Archive > December 2013

A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine

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A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine,  Tony Benn, book reviewWhen the opportunity arose to get a pre-publication copy of Tony Benn’s final diaries, A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine my hand shot up quicker than my brain could actually process what I’d just done. I’ve long been an admirer of this controversial political giant, egged on no doubt by my grandfather who considered him some kind of living god, but was I really in the market for a politician’s diary? What if it turned out to be drier than dust and deadly dull? Didn’t I already have Alan Clarke’s diaries on my shelf, still unopened many years after his death? How on earth would I find something to write about in a review if all he did was bang on about politics? Silly me. Tony Benn couldn’t be boring if he tried to and his latest book – likely to be his last set of diaries – is witty, entertaining and always deeply human.


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The Secret Life of Bees

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The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd, book reviewLily is a girl who has a special relationship with bees. In the hot, sticky South Carolina summer, she lays awake into the night to watch them crawl through a crack in her bedroom wall and dance around the room. Where most children would be scared of such an invasion, she finds it magical. One night, she is so struck by the wonder of this sight that she feels she will just burst if she doesn’t share it with someone; the only other someone in the house is her father, T Ray, who is decidedly unimpressed with being awoken. This does not really surprise Lily, for T Ray is a bitter man who is generally unimpressed with Lily herself. Aged fourteen, her mother has been dead for the past ten years, leaving her with just T Ray to live with and a surrogate mother in the help, Rosaleen.


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An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

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An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Christopher Hadfield, book reviewThis is a self-help book with a difference, and it takes you some time before you discover that this is where the book is headed, apart from targeting the moon. In the beginning you float weightlessly through space with one of the world’s top astronauts, a Canadian who at the age of 9 looked up at the stars and decided that he wanted to be lost amongst them. Especially since that was when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon ‘It was no longer a distant, unknowable orb but a place where people walked, talked, worked and even slept.’

He began flying with his father but the stars seemed a long way away. From the army to flying jet planes, he took his life a step at a time and included a happy marriage.


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Takedown Twenty

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Takedown Twenty, Janet Evanovich, book reviewWhen the chance to read Janet Evanovich’s latest Stephanie Plum novel, Takedown Twenty, arose I was first in line shouting “Me, me, me” in an entirely undignified way because Stephanie is an old friend of mine. It couldn’t be any other way after I’ve read 18 books about her and her hapless attempts to bring in the bad guys as a bail bond enforcer for her cousin Vinnie in the New Jersey town of Trenton. I’ve been with her since the very beginning back in 1994 – I have a signed copy of ‘One for the Money’ – and up to now, have missed only one, and that’s purely because I’ve not got round to tracking down a copy. As someone who spends most of her time on non-fiction or rather more ‘literary’ fiction, I love to step off my high-brow high-ground and have some fun with my favourite law and order girl.


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