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What have you been reading this week?
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a.s.
Valinor


Sep 5 2007, 10:30am

Post #1 of 35 (356 views)
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What have you been reading this week? Can't Post

Well, I had big plans for my four-day weekend but life took over: I ended up driving to Massachusetts with my brother and sister for a family funeral (extended family) and find I can't read when conversation with loved ones is more interesting! While the occasional was a sad one, it brought family together from all parts of the country. Why we wait for funerals to all get together and bemoan the fact that we don't keep in touch on a routine basis is one of the sad mysteries of life. Probably a common one, for large spread-out families.

So, I have only managed to read a few more chapters in Kristin Lavransdattar. But I did finish Falling Man by Don DeLillo. The story was interesting and in a few places very moving, yet I ended up finding it a chore to finish. Ambiguity can be carried too far, in writing and in plot. IMHO.

So, what about you all? Have you had more reading opportunities? What have you been reading this week?

a.s.

"an seileachan"

"I can manage it," said Frodo. "I must."


hatster
Rohan


Sep 5 2007, 11:07am

Post #2 of 35 (140 views)
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Richard Temple by Patrick O'Brian and a little Wodehouse [In reply to] Can't Post

I knew Richard Temple was not going to be a Jack Aubrey book and I knew that O'Brian's choices of translations and biographies would mean that it would probably be very aware of post structuralist or at least modernist thinking. I wasn't disappointed. It was a tough but good read. Not what you'd call a page turner, but then I didn't think it would be. There was a good story there and worth reading, but as someone who once studied the genre of autobiography and aural vs visual worlds, I know there was much more going on in it of which, in my former more literary life I would have paused to take note. I may yet do that, but not yet. I don't think I could have read it at a younger age and that about it which rings true at age fifty, is also not very comfortable to think about too long. Too much of me wanted to avoid his reflections on the hauntings of shame, youthful stupidity, and social embarrassment.

Wodehouse is Wodehouse. Much like watching a good episode of Fawlty Towers :-)

So sorry about your family's loss, A.S.

I have lost the dwarves and I have lost the wizard, and I don't know where I am; and I don't want to know, if only I can get away.

(This post was edited by hatster on Sep 5 2007, 11:07am)


Elberbeth
Tol Eressea


Sep 5 2007, 2:45pm

Post #3 of 35 (154 views)
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A friend of ours felt that way about funerals, so [In reply to] Can't Post

he arranged a huge party with everyone he knew, for his 50th birthday, after we had all gone to three funerals in our age group in a row. Sadly, he passed away three years after that (and his funeral was huge). My hubby says when he goes, what he wants is one big party, not a funeral. Mind you, he's too ornery to go any time soon.

Right now I'm reading the latest Sharpe book, Sharpe's Fury. Just started it, but it looks to be as well done as the others.

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."


Annael
Half-elven


Sep 5 2007, 4:29pm

Post #4 of 35 (145 views)
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Finished Cherryh's "Fortress in the Eye of Time" [In reply to] Can't Post

and have ordered the rest of the series (which is finished, by the way - so many fantasy series aren't!). Perfect sword-and-sorcery saga with a sympathetic wizard-hero and admirable prince, beautiful brave heroine, plenty of villains, and animals who are characters in their own right. Cherryh knows horses, it's clear. She also provides a great explanation of what, exactly, it takes to go to war. Steven Brust is the only other writer I know who explains what it takes to field an army and keep them going. Cherryh also has a lot of fun with the politics of a royal court and just how limited the king's power really is by all the factions he has to placate. So the story feels very real even though there's plenty of magic going on. I am wondering if she's doing a riff on King Arthur. Her young wizard-hero seems to be an amalgam of Merlin and Lancelot, and there's a Guinevere character and a Morgaine too. Quite enjoyable, although in typical Cherryh style sometimes she expects you to read her mind a little too much. I don't like authors to explain things overmuch, but Cherryh errs on the other side of the spectrum and sometimes I go "what? What just happened?"

I know what you mean about funerals. I just went to a family wedding where the cousins all said "we like each other so much - how come we only meet at funerals and weddings?" So some of us are planning other get-togethers!

Outside a dog, a book is your best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read.
- Groucho Marx

* * * * *
NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Sep 5 2007, 4:30pm)


RosieLass
Valinor


Sep 5 2007, 7:14pm

Post #5 of 35 (128 views)
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The Merchantís House, by Kate Ellis [In reply to] Can't Post

Ellis has a good writing style. She doesnít dazzle with the brilliance of her prose, but on the other hand, I wasnít sitting there wondering why I was wasting my time reading bad rubbish. I donít generally finish books that I find really bad, so the fact that I completed this bookóand mostly enjoyed itósays a lot.

The archaeological hook was interesting (I love archaeology anyway), and it was clever the way the historical murder paralleled the modern one they were investigating. I also liked how they didnít cut back and forth between modern times and the 15th century, but limited the historical story to excerpts from the merchantís journal at the beginning of each chapter.

The story was good, too. I thought it relied a little too much on coincidence and on the investigating officers suddenly remembering things at opportune moments rather than on solid investigation, but that wasnít a huge distraction.

The thing that disappointed me the most was the characters, and primarily the female characters. There are only two major female characters, and neither one of them is particularly attractive. One is a shrewish wife, the other a bitter single woman. Of the four major male characters, however, only one is truly obnoxious, and he was almost too much of a racist/male chauvinist pig to be anything but a caricature. The other three are the main character Wesley Peterson (married to the harpy), his archaeologist friend Neil Watson (?), and a kindly grieving widower police lieutenant Heffernan.

Iím not sure why the author chose to make Wesley black, because except for her pointedly saying so, there was nothing about the character that seemed black. His wife Pam is white, and at some point the author is going to have to address racial issues (apart from run-ins with the ignorant racist constable), and Iíve never read a white author who could deal with these things in a way that felt authentic. It will be interesting to see how it develops over future books.

There was also a little tension regarding the fact that Pam was Neilís girlfriend once, and I hope that there are no shenanigans in future books between them, or between Wesley and the female cop Rachel. I will put the series down and stop reading it if any of that crops up.

Oh Moon, lovely moon, with thy beautiful face,
Careering throughout the boundaries of space,
Whenever I see thee, I think in my mind,
Shall I ever, oh ever, behold thy behind.


--Edmund Gosse's house maid

http://mallika.vox.com/


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Sep 5 2007, 7:44pm

Post #6 of 35 (116 views)
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Kushiel's Chosen - the second in the series. [In reply to] Can't Post

I liked it *much* better the second time around! And once Joscelin gets over himself, he is too wonderful for words. :)

*sigh* I still miss Alcuin though.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Sep 5 2007, 7:45pm

Post #7 of 35 (127 views)
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We've had [In reply to] Can't Post

a couple of big funerals, but we're finally getting a wedding - in January. Everyone's looking forward to a *happy* gathering for a change.

And, she's the first of 17 nieces and nephews to get hitched so it's the start of a long line of nuptuals, I hope.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


a.s.
Valinor


Sep 5 2007, 9:18pm

Post #8 of 35 (123 views)
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yes, give me a big party!! [In reply to] Can't Post

Your husband has the right idea, I think! I've also told my family to just save money on my funeral: pine box, cremation, whatever is least expensive.

And then spend lavishly on party supplies, even (and maybe especially!) tawdry, kitschy shiny green shamrocky banners and table cloths, and lots of Guiness. And crank up that CD of the Dubliners singing bar songs!! And if someone wants to spike the beer with a wee bit of green food color, for heaven sakes don't stop him (or, cough, her). A good old-fashioned Irish-American wake and someone remember to bribe the cops who come out to enforce the noise ordinance.



Seriously.

a.s.

"an seileachan"

"I can manage it," said Frodo. "I must."


Lily Fairbairn
Half-elven


Sep 5 2007, 9:46pm

Post #9 of 35 (115 views)
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I haven't read this one [In reply to] Can't Post

I believe this is the first of the Ellis books? My library had only the middle three. I'm surprised you'd describe Pam as a harpy -- she must calm down in the later books. I assure you there are no extra-marital shenanigans on either her part or Wesley's, or I, too, would have put down the books!

I agree with you about wondering why Ellis made Wesley black, although his West Indies background leads to a coincidence in The Bone Garden. Oddly enough, there's a discussion going on right now on a mystery list about coincidence in mystery, and I did think of Ellis's books, although I don't find her coincidences as off-putting as I might.

There is a wider variety of female characters in the books I read, so perhaps Ellis is getting more confident of her characterization as she goes on, although she does seem to have her types -- the society woman, the floozy, etc.

I'm with you, I don't finish books if I'm not enjoying them. Life is too short!

* * * * * * *
Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?

A man may do both. For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!"


GaladrielTX
Tol Eressea


Sep 5 2007, 10:44pm

Post #10 of 35 (119 views)
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The Warden by Anthony Trollope, [In reply to] Can't Post

but I havenít been serious about it. Iíve read maybe twenty pages, not enough to form an opinion. I donít know much about administration of the Anglican Church which hampers my understanding of whatís going on somewhat. Iím probably just reading this till I can get a hold of Terry Pratchettís Equal Rites. The library tells me someone else has their only copy, and their due date isnít until the 17th. *drums fingers*

I agree about funerals. The reception we had at the house after my dadís funeral a couple of years ago brought people I hadnít seen in years. Even though it was a sad occasion, it was happy in a way, seeing all those beloved faces. After Ugly Trollís great auntís memorial service this spring, I met some of UTís cousins. (UT and I had had a small wedding in another city so I hadnít met much of his extended family.) They are a HOOT! I hope I meet them again some day.

~~~~~~~~

Formerly known as GaladrielTX


Penthe
Gondor


Sep 6 2007, 12:10am

Post #11 of 35 (111 views)
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That's actually one of my favourite Trollope's [In reply to] Can't Post

I just kind of ignored all the church detail in a way, just like I ignore the finer detail of conflict in political thrillers while still enjoying the plot and characters.

I did enjoy the digs at Dickens and the newspapers in The Warden, but mostly I loved the characters. The way they all bumble along with their agendas clearly visible to everyone except themselves is hilarious.

Come and visit me at lifeorbooks.blogspot.com

Sometimes it's about books, and sometimes it isn't.


Noneoftheabove
Lorien


Sep 6 2007, 1:51am

Post #12 of 35 (129 views)
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Finished Sean Astin's "The Road goes ever on - An Actor's Tale" [In reply to] Can't Post

Like the Extended Edition DVD's of LotR, Sean's book really gives some interesting details on being an actor in one of the big films of his career. Even though it is from his perspective, it was still really enjoyable to hear about his experiences dealing with the other actors and interacting with Peter Jackson.


Finding Frodo
Tol Eressea


Sep 6 2007, 2:09am

Post #13 of 35 (109 views)
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Eyewitness to History [In reply to] Can't Post

I picked this up at a secondhand store. It is a collection of articles, letters, etc. written by people who give firsthand accounts of events throughout history. I just finished Pliny the Younger's story about surviving the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. It's a great bedside book.

I also read Pledged by Alexandra Robbins which is an expose' of sorority life -- well, that makes it sound like it totally slams sororities. It is rather damning, but offers a lot of suggestions for how to improve the Greek system. It was interesting. My alma mater did not have sororities and none of my friends at larger schools joined one, so all I know about sororities is what I see in movies. According to the author, that picture is fairly accurate.

Where's Frodo?


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Sep 6 2007, 3:44am

Post #14 of 35 (138 views)
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"Sentence of Marriage" by our own Kimi! [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's the link: Sentence of Marriage It's the first volume of a trilogy. I expect to order the other two books after a while; I figure I'll finish this one first.

I've only read the first few chapters; it came in the mail today. I confess I had a bit of an ulterior motive in ordering it: I'm thinking about publishing some of my own stuff on Lulu, and I wanted to see what their books looked like. This one is physically very nice.

But I also have wanted to read it for some time: I love Kimi's story The Passing of Mistress Rose, so I know she's a beautiful writer. So far this book reminds me of some old favorites of mine: the Anne of Green Gables books and some of the later Little House books. It's set in New Zealand in the 1880s, a setting I know nothing about, but it seems familiar. I suppose it's not that different from rural Canada or the US at that time.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on my progress. I'm reading kind of slowly these days because the novel I'm writing is knocking to get out and that cuts into my reading time. But Kimi's book has captivated me so far. More later!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chance Meeting at Rivendell: a Tolkien Fanfic
and some other stuff I wrote...
leleni at hotmail dot com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." --Terry Pratchett
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator

Sep 6 2007, 4:13am

Post #15 of 35 (124 views)
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Oh! I had no idea! [In reply to] Can't Post

What a lovely surprise! And thank you so much for your kind words. I'm more than happy to be part of such an ulterior motive :-) I'd certainly encourage you in pursuing the Lulu option; I've found its do-it-yourself approach quite empowering. If I can give any useful advice (though I'm certainly not a Lulu expert), I'd be more than happy to.

You're not the first reader to say the early parts of the book reminded them of Anne of Green Gables and Little House. Interesting, especially as I've never read either!

I hope you continue to enjoy it, and I hope your own novel keeps demanding to be written.




Promises to Keep: a novel set in 19th Century New Zealand.

The Passing of Mistress Rose

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


Eowyn of Penns Woods
Valinor


Sep 6 2007, 4:28am

Post #16 of 35 (117 views)
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*gasp* [In reply to] Can't Post

Haven't read any Anne of Green Gables?! That's...that's...as unthinkable as my not reading Jane Austen's stuff seems to some around here. *heee* =)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


RosieLass
Valinor


Sep 6 2007, 4:52am

Post #17 of 35 (89 views)
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Yes, this is the first one. [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, I've found that a lot of first offerings are pretty rough, so this was pretty good for a series first.

I'm probably being a little rough on Pam. They were attempting to get pregnant in this first book, without success, and it was creating some conflict. I understand that can be stressful, but that's no excuse for her to take it out on him. Come on! He's a cop, for crying out loud. They have odd hours. And sometimes five car pileups on the highway happen. He couldn't help it. Cut the poor man some slack!

There were plenty of female characters in the book, but Pam and Rachel were the two that looked like they might be recurring. So they're the ones I picked on. I'm glad to hear that Pam's not so testy in future books.

Talk about coincidences. In this book, the historical murderer and the modern murderer both had the same initials. Cool

Oh Moon, lovely moon, with thy beautiful face,
Careering throughout the boundaries of space,
Whenever I see thee, I think in my mind,
Shall I ever, oh ever, behold thy behind.


--Edmund Gosse's house maid

http://mallika.vox.com/


RosieLass
Valinor


Sep 6 2007, 4:55am

Post #18 of 35 (93 views)
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I love The Warden! [In reply to] Can't Post

The church hierarchy is interesting but it's not critical to the story so you can skim it. Keep reading, though! Rev. Harding is such a great character.

Oh Moon, lovely moon, with thy beautiful face,
Careering throughout the boundaries of space,
Whenever I see thee, I think in my mind,
Shall I ever, oh ever, behold thy behind.


--Edmund Gosse's house maid

http://mallika.vox.com/


Cheshire Cat
Bree


Sep 6 2007, 1:17pm

Post #19 of 35 (110 views)
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Atonement. [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, wow, wow. What an amazing book. I was determined to finish it before I go to see the movie this weekend. From what I've read of the film reviews, they've really done the book justice and it's looking to be a strong Oscar contender. It helps that one of my favourite actors, James McAvoy (the fawn in Narnia) is playing the lead role.

This is one of the most spell-binding, absorbing books I've ever read with a great storyline and superb characters. It's almost poetic in places.

Can anyone recommend any other Ian McEwan books? I've heard that Atonement is easily his best, but I'd like to try some others. I'm just worried about being disappointed.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Sep 6 2007, 2:29pm

Post #20 of 35 (100 views)
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On Chesil Beach [In reply to] Can't Post

is his latest, I think. It's similar in theme to Atonement, but shorter (and not as good, in my opinion, although I believe it's on the Booker list). Then there's a novel called Saturday, set in the present and about a middle-aged man and his hopes and fears. It's quite different, but also very good.

Isn't Atonement wonderful? I read it a year or two ago and loved it, so I'm really looking forward to the movie. I don't usually like Kiera Knightley much, but she should be just right for Celia. I'm also very keen to see the young Irish actress who's playing the little sister - she's also going to play the lead in Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, and according to an interview in last weekend's Irish Times, she's off to New Zealand soon to start work on it.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Sep 6 2007, 2:40pm

Post #21 of 35 (87 views)
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Re-reading The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been a fan of Atwood's since I discovered her soon after we moved to Canada in the 70s, but this is probably my favourite of all her novels that I've read. What's particularly effective, for me, is the fantasy tale, told by one of the characters, that runs through the novel, providing parallels and insights into the "real" story. Atwood uses fantasy and sci-fi quite a lot in her serious fiction, which I really enjoy. I've read good things too about her reworking of the Ulysses myth from a female viewpoint in The Penelopiad. I think that's next on my reading list!

I'm also re-reading The Road to Middle-Earth by Tom Shippey. I've only read the first chapter so far, but I'm enjoying the way he evokes the sense of loss that a study of language can give.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Sep 6 2007, 2:51pm

Post #22 of 35 (103 views)
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By the way... [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome back, Cheshire Cat! I didn't join in the welcome thread because I doubt you remember me - I was still lurking back then I think. But I remember you all right - especially for that amazing account you gave almost as it happened, the time you went to see Elijah and Sean in Milton Keynes! (I hope my memory isn't deceiving me, but I'm pretty sure it was Milton Keynes....)

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Annael
Half-elven


Sep 6 2007, 3:12pm

Post #23 of 35 (106 views)
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I love the choleric Dean [In reply to] Can't Post

always having hissy fits. Nigel Hawthorne played him in the BBC series and was perfect.

Outside a dog, a book is your best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read.
- Groucho Marx

* * * * *
NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


RosieLass
Valinor


Sep 6 2007, 3:31pm

Post #24 of 35 (86 views)
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Another reason I need to see the series post haste! [In reply to] Can't Post

Since I've stalled again in reading the books.

Nigel Hawthorne is fantastic. I love him as Sir Humphrey Appleby and as Georgie Pillson.

Oh Moon, lovely moon, with thy beautiful face,
Careering throughout the boundaries of space,
Whenever I see thee, I think in my mind,
Shall I ever, oh ever, behold thy behind.


--Edmund Gosse's house maid

http://mallika.vox.com/


Cheshire Cat
Bree


Sep 6 2007, 7:46pm

Post #25 of 35 (78 views)
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Thank you. [In reply to] Can't Post

For the kind welcome and for the information on the Ian McEwan novels! I bought myself Chesil Beach yesterday and plan to start reading that one next. In the summer we spent some time on a part of the south coast very close to Chesil Beach so I think that's why it appealed. I'll let you know how I get on.

I think you're right about Keira Knightley being an good choice for Cecilia. I was even more convinced when I watched the video interviews with the Atonement author, cast and crew on imdb http://www.imdb.com/special/atonement_uk/ Ian McEwan describes Keira's portrayal as "brittle, edgy, highly intelligent, very beautiful and slightly lost within herself". Perfect. The girl playing young Briony looks to be brilliant too. Such an intense role for a young child to play but I think she will do a good job.

I found the book of Atonement to be one of those rare books that changes your whole perspective on life. I loved the incredible descriptions which highlighted the beauty in even the most mundane thing or event. It's hard to describe really, but the friend who recommended it to me said it was a 'magical' book, and I tend to agree.

And.. wow, yes Milton Keynes... that seems a LONG time ago now but it was a most amazing weekend and one I'll never forget.

Cheers.

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