Sunday, 22 February 2009

The 20 Best Selling Original Fiction Books 2008 in UK*

  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  2. The Business by Martina Cole
  3. The Gift by Cecilia Ahern
  4. Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks
  5. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
  6. Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell
  7. Angel Uncovered by Katie Price
  8. Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy
  9. Thanks For The Memories by Cecilia Ahern
  10. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

11. Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella
12. Cross Country by James Patterson
13. Brute Force by Andy McNab
14. This Charming Man by Marian Keyes
15. Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden
16. Just After Sunset by Stephen King
17. The Return by Victoria Hislop
18. Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden
19. The Appeal by John Grisham
20. Doors Open by Ian Rankin

*For the 52 weeks ending 27th December 2008 from the Nielsen BookScan

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Book Review: The Kissing Gates by Mackenzie Ford

Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 433
Publisher: Sphere


'Set against the panorama of the First World War, The Kissing Gates is a poignant love story, a finely woven tapestry of choice, consequence and redemption. Mackenzie Ford explores the ambiguities of the human heart with an unwavering hand, and in so doing creates a haunting and moving tale that will resonate with the reader long after he or she has finished the last page." Pam Jenoff, bestselling author of Kommandant's Girl 'This book is a joy to read. Wonderful period detail, and the atmosphere so convincing it had me looking out the window for Zeppelins. The First World War ? with its no-man's land and valiant nurses ? is disturbingly contrasted to the peaceful idyll of rural England. Even the touching love story, with a secret ticking away like a time-bomb at its heart, has us on a knife-edge of uncertainty. And Ford provides fascinating details of the thrills of the wartime intelligence world. I was swept up in this intimate and captivating story of conflicting loyalties. It's the kind of read that lingers in the mind'

This is, in essence, a love story but with a huge secret at the heart of it.

Hal, the protagonist, is fighting in the trenches in World War 1, when a Christmas ceasefire happens. He, hesitantly, climbs into No Mans Land and meets Wilhelm his counterpart in the German Army. They exchange gifts and Wilhelm gives Hal a picture of himself and asks him to give it to his English girlfriend, Sam, who he met and fell in love with in England before the War started. Hal agrees to do this for him.

Shortly after, Hal is badly injured and goes home to recuperate - for him the fighting is over.

Hal, after recovery, then decides to try and find Wilhelm's love, Sam, and when he sees her he is instantly smitten. They meet accidentally (or so Sam thinks) and, the more Hal gets to know her, the more he falls deeply in love with her and, consequently, he doesn't tell her about Wilhelm, even though he knows that Sam is still in love with him and, indeed, has a son by him (though Wilhelm is unaware of this).

As the War rages, Hal and Sam go to live in London together but there is always Wilhelm's memory in the background. Is he still alive? Is Sam still in love with him? Can Sam ever love Hal and forget him?

As I said this is basically a love story but there is much more to it than's the story of secrecy, guilt, hatred for the Germans, and how the War affected families in so many ways, how it tore them apart.

I have to say that I was disappointed with the last 10 pages or so, I felt that the author rushed it and didn't know how to end it properly. But if I try and put that to one side I thoroughly enjoyed the whole engrossing story, in particular the part Hal played in the Intelligence and also his sister's letters from the Front (she was a nurse) were very interesting.

Overall, an absorbing novel set during the First World War.


Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The 10 Best Selling Books in the UK for 2008*

  1. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling
  2. Guinness World Records
  3. At My Mother's Knee by Paul O'Grady
  4. No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
  5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  6. Dear Fatty by Dawn French
  7. Jamie's Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver
  8. Delia's How to Cheat at Cooking by Delia Smith
  9. That's Another Story by Julie Walters
  10. Parky: My Autobiography by Michael Parkinson

* For the 52 weeks ending 27th December 2008 and taken from Nielsen BookScan -

Of the Top 10 I have only read one of the books ............ No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I found it a real page-turner.

Over the next week or so (time permitting) I will be breaking down the Best Selling Book Lists into Top 20 Original Fiction - Top 20 Mass Market Fiction - Top 20 Hardback Non-Fiction - Top 20 Paperback Non-Fiction - Top 20 Children's Books and Top 20 Paperback Fiction.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Book Review: Q and A by Vikas Swarup

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd.
Pages: 384


Ram Mohammad Thomas has been arrested. For answering twelve questions correctly on Who Will Win A Billion? Because a poor orphan who has never gone to school cannot name the smallest planet in the solar system, or the plays of Shakespeare. Unless he has cheated. Reviewing TV footage of the show, Ram tells us how he won, and takes us on an amazing tour of his life. From the day he is rescued from a dustbin, to his encounter with a security-crazed Australian colonel, and a spell as an over-creative guide at the Taj Mahal, Ram's survival instincts are infallible. Stunning an audience of millions, he draws on a store of street wisdom and trivia to provide him with the essential keys, not only to the quiz show, but to life itself. Set in modern India, "Q & A" presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the struggle of good against evil, and what happens when one boy has no choice left in life but to survive.

I had picked up this book and put it down at the library so many times before I finally decided that, yes, I would read it. And I am so glad that I did.

The word 'karma' is never used in the book but that is the word that, to me, sums it up.

The book begins with poor orphan boy Ram being arrested and taken into police custody after being accused by TV producers of cheating in a TV game show. He is tortured by the police who want him to confess, and we know that he is innocent as the game show owners admit to themselves that they just didn't have the money to pay him. Just as Ram is thinking of signing the confession papers to end the torture a young female lawyer comes along and stops the police and takes him away to her home. It is here that we slowly and amazingly learn the story of Ram's life and how he has been able to answer all the questions correctly.

From living and working for an aged film star to being a tour guide at the Taj Mahal and meeting good and bad people inbetween, Ram's faith in the goodness of life does not desert him and his unselfishness and kindness is rewarded when he needs it most.

This is not a book that preaches to the reader - it is a fascinating story that, okay, is full of coincidences, but I feel that life is like that sometimes.......coincidences do happen all the time. And not everything that happens to Ram is good, he does have his fair share of bad luck too.

I really loved this book, in some ways it is such a simple story of rags to riches but with a few twists and turns.


Monday, 9 February 2009

Book Review: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Genre: Modern Fiction
Pages: 416
Publisher: Transworld Publishers


Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet - lost on the left, found on the right - and the two never seem to balance. Jackson has never felt at home in Cambridge, and has a failed marriage to prove it. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, he attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected...

At the beginning of the book the first 3 chapters each describe an event - the first one is of a missing little girl, the second is of a seemingly random murder of a teenage girl and the third is of a wife murdering her husband with an axe. All the events happen in different years.

In the present time, Jackson Brodie is approached by the missing girl's two elder sisters to enlist his help in finding her - the axe murderer's sister also asks Jackson to look for her niece - and the teenage girl's father contacts him to find his daughter's murder.

As the story unfolds we learn of family secrets and of friendships and liaisons in the past and the present. As Jackson attempts to track people down he also realises that someone is trying to kill this all connected to his work?

Who is the random woman we are introduced to in one chapter after another that seems to have no connection with anyone?

Most of the questions are answered and neatly tied up at the end. It all comes together in an interesting and well-written novel.

I do like the way that Kate Atkinson writes her stories......some with humour and tongue in cheek. This is the second book of hers that I've read after Behind the Scenes at the Museum and I look forward to reading more in the future.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery with a few twists and turns.


Saturday, 7 February 2009

Most Borrowed Library Books in the UK

Here are the 10 Most Borrowed Library Fiction Books in the UK from June 2007 to June 2008

  1. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
  2. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
  3. Relentless by Simon Kernick
  4. The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson
  5. The Quickie by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  6. The Sixth Target by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  7. The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
  8. Cross by James Patterson
  9. Step on a Crack by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  10. The Overlook by Michael Connelly
James Patterson is still the most borrowed author in the UK for the second year running, with Nora Roberts the second most borrowed and Josephine Cox the third.

No surprise to learn that JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the most borrowed Childrens Fiction Library Book with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in second place and Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend by Franscesca Simon in third place.


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