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Wow I’m getting awful at keeping up with this….

Books from 24th July to 12th September

Book 117 – Halfway To Hollywood – Michael Palin - this is the second volume of his diaries, from 1980 – 88. I really like the way he writes, he has a nice easy way of writing even about financial stuff so it makes it interesting. I want to read more of his diaries but I suppose everything after this is documented in his books about his travels!

Book 118 – The Common Lawyer by Mark Gimenez - this was quite awful. I have no idea how the guy got to be a lawyer in the first place as he was so lazy and stupid, and the book was sexist and had a bit of a stupid story.

(Book 119 – Chalet School books – see below!)

Book 120 – No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugerman - this is about Jim Morrison and the Doors, and I wasn’t too keen on it – it did make Jim Morrison sound like the most horrible person ever, and maybe he was, but it contrasted with Riders on the Storm, written by John Densmore, who was actually in the band, so I wasn’t sure what version is actually true. I’ve got another book about Jim Morrison to read as well though, so when I’ve read that maybe I’ll have a better picture of him.

Book 121 – Last Post by Max Arthur - this was a quite moving book written by the same author as the “Forgotten Voices of…” series. In this book he spoke to WW1 veterans, all in their early 100’s, and asked them about their experiences during the First World War, and how this had affected their lives since then. What was quite sad is that when the book was first published, in 2004 I think it was, all the men he interviewed were still alive, but now they are all gone, its so sad.

Book 122 – The Business by Martina Cole - a typical Martina Cole book, it’s a bit “gangster”-y rather than about the families which is what I prefer, but it was still quite good.

Book 123 – The Book of General Ignorance (QI) - this was great, I didn’t know that I knew so many wrong things…haha. A very informative book – and Quite Interesting as well, of course!

Book 124 – Red Dragon by Thomas Harris - this is another in his Hannibal Lecter series, which was an ok crime novel, but not as good as it could be, I like the character of Hannibal Lecter but he wasn’t in it much.

Book 125 – Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterton - This book was strange…it was historical, but kind of fantasy as well! I wasn’t quite sure what was going on some of the time, but it was quite an entertaining read.

(Book 126 – Chalet School books – see below!)

Book 127 – The Killing Place by Tess Gerristen - this was one of her better books that I’ve read recently. Kind of cult-y and they get stuck in the snow, with someone who they think is a killer..fun! haha. But it was a good read.

Book 128 – Hard Girls – Martina Cole - This was better than “The Business” as it was more about the women and children in the gangster lifestyle, and involved Kate Burrows, who I like as a character. I’ve just been on Amazon to check that surname, and found that most people have only given it 1 star! Which I’m surprised about, as I enjoyed it.

Book 129 – Spoilt by Terry Denby - this is an autobiography about a child’s life in care. I don’t usually like to read those “horrible childhood” type books, but it was only 10p from the library so I thought I’d give it a go. It was quite interesting about the care system in the 1950s, and good to see that he’d got over his awful childhood and been successful himself.

Book 130 – When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro - this was a strange book. About a boy living in Shanghai whose parents got kidnapped, so he was sent to England, and then many years later he went back to Shanghai to try and find them…which was weird. He seemed to be a kind of “Sherlock holmes” type character, but this part wasn’t as developed as I would have liked. He seemed to be thinking he would find everything just the same when he went back to Shanghai and would find his parents relatively easily…but when he got there they were in the middle of a war, and it just got weird! I wasn’t sure if the ending was supposed to be a fantasy of his or not.

Book 131 – Reckless by Andrew Cross - a financial thriller about the collapse of some banks in America. It was fiction, but I think it was kind of intertwined with real events. It was quite good.

(Book 132 – Chalet School books – see below!)

Book 133 – The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell - I think I might have read this before. This is an early one of her books but I think I’ve gone off her characters a bit as it wasn’t as good as, for example, the Tess Gerristen book I read earlier. Just a normal crime thriller.

Book 134 – The Firemaster’s Mistress by Christie Dickason - this was better than I expected. Set in 1605, with the main character having to get the gunpowder for the gunpowder plot, and all the treachery and traitors that includes. The cover is almost exactly like Phillipa Gregory’s books, so I thought it might be a bit like a weaker version of her books, but I think it was just as good. Also I didn’t know much about the period so even though it was fiction it was really interesting from that respect.

Book 135 – American Boy by Andrew Taylor - this was good, a nice little mystery set in the 1800s, and including the character of the young Edgar Allan Poe. This again was one which mixed fiction and fact, so was quite good.

Book 136 to 139– Chalet School books – see below!)

Book 140 - Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel - I really enjoyed this book, despite not hearing good things about it. Its about a psychic and her assistant, the psychic is plagued by the dead spirits of people from her past, and her assistant is trying to sort her own life out, while helping the psychic to successfully run her business and not fall apart financially. Lots of the reviews have said that it’s really depressing, but I don’t agree with that, although the characters have quite a negative attitude about their lives. The way the psychic talked about her childhood, through the spirits, worked well. I’m looking forward to reading Wolf Hall now.

Book 141 – The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks - this was for my bookclub. Basically its about a family who own a successful game which an American company wants to buy from them, and its about the family coming together for a meeting to discuss this, and about their past relationships with each other. I think its good, although not quite to the “shock” level of some of his other books – apart from a bit really near the end which was a bit unnecessary really, it had got that far without anything controversial so I don’t think it was really needed.

Chalet School Books I have purchased and read recently!

I’ve been buying loads of Chalet School books recently, I’ve decided I have to finish the series, so have been buying them from ebay. I think I’ve got nearly all the ones which are quite easy to find and now just need the ones which are really expensive..gah! Then I will maybe move on to the books which other authors have written to fill in the series! Although I have just read the reviews / description of a book called “The Chalet Girls Grow Up”, which is supposed to be a few years after the last book in the series and contains a few of the main characters (Joey and her family, Mary-Lou and a few others) – and it sounds totally horrendous. Apparently the characters are nothing like they are in the rest of the series, and they all go off into drugs, domestically violent relationships, affairs, rape etc. It just doesn’t sound necessary to write a book like that for the Chalet School. Its not a realistic series – especially not in this “day and age”, but it’s a nice series where everyone is more or less nice and I like to read books like that sometimes rather than something really realistic!!

When I read them I’m counting two books as one book as they’re only short so I can read them really quickly. All the ones which I’ve read recently have been up to the great standards of the others – although Highland Twins got a bit weird, with one of the twins being able to “see” through some kind of “second sight” that Joey’s husband Jack wasn’t actually dead, which was a bit of a silly plot point, but it was ok in the end. So, recently I’ve read:

  • The Genius at the Chalet School / The Chalet School Fete (originally one book, split into two for the paperback)
  • Ruey Richardson at the Chalet School
  • Carola Storms the Chalet School
  • Elinor M Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School (a factual book about EBD, her life and her inspiration for the books, plus facts and questions about the books)
  • The Coming of Age of the Chalet School
  • The Feud at the Chalet School
  • The United Chalet School
  • The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
  • Lavender Leigh at the Chalet School
  • Gay Lambert of the Chalet School
  • The Chalet School and Richenda
  • A Leader at the Chalet School

    Out of these my favourite is probably Gay Lambert of the Chalet School – as it involves this really horrible headmistress who comes in when the senior staff of the school have had an accident and tries to change everything around – and obviously Gay Lambert comes into conflict with this!

    I’ve also read quite a bit on the internet about the Chalet School recently – I didn’t know there was quite so much interest in it still! – and I now know why I like Joey Bettany / Maynard so much – she’s actually really similar in character and interests to Jo March from Little Women, and she’s my other favourite character from a book!

    Ah I love reading children’s books – they’re so carefree and nice! I think once I’ve got all the Chalet School books I’m going to have to finish off the Little House on the Prairie series, I think I’ve only got 3 books to get to complete that one!

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