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  1. This is music journalist David Hepworth's paean to what he considers is the greatest year of rock. He is hugely knowledgeable about the music of his youth (he was 21) but even if nostalgia has influenced his belief that 1971 produced more records that have really stood the test of time than any other year it's hard to dispute that there was some great music. His monthly playlists had me constantly firing up Spotify and my library has increased considerably. It's a very enjoyable read, full of interesting little facts and written with a refreshingly dry cynicism but he's never spiteful. It's probably of most interest to those who are familiar with at least some of the tracks either through being there at the time or discovering Pink Floyd, the Who, Carole King, Sly and the Family Stone, Roxy Music etc much later on.
  2. It's 1972 and in a small town in Ontario 7 year old Clara stands by the living room window watching and waiting for her runaway sister Rose to come back. Her next door neighbour Elizabeth is in hospital thinking back to when she was a young married woman and Liam, newly separated moves into Elizabeth's house, given to him by someone he can barely remember. The three stories interweave with perfect plotting, exquisite writing and great insight into the various characters. Mary Lawson is a quiet writer of such deceptive simplicity that it could lead some people to think dismissively that she's a mid-list easy read for those who think themselves above airport novels. I would disagree, I loved this book, there wasn't a duff sentence in it, and will certainly read it again, I enjoyed it so much I read it too quickly. Highly recommended.
  3. For those who don't know her Jo Spain is an Irish writer who written a series about Inspector Tom Reynolds in the Dublin murder squad (well worth reading) and several stand alone thrillers of variable quality. This one is one of her best. I won't go further than the strap line "He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder." for fear of spoilers. This is a tricksy story with several different timelines that goes all over the place so sometimes it's hard to know what's going on (I did work out a couple of key points though). Even though afterwards it's possible to pick out two or three distinct implausibilities it's a true page turner, I read it in under 48 hours, and if you want a book to keep you completely absorbed try this one.
  4. The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain (a special on Kobo/Kindle this month). It's got one of the most dramatic beginnings of a book I've ever come across.
  5. Frankly I don't rate Elmore Leonard that highly as a stylist so while his writing rules are often pertinent they aren't always applicable, anyway rules are made to be broken. For instance in my writing group we occasionally do exercises with writing scenes where no adverbs or adjectives are used and it becomes easy to see when adjectives or adverbs will add something to the scene. However I do agree that in general speech tags should be confined to "said" as the eye slides over "said" and it isn't intrusive. Sometimes you do need another one through, 'He's got a gun,' she said is different to 'He's got a gun!' she screamed. (And that's one of the few times using an exclamation mark or screamer is OK.) The tag I really, really loathe is "opine". ;/shouted
  6. Like Munich, Robert Harris has taken real life events, added a dollop of fictional characters, put them into a tight time frame and crafted them all into a thriller. This time it's about the efforts to destroy the launching pads for the V2 rockets which were deadly, disastrous for morale and impossible to shoot down in the air, unlike the V1s. Funnily enough though there are books and programmes made about the V1s or doodlebugs and the raids on Pennemunde to bomb the launch pads there isn't much about V2s. I found it absolutely fascinating and read it straight through, it doesn't have a strictly linear plot line which might annoy some people and follows the fictional Dr Rudi Graf near the Hague, chief engineer at the launch site and friend of von Braun who actually developed the V2, from the early 1930s and the beginning of the rocket's developement and Kay Caton-Walsh, a WAAF officer, one of a team of female mathematicians who are trying to plot where the rockets are being launched from so the RAF can launch a raid. The two don't meet though their stories intertwine. Robert Harris wrote this in 14 weeks during lockdown and I feel that the speed of his writing shows in places, this book lacks the richness of detail and character that made Conclave, Munich and especially An Officer and A Spy such exceptional reads but even so it's still very good indeed.
  7. It's 1921, Perveen Mistry is Bombay's only female lawyer. Although she isn't officially allowed to practice she assists her father, and works on cases where a woman is needed, such as this one involving the inheritance of three Muslim widows who keep purdah. This book really works on several levels, it's a good mystery, it has an engaging heroine, it paints an evocative picture of Bombay at the time and it gently but persistently shines a light on how difficult life could be for women in those days. And as Perveen comes from a Zoroastrian family there's lots of fascinating information about that too. It's a light breezy read, great fun and I thoroughly recommend it.
  8. just bought: V2 - Robert Harris, The Mermaid of Black Conch - Monique Roffey The City We Became - N K Jemison The Devil and the Dark Water - Stuart Turton Ask Again, Yes - Mary Beth Keane
  9. Just finished listening to Erebus Tay and you're right, it's excellent!
  10. In The Name of the Family is the second of Sarah Dunant’s duology about the Borgias, and Lucrezia in particular. The Pope and Cesare are tightening their grip on central Italy in their drive to gain ever more power for the papal states while Lucrezia is about to be married into the highly aristocratic d’Este family Dukes of Ferrara, who would never have a deigned to ally themselves with the bastard child of an upstart pope if it wasn’t for the size of her dowry. One of the best parts, out of many good things, about this book is the charecterisation, no-one is two dimensional, they are absolutely of their time (no obviously modern thinking) and while she doesn’t shy away from the utter ruthlessness of many of those she’s writing about they’re also absolutely human. This is historical fiction as it should be, you’ll finish it feeling as if you’ve just been to renaissance Italy. Highly recommended but do read Blood and Beauty its predecessor first.
  11. I'll admit to not having finished this yet. I raced through the previous two but this is so wordy that I just don't have the urge to pick it up. Also I know what happened to Cromwell and having lived with him through the other two books I'm rather reluctant to go there.
  12. I can't watch/read anything which has people being buried alive. Sends me into shuddering meltdown. Also I'm deeply suspicious of any so-called psychological thriller that has the female lead (it's always a she) who has a dog or a cat. It always comes to a sticky end and as well as being a lazy plotting cliche I cannot stand cruelty to animals.
  13. I'm confused here, did Kate Summerscale get to see the diaries? it sounds very interesting.
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