Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch

Jamrach's Menagerie Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Jaffy's adventures. At the beginning of this book I felt it was possibly going to be more of a young adult novel but as it progresses it most definitely isn't. I was a tad disappointed that the story doesn't concentrate more on the animals than it does and was hoping for a water for elephants Water for Elephants kind of feel but was very wrong.

Its a very atmospheric historical story about a young lad living in poverty in the London slums of the mid 19th century who comes across a tiger escaped from a local menagerie, which leads to his gaining employment with the animal keepre and meeting a whole new set of friends which set his life on a different course.

Together with his best friend Tim he sets off to sea on a whaling ship with hopes of capturing a fabled dragon creature from a south sea island. The main essence of the story centres around events at sea and the affect it has on his life. Gory and gritty many shocks are contained in this part, yet what could be a boring tale is kept vibrant and exciting by the superb writing and I was captivated from start to finish.



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Teacher, teacher by Jack Sheffield

Teacher, Teacher!Teacher, Teacher! by Jack Sheffield

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I read this book as part of the Transworld book group reading challenge 2011. Whildt the first 2 books I read for this challenge justified a full 5 stars and I completely loved them this one failed to impress quite as much and didn't entertain or amuse me as much as I'd anticipated.



It's the memoirs of a newly appointed head teacher in the 1970s in rural North Yorkshire, a place not far from where I hail and with which I am familiar and set in an era which I recall well.



Written in similar vein to the books by James Herriot with nuances of the vicar of Dibley. It's really just a series of short stories strung together and I was quite disappointed in the way he concentrates on the parents and staff more than the pupils and found he seems quite condescending to the locals, tarring them all with a country yokel brush. I didn't really warm to him and even found it pretty annoying the way he'd be telling a story and suddenly mention what was playing on the radio or news so as to give a sense of the period which seemed very contrived.



The writing didn't flow very well and I won't be reading any more by this author, however there are a few redeeming moments which had me smiling.



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Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Secrets Between us - Louise Douglas

The Secrets Between UsThe Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I was overjoyed to receive this book to review as part of the Transworld book group reading challenge, as I loved the authors previous book The Love of My Life



This one didn't disappoint even though its quite different to the other one by her I've read, although both are undeniably romantic "The secrets between us" is more of a psychological thriller with a little shiver of spookiness.

Sarah heads off to Sicily to lick her wounds after her partners infidelity brings a long term relationship to a bitter end whilst she is still grieving over the death of her baby through a painful stillbirth.

Recent events having left her vulnerable and uncertain about her future, it seems like a dream come true to be almost swept off her feet by debonair Alexander and his adorable little boy Jamie. They seem to be in a similar situation, Alex's wife Genevieve having recently left them and in the balmy Sicilian sun it doesn't seem unreasonable to Sarah to be asked to move in with hunky Alex, albeit as his housekeeper.

Friends and family think she's crazy to accept and soon Sarah begins to wonder whether they might be right, things in the rambling old house in a rural village are far from what this city girl is used to and not quite as she hoped. There is an air of brooding menace which languidly taunts the reader and makes this a real page turner.

Sensationally well written although it seems to proceed at a gentle pace, each twist and turn are unexpected and the menace builds to a great ending.

Louise Douglas is definitely a name to watch out for and I think would be enjoyed by lovers of authors such as Diane Chamberlain and Rosamund Lupton

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