Thursday, 23 February 2017

Jim Webster

A great collection of Jim's blog posts about his farming life.

Sometimes I Sits and Thinks link

My review - 

and sometimes I just sits.

This is a selection of anecdotes about life as a farmer in Cumbria. The writer grew up on his farm, and generations of his family before him farmed the land. You develop a real feeling for the land you are hefted to and this comes across in these stories. We hear of the cattle, the sheep, his succession of working dogs, the weather and the neighbours, in an amusing and chatty style as the snippets of Jim Webster’s countryman’s wisdom fall gently. I love this collection.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Steven Manchester

A new author to me, Steven Manchester has created a new kind of road trip with this book. It's darkly funny and I enjoyed it a great deal.

Ashes link

My review - 

Brothers Tom and Jason Prendergast have been summoned to their late father’s lawyer’s office to be told that, unless they fulfil his wishes and scatter his ashes in Seattle, they may not inherit the contents of an envelope he’s left for them. The men, both in their fifties, have been at loggerheads for years. This looks like being the most uncomfortable road trip ever. The story moves between the present day and their constant bickering, back to their childhood, and scenes of the monstrous bullying their father subjected them to. They had each other, though, until things fell apart.

The relationship between the brothers, whose lives had taken such different paths, was initially very prickly and filled with animosity. As the story progressed, they reminisced and their relationship evolved. Their father’s final instruction brought them to the place of his choosing. At this point, they found something he’d kept from them since they were small. They found it almost too late.

The story had a lot of dark humour in it, which I enjoyed. I also loved the growing sense of trust between the warring brothers. The whole book had a kind of roundness to it, a fitness and a satisfying ending. Steven Manchester’s writing style suits this story which I enjoyed very much. Be aware that the story finishes at 81% of the book and you won’t be taken by surprise, as I was, by the end arriving when it did.

I received an advance review copy of Ashes.

Rachel Abbott

Rachel's a firm favourite author with me. Crimne, thriller, spychological fiction - they include something of all these categories.

The Sixth Window link

My review - 

Natalie’s husband was killed by a hit-and-run driver and she has found a safe haven, with her fifteen year-old daughter Scarlett, in the home of his old best friend, Ed. It’s not long, though, before she begins to believe that Ed might have certain proclivities which make him a danger to her young daughter. Natalie and Scarlett move to an apartment which Scarlett hates. She can hear things which her mum can’t, and she’s afraid. She’d rather go back home to live with Ed.

This is a masterclass in tension from the queen of the genre. You can feel Scarlett’s frustration at being treated as too young to have her fears taken seriously. You can also feel Natalie’s genuine concern for her daughter and agree with the clues she has picked up on to bring her to that conclusion. In this story, however, the old adage of Trust No-one is the underlying theme. This is a scarily believable, tense and compelling thriller and it’s impossible to ration yourself to a few pages at a time. Go on. I dare you!

I received a pre-publication review copy.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Kate Hughes

This is a story for the younger element but it's a great read for any age.

My review -

Jez lives with his two younger half-brothers, his mum and his stepdad, Steve. Steve drinks, Mum is scared of leaving the house and Jez is effectively bringing up the young ones on his own. He’s disruptive at school until the class gets a new supply teacher, Mr Brown.

This book is intended for young readers but it’s a lovely story for any age group. We see Jez facing the unfairness of life – his stepdad’s behaviour and the peer-pressure from older boys, wanting to look cool, hating to be seen to cry – all the things so important for an eleven year-old boy. It’s a story with great strength and hope and I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Sarah A Denzil

This is a brilliant example of a psychological thriller. For  me, it stands out from the clones.

Silent Child link

My review -

Single mum Emma’s six year old boy, Aiden, went missing in a flood, presumed drowned. Seven years later he is declared legally dead. Emma later marries – not the father – and is heavily pregnant with a second child, when Aiden returns. He is under-weight for a sixteen year-old, has an old ankle injury, and seems in shock. He doesn’t, or can’t, speak. Yet Emma is determined to find out who took him and what happened to him in those missing years.

I’ve read lots of psychological thrillers and at times, they merge into one in the memory, but this book is different. I think I’ll be a long while thinking about it. Emma is in the throes of ‘baby brain’ and is very emotional, as you can imagine. She jumps from one suspect to another and we get sucked into her rationale for those suspicions, even though we can often feel she’s over-reacting. People try to lean on her and persuade that her son may be dangerous to the baby. The reader isn’t sure – doesn’t know any more than she does. The writing style is easy and elegant and I raced through this, dying to know the answers. A great example of the genre and highly recommended.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Kate Hughes

A new writer to me but Kate has a real empathy with her characters.

My review - 

Sophie lives with her two daughters, teenaged Chloe and her younger sister, Rosie. Rosie is twelve years old and autistic. She is strong and has begun to express her frustration by biting and scratching. Sophie puts up with it but when Rosie starts to attack her grandmother, Diane, and her sister, Chloe, Sophie knows the time has come to think about residential care. Her estranged husband now lives in Ireland and Sophie knows he doesn’t understand how hard it is to keep going.

The characters in this book are so human, you can totally believe in, and empathise with, them all. Sophie is left with grief and guilt as a result of sending her daughter to live away from home. We’re taken through her own feelings and thought processes. It’s very interesting to see her beginning to live her own life again, though she can’t shake the guilt that she shouldn’t be. It’s a lovely, sad, gripping but eventually life-affirming story. Highly recommended.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Andrew Barrett

The latest in a series which keeps improving - there's a challenge, Mr Barrett!

Ledston Luck

My review - 

Eddie Collins is such an annoying man. Sometimes I could slap him. He’s irascible, angry, stubborn, but usually, he’s right. He’s a man driven by a desire for justice. He’s at a scene when a booby-trap kills his colleague and injures him. It’s the scene of an old murder, but a new killing, also booby-trapped makes old and new murders come together. Someone higher in the system is trying to frustrate the case and sideline Eddie. They didn’t reckon with the fact that Eddie won’t let go, especially when he’s angry – and he feels guilty.

The wonderful thing about an Andrew Barrett book is that you often don’t totally like the goodies and you feel strong sympathy for the baddies. As with real life, there are no black and white characters, but many, many shades of grey. Stories like this make you think and there are often no easy answers. This book’s packed with action but there’s room for thoughtful contemplation, too. It works on many levels. A brilliantly good read.

I received an advance review copy of this book.