On the beach by Nevil Shute

amy-on-the-beach.jpgWhat would you do if you knew the world was to end in just a few months? After a short, nuclear war in the northern hemisphere, the only people left alive are down south, but radiation sickness is slowly heading towards them. Less technical than many Shute novels, this is a fascinating look at what could have happened if war broke out in the sixties, and how people might have dealt with impending death. It’s thoughtful, sweet, amusingly old-fashioned (the female characters!), and ultimately moving.

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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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Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Amy TranscriptionI was always going to love this; WWII, espionage and Kate Atkinson are all right up my alley, and I wasn’t disappointed. Juliet Armstrong is 18 when she is recruited into MI5, and a job that is mundane and frightening at the same time. Juliet’s war, like that of so many others, was complicated, and ten years later people from her past turn up in her life and she must confront the past. The characters are compelling, the story is clever, funny, deeply insightful and surprising.

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The jade lily by Kirsty Manning

cynthia-the-jade-lily-e1542597698228.jpgA great historical novel based on the resettlement of Jewish refugees to Shanghai during World War II. I was amazed at how the human spirit can still shine in the most horrendous of situations. The descriptions of life in Shanghai were rich, with food featuring. The modern part of the dual storyline had a few unbelievable coincidences, but I could forgive the author as they made the story flow. I enjoyed the story, particularly learning about this unknown (to me) part of history.

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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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The memory of love by Aminatta Forna

Amy The Memory of loveSet in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from the late sixties until the early two thousands, this book is about the effects of war, and desire and betrayal. A slow, powerful, novel, that explores one man’s obsession with another’s wife, and what acts it drive him to, years ago, and an English psychologist’s attempts to help after Sierra Leone’s civil war.

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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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The turning tide by C.M. Lance

Cynthia The Turning TideI enjoyed this story and characters mainly based around the WWII campaign in Timor. I love it when a story makes me experience a range of emotions throughout the story. It is a story on the horror of war and its aftermath, mateship, complicated families, love and ultimately hope. The story jumps time periods several times per chapter, sometimes throwing me off the flow of the story, but this is only a minor complaint.

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