - Kate Carlise
Can You Keep A Secret? - Sophie Kinsella
The Undomestic Goddess-  Sophie Kinsella
Remember Me - Sophie Kinsella
The Battered Body - J. B. Stanley
Summer On Blossom Street - Debbie Macomber
Skulduggery Pleasant: Sceptre Of The Ancients - Derek Landy
Dyer Consequences - Maggie Sefton
Twenty Wishes - Debbie Macomber
Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire - Derek Landy
Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones - Derek Landy
Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog - John Grogan
Home Sweet Homicide - Craig Rice
Between Friends - Debbie Macomber
Stroke Of Genius. Federer vs. Nadal - Rivals In Greatness - L. Jon Wertheim
Borg vs. McEnroe - Malcolm Folley

TOTAL NUMBER OF BOOKS READ THUS FAR in 2009: 60

14 were first time reads
03 were re-reads



SOPHIE KINSELLA

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.

In Can You Keep A Secret? you have a youngish marketing person who is drifting along, not entirely sure what she wants to do. She gets the chance to go to Scotland to close a deal - it's a done deal and really all that is needed is a handshake - needless to say it doesn't quite work out like that though. The plane journey back to London gets into bad weather and Emma, who hates flying, ends up pouring out all her secrets to a perfect stranger - little secrets like her boyfriend thinks she's a size 8 when actually she's a 12, etc. And then she discovers the next day that the man to whom she poured her heart out is the owner of the marketing company for whom she works. There is attraction between them, but it doesn't go slowly, mainly because he already know so much about her. And again you can see the reality in Emma and again the whole 'haven't we all got secrets'?

Undomestic Goddess is about a hard working solicitor, tipped to become a partner which has been her life ambition, who one day makes a monumental error which ends up costing her firm £5 million. Unable to cope she flees and ends up being mistaken for the person applying to be a housekeeper. She finds herself accepting the job and when she wakes up the next morning she realises what she has done. Hitherto her way of dealing with things like her cleaner asking her where he vacuum cleaner bags were was to buy a new vacuum cleaner, and she can't cook at all. But she learns and bit-by-bit becomes confident and good and also falls in love. Then (without giving too much away) she has the chance to return and become an equity partner and she looks at her life and realises she doesn't want to go back to working 12, 13, 14 hours a day and every weekend, and often through the night, she enjoys her new life where she has weekends off. So she chooses; she turns her back on the city and retains her new life. When questioned as to whether she's letting all women down everywhere she merely points out she's making a choice, and that at the end of the day is what it's about, not being a high powered solicitor but doing what you want to do. It's hilarious in parts, moving in others and over all another excellent read.

Remember Me  Is yet another really good book by Ms. Kinsella. She is, with one other exception, the only chic lit author I read and re-read. And this book was, as always, a really good read. One thing I like about her books is that she isn't afraid to say 'hey, it's okay not to be beautiful, have a brilliant career, run a home with four kids, etc. etc. etc. as long as you are happy'. In this book our 'heroine' wakes up in hospital to find four years have gone by of which she remembers nothing.

Four years ago she had an okay job, a good group of friends, wasn't the most attractive person but enjoyed life. Now she is beautiful (teeth straightened, etc). has a high powered job (which she knows nothing about) a superb husband (who ends up driving her mad - no leaving her briefcase in the hall), but she has lost her friends and is apparently 'the bitch from hell'. And on top of that there is a man around who keeps giving her hints of being more than just a passing acquaintance. She is certainly not happy, even though she has 'it all'. I'm not going to say how it works out, but it is a jolly good read.

SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT

I was 'introduced' to these books by aingeal8c who posted a review of the first one on her LJ a while ago. I liked the sound of it, so I bought the first one in the series from Amazon read it and immediately went back to Amazon not only to replace it in hard-back, but the buy the other two books (there are still more to come *g*) I think that says how much I enjoyed the books.

They are older children's books, and as with the Harry Potter books they get somewhat darker as the series progresses. They are set in Ireland and there are two main protagonists: Stephanie Edgerly a young teenage girl who's uncle (who is a writer) dies and to everyone's surprise leaves Stephanie not only his mansion, but also quite a large proportion of his estate, including the proceeds of his best selling books, in trust until she is eighteen. The second main protagonist is Skulduggery Pleasant himself - and he is a skeleton, an undead wizard pretty much held together by magic. Together, along with other characters known to Skulduggery they set about saving the world. Stephanie is taught about names and how everyone has three names and during the first book she chooses her name and she also learns that her family are descendants of the Ancients and she has magical powers.

The author has some interesting ideas about magic, vampires and how to make it possible for Stephanie to work with Skulduggery, but also attend school. The books are fast paced, gripping, have really good and well rounded characters, well written, fun and draw you into the world of Skulduggery and Stephanie.

I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys this kind of magical world, with a teenager involved and forces of good and evil. And yes, people die - and not just the baddies. The third book ends on a cliff-hanger, whereas certainly book one is self-contained. There's a very good Wiki article about the series (to which aingeal8c kindly sent me the link).

DEBBIE MALCOMBER

Summer On Blossom Street is the latest book in the 'Blossom Street' series, which are books set around the owner of a knitting shop and her customers and their lives and the trials and tribulations of day-to-day family life. A couple of the characters have been involved since the first book, but each book also introduces new characters with their own problems. In this book Lydia and her husband are approved for adoption; they want to adopt a baby, but are persuaded to be emergency foster parents for a young teenage girl. Things do not go well at first as both 'sides' struggle to adjust to the new member of the family.

Twenty Wishes is in fact kind of part of the 'Blossom Street' series and it actually fits in before the events of Summer On Blossom Street. There are a few fleeting mentions of some of the main characters from 'Blossom Street' but the book is mostly set around a new widow and her friends who decide to write 'twenty wishes'. The main character gets involved with being a lunch buddy at a school and her whole life then changes.

The 'Blossom Street' books are fairly light reads, but have enough 'grit' and tension in them to stop them from being too fluffy.

Between Friends spans several decades and is about the lives of two best friends who both come different backgrounds and have completely different lives. One finds herself pregnant whilst still in High School, just before she was due to graduate and ends up with several children and a husband who cheats, whereas the other one, who comes from a very wealthy family, goes on to college and into Law. Their friendship, even when they don't see one another for months, even a couple of years, never wavers. The entire book is written in the form of diary entries, letters not just between the women but other people too and other papers. As such I found it didn't really hold my attention and I found it difficult to really get into as with each new entry or letter or paper the focus changed and I felt as though I was being batted about. Plus there was no actual 'on screen' interaction between the characters.

DETECTIVE/MYSTERY

The Various Haunts Of Men was a book I saw reviewed on caffyolay's LJ. A couple of people, one a lonely 53 year old woman, another a over-weight 22 year old. The police basically don't really work hard to solve either disappearance, but young  D.S. Freya Graffham won't let it drop and goes on to find more people have gone missing on 'The Hill' and she is determined to solves the mysteries. Tied in with everything are links to alternative medicine 'therapists' and 'healers'.

I basically found it somewhat unsatisfactory, but I honestly don't know why. I can't say I really got to care that much about the characters, I found parts of it seemed to be just there to pad out the book, events seemed unnecessary at points. It was a good concept, a good idea and the whole mystery was somewhat gruesome, but I found some of the intensity lost on me because of the events I felt were just there to pad. Maybe it was my mood when I read it, but I just found it failed to grip me.

Homicide In Hardcover was a book I bought on spec. It was the first book in the Bibliophile Mysteries and was set around the world of book binding and book repairing where the 'detective' finds the body of a close friend of hers and goes on to solve the mystery, aided by a very British Brit. I finished it, but really I can't say it was a book I enjoyed, it was (according to a note I made) a mis-match.

The Battered Body is the latest in the 'Supper Club Mysteries'. 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. This book was set around the murder of the sister of the woman the main protagonist's father is about to marry. I enjoy the books, they keep my interest, the characters are likeable and real and have depth to them. The series hasn't got tired.

Dyer Consequences another latest this time 'knitting mysteries'. The murder here is of a young woman who is found drowned in a bath of dye and our 'heroine' once again solves the mystery. Unlike the previous series, this one is one I feel that is beginning to lose it's way and quite quickly. The 'heroine' has always been a strong-minded, feisty woman, which is fine, who has always done a few foolish things that would have Gibbs head-slapping her and things that she had to do in order for her to solve the crime. But this time I found her not so much brave and feisty but out and out stupid. I'll have to think for a while whether I'll buy the next one in the series in due course.

Home Sweet Homicide was a birthday present from the lovely caffyolay and it was a really good and fun read. It's an oldish book, written several decades ago; one of the main adult involved is a lady who writes mysteries - but the difference in this book is that she isn't the one to solve the murder. Instead the solving is down to her three children who a) want to help her get more publicity for her books and b) find her a new husband - and they have their sights set on the detective in charge of the case. It's amusing, fun, old-fashioned, but not in a bad way, and very different with it being the children who were doing the crime solving. A good read. Thank you again, Caffy, you did indeed choose well.

TENNIS

In many ways the two tennis books I read have a lot in common: they both focus on an intense rivalry and on a great tennis match. Federer and Nadal and Borg and McEnroe. The former deals with the 2008 Wimbledon final the latter with the 1980 Wimbledon final, that had the epic tie break. But both books were about more than just the one match and looked more deeply into the rivalry and the four players. I enjoyed both books very much, and I found them well written - which is not always the case with this kind of book, and unlike Nadal's biography, we didn't end up with seven players on court at once :-) They were interesting reads.

OTHER

Marley & Me was another book I bought after reading aingeal8c's review about it. It's a very simple story of life with a Labrador Retriever and his place in the family. Marley isn't the brightest or the best behaved dog in the world, but in spite of everything he brings so much joy and love to his owners. The book is amusing and also sad and moving. It's an enjoyable read and I'm sure there isn't a dog owner in the world who wouldn't find something in it that rings a chord with them. But unless you hate dogs, I'm sure it's a book that could be enjoyed by non-dog owners.

Tags: books, books: 2009, books: 50 books
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