Book Reviews - March 2013

The Discovery Of ChocolateThe Discovery Of Chocolate by James Runcie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some of the 'facts' were a little out of kilter with the actual history of places but thankfully I am one who can ignore those and just take a story for what it is...a story.

Travelling through time Diego and his dog discover and experiment with chocolate. From Cortez's expedition to Mexico and meeting with Montezuma, through the French revolution, creating Sacher torte and into the twentieth century this is a light-touch tour of history and the history of chocolate with some love thrown in.

The novel is not going to test anyone's vocabulary or make them think overly but it is a pleasant read. Ideal for the beach or time spent at airports and onboard a plane (as I did).

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CoriolanusCoriolanus by Lee Bliss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've never been much of a fan of Shakespeare's plays so with some little trepidation did I approach Coriolanus. Pigeon-holed as a tragedy in 1623 by Heminges and Condell the play has perhaps suffered from genre-typing. This is not the tragedy one may expect if thinking of Lear, Othello, Hamlet or Macbeth - there are no heart-rending, soul-searching soliloquies to give insight into the man's psyche. This is the tragedy of a public man, played out in the public arena. It is also full of commentary on the political situation at the time.

The introduction by Lee Bliss can be a little dry at times but it is comprehensive. I would recommend working your way through it in order to appreciate some of the political angles Shakespeare obliquely puts in.

Overall, this is a tragedy for the people, the city, the public man and worth the read.

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The Long and the Short of ItThe Long and the Short of It by Jan Ruth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jan has taken 5 instances of human emotion and thrown some Celtic magic over them. Each of the short stories takes the reader to a different emotional space, ones that you recognise even if you have not experienced them, and pulls you in. The stories may be short but they are fully formed, Jan Ruth has not skimped on detail and you are fulfilled at the end.

My favourites were Over the Moon and Two Hearts, One Soul which, though touching different emotional triggers, left me with a sense of satisfaction in each case.

The bonus of this book is the three chapters, one from each of Jan Ruth's full length works, that tempt you to savour them.

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The Book of Human SkinThe Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is a year since I finished reading this novel (and noticed I'd failed to put a review up) but I can honestly say I recall it very clearly and that is the sign of a good read.

Was it the morbidity that kept the novel in my mind? I think to a large degree it was. A person with a deviated mind, sick perversions and the stories of his victims were written in such a way that I cannot forget them.

I won't put a synopsis in this review as I think the reader needs to make their own way through this work. If there is one criticism it would be the ending which I felt was a little rushed, as if Lovric did not know what to do with her left-over characters. For all that, this is a read that lingers...

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