BLACKIE’S SEASONALLY APPROPRIATE BOOK PUTS THE MS. INTO MYTHS

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Foxfire CoverI appear to have tapped a rich seam of folklore, myths and fairy tales in the last year or so. Earlier I read and reviewed Lancelot by Giles Kristian, an imagining of the life of the Lancelot of Arthurian legend, for this blog. My bookclub’s reads have included the Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey, a reworking of the Russian fairy story and The Familiars by Stacey Hall, which fictionalises the Pendle Witch Trials. I’ve also enjoyed The Hoarder by Jess Kidd, a story of hoarding and the supernatural set in the modern day. One of the most striking repeated themes in all of these has been the fox as a familiar or as a sign of magical happenings. Its certainly given foxes a good press!

This month’s first offering is ‘Foxfire and Wolfskin’ and is subtitled, ‘and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women’. It is by Sharon Blackie and published by September Publishing (www.septemberpublishing.org) on the 2nd of October.

Inside Sharon Blackie reworks and retells some tales from European folklore, myths and legends. There is a helpful guide to original stories and their origins in the back of the book. Her emphasis has been to give the female characters a stronger, more positive role. I must say my heart sank a little when I read this on the cover. Whilst I am a feminist, I don’t feel we should be rewriting stories and recasting films and TV show with women to replace the original male characters carte blanche. If the story works better with a woman as the lead role then fine, but just redoing things with female characters instead of males does nothing to inspire me. There are many stories of truly inspiration women that have been overlooked by the history books or novel and screenwriters that could inspire us for many years and in a more authentic way.

However, as we know, many of the myths and fairy stories we are familiar with today were sanitized by the Victorians and later “Disneyfied” make the characters cute and appealing. In the time before women were relegated to subservience and being ladylike and agreeable, the women in our history were strong, independent and feisty. Blackie hasn’t repopulated the stories with women instead of men, we’ve just been given the female slant to a tale and maybe the woman has come out on top or got her revenge. So actually, what I found when I read this book, was that in the main I enjoyed the stories. This is due to Blackie’s fine storytelling and light hand on the feminist leanings. There is a great sense of humour in several of the pieces, especially ‘Meeting Baba Yaga’, which possibly typifies my straight talking mother’s reaction to me doing yoga, which she said she thought was a little ‘out there’ for someone who works in a scientific job! I really liked the updating of the stories involving nature and our relationship with it. Some were very poignant like ‘Last Man Standing’. Some like ‘No Country for Old Women’ would inspire environmental activism but mostly I just enjoyed the descriptions of nature and feeling of connection with the real and mythical world.

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Dr. Sharon Blackie

This is Irish Author, Mythologist and Psychologist Dr. Sharon Blackie’s (sharonblackie.net) fourth book. Her others are The Long Delirious Burning Blue (2008), If Women Rose Rooted (2016) and The Enchanted Life (2018). Sharon is an internationally recognised teacher of mythic imagination and  has a large following through her online communities, and the courses and workshops she offers through her “Hedge School”, she lives in Connemara in the west of Ireland and is no doubt quite busy on the run up to “An Samhain” or All Hallows Eve in three weeks time.

This book feels like it should be great reading for young adults but some of the stories could be considered too adult in content for teens (maybe that’s the Victorian prude speaking!) but I expect that depends on your teen? Some people would just enjoy it for the calibre of its prose. It’s a lovely bit of escapism from modern day stresses. I also think if you ignored the subtitle, men would have no idea it was encouraging  modern women to shed their skin and transform their lives. Maybe that’s its secret power! I certainly reshaped and shifted my initial view upon reading.

So with the nights getting chillier and evenings drawing in, why not snap your fingers or click your mouse and order a copy online or haunt around your local bookshop for a copy  in time for the spookiest night of the year.

 

Reviewed By: Georgina Murphy

 

This review is apart of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, visit their websites listed below .Then if you get a copy of the book and read it, comeback and tell us what you though. We’d really love the feedback.

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GAMER’S WILL SWEAR BY HARDCASTLE’S REFERENCE BOOK

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Fuck Yeah CoverThe first thing I can tell you about this month’s second book, is that quite a few of my readers are not going to like it from the get-go. But there will be a group of you who will be fascinated by this book, even excited. The book is Fuck Yeah Video Games by Daniel Hardcastle and published by Unbound (www.unbound.com) on the 19th September.

Another thing a few readers won’t like, is reading this book on your morning and evening commute as I found out. When I was met with a few raised eyebrows and tutting on the LUAS, Dublin’s light rail system (owing to the large yellow expletive on the cover). I even think a couple of mothers pulled their children closer and shielded their eyes.

The book charts the history of video games from the humble tennis game, where you moved a cursor up and down the screen trying to hit a bouncing white square past your opponent’s cursor to score a point,  to today’s modern games which are almost movie-esque in story-line and action, These allow you to play with or against not just a person or persons in the same room, but random strangers not even on the same continent, who more often than not may be half your age. These modern video games also feature so much detail, that the afore mentioned tennis game is now not too far removed from the hoop and stick our grandparents derived so much pleasure from as kids. The book also looks back at the success and failures of the large game designers and console producers (three of them to be exact) Sony , Nintendo and Atari… Who???(google it).

Gaming nowadays has progressed from something aimed initially at an age group spanning 8 – 18yrs, to today, where forty-somethings like myself are not ashamed to say they are gamers. No anoraks here, unlike train spotters and model train enthusiasts! Oh no, we stay warm and toasty in our bedrooms and “Mancave’s”.

Also, with the likes of the Nintendo WII console sports packs, gaming is now a family pastime and regularly seen as the ideal post-Christmas dinner entertainment. Where everyone from the youngest to the grandparents gets involved. Then of course you only have to see the news recently, where a teenager in America took home $3million for winning the Fortnite (it’s a popular video game) World Cup in front of a packed out sports stadium and even bigger online audience; and you wonder why some people such as Hardcastle can make a living out playing games all day long.

Yes, my name’s Adrian and I’m a gamer, but I’m not nerdy about. I don’t go out and buy a game and play it constantly, unless the wife’ away or out for the evening. This due in part to having responsibilities, I only really returned to gaming a few years ago when I requested a PS4 as a present for my fortieth, after a hiatus from when I played them in my youth.

FYVG is all in all an entertaining and light-hearted read. But it’s really a reference book, namely because it has footnotes, which I find distracting in anything that is not a self-help book, textbook or encyclopedia. It’s not a book you are going read from cover to cover.  It’s more like a swimming pool at a holiday resort, there for you to dip in and out of it on a regular basis, while leaving it on your coffee table or bookshelf as a conversation starter.

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Daniel Hardcastle

My initial reaction when getting it was that its very big. But I soon realised that of the 379 pages only 296 were actually part of the book, the rest were a list of 101 of the best games ever published, a glossary of terms used in the book, author bio and crowd funding acknowledgements, of which there are quite a few.

As for the games featured in the book, I’ve only played two. As for the 101 best games ever published listed at the back, its seven. Does that really make me a gamer? I was personally disappointed there where weren’t references to my current favourites “No Mans Sky”, which has had its own problematic road to success. Then there’s Tom Clancy’s Division 1 and 2, the numerous Call Of Duty games and for a real history lesson, games played on the Comodore 64, ZX Spectrum and my own Dragon 32(yep, Google it). Admittedly those three weren’t games consoles, but before consoles arrived on the scene video games were played on computers and publishers still release  PC editions of popular titles these days.

This is English author Daniel Hardcastle’s (@danNerdCubed) first book, despite what the inside cover might say. He’s is a gamer and regular broadcaster on Twitch – an online channel solely dedicated to allowing you to watch people like Daniel play video games… I’ve never watched any of these, as I’d rather be playing the game myself. The lavish illustrations in the book are provided by Daniel’s wife Rebecca and these include caricatures of the leading crowd funders who helped get this book published.

Overall, I got the feeling that Hardcastle was trying to emulate columnist, author and TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson in his writing style and general ladishness, even referencing him several times throughout the book. But as much a I liked this book, I thought he tried too hard and, in the end If I discovered “Jezza” had ghost-written this book, I wouldn’t be surprised.

I did like FYVG, as I have an interest in the topic. But again, it is a book with a niche readership, despite the number of people worldwide who play video games. You’ll also find quite a few of the younger generation aren’t big readers. But again, as it’s quite easy to read in bite sized chunks, this maybe a popular read for them and also a way to reignite interest in the older games discussed in the book, that you’ll find in the second hand section of gaming stores and car boot sales.

 

Reviewed by : Adrian Murphy

This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviewers thought of the book, visit their sites listed below, then if you get a copy comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d love the feedback.

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PRESCOTT’S SECRET TO SUCCESS IS A SMALL FEMININE ARMY ARMED WITH REMINGTON’S AND SHARP PENCILS

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The Secrets We Kept CoverNext year marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Boris Pasternak, the author of the famous novel, Dr Zhivago published in 1957. Despite Pasternak’s avowal that it was a love story, Dr Zhivago was banned in his home country due to its anti-October revolution sentiments, this also didn’t stop David Lean making it into a hugely successful film in 1965 starring Omar Sharif.

Lara Prescott the author of this month’s second book review, has been fascinated about the story of Dr Zhivago since she learned she was named for it’s heroine by her mother. The book is The Secrets We Kept and is published by Hutchinson Books https://www.penguin.co.uk/company/publishers/cornerstone/hutchinson.html on the 3rd September.

Prescott’s book is a novel about the writing of Dr Zhivago , the sacrifices the author and his muse Olga Ivinskaya (Lara) made; and the role the CIA played in getting a banned book to be an underground success in Russia. It was while researching the history of the book, she noticed many of the heavily redacted documents she was reading had been typed by the all-female typing pool of the CIA, an organisation in its infancy at the time the novel was written.

Why was the CIA interested in the book you may wonder? The Americans thought that itZhivagopster2 provided a way of enlightening the Russian readers to more western sympathies. The book was therefore being used as a weapon in the cold war.

This is a story of two strands. We follow Lara, Pasternak’s muse and mistress, and the inspiration for the Lara of Dr Zhivago. She suffered more than Pasternak himself for his art, spending 5 years in a ‘Re-Education Camp’; basically a labour camp, for her refusal to say that Pasternak was writing anti soviet literature and to supply details of the novel to her interrogators. Lara is loyal and she passionately believes in Pasternak as a writer but is not naïve and realizes the danger that Pasternak’s desire to get his masterpiece published and recognised is to herself and her family.

The other strand of the story takes place in America, where we meet Irina, a Russian immigrant who is employed by the CIA, ostensibly as a secretary but then, because of her Russian ancestry to be trained as a spy. She meets and falls in love with a fellow agent as she becomes involved in the CIA plot to release Dr Zhivago in the USSR.

The story is told through the eyes and voice of Lara, Irina and though the group voice of the secretarial pool at the CIA. The latter is the group that fascinated me the most. Women who had held challenging positions as undercover agents in the Second World War, relegated to typing. Whilst the story of Irina and Sally is from the imagination of Lara Prescott, the redacted files she read were typed by real women. I enjoyed the way Prescott gave the spy story a feminine twist. There are too many male dominated spy stories out there already and the important women of history have previously been frequently overlooked. This reminded me a little of Hidden Figures, the story of the women ‘computer’ at NASA who played such a vital role in the space race. Whilst I don’t like re do’s of male stories with a female twist, just to jump on a modern feminist bandwagon, this story rings true, mainly because at its heart it is true. How fascinating that the story behind the publishing of the book may grab our interest as much as the novel it is about!

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Lara Prescott (NY Times)

This is American author Lara Prescott’s (www.laraprescott.com) first novel, she holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the Michener Centre for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin. Before getting her MFA she was an animal protection advocate and a political campaigner around the world, including trying to get the first woman prime minister of Trinidad & Tobago elected. She now lives in Texas with her family.

The characters are well written and all three main ladies elicited sympathy for their trials and tribulations. I felt the creation of the cold war America and Russia setting was very well researched. For a public who enjoy similar placed TV and film dramas, I can understand why this story has been sold to the producers of ‘The Night Manager’ and ‘La La Land’. It would have been one for David Lean too, if he were still with us. I was pleased to see that there was not a cliched happy ending. That would have been a let-down after a enjoying book that left me with lots to think about and a definite urge to revisit Dr Zhivago.

So “potoropis” down to your local book shop and get a copy or download it before the next cold war starts or winter sets in, which ever comes first.

 

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

 

This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their sites listed below. Then if you get a copy and read it, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d love the feedback.

 

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CORK GETS SWEPT INTO CRIME FICTION SPOTLIGHT WITH DOYLE’S TRILOGY

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River Of Bodies Final CoverThe city of Cork is the second largest city in the Irish republic after the capital Dublin, but is often considered by its residents to be the real capital.  It could have something to do with having the second largest natural harbour in the world after Sydney and the oldest yacht club in the world, founded in 1702. The city’s other claims to fame are, it was the location of the first Ford factory outside of America and the “Rebel County” of Cork is the largest county in Ireland.

I have a connection to the countymy mother’s family are from West Cork. I was only down there in July for a family birthday. As well as that, the city is home to one of the largest Jazz festivals outside of New Orleans, which takes place in October each year attracting over 40,000 visitors annually. Cork is also home to Noel “Noelie” O’Sullivan, the central character in this month’s first book review, its River of Bodies by Kevin Doyle and is  published by Blackstaff Press (www.blackstaffpress.com) in June this year.

River of Bodies is the second book in The Solidarity Books trilogy following To Keep A Bird Singing, which was published in 2018. The books follow the journey of small time activist  Noelie Sullivan as he continues his investigation into the powerful Donnelly clan, who were mixed up in the goings on in an industrial boys school in Cork back in the 60’s and the murder of a IRA informer, and its cover up by the Irish Police Force’s Special Branch unit in Cork. In the process of his research, his girlfriend and nephew have been murdered. His own life and the lives other close friends have been threatened.

It all started with the fairly innocuous theft of some classic records from Noelie’s flat tenTo Keep A Bird Singing Cover years previously and when, he by chance, discovers them in a charity shop at the start of the first book he also finds the confession of an ex Garda and a sheet of paper with the name of ‘Brian Boru’ (an old Irish king) in a couple of the LP sleeves. Early on in River of Bodies, his neighbour and friend dies from his injuries after a mysterious single car accident. As the trail takes him well beyond the county border and internationally, how many more deaths must Noelie and his close family and friends endure before they can unearth the truth?

One of the draw backs reviewing a literary series, is that I and my fellow bloggers/reviewers regularly get in at the second or third book. Now in most cases, there is enough back story to plough on regardless.  I was sent the first book in this trilogy as well, this time around and I was glad it had come too. As I attempted dive straight into River Of Bodies, only to discover 20 pages in, that there were quite a few references to what had preceded in the first book. So back I went and read it. There’s a funny story from our book group of one of our members picking up the second Hunger Games book inadvertently instead of the first one and then sitting there in the meeting all confused trying figure out what we were talking about…

You know from the outset that Doyle is onto a winner with these books owing to the topic and the other primary ingredients. Yep, kids, paedophiles and that old reliable, the religious orders.

If this trilogy is anything, it comes across a bit like an Irish take on The Millennium series, except their success was helped by the untimely death of its author Steig Larsson. Here’s hoping Kevin Doyle is in good health and the only thing he will need to achieve the success of this series is his great writing.

Our hero Noelie, is nothing special, just an ordinary Joe. A middle aged man, between jobs, whose only real claim to fame was a failed attempt to embarrass President Ronald Reagan at Shannon Airport when he visited Ireland in 1984.

I liked Noelie, but probably wouldn’t hold the same political views. Ireland maybe neutral but the American soldiers transiting through Shannon are helping the local and wider economy. Noelie maybe taken from Doyle’s own character, he’s an activist too, Noelie probably doesn’t want water charges, while I’m of the view nothing in this world is free and when we start rationing water, you’ll have to pay then (Soapbox away now)

The support cast, ergo the ragtag group of friends are all regular people too…  real earthy characters. There’s a previous occupant of the industrial schools, Black Gary, who sounds more like a pirate than a social avenger, Martin, Noelie’s gay neighbour,along with Meabh (a real nod to Lisbeth Salanader).

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Kevin Doyle

This is Irish Author Kevin Doyle’s (www.kevindoyle.ie) third book. Before writing To Keep A Bird Singing, he wrote a children’s book, The Worms Who Saved The World with Spark Deely (2017). Kevin has a masters in Organic Synthesis from University College Cork and has worked and lived in Australia and America, before returning home to Ireland where he now lives.

The story in both books is set ten years ago, during Ireland’s struggle to get out of the recession following the banking crisis. Everything seems real enough bar technical things which seemed a bit unbelievable for the law enforcement agencies of a bankrupt country which could hardly keep its fleet of vehicles on the road let alone eavesdrop on conversations using a person’s phone, especially when iPhones were still in their infancy. But again it all goes to help Doyle ratchet up the suspense around the mystery and the numerous disappearances and murders that occur.

My reading of the book with an English tainted accent probably didn’t do it justice and I’d love to hear it read in a local Cork accent. Foreigners or people like my wife from the East Midlands of the UK, may need to listen to it a couple of times if listening to an audiobook of this story.

So, if you’ve never been to Cork; then now maybe the time to go, in the company of the slightly rogueish Noelie Sullivan and his friends. Then once you read both of these books, get yourself on a cheap flight to there just in time for the Jazz festival and see what the lovely city on the River Lee has to offer.

 

Reviewed by: Adrian Murphy

 

 

This book is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below, Then if you read the trilogy, come back and tell us what you thought.

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GRIFFITHS SECOND BOOK LIES EASILY WITH ME, IF ONLY THE ENDING WAS A BETTER FIT.

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A Place To Lie CoverI seem to be having a run of family secret and particularly sister relationship novels to read. Either via my  book club or The Library Door; they keep coming. A feminine spin on things would appear to be 2019’s trademark, with remakes for films using female lead characters instead of the original, male ones and a raft of strong female leads in film and TV.

A place to Lie, by Rebecca Griffiths published in paperback by Sphere (www.littlebrown.co.uk) on the 19th August, is this month’s third book review and tells the story of a summer in the childhood of two sisters.

Told in the present day and in flashback to 1990, we unravel a complex series of events, which result in two deaths and the destruction of many lives. The story begins with the death of Caroline, who believed she was being stalked. Having lost contact with her sister a decade earlier, Joanna is at first guilt-ridden. She starts to look into Caroline’s recent history and begins to think there might be a link between current events and what happened in the summer of 1990. Joanna and Caroline are sent to stay with their Aunt Dora for the summer, after the death of their father and an attempted suicide by their grieving mother. Left to their own devices by their aunt, they indulge in childhood games and adventures, with a local girl, Ellie. Going unsupervised and unnoticed, they observe the odd and furtive behavior of many of the local inhabitants. Caroline who has a crush on Ellie’s older brother and believes he reciprocates her feelings is horrified to find he has a girlfriend. When Ellie disappears, the sister’s question the motives of everyone around them and Caroline makes an accusation that affects the futures of all involved. Joanna’s present-day enquiries uncover some unpleasant truths and put her in the sights of a killer….

Another complicated sister relationship here. Whereas in Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou, reviewed previously on this site, whose story was told through the eyes of one of the sister’s, giving I felt, a biased perspective to events, this story is told in the third person. There were lots of sinister characters here. The subject of child grooming and paedophilia loomed large. It was interesting to read how, despite Caroline’s discomfort around several of the male character’s over friendliness, their behavior was tolerated. I can certainly recall the odd over-familiar family friend, being a bit too cuddly, but as a youngster, being too young to realize the inappropriateness and too polite to make a fuss, you simply put up with it in a different era when lewd comments, bum pinching were accepted. Griffiths makes the most of several instances and suggestions of dodgy men, so that when Ellie is killed you have a raft of suspects. There is also more than a hint of Atonement by Ian McEwan here; with an accusation that is unable to be retracted. Is it entirely unfounded? Who is the perverted killer? Did they strike again?

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Rebecca Griffiths

This is English author Rebecca Griffiths (@rebeccagriffit7) second book after her debut novel, The Primrose Path (2016). After a successful business career which saw her working in London, Dublin and Scotland, she returned to her roots in Mid-Wales with her artist husband , their three vampiric cats and over-sized pet sheep.

I enjoyed this book in the main. The ending and reveal, left me slightly dissatisfied. The ploy of the person you least expect was pushed to an extreme, I felt. The explanations for the other suspects behaviour seemed contrived. I felt a little short changed. Part of the fun of reading a crime thriller is to try and work out who done it before the reveal, and I felt a bit cheated. But at least it was a surprise!

A well written book, which gripped me throughout and which I could see being turned into a TV series or film easily. So, download a copy or nip down your local book shop soon, because I don’t think it will be lying about on the shelves for long.

Reviewed by : Georgina Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought of it visit their sites listed below. Then, if you get a copy and read it come back and tell us what you thought, we’d love to hear your feedback.

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DEAKIN’S SECOND BOOK IS GONE BUT BLOOMS INTO THE SPECTACULAR

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Gone Cover ImageAll good things must come to end, either by death or dispute. The maturity is accepting that people leave, friendships end, love vanishes and life goes on with empty feelings, sad smiles, and a broken soul.

This is something I am coming to terms with recently, owing to two of my best friends walking away from our thirty-five-year friendship over my refusal to accept their relationship with a convicted sex offender. This month’s second book review is a thriller, also about a group of people who also mysteriously walk out of their lives, it’s called “Gone” by Leona Deakin and is published by Black Swan (https://www.penguin.co.uk/company/publishers/transworld/black-swan.html) as an ebook on the 19th August and in paperback on the 3rd October.

When four people go missing from various parts of the UK on their birthdays after receiving cards from an anonymous source, daring them to partake in a game, the police don’t suspect anything. These people went voluntarily and are playing a game. But then the daughter of one of the missing persons contacts her neighbour’s brother Marcus Jameson, an ex MI6 Agent, and his partner Dr Augusta Bloom, a Psychologist, who together run a private investigation company dealing with unusual cases.

At first, they think it just four random disappearances across a couple of months, then with the help of the police, they discover there are over a hundred people missing supposedly playing this game. When one of the missing then returns home and brutally murders her husband in front of their young kids, Jameson and Bloom suspect there could be some sort of terrorist motive behind the game. As well as that, Bloom has realised all the missing share psychopathic personalities and that they are being singled out for this reason. But to what end? As their investigation digs deeper, Bloom and Jameson discover that they are now part of the game and are forced to take part in it. With psychopaths in all walks of life, is there anyone they can really trust? Can they stop this twisted game and find the mastermind behind it, and discover for what purpose is it being run, before another member of the public or one of their family or friends is hurt?

As well as the sense of loss running through my life in the past couple of weeks, I’ve also had to read this month’s choice for my book group, which was the Booker Prize winner Milkman. Well, I’m very glad that Gone came through my door, because compared to Milkman (I threw it down after twenty pages), the telephone directory was looking very appealing!

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Robbie Coltraine in “Cracker”(Denofgeek)

Deakin’s book on the other hand, is a sleep depriving, white knuckle ride from the first page to the dramatic conclusion at the end, that left me with a crick in my neck too.

The plotting is superb and the edginess of the story and the multitude of dark and sinister possibilities for why these people are targeted and then used is the biggest hook and the reason it’s an out and out page turner. When the two main characters started getting paranoid of people in public, I was so into this book, I too felt the need to look over my shoulder and became wary of people on public transport and in the street.

Deakin’s two main characters our straight out of the Mulder and Scully school of teamwork and interaction. There is a perfect chemistry of brains and brawn, Jameson is almost bond-esque, without the gadgets, while Bloom does all her fighting with her scalpel sharp mind. This book is similar to Val McDermaid’s Wire in the Blood which inspired the TV series of the same name and also in the same vain as The Cracker series starring Robbie Coltraine, as they both centre around the work of a criminal psychologist. But I felt Gone had a fifth gear as a result of its pace and the numerous possible threats to its protagonists along with the far-reaching consequences to the wider population. My hope is that Deakin can keep this is edge of your seat pace going forward into the next book.

It’s been a number of years since a decent crime series involving a criminal psychologist has stepped out of the shadows on to our book shelves and in this book we have the beginning of what could be a cracker (excuse the pun) of a series, written by a professional in the field. However, the public interest hasn’t waned, judging by the success of Netflix’s new Mindhunter series.  The level of detail in the book and the facts about those with this type of personality, speaks volumes about the authors expertise and allows you to be drawn deeper into this immersive and completely engrossing story.

This is English Author and occupational psychologist Leona Deakin’s (@leonadeakin1)

Leona Deakin Author pic

Leona Deakin

second book. Her first one was a romantic thriller called Anomaly published in 2013, but didn’t feature Bloom or Jameson. She has previously been a psychologist with West Yorkshire Police and lives in Leeds with her family.

This is undoubtedly up there as one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year and we are still in August, I am really looking forward to seeing if it becomes a series featuring these two characters or at least reading her next book.

So download it now as an e-book, or I dare you to put and order in with your local bookshop before they’re Gone…

 

Reviewed by Adrian Murphy

This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought of it go to their blogs sites listed below. If after reading this or any of the reviews you go out and get  a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d love to hear your feedback.

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THE FORTY FIVE PAGES SHORT OF THE YEAR IS ALL THAT’S MISSING FROM KAYS MULTI-LAYERED THRILLER.

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One Year Later CoverAs I was reading this months first book,  I was spending a long weekend in Kerry with my husband’s extended family. Nothing too sinister in the way of secrets involved, just a surprise 70th birthday celebration for his uncle. It had been planned over months and involved various relatives flying in or driving down to Kerry, caterers and, of course, a cake. All went off without a hitch, the birthday boy being left, for once, speechless. It was still interesting as a newcomer to the family to watch the interactions, the ancient but tolerated jokes and the acceptance of a few little irritations, which occur when a large group of people are forced together for several days.

The house we rented had access to its own private beach and there were some prior conversations regarding children and safety but as it turned out the beach was a good 15-minute walk from the house. Its easy to see how accidents may happen though.  In such a big group everyone assumes someone else is watching the children. Fortunately, the most dramatic event of this kind that occurred was myself being forgotten about at the serving of the party food, as I was keeping an eye on a three-year-old niece in a far-flung corner of the house at the time.

That is the premise of this month’s book, a family gathering following the tragic and untimely death of a young member. Its One Year Later by Sanjida Kay and published by Corvus Books (www.atlantic-books.co.uk) on the 1st of August .

One year after Ruby -May, Amy’s daughter dies in a tragic accident, the family go on a holiday to an idyllic Italian island to heal and repair family relationships. Once they arrive, they find nothing is as it seems and at least one of them hides a shocking secret. Things begin to spiral out of control and Amy wonders if all of them will make it back.

I can only imagine the horror and guilt that occur when a child drowns on a family property, as a result of a moments lapse of supervision. This is what has happened to Ruby- May, although for a while it isn’t clear what happened to cause her death. Guilt and recriminations have ravaged what was once a close family. Everyone is questioning their actions. Ruby-May’s grandfather has been blamed as he, we are told, was supposed to be looking after her. However, there is some suspicion that he has started to suffer from Alzheimer’s, so is he really to blame? The family go away for the anniversary of the death. Their father turns up as an unwanted quest and there are some other non family members along for the holiday too, such as their nanny and their sister’s personal trainer. Nick, Amy’s brother starts to question the events surrounding Ruby-May’s death . Also it seems someone is watching the family in their holiday home, creeping around. You begin to wonder if the family is safe.

I liked the way Sanjida Kay told the story from both Nick and Amy’s viewpoints. This gave you a different perspective to events. I enjoy books where the story is told by a different character each chapter and you slowly get the full picture. Here there weren’t too many characters to keep track of either. The plot was rather like an onion, with layer after layer slowly being unpeeled (and occasionally making your eyes water!) There was a slow build of tension to a clever twist or two and a satisfying conclusion.  In some ways this was Agatha Christie-esque with a limited number of suspects in an isolated location.  There were a number of red herrings to distract you too as almost everyone had a secret. It certainly had me turning stuff over between reads!

Sanjida-OConnell#2

Sanjida Kay (writingproject.co.uk)

Dante’s Divine Comedy is referenced at the beginning of the novel in an epigram and throughout by one of the characters reading it, and by his copy being seen in story locations. I have been thinking about its meaning in relation to this story. It has a link to the Italian location but I wondered if the author had referenced it in relation to the difficult path through grief or to the labyrinthine layers of secrets and pain to be worked through in this story in order for the family to reach a happier conclusion. I’m no scholar and it’s all a little too deep for me, but it piqued my interest. I wonder what others on the blog tour felt?

This is English writer and broadcaster, Sanjida Kay’s (www.sanjida.co.uk), fourth psychological thriller. The others are My Mothers Secret (2018), Stolen Child (2017) and Bone by Bone (2016). She’s also written a number of books of historical fiction including Sugar Island (2011) and The Naked Name Of Love (2009). As a result of her work on BBC televisions wildlife programmes she’s written books about nature and science as well as one looking at Mind Reading. She currently  lives in Somerset with her husband and daughter.

There are similar themed novels  to One Year Later out there, such as a particular favourite of mine, Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly, Guilty, which has been optioned for a movie by Reece Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman; but I see this giving that a run for its money. Its certainly a book I’d be recommending to friends, so don’t wait a year to get this gripping read.

Reviewed by : Georgina Murphy

 

This book is part of  a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought of the book, please take the time to visit their sites listed below. If you read this book, please come back and tell us what you thought, it would be very much appreciated.

 

One Year Later BT Poster