Tag Archives: reading

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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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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The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel – a review

I am a huge fan of reading as you know, and I do read a lot (if not as much as I would like) Therefore whilst I read some fantastic books, and the last couple I’ve read have been superb, it’s not often that something really sticks out as unusual. This, however, was exactly the case with The Recovery of Rose Gold, by Stephanie Wrobel.

The Recovery of Rose Gold was one that I was given at last years festival and had been on my shelf for a while. It’s a proof copy so the blurb was sparse:

‘Once upon a time, they said, a wicked Mother gave birth to a Daughter’

The Recovery of Rose Gold is the story of a relationship between a Mother and Daughter. It starts with the release of Patty, the Mother. On the first page we find out she has been convicted of poisoning her daughter for years whilst she was a child. Rose Gold is her daughter and it is her testimony that sent Patty to prison. Now Patty is out and she wants to move back in with Rose Gold to help her care for her new grandson and to put the past behind them.

Well it is no exaggeration to say that this was truly a book that I could not put down once I had started. Luckily it was a weekend so other plans went out of the window.  This is a dark, and disturbing tale which completely drew me in. Yet despite the story matter, the writing gives it a light feel that almost has a humerous edge. The story is told from just two viewpoints – Patty and Rose Gold, Patty is the voice of the current day. Rose Gold’s story flits back to fill in the details of her life whilst Patty was in prison.

Throughout the book you have complete sympathy for Rose Gold as she suffered horrendously at the hands of her clearly disturbed mother. The after effects are obviously still being felt as Rose Gold struggles with normal relationships and life. Patty is also interesting as you end up with a degree of sympathy for her too as she also did not have a great upbringing.

This is a story of obsession and love and how the lines between the two are often blurred, in this case with terrible consequences. This is one of the best books I have read for a while and I’m sure will be huge hit next year. If you like unreliable narrators and stories that will keep you gripped from start to finish then I cannot recommend this highly enough. Unfortunately it isn’t available until March 2020 but it is definitely worth the wait!

You can pre-order your copy here

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Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman – a review BLOG TOUR

I have read and enjoyed many of Laura Lippman’s novels therefore it is always a thrill to receive an email inviting me onto a blog tour for her latest one and I’m delighted to be closing this tour with my thought’s on Lady in the Lake.

The Lady in the Lake is set in Baltimore in the 60’s and tells the story of Maddie. Having married young she has decided that she wants more for herself and so has left her husband and teenage son to try and build a new life. She gets a job at the local paper helping out with the problems page. However she is keen to move up the ladder, and therefore when she discovers the body of a missing girl she thinks that finding out what happened to Cleo could be the story she needs.

Like all Laura Lippman’s novels this was a good story. I enjoyed the historical element of it and thought that it painted a good picture of a country that was changing. The novel touches on race, equality, religion, all blended into a mystery that was intriguing.

The story is mainly told from the perspective of Maddie, however between each chapter from her there is also a chapter from someone else’s point of view. I must confess that some of these I found a bit unnecessary. I appreciate that it was a way of moving the story on and it was interesting in parts as it did show how things that Maddie did affected other people, yet some of them were just a little annoying as I wanted to get back to the story.

The Lady in the Lake is almost two different stories in one. There is the mystery element surrounding Cleo’s death and why she was left in a fountain (not a lake like the title, still not sure why that is) Then there is the story of Maddie and her trying to find herself. Whilst she wasn’t the most likeable character I did feel for her and I like to see a woman making courageous choices.

As is often the case with Laura Lippman’s writing this was a slow burner of a story but the atmosphere that is created keeps you hooked. I would recommend this especially if you enjoy reading novels set during this period of history.

Thanks to Faber and Faber for my copy. To find out what others thought of this visit the other stops on the blog tour.

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – a review

sister

My latest read has been My Sister, The Serial Killer. No this is is not autobiographical (Well as far as I know, bearing in mind the Sister lives with our parent’s and they are both very much alive and fighting fit so I assume if she had murderous tendencies the patio area might have been much extended by now!)
My Sister the Serial Killer is actually the debut novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Set in Nigeria, it tells the story of Korede, the elder sister of Ayoola. The sisters are very close. So much so that Ayoola can ring Korede any time of the day or night knowing that she will drop everything to help her. Even when that help involves bleach, rubber gloves and the ability to move a body, for the third time.
I picked this novel up on a whim whilst browsing Waterstones, at the time I hadn’t realised that Oyinkan was appearing at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival next weekend. Well once I started reading I couldn’t stop and I read this pretty much over two nights.
My Sister, the Serial Killer was a really engaging novel. This wasn’t a long book, and had it been formatted like a normal book I imagine it would have been very small but that was part of the charm. It felt like quite a simple story, yet for some reason it is one that really gets under your skin. It is a slow story that is hard to explain, as it feels like nothing happens, yet it also includes murder galore.
The sisters are two very different people. One is glamourous and exciting, the other is rather dowdy and dull yet they are bound together by a bond that only siblings will understand. I found the interaction between the two sisters interesting. There were moments where you just want to give Korede a good talking too and make her stop enabling her sister’s murderous ways. Yet equally you feel for her as she is trying to make the best of a situation that she didn’t create but is stuck in. This is mainly a story about relationships rather than murder. The writing is full of short quick sentences and the rather macabre topic is lifted by the deadpan humour of Korede.
I would highly recommend My Sister, the Serial Killer for a quick engaging read and I am very much looking forward to hearing Oyinkan speak next week.

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The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver – a review BLOG TOUR

Well you can imagine my excitement when the invite to be part of a blog tour for Jeffery Deaver’s latest book dropped into my inbox. Not only is he a great author, he’s going to be attending the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, so double bonus!

The Never Game introduces us to Colter Shaw. He is a reward hunter who makes his living from chasing down rewards being offered by families of missing people. When a young girl goes missing Colter Shaw heads to Silicon Valley to see if he can find out what has happened. When another  victim is kidnapped Colter starts to think that actually it could all be linked to a video game – The Whispering Man. In the game the player has to survive after being trapped somewhere with only five random objects. It seems that someone is bringing the game to life and whoever it is will stop at nothing to carry out their work.

I am a big fan of the Lincoln Rhyme series so it’s always a gamble when a new series by an author you love comes along. However this didn’t disappoint. The Never Game was a fast paced story that had all of the twists and turns you expect from Jeffery Deaver. I think ‘a rollercoaster read’ would be a good description, it starts of with a bang and then slows but just as you get comfortable it shoots off again.

I have to say that I am not really a fan of the indestructible protagonist. The type who get run over, loses a leg, has a knife in their eye but can still jump out of a helicopter Annika Rice style, stop the criminal and be in bed with the lead detective smoking a cigarette before daylight. On the surface of it Colter Shaw does seem to be a bit like that. He is a survivalist having been brought up by a father who dropped out of civilization and roams the country rescuing people . Yet Colter is a more complex intellectual character who has a quiet strength about him that is evident in the way he conducts himself. His way of solving crimes is to assess the percentages and work out the most likely options rather than just go in gung ho which gives a different perspective to the story. There are insights into his childhood and family life throughout which help get to know the character whilst not distracting from the mystery.

The Never Game is a great read, and despite not being a ‘gamer’ myself I found the computer game element interesting. The idea of the games being brought to life is quite terrifiying. This was a great start to what is obviously going to be a new series and I can’t wait to see Jeffery Deaver talking about this at the festival.

Thanks to Harper Collins for my copy of the novel. You can buy your own here.

To find out what others thought make sure you visit the other stops on the tour:

 

 

 

 

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Keep Her Close by MJ Ford – a review BLOG TOUR

Keep Her Close by MJ Ford is a police procedural set in Oxford. It opens with DS Josie Masters in therapy as she tries to come to turns with the horrific events of her past. When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College swiftly followed by two more, it soon becomes clear that this case is personal. As Josie hunts for the kidnapper she is also struggling to move on from her past with a new relationship she is in danger of ruining with her paranoia, unless of course her paranoia turns out to have a basis.

Clearly Keep Her Close is the follow up to MJ Ford’s debut novel Hold My Hand which sadly I hadn’t read, and although this does work as a standalone I wish I’d read that first as it sounds great. Saying that I did enjoy Keep Her Close. The character of Josie is the usual mess of clever detective and dysfunctional social skills which work together to make her a very interesting protagonist. The story itself I thought took a little bit to get going which I suspect was down to the amount of background needed to fill us in with her past, but once some connections had been made between the girls it really picked up.

I have to say I had my suspicions about who was to blame all along but I did keep changing my mind throughout which is the sign of a good storyteller that can throw in enough red herrings to make you doubt yourself. Once the final chapters revealed it I could have kicked myself for not sticking with my original assumptions.

Overall I enjoyed Keep her Close, it was a good story and I will definitely keep a look out for more about Detective Josie Masters.

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