March / April Reads & Reviews
The Cruelty of Lambs by Angelena Boden
This is an exciting psychological thriller around the lives of a married couple, Una and Iain, with a theme of domestic abuse. Una, is a dislikable character (in a good way), who runs her own Consultancy, leans towards promiscuity if only her age would let her, and drinks too much. Iain is a musician who had been accused of something that he denies happened, but 'mud sticks,' leaving him bereft. In the midst of this chaos are their children away at boarding school - at the same time on the fringes, and in the middle of their parents destructive behaviours. They also have adult children who are unaware of what is happening until it's almost too late. I won't spoil it by telling you who or what I was rooting for as it will give the game away. Angelena raises the tension until the end, leaving the reader to be never quite sure as to who to believe. Suffice to say, a satisfying ending.
The Huntress: Sea by Sarah Driver
An extraordinary children's fantasy adventure - the first in Sarah's trilogy. I'll admit when I picked up the book I hadn't realised that it was aimed at pre teens / young teenagers (this may have been due to where Waterstone's had placed the book in store)! Nevertheless, the beautiful blues and turquoise of the cover drew me into a vivid, fantastical adventure of Mouse - the seafaring heroine. At first the unusual rhythm of language and dialogue was difficult, making reading the story slow. Don't let this put you off as magic happens! The words do indeed transport you into a different time and place alongside Mouse and her brother Sparrow. Also, who wouldn't love a sea-faring, pirate like granny! There's fantastical animals and beasts - a wonderful connection and allies to our heroine and her crew; aspiring to keep them safe. There's danger and battles to be fought, but they are not frightening (for children), and will indeed ignite imagination. Looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy.
Electric Souk by Rose McGinty
This is an amazing debut novel, set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring. Rose is an adept story teller and takes us by the collar to whirl the reader into a middle eastern world that maybe unfamiliar to many Westerners. Having worked in the middle east Rose understands well the culture and their ways, weaving the threads in a suspenseful manner. Cutting swathes of colour, imagery and smells through this strange, enticing and increasingly dangerous world. Rose skilfully brings her beautifully drawn characters to life, raising the tension until the very end. The book left me wanting more - in a good way!
Faithful by Alice Hoffman
A beautifully woven tale of sorrow, mourning, grief and guilt for what might have been. A real page turner that made me feel that I wanted some things to be and others not to be, while rooting for the main character, Shelby. I almost don't want to say too much for fear of giving the twist and turns away. Suffice to say that I read this book in two sittings.
My Sisters Bones by Nuala Ellwood
I picked this book at random intrigued by the inner sleeve and the fact that it is partly based in Herne bay, Kent. The story is skilfully told through the eyes of Kate and her sister Sally. Kate is a war correspondent and thrives on the adrenaline; Sally an alcoholic. Neither of their lives are what it seems as they struggle to come to terms with the past, and reconnect in the now. The twist at the end was a shocker!
Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor
This is an historical novel, a murder mystery, set against the great fire of London, and is not a genre I would normally consider. However this is a thrilling read! Andrew describes the London of 1666, the political tensions of the day with great skill. The characters are truthfully and accurately drawn to the point where the reader can all but smell them! The twists and turns left me guessing until the end; I was never quite sure whose side I should be on. A chilling tale that is worth a second read.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
This has been my second read of this wonderful story of Harold who posts a letter to his old friend Queenie, who is very ill. Harold doesn't post the letter, deciding to walk to the next post box and then the next, and still he doesn't post his letter. Instead he decides to walk and go see her. Except Harold lives in Devon and Queenie in Berwick-Upon Tweed. He leaves home without any proper equipment or walking boots (wearing virtually his slippers) and no real sense of direction. It's a beautifully told, gentle love story, with believable, vividly drawn characters. I was really rooting for Harold, especially when he was 'ambushed' by 'supporters.' I don't mind telling you that I cried buckets of tears at the end.