Tag Archives: waterstone’s 11 2012

The Snow Child- Eowyn Ivey

Synopsis (from amazon)

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?


There was a lot of buzz about this book when it first came out. It was one of the Waterstone’s 11, and everybody seemed to be reading it. It was on my wishlist for a long time but I didn’t buy it until it was on offer as part of the 12 Days of Kindle.

I had a bit of an up and down relationship with this book. It started very slowly and early on I did consider giving up (I need to work out a rule for when I can give up on a kindle book).  I was interested in Mabel particularly which is part of what made me continue. Having no children was so hard on her that she was prepared to move to a rather inhospitable part of the world just to escape the pain.

In a way I sympathised with Mabel but sometimes I just wanted to tell her to stop being so stupid. Her thoughts and decisions were so emotion based that she didn’t seem to even realise where they might lead her, and when they were just absurd.

Once the child entered the story I started to enjoy it however. I think part of it as knowing how much Mabel wanted it, and despite my annoyance with Mabel I did want her to be happy.

The imagery of Alaska was rather good too. I liked the contrasts between the harshness and the beauty of the environment.

The end for me was rather abrupt. I think it could have ended better earlier or needed to be extended a little more for a more satisfying conclusion.

As for the parallels with the fairy story. It was nice in a way but it was also part of what made me annoyed at Mabel.


Buy it:

Kindle (£4.99)

Paperback (£3.84)

Hardback- Large Print (£20.78)

Other Reviews:

The Little Reader Library

Book Journey

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Between the Pages



Have I missed your review? Link me up in comments and I will add it here.


Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review

The Waterstone’s 11 (2012): The Lifeboat

Image from Amazon

The Lifeboat- Charlotte Rogan

Synopsis (from Waterstone’s)

I was to stand trial for my life. I was twenty-two years old. I had been married for ten weeks and a widow for six. In the summer of 1914, the Empress Alexandra, a magnificent ocean liner, suffers a mysterious explosion on its voyage from London to New York City. On board are Henry Winter, a rich banker, and his young new wife, Grace. Somehow, Henry manages to secure a place in a lifeboat for Grace. But the survivors quickly realize it is over capacity and could sink at any moment. For any to live, some must die. As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace watches and waits. She is a woman who has learned the value of patience – her journey to a life of glittering privilege has been far from straightforward. Now, she knows, it is in jeopardy, and her very survival is at stake. Over the course of three perilous weeks, the passengers on the lifeboat plot, scheme, gossip and console one another while sitting inches apart. Their deepest beliefs about goodness, humanity and God are tested to the limit as they begin to discover what they will do in order to survive. The Lifeboat is a page-turning story of moral dilemmas, and also the moving and haunting story of Grace, a woman as unforgettable and complicated as the story she recounts.

Initial Thoughts

My first preconceptions came not from the sample supplied by Waterstone’s but by a number of reviews I have read which are written by other bloggers (I will link them below). For some reason I had expected it to be set in modern era from these reviews- not sure why! Initially the extract fitted with this okay- Grace talking to the lawyers could have been set in any time really but I pictured modern lawyers, and a modern setting. It was only when I moved to the first descriptions of the shipwreck and the lifeboat itself that I realised that it was actually set in the past. The way Grace spoke did actually fit with the era the book is set in, but I had initially thought it was just the writing style. The Lifeboat is already on my wishlist from reading various reviews, and the extract has only confirmed my thoughts surrounding it.

Full Reviews of  The Lifeboat:

Leeswammes’ Blog

Farmlane Books

As the Crowe Flies (and reads!)

Every Book has a Soul


Filed under Fiction review

The Waterstone’s 11 (2012): Shelter

Image from Amazon

Shelter by Frances Greenslade

Synopsis (from Waterstone’s)

Maggie’s father is ‘Mr Safety’. He knows the woods of Duchess Creek in Northern Canada like the back of his hand, and he has taught his daughter how to survive, how to find and make a shelter in all weathers, in any conditions. Along with her sister, Jenny, and their mother Irene, they are safe from the outside world. But when an accident at work goes fatally wrong, Irene struggles to look after her daughters alone. Wild, imaginative and unpredictable, she billets the two girls with a family, promising to return once the summer is over and she has earned more money. But the summer turns to winter, which rolls round again and again. When the letters stop, the two sisters realise that they can rely on no one but themselves – but what kind of shelter can two young girls make for themselves?

Initial Thoughts

As with The Art of Fielding this book has already been published (I should have got around to reading this samples sooner!). I haven’t heard so much about this one although I have seen it around. The synopsis makes the book sound like it has some potential but the extract didn’t really hold my interest. I liked the tone a fair bit, it reminded me of When God Was a Rabbit (which was on the Waterstone’s 11 list last year) which I had really enjoyed. I do tend to like books which are written in the first person and, as with When God was a Rabbit. this one was told in the voice of a child.

I may be able to be persuaded to pick this one up but as it stands I can’t say I am that bothered to be honest.

1 Comment

Filed under Fiction review

The Waterstone’s 11 (2012): The Art of Fielding

Image from Amazon

I promised a while ago to read and review all the little snippits Waterstone’s have put out for this year’s Waterstone’s 11. This is my review of the first of those snippits

The Art of Fielding by  Chad Harbach

Synopsis (from Waterstone’s)

In The Art of Fielding, we see young men who know that their four years on the baseball diamond at Westish College are all that remain of their sporting careers. Only their preternaturally gifted fielder, Henry Skrimshander, seems to have the chance to keep his dream — and theirs, vicariously — alive, until a routine throw goes disastrously off course, and the fates of five people are upended. After his throw threatens to ruin his roommate Owen’s future, Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his; while Mike Schwartz, the team captain and Henry’s best friend, realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. Keeping a keen eye on them all, college president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, falls unexpectedly and dangerously in love, much to the surprise of his daughter, Pella, who has returned to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warm-hearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment — to oneself and to others.

First Thoughts

This one has already been released to much praise. I had been avoiding looking at it in the shops and trying to avoid reading anything about it until I had written this little review thing. I didn’t expect to like what I read, I mean a book about baseball is really not my thing, and I can’t say I liked the content of the first chapter, which basically chronicled a match, although I appreciated the writing style. The other two chapter though I quite enjoyed and I am interested to see what will happen next. I really liked the style of writing, the descriptions made it possible to almost se what was going on and I already quite like Henry, although it probably helps that the story is told through his voice.

I will certainly be interested to carry on reading this one


Filed under Fiction review

The Waterstone’s 11 2012

Last year was the first year of the Waterstone’s 11, 11 new authors with 11 new books to be released that year. This year they are doing it again, which is rather exciting.

Last year I said I would read the previews of each book which were given on the Waterstone’s website, and I pretty much failed, although I did get round to reading the whole of two of the books, and one was one of my top reads of 2011. I am hoping to do a bit better with that plan this year.

This year’s list is:

The Art of Fielding- Chad Harback

Shelter- Frances Greenslade

Care of Wooden Floors- Will Wiles

The Snow Child- Eowyn Ivey

Absolution- Patrick Flanery

The Land of Decoration- Grace McCleen

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry- Rachel Joyce

The Lifeboat- Charlotte Rogan

Signs of Life- Anna Raverat

The Age of Miracles- Karen Thompson Walker

The Panopticon- Jenni Fagan


Related Posts:

Waterstone’s 11 2012 (on the Waterstone’s website)

When God was a Rabbbit (here)

Pigeon English (here)

You can also find my reviews of extracts from last year’s Waterstone’s 11 picks by searching Waterstone’s 11 or clicking the tag for Waterstone’s 11


Filed under general