Posts Tagged ‘Ali McNamara’

Over the weekend I read a couple of “light” books — sometimes you just need a palate cleanser, and after all the historical detail and busyness of To Marry an English Lord I was ready to curl up with a guilty pleasure.

First I read a book for young people, something I’ve been trying to do more of since the reference desk at our library is near the YA section and I sometimes help tweens & their parents who are not sure about YA but feel like they’ve outgrown the children’s room. I’d heard really good things about The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, which is described on the jacket as “part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure,” and some reviewers felt it was a good read for any age. I thought of it again after reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Plus, Bachmann was homeschooled until he entered the Zurich Conservatory and he wrote the book when he was sixteen, which I found intriguing.

It’s a good read, although I’m not sure I agree that it would appeal to many adult readers. It is very clever, and I liked the way Bachmann, like Philip Reeve in his wonderful Larklight series, creates a new Victorian England.  In Reeve’s case, he added space-age technology. In Bachmann’s he combines “steampunk” aspects (like mechanical messenger pigeons) and magic (fairies have lost the way back into their homeland after a war with humans). It’s an interesting read, with plenty of suspense, humor, and compelling characters. It’s the first in a series, so readers can look forward to more adventures for Bartholomew, a changeling child (a peculiar, both human and fairy), and his unlikely friend Arthur Jelliby, a member of the privy council who uncovers a murderer in the British government and with Bartholomew works to stop a conspiracy to re-open the door to the fairy realm.

My other light read was a “chick lit” novel, From Notting Hill With Love . . . Actually by Ali McNamara. It’s about a young cinema-obsessed woman, Scarlett, who works in the family popcorn machine business and is about to marry a man she’s not necessarily madly in love with, but whose family owns a cinema chain, in order to secure her father’s future. Sounds almost Jane Austen-ish, doesn’t it? Her father and her fiancee decide she needs some time away to think things over, and her best friend finds a house-sitting gig for her in Notting Hill. Scarlett decides to prove to her family that real life and movies (especially romantic comedies) are not so dissimilar by logging as many movie-like experiences as she can.

She meets neighbors and finds herself drawn into a new circle of friends (and possibly more), and shares her longing to know the mother who left her and her father when she was only a toddler. As you can imagine, all’s well in the end, but not before various zany, romantic, or dramatic events unfold. The Star Wars themed wedding she attends had me laughing out loud. It was a lot of light-reading fun, especially since we were just in Scarlett’s neighborhood ourselves (we rented a flat in Holland Park, and shopped at the Marks & Spencer near Notting Hill Gate for provisions).

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