Just like one’s New Year Resolutions I intended to write up my review immediately after a book or story was read, only to end up six or seven books later and no review. My reading material is electronic, as there book shops are not near and the post is often slow. Admittedly the physical book and its cover stimulates the brain to remember the story, but alas this isn’t always the case with e-books. The first few pages have to be reread before the story comes hurtling back.
After a busy day there are times when I like to read a simple, straight forward book at bedtime. Cozy mysteries fall into this category, like ‘Murder on the SS Rosy by Lee Strauss’ or books by Rosie Hunt, her Lady Felicity quick mystery books. Admittedly sometimes the endings are easy to guess, but the reading has helped to quieten the brain, so sleep is nigh. Object achieved.
Sometimes though I embark on stories based on fact or history. These can keep me reading way past the allotted sleep time, such as ‘The Jade Dragon’ by Garett Hutson and ‘The clockmaker’s secret’ by Jack Benton.
The Jade Dragon is an engaging murder mystery taking place in old Shanghai in the 1935’s when it is at peace from the Japanese, although tremors are rumbling below the surface. Doug Bainbridge is a recruit for the American Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) already conversant in Mandarin and Cantonese. He is tasked with getting to know the area and in learning the local Chinese dialects.
The clockmaker’s secret is a gripping mystery that unfolds at the very end. The story describes Slim, a recovering alcoholic’s futile attempts of resistance whilst trying to piece together the puzzle. Set in the bleak Bodmin moor, in a small village, where everybody knows everyone’s secrets, he digs into their pasts to discover the answers.
One nice thing about starting a book is you don’t know the end, unless you are one of those people who have to read the last chapter. Some books are deceptive as although the story appears uncomplicated it leaves you thinking. Stories like ‘Felicia’s journey’ by William Trevor, ‘They said I couldn’t do it’ based on the black lawyer John Mercer Langston by Robyn R Pearce, ‘The Soul of a shoemaker’ by Susan Cork, ‘Shadow of the Taj’ by Lara Bernhardt and ‘Among Kings’ by Joey O’Connor.
Laura T Frey, a Canadian author and avid reader, read William Trevor’s book ‘Felicia’s Journey and saw the film. Her blog compared the two and queried the differences. I agree with her findings and endorse her request to read the book. It has so much more to offer.
Ailish Sinclair writes stories based on some historical event such as her book ‘Fireflies and Chocolate’, which was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. She stated in her blog that she “wanted to bring those people from the past to life, to make them human and relatable. But, wouldn’t it be too depressing to open the door to those particular historical events?”
Recently I offered to read a draft of a story that was based on facts. Apart from the usual grammatical and typing errors, I was asked to comment on how the story flowed, was there enough conflict between characters, did the characters feel real and so forth. In addition because of the factual base and my ignorance of these details, I also started researching and checking their validity. It emphasized the amount of research authors writing stories based on facts have to do to present a valid and believable story.