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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mozart's Last Aria by Matt Rees

Book 53. Mozart's Last Aria was a dismal historical fiction mystery on a par with the last book I finished (another historical mystery, A Christmas Grace by Anne Perry) for awfulness. Some authors think just because they have studied a period of history in depth it entitles them to write a fiction book about it.

It doesn't matter what period a book is set in, if the characters are wooden and the plot feeble and hackneyed it's still a poor book even if you have the story stooped with historical facts. In Mozart's Last Aria every character apart from Mozart's sister, the narrator, I found indistinguishable, and gave up keeping track of who they all were. Mozart's sister, in a Miss Marple denouement, gets to the bottom of her brother's death after 300 pages of turgid prose. I've already forgotten which of the random cast did it! Mozart's Last Aria gets 2 out of 10.

Next up I continue with Large Print but I move into a bookshelf made up of non-fiction books, which I have to say I generally prefer, certainly over "light" fiction anyway. I have picked a biography, a section of the library I just passed though and generally enjoyed.

Strictly off the Record is about Norris McWhirter who I remember from the childhood show Record Breakers. His brother was killed by the IRA if I recall rightly.

I've not enjoyed the last few books so I feel I am due a good one. I still need to find books from bookcases 48 and 51 than I can manage to complete, I'll go back to those as soon as I can!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Christmas Grace by Anne Perry

A Christmas Grace by Anne Perry was about as bad as it gets in a book, but I did finish it. It was a mediocre "mystery" set in the Nineteenth Century in Ireland.

Anne Perry used the age-old technique of sending a character to write an account in a community which has a dark secret and which everyone but her knows. Everyone evades telling questions and looks dodgy whenever they are asked anything about the past. Inevitably one day the narrator finds it all out and eventually gets to the bottom of it รก la Miss Marple.

It's not a patch on Agatha Christie though and amazingly Anne Perry looks to have written loads of books like this. There is obviously a market for such mysteries, even if they demand so little of the reader. Inevitably A Christmas Grace gets 1 out of 10. I don't think it even had a single good page!

Next up is another large print fiction book. This one is another historical novel set around Mozart's death. I love Mozart and have read a few books about him and his music over the years.

 I've even watched Amadeus back in the era when I watched the occasional film (I watch none at all these days and haven't seen one for years). I think I quite liked it I hope this is good too I am due a good book after the recent fare.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Another Rejection

After the Fall went the way of its predecessor on bookcase 51, Love You More. I did love it more as I did last about 40 pages (compared to two) but in the end I just found the style and content too irritating. It's a book that is aimed primarily at a female audience and I just couldn't face reading the whole book.

So bookcase 51 has gone the way of bookcase 49 - there are no books on either I want to read (they are both small bookcases with around 3 books on). I'm sure in the next year something will turn up on these bookcases and I will keep looking every time I go to the library.

In the meantime it's on to bookcase 52 which marks the start of a new section, Large Print. This particular bookcase seems to have a fairly unchallenging set of "light" reading so it was a bit of a challenge for me to find anything at all which I wanted to read.

In the end I picked A Christmas Grace by Anne Perry which looks to be some sort of historical mystery. I hope I manage to finish it!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Love You More Less Than Perfect

Love You More was terrible, I ditched it after less than two pages. I am afraid any book where a body is washed up on page 1 and some American agent starts investigating is simply not worth reading in my view (been done a million times), so I have selected another book - After the Fall - from bookcase 51 to try out.

In truth After the Fall doesn't look much better though as it says it will appeal to fans of Joanna Trollope and Jodi Picoult. I have tried books by both of those authors in the past and they've all quite quickly ended up on the reject pile (I am afraid I am rather fussy when it comes to fiction). One of the great things about libraries though is that you can give authors a go who you might otherwise not consider. I am forced to with my constraint to read one book from every bookcase which was partly the idea of doing so in the first place.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Book 50, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a historical novel which is basically a love story of two twelve year olds who were separated by the war and ended up spending their whole adult lives apart.

We read so many books set in the familiar WW2 Europe of Germany/England/occupied France, this one is different (at least to this British reader) because it is set in Seattle on the Pacific West Coast of America. The two children who fall in love are of Chinese and Japanese origin, which is what separated them, because the Americans effectively imprisoned Japanese civilians during the war (at least that's what happened in the book).

So it's set in a fairly unfamiliar setting for me. The story itself is  bit drawn out. It reminds me a bit of The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, which is a story of a man looking back on an unrequited love earlier in his life. In Remains of the Day Stevens was held back by his own social inhibitions; in Hotel on the Corner it's more the cultural gap that divides the two lovers, and which they both come to accept.

I wouldn't say I greatly enjoyed this book. Very little happens really and I found it difficult to believe that someone aged 12 could fall so in love that he carried it with him for the rest of his life. The whole jazz scene in Seattle held no great interest for me and I award in 5 out of 10. I would says it's a better book than that mark though, I just didn't enjoy it, but it is a good story if you are into this type of book.

The next book will be the 50th book of the project, although it's the 51st bookcase, because I am yet to find anything worth reading on bookcase 48.

Love You More doesn't look great I have to say, but it's a very small case with only a few books, so there's no much choice. It looks another American spree killer-type book, which I have to admit I heartily loathe as a rule, but I will give it a go!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Lady of the Shades by Darren Shan

Book 49 Lady of the Shades is a deceptive book which constantly switches and evolves from one theme to another. It starts fairly innocuously with the story of a journeyman horror writer who embarks on an affair with the wife of a gangster, the eponymous Lady.

It's a fairly humdrum story for the first 50 pages or so then suddenly comes to live. It then switches between ghost story and thriller with a vast number of twists and turns. I don't normally guess the plot line at the heart of the mystery but for once I did, but even so it's a captivating story which shifts and turns in many different directions.

Regular readers of this blog will know I hate hackneyed storylines and this certainly isn't, so I applaud it as  a work which strives for originality. I award Lady of the Shades a respectable 7 out of 10.

My third attempt at a fiction book since my sojourn to non-fiction will be the 50th bookcase I have read a book from (although I am aware that bookcase 48 has yet to yield anything worth reading).

The 50th bookcase (and the 49th book) will be Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford. Apparently this is an international bestseller, although I have neither heard of it not the writer. All I know is it's a historical novel with some very complimentary quotes on the front cover. Let's see what it's like!