Friday, 18 January 2019

#Reviews of #amreading books read late 2018 into 2019

My reviews catch up! 

I've had similar blog post titles before and mean never to need to batch up reviews again, but sometimes life gets in the way of my recording of short review comments on books I've recently read.

This little list goes back to books I read in October, November and December of 2018, with the most recently completed today! Posting short comments with no spoilers is my aim and, in truth, all I've got time for these days. I try to write about what my gut feelings are regarding the most lingering aspects of the reads and what they've made me concentrate on during the reading.

Dunstan by Conn Iggulden 

I really enjoyed the narrative element of this novel about a historical figure I know only a very little about. The story flowed naturally, the protagonist giving the back story bit by bit. Life was harsh; achievement measured by lasting legacies enabled by patronage and I liked that Dunstan was revealed as a determined yet, at times, almost self-effacing character, his ruthless edges somehow smoothed off by the choice of language used by the author and the imagery suggested.

 Heathcliff by Sue Barnard

Writing a spin-off novel about a character that appears in a classic novel isn’t a simple thing to do. I find that reading this kind of novel isn’t simple either, because I feel that my perceptions of that character will always be tinged by what the original author wrote. I was pleasantly surprised, and delighted, to find that I managed to compartmentalise the Heathcliff that Sue Barnard had created. What did he get up to during his absence in Wuthering Heights? Knowing a little of the historical setting, I find that what the author of this new Heathcliff decided on, is very plausible. It’s because the writing is sharp and the characterisation so good that I was able to imagine a different Heathcliff.

 The Saxon Marriage by Anna Chant 

This period in history, many of its locations new to me, was well worth reading about, viewed from the perspective of the heroine Eadgyth. She’s a likeable character, if at times a tad na├»ve to me even after years and years in the courts of European royalty. I found Mathilda a lot less likeable and I’m not sure I would have enjoyed being in her company - even if Eadgyth seemed to cope with Mathilda’s machinations. There was a lot of forgiving in the story which, I believe, would have been very difficult during the troubled situations explored in the plot.  If you’re looking for an entertaining glimpse of society of more than a thousand years ago, without much of  the seriously bloody conflict that was probably realistic of the times, and the fact that it is part of a series to highlight strong women of the eras, you’ll enjoy this novel.

 What the Future Holds by Joan Fleming 

This was an enjoyable, quick read set on the island of Mull, a location I’ve enjoyed visiting very much. From the outset what one of the characters was attempting to put in place was anathema to me so the plot got my immediate attention. The characters are lovely and fit well with the settings. There’s inevitability about the connection between Sandy and Amy but it doesn’t dull the journey as their relationship goes through rocky patches.  

Caligula by Simon Turney

This period in history as seen through the eyes of Livilla in Caligula was a bit of a revelation to me. Initially, I found it quite hard to separate this Livilla character from those in earlier novels set in the era. Trying to create an image of S. Turney’s Livilla as I read the novel was difficult, in the beginning, since I had to force myself not to recall earlier dramatisations. However, once I had my new version of her in my head, created through S. Turney’s excellent narrative, I began to really appreciate the depictions of the characters and the events. What happened isn’t definite since we have little written prime sources, and this depiction of events prior to and during the Emperorship of Caligula is as plausible as many others might be. 

I've also posted similar comments on each book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Now I've a huge kindle pile waiting fro me to choose from, and a number of paperbacks on my shelves which I've also still to begin. Happy Reading!

Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree

This was a most definitely entertaining novel, if sometimes a little confusing. Working out who was what was an interesting tangle in a setting that was believable and yet also a bit far-fetched. But that is what well written novels are all about and this one lifted me out of the normal and into something a bit different. Most of the characters are well rounded and easy to imagine at face value, though they hide a multitude of secrets!
I admit that after reading this amusing romp my waiting-time at the playground when fetching home my grandkids was a lot more fanciful as I imagined many familiar faces in highly specialised roles! 


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