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.