Sunday, 25 September 2016

Sam Kates

I've enjoyed everything Sam Kates has written. This is classic sci-fi and I loved it!

My review - 

Matt is somewhat hung-over and longing to reach his floor in the building where he works, just so he can sink a coffee. Three other people enter the lift with him, people he doesn’t know, and the lift goes up to the top floor, the sixth. This is where their nightmare begins. The doors open onto a different world. We follow their experiences which form a wonderful, classic set of sci-fi of scenes.

This novella is long enough to get to grips with the different scenarios but quickly establishes the fearful, apparently inescapable predicament they find themselves in. It makes you want to take the stairs in future. An excellent read.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Will Macmillan Jones

I have to confess that this is my favourite genre of the author's. It reminds me of the Wheatley books I used to devour in my teens. The strength of these is that horrific things happen to ordinary people. As the lottery ads say, 'It could be you!'

The Curse of Clyffe House

My review -

Sheila, a neighbour of Mr Jones, the unwitting and unwilling participant in several previous supernatural tales, is writing a book. She has an urgent deadline and wants company at a remote holiday cottage near the South Wales Coastal Path. Eagerness makes her go but nervousness about being their alone makes her urge Mr Jones to accompany her. Cliffe House is a seriously unquiet dwelling.

I confess I would have left on the first night but Sheila and Jones, though scared, are made of sterner stuff. Eventually, Jones calls upon his friend Eric who comes to help. We get yet another tantalising peek behind the curtain of Eric's past. Take a remote cottage, a wild coastal path, a derelict farmhouse and a pre-historic hill fort and all the ingredients are there for a tale of unease. Welsh legend comes to life and the resultant battle is to the death. A very readable story indeed.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Keith Stuart

This book is a real joy to read. I can't recommend it highly enough.

A Boy Made of Blocks

My review - 

Sam is eight years old, and autistic. His parents, Alex and Jody, are worn out and driven apart trying to understand him and help him cope with the world. Eventually they enter on a trial separation and Alex moves in with his friend Dan. Alex feels guilt from a childhood incident and this colours his life. All his well-meant interactions with Sam become head-on collisions. Gradually, he finds he can connect with his son through the X-box game of Minecraft. At the beginning of the book we can feel Alex's frustration when his son turns mulish or destructive. He and Sam live in parallel universes, side by side but never connecting. The logical world of Minecraft allows Sam to take on a setting in which he can exert control. Slowly we see Alex begin to trust his own instincts and those of his son and the bleakness he felt earlier in the book resolves itself.

I felt, from a knowledge of several autistic children through my work, that Sam is beautifully and accurately portrayed. I shared Alex’s frustration, too, and Jody’s despair that he would ever come to see her point of view. As a reader, my viewpoint swung slowly, as did Alex’s, and I enjoyed the author’s skill in manipulating my opinions this way. Cleverly done. I enjoyed this book immensely. It manages to contain and contrast huge sadness and great joy. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.