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A bit off topic, but here are some of our favourite works of fiction. The blue links are for the UK store and the red ones for the USA store (both stores ship internationally). If you would like to be notified when we add more books you can join the monthly mailing list We also find The Book People an invaluable resource for books, often selling sets for the usual price of one - here's their fiction section
'The Lollipop Shoes' by Joanne Harris is the sequel to Chocolat (further down page). Picking up 5 years later with Vianne and her girls, the youngest of whom seems to be autistic. Quite romantic, rather scary - a very good read with a bar of chocolate again. Much darker than the first book so a higher cocoa content may be required ;)
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' by J. K. Rowling - the seventh and final book. We speed read this as a family - it's fantastic. All those questions built up from the other books are answered and it contains many good messages about love, friendship and true selfless bravery.
'Vanishing Acts' by Jodi Picoult. They say if you've read one book by this author you'll want to read them all and this is proving somewhat true for us! These books deal with gritty emotional subjects and moral dilemmas. Love the way the characters take turns telling the story so you get to see all their points of view. This one starts with Delia, a single mother who lives with her father, daughter and fiance. One day the police knock at the door and arrest her father for a kidnapping that took place many years ago - she was the kidnapped child. Very gripping stuff. Weve since moved on to enjoy My Sister's Keeper (UK or US) very much also and are looking forward to squeezing some more in over the remainder of the summer :)
'The Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown. A book so exiting that no matter what you are doing you wish you were back reading it! Mysterious murders, anient wisdom, the holy grail, Knights Templar, Divine Proportion, codes to crack - a great mixture of little known facts and thrilling adventure.
'Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince' by J. K. Rowling - the sixth book in the series does become more grown up - but - what can we say without creating a major spoiler? It's fantastic, will put you through an emotional wringer - we loved the bits where you discover what people are really made of and it's not always what you've expected. Lots of details from the past are filled in...lots of romance...if you haven't read it yet...just do it!! The identity of the prince did come as a big surprise...maybe were just a bit slow!!
'Politically Correct Bedtime Stories' by James Finn Garner. Wonderful and hilarious - this little book of stories made us laugh out loud! Snow White meets seven vertically challenged men, Jack meets a magic vegetarian who warns him about the dangers of meat and dairy products and Red Riding Hood honours her grandmother in her role as wise and nurturing matriarch - watch out for the princes, none of them seem too charming ;)
'the curious incident of the dog in the night-time' by Mark Haddon. An unusual and intense read. Seen through the eyes of a 15 year old boy with Aspergers Syndrome, this novel endows the reader with a greater understanding of the autistic mind than some text books on the subject. Very difficult to put down once started!Buy UK or Buy US
'Black and Blue' by Ian Rankin. Scotland's leading murder mystery writer is once again on fine form. Detective Inspector Rebus ventures out of Edinburgh, coming quite close to our neck of the woods, in search of a serial killer. Very exiting.
'Fairy Tale' by Alice Thomas Ellis. A delicious blending of the mundane and supernatural. The author's slightly wicked wit is evident throughout this creepy but enchanting story of fairies (not the nice type!!), changelings and relationships.
'A Trip to the stars' by Nicholas Christopher. An amazing combination of love, magic, coincidences and mystery. Beautifully written, this novel covers a huge plethora of subjects and it is impossible to do it justice in a short review. It follows the lives of two people who are suddenly and unexpectedly separated from each other - you will be exited to get back to it when not reading!
'Miss Garnet's Angel' by Salley Vickers. Two stories unravel side by side in this gentle but continually surprising novel - the ancient apocryphal tale of Tobias and the Archangel Raphael and Miss Garnet's own journey of self discovery in Venice. A book full of angels in many forms - unusual, moving and forgiving.
'Atonement' by Ian McEwan. A superb, moving and intricate novel, shortlisted for the Booker prize 2001. The events of a day in 1935 forever change the lives of several people. WW2 is presented from the different perspectives of soldier and nurse - the twists and turns of the plot keep surprising right to the end.
'The Red Tent' by Anita Diamant. This is the story of the biblical Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob, sister to the famous Joseph. A very emotional celebration of women. You start off feeling that society has progressed a great deal but finish the book feeling we haven't changed that much really - in fact we no longer honour menstruation and childbirth as Dinah's mothers did which is sad. A wonderful, difficult to put down read!
'The Nanny Diaries' by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin who are 'no longer nannies'. The authors have worked for over thirty New York families, though they claim the awful users Mr. and Mrs. X of this book are entirely fictional and only inspired by their experience! At first the book seems like a witty comedy but you soon feel very sad for the child involved. Rich kids do not have it better. Very gripping 'read in a day as you can't put it down' sort of book.
'Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow' by Peter Hoeg. A gritty murder mystery but with many surprising facets of depth. Smilla's knowledge of all the different kinds of snow and ice is fascinating and unusual - she is a truly feisty heroine searching for the truth about a small boy's death.
'Northern Lights' ('The Golden Compass' in the US) by Philip Pullman. A novel full of magic - armoured bears, witches, daemons - set in a dimension close to our own. Brave heroine Lyra sets out on a journey to the far North to rescue her uncle and her friend from horrific danger - suitable for both adults and children from about 10.
'The Hundred Secret Senses' by Amy Tan. A story of ancient memories, karma and reincarnation set against the backdrop of modern day America and ancient China. A book that is at once tragic, joyful and exiting - a great read.
'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris. When Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk open a chocolate cafe and shop opposite the church in a small French village they start a battle between paganism and Christianity, in the mind of the local priest anyway. Chocolate itself has a leading role here - a wonderful mix of magic and food. Don't start reading this book if you have no chocolate in the house!
'Blackberry Wine' by Joanne Harris. Set in the same French village as Chocolat, the story is told by a bottle of wine! Six vintage bottle of home brewed wine bring magic and inspiration back into the life of a blocked writer - a gentle tale of childhood memories and friendship, growing quite exiting towards the end.
'Frost in May' by Antonia White. The first in the autobiographical quartet tells the story of a young girl's attendance at a strict Catholic school after her father's conversion to Catholicism. A gripping read right to it's devastating ending.
'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker. The story of Celie, raped by the man she knows as her father as a young girl and forced to give up her babies and marry an abusive husband. She does find peace and love in the end.
Alex Garland's cult novel 'The Beach' - a real page turner once you get going! An idealistic urban myth turns into very real gritty horror in Thailand.
'Round the Bend' by Nevil Shute. An unusual book for the author with it's combination of aeroplanes and eastern mysticism. An exiting plot too.
'The Secret of Shambhala - in search of the eleventh insight' by James Redfield. This is the third book in the Celestine Prophecy series, and in our opinion the best of the lot. Set in Tibet it centres on the search for a secret community - Shambhala or Shangri-La - where secret knowledge has been hidden for centuries.
'Adrian Mole and the weapons of Mass Destruction' by Sue Townsend. Published 2004 Adrian is older but not much wiser with his spiralling debts and doomed from the start relationship. This is a real laugh out loud book combining humour with polital and social comment.
'Bridget Jones's diary' by Helen Fielding. You'll either love it or hate it - we loved it and found it very funny. Bridget is obsessed with her weight, her men (or lack of) and her friends.
'Bridget Jones - the Edge of Reason' sees Bridget in a happy relationship at the start of the book but its not long before it all goes pear shaped! This one we found much funnier than the first especially the interview with Colin Firth and Bridget's spell in a Thai prison.
'Number Ten' by Sue Townsend. A hilarious send-up of the current British government. Prime Minister Edward Clare decides to spend a week going round the country incognito (actually dressed as a woman!) to get back in touch with the people. Very funny, though poignant at times too.
'Adrian Mole - the Cappuccino Years' by Sue Townsend. This instalment of the Mole diaries finds Adrian aged 30, a single father and still as self absorbed as ever! Sue Townsend's wit and satirical edge is as sharp as ever (Bridget Jones makes a small cameo appearance)
'Precious Bane' by Mary Webb. A moving tale seen through the eyes of Prue Sarn, a young girl with a hare lip. The characters are very vivid and real here from Prue's desperate brother Gideon to the gentle Jancis and the man that Prue falls in love with - Kester Woodseaves. It takes a little while to get used to the olde world English language of the book but soon the author's love of nature and the English countryside shine through.
'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' by Thomas Hardy. You will get through a good few tissues reading this one. Humanity is seen at it's worst and it's best in the characters of one of Hardy's most tragic works. Poor Tess.
'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' by Anne Bronte, probably the least well known of the Bronte sisters. A book that has been called the first feminist novel, tells the story of a woman who leaves her abusive husband and takes her child with her. The author's experience of working as a governess in Victorian England and her brother Branwell's downfall are seen clearly in the characters.
'Rebecca' by Daphne Du Maurier. A love story filled with mystery and intrigue. You never forget some of the wonderful characters such as the horrible Mrs. Danvers and the beautiful, impossible to live up to Rebecca.
Buy UK or Buy US
'The Merlin Trilogy' by Mary Stewart encompasses the three books, 'The Crystal Cave', 'The Hollow Hills' and 'The Last Enchantment'. A gentle and intuitive telling of the Arthurian story, told through the eyes of Merlin, a very real, sensitive person here. Believable and re-readable!
Buy UK or Buy US
Victor Hugo's epic 'Les Miserables'. Rather a tome of a book but well worth the time spent reading it. The story of Valjean, the escapee convict; Javert, who pursues him across the years; the tragic Fantine and her daughter Cosette and many others. Great emotional depth, lots of social comment and amazing historical detail.
'Lord of the Rings' - J.R.R. Tolkien's incredible world of elves, hobbits, dwarves and men - once read never forgotten! All three books in one paperback.
'The Silmarillion' by J.R.R. Tolkien. For real Tolkien buffs, this book reads like an official history of Middle-earth. The Silmarillion fills in the details of the first age and the war between elves and the first dark lord Morgoth. There are also some shorter works included in the book - among them a creation myth and more information on the rings of power. Look out for Gandalf and Elrond!
'The Hobbit' is a gentler introduction to Tolkien's world, telling of Bilbo's adventure with the dwarves some sixty years prior to the events in Lord of the Rings. Suitable for children from about seven.
'The Lord of the Rings Oracle' by Terry Donaldson. If you are interested in the spiritual symbolism of Tolkien's Middle Earth and like the Tarot or other divination cards then this could be the set for you - a deck of cards, dowsing ring, map and book. (The artwork is not based on the film!)
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