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YOUR BOOK REVIEWS
Maybe you have just finished reading a good book and would like to tell others what you thought of it, well now you can do that, just write down what you liked, disliked or reasons why you want to recommend this book, then email them to bookreviews@whickhamlibrary.co.uk

Please include the following items in your email:

                      • Book Title.
                      • Author.
                      • Your review.
                      • Any other comments
                      • Your name and email address.

Here are the books that have been reviewed so far by our subscribers:
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Book : Cilka's Journey - Author: Heather Morris

Genre: Literary Fiction

This is the recently published second novel written by this Australian author, the first being the very successful ‘Tattooist of Auschwitz’ which chronicled the true story of Lale and Gita in Auschwitz and how their love triumphed over adversity in such terrible conditions.

Cilka, was a friend of Gita in Auschwitz and Lale told Heather Morris Cilka’s story and described her as the bravest person he had ever met. Her story starts after the liberation of the prisoners from Auschwitz, but because she was perceived as a traitor, having been raped, at the age of 16, and forced to be the consort of one of the SS officers, she is sent to a Russian gulag, where she is imprisoned for 10 years. This is the story of those years.

Gita and Cilka find each other and meet up in Melbourne many years later. The book describes Cilka’s life in the gulag, where the conditions are not much better than Auschwitz and what she has to endure to survive. Although there are some fictional elements this story is based on the truth and utterly fascinating.


Reviewed by:  Alison Richardson


Book : The Librarian of Auschiwitz - Author: Antonio Iturbe

Genre: Literary Fiction

This is another story based on the true life experience of a prisoner of Auschwitz. This time the heroine is a 13 year old girl, who is in the family camp. This camp was used by the German propaganda machine to show the rest of the world that Auschwitz was not a death camp! Books of any sort are forbidden, being found with a book would mean instant execution.

There is a school within the family camp and it owns 8 books which are like treasure. It becomes Dita’s job to hide the books and circulate them round the classes. She has pockets sewn inside her skirt to hide the books and she is well aware that if they are found, she will die.

Again, the atrocities of the camp are well described and it seems unbelievable that a young girl would value these books so highly that she would risk her life.

In contrast to Cilka’s journey this seemed less of a novel and more of a history lesson. The author seems to need to put in historical facts which sometimes slightly distracts from the underlying tale. However it is an amazing inspirational story and rather humbling to think that when you don’t have them, books can be so important to people’s well-being.

Reviewed by:  Alison Richardson

Book : The Lost girls of Paris - Author Pam Jenoff

Genre: Literary Fiction

This is the rather compelling story about three women, who in different ways are involved with S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive) aiding the French Resistance in trying to sabotage the German invaders. The narrative is carried along by having chapters written from the point of view of each of the women. It is definitely a good read, my only criticism is that each woman’s tale could have been a story in it’s own right. In order to fit into one book the story, at times, feels rushed and compressed.


Reviewed by:  Alison Richardson

Book : A Seaside Affair - Author Fern Brittain

Genre: Literary Fiction

I would describe this book as candy floss I.e. enjoyable, sweet and of no great consequence. The book is one of a series, but not having read any of the previous books did not detract from the story. It is a pleasant, easy to read, slightly implausible story about saving a Cornish pavilion theatre from becoming part of a large coffee chain. Having said all that, it is fun and easy to read, ideal for a summer holiday read.


Reviewed by:  Alison Richardson
Book: After the end by Claire MacIntosh

Genre: Literary Fiction

I read this book, recently published, because I thoroughly enjoyed her first 3 books, which are full of suspense and have an unexpected twist. However, this book is completely different. It is the very touching story of a married couple coming to terms with having a 3 year old that is in intensive care following surgery for a brain tumour. They get to the point where they have to decide whether to withhold treatment or go to America for proton beam therapy. They disagree and end up in court where the decision is made.

However the second half of the story is written in alternating chapters, each describing what happens if either of these decisions is taken as been made.
Although harrowing at times it is ultimately a story of hope and recovery from an unimaginably awful event. If you can bear the heartache it is extremely well written ( it reminds me of the style of Jodi Picoult) and would recommend it.


Reviewed by: Alison Richardson

Book: The Dry by Jane Harper

Genre: Mystery

Set in Australia in the worst draught in a century.  Tensions are unbearable when three members of a family are brutally murdered.  A policeman returns to his home town for the funeral and unwillingly drawn into the investigation.

Wonderfully atmospheric, it is both a riveting murder mstery and a picture of a rural community under extreme pressure, a very gripping read and one I would recommend.


Reviewed by:  Maria Regan

Book: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Genre: Feel good story

Although I don’t have a cat and don’t even particularly like them, I really enjoyed this charming story, translated from Japanese by Peter Gabriel. The book is written so you see the world through a cat’s eyes. It is a gentle love story about caring, friendship and family. During several short journeys by Satoru to visit old friends with Nana the cat, you learn about Satoru’s life and all the people he has cared for. Although ultimately sad, it leaves an uplifting feeling.


Reviewed by:  Alison Richardson

Book: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Genre: Mystery

This book was recommended by a friend and it is by an author I was not acquainted with.  It is set in an isolated part of Australia and gives an insight into the loneliness of the ranchers.

Three brothers, one is found dead, did he choose to walk to his death as he had been troubled lately or did someone else have a hand in it.

It is gripping, atmospheric and hypnotic.  The setting, the heat, and the characters and the pace at which it unravels are so good.


Reviewed by: Maria Regan

Book: Sycamore Gap A DCI Ryan mystery - Author:  LJ Ross

Genre: Mystery

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan believes he has put his turbulent history behind him. Then, in the early hours of the summer solstice, the skeleton of a young woman is found inside the Roman Wall at Sycamore Gap. She has lain undiscovered for 10 years, and it is Ryan's job to piece together her past.

Enquiry lines cross and merge as Ryan is forced to face his own demons and enter into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who seems unstoppable. Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular scenery of Hadrian's Wall country in Northumberland.

First Review: Alison Richardson

As the name implies, this murder mystery is set in Northumberland and Newcastle and is the second in the series. Unfortunately I haven’t read the first book, Holy Island, which did spoil this book as there were many references to it and enough of the plot of Holy Island was divulged to make it very difficult to go back and read the first of the series. However, as a stand alone novel it is an enjoyable read and there are enough twists and suspense to ensure that you want to keep turning the pages.

Worth reading...but read Holy Island first!

Book: This is going to hurt - Author: Adam Kay

Genre: Medical Education & Training (and Funny!!)

This is in the non-fiction section and having been in some of the same situations myself as the author, I can confirm that it is not fictitious. it is a frank description of life as a junior doctor 15 years ago. Adam Kay manages to make it amusing and poignant at the same time. He shows great compassion and kindness to the patients that he encounters on his journey through his medical career but also manages to convey his frustartion at times, when his home life is compromised by unsympathetic colleagues and a relentless on call rota.


First Reviewer: Alison Richardson

This book has been high in the non-fiction book chart for weeks and it is easy to see why. It had been recommended to me by 3 people before I read it. If you would like to understand the life of a junior hospital doctor, told in a mostly amusing way, then this book is for you.

Book: Tangerine - Author: Christine Mangan

Genre: Historical Mystery

Girl on a Train meets The Talented Mr Ripley under the Moroccan sun. Unputdownable' The Times

The perfect read for fans of Daphne du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith, set in 1950s Morocco, Tangerine is a gripping psychological literary thriller.

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the horrific accident at Bennington, the two friends - once inseparable roommates - haven't spoken in over a year. But Lucy is standing there, trying to make things right.  Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy, always fearless and independent, helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.  But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice - she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice's husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is an extraordinary debut, so tightly wound, so evocative of 1950s Tangier, and so cleverly plotted that it will leave you absolutely breathless.


First Reviewer: Alison Richardson

I'm not sure if 'enjoyable' is the correct adjective to describe this recently published novel but it is certainly riveting and makes you want to keep reading as the plot continues to shock with the progressively worsening situation that Alice finds herself in. The author manages to portray the oppressive heat of Tangiers, echoed in the abnormal, claustrophobic relationship between the two girls in the novel, their voices being heard by alternating the subject of alternate chapters.

Well worth a read if you enjoy being increasingly disturbed by a character's situation.

Book: An Italian Affair - Author: Caroline Montague

Genre: Historical Romance

Italy, 1935. Alessandra Durante is grieving the loss of her husband when she discovers she has inherited her ancestral family home, Villa Durante, deep in the Tuscan Hills. The terms of the will are that she must live in the Villa Durante for at least 12 months, so, longing for a new start, she moves to Italy and sets about rebuilding her life.  But the shadow of war hangs heavy over the Tuscan hills, and life will never be the same again.  As Mussolini's power greatens and Hitler starts to agitate farther north, life changes for everyone in the tiny village of Cortona, and Alessandra makes her home a place of shelter for a local Jewish boy, Davide.  Her daughter, Diana, will lose her heart to Davide, even though they can never be together. And Robert, Alessandra's son, will fight for his country first as a pilot in the Battle of Britain and then as an SOE in Italy.


First Review: Sandra Smith

A new book in our library, Sandra took it home and just could not put it down, strongly recommends you read it.


Second Review: Alison Richardson

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is the author’s first novel. It is set in England and Italy, before and during WW2. It is the story of one family’s adventures as they get caught up in the war, fighting the Germans both in England and Italy. It is compelling reading as the action jumps between the 2 countries from chapter to chapter and it makes you want to discover what happens next. It is a well researched, well written and thoroughly entertaining book.

Book: I Let You Go - Author: Clare Mackintosh

Genre: Mystery

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner, says, "I read I Let You Go in two sittings; it made me cry (at least twice), made me gasp out loud (once), and above all made me wish I'd written it...a stellar achievement."


First Reviewer: Maria Regan

A psychological thriller with a twist, from the chilling and tragic opening to the very last page.  It had me captivated, just full of tension and superb characterisation.

Recommended

Book: Big Sky - Kate Atkinson

Genre: Thriller

A new thriller from a great writer following ex detective, now private investigator, Jackson Brodie who has relocated to the Yorkshire coast. This is the fifth in this series but works fine on it’s own.

The subject matter is dark but not gruesome in style and is well concluded with no loose ends! My only criticism is that the number of characters, although all well rounded, can be a bit overwhelming.


Reviewed by: Melanie Craig

Book: Critical Incidents - Author: Lucie Whitehouse

Genre: Thriller

The first, l hope, in a new crime series featuring Detective Inspector Robyn Lyons, formally of the Met’s Homicide Command.  After a move back to her home city of Birmingham Robyn works as a benefit fraud investigator. She also gets involved in an unofficial investigation concerning her best friend Corinna’s missing husband. There are three different plot lines to follow so you need to focus!

This a well paced really gripping read which I highly recommend.


Reviewed by: Melanie Craig

Book: The Wrong Side of Goodbye & The Late Show - Michael Connelly

Genre: Thriller

A prolific writer but a new find for me of which the library has a good selection of titles.

The books are written as “stand alone” but maybe read in some order if you want to plough through the catalogue. I have now read three featuring Harry Bosch and two featuring Renee Ballard including the two titles above.

Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch is a retired L.A.P.D detective who became a private investigator (for a couple of novels) then returned to police work in the Unsolved Crimes Unit.

Renee Ballard is a detective working the late shift of 11.00pm to 7.00am in Hollywood.

Brilliant suspense, great detail, get reading - you won’t want to put them down.


Reviewed by: Melanie Craig

Book: The things we cherished - Author Pam Jenoff

Genre: Literary Fiction

This is the second book that I have read recently by this author and although I enjoyed the first, I enjoyed this even more. Again, the chapters jumped between various characters, this time over one hundred years, the link being a clock made by a farmer in 1909. This clock holds the key to proving that Roger had not betrayed his brother to the Nazis. He is about to be tried for war crimes but he is reluctant to give evidence that will exonerate him.

This novel seemed less rushed and more complete and it made me want to continue reading to discover what happened. Definitely one to read!


Reviewed by: Alison Richardson

Book: The Doll Factory - Author: Elizabeth Macneal

Genre: Thriller

A debut novel set in Victorian London with the the themes of obsession and possession.

Iris paints doll faces but dreams of being an artist. She is invited to be a paid model for Louis, a Pre Raphaelite artist and agrees on the condition that she is taught to paint. She unwittingly becomes the object of desire for a strange taxidermist called Silas......

Plenty of interesting historical detail in this dark Gothic read.


Reviewed by: Melanie Craig

Sweet Sorrow - David Nichols

Genra: Romance

A nostalgic, reflective bitter sweet story of first love and coming - of - age.

Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy who manages to be fairly invisible. His home life is troubled. His parents split up and he cares for his depressive dad. He hasn’t bothered with his exams and is aimless regarding the future. Then he meets Fran who persuades him to join drama group, something out of his comfort zone and life changes.

A sensitive well written book set in 1997. You’ll root for Charlie!


Reviewed: Melanie Craig

Knife - Jo Nesbo

Genra: Fiction

Harry Hole is back! He’s in trouble!

Life is not good for Harry, his relationship is on the rocks, he’s back on the bottle and dissatisfied with his work. His nemesis is out of prison and craves revenge. Harry wakes up after a drunken night with blood on his hands and no memory of what happened....

A brilliant novel with so many twists and turns. You think you know who the perpetrator is but do you?


Reviewed: Melanie Craig

The Family Upstairs - Lisa Jewell

Genra: Fiction

A gripping, psychological thriller told from the viewpoint of three characters.

Libby Jones inherits a three storey mansion house in the heart of Chelsea on her twenty fifth birthday. She is adopted and this inheritance brings her unknown past hurtling into the present. The house is dilapidated and holds secrets which Libby, assisted by the journalist who covered the story of what supposedly happened 25 years ago, discovers.

A good read even though you may work out some aspects before they are revealed!


Reviewed: Melanie Craig

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