Sunday, 25 September 2016

Sam Kates

I've enjoyed everything Sam Kates has written. This is classic sci-fi and I loved it!

My review - 

Matt is somewhat hung-over and longing to reach his floor in the building where he works, just so he can sink a coffee. Three other people enter the lift with him, people he doesn’t know, and the lift goes up to the top floor, the sixth. This is where their nightmare begins. The doors open onto a different world. We follow their experiences which form a wonderful, classic set of sci-fi of scenes.

This novella is long enough to get to grips with the different scenarios but quickly establishes the fearful, apparently inescapable predicament they find themselves in. It makes you want to take the stairs in future. An excellent read.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Will Macmillan Jones

I have to confess that this is my favourite genre of the author's. It reminds me of the Wheatley books I used to devour in my teens. The strength of these is that horrific things happen to ordinary people. As the lottery ads say, 'It could be you!'

The Curse of Clyffe House

My review -

Sheila, a neighbour of Mr Jones, the unwitting and unwilling participant in several previous supernatural tales, is writing a book. She has an urgent deadline and wants company at a remote holiday cottage near the South Wales Coastal Path. Eagerness makes her go but nervousness about being their alone makes her urge Mr Jones to accompany her. Cliffe House is a seriously unquiet dwelling.

I confess I would have left on the first night but Sheila and Jones, though scared, are made of sterner stuff. Eventually, Jones calls upon his friend Eric who comes to help. We get yet another tantalising peek behind the curtain of Eric's past. Take a remote cottage, a wild coastal path, a derelict farmhouse and a pre-historic hill fort and all the ingredients are there for a tale of unease. Welsh legend comes to life and the resultant battle is to the death. A very readable story indeed.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Keith Stuart

This book is a real joy to read. I can't recommend it highly enough.

A Boy Made of Blocks

My review - 

Sam is eight years old, and autistic. His parents, Alex and Jody, are worn out and driven apart trying to understand him and help him cope with the world. Eventually they enter on a trial separation and Alex moves in with his friend Dan. Alex feels guilt from a childhood incident and this colours his life. All his well-meant interactions with Sam become head-on collisions. Gradually, he finds he can connect with his son through the X-box game of Minecraft. At the beginning of the book we can feel Alex's frustration when his son turns mulish or destructive. He and Sam live in parallel universes, side by side but never connecting. The logical world of Minecraft allows Sam to take on a setting in which he can exert control. Slowly we see Alex begin to trust his own instincts and those of his son and the bleakness he felt earlier in the book resolves itself.

I felt, from a knowledge of several autistic children through my work, that Sam is beautifully and accurately portrayed. I shared Alex’s frustration, too, and Jody’s despair that he would ever come to see her point of view. As a reader, my viewpoint swung slowly, as did Alex’s, and I enjoyed the author’s skill in manipulating my opinions this way. Cleverly done. I enjoyed this book immensely. It manages to contain and contrast huge sadness and great joy. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Craig Lancaster

I knew it wouldn't be long before I read the latest Edward story. A must for fans of this quirky character.

Edward Unspooled

My review -

People embarking on Book Three in the Edward series are sure to be Edward fans already. We have seen him, through the previous two books, turn from a solitary, rather mistrustful man, to someone who learns to socialise and become a friend. He and Sheila, now married, learn they are to be parents, and this book takes the form of letters to his unborn child, to which Sheila adds her own notes.

Through the writer's skill, Edward's voice comes through loud and clear. He learns to stand up for himself and to be considerate of others, not easy for him, bearing in mind his background. He is very literal and this often results in humour. He is convinced that he’s really funny but much of the humour comes from his failure to understand or to empathise with others, try though he might. The story is often surprising and at times exciting. I found it a really enjoyable read.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Craig Lancaster

Edward is a lovely character - there's a third in the series, too.

Edward Adrift

My review -

Edward Stanton, first encountered in 600Hours of Edward, has Asperger's Syndrome and copes with his life by strict adherence to a routine. Then, three years after the death of his father, with whom he had a difficult relationship, his world becomes fractured. He's adrift. He's made redundant from his job and his best friends have moved 600 miles away. After a frantic phone call from his friend Donna, he decides to go away to stay with her family for a few days. At this point, his world goes even further awry.

I loved the character of Edward in the first book of this series. He is intelligent, serious, literal and yet simple and vulnerable. He has to come to terms here with changes in his mother's life, and to allow himself to make changes in his own. This story, and the previous one, make you think about the way we label people. The writing is faultless throughout and a huge amount of wisdom shines through the words. I'm determined to find the time to read the third in this series. Highly recommended.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Katherine Roberts

I've read one of Katherine's books previously and only time has prevented me from reading more. When I saw this collection of short science-fiction stories I jumped on it.

Weird and Wonderful

My review - 

This selection of science fiction and speculative short stories is really engrossing. The stories aren’t the usual Sci-fi stuff about space, battles or alien invasions (not that I object to those). They are about people, many of them female, and they are very thoughtful. Enough of them take the idea of young people being trained or manipulated by a ruling class or group that it could be considered a theme. An anthology is only as strong as its weakest story and I didn’t find a single one here that I didn’t enjoy on some level. Very thought-provoking.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Luca Veste

A new author for me - I love discovering new writers - and this, though the third in a series, really stands well alone. 


My review -

Someone is killing couples. The case is high profile because a celebrity couple have been involved. They are tied to chairs, face to face and made to admit their lies to one another. The killer is obsessed with love, and truth. David Murphy and his sidekick Laura Rossi can’t seem to get a handle on the case until, for each of them, it comes closer to home.

This, I now see, is the third in a series but it stands really well as a novel in its own right and doesn’t need to be propped up by information in the earlier books. The tension in the story is ramped up gradually and when readers come to discover, along with the detectives, who is responsible, it becomes a race to read to the end and see what happens. A thoroughly enjoyable story.