slemslempike: (nemi: argh)
[personal profile] slemslempike
Girls of Riyadh - Alsanea, Rajaa
The List - Bolouri, Joanna
Night School - Child, Lee
Terms & Conditions - Graham, Ysenda Maxtone
A Civil Contract - Heyer, Georgette
Independent People - Laxness, Halldor
The Spy Who Came In From the Cold - Le Carre, John
Beauty Tips for Girls - Montgomery, Margaret
Dear Committee Member - Schumacher, Julie
First Class Murder - Stevens, Robin
Thalia - Faviell, Frances
NW - Smith, Zadie
What Are Ya - Pausacker, Jenny
Keeping On Keeping On - Bennett, Alan
Frozen Charlotte - Bell, Alex
Dietland - Walker, Sarai
The Late Scholar - Walsh, Jill Paton
The Bookshop - Fitzgerald, Penelope
My Animals and Other Family - Balding, Clare

Girls of Riyadh is apparently still banned in Saudi Arabia. It's written by a Saudi woman studying in the US, and takes the form of emails telling the stories of young Saudi women, their experiences meeting men, getting married, being screwed over by men and having some happily ever afters and some great sadnesses. I thought it was really interesting, I'd recommend it more for interest than for a great story.

Now I have been collating the data on all the books I've read since 2005, I can tell you that this is the second book I've read called The List. This one is about a woman who decides she isn't having enough sex and isn't adventurous enough about the sex she does have, so makes a list of things to try and enlists a male friend to help her work through it. It's surprisingly un-sleazy, and not even really terribly erotic, despite the list including anal and voyeurism which are not really typical chicklit fare. Of course, she falls in love with the male friend at the end.

I was really hoping that Night School would be properly about Reacher at military training, sleeping in bunkbeds, and being young. He is back in the army, but night school is just a cover for three agencies/institutions to come together and solve crime. Which they do quite well, but not very excitingly. He gets an older girlfriend though, which I quite like.

Terms and Conditions is from Slightly Foxed, it's a collection of women's memories about their boarding school days from about the 1920s til "the coming of the duvet" in the late seventies, and was billed as being absolutely hilarious. It therefore sounded right up my street, but disappointingly the map seemed to be slightly off. It's not bad, but having read The Best Type of Girl by Gillian Avery, T&C wasn't anywhere near that league. It's not really trying to be, but it's not as funny as it thinks when it's trying to be, compared to TBTOG's inherent humour and light touch even while drawing together analysis and historical insight. If you read one book about women at public school/boarding school, it should TBTOG. If you've already ready TBTOG and want more, T&C is quite nice fluff if you're in the mood and aren't really expecting anything more.

Reread of A Civil Contract after my last Heyer binge - I'd forgotten a lot of it, but the tacky money-spending of whatshername's father had stuck with me, as had her very sensible approach to whatshisname's original girl friend throwing annoying fainting fits.

I read Independent People in preparation for my trip to Iceland (tomorrow!), Laxness being their only (I think) literature Nobel laureate. It's set in the early 20th century, on what I guess is the equivalent of a croft, run by a fiercely independant man who has no space to be nice to his family because he is entirely consumed with not being beholden to anyone. But later in the book he writes some poetry for his estranged daughter.

Reading The Spy Who came In From the Cold made me nostalgic for a time I wasn't alive, and a world wouldn't have been a part of had I been. And would have been really bad at anyway. All in all, a really good book and I will keep reading Le Carre.

Beauty Tips for Girls is mostly about Katy, who is a teenager with large breasts that she hates - she writes to a teen magazine about this, and also about whether she should be wary of the relationship that seems to be starting up with her music teacher. The magazine writes replies that are frankly culpable in all that happens, and at the least very unhelpful. Her English teacher tries to help, and starts up a somewhat prickly friendship with Katy's dad in the process.

Dear Committee Member was mentioned in comments to an [ profile] oursin post and sounded like a thing I would enjoy - a novel told in letters from a cynical academic. I did indeed enjoy it, bu mostly I enjoyed hating the letter writer, who was self-absorbed, rude, probably untalented and really annoying, although he has a little redemption at the end.

First Class Murder pretty good, even though not actually set in a school.

[ profile] callmemadam recommended the Furrowed Middlebrow novels, and it turns out that in addition to having an amazing name for an imprint, they are rather good. Thalia has an English family sent back from India to live in France, and another English girl as an au pair who wants to be an artist. She is especially asked to look after/befriend Thalia, who is the 15ish year old daughter who is angry and awkward, and falls in love with her. I have just bought a Rachel Ferguson book. It was free, as apparently they made the books alternately available, but I owuld have bought it in any case, for this one star review: "The other review of this book is biased and wrong.It is a poor copy of TURN OF THE SCREW.Ferguson is a 3rd rate novelist.The blogger who reprinted this is very self satisfied and irritating".

I thought NW picked up a great deal after we were more focused on Natalie and her now and then life, getting into law, trying to make her family be "better" even when they don't wat to, and sabotaging everything.

Jenny Pausacker has released a lot of her books as free ebooks on her website (, and as she's one of Australia's pioneers in queer teen fiction especially, I was very pleased. I'd read What Are Ya before, and looking forward to reading the others in that grouping.

Alan Bennett HEART. I read the Twitter account that tweests extracts from his diaries on the appropriate dates, and so a few of these were familiar. I especially enjoy the diaries when he is working on staging a play - fans of The History Boys will be delighted. However, what I really hope is that when Alan Bennett dies (in the very distant future, for preference), there is a new edition with lots of scurrilous and slanderous extracts.

Throughout reading Frozen Charlotte, and indeed until googling to check about 2 minutes ago, I was under the impression that the author was the Alex Bell who used to be senior SPAD at the SG, and sported a massive ginger handlebar moustache. It is not. The book was genuinely rather terrifying at first, and then was a bit dull and populated with flat characters - frozen Charlottes are a Scottish myth/story/song where a girl freezes to death, and then dolls are made about the story. In this book, the dolls brainwash children into trying to kill people.

Dietland is billed as a feminist novel about women's bodies and the industry around them, which is sort of is, but also includes whorephobia, holding women accountable for men's actions (and by accountable I mean brutally murdered) and was rather disappointing. Plum/Alicia is very fat, and once tried to lose weight through a diet plan that stopped. The daughter of the owner of the diet plan, who was the one who closed it, finds her, and gives her money and talks her out of gastric band surgery. And a makeover. And a room in her house where they play violent porn every morning so that people know what they're fighting against. Subtle it is not - not always a bad thing, but it's also not very good.

The Late Scholar was possibly the worst DLS continuation I have read. Neither Harriet nor Peter - let alone Bunter - sounded anything like themselves.

The introduction to The Bookshop says that the last line, which is "As the train drew out of the station she sat with her head bowed in shame, because the town in which she had lived for nearly ten years had not wanted a bookshop.". Florence, a widow, wants to start a bookshop in her small town, but the matriarch of the town wants to use the building for an arts centre. The best part is where Florence nearly causes road accidents in the town by stocking 250 copies of Lolita and gaiing custimers from miles around.

Clare Balding is a rightful national treasure, and her stories about her dad never appreciating her and being overlooked for horses all her life are nearly made up for by her story about starting a feud with the Princess Royal.

I have a bit of a soft spot for A Civil Contract

Date: 2016-12-02 05:24 pm (UTC)
jinty: (buffy library)
From: [personal profile] jinty
It feels like quite a meaty, down to earth Heyer book compared to her usual (delightful) froth and fancy.
From: [identity profile]
Yes, definitely less froth, and certainly none the worse for it.

Date: 2016-12-02 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Reading The Spy Who came In From the Cold made me nostalgic for a time I wasn't alive, and a world wouldn't have been a part of had I been. And would have been really bad at anyway.

Ha! These are precisely my feelings - thank you!

Date: 2016-12-03 12:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I so very know I wouldn't have been part of it OR any good that I can't even muster a good old self-insert daydream about it!

Date: 2016-12-03 09:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Now that I can manage!

Date: 2016-12-07 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Glad to read your thoughts on Terms and Conditions. It's been so highly praised elsewhere I was thinking of getting it but I've changed my mind.


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