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Archive for August, 2019

  • Title: Pog
  • Author: Pádraig Kenny
  • Publisher: Chicken House Books
  • Publication Date: 4th April 2019

Description:
David and Penny’s strange new home is surrounded by forest. It’s the childhood home of their mother, who’s recently died. But other creatures live here … magical creatures, like tiny, hairy Pog.

He’s the one of the First Folk, protecting the boundary between the worlds. As the children explore, they discover monsters slipping through from the place on the other side of the cellar door. Meanwhile, David is drawn into the woods by something darker, which insists there’s a way he can bring his mother back …

My Thoughts:
What a wonderfully exiting sounding book and gorgeous cover! I have to admit that the cover immediately grabbed my eye and made me want to find out more and the description just sealed the deal, so I decided to treat myself for Independent Bookshop Week (which coincidentally occurs around the time of my birthday!), and got a copy of this book from one of my favourite bookshops.

Following the arrival of David and Penny at their new home, readers are given glimpses of their lives through the eyes of Pog, the small creature who has lived in their house for many years. And it is from Pog’s perspective that a lot of the action takes place, making this such a fun and exciting read. His thoughts about humans and their ways are humorous and his recollections of those who have gone before him like “Grandfa” really make this character stand out.
The narration isn’t limited to Pog though, we see events through the eyes of both David and Penny, see how they cope with the grief of losing their mother and how it’s impacted on their wee family. The author has taken great care to explore their grief in a natural way for children, demonstrating that it can make things seem harder than you’d expect, that at times it’s unfathomable but ultimately for David and Penny, the support of each other and their father is something that will help them get through the hard times.

Wonderfully vivid descriptions of the characters and their antics give readers a real feel for what goes on in this book, it’s hard not to image the scenes as they play out on the pages and draw the readers in. It’s a really beautifully written book, the magical mysticism appeals to a whole variety of readers and although it’s aimed at readers 9+, I really enjoyed it and found it a great book to blast away the cobwebs with!

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  • Title: In The Absence of Miracles
  • Author: Michael J Malone
  • Publisher: Orenda Books
  • Publication Date: 19th September 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.

For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about.  A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover. For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

My Thoughts:

Michael J. Malone has the unique ability to take a dark and often less spoken about social issue and bring it right into the spotlight, and he does just this in his latest book.

Expertly taking the reader on an emotional and turbulent journey through the pages, Malone unravels a multilayered plot at the perfect pace, shocking and surprising the reader in equal measure.
With a plot so complex, it would be wrong of me to attempt to break it down or say much about it, and in all honestly, I’m not sure I could. Not without giving something away!
However, I will say that the plotting is fiendishly clever, and I had no idea it was heading down this particular route until I got to a certain passage … I then had to re-read it again, shocked at what I’d read, such is Malone’s way of ensuring difficult topics are laid out, bringing them to mainstream attention without sugar-coating or sensationalising them. And for this, I applaud Malone. His writing highlights topics that are not discussed enough or even at all. There is a powerful poignancy in his writing that never fails to move me.

The characters that Malone has created in this book are ones that I found I needed to get to know, I wanted to know about their pasts, find out more about what drove them to make the decisions they made and why they acted as they did. The clever use of multiple timelines explains many actions of the characters and gives readers an insight into a world they might never experience otherwise.

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  • Title: Blood Song
  • Author: Johana Gustawsson
  • Translator: David Warriner
  • Publisher: Orenda Books
  • Publication Date: 19th September 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

Spain, 1938:
The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

My Thoughts:

There are a few authors that I always look forward to book news from, but Johana Gustawsson is a name that I will practically stalk on social media for updates. The simple reason is that her books are stunning.

For fans of Block 46 and Keeper, you are in for an amazing reading experience with Blood Song. With a dual timeline, readers are transported between 1938 Spain and 2016 Sweden, coupled a cast of characters who compel and captivate and a plot that completely blows you away.

Gustawsson has the ability to effortlessly beguile her readers, weaving a complex and compelling tale that draws on events from history. I must admit, my knowledge of Franco’s dictatorship was quite lacking, I had no comprehension of the atrocities committed under the guise of civil war, nor the conditions that met the imprisoned upon their arrival. The narrative surrounding this timeline is heartbreaking, and while there has been attempt to soften some of the more brutal aspects, there is no denying that it gives readers much to think about and I certainly cannot deny the impact it had upon me as I read. I felt that I was holding my breath, holding back tears, holding in screams.
The 2016 timeline contains its own atrocities, including the murder of Aliénor Lindbergh’s family. But this should not overshadow the investigation into the Swedish fertility clinics which made for frightening reading. The exploitation of people when they are so vulnerable and so desperate for a child is hard to read, but it is pitched perfectly to engage the reader.

And as the plot unfolded, I found myself wrapped up in the lives of the characters, feeling their pain, their frustrations and anguish. I always feel a sort of connection with Emily Roy and Alexis Castells, something in the way that these two characters have been crafted makes them so lifelike, the situations they are involved in become more than just words on a page, they play out like clips on a movie reel.

Up until now, Block 46 was a firm favourite for me, but I think that Blood Song has somehow managed to wedge itself a little more into my heart. Somehow this book has managed to fascinate and haunt my head in equal measure, it is a truly magnificent book.

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