Sunday, July 15, 2007

A quick news round-up

Well the time has almost come for me to switch off my computer
and pack i up with all my other belongings. The reading is
suffering at the moment so it may be a couple of weeks before I
have any reviews to post. I suspect the most likely review to
come next will be 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', you
have been warned!

I've decided to submit some of my more recent reviews to Digg,
just out of interest to see which (if any) get 'dugg' by people.
Annoyingly they don't have a section for anything book related
so I'm having to list them under 'Offbeat news'. If anyone fancies
'digging' some of these reviews you can find a full list of the
ones to dig at .

In other news I've decided that during my absence I'm going to
turn off the ability to leave comments on my blogs. This is simply
because I can't get access to blogger to delete any spam/totally
irrelevant nasty messages. You can still keep in contact with me
though at . Thankfully I'll be
able to access my e-mails regularly!

You'll also be pleased to here I'm ignoring an e-mail I've just had
from a casino company to advertise on this blog. No nasty
adverts clogging up this review blog!

Keep tuned for more reviews :)

This post has been submitted by e-mail

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Lost Luggage Porter by Andrew Martin

It's December 1905 and Jim Striger is starting his new job as a
detective for the North East Railway Company at the York office.
It's a job he doesn't want and he'd far rather be back on the
trains. His new boss decides to send him undercover to
investigate pickpockets and other small fry who have been
operating at the station. Yet events take a turn and Striger ends
up being dragged into the deep, murky underworld of York. As if
that wasn't enough, back home he's trying to keep the peace
between his heavily pregnant Suffragette wife and his deeply
conservative father. With a new addition of the family on the way
and a murderer on the loose Striger must find a way to keep the
peace, stay alive and not get fired.

Although this is the third book in the Jim Striger series I
thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Martin was very good at
explaining some of the background when needed (that
presumably readers of the first two books wouldn't need) without
lingering too long on it. I didn't feel penalised for not reading the
first two books and felt like I wanted to go back and find out a bit
more about what happened. It is great that a writer can do this.

The style of the book is somewhat different to what I'm used to.
Striger's character is a hard working Victorian/Edwardian middle
class kind of guy. He's old fashioned in our eyes but with
enough forward thinking ideas to make him interesting. He fits in
well with the time the book is set and occupies the space
between his wife's Suffragette views and his father's Victorian
value system. It's hard to explain but in a way Martin's text feels
slightly old fashioned in style, very in keeping with the story.

Striger is very uncomfortable in his new role and that comes
across well in the book. He's not sure how far he can go with his
'role' without breaking the law. Its all new territory for him, so
there is a struggle between his law abiding normal self and what
he needs to do for his alias to ring true. He's not your typical
detective. He's been thrown into the career rather than choosing
it and he often feels it's a punishment. Yet there are times when
he seems to be enjoying himself. The thrill he feels the first time
he goes undercover (before his conservative self asserts itself)
is just one example of this. There are times when he sounds like
a middle aged man but occasionally there are glimpses that
show that actually he's quite a young, intelligent man. He's a bit
world weary but naive all the same.

I would definitely recommend this to all those who like historical
crime fiction as something new and different (at least from
anything I've read). Well written and researched. I would
however suggest people might want to start with the first book in
this series, 'The Necropolis Railway'. You can enjoy 'Lost
Luggage Porter' without reading the previous two books though
so don't worry if you can't get hold of it. Worth reading if you like
Edward Marston's 'Railway Detective' series.

*4 stars*

This review has been submitted by e-mail

If you enjoyed reading this story click here to digg it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Hints and Tips from a Bookworm

After reading one of the comments posted on here today it's got me
thinking about what my top tips for reading would be. So here goes!

* Reading should be for fun, not a chore. If the book you're reading
really isn't suitable for you, don't feel bad about putting it down and
trying something else

* Reading groups are a great way of finding new authors or new
genres you might not otherwise have tried. Your local library should
be able to help you find one.

*  Join your local library. Its a great way to try books especially if
you're short on funds. Libraries also have DVDs and CDs to borrow
so you're sure to find something whatever your mood. Added to that
library staff can be amazingly helpful on just about anything.

*  Always take people's suggestions as suggestions. Never let anyone
tell you what you can and can't read. We all have different tastes,
don't be ashamed to be different. Just because a book is a Booker
Prize winner or something doesn't mean you'll like it.

*  Try and judge your book by the blurb on the back rather than the
title or book cover. Publishers don't always get the covers right and
some titles can sound amazingly boring whilst the book is exciting
and worth reading.

*  Try and find a small amount of time to read every day. It can help
with stress and gives you a creative outlet (use that imagination!).
Some people choose to read in bed just before they go to sleep.
Whatever works for you.

*  Don't be afraid to give new books a try.

*  Sometimes when you read a book you may not be in the right
mood for it. You can always put it back on the to read pile and come
back to it when the time is right. A good book will never disappear.

* Writing up a 'to read' list can help when you can't remember what
books you want to read. Be sure to update it every time you hear
about another book you would like to try.

These are just some helpful hints. There are plenty more out there
and I'll be sure to keep this post updated with any new tips that come
my way. If there are any you would like to add either add a comment
at the end of this post or e-mail me at .

This post has been posted by e-mail

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Waxman Murders by Paul Doherty

Corbett is sent to Canterbury to deal with the murder of a local
merchant. His wife stands accused but as a ward of the King she
has been able to claim assistance from the King in the form of
Corbett. As well as this murder, Corbett has a pressing meeting with
two local merchants on behalf of the monarch to discuss a treasure
map. Yet when one of these merchants and his entire family is found
murdered in an inexplicable set of circumstances Corbett is drawn
into a web of intrigue that spans 30 years. Can Corbett solve all the
riddles before the killer reaches him? This is the 15th book in the
Hugh Corbett series.

I have read a couple of the books in this series. Unfortunately not all
and not in any particular order so I don't have a good grasp on the
background of the central characters and the events that have lead
up to this point. I did feel that a conscious effort was made to flesh
out the character of Corbett, particularly in reference to his religious
leanings and love of music. The story itself was fairly mediocre and
didn't really stretch the imagination. I'd worked out who the main
suspect was likely to be early on based on his cloying nature. I do
admit though that I didn't see one of the main twists in the tale til it
was revealed. On the whole though this murder mystery did little for
me. It was a light read to pass the time.

Perhaps I might have felt a bit differently about this book if I had
read the others in the series, in order, first. I would suggest that
anyone  who feels like trying this series should start with the first
book, 'Satan in St Mary's'. If you want to see the entire list of Corbett
books  and see which order they come in visit the Fantastic Fiction
website  page on Paul Doherty. I do quite like Paul Doherty's work in
general but prefer the Ancient Rome series and the Brother Athelstan
series.  The new Mathilde of Westminster series isn't bad either (the
first  book in this series is The Cup of Ghosts which I reviewed in
May 2006).

Like some of the books I've read recently I would consider this an ok
read but not necessarily one that I'd run out and recommend to all
my friends and family. The characters were not too bland and a
couple of the mysteries were intriguing enough to keep the reader
occupied. If you have a passion for historical murder mysteries,
particularly those set medieval England then give this series a try.

*2 and a half stars*

Temporary Changes to Suggestions for a Bookworm

Today I've been experimenting with posting reviews via e-mail. In a
couple of weeks I will be moving and at present I don't know when I
will be getting an internet connection. It could be 1 month it could be
6 (long story!). Anyway, as I will no doubt be reading during this time
and I will still want to share my reviews with you then I have been
trying to find a way round lack of internet. When previously in this
situation I have used the internet at the local library. The problem is
that often Blogger is blocked on their computers so I can't directly
post. Instead I can access e-mails so this is the next best thing.
It does mean that the formatting of the posts might be a little off
from time to time but they will all be corrected when I can access
the Blogger website.

The downside though is that I won't be able to up date the A-Z lists
until I get access to the internet properly. Hopefully this will only be a
temporary inconvenience. I still will be able to post reviews which is
the main thing.

The other website that I have been unable to access in the past
through library computers is MySpace. That means that for all of you
who visit here through my updates on various MySpace groups and
on my MySpace blog I will no longer be able to keep you up to date.
The only ways to keep up will be through using an RSS programme
like Bloglines or FeedDemon or by visiting the site regularly. It's a
real pain, sorry.

These changes will begin to take effect from Monday 16th July.

If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free to share!

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

Iris Lockheart runs her own shop in Edinburgh. She has a string of
unfulfilled relationships to her name, her grandmother is in a world
of her own and her half brother constantly disapproves of the men
in her life. Then she gets a letter about Euphemia Lennox, a
relative she has never heard of who lives in a psychiatric unit. All
of a sudden Euphemia (or Esme as she prefers to be called) is
thrown into Iris' life and so begins a gradual untangling of threads
as to how Esme really ended up vanishing from polite society.

This is definitely one of those books you need to be in the right
mood to read. I think perhaps if I had been this book may have
scored 4 stars. As it was I initially found it a bit confusing. You keep
switching between the present, Esme's memories, Iris' memories
and Kitty's mind (these bits are particularly confusing as she
constantly switches to different time frames mid memory because
she's suffering Alzheimer's). Once you get past this and into the story
it's actually quite enjoyable. It shows how families coped with
post-colonialism, and how women were expected to behave and were
treated in 1930s polite society. It's dark in its way and as the story
progresses you gradually uncover more and more hidden secrets.

O'Farrell is also very good at throwing you off track. At first you
genuinely think Esme is not right in the head and then you realise
she's just different which wasn't acceptable at the time. There are
other instances of this but I won't spoil the storyline by telling you
about them!

In terms of writing style I'm not a huge fan of novels that flick
constantly between characters and at a rate of a page or two
between  switches. It does eventually work and by the end of the
book you  understand why its been written that way but initially it
is incredibly  frustrating. I did admire the bits where Kitty is the one
reflecting because I felt it was very very well done. I haven't had to
deal with  Alzheimer's myself but from what I know about it from
friends who have it is almost like the person has no control over
their chain of thoughts. They don't necessarily forget but their ability
to distinguish between reality,  dreams and memories goes. It just
somehow felt a very real depiction of what someone with Alzheimer's
might be thinking.

As with 'The Kabul Beauty School' I finished the book feeling infinitely
glad that I live in the here and now and that even if I were living in
the 1930s I come from a working class family so wouldn't have had
the life Esme and Kitty did. I'm also glad that I have a much better
relationship with my own sister! Although I wasn't in the mood for it
this weekend it was still a good read and definitely worth trying. Just
have a bit of patience with it!

*3 stars*

This review has been submitted by e-mail.

If you enjoyed this why not try 'The Behaviour of Moths' by Poppy Adams?

If you want to find out more about this book why not visit Amazon UK by visiting the following link
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Lily lives on a farm in South Carolina with her father T Ray and Rosaleen. Rosaleen has been looking after Lily since her mother died ten years ago. Convinced she is responsible for her mother's death and an outcast in her small community Lily leads a lonely life. Then Rosaleen is attacked on her way to register to vote. Rosaleen is black and so she is arrested rather than her attackers. Lily helps Rosaleen escape and they become fugitives. On the run with no where to go they stumble across a brightly painted pink house and three sisters who tend bees. So begins a summer of discovery for Lily who must come to terms with her past and her present to be able to decide on her future.

This book is very much a 'coming of age story'. Set in the deep south of America in 1964, the year Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act the key theme of this book is racism. Lily is in some ways quite naive about the racial hatred towards the black community. She is surprised by the attack on Rosaleen and has no idea her life might be in danger until her father tells her this when taking her home after being arrested with Rosaleen. Yet by the end of the book you're desperately wishing Lily's acceptance of the black people around her could be adopted by the white community as a whole. At one point a police officer visits the pink house and suggests that Lily shouldn't be lowering herself by staying there and I really just wanted to slap him one! Living in the modern world where such blatant racism is considered unusual and highly disgusting rather than the norm it is hard to really understand the vast majority of the white characters in the book. You sympathise with Lily and the black characters of this book.

The book is very easy to read, and very straightforward. I must admit that I wasn't expecting the twist at the end of the book and I applaud the author for not falling into the trap of making the ending 100% uplifting. I won't say more than that for fear of giving it all away! This book was also a very quick read, I started about 10:30pm last night and was finished by 1am. Although I couldn't put it down because I wanted to see what would happen it didn't grab me in the way that 'The Book of Lost Things' or 'The Kabul Beauty School' did. I can't decide if it was because I felt parts of this story were a little too 'convenient' and had a 'been done before' flavour. The book reminds me of 'How to Make an American Quilt', the 'Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. It's got elements from each in it. It was a good read and I did enjoy it but it was very much a light read for me.

*3 stars*

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Good book? Tell the world

Have you enjoyed reading the reviews here? If so, pass the reviews on! At the end of every post is a little envelope symbol. Click this and you can send your friends and family a copy of the review.

If you want to keep up to date with all the reviews here on Suggestions for a Bookworm, why not sign up to our RSS feed through sites like Bloglines? It's a great way of keeping up to date without waiting for notices on forums like MySpace (which I can't always guarantee access to).

Lastly, if anyone out there wants to link to Suggestions for a Bookworm, go ahead!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

When Henry first saw Clare, he thought she was beautiful and captivating. Clare on the other hand was astonished to see Henry looking so young. 'The Time Traveler's Wife' follows the story of Clare and Henry. Henry has a rare disorder which means that he inadvertently time travels. When he does he just disappears to a random point in the past or the future (usually within 50 years either way). When he goes he can take nothing with him, including clothes. Henry must learn how to survive his condition and the perils associated with it. Clare must learn to love Henry, despite never knowing if she will wake up beside him in the morning and the side effects of Henry's condition. Is it really possible to happy as the time traveler's wife?

Its hard to sum up what this book is about in an interesting way without giving too much away. The concept is simple, Henry time travels. Unlike H G Well's time machine inventor, or Marty McFly, Henry can't take anything with him and has no control over where or when he goes. It's a good twist to what might otherwise be another time travel story. Henry must survive his condition anyway he can and so you end up with amusing scenarios when he's teaching a younger version of himself to pick pocket or he ends up in fight because he's managed to steal some very unusual clothing. Added to this mix is Clare, who is head over heels in love with Henry and some how manages to put up with the bizarre events as they unfold. It was a good book, well written, and tugged at the heart strings.

I think it's a good book on the imperfections of relationships. Nothing is perfect, least of all love. Niffenegger manages to illustrate this in numerous ways and shows that even the best relationships have their crosses to bare. For Clare and Henry this is coping with the unpredictability of his condition and Clare's desperation for a child which Henry does not necessarily share 100%. Each of them is able to reach some level of understanding about the other to cope though. Clare accepts to an extent Henry's condition and lives with it, while Henry is able to see what it means to Clare to have a child (and ultimately helps her to do so).

Any book that involves moving backwards and forwards in time and space at random is going to have a difficult job keeping their audience from total confusion. This has to be one of the best efforts I've read though. Yes, there is always a small element of confusion, but I feel it adds something to the book. It echoes the confusion of the characters at various points (e.g. Henry when he *first* meets Clare when he's 28, Clare's confusion at times in her youth about Henry, various members of Clare's family feeling like they've seen Henry before, Gomez's confusion over seeing Clare and Henry together when he's supposedly dating someone else etc etc). Yet for the most part you could still follow the storyline.

It is a very cleverly crafted book, with characters with depth and enough imperfections to keep them interesting. Even Alba sounds slightly pretentious when we meet her at the age of 10. It's what keeps the story real. No angels and no devils. It makes the characters feel like real people, even goody-two-shoes Clare has her faults.

It's definitely worth picking up and trying.

*4 stars*

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Authors N-Z


Niffenegger, Audrey
*The Time Traveler's Wife

Nix, Garth
*Grim Tuesday


O'Farrell, Maggie
*The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox


Paolini, Christopher

*The Last Days of Newgate

Pratchett, Terry
*Making Money

Price, Susan
*The Sterkarm Handshake


Rodriguez, Deborah
*The Kabul Beauty School

Rowe, Rosemary
*A Roman Ransom

Rowling, J.K.
*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Ryman, Geoff
*The King's Last Song


Sansom, C.J

Scarrow, Simon
*Young Bloods

Scott, Michael
*The Alchemyst

Scott, Robert & Gordon, Jay
*The Hickory Staff: Eldarn Sequence Book 1

Sedley, Kate
*For King and Country
*The Eve of St Hyacinth

Seierstad, Asne
*The Bookseller of Kabul


Tannahill, Raey
*Having the Builders in

Todd, Marilyn
*Scorpion Rising

Tremayne, Peter
*A Prayer for the Damned


Young, Simon
*Farewell Britannia

Authors A-M


Adams, Poppy
*The Behaviour of Moths

Albom, Mitch
*The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Aston, Elizabeth
*The Way of the World


Cleeves, Ann
*Telling Tales

Connolly, John
*Book of Lost Things


Davis, Lindsey

Doherty, Paul
*The Cup of Ghosts
*The Waxman Murders
*An Ancient Evil

Downie, R S
*Medicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls

Dunant, Sarah
*The Birth of Venus


Edwards-Jones, Imogen
*Tuscany for Beginners


Fforde, Jasper
*The Big Over Easy

Franklin, Ariana
*The Mistress of the Art of Death

Furey, Maggie
*The Spirit of the Stone


Gardner, Sally
*I Coriander
*The Red Necklace

Gordon, Jay & Scott, Robert
*The Hickory Staff: Eldarn Sequence Book 1

Gregory, Susanna
*Blood on the Strand
*The Butcher of Smithfield
*The Westminster Poisoner


Haddon, Mark
*Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Hill, Stuart
*The Cry of the Icemark
*Blade of Fire


Knight, Bernard
*The Poisoned Chalice


Lake, Deryn
*Death in the Setting Sun
*Death and the Cornish Fiddler

Lee, YS
*The Agency: Spy in the House


Marston, Edward
*The Painted Lady
*Soldier of Fortune

Martin, Andrew
*The Lost Luggage Porter
*The Blackpool Highflyer

McMahon, Katherine
*The Rose of Sebastopol

Mills, Mark
* The Savage Garden

Min, Anchee
*Empress Orchid

Monk Kidd, Sue
*The Secret Life of Bees

Montgomery, L M
*Anne of Green Gables
*Anne of Avonlea

A bit of house keeping

I've decided I want to make the blog a bit more user friendly so will be working today on layout etc. I really could use some comments from people on what would make the site more accessible for you and what you would like to see. Remember anyone can leave a comment on here, you don't have to sign up to anything or even leave your name!

One of the things I'm thinking about doing is have two 'pages' dedicated to alphabetical lists of the authors covered here. The first would be A-M and the second would be N-Z. There would then be links to these from the link section on the right hand side of the page so you can get to wherever you want more quickly.

I'm also going to try and work out ways of getting people to link to the site and recommend the site. Not sure how, but will site down and have a think about it.

I would like to recommend to people who might want to keep an eye on this site but don't want to come every day to sign up to a service like Bloglines. Bloglines is free and tracks whether new posts have been made on any of the blogs you choose to watch on it. It will then give you the first bit of the new post so you can decide if you want to bother to go and read it. It's pretty cool. There are other similar programmes out there and I'm sure a Google search will show you them. If you fancy giving Bloglines a go visit .