Monday, 14 September 2015

Devoted in Death by J. D. Robb

A new Eve Dallas story is always something to look forward to. I have read all of them and really look forward to a new title which I then read as quickly as possible because I can't put it down!

This story follows two lovers whose devotion to each other has unleashed a dark side in each of their characters and which Dallas and her murder team aided and abetted by her husband race against the clock to save the next potential victims. There is a dark sadistic element to the killers which is a counterbalance to the love stories of Eve and Roarke and McNab and Peabody. I have to admit I found the plot of this story much darker than some of the other ones.

The other characters in this futuristic series add to the overall story and show how Eve and Roarke have evolved over the last  41 books (yes 41!) from solitary, lonely people to having a large extended family of police, scientists, musicians and many more to call friends. New York in the future is a great setting as is the possibilities of what police work could involve in the not too distant future.

At the heart of the story though is the love story of Eve & Roarke and their desire to care for one another and any others, especially the victims of crime, who cross their path in need of help.

A great read!

This title was free from Netaglley in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Summer reading

A week in Spain has given me a chance to catch up on my reading especially the pre-pub books that I have on my e-reader from Netgalley. The only problem being that most have now been published! Apologies for this but work and home life have got in the way of my reading. As things appear to be settling down on those fronts now (wait for A levels now over - and one child off to uni, just the wait for GCSEs now) I have an opportunity to catch up on my reviews.

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

The latest addition to the Princess Diaries  series and Mia is now a fully fledged adult balancing work commitments, royal duties, boyfriend, stalker and friend issues. Her father appears to be having a mid-life crisis, her mother is coming to terms with bereavement and a family secret is about to be unearthed - how is a princess supposed to cope? Coupled with this there is a wedding to plan.
The book races along and there is not much chance to develop some of the plot lines or characters. I was expecting more humour and the stalker plotline was never really developed properly or explained in my view.
 This book is apparently aimed at the readers who grew up reading Princess Diaries and I wouldn't recommend it to younger readers (11 or younger) as there are plenty of references to sex in the story. I think the readers who grew up on these books would want a book with more depth and development of plot and character.

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

I was really excited to get this as The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society which the author co-wrote is one of my favourite books.
Set in 1930s America, Layla Beck arrives in a sleepy Virginia town to write a history of the town for its 150 anniversary. Layla has been cut-off by her wealthy family due to her refusal to marry the 'right sort of man' picked out by her family. Arriving penniless she is taken in by the Romeyn family a once noted family in the town. As Layla begins her investigation in the history of the town secrets start to become unearthed and many in the town would prefer to remain hidden.

Willa the 12 year daughter is drawn to Layla and the stories she unearths, but her childlike view of her family puts everything she holds dear at risk, The story is very much about a child starting to realise that the world is far more complicated  than you first realise. Growing up means recognising that those you love are not always as perfect as you think. The Romeyn family in all their southern eccentricity are a great comic element in the story but there is a tragic side to them as well.

I enjoyed this book but I have to admit I think The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society is better


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

 As a Librarian how could I not be drawn to a book about the power of books and reading?
 I enjoyed this book about Sara arriving in Iowa from Sweden to visit her penfriend on the day of her funeral. The small town almost as broken as it's name take pity on her and takes her in whilst she works out what to do next. The next involves opening a bookshop and so the transformation of the town and its residents begins.

I know it sounds stereotypical and it is - small town characters that have appeared in other books, I can definitely see the influence of Fannie Flagg in this book but it is an enjoyable read. You may have to suspend belief at times but the author's love of books and reading comes across in this story.

It is true finding the right book for the right person at the right time can change a life, it is hard to believe that that is true but I've seen it myself. The right book at the right time can turn a non-reader into a reader or help someone through a difficult time .

This is a summer read that you never know may change your life!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Netgalley challenge

Going to try the Netgalley challenge so hoping this is going to post correctly! As a librarian I recommend books to users. My friends ask me to recommend titles all the time.

Monday, 20 July 2015


Something to Hide by Deborah Moggach explores the theme of betrayal in its many forms: adultery, friendship, trust, hope.

Petra & Bev have been friends since their youth in London. Bev's annual round robins of life with her husband Jeremy in exotic parts of the world have been winging their way into Petra's life for years - but is everything Bev writes to be trusted?

Lorrie is married to her soldier husband in Texas with two children, battling obesity, loneliness and
wanting that perfect dream home; she falls for one of the oldest tricks in the online world and tries to achieve her dream through one last desperate throw of the dice. Is she prepared to risk her marriage?

Jing is married in China but how much does she really know about the r husband and where his money comes from.

The lives of these disparate people from across the globe are woven together by fate and technology,

Petra & Bev's story is explored in greater depth, whilst that of Jing and Lorrie felt like an add-on although Jing's husband is caught up in Jeremy's life whose death has consequences for all these characters. Some of the aspects of the story stretched credibility and seemed too contrived to be believed - they were simply there to move the story on our illustrate a point.

I don't believe this is one of the author's best novels but would be a good novel for discussion in a book group due to its themes, setting and depiction of life

This copy was provided by Netgalley free in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, 21 May 2015

War, Identity & loss in Croatia

Sara' Novics's tale of loss, identity, family set during and in the aftermath of the breakdown of the Yugoslavian state in the 1990s is excellent.

Told through the eyes of Ana we first meet an all-American girl who seems to have it all but her self-containment, studies of authors whose writings deal with loss and identity as well as her unwillingness to commit to her boyfriend hint at  deeper concerns.

We then meet Ana more than a decade earlier, living in Croatia with her parents and her sick baby sister and it is this sick child which will lead this compact loving little family to a terrible end. Ana the child, doesn't understand the sudden breakdown of relations between people who were neighbours one day and sworn enemies the next depending on which ethnic group you belonged to.

Novic captures the initial exhilaration felt by the children, Ana and her school friends when war breaks out and they listen for the air raid warnings, which eventually turns to fear and dread. As her sister gets sicker and requires specialist medical help her family take the decision to evacuate her to America but tragedy occurs on the journey home, leaving Ana alone and fending for herself in a war-zone. Taken in a by some villagers she ends up a child-soldier and it is this experience that takes her to the UN a decade later to speak about her experiences. This unleashes the memories she has kept hidden for so long, having been evacuated to America and taken in by the family who fostered her sister her experiences in Croatia had made people uncomfortable and she learnt it was easier to hide what happened, but in doing that she started to lose part of herself. Years later she is trying to work who she is, where she came from and returning to Croatia starts to lay to rest some of these ghosts. An engaging, thought-provoking story with a believable heroine. An excellent read that would do well for book groups and as a way into to explaining some of the history of the Balkans in the 1990s.

This book was provided for free by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

When Mr Dog bites by Brian Conaghan

When Mr Dog Bites has been nominated for the Carnegie Award and compared to Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, both of these create a level of expectation for this book and does it live up to it?

I think so,
The author has created an engaging hero in Dylan Mint who is battling with Tourettes and trying to be a normal teenager in a school for children with special educational needs. He idealises his father who has suddenly disappeared, has an engaging and loving relationship with his mother who is trying to manage a son with whom the world views at best as strange and at worse as offensive. The relationship between Dylan and his best friend 'the bold Amir' is positive as they battle the careless racism prevalent in their area. Dylan is also starting to become interested in girls and one in particular, the scenes between Dylan & Michelle, especially when he his trying to keep the dog (his Tourettes), from appearing are funny. She doesn't bat an eyelid at his language but accepts him for who he is.
The novel follows a year in Dylan's life as he tries to complete his own particular bucket list, having overheard a conversation between his mother and  doctor. He wants to have sex with Michelle, find a new best friend for Amir and see his Dad one last time. Nothing quite goes to plan and Dylan starts to have an understanding of the world especially of his relationship with his Dad.
I really enjoyed this book - laughed, cried and like Curious Incident it gives you an insight into a condition that is little understood and creates little sympathy. Dylan is a great character who will make you laugh and cry.
It has created some controversy for being included in the Carnegie short-list but does deserve its place there. I would say that you need to exercise caution when recommending this book to younger Key Sage 3 students (11/12 year old) but older students would enjoy it.

I received this title for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Operatic crime!

Brunetti returns again in the latest in the series set in Venice. Donna Leon combines the Ventian setting, opera and crime in a wonderful and dramatic way. Flavia Petrelli, who has been seen in previous titles,  now a world renowned opera star, returns to Venice  to sing in Tosca but a series of events combine to frighten her and she turns to Commisario Brunetti for help. Brunetti thinks it is an over-enthusiastic fan but when a young girl is attacked and an old friend of both Flavia & Brunetti almost killed. Guido looks at the case again.

Donna Leon captures Venice in all its architectural glory but there is also a sinister edge to the canals. The wonderful character of Signora Elettra who always finds a way to round an obstacle be it a procedure, IT system or a senior officer whilst all the time exuding that quintessential Italian glamour,  adds to the storytelling of this beautifully crafted novel.

There is a strong sense of family in the Brunetti novels with Guido's wife Paola and their children re-appearing again and as usual there is the obligatory family meal or two! The family life is a good counterpoint to the machinations of the Italian policing and political system. Paola's aristocratic parents also make an appearance this time. Family is important in Italian life and Leon is keen to stress this, Guido's life is a counterbalanced with Flavia's more frenetic and slightly chaotic existence as an opera diva.

A wonderful novel that you can slip into and really get the sence of Venice and the ending like the opera is dramatic!

I received this titles free form Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.