Book Review: Small Island by Andrea Levy

Small IslandSmall Island by Andrea Levy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set in 1948, both Hortense and Gilbert’s desire for living the dream in the ‘mother Country’ land them together in their struggle to make their way in a new World. This World is not the one they thought it was and it takes time to make sense of it all. Their lives intertwine with an English couple who are also stumbling blindly through the war and the aftermath, reassessing their own moral compasses
This is, quite frankly, the best novel I’ve read in some time. Insightful and full of revelations, Levy teaches us a lessons in misconceptions of identity. Along with learning some valuable British and Jamaican history, I rejoiced in such well written characters and was immersed in the evoking plot from start to finish.
Structurally, the novel was not ordered in a traditional way. Each chapter represented the perspective of one character. They were not divided equally nor in chronological order. No, they were strategically ordered in a way to reveal each characters past and how it effected their present circumstances.
I miss this book and would love to read about these characters further on in their lives.

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Book Review: The Crooked House by Christobel Kent

The Crooked HouseThe Crooked House by Christobel Kent
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An old murder case is dug up despite nobody wanting to relive it. Alison goes back to her old hometown with a longing for the truth. A guilt ridden detective, and old friend with secrets and lots of locals intertwined in this mysterious past. Thirteen years previously, Esme’s family was gruesomely murdered while she hid in her attic room in the crooked house. The story dealt with her memories and the piecing together of what really happened.
It was haunting, tense and atmospheric from the start. Suspense hung at every corner, and the reader was left hanging throughout with new potential suspects.
From page 210 I began to get frustrated with the number of characters still involved in the main plot. The three brothers, old friends, the locals from the pub, friends back in London, and that didn’t even include her boyfriend Paul or the family of the wedding Alison was attending. I think the plot should have been narrower at this stage.
While Paul was involved in dark and suspect scenes and dialogue, my favourite character was Morgan. Despite being in the background she played a huge role in the story. There was always a desire to know more about her. The main characters were all believable and highly visual.
The flashbacks and dreams were written well. The reader was brought back in time and forward with ease and the story emerged in this fractured style of writing.
I would recommend this book to those who like to read crime and mystery. There are lots of hooks and intertwining subplots to keep the readers interest. I found the first half much more gripping. However, for me, over halfway through the book I found myself rushing through to get to the finish. I needed more suspense and less characters involved at that stage.

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Book Review: The Secrets of a Fire King by Kim Edwards

The Secrets of a Fire KingThe Secrets of a Fire King by Kim Edwards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An elegant collection of short stories with unforgettable characters and engrossing plots.
The style is serene and a little slow moving in parts for me, but always worth the wait as each delves into the lives of people that are ostracized by society in some way.
The voices and points of view are beautifully developed from both strong female and male characters and this makes the collection a special one. The variation in plots, too, hold the interest for the reader. All stories have a lesson to learn although not all lessons are obvious. The need for some interpretation is done so well and seamlessly. There wasn’t one story I did not enjoy. My favourite collection of stories…TO DATE!

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Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains EchoedAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Compelling from the start, this poetic novel is an epic saga starting with the lives of a young brother and sister who had a very strong bond. Almost every chapter tells a new tale of a character woven into the original story. Some never meet, some do. All the characters are strong and believable. The reader is enticed to get to know them; their good and bad qualities. Overall, it was gripping, but at times I wanted desperately to get back to another story inside the main story to find out more. It’s cleverly written but I think there were too many stories inside to be as engaged as I would like half way through. I do love Hosseini’s old worldy poetic style of story telling though.

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