Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Originally posted on Norfolk's Great Big Read:

I have rethenightcircuscently read the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I was originally inspired to pick this book up because of the beautiful black and white cover that had a small flash of red on the front. However I was worried that the contents of the book would pale in comparison to the gorgeous cover that enveloped it and so it sat in my car, looking at me sadly every time I got in, but after 3 weeks I gave in and started reading it (not in my car I hasten to add!).

This book is awesome, but really hard to describe and I know that will not be able to fully express how wonderful this book is, believe me I have tried with my sister and she sat there with a look of bemusement on her face, slowly nodding at me with a small smile on her face…

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The Sin-Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

sinAn engaging and original Young Adult fantasy, the first in a new trilogy. The mythology of the invented world is unlike anything I have read before & the central character is appealing. Worth  a read for fans of young adult fantasy.

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court. As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company. But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen. However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love?

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Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? By Dave Eggers

Your father's...

Written entirely in dialogue between our central character and his captive audience, this is a very strong book. Readers of Dave Eggers will know to expect something out of the ordinary (and a very well-written book at that).

It’s a very quick read and will have you glued to the page,  alternatively rooting for and horrified by the central character. Strongly recommended.

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In a barracks on an abandoned military base, miles from the nearest road, Thomas watches as the man he has brought wakes up. Kev, a NASA astronaut, doesn’t recognize his captor, though Thomas remembers him. Kev cries for help. He pulls at his chain. But the ocean is close by, and nobody can hear him over the waves and wind. Thomas apologizes. He didn’t want to have to resort to this. But they really needed to have a conversation, and Kev didn’t answer his messages. And now, if Kev can just stop yelling, Thomas has a few questions.

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

The Gracekeepers

A modern fairytale, this is a captivating read which transports you to another world… or maybe our world in another time. The references to flooded cities, drowned lands and that the ‘Bankers’ and their love of money were blamed for the flooding makes me wonder…

A debut novel,  skillfully written. It never over-explains and allows the reader space to discover the world in their own time. Entrancing.

The sea has flooded the earth. North lives on a circus boat, floating between the scattered islands that remain. She dances with her beloved bear, while the rest of the crew trade dazzling and death-defying feats for food from the islanders. However, North has a secret that could capsize her life with the circus.

Callanish lives alone in her house in the middle of the ocean, with only the birds and the fish for company. As penance for a terrible mistake, she works as a gracekeeper, tending the graves of those who die at sea. What drove her from home is also what pulls her towards North. When a storm creates a chance meeting between the two girls, their worlds change. A modern fairytale

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The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

Marlowe PapersHow to describe this book? Poetic novel, adventure story, the author’s version of the Marlowe/Shakespeare legend? Whatever it is, it’s probably not a book I would have immediately chosen, but being a good book group member, I dived in.

I had to tell myself to persevere, as it’s quite a culture shock to read a novel that’s written in verses, not chapters, especially when the verses are more like a Tudor tragedy than a collection of poems. But it didn’t take long to almost forget about the form of the text, as the voice of the ‘author’ comes through clearly, presenting his version of his life story. And Marlowe’s story is full of action, events, people and places.

As I read on I felt I was learning more about the Marlowe story than I knew before, and finding out about the man himself – not necessarily the most sympathetic character, but clever and complex. And little details about life in Tudor England and on the continent gave an insight into reality and an indication of the writer’s depth of knowledge of her subject.

I don’t usually mind notes in a book, but somehow I found the extensive notes in an extremely small font at the end of this book very annoying. The fact that they weren’t numbered is a minor niggle, but it niggled all through the book. I can’t stop myself from reading the notes supplied, but in this book I found them a bit too scholarly and distracting, and decided that I should have stopped referring to them so conscientiously. That being said, it’s not a reason not to read this book – the story is gripping, the writing is brilliant and the delight of a novel in verse makes me think that perhaps I’ll return to this book and read it without referring to the notes next time.

Clare

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Memory Man by David Baldacci

DB

When ex-detective Amos Decker returned home 18 months ago to find the bodies of his wife and only daughter, he didn’t think he could carry on living. Overwhelmed with grief, he saw his life spiral out of control, losing his job, his house and his self-respect. But when his former partner in the police, Mary Lancaster, visits to tell him that someone has confessed to the murder of his family, he knows he owes it to his wife and child to seek justice for them…

 

 

 

Absolutely brilliant book.  Memory Man is the first in a series featuring a new character called Amos who has a unique memory which helps him in solving a crime.  It’s gripping, quick, fast paced and has interesting characters.  Could not put it down.

Anon

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First published on https://norfolklovesbooks.wordpress.com/

All my puny sorrows by Miriam Toews

allmypunysorrowsYoli is conflicted. Her sister Elf has battled depression for her whole adult life, and is in a psychiatric ward under permanent observation after attempting suicide – again. She has always looked up to her as her talented and beautiful older sister. She loves her with a fierce passion and wants to believe in the possibility of a future together, one in which Elf gets better. But it’s looking unlikely and Yoli has to decide if the person you love is tired of living, is it kinder just to let them go?

 

What the press said:

“Sadness might be the central theme of the novel, but it isn’t the dominant tone. From its arresting opening sentence to its heart-catching last line, it is jaunty, matter-of-fact and full of zest and verve … as in her other novels, Toews writes in a cool, deceptively simple voice that moves seamlessly between the memory of past joy and the sometimes surprising banality of present pain. This often edges towards poetry … The novel she has written – so exquisitely that you’ll want to savour every word – reads as if it has been wrenched from her heart.”(Christina Patterson Sunday Times)

“Toews’ remarkable novel … ironic for a book with self-annihilation as its subject, bursts with ramshackle, precious life. Full of eccentricities and casual, apposite quoting of literature, its tragicomedy and humaneness recall the best of John Irving.” (Catherine Taylor Sunday Telegraph)

“To write powerful fiction out of personal events of such magnitude is hard, surely almost unbearably so, but the result is a novel that reaches beyond the limits of itself.” (Sophie Elmhirst Financial Times)

“The mixture of grief, numbness, and a sensation of being removed from one’s life and observing from above, are starkly captured … Toews captures perfectly the conflicting feelings when a loved one wants to die: sorrow, confusion, guilt, frustration and even anger. Yet, unbelievably, this book is full of humour … This is a powerful and enthralling book. Toews has previously been long-listed for the Orange (now Baileys) Prize. I hope to see this on prize lists in the near future.” (Leyla Sanai Independent)

“a masterly book of such precise dignity. It is, also against all the odds, at times a desperately humorous novel.” (Daily Mail)

“excellent book tells a difficult story with dazzling lightness of touch … Very smart, very funny, and completely heartbreaking.” (Metro)

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Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Reasons to stay aliveMatt Haig has written a very powerful book about anxiety and depression, combining the story of his own experiences with advice and helpful tips. It’s full of poetry, and humour, and compassion. As someone who has experienced both anxiety and depression, I found this book to be the best on the subject that I have read (now running close second is Gwyneth Lewis’ ‘Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book About Depression’!). I am drawn to personal stories of someone weathering the storm and coming out the other side because it offers me real hope.

The self-help books and workbooks listed in the Reading Well: Book Prescription Scheme can be extremely useful, but because of the dual personal/self-help nature of this book, it’s helpful on a different level. The short chapters mean this book is actually practically accessible to those experiencing depression – at my worst, I found I couldn’t read a lot because I couldn’t concentrate for long or summon much energy. The advice Haig offers is often practical too – and resonates more strongly because he shows us how he has successfully incorporated it into his daily life, e.g. using exercise and meditation. Also the structure of the book means the content is varied throughout – for example, you might get a bit of Haig’s own story, then some advice, followed by a witty list.

I actually found it very compelling to read, tearing through half of it in one go, and finishing the rest within 24 hours. I felt as if he’d given me a voice – I find it very hard to communicate effectively to friends and family during periods of extreme anxiety. Now I can ask them to read this, and it will help them to understand me and my behaviour. It explains what anxiety and depression really feels like.

I would recommend this not only to anybody experiencing depression and/or anxiety, and their partners, friends and family, but really to anyone and everyone. A short, truthful and really enlightening book. Wonderful.

Beth

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I’ve got your number by Sophie Kinsella

I've got your numberA lost engagement ring and a discarded mobile result in physio Poppy and  businessman Sam sharing a mobile phone. Poppy can’t resist snooping at Sam’s emails and then meddling in running his business! I’m a fan of Sophie Kinsella’s stories. In each book her main female character always does crazy things getting herself embroiled in seemingly intractable situations but the plot always works out convincingly to a satisfactory solution and the protagonist gets to learn more about life and relationships along the way. I enjoyed this story in e-audio format. Easy, engaging listening which had me laughing aloud whilst doing the domestic stuff!

Nicki 

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The Atlantis Gene by A G Riddle

Originally posted on Norfolk's Great Big Read:

The firatlantisgenest book in a trilogy.

Only geneticist Kate Warner and counter-terrorism agent David Vale can save the future of humanity. But first they must learn to work together – and trust each other – as they race to unlock the truth of the Atlantis gene.

I enjoyed it more than I thought I would at the beginning!  Theres alot of repeat information but the general gist of the story is interesting and it moves along quickly.  A science/treasure hunting/alien/lost city story.  Would recommend to a friend and will definitely read the next one.

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