Well, June is bustin' out all over so I'd better do my monthly reading round up. Last month was kind of busy and I found myself with 2 books which I just couldn't finish which is rare for me since I usually stick it out to the bitter end.
The River Wife by Joni Agee
A family saga set in 19th century Missouri. The story begins with a young lass being chucked out of home because she's pregnant to her lover. They get married and as she begins to discover more about her husband's family history, she sees many parallels with her own situation. Apart from the irritating "history repeats" side of the story I enjoyed this book. A kind of interesting ending, and not one I quite expected. Strong women are featured in the book plus some intriguing twisty men.
Maps for lost lovers by Nadeem Aslam
This is one that I couldn't finish. An ill-fated couple are murdered because they break Islamic law and live in sin. This book is about love, Islam and the background/after-math of their choice. It also seemed to me to be about the restriction of women's freedom and living in an alien culture. The author writes some beautiful passages. In the end I couldn't finish this book because there seemed to be so many hopes crushed and lives ruined because of repressive belief that it got a bit much for me. I imagine for some women that this story would be a reflection of their reality.
A rare interest in corpses by Ann Granger
A typical "gothic" Victorian detective/thriller story. I confess I did enjoy it despite the predictability of the plot. It was quite fun to think to myself "Any moment now and she'll find some diary of the murdered girl" and lo, the next chapter she did! Heh heh!
The Island by Victoria Hislop
On the verge of making a big decision, Alexis heads to Greece and while there manages to find out about her mysterious family past. She discovers the history of her grandmother and how love, leprosy and exile has affected her family. Not much character development in this novel, and some of the events are rather contrived/convenient. I did enjoy it though - it is a romantic sort of book and good for a relaxing read.
Kitty by Deborah Challinor
Banished to the other side of the earth because of an indiscretion, Kitty finds herself in Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand with her aunt and uncle (a minister). Set during the period when the Treaty of Waitangi was being established, Kitty tries to settle down into her new life of sobriety and teaching the local Maori children how to be good, decent Christians. (Said with tongue in cheek). Naturally there is a hunky man in the picture with whom things get off to a bad start. Owing to circumstances outside their control, they are thrust (inevitably) into each other's company having to flee to Sydney, Australia. I do like reading stuff set in New Zealand - especially places I've been to. Again, not much in terms of character development but a nice, romantic read for a Sunday afternoon.
Burning Bright by Tracey Chevalier
A family of chair makers end up in London after being commissioned by a circus owner to make some furniture for him. A "sideways" story about William Blake (he lives next door) and the period where England was feeling jumpy about the Revolution over the Channel. The son of the chair making family makes friends with one of the local girls and the main story is about their personalities, reactions and relationship. I liked the settings, the local flavour and descriptions of the period. A good read. Loose links with Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience. The ending is a bit up in the air but in a good way.
Stalking the green fairy by James Villas
A "foodie" type book. This is the other one I didn't finish. I got fed up with the author's attitude actually. Didn't enjoy his repetitive style of writing either. It's difficult for me to respect someone who "disses" folk who seek quality food, promotes bulk buying but then admits that most of it goes to waste because he doesn't use it up in time and chucks it out.