Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

4 Star

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family...

Kathryn - 4 Star

Completely outside of my usual genre this was an interesting read and I'm glad I'm in a book club that will push my boundaries!   Firstly I don't often read stories that delve into the fantastical (apart from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) as I often spend half the novel getting my bearings on the new world and not focusing on the characters.  However this book didn't require too much brain reconfiguration at first so I was able to focus on people and plot.  It's a bit alarming that this tiny child finds himself being raised by a load of ghosts, but they are good ghost people and obviously care for their charge very much.  

I wish we had had more details on the living accommodations and the practicalities of how they actually fed an alive child when they were dead.. but likely that was just my inability to just accept things as they were.  The novel is a touch creepy, not because of the ghosts but because someone is clearly after this small child and there is a scene where he is chased by some foul creatures that made me feel very uneasy. 

Despite my misgivings and nitpicking about the practicalities I was quite touched by this story.  The kindness of strangers and the sense of community was very hopeful.

All opinions are our own.

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Monday, November 4, 2019

The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson

2 Star

1929: Four-year-old Etty and eight-year-old Dorothy are abandoned at Blakely Hall orphanage by their mother, never to see her again. With no other family to speak of, the sisters worship their beloved mam – confused and heartbroken to be deserted by her when they need her the most.

1940: Etty and Dorothy are finally released from the confines of Blakely Hall – but their freedom comes when the country is in the grip of World War Two and its terrors. Amidst a devastating backdrop of screaming air-raid sirens and cold nights huddled in shelters, the sisters are desperate to put their broken childhoods behind them.

But trouble lies ahead. Dorothy must bid goodbye to her beloved husband when he’s sent to war and Etty must nurse a broken heart as she falls in love with the one man she can never be with.

Etty and Dorothy survived the orphanage with the help of one another and neither sister can forget the awful betrayal of their mother, which has haunted them their whole lives. But when a shocking secret about their painful childhood comes to light, will the sisters ever be the same again?

Kathryn - 2 Star

In truth I was expecting more from this book. The premise was there to give a gritty account of the two sisters lives but in reality each period of their lives seemed incomplete for me.  I wanted more from their time in the orphanage and more of their jobs once they grew out of the system.  I wanted to know more about their daily lives as adults before we reached the point where they were dealing with more tragedy.  And though I loved Dorothy's husband, I was unimpressed with the back and forth with Etty's love interest.  The romance bored me and made the rest of the book less interesting. 

There were some interesting moments such as the girls arrival and time at Blakely Hall and I liked the mystery surrounding their mother.  I also did enjoy the relationship between the sisters.   I'm not sure quite where it went wrong for me, likely Etty's love life, but it just didn't keep me engaged as I had hoped.  

Thank you to Bookouture for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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