Friday, 1 June 2012

Latest acquisitions

Two weeks into the new place, and the re-reading engendered by re-familiarising myself with my collection through re-stacking the bookcases kind of done with, it was definitely time for some new books. As if I need to justify buying books with any of my regular readers...! Anyhow, in two separate sorties that were serendipitous in their own way, here's the new pile:

The top two come from a newly discovered secondhand bookshop in Newtown - Elizabeth's - which says on its sign that they've been trading since the late seventies. It's HUGE! It's a good thing that I had a fixed period of time available in which to find some food before I had to be somewhere, otherwise, I may have had enough time to do much more damage. The Kellermans were parked on a table right at the front with staff recommendation tags attached and were both under $10. For those of you who haven't discovered Faye Kellerman and like crime fiction, she's very good. She's married to Jonathan Kellerman, but hers are less dark than his books - which I've tried to read but have never really got into.

I'd never really read much crime fiction, it really isn't my thing at all. My mother got me into these ones by handing me a copy of the first one - Ritual Bath - and saying, "You should read this, it's crime fiction and I know you don't like it, but it's Jewish." So I did, and found myself in the middle of the maddest mixture of LA crime and the Orthodox Jewish world. Ritual Bath is the beginning of a series with Peter Decker as the central character. He's divorced with a teenage daughter, ex army, a bar qualified lawyer, a detective with the LAPD, Southern Baptist raised and, something he only discovered as an adult, Jewish by birth. The crime scene he's called to is in an Ultra-Orthodox enclave, where a woman has been raped on her way back from the mikvah (ritual bath). Central to the people who provide him with information is the widowed Rina Lazarus, who is n charge of the mikvah. And, as tantalising as that may sound, I'll leave it there...! There is a long journey for Peter to become an acceptable Jew in the eyes of the Rosh Yeshivah and Rina herself; there are her two young sons to consider; and there is a crime to solve. Kellerman has written a whole series of books based around these two, and Peter's partner, Marge. They're well written, and have all sorts of lovely quirky combinations of the crime story itself and the private lives of the Deckers, as Peter navigates the two wholly disparate parts of his life - the observant Orthodox Jew and the LAPD detective.

Next was the rest of The Hunger Games. I'll post about them soon - I read them both yesterday as I was home sick and confined to the couch, and I'm still digesting. For those of you who were part of the large conversation about the first of the trilogy across two earlier posts - here, and here - I still haven't seen the movie, and may possibly not see it. That these sequels will be filmed is probably already in the bag, and reading them doesn't make me sit up with anticipation, to be honest.

The book at the bottom of the pile, Children's Exodus. A History of the Kindertransport, is a book I've been aware of, but hadn't found. When I worked as a Holocaust educator, some of the Survivors I worked with had been Kindertransport children. They have, as do most Survivors, many, many complex emotional issues to deal with. Some of them were fortunate, and were placed with loving families who did their best for them but others had very different stories. In the background of their relatively safe wartime was the worry about family, the fear once letters and postcards stopped coming, and eventually, for most of them, having to come to grips with the fact that their families were all dead at the end of the war. As is the case for of these people, they suffer from 'Survivor guilt' - that they're alive while their families perished - but with an added layer of having been safe while their families suffered and died the way they did.

So that's the new current stash. On another note all together, I found another literary blog that I'm now following, Book Snob - see here for the latest post. This is a beautifully written blog, with high quality reviews and other musings. I found it when I was looking for images to accompany my review of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Rachel's showed up in the search. If you go to the Reviews section of her site, you'll find the most enormous list of books she's read and reviewed - a wonderfully eclectic list of classics and new, adult and YA. I've emailed Rachel and had a reply back and she made the comment that one of the lovely things about writing her blog was that she'd met so many interesting people. She's been going for about three years now. I only started this year, but I have to say I'm totally with her on this. To all of you who have signed up, follow me, and comment - thank you - your presence, comments and discussions enrich the whole experience. For those of you who are lurking, don't be shy - join in, I don't bite!! If you don't feel comfortable commenting publicly, email me - you can do that via the blog.

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