Across the nightingale floor by Lian Hearn

Amy Across the Nightingale FloorAcross the Nightingale Floor is set in an imagined time and place, based on feudal Japan. A young man is rescued, after his family is killed, by a man who adopts him. He discovers he has unusual skills that are highly prized, and bring him a great deal of danger and adventure. The setting is lush and luminous, the characters are compelling and it is a great story of loyalty, treachery, love, loss and honour.

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Grass for his pillow by Lian Hearn

Amy Grass for his PillowThe sort-of-Japanese setting is lush, evocative and almost the best thing about this series. Continuing on from the first book, Takeo is a young man, forced into a life he hates, and Kaede a young woman trying to overcome her misfortunes, and learn to command respect like a man. They both have a difficult journey ahead, made harder by their youthful impetuousness. I found the relationships a little too much in this book, but I am still keen for the rest of the series.

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Escape from Sunset Grove by Minna Lindgren

cynthia-escape-from-sunset-grove.jpgI knew from the first page that this would be an entertaining read. The story about a group of residents from an aged facility undergoing a retrofit was both funny and sad. I was disappointed, though, with the investigative part of the story that was slow moving and did not involve much investigating – but I guess that is what you get with a cast of characters that are 90 years+.

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The children of men by P.D. James

Amy Children of MenSet in a 2021 when no children have been born in twenty-five years, The Children of Men is a most thought-provoking dystopian novel. Theo Faren is an Oxford don, solitary and rather self-centred, until he is drawn into contact with a group of dissenters. There is a great sense of place, this beautiful, crumbling Oxford, and increasing tension as Theo’s life changes dramatically, and he is pulled out of his apathy. A clever, disturbing, and satisfying mystery.

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Captive by Tony Park

Amy CaptiveCaptive is all action with a cause. Set in South African national parks, and Mozambique, it follows Aussie lawyer, Kerry, as she comes to volunteer at a wildlife orphanage. No time to settle in, as violent action ensues, as the good guys fight the war on poaching, where the enemy is not always as expected. Captive is fast paced, with lots of African scenery and wildlife, an international cast of characters but a deeply Australian, even ocker, flavour. Lots of fun.

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We that are left by Lisa Bigelow

Cynthia We that are leftMae’s husband has been posted to serve on the HMAS Sydney leaving her to cope with their newborn child. This is not going to end well. Grace has just fallen head over heels in love, and her journalist boyfriend leaves to cover the war in Singapore – more tragedy to come. There is a lot of emotion in this story and it is handled beautifully. The women’s grief, hope and ambitions along with coping with everyday life are explored. War effects everyone and this story brings it to life.

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Harmless like you by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Amy Harmless Like YouYuki is a Japanese teenager, living in New York City in the late 60s; no longer belonging in Japan, she is also an outsider in New York. Her parents return to Japan, and she stays, with an almost friend, and for the next few years tries to be an artist. The story of her son, set in the current day,is also told, as he tries to adjust to parenthood, and wonders why his mother left him. It’s a quietly bleak story, with flashes emotion, of Yuki and Jay’s internal struggle for meaning and place, and for peace within themselves. The characters are deeply flawed, most are unlikeable, and it is a touch melancholy, but it is strangely suspenseful and compelling.

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