Review: Bitter Greens – moved

Bitter Greens
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This intricate weaving of history, the Rapunzel fairy tale, and witchcraft and intrigue is a triumph. Kate Forsyth takes these seeming disparate elements and draws them together to create a coherent and compelling story. Beautifully written, and, despite it’s hefty page count, 576, a real page-turner. Charlotte-Rose de Force is the darling of the court of Louis XIV. She is witty, charming and a little bit naughty. But the capricious King’s fickle tastes and open ears prove to be her downfall, and Charlotte-Rose is banished to a nunnery. At first a defiant guest, Charlotte-Rose’s will is gradually broken down into submission, until Soeur Seraphina begins telling Charlotte-Rose the tale of Margherita, a young girl given away as payment for a minor crime, stealing a handful of bitter greens from the witch-courtesan, Selena Leonelli.
Told from the points of view of Charlotte-Rose, Margherita and Selena, Bitter Greens is recommended for mature readers with an interest in the machinations, intrigue and myth of a time gone by.

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Review: Year of Wonders- moved

Year of Wonders
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written historical novel of the Plague. Brooks’ storytelling is sublime, her characters strong, real and wonderful (some are wonderful in their hideousness). The setting is finely written and supports the story. Read it – for goodness sake!
PS. Don’t let my long reading time put you off. I have read it over the year on my iPad in English Reading classes at work. I’ve snatched moments in time to read it – and never once lost the story or my feeling for it.

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Review: Mr. Standfast – moved

Mr. Standfast
Mr. Standfast by John Buchan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mr. Standfast concludes the Hannay trilogy, which begins with The Thirty-Nine Steps, and continues through Greenmantle.
In this instalment, Hannay is called in to help discover the identity of a masterspy. There are the usual characters – Blenkiron and Piennar – and the addition of a female character, Mary.

The novel roams all over the British Isles, and onto the continent. There’s goodies and baddies galore, red-herrings, romance, manoeuvres and more. Buchan doesn’t disappoint. This is another cracking read.

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Review: Barnaby Grimes: Phantom of Blood Alley – moved

Barnaby Grimes: Phantom of Blood Alley
Barnaby Grimes: Phantom of Blood Alley by Paul Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Barnaby Grimes is an excellent series. The characters are engaging, the plots intriguing and the world building is great. The whole is enhance by the wonderful illustrations from Chris Riddell.

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Review: Greenmantle – moved

Greenmantle by John Buchan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The continuing adventures of Richard Hannay, begun in The Thirty-Nine Steps, and concluded in Mr Standfast. John Buchan is such a classic writer, and a this a novel of its time. Be aware – this book used to terms to discribe different races that we find offensive, but it was written in the period after the war, when different values applied.
In this adventure, Richard is seconded to become a spy. He, and a number of other agents, are tasked with discovering what the Germans have planned for the area around Turkey. Richard must go deep undercover to successfully complete this mission. Can he do it? A ripping yarn.

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Review: Into White Silence

Into White Silence
Into White Silence by Anthony Eaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This extraordinary novel is a triumph of realism – so much so that I read the entire book furious that Eaton had stolen a diary from the library at Mawson! I couldn’t believe that such a nice man would do something so despicable!
And of course he didn’t.
But the fact that he made me believe that he had stolen the diary is indicitive of the skill displayed in Eaton’s writing. This bleak story of a doomed expedition to the depths of Antarctica, an expedition led by an obsessive adventure, and flying in the face of all that is sensible and common sense, is unrelentingly dark, and the growing sense of disaster and doom that Eaton builds throughout the novel is masterfully handled.
Recommended for older readers and adults, this is a complex and enjoyable read.

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