Monthly Archives: July 2009

To Be Read (TBR) Pile

I’m still plugging away at The children’s Book, but I thought I show you all the books in my soon to be read pile.


There is

BreathTim Winton
Mariana Monica Dickens
The Making of a MarchionessFrances Hodgson Burnett
SaplingsNoel Streatfield
My mother-in-law lent me The Brain That Changes Itself, so that needs to be read next after The Children’s Book. We’re reading Breath for book club, so I need to finish that by the 18th (August), but the rest I can read in whatever order I like (and I’ll probably add books to this pile).

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Filed under Miscellaneous

The Lost Life – Steven Carroll


This book was picked by another member of my book club based on a review in The Australian.

Steven Carroll won the Miles Franklin award in 2008 for The Time We Have Taken.

We all decided we should read something Australian – although this one is set entirely in England.

Here’s the blurb …

England, September 1934

Two young lovers, Catherine and Daniel, have trespassed into the rose garden of Burnt Norton, an abandoned house in the English countryside. Hearing the sound of footsteps, they hide, and then witness the poet T.S. (?Tom?) Eliot and his close friend Emily enter the garden and bury a mysterious tin in the earth.

Tom and Emily knew each other in America in their youth; now in their forties, they have come together again. But Tom is married, and his wife has no intention of letting him go. What is it that binds Tom and Emily together? What happens when the muse steps out of the shadows?

In the enclosed world of an English village one autumn, their story becomes entwined with that of Catherine and Daniel, who are certain in their newfound love and full of possibility.

From one of Australia?s finest writers, this is a moving, lyrical novel about poetry and inspiration, the incandescence of first love and the yearning for a life that may never be lived.

This novel just felt awkward to me. The writing didn’t flow and at times the narrative jumped around in time. For example, the description of the secret ceremony was told from two different points of view, but the transition from the first to the second was clumsy.

Most of this novel is written from a female perspective and I didn’t fine Catherine or Emily Hale’s inner thoughts at all believable (more like wishful thinking on the part of the author).

For example,

It is a woman, or was once a woman. For this young woman, Catherine, is making old, old sounds, sounds that existed long before houses and estates and trimmed rose gardens. Long before sweet music, stained-glass windows that glow with a touch of heaven, or even fine uplifting words that allow us to rise above it all, for it is a sound that goes back beyond words. It is a sound that takes us back to the grunt and the moan.

These are Emily’s thoughts when she overhears Catherine and Daniel making love in the next bedroom (a situation engineered by Emily).

I did, however, appreciate some of Catherine’s insights. Such as

Poems, novels, short stories, Catherine would say[…], give people the lives they will never live and fill them with a yearning for something  else, something more. A way of living in the world that doesn’t yet exist. Doesn’t yet exist, but dreaming about it just might make it so.

My overwhelming conclusion after reading this novel is that Steven Carroll must be a baby boomer! He must have lived through the sexual revolution – my mother in law would probably love this book.

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Finger Lickin’ Fifteen – Janet Evanovich


There is something quite comforting about reading Janet Evanovich. The Stephanie Plum novels are all the same – there will be explosions, there will be sexual tension between Stephanie and Ranger or Stephanie and Morelli or maybe both, there will be incredibly incompetent bounty hunter episodes.

Having said that, there also hilarious – definitely a guilty pleasure.

Here is the blurb from the back …


Recipe for disaster:

Celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle comes to Trenton to participate in a barbecue cook-off and loses his head –literally.

Throw in some spice:

Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she’ll talk to is Trenton cop, Joe Morelli.

Pump up the heat:

Chipotle’s sponsor is offering a million dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.

Stir the pot:

Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help her find the killers and collect the moolah.

Add a secret ingredient:

Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur.  Enough said.

Bring to a boil:

Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, A.K.A. Ranger, during the day.  Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, solve Ranger’s problems and not jump his bones?


Habanero hot.  So good you’ll want seconds.  

If you like to read trashy novels and you like them ‘racy and pacy’ then this book is for you. I do wonder how much longer Evanovich can keep going with these stories. However, I will definitely be buying whatever number 16 ends up being called.

At the moment I’m rereading The Children’s Bookby A S Byatt and The Lost Life by Steven Carroll, so expect reviews of them soon.

You might also want to check out my review of Claire Harman’s Jane’s Fame here. Just to prove I do read more than pulp.

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Filed under Fiction - Light, Recommended