‘O’ level debate

4:44 PM 10 SEPTEMBER 2016

This was one of my course books at school and we pored over the adventures of ‘Fiver’ and ‘Bigwig’, et al and the underlying social systems of the respective burrows. It was one of those classroom unknowns, but discussed at length, whether it was the author’s intention to provide a critique of democracy vs authoritarian rule, or simply a children’s adventure book to be enjoyed.
It was not until my thirties that I was able to get a definitive answer from the author, Richard Adams. I was lucky enough to live for a time in the same village, not far from the legendary down and was invited round for tea. Of course, I had to satisfy my curiosity, but it was quite a relief to learn that it can be enjoyed as simply a classic piece of fiction and the news did not diminish it one jot!

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/BOOK/SHOW/10258076

Rating: 4 out of 5.

‘His Dark Materials’

4:31 PM 10 SEPTEMBER 2016

An utterly absorbing tale, which sparkles in its creativity and reaches young and older readers alike, with the quality of Pulman’s writing. The characterization is exceptional, the plot intriguing and the pace superb. A modern classic series which really does deserve the description, page-turner.

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/REVIEW/SHOW/1521145388

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Four-legged Hero

4:26 PM 10 SEPTEMBER 2016

This was my first introduction to Jack London’s work and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The storyline was gritty and very in keeping with the period and the tough life for pioneers in the wilderness of north america. But, it was also gripping and offered a really satisfying read. On the strength of this book, I aim to read more from this author.

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/REVIEW/SHOW/1521145435

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Workout for the little grey cells…

4:18 PM 10 SEPTEMBER 2016

Just after midnight, a snowstorm stops the Orient Express dead in its tracks in the middle of Yugoslavia. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for this time of year. But by morning there is one passenger less. A ‘respectable American gentleman’ lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside . . . Hercule Poirot is also aboard, having arrived in the nick of time to claim a second-class compartment — and the most astounding case of his illustrious career.

Series: Hercule Poirot (#10)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Never judge a book by its cover…

4:10 PM 10 SEPTEMBER 2016

I picked this up while browsing a charity shop’s offerings and notwithstanding my son’s obervation that he had noticed it in the teen section of a nearby bookshop, stuck with it. And I’m glad I did. A good story can afterall be compelling, irrespective of the ‘target audience’ and in August Pullman, Palacio developed a very unlikely, but wonderful hero.
The story is cleverly related from a number of different perspectives and engagingly ripples outward from August to family, classmates and wider community and the respective challenges faced by the protagonists. Indeed, the book confronts the discomfort experienced by individuals and in some cases the surrendering to ugly bigotry and crude discrimination. The central theme relates to the judging of books by their covers, but encourages the reader to look beyond the superficial. Moreover, any book that can draw a reader to empathise and contemplate what s/he might do in a given situation and provoke soul-searching is worth the effort.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Wonder’, the language is straightforward and the message is simple. Doing the right thing is sometimes hard, yet as R.J Palacio describes, it can be uplifting. Want a lift – read this study in positive action!

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/REVIEW/SHOW/1521145714

Rating: 4 out of 5.

H.G Wells was never like this….

4:02 PM 10 SEPTEMBER 2016

A compelling read, the concept is an intriguing one, the consequences of which underpin an extraordinary connection between the main characters, Henry and Clare. To describe the novel as an “old-fashioned love story’ is to underplay the depth of the examination of attachment and loss, experienced by the main characters. The flitting between time and place and the respective ages of Henry and Clare may be distracting for some, but is deftly handled by Niffenegger. The author makes wonderful use of the latitude afforded by the device of time travel and her narrative is sparklingly inventive, excruciatingly tender and crushing in it’s portrayal of despair. Originally unsure whether this was aimed at female readers, I was blissfully swept up in the story and absolutely enjoyed the book for the quality of the writing and a very thought-provoking premise. Bravo!

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/REVIEW/SHOW/1521145828

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Contemporary Christianity

3:46 PM 10 SEPTEMBER 2016

I came to this book, mindful of my spiritual frailties and yet, aspiring to better understand how to move forward. In that context, Dave Roberts has provided an inspirational and thought-provoking insight into the development of Ffald-y-Brenin and the foundation of faith, which has enabled the creation of a thriving ‘house of prayer’. Indeed, so engaging was the book that I drove to West Wales to see for myself, such was the allure of the exciting groundswell of activity described. I was not disappointed.
Doubtless it helps if the reader is a ‘believer’, but even if not, I fancy one cannot help but be impressed by the sheer dedication and outpouring of faith writ large on the page, which also suggests a courage and conviction which is increasingly rare today. A common charge is of ‘mainstream’ Christianity being a bit ambivalent and less forthright in it’s moral assertions. Whilst this book might not be the antidote, it does at least imply that there remain strong voices, with clear messages, not least concerning the value of prayer and an ongoing need to develop our relationships with God. An uplifting read.

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/BOOK/SHOW/18912000-THE-GRACE-OUTPOURING

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Can do better….

9:50 PM 3 SEPTEMBER 2016

I have come to expect a polished story from JG, pacy and with a concise opening, which hooks the reader from the off. ‘The Racketeer’ fits this pattern and yet in my view it is not one of his best. The plot seemed more contrived than usual and the characters less plausible somehow. I do not regret reading it, in fact I read it voraciously, but even as an erstwhile fan, this book will not be near the top of my favourite Grisham’s.

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/REVIEW/SHOW/1521146142

Rating: 3 out of 5.

To Bee-keep, or Not to Bee-keep

9:30 PM 3 SEPTEMBER 2016

A charming journal following the exploits of wannabee bee-keeper James Dearsley, in his first year as a novice. The book is full of ‘well I didn’t know that’ moments and offers some interesting insights into the trials and tribulations of establishing successful hives. Of course, it is a timely introduction too, as there is much handwringing around the international decline in the bee population and the potential impact on man, from such a threat to bio-diversity. I suspect readers are likely to include some people weighing the possibility of enlisting into the beekeeper ranks and though the book is not a manual, it does offer some pros and cons for what might seem an idyllic notion. Intriguingly the author does also draw parallels with that other seemingly eccentric British pastime of morris-dancing, complete with the need for a customary costume. Still, he makes a very compelling case for the hidden community of enthusiasts and a rewarding way to get back in touch with nature. For those wishing to take their exploration of bee-keeping further there is also a useful list of additional resources in the back. One for the curious to crawl over.

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/REVIEW/SHOW/1521146731

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Nothing lost in translation!

9:18 PM 3 SEPTEMBER 2016

This exceptional novel explores the complex relationship between Hanna and Michael against a backdrop of post war Germany and the differing impact of guilt for their respective generations. The tale of the central relationship is sensitively told and the difficult context is examined through their respective experiences. The temptation for scapegoating, to absolve the ‘guilt’ of the many on the shoulders of a few, also resonates with more contemporary social upheavals. The issue of literacy simply accentuates the disadvantage faced by those outsiders to the mainstream culture. A thoroughly absorbing read.

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.GOODREADS.COM/REVIEW/SHOW/1521146841

Rating: 5 out of 5.