Book Reviews

One Day in December

Don’t worry; this isn’t a winter or Christmas blog post. It just so happens that my next book review is a story that features some key moments in December, hence the photo choice. I absolutely fell in love with this book by Josie Silver. I read it every second I could on the train and on my lunch-break, desperate to get to the end and find out what happened. It’s the story of Laurie who falls in love at first sight – something she never believed in – and spends a year desperate to find her mysterious man. She finally finds him, although not in the way she expects to.

I constantly had my heart in my mouth throughout. I am a true romantic at heart so I was willing Laurie and Jack to get together, though I will not reveal if they did. The book does have a sense of One Day by David Nicholls about it as you follow the characters for nearly ten years and as One Day is one of my favourite books, you’ll hear no complaint from me.

The characters felt so real to me and every near miss that they had made perfect sense, though it does make you want to shout at them sometimes to get their act together. That first glance is so realistic and at the same time feels like something out of a classic movie. I really look forward to reading more by Josie Silver and if you love love stories, I highly recommend this book.

Apologies for my sporadic blog posts at the moment and thanks so much for sticking with me.

Book Reviews

The Cursed Wife

The Elizabethan thriller The Cursed Wife by Pamela Hartshorne is a change of direction from my usual genre. With the historical setting, I couldn’t resist. It tells the story of Mary and Cat as we slowly uncover their past and understand why their lives are irreconcilably intertwined. The theme of Mary being cursed follows her throughout the novel and is tied to the doll she keeps with her; this doll seems to have powers of its own and changes its expression to foreshadow events, a subtle but terrifying addition.

The trouble that Mary finds herself in is mostly not her fault and you really for her as she struggles to keep her perfect life together. It’s a story of self-fulfilling prophecy. The ending is at once heart-breaking yet undeniable; it also leaves the story open for a potential sequel. Cat is a character I find myself disliking the whole way through; I couldn’t find any redeemable qualities in her but could understand her situation at times.

The story is told from the perspective of the two women and it’s a great insight to see their different takes on the same event. If you like historical fiction and thrillers, I’d definitely recommend this book. Buy The Cursed Wife here.

Photo by Mitch Rosen on Unsplash

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Book Reviews

The Trick to Time Review

I recently read The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal, if I could sum this book up in a few words it would be that it is an incredibly moving story and at times heartbreaking. Using a parallel timeline, we follow Mona on the eve of her 60th birthday as she reflects on her past. She runs a doll shop and also helps women cope with tragic losses; something she’s too familiar with. Some may dislike reading two timelines at once but I personally enjoyed it and find that each event complements another. It also shows the power of the story as I was willing younger Mona’s path to change even though I knew the eventual outcome.  There is a twist at the end of the book which took me by surprise which I’m sure was the aim.  There’s the reoccurring theme of missed chances throughout the novel with the story of Bridie back in Ireland and Mona’s potential suitor Karl. It’s a very thought-provoking novel and I feel it deals with the subject of loss very well. Setting part of it during the IRA bombing in Birmingham was a good touch, highlighting how Irish immigrants during this time in Britain would have felt. I would definitely recommend this book but would be wary as it does deal with the loss of children.

Photo by Aaron Kato on Unsplash

Book Reviews

Review of On The House

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So here’s my first book review and it’s a positive one with a unique publisher. On the House by Helen Maskew was published last year by Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher that allows authors to raise money by talking to readers and sharing ideas. If enough people are interested in the idea, they can help contribute. I recently went to a talk at my town’s first Literary Festival and heard some great writers talk about their experiences. Even though they have all had success, they still explained how it’s such a demanding job. You can’t write one book and hope to retire with riches. Starting out you have to be able to work at the same time while facing rejection. So Unbound is great concept that I hope will continue. Onto the book.

On The House is thoroughly researched and well written social commentary on the hardships faced by everyday people in Victorian England. The novel starts with Edgar, the local landowner who becomes embroiled in the nearby workhouse. He slowly starts to see that not all is as it seems. He already dislikes the hypocrisy of his class and becomes a champion for social justice.  For a history lover like me, it was a joy to read as I could tell how much work had gone into making the novel as accurate as possible. This leads me to the only criticism that those unfamiliar or disinterested in the topic might struggle to enjoy or fully grasp the conext.  I loved the references to Charles Dickens as well as the Peterloo massacre which had a poignant connection to the unfair social system of the time.

With hindsight now we know the welfare laws weren’t fair or humane, unfortunately, something that still goes on today. There was an unexpected gruesome section that was a stark but enjoyable contrast to the rest of the story. The story came to a satisfactory ending which gave hope in a bleak time. I believe this is a planned trilogy and I look forward to reading more of these enjoyable blends of social commentary and a gripping whodunit.

Click on the book cover below to get the ebook from Amazon.

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Libraries

Save our Libraries

In the news recently there has been a lot of talk about spending cuts; especially when it comes to libraries. Nearby Bristol has recently had a multitude of libraries be threatened with closure and only last week library staff there went on strike due to a proposed change in their working patterns.

I have a lot of experience with libraries; I have been a regular user of local and educational libraries all my life; I wouldn’t have survived my degree without them.   For the last nine months I have also been working in a busy city centre library. As a child I loved going and would take out as many books as I could; I still do that now up to a point but unfortunately life gets in the way. Working in a library or a bookshop was always my ideal job and I am now lucky enough to be doing that. Libraries are the backbone of any society; they do so much but get little recognition. Those of you who are not regular library users may not even know how much people depend on them. My new job has given me a unique perspective into what a library system really does for the community. This might get into a long list but I want to highlight exactly why we need libraries. Starting at the beginning a library is a brilliant way to encourage children to enjoy reading for pleasure as well as to help them develop. A report a few years ago showed that in the UK 30% of children do not own a single book of their own and this has been shown to have negative consequences on their school work and engagement with reading.  Encouraging parents to read stories to their children is also important and many libraries run story times and other events where parents can meet others and have a bit of a break.

The internet is not always the best source of information therefore a library can be a great place to help with homework and further education; in most degrees you cannot rely on online sources and libraries are a must. In the city library I work in the public computers are very well used and although this can at times seem like the wrong use of a library these facilities are vital to many. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a computer or is not competent enough to need one. However, so many things need to be done online now such as job searching, applying for benefits and contacting family abroad. During work I had heard a lot people say they couldn’t do without libraries.

The amount of people who use the library just as a safe and warm place to go is also staggering and I’m proud that we can offer that. There aren’t many other places you can go without spending money. For people who have maybe just come out of the prison system or who are trying to get back on their feet after being homeless libraries provide a free way for them to access the help they need. Some elderly or lonely people just want someone to talk to; my local library is the hub of the community. It might not be busy all the time but people like to go there to sit and meet up with friend and just have a quiet place to sit and read.

I haven’t really mentioned books yet and they are quite vital to a library. Without libraries elderly and housebound people would not have easy access to books. Audio books are free to visually impaired people and many libraries have a housebound service where someone handpicks books for an induvial and delivers them. Many value having a local library right on their doorstep; if everyone had to go to the main one library use might fall as it would difficult for many to get there. The amount of information and entertainment that you can access at a very small if not non -existent fee is amazing and we should make more use of these great community assets. Even if you don’t regularly visit one now I’m sure you remember doing the Summer Reading Challenge as a child or being taken to Storytime or being able to print that last minute essay when your printer had broken down. I could go on about all the other services like the mobile libraries and other outreach projects that libraries are involved in but the bottom line is that they are here for everyone.

I definitely believe that a library is something that we will all feel the loss of if it closes. Please support your local library.

 

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