Books to Read No. 17-24
So for my Bucket List, my aim is to read at least 80 books. As explained in my blogs previously, my bookshelves groan under the weight of an eclectic mix of book types. These are some of the books I still hold onto including fiction (romance, thriller, crime) and non-fiction (biographies, history, poetry). Because we have such great writers, I have a bias towards Irish story-tellers and in my opinion they are world-class. So I’ve listed them in alphabetical order and the aim is to produce 10 lists of 8 books I’ve read…..this being the 3rd. (See Blog 16 and Blog 22 for the other book-related blogs).
17. Enid Blyton: Five Go On A Strategy Away Day … by Bruno Vincent
The Famous Five have been the perennial favourite of Enid’s fans. In this parody series by Bruno Vincent of Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy the Dog confront a new challenge: what exactly is this puzzling scrape referred to as a 'strategy away day'? The Five have gone on their greatest adventure yet - to become an even better team! 😊
They are booked into an exciting hotel right next to the jolly motorway services, where the nice (if somewhat nervous and sweating and depressed) man teaches them a number of exercises that will make them work better. But wait! Who's been sneaking messages through the hotel dumb waiter about secret assignations? Is there a smuggler's plot afoot? All will be revealed . . .
I really enjoyed this parody take on the Famous Five. The very first books I read as a child were the Secret Seven and Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. I wasn't sure whether this would be sacrilege but no, I found the book very amusing….blending the “jolly hockey sticks” characters of yesteryear with the modern business world caricatures and goings on of today. Definitely not to be taken too seriously. Ideal for those who are a bit sceptical of corporate jargon and would rather pull off their fingernails than play a trust game with work colleagues. – Mary @ 80b480
About the Author
Bruno Vincent is the author of several humour titles. He has also written two volumes of Gothic horror stories for children which were adapted for the stage.
18. Feel The Fear…And Beyond… by Susan Jeffers
With her phenomenal bestseller “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, renowned author Susan Jeffers has helped millions of people overcome their fears and move forward in their lives with confidence, action, and love. Now in this work, Dr. Jeffers takes us by the hand and gives us step-by-step examples that help us to incorporate her profound insights into our daily lives.
Tailored for both individual and group use--including an invaluable 30-Day Power Planner—“Feel the Fear . . . and Beyond” offers simple yet effective techniques for handling whatever life brings us in a strong and life-affirming way. This empowering book shows you how to
Mary@ 80b480 - Not as good as the first book in my opinion. Still useful though with some things to think about and exercises to continue self-development but was left a little disappointed.
"Jeffers ..drew candidly on hardships in her own life, which included divorce and breast cancer, for inspiration; when she urged her readers to face their fears and shake up and improve their lives, they knew that she was writing from personal experience." The Guardian
"Jeffers, a psychologist and mother of two from Pennsylvania, explains that the root of all our fears is basic: we fear we won’t be able to handle the situation if the worst happens. To which she has the simple reply: ‘You’ll handle it!’ " Daily Mail
About the Author
Susan Jeffers, writer, born 3 March 1938; died 27 October 2012. The internationally renowned author helped millions of people all over the world to overcome their fears and heal the pain in their lives.
Her books have been published in over 100 countries and translated into over 36 languages. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway is the book that launched her life-long career as one of the top self-help authors in the world. For more information visit www.susanjeffers.com
19. Finbar's Hotel … devised and edited by Dermot Bolger (by Dermot Bolger, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Jennifer Johnston, Joseph O'Connor, Colm Tóibín)
"Devised and edited" by Dermot Bolger, Finbar's Hotel pools the efforts of seven acclaimed Irish novelists -- Joseph O'Connor, Anne Enright, Colm Tóibín, Roddy Doyle, Jennifer Johnston, Hugo Hamilton, and Bolger himself -- in a humorous and suspenseful collaborative novel. A Dublin landmark since its glory days the 1920s, Finbar's Hotel has grown increasingly shabby with the years. Now, on a night shortly before the grand old hotel is to be demolished, its rooms and corridors echo one last time with the voices of a curious collection of guests.
On his first stay in a hotel, the middle-aged occupant of room 101 ponders the mysteries of the minibar and room service before charging out on the town in search of alcohol and adventure. Across the hall in 102, estranged sisters Ivy and Rose warily negotiate a long-avoided détente. A scorned lover turned catnapping desperado attempts to conceal his furry abductee in the wardrobe of room 103, while in room 107, a somewhat more accomplished thief goes stir-crazy plotting his escape with a small fortune in stolen paintings. Though none of the stories of in “Finbar's Hotel” are expressly attributed, close readings of these self-contained yet cleverly interconnected stories will undoubtedly lead to much speculation about just which author is behind each episode.
Mary@ 80b480 - This was like a bag of allsorts…some will be to your taste; others not so much. Living in Dublin I was captured by the concept - a collection of short stories, located in this ‘kip’ of a crumbling hotel in Dublin. Each story takes place in the life of a guest in a different room. The best part, perhaps, is the author of the stories aren’t revealed. 7 stories, 7 writers, and it’s up to the reader to guess who wrote which one. Some of these stories are really good, poignant and well written. Others didn’t do it for me. Overall though well worth a read..
"At its strongest points, the writers summon a deep sense of place, both historical and emotional. Not a conventional novel, clearly, yet the interlinked stories tenders more cumulative harmony than a conventional anthology; the heartening, garrulous Finbar's Hotel is a captivating place to check into." Publisher’s Weekly
About the Authors
Born in Dublin in 1959, the poet, playwright and novelist Dermot Bolger worked as a factory hand, library assistant and small press publisher before settling for the precious life of a full time writer in 1984. He lives in Dublin. www.dermotbolger.com. The six other authors are Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Jennifer Johnston, Joseph O'Connor, Colm Tóibín.
20. H.R.H. … by Danielle Steel
The conflict between the old world and the new...between responsibility and freedom...between duty and love...
Princess Christianna, happier in jeans and a sweatshirt than in the formal life of European royalty, leaves university to travel to East Africa as a volunteer for the Red Cross. Determined to make a difference, she plunges into the dusty, bustling life of an international relief camp, and is anxious to keep her identity a secret from her fellow aid workers.
Dr Parker Williams, who works alongside Christianna and shares her dedication to healing, has no idea who she is - but as violence approaches and invades the camp, and the pressures of her royal life beckon her home, her struggle for freedom takes an extraordinary turn. By a simple twist of fate, in one shocking moment, Christianna's life is changed for ever - in ways she could never have foreseen.
Mary@ 80b480 - This was light reading for the holidays…easy reading.
“Steel is one of the best!”--Los Angeles Times
“Few modern writers convey the pathos of family and material life with such heartfelt empathy.”--The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Steel pulls out all the emotional stops. . . . She delivers!”--Publishers Weekly
“What counts for the reader is the ring of authenticity.”--San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world's most popular authors, with nearly a billion copies of her novels sold. Her recent many international bestsellers include Against All Odds, The Duchess and The Right Time. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina's life and death; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; and the children's books Pretty Minnie in Paris and Pretty Minnie in Hollywood. Danielle divides her time between Paris and her home in northern California.
21. Hotel du Lac … by Anita Brookner
Winner of the Booker Prize
'The Hotel du Lac was a dignified building, a house of repute, a traditional establishment, used to welcoming the prudent, the well-to-do, the retired, the self-effacing, the respected patrons of an earlier era'
Into the rarefied atmosphere of the Hotel du Lac timidly walks Edith Hope, romantic novelist and holder of modest dreams. Edith has been exiled from home after embarrassing herself and her friends. She has refused to sacrifice her ideals and remains stubbornly single. But among the pampered women and minor nobility Edith finds Mr Neville, and her chance to escape from a life of humiliating loneliness is renewed . . .
Mary@ 80b480 - An enjoyable, if somewhat demanding read. The feeling is it's old fashioned but with timeless concerns, i.e. infidelity, self-obsession etc. Highly recommended.
"A classic . . . a book which will be read with pleasure a hundred years from now", Spectator
"A smashing love story. It is very romantic. It is also humorous, witty, touching and formidably clever", The Times
"Hotel du Lac is written with a beautiful grave formality, and it catches at the heart", Observer
"She is one of the great writers of contemporary fiction", Literary Review
About the Author
Anita Brookner was born in south London in 1928, the daughter of a Polish immigrant family. She passed away in March 2016. She trained as an art historian, and worked at the Courtauld Institute of Art until her retirement in 1988. She published her first novel, A Start in Life, in 1981 and her twenty-fourth, Strangers, in 2009. Hotel du Lac won the 1984 Booker Prize. As well as fiction, Anita Brookner published a number of volumes of art criticism.
22. Incidents in the Rue Laugier … by Anita Brookner
Maud Gonthier finds her usual uneventful vacation at her aunt's country home transformed by the arrival of the charming, wealthy David Tyler, with whom she falls madly in love, until his abrupt disappearance leaves his innocent friend, Edward, to help Maud pick up the pieces of her life.
Mary@ 80b480 - Anita Brookner writes romances that do not quite end happily ever after, but romances nonetheless. Her protagonists, all women, are generally beyond their first youth, but they are by not beyond feeling. Her settings involve subtle shifts of place and time -- which blur the stories slightly like a charcoal drawing or pastel. But while her characters may have brushed against a dream, they all return to the real world with a self-knowledge and acceptance that I find beautiful.
"Anita Brookner works a spell on the reader; being under it is both an education and a delight." Scientific American
". . . a sharp, sad book . . . Maud's inner world in prose that is exquisitely considered." -- The New York Times Book Review, Hilary Mantel
"…Brookner convincingly captures the weariness and hollowness of lives built on lies, as well as the radiance of Edward's childhood and its expectations. This book is for everyone whose life has missed its mark."The Boston Review
About the Author
See 21. Above
23. Lamb … by Bernard MacLaverty
On a promontory jutting out into the Atlantic wind stands the Home run by Brother Benedict, where boys are taught a little of God and a lot of fear. To Michael Lamb, one of the youngest brothers, the regime is without hope, and when he inherits a small legacy he defies his elders and runs away, taking with him a twelve-year-old boy, Owen Kane.
Radio Eireann call it a kidnapping. For Michael the act is the beginning of Owen's salvation. Posing as father and son, they concentrate on discovering the happiness that is so unfamiliar to them both. But as the outside world closes in around them - as time, money and opportunity run out - Michael finds himself moving towards a solution that is as uncompromising as it is inspired by love.
Mary@ 80b480 - The subject matter; the "kidnapping" of a young boy by a priest, to save the boy ..and how he saves the boy is very disturbing. "Lamb" is a well-written psychological study.
"A first novel of integrity and power", Times Literary Supplement
"The alert and feeling realism of MacLaverty's story...had a rare purity of intention and texture... a deeply humane first novel", Guardian
"To deal convincingly with innocence and the impossibility of innocence without being falsely naive...is a special gift, and Bernard MacLaverty displays it with great skill", Observer
"A performance of great assurance and tenderness", Spectator
About the Author
Bernard MacLaverty (born 14 September 1942) is an Irish fiction writer and novelist. His novels include Cal and Grace Notes. He has written five books of short stories.
24. Lies Of Silence … by Brian Moore
Shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize
When the IRA orders Dillon to park his car at a Belfast hotel, he knows he's planting a bomb that will kill and maim dozens. He also knows his wife will be killed if he disobeys. The choice is complicated by the fact that the action takes place on the day Dillon plans to tell his wife he is leaving her to go to London to live with his girlfriend, Andrea, a researcher with the BBC. His decision has far reaching implications that play themselves out over the course of the novel, culminating in a horrific ending.
Mary@80b480 - Lies of Silence is very much a book of its time. In 1990 the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland were very much part of daily life and daily news. Brian Moore's central theme revolves around personal conscience, personal dilemma, personal conflicting interests; this is a universal quandary. The Northern Ireland backdrop, though, is unique.
"This is a novel to mirror the disintegration of our times, the unstated irony of which is that a politics so provincial can breed a writer and an art so universal", Observer
"A gripping read which you will find impossible to put down", Literary Review
"Very much the thinking person's thriller - utterly tense and riveting, but also posing an acute moral dilemma for an ordinary person caught up in the troubled politics of Northern Ireland", Daily Express
"It insists on being read at a sitting, for it is imperative to know what happens next", Financial Times
About the Author
Brian Moore (25 August 1921 – 11 January 1999), was a novelist and screenwriter from Northern Ireland who emigrated to Canada and later lived in the United States. He was acclaimed for the descriptions in his novels of life in Northern Ireland after the Second World War, in particular his explorations of the inter-communal divisions of The Troubles, and has been described as "one of the few genuine masters of the contemporary novel". He was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1975 and the inaugural Sunday Express Book of the Year award in 1987, and he was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times (in 1976, 1987 and 1990). Moore also wrote screenplays and several of his books were made into films.
Bucket List Items Partly Ticked Off in the above Blog post
Number 55 - Skills - Read 80 Good Books
Other Blog Posts
Blog 7 - Alice Springs, Australia
Blog 8 - Adelaide, Australia
Blog 9 - Melbourne, Australia
Blog 10 - Cairns, Australia
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
Blog 16 - Books 8 of 80 to read now!
Did you read any of these books? Which ones? What did you think of them?
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My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!