January Picks

life-in-partsCranston, Bryan (2016) A life in parts. Scribner. In this engaging memoir Bryan Cranston explores the many parts he has played in his life – from abandoned son, paperboy, farmhand, dockhand, jobbing actor to gifted storyteller and much lauded “star”. He has applied life’s learnings to shaping his craft and building a career. In the account of his most memorable role, as Walter White in Breaking Bad, he tells of how he explored his personal darkness to create this award-winning character. Humble and intimate insights into his actor’s mindset. Rating: 8.5/10.

fate-of-the-tearlingJohansen, Erika (2016) The Fate of the Tearling. Harper.  In the conclusion to the Tearling trilogy we find Queen Kelsea a prisoner of the evil Red Queen, her kingdom besieged. As the endgame begins Kelsea must unravel the secrets of her own heritage and the Tearling’s past to end the fear and corruption that has been plaguing her realm. The resolution when it comes is unexpected. Was it all dream? Vague and unsatisfactory – failed to deliver on promise. Rating: 7/10.

the-trespasserFrench, Tana (2016) The Trespasser. Hodder & Stoughton.  When Antoinette Conway and her partner Stephen Moran, detectives in Dublin’s Murder Squad, are allocated a new case it seems initially to be an open and shut lovers’ tiff.  However, when Antoinette looks into the face of the victim she realises she has seem her somewhere before.  With painstaking precision, against all interference, the detectives piece together a case with a very different outcome.  Knife edge complexity and detail – unputdownable. Rating: 8.5/10.

my-name-is-lucy-bartonStrout, Elizabeth (2016) My name is Lucy Barton. Viking. From Lucy’s hospital bed we are drawn into the emotional complexity of family life. A visit from her estranged mother forces Lucy to confront the memories of her impoverished childhood, awakening her to the facade of her New York life and marriage. As Lucy endeavours to make sense of her story, with the benefit of hindsight, we confront the vagaries of memory and the emotional truths of relationships. At the heart of this novel is the often complicated and complex love between mothers and daughters. Compassionate story told with wisdom and integrity.  Powerful. Rating: 9/10.

my-kitchen-yearReichl, Ruth (2015) My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that saved my life. Random House. When Gourmet magazine was abruptly closed in 2009 Reichl’s 10 years as editor came to an end. As she grieved her passion for food shook her out of the doldrums. Part cookbook, part personal narrative, Ruth shares her food journey over four seasons. Where once she was all about encouraging people to eat at restaurants, Reichl’s primary goal now is to get people to cook at home – My Kitchen Year begins this campaign. Warmly engaging. Rating: 8/10.

kick-kennedy-435Leaming, Barbara (2016) Kick Kennedy: The charmed life and tragic death of the favourite Kennedy Daughter. St Martin’s Press. Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, of the fabled Kennedy family, was her father’s acknowledged “favourite”. Kick came of age in the decadent world of the English aristocracy – the world of dukes and duchesses, country house weekends and wild rich boys, when her father was the American ambassador to Court of St James. Kick was charming and different and soon won the heart of Billy, the heir to Duke of Devonshire, but there was to be no happily-ever-after. A tragic story of love and loss, set within the social and political framework of wartime Britain.  This solidly researched biography is drawn from extensive conversations with many of the key players. Fascinating. Rating: 8.5/10.

evelyn-afterStone, Victoria Helen (2016) Evelyn, After. Lake Union. Evelyn’s tidy world is turned upside down when late one night she receives an urgent call from her psychiatrist husband because he’s driven his car into a ditch. Evelyn rushes to the rescue. But he is not alone. The overwhelming events of this evening demands Evelyn’s silence and sets her on an obsessive path, yearning for revenge.  What will become of her when her rage dies out? Compelling. Rating: 7.5/10.

vanishing-yearMoretti, Kate (2016) The Vanishing Year. Atria. After a troubled youth Zoe is now leading a comfortable life. Married to a Wall Street tycoon she feels loved and safe. Suddenly her secrets begin to spill out and threaten her future. As the past and present collide she must decide how much of her past she can share with her husband.  Slow to start, although gathers pace later in novel, with a chilling twist. Forgettable. Rating: 7/10.


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