Hamilton, Alwyn (2017) Traitor to the Throne. Faber & Faber. In the second instalment of Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands saga Demdji-girl Amani is kidnapped and held prisoner in the Sultan’s Palace. Here she is forced to return to her desert cunning in her attempt to bring the tyrant down. As the quest to liberate Miraji continues the complex web of intrigue, deceit, and sacrifice adds to the underlying romance of this action-packed story. Exciting YA tale – join the rebellion! Rating: 7.5/10.
Norton, Graham (2016) Holding. Hodder & Stoughton. Duneen is a remote west Cork village where life is quiet, until one day human remains are found on an old farm. As Sergeant PJ Collins struggles to solve his first genuine case the village’s past begins to unravel. Hidden secrets and melancholy come to the surface. Norton introduces a cast of quirky characters full of contradiction and pathos in this nicely constructed plot. A charming and original debut. Put preconceptions aside – Norton surprises. Rating: 8.5/10.
Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher (2017) A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870. Knopf. Ulrich provides a narrative of the lives of women in the earliest days of Mormonism, using letters, artefacts, minute books, albums and quilts. These women left behind conventional lives to establish a new Zion in the American West where they sought political and economic freedom, whilst defending patriarchal marital rights. The women called themselves plural wives and it was their radicalism that enabled the religious movement to flourish. The wives were strong advocates for women’s suffrage and won the right to vote in Utah in 1870, ahead of anywhere else in the world. Fulsome social history and an insightful exploration of marriage, family and faith, by a Pulitzer Prize winning historian. Rating: 9/10.
Delaney, J P (2017) The Girl Before. Ballantine. Answering an advertisement for a dream apartment draws Emma and Jane into an intrusive world with devastating consequences. One Folgate Street is an architectural masterpiece of minimalist design, plate glass and soaring ceilings, but there are rules. The enigmatic architect dictates how occupants are to live in the space – is it possible to live with such restrictions? A riveting psychological thriller about good fortune, control and duplicity. Rating: 8/10.
Dickinson, Amy (2017) Strangers tend to tell me things. Hachette. Amy Dickinson, syndicated advice columnist “Ask Amy”, moves home from the big smoke to her small hometown of Freeville, NY. In this memoir Amy exposes the life behind the advice she gives to others, as she takes on the challenges of own history, family and home, meets the love of her life, and becomes a stepmother. While she is known as the woman with all the answers, her wisdom has come from her own personal experiences. Touchingly told with candour and humour – very human. Rating: 8.5/10.
Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2016) The Romanovs: 1613-1918. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. This chronicle of the last twenty Russian tsars and tsarinas is history at it best. It narrates remarkable and sordid tales of ambition, brutality, tragedy and decadence, interweaving the personal with the political. It is a story of empire. Although an epic that has been told many times this retelling is compelling in its breathtaking depth, literary flair and scholarship. Magnificent. Rating: 9/10.