Showing posts with label Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fiction. Show all posts

Monday, January 8, 2018

Sonnets for Heidi by Melissa Bowersock


AMAZON US
I love the eclectic nature of Bowersock’s books. She's an author who produces quality whatever the genre. And on the subject of quality, the package is always complete with absolutely spot-on editing…the icing on an outstanding cake. 

This is an emotionally charged tale of forbidden love.  Aunt Heidi has few living relatives, and the only one willing to take on the responsibility of her care, when Alzheimer’s disease dictates the need for residential care, is her niece, Trish Munroe.  In the time leading up to Heidi’s sudden death, Trish shares some tender moments with an elderly lady who swings from clarity to confusion at the snap of the fingers. Her endeavours to keep Heidi's memory alive lead not only to the revelation of family secrets but to Trish’s own enlightenment: an unburdening of her own past and clarity for her future.

This was a story based on more than one ‘difficult’, sometimes not-talked-about subject, but handled oh-so-professionally by Bowersock. I found the characters ready-developed: you walk into their lives instantly. You know them instantly. You empathise instantly. They’re real-life people right from the start.

This is a novel with a warm glow. It’s professional, it’s classy. Sheer pleasure from start to finish.



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Monday, November 27, 2017

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse


The problem with this book was that it stayed with me as I started the next one! I just couldn’t seem to get the characters….and not just the main one…out of my head. 



Stay-at-home wife and mum Nina’s life is shattered to smithereens when her husband, Finn, is tragically killed in a car accident. However, the gaping wounds of her loss have salt cruelly rubbed into them when she discovers Finn left her with millions of pounds of debt. Gone are her rich lifestyle and all its trappings, gone is the posh private school for her children, gone is her mansion of a house. With few, if not no, options left to her, she is forced to return to the council estate in Southampton, where she grew up and where her sister still lives, not only to try and make sense of what has happened but to work out how she is going to feed, clothe and house her family.


This is an excellent story with a plot and characters that ooze credibility on every page. It’s a story of tragedy and loss, enlightenment and achievement. It was my first date with this author, and I’m already lining up a few more. I’ve read many a good book, but few imprint themselves in my mind enough to distract me in my subsequent read, so, Ms Prowse, I can confidently say: job jolly well done.




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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel


Although all the plot threads were satisfactorily tied up by the end, for me, the book threw up a number of unanswered questions.



Lane returns to the wealthy Roanoke family home after her mother, Camilla, dies. It's where she spends a summer and where she discovers that beneath the have-it-all fa├žade there lies a seriously dysfunctional family…one she has no desire to be part of. But when her closest ally, her cousin Allegra, goes missing eleven years later, Lane is forced to return.

The book is disturbing and aims to shock…the topic (sexual abuse and incest) is extremely unpleasant…but I became more irritated than shocked by the fact that not one of abusees…and let’s face it, charismatic Grandad ‘has’ just about every female member of the family whatever their ages or generation…reports it or tells anyone else…because Grandad loves them all, they’re all so special. That just didn’t wash with me.

However, despite the chilling and uneasy subject, it is without doubt compelling, riveting and extremely well written. I’ve never read any books by Engel, but her writing is powerful and emotional, and I really enjoyed her style.

Dark, unsettling, a little haunting, sad, twisted, but despite my few niggles, an intense page turner.




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The Fault in our Stars by John Green

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US

I had no idea this existed until I realised there was a movie with the same title. I have a golden rule of never watching a movie until I’ve read the book, so decided to get that out of the way. With a host of good reviews on Amazon, I really wanted to see for myself if it lived up to its popularity.



I’m sure it’s fairly widely known that the story features two terminally ill teenagers (Hazel and Augustus), who meet at a cancer support group. It’s an instant attraction, both mental and physical, and the encounter impacts their (short) lives.

Despite the fact that it’s a little hard to believe the dialogue is coming out of the mouths of sixteen/seventeen-year-olds, the rather excessive use of Capitalized Phrases To Make a Point, and the plot stretching the imagination just a little too far, I really loved this book.

It’s easy to get into and easy to love the characters without feeling pity for them. It’s a love story, sprinkled with deep sadness and poignancy, but the writing is razor-sharp, witty, humorous, and engaging. I found it hard to put down, hard to accept that it had finished (note to self: read more John Green!) and can’t wait to see the movie.


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Kiss of Night by K. S. Brooks

AMAZON UK
AMAZON US
Kathrin Night is a special agent. Or rather…she was. She is reluctantly…and a little resentfully…forced to relinquish her special-agent duties by an injury. But a gutsy, no-nonsense, rather complex character isn’t the type of person to settle easily into a more relaxed lifestyle. With no choice in the matter, she is landed with a Russian bodyguard. A rather handsome, hunky, chunky, hockey-playing one, at that. How is he going to help her adapt to her new life?

I devoured this book rather quickly. It’s short, yes, but it’s so, so easy to get sucked into Kathrin’s life. It was my first encounter with her, and I like her a lot. The book is a sort of prequel and scene-setter for Night Undone, which follows. We learn how she acquired her injury, how she became a special agent, why she had to give it up and all neatly done in just over a hundred and twenty pages. Brooks writes very engagingly with wit and humour, and it was with no difficulty at all that I rushed eagerly over to Night Undone. I wasn’t going to let her go easily.

An excellent and compelling read.


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Uncertainty Principles by Krista Tibbs

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Uncertainty Principles by Krista Tibbs

This was an original and surprisingly compelling story. Surprisingly to me, that is—the scientific element in the story had me a little worried. The sciences were not my strongest, or even favourite, subject at school, so I thought most of it would go over my head. It didn’t, and as a result I was able to enjoy a very unusual novel.

Five students team up for a science project, one they need to make a success of, as they want to secure their graduation marks. And so, they find a way to measure atmospheric energy to enable them to estimate the probability of the occurrence of events that are almost certain to be catastrophic. A life-changing incident involving one of the group halts the project. Four members of the team re-assemble nine years later, their memories very fresh still from the abrupt end to their undergraduate project. Each of them is older not just in years, but in wisdom, outlook and responsibility, the inexperience of their youth nine years earlier somewhat dissipated. Their regrouping, it seems, though strained, proves to be vital...if not life-saving.
Uncertainty Principles by Krista Tibbs
I have to say that it did take me a while to work out to whom the first person POV belonged, and I wasn’t always sure when I was in the undergraduate time or the nine-year-later time. However, eventually, everything does fall into place very methodically.

 I enjoyed this book. The five students couldn’t be more unalike, but they’re cleverly juxtapositioned, a bit like an outfit with clashing colours that works well as a whole, and I loved that I really had no idea how this story would roll out. Add to that, intelligent and articulate writing AND—hoorah!!!—excellent editing, and you’ve got a different and top-quality read.


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Monday, November 13, 2017

Alchemy by Mike Wood

ALCHEMY BY MIKE WOOD

Alchemy by Mike Wood


The author of this book states in his end 'Credits' that he 'doesn’t honestly like writing'. And yet, he persisted for 346 very long, tedious pages it seems. He also pays tribute to his editor's keen eye for detail. Really? Hmm...

‘I had just went…’

‘Why don’t you where your shoes?’

‘Must of called in sick’

‘By dinner time, I had made up my mind to just peddle over there…’

‘I might get a peak at the upstairs’


Aaargh!

…to quote just a few from the appallingly long list. There were missing quotation marks, bad grammar, characters starting nearly every sentence with ‘well’, inconsistent spellings. And...plurals are not formed with an apostrophe and an ‘s’. As for punctuation…not quite a ‘Let’s eat Grandma’ example but ‘Be sure to come right in Cammie’ wasn’t far off.

If a badly edited book really annoys you, don’t read any further. This book isn’t for you.

Editing aside, this book wasn’t for me simply because it was mind-numbingly boring. Al Newman is a fifteen-year-old teen, whose father left the family home one day and never returned. Refusing to believe he simply walked away, Al sets out to explore theories of abduction. He is helped by Cammie, staying in the area with her father for the summer period. Cammie is a beautiful young girl for whom Al falls hook, line and sinker.

This doesn’t actually get remotely interesting until Al finally learns the truth of his father's disappearance, which is over halfway through. The book could easily have been a hundred pages shorter. The first half overdoes the teenage angst thing while trying to hold your attention with the explanation of Newman Senior’s vanishing act (which I guessed early on).

Despite the fact that this practically put me to sleep every night, I stuck it out to the end. I liked Al. I liked his mother.  Although the writing isn’t prize-winning stuff, there’s a gentle humour and wit throughout. 
I got the feeling that a lot of the author was in Al...and Wood seems like a nice chap. So it does pain me to say that, regrettably, I can't recommend this.  I would recommend, however, an editorial overhaul. 
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