Posts Tagged ‘Publisher-Penguin’

Turtles All the Way Down

John Green
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

*This is not a review so much as a reflection on the book*

I’ve been waiting for this book to be released for months, ever since I saw this video on youtube where John Green explains so well what having OCD is actually like. I knew that this book was going to be reflecting on his own experiences and would therefore be a good portrayal of this mental health illness – which I do also suffer with.

And it really, really was. I found myself taking photos of a lot of quotes in the book and just well and truly identifying with the main character. In this respect, this book was exactly what I had hoped it would be.

But it also really made me think. (The irony of this statement will not be lost on those who have read it.)

Everyone who suffers with OCD, suffers and deals with it in their own unique way. They have their own experiences, their own triggers, anxieties, routines, etc so it would be impossible for any one book on OCD to be the perfect OCD book for everyone who suffers with it. But what I found helpful with this book, and other books with OCD protagonists (listed below) is that I saw myself in some of the quotes, routines and actions of Aza, thus I was able to feel just a little less alone.

But on the flip side, it also made me question my own OCD. Yes, I did some of the things that Aza did but I also didn’t do other things or didn’t do things to such a bad extent and thus I felt like maybe I am just making a big deal of nothing. Maybe my OCD isn’t OCD at all, but just quirks. (I have been diagnosed by a health professional and even this line of thinking is part of my OCD at play) As you can see, I am aware that for me this is an irrational thought and not true. But I can’t help but wonder if, as a teenager, I would have felt the same way.

I have suffered with OCD – from my knowledge – ever since I was 14 years old. However at the time, I had no idea I had OCD. I barely even understood that I had anxieties. I just figured I was a teenager going through being a teenager – you know? So if I had read this and not felt that my actions were as bad then I may not have gone to a doctor. And I worry that this is also how some teenagers of today may feel about this book.

Obviously this is a difficult issue and I do not think Turtles All the Way Down is at fault here as it does show how serious and difficult OCD can be. But I feel that what I’m getting to is that we need more books which show OCD as manageable, hidden issues perhaps. Most of the OCD books I’ve read, the protagonists are aware of their health issue so I think I just want a book where someone is diagnosed as OCD.

SPOILER ADDITION
(Highlight to read)

On a similar note, while reading this book, I kept feeling like something wasn’t quite right. I could not figure out where this feeling was coming from but it was a niggling thought at the back of my mind. It was only upon reading a review of the book that I realised what my issue was; Aza does not seem to have any other personality trait. She has OCD and that is all she is. There is never mention to any films or books she loves, or any other activity that she really does except think. I do know that this may have been to show how all encompassing OCD can be but I also just feel that it made her character feel a little flat to me.

END OF SPOILER

What do you think? Have you read Turtles? Did you like it?

Other Books with OCD I highly recommend
Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13b by Teresa Toten
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
It’s All In Your Head by Rae Earl
(Non-Fiction)
Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon (Non-Fiction, Adult)

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: October 2017
Format: Hardback
Pages: 286
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Gifted
Challenge: None
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One of Us is Lying

Karen M.McManus
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.
Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.
Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.

Five high school students – a geek, a jock, a criminal and a gossip – walk into detention…only four leave. After the sudden death of Simon, the creator of an infamous gossip blog, the four other students see themselves pursued in a relentless police investigation -thrust into the position of murder suspects as it comes to light that Simon was only 24 hours away from posting their deepest secrets online. This YA psychological thriller follows the twists and turns of this murder investigation, examining the role of the media, the evolving relationships of the suspects and the repercussions of this shocking murder on this small American town.

From the very first line McManus captures the readers attention, as we delve deeper and deeper into the story line. We see such vast evolvement of plot with multiple character point of views, creating a three dimensional insight into the investigation, whilst providing many layers of perspective that contribute to the overall suspense and pace of the novel.

The reader comes to question the involvement of all the characters at different points in the novel, serving to add a great sense of suspense and suspicion that overall makes the book vey addictive! Although at times predictable, McManus constructs subtle plot twists, in such a way in which their significance only comes to light later in the story, in doing so the reader enjoys a vast and relatively complex plot line.

Whilst examining the police investigation and changing attitudes of the public; in a similar vein to Breakfast Club, McManus looks at the interaction between social circles. We see great evolvement in the relationships of these characters, who would other wise never interact, but have been uniquely bonded by the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the aspects of friendship in this book as we see both the deterioration of relationships and the formation of new ones, as the investigation deepens.

The book also has a romantic subplot, which whilst at sometimes subtracted from the overall plot, served to add a sense of anticipation and excitement, of which overall effectively contributed to the development of character in the book.

I found the ending to be relatively predictable, yet the author still managed to retain a sense of satisfaction as the outcome is skilfully weaved throughout the plot. Furthermore, McManus effectively injected the right about of action and pace along side psychological suspense, creating an ending that kept me thinking about the book days after I finished it.

Verdict: Overall “One of Us is Lying” is a fast paced and vastly enjoyable read, that has been skilfully constructed in order to maintain constant suspicion and anticipation. I would most definitely recommend this for lovers of murder mysteries and would be especially perfect for lovers of 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, Running Girl by Simon Mason and fans of the Breakfast Club.

Reviewed by Evie (15)

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date:June 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages:360
Genre: Thriller
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (15)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: Debut Author
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Little Lies

Liane Moriarty
little liesShe could hear men and women shouting. Angry hollers crashed through the soft humid salty summer night. It was somehow hurtful for Mrs Ponder to hear, as if all that rage was directed at her . . . then she heard the wail of a siren in the distance, at the same time as a woman still inside the building began to scream and scream . . .
When a harmless quiz night ends with an act of shocking violence, the parents of Pirriwee Public School can’t seem to stop their secrets from finally spilling out. Rumours ripple through the small town, as truth and lies blur to muddy the story of what really happened on that fateful night.

What were your initial thoughts of the book?
Having never read anything by Liane Moriarty before, I had little to no expectations of this book except that I knew many people had enjoyed her first book, My Husband’s Secret. So it was mostly just the blurb of this book that attracted me. Thus, I was very glad when this book truly hooked me. It was intense, full of mystery, and had such a moving and compelling storyline to boot! The writing style was easy to read and just really pulled the reader in. It is a book that I truly enjoyed.

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
Without a doubt, my favourite aspect of this book was the style of it and the way that it created tension. At the beginning of the book you find out that a death has occurred. You’re then transported to a few months previously and shown all the small events that led to the final night. Add to that little snippets at the end of most chapters of interviews after the event and you’ll find the tension very high and your curiosity through the roof. After all, you don’t even know who it is, let alone how it happened. I absolutely loved this aspect of the book as it just added something extra.

Who was your favourite character and why?
It is very hard to choose just one as I loved two characters in this book. However, I think my favourite is actually Jane. I think she went through a great journey and transition in this book and I was just so happy for her in the end. Life had thrown her a lot of crap but she finally managed to make it her own again. I did also love Madeline. Her flair was fun to read and follow and I’d love to have her as my friend but I definitely preferred Jane!

Would you recommend this book?
I already have, so yes I would! For me this book was an incredible read. It was full of mystery, suspense, friendship, loyalty, trust, betrayal and transformations. It isn’t just about one thing either. It looks at so many different things and draws them all together so well. It was written beautifully, and was easy to just fall into. If, then, you’re on the lookout for a book like that, you should read Little Lies as I am certain you will not be disappointed!

Summarize this book in one sentence (Verdict)
Little Lies is a beautiful, mesmerizing, and captivating book that will keep you entertained and intrigued from the get-go.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: Hardback
Pages: 464
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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Lies Like Love

Louisa Reid
lies like loveLIES
‘There were a few problems . . . bullying . . . a fire . . .’
LIKE’
I think she’s verging on psychosis . . . now she’s lashing out.
‘ LOVE’
She’s got no one else to fight for her.’
Sixteen year-old Audrey just wants to be normal.She’s trying to fit in.But what happens when the person closest to you suffocates you with their love? What happens then?

What were your overall thoughts on the book?
Two agonising years were spent waiting for the release of this book. After devouring Louisa Reid’s debut book, Black Heart Blue, I simply couldn’t wait for the next book written by this talented author. Fortunately, the wait was definitely worth it! Lies Like Love is an extraordinary book that pulled at my heartstrings and tore my soul in half – in the way only an amazing book can! While the style of the book took a little time to get used to, it quickly grew on me and I was reminded of why I was so excited for this book in the first place. I was truly sucked into this story and it stayed with me for days afterwards. (Book hangover!)

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
The rich, deep, raw theme and messages in the story. I like issue books. I like books that are dark but tell you something by not shying away and this book does exactly that. Just like with Black Heart Blue, Louisa Reid has created a book that is meaningful. It holds important messages and will really make you think. I loved how tense the book made me and how I was just able to put the characters firmly into my heart. Needless to say, I cannot wait to see what Louisa will do next!

Who was your favourite character and why?
Audrey! Audrey, Audrey, Audrey, Audrey. Here is a character that is written so realistically, she may as well be real. Honestly, Audrey is not perfect. She has fears, anxieties, worries, and pressures from all over the place. But she also has heart and soul. She has the ability to smile wide, to dance, and be free. But the reason I truly found her to be so amazing is her strength. The strength in her character was mind-blowing. Here is a character who will do everything she can, not just for herself, but also for her loved ones. She was easy to get attached to and I just loved reading about her journey so much.

Would you recommend this book?
100%. Definitely. I know there are some people out there who will dislike this book. Maybe it’ll make them uncomfortable or they simply don’t like reading books like it but I also guarantee that many, many people will love this book. It has heart, it packs a punch, and it is just incredible powerful. So, if you enjoy “issue” books, or if you want a book that is deep, dark, rich and emotional, then you should read Lies Like Love as I am sure you will not be disappointed in it.

Summarize in one sentence. (Verdict)
This is a book that will wrench your heart out and rip your soul apart – in the best possible way. An intense read that simply demands to be read.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 457
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: British book
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Bookish Brits Book Of Feels 2014: Vote for TFioS

As part of the Bookish Brits theme, April Showers: A Month Of Feels, each of the Bookish Brits is championing the book that they feel should be crowned the Bookish Brits Book Of Feels 2014. Over the course of April each member of the Bookish Brits team will create a three minute video to explain why their book of choice should have your support. We will then invite all of our readers, subscribers and followers to vote for the book that they feel is most deserving of the title.

Check out the Bookish Brits channel for all of the Book Of Feels nominations and our other April Showers, emotion inspired, posts(here).

I have chosen to champion The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

TFioS penguinDespite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

You can vote for the book that you feel is most deserving of the title Bookish Brits Book Of Feels 2014 here

Posted by Caroline

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: January 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 316
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Bookish Brits Book Club: Let It Snow

The December book choice for the Bookish Brits book club is Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle.

let it snowAn ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.
A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle – bring all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

Posted by Caroline

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
Genre: Romance, Christmas, Short stories
Age: YA
Reviewer: Bookish Brits
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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The Patchwork Marriage

Jane Green

Andi has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at thirty-seven, she’s finally found him. Ethan–divorced with two daughters, Emily and Sophia–is a devoted father and even better husband. Always hoping one day she would be a mother, Andi embraces the girls like they were her own. But in Emily’s eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father’s love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. When the dynamics between the two escalate, they threaten everything Andi believes about love, family, and motherhood—leaving both women standing at a crossroad in their lives…and in their hearts.

I actually really enjoyed reading this but as I come to write the review I fear it might sound a bit negative!  I did have many moments in the story when I was frustrated with the characters and wanted to give them a piece of my mind.  A bit like shouting at the telly I suppose!  However I was drawn into the plot and the family dynamic.  Having worked with young people and spent time talking to many about life in step families, I felt that the views and feelings at the heart of this were incredibly common and though it may not be a realistic account of blended family life it resonated with my experience of hearing those teenagers stories.

As it says in the burb above Andi and Ethan are married and Andi is step mother to Emily and Sophia.  Sophia has accepted the situation but Emily is doing everything in her power to make life difficult.  She is an intelligent child and seems to know she has her father at her finger tips, manipulating him to get her own way in every situation.  Andi feels neglected and impotent to deal with this as Ethan seems unable to stand up to his ‘little girl’ as he copes with the guilt of the divorce and all that came with it.

Things are further complicated by the fact that Andi would dearly love to have a child of her own and has been unable to do so.  Ethan has refused to consider adoption and Andi’s anger and hurt are looking for a channel!  The pressure on Andi and Ethan’s relationship is at breaking point as they are unable to find a way to manage any of these issues effectively.  Throw into the mix further problems from Ethan’s ex-wife who is an alcoholic, Emily’s lack of friends and Andi meeting a handsome engaging man and think; is it any wonder things aren’t going well?!

The characters in the story are generally very self-centred; the focus is on their needs.  On the whole they seem to be unable to see someone else’s point of view or understand how their actions might make things worse rather than better.  I know that we are all selfish deep down but they seemed so blinkered sometimes.  Ethan seems completely incapable of seeing Emily’s manipulation; Andi can’t see that having a baby would probably be the last straw for everyone.  Although it has to be said I thought Ethan really dealt with whole situation totally unfeelingly.  I did have sympathy for the characters, being childless when you want a child is terrible, making up to your child for putting them through a difficult divorce is totally understandable, but they just could not communicate effectively with each other.  The naivety on both sides in creating this knew family was blindingly obvious.

I did like how the novel was told from the perspective of many of the different characters.  This worked particularly well in building up a picture of Emily as seen through Andi’s eyes so that she seemed completely awful and then hitting a chapter from Emily’s standpoint that made you completely re-evaluate her.  There was that lostness in her, and also recognition of her inability to control her temper and that Andi often wasn’t so bad but Emily just can’t help herself.  A real teenager!

I also must mention that my favourite characters were the two gay men who lived next door.  Their dinner parties sounded amazing and often they were the only ones who spoke any kind of common sense at all!

As the story develops things become more complicated and I can’t tell you more or it’ll be a spoiler!  But it is interesting that even though there is some resolution this is not a happy ending type fairy tale. Even so in some ways it was too tied up for me, after all the messiness of their lives there is a lot to work out and some of the resolutions found I didn’t like, some of it is too convenient. 

Verdict: On the whole this is a good reflection of the imperfectness of family life and the difficulties faced by blended families.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: June 2012
Format: eBook
Pages: 416
Genre: Chick Lit, Family
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Stormbreaker

Anthony Horowitz

They told him his uncle died in a car accident. Fourteen-year-old Alex knows that’s a lie, and the bullet holes in his uncle’s windshield confirm his suspicions. But nothing prepares him for the news that the uncle he always thought he knew was really a spy for MI6–Britain’s top secret intelligence agency. Recruited to find his uncle’s killers and complete his final mission, Alex suddenly finds himself caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Having heard lots of good things about Anthony Horowitz I thought I’d check out his work. Stormbreaker seemed a good place to start; and it was!

The story gets going quickly and maintains a fast pace throughout. It is easy to read and well written. The chapters are about the right length, especially for the target audience (pre-teens and early teenagers). I also think that although this is probably more aimed at boys, a lot of girls would enjoy the adventurers of Alex Rider.

So to the story! This is a gripping yarn, a spy story after the heart of James Bond. As Alex is recruited into MI6 and trained in an army style for his mission he has to learn to survive in a tough adult environment where he is certainly not liked by everyone. He is then presented with his very own set of teenage boy spy gadgets, including metal melting zit cream (I love it) and sent off to spy on Herod Sayle who has made the country an offer that seems too good to be true. Alex has a few days to find out what is going on, and he does get to use his gadgets too!

Alex is a great character, he manages to seem like a normal teenage boy in the way he looks at many things, girls for example! And yet he is so obviously extraordinary as he begins to question what has happened to his Uncle and grow into a whole new role that he is more or less forced into. He proves to be quick thinking, quick on his feet and courageous. His escape from the Breakers Yard is truly remarkable, and this is only the first of many excitements and tight situations. It also seems that his Uncle has been preparing him for his future as Alex has learned many languages, can drive a car and do Karate, among many other things.

In addition to all this there is a fantastic tongue in cheek humour running through the book, Horowitz does send up the spy genre and plays on the villains in particular. Mr Grin is a brilliant example of this with his scar for a smile and inability to speak properly.

In case you are wondering if this is suitable for your child I will add that there is some violence, none of it graphic, but guns are used and Alex does shoot someone (even though he is specifically not trained to do this). If you, or your child haven’t read this kind of book before you might want to read it first, but unless your child is particularly sensitive or younger than the target audience then I think you are likely to find they love it and want the next one.

Verdict: It does seem to be the perfect book for any kid that dreams of being a spy and having amazing adventures!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication Date: August 2006
Format: Paperback
Pages: 264
Genre: Action, Adventure
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book, Oldest Book
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The Help

Kathryn Stockett

Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Black maids raise white children, but aren’t trusted not to steal the silver. Some lines will never be crossed. Aibileen is a black maid: smart, regal, and raising her seventeenth white child. Yet something shifted inside Aibileen the day her own son died while his bosses looked the other way. Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is by some way the sassiest woman in Mississippi. But even her extraordinary cooking won’t protect Minny from the consequences of her tongue. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter returns home with a degree and a head full of hope, but her mother will not be happy until there’s a ring on her finger. Seeking solace with Constantine, the beloved maid who raised her, Skeeter finds she has gone. But why will no one tell her where? Seemingly as different as can be, Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny’s lives converge over a clandestine project that will not only put them all at risk but also change the town of Jackson for ever. But why? And for what? The Help is a deeply moving, timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we won’t. It is about how women, whether mothers or daughters, the help or the boss, relate to each other- and that terrible feeling that those who look after your children may understand them, even love them, better than you…

Before I read this book everyone told me it was ‘amazing’, so I began reading with interest. I usually find that it is better not to believe the hype, but in this case I finished the book and would have to say yes, I found it amazing!

So what makes it great? Well, the controversial subject matter is fascinating to read about. The previously untold stories of black women working for white women in 1960’s America with all the issues that brings with it; the love, the hate, the hypocrisy, double standards, the need for each other and yet mutual dislike or disdain. This story shows the passion of the women on both sides of the fence and is, to me at least, a revelation about what life was really like. I know lots about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, I know about the not being allowed on buses and to the same Universities and so on, but this book makes it real, and makes the lives of ordinary people real. This is about the day to day lives of those who had to endure hardship and intolerance and yet just got on with living. It is about civil rights and about a group of women who are brave enough to choose to fight in their own way. And it is about the white woman that gave them this opportunity.

The three main characters, Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny, make a fascinating group. They are all so different and come to be so dependent on each other. Each has their own individual problems in their lives, as well as the problems that draw them together. They are characters you are drawn to, and want to know better. The journey they undertake together (and also in so many ways, apart) will change all of them forever. This is not only in fighting for their right to be heard and respected, but also having great effect on their personal concerns and circumstances.

The more minor characters also have a depth and fullness to them. Miss Hilly is an awful, bigoted, woman. She is blind to her own hypocrisy and has a mean streak that touches anyone who stands in her way, or doesn’t fit in with her narrow minded views. Celia Foote appears to be a bimbo, but is trying to survive in a society that is as alien to her as it is to the black women, as she used to be ‘white trash’ herself. Elizabeth Leefolt is just a best friend, but gets caught in the fallout between Miss Hilly and Skeeter as they take opposing sides in this fight for civil rights. She shows how hard it can be to be brave and stand up for yourself, or sometimes even to understand the cause when everyone around you thinks that this is the way life is supposed to be. These characters all embody the values, ideals and principles (or what we might consider the lack thereof) of their time, but they also resonate today bringing to mind people you know, or stories we hear. They tell us that if we look we can see many of these things happening today.

The other thing that I loved about this book was that it had the capacity to make me laugh, to well up, and to be angry, and sometimes all over the same incident. Stories that can engage that kind of reaction I always find compelling. The novel is written with such deftness and assurance, you would never realise it is Stockett’s debut novel.

Verdict: I don’t know how this book could be any better. A brilliant, perceptive, innovative handling of a very sensitive subject. Having borrowed this book I am sure I am going to have to go out and buy it, and then lend it to as many people as possible!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: May 2010 (reprint ed.)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 515/559KB
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: N/A
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The Salt Road

Jane Johnson

The desert lay before them, and the secrets of the amulet…From Tafraout’s magnificent mountainside, Isobel absorbs the heat and romance of the Moroccan vista before her, with mosque and homes scattered far below. But a mere slip sees her tumbling uncontrollably into the arms of handsome rescuer Taïb, who notices her unusual silver amulet, and that her fall has revealed a tiny scroll hidden within. Entranced by the possibilities of its intricate and illegible script, they set out for the Sahara in search of a Tuareg elder to unlock the riddles of its past. Little does Izzy realize that the desert holds the key to more mysteries than the amulet’s. From beneath the beating sun emerges nomadic Princess Mariata, whose stories of tortured love bind her to the precious talisman in Izzy’s hands. She’s battled the sands; she’s found and lost love among its dunes. And where the amulet crosses both their paths, answers to the deepest secrets lie.

The story weaves together to tell the two tales of Mariata and Isabella. These two women have had very contrasting lives, living in different times and countries, where women are treated in hugely different ways and have vastly different expectations. Isabella in the West being, what we would think of, as a strong, independent, ambitious woman and Mariata in the more Eastern lifestyle. Yet Mariata too is a strong, independent and ambitious woman. The outworking of these qualities in their lives and diverse circumstances bring lots of substance to the story.

It is a beautifully written book and describes Morocco and that area of Africa strikingly. It really brought alive the harsh scenery, the dangers that it brings and yet the awe with which it inspires people. I was also struck by the lives of the travelling desert people, not just how tough they have to be but there sense that they belong to themselves and don’t want to be constrained by national boundaries imposed by outsiders, or by religious boundaries imposed by others coming from the East. The traditions that maintain their lifestyle were fascinating, and as I like to learn my history encased in a great story, this book certainly provided that.

This book has drama, romance and intrigue, although I found that I had guessed at some twists in the story before they happened there were one or two things that came as a surprise. Also figuring out what might happen didn’t detract from the reading of it at all, always a sign of a well written book for me.

Verdict: I really enjoyed this, the atmosphere, passion and insight into a different way of life made it a great read. I will be looking out for more work by Jane Johnson.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: April 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
Genre: Adventure, Romance
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Debut Author
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