Book Reviews

Time & Again

Time and Again  by Jack Finney

Never having read any of Jack Finney’s work before, I decided to give Time and Again a go after reading a review by the great Stephen King; who stated that this was ‘THE Great Time Travel Story’. I wasn’t disappointed and I agree 100% with Stephen King (I bet he’s pleased about that!). Jack Finney wrote Time and Again in 1970 but apart from the lack of any mobile phones or computers in the story, it didn’t really feel dated in any way. I was hooked from the first page. The story involves our time traveller – Simon Morley – switching backwards and forwards in time between 1970s New York and 1880s New York. Jack Finney describes New York of the 1880s so well you’d think he must have been there himself. He makes use of many illustrations from the time which really added to the atmosphere and brought the story to lifeFrom Time to Time for me.

I was so hooked on the story I had to rush straight out and buy the sequel, From Time to Time, which was published in 1995, the year of Jack  Finney’s death. I always worry when I’ve enjoyed a book so much that I will be disappointed by the sequel. I needn’t have worried; From Time To Time, which starts out with our hero Simon Morley back in New York in 1911 and ends dramatically on the Titanic in 1912 again captures perfectly the atmosphere of the time, and Jack Finney’s clever use of photo images from the time puts you right in the scene.



The 13th TaleThe Thirteenth Tale  by Diane Setterfield

I know this book has been around for for a couple of years now, but this is my first reading of any of Diane Setterfield’s work, and it was her first novel I believe. Unusually, I loved it from the very first page!  For me, the storyline resonated with echo’s of ‘Great Expectations’ and was a wonderfully interwoven story covering three generations of a very peculiar and very wealthy family, an internationally best selling author, and our unlikely heroine Margaret Lea – a book shop ‘geek’.  Written in the first person, as Margaret’s diary, the story crosses backwards and forwards over a span of 60+ years as Margaret uncovers the true, creepy secrets of Vida Winter – the world renowned author.  The prose used by Diane Setterfield is just wonderful and often thought provoking in itself! Many times I just stopped and re-read and re-read a passage just because I was enthralled at the words!  This really is a must read! I loved it and have now moved straight onto the author’s second book – Bellman & Black.  Happy Reading!



Jonathon Fairfax

The  Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax  by Christopher Shelvin.

I have to say I loved this book. The characters are absolutely absurd, loveable and hilarious all at the same time. Even the family loving, mass murdering psycho has a loveable side to him! The plot is very fast running and is a bit zany with its twists, turns and links, but all the better for that. The humour is quirky and very British. It wasn’t a laugh out loud sort of book for me but it was great fun to read. I’d certainly like to read more of the adventures of Jonathon Fairfax, a very British hero!



 The Writers & Artists Yearbook 2014

Writers & Artists Yearbook 2014The annual edition of the best-selling guide to all aspects of the media and how to write and get published, the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is now in its 107th edition. Acknowledged by the publishing industry, authors and would-be writers as the indispensable companion to navigating the world of publishing, it appears for the first time as an e-book and in print.

For anyone interested in writing and having their work published, this book is an absolute ‘must-have’!  There were so many pieces of valuable info in the book I couldn’t even begin to list them all!  This was my first time reading this particular publication and as a ‘newbie’ writer I wanted to read the whole book through from cover to cover – and I certainly feel like I now have a much better understanding of the whole book writing/publication industry.  I feel sure I will be ‘dipping’ into this book for advice and hints for some time to come!  I did purchase the book electronically, which is really handy, but this is perhaps one of those times when I wish I had the actual paper version to keep with me and refer to!   



The Ghost Hunters  by Neil SpringThe Ghost Hunters

I haven’t read a ghost story in many years. It’s not usually my thing, however, I heard Neil Spring being interviewed on Radio 2 about his new book and I was intrigued. I must say I enjoyed the story immensely, from the very first page! The novel was centred around a real old haunted house called Borley Rectory and a celebrity figure from that grey era between the wars – Mr Harry Price. Neil Spring used enough historic fact to really bring the characters to life and make this story seem very real indeed. The story provided a real insight into the aftermath of the Great War and the frantic attempts made by many who had lost their loved ones to contact them again in the afterlife, through the services of supposed mediums. Harry Price was out to debunk these so called mediums and many of the other paranormal goings on of the time.
This is a real spine chiller and if you like a good old fashioned ghost story, this is a must read!



Captive  by Patricia Burton & the sequel; Sullah’s Child   


This was really my first foray into a novel about the slave trade.  My interest was piqued as I am planning a forthcoming trip this year to visit the civil war battlefields in the southern states of America, and I just wanted to absorb some of the history.  This was a fantastic read and I was totally engrossed with the Characters, right from the very start! The story follows the life of Sullah, a young black slave who is taken from Africa, loses her mother and brother on the slave ship and finds herself in Jamaica, working on a plantation.  From there we follow her amazing story to a new life in Liverpool with her mistress, and then onto another new life in America before returning to Liverpool, where she finally dies.  Both books bring that  terrible part of our history to life and let us share fully in the hardships and privations experienced by Sullah, her fellow slaves, and even her mistress – Anne Barton.  If you Sullah's-Childare at all interested in the history of this particular era, you must read this book.  I’m sure you will be as moved as I was and you won’t be disappointed!