Tag Archives: Little Brown Publishing

New Moon – Stephenie Meyer

Yes, yes, I know I have always been completely scornful of the Twilight Saga but hear me out before you judge me!

I actually initially read Twilight back in 2008 and as you can see from my thoughts at the time I honestly wasn’t sure about it. I ended up feeling a bit ‘blah’ about it truth be told, then LoveFilm sent me the wrong movie once so I watched Twilight and liked the film a lot. Unusual! Then someone leaves a copy of it at my house after staying and so I think ‘oh I will read a page or two’… two hours later I haven’t put the book down and am hooked.

New Moon is the second in the Twilight Saga series and frankly you need to have been on the other side of the moon continually for a year or so to have missed these books. They centre around Bella Swan who has moved in with her Dad to give her mother time to get used to her new marriage (which I have a quibble with as I don’t think a teenager would do that) and starting her new term in Forks meets Edward Cullen whom she falls ‘irrevocably in love with’ but oh no… he’s a vampire. I have possibly just spoilt the plot for those of you who haven’t read Twilight or seen the film; there are more twists in it than that though.

In New Moon an instance over a paper cut in a group of vampires (this sounds like I am taking the mickey and am not because I actually really enjoyed this book) leads Bella almost killed by Edwards’s brother. Deciding he can’t always save Bella and could put her life at risk Edward leaves and leaves Bella lost and heartbroken. Eventually a friendship with Jacob Black finds Bella seen happiness once more, only he has a dark side and secrets too. Add in an old adversary of Bella’s seeking revenge and Edward believing Bella dies going to make a deal with the darkest vampire kind leaving Bella to save him and you have a gripping escapist read filled with twists and turns, none of which I want to give away.

I won’t pretend I didn’t thoroughly enjoy this book as I completely and utterly did. No it’s not the most literary of books but its wonderful vampire fuelled romp that you can’t help but get lost in. It is also much, much better than Twilight. Though in parts it can repeat itself a little its nothing compared to the pages and pages of Bella mourning the fact ‘he is so bad for me… I cannot resist’. The characters seem more defined, there are several plot clues of bigger things to come in the future and though longer the pace and twists are much quicker than in its predecessor.

I am sure I will get some stick, both on here and from friends, at the level I enjoyed this book but sometimes we all need to escape don’t we? It also goes to show that I am no book snob (which isn’t always a bad thing) and I give everything a go. I also think it points out book fate, sometimes the right book crosses your path at just the right time and that seemed to happen here. Will I give the next novel in the series ‘Eclipse’ a go at some point? Quite probably, though maybe not until just before the next film is out in June 2010. If you haven’t read any of this Saga yet my advice would be skip the first book in favour of the film and then read New Moon. I reckon it could convert people, be warned though it is quite addictive.

So what are your thoughts on the Twilight Saga be they good, bad or indifferent? Are there any secret fans out there? Also, have you ever read a series where the sequel is much better than the first book? Has there ever been a book you were determined not to read only when it crossed your path you devoured it in a few sittings?

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Filed under Little Brown Publishing, Review, Stephenie Meyer

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.

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

Postmortem – Patricia Cornwell

My original plan after the last reads was to crack on slightly belatedly with The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway as the final read of the Richard and Judy Challenge. However, when I was just getting to the tube station I stopped and looked in my bag… no book! There is a very well situated Charity Shop just opposite so I dashed in for a 50p find. I wanted something I hadn’t tried before but also something that was different from my recent reads and my eyes fell upon Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell someone I have been meaning to read for ages as she is one of the biggest selling crime writers of the present day. Also with my love for crime fiction and of course the great Tess Gerritsen this looked like it would be right up my street. Plus it is the first in the series, and one of my pacts with myself is only to by a book in a series if it’s in order and have read the last one… or like this it is the first one. There is also the fact that I cant read books if its not in the correct order, I am not saying its wrong to do that, I just like to follow the journey as the author intended even if the books are stand alone novels as well.

Postmortem was Patricia Cornwell’s first published novel and was also the first in what has become the multi-million copy shifting Kay Scarpetta series. In Richmond, Virginia a serial killer seems to be on the loose three women have died and as we join the story Dr Kay Scarpetta has been woken with the news there is now a fourth. Now it’s a race against time and more killings for these crimes to be solved and the killer to be caught. Scarpetta is not the detective in the scenario though she is the Chief Medical Officer and through this we get a lot more of the science of crime scene investigations (which of course with the TV now is an incredibly popular angle though this book came out long before) as well as the detective work to find the killer.

While all this goes on of course we are given an insight into the personal life of Scarpetta which isn’t simple either. She cannot stand the detective (Marino) with whom she has to liaise with on these cases. It appears her peers and bosses aren’t sure that as a woman she is capable of the job. One of her peers has become a very complicated possible lover. On top of that she has her niece staying with her who thinks of Scarpetta as a surrogate mother. That’s a lot of stuff going on. Yet oddly, despite the fact you have all this I didn’t feel like I knew who Scarpetta was. I know she liked to garden and she liked to cook, though I wondered how she had time, and that her family history is Italian. That was about it maybe that will come with the books as I go further along the series which is something I definitely intend on doing.

Have any of you read the series, is it worth going on with at the moment I am thinking it is. I just think that Tess Gerritsen has an edge on Patricia Cornwell in terms of her work being slightly more gripping and page turning however I am further along in that series. Plus Speaking of series are there any crime series I am missing out on, I read the Gerritsen’s, M.C Beaton’s and Susan Hill’s what others would you recommend? I have heard that Mankell’s Wallander series is very good, do let me know.

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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?

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The Dog – Kerstin Ekman

It wasnt my intention to read this so soon, but I did as The Bolter didnt turn up till today and so am now reading that like a demon… plus I wanted to leave the review up of Mr Toppit for a while, well at least until someone commented (violins for sympathy ha). Yesterday though I was just in the mood for a short read and something different and this seemed just right. I was sent The Dog by Kerstin Ekman from the lovely people at NewBooks Magazine to review for their next issue (they have had something different from this one as I couldn’t ramble on as I normally do on here) and I have to admit bar Dovegreyreaders review of the book, which made me interested, I probably wouldn’t have bought such a short novel for £12.99 – well it is the credit crunch. Moving swiftly on can anyone tell me what the difference between a novella and a novel is? This is 144 pages but quite a few are delightful illustrations.

The Dog is about a dog. A young puppy one day follows its mother as she chases their owner mistakenly thinking they are going on a hunt. The mother can barely keep up with the owner let alone the puppy and soon enough he is lost in the wooded lakeside unable to find his mother or owner. From then on he must fight for survival can the natural wild instincts come from a domestic puppy. I won’t say too much to give anything away but for those of you who are worrying and feeling sad I found the outcome incredibly uplifting and positive.

After the opening of the book, which evokes such sadness, the rest of the novel continues to take you on an incredibly emotional journey. You are taken through fear, joy, desperation the whole gambit and I thought that was remarkable. I also loved the way that Ekman really looked at how the instincts of a puppy and dog would work and how scents triggered his brain. I had never thought of ‘the scent of a predator’ and that idea particularly fascinated me and made me really think. The only draw back for me in all honesty

I hadn’t heard of Kerstin Ekman before this novel, but in fact The Dog was actually released in Sweden in 1986 though the book hasn’t aged at all it feels very fresh but then the story could be set at anytime in the past, now or even in the future. She has quite a few novels that are just starting to be published over here and one thing I must say is that she is a wonderful writer. The book is in extremely poetic and I could so imagine the scents and scenery quite vividly. I think it could be slightly shorter but the illustrations along the way are lovely.

This is a 3.5/5 book for me personally. I would recommend it but wait until it comes out in paperback. This is definitely a book for dog lovers though. I think maybe because I am more of a cat person that’s why it didn’t quite work as well for me? Cats verses dogs in the reading world which one wins? I can only think of Gobbolino The Witches Cat as a book solely about a cat. I shall leave you a picture of Charlie and Phoebe in their natural book habitats and you can decide.

Which wins?

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The Brutal Art – Jesse Kellerman

I didn’t realise that the first week of Richard and Judy had come around so fast so this review is a little on the late side as should have put it up on Wednesday, but hadn’t actually read the book yet at that point. I started it late last night and by lunch time today it had been completely and utterly devoured. This book has actually only further confirmed in my mind that this is the strongest year with Richard and Judy’s book choices.

After a rocky childhood and turbulent teenage years and twenties Ethan Muller has slowly but surely become on of the most popular art dealers on the scene. When he gets a call from his fathers right hand man telling him there is a collection of art her really needs to see his instant reaction, after his bitter relations with his father, make him hesitant. When he sees the collection however he realises he could have found the discovery of a lifetime, only when he accepts the works do the police want to talk to him and the mystery of the vanishing artist who created them draws him into a mystery set to change his life forever.

Jesse Kellerman is not an author I had heard of before. The son of authors Faye and John Kellerman he comes from a fine heritage (I haven’t read their works am only going on what others have said) but I think this book will definitely make his name as an author stand out alone. I didn’t think I would be interested in the art world and thought this might be a poor version of a mix of The Da Vinci Code of The Interpretation of Murder. It isn’t it’s a stand out thriller that had me swiftly turning through the pages and I thought I had it all sussed and suddenly a massive twist was thrown in I don’t think anyone could predict coming.

My favourite parts of the book however weren’t set in the present. They were set in the from 1847 until now telling us the secret family history of the Muller’s and helped make the conclusion incredibly clever. Kellerman delivers all this in a direct yet colourful prose whilst making it easy to follow the complicated history that all ties up in the end. I was worried that Ethan’s ‘poor little unloved rich kid character’ might grate on me but I didn’t. His love interests are incredibly clichéd, it was the character of the artist as you got to learn about it I found fascinating.

I have to say I was incredibly pleasantly surprised with this book. I wasn’t expecting to be drawn in on such an adventure. Don’t listen to the comparisons to The Interpretation of Murder (which I enjoyed) as they are quite separate books and I think this one should stand alone as just a great gripping thriller. A must read!

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Filed under Books of 2009, Jesse Kellerman, Little Brown Publishing, Rebecca Miller, Richard and Judy

Twilight – Stephenie Meyer

I don’t know about you, but before I see a film that has come from a book I like to read the book first. I like my mind to create the characters and the fictional towns or areas or the real ones for that matter. So with all the craze building for the first of the Twilight Saga, named Twilight, to become a film and with the sudden cult status that the books have been gaining meant I couldn’t resist but try this out. No its not what a lot of people would call literature and some bloggers wouldnt touch it with a barge pole but a) I am not those bloggers and b) it and its follow ups are completely hogging the best seller charts, so I though why not!?

I came away puzzled. In some ways I think that Stephenie Meyer has written something quite brilliant and clever, and in other ways came away thinking that I had seen this done before on the telly. I haven’t felt so 50/50 over a book and dependent on my mood I cant decide whether I think its was good fun throw away fiction between something heavier or just a bit of teen trash. From some of the blurb alone I knew that this might not be a book for me. “About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.” Maybe not being a teenage girl doesn’t help but I love all things dark and gothic and so thought would give it a whirl.

It starts as Isabella Swan, or Bella, moves from her mothers to her fathers in a small town in the middle of nowhere called Forks. She there meets Edward Cullen a boy full of mystery at her new school who saves her life in the most bizarre of ways. Instantly she thinks she might be falling for him only there is something she isn’t quite ready for… he is a vampire. Reading that back it sounds like a Mills and Boon with fangs for teens and in some ways it is. The movie looks like its full of adventure and if the book was 200 pages less of ‘he told me he was dangerous, I told him I didn’t care, he told me he was dangerous, I told him I didn’t care, he told me he was dangerous, I told him I didn’t care’ you find yourself not caring. The ending picks up speed and sort of save the day.

Indifference and slight intrigue as to the sequel to a book is something I have never experienced at the same time before. Also for the first time I am hoping that the movie is a bit better, and that’s something you have never heard me say about a book and film before. Will I read the sequel? I just simply don’t know, the sequel might make me love it and read on so I might and then again I might not. I have really been left puzzled by this book.

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