Saturday, 3 December 2016

Jonathan Hill

A lovely, funny seasonal story.


A Christmas Outing

Amazon.com

My review -

David is reluctantly dragged to the Christmas markets by his parents. He's invited his friend Jamie and is looking for the opportunity to tell them that Jamie is more than a friend. This story is full of humour. The parents bicker, to David's embarrassment, and the chance to tell them keeps slipping away. The boys' relationship is delightful and the ending gave me a genuine smile. A brilliant little gem of a seasonal story.

Jim Webster

Another story from Benor's youth.


A Bad Penny

Amazon.com

My review -

This is another of the short stories from Port Naain, a place in which I can thoroughly believe. Someone's threatening, even killing, people and leaving a coin as an earnest of their intention. Benor foils one of the threats and becomes drawn in.


Lovely characterisation and a real sense of place make these stories favourites with me.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Beverley Carter

I've read and enjoyed novellas by Beverley Carter but this new one is a full length novel. It's excellent!



The Lookout

Amazon.com

My review -

This is a story of fascinating characters as much as anything. Three adult sisters live together, the oldest looking after them with a very firm hand. Their mother is dead and their father has gone away. They have a brittle relationship with a housekeeper. Tom is a strange man who becomes fascinated with the youngest sister then disappears. Eden Reid is asked by a friend to look for him while she's in the area on business.


I really enjoyed this 'mystery'. I use the quotation marks because the reader sees what happens and it's Eden and her friends who have to put the clues together. Deduction isn't the same as evidence, however, and much though they are convinced they know what happened, and even why, their problem is in making anyone else believe it. A great story, well told.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Jonathan Hill

A novella which packs a large punch.



Not Just a Boy

Amazon.com

My review -

This story begins with a headlong chase. It's quite scary but we don't have a context for it until later in the book. As children we all think we're different from others. The boy in the story experiences strong feelings for one of his friends but after they change school he feels left behind. Other boys notice his preferences before he does and he's subjected to bullying, sometimes physical. Tensions rise and the chase scene slots brutally into place.


The author expresses the feelings and fears of an outsider with great skill. The climax of the story is handled sensitively and the book has a satisfying completeness about it. A very good read indeed.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Lynda Wilcox

Another excellent Verity Long story. 




My review -

Verity is helping out with a cold case – an unsolved murder from a year ago in which a teacher was found dead in a school kitchen freezer. Ostensibly undertaking a survey on behalf of the board of governors, she starts her usual snooping, finding the dead woman was not a popular person (epic understatement!). It’s not helping that her side-kick from the force, Becky, is next to useless, moping and distracted. Another puzzle for Verity to solve.

This is another mystery in which just about anyone could have done it, and Verity has to untangle the knots. All I can say is I wouldn’t like her job. I’d be an abject failure. Lynda Wilcox always manages to fool me. The humour which threads through these stories carries them onward and I often end up giggling. Another feather in Verity’s cap and another hit for the author.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Rose Alexander

I usually read books with a higher body count but this is a lovely read for those who like characters families and relationships.




My review -

Sarah is commissioned to write an article about cork, allowing her to travel to Portugal, a place which holds memories for her. It's also the place her great aunt Ines was born and lived her early life. Ines gives Sarah her journal to read. It covers her early married life and Sarah finds some echoes there with her own.

This is a lovely story. It spans several generations of a family, both in London and in Portugal, where Sarah took a gap year. It asks us whether we can ever go back. Can we recapture our past? Can we put right errors of judgement many years later? The writing is beautiful and has a great sense of place. Do read it. It's very well done indeed.

Thanks to TBConFB and Netgalley for a review copy.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Seb Kirby

I always enjoy this author's work and this book is no exception.





My review -

Issy Cunningham has lost her memory due to the trauma of being raped. It comes back gradually and, with her, we find out what has really happened. In addition to the rape, she has a deep tragedy in her past and this has never left her. Both the past she can remember and the past she has recently forgotten haunt her mind. The story manipulates the reader to some extent as we make up our minds what’s happening without the full information. As it unfolds, it’s a shock to have our expectations rattled.

The story is well told and evolves gradually as we enter Issy’s world and grasp her memories. There are several people hunting her at the end and a great sequence of events leads to the denoument. It’s a story which asks challenging questions – in which things are not black and white, and we wonder how we would behave in her circumstances. As always with this author, you know you’re in for a thought-provoking read. Highly recommended.