Children of the revolution – the sequel

Back in March 2017 I wrote the post below about World Book Day. I’ve not idea what the article was that I had read at the time, but sadly I imagine that things haven’t changed much. Last year rather than ask people to create expensive costumes to celebrate World Book Day one school in York asked children to bring in a book from home. Over 50% of the children didn’t have a book to bring in.

However one thing has changed since 2017. I mention in the post that I would like to find all these people without books and give them one. Well giving a book to everyone might have been a bit of a tall order but I’ve certainly made a start. Having set up a charity called Bookcase For All we have given away over 2000 books last year, over 600 of these were to schools, so I like to think we have made a small difference. Hopefully by this time next year we will have given away lots more!

http://www.bookcaseforall.co.uk

Children of the Revolution – March 2017

As you all hopefully know, today is World Book Day. In fact it is the 20th anniversary of the day. I can imagine for parent’s the joy of this day is slightly tempered by the need to suddenly create an entire Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory out of an old washing up liquid bottle, an egg box and some sticky back plastic, but to me it’s a really positive day.

Everywhere you go people are talking about books. On the radio, in the papers, even people in the office are showing off pictures of their nephews and nieces dressed as book characters and discussing what they read as a child. Books are such exciting things.  Therefore I was rather surprised to read in the paper that last year 25% of children between eight and 11 had used their £1 book token to buy their first ever book. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s great that the day allowed all those children to buy books. I just can’t imagine not having bought a book by the age of eight.

Admittedly I don’t actually remember buying books when I was eight, that was what parent’s and adults were for. Yet I remember books being everywhere, and I was a child before Harry Potter had even been thought of. We still had Enid Blyton, lots of books about girls with ponies, and of course what is still one of my favourites today, Winnie the Pooh. Even if we weren’t buying books, there were regular family trips to the local library or at one point there was a mobile library which came to us, books on wheels. Libraries were a great way to encourage us to read. Even the Father would come with us and pretend to read a paper whilst sat in the corner.

More disturbingly for me however, the article went on to say that one in 10 people within the UK did not own a book. One in 10 people did not own a book. That’s so shocking it deserves repeating twice.  I suspect Mr F would rather I owned less books, as it is getting close to a choice between my books and space for him, and that is a tricky choice. However to not own even one book I find very sad. The article doesn’t specify what type of book. I assume it means only fiction and therefore doesn’t include things such as cook books (everyone has to own at least one cook book don’t they, even if it’s just a Delia Smith how to boil an egg?) However still that to me is quite a shocking statistic. It makes me want to go and find all these people and give them a book. To be fair I probably do have enough to help out quite a lot.

That’s why I think something like World Book Day is so exciting and is starting a new revolution of readers. If all those children who are buying their first book continue to love reading, then books will be everywhere. Plus it will mean the next generation of parents have something to do whilst they are waiting for the superglue to dry on their child’s Harry Potter costume in 20 years time.

http://www.worldbookday.com/

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Beast by Matt Wesolowski – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a huge fan of Matt Wesolowski, he is an author that is definitely in my top ten and therefore I was over the moon to be offered to the chance to read and review the latest in the series, Beast.

Beast is the latest installment of Six Stories, a podcast lead by elusive online journalist, Scott King. Six Stories looks at cold cases and in this series Scott is looking into the chilling case of the death of a popular shopping vlogger found frozen to death in the local ‘vampire tower’. Elizabeth had been barricaded into the tower during the storm in 2018 (The beast from the east) Three local men had been charged with her death, although they claim it was just a prank gone wrong.  Scott speaks to six people who knew Elizabeth. They all give very different stories of the victim and what is was like living in the village at the time. Were the three boys really guilty or is there a different story?

Beast was another absolutely fabulous read that I loved. It is written in a podcast style with six separate ‘episodes’ (or chapters to us old style readers). Each episode is told from the viewpoint of the different people being interviewed by Scott. As the listener learns more about the background of the victim Elizabeth, we are lead deep into a world of social media, where likes and ‘hits’ are felt to be the be all and end all of a person’s worth. 

The story is set against the miserable storm of 2018, the village is almost cut off by the weather. This gives the story a sense of bleakness and hopelessness which is a fitting background for a world where people can make a living out of emptying their shopping bag live on camera. I really enjoy the structure of these stories. The chapters whilst not short are easy to read as they flow as though you are listening to it. It is this that really makes this series stand out to me and I really enjoy the structure of the books

The story itself is chilling, unsettling and highly believable. You are drawn into a world that gets more complicated the more we learn and the tangled web of characters all vie for attention and recognition. Elizabeth we hear from via her vlog pages which intersperse the episodes. What I thought was especially interesting is that despite the horrific end she met, she isn’t actually a character that elicits sympathy, in fact it is the people around her who were more deserving.

I cannot recommend this series highly enough. It is a style of writing that appeals to people like me who enjoy stories that draw you in, but macabre enough to make you read through half closed eyes. The Beast is a fantastic novel, however if you haven’t yet read the others in this series you definitely should!

To find out what others’ thought of the Beast visit the other stops on the blog tour, and get your copy of Beast here.

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The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allen – a review BLOG TOUR

 

 I was really pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allen as I thought the whole premise sounded intriguing. Joe McKee, Pillar of the Irish Community, is dying. He is being cared for by his step-daughter Heidi and as they realise that he has little time left the rest of his family come to his side including his daughter Ciara and his sister Kathleen. However his death comes quicker than expected,  and so when the mourners start arriving, so do the police.

The Liar’s Daughter is a novel about family lies and terrible secrets that I found incredibly compelling. I read it on a recent trip to Manchester and really couldn’t put it down. I really don’t want to give anything away but the big issue was relatively easy to guess from the beginning, however the twists and turns kept the suspense high. The characters in this story are all very different and each have their own motive for wanting Joe dead. This gives the story an almost Agatha Christie feel to it, with a closed cast of characters in the middle of the ‘whodunnit’

The story is told mainly from the viewpoints of Ciara and Heidi, both in the present day and when growing up. We also hear from Joe at the beginning which gives an additional element to the story. This is quite a dark and emotional story and deals with some hard issues, the murder of Joe is almost a secondary story. Therefore using the term enjoyable in a review doesn’t feel quite right, but I would recommend it. The issues are dealt with sensitively and the quality of the writing means that the story flows easily.

The Liar’s Daughter is an excellent read that will stay with you long after you finish it.

Order your copy here.

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The Ex-Girlfriend by Nicola Moriarty – a review

This had been on my pile to read for a while, and after my latest read, which was a police procedural, I fancied something a bit lighter (Obviously still within the crime realm) so this jumped out at me.

exThe Ex-Girlfriend introduces us to Georgia. When she is stood up on a date by Brett, she meets Luke instead. He seems a charming bloke with loads in common with her and they soon fall in love.  It is just what Georgia needs after the hard time she has been through in her past so the relationship moves quickly. There is one slight problem, he has a maniac of an ex-girlfriend called Cadance who refuses to let him go. When he moves in with Georgia to try and put his ex behind him, things get worse as Cadance steps up her campaign of hatred. Yet are things all what they seem?

I really enjoyed this and found it completely compelling. You know that there is something off about Luke, yet I couldn’t put my finger on it and have to say I didn’t see the twists coming.

The story is told from the viewpoints of mainly Georgia but also the Ex Cadance. It is her viewpoint that really shifts things on their head and gets you doubting what you already know. The writing style is quick and flows well with short chapters which were easy to read and made it really zip along.

The clever bit about this story for me was how plausible it seemed. Yes from the outside  you go through thinking ‘how do you not realise that’s odd’. There were parts where I wanted to rip Georgia from the pages of the book and give her a real shake. However then when you think about it from her point of view, you can appreciate how it is easy to hide things in plain sight and how we really do only see what we want to see.

The Ex Girlfriend is quite difficult to review without giving away key plot points but suffice to say it is a good read that I would highly recommend.

Grab your copy here The Ex Girlfriend

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Die for Me by Jesper Stein – a review BLOG TOUR

I was lucky enough to visit Copenhagen a couple of years ago and love reading novels set in places I’ve been to so I was pleased when I was offered the chance to read the new book by Jesper Stein.

Die for Me is about a rapist who is preying on the women of Copenhagen. DI Axel Steen is leading the investigation. When there are links found between the latest crime and one of Steen’s unsolved cases, the murder of a young girl four years before it soon becomes personal for him. As well as having to face a case that he has never forgiven himself for not solving, the Detective is also dealing with the fact that his new boss is his ex-wife’s girlfriend and that he doesn’t see as much of his daughter as he would like. 

This was an interesting story, although I must confess to finding DI Steen a bit annoying.  He is a very self centred person who seemingly cares more about where his latest hit is coming from than the case he is on. However on the positive side he is clearly a great detective and that bloody mindedness is put into his work. I actually prefer his boss Jens Jessen as a character. He was much more of a ‘play by the rules’ type of person and he provides a good contrast from Steen’s more maverick approach. This is very heavy on the police procedure which I found interesting and it gave a good structure to the story. 

I really enjoyed the descriptions of the city, and found it fascinating to read about the contrast between the beautiful areas I saw as a tourist and the rather less salubrious areas where a lot of the action takes place. The writing takes a little bit to get used too I found, which could be down to the translation rather than the writing but once you got into the swing of it the story soon grips you.

I enjoyed this and would recommend this especially if you enjoy a maverick detective.

Don’t forget to visit other stops on the Blog Tour:Die for Me _ Blog tour Twitter Graphic

 

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The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley – a review

At this year’s festival I was lucky enough to meet debut author Robin Morgan-Bentley who was promoting his novel The Wreckage which I have recently read.

wreckageThe Wreckage begins with Ben, a teacher who is on his way to work as normal. However this day Adam, in a last despairing act, jumps in front of Ben’s car succeeding in killing himself. In the aftermath Ben struggles to come to terms with what has happened, and to try and assuage his guilt he starts to develop a friendship with Alice, Adam’s widow, and her young son Max. However is this what Alice wants, and how will either of them manage to move on?

This was a fabulous book that seemed very accomplished for a debut novelist. I wouldn’t personally class this as a thriller in the traditional sense of a ‘grab you by the seat of your pants and hang on’ type of story, however it was absolutely gripping. From the dramatic start to the story that absolutely hooks you in, things slow down a little as both Alice and Ben come to terms with what has happened. The tension then starts to build back up as the relationship begins to grow and we find out more about the characters.

The story is told from the veiwpoints of both Alice and Ben. This is a really clever trick that means you see the same moment but from a different interpretation which adds to the tension in the novel. I found both characters equally likeable and annoying at times. Whilst clearly you have sympathy for them both having been through a horrific experience. You also want them to take a look at their actions and think of the consequences.

It’s tricky to say too much about the plot without giving away the twists but the story takes a darker turn towards the end and there are things I did not see coming. When I met Robin Morgan-Bentley I got his autograph and he asked me who my favourite author. I definitely enjoyed this novel as much as a Patricia Cornwall one!

You can buy your own copy of The Wreckage at Amazon.

 

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The Mother’s by Sarah J Naughton – a review

I find Christmas an odd break. I had two weeks off work, so therefore you’d think I’d have loads of time, yet it always disappears in a flash of seeing people, drinking and the constant round of ‘how was Christmas, what are you doing for new year’. Therefore although I’ve managed to fit in a bit of reading my reviewing has really gone done the pan. Despite being someone who refuses to make New Year’s resolutions, if I was going to make one it would be to review more in 2020. So I am kicking off 2020 with a great novel, The Mother’s by Sarah J Naughton.

The MothersI have had this on my TBR pile for ages, however to be honest the idea of four mothers in a novel put me off picking it up. I assumed it would be a lot of women moaning on about children and motherhood and how tired they are etc. However I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was a story of four women who had met because they were pregnant at the same time, and became friends. Skip to four years later and the friendship is still growing strong, until one of the husbands goes missing. The police are stumped as to where he has gone, and talking to the friends throws up more questions than answers. Are they really such good friends? Would they keep each others secrets?

I read this quickly in a couple of sittings as I found it really drew me in. The characters were an odd bunch of people. You knew that on paper they didn’t work as friends, but then you also know in real life often the most unlikely people form strong bonds for a ariety of reasons. I enjoyed the style of writing that seamlessly switched between then and now as the secrets were gradually unfolded.

I enjoyed all the characters, although I wasn’t too keen on the detective Iona. She didn’t seem very well rounded to me, and spent more time worrying about her love life than actually focusing on the crime. However that is only a minor criticism and actually the police investigation is a very small part of this story. They mystery unravels through the viewpoints of the women, and I found myself frequently changing my mind as to what was happening.

This was a very accomplished debut novel that I would very much recommend. The Mother’s is available on amazon

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