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Showing posts from January, 2018

Book Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce

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Harold Fry is sixty-five years old, the sort of man who thanks the speaking clock, a gentle-man in the truest sense. Six months into his retirement he spends his days sitting in a chair, and he and his sour wife Maureen barely speak. When he learns from a letter that a dear friend is dying, he sets out to post a reply to her. And then he just keeps walking, in his yachting shoes and without his mobile phone, towards Queenie's bedside six-hundred miles away.

Before I picked up this book I felt the premise of Harold's journey was somewhat far-fetched (maybe even "unlikely"), but the book handles it well and makes it seem strangely plausible. Anyway, it hardly matters whether or not a sane man would decide to walk six-hundred miles in order to save a friend's life, because it's not the journey itself which is of interest. What really resonates with me, even weeks after reading it, is what Harold considers and learns as he thinks about his life. It addresses the …

Book Review: The Witnesses by Stephanie Black

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I loved "The Believer", Stephanie Black's first book. In fact, I think I gave it five stars which I do very rarely. So I was thrilled to see this sequel published at last, and it didn't disappoint.

Set in the same carefully crafted and plausible dystopion world, The Witnesses takes up where The Believer ended, with the main characters in hiding and desperate to escape New America. The plot doesn't go in the direction you expect, and there are many surprises leading to the very satisfying and unexpected ending. The sense of menace doesn't let up, and the characters are complex but consistent and distinct. Alisa, in particular, is fascinating, and her development over the course of the two books is beautifully portrayed.

The only problem I found was that it was too long since I had read "The Believer" and with such a large cast of characters, many of whom are involved with or related to others, I was sometimes a little at a loss to place everyone and…

Book Review: The Rebel Princess by Janice Sperry

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There seems to have been a glut of re-imagined fairy tales of late. From Shrek to Maleficent, it seems we really can't get enough of new takes on the tired old stories and characters.

This book really does pack in all the beloved fairy tale cliches, from small animals needing kisses from princesses to fairy godmothers, evil twins and maidens locked in towers, but it throws them all in a blender, adds a large pinch of salt, and mixes them all up before churning them all out as high school students with issues.

Prince Charming is displaced in time, and is hanging around with the daughter of his intended princess. The princess in question wants to be dark and gothic and rebellious, but even her house is conspiring against her. Then there's their incompetent fairy godmother friend, and an enchanted forest where anything could happen.

The book is very fast-moving and dialogue heavy, but for its target audience of tweens to teens that's probably better than detailed description…

Book Review: Haven Waiting by Tifani Clark

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I'm going to take an unusual step in reviewing this book. I'm going to recommend that you buy another book. Specifically, Shadow of a Life by the same author. It's the first book in this teen series, and I felt very disadvantaged as I read through Haven Waiting for not having read it. Haven Waiting doesn't really work as a stand-alone book; there are too many references to previous events and characters, and the mythology is difficult to understand if you haven't already got to grips with it in the first book.

Having said that, Haven Waiting is a great book for teenagers. There's plenty of action and intrigue, a bit of history education disguised as story, and the fairly simple style is appropriate to the age group. I found that I really couldn't like the character of Haven. She made some very poor choices, acted selfishly, and was, at times, quiet menacing and malevolent. This added to my desire to read the first book; I deduced that Sophia, the ghost cha…