Beseiged: Life Under Fire on a Sarajevo Street
by Barbara Demick
"Logavina Street was a quiet residential road in a city known for its ethnic tolerance and cosmopolitan charm. The book describes life for the residents of this street in Sarajevo during the siege of 1992-96. Often without heat, water, food or electricity, they evaded daily sniper fire and witnessed horrific deaths."This is one of Mr A's books that he suggested I might read. According to this account, Sarajevo sounds just like any prosperous European city before war broke out, and the book provoked both Mr A and me to consider how we would cope if the same thing happened to us. Would we find shelter, food, water and ways to stay warm, would we run away, would we survive? There is no way of knowing, and I can only hope that we never find out.
The Lucky One
by Nicholas Sparks
"While in Iraq, U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photo, half-buried in the dirt, of a woman. He carries it in his pocket, and from then on his luck begins to change. Back home, Logan is haunted by thoughts of war. Over time, he becomes convinced that the woman in the photo holds the key to his destiny."The first of my 12 Books of Christmas prize from Judging Covers, and I think I did well to choose this one to start with. It's well written, kept me interested, not too long or too short, and although it is a 'boy-meets-girl' kind of story, it can't be described as 'chick lit' - a genre I really don't get on with. The only criticisms are that 50% of the story happened in the last two chapters, when the careful characterisation and steady narration in the majority of the book was substituted by unnecessary cinematic excitement. It was a good book, but would have been much better with a more considered finale.
Sleeping on a Cloud
by Joff Gainey
"Jake and Lucy are teenage twins, thrown into a world of mystery when they discover their seemingly unique gift. They can read each others thoughts. However this is not only confined to the two of them, for when they meet Lorna and William - Silver Liners - their journey begins to unfold."This is the second of my 12 Books of Christmas, apparently self-published, and it is awful. The writing simply highlights how much I take for granted in published books: spelling, punctuation, grammar, realistic dialogue and believable characters. It is the first of a trilogy and ends with a cliff-hanger, and to give credit where it is due, the story so far is actually the best thing about it. I shall not be reading the sequels, however - this one was enough. I left it in the house we stayed in over New Year.
A Night Like This
by Julia Quinn
"Anne Wynter's job as governess to three highborn young ladies can be a challenge - in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead."The third of my 12 Books of Christmas, and I really enjoyed this one. It was silly, frothy, romantic and had a very unnecessary explicit sex scene, but apart from that last point it was just fun to read. I suppose it helps that I like Georgette Heyer's Regency romps (to whom the author is compared in the cover blurb), but it restored my faith somewhat that there are 21st century authors who can write something that I will enjoy reading. She's written some others, and a few are available through Audible, so I may be reading more at some point.
by Charlie Higson
"As the sun blazes over the Caribbean island of Lagrimas Negras, its bloodthirsty ruler is watching and waiting. On the mainland, ex-flying ace Jack Stone leaves his son and daughter in the company of James Bond. But a gang of thieves lie in ambush – they want Stone's precious safe, and will kill for its contents."I picked this out of the bookshelf at the house where we stayed for our New Year holiday - I'd only taken two books of my own to read on holiday, which was wholly inadequate. I would have borrowed one of Mr A's books, but he tends to read in parallel rather than serially, which meant he was still reading all of the books he'd brought. When I picked this one out, I'd forgotten that Charlie Higson writes the Young James Bond stories for teenagers - it was definitely aimed at children, but not a bad read for an adult either.
Handbook of Diabetes
by Gareth Williams and John C. Pickup
"This book has become the essential manual for all healthcare professionals involved in the treatment of patients with diabetes. It contains a wealth of clinical wisdom against a backdrop of clinical science that will be of help to every member of the diabetes care team."This was loaned to me by the hospital diabetes Dietitian at the end of August, and has taken until now to finish - an inordinate amount of time. It is somewhat out of date, and contains a level of detail that makes it too general for an in-depth textbook but not readable enough for a generalist audience. Obviously there was interesting information that I wasn't aware of, but I won't be buying this one for myself.
The White Monkey
by John Galsworthy
"Fleur's marriage is haunted by the ghost of a past love affair, and however vibrant she appears, those closest to her sense her unhappiness. Michael, devoted to Fleur but not blind to her faults, is determined to stand by her through anything. He also finds himself caught up in the tragic and poignant story of a young couple struggling for survival in an age of unemployment and extreme poverty."This is book one of part two of the Forsyte saga trilogy, or the fourth book of whatever a set of nine books is called. They've all been wonderful to read, despite their origins in the late 19th and early 20th century, or perhaps because of it. One imagines those days to be very different from our times, but I am sometimes surprised by the modernity of expressions and sentiments as well as everyday life. Clearly there are differences, and the gulf between rich and poor, the titled gentry and the common folk is significant, and I imagine being poor today in Britain is a great deal better than it was then. Those without any safety net (e.g. asylum seekers?) would probably recognise some of the situations described - I know very little about such lives, but the little I hear on documentaries makes me think so.