Monday, October 6, 2014

Apple Tree Yard | Louise Doughty

It's a bit hard to write about this book without giving away any of the plot twists. It's the first book I have read by this author, who is very skilled and tells a great story.

This is a courtroom drama, told in a series of flashbacks. It takes a while to understand what the charges are and how it all ties together. We have a woman narrator, who is one of the accused, and there is a co-accused. It is revealed eventually that it is a man. As the story knot unravels, we are drawn into a well told , tense courtroom drama set in London.

Well worth reading.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

All Saints' Rising | Madison Smartt Bell

I was a little daunted by the size of this book, it's 530 pages. But as I began to read this epic historical novel I was swept away by the well written account of the Haitian slave uprising in the late 1700's and early 1800's. The research involved would have been a huge undertaking in and of itself, but the author has done a seamless job of balancing historical detail and fictionalising characters to engage the reader.

I knew very little of what happened in Haiti before and during its bid for independence. Brutal and violent, savage and indiscriminate all parties involved were intent on massacres and torture to bring about their desired government.

The slaves rebelled against the white plantation owners who had oppressed them for centuries. The whites fought between themselves, the French against the English. Mixed up with all that were the Mulattos and other mixed race people. All in all a great knot of belief and histories and philosophies all trying to untangle themselves and gain the upper hand.

Well worth investing the time to read, and as it's so well crafted, it won't take very long. Interesting from a historical point of view and the characters are so well portrayed, the reader engages with them and cares deeply about their fate.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Taking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past | Ransom Riggs

Riggs is the author of two great books about Peculiar Children: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City. The third instalment in the series will be published soon.

The amazing thing about these books is that they are based on real photographs found by Riggs and friends in Op Shops, car boot sales and anywhere else where people dump old photographs.
The photos are unusual in that they portray children and adults in bizarre ways. It's based on old dark room tricks when printing the photos, which are included in the text of each story.

In this book, Riggs has published a collection of his own photographs and tells a bit of a story about them. He began collecting a s a young boy and continues today. He only collects photos that have writing or captions on them. It is a truly astonishing and moving book. Each photo tells a story and each caption is a slice of life. Well worth getting hold of this book.

Much enjoyed.