Monthly Archives: May 2019

The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

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The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

Summary:

A student kidnapped from the park.
Nineteen-year-old Sophie disappears one summer afternoon. She wakes up to find herself locked inside a derelict warehouse, surrounded by five objects. If she uses them wisely, she will escape her prison. Otherwise she will die.

An investigator running out of time.
Sophie’s distraught father calls in the one man who can help find his daughter: unique investigator Colter Shaw. Raised in the wilderness by survivalist parents, he is an expert tracker with a forensic mind trained to solve the most challenging cases. But this will be a test even for him.

A killer playing a dangerous game.
Soon a blogger called Henry is abducted – left to die in the dark heart of a remote forest – and the whole case gets turned on its head. Because this killer isn’t following the rules; he’s changing them. One murder at a time…

 

Jeffery-Deaver

My Review:

This is the first in a new series from the master thriller writer Jeffery Deaver. I was delighted to receive a copy in the post and a thumping page turner it really is. So much so that I am actually a few days late with my review as I kept re-writing the review. A good sign.

Our main character is Colter Shaw who is by definition a reward seeker pure and simple. Shaw’s skill is tracking after being brought up within a family that honed his skills and now he puts them to good use in this tense thriller The Never Game (Harper Collins). His services have been requested to search for a missing woman Sophie Mulliner after her father becomes worried for his missing daughter. Frank has heard so much of Shaw’s experiences and is frustrated at the lack of a breakthrough by the local police.

But soon this becomes a tale of red herrings and murder. One centre of attention is Sophie’s boyfriend Kyle who had a bit of a reputation for mistreating her. What does Kyle know? But there is another twist when Kyle himself is killed when they end up in a disused factory. Was Kyle himself silenced?

This is a fast paced thriller and there is a link to video games within the plot, well this is a first in a thriller for me. But found our main character Colter Shaw to be one interesting character with a past of his own. If you are a fan of Jefferyy Deaver’s novels, then you will not be disappointed and I am now already looking forward to the next instalment.

416 Pages.

Thank you to Rebecca Bryant for the review copy of The Never Game by Jeffrey Deaver

The Never Game by Jeffrey Deaver was published by Harper Collins and was published on 16th May 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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The Good Bee: A Celebration of Bees and How to Save Them by Alison Benjamin & Brian McCallum

 

The Good Bee

The Good Bee: A Celebration of Bees and How to Save Them by Alison Benjamin & Brian McCallum

Summary:

Bees are our most loyal ally. These fascinating, enigmatic creatures are a key lynchpin in the working of our planet. Without them the landscape, as well as every aisle in our supermarkets would look radically different.

And we’re not just talking about honey bees. There are more than 20,000 species of bee worldwide and only a handful make honey. Some live in colonies and others are solitary. We can all help protect them – and they desperately need protecting – but you can’t save what you don’t love. And you can’t love what you don’t know.

The Good Bee is a celebration of this most vital and mysterious of nature’s wizards. Here you’ll discover the complexities of bee behaviour – as well as the bits that still baffle us – the part they play in the natural world, their relationship with us throughout history, how they are coming under threat and what we can all do about it.

Beautifully produced, with hand-made illustrations throughout, it is a story for our times and a book to treasure.

 My Review:

Honeybees have been around for around 100 million years, just think about that for a moment. Pollinating flowers and making honey. Yet in 2019 they are facing extinction, but the fate of the bee goes hand in hand with the fate of mankind. In simple and plain terms if we allow the bees to be wiped out then life on our planet will never be the same again. They need our help.

Both Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum have written the most wonderful book on the subject of bees. A look at the life of an insect that is so close to man.

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With superb illustrations from James Nunn we embark on a journey into the private life of the bee. There are over 25,000 species of Bees but not all make bees make honey. Yet all the species have one thing in common. They are great pollinators and that is why they play such a vital role in our planets existence.

Bumblebees are the first bees to appear but their body temperature must be around 80 °F or they cannot take off and at any one time they are only 40 minutes from starvation.

In this beautiful little book, we take a look at some of the species you may see as they go from one flower to another. There is also a look at why bees are so close to being lost forever and how each of us can create a garden that will attract different species of bees.

If we all just created a little space for nature and bees, then we would not be facing such a dramatic loss that would impact every single human on our planet.

The fate of the bee is in our hands and so is our future and it is only now that we are just beginning to understand what is at stake. We can all make a difference. Time to show a little love to the bees we see every Summer and give them a hand. Next time you spread some honey on your morning toast, just stop a moment and think about how this came to be.

192 Pages.

Thank you to for the review copy of The Good Bee: A Celebration of Bees and How to Save Them by Alison Benjamin & Brian McCallum

The Good Bee: A Celebration of Bees and How to Save Them by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum was published by Michael O’Mara Books and was published on 2nd May 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

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Crossing Over by Ann Morgan (Audio Book)

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Crossing Over by Ann Morgan (Audio Book)

Summary:

Edie is struggling. She’s increasingly confused, but she can’t let the women in the village find that out – they’d only talk. But she’s forgetting so much – forgetting to wear matching clothes, forgetting to bake one of her walnut cakes for the WI sale…and forgetting to lock the door…until one day she wakes to find Jonah in her house and herself in her past.

Jonah is struggling. The journey to England was illegal and dangerous, and he’s the only one who survived – and he still hasn’t made it to London. Everything will be fine if he can just get to London. But can he leave Edie to look after herself? And can he hide from the authorities? And from his past?

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I am still struggling to believe that I have previously not listened to audio books as I always preferred holding a book. Yes, there are so many positives to audio books, when I have been so tired to read I just listed to the story being narrated to me and it really works. Now I am hooked and so Crossing Over by Ann Morgan becomes the very audio book review.

What is important to know first is that Crossing Over is only available in audio book format and is available to download via Audible. Ann Morgan the bestselling author of Beside Myself (Bloomsbury) was released in 2016 and reviewed on my blog.

I have to say how much I loved listening to Crossing Over. The story of Edie who is alone and getting old and now and is starting to struggle by forgetting things that show would normally just get on with. It is a very sad story as we begin to understand what is really happening to Edie. She can recall many things especially from the past. But it is the day to day things she is forgetting and Edie does not want any of the women in the town to know. She forgets to bake one of her Walnut Cakes she would normally bake for the WI sale. Edie is getting confused easily now. Then one morning she discovers Jonah on her property and suddenly she is transported to a time past.

Edie has previously lost the one true love in her life Michael, but she is confused by Jonah.

Jonah’s story is an horrific story as he is an illegal immigrant and has travelled from Africa leaving everyone behind to find a new life but he is the only survivor of the crossing and this has scarred him. London is his destination as this is where he believes his destiny lies. But he hiding from the authorities and he knows what fate awaits if he is caught. Trust is a word that comes to mind here as both are worried and suspicious of all around them for different reasons that become apparent.

A story that is so breathtakingly beautiful and also painfully sad. My heart at times was so heavy and so sad as we know that the onset of Dementia for Edie and the story of Jonah who just wants to find a new life a better life that the one he left behind. Does he make it? That is for you to find out and the Narration by Adjoa Andoh works so very well it was as if this story was made especially for Adjoa to narrate. A story of our time and if you like listening to audio books please add this to your list of downloads. You won’t regret it.

Only available to download via Audible.

You can follow Ann Morgan on Twitter: @A_B_Morgan

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Narrating Crossing over is Adjoa Andoh who is best known for appearing on two series over Dr Who and also a long serving member of BBC TV’s long running Casualty series before going on to make her Hollywood debut alongside Morgan Freeman in Invictus.

Thank you to Edwina Boyd-Gibbins (Midas PR) for the Audio review copy of Crossing Over by Ann Morgan

Crossing Over by Ann Morgan was released as an Audio Book on 29th March and is available as an audio download via Audible.com

One Hundred Miracles: A Memoir of Music and Survival by Wendy Holden

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One Hundred Miracles: A Memoir of Music and Survival by Wendy Holden

Zuzana Ruzicková grew up in 1930s Czechoslovakia dreaming of two things: Johann Sebastian Bach and the piano. But her peaceful, melodic childhood was torn apart when, in 1939, the Nazis invaded. Uprooted from her home, transported from Auschwitz to Hamburg to Bergen-Belsen, bereaved, starved, and afflicted with crippling injuries to her musician’s hands, the teenage Zuzana faced a series of devastating losses. Yet with every truck and train ride, a small slip of paper printed with her favourite piece of Bach’s music became her talisman.

Armed with this ‘proof that beauty still existed’, Zuzana’s fierce bravery and passion ensured her survival of the greatest human atrocities of all time, and would continue to sustain her through the brutalities of post-war Communist rule. Harnessing her talent and dedication, and fortified by the love of her husband, the Czech composer Viktor Kalabis, Zuzana went on to become one of the twentieth century’s most renowned musicians and the first harpsichordist to record the entirety of Bach’s keyboard works.

Zuzana’s story, told here in her own words before her death in 2017, is a profound and powerful testimony of the horrors of the Holocaust, and a testament in itself to the importance of amplifying the voices of its survivors today. It is also a joyful celebration of art and resistance that defined the life of the ‘first lady of the harpsichord’- a woman who spent her life being ceaselessly reborn through her music. Like the music of her beloved Bach, Zuzana’s life is the story of the tragic transmuted through art into the state of the sublime.

Wendy Holden

In 2015 I reviewed Born Survivors (Bloomsbury) by Wendy Holden which told the story of three mothers and their newborn babies survived the horrors of the Holocaust and then 65 years later the three ‘babies’ met for the first time. A powerful story that has stayed with me to this day.

Wendy Holden the author of over 30 books now has released a memoir One Hundred Miracles: A Memoir of Music and Survival (Bloomsbury) the powerful memoir of Zuzana Ruzicková the Czech Harpsichordist who faced the horrors of the Nazis after they invaded her homeland.

Zuzana

It was March 1939 when the German troops arrived and soon after Zuzana and other young Jewish boys and girls were forced to act as ‘messengers’ delivering the dreadful letters that informed those families that they were to be transported away from their homes. Many already feared the worst. These letters were the final confirmation of what was to come. In October 1941 these transports to hell started and this included Zuzana and her own family. Life was never to be the same again. The family were sent to Auschwitz their fate was almost certain death and it was here that her father was murdered by the Nazis.

Zuzana and her mother survived the horror of Auschwitz only to be moved to hell that was Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp. By now they were barely surviving on next to nothing and the only way to survive from one day to another was to work in the camp by moving the dead to the ovens. By doing this it meant a little more food for her and her mother. From an early age Zuzana loved music and learnt to play the piano and throughout her time in the concentration camps she kept her music alive in her head. To be free and to play again.

It was a date that would live with Zuzana for the rest of her life. 15th April 1945 she was liberated from Belsen by the British Army. At this time Zuzana only weighed around four stone. But she had survived. All through these years and through the hell and horror of Auschwitz and Belsen she carried a piece of printed music paper with favourite J.S. Bach music on it.

The war was over but the suffering was not over as she now lived under the Soviets and the Communist regime. Zuzana went back to her music studies but only as per the Soviets perspective. From the pianist she switched to playing the Harpsichord after she met Victor Kalabis who would be her future husband. Now she could learn some of her favourite Bach pieces. Following this she became famous and performed all over the world for decades to come and also recorded over 100 albums. J.S. Bach had saved her life.

Wendy Holden conducted many interviews with Zuzana Ruzicková and two weeks after her final interview Zuzana passed away never to see her memoir published. The dedication in the book reads as follows: Dedicated by Zuzana to Johann Sebastian Bach whose music reminds us there is still beauty in this world.

368 Pages.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Books UK for the review copy of One Hundred Miracles: A Memoir of Music and Survival by Wendy Holden

One Hundred Miracles: A Memoir of Music and Survival by Wendy Holden was published by Bloomsbury and was published on 18th April 2019 in Hardback and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Turbulent Wake – Paul E. Hardisty

FINAL Turbulent Wake Cover

Turbulent Wake – Paul E. Hardisty

Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father. Hidden in one of the upstairs rooms of the old man’s house he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of stories that seems to cover the whole of his father’s turbulent life.

As his own life starts to unravel, Ethan works his way through the manuscript, trying to find answers to the mysteries that have plagued him since he was a child. What happened to his little brother? Why was his mother taken from him? And why, in the end, when there was no one else left, did his own father push him away?

Swinging from the coral cays of the Caribbean to the dangerous deserts of Yemen and the wild rivers of Africa, Turbulent Wake is a bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love and loss … of the indelible damage we do to those closest to us and, ultimately, of the power of redemption in a time of change.

Paul Hardisty Author Pic

My Review:

The first things I have to say is that I am not sure my review will ever do justice to what I found a remarkable novel that took my breath away. Many will know the author for his previous crime novels but Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty is a breakaway from his Claymore Straker series.

Prepare to be totally immersed in a novel that will sweep you up and and carry you along on a journey that involves love, loss and grief. A story told in the past but also in the present. A very personal novel drawn from the authors own personal experiences.

Ethan Scofield is on a journey to the past, the past being home to the very place he was born as his father has died and he must confront the past as his relationship with his father has broken down. It is at this point during sifting through his father’s belongings and discovering some journals that his father had written. These are written for Ethan but inside of the main character there is a lot of anger and you feel it bubbling away on every page. A man whose anger at his father, his former wife and his own daughter. There is anger really at the world at large. A man searching for answers as to why his own father deserted him.

The journals that Ethan is now reading may contain the answers that he is looking for as this is the story of his father’s own turbulent life story. From a young man so full of promise as his travels take to different parts of the world to the woman he loved. There is regret in these journals as Ethan reads of what his father has lost with no chance of turning the clock back. So much pain in the words that his father has written.

I must pass on my gratitude to Paul E. Hardisty for writing a novel that held me on every page and was hard to leave at the end and left with trying to find the right words to describe a novel of such beauty. I am not one for ‘urging’ people to read books that I review but this I would urge you to read. You will not regret it. Find some quiet time and shut the world away and read Turbulent Wake one of my books of the year.

258 Pages.

Thank you to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books and Anne Cater (Randon Things Tours) for the review copy of Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty

Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty was published by Orenda Books and is published on 16th May 2019 and will be available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery

Green Gold Cover

Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery

In 1850, young Scottish plant hunter John Jeffrey was despatched by an elite group of Victorian subscribers to seek highly prized exotic trees in North America. An early letter home told of a 1,200-mile transcontinental journey by small boat and on foot.  Later, tantalising collections of seeds and plants arrived from British Columbia, Oregon and California, yet early promise soon withered. Four years after setting out, John Jeffrey, and his journals, disappeared without a trace.  Was he lost to love, violence or the Gold Rush? Green Gold combines meticulous research with the fictional narrative of Jeffrey’s lost journals, revealing an extraordinary adventure. 

Gabriel Hemery Author Picture

My Review:

Since my early days in studying horticulture plant species I have always had an interest in those pioneers and plant hunters who travelled to far off lands to seek new species of trees and rare plants. So it great delight I was sent a copy of Green Gold (Unbound) by Gabriel Hemery.

This is the true story of the Victorian plant hunter John Jeffrey told in a fictional account of his epic solo adventure from Scotland to North America. It is 1850 and the journey begins after being asked and financed by a group of wealthy plant collectors. John’s journey would take him from the shores of Scotland to Canada through to Oregon and California the landscape was harsh and unforgiving from the frozen wastelands across mountains. He would send back on a regular basis specimens and seeds and also rare Beetles. It was requested by Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens that John Jeffrey would keep regular journals of his travels and findings to be sent back.

The story moves from present day to the past as John’s journals are discovered and from here the story is constructed in a fictional account. I have to say just how much I really enjoyed reading the account of John Jeffrey’s expedition even if it was told in a fictional narrative. The old plant hunter in me came out from the past as I read of the new specimens that John wrote about on his travels.

There is a real human story here not just a story of the plant hunter. The promise of sending back details of his travels and findings never happened and eventually the backers lost their faith in John Jeffrey but before they could take any further action, John had disappeared but disappeared without trace. Nothing was heard from the plant hunter. So many theories as to what happened to John Jeffrey. Did he get lost and perished, was he murdered, or did John find a love he could not leave.

I have to say that Gabriel Hemery has done an amazing job in telling the story of the plant hunter and his expedition through his journals. For anyone who loves history or the study of plants then Green Gold is a book you will enjoy reading.

302 Pages.

@GabrielHemery   @Unbound   @Unbound_ Digital 

@annecater #RandomThingsTours

Thank you to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) and Unbound for the review copy of Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery

Green Gold by Gabriel Hemery was published by Unbound and was published on 18th April 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg

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The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg

Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenny―her American grandniece, and her only relative―give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.

When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper. In writing down the stories of her colourful past―working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris during the 30s, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of the Second World War―can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, to unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris’s life?

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My review:

Doris is 96 years-old and lives in Stockholm, when she was young her father gave her a red address book. Throughout her life Doris added names and addresses of all the people she had met into her red address book. Now she is housebound and living alone. She admits death is waiting for her.

Each week she looks forward to her weekly Skype with Jenny who is her American great-niece and at the same time Doris is writing her memoir which is based on her red address book and the names contained within it.

Sadly, the one thing that we all have to expect in life is losing those who come into our life whether that is family, friends or those that come into our lives for whatever reason and in Doris’s red address book there are names that are crossed out and the word ‘dead’ written against them. But each name means something, a friend, a lover or not so nice. The address book is not just a book of names it is a key to memories of times gone by, each name unlocks a part of a memory of happier times or sad times.

Doris has lived a life, she has made choices as we all do but for Doris she has lived through the good times and the worst of times, but she has learned to accept her decisions that have not gone well, she has also survived being torpedoed in WWII lived. The story moves between the past and the present. She never likes to listen to the carers who visit her and then one day she breaks a hip and Jenny then arrives at the hospital. It is Doris who ended up being a mother to Jenny after her own died when she was very young. This is deeply poignant story that left a mark on me. You know when Doris is lying in hospital not listening to the nurses or doctors because the end is coming. This is a woman who has lived. Now at her last she issues some wise words to Jenny “Don’t be afraid of life, Jenny. Live” As you read and especially towards the end you the reader will start to think about your own life and the people who have come into it for whatever reason. Love is a theme that pours out of the pages of The Red Address book. We all own an address book with names that are crossed out. Next time just take time to read those names and remember who they were. Beautifully written and uplifting a book to savour on a quiet Sunday sat in the garden. Keep hold of those old address books after reading this you will know why. “In the end all that matters is love”.

304 Pages.

Thank you to The Borough Press for the review copy of The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg

The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg was published by The Borough Press and was published on 24th January 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

 

 

Under the Rock – Benjamin Myers

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Under the Rock – Benjamin Myers

Under the Rock is about badgers, balsam, history, nettles, mythology, moorlands, mosses, poetry, bats, wild swimming, slugs, recession, floods, logging, peacocks, community, apples, asbestos, quarries, geology, industrial music, owls, stone walls, farming, anxiety, relocation, the North, woodpiles, folklore, landslides, ruins, terriers, woodlands, ravens, dales, valleys, walking, animal skulls, trespassing, crows, factories, maps, rain – lots of rain – and a great big rock.

From the author of the awarding winning The Gallows Pole, Benjamin Myers now turns to non-fiction with his stunning Under the Rock. (Elliott & Thompson).

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I was so looking forward to reading Under the Rock, the thought of the astonishing writing of Benjamin Myers now turning to the landscape and in particular a step craggy rock called Scout Rock, which overlooks Mytholmroyd near The Upper Calder Valley in West Yorkshire.

It is here that Myers spent a decade exploring the ten acres of woodland that has inspired this beautiful book. And oh that cover design. It is a thin g of real beauty.

This is a book of such incredible prose. In four parts: Wood, Earth, Water and Rock. The writer conjures up words that have been ‘Stories carved from the land’. Each of the four parts are very much in the form of poetry. After all this the part of the country were the poet Ted Hughes grew up.

This is a place that Ben and his wife have now made their home after leaving the noise of the big city behind them. This place is a land that was left and forgotten, scarred by the past and described as once being a toxic dump after asbestos was buried here. Now a place that wants to be explored and in a series of field notes that is poetry and also there are photographs through the book. I love this style of nature writing, maybe for someone like me who loves the writing by Helen Mcdonald, Amy Liptrot and Robert Mcfarlane to name a few and that this will also appeal to those who will really enjoy Under the Rock. This is an exceptional book, both compelling and elegant and one of my highlights of the year. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

384 Pages.

Thank you to Elliott & Thompson for the review copy of Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers

Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers was published by Elliott & Thompson and was published on 25th April 2019 in paperback and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshops.

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