Tag Archives: Abacus Books

The Full Cupboard of Life – Alexander McCall Smith

I actually wanted to call today’s blog ‘Precious Time With Precious Ramotswe’ for that is exactly what it has been but am sticking to the formula of the books title but the thought was there. I had some really good reads in April (I will do a month review when have a spare moment) but the last couple of weeks, bar The White Tiger, nothing has completely blown me away. The longer books have taken a lot longer to read than I anticipated, partly because they were quite heavy (says the man who is trying Midnight’s Children this weekend) and I needed some gentle relaxing escapism. You can never go wrong with Alexander McCall Smith for just that, actually I didn’t love the 44 Scotland Street first book; maybe I need to dip into those again at some point?

The Cupboard Full of Life is the 5th in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series which I would imagine everyone is aware of even if they have never read one. We find the delightful Precious Ramotswe, the owner of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, contemplating when exactly it is that she is going to get married. Her fiancé (of the longest engagement) J.L.B Matekoni has his own problems; he has somehow been pushed into doing a parachute jump to raise money for the local orphanage. So where I hear you cry is the detecting.

Well in all honesty I was wondering that in this book as well. I personally am only too happy to just sit and read Precious Ramotswe talk to her friends and observe life, but I do like it when she goes investigating and in this book there is only one case; a case of a woman who has many suitors. Mma Holonga is an owner of a very successful chain of hairdressing salons and has suddenly realised she is in her forties with no husband, Before she knows it she has four and cannot work out which of them has the genuine motives, will Precious Ramotswe be able to help? (Naturally I am not going to tell you or you won’t read the book.)

Having read the series in order (as you all know I do) I have to say though I loved it and truly escaped something seemed to be missing and I don’t just mean the crimes. My very favourite character Mma Makutsi doesn’t even appear until about seventy pages in and the two foster children were hardly in it at all and yet there seemed to be too many characters and mini plots going on which though made it very easy to read (and it was) made it slightly less addictive than its predecessors. I would give it 3.5/5 though I certainly haven’t been put off reading the next in the series.

I do actually have it on good authority that the next book In The Company Of Cheerful Ladies is a cracker as bizarrely out of all the books I have had out of my bag over the last few weeks this is the one that the most people have started talking to me about, which only goes to show just how popular they are. How have you all found the series if you have had a go at it? Don’t give anything away though please – no plot spoilers!

What have you made of the television series? I have to say I wouldn’t have cast Jill Scott as Precious as she is too young compared to the Precious in my head but I think Anika Noni Rose is wonderful and spot on perfect as Mme Makutsi and very oddly almost exactly as I had imagined she would be (even funnier in fact). The show itself did nothing for me at first, and then it completely won me over, before loosing me again with a rather limp ending. Why can’t books be made into great TV shows or films? I will be watching The Name of the Rose tonight so wonder if, as many people have said, this will be a change to that rule. I’ll report back in due course.

5 Comments

Filed under Alexander McCall Smith, Books To Film, Little Brown Publishing, Review

Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris

I knew absolutely nothing about David Sedaris until I was sent some of his books from the lovely people at Little Brown. Actually that’s not technically true. I knew that he was meant to be very funny and that he became well known through the radio and gained a regular slot which he read some of his diary excerpts on which then landed him a book deal. So ok I knew a fair bit, I also knew that I had seen, and this is no word of a lie, six different people reading this on the tube in the last week. I told you I would be doing some research on what people are reading on public transport and the results will be coming soon. What seemed promising too was that two of the six people were chuckling to themselves.

Me Talk Pretty One Day is actually the fourth collections of essays, diaries and thoughts of David Sedaris. (I know I normally read everything in order but after seeing this so many times I gave in.) This particular collection is actually a collection of two halves. The first looking back on David’s childhood and education (the later seems to be a theme in the book) and in particular the relationships he had with his parents. The part about his non stop swearing brother actually had me laughing out loud on the tube so that’s a good sign. The second half of the book focuses more on his time living in France with his partner, a place he feared and then came to love even if he didn’t love the language.

Throughout the book I kept thinking of the books by Augusten Burroughs, though Burroughs had a far harder and more bizarre childhood they have both fought addictions and ended up living quite unusual lives, I did feel that with Burroughs you laugh a lot more if not always for the right reasons. The humour in Me Talk Pretty One Day is definitely there but some of the essays did leave me a little cold whilst others had me crying with laugher so it was a little hit and miss.

Overall though it’s a great collection of funny tales, there has been some dispute over how all of these things can be true and have possibly happened in some ones life especially enough to fill over five books with. I don’t agree with that I think that people do have strange things happen in their lives and you certainly meet interesting characters day to day. I’d recommend this as a read a long side something really heavy (like Anna Karenina or such like) so you can read an essay or two have a giggle with a nice cup of tea in between something else. I enjoyed it though quite a lot even if having just read this back I sound like it wasn’t my favourite and I am definitely looking forward to reading some more of his work.

Oh and though its Friday the 13th… Happy Red Nose Day, I was going to do a sponsored no reading day but that was simply impossible so have simply given a tenner to charity today instead. Are any of you doing anything special?

3 Comments

Filed under David Sedaris, Little Brown Publishing, Review

The Kalahari Typing School For Men – Alexander McCall Smith

How can anyone not love an Alexander McCall Smith, actually I think I will change that, I haven’t been bitten by the bug of the 44 Scotland Street series after reading the first, haven’t tried the Sausage Dogs ones or whatever the series is yet, but I do want to read the second Isabel Dalhousie. Sorry I digress… How can anyone one not love a No.1 Ladies Detective Agency novel? In fact how can anyone not love the entire series?

I have just finished of the fourth and after the third being good but not as much as the last two I can safely say that he is back on form with this one (I am sure he will be so bothered by me saying that) especially as we see more of my favourite character Mme Makutsi, I know she isn’t the one the book is about and I do love Precious Ramotswe, there is just something about Mme Makutsi that I find really endearing, in this one she gets a love interest, I am getting ahead of myself.

A new detective agency ‘The Satisfaction Guarantee Detective Agency’ has opened in town and neither of the above ladies are happy, so much so that precious decided that maybe the new detective agency needs some detecting about, what results will she find and will they take all her business. Mme Makutsi worried her career may be over starts a Typing School for Men; where indeed she meets a man of her own a man almost too good to be true.

This is more of a stand alone book than its predecessors bar of course the first in the series and also slightly less ‘crime’ based than the others have been. The previous stories are summed up in the first paragraph and you could actually read this with having read the others altogether. McCall Smith is however building on the characters and if you haven’t read any of these and are like me you’ll want to read them in order anyway. Africa itself does take a slight backseat in this novel I noted. It didn’t seem as wild as before, not that it should always be the main feature it’s a nice part of the series individuality from other detective novels. Cannot wait to read ‘The Full Cupboard of Life’ though I shall try as I really don’t want to get to the end of this series… or catch up too soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alexander McCall Smith, Little Brown Publishing, Review

The Oxford Murders – Guillermo Martinez

I had been bought this novel ages ago (though I can’t remember who by) and the reason that I had been put off from reading it was the fact that it was a mystery based on mathematics. I saw that the movie was coming out and that also New Books were going to do a feature on it in the next issue so I thought ‘I’ll be the masses that will read this’ as it turns out I don’t think I need have worried.

Guillermo Martinez’s debut (in the UK) novel is a tale of a Argentinean student who arrives in Oxford, within weeks of his arrival his landlady is murdered, the other person to arrive at the scene and find the body is Arthur Seldom a leading mathematician. From then on they witness more murders and Arthur receives notes in the form of mathematical symbols leading them both to the killer.

This book starts off well and is really intriguing but the dialogue is boring, the setting is slightly dull as really you don’t see Oxford at all and that could be a brilliant part of the book, and after the Da Vinci Code (which it seemed to be trying to emulate) the whole mystery fell a little flat. There was also a love interest that I never believed and in fact couldnt take to the girl at all, she was pompous and just not right. I don’t blame this totally on the author as for a start it was his debut and I think you have to be a little leniant on them, secondly it was entertaining for the first half though trying so hard to be clever I ended up so let down by the ‘thrilling ending’ that fell flat with me. I also think the translator didn’t do a great job, it seemed like they had settled for the blandest words. So overall, not my favourite book, and from the reviews of others on Amazon, and also no one has reviewed his latest book, i get the feeliong other people have felt let down by it. I don’t think I will be giving that a go either. Stick with the movie which looks much better, though actually fro the trailer I am shocked its inspired by this book, who is the cloaked figure as he isnt in the novel?

This isnt a dire book, its just not what I was hoping for. A disappointment sadly. For me it was the end that really let it down, I realised I have recommended this one to people and after some thought am not sure why.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books To Film, Guillermo Martinez, Little Brown Publishing, Review