Archive of: Book reviews
An enjoyable and accessible read; informative without lecturing; relatable and entertaining; nostalgic but pragmatic; amusing and down-to-earth. It is part memoir, part social history, and part meet-your-food-producer. Farmers will nod their heads in agreement, rural dwellers will recognise their neighbours, and if all you’ve known is towns, then this delightful book will show you how your country cousins live.
This is a gorgeous, emotive read. Nicola Cassidy has a distinctive voice and a huge talent for descriptive writing – of events, setting and, especially, emotions. The structure of the story doesn't quite work and I feel the author has been let down by the publisher's editorial input. But don't let that put you off: this is a wonderful read from an emerging novelist who is destined to become one of Ireland's best-regarded writers.
Pregnant at seventeen in 1980s Ireland. Do you keep your baby and be a single mum, or would your boy have a better life if he was adopted by an English couple? This book shows two ways this dilemma could pan out. It is funny, poignant, heart-breaking and insightful. The writing from the points of view of the main characters is outstandingly good.
A gripping thriller involving the dark web. Well plotted and an enjoyable read, but not for the faint-hearted (some quite graphic violence). It could have done with another editing pass, but that doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the story.
Second in the James Ryker series. Another good read, slightly less fast-paced than book one. Some of the writing is a little cumbersome and would have benefitted from some cutting. The author's strength lies in writing about the settings – the scenes in the prison are particularly vivid.
First in the James Ryker series. An enjoyable and pacey read for readers of action thrillers. Could do with tightening up the writing a bit, but an easy read.
E. M. Reapy
An ‘easy’ but uncomfortable read. This is a tale about three people: how they came together and caused mainly harm to each other and those around them. Wonderfully crafted writing.
An easy but frustrating read. Slow to start with but picks up pace towards the end. Lovely setting on the coast of Ireland. Some interesting characterisation and relationships between the people, but some clunky writing, especially the dialogue.
An interesting historical tale for 11-14 year olds about the suffragette movement in Ireland in 1912. Nicely written but I didn't like the letter format.
A ghost story for 10–14 year olds. Imaginative and creepy in places, but don't believe the puff quotes (by which I mean: I don't wholly agree with the puff quotes).
This is a quick and readable tale somewhat lacking in detail and well-rounded characters. It is about a single mother working hard for her daughter, and about the boy she tutors and his mother. It is about friendship and trust, the haves and the havenots. With a backdrop of an overgrown garden, I liked this book but I didn’t love it as I wanted to.
Aloysius Tempo is a freelance hit-man, arranging 'accidents' that can't be traced to him or to the people who hire him. This is a rollicking good book with lots of surprises. It is very well crafted and written and I hope there is more of Aloysius in the future ... although you can't be too sure of that from the ending.
Kim Hood’s second book is even better than her first. It is realistic, with believable characters with whom the reader can empathise. It deals sensitively with mental and physical illness and explores relationships of many kinds. Sixteen-year-old Jane is a great character whose point of view we see throughout the book. It is superbly conceived and written, and although sold as YA is a book that any age from 13 upwards could enjoy.
Molly’s Diary looks at the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 from a twelve-year-old girl’s point of view. There are parts I love and parts I am not so keen on, so a mixed review from me. But I would recommend it for 10-14 year olds, particularly those who live in Ireland or generally enjoy history.
Yes, it's self-published. Yes, my policy is to review books whether they deserve one star or five stars or anything in between. No, on this occasion I really can't.
Jay Spencer Green
Bonkers. Weird. Surreal. Satirical. Politically incorrect. Clever. Absurd. Witty. Disgusting. There you have it! Recommended.
Gerry Harrison (Ed.)
These are Captain Charlie May's First World War diaries and a love letter to his wife Maude and baby Pauline. They are eloquently written, and informative, sad, funny and loving. They show a very human side of a dreadful war. Charlie May was killed on the first morning of the Battle of Somme and these diaries, kept in secret, were delivered to his wife by a comrade. They have been superbly edited by his great-nephew, Gerry Harrison. Highly recommended.
This short book is packed with easy-to-read but hard-to-stomach statistics of casualties of war over the last hundred years. It gives a quite fascinating history of the Remembrance Poppy movement. There are many stark and memorable graphics, newspaper extracts and poems. Well worth reading.
A novel about contemporary relationships. Four siblings gather at their mother's request for the fortieth anniversary of the family hotel next to a lake in Brunnen, Switzerland. There is plenty of family tensions and each of the characters has a secret. Although there is plenty of drama, this is a fairly gentle and largely satisfying read, even if sometimes you will want to give some of the characters a good talking-to.
This book is SO going to divide reviewers. I loved it – in fact, in July, it is one of my top books for 2015. It is a stream of consciousness from a lonely, quirky, intelligent woman, who is perhaps not wired up quite like most of us; she is a wonderful character. Superb writing and a fabulous book.