Monday, 26 September 2016

Time Travelling With A Hamster - Ross Welford



This is a young adult novel which I requested from Netgalley because I love time travel novels. I wasn't disappointed, it is probably one of the best time travel novels I have read (and I have read a lot). The book is very good at "explaining" time travel which isn't always the case in a novel of this genre. 

The book is narrated by 12 year old Al Chaudhury and I just loved his voice. He really tells it like it is, dealing with some very grown up problems; like how to go back in time and make sure his Dad doesn't die. Best of all he has a hamster called Alan Shearer! - genius.

Of course not everything goes smoothly and at one point in the book I was so sad as Al changed his timeline, and not in a good way. It was such an intriguing story line and I was really absorbed in it too. I'm not going to say it is an easy read because that doesn't give it the credit it deserves. It is enjoyable to read because it is so well written, not just for the YA but for anyone. It has some very thought provoking messages within the story.

I really loved when Al travelled back to 1984 and they had to rig up all the computers - a trip down memory lane for me. So funny how he also had to explain his smart phone away. I had my heart in my mouth at times, wondering what was going to happen to Al on his travels. 

This is a charming and delightful book, so enchanting. I'm giving this book five out of 5 stars and would love to read more by this author. In fact I enjoyed it so much I'd like to read it again.

My thanks go to netgalley for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Good Retirement Guide 2017


Monday, 19 September 2016

The Twenty Three - Linwood Barclay

Everything has been leading to this.

It's the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, May 23rd, and the small town of Promise Falls, New York, has found itself in the midst of a full-blown catastrophe. Hundreds of people are going to the hospital with similar flu-like symptoms—and dozens have died. Investigators quickly zero in on the water supply. But the question for many, including private investigator Cal Weaver, remains: Who would benefit from a mass poisoning of this town?

Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is faced with another problem. A college student has been murdered, and he's seen the killer's handiwork before—in the unsolved homicides of two other women in town. Suddenly, all the strange things that have happened in the last month start to add up…

Bloody mannequins found in car “23” of an abandoned Ferris wheel…a fiery, out-of-control bus with “23” on the back, that same number on the hoodie of a man accused of assault…

The motive for harming the people of Promise Falls points to the number 23—and working out why will bring    Duckworth closer to death than he's ever been before…

This is the third book in a trilogy featuring the town of Promise Falls. I was less than thrilled when I reached the end of the first book (review here)to realise it was part of a trilogy. The second book Far from True which I review here when I thought I knew all the answers - I was wrong BIG time! But before all this came Never Look Away - not part of this trilogy but some of the back story to the one of the characters.

I've said it before - I am a big Linwood Barclay fan and I could not wait to read this latest book. However, I'm unsure that this tale needed three books - or even a fourth? There could still be some loose ends to tie up. 

You could read this book as a standalone. There are some nice recaps of the earlier goings on, not just for new readers but those that read the first two books too, as I doubt even the youngest will recall two books worth of info. They are done in a little gentle nod way, so you don't find yourself thinking, yes, I know all this get to the new stuff. 

The book opens with lots of different people getting sick. Barclay is a great observer of human nature and I could just imagine the many scenes playing out, so many different characters making such a small debut in his novel and yet he had all their traits right off. Little everyday nuances that you wonder why is he telling you this - so ordinary and that's how he reels you in, you overlook the clues! 

Barclay plays cat and mouse as usual with leading you to conclusions - or at least those you jump to yourself. All I can say is "I never saw it coming" especially the last line of "Thought about cake".......

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars. My thanks to Netgalley and  The Berkley Publishing Group. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Second Chance Shoe Shop - Marcie Steele

All Riley Flynn wants is to meet someone who makes her happy. But attracting the right kind of man is not easy, and with her heart still hurting from her last break-up, Riley believes she’ll never find love again. 

A year ago, Sadie Stewart’s whole world was shattered when her husband, Ross, died. She has struggled to keep herself together for the sake of their young daughter, but with the anniversary of his death approaching, Sadie finds herself overwhelmed by grief. 

Sadie and Riley work at Chandlers shoe shop, in the charming town of Hedworth. But when Chandlers is threatened with closure, the friends are confronted with the loss of not only their jobs, but also their support network - the glue that holds them together when they are close to breaking. 

As they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, Sadie realises that she might just be learning to live again. Could it be that new beginnings are just round the corner? The campaign also finds Riley unexpectedly crossing paths with charming photographer, Ethan. Maybe her second chance at love is right under her feet.

I have to admit being drawn to this book just by the words "shoe shop" in the title! It didn't disappoint and I was transported to a lovely place called Hedworth in which the shoe shop sits.I really like a girl who makes good too, and this is what Riley Flynn sets out to do with her campaign to save the shoe shop from closure.

One of things a lot of writers do nowadays is throw in a reference to Twitter or some other social media platform - I presume to keep it relevant in today's world. However, time after time I find the author can never have used Twitter etc because of faux pas on their use. Not this writer. She absolutely nailed the use of Twitter, even getting the shoe shop running a competition on there too. This made the book feel very current for me and added a different dimension to the story.

I just loved reading about Riley's ideas for revitalising the shoe shop but she seemed to be so unlucky in love. The use of Twitter in this respect was also really cleverly done, showing how easy it is for tweets to be bandied about and peoples feelings being hurt with what may or may not be the truth. 

There are the other characters Sadie and Dan who work in the shoe shop with Riley. They had good story lines too,  there were moments that I was willing them to make different choices - I'll leave you to read it to find out about what they were.

By the last third of the book I was really rooting for each of the main characters and was rapidly flicking through the pages eager to find out what their fates would be - and that of the shoe shop!

This is a nice easy read but with just enough suspense to keep you entertained.

I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

My thanks go to Netgalley for a copy of this book to review.

Friday, 9 September 2016

A Dictionary Of Mutual Understanding - Jackie Copleton


Amaterasu Takahashi has spent her life grieving for her daughter Yuko and grandson Hideo, who were victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.

Now a widow living in America, she believes that one man was responsible for her loss; a local doctor who caused an irreparable rift between mother and daughter.

When a man claiming to be Hideo arrives on her doorstep, she is forced to revisit the past; the hurt and humiliation of her early life, the intoxication of a first romance and the realisation that if she had loved her daughter in a different way, she might still be alive today.


The story begins with 50 year old Hideo arriving at his grandmother's (Amaterasu) house claiming to be her grandson. The novel then travels back and forth in time as Amaterasu relives the previous years and how she came to be in America. Amaterasu reads letters and a journal to take the reader with her back over those years. Some of which is news to Amaterasu and very moving.

One of the final glimpses of her with her young grandson is the last day she takes him to school - an ordinary act. But that day was the one the nuclear bomb fell on Nagasaki - which is where they lived. The book has so many little twists - "what ifs" and "different paths" taken - it is very thought provoking.

This book opened my eyes to so many things about Japan. There are some gruesome parts - facts about what happened after the bomb goes off and about what happened to prisoners of war. You could easily skim read these if you find them too upsetting. But it is so beautifully written with the story weaving back and forth across time. It did for me sometimes get a little confusing, as the time jumps were not always sequential. 

The main hook for me was whether Hideo is in fact Amaterasu's grandson? This was a little cliffhanger throughout the book and I really enjoyed that aspect. There is also at the beginning of each chapter a Japanese word or phrase explained - which is where the dictionary part comes into play.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars and is easily a book I could read again. I look forward to reading more by this author.

My thanks to Netgalley and Windmill Books for a copy to review.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The One In A Million Boy - Monica Wood

The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don't they teach you anything at school?
So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who's been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she's confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.
One Saturday, he doesn't show up. Ona starts to think he's not so special after all, but then his father Quinn arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son's good deed. The boy's mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that even at her age the world can surprise you, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find yourself again.


This really is a remarkable book I totally forgot I was reading a story - how Monica Wood ever came up with this story line is just amazing to me. The back story to Ona, who is now 104, is just so interesting and I really felt like I was sitting there listening to her tell it.

Although the book title suggests the main character is the boy he really takes a back seat once he establishes his love of world records - then steps in his Father Quinn. He really just wants to finish what his son started in helping out Ona. But what ensues is so much more as Ona helps Quinn find himself again and give herself a new lease of life too. 

I do wish Ona was a real person, I would love to meet her. From her card tricks to her wonderful tales of her life and her Lithuanian roots. I also feel I have taken so much from this book that I can't articulate but I feel better for having read it.

I knew I was approaching the end of the book and wondered - "how was the author going to end this lovely story". Well - I don't do spoilers but to say that it was a brilliant ending and had me in floods of tears - in a good way!

This is a book that will stay with me for a very long time.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars.

My thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a free e copy of this book for review.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A Field Guide To Reality - Joanna Kavenna


Eliade Jencks knows the only reason people call at midnight is to tell you someone has died. Professor Solete was one of her few friends. Perhaps her only friend. But his friends don't think much of her - a vague, scruffy waitress, impatient with philosophical onanism at parties. Naturally, they're horrified to find out that Solete has left her his Field Guide to Reality.
The Guide has taken on legendary proportions among the celebrated minds of Oxford. The work of a lifetime, it purportedly advances Solete's great philosophical Theory of Everything and even defines the very nature of reality. A big, important book. Only, they can't find it.
So, baffled, grieving, and slightly annoyed, Eliade sets out on a quest for the missing manuscript, and falls down a rabbit-hole of metaphysical possibility. From a psychotropic tea party to the Priests of the Quantum Realm, she trips her way through Solete's wonderland reality and, without quite meaning to, bursts open the boundaries of her own.
In this clever, darkly ironic and moving novel, Granta Best of Young British author Joanna Kavenna displays fearless originality and dread wit in confronting the strangeness of reality and how we contend with the disappearance of those we love.
Beautiful original drawings by Oly Ralfe illustrate this haunting tale of bringing light to an empty roo

This book felt like Alice in wonderland to me - I had no idea what was going on and so I just went with it as I was intrigued by the cryptic Solete and his message from beyond the grave.

I think I sort of understood what was happening at the end but really apart from being a beautifully bound book I was not really enjoying reading this book. The illustrations were dark and dystopian and took up about half of the novel.

Perhaps I am not learned enough to read this and understand beyond the basic mystery level.

I'm giving it 3 out of 5 stars.
I was sent the book by Real Readers for review.