Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Bride Stripped Bare - Anonymous

This was one of those books that attracted me by something other than the content. I was struck by the fact that the author was anonymous. Why? What could they be writing about that they wouldn't want to put their name too?

This is definitely not a book for those looking for a soppy romance! It is written in almost diary style, with each chapter headed with a lesson. The story of our anonymous woman begins on her honeymoon in Morocco. As her life changes and she discovers more about who she is, her circumstances take quite a perilous turn. No longer the faithful wife, she delves deep into her darker side and begins to experiment with infidelity and lust. She takes risks that many might never consider and her double life begins.

This erotic tale left me bewildered. I enjoyed the thrill of her adventures. They put me in places that were uncomfortable, but they also left me secretly delighted. The character is confused but certain, frightened but brave, in love but alone. She made me want to help her, and in a certain shocking way, made me want to be more like her.

A true dichotomy, the book's ending is both predictable but unexpected, and left me wanting to know more about this intriguing character. The opening page of the story has a quote from an Alfred Hitchcock story, and it epitomises her journey -

"I have a feeling that inside you somewhere, there's somebody nobody knows about."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Expected One - Kathleen McGowan

As some of you may know, I have quite a fascination with Mary Magdalene, and for reasons far too complex to explain here. Because of this, I am always on the look out for books, fact or fiction, about this wonderfully interesting and powerful woman. On one of my routine internet surfing sessions, I came across quite a bit of controversy surrounding the author Kathleen McGowan and her claim that she is a descendant of the Magdalene. The detective in me was determined to find out more. After looking at her website I was even more intrigued, so I searched for a second hand copy (yay, for ebay!) of her first book, The Expected One.

This is a fiction novel full of fact, and closely echoes the likes of The Da Vinci Code and other similar books. I really enjoyed it. Mostly because it kept me on the edge of my mattress (I read in bed...), but also because it was a history lesson and covered aspects of the Magdalene that I had yet to discover.

Maureen Pascal is a journalist who is on the verge of beginning a new book. Unbeknownst to her, she is about to embark on a journey that could change the course of history and most definitely the rest of her life. When she starts to make sense of the visions she is having of a weeping red headed woman, she begins to unravel secrets that were hidden from the world two thousand years ago - the hidden gospels of Mary Magdalene. She becomes incredibly immersed in the secret cultures and dynastic families of the Southwest of France - the Cathars, the Medici and the Borgia - and begins to link their stories with those of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and ultimately herself.

The story exposes the reader to the fictional character of the slightly neurotic Maureen (loosely based on the author's own persona), but also takes us back two thousand years and attempts to place us in the mind of Mary Magdalene. In Mary's shoes we experience the crucifixion of her beloved, his resurrection and her alleged escape to France. Both the modern and historical stories were well written, and in a style that was convincing for both characters. In between these two fascinating characters, is the somewhat controversial story of Mary Magdalene, her Easa (Jesus Christ) and what became of her after his demise.

Whether one believes or not, this book is definitely a good read. It will satisfy history buffs, crime fans and romance lovers, and at the same time allow the reader that wonderful escape we all crave.

An introduction

I've found some amazing blogs in my short blogging history. It's so addictive! There are some incredibly talented people out there whose blogs are not only beautiful to look at, but wonderful to read too. I'm an avid reader and blogs have been a great way to sate that appetite, but books are still my first love. There is nothing like diving into another person's world and escaping my own existence, if only for a little while. Because I read so much, I decided to start a book review blog so that I can share my discoveries with you all, and hopefully ignite in you the same passion for reading that I have. I have already read so many books this year that it would be impossible for me to add them all - I just don't have that kind of time! So I will pick a few of my favourites and gradually update the blog, but once that is done, I will just add each book as I finish reading.

So here it is - A Garden in my Pocket! Enjoy...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

Ok, so I'm slow on the uptake. I know this book has been around for years, but I've only just discovered it, and it's incredible author. Maybe there's a reason for that? It did seem to pop up just when I needed it. Synchronicity? Of course. What a little gem it turned out to be too!

This is the story of Santiago, a young shepherd boy who is on a journey from Spain to Egypt to find his personal treasure. Along the way, Santiago meets many wise people, the old king, the crystal seller, the charismatic thief, a beautiful woman and of course, the Alchemist. All of these characters play a part in helping Santiago achieve his dream. Or so he believes. His journey is one of learning through experience and acceptance, and that was the joy of the story for me - the blossoming of wisdom in a young and impressionable soul. Each mystical, and somewhat fanciful character, could well be someone in our own lives. Someone who unwittingly is helping us on our own journey of discovery, whether we realise it or not.

This beautifully simple story is full of symbolic characters and secrets, wonderful imagery and poetic words, and is ultimately a story of optimism. It's a fairytale for grown-ups, and should be read by everyone who is searching for that elusive 'pot of gold'. It's a story for the heart, and mine accepted it totally.

In the words of the author, "when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true"....