The inheritance by Katie Agnew

cynthia-the-inheritanceI really enjoyed this story. You are introduced to three main characters and begin to learn about them and their past. Katie Agnew uses different methods to introduce these character’s backstories which keeps the story interesting. Her detailed descriptions of the character’s lives made for a great read. It is only way towards the end of the story that Katie connects these characters – I could not work out how they would all meet! The ending of course wraps everything up, albeit very quickly, and is a fitting end to the story.

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The things they carried by Tim O’Brien

amy-the-things-they-carriedThe Things They Carried isn’t how I thought it would be. I liked it; it wasn’t trite or sentimental it also wasn’t linear or solid, and while it may not all be exactly true, there does seem to be much truth in it. It is a man’s stories of his time in Vietnam, what it meant to him then and the ongoing impact through his life. It isn’t something that ever really makes sense, but stories help.

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The cherry harvest by Lucy Sanna

cynthia-the-cherry-harvestSet in America during World War II I found this to be an interesting setting. Charlotte is suffering the departure of her son to war, which has completely changed her and her relationships. Charlotte’s loss is the driving force of her decisions, trying to keep the orchard thriving, making her actions for her interest only – this makes her a character to difficult to like. But within the context of the story you do undestand these actions even if you do not like the character. Charlotte decides to bring in German POWs to help with the cherry orchard. This has repercussions for all the family and the community.

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

amy-divergentI borrowed the movie first to watch with my teenaged daughter, a bonding thing, and enjoyed it enough to give the books a go. Divergent is a Young Adult, dystopian series with a kind of silly premise. Everyone belongs to a faction where they emphasise one quality over all the others, and our heroine doesn’t fit just one mold.  The story and language aren’t sophisticated, in fact I think the film did a better job of explaining some aspects, but it is certainly engaging. It was nice to read of a teenaged girl’s struggles being more about right and wrong, who she is and should be, than about which boy to love. I couldn’t have a steady diet of this sort of thing, but I really enjoyed it and will finish the series.

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The summer before the war by Helen Simonson

amy-the-summer-before-the-warA gentle, sweet and moving piece of historical fiction, The Summer Before the War is set in the East Sussex town of Rye. The countryside is beautiful after a peaceful summer when a young woman arrives to teach Latin, just before the world goes to war. It says much about being a woman in the early 1900s, as well as prevailing attitudes about race, class and sexuality, but it is neither moralistic nor pushing a modern agenda. It did drag a little in the first half, and was tied up very quickly in the end, but I did shed a tear for the characters I had come to care for.

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Daughter of Australia by Harmony Verna

cynthia-daughter-of-australiaAustralia can be a harsh land and this story reflects this harshness. Beginning in 1890’s Western Australia we meet the child Leonora who has been left in the desert. Ghan rescues her and she ends up in an orphanage where she meets fellow orphan James. We follow these three people as their lives intersect over the years – each suffering their own hardships. The story is great, if overly descriptive, and evokes early Australia and its landscape well.

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

amy-homegoingHomegoing begins as the story of two sisters from Africa’s Gold Coast. One marries a white slave trader and the other is sold into slavery. It becomes the story of each generation that follows, in America and in Africa; the impact of the past and hope for the future. We experience much of the history of each place through the stories of each generation, which is fascinating, at times heartbreaking, and ultimately beautiful.

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Letters and papers from prison by Deitrich Bonhoeffer

amy-bonhoefferThese are letters and papers written while Dietrich Bonhoeffer was in prison, until he was executed just before the end of the war. There is little about why he was imprisoned, and nothing about his thoughts regarding Hitler or what was happening in Germany. What there is, though, is evidence of his deep thinking; theology, the state of the world, the power of love and friendship and the sure hope found in God. In light of what happened, it is sad to read, but also full of wonderful, hope-filled, theological thinking and strong friendship.

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