Monday, May 28, 2018

Will GDPR help you find time to read?

I'm getting all these emails about resubscribing to blogs and GDPR regulations etc. I suspect I may end up with a much cleaner Inbox after this, and more time to read and write. Hurray! Though I do apologize to all those people I've failed to resubscribe to - those links that sent me nowhere or said I'd already been there or timed out on me... Who knows where I am or will be next week?

On which existential note, I think I might post some serious book reviews of serious books for a change. I've read a number of really enjoyable novels recently, literary, dramatic, confusing, intriguing, or simply so deeply evocative I couldn't put them down. So pick up a coffee and see what you think. Please remember, the stars of for the coffee strength and nothing to do with quality. (Is all coffee good?)

First is Annie’s Bones by Howard Owen, a literary mystery that alternates between past and present, evocatively recreating the world of a student who doesn't fit in and a loss that can't properly be mourned. Contrasting youthful eagerness with the jaded watchfulness of an aging adult, together with questions of crime and guilt, it's a really cool tale filled with really great characters. Enjoy with some seriously elegant four-star coffee.

Fistful of Rain by Baron R. Birtcher takes readers to rural America in 1975 where people are gradually coming to terms with the 60s, Vietnam and political scandal. The clear-sighted sheriff sees trouble looming and battles politics, false assumptions, miscommunication and mystery, while the reader is drawn into a convincing time and place, interacting with fascinating people. You'll want some more seriously elegant four-star coffee as you read this one.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan offers a similar sense of a changing world, inviting readers into the life of a British judge navigating the problems of children's lives and the right to live or die. It's a serious topic, and the author draws no simple conclusions, simply leading the reader to see through different eyes and ponder different lives. There's music in hope by the end of the tale, and mystery in trying to decide. A truly elegant tale, best read with more elegant four-star coffee.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is well-known to anyone watching the TV series (sadly, not me), and I've wanted to read it for quite some time. Again, it invites readers to see familiar questions in an unfamiliar light, this time by placing them in an imagined not-so-distant future. Again there are questions of religious interpretation balanced against human need and the possibility of laws being wrong. And again, there's a warning not to be too sure of ourselves. Perhaps a little darker than the other tales, maybe you'll want some five-star dark coffee with this.

The Autobiography of Corrine Bernard by Kathleen Novak is a novel, not an autobiography, and it's a coolly absorbing tale of a woman born in Paris during the Second World War. Balancing invisibility and independence, love and need, chance and choice, it's an absorbing and intriguing tale, told with a voice that combines lyrical French undertones with strident New York defiance. Enjoy with some seriously complex four-star coffee.

Finally there's The Revolving Door of Life by Alexander McCall Smith. Another in the long-running Scotland Street series, I'm always intrigued by how the author keeps all his characters unique and different, and how he interleaves their very different tales into one coherent whole. It's a charming, witty, intriguing and oddly thought-provoking novel, and an easy read to pick up and put down over several well-balanced three-star coffees.

And now I shall brew one of those coffees for myself and get back to some more reading and writing.


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