Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Vanishing point - Mary Sharratt

The Vanishing PointThe Vanishing Point by Mary Sharratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book - it was so well written I felt as though I was there travelling from England to the wilds of America with Hannah and May 2 sisters who are so human with all their faults and flaws.

Back in the late 1600s in small town England the choices for women were few. Devoted sisters May and Hannah are very different in personality, May is lusty and lively and rather wanton and her desires are to be free, seek adventure and find excitement, but her promiscuous nature brings her nothing but shame and her options few, so when her father offers her hand in marriage to the son of a distant cousin who has settled in faraway America as a plantation owner she seizes on this as an opportunity for travel and the adventure she craves.

What she finds at the far side of the world isn't all she was expecting and her life as wife to a plantation owner far more uncouth and isolated than she'd hoped for.

As time passes and fortunes change her shy and more delicate younger sister Hannah finds herself alone and heading off to find May changes her life in ways never contemplated.

What ensues is a harsh, bleak story of survival and retribution.

Lots of twists and turns, quite tense and brought a tear to my eye in a few places. Great descriptions of the raw brutality of life on the very edge of civilization.
Once you get your head around the many jumps back and forth in time with one sister narrating, then the other the story sucks you in and doesn't let go. Unusual and innovative.

I think this might appeal to anyone who loved The Outlander

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Sunday, 22 April 2012

Ninepins by Rosy Thornton

NinepinsNinepins by Rosy Thornton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a lovely read, quite difficult to categorize in a way, its a gentle romance but not slushy or sleazy in any way. It's character driven and the characters are extremely well drawn and realistic. There is a subtle tension which runs through it although I wouldn't class it as a thriller as such but there is certainly an air of suspense which builds throughout the unfolding story and the wonderful bleak, misty and menacing setting of the Cambridgeshire Fens, is so well painted that I felt I'd just spent some time there despite never having set foot in that area in my life!

Mostly this is a story about motherhood, womanhood, female relationships and adapting to change and will appeal to a wide range of readers although especially Mums with teenage daughters.
The Mum in the story, Laura, is a divorced single Mother to Beth, 12 years old, who is riddled with pre teen angst, puberty and asthma. Her struggles to fit in, avoid being bullied and attempts to be one of the in crowd, mirror her Mums struggles to say and do the right things to her daughter and often end up making cringingly awful yet minor mistakes which alienate rather than support.
It took me right back to my early teen years!

Into their lives floats Willow, a teenager in care with a bit of a past at 17 young enough to be a friend to Beth, but will her influence be a good one and when she becomes a tenant of the small pump house cottage owned by Laura bringing her social worker Vince, and her own teenage insecurities into their lives what repercussions will this have.

Rosy Thornton is a highly accomplished author, drawing on her own experiences and her skills with words to create an environment we instantly feel at home in and characters we feel we know even though they might not be ones we can completely relate to.
If you enjoy beautifully constructed descriptions, characters created with finesse and skill and a story which builds to a satisfactory climax you should enjoy this latest offering from Rosy.


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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Me before you - Jojo Moyes

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can you give a book 6 out of five? If so this is certainly one I'd give 6 stars to. A truly sensational reading experience in which I became completely immersed.

Its been well reviewed by so many people I'll only give a brief synopsis. Lou is content with her small town life, working in a cafe, living with her parents and sister and going out with her long term boyfriend Patrick - her life is uneventful and safe.

Will's happy with his life too - jetsetter, playboy, sports enthusiast, high flying career - he has it all until its taken away in an instant as the result of an accident. Now he seems to have nothing to live for confined to a wheelchair, miserable, resentful and in pain.

Lou's life is about to change too in a much smaller way but which has a huge impact on both their lives and what results is the making of this breathtaking and heart rending story which is one of the MOST beautifully written stories I've EVER read. It really is sensational. Completely character driven the two main and several secondary characters are so very real its impossible to believe they are fictional.

Everything that its possible to say about a good book have already been said about this novel and to be honest superlatives fail me - all I can say is - read it, go on - pick it up, you really can't miss this one.

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Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Apothecary's Daughter - Charlotte Betts

The Apothecary's DaughterThe Apothecary's Daughter by Charlotte Betts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh lovely - what a satisfying read throughout!

I have spent the last few days living alongside Susannah the apothecary's daughter in plague ridden, pestilent, malodorous 15th century London. despite the foul backdrop I had a wonderful time there.

This is above all a romance but the authors canny research and ability to convey perfectly what it would feel like to witness unspeakable events unfolding, lift it from the mundane to the delightful. As well as the unfolding romance we are introduced to plague and pestilence, the development of medicine, slavery, the fire of London and the inequality of women all very well written and researched and conveyed in a way which isn't "preachy or teachy"

Susannah has had a good upbringing and is happy and settled helping her father run his apothecary shop despite the tragic loss of her mother in recent childbirth which she was witness to. But her life is turned upside down when her father announces his plans to remarry and Susannahs comfortable position is usurped by the calculating new wife. Dogged by misfortune we see Susannah struggle to regain a place in society while all around her London falls to rack and ruin taken over by plague whilst her own life mirrors this collapse and things go from bad to worse for the unfortunate Susannah.

The story is written cleanly and simply, with little of the unneccessary flowery language which often makes restoration period novels lengthy and hard to read, yet the dialogue and narrative flow beautifully and the descriptions are vivid and believable.

Many of the scenes conveyed are truly horrific, the transporting of bodies to the plague pits to name just one yet above the darkness is a story which is a delight to read and a book I wholeheartedly recommend if you like atmospheric historical romances.

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