A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String

by Joanne Harris (Doubleday) ISBN: 9780857521200


Joanne Harris writes fabulous fables that reveal the journeys her characters take in sixteen short stories. River Song spoke to me. I felt myself slithering over smooth stones in the river. The next story brings the beach to two oldies in a home.  One tray of water for her feet makes her remember the sea.  The other blind lady has a tray of sand where her feet remember the beach. 
Meet the ghost who lives on the Twitter timeline - Joanne says no-one really dies on line – or do they?  Then there’s the story where they aren’t really selling their children, just sending them to the Promised Land.  Then, think of your road having a voice – maybe taking you home.  Joanne describes it as being still warm, like an animal.  Read on to Love me Tender reminding us of Elvis.  And then, in praise of Beech trees, which she sees as sensitive, unlike heavy Oaks.  
Each story brings an unusually gripping tale to be read, a mixture of reality and fantasy. The stories have a build-up, a fast flow of words, and a death of sorts. 

Dee Andrew
3.5/5

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Time between us

by Tamara Ireland Stone (Doubleday) ISBN 978085753115-5 



Anna wants to see the world. She lives in 1995, in Chicago. Bennett lives in 2012, in San Francisco. They were never meant to meet but Bennett has the incredible ability to travel through time and space and suddenly finds himself in Anna’s world but they know it can never last. By clasping hands, Bennett is able to show Anna his world.

They are inescapably drawn to each other. Bennett’s amazing gift is also an unpredictable curse which constantly threatens to separate him from Anna with no more than a second’s notice. Love cannot exist in either world but the magical pull is very strong and you are left wondering if there is a solution to their problem.

You can’t put this story down in spite of the puzzle, and in the end you are entranced. A most unusual novel and well worth reading.

Dee Andrew
5/5

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The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket

by John Boyne (Doubleday) ISBN 978-0-857-53146-9

 

John Boyne’s third novel for young readers has been listed for the Irish Book Award: Children’s Book of the Year and the Carnegie Medal 2013. It tells the story of Barnaby Brocket, born in Sydney “the Most Magnificent City in the World”, to parents who above all else need their lives and children to be normal.

 

That is where the trouble begins since Barnaby is not normal. Defying the laws of gravity Barnaby floats and is simply unable to keep his feet on the ground. His parents put up with this condition for eight years and then do a terrible thing: they cut Barnaby loose, literally.

 

Barnaby drifts on a wonderful journey around the globe meeting many wonderful people who also don’t fit their parents’ ideas of normal whether by some innate condition or by choice. In breaking free from their moulds they often find extraordinary lives.

 

But young Barnaby misses his family and via regular postcards updates them on his return. This is postponed by various mishaps, the last one floating him to a place where he for the first time feels so at ease with his condition that we wonder whether he ever wants to be normal.

 

With lovely illustrations by Oliver Jeffers this is a fun and inspirational book about the perks of being different. 

 

Josine Overdevest

3.5/5

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Rapture

by Lauren Kate (Doubleday) R165  ISBN: 978-0-385-61812-0

 

I am a fan of Lauren Kate. Her imagination is astounding. Kate has taken an esoteric idea and turned it into a supernatural story.

 

Lucifer, a fallen angel, wants to erase the past and control the world. The other angels need to stop him. Lucifer has a special interest in Luce, a mortal, who can stop the dark forces from winning. She alone determines the angels, hers and humankinds’ fate by breaking the curse. It is a rush against time as Luce, Daniel and the angels race to find three relics that will help Luce with her momentous task.

 

At times, I felt that Luce and Daniel did not have that spark that created interesting story points in the first book. This story is more about the chase than it is about romance.

 

The series began with Fallen and Rapture is the fourth and final book. I loved the first book but felt the next two books in the series disappointing and disjointed. Rapturedoes redeem the series. It concludes the story in a way that made me feel that it was worthwhile reading the four books. I recommend Rapture for readers who enjoy this genre.

 

Ulrike Hill

3/5

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In One Person

by John Irving (Double Day) ISBN: 97808575220975

 

‘You’re not like anyone else, Billy – that’s what’s the matter with you.’ Nobody is like anyone else, yet somehow we are more comfortable putting people into boxes and questioning, if not condemning, those that don’t fit. In In one Person, John Irving throws boxes of gender and sexual identity wide open and introduces bisexual Billy.

 

In the late 1950s Billy spends his formative years at a boys’ school where pupils are warned against ‘unwelcome attractions to other boys’ Billy develops crushes on ‘the wrong people’, including a librarian and a bully who both are not as sexually straightforward as they portray. Through school plays his stepfather teaches him that ‘ gender mattered a whole lot less to Shakespeare than it seems to matter to us’. 

 

Though he’ll always be the one having to explain himself, he chooses to embrace his polymorphous identity. This connects him closely to that awful decade, when more Americans died of AIDS than were killed in Vietnam as Irving pointedly reminds us. Throughout his life the school community continues to play a role and ultimately he returns under different circumstances.

 

This is vintage John Irving; pleading tolerance in a wonderfully rich story filled with familiar landmarks, lovable characters and their idiosyncrasies and provocative opinions and ideas. I’ve read it twice already!

 

Josine Overdevest 

4.5/5

 

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The Long Earth

by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Doubleday) ISBN 978-0-857-52009-8

 

This is the most well written book I have ever read.

 

That aside, the plot is not novel and its ideas are old. But who cares? At the pace you will be turning pages in this book you won’t have time to have long thoughts like those. This book grips you from page one and drags you through its story like a hyperactive child desperate to show off a new toy.

 

The Long Earth is your classic multi-dimensional science fiction story. Many versions of earth have suddenly appeared none of them seem to have any human life on them. Why is this? Humanity sets out to find out the answer to these questions. The story as I say is rehashed and feels a bit like a Frank Herbert story mixed with Douglas Adams’ humour. In this way I guess it is a novel idea in bringing the two styles together.

 

The important thing is, unlike so much fantasy, I felt for the characters. I liked and hated them. The dialogue was exceptional. It was not just a romp through a well imagined world. The authors made it feel as if I were the main character. And that counts for more than pretty scenery that you have to imagine anyway.

 

Christopher Dean

5.5/5

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Passion

by Lauren Kate (Doubleday) ISBN 978 03856 1808 3

 

Los Angeles-based author Lauren Kate is the internationally bestselling creator of the wildly popular Fallen series.

 

Passion is the third in the quartet of romantic paranormal novels aimed at young adults.

 

Ethereally dark and exquisitely beautiful Luce travels back through time and history to test her relationship with the tormented blond fallen angel Daniel. She wants to know if he really loves her – or if he is simply caught up in the curse neither of them seems able to break. Daniel is forced bring her back from the dangerous shadows of the past to face the risks of the present.

 

Passion not only explores the extremes young lovers will face to be together, but also neatly sets the stage for the final book.

 

The story is told in a crisp, evocative style, although some of the dialogue is less than elegant. While the time travel plot line can be annoying at times, it does feed the story and give us a background to the main characters.

 

Recommended for anyone who is looking for a paranormal fix after Twilight and a must for those who enjoyed the first two books Lauren Kate’s series.

 

Anthony Ehlers

3/5

 

~~~

 

Luce Price is desperate to break the curse that keeps her from her one true love, Daniel.

 

Luce with the apparent guidance of a gargoyle must go back through the centuries and revisit her various reincarnations that each hold a different clue to her fate.

 

Meanwhile Daniel and other fallen angels are in hot pursuit of Luce through the ages to stop her before she makes a choice that alters their history.

 

Passion is the sequel to Lauren Kate’s novel, Fallen. The reader can pick up on the essence of the first book and ease into the romantic plot of the second even if they have not had a chance to read the first.

 

The story is focused on the intense connection between the two main characters Luce and Daniel and Lauren does well to relay this concentrated emotion to the reader. The chapters are divided into centuries and moves rather swiftly.

 

To enjoy the culmination of the story one will need to read the third book, Torment.

 

Liz Breet

3/5

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Daughters-in-Law

by Joanna Trollope (Doubleday ) ISBN: 978-0-385-61799-4

 

The story kicks off with a wedding. Luke, Rachel’s youngest son, is the last to marry. Rachel’s husband, Anthony, is admiring the bride’s butt. This is as far as the humour goes.

 

After Luke’s wedding, Rachel has to redefine her life. She is used to being a mother to her three boys so she cannot understand why her boys want to spend time with their wives.

 

Her daughter-in-laws are anything but sympathetic about her empty-nest plight. A battle of control ensues.

 

Mothers who become mothers-in-law will understand Rachel’s demise. The members of this family soon learn to examine their roles and loyalties after a crisis develops. This crisis brings out the worst and good in the family.

 

Joanna is an astute observer of human behaviour and she articulates this talent well in Daughters-in-Law. Unfortunately, this story has as much punch as its mundane title. The ending is unrealistic and many readers will feel frustrated.

 

Joanna Trollope fans will probably enjoy this book.  First time readers: don’t bother. She has written better.

 

Ulrike Hill

2/5

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George and the Big Bang

by Stephen and Lucy Hawking (Doubleday) ISBN: 9780385615532

 

Look, it’s a science book for kids with a story. So no big expectations. Oh, it’s written by Stephen Hawking and his wife/sister? Lucy. So it must be good right. Well I do have to say it’s not bad.

 

Having said that. It is a story about a lonely pig. And science. Do you know what science gave us? Stoves and frying pans. And what have pigs given us? Yes that’s right, meaningful insight into the workings of the universe. Of course I’m being facetious they gave us bacon.

 

Now I realise children’s books often have animal companions in them. And Piglet is a cute one. This pig is not. It just makes me feel hungry, and at the same time, guilty for wanting to eat a child’s pet.

 

On the other hand, as a child’s guide to science, it works. In a way that will make the poor hungry parent not feel completely moronic while reading this book to his unappreciative offspring.

 

Christopher Dean

3/5

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Passion

by Lauren Kate (Doubleday) ISBN 978 03856 1808 3

 

Los Angeles-based author Lauren Kate is the internationally bestselling creator of the wildly popular Fallen series.

 

Passion is the third in the quartet of romantic paranormal novels aimed at young adults.

 

Ethereally dark and exquisitely beautiful Luce travels back through time and history to test her relationship with the tormented blond fallen angel Daniel. She wants to know if he really loves her – or if he is simply caught up in the curse neither of them seems able to break. Daniel is forced bring her back from the dangerous shadows of the past to face the risks of the present.

 

Passion not only explores the extremes young lovers will face to be together, but also neatly sets the stage for the final book.

 

The story is told in a crisp, evocative style, although some of the dialogue is less than elegant. While the time travel plot line can be annoying at times, it does feed the story and give us a background to the main characters.

 

Recommended for anyone who is looking for a paranormal fix after Twilight and a must for those who enjoyed the first two books Lauren Kate’s series.

 

Anthony Ehlers

3/5

 

~~~

 

Luce Price is desperate to break the curse that keeps her from her one true love, Daniel.

 

Luce with the apparent guidance of a gargoyle must go back through the centuries and revisit her various reincarnations that each hold a different clue to her fate.

 

Meanwhile Daniel and other fallen angels are in hot pursuit of Luce through the ages to stop her before she makes a choice that alters their history.

 

Passion is the sequel to Lauren Kate’s novel, Fallen. The reader can pick up on the essence of the first book and ease into the romantic plot of the second even if they have not had a chance to read the first.

 

The story is focused on the intense connection between the two main characters Luce and Daniel and Lauren does well to relay this concentrated emotion to the reader. The chapters are divided into centuries and moves rather swiftly.

 

To enjoy the culmination of the story one will need to read the third book, Torment.

 

Liz Breet

3/5

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