Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Postbox Murders by Edmund Glasby

Out Now
Published by Endeavour
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Richard Montrose is an eccentric loner and clockmaker, fascinated by violent crime.

When a series of gruesome murders occur in the sleepy Oxfordshire village of Long Gallop, Montrose can’t stop himself from investigating.

Soon the whole village is discussing the ‘Postbox Killer’, a madman who deposited the mutilated remains of his victims in postboxes throughout the region.

But Montrose discovers that his own background closely resembles the usual profile of a serial killer, and to Chief Inspector James Holbrooke, he seems an increasingly suspicious figure …

My Review:

I love books with the word Murder in the title so I was looking forward to reading The Postbox Murders! At 96 pages this is a novella which goes from start to finish quickly. It is great in that the storyline moves swiftly, but I felt a little let down at the lack of detail, and the apparent rush to reach it's conclusion.

The novella has a strong plot and leading character. Richard Montrose is a slightly eccentric loner, who as well as being a clockmaker has a strong interest in murder. He is that kind of reclusive character that we all imagine being slightly dodgy, and we are wary of.

The novella opens with the discovery of a body dismembered and locked inside the postbox of a local village. It of course not only revolts residents, but also piques interest and gets everyone talking about who could be behind it.

We meet Richard Montrose early on, and within a couple of chapters I had a very clear image of Richard in my mind, and couldn't make my mind up whether his interest in the murders was just fascination, or something more. In fact I couldn't quite work it out until almost the end! He is very cleverly written and I loved the way his character developed, albeit from a safe distance!

I was really getting in to the storyline and felt slightly short changed that a number of murders, the investigation, and the conclusion was all covered in just 96 pages. I would have loved their to be more meat to the plot where there was time to be more descriptive about what had happened, and more detailed investigation. I felt like that was coming, but never quite arrived, particularly towards the end. But that said, I did find myself unable to put this down, and read it all in one sitting, eager to know who dunnit. It is fast paced, and an enjoyable read that would be great for a shortish journey, or when you are looking to escape into something not too heavy.

Thank you to Endeavour for allowing me to read a review copy in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin

Out Now
Published by Bookouture
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb: 

Come and spend a picture perfect romantic Christmas at White Cliff Bay 

Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself… 

Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance. 

As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George. 

But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas? 

Snuggle up with a piece of Christmas cake and mulled wine, and spend the festive season at White Cliff Bay. You won’t want to leave! Christmas at Lilac Cottage also out now. 

My Review:

Yes - ok - I know. It is now spring and yet I am reviewing a book called Snowflakes on Silver Cove, that talks about christmas in it's blurb! But please, don't let that put you off, and miss out on a fantastic book! This is well worth a read at any time of year.

If you haven't read any Holly Martin books you need to change that asap! Holly's books are filled with warmth, friendship, romance, and lots of smiles, and Snowflakes on Silver Cove is no exception.

Libby and George are best friend who live in flats across the corridor from each other. As the synposis says, Libby is a writer who is struggling to finish her latest book, and George is trying to pluck up the courage to get back in to the world of dating. So, they strike a deal to help each other out and provide the inspiration and confidence to complete both. And so we enter a world of laughter, smiles, romance, friendship and confusion.

Libby and George are wonderful characters. I simply loved them! They are so down to earth and likable. I found myself really getting to grips with who they were, and the book became 3D in that I felt like it was more than just reading words. I felt like a fly on the wall in their world actually viewing and sensing what was going on if that makes any sense! I wanted to stay absorbed in the book rather than face the real world!

I love Holly's style of writing. She is the Queen of joy, who through words can make the world feel a better place. If ever I need cheering up, and a dose of laughter I know I can turn to her books to come up trumps.

I loved the will they, won't they aspect of this book. They arrange to go on a number of dates, which are certainly eventful! Throughout it is clear there is a spark between them, and I could visualise them being so good together, but as with Holly's leading ladies you are never sure will they get their man in the end! This is no exception. But it is clear that if she is to win George over there will be every hurdle possible chucked in her way.

Snowflakes on Silver Cove felt like making two great friends. I wanted to hang out with them, escape into the community of Silver Cove and become one of them! As well as Libby and George we meet some other great characters who bring drama and some heartwarming moments too. They are more than supporting characters, they come to life in their own right.

As a child my favourite book was The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I loved all the different magical worlds at the top of the tree. I often read books and wish that I could have my very own tree, with all my favourite fictitious places at the top. I would definitely be adding Silver Cove to that list!

Thanks to Bookouture for allowing me to read a review copy in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Shtum by Jem Lester

Published on 7th April 2016
Published by Orion
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation - a strategic decision to further Jonah's case in an upcoming tribunal - Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben's elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.

As Ben battles single fatherhood, a string of well-meaning social workers and his own demons, he learns some difficult home truths. Jonah, blissful in his innocence, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.


My review:

I finished reading Shtum a couple of days ago, but have had to take some time to absorb and think about it before writing my review as I wasn't quite sure what I made of it. There has been a lot of chat on social media about this book, and the majority of this is about how wonderful and moving they found Shtum. I don't for one moment doubt that this will be an amazing success and will have many many people talking about it for a long time.

I still find myself conflicted as I write this review. The subject matter is very gritty, centred around Jonah, who is profoundly autistic. He has many limitations and his parents Ben and Emma appear to be at their wits end as life with Jonah is very challenging on a daily basis. They have decided that the best option for them all would be for Jonah to go to a residential school that can better cope for all his needs. The problem is that the place is expensive and the local authority want to plump for cheaper options.

Ben and Emily fake a martial breakup to try and influence the local authority and the educational tribunal panel. However, when Ben and Jonah move in with Bens father things become more complicated rather than simpler.

As a reader I followed and observed Ben's struggles raising Jonah at home. The severity of his autism presents lots of challenges and I can only imagine how difficult this must be for parents and all the obstacles they have to overcome.

Jonah is a very unassuming character. He comes across as quite detached from the real world, but there are glimpses of affection from him, particularly with Ben's father Georg. I really liked Jonah and thought the author was very frank in his portrayal of him. His character was strongly developed to give me some real insight into his situation and made me ponder on what I would do if I were his parent.

Jonah's father Ben is the other main character in the book, and I think perhaps my dislike of Ben has clouded my opinion of the novel. Ben isn't the most instantly likeable man. He seems to be abrupt, detached, a heavy drinker who really just wants to ship Jonah out and get his life back. However, first impressions can be deceptive. Whilst I never really warmed to him I came to appreciate more of his viewpoint as the book progressed, and I was left in no doubt that he loved his son, which I wasn't sure of at the start. It made me question how I think I would respond as a parent if I were in his situation, and whilst I hope I would act differently I of course can't be sure.

I loved Georg, Ben's father. A warm, loving, caring man who has Jonah at the centre of his life, he was a wonderful man. He spends a lot of time talking to Jonah, telling him stories of his past that he has never told to Ben. Towards the end of the book these stories emerge in more detail and I felt I got a better understanding of who he was.

 Shtum is a very thought provoking book, and I can almost sense that I am debating it with myself whilst writing this review. The more I think about it the more I enjoyed the book and can't quite put my finger on what was missing for me. I would love to hear more about what other readers think and it would be a fantastic choice for book groups to read and discuss.

Thank you to Orion for kindly providing a copy in return for an honest review.