Thursday, 31 March 2016

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

Miss Ona Vitkus has - aside from three months in the summer of 1914 - lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected.

The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never...

Only it's been two weeks now since he last visited, and she's starting to think he's not so different from all the rest.

Then the boy's father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son's good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life's ambition to complete . . .

Put simply, this book is outstanding and I loved it from start to finish. In fact, even though I have read another book since (which was also very good) my mind keeps going back to this wonderfully and eloquently constructed book.

I think I would be fair in saying that this is unlike any other book I have ever read as it is constructed in three very different ways. First, the boy in the book is a list maker so we see several of the lists he makes (anyone like me who is a natural born list maker will really get this part of the book.) 

Secondly, some of the book is presented as an interview but we only see the answers and not the questions. I know that sounds a little strange but it really does work and  helps us to understand more about Ona and the boy.

Thirdly, the rest of the book is in prose form and is completely engaging.

The characters are all very well rounded, from the 104 year old Ona to the eleven year old boy. It is the story of the unlikely friendship between these two individuals and the families in which they each belong. But it is about so much more - it's about love, friendship and grief and it made me laugh out loud and cry at the same time. It is deeply moving and I think it will stay with me for a long time.

This book is due to be published on 5th April 2016 here in the UK and I encourage you to pre-order this from your favourite bookseller as it will not disappoint. It is a fantastic read from Ms Wood and whose back canon I am now determined to read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys excellent writing.

ISBN:  978-1472228352

Publisher: Headline Review

About the Author

Monica Wood is the author of four works of fiction, most recently Any Bitter Thing, which spent 21 weeks on the American Booksellers Association extended bestseller list and was named a Book Sense Top Ten pick. Her other fiction includes Ernie’s Ark and My Only Story, a finalist for the Kate Chopin Award.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Happy Easter

I just wanted to wish those of you who celebrate Easter a happy and restful few days.

I have been a little quiet on the blog recently. I have been on a lovely holiday with family to Somerset. What a beautiful part of the country it is. We were surrounded by farmland and woke in the mornings to the gentle sounds of sheep bleating and cows mooing. It was wonderful and an opportunity to catch up with family members who have been overseas for a while.

I managed to get in some decent reading times and I will be back with reviews on The Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths and the soon to be published The One in  a Million Boy by Monica Wood. Both excellent books that I am looking forward to sharing with you.

In the meantime, I send you all good wishes for the Easter holiday.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

London, 1931. When controversial artist, Nick Bassington-Hope, is found dead the police believe it is an open and shut case and his death from a fall is recorded as 'accidental'. But his sister is not convinced, so she turns to Maisie Dobbs for help, drawn by the investigator's growing reputation for her unique methods of solving crimes.

Moving from the desolate beaches of the English coast to the dark underbelly of post war London, and full of intriguing characters, Maisie's new investigation entertains and enthralls at every turn.

I am enjoying reading the Maisie Dobbs series. I have previously read the first in the series, Maisie Dobbs, followed by Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies and now the fourth in the series, Messenger of Truth.

They have each brought a different story to the table and an opportunity to spend time with Maisie and the ever loyal, Billy Beale, is not one to be passed up. As ever, the characters are well portrayed and 1930's London well brought to life.

However, plotwise, I found this the least engaging of the four books as the story just didn't seem to have the air of mystery that the previous books have had.

Despite the fact that this was the weaker of the four novels I will be going on to read the next in the series and hope that it is a little more exciting than this one was.

ISBN:  978-0719568640

Publisher: John Murray

About the author:

Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education and in marketing communications in the UK.

She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal / professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer.

A regular contributor to journals covering international education, Jacqueline has published articles in women's magazines and has also recorded her essays for KQED radio in San Francisco. She currently divides her time between Ojai and the San Francisco Bay Area and is a regular visitor to the United Kingdom and Europe.

Jacqueline is the author of the New York Times bestsellers A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, and other nationally bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex,and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for best novel and was a New York TimesNotable Book.