Welcome to the first Mobile Library Reading Group blog! As all our members are based in different places we only meet up once a year. We read a selection of books during the year and up until now we have communicated with each other in between meetings by sending each other book reviews on paper. Now this new Library of Birmingham website has been launched we're going to try something different - sharing our book reviews online! We hope you will enjoy them - please add your reviews to the comments section of this blog post. We'd love to hear your thoughts whether you are a member of our group or not.
The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey
Reviewed by Su
Set in 1920s Alaska and based on a Russian fairy tale, a middle aged couple make a fresh start in a remote homestead to try and forget the baby they lost 10 years earlier. The mysterious ‘snow child’ who appears on their land becomes their replacement for their lost child and fairy tale and reality become one. The characters are shaped and formed by the harsh extremes of the land and climate and remoteness they encounter. The influence of the snow child softens and enhances the extreme and harsh existence Jack and Mabel encounter. I particularly like Ester – the friend and neighbour who by her generosity, warmth and individuality lights up the story and brings hope and love into Mabel’s life. Very credible, beautifully links the magical mysterious with harsh reality and mundane existence of 1920s Alaska. Yes, it’s hard to put down, so it is a fast page turner, but the story still slowly unfolds at its own stately pace. Very real and believable characters, they remind me that friendships and love don’t always grow where you expect and differences are often what bind people together in love. A wonderfully comfortable novel. It make you aware of how nothing can be planned or decided in advance – that we have no real control over what will happen in our lives, but that what we need usually arrives in some form or other. The ending was just what I would have expected and wanted – some good, some sad, very believable. This is Ivey’s first book – I would rate it 4 stars out of 5 and recommend any follow up books.
VIII - H. M. Castor
Reviewed by Su
The story of King Henry VIII told in the first person and in short easy chapters, Hal is a young gifted prince haunted by his parents' lives and violent pasts, and tormented by his own demons; till his death as Henry VIII. I liked Catherine, his first wife, the widow of his brother, she remains true to herself and her religion and dignified even when cast out and divorced. The book is credible, well researched and full of life with lots of interesting details. It’s a fast page turner and the small chapters help. Being told in first person helps the character to be real and believable, and gives an insight into the feelings of someone alive in this time. I got a better idea of the fear that people lived in for their lives, and the very dangerous threats they faced. I thought it had a good ending, it pointed the way to a long, secure reign through Elizabeth – the outcome Henry wanted, but not in the way he thought it would come about. I would give this book 4 stars out of 5.
Boy A - Jonathan Trigell
Reviewed by Margaret S
Boy A is Jack, one of two young boys who murdered a girl when all three were small children. Having spent most of his life in juvenile institutions, Jack is now about to be released with a new name, new job, new town and a new life. Jack - the main character - is a likable person. He changes throughout the course of the story from a total innocent to be a more typical 24 year old. I liked most of the characters with exception of Zebedee, the son of Terry, Jack’s social worker. Zeb, who was jealous of his father’s relationship with Jack, was the cause of Jack’s downfall. I thought this book was totally credible, Jack comes over as an innocent and despite the horrific crime he committed as a child and it is hard not to feel pity for the adult Jack. It’s not what I would call a page turner but because I felt sympathy for Jack and needed to know what was happening to him, I was rapidly turning the pages! I thought all the characters seemed real and believable. I felt uncomfortable that Jack’s parents seemed totally unaware that he was be bullied at school – as were his teachers. He was regularly truanting but no one (adult) seemed to be aware of this. It was a sad but expected ending I would have liked to be happy and for Jack to have had a positive life. This is the author’s first book and I would rate it 3 stars out of 5.
If you have read any of these books, please add your review below. There will be more book reviews each month and our big meet up will be in the new Library of Birmingham this autumn.