Book reviews


To Fight Alongside Friends - The First World War Diaries of Charlie May

To Fight Alongside Friends - The First World War Diaries of Charlie May

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.


The Book of the Poppy

The Book of the Poppy

Chris McNab

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.


Daughters of the Lake

Daughters of the Lake

Jane Riddell

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.


Eggshells

Eggshells

Caitriona Lally

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.


Hot Property

Hot Property

Susanne O'Leary

This is a light romance set on the coast of County Kerry in Ireland. It is an escapist read, but has missed opportunities for giving it more substance.


A Bed of Barley Straw

A Bed of Barley Straw

Sam Russell

This is a light, romantic read, which lovers of the genre, particularly those who are also animal and country lovers, will enjoy. But I felt it needed a bit more structure and a clear view on who the intended audience is.


A Cage of Roots

A Cage of Roots

Matt Griffin

This is a dark and scary book for children aged ten plus. Children love it, judging by their reviews, and I love it too. It is set in Ireland and will appeal to readers anywhere. It is about love, loyalty, friendship and facing your demons (but is not in the least preachy). The writing is superb. I heartily recommend it.


Cliona's Wave

Cliona's Wave

Donal Minihane

The book brings together aspects of Ireland’s folklore, history, religion, social mores, prejudices, and the Church’s stronghold. It is about family ties, weaknesses and strengths. Above all it is about how lives change when other people take control. I was fascinated by the shocking historical aspects, but I enjoyed less the some of the characterisation.


Clay

Clay

Melissa Harrison

This is a book to be read slowly and every sentence savoured. Three lonely people live in an uncaring city, their lives coming together occasionally because of their love for the little park they live around. This is a book about nature and how we interact with it, or not; how even in the city the natural world continues its cycle, largely unnoticed by those who live next to it. It is a book about violence and suspicion, families and community. I loved it.


Disclaimer

Disclaimer

Renée Knight

Catherine finds in her house a novel which is apparently based on events that happened to her twenty years previously, and the disclaimer, “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental” crossed through by hand in red ink. This is a suspenseful novel with a slow reveal of the characters' emotions and motivations. I enjoyed it.


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