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An update …..

Thanks for visiting my reading blog.

As you can see, I haven’t added anything here for a while.  That’s because I decided to give Goodreads a go.  As it turns out, it’s much easier for me to keep track of my reading there, though I may still, from time to time, add reviews here of my new all-time favourites.

So …. I’ve still be reading up a storm and if you’d like to follow what I’m reading then check me out on Goodreads

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I was drawn to this new young adult novel for several reasons:

To begin with, the cover caught my eye.  It’s true that you should never judge a book by it’s cover, however a well-constructed and designed book cover will always lead browsers to pick it up and at least read the back.  A good start in getting read!

Secondly, I was intrigued by the concept for the story – that the characters of three of the best known romantic poets of the early 19th century should be transposed into contemporary high school students.

Also, Ty Roth was a new name to me (turns out So Shelly is his debut novel) and it’s good to read authors who are either new to you or new to being published.

I enjoyed this novel very much, though initially I was skeptical about whether I would stick with it when I thought the whole novel was going to consist of teenage angst about death and dying.  However, Roth neither sensationalises nor dwells on this topic even though it is one of the main components of the story.  John Keats is our narrator who intersperses the tale of his friend Shelly, whose funeral is the opening scene for the book, with the task given to him and Byron by their deceased friend.  Keats and Byron have been charged with the task of appropriating Shelly’s ashes and scattering them at the scene of her death – and so this relatively unlikely premise begins.

There were sections of this novel that, while entertaining seemed superfluous to the main story, until I read the afterword in which Roth explains how he cleverly weaved real-life events into the plot and setting for each character.

Overall, a very polished debut.  I will look out for further novels by Ty Roth. Give So Shelly a read and see if you find it as satisfying as I did.

Yes, I DO read non-fiction as well! Though, admittedly mostly it’s professional reading for my work as a librarian.

However, I’m a fan of a good memoir or biography plus I have always been aware of Rob Lowe, ever since seeing him in the movie Class and developing a bit of a crush (who wouldn’t with those gorgeous eyes and smile!) so I was keen to hear his story in his words.

This is a riveting read.  I have often become bogged down when reading these types of books in the past but Lowe has a light touch, a lovely way with words and, let’s face it, some great stories to tell.  I appreciated his ability to make you feel like he was sharing some really important parts of his life without ever crossing into “tell-all” territory. Being the same age as Lowe also made many of his recounts more relevant.  One of my favourites is when he describes being taken to a warehouse in LA where his aunt and uncle were working on the special effects for a film in 1977.  It was a fairly nondescript setting and seemed to be a “fly by the seat of your pants” undertaking.  But he was in fact describing the set for Star Wars!

If you are a Rob Lowe fan I can assure you, you will not be disappointed.  If you are in your 40’s and a film buff you’ll enjoy it.  If you’re a bit younger than that but a fan of Austin Powers, Wayne’s World or the West Wing you’ll enjoy it.

I thoroughly recommend it!

Midnight is my first foray into the world of Stephen Leather’s character Jack Nightingale, and I doubt it will be my last.  This was a rollicking good ride.  A great whodunnit with a supernatural twist. Midnight is the second book in a trilogy (the first is Nightfall and the final book, due for publication in January 2012 is Nightmare).

In this sequel,  Jack has just discovered he was adopted at birth and that his recently deceased biological father, who by the way has left him with a huge country mansion in the English countryside, had sold his unborn soul to a devil.  That’s gotta suck! But then he discovers not only does he have a younger half sister, but that she has also befallen the same fate. Some fancy footwork has given him some breathing space with the devil soul collector, but now he decides to go into bat for his mystery sister, who he hasn’t met, doesn’t know where she is, and doesn’t even know her name.

Factor in that Jack is an ex cop and negotiator, who left the force under a cloud and is now working as a private investigator and you have all the elements with numerous twists and turns to keep you riveted to the page.  Leather doesn’t get bogged down in lots of extraneous plot, which can sometimes have the effect of slowing down the pace of a story.  Instead he has allowed it to flow and it works really well.  The ending, is not exactly a cliff-hanger, but very definitely leaves the door open and the light showing for the wrap-up to this plot-line in book three.  A definite page-turner and obviously popular, given that this is a two-week, fast-track book at my local public library.  I will now be putting Nightfall on my to-read list while awaiting the release of Nightmare.

Leather’s website is worth a look, particularly the section on Jack Nightingale.  Very well done.  Also, check out the book trailer for Nightfall – but watch it with the lights on!

I eagerly awaited my turn at the public library to read The Larnachs, the latest novel by renowned New Zealand author, Owen Marshall I have always been quite fascinated by Larnachs castle, after visiting as a child and attending the Knox Ball in the Larnach ballroom more than 25 years ago. So when I saw the Larnach family was the subject of Marshall’s latest offering, I was very keen to see what he had done with it.  I had never been aware of the supposition that there had been a love triangle between patriarch William, his much-younger third wife Connie and his younger son Dougie.

Marshall chose to tell the story from Connie and Dougie’s perspective by alternating chapters.  Both have a very strong voice and you become invested in their experiences. The characters are believable and Marshall paints the colonial New Zealand landscape very well.

The first half of the book was riveting.  I literally couldn’t put it down, but unfortunately for me the ending felt a long time coming.  Maybe this was because I had some basic knowledge of William Larnach and his life and so to a certain extent I knew what was coming.  But I think it was more due to the fact that I became less engaged with the “love story” aspect and found myself thinking “for goodness sake, just get on with it”.  Having said that, I would still recommend this as a satisfactory read to those who enjoy a good historical novel, especially with a New Zealand flavour.

For those who read The Larnachs and want to know more about William Larnach and his family you can check out what Te Ara, the encyclopaedia of New Zealand has published about him.

I do like a good Katie Fforde.  If you’re in need of a good romance where the women are down-to-earth and someone you can identify with who end of with their ‘handsome prince’ then you can’t go past FfordeRestoring Grace does what other books by Fforde does, and that it to give you the warm fuzzies, much as curling up with a hot chocolate and a good mushy movie does.

In Restoring Grace two very different young women with two very different sets of problems meet and through friendship, sharing and a fair bit of back-bone in the end realise their potential.  Most of Fforde’s books have this theme running through them.  There are no surprises, but that isn’t the reason you read them.  Be warned, they are addictive!

To check out the full list of books written by Katie Fforde and the opportunity to read the first chapters check out her website.

Highly recommended, satisfying fluff.

Wow! The Passage is an EPIC page-turner from beginning to end! Named on the top 10 best post-apocalyptic novels list by Time Magazine, this page-turner is an absolutely riveting read, which manages to put a totally new spin on vampire lore.

My favourite novel from Stephen King is The Stand. (also on Time’s list)  This epic struggle between good and evil impacted me strongly when I first read this book some (gulp!) 30 years ago and The Passage has all of the elements that I loved about the The Stand. This isn’t however, a carbon copy of King.  It is fresh and original with a strong emphasis on the characters to tell the story.

If you want to read an excerpt from The Passage you can do that here. I’m thrilled to discover that this is the first in a trilogy planned by Cronin.  He is already working on The Twelve and I’ll be interested to see what  Fox 2000 does with the movie, apparently due for release in 2013.  You can hear and interview with Cronin here.

I loved this book!  It has pace, it keeps you guessing right up until the last page and you feel completely satisfied at the end.  Thoroughly recommended – a must-read.

Some of you may be surprised at this but I’m a sucker for Sookie (excuse the pun!) She’s fun, she’s fiesty and she’s fangtastic and I look forward to each new instalment of her story.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Sookie Stackhouse series, you may have heard of them under the True Blood label.  This HBO series is much more explicit than Harris‘ novels and certainly doesn’t follow the storyline accurately, but the essence of Sookie and Harris’ ability to create the quirkiest characters is in evidence in the TV series.

Me, I’d rather stick to the written word, which I find light-hearted and fun.  Won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and I’m not a fan of the vampire fiction genre per se, but I do love Sookie, and I reckon you might too.

If you’re not sure, click on this link to read the first chapter of Dead Reckoning for yourself http://www.charlaineharris.com/DeadReck_1.html

I am a big Jennifer Donnelly fan, especially her young adult novel A Gathering Light and so I was very keen to read her latest offering, Revolution which lived up to expectations.

This novel is set in two time periods.  It begins in contemporary New York following Andi’s story as she deals with the tragic death of her younger brother.  Wracked with guilt in her percieved part in her brother’s death and struggling to see the point in going on with her life, Andi finds herself reluctantly in Paris with her father.  Enter the second component to this story.  Andi becomes involved in her father’s purpose for being in Paris, which is to discover scientifically whether the small human heart contained in the glass urn is in fact that of Louis Charles, son and heir to French King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette.

As Andi sets out to discover the truth about Louis Charles she is somehow transported back to the time of the French Revolution and becomes Alexandrine, a girl of her age, desperately trying to save Louis Charles from his fate.

Donnelly, through her scene-setting and character-developing skills, will draw you Revolution and won’t release you until the very last page.  Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book, and as with all good historical stories, it made me want to set about doing some of my own research into the facts behind the story.  You can go to Jennifer Donnelly’s website to read her inspiration for writing this novel http://www.jenniferdonnelly.com/rev_inspiration.html. Fascinating stuff, and highly recommended.

I am totally in love with this new series by Alan Bradley! The Flavia de Luce Mysteries should be everyone’s top reads or next book to read list.

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is the first in the series, which is very reminiscent of an Agatha Christie Miss Marple mystery.  Set in 1950 in a small quintessential English village, Flavia, our almost 11 year old heroine and budding chemist complete with her own lab, lives in a large, ramshackle mansion with her reclusive, philatelist father, two older sisters (who she routinely plots to poison as retribution for continually tormenting her) and her father’s batman from the war who now acts as the family butler/gardener/gofer and Flavia’s confidant.

Bradley draws a wonderfully recognisable cast of characters that make up the villagers and inevitable policemen who in equal parts help and hinder Flavia’s crime solving prowess.  Flavia is the first truly original character I’ve discovered in a long time.  You will fall in love her and want to join her on her journey to solve the murder.

And once you have reluctantly reached the last page, you will want to immediately reach for the next books in the series, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag and A Red Herring without Mustard. Me, I’m impatiently awaiting the release of Flavia #4 I am Half-Sick of Shadows.