Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty: fabulous and gripping read

This is a brilliant piece of women's fiction and I absolutely loved it. I've not read any Moriarty's novels before but once I started this one I couldn't put it down. Yes, the time between Cecilia discovering THAT letter and actually opening it might be a tad too long for my taste, but I kept on reading, particularly because I was getting to know the other characters well too. There are some wonderful twists and turns in this book, and it includes moments of comedy and moments of great sadness.

The contrast between the terrible tragedy from the past and how people simply have to keep living their lives and dealing with all the hundred and one everyday situations which keep cropping up is excellently described, and I really felt for all the characters. In fact I was thinking about this book and the people in it even when I wasn't reading it - which in my view is always the mark of a great novel. Other things I enjoyed were the voice of Janie (the deceased daughter) and how her story weaves in and out of the present day crises. How the situation is understood and resolved by all the characters is both gripping and moving, and the section at the end where we see onward into people's lives and how characters have turned out is simply wonderful and I very much appreciated this unexpected epilogue.

Yes, this book is very good indeed and I highly recommend it. I'm looking forward to my next Moriarty novel already.

Anne Brooke Books

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: a flawed work of genius

This is a very powerful story and very powerful writing, with a good range of character viewpoints - almost Dickensian in fact, although the focus is purely on the rich and talented. The trouble with it is that it's about 150 pages or so too long - a lot of Jude's (terribly tragic) story needed to be cut as it has too much repetition and misery in it which weakens the tragic effect. Indeed, after a while, Jude's utter refusal to get professional help for his very understandable mental health problems becomes selfish and irritating. It was also unfortunate that the too intense focus on Jude means we lose out on the delight of the other characters' voices - I missed the middle years of JB and Malcolm especially.

There are however some achingly lovely turning points, and I was particularly struck by the negative and positive balance of the 'what if' scenario, i.e. what if we'd never met the horrible person who hurt us, as set against what if we'd never met the wonderful person who loves us - a good philosophy to ponder. So, in spite of obvious flaws, this book is still in my opinion a work of genius and I doubt I'll read anything better this year.

9 out of 10

Anne Brooke Books

Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Origami Nun by Lori Olding

Children's novella The Origami Nun by Lori Olding is now available at Amazon for only 99p!

Seven-year old Ruth can't speak, but that doesn't mean she can't think. She knows her birthday is going to be good as her beloved great-aunt has exciting plans for her. What she doesn't expect is a magical paper nun, an encounter with a bully who may not be what she seems or a school day to remember. Because, before her special day is over, Ruth is in for some very big surprises.

Reviews:

"What a delightfully written book! This is one I plan to share with my daughter at some point because I think she would like it, too! I love the fact that the author featured a mute heroine, and magic is infused in such a wonderful way. In addition to that, it deals with a subject with which our youth are very familiar - bullying! … I connected with the character, the story, and I enjoyed the magical nature of the story … I hope the author writes several sequels!" [From a 5-star review at My Devotional Thoughts]

"I really enjoyed reading this shorter story. The author portrayed the characters well and had a great story line … This is a terrifically inspirational and uplifting story for children and adults alike." [From a review at The Cover Books]

"This is the most touching children's book I have read. I absolutely LOVED it … I highly recommend this book to children in the age range of 8+. However, I think adults would like this book too." [From a 5-star review at Goodreads]

"There is a wonderful life lesson in the story and I have read it to my own grandchildren with great enthusiasm. They adored it!" [From a 5-star review at Goodreads]

"Magic is in the air. Come see how Ruth and others learn the importance of respect for each other even though they are different and that each person has a different story or reason for being different. I recommend this book for ages 6 and up." [From a 4.5 star review at Fire and Ice Reviews]

Lori Olding Children's Author

Queen of the Fluffy Pens by Lori Olding

I'm happy to say that children's story Queen of the Fluffy Pens is now available at Amazon for only 99p!

Queen of the Fluffy Pens, Queenie, is keen to move her beloved brood across their owner's kitchen to be nearer the window. Life will be wonderful there as they'll have lots of space and sunshine to enjoy. First, however, Queenie has to learn how to fly. Once she's mastered that skill, she and her two friends, Betsy and Tanya, set out on their epic journey.

On the way, they encounter a very strange fly indeed, a friendly bee and a frightening hornet. They also learn something very important about the value of friendship. Can they survive their great adventure, and will their new home be all they've hoped for?

Recommended for ages 6-9.

Review:

"If you're after some adventure, a tiny bit of danger, and lots of friendship you've come to the right book!" (From a review at Nayu's Reading Corner)

Lori Olding Children's Fiction

Life after Church by Brian Sanders: a narrow view of God

This is all very worthy, but only really speaks to evangelical or charismatic Christians. For those of us who are neither of these, this book is unhelpful at best and damaging at worst. Sanders has a rather judgemental attitude that I definitely didn't warm to, and I suspect his vision of God might be far too narrow. Read it if you must, but take any advice it offers with a large pinch of salt!

Anne Brooke Books

Sunday, October 23, 2016

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante: a Dull and Longwinded Tale

brilliant-friend
I had high hopes of this book which were sadly dashed. I should have been warned by the list of characters at the beginning of the book - as if an author needs to have a list of characters, then they're really not doing their job correctly in bringing them to life for us in the text. And there are so many of them and they all sounded the same! I certainly couldn't keep track and wasn't interested enough to refer back to the list .. I found the main characters irritating as well, which didn't help matters. I wouldn't have been friends with either of them, LOL!
Anyway, the story is long and ambling and ends up in blind alleyways far too many times - it seems to be written in a very clunky and flat style, and focuses on the dullest parts of a scene rather than the most exciting ones. It's certainly no Dickens! There's a moment or two of excitement when Lena goes away to an island somewhere and has a few interesting experiences, but then she returns to the homeland (sadly) and her life falls back into its dull routine. The ending is abrupt and made no sense at all to me. Surely even in a series, a novel can't just stop for no apparent reason, but there has to be some kind of closure even though strands are left open for the next book.
As an aside, I really hated the cover - it's quite horrid. That said, the story idea is a good one (and deserving of 2 stars out of 5) but someone should write it properly.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor: a bleak but incisive novel

mrs-palfrey
A subtly written book that’s very sharp about human nature. I was however hoping for something more light-hearted and vibrant, but those sections were few and far between. The picture of advancing age, vulnerability and approaching death, as well as the small but significant betrayals of family and friends, is essentially a grim one. It left me feeling very bleak.
3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Petition to Stop the Church of England Discriminating against Gay Clergy

I'm happy to announce that the petition to stop the Church of England discriminating against gay clergy with partners has now gone public. I would be most grateful if you could consider signing this if you live in the UK, thank you.

You can find the petition here: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/166216

Many thanks

Anne Brooke

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I See You by Clare Mackintosh: Gripping Crime Thriller

This novel has excellent pace and very good tension throughout. The female characters are very well rounded, and there is good development during the story. I also loved the fact that the violence was not centre-stage, but the focus was on the psychology of crime. The ending is totally fabulous and I really enjoyed THAT twist.

The only down sides to this book were the fact that the men weren't very well developed, and also the general cliche of women being victims of sexual crime - surely there are other crimes to explore! Anyway, that aside, this is a gripping read and I will be putting this author on my list.

Anne Brooke Books