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Tuesday, 8 February 2005
Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife
Topic: The Time Traveler's Wife
I finished reading, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger last night and I can't stop thinking about it. I think it's one of the most beautiful novels ever written! I was completely bowled over by it. The Time Traveler's Wife is enchanting, poignant, heartbreaking, funny, sweet, romantic, riviting, and unforgettable.

It's the story of two characters, Henry DeTamble, a librarian and his wife, Clare Abshire, an artist. Henry is a time traveler but not by choice. He was born with a genetic disorder called "Chrono Displacement" which means he will suddenly vanish from the present and either go back or forward in time. The story isn't really about time travel though. It's about the relationship between Henry and Clare and their bitterseet romance. The narrative alternates between their viewpoints as Henry goes back and forewards in time. It's a convoluted plot but the pertinent dates and times are provided to actually make the flip-flop experiences quite logical. This becomes more apparent as the story progresses and the different events fit together in the present time.

I love the way the author has conveyed the range of emotions felt by Henry and Clare and described the nuances of married life. I also like the way she describes Henry's time-traveling disease. It's done so well that the author almost convinced me it's an actual medical condition!

The use of realistic dialogue, unusual metaphors plus believable characters and unpredictable situations all add up to a lovely and beautiful story.

My only quibble is with some of the language in the sex scenes. I thought some of the words were jarring in the story, especially when it was from Clare's viewpoint which I felt didn't ring true with her character. It's such a lovely romantic story and I felt like the strong language spoiled it just a bit. Apart from that, I would say the book is a sheer delight from start to finish.

The Time Traveler's Wife is a book to get lost in and forget about the outside world. It is a book to remember and treasure. A real classic.

Posted by expat-writer at 4:35 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 10 February 2005 10:57 PM GMT
Monday, 7 February 2005

BBC One is launching a new book club tv programme in April 2005. Jeremy Vine will present the show and each programme will have a celebrity guest or author. The shortlist of 24 books was announced today.

I think it's interesting that Richard and Judy's bookclub is mentioned in the article on the BBC website. Richard & Judy are on channel 4 and have a very successful chat show at 5pm Monday-Friday. Last year, they started a bookclub and a lot of people predicted it wouldn't work. It was a huge hit and book sales sky-rocketed for the books chosen by their bookclub. The BBC is obviously hoping to have the same success with their show.

Posted by expat-writer at 11:33 PM GMT
Sunday, 6 February 2005

Congratulatons to Stefanie from So Many Books for being chosen as one of the Top 10 Literary Blogs by the Guardian. Well done. She deserves the honour.

Posted by expat-writer at 1:08 PM GMT
Saturday, 5 February 2005

Topic: Pass your books on
I know most readers can't bear to part with any of their books and I understand the feeling very well as I used to be like that. However, lack of space (English houses are small) necessitates my being brutal and parting with a good portion of my library .

I donate my book overflow to the local charity shops which always makes me feel good. Another idea is to "release" your books as BookCrossing invites you to do, meaning you deliberately leave your books in a public place to be discovered by a lucky person. A new idea but similar to bookcrossing.com is Pass the Book which works in a more personal way. You share your books with your friends and they share with their friends and so on. Each reader in the chain must promise to pass the book on and keep the chain going. Just like bookcrossing, the PasstheBook website also provides directions to copy and print and place inside the book.

Posted by expat-writer at 6:29 PM GMT
Friday, 4 February 2005
Book Review: Deadly Decisions
Topic: Deadly Decisions
Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist in North Carolina and Quebec in addition to her career as a successful author. She's written a series of novels about a character, Temperance Brennan (Tempe)who also happens to be a forensic anthropologist. Deadly Decisions is the third book in the series, following on from Death du Jour and Deja Dead. Tempe is able to solve crimes scientifically but of course there are always dangers lurking just around the corner.

In my opinion, Kathy Reichs is a far better writer than Patricia Cornwell who writes similar novels in the same genre. Reichs uses her knowledge and experience from her job to add authenticity to the stories and make them more believable and more intense. Saying that, I was just a bit disappointed with this book. I think Kathy Reichs added too much detail and there are times when the plot almost gets lost among all the extra information she wants to share with her reader.

Deadly Decisions is about motorcycle gangs and drugs and murder. The action swings between Canada and the US. It's a good thriller although I feel it's longer than necessary.

One final note: I feel obliged to warn readers to avoid books by Kathy Reichs if they dont like gory descriptions of decomposing bodies!

Posted by expat-writer at 2:23 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 February 2005 5:00 PM GMT

Topic: The Secret Hour
The Secret Hour by Luanne Rice is a legal, romantic thriller. The story is about John O'Rourke, an attorney defending a serial killer. The lawyer is a widower trying to cope with the demands of his job as well as raising his 11-yr old daughter and 14 yr-old son.

The story starts with a brick through their window (showing the intense feelings aroused because the lawyer is defending a killer) and the arrival of a young woman, Kate Harris. She is searching for her sister and has followed a trail of clues that may or may not point to the same killer John is defending.

This is the first book I've read by Luanne Rice and I had high expectations because she is a bestselling author of numerous novels. Unfortunately, my expectations weren't fully met. A lot of the story is too predictable and I think the author took too long to create a feeling of suspense.

If you want to read a romance with a bit of suspense mixed in, this is for you. If you are looking for a nail-biting thriller, I would give it a miss.

Posted by expat-writer at 12:09 PM GMT
Thursday, 3 February 2005

Topic: Turning the Pages
Another feature on offer from the British Library has been available since last year (April 2004) and it's worth reminding people about. Thanks to the internet, the general public have access to rare books and manuscripts through a project called, Turning the Pages. Diamond Sutra which is the world's oldest dated, printed book (a Chinese Buddhist scroll printed in 868) is just one of the remarkable treasures to be viewed. Leonardo's Notebook is another one. In October 2004, an early Jane Austen manuscript was added to the virtual library.

It's as easy as clicking the mouse to virtually 'turn' the pages. This is an incredible scheme and a perfect way to make these literary treasures available to everyone.

Posted by expat-writer at 4:19 PM GMT

The British Library has come up with a clever idea to help preserve old books (and other items such as manuscripts, maps and stamps) by inviting the public to "adopt" a book. You are able to choose a book or item as well as your donation level, which starts at #25. As each level of donation increases, there are additional gifts on offer such as a voucher for a tour of the British Library for two people if you donate #75.

If you are looking for a unique gift idea, Adopt a Book is felicitous. It's ideal for book lovers.

The library is currently suggesting Adopt a Book for a Valentine's Day gift. Now there's a good idea.

Posted by expat-writer at 3:12 PM GMT
Tuesday, 1 February 2005

Topic: Nights of Rain & Stars
Nights of Rain and Stars is by Maeve Binchy. She's one of my favourite authors. Once again, she has worked her magic with creating a story full of interesting characters. In Nights of Rain and Stars, the story revolves around five strangers meeting in a Greek village and how their lives are changed. It's typical Binchy style so that you really begin to feel like you know the characters and come to care for them. This is a very easy book to read, something to savour and enjoy. It would be an ideal book to take on a holiday.

Posted by expat-writer at 11:58 PM GMT

I just found out that it's National Storytelling Week and that there is an organisation called, The Society for Storytelling. The website reports that over 600 events were organised this year for National Storytelling Week. The events are taking place in theatres, book shops, libraries, schools, museums, arts centres, storytelling clubs, retirement homes and even in pubs.

I'm intrigued by the idea of storytelling clubs. It sounds like a wonderful idea.

Posted by expat-writer at 2:51 PM GMT

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