Tuesday 17 November 2009

Guardian First Books

The shortlist for the Guardian First Book Award includes two titles Goldsboro Books stock. This is our take on them.

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larson

If these are only the selected works of T. S. Spivet then I am very keen to read the entire collection. This book is a delight.
We follow twelve-year-old, mapping genius, T. S. Spivet across country, from Montana to DC, to claim his place as the adult winner of prestigious museum the Smithsonian's Baird Award. But being twelve, and keeping the journey a secret from his family, at the same time as keeping his age a secret from the Smithsonian, makes this journey an adventure, and a perilous one at that.

The story would be enjoyable if you only had the text in a word document, however, you can not separate this narrative from the beautiful production and illustration of the book. I was totally transported to T. S's world, a world of mapping, loss, adventure and bravery. Through his mature, yet naive, twelve-year-old eyes I became a more considerate reader, absorbing every piece of information even hinted at, studying every diagram, and then getting carried away with the plot so turning back to read any asides I might have missed.

This book was not just a purchase but a gift from me to me. And, just to let you know, you have no idea what a map really is until you read this book!

The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey

This is a truly unique novel. For the first time, that I know of, Samantha Harvey has written a novel from the point of view of an Alzheimer's sufferer. And she pulls it off with incredible skill and style.

As Jake, her protagonist, slowly succumbs to the disease, so his memories fracture and his fact becomes fiction and his memories bleed into each other. But this novel is not a depressing one. It is a life affirming novel.

This wonderful and outstanding novel is one of the most thought-provoking novels of 2009.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

November book of the month

A Kurdish boy, Reza, is orphaned at the age of ten after a battle between the Kurds and the Shah of Iran's military forces in the early 1900's. The policy at this time is to conscript the male orphans in to the Shah's army, so Reza trades his old life and becomes Iranian, after witnessing the brutal death of all of this male relatives, including his father who is kicked to death in front of him. Though Reza is the main character, his life unfolds through a series of storytellers, each with their own view point. The Age of Orphans unleashes a tapestry of untold horrors and pleasures, of blood and smoke, hopes and dreams. This is a profoundly moving story of a land sewn together under the ambitious imagining of a nation, and of the life of a boy whose identity does not and can not unite with this vision. This is the first of a trilogy and the debut by a skillful writer.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

The CWA Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award 2009

Congratulations to Philip Kerr for winning this years CWA Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award for his novel If The Dead Rise Not.

This sophisticated thriller is set in Berlin 1934, a city on the brink of cataclysmic change, Bernie Gunther is now a house detective at the famous Adlon Hotel having been forced to resign as a homicide detective. The discovery of two bodies - a Jewish boxer and a Jewish businessman - involves Bernie in the lives of two hotel guests. One is a beautiful journalist intent on persuading America to avoid the upcoming 1936 Olympics in Berlin and the other is a German-Jewish gangster who plans to use the Olympics as a way to make money for him and the Chicago mob. Bernie uncovers a vast labour and construction racket designed to take advantage of the huge amounts the Nazi's are willing to spend showcasing the new Germany to the world. The conclusion is found 20 years later in pre-revolution Cuba to where Bernie finds himself twenty years later. Kerr's skill is in the believable detail of both changing countries; Of war and it's aftermath and of a man who is changed and who also stays the same over twenty years. A brilliant novel that deserved the Ellis Peters award.

We've been very clever here at Goldsboro Books and have stocked all 6 of the wonderful novels on the shortlist. And we've been lucky too; they are all signed by the authors.