Thursday, 20 October 2016

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Loosely based on the lives of his grandparents, Chris Cleave's Everyone Brave is Forgiven explores the impact of Wold War 2 on a small group of people. Mary from a wealthy and privileged background returns from finishing school when war breaks out and signs up for war work. She ends up at  school where here unorthodox approach means she doesn't fit in but it is here she meets Tom. Tom has decided not to sign up and working in education means he is restricted in the future from enlisting. Alistair an art restorer does sign up. Through these 3 main protagonists and their friends we see the impact of war - the deprivation, permanent stress from the Blitz and battle front and the shock and grief from losing friends and lovers.

Those who lived through this conflict grabbed life, lived it to the full and snatched brief moments of happiness.

Cleave's description of the suffering of those who served on Malta  is heartbreaking. The horror of the blockade, constant bombing and starvation lives on in the memory -  you can understand why an entire island was awarded the George Cross.

A challenging and sometimes difficult read this book would be a good one to read for a book group as there is plenty to talk about.

I was given a free copy of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Monday, 10 October 2016

The Museum of You

The Museum of You by Carys Bray tells the story of Clover and her father Darren from the point of view of both of them. Both are stuck in a a no-man's land caused by the death of Clover's mother when she was a baby. One hot summer, after years of waiting for her father to tell her about her mother, Clover takes things into her own hands. Her mother's things have been left in a room following her death, Clover decides to implement the curating skills she learnt on a Museum trip to tell the story of her mother's life.

The book then takes on a third voice as we see the real story behind the different artefacts that Clover unearths in the cupboards and boxes.
The book is about memory,grief, guilt and pain but it also explores the idea of what is a family. Clover has an uncle with issues, a stubborn grandfather, and a surrogate grandmother in her next door neighbour.

Clover is an entertaining character and the childlike innocent view that she brings to her mother's things is an interesting slant on the actual real-life story.
It is a quiet story but there is plenty to discuss in this novel for book groups exploring the issues of family, grief and misunderstandings.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Improbability of love

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild is an interesting read. The book tells the story of a famous painting said to inspire love and jealousy in equal measure. A fixture in the homes of the great and the good down through the centuries this painting has taken on a life of its own and even has its own voice.

The painting is found in a junk shop by Annie wanting to find a present for her new boyfriend, skulduggery, greed in all its forms abound in this book. Russian oligarchs, art dealers, chefs, collectors, former Nazis and a whole host of characters each tell their own story. The story is told through a cast of characters including the painting itself. It explores the question of what is art? Who decides that something is art? Does art have to be permanent or can it be transitory like a great meal?

This would be a great book to talk about in a book group due the range of questions and subject matter.

The only drawback I would say is that the ending seemed slightly rushed but apart from that I enjoyed this book - and so did my book group.

Apprentice in Death

The latest title in the Eve Dallas and Roarke series is as good as ever. It does help if you have read the previous titles so that you are familiar with the characters and some of the previous story lines and that is why I don't think I can recommend it to book groups because of that reason.

I really enjoyed this title, it wasn't as dark as some of the previous titles in the series. That's not to say that the story of an apparent lone gunman seemingly randomly killing people in the heart of New York isn't dark. Eve is under pressure to solve this crime as quickly as possible as the police rush to solve the crime as quickly as possible as the those who live in the city worry as to who will be next.  With the help of Roarke, Eve and the force soon realise that there is more to this crime than meets the eye. Is the lone gunman not really so lone?

The combination of crime, police procedural and slightly futuristic element as the story is set in 2061 add to the story. The heart of the story is the relationship between Eve and Roarke, two damaged people who have built an extended family from the friends they have collected through their various crime solving stories.

A great escapist read!

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.