Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Lucie Whitehouse: Before we met

A Hannah Reilly has seized her chance at happiness. Until the day her husband doesn't come home... Can you ever really know what happened before you met?

This was a fast-paced novel about love and how love makes us blind and careless at times. Hannah is an interesting and in no way naive woman whose marriage starts to fall to pieces when she realizes the lies her husband is telling.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Mark Haddon: The Red House

Angela and her brother have spent twenty years avoiding each other. Now, after the death of their mother, they bring their families together for a holiday in a rented house on the Welsh border. Four adults and four children. Seven days of shared meals, log fires, card games and wet walks.

I looked forward to this book - having read The curious incident of the dog in the night-time. This story was more difficult to read though, especially as it was hard to see whose perspective you are reading... Still an interesting story.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Katherine Rundell: Rooftoppers

Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. Found floating in a cello case and swaddled in a Beethoven score, she is the only recorded female survivor of a shipwreck on the English Channel. But Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. Charles, a fellow survivor and an eccentric scholar, finds Sophie and brings her home to his London bachelor flat. Raised in a quirky home filled with music, words and love (though questionable diet), Sophie grows into a free-spirited tomboy with a taste for Shakespeare and the unshakeable belief that anything is possible. And you should never ignore a possible. So when the child welfare agency in its bureaucratic wisdom threatens to send Sophie to an orphanage, the optimistic girl and her odd guardian flee to Paris on a quest to find her mother, starting with the only clue she has - the address of the cello maker. Secured in an attic to evade the French authorities, Sophie escapes through the skylight and meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers - homeless urchins who tightrope walk above the busy streets below, dining on pigeons and snails alongside the gargoyles and bell tower of Notre Dame. Together they set out on an unimaginable adventure, scouring the city for Sophie's mother before she is caught and sent back to London - and most importantly, before she loses hope.

Picked up from the library, as this was advertised as a modern classic in children's literature. I genuinely enjoyed the story, but would argue that this is a girl's adventure story. Of course, it might well be that some boys would enjoy this read as much as I did, but it is not quite what I would have expected for an adventure story.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Dan Brown: Inferno

Florence: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is found hidden in his belongings. A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city. Only Langdon's knowledge of the hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers. With only a few lines from Dante's Inferno to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the Renaissance's most celebrated artworks to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat.

Reading about Florence and Venice is great. The links to Dante's Commedia dell'Arte are fantastic and interesting. The storyline is pacy, but at times a little far-fetched and confusing. The surprising turns are good, but there are too many agents and double-agents in this story for my taste. I still enjoyed the read, though.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Chris Kuzneski: Hunters 2 - The forbidden tomb

For over two thousand years, the legendary tomb of Alexander the Great - and the riches concealed within - has evaded discovery. Now, after centuries of searching, an ancient map has come to light that could hold the key to finding the fabled vault. Only one team has the skill and the expertise to solve the mystery once and for all. It's up to The Hunters to find the tomb. But on arriving in Alexandria, it quickly becomes clear that hostile forces are on their trail. And when one of the team is captured in cisterns deep below the city, what began as a treasure hunt becomes a deadly rescue mission. For there are some who will use any means possible to destroy The Hunters' efforts, and now there is more at stake than they ever could have imagined.

Although I prefer the Payne and Jones series, I genuinely enjoyed this Hunters book, too. With the Ulster archives becoming more prominent in this series I am waiting for Payne and Jones to join the Hunters at some point. Knowing that the anonymous benefactor is chasing several pieces of a puzzle, there is obviously scope for more books. The storyline is well thought through and thrilling with some surprising turns, especially where the historian is concerned.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Donna Leon: Brunetti 23 - By its cover

In "By its cover" Commissario Brunetti is better than ever as he addresses questions of worth and value alongside his ever-faithful team of Ispettore Vianello and Signorina Elettra. When several valuable antiquarian books go missing from a prestigious library in the heart of Venice, Commissario Brunetti is immediately called to the scene. The staff suspect an American researcher has stolen them, but for Brunetti something doesn't quite add up. Taking on the case, the Commissario begins to seek information about some of the library's regulars, such as the ex-priest Franchini, a passionate reader of ancient Christian literature, and Contessa Morosini-Albani, the library's chief donor, and comes to the conclusion that the thief could not have acted alone. However, when Franchini is found murdered in his home, the case takes a more sinister turn and soon Brunetti finds himself submerged in the dark secrets of the black market of antiquarian books. Alongside his ever-faithful team of Ispettore Vianello and Signorina Elettra, he delves into the pages of Franchini's past and into the mind of a book thief in order to uncover the terrible truth.

Another successful Brunetti!