I was going to buy this book anyway, but it was also Waterstone's book circle book of the month for March. OK, it's taken until May to get around to reading it, but...lol...I read Firmin, their April choice before they nominated it. :D
Anyway, back to the book, bumph first;
The novel switches narrative from Seth, to Abel and back again, with genetic history, and tales of an imaginary land called Isidora, helping knit the strands together. Abel is an old man by the end of the novel, but we have a "most important events" type narrative from him to start off with, Seth is determined to find out more about his mother's condition, which means uncovering here history that for reasons of her own she has never discussed. As Set finds out more about the progress and transmission of EOA [early onset Alzheimer's] the more he realises he must find out more about his mother's family. There is also a point where he realises that by his Mum's age he may develop the condition, he actually has the blood taken, then takes it from the nurse and bins it, not wanting to know at this point in time. The novel is poignant, but in places a little tough going, usually on the genetic history sections, but stick with it, as they are all relevant to the story. For more about Stefan Merrill Block, click here.
Roman England, 366 AD
Minna, a Roman serving girl, loses family and home and is flung out into the brutal world to fend for herself. Desperate to reach her soldier brother at the northern frontier, she falls in with acrobat Cian, a tribeless youth with no loyalty to anyone but himself.
A terrible mistake sees them thrust into the wilds of barbarian Scotland, a land in chaos. The Romans send scouts north from their frontier, seeking to subdue Scotland by any means possible. The dark Picts attack back, raiding and pillaging Roman farms.
And caught in the middle is Cahir, King of the Dalriadans in Scotland. Year by year he has watched his people fall under the Roman yoke, and wounded by shame, his power dwindles.
At Dunadd, Cahir's fort, Cian and Minna must struggle to survive. Cian retreats into the pain of his hidden past, while Minna has an entirely unexpected path open before her. For what are the visions and dreams of Scotland that plague her, full of battles and bloodshed?
Compelled by an ancient prophecy, Minna's visions reveal a destiny that she shares with the wounded king Cahir, a path as seer and healer. Yet her journey to save them both has far-reaching consequences even she cannot foresee.
Love gained and lost.
The truth of who she really is.
And a war that will free Scotland from the Roman invaders forever.
This, as with all other writings of Jules Watson, left me utterly breathless. I could never possibly say enough great things about this amazing author. Her words grab you and suck you back in time, making you feel as though you're breathing the very air that surrounds her characters. You want to know these characters and feel as though you do by the time the book comes to a close. Though a historical novel in the sense of the time period it was set, the characters are purely fictional, yet everything felt so real. As though I was really there.
Labels: historical fantasy
It is 1953, and in San Francisco Pearlie, a dutiful housewife finds herself caring for both her husband's fragile health and her polio afflicted son. The one Saturday morning someone from her husband's past appears on their doorstep.
His arrival throws all the certainties by which Pearlie has lived into doubt, and she is brought face to face with the desperate measures people are prepared to take to escape the conflict of their lives.
At first glance from the bumph, it looks like a normal story that will progress into the story of an affair, and the way the three characters cope with it, but all is far from what it seems. A lot of "moral/legal" questions are thrown up, some which didn't even cross my mind until they were stated in black and white. I don't like spoiling books, so I will keep quiet about what surprised me, apart from the fact this particular novel continued to surprise from start to finish.
http://andrewseangreer.com/ for more details about the author and his books.
On a burn ward, a man lies between living and dying, so disfigured that no one from his past life would even recognize him. His only comfort comes from imagining various inventive ways to end his misery. Then a woman named Marianne Engel walks into his hospital room, a wild-haired, schizophrenic sculptress on the lam from the psych ward upstairs, who insists that she knows him – that she has known him, in fact, for seven hundred years. She remembers vividly when they met, in another hospital ward at a convent in medieval Germany, when she was a nun and he was a wounded mercenary left to die. If he has forgotten this, he is not to worry: she will prove it to him.
And so Marianne Engel begins to tell him their story, carving away his disbelief and slowly drawing him into the orbit and power of a word he'd never uttered: love.
The opening of this novel was intense and graphic, neither of which put me off from reading it. I don't know how Mr Davidson managed to convey so explicitly an experience that he's never had, but he manages to pull it off in a truly believable way.
However, once the main character - whose name is never revealed - leaves the hospital and begins his life as a recovering burn victim out in the world the story, for me, took a plumet. The plot never really progressed as I would have expected it to. We merely jump back and forth in time, which isn't difficult to keep up with, just boring. It was a long drawn out story which lost me as a reader about 3/4 into the book.
I'm sure you're wondering how I managed to get through 3/4 of the book and not finish. By that point it started to feel like a chore to read. Nothing really happened. Marianne and the main character lived out their lives and she told him stories of their past. I could not bring myself to care about the characters so it was easy for me to ditch them.
Labels: mainstream fiction
I don't normally go for books with "love" in the title, had enough slushy stuff to last me a lifetime, plus it is an unrealistic view of life in so called "love stories".....BUT....this isn't really a book about slushy "romantic" love, it's about the love families have for each other, even in strained circumstances.
There, at first, appears to be just two narratives in the novel, but there is a third one quietly weaving the two main narratives together. A further one helps bring the novel to conclusion.
For me, the narrators are Leo, Alma, Bird and Zvi.
The novel starts off with Leo and his very strange, almost bizarre ways of ensuring that although he is old, and lives alone, he won't be one of those lonely dead people who are discovered days, sometimes weeks after they have finally died. Although comic, it is probably true, Krauss has him going out every day and doing unpredictable things in public places, such as knocking over stack of cans in a supermarket. A bittersweet condemnation of society today.
Alma's quest to find the "cure" for her mother's loneliness is also sad, but heart warming, not in a mushy way though. I had put off reading this book for quiet a while presuming it would be all hearts and flowers, it's anything but that, and a very good read.
Sharon J Bolton's first novel tackles a subject, albeit in a disguised way, that once brought to mind, I found difficult to forget. I won't spoil it, but the novel gives nothing at all away about this particular thread of the plot.
Part thriller,part medical, part investigative is what springs to find on reading the bumph. I did find myself telling the heroine "don't do that" several times, but as you know, the heroine....no doing would lead to a very short dull book.
I enjoyed the various twists and turns of the plot, and wasn't able to predict a couple of them. The setting, of the novel is crucial to the plot, it really couldn't happen elsewhere, [other than other remote islands,] as is revealed towards the end of the novel.
Sacrifice is a first novel from a past Waterstone's "New Voices" promotion, S.J.Bolton having now written a second novel, and her website says she's working on a third.
I'll not type out the bumph here, visit Sharon Bolton's website to read more about Sacrifice, her newest release Awakening, and the book still being written.
This is the second Win Garano novel I have read by Cornwell, and to me Win Garano is not quite as enigmatic as Kay Scarpetta. That aside, the novel is very accessible, but this one had a rather confusing conclusion, to me. I will probably read more in this series because of the author, but they are no way as engrossing as the Kay Scarpetta books.
Labels: Patricia Cornwell
I discovered this book thanks to Waterstone's Books Quarterly. It was one of their...if you like this book, you will like this one too, books. The link in this case was Poppy Shakespeare, which I haven't read as yet, but have watched the TV dramatisation
However, the title of this book also intrigued me. "Broken Biscuits".....when I was young......Mum would buy broken biscuits from the market. They were cheaper, and many biscuits that were beyond my parents weekly budget would be in the broken biscuit mix. I don't know if Liz Kettle meant readers to make this connection, but I did. My sister would shake the biscuit tin, deliberately before choosing her biscuits, as we were under strict instructions to "eat the broken biscuits first"....the implication of this being, if guests came, they could choose the whole biscuits. As I said, I have no idea if this is the link Liz Kettle made when choosing the title, but the characters in the novel are both damaged in some way.
The novel could be confusing, as Aggie's narrative goes backwards, and Jodie's goes forwards, but both women are struggling to make sense of their worlds. I really enjoyed this book, despite it's unsettling subject matter....after all...no-one likes to think they might loose their marbles.
Labels: Liz Kettle
When I bought this book...I didn't realise that it was a graphic novel...however...I read it quite quickly. The underlying message from this novel is......I suppose...don't judge a book by it's cover.
Throughout the text Marjane tries to "fit in" to other cultures/ and indeed her own, she is displaced, and left adrift. Her extreme actions are expected, in my book.
The novel is a very good way of reminding US....that there are other cultures...and they should be taken into consideration.
This is one of those books that has been in my "stash" of books for a while, and I'll be honest, I forgot what it was about, until I picked it off the bookshelf. It's a perfect contrast to the insanity of the previous book, but not deadly serious.
I have seen a review of this book comparing it to Lovely Bones, as this book is also told through the eyes of someone who we learn is dead.
The characters are very believable, and Razi is a very gutsy young woman. Just why she is "haunting" the couple, Amy and Scott, seems random, until things start to tie together. What at first seems like two random plot lines becomes one through which both Razi and Amy learn something very important.
Although the bumph does say that this is a love story, I wouldn't let that fool you. It is not mushy and sentimental at all, it explores the depths of feelings people can still have for each other, even after death. When Domingue tied things up at the end of the book, I thought back and there was a pointer to one thing that was a mystery all through. Razi's first and only love could really only have settled for one other person in the book.
The link above takes you to Domingue's website, to date this her only full-length novel. It does say she was working on a second, but has shelved it for the time being, and is working on another.
The new Poet Laureate is Carol Ann Duffy. Her job will entail creating poems for Royal Occasions.
Carol is the first ever female holder of the post, it used to be for life, but Tony Blair made the post one with a ten year tenure in 1999.
I think this is brilliant news as alongside Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy is one of my favourite poets. I wonder if her lovely wry sense of humour will creep into any poems she writes for special occasions.
I'd just like to offer my congratulations to Ms Duffy on her appointment.
To read more about Ms Duffy, click here