Newt’s emerald by Garth Nix

Amy Newt's EmeraldUnlike most of Garth Nix’s books, this is a regency romance, with magic. Lady Truthful Newington is just about to inherit her magical emerald when it is stolen, and she heads to London to seek it with the aid of magic, and a cast of eccentric, endearing, infuriating and handsome characters. A light-hearted, fun, sweet, romp of a story.

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Trust excercise by Susan Choi

Amy Trust ExerciseTrust Exercise is set in a hot, sprawling, unnamed American town in the 1980s, with teenagers attending an exclusive performing arts school. It’s about the intensity of teenagers’ feelings, first love, the need to belong, the creation and abuse of power. It is unsettling and uncomfortable, told in three parts, with no other breaks or chapters; thought-provoking, not completely satisfying, but fascinating.

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A place called Winter by Patrick Gale

Cynthia A Place Called WinterThe story begins with Harry in a santitorium and we are then taken on a journey of his life and how he ended up there. And what a journey it is for Harry – from being a person of privilege in Edwardian London to emigrating to Canada to farm in the wilderness. Harry is a gentle person with great inner strength. Meeting Troels Munck, both attractive and repulsive, on the journey over to Canda has deep ramifications for Harry. I enjoyed this story of love and hardship, of Harry trying to make his mark on the world – it was both horrifying and hopeful.

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Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

The OutlanderTracey Outlanders series by Diana Gabaldon is the story of a 20th-century British nurse Claire Randall who time travels to 18th-century Scotland where she falls in love and finds adventure with a gallant young scots warrior named James Fraser.

Sounds simple enough (a bit like ’50 Shades of Grey’ and simplistic drivel I hear you saying!)  but the books are anything but! Yes! – I am an unashamed “Outlander” tragic, having read all eight novels in this historical multi genre series and eagerly awaiting the ninth book currently in the pipeline. I have watched all four seasons of the TV series (not anywhere as good as the books), and I follow the odd social media fandom page!

In the words of the author herself, “these novels are big, fat Historical Fiction… and include… history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honour, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice, and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul…”

What appeals to me about these books is the fact that they encompass numerous genres including Romance, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction and Time Travel Fiction. Diana Gabaldon’s writing is richly detailed and beautiful. I flew through these hefty, lengthy books and loved them!

Now want to visit Scotland and explore the fascinating historical sites and countryside. If I am lucky, I might run into a certain good-looking Scottish highlander although I, uh, only watch and read Outlander for the history, mind you!

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Mrs Gaskell & me by Nell Stevens

Amy Mrs GaskellI listened to the audiobook, read by the author herself, and apart from a slightly dodgy American accent, she did a good job. Nell Stevens fell in love with Mrs Gaskell, 19th century author, and friend and biographer of Charlotte Brontë, and while researching Mrs Gaskell for her PhD, fell in love with an American man. This is the story of two complicated relationships, one in the 1850s, and one now. Stevens is very open, raw even, about her own relationship and the life of a PhD student, and her retelling of Mrs Gaskell’s attachment to Rome and one particular person she met there, was very compelling. Mrs Gaskell’s North and South is a great favourite of mine, and I was keen to come to know my beloved Charlotte Brontë’s friend, but there are also interesting thoughts about marriage, singleness, parenthood and purpose, that give the book broader appeal.

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