December Picks

TheKingsSister_HBO’Brien, Anne (2014) The King’s Sister.  Harlequin Mira.  Daughter of John of Gaunt, and sister to Henry IV, Plantagenet princess Elizabeth of Lancaster was brought up to be a royal pawn. In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything, yet Elizabeth rejects a strategic marriage and marries the ruthlessly charming Sir John Holland, half brother to Richard II. Her defiance comes at a price – betray her family or condemn her husband.  An intriguing and enjoyable medieval romance about one of the silent women of history.  Rating: 8/10.

The Readers of Broken WheelBivald, Katarina (2015) The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, translated from the Swedish. Chatto & Windus. Sara leaves her native Sweden to visit her friend Amy in the run-down town of Broken Wheel, in Iowa. Amy and Sara have bonded over books in an exchange of letters. The only problem is, Amy has died. The eccentric people of Broken Wheel rally around Sara and install her in Amy’s home, and support her as she opens a bookshop with Amy’s books. This story is about community, and belonging and being needed.  Although it has a number of imperfections it is one of those quirky little tales that grabs you and holds you until the end. Delightful pleasure.  Rating: 8.5/10.

First LadyPurnell, Sonia (2015) First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill.  Aurum Press. Clementine Hozier’s aristocratic upbringing was far from happy and when she married Winston Churchill she found a partner as emotionally damaged as herself.  Yet their partnership was enduring and historically significant in that “Clemmie”, with no political status of her own, was able to fashion a role of power and influence, unthinkable for a prime minister’s spouse today. Her significant contribution, during Britain’s greatest crisis, has been largely ignored and forgotten. Purnell’s revisionist biography seeks to recover the memory of a remarkable woman. Notable.  Rating: 9/10.

ExO organizationsIsmail, Salim (2014) Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it). Diversion Books. The Exponential Organization is a new breed of organisation that accelerates growth by using technology.  The ExO model eliminates the incremental and linear way that companies have traditionally grown by harnessing design thinking to construct an enterprise that is agile, adept, innovative and transformative. A guide that promotes the philosophy of the Singularity University.  Must read for entrepreneurs and organisations facing disruption.  Rating: 8.5/10.

Season of Salt & honeyTunnicliffe, Hannah (2015) Season of Salt and Honey.  Touchstone. When her fiancé Alex dies suddenly Frankie runs away to his secluded cabin in the Cascade Mountains to grieve in peace. Unfortunately the outside world and her large extended Italian family constantly intrude, turning her solace into a farce. Tale of love and loss, with recipes, by a New Zealand-based author.  Rating: 7.5/10.

Forbidden QueenO’Brien, Anne (2013) The Forbidden Queen.  Harlequin Mira. In 1415 Katherine de Valois marries the hero of Agincourt, King Henry V, to seal the throne of France for the English. As a political pawn she is powerless, destined to be a model of purity and decorum, as consort and later as Dowager Queen and the King’s mother, forbidden by an act of parliament to remarry. Nevertheless Katherine enters into a relationship with Welshman Owen Tudor, thus launching the famous Tudor dynasty. Enjoyable tale about another silent woman of history.  Rating: 7.5/10.

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