Friday, 27 October 2017

The Girl With All The Gifts - M R Carey

                                                                                                                         
I kept seeing this on people's lists.  People liked it.  I just didn't know why - and then I read it myself.  Dystopia and Zombies?  I don't think so!  I like a bit of dystopia and I never, ever read books which have  zombies in; until this one.  The end of the world as we know it in this scenario is caused by a ........ no, I don't think I'll say what it's caused by, because that would be half the excitement of the read done with, and it would be so much better to ease yourself into this odd beginning.  A child, who has a cell to herself to sleep in, gets buckled into a wheelchair every morning, hands and neck restrained, and is pushed into her classroom along with several other children, all similarly restrained.  A selection of teachers help the children to learn with 30 year old text books and stories - and Melanie, the brightest child in class is keen to learn.  But why is she restrained all day?  And why are the children only fed once a week?  And showered once a week also?  And actually, where the hell are they?
I read huge chunks of this at one sitting and it gets a 10/10 for me, although I have to say this is not a book for everyone and the squeamish amongst you may not enjoy this. The best kind of thrillers are those which are different.   After all, those with garrish covers bought at the airport for a holiday read are ten a penny, and this is definitely not one of those.  There are some odd characters within the pages too, a couple of soldiers, a scientist, an few teachers.  But it is Melanie I felt empathy with and she will stay with me a long, long time.




Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The Spinning Heart - Donal Ryan


 
















 The tiger economy of Ireland is done for.  There is a downturn.  Ghost estates all over the place, full of built but empty houses, for there is no money to buy them.  And on the edge of a small town one of those estates grinds to a halt when the builder tells his team they are all redundant, does a runner and leaves them to pick up the pieces.

We'll find out pretty quickly that the builder paid no national insurance, pension pot, nothing, so all those men who thought that at least they could claim unemployment benefit find themselves with nothing.

Each chapter is told by a different member of the town. Each voice is different.  But slowly we will see how every character is linked to another, and ultimately to the whole town.  There is cruelty, swearing, abuse.  Is this real life?  I'm inclined to think it is.  This is what would happen in your town if you lost everything.

A brilliant first novel which gets high praise from me.   And his second is even better - and just as quirky.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Last Bus To Wisdom - Ivan Doig



It has taken me a while to read this fabulous book.  Not because the book is bad, but because things at home got in the way.  But this weekend, in between the housework, I ploughed through it, wanting to find out "what happens", but not wanting it to end.  This was Ivan Doig's last book, but thank goodness I have only read one other, as he may well be my favourite author of all time.   I've been reviewing my lists of books read over the last ten years, and to my surprise, I see I have read a lot of American fiction.  If you had asked me if I'd done that I would have answered, "well, maybe a few..."
If you think you won't like American fiction, if you have no interest in American writers, if you only stick with one kind of book, all I can say is break away!  Find this book and read it.
Donal lives with his grandmother following the death of his parents.  In the summer of 1951, Donal is sent from Montana to Wisconsin, to spend the summer with his Aunt Kate, grandmother's sister, whilst she has "female trouble" surgery.  And so he sets off, courtesy of Greyhound buses, all the way to Aunt Kate's.  The people he meets even before he gets there are described so well, so full of life, that I found myself on the bus with him.  And when he gets there, although he is expected, Aunt Kate is not what he expected, and neither is Uncle Dutch.  Within a couple of weeks Dutch and Donal have struck up a lasting friendship.  So strong that when Kate decides that the boy is not worth the trouble and packs him back to Montana, it is no surprise to the reader that Dutch is on the same bus, and looking for adventure.  And what adventures they have, that Summer.  If I was a kid of 11, in the 1950s, I think this is what I might be dreaming of, too.  A glorious romp, rich with a certain kind of language, huge characters, and an insight into a way of life now almost gone.   

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Mrs Mac says sorry! and suggests what to read in OCTOBER

Apologies!   I got rather caught up at the end of September because I was away for the last week on holiday in Cornwall.  Accompanied by an elderly family member I came back to a day of frantic emptying cupboards in the  kitchen as the builder was arriving on Monday.... Phew.    Kitchen being stripped out now so that a new one can go in, and believe me, I am NEVER doing that again!! 

Anyway, moving on, a few days late.  We are into Autumn now, and whilst there are lovely days ahead, the mornings will be a little chilly, like the evenings.  But it isn't time yet to get the logs in for the woodburner, nor is it time to wrap up in a blanket.  But it's always time to read!

For October, I suggest

 a book about friendship

and so for myself, I have chosen -


Talk Before Sleep - Elizabeth Berg
 

Brodeck - Philippe Claudel

Brodeck returns home from a POW camp, where he escaped ...