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.