Traitor’s girl by Christine Wells

Cynthia Traitor's GirlThe intrigue and mystery gradually builds throughout the story. Spies and double agents abound in this dual storyline. The modern thread of the story, however, falls a bit flat for me.

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Sing, unburied, sing by Jesmyn Ward

Amy Sing Unburied SingSing, Unburied, Sing is a very moving story about Mississippi’s haunting past. Jojo is thirteeen; he and his baby sister live with their grandparents, who try to provide what his mother Leonie, can’t manage to. When Leonie takes them to pick up their father from prison, the journey is full of danger, ghosts and hope. It’s about families, belief, the legacy of violence and the hope of release, and I found it sad, raw, mystical, lyrical, dark and beautiful.

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The thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

Cynthia The ThicketThere was a high body count, humour, love and a bit of philosophy of life in this book. As you read about the gruesome killings, you also read about the coming of age of Jack and the background stories of his companions. It was an odd bunch of characters, but they were well developed and worked well together. Texas at the beginning of the oil boom was a great setting. It reminded me of the movies True Grit and Django unchained.

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The hate you give by Angie Thomas

Amy THUGThe Hate U Give is a really powerful book about the value of every life. One night, two black teenagers in the US, are pulled over by police, and one of them is shot dead. Even from the other side of the world, this is a familiar story, and this book does a great job of showing the impact of these events on the community, and society. The characters are well drawn, the complexity of the situation is well handled, and the book is as compelling as it is thought-provoking.

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The shepherd’s life by James Rebanks

amy-the-shepherds-life.jpgI love a story of belonging, and that’s what this is; one man’s sense of his family’s place in the world. It’s extremely local – shepherds in the Lake District – but very relatable. We go through the seasons on his family farm, getting to know its rhythm, his family members and an awful lot of detail about sheep. Somehow, it just works. It encourages us to look more deeply at landscapes we are drawn to, to value history and historical practice, and to be community minded. It’s cold, wet, muddy, bloody and smelly, but the view and sense of purpose, are glorious.

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To the sea by Christine Dibley

Cynthia To the SeaA mixing of myth and real life, this was a different read for me, a mixing of genres. I loved the story of the early female generations of the family (the history). The modern day family, however, and their interactions felt strange. No one in the family could say what Zoe was doing the day she disappeared or much about her life. The ending was somewhat predictable. Their were moments of good storytelling and then some disbelieving.

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Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

Amy CloudwishCloudwish is the story of a girl whose parents came to Australia by boat, after the fall of Saigon. She has a scholarship to a fancy, private school in Melbourne, and tries to find her own space in two different worlds. There’s lots of typical, coming of age issues, but also plenty of diversity, a hint of magic, a sweetly complicated romance and Jane Eyre; a lot to like about this book.

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A gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Amy Gentleman in MoscowThere’s a lot to love about this book. In 1922 a Russian aristocrat is sentenced to house arrest in a luxurious hotel, spending the next thirty or so years of his country’s upheaval, confined to the hotel with a cast of quirky, loveable, dastardly, glamourous, powerful, and heart-warming characters. There are some beautiful, funny, and moving scenes as the well-travelled young man finds new worlds opened to him, while he cannot leave the hotel, though I found it surprisingly slow to get through, unlike The Rules of Civility.

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