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Showing posts from March, 2014

Branford-Boase Longlist: Week 9

This week I am a bit late with my blog post, I’m blaming the clocks going forward! I am up to books seventeen and eighteen of the twenty-nine longlisted titles, and so far I’m still on schedule to read the whole lot before the shortlist is announced.
The two books this week have some common themes, which only became apparent after I’d read them because they were both completely new to me. Illness and family feature in both, along with emotional support and healing - although they take very different forms.
The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale Evie's shattered ribs have been a secret for the last four years. Now she has found the strength to tell her adoptive parents, and the physical traces of her past are fixed - the only remaining signs a scar on her side and a fragment of bone taken home from the hospital, which her uncle Ben helps her to carve into a dragon as a sign of her strength. Soon this ivory talisman begins to come to life at night, offering wisdom and encouragement in roam…

The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

I already had this on my list of books I wanted to read, but its inclusion on the Baileys Women's Prize for fiction longlist encouraged me to push it to the top of the pile. It’s the first book from the list that I’ve read so I hope I’m not premature in hoping it makes the shortlist. I don’t think I am, as I found it an exceptional novel. Peter Faber’s desire to escape the Eastern front is so great he enters into a mail-order marriage for the ten days honeymoon leave it merits. It’s an inauspicious start to a relationship; the bride and groom are even married by proxy in their separate locations. Peter seems careless of his chosen wife. He abandons her picture thoughtlessly and the pair’s first conversation lacks any spark: ‘We’re on the second floor. Who’s we? My parents. I didn’t know you lived with them. I’m not paid enough to live by myself. I suppose not. What do you do? I told you in my letter. I work in a bank. As a typist. Oh yes, I forgot.’ That casual last line from Peter made …

The Crimson Ribbon by Katherine Clements

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

A Heart Bent Out of Shape by Emylia Hall

For Hadley Dunn, life so far has been uneventful - no great loves, no searing losses. But that's before she decides to spend a year studying in the glittering Swiss city of Lausanne, a place that feels alive with promise. Here Hadley meets Kristina, a beautiful but elusive Danish girl, and the two quickly form the strongest of bonds. Yet one November night, as the first snows of winter arrive, tragedy strikes. Hadley, left reeling and guilt-stricken, beings to lean on the only other person to whom she feels close, her American Literature professor Joel Wilson. But as the pair try to uncover the truth of what happened that night, their tentative friendship heads into forbidden territory. And before long a line is irrevocably crossed, everything changes, and two already complicated lives take an even more dangerous course...

Branford-Boase Longlist: Week 8

This week I’ve read two books from the Branford-Boase Longlist, both of which I enjoyed. I already knew about and intended to read The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, but The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth was new to me.
The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth by Julia Lee Clemency is utterly penniless and entirely alone, until she's taken in by the marvellous Marvels - a madcap family completely unlike her own. But it's a surprise to them all when she's mysteriously bundled from the house by the frightening Miss Clawe. Concerned about her fate, the Marvels set out to find her. Enlisting the help of some not-quite-genuine Red Indians, it's a calamitous race across the country. But Clemency's misadventures are more dire than her rescuers suspect ...will they reach her in time? A thrilling adventure mystery with skulduggery, magic, and dark family secrets.
I thought this was a really fun, slightly crazy adventure story. It has wonderful charact…

The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull