Saturday, 2 January 2010

Last books of 2009

Well, here it is the 2nd. January 2010 and I'm still three books behind for 2009. So it's catch-up time today and I'll do those three quickly and then I'm all up to date for the start of 2010.

First up is a charming little book that I gave to my grandaughter last Christmas - The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo.
Edward Tulane is a china rabbit that is owned by a small girl living in New York city. He is basically rather arrogant and vain and doesn't really return the love his owner feels for him. On a trip across the Atlantic by ship, Edward is thrown overboard and thus begin his adventures in the wide world, and his introduction to proper feelings and emotions.

Lovely little book this - I think I first read about it on Deslily's blog - full of gorgeous illustrations and a beautifully told story. It's a short read for an adult but none the worse for that. My grandaughter loved it but said it was not her favourite book in all the world. When I asked what *that* was she thought for a while and said that she absolutely loves the Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage. So there ya go... book recs from a nine year old. :-)

Next up A Christmas Guest by Anne Perry. It's several weeks since I read this. I intended it to be my Christmas week read but someone else reserved it from the library (the cheek of it!) and I had to read it mid-December instead.
I'm going to use the Amazon synopsis to describe this one:

Mariah Ellison isn’t merely disappointed to learn that she won’t spend Christmas at home with her married granddaughter: she is furious. Instead, Grandmama is being packed off to a house in the Romney Marshes to stay with her ex-daughter-in-law. Never having got on with Caroline, Mariah much disapproves of her new husband: decades younger than her, Joshua, an actor, is scarcely even respectable. There will be nothing to do, no one to visit, and no doubt the terrible weather will make even taking a walk impossible. It is going to be the worst Christmas of Grandmama’s life.
As if that weren’t enough, another visitor is foisted on the household. Then something shocking and quite unexpected happens. Has a crime been committed? Grandmama is surprised to find herself turning detective – another profession she deplores – and proving extremely good at it.

This is the second of Anne Perry's Victorian Christmas books that I've read. I like them a lot! They're well written, accurate in setting, and rather atmospheric. Most of all I liked this one because the detective was not young and good looking but a woman in her seventies who was awkward and unpleasant and had a few secrets of her own in her past. This is rare in my experience and all power to Anne Perry's elbow for doing it. I shall be searching out more of these and this year I really must start on one of her series. Any special recs anyone?

Last but not least is The Land of Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer, book two of her 'Sea of Trolls' trilogy.
Quite a few months have passed since trainee bard, Jack, and and his sister Lucy's adventures in Norway with the trolls. Life has settled back into the normal routine but it's clear that Lucy is not 'normal'. Jack and the bard take her to a monastry famous for its cleansing of troubled souls but during the ceremony Jack causes an earthquake and the Lady of the Lake steals Lucy. Jack, Pega, a freed slave, and Brutus, a slave, go off in search of Lucy but their way is down the now empty well and underground through The Hollow Road to find the land of the elves. It's Jack's biggest test so far.

Great stuff... just as good, if not better, than the first book. Nancy Farmer has clearly done her homework as the historical setting for this book - around the time of the Viking invasions of Britain - strike as very realistic. Life is hard and she makes no bones about that. She also makes no bones about people's failings and no one is perfect in these books, including Jack. I like that ambivilence very much indeed. A good, pacey yarn, perfect for children over 12 I would have thought, and adults who like YA fantasy.


DesLily said...

glad you liked the land of silver apples..figured you would though lol you will like the last book too!

aww i loved Edward Tulane.. I think it's my favorite of her books that I've read.

I am reading the Magicians. It's not bad but not making me run to it every free moment either.

Nicola said...

I'd love to read all of these books! Great authors, but I haven't got to these ones.

Anonymous said...

OK, Cath, here I come with recs for Anne Perry. By the way, I've read a couple of her Christmas books but I've kind of skipped around and have not gotten to this one yet. Can't believe it is about Grandmama, a very unpleasant character in many of the books. Is she unpleasant in this one? :-)

I'm a great fan of both the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series and also the Monk series. However, if I had to pick, I would pick Charlotte every time. Be sure and start with the first book, The Cater Street Hangman. I just reread it recently and it held up very well for me.

Have a good weekend!

Nan said...

Thank you for the 'Edward' recommendation. I saw this in the store and wondered about it. I adored Because of Winn Dixie, both the book and the movie.

Anonymous said...

I'll keep a Christmas Guest in mind for next Christmas reading, it sounds fun and I probably would not have picked that one up without a reccomendation.
Really looking forward to reading The Land of the Silver Apples.
Happy new year!

Cath said...

Pat: hopefully my library will have the last book... haven't checked. Edward Tulane was a stunning little book, sad but beautiful. The Magicians? Who's that by?

Nicola: Yep, three good books... it's nice when you get three good ones in a row. I would particularly recommend the Sea of Trolls trilogy to you.

Oh gosh, Kay, is Grandmama in other books too? I didn't realise. Yes, she's crabby in this one too. LOL. Wonderful character.

Annoyingly there isn't a copy of The Cater Street Hangman in the whole of Devon libraries. They have many other titles but not that one. Will get hold of it somehow.

Nan: Edward Tulane is a lovely story - rather sad but also uplifting. I gather the mouse book is good too... trying to remember the title... The Tale of Deveraux... something like that.

Book Pusher: there're about 6 of these Christmas books by Anne Perry and I suspect they're all good... certainly the two I've read have been.

The Land of Silver Apples is a stonking good read, it truly is.

Happy New Year to you too.

DesLily said...

the magicians is by lev grossman. It is making the rounds right now. Being compaired to Harry Potter a lot. Could be because a number of things seem to be taken from HP like going to school to become a magician.. anyway it's no where near as good. I'm on page 136 and it hasn't really captured me yet. I keep thinking there will be some sort of adventure soon so I keep reading...but long chapters slow me down lol I really hope it picks up soon of this will take another week or more to finish lol

Cath said...

Pat: I just looked the book up on Amazon and it sounds interesting. How're you going with it? Is it getting more interesting?

DesLily said...

unfortunately I didn't read a word yesterday... but I'll let you know how it goes.

Vipula said...

I havent been on ur blog for sometime. You have seem to read some nice books over Christmas!

Susan said...

Hi Cath! I have Sea of Trolls to read first, before I pick up Land of Apples, though I love the cover and the review you gave! My TBR pile is already growing! I have to remember Kate DeCamillo (sp!) for my daughter.....

Cath said...

Pat: hope The Magicians has picked up a bit by now?

Hi Vipula: to tell the truth I didn't have a lot of time to read over Christmas. I always hope to and it never happens. LOL.

Susan: I hope you have as much fun with The Sea of Trolls as I did. Look forward to hearing what you think.

Kate DeCamillo will probably be much easier to find on your side of the Atlantic. I don't think our library had any...

Tara said...

I really want to read that Kate DiCamillo book! Why do adults seem more attracted to her books than kids are?? I am reading Tale of Desperaux to my daughter right now, bit by bit. She's never excited to read more of it, but she listens once I get going.

Cath said...

Tara: it's funny but I want to read The Tale of Desperaux! I think these books are delightful but children are perhaps not old enough to fully appreciate the depth of the stories. Parts of Edward Tulane are very sad and as adults with a lot of life experience we see beyond the obvious.