This week's reads

I've been so ridiculously busy the past month or so, with exam season here in the UK making school and home frantic, plus of course the publication of Under An Amber Sky https://goo.gl/yK9KXL at the end of May. Something had to give and it's been my blog; I simply haven't had the energy to write anything or, quite frankly, the ideas. My mind has been a blank! However, no matter what is going on I always manage to read a few pages or chapters before I go to sleep at night so I thought I'd do a round-up of the most recent reads.

I saw The One by John Marrs mentioned on The Book Club on Facebook and I thought it sounded interesting. When I discovered that it was #1 in books/genetic engineering on Amazon, I was so intrigued that I immediately bought it and started to read. Well, what can I say? It's an utterly preposterous but thoroughly enjoyable read. Nothing in it is remotely believable, from the central premise itself - if everyone had one match only in the whole world, what are the chances of living in the same town as that person? Surely nil? - to the characters, the characters' bizarre actions, and the non-ending. It passes a few hours in a completely unchallenging way and there's nothing wrong in that, but don't expect enlightenment.

I absolutely loved Across the Mekong River. The descriptions of the life of the Hmong hill

tribes in the forests of Laos were amazing; their customs, traditions, clothing, food all enthralled. The terrible circumstances in which the extended family the book follows were forced to flee for their lives to Thailand are emotionally told and harrowing. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it is for people broken in so many ways to find the strength and courage to carry on and build new lives, especially as, when they finally get to America, they end up in Minneapolis, surely about as different from their homeland as it's possible to get. However, the one let-down about this book is when I discovered that it's not a true story. I'm sure it's representative of the journey of many Hmong, but somehow it would have touched me even more than it did if I knew that there was a real Laura Lee out there somewhere, building a life after having survived so much hardship. A really fantastic read, nevertheless.

I read Rosamunde Pilcher's Sleeping Tiger and absolutely loved it so I sought out more of her work. I think I must have read her books at some stage in my life but they had faded out of my memory. I bought The Shell Seekers on the strength of the blurb and the promise inherent in the fact that it is her bestseller. Unfortunately, I have to confess to being deeply disappointed. I thought several times about giving up on it but I forced myself on to the rather lacklustre ending. I found the book rambling, the plot too disparate, the characters too disconnected with each other and with me. It went on and on and down numerous segues and I wasn't at all sure why I was reading it or what the point of it all was. I found it populated by not very interesting or pleasant characters and I simply couldn't really care about any of them.

If you are interested in trying this author, I would much more highly recommend Sleeping Tiger. This is a short, simple, self-contained and life-affirming read - and the good news is, if you don't like it, you'll only have spent an hour or two on it, rather then the eternity it took me to finish The Shell Seekers.

There is much to love in Sheena Lambert's The Lake. I found the characters entrancing and believable, the setting charming and beautifully described and the story intriguing. The plot drew me in and I enjoyed every moment of what I read.

And then it stopped.

And this is the potential problem with ebooks. It's impossible to tell how long a book is when you choose it, unless you can be bothered to go into the details and find out how many pages it is etc, which I can't and don't. I had no idea that this novel was so short - a novella, really - and I was just starting to get really into it when it was all over! (Where have you heard that before? Phenar, phenar.)

Nevertheless, a super read with a gentle 'thriller' twist.

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