Saturday, 31 December 2011

Schilddorfer & Weiss: Teufel

Zwei Leichen, eingemauert in ein Kriegerdenkmal an der österreichisch-tschechischen Grenze, sind nur der skurrile Anfang eines Alptraums. Reporter Paul Wagner und Historiker Georg Sina sind einem Geheimnis auf der Spur, das am Fundament der katholischen Kirche rüttelt. Gesucht wird ein brisantes Archiv, das in den letzten Kriegstagen von Himmlers Wewelsburg in die Alpenfestung transportiert werden sollte, jedoch nie dort ankam. Irgendwo in Österreich ist es verschwunden ... Der vatikanische Geheimdienst und eine geheimnisvolle Bruderschaft sind nicht zimperlich, wenn es darum geht, dieses Wissen wiederzuerlangen - und eines wird schnell klar: Alle, die je mit dem Archiv zu tun hatten, sind eines gewaltsamen Todes gestorben.

Die Suche nach Geheimnissen geht weiter.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Brock & Fernette Eide: The Mislabeled Child

In this book the authors describe howunderstanding a child's unique strengths can be used to help overcome obstacles to learning. The book gives much-needed guidance and reassurance to anyone who works or lives with children.

This book was referred to in another and I am glad I got it! The book furthers understanding of learning and learning challenges such as dyslexia and dysgraphia, but also covers the rather difficult concept of highly gifted children who have learning difficulties. Great advice, good hands-on approach.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Brock & Fernette Eide: The Dyslexic Advantage

In this paradigm-shifting book, neuro-learning experts Drs Brock and Fernette Eide describe an exciting new brain science that reveals that people with dyslexia have unique brain structure and organisation. While the differences are responsible for certain challenges with literacy and reading, the dyslexic brain also gives a predisposition to important skills and special talents, the MIND strengths (material reasoning, interconnected reasoning, narrative reasoning, dynamic reasoning).

What a great read! This book really helps non-dyslexics start to understand the world of dyslexics. The practical advice and references to real-life case studies provide much-needed support for parents and educators of dyslexics. There is never any talk of dyslexia being easy to deal with, but there are generous examples to make you understand that the diagnosis dyslexia isn't the end of the world....

Friday, 21 October 2011

Sarah Rayner: One Moment, One Morning

The Brighton to London line. The 07:44 train. Carriages packed with commuters. A woman applies her make-up. Another occupies her time observing the people around her. A husband and wife share an affectionate gesture. Further along, a woman flicks through a glossy magazine. Then, abruptly, everything changes: a man has a heart attack, and can't be resuscitated; the train is stopped, an ambulance called. For at least three passengers on the 07:44 on that particular morning, life will never be the same again. Lou witnesses the man's final moments. Anna and Lou share a cab when they realise the train is going nowhere fast. Anna is Karen's best friend. And Karen? Karen's husband is the man who dies.

I had looked forward to reading this book, in particular as it was set in the South-East of England. However, despite a strong initial storyline I couldn't really enjoy the novel, as it got more and more boring and cliché. Very disappointing. Easy chick-flick for the bath, but not more than that. The narrative and the change of perspective and the flash forwards and backwards were rather irritating, too.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Jean Augur: This Book Doesn't Make Sens, Cens, Sns, Scens, Sense

As a parent and teacher, Jean Augur learned to cope with dyslexia for 20 years. Her experience as the mother of three sons - all dyslexic to a greater or lesser degree - enabled her to understand compassionately. Here she shows how she devised ways and means of helping dyslexics to help themselves.

I had high hopes for this book due to the excellent reviews I've seen everywhere. However, I was disappointed. The practical advice was limited and the understanding for dyslexics and dyslexia was also not enriched. Some of the other books I saw and read recently were way more informative and useful.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Philomena Ott: How to Detect and Manage Dyslexia

A reference book aimed at learning support co-ordinators, specialist and non-specialist teachers, and all others involved in helping students with dyslexia. The book includes: step-by-step explanation of the Special Needs Code of Practice legislation; help with teaching spelling and writing to dyslexic students; advice on study skills and preparation for GCSE examinations; information on the provision made by examination boards for dyslexic students; guidance on how technology can help the dyslexic learner; and help with identifying the early warning signs of dyslexia.

Very informative. Some of the sections are very interesting because of the practical advice that is being offered.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Shelley Freydont: Todesrätsel - Ein Sudoku-Krimi

Als Kate in dem beschaulichen Granville ein Sudoku-Turnier ausrichtet, ahnt sie nicht wie viel Aufmerksamkeit sie damit bekommt. Aus allen Teilen des Landes reisen Rätselfans an. Es wird ein spannender Wettkampf. Bis Kate über eine Leiche stolpert. Gordon Lott, einer der Teilnehmer, ist ermordet worden. Er war nicht sonderlich beliebt und wurde des Öfteren verdächtigt, mit unlauteren Mitteln zu kämpfen. Aber wer sollte ihn deshalb gleich erschießen?

Der Krimi an sich war weniger originell, aber die Sudokus in jedem Kapitel hatten es doch in sich. Sehr unterhaltsam und kurzweilig.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

R Frank & K Livingston: The secret life of the dyslexic child

A practical guide for parents and educators to allow them to see the world through the eyes of a dyslexic child. Dr Frank explains that dyslexia is more than just a reading problem and that, in fact, many of the methods now used by parents and teachers may be making matters worse be reinforcing the child's fears and frustrations.

Very informative...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Ron Davis: The Gift of Dyslexia

Written from personal experience of dyslexia, this breakthrough book offers unique insights into the learning problems and stigmas faced by those with the condition, and provides the author s own tried and tested techniques for overcoming and correcting it. The experience of being dyslexic is fully explained, from its early development to how it becomes gradually entrenched as a child comes to rely on non-verbal perception.

An eye-opener to read and re-read and re-read again....

Saturday, 1 October 2011

David Walliams: The boy in the dress

This book is all about a boy named Dennis. He lives in a boring street in a boring town, and he doesn't have much to look forward to. But what he does have is dreams - and once he starts to follow them, things will never be the same again.

A sweet story about being different, about friendship and how love and friendship can overcome any differences....

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Diane Chamberlain: The midwife's confession

'I don't know how to tell you what I did.' The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle - her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her family - described a woman who embraced life. But they didn't know everything. Because the unaddressed letter reveals a terrible secret...and a legacy of guilt that changes everything they thought they knew about the woman who delivered their children. A legacy that will irrevocably change their own lives - and the life of a desperate stranger - forever.

After a somewhat slow start the storyline became more and more fascinating and interesting. The characters have been well developed and it was easy to empathise with everybody involved. Once I got to page 200 I could not stop reading and despite feeling tiredness I finished the story late into the night...

Claudia Rossbacher: Steirerblut - Sandra Mohr 01

Als Abteilungsinspektorin Sandra Mohr vom LKA in Graz ausgerechnet in die steirische Krakau gerufen wird, um in einem rätselhaften Mordfall zu ermitteln, ist sie alles andere als begeistert. Schließlich hat sie ihrer Heimat nicht ohne Grund vor Jahren den Rücken gekehrt.

Leichte Lektüre. Guter Krimi. Allerdings war der Krimi dennoch etwas enttäuschend. Wir wissen zwar alle, dass Steirerblut kein Himbeersaft ist, aber dieses und andere Klischees wurden dann doch zu wenig ausgeführt. Und als Person war Sandra eigentlich auch unsympathisch, ein leichtes aber strohdummes Mädchen, und nicht die hartgesottene Kriminalistin, die sie aufgrund ihres Steirerblutes sein sollte.....

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Queen of dreams

Rakhi, a young artist and divorced mother living in Berkeley, California, is struggling to keep her footing, with her family and her world in alarming transition. Her mother is a dream-teller, born with the ability to share and interpret the dreams of others, to foresee and guide them through their fates. This gift fascinates Rakhi, but also isolates her from her mother's past in India and the dream world she inhabits, and she longs for something to bring them closer. Caught beneath the burden of her painful secret, Rakhi's solace comes in the discovery, after her mother's death, of her dream journals, which begin to open the long-closed doors to her past.

A good book with some key incidents and world history. Unfortunately, the second half of the book was slightly disappointing as it lacks the mysticism of other Divakaruni stories.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Jodi Picoult: Keeping Faith

For the second time in her marriage, Mariah White catches her husband with another woman, and Faith, their seven-year-old daughter, witnesses every painful minute. In the aftermath of a sudden divorce, Mariah struggles with depression and Faith begins to confide in an imaginary friend. At first, Mariah dismisses these exchanges as a childs imagination. But when Faith starts reciting passages from the Bible, develops stigmata, and begins to perform miraculous healings, Mariah wonders if her daughter a girl with no religious background might indeed be seeing God.

A great read, as always! The moral dilemma for all characters involved and in particular the strong motherly feelings and instincts are well developed. A must read and unputdownable...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Diane Chamberlain: The Shadow Wife

Mara Sommers and Joelle D'Angelo have been best friends for years. They have shared everything, including the joy over Mara's first pregnancy. But when something goes terribly wrong during childbirth, Mara is left severely brain damaged. Alone and grieving, Joelle turns to the one person who understands her pain: Mara's husband. When Joelle discovers their one night of passion led to pregnancy, she is torn between grief and the unexpected joy of being pregnant with Liam's baby.

A lovely story about healing, love and unexpected events in life. It was easy to identify with all of the characters and to understand their motivation for their choices. The "healer" was also a very interesting component. I only found Jo's premature labour and the events following that labour a little bit too predictable and a weak ending to a strong story...

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Chitra Divakaruni: The Mistress of Spices

Tilo, an immigrant from India, runs an Indian spice shop in Oakland, California. While she dispenses the classic ingredients for curries and kormas, she also helps her customers to gain a more precious commodity: whatever they most desire. For Tilo is a Mistress of Spices, a priestess of the secret, magical powers of spices.

I came across this book and its author through the film "Mistress of Spices", which was so fascinating that I wanted to read the book, too. The film was very close to the book, but even so, the storyline and the more detailed descriptions of the spices and their powers were well worth the read. Mystical, magical and gripping...

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Ronnith Neumann: Tod auf Korfu

In Agros auf Korfu stirbt ein krankes Kind. Wenige Tage später wird an einem einsamen Strandstück eine nackte männliche Leiche angeschwemmt. Hauptkommissar Alexandros Kasantzakis, der Grieche vom Festland, dem die Gewohnheiten der Inselbewohner noch immer fremd sind, beginnt zu ermitteln. Die blutigen Spuren deuten auf eine lange zurückliegende Tragödie in der deutsch-griechischen Vergangenheit hin.

Erstanden vor meinem Urlaub auf Korfu, um das Buch dann dort zu lesen und freizulassen. Gesagt, getan. Das Buch war recht interessant, da ich ein paar Orte kennenlernen konnte. Die Charakterisierung der Korfioten und der korfiotischen Kultur war auch ziemlich treffend, aber die Geschichte, die dann gleich zwei multiple Persönlichkeitsstörungen und das NS Regime des Deutschen Reiches behandelt, war dann doch etwas weit hergeholt. Dennoch war es interessant über diesen Teil der korfiotischen Geschichte zu lesen.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Rachel Hore: A place of secrets

The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again ...Can dreams be passed down through families? As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her. A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she's asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up. As Jude untangles Wickham's tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present.
Advertised as a great mystery story, this was slightly disappointing. The historical storyline was great, but the storyline set in the present was flat and didn't really add to the mystery, but slowed the pace down too much. A shame...

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Clare Morrall: The Man Who Disappeared

What would you do if, out of the blue, your reliable husband disappears? Then you are told he has been involved in money-laundering. Surely the man you know intimately couldn’t be a criminal... could he? When Felix Kendall vanishes, his wife Kate is left in turmoil. As she and their children adjust to a hand-to-mouth existence, she looks back on her marriage and Felix’s orphaned upbringing in search of clues, confronting the possibility that she has badly misread him.
A fascinating read about how a family's life is shattered by one member's bad decision. Felix eventually comes back, but actually causes more disruption to his family whose members have by then rebuilt their lives without him. A wonderful book!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Bee Rowlatt & May Witwit: Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship

May is a tough-talking, hard-smoking, lecturer in English. She's also an Iraqi from a Sunni-Shi'ite background living in Baghdad, dodging bullets before breakfast and battling through blockades to reach her class of Jane Austen-studying girls. Bee is a London mum of three, fighting off PTA meetings and chicken pox, and generally juggling work and family. They should have nothing in common. But when a simple email brings them together, they discover a friendship that overcomes all their differences of culture, religion and age. And, between the grenades, the gossip, the jokes and the secrets, they also hatch an ingenious plan to help May escape the bombings of Baghdad . . .

This is a fascinating read. It's an absolutely fascinating and unbelievable story and it makes for a gripping read. I couldn't wait to finish this book, which left me somehow disappointed, as it doesn't tell us anything about how May and her husband Ali coped with the final escape to the UK. At times, I found it hard to empathise with May and Bee, but the story definitely opened my eyes for the difficulties the war in Iraq has brought for its population. I'm keen to discuss this book with many others!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Jeffrey Archer: And thereby hangs a tale

Jeffrey Archer has a natural aptitude for short stories which are stylish, witty and entertaining. His mastery of characterization and suspense, combined with a gift for the unexpected, jaw-dropping plot twist, show him at the height of his powers and demonstrate why he is one of Britain's bestselling authors. All of Jeffrey's collections of short stories have been top ten bestsellers and he is undoubtedly the bestselling English-language short story writer of our times.

As always, I enjoyed the short stories. However, out of all the short stories written by Jeffrey Archer, this was the weakest collection of stories in my eyes. In previous collections there were more twists and turns and the stories were largely of Archer's imagination, whereas in this collection Archer merely retells stories he has come across. He is a great storyteller and so it's a shame that he relies too heavily on real incidents.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sam Christer: The Stonehenge Legacy

Eight days before the summer solstice, a man is butchered in a blood-freezing sacrifice on the ancient site of Stonehenge before a congregation of robed worhsippers. Within hours, one of the world's foremost treasure hunters has shot himself in his country mansion. And to his estranged son, young archaeologist Gideon Chase, he leaves a cryptic letter ...Teaming up with an intrepid Wiltshire policewoman, Gideon soon exposes a secret society - an ancient international legion devoted for thousands of years to Stonehenge. With a charismatic and ruthless new leader at the helm, the cult is now performing ritual human sacrifices in a terrifying bid to unlock the secret of the stones.

This was a good read, although slightly confusing initially. The story is gripping, but a bit too fanciful for my taste. I chose this read, as it promised to be about Stonehenge, yet, the storyline about the ancient cult and the human sacrifices was not developed as believably as the Da Vinci Code.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Katherine Webb: The Legacy

In the depths of a harsh winter, following the death of their grandmother, Erica Calcott and her sister Beth return to Storton Manor, a grand and imposing Wiltshire house where they spent their summer holidays as children. When Erica begins to sort through her grandmother's belongings, she is flooded with memories of her childhood - and of her cousin, Henry, whose disappearance from the manor tore the family apart. Erica sets out to discover what happened to Henry, so that the past can be laid to rest, and her sister, Beth, might finally find some peace. Gradually, as Erica begins to sift through remnants of the past, a secret family history emerges; one that stretches all the way back to turn-of-the-century America, to a beautiful society heiress and a haunting, savage land. As past and present converge, Erica and Beth must come to terms with two terrible acts of betrayal - and the heart-breaking legacy left behind.

This was a good mystery story about family history and how individuals can impact future generations within a family. Erica and Beth were very believable and the story was interesting, but it would have been better to discover Beth protecting Erica, as this would have been more surprising to find the weaker character actually turning out to be the stronger one. The story about Caroline's life was, however, well-developed and particularly gripping.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Elisabeth Hyde: The abortionist's daughter

Nineteen-year-old university student Megan Thompson is beautiful, cool, clever and sexy – the kind of girl boys fall in love with. She’s mostly steered clear of family life since the death of her younger brother. That is until the day she hears her mother, Diana, has been found floating face down in their swimming pool. Diana, as Director of the Center for Reproductive Choice, was a national figure who inspired passions and made enemies. Detective Huck Berlin is brought in to investigate the case when it becomes clear that Diana was murdered. Several people have quarrelled with Diana on that fateful day, not least Frank, her husband of twenty years, and her wayward child. Now father and daughter are thrown together in an unexpected twist of family life.

An interesting read and fascinating crime story but not quite what I expected in that I hoped it would be less crime fiction and more of a moral and ethical discussion.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Maeve Binchy: Minding Frankie

Baby Frankie is born into an unusual family. Her mother is desperate to find someone to take care of her child and she doesn't have much time. Noel doesn't seem to be the most promising of fathers but despite everything, he could well be Frankie's best hope.

Minding Frankie is a heart-warming, hopeful, sad and funny tale about families, relationships and about how one baby can change many people's lives for the better in one way or another.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Celia Rees: The Fool's Girl

Violetta and Feste have come to London to rescue the holy relics taken from the church in Illyria by the evil Malvolio. Their journey has been long and their adventures many, but it is not until they meet the playwright William Shakespeare that they get to tell the entire story from beginning to end! But where will this remarkable tale ultimately lead Violetta and her companion? And will they manage to save themselves, and the relics from the very evil intentions of Malvolio.

I picked this book because I had read two previous novels written by Celia Rees and because I knew that it had something to do with William Shakespeare. I wasn't sure what exactly to expect, and so was quite happy with the way the story unfolded. Although it was obvious that Rees had done serious research into the era of Elizabeth I and into William Shakespeare's life, it appears that she was daunted by such a prominent era in history and so didn't touch upon history too much but instead relied on her creativity. I certainly enjoyed the read and found it intriguing to see William Shakespeare in a different light, although I also admit that my knowledge of The Twelfth Night was not good enough to see some of the similarities. Overall, I think this is a nice way to introduce Shakespeare to Young Adults, although the love stories and romantic notes were sometimes impeding the reading.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Mikey Walsh: Gypsy Boy

Mikey was born into a Romany Gypsy family. They live in a closeted community, and little is known about their way of life. After centuries of persecution Gypsies are wary of outsiders and if you choose to leave you can never come back. This is something Mikey knows only too well and the caravan and camp were his world. But although Mikey inherited a vibrant and loyal culture his family's legacy was bittersweet with a hidden history of grief and abuse.

This is a fascinating account of a child realising that he does not belong. It was a funny, sad, shocking and thought-provoking read. I can truly recommend this read although some of the descriptions of abuse are not for the faint-hearted...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Penelope Lively: Family Album

Allersmead is a big shabby Victorian suburban house. The perfect place to grow up for elegant Sandra, difficult Gina, destructive Paul, considerate Katie, clever Roger and flighty Clare. But was it? As adults, the children return to Allersmead one by one. To their home-making mother and aloof writer father, and a house that for years has played silent witness to a family’s secrets.

I expected a gripping mystery or ethical dilemma like Jodi Picoult. This was nothing like it. The story was quite captivating for the family stories and secrets, but certainly compares to Maeve Binchy more than anybody else.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Diane Chamberlain: The lies we told

After witnessing the murder of their parents, Maya and Rebecca Ward had only each other to cling to in their teenage years and beyond. Now both doctors, they have developed very different coping strategies since the tragedy. Daredevil Rebecca races off to disaster sites with an international team of doctors whilst Maya is content in her quiet medical practice and life with her husband Adam. When a hurricane devastates north Carolina, Maya is feared dead. Adam and Rebecca are left to mourn and hope for a miracle but as the days pass and hope fades, they face unexpected and unwanted feelings and Rebecca discovers that she's been burying some secrets of her own.

I found out about Diane Chamberlain, as she was compared to Jodi Picoult. It's certainly true that this book has got certain traits of a typical Picoult novel, but it doesn't really match the original. The storyline was flatter, although still interesting and the characters where slightly less realistic. Overall, though, this book made for entertaining reading and certainly won't be my last Chamberlain novel.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Jodi Picoult: Sing you home

In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe Baxter throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people - even those she loves and trusts most - don't want that to happen.

This is yet another great read by Jodi Picoult, writer of ethical dilemmas. This story was never boring although it isn't as dramatic as some of her other books. It's a great read for the characters as well as the diversity of topics from love to gay rights...

Monday, 18 April 2011

Stephenie Meyer: Twilight 04 - Breaking Dawn

Twilight tempted the imagination ...New Moon made readers thirsty for more ...Eclipse turned the saga into a worldwide phenomenon ...And now - the book that everyone has been waiting for ...Breaking Dawn. In the much anticipated fourth book in Stephenie Meyer's love story, questions will be answered and the fate of Bella and Edward will be revealed.

Very good story and great fun to read although it was a little bit too predictable at times.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Stephenie Meyer: Twilight 03 - Eclipse

'Bella?' Edward's soft voice came from behind me. I turned to see him spring lightly up the porch steps, his hair windblown from running. He pulled me into his arms at once, and kissed me again. His kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge to the way his lips crushed mine - like he was afraid we had only so much time left to us. As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Fast read and pacy. Better than the second one, although some of the storylines became a bit too kitchy and cliche.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Stephenie Meyer: Twilight 02 - New Moon

In New Moon, Stephenie Meyer delivers another irresistible combination of romance and suspense with a supernatural twist. The "star-crossed" lovers theme continues as Bella and Edward find themselves facing new obstacles, including a devastating separation, the mysterious appearance of dangerous wolves roaming the forest in Forks, a terrifying threat of revenge from a female vampire and a deliciously sinister encounter with Italy's reigning royal family of vampires, the Volturi.

The storyline again makes for simple, fascinating reading with little science-fiction. This is perhaps less exciting than the first book in the series, but still a fast and great read.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Rebecca Skloot: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. Born a poor black tobacco farmer, her cancer cells -- taken without her knowledge -- became a multimillion-dollar industry and one of the most important tools in medicine. Yet Henrietta's family did not learn of her 'immortality' until more than twenty years after her death, with devastating consequences....

What an unbelievable story! The way Skloot put together hundreds of hours of interviews with factual research into medical trials and research projects and the private story of one poor family made for great reading. I would have wished for more details about the Lacks family and less of a discussion about the ethics of clinical trials. However, it still makes for good reading.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Stephenie Meyer: Twilight

When 17 year old Isabella Swan moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father she expects that her new life will be as dull as the town. But she finds that her new classmates are drawn to her. But not the Cullen family. Bella is convinced that Edward Cullen in particular hates her. He seems determined to push her away until he saves her life from an out of control car. Bella soon discovers that the reason for Edward's coldness: he and his family, are vampires.

I've wanted to read this book for a while now, to understand the hype that comes with the Twilight saga. However, at the same time I've always told myself that I don't like science-fiction and vampire stories - but how wrong I was! The storyline makes for simple, fascinating reading with little science-fiction. I'm already onto the next one of the series...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Mark Logue and Peter Conradi: The King's Speech

One man saved the British Royal Family in the first decades of the 20th century - he wasn't a prime minister or an archbishop of Canterbury. He was an almost unknown, and self-taught, speech therapist named Lionel Logue, whom one newspaper in the 1930s famously dubbed 'The Quack who saved a King'. Logue wasn't a British aristocrat or even an Englishman - he was a commoner and an Australian to boot. Nevertheless it was the outgoing, amiable Logue who single-handedly turned the nervous, tongue-tied Duke of York into one of Britain's greatest kings after his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 over his love of Mrs Simpson.

This is indeed a very fascinating story about English history. Also, it is fascinating to get to know the Royal family as a typical English family with their very own problems. Although some sections weren't easy to read, the overall style of writing is easy to digest and follow.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Thomas Raab: Der Metzger sieht rot

Was tut man nicht alles aus Liebe? Willibald Adrian Metzger zum Beispiel, der feinsinnige Restaurator, überwindet seine Abneigung gegen Massenveranstaltungen und begleitet seine heiß verehrte Danjela zu einem Heimspiel ihrer Lieblingsmannschaft – mit tragischem Ende. Denn auch der Tod löst diesmal seine Eintrittskarte und zeigt auf dem Spielfeld die finale Rote Karte. Als tags darauf überdies Danjela ihrer Neugierde zum Opfer fällt, ist es vorbei mit der Gelassenheit Metzgers. Mit einer ordentlichen Portion Wut im Bauch macht er sich auf die Suche nach der Wahrheit und findet dabei etwas erschreckend anderes.

Der Metzger und seine Danjela sind interessante und liebenswürdige Charakteren und die Geschichte ist an sich auch fesselnd. Leider sind ein paar Passagen etwas überzogen und lenken vom eigentlichen Geschehen ab. Dennoch ein guter Krimi.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Rosamund Lupton: Sister

When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister's disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister's life - and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face. The police, Beatrice's fiance and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

What a gripping family story about sisters with a thrilling mystery included. The ending was particularly surprising but somehow slightly disappointing. A great story!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Kathleen Kent: The Heretic's Daughter

Martha Carrier was hanged on August 19th 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts, unyielding in her refusal to admit to being a witch. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and wilful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. She narrates the story of her early life in Andover, near Salem. As Sarah and her brothers are also hauled into the prison, the vicious cruelty of the trials is apparent, as the Carrier family, along with other innocents, are starved and deprived of any decency, battling their way through the hysteria with the sheer willpower their mother has taught them.

This was a fascinating story about the witch trials. Harrowing and gruesome at times but still quite uplifting and positive after all.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Elisabeth Hyde: Crazy as Chocolate

Ellie and Izzy have lived a life with a mother they adored. Taking them for long midnight baths or dancing in the dark in the rain, she’s been a magical, colourful figure. Now, on the eve of her forty-first birthday, Izzy realises that she’s about to reach the year her mother never got beyond. Her father and sister are flying out for an emotionally charged weekend visit, and Izzy can’t help feeling that she’s still responsible, that there are apologies to be made.

A sweet family story about how one's childhood influences one's adulthood and capability to form emotional bonds. An easy read!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Chris Kuzneski: The Prophecy

When the prophetic writings of sixteenth-century visionary Nostradamus begin to ring alarmingly true, Payne and Jones find themselves in a life-or-death race to stop those who would use the predictions for their own dark purposes.

Again, this is a fast read! The storyline seems far-fetched at times but that is due to the topic covered in this book - the prohecies of Nostradamus will obviously delve into the mystic and mysterious. The characters are as interesting as always and despite a more unsatisfying ending, this book makes a good read.

Risa Green: Notes from the Underbelly

As a careers counselor at an elite high school, Lara Stone works with spoiled, bratty kids every day, and she is definitely not ready to have any spoiled, bratty kids of her own. At least, not now. Not when her life is going so well. But Lara’s husband has different ideas, and when he presents her with a baby ultimatum, Lara is forced to enter the underbelly of pregnancy.

Having seen the TV show I have been trying to get hold of this book for a long time! It is great fun and so true! The storylines are obviously slightly different to those from the TV series, but the characters (Julie, Lara and Stacey) are equally interesting. A fun, relaxing read!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Roopa Farooki: Half-life

It’s time to stop fighting, and go home! - Those were the words that finally persuaded Aruna to walk out of her East London flat to get on a plane to Singapore, running back home to the city and her old life she had run away from. Aruna is about to discover that running away is easy. It is coming home and making peace that is hard.

This was a very evocative story without being too descriptive. The reader can identify easily with Aruna and Jazz and it is the reader's feelings, too, that are confused and confounded like those of the main characters'.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Roopa Farooki: The way things look to me

At 23, Asif is less than he wanted to be. His mother's sudden death forced him back home to look after his youngest sister, Yasmin, and he leads a frustrating life, ruled by her exacting need for routine as a consequence of her Asperger's syndrome. Everyone tells Asif that he's a good boy, but he isn't so sure. Lila has escaped from home, but she leads a wayward existence, drifting between jobs and men, obsessed with her looks and certain that her value is only skin deep. And then there is Yasmin, who has no idea of the resentment she has caused. Who sees music in colour and remembers so much that sometimes her head hurts. Who doesn't feel happy, but who knows that she is special and that she has a devastating plan.

This story was a great read. The story lines were all well developed and researched carefully and each character's viewpoint makes it clear to the reader that even if we are "neurotypical", we might have some "non-neurotypical" traits within us. The ending of the story leaves some aspects open so that the story doesn't end like a cheap chick-lit story, but a serious and wonderful literary achievement. A fantastic read!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Linda Gillard: Star Gazing

Blind since birth, widowed in her twenties, now lonely in her forties, Marianne Fraser lives in Edinburgh in elegant, angry anonymity with her sister, Louisa, a successful novelist. Marianne's passionate nature finds solace and expression in music, a love she finds she shares with Keir, a man she encounters on her doorstep one winter's night. Whilst Marianne has had her share of men attracted to her because they want to rescue her, Keir makes no concession to her condition. He is abrupt to the point of rudeness, and yet oddly kind. But can Marianne trust her feelings for this reclusive stranger who wants to take a blind woman to his island home on Skye, to 'show' her the stars?

This was a great read - romantic, sad, emotional, uplifting, suspenseful and pacey. The storyline was fascinating and the characters incredibly convincing. Marianne's blindness was particularly well-developed. At times the story was slightly overdone and reminded too much of simply chick-lit, but overall it was a satisfying and quick read.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Anne Zouroudi: The Messenger of Athens

When the battered body of a young woman is discovered on a remote Greek island, the local police are quick to dismiss her death as an accident. Then a stranger arrives, uninvited, from Athens, announcing his intention to investigate further. His methods are unorthodox, and he brings his own mystery into the web of dark secrets and lies. Who has sent him, on whose authority is he acting, and how does he know of dramas played out decades ago?

The storyline and the characters were interesting and the setting gorgeous. However, the story telling itself was confusing with a range of voices and views merging into one another so that it was at times difficult to determine who is talking when....

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Michael Niavarani: Vater Morgana

Es kann zu Verwicklungen kommen, wenn man versucht die deutsch-österreichisch-amerikanisch-schwedisch-britisch-persische Familie endlich einmal unter dem Christbaum zu versammeln oder das persische Neujahrsfest "Nowrouz" gemeinsam zu feiern. Es kann schon kompliziert werden, alle Cousins und Cousinen, Tanten und Onkel in den Sommerferien zu besuchen. Es kommt aber definitiv zu einer globalen Katastrophe, wenn man den Tod des eigenen Vaters vor dessen Mutter geheim halten muss, weil die liebe Verwandtschaft befürchtet, dass Mamanbosorg, meine persische Omi, diesen Schock nicht überleben wird.

Eine unterhaltsame Familiengeschichte mit viel Kultur und Wortwitz. Manchmal war es etwas enttäuschend, aber im Allgemeinen recht lustig.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Ben Sherwood: The death and life of Charlie St. Cloud

When he was a boy, Charlie St Cloud almost perished in a car crash that killed his little brother, Sam. Years later, Charlie is still trying to atone for his loss. It is only when he meets Tess Carroll, a captivating, adventurous yachtswoman, that he is faced with a choice- between death and life, the past and the present, holding on and letting go. The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud is a romantic and exhilarating novel about second chances and the liberating power of love.

It has taken me a long time to pick this book up and to start reading it. Somehow I always felt it was going to be a tedious read and I shouldn't force myself through this when there are so many good books out there. How wrong I was!!!
The characters are interesting, the storyline is fascinating and one big twist makes the book a real page-turner. Sometimes sad but overall an encouraging read for anyone who has lost a loved one.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Schilddorfer & Weiss: Narr

Ein grausamer Mord, ein Kreuz mit geheimnisvollen Symbolen steht nicht weit vom Tatort entfernt. In den nächsten zwei Tagen werden Mitglieder der österreichischen Regierung systematisch ermordet. Georg Sina und Paul Wagner kommen einer Verschwörung auf die Spur, die bereits angezettelt wurde, als 1814 der Wiener Kongress tanzte. Zwischen Wien und Berlin beginnt die Jagd auf vier mysteriöse, verschlüsselte Dokumente. Können Wagner und Sina eine Revolution mitten in Europa verhindern?

Eine interessante Lektüre mit viel Geschichte und Spannung. "Ewig" war zwar packender, aber dennoch war auch diese Verschwörungsgeschichte toll zu lesen.