Wednesday 19 June 2013

Lynda Wilcox

This is my first Lynda Wilcox book.  I can see it not being my last!  Great fun, this story.

A Novel Way to Die A Novel Way to Die

My review - 

This is the third book featuring Verity Long, the sort of young, sassy, intelligent and feisty gal I still am – in my head! It’s the first I’ve read though, and it’s a novella rather than a full length novel, as the others are. There’s a crime writers’ conference and authors, researchers, agents and publishers are gathered there. The murder victim is the sort of creep who has you cheering the murderer! There are crime writing clich├ęs (it’s a locked room mystery) and lots of wry humour. I love mysteries and thrillers, and often read the hard, dark and gritty kind, but this is light, frothy and a total delight!

I loved the writing style. There was some really good description of the gardens in the early morning, for example, which delighted me. It wasn’t self-conscious; it was part of the scene setting but was so good. Naturally, most of the characters were two-dimensional – there were plenty of them and the work isn’t long enough to go any deeper – but they were all individual – no mixing up characters who are too many and too similar. I found this an easy read and a well-balanced story. I enjoyed it very much.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Matthew McFarland

I found this to be an excellent selection of short stories - a quick read but not a superficial one.

My review -

This is Matthew McFarland’s second book of short stories and I think he has excelled himself here. In each story he takes a sideways look at a situation and finds something unique to say about it. There are some wonderful ideas here. There isn’t a story among them that I didn’t like, but I found Hospital a lovely story, very true to life for a four year old. Toxic Love was also compelling, and The Savant was real food for thought. I’m sure anyone would find a few favourites in here, which will stay in the memory.

Mathhew McFarland has a really accessible and clear writing style and he cuts to the meat of his story straight away. I think that’s important in something which is necessarily short. His stories are all substance and never waffly. I hope he never tires of writing them!

Thursday 6 June 2013

B J Burton

This story, begun with Dartmoor...the Saving, has grown progressively darker.  What a stonking tale it is.

Myrddin's War Myrddin's War

My review -

Myrddin’s War follows directly from B J Burton’s first book, Dartmoor…the Saving, and it features the same characters, with some additions. The word most reviewers used about Dartmoor was ‘charming’ and that charm is still there in abundance, with the little ‘Dini’ and the new character, Ranger Bob’s wonderful boy Arthur. This story, however, is much darker and grimmer in tone. Myrddin begins to tell the world where our selfish habits are leading but is he too late to effect a change? There are some really awful new characters here, motivated by greed and lust for power and watching the struggle between the two sides has been an anxious and nail-biting read. The story is a powerful one and will not be read by anyone who remains unaffected by it. 

B J Burton has created a strong modern myth with these two books. I enjoy his easy (but not simple) writing style and his obvious knowledge and love of the Celtic mythology of Britain. I also find myself very much in agreement with the style of living his characters advocate in the books. Whether you are ecologically minded or not though, you can’t help but be drawn in to this wonderful tale of people with conflicting beliefs and lifestyles. I shall be thinking about this for a long time. It’s an excellent story.

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Matt Langford

This is an astonishing book.  A first person narration by a young man with serious learning difficulties makes thought-provoking reading.

The Watchman

Amazon .com The Watchman

My review - 

This astonishing book is written in the voice of Adam, a young man with severe learning difficulties, who is on the verge of adulthood. He’s unable to understand what people are telling him and is also unable to express his own needs, fears and rages to his family. We join them as the family moves away to the country. Adam has his own words for things and can say a handful of words and phrases that only those who know him well can understand. We watch as his relationships with his younger siblings become distant as they outpace him in every way. We also see his parents struggling with his needs and their own. To give Adam some stimulation he is sent to a school where he forms a close relationship with one of the instructors, whom he trusts. Another is aggressive and nasty to him but he’s unable to tell anyone of his fears. His only outlet is violent outbursts.

This book is gripping in its intensity. To begin with we are left guessing at one or two of Adam’s expressions but we get into his world and see it through his eyes. It’s a place where you can’t defend yourself and you can’t understand others. It certainly makes you think about people in this situation and the devastating frustration they must have to face. It’s a book of ups and down, smiles and sadness. I enjoyed reading it hugely.