Et Après… by Guillaume Musso – My rating 8/10

I enter Ganesha second-hand bookshop in Ubud and after finding some Winnie the Pooh for the kids and the Lost Symbol for my wife, I find this small book from Guillaume Musso whose cover attracted me. My first surprise when I opened the book is to read that it has sold over 1 million times over the world!!!…and of course I have never heard of it. In short, it deals with death, the importance of making peace with its entourage, giving thanks to the most important people in your life and get ready for an irreversible and inevitable event. This book has moved me in its simplicity. I will recommend this to my friends. It is on one hand very far from a self-help book but at the same time, it is one…

The Naming of the Dead by Ian Ranking – My rating 1/10

I received this book from a dear friend who travelled Scotland and decided to offer me a book written by a local author rather than one of those souvenirs that would collect dust somewhere on my shelves. I found it a very good and sweet idea. He couldn’t know  this book would eventually turn out to be the worst crime-fiction I have ever read. The alcoholic, marginal, cynical, know-better detective Rebus maybe an attractive character for some, a anti-hero of some sort, I just find it so dull. His attempt to tie his whodunit plot to some real political events (G8, London bombing, Irak war) is quite miserable and not convincing. His attempt to denounce corruption between the economic and political system and the dirty ties with rogue developing countries are so stereotypical and again fit only marginally to the plot. I most probably do not do Ian Rankin justice but this is the first and only book I will read from him. After reading the Naming of the Dead, it is hard to understand how the author collected some awards for his other books.

If you have bought or received this book, do yourself a favour, don’t read it.

Take No Farewell (1991) – Robert Goddard – My Rating 4/10

Cover of ISBN: 0552135623Robert Goddard is one of the very few best seller author I am reading. My all time favorites are Closed Circle (1993) and Out Of The Sun (1996).  Conspiracy is at the core of many of his books. I enjoy very much his complex and (over-)structured plots, his way of recalling important historical events and twisting their root causes. Early to mid 20th century is a period that Robert Goddard obviously enjoys and he has a great ability to makes his readers dive back in it. Take No Farewell (1991), one of his early novels, was a disappointment though. The story takes place in the early years of the 20th century.

Geoffrey Staddon had never forgotten the house called Clouds Frome, his first important commission and the best thing he had ever done as an architect. Twelve years before the day in September 1923 when a paragraph in the newspaper made his blood run cold, he had turned his back on it for the last time, turned his back on the woman he loved, and who loved him. But when he read that Consuela Caswell had been charged with murder by poisoning he knew, with a certainty that defied the great divide of all those years, that she could not be guilty.
As the remorse and shame of his own betrayal of her came flooding back, he knew too that he could not let matters rest. And when she sent her own daughter to him, pleading for help, he knew that he must return at last to Clouds Frome and to the dark secret that it held.
For me, it is an elaborate story of a loser, blinded by his love, with a total lack of tact and a very average sense of deduction. He is helpless in his attempts to save the one he always loved. This book remains nonetheless a page turner as I hoped that after taking so many wrong turns, Staddon would in the end find the right course of action, but he never does… in the end he dies…
I am giving away this anti-climatic and lame end to take away all incentives to anyone who wants to read it. By far the worst novel by Goddard I have read so far.

The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde – My rating 7/10

cover-eyre-affairTake a pinch of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy, add a tea spoon of Terry Prachett’ Discworld novels and stir it until firm with a full cup of Stephanie Plum (THE Bond Agent) from Janet Evanovich to discover a brand new type of fiction: the Eyre Affair. It all happens in a world where dominant values are not defined by ephemeral fashion or where heroes and stars are not built and destroyed by flashy TV channels or gossipy magazines. It is a world where the biggest stars are Brontë Sisters, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf and other Bacon. A world where most valuable items are not diamonds but original books (and the control over them and time).

A fresh, humorous and very original fiction with as many glorious as (unfortunately) lengthy moments. Overall a good laugh-out-loud page turner. A perfect reading for vacation.

Short Description (Amazon):

Fforde’s heroine, Thursday Next, lives in a world where time and reality are endlessly mutable–someone has ensured that the Crimean War never ended for example–a world policed by men like her disgraced father, whose name has been edited out of existence. She herself polices text–against men like the Moriarty-like Acheron Styx, whose current scam is to hold the minor characters of Dickens’ novels to ransom, entering the manuscript and abducting them for execution and extinction one by one. When that caper goes sour, Styx moves on to the nation’s most beloved novel–an oddly truncated version of Jane Eyre–and kidnaps its heroine. The phlegmatic and resourceful Thursday pursues Acheron across the border into a Leninist Wales and further to Mr Rochester’s Thornfield Hall, where both books find their climax on the roof amid flames.