Friday, February 20, 2009

Desperate for English language books in France?

Desperate for English language books in France?

Check out, a free book exchange. You “sell” your own books for points which you then use to “buy” other members’ used books - the only cost involved is postage.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What is it about manga comics?

Mangas are the latest teen craze, the black and white Japanese comic books read from right to left.

“Boys’” Mangas involve lots of duels and fighting while “girls’” mangas centre on love stories.

In both cases their literary value is approximately zero but if you long to see your kids with a book in their hand instead of a gadget, get them some Mangas.

Recently only available in specialist shops, now pick them up in supermarkets.

Picture below shows how mangas are 'read' - top to bottom and right to left.

Published in the Rendezvous Magazine,
©All rights reserved

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Giving Children the Reading Habit

Reading with your child is perhaps the greatest gift you can give them - and yourself: a moment of perfect, sweet intimacy.

Of course at the Spot Bakes a Cake stage, the books themselves can be mildly tedious but thanks, in part, to JK, (Rowling) we are now living in a golden age of children’s literature with a wealth of books that give as much pleasure to parents - and grandparents - as children.

In the quest-good-evil genre, which is of course the story of all literature, we have the Deltora Quest series by Emily Rodda for younger readers (6 yrs and upwards) and Philip Pullman’s utterly wonderful His Dark Materials series - “Harry Potter with brains” - for older readers (from 11yrs to adult).

Great news for addicts of Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series is that book four, Outcast, is out in time for Christmas. If you don’t know this series, which tells the story of Torak and his wolf-companion’s struggle for survival in the ancient world, discover it now - it is sheer delight. ( Reading aloud from 6-7 yrs. and read alone from 8-9yrs.)

Another book out for Christmas is the latest in the boy spy Alex Rider series, Snakehead, by Anthony Horowitz (familiar to adults from his tv Midsommer Murders) - a great series for getting boys reading - read aloud from 6-7 years and read alone from 8-9 yrs.

His Dark Materials series published by Yearling.
Deltora Quest series published by Scholastic Inc
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series is published by Orion.
Alex Rider series published by Walker Books

Children's reading - published in the Rendezvous magazine, Dec 2007.
© All rights reserved

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

The story of a modest dream. A widow, Florence Green, wants to open a bookshop in the small town of Hardborough, in which she has lived for ten years.

After the death of her husband she simply wants to make a living and be independent. However, the decision to open a bookshop without due attention to Mrs Gamart's aspirations proves to be Florence Green's downfall. The former is a well connected and ruthless woman with plans of her own. However, one senses her objection to the bookshop is less significant than her objection to the unyielding FG.

This brilliant little Booker-shortlisted gem shows the best and worst of parochial life. It illustrates how people can be easily swayed with little consideration as to principles. The humour (unintentionally provided by self-important people) and the tensions found in the politics of this small town dictates the tone of this tale.

FG has some significant allies, but disappointingly the majority go with the influential flow and at the end, with a Hardy-esque touch, her arch-defender unwittingly plays into the hands of her arch-enemy. This vivid chapter in the life of a kindly and courageous woman is, sadly, described with great credibility.

Reviewed by Marie Hayward
Published in the Rendezvous magazine
© All rights reserved

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Winter in Madrid by C J Sansom

The Rendezvous Book Choice:

If you are treating yourself to a great summer read you need a fat book and a page turner. And if - we can always hope - you are reading on the beach and/or under a scorching sun - there is, for me, something extra thrilling about being transported not only into a different era but a different climate.

Winter in Madrid is a superb thriller set at the outbreak of WW2 and the tail end of the Spanish Republican era and Franco’s victory. The story follows three English school friends and their different fates in Spain. Harry is a decent Englishman whose beliefs are shaken by both his Spanish experience and his presence at the humiliation of Dunkirk. Bernie is a committed Communist and International Brigader whose faith in communism is disturbed by Stalin’s pact with Hitler. The shady Sandy, a classic war-time-depression era black-marketeer, is out for himself.

Part love-story, part spy-thriller, the plot is terrific with fabulous twists and turns.
But it is the portrayal of a decimated, divided, authoritarian Spain, always one stop away from joining the war, which is truly masterful.

Sansom’s research is meticulous but never intrudes into the story which is set against the backdrop of real events: Hitler’s overtures to Franco and the British diplomats’ frantic attempts to keep Spain out of the war.

Indeed, Spain’s tenuous neutrality and absence from the war mean that late thirties-early forties Spain is a subject about which many of us know too little.

In the end Sansom admirably resists happy endings and the fate of the protagonists is exactly what they should be which makes this a satisfying read to the very last page.

If you enjoyed Sebastian Faulkes’ Birdsong and Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia you will love this book.

Winter in Madrid: A Novel

by Miranda Ingram
Published in the Rendezvous Magazine, ©All rights reserved

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lose Weight and Learn French: Bye, Bye, Bidon

Lose weight and learn French with this fun exercise book for real women.

“Bye, Bye Bidon” is written by American Leisa Jean who has been teaching gym classes in Manche for 25 years and illustrated by Wendy Sinclair whose brilliant French life cartoons have been appearing in the Rendezvous.

See more pages and order at or send a cheque for 25€ to Leisa Jean, La Testuyère 50570 Le Lorey.

Published in the March 2008 issue of the Rendezvous magazine