This was a delightful book to start the New Year. Many threads of stories, all woven into one satisfying novel. Two different eras collide in this narrative. In 1985 Boston, Rory (Aurora) has a difficult relationship with her mother, while grieving for her doctor fiance Hux who has been kidnapped while volunteering in South Sudan. She still has no idea, months later, if he's even alive. But one day she comes across an empty shop which seems to be ideal for the art gallery she had dreamed of with Hux. It seems to be a message that life has to go on. It brings her into contact with Soline, a French woman who emigrated to the US after World War II. Soline also has a burdensome past, a lost love, grief and pain. Somehow the two women from different generations and continents form a tentative bond, little knowing how their relationship will begin to unfold. A novel full of emotion, history, and even a touch of magic.
Jeff Wheeler - The Buried World (The Grave Kingdom Book II)
This is the second book in a trilogy by this writer of fantasy books for young adults. I find his imagination fascinating, the stories he weaves drawing me in. His previous series have been set in Medieval style worlds, including characters with and without magic powers. This series is different, founded on a history inspired by ancient China. The main character, Bingmei, is a teenage girl who has unusual pale skin and white hair, which turned to a fiery red colour at the end of book 1 in the trilogy. She also has a secret power - she can smell people's emotions, and so knows when they are genuine or lying. She's now the leader of a small band of warriors, all skilled in martial arts. Unwittingly she released a powerful dictator of monstrous evil on the world, but she is too fearful to go beyond the Death Wall (which is imagined on Great Wall of China) and give up her life to save the world. But in this book, Bingmei continues to fight evil magic, dragons, and the killing fog, and begins to see that her heart must lead her to places she previously feared. I enjoyed this volume much more than the first in the series, The Killing Fog, and found it very exciting. I'm looking forward to reading book III.
Faith Hogan - The Ladies' Midnight Swimming Club
A novel about three women who come together at a time of great change for each of them. Joy lives in a small Irish coastal village, where she takes comfort in her night time swims in the sea. Her friend Elizabeth has jut lost her husband, who was the local GP. She's burdened with worries about what the future will hold for her, alone in a large, run-down house. She's beginning to discover unpleasant secrets that her husband had been concealing from her, which will affect her future. Joy's daughter Lucy has undergone a painful divorce, and comes to stay for a while, along with her teenage son, Niall, who's having trouble finding himself. When both Lucy and Elizabeth join Joy in her nocturnal swimming, the three women bond over past problems and find courage to face up to those that wait for them. Revelations abound in this tender and beautifully written novel. Riveting.