Sing, Unburied, Sing

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Read 03/04/2018-08/04/2018

Rating: 5 stars

Sing, Unburied, Sing is Jesmyn Ward’s third novel. It’s the first I’ve heard of, thanks to the Women’s Prize for Fiction. It’s also the book I chose to win in the Reader’s Room March Madness Reading Challenge. It didn’t win, but so what? It’s a book that is more than a reading challenge target.

It’s a book that is full of life. A book that will enrich the life of anyone who reads it. This book is vital. Continue reading

Home Fire

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Read 22/03/2018-24/03/2018

Rating: 3 stars

When this came out and I read reviews of it, I wasn’t particularly grabbed by what was said. It’s one of the books on this year’s March Madness Reading Challenge over at The Reader’s Room and, because of its ranking in the pool, it’s one of the books I chose to make the final, so I thought I should read it. It’s also on the longlist for this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.

I don’t know what to say about it. It was slow to start, but then kept me gripped as the story unfurled, like one of the main characters removing her hijab. Continue reading

Stay With Me

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Read 26/06/2017-28/06/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Stay With Me is Ayobami Adebayo’s first novel. It was shortlisted for the 2017 Women’s Prize for Fiction. I borrowed it from my local library knowing little about it other than that it is set in Nigeria and its subject matter is full of sadness.

Yejide and Akin marry for love. For each of them, the other is all the person they need. The Yoruba are a polygamous society, but Akin is clear that he wants no wife other than Yejide. Yejide is the daughter of an additional wife, her mother died giving birth, and Yejide has no interest in being one of many. They are well suited and happy together, until Yejide fails to become pregnant and Akin’s family start to put pressure on him to marry again. Continue reading

The Dark Circle

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Read 25/05/2017-29/05/2017

Rating: 2.5 stars

I borrowed The Dark Circle from the library for two reasons: it’s shortlisted for this year’s Bailey’s Prize and it was on the list for the Reader’s Room March Madness challenge.

I knew nothing about it, hadn’t read anything by the author before, so went in blind.

Despite thinking I had no expectations, I must have had some because it disappointed me. It wasn’t bad, it just felt like it could have been better. I have no doubt at all that it will be turned into a tv drama. Continue reading

The Essex Serpent

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Read 15/04/2017-20/04/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room March Madness Challenge

Although the book opens with the mysterious death of a young man in a section of the Blackwater river that flows through Essex to the North Sea, possibly killed by an ancient creature freed from its riverbed prison, The Essex Serpent is a story about a woman and the life she chooses to lead beyond the constraints of conventional Victorian society. Cora Seaborne is a complex and strong willed woman who has had much to contend with in her life already. Continue reading

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

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Read 24/03/2017-30/03/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room March Madness Challenge.

In Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien tells a family saga lived through the tumult of political upheaval in Communist China. The story moves from Canada in 1989, in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square student-led rebellion, to China in the years following the Communist victory in the civil war, through the land reforming Great Leap Forward to Mao’s Cultural Revolution and on to the events that took place in and around Tiananmen Square. It’s a political novel, but in a quiet way. It talks about loss of beauty as well as loss of freedom. It talks of how music inhabits us, is part of everything we do, has a power in people’s lives every bit as potent as politics. It talks about the violence of politics under an autocratic regime, but matter of factly. It is a thing that happens, it is devastating, but life goes on. Continue reading

The Glorious Heresies

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Read 05/01/2017-08/01/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Lisa McInerney won the Bailey’s Prize last year with this, her debut novel. I liked the reviews I read on other bookish blogs, so it went high up on my to read list.

It had a slow start. It felt a little so-so, a little studied at first. I didn’t much care for Ryan and his girlfriend Karine, or Jimmy and his mum Maureen, or Ryan’s dad Tony, when they were first introduced.

Georgie, though, was another matter. Continue reading

Rush Oh!

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Read 19/06/2016-23/06/2016

Rating: 4 stars

It has been a while since I read any Australian literature, but Shirley Barrett’s Rush Oh! caught my eye when it appeared on the long list for this year’s Bailey’s prize. I reserved it at my local library, and my turn to read it came around a couple of weeks ago. Continue reading