Saturday, 28 January 2012

win books

A great prize of 3 books on my friend Treez's blog and they're signed by the author

The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran

The Wives of Henry OadesThe Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What a thoroughly engrossing read this novel based on a factual event is.

I love a book where the characters feel so real to me that I "miss" them when I've finished reading, which is exactly how I felt when I put this book down yesterday.

When 19th century couple Margaret and Henry Oades set sail for New Zealand so he can take up his promoted position in accountancy even setting foot on board the ship seems like a huge adventure.

Adapting to life overseas isn't always easy but the resilient wife and mother Margaret makes the best of things, encouraging her loving husband and devoted father of their children Henry, to settle in a rural spot where the isolation is relived somewhat as Margaret makes friends with a neighbouring wife.

Whilst the women are enjoying a visit with each other the unthinkable happens and the women and children are targetted by a Maori tribe, their home torched and Margaret and her family taken hostage.

Now, like many others this is the point I'd have loved to have read a lot more detail, but to the authors credit the story continues to flow beautifully as we follow Henrys dreadful discovery of a womans charred remains, amidst his destroyed home. Children missing and wife presumed dead we suffer with him as he fights to keep his sanity.

As time passes the opportunity to leave New Zealand arises and Henry sets off for America, a broken man, ending up running a sheep farm. Gradually his life begins to take shape and he marries a young widow with child who can't replace his lost wife and family but begin to fill the gaping hole left by them.

When Margaret and children, having eventually escaped from their captors, finally track down their long lost husband and father, the loving reunion of which she has dreamt for so long in captivity is not to be and the actions and reactions of all concerned when Margaret comes face to face with Henry ... and his new wife are surprising, poignant and not without some blackly humorous moments.

The author has created believable characters and set them in an almost beyond belief scenario. Although I warmed most towards Margaret all 3 main protagonists are likeable and cope well with their enforced situation and the resulting ostracism and scorn, with which their attempts to deal equably with a tense and difficult situtation create.

Thought provoking, unusual and imaginative - a delightful debut from a very promising new author.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

A Place of secrets - Rachel Hore

A Place of SecretsA Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I think there are a lot of great ideas in this story and I like the idea of several timelines running alongside each other. Rather than a dual time romance it is more a quad time romance.

The women involved include Jude, a modern career woman working for an art auctioneers, her sister Claire, single Mum of 9 year old Summer, then there's their Mother and their Grandmother then the story of Esther Whickham an 18th century orphan adopted by an astrologer which comes to light when her journals turn up, several gypsy woman are also involved in the story at various points in the past yet its pretty easy to follow. All their pasts entwine and get tangled up around Starbrough Hall in Norfolk and a series of dreams, past events, diaries and heirlooms have you wondering just how many more twists and turns can possibly be fitted in to one story. There is romance of course with the dark and hunky (yet kind to animals) hero Euan.

However there are almost too many coincidences which stretch my tolerance for writers license a teensy bit too far it was only the authors consummate skill as a writer which saved it.
Well written characters tons of secrets and twists and lots of nice information about star gazing combine to make this a "curl up on the sofa with a bag of Maltesers", enjoyable romantic read.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Into the darkest corner - by Elizabeth Haynes

Into the Darkest CornerInto the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Having been recommended this book by a number of friends I wondered whether it would live up to the praise which had been lavished on it ...

It didn't disappoint!

As a debut novel it is very accomplished with a confident writing style and a storyline that grabs your attention and immerses you in the horribly chilling events which unfold within the pages.

A stylish and contemporary story it introduces us to Catherine, a young woman who in 2003 lives the single life to the full, with a busy career and a liking for booze, nightclubs fun and sex she burns the candle at both ends and parties hard. Long term relationships are something for the distant future until she meets the handsome and enigmatic Lee and finds herself falling for him hard.

Surprisingly we meet her again just 4 short years later and find she is a very changed woman, nervous, reclusive and with OCD its hard to reconcile the lively young part animal with the person who checks the front door repeatedly for hours on end, on arriving home then checks the windows just as thoroughly.

What happened to her? We are about to find out. The tension builds relentlessly and insidiously until you want to scream - NOOO don't!

If you enjoyed Before I Go to Sleep or Still Missing you'll love this one. Read it and shudder.

Scapegallows by Carol Birch

ScapegallowsScapegallows by Carol Birch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this fact based fictional account of the life of a woman called Margaret Catchpole who works as a maid and has a boyfriend who is a smuggler, events conspire to eventually get her transported to Australia after narrowly escaping being hanged for her foolhardiness rather than criminality. She's quite a feckless heroine and quite a flawed character with a temper and poor decision making skills but this makes her all the more real.

The book begins in Australia where she has obviously been living for some time and the main story is her reminiscences of her youth back in England and how she came to fall off the straight and narrow to be transported.

Although I'd have greatly liked to have read much more about how she settled once in Australia rather than the sketchy account of that yet an in depth background, I found it very readable and enjoyable and it reminded me somewhat of Slammerkin and Remember Me and having recently read Jamrach's Menagerie: A Novel I think this would appeal to anyone who enjoyed any of these novels.