It has been a mixed reading bag this week as you will see. I have reached the end of my library book pile and urgently need to visit so that I can select my next, but I have not been well. Still, I can hope to feel better on Friday and Lovely Husband has offered to take me.
The first book of the week was The Winter Children by Lulu Taylor. Here is the blurb:
Behind a selfless act of kindness lies dark intentions . . .
Olivia and Dan Felbeck are blissfully happy when their longed-for twins arrive after years of IVF. At the same time, they make the move to Renniston Hall, a huge, Elizabethan house that belongs to absent friends. Living rent-free in a small part of the unmodernised house, once a boarding school, they can begin to enjoy the family life they’ve always wanted. But there is a secret at the heart of their family, one that Olivia does not yet know. And the house, too, holds its darkness deep within it . . .
Many of the reviewers on Goodreads rated this book highly, but I only awarded it two stars. This is why:
There were several interesting stories woven together in this book and also several interesting, if mainly unlikeable, characters. But, the whole thing was so slow. So much unnecessary detail. I did finish the book, wanted to know how it would all end and, in fact, the ending was good. It just took far too long to reach the conclusion.
Unfortunately for me, my next reading experience of the week was very unsuccessful! Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich (#02 in her Knight and Moon series), has the following blurb:
Buddhist monk Wayan Bagus lost his island of solitude and wants to get it back. The island was about two hundred miles northeast of Samoa. It had a mountain, beaches, a rain forest, and a volcano. And now it’s gone. Poof! Vanished without a trace.
Brilliant and boyishly charming Emerson Knight likes nothing better than solving an unsolvable, improbable mystery. And finding a missing island is better than Christmas morning in the Knight household. When clues lead to a dark and sinister secret that is being guarded by the National Park Service, Emerson will need to assemble a crack team for help. Since a crack team isn’t available, he enlists Riley Moon and his cousin Vernon. Riley Moon has a Harvard business degree and can shoot the eyes out of a grasshopper at fifty feet, but she can’t figure out how to escape the vortex of Emerson Knight’s odd life. Vernon has been Emerson’s loyal and enthusiastic partner in crime since childhood. He now lives in an RV behind Emerson’s house.
Together, this ragtag, mismatched trio will embark on a worldwide investigation that will expose a conspiracy one hundred years in the making.
Well, I thought that sounded interesting and I was craving some humour to lighten up the week, but I simply couldn’t get into the book at all. I gave the book one star on Goodreads and wrote this:
Couldn’t even get started on this one. I read a few chapters and then gave up on it. Not for me.
After this, there were only two books left from my library choices. I decided to read Marianne Whiting’s To Save a Kingdom (#02 in The Shieldmaiden Trilogy). This is the blurb:
Sigrid has won the battle to restore her family’s honour. Now she must overcome old enemies and take her father’s place among the Cumbrian Norse; not as a daughter or a wife, but as a warrior in her own right. When Cumbria is attacked by the English King, Sigrid is ordered to join forces with her rivals to defend their way of life. She obeys, but the old feuds have not been settled. Can she trust her brothers in arms? Are they, like her, prepared to risk everything to save a kingdom?
Of course, it is not a very good idea to dive in part-way through a series and I might go back and start this again from book one, despite my reservati9ns. This book was worth at least three stars and I wrote the following review:
I have read quite a few books and watched quite a few TV programmes based around this period in British history – the ninth and tenth centuries. It was interesting to see the events of the time through the eyes of the Anglo-Saxons’ enemies for once. Apart from that, this was a very strangely written book. Tumultuous events – battles, war, fighting to the death – are depicted with cold aloofness. There is no fire to the writing, no excitement. I didn’t feel drawn in to the events, unlike when reading something like Cornwell’s Last Kingdom or Iggulden’s Dunstan. It felt more like a historian writing non-fiction.
My final book of the week was definitely the best. As you may remember, I have avoided reading Young Adult novels for quite a while, but I couldn’t resist picking up Sarah Crosssan’s Moonrise when I last visited the library. Here is the blurb:
‘They think I hurt someone.
But I didn’t. You hear?
Coz people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.’
Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row. But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and this might be the last summer they have together.
From one-time winner and two-time Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this poignant, stirring, huge-hearted novel asks big questions. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?
I finished this book just a few moments ago and am still slightly weepy. So please bear with this very inadequate review for a five star book:
A brilliantly written YA novel. Sarah Crossan’s free verse style is perfect for this story, which is so touching and emotional. I have been against capital punishment as long as I can remember and I find it so hard to understand how any country can sanction the barbarity of it. The relationships between the family members and the way their family story emerges is wonderfully done.
This is a book which deserves more than one read. The first gives you the full impact of the story and a second allows you to savour the amazing structure and language of the verse form. A triumph!
Just one last thing, I saw a link to this list of 60 great dystopian novels from AbeBooks on Mumsnet, I think. Anyway, there are some interesting books to try.
Happy Reading to you all!