Tuesday, July 04, 2017

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

They said:-
'O felt her presence behind him like a fire at his back.'
Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.
The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practise a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Watching over the shoulders of four 11-year-olds – Osei, Dee, Ian and his reluctant ‘girlfriend’ Mimi – Tracy Chevalier's powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

My thoughts:-

A very enjoyable take on the Othello story, with the action moved to the school playground, Dee and Osei (O) are around thirteen, and puberty is rearing its heated head among their classmates.  O is a newcomer and the only black pupil in the school, son of a Ghanaian diplomat posted to Washington DC.  Dee is the girl who takes her new classmate under her wing, with unforeseen and ultimately tragic results.  It is very clever transposition which works well and demonstrates the universal themes of the original play.  Young Adults will enjoy reading this, but older adults will, too.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

The Ice by Laline Paull

They Said:-

THE ICE is an electrifying story of friendship, power and betrayal by the bestselling, Baileys-prize shortlisted author of The Bees.
It's the day after tomorrow and the Arctic sea ice has melted. While global business carves up the new frontier, cruise ships race each other to ever-rarer wildlife sightings. The passengers of the Vanir have come seeking a polar bear. What they find is even more astonishing: a dead body.
It is Tom Harding, lost in an accident three years ago and now revealed by the melting ice of Midgard glacier. Tom had come to Midgard to help launch the new venture of his best friend of thirty years, Sean Cawson, a man whose business relies on discretion and powerful connections – and who was the last person to see him alive.
Their friendship had been forged by a shared obsession with Arctic exploration. And although Tom's need to save the world often clashed with Sean's desire to conquer it, Sean has always believed that underneath it all, they shared the same goals.
But as the inquest into Tom's death begins, the choices made by both men – in love and in life – are put on the stand. And when cracks appear in the foundations of Sean's glamorous world, he is forced to question what price he has really paid for a seat at the establishment's table.
Just how deep do the lies go?

My thoughts:-

Another very original, thoughtful book by Laline Paull, which is so different to The Bees but which drew me into the lives, dilemmas and values of its characters, and made me ponder the values of our world, where a sense of entitlement can trump good sense, respect of the natural world and blur the demarcations of ownership and stewardship.  Beautiful writing and enthralling story about profound issues.

Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham

They said:-

Internationally bestselling author Mark Billingham’s riveting new novel Love Like Blood marks the return of series character Tom Thorne, “the next superstar detective” (Lee Child), as he pairs up with perfectionist detective inspector Nicola Tanner of Die of Shame on an investigation that ventures into politically sensitive territory.

DI Nicola Tanner needs Tom Thorne’s help. Her partner, Susan, has been brutally murdered and Tanner is convinced that it was a case of mistaken identity—that she was the real target. The murderer’s motive might have something to do with Tanner’s recent work on a string of cold-case honor killings she believes to be related. Tanner is now on compassionate leave but insists on pursuing the case off the books and knows Thorne is just the man to jump into the fire with her. He agrees but quickly finds that working in such controversial territory is dangerous in more ways than one. And when a young couple goes missing, they have a chance to investigate a case that is anything but cold.

Racing towards a twist-filled ending, Love Like Blood is another feat of masterful plotting from one of Britain’s top crime novelists.

My thoughts:-

I just happened to start reading Mark Billington's latest DI Thorne novel after hearing on the radio of a large increase in the number of so-called honour killings (or maybe rather on the reporting of them), so it is an interesting, thrilling and riveting take on a very topical subject.    Tom Thorne is as maverick as ever but doing his best to toe the line sufficiently to prevent him falling foul of his bosses, while pursuing the best bet to unsettle suspects and catch the perpetrators of an odd series of deaths and attacks.  His domestic life with Helen and her wee Alfie is strained by the demands they both experience, being in The Job, but provided a refuge from the horrible crimes being discovered at work,  Phil Hendricks, his mate and handy pathologist, contributes to the story, as well as Nicola Tanner, a detective who is on compassionate leave following the murder of her partner Susan at their home.  There is danger, there are thrills and plenty of suspense and suspects: a very enjoyable and satisfying book.

The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

They said:-

My Thoughts:-

This book is such an enjoyable read, engaging from the start and a clever combination of science fiction with romance.  Luna and her sister, Pia, travel to Brooklyn to sort out their mother's affairs after her traumatic death, and it is there, in Bay Ridge, that they learn more about her past, the identity of Luna's father and extraordinary things start to happen.  I was totally caught up in this wonderful tale, which is beautifully written and well researched for period detail, and although the ending was surprising and satisfying, I now miss Luna in my life.
I have already recommended it (on publication day) to a friend who wanted a good book to load to her kindle, and I'm happy to recommend it more widely.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

What they said:-
An unforgettable cast of small-town characters copes with love and loss from the No. 1 New York Times bestselling and Man Booker long-listed author of My Name is Lucy Barton
Recalling Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity, Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.
Anything is Possible tells the story of the inhabitants of rural, dusty Amgash, Illinois, the hometown of Lucy Barton, a successful New York writer who finally returns, after seventeen years of absence, to visit the siblings she left behind. Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout's place as one of America's most respected and cherished authors.

What I thought:-

A delightful, satisfying story about a number of townspeople who are facing everyday issues and crises of life and identity which will be