Jan’s Holiday Reads – January 2016

Red QueenAveyard, Victoria (2015) Red Queen. Orion Books. In a dystopian world divided by blood – red or silver, the magical Silver elite rule over the poor downtrodden Reds. Mare, a seventeen-year-old Red girl, and accomplished thief, is dragged into the Silver world by her own deadly ability, and betrothed to the Silver King’s youngest son. Trapped, Mare decides to bring down the regime from the inside. This young adult novel of fate, danger, betrayal and lies is about retaining power at all costs. First in series. Derivative of fantasy genre. Rating: 7.5/10.

Major PettigrewSimonson, Helen (2010) Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Randon House.  Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired) lives in the village of Edgecombe St Mary, in the English countryside. The Major is a very proper gentleman  of honour and decorum. Following the heartbreak of his younger brother’s death he develops an unexpected and warm friendship with Mrs Ali, the Pakistani village shopkeeper who blends his tea.  As their relationship blossoms will it survive the racism, rigours and rumours of village society?  A lot of fun with never a dull moment. Rating: 8.5/10.

TsarMyers, Steven Lee (2015) The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin. Knopf. This comprehensive biography plots Putin’s rise to power from childhood poverty on the streets of Leningrad to KGB and local government functionary, onto the highest office in Russia and world leader. How this colourless and uncharismatic figure rose to be one of the most formidable men on earth still remains much of a mystery, however Myers’ political examination guides us through the life and times of a man who has consolidated power in his own person and ushered in a new era in Russian politics and identity. Full-bodied and riveting. Rating: 9.5/10.

The ShoreTaylor, Sara (2015) The Shore.  Heinemann. This southern gothic novel is set on a collection of small islands off the coast of Virginia, from the mid 1800s to a post-apocalyptic twenty-second century. The Shore is a series of intergenerational linked stories of poverty, violence, isolation and abandonment.  At the heart of the redemptive tales are fierce and resilient women, who struggle against domestic violence, addiction and a savage environment. Darkly realistic, fluent and courageous debut novel, but not for the faint-hearted. Rating: 9/10.

Future of almost everythingDixon, Patrick (2015) The Future of Almost Everything. Profile Books.  Global change specialist, Patrick Dixon, looks at the trends that are reshaping the way we live now.  His insights are designed to provide individuals and businesses with a purview into a very different world, with tangible and intangible horizons. He strongly articulates that the greatest risk to the future is narrow vision and institutional blindness, and staying ‘futurewise’ is key to shaping your own future. Thought-provoking, very much aligned to the trend analyses of other futurists.   Rating: 8/10.

SpinsterBolick, Kate (2015) Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own.  Crown. Journalist Kate Bolick enjoys being single and invites us to consider the contemporary paradoxes for women in choosing to live alone. She encourages a reclamation of the word “spinster” and explores her own decisions and life goals alongside those of her “five awakeners” – pioneering US literary women with unconventional ideas and choices.  She seeks to set forth a clear vision for all women to know their own hearts and to carve out a little space for their dreams and not be pressured by fear and prevailing cultural norms. An unexpected and idiosyncratic journey. Rating: 8/10.


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