September 11, 2014

Book Review - Just One Evil act by Elizabeth George

This is an Inspector Lynley story but it truly belongs to his sidekick DS Barbara Havers. Barbara, the shambolic, Barbara the determined and Barbara the passionate are all invoked her as she desperately tries to help her friend and neighbour Azhar, who is trying to get his daughter back. Barbara will be pushed to the limit of her professional ethics and her unacknowledged love for Azhar and for his daughter, Haddiyah, the nine year-old at the centre of the plotting and counter-plotting. This is a dense and complex novel yet immensely readable. At 700 pages, you need to set aside some decent time but you will be rewarded. George knows her characters intimately and she introduces the Italian countryside and some marvelous Italian characters in weaving this story. I was going to say it contains many shades of grey rather than just being black and white – I think I will anyway and try to reclaim the phrase! Wendy

September 09, 2014

Book Review - The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

This is a gentle novel but it doesn't shy away from serious and difficult topics. This is the second of the Elm Creek Quilts novels I have read. They don't need to be read in any order as they all involve people coming and going from a quilting centre – some of the stories are about ongoing characters and some are not. They are female in their concerns and orientations although an open minded male would no doubt enjoy them also. This setting is a quilt retreat for Thanksgiving where women come together to learn and share quilting techniques and to create quilts for charity. It is common for there to be a charitable element in any gathering of crafty people as we see in Camden with our Wrap with Love blankets, our Christmas stocking for the Hospital auxiliary etc. Each of the women who come to the retreat has their own story and we explore a couple of them including the cheerleader who has had a critical fracture, the wife who became a coach to help the school's team in a challenge where other teams cheated and the woman who didn't get a job at the Elm Creek centre when she applied some time before. Life events are often upsetting but there is comfort in helping each other through them. Wendy

September 07, 2014

Book Review - Sycamore Row by John Grisham

Another intriguing legal thriller by the master. Why did Seth Hubbard, an anti-social businessman leave 90% of his considerable estate to his housekeeper of three years? Struggling street lawyer, Jake Brigance, lands the second great case of his career in being appointed attorney for Seth's estate. The estranged family are outraged and packs of lawyers circle like hungry sharks when the true extent of his estate – over $20 million - is revealed. A court case ensues and there are many surprises in store for Jake and his support crew. Masterly plotted entertainment with a tragic twist in the tail. Wendy

September 05, 2014

Book Review - You're Mine Now by Hans Koppel

A middle aged woman has sex with a younger man she meets at a conference. Liking the excitement, she doesn't say no to further encounters but when she does finally say no, he won't let her go. It might have been a randomly idle fling for her, but she won't know until it is too late, why he chose her. Infiltrating her work, her family life and threatening her with scandal, Anna cannot make him go away. Then the pressure goes up when first her mother and then her daughter are taken. A very good argument for fidelity because crazy stalkers don't always seem that different to 'normal' people…. Until it's too late! Wendy

September 02, 2014

Book Review - Blood Song: Born for Battle, Bred for War by Anthony Ryan

I try not to read new series until they are all published because I don't like to wait for the next installment but I'm glad I broke my rule for this one. It contains all the classic elements of the fantasy genre and they are put together in a very classy way. A young boy, Vaelin Al Sorna, is sent by his father to a warrior monk's enclave after his mother's death. He hates his father for this but commits himself to this future. With a group of companions, he endures training and hardship, forging links of steel within his cohort. By the end of this book, we have learnt more of why his father acted as he did and that it was not as black and white as Vaelin first thought. We understand a little more of the personal, political and religious forces at work. We have met several enigmatic and significant women and we have endured with Vaelin and his companions through physical and moral challenges. The author has followed the best examples in fantasy writing in introducing the world of the book to our consciousness slowly, as the boy, Vaelin, learns about it himself. No worrying about who is related to whom or what the social mores are, we learn about them through the action of the story. Each element of the story adds seamlessly to our knowledge of the complexity of this world. This is excellent and I can't wait for the next one! Wendy