Saturday, 31 March 2012

Book Review: REVOLUTION (The Year I Fell in Love and went to Join the War) BY DEB OLIN UNFERTH

Genre:  Memoir
Published:  Henry Holt  (Feb 2011)
Source:  Publishers
My Rating:  7/10

About the Book:

REVOLUTION tells the funny and poignant story of the year the author ran away from college with her idealistic boyfriend and followed him to Nicaragua to join the Sandinistas.
Despite their earnest commitment to a myriad of revolutionary causes and to each other, Deb and her boyfriend find themselves unwanted, unhelpful, and unprepared as they bop around Central America, looking for "revolution jobs." 
The year is 1987, a turning point in the Cold War, although the world doesn’t know it yet, especially not Unferth and her fiancĂ© (he proposes on a roadside in El Salvador).   
But years later the trip remains fixed in her mind and she finally goes back to Nicaragua to try to make sense of it all.  Unferth’s heartbreaking and hilarious memoir perfectly captures the youthful search for meaning, and is an absorbing rumination on what happens to a country and its people after the revolution is over.

In 1987 Deb and her boyfriend George decide that their main ambition was to help the revolution, they had wanted to go to Cuba but didn't know how to get there as it was illegal.

George didn't believe in paying bills, it was a principle with him, corporations were evil and rich, he didn't care about money, possessions, sleep or food....Deb found this attractive and thought he was a genius....thus she followed him around South America even though she hated it -

I saw suddenly that this was all a game for me.  The Christianity, the running away, the marrying.  I was going along with it, but I didn't mean it , and I didn't like fact I hated it.  I hated not eating enough, hated my dirty clothes, hated San Salvador, hated George in some way because he'd brought me here and because I knew he meant all of it.

They wanted 'revolution jobs' but few people wanted to hire them.  They travelled to El Salvador where they helped at (and got fired from) an orphanage - in Nicaragua their visas ran out and, as they weren't working for the revolution, they couldn't renew it - then on to Costa Rica and Panama.

They got sick and sicker, got robbed several times, ran out of money, and Deb and George gradually drifted apart.

This is a book of anecdotes, I found the writing simple and easy, though it was all over the place sometimes, with short chapters.

It was light-hearted in parts, sad in others, for me it wasn't a page-turner, it was interesting but not engrossing.

Special Thanks to the publishers for sending it to me.

Saturday, 17 March 2012


Genre:  Thriller
Published:  Aston Bay  (Oct 2011)
Source:  BookDagger RealReaders
My Rating:  8.5/10

About the Book:

A grizzly and cold November morning. Detective Sergeant Kate Linton is called on Glastonbury Tor where a young woman has been strangled. Twelve holes are found at the scene, surrounded by wax, evidence of garden flares - the only connection to two other unsolved cases. When another young woman and a TV celebrity go missing, Linton is in a race against time to find the serial killer before he strikes again. But, when her journalist ex-boyfriend is singled out as a chief suspect, Linton feels that events are heading a bit too close to home.

This is a very promising start of a new police series set in Glastonbury featuring DS Kate Linton who  has a challenging task -- to find the killer of three young women and a third missing girl who has been kidnapped, possibly by the killer.

Just to make her job more complicated, a reality TV star also goes missing in Glastonbury at the same time, but is this just coincidence or has the killer now kidnapped two women as well?

Kate, newly single since her split with her boyfriend, is confronted with the embarrassment of a past liaison in the shape of a local journalist who becomes a suspect.  Her strained relationship with her male colleague changes as the case progresses which adds an interesting light touch to the dark storyline.

As the police search continues we are given several tantalising glimpses of just what's going on in the head of the kidnapper by the way he talks to his kidnap victim, which didn't make any sense until the reveal.

Joanna Price kept the suspense building until the very end when all the answers to the questions are neatly tied up -- I didn't guess the ending!

Altogether, an unpredictable storyline that features characters that I'd like to read about again as this series develops.

Monday, 12 March 2012

BOOK NEWS: How Twitter is changing the literary world

As Jonathan Franzen and JK Rowling are parodied on Twitter, Ceri Radford looks at the rise of the sarcastic tweet, and asks how this social network is fuelling literary spats

Author Jonathan Franzen. Photo: Finn Beales 2012
Publishing used to be a closed world, characterised by impenetrable cliques and the long wait for musty brown self-addressed envelopes to appear in the post. That, however, was in the days before sites like Twitter brought writers, readers, editors, publishers and agents together into a seething mass of instantly updated, publicly accessible sniping, moral support and badinage.
Last week’s #JonathanFranzenHates hashtag - in which bookish Twitter users roundly mocked the author for dismissing the site as “unspeakably irritating” – is just one of a number of instances which show how the use of social media is opening up literary circles. The sort of sparring that may once have occurred only in waspish letters to the editor of the London Review of Books now plays out in real time on the internet.
Meanwhile, for anyone struggling to decipher what is actually going on with the publication (or not) of their book, the #publishingeuphemisms hashtag, which began when the agent Jonny Geller started tweeting a few home truths, is an education. Examples include: “this is too literary for our list” = it’s boring, "sadly we are publishing a similar book to this next spring" = it too has a beginning, middle and end, and "all our focus is on the paperback" = the hardback tanked.
Since any Twitter user can join in by using the same hashtag, ideas like this spread quickly, in this case from rogue agent to writers only too happy to lift the lid on the slippery half-truths and glib hyperbole of their industry: ”literary-commercial cross-over”: “Has a plot but not too many adverbs” contributed the author Nina Bell. “Eminently marketable”: “This author looks fit” added Catherine Fox.
A shared sense of humour holds most literary hashtags together. If brevity is the soul of wit, then Twitter is its trumpet, allowing users to blast out their pithy jokes in no more than 140 characters at a time. Whatever Franzen says, that is often enough.
Following the news of JK Rowling’s first book deal for adult fiction, the hashtag #RowlingforAdults was swift to materialise, with lines like “Harry Potter and the Enlarged Prostate” and “Ginny Potter And The Daily Bottle of Pinot Grigio While The Kids Are At School” (from @Popehat). Puns are almost as popular as Harry Potter. On another thriving hashtag, #literarydietquotes, the author Julia Kinghorn contributed “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps on this patĂ© paste until the end of time”.
None of this is as simple as writers turning to Twitter to publicise themselves and their books. At best, the site offers a surrogate sense of community to authors sat at home with only their computer screen and a houseplant for company. From my own experience, dipping into bookish circles on Twitter is like a trip to the watercooler, a morale-boosting break from the isolation of slogging towards 80,000 words.

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