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Published: 29 June 2017

 

Description:

CALLING MAJOR TOM is a heart-warming and ultimately life-affirming story of a man who has given up on the world… but discovers in the most unlikely way that it might not have given up on him.

We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the very beginning this was an easy and enjoyable book to read despite me singing Space Oddity constantly in my head (and sometimes aloud much to the dog’s confusion).

We follow the tales of Thomas Major, a scientist who accidentally becomes a spaceman and ends up on Mars.  But we also meet the Omerods – Gladys, Ellie and James.  Ellie and James are the grandchildren of Gladys, they are living with their grandmother whilst their father is in jail.  15 year old Ellie is stretching herself to the limit to make ends meet by working numerous jobs, caring for her brother and grandmother and praying that no one finds out that Gladys has Dementia.
It was at this point I began questioning how this would all come together, how on earth (or Mars!) these two strands of plot could weave together….but I should never have worried, David Barnett is a master in his craft.  Carefully, the plot pulls together to form a wonderfully uplifting and heart warming book.

The wonderful cast of characters are superbly drawn, Gladys despite her issues never fails to make a reader laugh.  Her situation is lightened sensitively through humour making it feel all the more realistic, so much so that I could see my own grandmother in her.  The personalities of all characters really shine through, and for the reader it’s a rare treat to “meet” people you become so invested in.

I feel that mention has to go to the descriptiveness of Barnett’s writing, the view from the spaceship was really something else.  It was so vivid, so wonderful, and I felt that I could see it.

This will definitely be book spoken about in 2017, it’s poignant yet funny and it has a wonderful cast of characters that will warm the heart readers.

You can buy a copy of Calling Major Tom via Amazon.

 

About the Author:

David Barnett is an award-winning journalist and author based in West Yorkshire. He was born in Wigan, Lancashire, in 1970 and has worked in regional newspapers since 1989. He is the author of the Gideon Smith alternate history series from Tor Books, beginning in 2013 with Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl. David is also the author of Hinterland (2005, reprinted 2008), Angelglass (2007) and The Janus House and Other Two-Faced Tales (2009), all published by Immanion Press, as well as popCULT!, published in 2011 from Pendragon Press. His work has been translated into Czech, Russian and German. He is represented by the literary agent John Jarrold. David is married to Claire, also an award-winning journalist, and they have two children, Charlie and Alice.

See David’s website for mote information davidbarnett.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

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Published: March 2017
Reviewed: 23 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Trapeze in return for an honest review

Description:

For fans of Disclaimer and I Let You Go, Tattletale is the debut psychological thriller you can’t miss.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who believed in fairytales. Now she is out to get your happy ending.

One day changes Jody’s life forever.
She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.

One day changes Mags’ life forever.
After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiance Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind.

But the pieces don’t quite seem to fit…

My Thoughts & Review:

When I saw the folks at Trapeze saying how good this book was and how it would be one of those books not to miss out on I knew that it had to be something pretty special and one that I might need to read.

Tattletale is an incredibly tense read, it’s creepy and there’s an aura of claustrophobia that leeches from the pages.  The reader is aware that danger lurks in the shadows and the silence but cannot stop reading.  As the story unfolds the reader learns that things are not as clear cut as they may have initially seemed.

The tales from Mags and Abe’s childhood are disturbing and saddening reading, the details adding to the overall picture of these complex characters and give an insight as to how they ended up where they are today.  The narrative from a young girl, the identity of whom we find out later is utterly harrowing and uncomfortable reading.  The reader knows what is happening from the subtle and not so subtle language used by Naughton which makes this an emotional read and one that I can only describe as traumatic but enthralling.

The writing itself it a thing of beauty, it really is.  The clever layering of plot and small details mean that the reader experiences some amazing writing.  Building a complex plot is one thing,  but to combine it with incredibly intense and clever psychological framework is taking it to another level.  Deviously, Naughton allows the reader to form their own conclusions from the breadcrumb trail she sets out before slowly revealing what actually happened, and despite the clues being there, I will admit I sat back for a moment and was wowed at what I had read.  Exploring sensitive subjects in a novel can be difficult for some authors, they need to be written with objectivity and the correct level of sensitivity, but I think that it is handled well here, but I would urge caution, as it does handle some topics that some readers may feel very uncomfortable reading about (child abuse and rape).

Definitely recommended for fans of psychological thrillers

You can pre order a copy of Tattletale here.

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The Bitter Season

Author: Tami Hoag
Published: 10 March 2016
Reviewed: 18 March 2016
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24


Copy supplied by Orion Publishing Group in return for an honest review

4 out of 5 Stars

 



Description: 


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Master of Shadows

Author : Neil Oliver
Published: 10 September 2015
Reviewed:  25 August 2015

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Orion Publishing Group in return for an honest review via NetGalley.

 

 4 out of 5 stars


From the lawless borderlands of Scotland to the crumbling majesty of Constantinople, the first novel from TV historian Neil Oliver is a sweeping, epic adventure and the story of a man all but forgotten by history.
In fifteenth-century Constantinople, Prince Constantine saves the life of a broken-hearted girl. But the price of his valour is high.
John Grant is a young man on the edge of the world. His unique abilities carry him from his home in Scotland to the heart of the Byzantine Empire in search of a girl and the chance to fulfil a death-bed promise.
Lena has remained hidden from the men who have been searching for her for many years. When she’s hunted down, at last she knows what she must do.
With an army amassing beyond the city’s ancient walls, the fates of these three will intertwine. As the Siege of Constantinople reaches its climax, each must make a choice between head and heart, duty and destiny.

Helpfully, this novel starts with a brief history lesson, the background to Constantinople, its importance as a centre for religion, arts and sieges.  This serves as a fantastic memory aid as well as introducing some key information that would be of use to the reader later in the book.

The prologue gives the reader the first glimpse at Neil Oliver’s abilities as an author, the descriptive narrative immediately bringing clear images to mind of a crouched character struggling in the dark, “”..Crouching, bent over like a half-shut knife, he took a step forward into the cramped space…”
but also gives a good indication of how this novel will go, twists and turns, battles, heroes, damsels and destiny.

Set in Scotland in 1444, the reader is introduced to John Grant, a unique young man, with an “other worldly” air about him, he has the ability to “tune into” his surroundings so deftly that he can sometimes sense what’s coming.
Another intriguing character introduced in the first part of the novel is Badr Khassan, who is magnificently described, the wild and unruly appearance, to the dark eyes and the description of the powerful warhorse that he rode, all helping to give a great image of how “strange” but strong this newcomer was to the Scots at this time.
There is no reason to suspect that the scrawny, young John Grant and bulky, powerful giant named Badr Khassan will have any impact on each other, but their destines have been intertwined for sometime, it’s not long before the true story of this novel begins and John Grant’s life really begins.

The narrative jumps between the stories of John, Badr, Patrick, Lena, Yaminah and Constantine.  Each character has their own interesting back story and it’s brought to life in their “own voice” in separate parts of the novel.  It is from part three of the novel that most of the main characters appear together in the same setting.   In the fairness of not ruining the book for other readers I will avoid spoilers, but will say that I was driven to keep reading to see how it all came together. 

The battle scenes are well scripted, the explanations given through the narrative help give a greater understanding of warfare in that time and this is where the history lesson from the beginning of the book comes in useful.  The hand to hand combat is well written, it’s interesting to read how different weaponry changed the way in which combatants engaged. 

The language used in this novel is very befitting the 15th Century setting, indeed I would expect nothing less from such an able historian and archaeologist, and Neil Oliver does himself proud by having done his homework (although perhaps he was already acquainted with the linguistics from his work).    The descriptions of the settings leave you in no doubt of how the Scottish wilderness or Galician woods looked, the magnificence of the Walls of Constantinople or the wonders of Prince Constantine’s chambers.
Character descriptions are so flowing that you cannot help but imagine John Grant as a scrawny teen, Badr Khassan as a powerful dark stranger or Yaminah as a delicate yet strong, beautiful young woman.

This is an impressive debut novel from a very well respected historian, archaeologist and television figure and I can only hope that the sequel lives up to this high standard. My only criticism was that I couldn’t put it down (even at bedtime!). 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Fiction and History genres.

I would like to thank Orion Publishing Group for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book will be published on 10th September 2015.  A copy can be purchased here Master of Shadows (Hardcover UK Version).  The sequel to this novel is expected in 2016.

 

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