Wednesday, 17 September 2014

WBC - A Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli

A Meal in WinterA Meal in Winter by Hubert Mingarelli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - a few hours

Pages - 138 pages

Publisher - Portobello Books

Blurb fro Goodreads

One morning, in the dead of winter, three German soldiers are dispatched into the frozen Polish countryside. They have been charged by their commanders to track down and bring back for execution 'one of them' - a Jew. Having flushed out the young man hiding in the woods, they decide to rest in an abandoned house before continuing their journey back to the camp. As they prepare food, they are joined by a passing Pole whose outspoken anti-Semitism adds tension to an already charged atmosphere. Before long, the group's sympathies have splintered as they consider the moral implications of their murderous mission and confront their own consciences to ask themselves: should the Jew be offered food? And, having shared their meal, should he be taken back, or set free?

My Review

Three German soldiers have been given a break from shooting prisoners at their concentration camp, to head out to the Polish countryside, to track down any Jews to bring back for execution. It follows their cold journey and how they track one of the Jews and take refuge in an abandoned house before they continue their journey back to the camp. It's cold, theres not a lot of food and a Polish man joins them, taking an aggressive attitude towards their prisoner. What follows is a tense evening of hunger, anger, and decisions as the men share a meal together and bring up the decision of taking the Jewish man back to the camp for certain death, or, after sharing a meal with them, do they let him go and find some internal peace.

The three Germans are: the narrator, who is never named, Bauer a thief and Emmerich a man who is worried about his son whilst he isn't there for him. The arduous journey through the bitter freezing cold, what they discuss during their hunt and what they watch out for. Once they have captured their man and decide to be hospitable and share their food, thats when they contemplate if they should free him or now. Going through memories of what they have done to their prisoners previously and how setting this man free could impact upon their equilibrium.

To be honest, I started this 5 days ago, then read the blurb and put it down until a few days later when I read it in a few hours. I hadn't realized what it was going to be about and sometimes, when your not sure how dark a book is going to be, you need to mentally prepare for it. Whilst the book subject matter is disturbing, there is no brutality in gory detail although it does mention Jewish people being executed. The focus of this novella, and it could really be labeled a short story as it is only 138 pages long, is the capture of the young man and the meal and night they all spent together. It is something different from my normal genre choice and had Waterstones not sent me it as a review copy I may not have picked it up. The writing is very well done, it pulls you into the scene and paints the picture so vividly you shudder at some of the descriptions of the harsh weather. I would possibly read this author again, I may have to see what else they have written. A sad and haunting tale in that, I feel, anything written about the Jewish people and their treatment from the German soldiers does tend to stay with you. 3/5 for me this time, thanks to Waterstones for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

PRR - Someone Else's Skin by Sarah Hilary

Someone Else's SkinSomeone Else's Skin by Sarah Hilary
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Publisher - Headline

Pages - 420

Blurb from Goodreads

Some secrets keep you safe, others will destroy you...

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. Dependable; fierce; brilliant at her job; a rising star in the ranks. Everyone knows how Marnie fought to come back from the murder of her parents, but very few know what is going on below the surface. Because Marnie has secrets she won't share with anyone.

But then so does everyone. Certainly those in the women's shelter Marnie and Detective Sergeant Noah Jake visit on that fateful day. The day when they arrive to interview a resident, only to find one of the women's husbands, who shouldn't have been there, lying stabbed on the floor.

As Marnie and Noah investigate the crime further, events begin to spiral and the violence escalates. Everyone is keeping secrets, some for survival and some, they suspect, to disguise who they really are under their skin.

Now, if Marnie is going to find the truth she will have to face her own demons head on. Because the time has come for secrets to be revealed...

My Review

The book opens five years ago, DI Marnie Rome arrives at her parents home, cordoned off by the police. She knows it is bad, the way the scene is, the glimpses she can have from the house, the way her colleagues talk to her. Then we flick to present day, almost five years to the day it happened. The book teases the details along of what happened to Marnie's parents. But the world of crime stops for noone and she has a job to do. Arriving at a refugee house for abused women, to interview one of the woman who can help with an investigation they happen upon a bloody scene, one of the women have stabbed her partner she had fled from. Each of the women need to be interviewed, each has reason to hide, distrust and secrets are something they all have. As DI Rome tries to cope with her personal trauma and do her job, she needs to keep her wits about her to figure out what truly happened and how to solve the case.

The opening chapter pulls you in, your given enough to know something bad has happened but you don't know who done it or what they actually did. Present days packs quite a punch as one of the women meant to be kept safe has attacked her husband in self defense. There is a lot of tension within this book, the topic of abuse these women have endured is always present. It is a subject that if you have been touched personally by it the book will pack more of a punch with you. If you haven't it gives an insight into what these women endure and why they behave as they do.

I would say it is a psychological thriller, laced with crime and violence. Whilst the matter is dark and may be close to home for some readers, it is handled in a way that I feel didn't cheapen the subject but stayed true to the issues and reflected real life.

For a debut novel it packs quite a punch, I was up past 6am reading this, I could have gotten through it in one sitting had I not had other things to attend to. The chapters are nice and short which I do light in stories, it makes it easier to read more when you have other things to do in between. The time period jumps about a bit, between some of the characters although it is sign posted well enough, in parts it took a wee bit or getting used to. A great introduction to some new characters that I hope to see more of, 4/5 for me this time. I would certainly read more by this author and think Detective Inspector Rome and the other characters (especially Stephen) have some great tales still to come. Thanks so much to Headline for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and for introducing me to a new author.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Review - The Ship Of Brides by Jojo Moyes

The Ship of BridesThe Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Hodder

pages - 482

Blurb from Goodreads

The year is 1946, and all over the world, young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they married in wartime - and an unknown future. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other brides on an extraordinary voyage to England, aboard the HMS Victoria, which also carries not just arms and aircraft but 1,000 naval officers and men. Rules of honour, duty, and separation are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier's captain down to the lowliest young stoker. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined in ways the Navy could never have imagined.

My Review

It is 1946, brides are desperate to be reunited with their husbands, some who haven't seen they said I do and the men went off to war. The HMS Victoria is carrying weapons and naval officers and now 650 brides, coming from Australia to America. Putting such a mix together, in a confined space, under such conditions is a recipe for disaster, one the Captain can see but has no choice but to press on. Four ladies join the 650 and it is their story we follow through the voyage. Danger, lies, friendship, honor and secrets are just a few of the subjects covered throughout this tale.

I must admit, ever since Me Before You I have loved Jojo Moyes, something about her writing just draws you in to the time period and characters lives. Avice, coming from money and heading off to her new life and husband, can't help but judge along the way and flaunt her good fortune as she goes. Margaret, home girl who looked after her brothers and father after their mother left, not afraid to get dirty and muck in and takes people as she finds them. Frances, a nurse who is very reserved, cold at times and keeps herself to herself and lastly Jean, only sixteen and a live wire, quick to look for fun and find trouble fast. These ladies are shipped together for six weeks in a small cramped room and learn to live with each other and form unlikely friendships and learn how to accept each other.

The story took a bit for me to warm up to, we start in present day, an elderly lady happens upon something that takes her back to her voyage in 1946. We do not know her identity and learn the story as it goes. Once it warms up and you get to know the characters, I couldn't put it down and got through it in one day. Not her strongest novel but quite fabulous in its own right, it made me want to read about actual brides and their travels during that period of time. 4/5 for me this time, I intend on finding any of her other novels I have not yet read and eagerly await ones in the future.

View all my reviews

September's giveaway is The World Is A Wedding by Wendy Jones

You can find my review here - As always, the competition will remain open until the end of the month. Apologies it has taken so long to list, I was on holiday and have a few reviews to catch up with too.

Just fill in the rafflecopter below, the more options you do the more entries you have. Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review - Possessed by Kate Cann

Possessed (Rayne, #1)Possessed by Kate Cann
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 331

Publisher - Scholastic

Blurb from Goodreads

Rayne can't wait to start her summer job at a remote country mansion, far from the crowded, noisy London she so desperately wants to escape. But the retreat soon turns into a nightmare -- the mansion is creepy, the legends of ghosts keep Rayne up at night, and she doesn't feel safe anywhere.

Can Rayne figure out why she's so freaked -- before she becomes a ghost story herself?

My Review

Rayne is our main character, living with her mum and little brother, on a rough estate and dating Day Damian, a bad boy lusted after by many but hers alone. She is frustrated by her situation and ready to break free, when a job opportunity arises at a secluded country manor she has to go. It is quiet, spooky and feels spooky, it also has the pull of St John, a young chap and his group of friends who welcome Rayne with open arms although all is not as it seems.

The author described the setting of the ancient house and its grounds perfectly, it had the feel for some spooky and ghostly happenings. However the biggest focus on the story surrounds Rayne, her feelings, her playing her boyfriend and mum, screening their calls and some teen angst behavior which I didn't much care for. When the story gets into the heart of the spookiness and mystery surrounding the manor and it's history it did pick up. I would say this had more of a gothic or teenangst person growth type feel to it, I certainly wouldn't rate it as a horror.

I enjoyed reading about the growth of Rayne's character however I can't say by the end of the book I was much liking her. The mystery surrounding the whole book also was a bit, for me, anticlimactic . That said, the writing is easy to follow and I would read this author again, in fact this book has a follow up which I would read although not actively seek it out. 2/5 for me this time, I would certainly suggest you try it as I seem to be in the minority with this one, it just wasn't for me.

View all my reviews

Monday, 8 September 2014

Review - Double Fault by Lionel Shriver

Double Fault (Five Star Paperback)Double Fault by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Serpent's Tail

Pages - 339

Blurb from Goodreads

Ever since she picked up a racquet at the age of four, tennis has been Willy Novinsky's one love. But when she falls for fellow pro Eric Oberdorf, their relationship is tested to breaking point by their competitive urges.

My Review

Tennis is not something I am interested in at all however when on holiday we do pick up something we normally wouldn't read. Willy Novinsky is on a journey to becoming a professional tennis player, her ranking score is going up, she is smashing her competition and winning her matches. She has no time for friends, romance or really anything that isn't tennis, until Eric Oberdorf comes along. They embark on a relationship and she teaches him some pointers to strengthen his game. As their relationship deepens, Willy finds herself struggling with her game and watching Eric go from strength to strength. Tennis brought them together, it may very well tear them apart.

It has been a while since I have really disliked a character as much as I ended up disliking Willy. As her game declines she becomes a vindictive, nasty, horrible character, Eric is understanding, sweet, competitive and no matter what he does it further enrages or prompts her to behave like a brat.

Without going into spoilers as I hate that, sex and sexual terminology is used and the subject of abortion is mentioned, in what some people may feel, distressing detail. I found Willy to be a cold fish, a character with little to no redeeming qualities. As much as tennis is not my thing, I must say I wasn't as bored as I thought I would be reading this type of theme. I have read Shriver before and I would read her again, I don't particularly like her style however I cannot put her books down until I have got through the whole story. There is something about how she writes that pulls you along and in, even when you don't like or find the subject content particularly interesting. 2/5 for me this time, I can't say it is like any of her books I have read before as they all seem very different, I would certainly say give it a bash if you came across it but I wouldn't actively encourage you to seek it out.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 31 August 2014

PRR - The World Is A Wedding by Wendy Jones

The World is a WeddingThe World is a Wedding by Wendy Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Publisher - Corsair

Pages - 265

Blurb from Goodreads

Wendy Jones picks up where 'The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals' left off. It's 1926 and Wilfred Price, purveyor of superior funerals, is newly married to the beautiful Flora Myfanwy. His brief and painful marriage to Grace is in the past. He's busy with funerals - and preparing for fatherhood by reading a philosophy book and opening a paint and wallpaper business. As much as he loves Flora, he senses her distance from him - are marriage and fatherhood going to be very different from how Wilfred imagined?

Grace has fled from Narberth to London, where she is working as a chambermaid at the luxurious Ritz Hotel. But Grace has a secret, one that can't be hidden forever, and binds her to her old life in west Wales.

Despite Wilfred's earnest effort to embrace the future, he is beginning to wonder if the past has too powerful a hold on him.

My Review

Having read the first book I would suggest you read it before picking this one up. You can read this one without having read the first but I think you would enjoy it more checking out the first part of the story. We pick up with Wilfred Price, undertaker and funeral director, set in 1925. After a quick and painful marriage to Grace, he is now looking toward his impending marriage to the lovely Flora. Their tale covers their union, the business and the small town they live in and the happenings of Narbeth. Grace has since fled to London, trying to find work and hiding a secret meaning she can't quite escape Narbeth or her past.

This is a tale with happiness, sadness, confrontation, secrets & the heart of relationships. We see Wilbur's character continue to grow, looking after her new bride, trying to expand his business and trying to prepare for the future. Although Grace has gone and Flora is everything he hoped for her can't quite forget about Grace and her misfortune.

The is a book that has a few layers and deals with subjects that can be difficult to read, it is dealt with in a sensitive manner yet still evokes sympathy and feeling from the reader. There was just a few things that I didn't quite get although I feel I may be in the minority with it. One character has quite a change in their personality and behavior with not a great deal of explanation and I found a few things that one or two characters done came from nowhere which I personally don't like. However, over all it is a good read, the author has a gentle style that flows and despite the book being set in the early 1900s, which isn't always a bit hit with me, she covered it very well. 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again and much thanks to Little Brown Book Group for sending me a copy.

View all my reviews

Well from I first started reviewing

Get your own free Blogoversary button!