Sunshine Coast locals provide July’s Book Reviews August 22, 2016 – Posted in: Blog

Locals provide July’s Book reviews

July’s Book review group bring us insight into Historical fiction, teen action, glorious and sometimes difficult fiction, and plenty of fantasy to keep things interesting. Look out for next month reviews very soon.

Historical Fiction: In the Month of the Midnight Sun by Cecilia Ekback

Publication date:  June 2016

Historical Fiction on the Sunshine Coast

The setting is well into the high latitudes of northern Sweden in Lapland, home of Europe’s only indigenous people, the Sami.  Some have embraced Christianity, some still defer to the mystical ways of their Spirit Gods and the separatist nature of this underpins the air of mistrust and religious arrogance that is the backdrop of the story.

Magnus, a mining engineer working for the Swedish Mines Dept, is ostensibly sent by the Minister to survey a remote but vital part of the Lap region that may be of mineral value. But on a discreet level is instructed to enquire into an incident that has occurred in a nearby settlement. The expedition is made more difficult by the Minister also insisting that his daughter, Magnus’s sister in law, accompany him for the journey, as a punishment for having displeased him. Sven’s loyalty to the Minister, a strong father figure to him is tested but he agrees to his instructions and sets off on the mission out of the sophisticated city, up the coast and across country, with a petulant young woman for company.

Events that unfold when they reach the settlement keep the reader engrossed as the plot unfolds in the intrigue and then revelation of a dark secret that directly relates to Sven’s mother and his early life. The events take place during June, the month of the midnight sun, when a strange but compelling sunlight disorient the body’s natural cycles with sleep deprivation adding to the complex mix of elements at work.

This is a story told by a collective of first person narrators including members of the Sami. As a result, it can be a little difficult to follow at first, but the author weaves a craft of self talk that helps identify the character and their perspective of the events at hand.

The second book published by Cecilia Ekback, after “Wolf Winter”, a pioneer of the genre – Nordic noir. Recommended to readers looking to better understand the complexities of western culture and religion introduced to indigenous people that have embraced spiritual and mystical ways for centuries.

Teens: Black by Fleur Ferris

Teen Fiction on the Sunshine Coast

Publication date: 27 June 2016

The novel has a simplistic writing technique the vocabulary is quite basic. The storyline was quite intriguing and I was continuously captivated to read further on. The speculation that Ebony Marshall is foreshadowed by a curse is fascinating and makes the protagonist a mysterious and absorbing character. It’s a good teen/ young adult read attracting this audience through the endless mystery, curse, fear, gossip and romance. The novel is engaging and would sell well to the targeted audience.

World War Fiction: A Hero in France by Alan Furst

Publication date: Jun 14, 2016

World War Fiction on the Sunshine Coast

I found this book to be an easy read as well as a good read. The hero, Michel, is a resistance cell leader whose life is forever in danger. There are many scenarios in this book which all come together well. Alan Furst has written many books and has been referred to “the master of Espionage” in the same league as Le Carre. Some of his other books include Midnight in Europe, Mission to Paris and Spies of the Balkans

Australian Young Adult: The Road to Winter By Mark Smith

Publication date: Jun 14, 2016

Australian Young Adult on the Sunshine Coast

Set in a small coastal town in Victoria, this book is about Finn, a 16 year old boy with a speech impediment, who has survived a deadly virus outbreak which leaves only himself and one other adult male called Ray alive in his town. Because of his speech problem which made him the subject of teasing, Finn is resilient and used to spending time alone. With only his dog for company and occasional trades with Ray, he has survived 2 winters, living in a seaside hut, fishing and trapping animals to supplement his stores.

Groups of men called Wilders roam the country which is in anarchy, pillaging and killing. Finn meets an afghani girl who is fleeing the Wilders. She and her sister are asylum seekers who have been enslaved. The story progresses as they travel to find her sister and avoid the Wilders. The book is aimed at young adults, I would not recommend it for teens because of the undertones of murder and rape and enslavement. I found it an enjoyable read. It reminded me of some of Tim Winton’s writing because of the coastal theme, the descriptions of the Australian Bush and Seaside and mateship. Mark smith lives on Victoria’s surf coast and writes and runs outdoor education programs for young adults

Fiction: The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old

Fiction on the Sunshine Coast

Graeme Simpson, the author also wrote the Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect. Hendrik is resident of an aged care home in Amsterdam. Frustrated with the monotony of the daily routine of tea and biscuits and attempts by somewhat dictatorial manager to keep the resident in their routine, he decides to write a daily diary entry for one year. Hendrik and his friend Evert try to buck the system at times, they are bored with the routine and seemingly waiting to die. This changes when a new lady resident Eefje arrives. She is the spark in his life that Hendrik has long been looking for. As a result, the old But not Dead Club forms. They go on outings and have a lot of fun but there is also sadness as age and infirmities get in the way.

As a nurse and daughter of ageing parent I related to many of the incidents and in the book, funny and sad ranging from incontinence pads, mobility aids and euthanasia. I laughed out loud many times. I recommend it as a very funny light read.

 Fiction: Why Did You Lie? By Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Fiction on the Sunshine Coast

Publication date: August 11th 2016

Mixed feeling on this book – Yrsa can certainly put pen to paper and produce a good story but it unfortunately left me unsatisfied at the end. It feels as though a sequel could be a method of ending events which to my mind are left unexplained. For example, the motivation behind the numerous murders completely escapes me – notwithstanding, to possess even a fraction of her writing skills would be thrilling. Mention should be made of Victoria Cribb’s skill and accuracy in translating the text.

Fantasy: The shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

Publication date: July 12th 2016

Fantasy books on the Sunshine Coast

Testament that age is no barrier to changing what you love to read. The lady who reviewed this is 70 and had never read fantasy before.

Not a book I would generally choose to read after absorbing the back cover review, but as the author and my daughter share the same name it was inevitable I give it a go and how pleased I am that it was remarkably engrossing read.

The Shadow Hour is the second book of a trilogy of magic and adventure – to have read the first book “the Girl at Midnight” would have been advantageous. Whilst the story stands up well on its own, it would probably have been enhanced by the tale of how the heroine, Echo, forsakes her human origins to embrace the role of the Firebird who is hopefully a peacemaker.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the book had a wide appeal to the younger reader, although I enjoyed it immensely and I am not in the range of “younger reader”. What skill to have created a book of this genre which will probably appeal to such diverse readers. Full of magic and spells it’s a good escapist book. Apparently the third book in the series is due early 2017. I will be on the lookout.

Fantasy: The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

Publication date: July  2016

Fantasy books on the Sunshine Coast

Fantasy: The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

Just finished this book as a proof advanced copy for my wife’s bookshop. Read it cover to cover almost non stop. Great writing style. Action from start to finish. Great characters. Supposed to be for young adult, I would say 15+.

The story is about the fairy world and ours, but there are no good fairies in this book.

I would recommend this to anyone adult or young adult with an interest in fantasy or adventure. Hope to see more from this author.