Sunday, 11 November 2012

Good reading

I have been deliciously lazy at times lately. Not so bad really. Time for the soul. Lots of happy hours have been spent reading.

Mice is a straightforward novel aimed at older children and young adults.
I picked this up at a book exchange and did not realise it was for that age group until I was into the book. No bad language, sex, drugs, or rock and roll here. No love story nonsense. One good read in one night. Easy relaxed style. Well drawn characters. Straightforward plot. It might be more engaging for girls rather than boys.
The story line is simple and thoroughly engaging. The mice are a mother and daughter who are naturally quiet and compliant people living in England. They start a new lifestyle and the reader is drawn into the experiences of the teenage girl, Hannah. Bullying is a current topic of interest and this book hinges on the idea. Events, consequences, defeat, growth, fear, peace, and disturbance.
I thoroughly recommend this for the young and the young at heart.
I even enjoyed finding out more about the author, Gordon Reece.

I bought The Distant Land of My Father at a second hand book shop. It is a work of fiction although the tale is so convincing that I felt it must be autobiographical. It is not. A girl, Anna, is born into a wealthy family of expats living in Shanghai in China. She grows up. Her father falls into a difficult and complex situation. Social conditions change. The mother and daughter go back to the US. The father does not join them for many years. As Anna grows she comes to see that her beloved father is flawed. The father's life is a constant struggle but he is true to the Chinese customs he grew to admire.
I was quickly part of this novel. I completely enjoyed the first half. The early years are filled with detail, mystery, life, and social complexities. The second section is banal and flat. I felt the resolution was satisfactory but not compelling.
When I looked up this novel on the internet I was concerned that the author was issuing a study guide. For a first novel that seems rather presumptive. To me this indicates something nasty in the character of the author.
Just a piece of chic lit really. A shame as it could have been more.

Cold Grave was suggested to me by a review and author interview on television. I was delighted when I found it in Big W. The author is really a forensic anthropologist just like in Bones. She has written several books previously which have been well received, especially here in Australia.
Kathryn Fox was disturbed by the case of a woman who was murdered while on a cruise in the Pacific. Further research revealed that this is not uncommon and that cruise line events are not subjected to the same laws as on land. Is is very common for passengers to disappear, presumably thrown overboard, and it is impossible to do anything at all about this. Some passengers may be quite offensive while on board and security services may be poor.
This story hinges upon the death of one teenage girl, the rape of another, and the character complexities of other characters. The story is not gripping but it is good enough. This would make a really good film. I will watch out for other books by this author.

I hope you try at least one of these books. Something may be to your taste. Nothing chilling here; just books to wrap around your shoulders and lift your cares away.

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