Books · Witterings

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

I thought I would have a go at this meme this week. As this blog is new, I thought I should gain a bit of exposure.

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

At the moment I do not use a rating system on my blog. However, all my reviews are posted on to Amazon and they have a rating system which I use in relation to goodreads.com as well. A 5 star system. 5 stars being great, 1 star being really bad. I think it is a fair system although I wish I could give 1/2 stars as sometimes a book is sat somewhere between a 3 star and a 4 star and I am always stuck with which way I should go and I know I go the generous route and select 4 stars. I am not sure whether to have a rating system or not on my blog, perhaps in the future?

Books

Started Early, Took My Dog – Kate Atkinson

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I recently read Emotionally Weird by the author and was slightly put off by reading anything else. I am glad I did not base all of her work solely on that book, I enjoyed When Will be There be Good News and decided to venture back into life with Jackson Brodie. I was unsure of his character in that book, but now this book has filled much more of the back story and I have grown to love such a character who seems to operate outside of everything not just the law.

Jackson is going on a tour of the country, in main to catch up with his second wife who tricked him and he fell for it. Pride is an issue for Jackson. Also he is reliving some of his past, and through the Yorkshire countryside, visiting places he had been in his childhood he starts to understand the importance of his future that lies with the children he has fathered. His narrative takes us through his past and what he is currently working on – a case of finding Hope McMaster’s real birth mother, but everywhere he goes someone has been before him and there is also some on his tail. How come he is not always first? And why did he make a rash decision and take on something that was not his, when he can barely look after himself.

The narrative of Tracey Waterhouse is alongside Jackson’s as an ex WPC at the time of a murder which dropped off the radar in the mid seventies when all focus was on catching the Yorkshire Ripper. A theme covered with detail by Kate Atkinson that you knew she had researched the subject enough to make it relevant to the time of the flashbacks without it taking focus off the actual murder that Tracey Waterhouse witnessed the aftermath of. Tracey now retired and working as a security guard in a shopping centre also makes a rash decision. And as her past comes back to her and the seemingly solved murder in the seventies seems more relevant, she goes on the run. Did she really know anything?

Tracey’s rash decision is witnessed by Tilly an aging actress who is obviously caught up in the beginnings of dementia. Tilly sees but does not understand what Tracey has done, if anything wrong at all. But then Tilly is linked to them all in some way and we see her unravel as Jackson tries to bring all the pieces of thread together.

Atkinson uses the skill of three strong characters to tell the story not just in the present but in the past as well. The past for all of them. The other characters which also intertwine so seamlessly are all relevant and the passages set in the Seventies, have a Gene Hunt, Sweeney edge to them, especially with the comradeship and workings of the police force. The author does not miss the opportunity to mention these modern day images within the context of the story line.

I confess it takes me a while to get into Atkinson’s books and I stick with it because once I am in the story I just need to keep turning the page to find out how it all comes together. This book was no different, but it did not take me long to become captured by the plot line as it effectively went from the Seventies back to the present day picking up and dropping people as it needed them. What surprised me was the humour within the book; it is there and if like me you were captured, the humour just bounced off the page and me laugh. It kept the story real especially and reminded me despite the outcome of the murder, the police and their colleagues the social workers and even the people they deal with, in this book namely a number of prostitutes have their own way of dealing with events and emotions.

Definitely a different sort of crime novel, not your average detective novel – no goody and baddy with the other one the victim. A novel with many layers, and not necessarily ones where the truth is going to be made clear to all, including the reader. The result is not always what we want and perhaps in reflection, I could have wanted more from this story – a neat wrapping up of all the unravel threads. Not so, because life is not like that and Atkinson does a very good job of making us the reader  think whether the result she writes about is the right one legally or perhaps morally.

Books

Rules – Jane Beaton

Rules is the second book by Jane Beaton which favours a theme found to be loved by many – boarding school. There are relatively few boarding school stories for adults, but hopefully this will be a series that becomes so. This is what I anticipate anyway.

Maggie Adair for those who did not read Class, is a teacher of English and starts her second year at Downey House, a private boarding school for girls set at the coast in Cornwall. She is determined to make this a better year for herself and also her pupils, but life has a habit of getting in the way of Maggie’s plans.

Now engaged to Stan, who stays in Glasgow. Maggie suddenly realises there is more to life than nights spent drinking in the pub and returning for an unsatisfied drunken fumble. Maggie’s eyes have been opened by David, fellow English teacher at the neighbouring Downey School for Boys. But for some reason she keeps clinging on to Stan. However why is the enthusiasm for her wedding not there? It is merely being organised around her. Beaton creates a situation which made me as a reader scream at Maggie “Stan is no good for you”; “David will give you so much more”. Although David appears weak around his ex fiancé, he has many attributes which Maggie relates even more so since she became a teacher at Downey House. A skill of a good writer to keep her audience guessing and wanting more!

However, it is just not us as readers who are aware of the frisson between Maggie and David. Maggie’s girls are also aware and there is plenty of teenage angst amongst them all. They hold on to what they know and use it at the right opportunity when being a teenager is not fair amongst the punishment given by Maggie.

Fliss has fallen for Will a local lad to her at home, now resident at the boy’s school. Will only has eyes for Alice, Fliss’ friend. So Fliss buoyed by watching new girl Zelda take Fliss’ other friend Simone under her wing and transform her. Fliss undergoes her own makeover with disastrous results. Why didn’t Maggie spot this happening to her own girls, her responsibility earlier? Maggie’s faith in her ability is tested as she deals with the aftermath. Perhaps Maggie should go back to Glasgow, become a wife and mother and fit the stereotype that she seems desperate not to be.

A successful end of academic year for Maggie’s pupils and perhaps a successful year personally as the train draws out of Truro station taking Maggie to her new future or her old past?

I would recommend this book for the older teen/young adult readership – a book to move forward reading from Enid Blyton school tales. Something had it been available when I was that age I would have read and enjoyed, a transition to adult fiction, albeit for some reason stuck in the “chick-lit” genre. A good second novel, but with plenty of room for improvement providing the dedication is there by the author to continue.

Books

204 Rosewood Lane – Debbie Macomber

This is the second book in Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cover Series. The characters we were introduced to in 16 Lighthouse Road are back.

The local judge, Olivia Lockhart, her daughter Justine and her new husband Seth are back, with new challenges to face both personally and professionally.

Grace resident of 204 Rosewood Lane is still smarting after the disappearance of her husband Dan Sherman. The divorce finalised everything practically for her but not emotionally. Will the discovery about what really happened give her that closure? Her daughter Kelly a new mum cannot believe anything has happened and everything will go back to the way it was. However Maryellen, Grace other daughter, has hidden so much about her past that perhaps she understands? The future takes an unexpected turn for her when Jon Bowman comes into her life.

Here we are also introduced to new characters, Rosie and Zach Cox, whose story is picked up more thoroughly in 311 Pelican Court (the first Cedar Cover story I read). WE see how they fit into Cedar Cove and the life of the community especially when they are faced with Judge Lockhart’s rather unorthodox judgement.

Having read book three and then worked backwards. I can see Macomber building the place of Cedar Cove with all its residents and how all their lives do intertwine either through marriage, long lasting friendship or at the Pancake Palace. The beauty of these books a current guilty pleasure of mine is that you can pick the book up mid series and still get a feel for what is going on without having read earlier books. Macomber goes over the back story well without just reiterating previous novels which some authors have a tendency to do when there is little substance to follow up novels or in a series of books.

My only other guilt of reading them, and I have mentioned this before in my reviews, is I do skim read in parts because I realise the way the book is heading in some but not all cases. A bit like having a television programme on in the background and still being able to keep up with the story line. I chastise myself regularly of this habit. As I knows I do not know it for the many many other books I read. It will not stop me through carrying on reading the Cedar Cove series.

Despite this, I invite anyone who wants pure escapism to settle down with this series of books, and just enjoy!