The last days of new Paris by China Mieville

Amy Last Days of New ParisTotally bizarre, The Last Days of New Paris certainly isn’t a book for everyone. It is alternate history set in two time periods, 1941 and 1950. What is created in 1940, leaves Thibaut and Sam still fighting Nazis in 1950 Paris, along with surrealist art that has come to life, and demons. It’s kind of like looking at surrealist artworks; I don’t really have any idea of what is going on, but it is disturbing, intriguing, frightening and somehow beautiful.

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Searching for Grace Kelly by M.G. Callahan

Cynthia Searching for Grace KellyThe story opens with a young lady taking the stairs to the roof of a hotel. We then meet three very different women lodging at the Barbizon, a women-only hotel in New York. We get a glimpse into their lives as they try to fulfill their dreams. Which one is the lady waiting to jump?
The story flows well and the author has authentically created the setting and time period. The ending is however a bit predictable.

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The improbability of love by Hannah Rothschild

Amy Improbability of LoveThe Improbability of Love is the story of an 18th Century French painting, which turns up in a junk shop, and sets an awful lot of drama in motion. It’s a fast-paced mystery/thriller with elements of chick lit and satire. It was a bit of a mixed bag for me, sometimes the sense of everything going wrong before it could go right, just made me want to put it down, and I found some aspects over done, but the resolution was satisfying and the journey often amusing or engaging.

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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Amy MiddlesexI really love this book! In order to tell his story, Cal Stephanides needs to go back and start with his grandparents. What follows is the epic story of a Greek family, beginning with an escape from burning Smyrna to their settling in Detroit. It is full of real history thrillingly entwined with the imagined; the Nation of Islam, the riots in Detroit (David Bowie song!) and an experience of being intersex. It is heartwarming, funny, over the top and very real at the same time.

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The three musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Amy Three MusketeersI wish I had read this before The Count of Monte Cristo. The Three Musketeers is a wild adventure, with duels, daring escapes, abductions, affairs galore, political machinations, treason, betrayal, romance and friendship. Milady is a clever villain, brilliant evil, and the four ‘heroes’ were almost as bad – vain, callous, manipulative and adulterous. The book is fun, but having really loved The Count of Monte Cristo, I was disappointed.

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How to find love in a bookshop by Veronica Henry

Amy How to find love in a book shopIt turns out that I can enjoy a book like this, if it is set in a book shop, in the Cotswolds. Emilia’s father has died, leaving her a book shop that isn’t doing very well. As she decides whether to keep it going or not, a cast of her customers also find themselves at crossroads. It’s heartwarming, comfortably predictable and sweet, without being cloying. I couldn’t read only this sort of book, but it was an entertaining interlude.

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The fair fight by Anna Freeman

Cynthia The Fair FightSet in 1700s England, the story is told through the viewpoints of three people. The writer plunges you into the time period with great descriptions and the use of language – it is a world of culls, molls, swells and pugilists. It is sordid and brutal with touches of light. Most of the characters are not likeable but that does not mean they were not enjoyable to read about. It was also interesting to see the wide use of alcohol as a coping mechanism with all the characters – and it still plays its part in society today.

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Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Amy IdahoIdaho is a story about the ripples of consequences, hope, forgiveness, loss, the fragility of life and situation, the power of love and friendship. There is plenty of plot, but it isn’t linear, or symmetrical. It is set, largely, on a lonely mountain in Idaho, where a family lives until something unexpected and shocking happens. The writing is beautiful, full of dreamy detail, with a wonderful sense of place.

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Under the Spanish stars by Alli Sinclair

Cynthia Under the Spanish starsThis was a lovely romantic story set in two storylines; the present day and the Spanish Civil War. The dual storylines worked well together and contained a good mix of history, romance, travel and mystery. I think this story was so enjoyable because I had read Golden earrings by Belinda Alexander earlier in the year which covered the same topics and hence the subject matter and the Spanish terminiology were familiar, increasing my undestanding and enjoyment.

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