Tuesday, 25 October 2016

This Secret We're Keeping by Rebecca Done

A pupil and a teacher. Is it ever right to break the rules?

Jessica Hart has never forgotten Matthew Landley. After all, he was her first love when she was fifteen years old. But he was also her school maths teacher, and their forbidden affair ended in scandal with his arrest and imprisonment.

Now, seventeen years later, Matthew returns to Norfolk, with a new identity, a long-term girlfriend and a young daughter, who know nothing of what happened before. Yet when he runs into Jessica, neither of them can ignore the emotional ties that bind them together. With so many secrets to keep hidden, how long can Jessica and Matthew avoid the dark mistakes of their past imploding in the present?

From debut author Rebecca Done, This Secret We're Keeping is a powerful and provocative novel about the ties which can keep us together - or tear us apart.

I liked this book very much in that it made me question myself on several occasions and I think it is a skilled fiction author that can make me, as a reader, deliberate over my feelings several days after I have finished the book. I suppose what I mean by this is that I was very engaged by the story of Jess and Matthew. I was very caught up in their relationship and hoping they would find a way. However, I had to continually keep reminding myself of the illegality and non appropriateness of their relationship and therefore, I should not be rooting for them. It is a very thought provoking read and one that I would recommend you read for yourself.

It was very well written and I enjoyed the dual narration. We hear Matthew's version of how their relationship developed in 1993 when he was still her teacher. Then we also have Jess' contemporary point of view. It flows seamlessly between the two periods and each enhanced the alternate narrative.

For a debut novelist this is a marvelous accomplishment. Ms Done has taken a taboo topic and built a really interesting story around it. I am looking forward to future work by this author.

ISBN:  9781405923941

Publisher :  Michael Joseph

About the Author:

Rebecca Done lives in Norwich. After studying Creative Writing at the Norwich School of Art & Design, she worked for several years as a magazine editor. Currently a copywriter, Rebecca is also a keen runner, fair-weather surfer and one-time marathon canoeist. This Secret We're Keeping is her first novel.

Her new novel, My Husband the Stranger, is due to be published in April 2017.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

In the next Ruth Galloway mystery, a vision of the Virgin Mary foreshadows a string of cold-blooded murders, revealing a dark current of religious fanaticism in an old medieval town.

Known as England’s Nazareth, the medieval town of Little Walsingham is famous for religious apparitions. So when Ruth Galloway’s druid friend, Cathbad, sees a woman in a white dress and a dark blue cloak standing alone in the local cemetery one night, he takes her as a vision of the Virgin Mary. But then a woman wrapped in blue cloth is found dead the next day, and Ruth’s old friend Hilary, an Anglican priest, receives a series of hateful, threatening letters. Could these crimes be connected? When one of Hilary’s fellow female priests is murdered just before Little Walsingham’s annual Good Friday Passion Play, Ruth, Cathbad, and DCI Harry Nelson must team up to find the killer before he strikes again.

Elly Griffiths is fast becoming one of my favourite writers and I am loving her Ruth Galloway series. This is number eight in the series and I have hitherto read the previous seven. For those of you that have not already become acquainted with the series I thought I would let you know which order they come in (including a charming Christmas novella) along with links to those books that I have previously reviewed:

1.    The Crossing Places
2.    The Janus Stone
3.    The House at Sea's End
4.    A Room Full of Bones
4.5  Ruth's First Christmas Tree
5.    A Dying Fall
6.    The Outcast Dead
7.    The Ghost Fields
8.    The Woman in Blue
9.    The Chalk Pit

Personally, I like to read a series in order but these would standalone. However, the chronology of the devolpment of the relationships between the characters really comes to life when they are read it order.

What else can I say other than that I am thrilled that there is one more book in this series, The Chalk Pit, that I am still to read and I am fervently hoping that Ms Griffiths has many more of these books up her sleeve.

I highly recommend you giving this series a read if you enjoy a good thriller or have an interest in archaeology.

ISBN: 978-1848663371

Publisher: Quercus

About the author:

Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly's husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece's head with the myths and legends of that area.

She has two children and lives near Brighton.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the long-awaited new novel - a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan - from the award-winning, internationally best-selling author Haruki Murakami.

Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.

I find Murakami to be an intriguing author. He first came to my intention when I read the first volume of his trilogy, 1Q84, and this was very quickly followed with volume two and three. I had never read anything quite like it before and if you haven't read it then I highly recommend it.

I found this story equally fascinating. I love the way he uses language to create an aura around his characters. The language has a formality about it. The author clearly chooses his words very carefully and uses them to full effect. The novel has been translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel who seems to have done an excellent job.

Tsukuru is a reserved and detached figure stemming from the deliberate isolation inflicted upon him when his group of very close friends unexpectedly isolate him from the group. No explanation is given him and reading his story I could feel his pain and loneliness.

I am fast becoming a fan of this very skilled and intelligent author and I am very keen to sample more of his excellent writing. I highly recommend this book as it makes for an interesting and impressive read.

ISBN:  978-0099590378

Publisher: Vintage

About the Author:

Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by American writers, such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and he is often distinguished from other Japanese writers by his Western influences.

Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko. His first job was at a record store, which is where one of his main characters, Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, works. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened the coffeehouse 'Peter Cat' which was a jazz bar in the evening in Kokubunji, Tokyo with his wife.

Many of his novels have themes and titles that invoke classical music, such as the three books making up The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleThe Thieving Magpie (after Rossini's opera),Bird as Prophet (after a piano piece by Robert Schumann usually known in English as The Prophet Bird), and The Bird-Catcher (a character in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute). Some of his novels take their titles from songs: Dance, Dance, Dance (after The Dells' song, although it is widely thought it was titled after the Beach Boys tune), Norwegian Wood(after The Beatles' song) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (the first part being the title of a song by Nat King Cole).