Sometimes a book comes along where a reviewer has little else to say apart from those three magic words….just read it.
For Charlotte Street, Wallace’s debut novel, is one of those books which will hold universal appeal, cause enough embarrassment laughing out loud on your public transport of choice and will ultimately tug at the heart strings.
Jason Priestley accidentally is left holding a disposable camera belonging to a girl he helps, with bags as she clambers into a taxi, on Charlotte Street. With little other direction in his life and the idea that maybe this girl could be THE girl, he is encouraged to find her with the help of his best friend, Dev. It is only when the photos are developed that Jason notices he has been captured in one of them; and so the mystery thickens.
As Jason’s life erupts into chaos, from the ex-girlfriend and a drunken evening spent on Facebook, to the career writing dodgy reviews for a London paper, the girl on Charlotte Street resembles one thing he can make happen. All he needs is some detective work and only a bit of stalking, well maybe more stalking than detecting.
This is just a celebration of life as it is of London; so if you are a Londoner, an ex-Londoner or a wannabe Londoner you will love exploring the city with these characters.
Charlotte Street is perfect for anyone who would like to invest a few hours into a good read with belly laughs and a great dollop of realism. So what more can I say other than…just read it.
If you like the look of this then start a collection with some similar great books.
The plot: Something of a coming of age story with a twist. Julia is a Californian teenager who goes through all the normal teenage issues of bullying, boys, bickering parents, and friendships gained and lost Yet all this is shadowed by disaster – the world is slowing down. As time shifts, and the days and nights get longer, society slowly fragments and communities divide, in this timeless thriller.
The good bits: The best bit of this book had to be the build up of tension of what was going to happen next. Julia narrates throughout the book and drops clues here and there of what was still to come. Little hints like the last grape she tasted and unaware of the illness that was causing her mother so much pain. As the birds are unable to fly and the mass beaching of whales spoils their beaches there is a sense that this nightmare played out in darkness will never end.
Great talking point: Julia’s dreams and hopes for the future aren’t explored as day to day survival takes priority. Realistically, life goes on as normal, however, at some point Julia must have thought about university, a career and whether she would have a family of her own. This will obviously be a great talking point for book groups.
Worth a mention: This is Karen Thompson Walker’s debut and has been chosen as part of Waterstone’s 11, a collection of debut’s worth adding to your ‘to read’ list.
When should you read it: The perfect holiday read, but take a few more as you’ll get through this one in a day if not hours.
The plot: Clarissa, a young girl with a life of privilege in her family home Deyning Park, falls in love with Tom, the housekeeper’s son, visiting from University. Although both accept the impossibility of their situation, it is the last summer before World War One arrives to shake their world. Through suffering, pain, grief and survival their lives will intermingle but will the world ever accept their love?
The good bits: By the last page you will have discovered the secrets, the lies, the missed opportunities, and the over whelming sense of waste but also the desire to not lose another minute of their shattered lives. As you can imagine – a real page turner. The bad bits: At times you wanted to shake both Tom and Clarissa when witnessing, in dismay, some of the actions they take. At times history repeats itself and you want this to grab the opportunity. However, that is perhaps more of the impossibility of their situation against a 21st century view rather than a criticism of the book.
Worth a mention: Some of the most heartbreaking stories around any war are those of the survivors who come home to even more suffering. This is something Kinghorn tragically highlights. One of the most memorable scenes are of Clarissa and friend Rose whose conversation always turns to a roll call of those they loved and lost.
When to read: A book that will take you through all the emotions so have your allocated chocolates and wine at the ready.
You wouldn’t believe me; even if you stood with a match to my book shelves threatening to set the lot alight if I denounced my claim, but the truth is I’ve never read Harry Potter. I know, I can’t quite believe it too; yet I’m setting out to remedy this literary travesty with this beautiful box set I was given as a present.
Always one to shun the hype I turned away from Harry Potter’s initial outing and instead continued my reading list of classics. I also would have much preferred to follow the adventures of the slap dash wizards in Pratchett’s discworld than one who was just learning the ropes at Hogwarts.
However,as the recession continues to bite and the news is nothing but grim, reading habits the glimmer of Harry’s world provides us with the ideal escape, a good dose of sparkle and the good old favourite ‘age old tale’ of good overcoming evil. Well if that sounds something you are looking for (and are equally astonished you haven’t got round to it) then I suggest you join Harry and I in some Hogwarts adventures.
This beautiful box was well worth the wait for the publication of all seven titles. Each novel has their own distinguishing spine colour and artwork, making it a welcome addition to your personal library. Click on the picture to get your box of Magic
The plot: Having read Pride and Prejudice umpteen times I was finally ready to succumb to a sequel set six years after Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy have married. Written by highly acclaimed author P.D. James and promising to be a darker tale of death, murder suspicion and intrigue, it sounded just the ticket for a winter afternoon.
The good bits: Very atmospheric…lets move on
The bad bits: Although the plot is promising there are so many flaws it begins to become a painful read. Admittedly, I had to force myself to read the last 5 pages made up of Darcy and Elizabeth discussing their relationship ups and downs in P&Ps. There can be no real purpose of going over old ground, in detail, which ardent fans do not need to know, and those who don’t, can read the first book themselves.
The book focuses mostly on the male characters; Mr Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam and of course the infamous Mr Wickham. If you are hoping for more adventures from the Bennet girls then don’t expect much. Even Elizabeth, our headstrong, witty and most
favourite heroine hardly has two words to put together. How can P.D. James possible write of our beloved girl ‘ Elizabeth had been sitting quietly wondering whether she could speak without making matters worse’ and a mere five pages later is quoted as not even knowing what to say. No, I couldn’t believe it either.
If it hadn’t been for the complete lack of Bennet passion, wit and friendly feuds then this sequel would have stood a fighting chance as a new classic favourite.
Worth a mention: P.D. James writes in her notes, ‘ I owe an apology to the shade of Jane Austen for involving her beloved Elizabeth in the trauma of a murder investigation….had (Austen) wished to dwell on such odious subjects, she would have written this story herself, and done it better.’ Well P.D. James, I couldn’t have put it better myself.
When you should read it: If you still want to give it a go, its suited to Autumn/wintry days. If you do happen to find Miss Austen’s classic, then read that, if not, find something else.
The plot: There is a family secret in Lucy’s family history that she thinks her father was on the brink of discovering before he died. Eager to find out more, Lucy travels to Cornwall, the home of her Grandmother, Angelina; finding a burnt out mansion and a woman called Beatrice - a family friend. On her daily visits to Beatrice, Lucy is told her family history from her Grandmother’s happy childhood in Cornwall to the devastation World War Two had on her family. It is in Beatrice’s story that Lucy discovers the unexpected.
The good bits: Of which I can happily say are plenty. Beatrice’s tale is a fascinating one; with her move to London putting her right in the middle of the action, the horrifying casualties of war and the desperate attempts for survival. Hore successfully makes you feel you are in the middle World War Two unaware of the outcome like the rest of the characters. As the years drag on, you become more concerned that all those connected in Beatrice and Angelina’s world are not going to come out of it unscathed.
The bad bits: The main disappointment is that you could see the twist in the tale from very early on, however, the winding path of how the characters get there is still an interesting journey to take.
Worth a mention: Rachel Hore has now published five novels one of which, The Place of Secrets, was chosen as part of the Richard and Judy book club.
When should you read it: On a holiday to Cornwall and also when no other book will hold your attention – because this one will. Click on the cover to get your copy now.
The plot…Boy meets girl, loses her, attempts to woo her back while keeping afloat a record shop and unruly employees in a trendy area of London.
The good bits…You’ll be laughing through the majority of this book and feeling quite sad at other parts. Fast paced and full of the vitality of reflecting on rather a disastrous life. Each character is full of life and you end up loving them all. It is a real story with what you feel like real people, all down to the beauty of Hornby’s writing.
The bad bits…Brutally honest Rob, tells us his secrets warts and all. You will dislike him passionatly at times yet there is something so good in him that you can’t help thinking that he is just a human prone to mistakes like us all. You may want him to just get on with life and get his act together but this confliction of opinion makes this point more a good bit than a bad. Afterall, it makes for a good read.
Worth a mention…By the time you have counted up all the records mentioned throughout the book you’ll have a pretty good play list. This book was chosen to have a special ‘tattoo’ cover design as part of the Penguin Ink collection.
When should you read it…When you feel in the mood to reflect on life, its good and bad bits. Just make sure you read it alongside a good set of records on a night in when everyone is on a night out.
Fans of Chris Kuzneski won’t be disappointed with his latest novel The Secret Crown, and for those who haven’t read his books, and are partial to a bit of mystery, then this is a perfect place to start his collection.
From the strange circumstances of Ludwig II’s death to the crates hidden in a secret Nazi bunker the story line spins these events into a mystery which Payne and Jones, former members of a Special Forces team in the US, have to unravel. As this is the sixth book in the Payne and Jones series their relationship is firmly established and their witty banter a centre piece of dialog throughout.
It reads like a Hollywood Blockbuster, fast paced, full of action with the added bonus of historical facts to add a touch of reality. The dialog at times can bit a little bit corny like the typical American action film, however, it won’t stop most from enjoying the book.
Added to the experience of the book is Kuzneski’s website providing a ‘virtual book tour’ of the locations and settings. A great touch from the author but don’t look until you have finished the book, some pictures will spoil the plot.
Let us know what you thought of the Secret Crown in the comments section below.
As we remember those who give their lives to protect our country we have chosen a book new out this month in the celebration of the Poets of world war one. Strange Meetings provides an account of the poets of the Great War and their interactions with each other, from Siegfried Sassoon’s and Wilfred Owen’s meeting while being treated in hospital to Edward Thomas’s widow and Ivor Gurney’s emotional meeting in 1932. A poignant book for everyone to read this week.
In reality servants have always been expected not to be heard or seen, however, in literature servants, butlers, maid’s and even an extremely helpful suitcase from Discworld, make some of the most memorable characters. On our own ReaderIReadIt poll we asked you to vote for your favourite fictional servant and now we celebrate the winner.
Crowned your favourite fictional servant is the witty and ever patient Jeeves from Jeeves and Wooster. Created in 1915 by P.G Woodhouse, Jeeves is the loyal and extremely intelligent Valet to Bertie Wooster who despite his wealth and status, lacks a few brains cells and always gets himself into tricky situations. Originally created for magazines the stories were later collected into books. With a total of 35 stories and 11 novels there are plenty to choose from but why not join them on all their adventures by treating yourself to the whole collection.
There have been many adaptations of Jeeves and Wooster including radio, plays and even musicals, but ReaderIReadIt’s personal favourite is the TV Series with Stephen Fry (Jeeves) and Hugh Laurie (Wooster) who gave a most entertaining performance.
So all there is left to say is Jolly Good Voting Readers! Leave your favourite Jeeves moments in the comments below and with a stiff upper lip we say Cheerio for now.