Tuesday 11 January 2011

Three Mini Reviews - Books from 2010

Just trying to catch up on those last books read in 2010 which I still haven't had time to review. Here are three mini reviews.

The Haunting by Margaret Mahy
I had wanted to read this ever since I had read Ana's review over at Things Mean A Lot. After reading Ana's review, I knew that this wouldn't follow the traditional ghost story route.  The first couple of chapters had me eerily surprised though.  The book is written from the point of view of Barney, who I guess is about 10 or 11 years old and feels that he is being haunted by his mysterious Great Uncle Cole, whom he has never met.  He is frightened as any child would be and Mahy really manages to convey his fear with ease. I actually felt like a child whilst reading it and it took me back to the ghost stories of my childhood, such as The Haunting of Cassie Palmer by Vivien Alcock.
Barney confides in his sister, Tabitha, who is shocked by the changes occurring in Barney. She makes it her business to try and solve why this is happening to Barney by approaching her Great Uncles to see if they can help.  The book takes a surprising turn which I really didn't see coming, even though I know it wouldn't be a straightforward ending.
Mahy is excellent at providing the reader with a real understanding of family life. Her writing is thoughtful and she shows the children of today as they really are. You could easily step into Barney's shoes and understand  why he behaved the way he did.  I loved this modern family and I found myself easily able to picture them in their home.
This may be a children's book, but I would definitely recommend adult's reading it. Such a thin book, yet packed full to the brim with suspense, mystery and fear.

Three Men In a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.
Now I know this is a worldwide classic that has been published many many times over the years and is loved by a wide majority, but it didn't really  do a lot for me.  I found it funny and entertaining to begin with, but then I found myself getting bored with it and to be honest I struggled helplessly to the end. I felt like an untrained marathon runner, crawling to the end of a very long race.
The book follows the adventures of three men and a dog as they travel along the River Thames by rowing boat, camping out in the evenings. Each chapter deals with another part of I their journey and seems to be full of facts about each area of London they pass. There is absolutely no plot to this book what so ever and I think that is why I struggled to get into it, it just didn't seem to be going anywhere for me. I think the only parts of this book I actually really enjoyed were the chapter summaries at the beginning of each chapter, which seemed to go into great detail about each one's content.
I almost feel that there must be something wrong with my sense of humour, because after that first chapter, it did absolutely nothing for me, where as others have cried with laughter at it. So I really wouldn't pay too much attention to my opinion of this book as I seem to be in a minority.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico
Mrs Harris is very down to earth cleaning lady who gives the impression of the cockney Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady. When she opens her mouth to speak, all you can think of is the  real East End.. She is an adorable character who is hard working and is as honest as the day is long.  She works hard for her money and yet lives simply until she lays eyes upon a Dior dress. A need like no other takes over her and she will stop at nothing until she owns a similar dress. Never mind, that it will take her a couple of years to save for it, never mind that she will never be able to wear it anywhere; she wants one and she will have one. Mrs Harris goes to great lengths in order to realise her dream and eventually she finds herself walking in the hallways of the House of Dior. At first the staff see her as a ghastly commoner, not fit to walk in their building, but they all soon fall in love with her East End charm that warms the cockles of their hearts.
The book is set during the 1930's and it is interesting to watch as Mrs Harris single handedly pulls down class barriers, no one can resist her charm, wit and her wonderful view of life.
This is a delightful read which leaves you feeling warm inside.  There are a few upsets within the last couple of chapters, but Mrs Harris is not one to be depressed for long.   I hope to read the rest of the books in this series soon.


  1. I have not read any of these, but I wanted to let you know how much I like your new mini review format.

  2. I checked Mrs. 'Arris out of the library this fall, but did not have a chance to read it. I hope to make the time this summer, when I am wishing I could be in Paris myself :)

  3. I think there's a movie version of Mrs. 'Arris. It sounds like a good book.
    I like the mini review format as well and may try it this year. A few other bloggers I follow do this regularly.

  4. Nice shorties :D One have to do those on a while too.

  5. Diane - thank you. Sometimes you have too many posts and not enough time. Easier to do it this way.

    Molly - the book I had out also had Mrs Harris Goes To New York, but I didn't have time to read it before it went back.

    Mary - I believe you are right. I think it has Angela Lansbury in it.

    Blodeuedd - just saves time sometimes.

  6. I'm so glad you enjoyed The Haunting! I have joined the Kiwi YA challenge just as an excuse to read more Mahy. Sorry you had no luck with Jerome, though! There's nothing wrong with your sense of humour - different strokes for different folks and all that :P

  7. Mini reviews are a great way to get caught up! I still have a couple left over from last year, and now more for 2011...
    I've heard Three Men in a Boat is great as an audio. I'm hoping to try it that way. I'm quite sure there is nothing wrong with your sense of humor... we're all different.

  8. Nymeth - I will definitely be reading more Mahy. I loved it.

    JoAnn - it just makes life easier.I hope you like the audio of Three Men.

  9. I am intrigued by Mrs 'Arris. Might have to look into this one.

  10. Mrs. 'Harris sounds enchanting! I think that one will be difficult to find, but I think it would also be right up my alley, so hopefully I run across it :-)

  11. I really enjoy these mini reviews, Vivienne. I haven't read any of these books. The Haunting and Mrs. 'Arris sound excellent.

  12. Now I'm really curious about The Haunting! It sounds like an excellent read!

  13. I didn't realize that Mrs. 'Arris was a book. I still intend to read Three Men in a Boat just because it was referred to so many times in To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

  14. Mrs Arris goes to Paris sounds just adorable. I hope my library has a copy. Have a great week, Vivienne.

  15. I've never heard of these, but they sound good. Especially the first one.

  16. Josbookjourney - it is really good.

    Aarti - it has just been rereleased by The Bloomsbury Group, so you shouldn't have too much trouble.

    Suko - thank you. I was running out of time. Hope to be back on Really Random Tuesdays soon.

    Vasilly - a very quick read too.

    Alyce - I hope you have better luck with Three Men In a Boat than I did.

    Kaye - check out The Bloomsbury Group new releases as it is part of them and has a lovely pink cover.

    Naida - thanks

  17. Three Men in a Boat seems to be a favorite among bloggers but I am afraid I may not like it either when I get to it - I need plot! :)

    Hadn't heard of the Gallico book but now that seems like a sweet, cozy story I'd enjoy. Sort of reminds me of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

  18. I swear I left a comment on this post Vivienne! Did it get eaten? Just in case...

    The Haunting sounds marvelous! Putting it on my TBR list.

    And I wonder if the audio format of Three Men in a Boat made it extra amusing for me. :)


Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.