The pearl thief by Fiona McIntosh

Cynthia Pearl ThiefI enjoyed this historical novel. There is horror, revenge and love. It is a story that shows the atrocity of the Nazi regime and the survival of the human spirit. Katerina is shown kindness when needed, and this helps her survive and be able to love again. This balances all the emotions throughout the story. I know many people’s stories did not end so well during and after the war, but it is nice to see a positive ending to this story.

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Educated by Tara Westover

Amy EducatedEducated is the memoir of a woman brought up in a family that was isolated by their strong religious beliefs, and fear of intervention, which led to them avoiding doctors and school. Living in rural Idaho, there was so much dirt, danger, and ignorance, as well as emotional and physical abuse, as to make this a most uncomfortable read. Eventually, thanks to a thirst for knowledge and understanding, Tara is able to leave, be educated (all the way to Cambridge, Harvard and a PhD) and be freed from abuse. Though not always a pleasant read, it is a moving account of the hardships of ignorance and poverty, and the power of education.

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Still midnight by Denise Mina

cynthia-till-midnight.jpgFirst in a series that introduces DS Alex Morrow. Alex is not on the best of terms with her work colleagues and we discover the many factors contributing to this throughout the story. Alex investigates a hostage situation that is not clear cut to solve. I found it hard to warm to the story at the beginning and found the author assumed you knew about British crime and police enforcement – having to go and find explanations to some terms.
It will be interesting to see how Alex develops through the series and how her relationships develop.

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A New England affair by Steven Carroll

Amy A New England AffairLargely set in Massachusetts, A New England Affair is an imagined version of T.S. Eliot’s relationship with Emily Hale, which began when they were both young Americans in 1913. It’s about a love that never found its moment, though it endured for many years, and the frustrated longing, and soul searching are poignant. It is a call to communicate clearly, live fully, and to see the beauty in the ordinary.

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Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

amy-freshwater.jpgI don’t think I have read anything quite like this. It is deeply imaginative, lyrical and magical, but I didn’t enjoy the experience very much. Ada is born with ogbanje – Nigerian gods – inside of her; they live in her mind and sometimes take over her body, trying at once to protect and destroy her. It could be a story of mental illness, or of the multiple selves we have within us. It is very dark, with trauma, physical and mental violence, and much wrestling with sexual and gender identity. It’s an uncomfortable read, but not a journey without value.

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Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley

Amy StilettoI really love this series; I do hope there will be more! This time, Myfanwy Thomas is not the main focus, but she is still awesome, bringing together two secret organisations that traditionally hate each other. We follow two new characters, one from each organisation, through supernatural and scientific shenanigans, always with humour and imaginative detail. The London setting, the wild and wonderful powers, the tough women and the humour make this such a fun read.

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The cotton town girls

cynthia-cotton-town-girls.jpgA story set around the time of the suffragette movement and was both heartbreaking and inspiring. The author evoked the time period well. There was a great set of characters representing the different types of women involved in the struggle and the effect they had on the community and each other. The story included scenes that I have read about before, such as the hunger strikes and forced feeding and secret meetings and riots, but it still added my knowledge and personal experience.

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Wundersmith

Amy WundersmithMorrigan Crow has finally found out what her knack is, and it has given her entry into the Wundrous Society, but is it a force for good or evil? Wundersmith: The calling of Morrigan Crow is as marvellous as the first book. Full of fascinating places, colourful characters and antics, a thrilling mystery and so much heart. It is a world of wonder, danger, treachery, loyalty, friendship and kindness, a place for people of all ages to enjoy.

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The thirteenth tale by Diane Setterfield

Amy The Thirteenth taleI thought I would like this much more than I did. There are lots of bookish elements, and many references to Jane Eyre, and I really enjoyed the beginning, but at times I found the characters painfully unpleasant, which made those sections drag. A young woman who works in her father’s bookshop is contacted by a reclusive author, who asks her to write her biography. What follows is an over the top mystery, with a satisfying ending.

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