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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

The year is 1867. Winter has just tightened its grip on Dove River, a tiny isolated settlement in the Northern Territory, when a man is brutally murdered. A local woman, Mrs. Ross, stumbles upon the crime scene and sees the tracks leading from the dead man's cabin north toward the forest and the tundra beyond. It is Mrs. Ross's knock on the door of the largest house in Caulfield that launches the investigation. Within hours she will regret that knock with a mother's love -- for soon she makes another discovery: her seventeen-year-old son Francis has disappeared and is now considered a prime suspect.
In the wake of such violence, people are drawn to the crime and to the township. But the question remains: do these men want to solve the crime or exploit it?
One by one, the searchers set out from Dove River following the tracks across a desolate landscape -- home to only wild animals, madmen, and fugitives -- variously seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for seventeen years, and a forgotten Native American culture before the snows settle and cover the tracks of the past for good. 

Hmmm this was an interesting book as I am still not sure what I thought of it.  I found the style rather disjointed and struggled to follow it at times.  I put this, partially, down to the time I was getting to read it as I didn't always get a nice long reading spell to get into it.  Despite this criticism there was something about it that made me want to keep reading.  If anything, that is the sign of a good story where you are kept drawn into the tale despite other issues going on around you.  I did guess one of the big reveals quite early on but I think you were actually meant to (sorry I can't say any more than that or it will be a spoiler)!   If you like all loose ends to be tied up in a book (and I am a bit like that) then you will be left frustrated at the end.

Would I recommend this book to people.  I would if you already had it in your possession but I wouldn't necessarily search it out or keep it and give it to other people to read.

The history of Scots emigrating across to Canada and North America was interesting but despite the fact that the author is Scottish, she never tried to get the Scottish accents across in the book, at least, I couldn't hear them.  Was this to appeal to a wider American audience!?  I just felt it would have added to the authenticity of some of the characters if they appeared to be more Scottish at times.

In summary, an interesting read that was not a waste of time but don't rush out and buy it.  Xx

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

 Two weeks after September 11th, award-winning journalist Asne Seierstad went to Afghanistan to report on the conflict there. In the following spring she returned to live with an Afghan family for several months. For more than twenty years Sultan Khan defied the authorities - be they communist or Taliban - to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by the communists and watched illiterate Taliban soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. He even resorted to hiding most of his stock in attics all over Kabul. But while Khan is passionate in his love of books and hatred of censorship, he is also a committed Muslim with strict views on family life. As an outsider, Seierstad is able to move between the private world of the women - including Khan's two wives - and the more public lives of the men. And so we learn of proposals and marriages, suppression and abuse of power, crime and punishment. The result is a gripping and moving portrait of a family, and a clear-eyed assessment of a country struggling to free itself from history.

When I read the Foreword and saw that this was another non fiction book, I was quite looking forward to it after my last read (The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks).  My favoritism to fiction books may be coming to an end if this one was any good.

I am afraid it did not meet its potential.  Some great stories in the book and very entertaining and educational parts of the book BUT it was as if the author could not make her mind up as to whether she was writing an article about the situation in Kabul or whether she was trying to write an entertaining story.  It just did not flow because of this and would have been a better read if she had decided to go one way or the other- either way would have been better than this mixed bag of writing. 

It is really a shame as you can tell that there are some great, entertaining stories in there and the facts were really fascinating.

Is it worth a read despite this, no I really don't think it is as I am sure there are other books out there that will either give you the cold hard facts about Kabul in this era or fiction books that will give you the entertaining stories in a better style.

Such a shame.  Xx