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Wine, Books & More Recommended Reading: Part 1

Wine Books More Feb 23

Wine, Books & and More meet once a month on a Tuesday evening at Hastings Library. Here's what they read in recent weeks, their recommendations and even one or two disappointments.(Click on the titles for links to the Catalogue; an asterisk means the book in not currently in the library.) 

Lydia by Natasha Farrant
Sometimes you need a bit of mindless fluff, which Lydia delivers in spades. If you recall, Lydia was the youngest Bennett sister in Jane Austen’s eternally popular Pride and Prejudice - the naughty one who ran off with the roguish George Wickham. This is her story in diary format and our reader gave the book a whopping five stars.*

Her Majesty’s Royal Coven by Juno Dawson
From period fiction to fantasy, here’s another five-star read. Four young witches join a coven set up by Elizabeth I - a covert government department. Decades later, Helena is the head of the coven, while the other three are immersed in ordinary life. A crisis has Helena calling on her old friends for help. The first in a cracking new series.

Seasparrow by Kristin Cashmore
Here we have Book 5 in the brilliant Graceling Realm fantasy series. In this world, people born with a special skill, or grace, are feared and even exploited. This book has shipwrecks, a secret formula and a dangerous trek, so never a dull moment. Our reader recommends the full series, which is extremely well-written and best read in order.

The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama
The first non-fiction book of the crop, this is a classic reprinted, that apparently started a whole genre of happiness books and is thought to be the ‘cornerstone of the field of positive psychology’. It shows you how to defeat those everyday situations where anxiety, self-doubt and insecurity crop up and how to find inner peace.* 

The Happiest Man on Earth – Eddie Jaku
From another inspirational writer who has defeated a horrific situation, here we have a biography about a German Jew in the concentration camps who survived the war. Eddie Jaku wrote this when he was around 100 years old and describes how he decided to be happy, in spite of appalling hardship and loss. Our reader couldn’t put it down and highly recommends it.

The Last Dress from Paris by Jade Beer
An intergenerational story which begins with young Lucille popping over to France to retrieve a priceless Dior dress for her grandmother, Alice, who was at one time the wife of the British Ambassador. A story of family secrets, glamour and intrigue, with some fabulous haute couture thrown in. A nice read says our reviewer.

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
Who doesn’t love a good war story. Anna Emmerich, along with what remains of her family, flees across Germany at the end of World War II, ahead of the advancing Soviet Army. There are subplots about Uri Singer, a Jewish man on the run, as well as Cecile, who is one of a group from a concentration camp forced to march by their captors ahead of the Russian troops. A really interesting, four star read.

Her by Garry Disher
We’ve heard a lot of good things about Garry Disher’s new series about country policeman, Paul Hirschhausen, but this stand-alone novel didn’t appeal. Set in Australia in 1909, a scrap man buys a young girl for a few shillings. The story follows her ensuing oppression and her dreams of her escape. Disappointing.

Silenced by Kristina Ohlsson
Three apparently unconnected crimes: a sexual assault fifteen years previously, the present-day death of a man in a hit and run, what looks like the suicide of a priest and his wife. Something will connect all three and it’s up to Swedish cop Fredrika Bergman to find out what. A really good mystery for Scandi-Noir fans.

Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss
This was a little slow getting into but was ultimately satisfying, following what happens when a couple are separated after six months’ of marriage - Tom to Japan to build lighthouses while Ally is in Truro, Cornwall, where she works in an asylum. Set in the 1800s, it’s an interesting historical read.

WBM Part 1 Covers 2

Upgrade by Blake Crouch
Another mind-bending thriller from the author that brought us the Wayward Pines books. Upgrade is set in the future and follows an ordinary man who is genetically altered to become potentially something other than human. Our reader says you have to suspend disbelief, but this is a good diversion from ordinary life. 3 stars

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten
This is the second book about 88-year-old Maud, who has no scruples about bumping off people she feels deserve it. You get a bunch of stories that come together in a small, engaging and redemptive read. The author takes a break from her usually run of Scandi-Noir with this quirky series that’s well worth checking out.

All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
Dipping into some magic-realism, the novel follows Molly Hook, the grave-digger’s daughter, as the bombs rain down on Darwin in 1942. Molly goes on the run with two unlikely companions to Australia’s northern monsoon country on a strange mission. Pretty good, said our reader; it really carried you along.


21 February 2023

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