Since I was playing hockey at the weekend a couple of my posts have been delayed, including my Sunday round-up of books that found their way into my house this week (nine all told). So here is the belated post! This time the majority of them are books I brought myself (seven) while two were sent to me for review.
Books purchased myself:
An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain by John O'Farrell
Following his hugely popular account of the previous 2000 years, John O'Farrell now comes bang up to date with a hilarious modern history asking 'How the hell did we end up here?'. "An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain" informs, elucidates and laughs at all the bizarre events, ridiculous characters and stupid decisions that have shaped Britain's story since 1945; leaving the Twenty-First Century reader feeling fantastically smug for having the benefit of hindsight.
I read the first of these (review here) and found it diverting enough to pick up the second as my third book in a three-for-two offer. I anticipate picking it up when I am looking for a simple and humorous read that will keep me amused for a few hours.
The Perfect Man by Sheila O'Flanagan
Two very different sisters, Mia (still in love with Alejo, the married father of her daughter) and Britt (the ice maiden author of a romantic bestseller), join a luxury honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean where Britt is the guest lecturer. Also on board are recently widowed Leo, still reeling from the discovery of his wife's betrayal just before her death, and Steve, a ship's officer who's soon looking for more than a holiday romance with Mia. Can Steve replace Alejo and is there any chance that Britt and Leo can see that they really should get together? When the characters head for home - Mia to Spain, the others to Dublin - it seems that all romantic options are off. But love has a way of triumphing in Sheila O'Flanagan's novels, even if it takes till the very last page...
I decided to celebrate the booking of my summer holiday by buying a couple of chick lit books that I will be able to take with me and breeze through while I'm lying by the pool, with a glass of sangria..... *goes off into daydream* I haven't actually read any O'Flanagan so I thought it was high time I gave her a try.
My Single Friend by Jane Costello
At 28, Lucy is doing well for herself. She's got a great job in PR, her boss loves her, and her best girlfriends Dominique and Erin think she's great. More important than anyone's opinion is that of her flatmate, and oldest friend in the world, Henry. For twenty years they've been inseparable: beauty and the geek. Henry thinks the world of Lucy. So why does she feel the need to lie outrageously on dates? From rock-climbing to Chekov: when it comes to prospective boyfriends, Lucy is compelled to embellish her C.V. with unlikely porkies that always backfire - with hilarious results. Henry can't understand it. Lucy is so loveable: why can't she just be herself? But when Lucy turns the spotlight on Henry, he wishes he'd never brought it up. With a penchant for jumpers and NHS-style specs, Lucy decides that Henry is in need of a makeover - big time. Enlisting the help of Dom and Erin, it's not long before the girls have Henry out of the flat, and into the Topman changing rooms. A new haircut, contact lenses, a flirting master-class from Dom ...poor Henry doesn't know what's hit him. But nothing can prepare them for the surprise results! Before long, Lucy realises that their lives will never be the same again.
I wasn't too impressed with The Nearly-Weds by the same author - I was curt and impatient with the tale - but I'll usually give an author one more go to see if they are any better, especially if I tackle their debut novel, which can be a little ropey compared to later books. So this is Costello's second chance - another light, fluffy story to take on holiday!
The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
The nail-biting climax to Kelley Armstrong's bestselling Darkest Powers trilogy Chloe Saunders is fifteen and would love to be normal. Unfortunately, Chloe happens to be a genetically engineered necromancer who can raise the dead without even trying. She and her equally gifted (or should that be 'cursed'?) friends are now running for their lives from the evil corporation that created them. As if that's not enough, Chloe is struggling with her feelings for Simon, a sweet-tempered sorcerer, and his brother Derek, a not so sweet-tempered werewolf. And she has a horrible feeling she's leaning towards the werewolf...Definitely not normal.
I like Kelley Armstrong. I think she is one of the better writers in the urban fantasy field. So far I am yet to read the first two books in the Darkest Powers trilogy, but now all three are out I plan a back to back read and I'm looking forward to it thoroughly.
Shadow Souls by L J Smith
Elena Gilbert is once again at the centre of magic and danger beyond her imagining. And once more, Stefan isn't there to help! Elena is forced to trust her life to Damon, the handsome but deadly vampire who wants Elena, body and soul. They must journey to the slums of the Dark Dimension, a world where vampires and demons roam free, but humans must live as slaves of their supernatural masters. Damon's brother, the brooding vampire Stefan whom Elena loves, is imprisoned here, and Elena can only free him by finding the two hidden halves of the key to his cell. Meanwhile, the tension between Elena and Damon mounts until Elena is faced with a terrible decision: which brother does she really want to be with? The drama, danger and star-crossed love that fills each Vampire Diaries book is in full effect here, with Elena Gilbert once again filled with supernatural powers.
I have read all the Vampire Diaries by L J Smith. I have mixed feelings about the series. Some of it is as good as anything she has ever written. Some of it is truly dire, mixed-up and confused - as though two different authors wrote it, almost. At the end of the fifth book (The Return - review forthcoming) I was all ready to throw in the towel, but then I saw the sixth and couldn't resist trying it, because I can't honestly believe L J Smith has lost all her talent.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
St Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school - hidden away, it's a place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St Vladimir's where the girls must survive a world of forbidden romances, a ruthless social scene and terrifying night time rituals. But most of all, staying alive.
This another of those long-running YA series about vampires that many people seem to be reading and enjoying, so I thought I'd give the first a try. If I don't like it, I won't be buying any more in the series!
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
In "At Home", Bill Bryson applies the same irrepressible curiosity, irresistible wit, stylish prose and masterful storytelling that made "A Short History of Nearly Everything" one of the most lauded books of the last decade, and delivers one of the most entertaining and illuminating books ever written about the history of the way we live. Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote a lot more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business - eating, sleeping and merely endeavouring to get more comfortable. And that most of the key discoveries for humankind can be found in the very fabric of the houses in which we live. This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, wandering from room to room considering how the ordinary things in life came to be. Along the way he did a prodigious amount of research on the history of anything and everything, from architecture to electricity, from food preservation to epidemics, from the spice trade to the Eiffel Tower, from crinolines to toilets; and on the brilliant, creative and often eccentric minds behind them. And he discovered that, although there may seem to be nothing as unremarkable as our domestic lives, there is a huge amount of history, interest and excitement - and even a little danger - lurking in the corners of every home.
Oh, a new Bill Bryson is always an occasion for breaking out the cash for a hardback book! I didn't even know that this book was going to be out so soon - it was a lovely surprise to see it on display last week. I enjoy the irreverent humour and the constant curiosity Bryson shows in all his novels, and I'm hoping this will be no exception.
Books Received For Review
Theodore Boone: Young Lawyer by John Grisham (NB: this is the US cover art)
In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he's only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he's one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk - and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom. But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than he expected. Because he knows so much - maybe too much - he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth. The stakes are high, but Theo won't stop until justice is served.
This one is intriguing. YA appears to be the fashionable genre right now, with all manner of authors turning their hands to it. John Grisham is the latest and I shall be interested to see how his writing changes from his adult fiction to this YA offering.
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Carter and Sadie have nothing in common but their parents: their father Dr. Julius Kane, a brilliant Egyptologist, and their mother, a famed archaeologist who died under mysterious circumstances when they were young. The siblings barely know each other, but one night, their father brings them together at the British Museum, promising a 'research experiment' that will set things right for their family. His plans go horribly wrong. An explosion unleashes an ancient evil - the Egyptian god Set who banishes Dr. Kane to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives. Now orphaned, Carter and Sadie must embark on a dangerous quest - from Cairo to Paris to the American Southwest, to save their father and stop Set from destroying everything they care about...
Rick Riordan is the author of the bestselling Percy Jackson novels (those that have recently been made into a movie) - now he changes his attention from Greek Gods to the Gods of Egypt. I am tempted to read this because it seems so adventurous, but, at the same time, tongue in cheek. I am also a sucker for anything Egypt-related.
So that was the haul for this week. Any of them you think I should get to first? You, the reader, could have a hand in determining my next read!