Newsletter No 27 (Feb 15th, 2012)

Hi,

Curious Book Fans love curious book titles and we had some real crackers in January. From Twisting My Melon to All That I am, via The Yellow Emperor’s Cure and Amazing Tales For Making Men Out of Boys there’s plenty to make everyone curious in our latest batch of reviews. And for one of those curious gems – Care of Wooden Floors there’s a special treat in store. Or rather ‘in forum’. Pop over to the Forum where three copies of Care of Wooden Floors are up for grabs in this month’s giveaway.

Sincerely Yours, Curious Book Fans

Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles

When Oskar asks an old university friend to look after his apartment while he goes to attend to his divorce in Los Angeles, he clearly has some inkling that the property may not be looked after exactly as he would wish. Why else would he leave notes hidden around the flat outlining the action to be taken should the worst occur?

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Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

Aravind Adiga’s latest book ‘Last Man in Tower’ explores what it takes to turn ordinary respectable middle-class people into evil, devious, greedy beasts prepared to contemplate murder. It looks at how neighbours so emotionally and physically close that they live like extended family can become enemies. 

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Q&A with Charley Boorman

Ewan and I had gone through many different countries together including Canada. We travelled through the Rockies but there was a big fire so we didn’t actually get to see them due to the smoke!  I always wanted to go back there as it really intrigued me.

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The Winter Palace by Eva StachniakEva Stachniak’s The Winter Palace is a colourful tale of the first years spent by Princess Sophie – who in the course of the novel becomes Catherine the Great – in St. Petersburg’s infamous Winter Palace. Told from the point of view of Vavara, a Polish girl who finds herself at the heart of Empress Elizabeth’s court, The Winter Palace is a veritable assault on the senses as well as a thoroughly absorbing tale.

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Dr. Dimsdale and Catherine the Great’s Fear of Smallpox by Eva Stachniak

Catherine must have been impressed by the long list of successful case histories Dr. Dimsdale included in his book. He presents them in sequence, each case documented with the patient’s age, general condition, the progress of the inoculation, and the follow up treatment.

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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s, during the Civil Rights movement. Life in Jackson, however, does not really seem to be changing.

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Hockney’s Portraits and People by Marco Livingstone and Kay Heymer

Concentrating on just one aspect of artist David Hockney’s work, Marco Livingstone and Kay Heymer’s Hockney’s Portraits and People nevertheless contains a huge amount of variety. Of the 246 illustrations, 233 are in colour.

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All That I am by Anna Funder

“When Hitler came to power, I was in the bath”. In Sydney, Australia in the 1990s, Dora Becker receives a package, containing the writings of a long dead friend.

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C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too by John Diamond

John Diamond was a journalist and broadcaster known for his wit as much as for his marriage to Nigella Lawson and he was by his own admission, a hypochondriac. After decades of seeing every little twinge as a portent of medical doom it was as much a self-fulfilling prophesy as a big surprise when a lump in his neck turned out to be more sinister than he’d expected.

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The Yellow Emperor’s Cure by Kunal Basu

What is also curious is that people have been fascinated by encounters between the west and the orient – one could number books like Lord Jim, Shogun, River of Smoke and most recently The Yellow Emperor’s Cure, the last two written by Indian authors.

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Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

In her latest book, Lone Wolf, Picoult prompts one to think about the sanctity of life as her main character is kept alive by machines in his hospital bed while his children argue about whether he should be allowed to die. The novel is made more interesting though as we learn about Luke Warren’s past and the somewhat unorthodox relationships he has had with his family.

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Outnumbered, Outgunned, Undeterred by Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson – former British Army officer and current lecturer in the history of war at Oxford University – sets out to examine twenty examples of bravery on the battlefield to look for the characteristics of success in war when situations might suggest there is no hope left.

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Twisting My Melon by Shaun Ryder

Ryder is remarkably open about the role he and the Mondays played in Manchester’s drug and rave scene and their part in the history of the Hacienda. Ryder debunks some of the myths that have grown up around him and the band such as telling us that the famous pigeon poisoning scene that’s included in the film ’24 Hour Party People’ didn’t happen quite as shown…

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Amazing Tales For Making Men Out of Boys by Neil Oliver

“There was a time not so very long ago when boys were taught to be men” writes author, archaeologist and broadcaster Neil Oliver, and “part of the education of boys came from reading tales of brave and selfless deeds”. Not so any more. “It’s rubbish being a British man at the moment…”

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A Bit More Bert by Allan Ahlberg and Raymond Briggs

We read about Bert and his dog, who is also called Bert, we give Bert a haircut, and then we see how Bert is constantly nagged by his mother (named Grandma Bert).  In the next chapter Bert buys crisps and shares them, and after that Bert loses his dog but luckily finds him again.

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