The shepherd’s hut by Tim Winton

amy the shepherd's hutJaxie Clackton is a teenaged boy in a small town in Western Australia. His mother died, and his father beats him badly, until one day something happens, and Jaxie finds himself on the run in the most inhospitable country, with only hope to keep him going. The Shepherd’s Hut is about survival, love, hatred, strength, kindness and meaning. It’s harsh, raw, bleak, and confronting, but beautiful and deeply moving, with the strong sense of place you expect from Tim Winton, and a character whose voice will linger long after the book has been closed.

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Bridge burning & other hobbies by Kitty Flanagan

tracey kittyIf you are a fan of Kitty Flanagan as I am, you will love her new book! It is a collection of easy to read “true stories and ill-informed opinions” written in her distinctive relaxed and familiar style that make you laugh out loud and be very annoying to your partner trying to read a serious book alongside you in bed at night!
Chapters include Yoga Guantanamo, which is about attending a yoga ashram in order to avoid going to Easter mass, The Wishbone Chicken Shop where her love of cooking definitely did NOT come from her grandmother and The Vardy Party about children’s birthday parties in the good old days when parents used to dump their kids and run.
If you want something that is light, bright and humorous to lift your spirits then this is the book for you!

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Calling Major Tom by David Barnett

amy calling major tomThomas Major is a grumpy, forty something year old man who volunteers for a one way trip to Mars. His life has been unhappy and confusing, and he is keen to turn his back on earth and its people. By strange co-incidence, he is in contact with a family who will challenge his views of the world, and himself. Full of quirky characters, crazy antics, high drama, and heart-warming triumphs, this is a fun and uplifting read. For fans of A Man Called Ove.

Still life by Louise Penny

amy still lifeIn a small, picturesque village in Quebec, an older woman is found dead in the forest. A group of detectives from the big city move in to solve the mystery, and find out the secrets of the villagers. I enjoyed the setting, and finding out about Quebec and the tension between French and English speakers there. The mystery itself was interesting, but on the whole I wasn’t enthralled. Some of the characters were twee, over done, or confusing, and it wasn’t quite as sweet as I expect a cosy mystery to be. It is the first in the series, though, so I won’t rule out trying another.

The invisible woman by Claire Tomalin

amy invisible womanThe Invisible Woman is the story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens. With so many letters destroyed, and lies told to maintain the public’s view of the great author, much of this story is guess work, or background history. I quite enjoyed the social history, and the details about Dickens’ work, but the lack of information about Nelly, the way she was erased from history, left her largely without personality, and the relationship between her and Dickens, without heart. I think I would have enjoyed an imagined version, told as a novel, better than this bringing together of scant facts and possibilities.

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Carve the mark by Veronica Roth

amy carve the markOne thing you can usually count on a YA series for, is a super fast pace. I raced through Divergent, which was silly in many ways, but compelling and lots of fun. I found Carve the Mark boring, for the most part, with small flashes of action or feeling, but ultimately it went nowhere exciting, and took forever to get there. Cyra and Akos are from two enemy races living on the one planet. Their fates and coincidentally compatible “current gifts” bring them together, and a little bit of confusing action, some unexciting romance, and not a lot else ensues. I may read the next book for closure, but I may not.

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The good life by Martina Cole

cynthia-the-good-life.jpgCain is on top of The Game, what will he do to keep there? The characters in this story were full of contradictions. A loving kind man could slowly cut off anothers fingers and toes, a kind gentle woman could fling into a rage, it was alright to kill someone with a family but not if it was your family. Told in short chapters that moved the story along, it was interesting to see inside a criminal gang – is all the power and money worth it?

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