Thursday, 17 January 2013

Book of the year already?

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Way back last November I attended a Reading Agency development day held in Peterborough. Lots of publishers got to present themselves and their forthcoming books to a group of library staff from around East Anglia.  At the same time we got to 'sell' our libraries to the publishers as venues to consider for events a promotions.

At the end of the day after chatting with lots of lovely people we all staggered home with piles of exciting books and proofs to read.

Because I spent much of October, November and December reading through the Writers' Centre Norwich Summer Reads long list helping to pick the books we'll be championing all summer my own personal reading got put on hold for a while.

Now I am fully recovered from the lurgy I am enjoying catching up on other things.  The first two books I've plucked out of the pile from November (pictured above) have both been from The Tinder Press and both were fantastic.

Amity and Sorrow reminded me a lot of both the 19th Wife by Ebershoff and Grace by Morris Gleitzman as it is all about what happens when families leave religious cults and just how far indoctrination can go. I raced through the book and think that it will be a great hit, especially with reading groups.

However much I enjoyed this one it was the second book that really blew me away...

 The Yonahlosse Riding Camp for Girls was truly fantastic, I started it at lunchtime on Sunday just had to keep reading until I finished it, poor Mr Norfolkbookworm didn't get a lot of conversation or sense out of me!

The story starts with Thea Atwell being left at the Riding Camp thinking she is there just for the summer. It is clear from the outset that she is there in disgrace but it is only slowly that flashbacks let you see the whole story unfold and reverberate through Thea's life.

As well as the story line being compelling I loved the vivid way the landscape was described.  I've visited some of the more wild central Florida areas that form Thea's home and could instantly visualise the family home.  I'm not a keen horsewoman (that is possibly the biggest understatement I've ever made on this blog) but that didn't matter at all, the love for horses shone through without swamping a reader with details.

I was surprised by several of the twists in the book and by the end I did have to surreptitiously wipe my eyes on more than one occasion. Thea was an interesting lead character for me, at times I felt sorry for the way life treated her but then some of her decisions made me less sympathetic towards her - a sign of a well rounded and 'real' character!

The one downside with this book is that it isn't published until June and so however much I recommend and rave about this one other people won't get to read it for nearly 6 months! New books from DiSclafani will certainly be books I am eagerly awaiting.

Fiction in 2013 has a lot to live up to after these two books  - and I am already bumping the 3rd Tinder Press proof to the top of the to-be-read pile!

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