Book Reviews from Port Ellen, Isle of Islay

Port Ellen Primary School and Port Ellen Book Group are working together to create book reviews in preparation for the Port Ellen Book Festival, which is on the 17th and 18th June 2006 at the Primary School. Over the next few months we shall be reviewing both the adult and children's authors who will be attending our festival. Please feel free to post a comment about your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Dark Ship
Anne MacLeod
Published by 11/19
ISBN 1-903238-27-7

Spanning three generations and two World Wars this is an immensely moving tale of a close-knit community on the Isle of Lewis. A central love triangle binds together
a complex mixture of love, tragedy, music and poetry; and is brought to life by a varied group of strongly drawn characters.
I can't praise The Dark Ship too highly.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Just the Caravaggio
Anne MacLeod
Poetry Saltzburg
ISBN 3-901993-00-2

An interesting mix of poems covering a range of subjects - nature -family -rivers - snow...
There's lots to read and re-read and my favourites change with each reading. Today I favour 'Voices on Water' which has a lovely lyrical quality; and 'River' which describes how Anne's small daughter said that she wanted to be a river so that she could explore the world.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Grace Notes
Bernard MacLaverty
ISBN 0-09-977801-7
Grace Notes was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize. It tells the story of a young female Irish composer and how her relationships with her parents, her lover and her baby daughter affect her career. It takes place in Glasgow, Northern Ireland and on Islay.
The comments about Islay school pupils are likely to ruffle a few feathers and details about music are somewhat alien to a total non-musician.
However, it is a moving story about the difficulties faced by creative people
and I enjoyed the book enough to know that I will definitely read it again.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Woman Who Painted Her Dreams
Isla Dewar
ISBN 0-7472-6158-X

Without giving too much away, this is an enjoyable read. The dialogue flows well and the characters are so strongly drawn that it is easy to empathise with almost all of them. That comment is not a reflection on Isla’s writing but on the true-to-life characters who make life difficult for the more endearing ones. One in particular made me think ‘ I used to know someone just like that.’
It is the complex relationships and interplay between the characters which bring the book to life.
For the Love of Willie
Agnes Owens
ISBN 0 –7475-4011-X

This is a touching story with an inspired mix of tragedy, comedy and compassion.
It starts in wartime Glasgow when sixteen year old Peggy falls in love with her employer. Through realistic dialogue and carefully drawn characters it follows Peggy from girlhood to old age.
It is a relatively short book, only 122 pages, but it is an excellent read with some unexpected twists.
To Travel Hopefully – Journal of a Death Not Foretold
Christopher Rush
Profile Books
ISBN 1 -86197 – 793 – X

The first two parts of this book tell a harrowing story of illness, bereavement and a man’s despair at losing his wife. It will resonate with anyone who has experienced a similar situation; and for those who have not, it will give a greater insight and understanding into the state of mind of those who have been less fortunate.
The final part of the book describes how the author regained his sanity by faithfully following the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson through the Cévennes Complete with donkey, and travelling on the same dates as Stevenson, he compares and contrasts the two journeys which took place more than a century apart.
Beautifully written, it is a compelling account of grief and recovery, a fascinating journal of an unusual and dramatic adventure and an inspirational account of the value of rising to a challenge in order to move on.
Port Ellen Book Club have had a wee look at our blog and are now going to post some reviews for the adult readers among us! We look forward to reading lots of reviews over the next few months and also hearing from our readers to find out what they think.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Kung-Fu Pigs - The Temple of Ghosts

Author and Illustrator - Keith Brumpton

This book was about a poor emperor who was desperate for money. He had heard about a place where he could find lots of treasure but it was very dangerous and there were lots of things in the way to stop him. This place was called the temple of ghosts. The emperor was too scared to go himself so he sent three pigs called Rinki, Dinki and Stinki to the temple of ghosts to find the treasure.

My favourite character in the book was Dinki because she was really funny and she kept everyone safe and made sure that no one got into danger. Dinki was gentle and kind and she had two pigtails.

My favourite part of the story was when Rinki, Stinki and Dinki and all of the hopping ghosts were fighting together. All of the ghosts were bad but in the end it turned out that they were good.

I enjoyed this book because it was really really funny and exciting. All of the class couldn't stop laughing when we were reading it.

I would recommend this book to someone else. I would rate this book 5 out of 5.

Primary 5 pupil
Port-Ellen Primary