Thursday, 10 October 2019

The Grace Year

My first novel from Kim Liggett, The Grace Year, is a thundering good read.



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Book description

No one speaks of the grace year.
It's forbidden.
We're told we have the power to lure grown men from their beds, make boys lose their minds, and drive the wives mad with jealousy. That's why we're banished for our sixteenth year, to release our magic into the wild before we're allowed to return to civilization.
But I don't feel powerful.
I don't feel magical.

Tierney James lives in an isolated village where girls are banished at sixteen to the northern forest to brave the wilderness - and each other - for a year. They must rid themselves of their dangerous magic before returning purified and ready to marry - if they're lucky.

It is forbidden to speak of the grace year, but even so every girl knows that the coming year will change them - if they survive it...

The Grace Year is The Handmaid's Tale meets Lord of the Flies - a page-turning feminist dystopia about a young woman trapped in an oppressive society, fighting to take control of her own life.


My review


I absolutely love this book. I can see people drawing comparisons with Golding’s Lord of the Flies but the boys were cast up on their island by accident. In The Grace Year, all girls in their teens spend a year as a deliberately isolated group in order to ‘rid them of their magic’. There are poachers in the vicinity to pick off those girls who don’t make it back – often a high number. I enjoyed the way the women were portrayed, both before and after the Grace Year in question. It wasn’t simply the way they were downtrodden, but the underlying conspiracy of women and their hidden strengths. It was easy to engage with the characters, to take sides and to root for those you fell in love with. Tierney, the star of the book, is determined to be herself. The way she does it is exciting and marvellous. I became totally absorbed in this world and I highly recommend the book.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read it before publication.

About the author

Kim Liggett, originally from the rural midwest, moved to New York City to pursue a career in the arts. She's the author of Blood and Salt, Heart of Ash, The Last Harvest (Bram Stoker Award Winner), The Unfortunates, and The Grace Year. Kim spends her free time studying tarot and scouring Manhattan for rare vials of perfume and the perfect egg white cocktail.

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Just a thought

You want to remember that while you're judging the book, the book is also judging you 
― Stephen King,



Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Fiona and the Whale

This book by Hannah Lynn is a delight to read. 


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Amazon US link

Book description

With her life on the rocks, it is going to take a whale sized miracle to keep her afloat.

Event planner Fiona Reeves did not have her husband's sudden departure on her schedule. However, she’s certain that it's only a hiccup and he'll be back in no time, begging for forgiveness. Fortunately there’s a distraction of mammoth proportions swimming in the River Thames. 
Absorbed by the story of Martha the sperm whale, Fiona attempts to carry on life as usual as she awaits her husband's return. However, nothing can prepare her for the dramatic turn of events that throw her life into ever greater turmoil. The road ahead has many paths and for Fiona it’s time to sink or swim.

My review -
This is the story of a woman in denial about the fact that her husband has left her. She’s convinced that, so long as she keeps on as normal, running her business, he’ll return. When a whale is stranded in the Thames, her priorities change completely. This was a book in which there was plenty of action, not all good, but I couldn’t help turning the pages to find out what happened. The whole book is very satisfying and I enjoyed it a great deal.

About the author

Hannah Lynn is an award-winning novelist. Publishing her first book, Amendments - a dark, dystopian speculative fiction novel, in 2015, she has since gone on to write The Afterlife of Walter Augustus - a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist - which won the 2018 Kindle Storyteller Award and the delightfully funny and poignant Peas and Carrots series.

While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character driven stories and wonderfully vivid description.

She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a reimaging of a classic Greek myth.

Born in 1984, Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction. Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.


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Just a thought

Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world ― Jeanette Winterson

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Births, Marriages and Death

Debut novelist Will Templeton has produced a winner here.



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Book description

Edward Maxey, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for a town in South Yorkshire, is approached by distressed Spanish girl Alicia for help in finding her erstwhile lover, and is so captivated by her childlike naivety and vulnerability that he is moved to assist her. When the man in question is found dead she becomes the prime suspect and Maxey himself is implicated. Convinced of the girl’s innocence Maxey jeopardises his career and his family by shielding Alicia from the attentions of the police, even though one of the detectives on the case is Maxey’s lifelong friend, Detective Sergeant Luke Preston. Wading through a maze of suspects and confusion Preston must juggle this investigation alongside the search for a group of missing children, whose safety is increasingly at risk.

My review -


This is a fantastic debut novel, involving two best mates, one, Preston, a Detective Inspector and the other, Maxey, a Registrar. There’s been a murder and a messy one too. The victim had had an affair with a young girl in Spain when ‘on business’ and she’s been writing to him. He’d given her his friend’s address so she came to visit the wrong person. The friend’s son has been sucked into a gang and involved in criminal activity – and other things. These two groups finally mesh together in a clever bit of plotting. But Maxey finds himself hiding important evidence from his friend. Can their friendship survive? Who thought being a registrar could be so dangerous an occupation? I found this a real page-turner of a book and I look forward to more from Will Templeton.

About the author

Many years ago Will Templeton worked briefly in the tax collectors' office, and, deciding that wasn't for him, he then tried his hand at such varied vocations as hairdresser, bricklayer and mechanic, before finally finding a place at Doncaster Register Office. He stayed there for over thirty years, working his way up from Receptionist to Superintendent Registrar, eventually throwing it all in to become a full-time scriptwriter. Over the years he has also written many plays which have been performed to glowing reviews. This is his first novel.

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Just a thought

You have to remember that it is impossible to commit a crime while reading a book -
― John Waters

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Dig Two Graves

First of a series by Keith Nixon and it's off to a cracking start.


Amazon UK link

Amazon US link

Book description

A cold, broken teenager lies beneath the looming shadow of his apartment building in an apparent suicide.

Detective Gray stares, with tired eyes, at the body of Nick Buckingham, wondering why, at the age of 16, he would see no other choice but to jump from his balcony in such a final act ... but more importantly, wondering why this teenager, who he has never met, has Detective Solomon Gray's phone number stored in his phone ...

Facing his demons, follow Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray as he tries to unravel a murky world of lies and corruption to find the answers he's desperate for.

My review 


This is only my second Keith Nixon book but he tells a great story. There are enough characters (but not enough to confuse you) and plenty going on. The title comes from a saying by Confucius: when you embark on revenge, dig two graves. This tells you that things won’t go straightforwardly for someone. I found it fast paced, engaging and I felt for the main character, Solomon Gray – and others in the story. It’s the first of a series and it certainly makes me want to find out more. Highly recommended.

About the author

Keith Nixon is the best selling author of fourteen novels, including the Margate based Solomon Gray series with 200,000 copies in circulation and reached no.1 on Amazon in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

Keith lived near the gritty seaside town of Margate, where all his novels are based, for 17 years before relocating to the edge of the Peak District with his family where he lives today.

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Just a thought

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind 
― James Russell Lowell