All the Broken Places by John Boyne
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It may be fair to suggest that The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas occupies a special place within the myriad fiction that has been written about the atrocities of that particularly awful period of history. Certainly, it is fair to say that as a profoundly memorable story, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas had an enormous impact on the world – and now the story continues with this gripping, beautiful sequel. All the Broken Places grapples sensitively and compellingly with the very personal fallout of the story that preceded it. And the results are certainly not to be missed.
In 1946, having endured, and emotionally participated in, unimaginable horrors, a mother and daughter flee Poland, hoping to get to Paris, hoping to somehow put the past behind them and to forge completely new identities and lives. If this is to happen, it is paramount that nobody knows who they are and what part they did (or did not) play in the horrors of Auschwitz.
Almost eighty years later, Gretel Fernsby lives a life far removed from the trials of her childhood. In her nineties, still bright and still sharp, she lives a comfortable life in a luxury apartment block in London. But she is nonetheless burdened by a secret she has had to shoulder for far too long. Hers is a quiet life… until a new couple moves into the apartment beneath her. This is hardly a terrible thing, but the appearance of the couple’s young son, Henry, brings her traumatic past roaring back into view. He unsettles her, she is concerned about his safety, but to reveal this would be to risk revealing herself and her past in a way she may be unable to bear. Because where does culpability really lie and how many of the sins of others can one person be compelled to carry?
With great insight, ingenious characterisation and all the gifts for which John Boyne is rightly celebrated All the Broken Places returns us to a place that can really never be made too much sense of.
The High Notes by Danielle Steel
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An inspiring tale of what it takes to find the strength to pursue your own dreams, The High Notes sees the legendary novelist in fine form.
Iris Cooper has a gift. She has been singing for her entire life, and nobody can hit the high notes like she can. She was just twelve when her father convinced a bar owner to let her play, and the two of them have been travelling from one run downtown to the next, her passion and dedication to her music increasing with every performance.
But this is not the life she wants. With her father in charge, what little money they make is quickly squandered and when she finally gets her own manager, he exploits her too. The musicians and bandmates she met on the way, however, finally convince her to strike out on her own, to really seek out the heights she knows she can reach. Her talent blossoms but, having endured the abuses and hardships of an undervalued life on the road, every step toward the top is a fight.
Next in Line by Jeffrey Archer
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The fifth book in the series sees William Warwick plunged into a situation of unusual sensitivity. It is 1988 and Britain is in the grip of Royal Fever. Princess Diana is at the height of her popularity and the country’s most famous family has never seen more attention. The Royalty Protection Command – a unit set up to ensure the safety of the royals certainly has its work cut out… and some doubt their ability to perform. And so, DCI William Warwick and his team are sent in to investigate this most crucial outfit. Anything less than perfection could cost the country dearly. Especially when an unchecked group has set its nefarious sights on one royal in particular.
Brilliantly conjuring an intense period of British history and deftly weaving together multiple plot threads – including the presence of an old foe – Next in Line is a treat for anyone who values skilled storytelling and is especially tantalising for those interested in the British monarchy.
Dreamland by Nicholas Sparks
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Set over the course of one unforgettable week, Dreamland treats us to a dose of heady first love the likes of which only Sparks can provide.
Colby always had ambitions of a flourishing musical career. And he might have gotten there too, had tragedy not curbed his plans. Now he manages his small family farm and music has had to take a back seat. But a slight reprieve is offered when he agrees to play a gig at a small bar in Florida. There he meets Morgan.
Morgan too is committed to the life of a music star. She is headed for Nashville. Meeting Colby is unexpected, but she cannot deny the draw she feels. Colby too, quickly starts to wonder whether his humdrum responsibilities should be allowed to rule his life.
Meanwhile, Beverly and her six-year-old son are fleeing an abusive husband, looking for somewhere out of the way that they might be able to make home. The journey seems near impossible, and everything is about to be changed by one fateful decision.
As the lives of these three people improbably intersect, each of them is forced to figure out whether the past is truly escapable and whether their dreams can endure.
Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult
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Picoult continues to demonstrate her knack for conjuring tough decisions and complex pasts with this new tale of secrets and sacrifice.
Olivia McAfee thought she had the perfect life. Married to a successful surgeon and raising a beautiful son, Asher, she thought everything was as it should be. Until her husband revealed a terrifying dark side and she was forced to return to her New Hampshire hometown to attempt a fresh start.
Lily Campanello also knows what it is to start again. She and her mom have just relocated to a sleepy town in New Hampshire, where she means to finish her final year of high school. It is not long, however, before Lily meets Olivia’s son Asher. They fall for each other, and the romance brings with it more happiness than Lily can remember. But can she trust him completely?
When Olivia receives a phone call informing her of a horrible tragedy, her fresh start is completely shattered. Lily has been killed and Asher is being questioned by the police. She knows her son is innocent… but she also knows that he may be hiding his father’s violent temper. As events are pieced together, Olivia is forced to wonder whether she really knows her son at all.