Friday, August 10, 2012

The Road Back by Liz Harris






Patricia is a lonely child with cold parents; a domineering father and a weak mother and she craves love. Kalden is a restless young man, he has learned English from his missionary friends and fallen in love with books and music and he wants more but he is fated as a fourth son to join the monastery. When Patricia travels to Ladakh with her father to research his book she and Kalden meet and fall in love but society and their families are against the union, it is 1962 and when Patricia falls pregnant she is forced to give the baby away. 30 years later her daughter is seeking answers.  This is a really enjoyable page turner with a thrilling story.
A tale of love lost and found; of parents and children; of duty and responsibility and of the contrast between cultures and between past and present. A terrific debut.


The Silent Touch of Shadows by Christina Courtenay






Melissa explores other people's family history for her work as a genealogist, so she is delighted to have a chance to learn more about her own family when her Great Aunt invites her to stay at her ancestral home in Kent; Ashleigh Manor. Melissa is keen to learn why her grandmother became estranged from her sister while Dorothy is keen to put the past to rights. The Manor House seems to cast a spell over Melissa, especially when Great Aunt Dorothy; childless and now in her seventies invites Melissa and her daughter Jolie to come and live with her. Newly divorced and struggling to make ends meet Melissa eventually accepts. Soon she is haunted by dreams and visions of a mediaeval young woman who looks like her and a handsome and charming young knight, could the Manor be haunted and what do these restless spirits want?
In a nearby cottage widowed vet Jake is also having strange dreams and when the two finally meet their connection is instant. This is a wonderful new book from an Award winning author of historical fiction. Christina Courtenay brings history vividly to life with her writing and her tale is compelling and spellbinding. This is Romantic Fiction at its best. The characters are well rounded and interesting and the story deeply satisfying. This book is perfect for fans of time-slip fiction such as the novels of Barbara Erskine or Diana Gabaldon. I was lucky enough to be sent this novel to review from Choc Lit but once I finished it I went straight out and bought Christina's Trade Winds and Highland Storms as I adore her writing style. 


Part of the Spell
By Rachel Heath

For We Love This Book


This is a follow up to The Finest Type of English Womanhood which was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Rachel Heath has opted to move away from historical fiction to examine the dark threads which underlie and hold together small town English life in the 21st Century. There are many characters in the novel and one of the novel’s failings is that we never really get to know any of them. The picture that Rachel Heath presents is a little too broad with glimpses into the lives of a group of people all living in the same place and connected by the disappearance of Sheila; a local mum and grandmother. There is the day dreamy young mum Stella, the busy museum curator Theresa, the disappointed city worker Jonathan, the secretive estate agent Zeki and the angry blogger Tacita. Gradually all the characters are pulled together as the author examines the hopes and ideals behind their search for “the good life” and Stella seeks to understand why her mother kept so many secrets. This is a story that seems to skim along the surface rather than plum the depths; it never truly engaged my attention. It might appeal to fans of Emily Barr or Maggie O’Farrell though I feel it falls short of the standard of either.

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Gillian Tamaki


This is a real gem of a graphic novel written by Mariko Tamaki and with wonderful illustrations by her cousin Gillian Tamaki. Skim is the tale of a teenage girl coming of age in the 90s and exploring Wicca, Shakespeare and First love. Kimberley Keiko Cameron aka Skim is lonely and often bullied at her all-girl school. When a fellow student’s ex-boyfriend commits suicide the girls are encouraged by teachers and counsellors to explore and express their grief. Skim and her best friend Lisa are at first mocking of all this sharing and confiding but soon Skim finds that it can help to talk to someone who understands you. This is a really beautiful coming of age tale which I would recommend to fans of Persepolis.

We Love This Book


This week We Love This Book have featured my review of Rebel Heart as one of their Books of the week.


http://welovethisbook.com/reviews/rebel-heart

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rebel Heart


Rebel Heart
By Moira Young
For We Love This Book



Rebel Heart is the follow up to Moira Young’s outstanding, Costa Winning, Blood Red Road continuing the story of Saba, Lugh, Emmi and Jack. Although it is clearly a bridging book before the final instalment of the trilogy it nonetheless has a story of it’s own as Saba heads West with a price on her head and Jack tries to find her. This book is like a combination of all the best elements of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games set in a not too distant future with a strong heroine and a violent coming of age plot. Saba is a likeable protagonist and she is haunted by her time as a killer and by the change in her brother Lugh who seems distant and much changed after his captivity. She must also contend with a new enemy as the Tonton have a new leader and they are pushing their way across the land imposing a new order.
The book sees the return of some of Saba’s friends and the introduction of new ones but in such dangerous times it can be hard to know who to trust. I would recommend you read Blood Red Road before you read this as there is little back story and the narrative style may take some getting used to. Nevertheless I would highly recommend this for anyone who has finished The Hunger Games and is looking for an intense and enthralling read.