Monthly Archives: August 2012

Shadow of Night – Deborah Harkness

This is the second of the All Souls trilogy. I read the first, A Discovery of Witches last year. I wasn’t sure what to make of the first one, but liked it well enough to continue with the series. And I think the second might be better than the first.

Here’s the blurb …

Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.

The action has moved back to 1590, which gives Ms Harkness a chance to weave her historical knowledge into the story and she does a fabulous job – I felt immersed in 1590 London and Prague. There is lots of action, tension and changes of scene which keeps the story moving and a reader turning the pages. The relationship between Matthew and Diana matures and I have to say I like reading what happens after the ‘happily ever after’ ending.

I’m eagerly awaiting the third installment.

More reviews …

http://karenrbrooks.com/blog/?p=663

http://wingedreviews.com/2012/08/shadow-of-night-by-deborah-harkness/

 

 

 

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All That I Am – Anna Funder

This novel won the Miles Franklin Award for 2012. As you can imagine, this makes it a popular book club choice. I enjoyed it and I shall try to get hold of Stasiland.

Here is the blurb …

All That I Am is a masterful and exhilarating exploration of bravery and betrayal, of the risks and sacrifices some people make for their beliefs, and of heroism hidden in the most unexpected places.

When eighteen-year-old Ruth Becker visits her cousin Dora in Munich in 1923, she meets the love of her life, the dashing young journalist Hans Wesemann, and eagerly joins in the heady activities of the militant political Left in Germany. Ten years later, Ruth and Hans are married and living in Weimar Berlin when Hitler is elected chancellor of Germany. Together with Dora and her lover, Ernst Toller, the celebrated poet and self-doubting revolutionary, the four become hunted outlaws overnight and are forced to flee to London. Inspired by the fearless Dora to breathtaking acts of courage, the friends risk betrayal and deceit as they dedicate themselves to a dangerous mission: to inform the British government of the very real Nazi threat to which it remains willfully blind. All That I Am is the heartbreaking story of these extraordinary people, who discover that Hitler’s reach extends much further than they had thought.

Gripping, compassionate, and inspiring, this remarkable debut novel reveals an uncommon depth of humanity and wisdom. Anna Funder has given us a searing and intimate portrait of courage and its price, of desire and ambition, and of the devastating consequences when they are thwarted.

I found this book fascinating for a number of reasons. First, I know very little German history – I’m Australian the only European history we learn is about the ‘mother country’, i.e England. Reading about World War One and the lead up to World War Two from a German point of view was interesting (particularly because we know what Hitler does to the world). Secondly, I enjoyed the narrative style. It is written chapter about by two different narrators; Toller and Ruth. I must say I enjoyed Ruth’s chapters more, but I think that was simply a personal preference rather than anything inherent in the writing. Ruth is an elderly woman living in Bondi who is remembering (with greater clarity than she can remember current events) her life before the war. I think Ms Funder did a brilliant job of capturing Ruth’s life in Bondi with Bev the cleaning lady/home help. I could hear the tone that Bev would use when talking to Ruth.

This novel is full of suspense and yet we know Ruth survives and we know something happens to Dora (we presume death), but when it all comes to a climax it is still shocking. There are hints along the way and I think I would notice more with a second reading, but I don’t know if I would ever expect the depth of betrayal that occurs.

More reviews …

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/sep/16/all-i-am-anna-funder-review

 http://residentjudge.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/all-that-i-am-by-anna-funder/

 

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Wicked Business – Janet Evanovich

This is my guilty pleasure. I started reading her books years ago when a friend described them as ‘racy and pacy’ and it’s true.

Here’s the blurb …

 With gluttony safely behind them, DIESEL and LIZZY find themselves in search of LUST. But are they really after LUST, or is it TRUE LOVE? To find out they’ll have to hunt through Boston’s Louisburg Square, the catacombs of the Old North Church, and infiltrate an ancient, secret society, deep within Dartmouth College… all the while battling WULF, his minion, HATCHET, and sweet TEMPTATION.

These are definitely formulaic, but it’s a winning formula. There are laugh out loud moments and despite knowing what happens next I want to keep turning the pages.

I know come November I will be reading Notorious Nineteen

 

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