Newsletter No 24 (November 17th, 2011)


For Curious Book Fans Christmas is the perfect excuse to buy books for others and – even better – to get books as presents but why is it that people you think know you well always seem to buy books you just don’t want?Take a look at some of the books we reviewed in October – maybe you’ll get some ideas and be able to drop a few hints.

There’s the intriguingly titled How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran and a couple of books nominated for prestigious prizes. Geographically we’re bouncing around again with books set in the USA, India, the Outer Hebrides and Zimbabwe but it’s very likely that you’ll find something in our back-catalogue of reviews to give you inspiration. Why not pop over the Forum and ask our members for suggestions for those hard to please relatives?

Sincerely Yours, Curious Book Fans

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

How To Be a Woman may seem an oddly titled book for a 33 year old woman to be reading – surely with 33 years of practice I must have figured it out by now? Yet despite this ample experience, being a woman is something I feel I’m a bit rubbish at.

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The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst,


…it is still a very fine literary novel, and surely deserved to be on the shortlist for this year’s Booker prize. The fact that it failed was the subject of considerable debate, and something for which the shortlisting panel were heavily criticised. However, regardless of this, it is well worth a read.

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The Bloody Meadow by William Ryan

The Bloody Meadow is the second novel by William Ryan to feature Aleksei Korolev, a detective Working for the Moscow Criminal Investigation Division in 1930s Russia. It follows on from The Holy Thief which was very well reviewed and shortlisted for a number of crime fiction awards.

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Billy Connolly’s Route 66

“Get your kicks on Route 66” goes the song. As someone who grew up on rock and roll and dreamt of the wide spaces of America from Glasgow, Billy Connolly has always had a fascination with the iconic Route 66. In Billy Connolly’s Route 66, he travels the famous Mother Road, and invites us all along for the ride.

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Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection 5

Landscape Photographer of the Year would make a superb present for any landscape photographer but also for anyone with a love of British landscapes, including urban landscapes. There is something for everyone here, from coastlines to rolling hills or city architecture, in all seasons and in all imaginable conditions of light.

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Aids Sutra: Untold Stories from India by Prashant Panjiar

The stories are shocking, disturbing and sometimes frightening but they are also inspiring, uplifting and many will make you realise how little some people need to get by and how tenaciously many will cling to life and squeeze everything they can out of it.

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Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

America has long been billed as the land of opportunity, a place where the streets are paved with gold and anyone who is prepared to work hard enough can buy themselves a part of the American dream. “I grew up hearing over and over, to the point of tedium, that `hard work’ was the secret of success,” Barbara Ehrenreich writes.

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The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon

Jane Fallon is already the very successful author of three great novels and she has just written her fourth – The Ugly Sister. I had high expectations of this book, having already really enjoyed her first three, and I was not disappointed.

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The Blackhouse by Peter May

The Blackhouse is a novel by Peter May, set on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, the first in a series (trilogy according to Amazon) featuring Detective Fin Macleod. Having escaped Lewis at the age of eighteen, Fin is packed off to the island from Edinburgh when a murder is committed in a similar manner to one he has been investigating in Edinburgh.

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Don’t Let Me Go by Catherine Ryan Hyde

In Don’t Let Me Go we meet Grace who is a small girl with big problems. She lives with her mother in a small apartment block in LA but her main problem is that her mother is a drug addict and if she does not clean up her act very soon, Grace could very likely be taken away by the ‘woman from the county’.

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Bred of Heaven by Jasper Rees

“Some are born Welsh. Some achieve Welshness. I am going to thrust myself upon Wales”. Jasper Rees is a thoroughly English man; born in London, educated at Harrow, and brought up to cheer whenever he crossed the Severn Bridge in an eastward direction.

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African Dawn by Tony Park

Moving beyond that eye-catching cover design, African Dawn is a novel set in Zimbabwe. Opening in 1959, in what was then Rhodesia, it progresses through the bush war before skipping a few decades to present day Zimbabwe.

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The Vault by Ruth Rendell

The Vault is not just unusual in being a sequel, however, it also brings the two distinct strands of her work (the Wexford novel and the non-Wexford crime thriller) together into an intriguing and compelling whole.

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An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson

I was not too sure what to expect as the title sounds a bit light and airy, but as soon as I started reading I knew that I was going to enjoy it and it was also going to be a bit more thought provoking than the title would suggest.

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