The Light Between Oceans – M. L. Stedman

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I saw a poster for this movie near my work and it spoke of moral dilemma, that alone was enough to get me intrigued. I then checked with a few people to make sure it wasn’t just a boring love story, which thankfully it wasn’t.

Tom, having returned from the horrors of war just wants some piece and quite and to get away from society, so he takes up a role of lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock off the coast of Western Australia.

His life is quite disciplined on that island, everything gets reported and logged and he forms a rigid routine, to fill in the time between the quarterly supply boats. On his not so regular visits to the mainland he falls for a woman Isabel. Whom he eventually marries and brings back to the island.

After miscarriages and still births, Isabel is soon at wits end, when on the breeze she hears a babies cry. A boat has washed ashore on their island with the dead body of a man and a baby crying. Isabel still reeling from her most recent loss convinces Tom to betray his principles and not report the boat and pretend the baby is there. A few years later when they take some leave on the mainland the real consequences of their actions dawn on them.

What then follows is a battle between what feels is for the best and what is right. A lot of the reviews i read really disagreed with Isabel’s actions later in the book, but i’m the opposite, i think her actions were natural and realistic, its is Tom’s actions that i have issue with. I just cant understand the reasoning behind them. its this thought provoking struggle that makes me like this book so much. On a separate note this definitely goes in the pile of the book is better than the movie

Home – Harlan Coben

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I’ve been waiting 5 years for this book, granted for most of that time it didn’t exist but i had hoped for another book in the Myron bolitar series. Then new years day this year Harlan posted on his twitter a picture of page one of this novel being typed into his word program. After 5 long years book 11 was on its way, while not the longest wait between books in this series that belongs to to book 8 being 6 years after book 7, it was the hardest.

Book 10 Live wire, really wrapped a lot of story lines up. Myron shut down his Sports Rep company, so his employees  Esperanza and Big Cindy go there own way, and his best friend Win goes into hiding. It really felt like the story was over.

Set only 1 year after the previous book in the series, we find Win still in hiding but on the trail of a kid who went missing 10 years ago and after a disastrous encounter with the kid, Win decides  to call his friend Myron in to help as this case is personal. The kid is one of two who went missing 10 years ago, once of which is Win’s cousins kid, which i guess makes it his second cousin.

After the reunion between these best friends,  Win explains very little to Myron about his time away, however in a change of pace there are a few chapters that are from Wins POV and has him explaining stuff to the reader, something quite different for Harlan. It was through these POV expositions that we find Win was a lot closer to home than we realized. In the intervening year when with the help of his nephew Mickey, Myron final finds his brother long thought dead and in a touching tribute to the strength of their bromance we find Win was close by just in case.

This story was one of Harlan’s best, i loved it! I’m sure part of that love is being reunited with these characters after all this time. So one must wonder if another book was released in this series would i still feel so positive about this book?

While this book does in a sense have closure with the gang back together again, i still feel like there is the potential for another story dealing with Win’s absence and what occurred while he was in hiding and in true Harlan style it could easily be something from his past coming back to grab him, a recurring theme in his books.

A careful reader will also notice the shock revelation about Em’s long elusive father at the wedding.

 

The Summer Before The War – Helen Simonson

The Summer Before The War – Helen Simonson

This book was a challenge, a challenge i set myself to be honest because awhile ago a friend posted a picture of a parcel on her doorstep saying her books had arrived and yet when i asked her what did she buy i was told you wouldn’t like it. No title, author or genre just boom you wouldn’t like it, We used to speak many a time about books and offer suggestions but this time i could draw out no further information.

Had my reading preferences become so constrained that she felt it a waste to elaborate on her purchases. Had a comment i may of made previously about a book or genre perhaps offended her? Either way i felt the situation called for me to take a stab at broadening my literary horizons. So i thought, what is the genre that would cause me to throw the book into a fire under normal circumstances. The first genre to mind was Romance, i would rather have a kidney extracted by hand and with no anesthetic than read that rubbish. The second was anything remotely like Downton Abbey – The whole post Edwardian period piece. So perhaps i could find a book that would combine these two.

The End result was this book, in fact it didn’t take long to find since there is such a demand for this style of Downton Abbey style rubbish. Needless to say my negativity of the genre is already showing and i’ll try to reign it in.

The books Blurb is as follows

East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.

When Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and several large crates of books, it is clear she is significantly more freethinking — and attractive — than anyone believes a Latin teacher should be. For her part, mourning the death of her beloved father, who has left her penniless, Beatrice simply wants to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing.

But just as Beatrice comes alive to the beauty of the Sussex landscape and the colorful characters who populate Rye, the perfect summer is about to end. For despite Agatha’s reassurances, the unimaginable is coming. Soon the limits of progress, and the old ways, will be tested as this small Sussex town and its inhabitants go to war”

I first see the year 1914, and get excited knowing this is set right at the outbreak of WWI but then I read the whole blurb, in fact i read it twice to try and figure out what the plot was, and even after finishing the book i am still left struggling to understand the plot, was there even a plot? If it wasn’t for the brief mention of war i might of passed over this book for another.

For me i just can’t fathom why people love the whole Downton Abbey theme. People seem to imagine this a rich and wonderful time to pursue ones interests, with slaves, oh i mean servants to cater to your whims and numerous balls and galas held to entertain your social needs. Where young beautiful ladies are swooned by handsome men with fancy titles.  Is everyone who reads this stuff Daft? That’s how the rich and powerful 1% of society lives, a quick look over to the rest of us shows we drag out our meager existence chasing trains to pick up dropped pieces of coal to warm us in winter. This is an area where women have very little choice. They must do as their fathers bid, marry who their fathers bid. Can’t aspire to greatness or to have any job they desire, doors are closed to them for most vocations. Religion holds a powerful influence over people, to highlight this sickening hold, there is a woman in this story who gets raped and falls pregnant, SPOILER ALERT, instead of feeling for this poor woman and trying to help her because of what she went through, they feel they need to remove her from their town and not be seen with her so as to not ruin ones social standing and people call this the time of romance? Everything about this time is focused on social standing as opposed to happiness or chasing ones dreams but enough of a rant about the theme back to this book.

This book was such a struggle to go through, it felt like each chapter dragged on longer than the wait between book releases from George R.R. Martin. Don’t get me wrong the Author writes well and somehow manged to do it for 500 pages but for 400 pages nothing happens, we have balls and galas, numerous teas and dinners but nothing of purpose or meaning. We have stuck up Matrons and ladies of the house and the usual town gossipers. Even the outbreak of WWI barely makes a dent into the social goings of this town, they swarm over refuges hoping to get English speaking ones and to help raise their social standings by this act. It is these very people who should be shot for war crimes, only helping their fellow man for their own personal gain.

The brief highlight of this book was when we finally venture out of some quaint English town to the battlefields of Europe, oh how my hopes were dashed by its mere briefest of appearances. Yet its mere presence renewed in me a desire to finish this book and be done with it. With numerous mentions of the war in those last 100 pages and chapters taking place there, i was able to zip through to the ending which was not surprising and rather long foreseen considering how predicable these 2 dimensional and plain characters are.

If you love stories with no plot that feature words like Matriarch, Lord, Servant, and have themes like Female oppression, Social Elitism, and revolve around the PoV of a woman trying to break the social confinements placed on a young single woman than yes this book is for you.

If you prefer entertainment, excitement, suspense or even just a basic plot then move along friend this is not the book your looking for

 

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman
I needed a change from the usual action, thriller and Scifi i read. I wanted a story that could make one laugh and cry, smile and feel. This book ticks all those boxes.
The book centers on a 7 year old girl Elsa, She is a child of divorce who lives with her mum and her new partner in a block of units. There are several other tenants in that building and her Granny. She has a very close relationship with her granny, who loves to tell her stories, together they have made up a fantasy world. Elsa is a little different from others, she’s slightly smarter and so her granny is very protective of her. Together in their fantasy land they go on adventures and hear stories of knights going on quests.
When her granny dies she is devastated but finds a letter from Gran in which she asks Elsa to go on one more quest to save their fantasy world. What follows is carefully crafted plan by Gran for Elsa to learn who Gran used to be and on the way Elsa discovers more about her family and neighbors and how connected they all are with their fantasy world.
A brillant story that does a great job of showing the world through the eyes of a child. and how kids can be more grown up than they appear

Genghis Khan – Jack Weatherford

Genghis Khan – Jack Weatherford
Quite an informative read. We are taken for a walk through the life of the famous Genghis khan. From a nobody to the greatest commander ever. The man conquered more lands than any other and his empire was larger than all before him.
Unlike other conquerors he didn’t just bring pain and suffering but religious freedom, ended slavery, built economies,  and developed cultures. Then knowing his end was near he tried to ensure his death wouldn’t cause the end of his empire, tried to ensure his sons honored his wishes, They didn’t
After his death it wasn’t until 40 years later that the empire stabilized under kublai khan and extended to its furthest. The legacy left over wasn’t revered as it should be but tarnished and discredited by so many to the point that they were spoken of like scum, if one had a sick child it was said to be a mongoloid (essentially Mongolian) as a kid i even remember using that term as an insult to my sister, but to find out it was used by Europeans to mask their hatred of the Mongolians because of their conquest, Was like a blow hitting me i had no idea of the terms backstory
This and other revelations is what i found remarkable about this book. It is so true in our biased society that history is written by the Victors but that just makes it even more amazing when the truth comes through.

Tell No One – Harlan Coben

Tell No One – Harlan Coben
Harlan master of suspense delivers another cracker here. Its an old one of his that i haven’t gotten around to before. David becks wife died 8 years ago, he has struggled since then not quite letting go nor moving on and then he receives a cryptic email and ignoring all common sense he pursues it as he feels it is from his wife.
As the reader i’m left to try and unravel this mystery. Is it really his wife. Why did she email right after two bodies were dug up near where she was murdered. Coincidence? What is the connection
This is what i love about Harlan’s works we are trying to unravel the mystery faster than the protagonist. What really happened 8 years ago on that fateful night. Didn’t quite see that ending coming but i do like how it all wrapped up.

The Bees – Laline Paull

The Bees – Laline Paull
Not sure how i stumbled on this gem. It has sat in my to read pile for months. Well to be honest i have that many books on my too read pile its now got its on dedicated bookcase. I seem to buy books far faster than i can read them. Anyway finally came around to reading this and all i can say is WOW. Such a creative story. Welcome to the life of Flora-717 our story follows Flora -717  from her  birth. She is quite special ,a normal sanitation worker would spend their lives cleaning the hive but very quickly her special mutation is noted and she is taken away before the fertility police can arrest and destroy her.  She is bigger than normal sanitation workers and the we soon discover she has a few more special habits. Flora is sent to work in the nurseries, feeding the newborns. After sometime she is no longer useful there and her story continues as we follow her as she returns to work with her clan. Through attacks from wasps. Crazy winters and political coups it is a great story. How high can a simple sanitation worker climb in a society dominated by clans? is any goal out of reach?
Such a unique and individual story. I always thought bee hives were full of males with only one female but this story shows that isn’t the case with honeybees. I really loved the conclusion to this story and the journey that Flora -717 goes through. Great female protagonist and written by a female too, will definitely be looking out for more works by this author.