Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Art Lover  by  Andromeda Romano-Lax

I really enjoyed this novel set in Italy and Munich during 1938 and inspired by an actual historical event – the seven year looting campaign of great art objects of Europe by the Nazi’s.  The author’s style provides a satisfying, educational novel intertwining the politics of the time, believable characters and the emotional turmoil that loyalty and love create.

by Pam

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Ken Follett

A column of fire by Ken Follett

I was worried, since this is the third in the Kingsbridge Series (Pillars of the Earth and World without End being one and two respectively) that I would be completely lost with characters’ names and even plot. I need not have feared however as this book was set in the same imaginary town of Kingsbridge, but set 200 years later in the 16th Century. Follett did an amazing job of personalising a story set at a fascinating time in English history, when Elizabeth I came to the throne and there was strong religious conflict right across Europe between Catholics and Protestants. Being a modern reader I googled Kingsbridge Cathedral and discovered that though it was imaginary, Follett had the awe inspiring Wells and Salisbury Cathedrals in mind when he wrote the book.

Ken Follet's "Century trilogy" that cover the fates of 5 families across the world through social changes and wars from 1911 till 1967. An fascinating picture of the modern world unfolding through the eyes of 5 very different families.

Sophie Kinsella

My not so perfect life by Sophie Kinsella

"Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed. OK, so the truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn't really hers. But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren't they? Until her not-so-perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie's hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business. Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams - or try to get her job back? Does Demeter - the woman who has everything - actually have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems. And what's wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway? 
Everybody loves Sophie Kinsella."
Sophie Kinsella has many equally funny light reads. If you like this try some of her other novels.

Edward St Aubyn

Dunbar by Edward St Aubyn (King Lear)

The Hogarth Shakespeare series recreates Shakespeare's plays as current day novels, edgy, topical and not the Shakespeare we knew at school.
Dunbar is in trouble, his financial and personal safety under threat from his daughter Abby and Megan, From a care home in the Lake Districts he plots to escape, succeeding only to be lost in a winter wilderness and a internal mental wilderness. Can Florence, his loyal youngest daughter save him?
If you know the play you know the ending but this novel keeps you wanting to see how it works out regardless. The writing is compelling and provides insights into the human condition of old age, human frailty, family, madness, power and forgiveness.

Other books in this series
Vinegar girl : the taming of the shrew retold by Anne Tyler (The taming of the shrew)
Hag-seed : the Tempest retold by Margaret Atwood (The tempest)
The gap of time by Jeanette Winterson (Winters tale)
Shylock is my name by Howard Jacobson (The merchant of Venice)
New Boy by Tracey Chevalier (Othello)
Portacom city by Paul Gorman

I am a "mainlander" and this little book bought back the earthquakes in a
 positive way, and from a different  view point. When natural disaster 
strikes, how much is the public entitled to know - even when the scientists
 aren't sure? What obligations do they have to a general public thirsty
for information about what will happen next? Should they wait until they 
have all the facts before they say anything? Caught up in the ongoing 
earthquakes, Christchurch newspaper journalist Paul Gorman struggled to
make sense of what the scientists were telling him. Was there more? 
Were worried  residents receiving the full picture? In this BWB Text 
Gorman describes his troubled ongoing dealings with government
scientists and the extraordinary challenges that confront reporters at times of crisis.

Inky theOctopus  Words by Erin Guendelsberger
We all read the newspaper articles about Inky's great escape from the Napier Aquarium, now we have the picture book based on Inky's great adventure.

Inky escaped from the Napier Aquarium in 2016, making his way out of his tank when the lid was left slightly ajar.  Inky is believed to have made his way to a drain that led to the sea.  A wonderful rhyming story, with great illustrations.  Bound to be a favourite with all ages.  After reading the story, you can read about other octopuses’ adventures and some very informative facts about octopuses that are interesting to the kids, but fascinating for adults too.  This is an endearing story made all the more interesting due to knowing it actually happened.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Lifting by Damien Wilkins

Intriguing and compelling.

The closing of a long-term Wellington department store — family-run then bought and sold several times — is the backdrop for this novel. Wilkins' portrayal of store employees negotiating their way out of the mess is one we can probably all identify with, whether it's personally having lost a job in a similar restructure or just knowing someone who has. The stress of the imminent closure, and the choices 'head office' makes are familiar themes these days.

The story is told through its main character, Amy, a new mother and store detective who has a dodgy past. Throughout are questions, discussions, and clarifications with a couple of police detectives, who are interviewing Amy about 'what happened at Cutty's'.

Wilkins doesn't use chapter breaks, only white space, to break the narrative, so the pace is fast and the story-within-story is fascinating as the reader tries to guess why Amy is being interviewed — but not as a suspect.

Lifting has a whole parade of characters, from questionable front doormen to the grand old dame who's the last of the Cutty family, but try not to race to the end to find out 'why' — the end of an era often comes too quickly anyway.

by Jen

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