Sarah Grimké is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On Sarah’s eleventh birthday, Hetty ‘Handful’ Grimké is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept. And so, indeed, the trouble begins …
A powerful, sweeping novel, inspired by real events, and set in the American Deep South in the nineteenth century, THE INVENTION OF WINGS evokes a world of shocking contrasts, of beauty and ugliness, of righteous people living daily with cruelty they fail to recognise; and celebrates the power of friendship and sisterhood against all the odds.
After reading and reviewing The Secret Life of Bees I started The Invention of Wings with a bit of trepidation, because reviewing The Secret Life of Bees was hard and the book left me more than a little conflicted. Still, I’d heard a lot of good about Sue Monk Kidd’s latest novel and it certainly sounded very interesting, so I dove right in and didn’t come up for air until I finished the book. Well, I did have occasional breaks to feed myself and the girls and entertain them and to reload the washer and the dryer, but other than that the book had me spellbound. Continue reading
By 3 March, 2014
Posted in historical fiction, review
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.
Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.
The Golem & The Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
Helene Wecker’s debut novel has been praised by many of the bloggers I follow, it made the Locus Recommended Reading for 2013 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it appear on several awards shortlists. And it’s no wonder, because it is a remarkable novel. A historical fantasy, the book is set in turn-of-the-19th-century New York, mostly in the Jewish and Syrian communities of that metropolis, though Wecker takes us along on long jaunts through the city. Written in beautiful prose and filled with wonderful characters, who have been haunting me ever since I’ve finished the book, The Golem and the Djinni is a book to savour slowly and deliberately. Nevertheless, I found it a fast read as I found myself immersed in the narrative and unable to put the book down. Continue reading
By 2 February, 2014
Posted in fantasy, historical fiction, review
1553: Harsh winter falls across the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower, but rumours of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person many consider to be England’s heir and only hope – her half-sister, Princess Elizabeth.
Brendan Prescott’s foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings news that sends Brendan back to London on a dangerous mission. Intent upon trying to save Elizabeth, he soon finds himself working as a double-agent for Mary herself.
Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a shadowy opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess’s private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit – where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister – nobody can be trusted.
I first encountered Christopher Gortner’s writing last year when I reviewed The Queen’s Vow, about Queen Isabella of Castile. I loved the book and I was intrigued with this next book, written under a slightly different name – his biographical fiction is published as CW Gortner – and with a different approach to historical fiction. I have a weak spot for historical crime fiction and this historical mystery is close enough kin to that as makes no difference. Not having read the first book in the series, an oversight I’ll have to rectify in the future, I was worried that I might have missed too much back story, but luckily this book stands alone pretty well and the important bits get re-introduced quite organically in the narrative. Continue reading
By 21 January, 2014
Posted in historical fiction, mystery, review
Adeliza Golding is a deafblind girl, born in late Victorian England on her father’s hop farm. Unable to interact with her loving family, she exists in a world of darkness and confusion; her only communication is with the ghosts she speaks to in her head, whom she has christened the Visitors. One day she runs out into the fields and a young hop-picker, Lottie, grabs her hand and starts drawing shapes in it. Finally Liza can communicate.
Her friendship with her teacher and with Lottie’s beloved brother Caleb leads her from the hop gardens and oyster beds of Kent to the dusty veldt of South Africa and the Boer War, and ultimately to the truth about the Visitors.
One of my biggest fears is losing my sight. The thought of losing my vision and the ability to read and to watch my girls freaks me out even to contemplate. So when I read the above cover copy for Rebecca Mascull’s debut novel The Visitors, I was immediately captured by the visual of this little girl completely cut off from sight and sound and I wondered how Mascull would portray her and let her tell her story, as from glancing at the first few pages I’d seen the book was told in Liza’s first-person perspective. The answer to that question is beautifully. I found Liza’s story haunting and evocative and if it hadn’t been for the pesky need for sleep and the fact that I have two toddlers running around, I would have finished this book in one sitting. Continue reading
In the past two and a half weeks I’ve brought you my Anticipated Books for Winter/Spring 2014 and today I bring you the fifteen books I anticipate reading the most in the coming six months. As usual it’s a list of fifteen, as there are just too many good books to choose from and I always have a hard time getting the list down to the more usual ten books. Also as per usual, I’ve excluded many books I’m really looking forward to reading right out of the gate, for example all the new instalments in series I’ve been reading. If I loved the previous book in the series, it’s a good bet I’ll want to read the next one. Some examples of these are Tom Pollock’s final book in The Skyscraper Throne trilogy, Our Lady of the Streets, Douglas Hulick’s long-awaited second book Sworn in Steel and Stephanie Saulter’s Binary, the second book in her ®Evolution series. I also left off repeat offenders who also made the list last time, such as Mark Alder’s Son of the Morning. So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the lists I posted recently? Continue reading
We’re almost there! Welcome to the penultimate post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Today I’m sharing the second half of my picks for books published for the YA crowd. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. YA books have become a big part of my reading diet. Some of my favourite authors are writing for this age group and there are just so many great titles out there. Consequently, YA too has been spread over two posts. This is the first half. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Today it’s time to look at books for a younger set of readers: middle grade books. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading