Daphne Kalotay’s — Russian winter *****

Daphne Kalotay’s — Russian winter *****

When Nina was a Russian ballerina, she manages to escape Stalin’s dangerous regime after her artistic friends become victims. In Boston, she buries her past until she decides to sell her jewellery collection. But when an associate from the auction house and a professor of Russian delve into the unique jewellery, they unravel a mystery that changes all their lives.

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Ransom Riggs’ — Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children *****

Ransom Riggs’ — Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children *****

After Jacob’s grandfather’s mysterious death, he and his father travel to a Welsh island. While exploring the island, Jacob accidently stumbles through time where he discovers the peculiar children his grandfather once told him about though at the time, Jacob never believed his stories.

This tale is aimed at YA readers, but I was so enchanted by this adventure, I had to read the entire trilogy. Another positive was that when Jacob is confronted with evil, he doesn’t rely on violence.

Vandana Shiva’s — Biopiracy *****

Vandana Shiva’s — Biopiracy *****

This non-fiction book briefly examines the North’s attitude over the last 500 years. During colonialism the North claimed the rest of the world was empty and theirs to plunder; that nature was a non-entity from which to gain profit.

The focus however, is on the present under globalization and “free” trade agreements and how the North has patented plants and animals from the South in its quest for profit. What has been the impact on societies and the planet will astound any reader of this important book.

Colleen McCullough’s — The independence of Miss Mary Bennett *****

Colleen McCullough’s — The independence of Miss Mary Bennett *****

I remember Mary as the Bennett sister who couldn’t sing, but twenty years on from the end of Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary’s life continues. In her desperation for independence, she investigates the plight of the English poor only to find herself in danger.

I wasn’t expecting this to be an engaging tale, but I should have known better because this Australian author has never disappointed me. A book I couldn’t put down when I needed a light read.

Isabel Allende’s — Island beneath the sea *****

Isabel Allende’s — Island beneath the sea *****

On Valmorain’s arrival from France, he finds he is responsible for the sugar cane plantation on the island of Saint-Domingue after his father’s death. He purchases nine year old Tété who soon learns to manage his house. In her teenage years, he rapes her and uses her as his concubine. When he removes their first born child, Tété’s life couldn’t be worse. With a slave rebellion in site, Tété’s moves Valmorain’s son from his first wife to New Orleans.

This historical fiction set in Haiti during the slave trading era held a mixture of points of view: from plantation owners to the slaves who practised voodoo and tried to maintain their African roots.

Linda Holeman’s — The moonlit cage *****

Linda Holeman’s — The moonlit cage *****

Darya grows up in an Afghan village in the 1850s under an overbearing father. After he brings home a second wife, he has a son he’s always wanted. But the second wife is not what she seems. She eventually leaves, but before she does, she curses Darya so no one will marry her.

Darya is forced to marry Shaliq from a Ghilzai tribe whose cruel treatment makes her flea. This leads to a long and dangerous journey Darya could never have dreamed of.