Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Books Read and Listened to in January

Now I have a working netbook again, here's a quick catch up:

The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits
by Emma Donoghue
Published by Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN 13: 9781860499548

'The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits is a book of fictions, but they are also true. Over the last ten years, I have often stumbled over a scrap of history so fascinating that I had to stop whatever I was doing and write a story about it. My sources are the flotsam and jetsam of the last seven hundred years of British and Irish life: surgical case-notes; trial records; a plague ballad; theological pamphlets; a painting of two girls in a garden; an articulated skeleton. Some of the ghosts in this collection have famous names; others were written off as cripples, children, half-breeds, freaks and nobodies. The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits is named for Mary Toft, who in 1726 managed to convince half England that she had done just that. So this book is what I have to show for ten years of sporadic grave-robbing, ferreting out forgotten puzzles and peculiar incidents, asking 'What really happened?', but also, 'What if?'

I spotted this in the library shortly after reading about the events the title story is based on. Sadly it was a bit of a mixed bag, quality-wise, although the histories behind each story were fascinating.

Death at Wentwater Court (Daisy Dalrymple Mystery)
by Carola Dunn
Published by Constable and Robinson
ISBN 13: 9781845298654

No stranger to sprawling country estates, well-heeled Daisy Dalrymple is breaking new ground at Wentwater Court to cover a story for "Town & Country" magazine. But her interview gives way to interrogation when suave Lord Stephen Astwick meets a chilly end on the tranquil skating pond. With evidence that his death was anything but accidental, Daisy joins forces with Scotland Yard so the culprit can't slip through their fingers like the unfortunate Astwick slipped through the ice.

This one was very jolly, and I read it in around a day, then ordered the next in the series (hurrah for Hampshire Libraries!). Daisy has no intention of living at home with her irritating relatives until they can marry her off, and is attempting to carve a career as a society journalist. Visiting a country house during a house party, in order to write about the house, gardens and family, Daisy is not particularly saddened at the death of an obnoxious guest. Her photographs of the scene, however, prove that the death was hardly accidental, and Scotland Yard is called in. Daisy flirts lightly with the Inspector in spite of his lower status, and proves to be rather good at this detecting lark. Some distinctly individual secondary characters all have a part to play too.

Dark Waters
by Gabriella Hewitt
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN: 9781599986067

On a tropical isle, Frankie Montalvo discovers roots to a past she never knew. Tales of witchcraft, missing girls and el chupacabra surround her, but it will take more than superstitions to scare her away. Determined to create her own home, she enlists the help of an enigmatic beach bum.

She doesn’t want to fall for a drifter who will probably break her heart and move on, but when both she and her home are attacked, it’s in Rico’s arms that she finds safety and protection. All she’s ever wanted was to settle down and live life on her own terms, but someone has other plans and Frankie must decide—is Rico her lover or her enemy?

Special Agent Rico Lopez has been to the depths of hell and back. He returns to his native island of Vieques to forget an ICE mission gone wrong only to find himself caught up in the search for a neighbor’s daughter—a victim of the legendary el chupacabra. Paradise has a predator and all leads point to a dilapidated old plantation and its sexy as sin owner. Lying to Frankie is the only way to do his job, but is he protecting her or himself?

As the net around them tightens and their lives are put on the line, he’ll learn the greatest danger he’s ever faced is the risk of losing his heart.

I was very excited to win this one, although I was slightly disappointed when I read it to find it was a lot more of a romance than a mystery. Rico starts off with an investigation he really doesn't want, and then seems to forget about that for most of the story in favour of ogling Frankie, doing odd jobs for Franki, and investigating the various (less urgent) mysteries attached to Frankie's new home. There was also a little too much reliance for angst on problems that could be fixed by characters talking to each other. Having said all that, I liked the setting and the overall cast, and would read other stories in the series if they come out.

No Way Up the Greasy Pole
by Alison Halford
Published by Constable and Robinson
ISBN 13: 9780094723801

The story of the battle of Alison Halford, the first woman to reach the rank of Assistant Chief Constable who, after nine attempts, failed to achieve the further promotion she earnestly desired and believed she deserved.

I ordered this one from the library for research purposes, hoping to find out more about women in the police force in the decades leading up to Halford's ultimate promotion. Sadly for me, the book concentrated on the events detailed in her various court cases after that promotion. I'm still glad to have read it.

Small Island
by Andrea Levy
Published by Headline Publishing Group
ISBN 13: 9780755355952

It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street. London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh's neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but with her husband, Bernard, not back from the war, what else can she do? Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. Gilbert's wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was.

This has been sitting on my To Read pile since the TV adaptation was on. Then I spotted the audio book in the library. So far, so good, but two of the CDs were damaged so I ended up both reading and listening to the story. It's alternately utterly lovely and verging on making me despair of the British. The narrative was captivating, and full of little slices of life. If you enjoyed the adaptation, you'll love the original.
Tags: audio books, ebooks, print books, reviews
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