One hundred days of happiness by Fausto Brizzi

Caitlin one hundred days of happinessWhat would you do in the last one hundred days of your life? That is, in part, the premise of this novel by Italian director and first time novelist Fausto Brizzi.
Lucio Battistini is dying- he has made mistakes (for which he still wants to atone), he has sporting goals (as coach of a water polo team), and his father-in-law bakes him donuts every morning for breakfast – all valid reasons to keep on keeping on. Continue reading

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Invisible by Paul Auster

Amy InvisibleI have long been a fan of Siri Hustvedt’s novels, but this is my first by her husband, and won’t be my last. It begins in 1967 in New York, when a young poet has an encounter with a Frenchman and his girlfriend which gets complicated, then nasty. Two different narrators then tell part of the story, which is clever, intriguing and beautifully written.

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The view from the cheap seats by Neil Gaiman

Amy View from the Cheap SeatsThe View from the Cheap Seats is a collection of Neil Gaiman’s writing, all of it non-fiction. From his brilliant speech on the importance of libraries, reading and daydreaming to thoughts on music, film and writing, it’s like a long conversation, about a huge range of topics. There’s a lot of passion in this book; for people, for science fiction, for dreams and art. It’s a great read.

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My Italian bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

Cynthia My Italian bulldozerThis was a little slice of Italy. When food writer Paul arrives in Italy to finish his book and finds his car rental booking nonexistent, he finds himself hiring a bulldozer instead. It is the characters that Paul meets that make this story, more than the fact that he is driving around Italy on a bulldozer. They are quirky and interesting and make for a story that is a little off centre but enjoyable.

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Girl at war by Sara Novic

Amy Girl at WarI love how fiction make something that is just vague memories of the news, real and somehow urgent though it is the past. Girl at War is the story of a Croatian girl, Ana, just ten at the beginning of the Civil war in Yugoslavia. From her childhood in Zagreb to her student days in New York, we experience the horrors of the war, and how she faces her personal history and that of her country. I knew so little of this war and found this story about the history, its continued impact and people’s resilience compelling and darkly beautiful.

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Fight like a girl by Clementine Ford

Amy Fight Like A GirlThere are some important things in this book, and so many of the issues she raises – body image, domestic violence, rape culture etc – need to be seriously addressed. This is a hard book to read. Hard because the truth of women’s situation in society is hard, but also because her vitriol and profanity are relentless. Fight Like a Girl is a long, rather repetitive, rant, with no element of grace, but there is humour and passion about women’s rights.

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A curious beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Cynthia A Curious BeginningVeronica Speedwell is such an unusual women for Victorian times. She is knowledgeable, outspoken, sexually aware and determined and is not afraid to let everyone know that is all that! Being such a strong character, by the end of the story she unfortunately becames a bland character for me – there is no development or frailty. The book had a strong sense of place – Victorian London was well described. As for the mystery, even though it was quite outlandish, I did have to keep reading to find out what happens, and I have the feeling that it is not fully solved yet.

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The hanging tree by Ben Aaronovitch

Amy The Hanging TreeThe problem with reading a series slowly, waiting for the next book to be released, is that you can rather lose track of the continuing story. I still love Peter Grant, and especially Nightingale, and there were lots of great characters and witty dialogue, but occasionally I was a bit flummoxed. This series is a lot of fun, perhaps I need to reread the earlier books…..

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