Monday, 26 August 2013

Valentine Grey by Sandi Toksvig

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this book up, certainly not the compelling and compassionately told story that I found.
In some ways this is a book about rejecting society's expectations and choosing your own destiny, with Valentine choosing to reject the staid, controlled society of Victorian women to go to war as a man, and her cousin Reggie choosing to explore the apparently liberating homosexual underworld of Victorian London.  Neither quite gets what they expect, and the result is the ruin of one and the making of the other.  A story of self-discovery, of loss, of friendship, of war, of humanity and inhumanity.
The settings, both in London and in South Africa, are evocatively described, rich in detail.  The plot unfolds with honesty and increasing intensity, not shying from the brutality and inhumanity of war or the disfunction of forbidden love.  At times deeply disturbing, it is a story about the human spirit and well worth the struggle.


www.askmeaboutbooks.co.uk

Monday, 19 August 2013

Dusting Down Alcudia by D A Nelson

This is a new book by a fellow blogger (http://darkislethebooks.wordpress.com) and author of the YA books DarkIsle and DarkIsle: Resurrection.

The story follows the adventures of Nina, a young archaeologist working for the British Museum, out to solve a historical mystery - searching for a legendary Roman necklace in Mallorca, where her father came from.  It fits in what I call the "Archaeological" genre - sub genre Romance.  Think Romancing the Stone rather than Indiana Jones and you'll have the right tone.  Along the way Nina has to deal with some romantic entanglements from her past and has to discover who she can trust.

If you're looking for a light, entertaining read, this is definitely worth a try.  Once I'd started reading, I didn't want to put it down and would have happily read into the night if my commitments had allowed it.  Hopeless romantic that I am, I desperately wanted to know how the relationships
would develop.  The love scenes come under "Oh... I'm blushing" on the Ask Me About Books website analysis and, being a bit of a prude, I certainly was - even skimming quickly over them.  The plot itself is not particularly taxing on the brain, but there is enough action and mystery to keep it interesting - just don't expect the kind of complexity you'd find in Matthew Reilly books.

The descriptions of Mallorca are lovely and the scenes with Nina's Spanish family are very rich and engaging.  Nina herself is an endearing character, incredibly naive and slightly pathetic at times.  I did find myself growing impatient with her as the story progressed, wishing she would show a bit more common sense.  I'm tempted to say she's brash and foolish, but it's more that she's completely obsessed with her search and a bit childish in her reactions to what is happening.

All in all a fun read - definitely one to put on your e-reader to take on holiday.


www.askmeaboutbooks.co.uk