The Cave (Quick Read) by Kate Mosse

the cave

Synopsis from Amazon:

A QUICK READ – part of the WORLD BOOK DAY 2009 literacy initiative for emergent readers. March 1928. Freddie Smith is on a motoring holiday in the mountains of south west France. He is caught in a violent storm and his car crashes. He is forced to seek shelter in a boarding house in the nearby village of Axat. There he meets another guest in the tiny hotel, a pale and beautiful young woman called Marie. As the storm rages outside, she explains how the region was ripped apart by wars of religion in the 14th century. She tells how, one terrible night in March 1328, all the inhabitants of Axat were forced to flee from the soldiers into the mountains. The villagers took refuge in a cave, but when the fighting was over, no one came back. Their bodies were never found. Axat itself became a ghost town. When Freddie wakes the following morning, Marie has gone. Worse still, his car will take several days to repair and he has to stay at the boarding house for a few days more. To pass the time, he explores the mountains. Then he realises it is almost 600 years to the day since the villagers disappeared. He decides to go and look for the cave himself. Perhaps, he thinks, he might even find Marie? It is a decision he will live to regret.

This is a Quick Read book and only 97 pages. It is typical Mosse though, with secrets hidden in caves, disaster striking to keep Frank in this ghost town and someone from the past communicating to him so he finds the caves.

I found this book fairly predictable. When Frank met Marie you knew it was her ghost from the fourteenth century. And of course you knew he was going to head up the mountain to find the cave. There were a couple of surprises but it is such a short book that not a lot can happen in it.

Being so short, the characters didn’t have time to develop so I didn’t feel anything for them. It was an OK read but in hindsight it was nothing special. It was just so short and predictable. I enjoy Kate Mosse books and feel a bit let down by this book. It has left me unsatisfied really.

5/10

Advertisements

The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll

radical reformission

Synopsis from Amazon:

Reformation is the continual reforming of the mission of the church to enhance God’s command to reach out to others in a way that acknowledges the unique times and locations of daily life. This engaging book blends the integrity of respected theoreticians with the witty and practical insights of a pastor. It calls for a movement of missionaries to seek the lost across the street as well as across the globe. This basic primer on the interface between gospel and culture highlights the contrast between presentation evangelism and participation evangelism. It helps Christians navigate between the twin pitfalls of syncretism (being so culturally irrelevant that you lose your message) and sectarianism (being so culturally irrelevant that you lose your mission). Included are interviews with those who have crossed cultural barriers, such as a television producer, exotic dancer, tattoo studio owner, and band manager. The appendix represents eight portals into the future: population, family, health/medicine, creating, learning, sexuality, and religion. Mark Driscoll was recently featured on the ABC special The Changing of Worship.

This book looks at how to evangelise without getting sucked into worldly cultures. Driscoll makes many comparisons between how people interpret the Bible, the traps they fall into when preaching the Gospel and he explores how to reach out without being a hypocrite and a fool.

This was not a particularly easy read  – as my Dad would say, Driscoll is a preacher not a writer, but what he has put down is worth reading if you are interested in evangelism or are a Christian. It is not a self-help book, instead he focusses on the Bible and what it says about God and the dangers one can slip into – such as legalism.  I found this a useful book and will try and put what I read into practice. There were humorous stories and comments in the book to lighten up the theology. Overall, I liked this book even if it did take me a while to read and I will read more of his books in the future as I like his teaching.

7/10

A Small Part of History by Peggy Elliott

a small part of history

Synopsis from Amazon:

Remarkable. Inspiring. Heartbreaking.

In the summer of 1845 Rebecca Springer and her family join the Oregon wagon train in search of land thousands of miles away. It’s a hard and dangerous journey through blizzards and searing heat, over prairies, desert plains and mountains and, at times, it seems as if it will never end. But an unbreakable bond develops amongst the travelling women as they are tested, physically and emotionally, and their shared experiences of new life and tragic death will bring them closer than blood ever could.

How the west was won and the terrible price that was paid.

A Small Part of History is an epic, heartfelt story of courage in the face of appalling adversity, and a haunting portrayal of how America was forged. Above all, it is a story of people and how the ties that bind us most strongly are those of friendship, of family and of love.

The Springer’s are joining a train to Oregon. They are hoping a trip West will change their fortune. Yet it will not be an easy trip. When they leave tensions are high between the family. Rebecca, the step-mother is at her wit’s end with Sarah, her 15 year old step-daughter, and Matthew is newly married, and his wife does not want to travel. Early on the family splits with Matthew going home. But this is not the first split the family will suffer. As they travel friends and family suffer from the heat, the cold, lack of food, pregnancy and many other trials. They won’t all make it to Oregon City, but those on the journey form unbreakable bonds and learn how to survive and love each other.

I enjoyed this book. I have seen reviews where people have been unhappy that Elliott mixes up fact and fiction, but I read this as purely a fiction book, and found it highly readable. I loved the characters and how they recorded diary entries so we got to know them better. I enjoyed reading about how friendships were formed, and what it took to make those bonds.

This book was full of adventure. There were fights with Indians, death, a desert to cross, family feuds – all sorts. At all points of the story there was something going on; this was a not a boring book. This was a good historical novel. It may not have been specific and the facts correct, but for a generalised idea of what this era was like for the women crossing America this is a good book.

This is a gripping book, well worth reading. In fact, I have already lent out my copy I enjoyed it that much.

8/10

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

Synopsis from Amazon:

It’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.

What an extraordinary book. The narrative is all letters. It is through a letter that Juliet, an author struggling to find something to write about after WW2 discovers about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. She receives a letter from Dawsey about a book of hers he has, and from there their correspondence blossoms. Soon there are several members of the Society writing to her and she learns how the group came about and how they have helped each other through the Nazi Occupation of the Island. She is drawn to the place and eventually ends up living there; where she finds her writing mojo, forms lasting bonds and finds peace and love.

I loved this book. Even though it is written in letters it is very easy to read. I liked that it was all written in letters, it gave a more personal feel as people were free to express their feelings to their friends. I found the story to be extraordinary – what a genius idea for keeping sane during a war. I just love the idea that books can bring people together and can form lasting bonds between people.

I loved all the characters. It was a joy to watch Juliet find happiness, she was a lovely person to read about. And the Literary Society were a group of great people. Dawsey is a strong, solid, reliable man, and I fell in love with him. It is interesting that even though we never meet Elizabeth we hear all these wonderful stories bout her and her heroics, how she brought everyone together and helped them out in times of need, and I found myself wanting to get to know her. And when we discovered what happened to her I could have cried.

I was attached to this book and the characters. It wasn’t a quick read, but lovely. Well worth reading. I felt emotions along with the characters and didn’t want the book to end. One of the best books I’ve read recently. This is a must read.

10/10

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

Synopsis from Amazon:

The Moonstone, a priceless Indian diamond which had been brought to England as spoils of war, is given to Rachel Verrinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night, the stone is stolen. Suspicion then falls on a hunchbacked housemaid, on Rachel’s cousin Franklin Blake, on a troupe of mysterious Indian jugglers, and on Rachel herself. The phlegmatic Sergeant Cuff is called in, and with the help of Betteredge, the Robinson Crusoe-reading loquacious steward, the mystery of the missing stone is ingeniously solved.

This was a very good crime novel. The Moonstone is an expensive diamond that is left to Rachel Verrinder. After receiving it she puts it into a cabinet in her bedroom. During the night the Moonstone is stolen. Everyone is suspected. The story is narrated by different people who all give accounts of events that unfolded since the robbery. Suspects frequently change and there are some very clever detective tricks used to solve the crime.

I enjoyed this book but I did think it was a bit long at times. I found it interesting how Collins viewed women – as lesser than men and how he uses religion – as a lifestyle that dominates some and irritates others. I really enjoyed the narrators changing – I found it influenced who I thought did it, and as it turns out, I was wrong. I found this style of writing threw me off the scent.

I was not particularly fond of any of the characters. All of them had flaws which I found a little annoying, such as Betteredge and his obsession with Robinson Crusoe. However I still enjoyed this book because I was eager to find out who did it, and how they pulled it off. This book had me gripped.

I thought this was a great crime novel. I think it is just as sophisticated as modern crime novels, even though the police did not have modern technologies to help them. There was still the element of who-done-it and there was all the aspects of a crime book, with death, mystery and suspicion.

This is well worth reading.

8/10

Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller

notes on a scandal

Synopsis from Amazon:

When the new teacher first arrives, Barbara immediately senses that this woman will be different from the rest of her staff-room colleagues. But Barbara is not the only one to feel that Sheba is special, and before too long Sheba is involved in an illicit affair with a pupil. Barbara finds the relationship abhorrent, of course, but she is the only adult in whom Sheba can properly confide. So when the liaison is found out and Sheba’s life falls apart, Barbara is there…

Sheba is a new teacher at school; she is a pottery teacher and is instantly spotted by Barbara. She is different from the other new teachers, she keeps herself to her room and doesn’t participate in staff room gossip. Sheba meets Steven Connolly in detention, where she discovers he has some artist talent. She starts giving him tutorials after school, where their relationship blossoms. Soon they are having a sexual affair, a pupil and a teacher. During this time the friendship between Sheba and Barbara has been blossoming. Sheba confides in Barbara about Connolly. This affair cannot remain hidden forever, and when the people find out what has happened Barbara is there for Sheba; but what is her motivation?

This is a book which focuses on a controversial issue – pupils having sex with students when they are underage. Heller is brave writing this book, especially as she questions the portrayal of these teachers, and the different treatment male and female offenders receive. Heller looks at reasons why teachers would enter into this relationship, the effect feelings have over a person, regardless of age and who will stand beside you whatever you have done. She also studies spinstership, how the woman is portrayed and what it could do to you.

I enjoyed this book but I didn’t like the characters – I was gripped by the story and what the outcome would be. I found it an interesting read; a sensitive subject manner and I wanted to know how Heller would write it. I found Barbara manipulating and judgmental and Sheba delusional and a liar. This is a good read because even though I didn’t like the characters they did spark a reaction.

This was not a fast read but a well written book and a good read.

8/10

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

the undomestic goddess

Synopsis from Amazon:

The story of a girl who needs to slow down. To find herself. To fall in love. And to discover what an iron is for…Samantha is a high-powered lawyer in London. She works all hours, has no home life, and cares only about getting a partnership. She thrives on the pressure and adrenalin. Until one day…she makes a mistake. A mistake so huge, it’ll wreck her career. She walks right out of the office, gets on the first train she sees, and finds herself in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she is mistaken for the interviewee housekeeper and finds herself being offered the job. They have no idea they’ve hired a Cambridge-educated lawyer with an IQ of 158 – Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. Disaster ensues. It’s chaos as Samantha battles with the washing machine…the ironing board…and attempts to cook a cordon bleu dinner. But gradually, she falls in love with her new life in a wholly unexpected way. Will her employers ever discover the truth? Will Samantha’s old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

Samantha is one of the best lawyers in England – then she discovers a memo on her desk that needed urgent attention a few weeks before. This is a £50 million mistake. When she realises what has happened, she flees. She jumps onto the first train and ends up in the countryside. When she stops at a house for help she is mistaken as a housekeeper. Not knowing what she is doing she accepts the job. Except she doesn’t even know how to use a toaster, how is she going to cope? And will London ever find her?

This was a fun book. This is easy chick-lit reading. I found it amusing and a quick read. It wasn’t particularly believable, but I was hooked anyway. Kinsella is great at this genre. She writes wonderful characters, amusing characters and ones you can easily fall in love with. I liked Nathaniel’s mother, a solid lady, happy to look out for her son and Samantha, and happy to help in every way.

I think you will only enjoy this if you like Kinsella’s work and if you like chick-lit. However, I loved it! It only took me a couple of days to finish it. Yes it was predictable and unrealistic, but thoroughly enjoyable.

9/10