Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Book Book

After a long lull in posting activity here I've been invited to join The Book Book, moonrat's community book blog.

I've just posted my review of Gregory David Roberts' Shantaram there, so do go visit if you'd like. I've not abandoned Great Books Reviewed altogether though and plan on reviewing more often in the future..it's a hectic world, this blogosphere!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Exodus by Julie Bertagna


This Whitbread award children’s book is so powerful, it had me absorbed and helpless for days. Definitely for teenagers and adults rather than younger children, it is an exploration of a future, when sea levels have risen dramatically. Mara is a fifteen year old girl with vision and determination, living a subsistence level life on one of the few remaining islands in the North. Storms rage all winter and blistering hot summers send the sea level rising every year. Technology is long defunct in her community, but she has a relic from the past that she uses to explore the ruins of an old-world virtual reality internet equivalent, The Weave. Her discovery of some New World cities built out of the sea bed into the sky, gives her an idea to save her community.

When the refugee convoy reach the New World city they find that humanity has split into two groups, the intellectual elite live lives totally cut off from the Earth and reality in their techno world, while the outcasts and refugees eke out an existence in the netherworld, among the drowned ruins of the old world city. To save her people Mara has to work an even more daring plan, infiltrate the New World city, cope with its sophisticated technology and find someone she can trust.

Bravery, self doubt, trust, love, and care for humanity are all powerful emotions that drive this engrossing story. It is too near the possible truth to dismiss as mere futuristic fantasy, so is not a cosy read, but faith in the ultimate good nature and noble spirit of the few gives hope for mankind’s eventual survival. Read this for a great story, but not if you’re feeling fragile, this is no escapist read.

Amazon.com Exodus
Amazon.co.uk Exodus

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

December's Books

The whole month of December slipped by without a single post here, not because I haven’t been reading (I have still been escaping into the pages of alternate reality most evenings) but because the flurry of preparations for Christmas left me without a spare brain cell to evaluate, summarise and review anything coherently. Here is a brief selection of the books I have been devouring uncritically recently.

Jodi Picoult Vanishing Acts

A rescue worker and mother finds that her whole life she has lived a fictional identity, after her father is arrested for abducting her from her mother at the age of four. Jodi Picoult’s excellent handling of character, plot development, moral dilemmas and legal procedure kept me immersed till the end.

Vanishing Acts from Amazon.com Vanishing Acts from Amazon.co.uk

Erica James Love and Devotion

Not one for the over imaginative parent. Harriet is left with the upbringing of her sister’s two children after their parents are killed in a car crash. The story of how she and the rest of their family rebuild their lives and she has to adjust from being a fast track career woman to an instant mother replacement, is well written and enjoyable.

Love and Devotion from Amazon.com Love and Devotion from Amazon.co.uk

Anne Perry The One Thing More

Set in the troubled and desperate times of the French Revolution, a conspiracy to rescue the King from his imminent execution at the guillotine is threatened when the main mind orchestrating it is murdered. Anne Perry is great at bringing to life the lives of ordinary people in the midst of history unfolding, the domestic details, the food shortages and suspicion, households divided but still a sense of hope shining out from the fog.

The One Thing More from Amazon.com The One Thing More from Amazon.co.uk

Elisabeth Luard Family Life

An autobiographical account of her life bringing up her four children between London and Andalusia in the Sixties and Seventies. Passionate about food she weaves family and local recipes into her stories. This is my third or fourth time of reading – I love her pragmatic approach and resourcefulness, acquiring a donkey transport when they can’t afford a car in Spain, deciding to spend a year in France so the children will be trilingual before returning to English schools and finishing with the poignant story of one daughter’s early death in her twenties. I admire her both as a food writer and indomitable mother.

Family Life from Amazon.com Family Life from Amazon.co.uk