Posted in Books I have read

I Stopped Time – Jane Davis

Historical Fiction 5*'s
Historical Fiction
5*’s

This book tells the tale of Lottie, a woman who wasn’t around through her son’s young life. James doesn’t know, or want to know, about his absent mother until she dies and he is left a photography collection. Through these photographs he discovers more about her.

I loved the way that Lottie’s life unfolded through pictures, a clever (and brave) device which worked fantastically well. It was a real change from the diary with the missing pages which is often used! The ending was perfect, not being a writer, I often think this must be the hardest part as many a promising book falls at this stage. The timing of the revelation of Lottie’s story, especially in relation to her son James was perfect.

Being interested in more recent history this book was right up my street and I especially liked the fact that it examined the reality of the women left behind during the First World War. This book deserves to be read by all who enjoy a really good story, well defined characters and detailed research to back it all up! I would especially recommend it to fans of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore.

I was given a pre-publication copy of this book by the author some time ago, and despite reading many books since then, this book is one I have remembered and reflected upon.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Next Time You See Me – Holly Goddard Jones

Mystery 5*'s
Mystery
5*’s

First of all I need to say I struggled on how to classify this book. Although the blurb tells us that Emily finds a body in the woods and Ronnie Eastman is missing, this is not a typical crime novel, so I have decided to put it in a category of mystery, but it is really so much more….

Holly Goddard Jones has written a character driven novel which centres on the disappearance of Ronnie Eastman. The search for Ronnie is what propels this story forward but the writing is what captured my attention right from the beginning.

The book starts with Emily, a slightly overweight, friendless thirteen year old girl sat in a classroom doing an English exercise. The writing immediately transported me to that classroom where the, oh so cool and attractive Christopher Shelton, was intent on needling the teacher, poor Emily taking the brunt of his annoyance when Susanna Mitchell reacted. Here we meet the first of countless links to the missing woman, because Mrs Mitchell is the younger sister of the good-time girl Ronnie who hasn’t been in contact for a couple of weeks! After school lonely Emily takes off into the woods where she broods over her day….

“Christopher’s presence at her side was so real to her that she registered embarrassment at the visibility of her exertion, and she couldn’t help calling up the look on his face when he had stopped by her desk that day at school: the disgust, so evident in the curl of his lip, and the spat word, creep, said as though he were ridding his mouth of a foul taste.”

The whole book involves characters who are connected in some way to Ronnie in the small town of Roma. There is an underlying longing in all those we meet for change; from the aging factory worker Wyatt, the school girl Emily, the arrogant smart Christopher, Susanna whose husband Dale takes her for granted and the policeman Tony and at the centre is the ‘party girl’ Ronnie who has a reputation amongst her fellow inhabitants of this classic small town.

The pages are full of domestic details, the petty annoyances of a stale marriage, the casual spoiling of a niece all add a richness to the characters, all of whom are so vivid I felt as if I knew them.

“Of course, Abby, who so loved long hair, was also the child who’d said, ‘Aunt Ronnie’s a princess,’ the time Ronnie came over in her trashiest club-crawling wear and dark purple eye shadow, hair sprayed to the rafters. Susanna laughed at the memory, then swallowed against the tears. How she wanted her sister right now.”

This is a book to savour, to get to know the people and understand their motivations and  to be amazed by the perceptive writing rather than a conventional crime novel and I loved it all the more for this.

I received my copy of this book from Amazon Vine in return for my unbiased opinion on this fantastic book.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Smash all the Windows – Jane Davis

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

Jane Davis is one of those authors whose books all have an entirely different feeling to each other, Smash All The Windows being another example of what ties them all together, the brilliant depiction of the characters, whatever their age, circumstance or time period.

The centre of this book is a tragedy of the type fortunately most of us will only ever read about or watch in horror on news reports. Fifteen years ago at a fictional tube station St Botolph and Old Billingsgate, a crush occurs. It starts on an escalator and fifty-eight people lost their lives. Their loved ones have gone through an inquest and a class action before the most recent, second inquest which rules that the victims weren’t at fault. The reader learns about some of the victims through their relatives who have never given up trying to ensure that a similar incident never occurs again.

My thoughts of the book instantly conjured up one I read in 2011, The Report by Jessica Frances Kane about the Bethnal Green disaster of 1943 where a crush on the entrance to the station resulted in a large loss of life of those seeking shelter from air raids. I’m sure you can pick your own reference, something the author herself addresses during the novel. What makes this book different is the wide range of fictional characters who are altered by the tragedy, from the parents, siblings and partners of those who lost their lives to the trainee lawyer who immerses himself in the points of law. All of these people are bought to life and while I won’t deny this book is terribly sad overall there is some hope, even if all that hope consists of is that those people manage to get some relief from the day that changed their lives.

The story is told from different viewpoints we see Gina a mother whose marriage has fallen apart, her daughter just a teenager at the time of the tragedy having lost her childhood as she tries to support her mother. The secrets that they keep from one another trying to help or avoiding difficult subjects, we see it all from both sides. Whatever anyone says, people don’t turn into saints because they’ve suffered and life can continue to be unfair. Another woman becomes a keyboard warrior having been unable to leave her house. Some of the families blamed those on duty, but what if they were victims too? How does that work. The past and the present run alongside each other, memories throwing us back in time to re-examine facts, and a special project creating a sense of community with those who never wanted to be members of this select group.

I saw Jane Davis’s work as a project, almost as mammoth as Eric’s research into the fictional tragedy and the art project that Jules undertakes. This is an ambitious piece of writing and I’m delighted to say one that works. I can’t leave this review without alluding to the metafiction tag which gave rise to a number of questions when I featured the synopsis earlier on the blog. I’m going to be honest, I’m not quite sure what it means in the context of this story, and to be honest, I don’t really care. Smash All The Windows was an immensely compelling read, told in the first person I felt the various character’s emotions, I cared about them all. Somehow whilst revolving around the tragedy this is a book to make you think, from the mundane to the more philosophical questions, yet all the while remembering that the readers want to connect to the book and its unique set of characters. I know I was urging them forward all the way.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Jane Davis for allowing me to read a copy of Smash All The Windows prior to publication, today, 12 April 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks for an exceptional and engaging read.

First Published UK: 12 April 2018
Publisher: Rossdale Print Productions
No of Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US


Previous Books by Jane Davis

Half Truths and White Lies
I Stopped Time
These Fragile Things
A Funeral for an Owl
An Unchoreographed Life
An Unknown Woman
My Counterfeit Self

Reviews by Author A – L

A

Rachel Abbott – And So It Begins

Rachel Abbott – The Back Road DCI Tom Douglas #2

Rachel Abbott – Come A Little Closer DCI Tom Douglas #7

Rachel Abbott – Kill Me Again DCI Tom Douglas #5

Rachel Abbott – Nowhere Child DCI Tom Douglas #4.5

Rachel Abbott – The Sixth Window DCI Tom Douglas #6

Rachel Abbott – Sleep Tight DCI Tom Douglas #3

Rachel Abbott – Stranger Child DCI Tom Douglas #4

Aimee Alexander – The Accidental Life of Greg Millar

Judith Allnatt – The Moon Field

Buffy Andrews – The Moment Keeper

Isabel Ashdown – Little Sister

Lindsay Jayne Ashford – The Woman On The Orient Express

Lucy Atkins – The Missing One

Lucy Atkins – The Night Visitor

Kate Atkinson – Life After Life 

Margaret Atwood – Alias Grace

Flourish.jpgB

Fredrik Backman – My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises

Fredrik Backman – The Scandal

Fredrik Backman – Us Against You

Alison Baillie – A Fractured Winter 

Alison Baillie – Sewing The Shadows Together

Beryl Bainbridge – An Awfully Big Adventure

Beryl Bainbridge – Harriet Said

Beryl Bainbridge – Master Georgie

Beryl Bainbridge – Sweet William

Beryl Bainbridge – Winter Garden

Lisa Ballantyne – Little Liar

Lisa Ballantyne – Redemption Road

Laura Barnett – Greatest Hits

Laura Barnett – The Versions of Us

Helen Barrell – Poison Panic

Graham Bartlett – Death Comes Knocking

Fiona Barton – The Child

Fiona Barton – The Suspect 

Fiona Barton – The Widow

Belinda Bauer – The Beautiful Dead

Belinda Bauer – The Facts of Life and Death

Belinda Bauer – Rubbernecker

Belinda Bauer – The Shut Eye

Belinda Bauer – Snap

Nina Bawden – Ruffian On The Stair

Nina Bawden – The Solitary Child

Simon Beckett – The Chemistry of Death David Hunter #1

Simon Beckett – The Restless Dead David Hunter #5

Simon Beckett – Stone Bruises

Deborah Bee – The Last Thing I Remember

Gail Bell – The Poison Principle

Kimberly Belle – The Marriage Lie

Marie Benedict – Carnegie’s Maid

John Bennett – The Cromwell Street Murders 

Flynn Berry – A Double Life

Mark Billingham – Die of Shame

Mark Billingham – The Dying Hours

Mark Billingham – Love Like Blood

Mark Billingham – Rush of Blood

Mark Billingham – Time of Death

Amy Bird – The Good Mother

Amy Bird – Hide and Seek

Katarina Bivald – The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Jenny Blackhurst – Before I Let You In

Jenny Blackhurst – The Foster Child

Jenny Blackhurst – How I Lost You

Jenny Blackhurst – The Night She Died

Sam Blake – In Deep Water Cat Connolly #2

Sam Blake – Little Bones Cat Connolly #1

Victoria Blake – Mrs Maybrick

Chris Blamires – A Time of Myths

Sharon Bolton – The Craftsman

Sharon Bolton – A Dark and Twisted Tide Lacey Flint #4

Sharon Bolton – Daisy In Chains

Sharon Bolton – Dead Woman Walking

Sharon Bolton – Here Be Dragons Lacey Flint Short Story

Sharon Bolton – If Snow Hadn’t Fallen Lacey Flint Short Story

Sharon Bolton – Like This Forever Lacey Flint #3

Sharon Bolton – Little Black Lies

Sharon Bolton – Now You See Me Lacey Flint #1

Jan Bondeson – The Ripper of Waterloo Road

Simon Booker – Without Trace

Simon Bourke – And the Birds Kept on Singing

William Boyd – The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth

John Boyne – Crippen: A Novel of a Murder

John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

John Boyne – The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Lady Audley’s Secret

Melvyn Bragg – Grace and Mary

Rebecca Bradley – Shallow Waters

Carys Bray – The Museum of You

R.C. Bridgestock – When a Killer Strikes

Ray Britain – The Last Thread

Vera Brittain – Testament of Youth

Frances Brody – A Snapshot of Murder #10 Kate Shackleton

Frances Brody – Death at the Seaside Kate Shackleton #8

Frances Brody – Death in the Stars  Kate shackleton #9

Chris Brookmyre – Want You Gone

Dea Brøvig – The Last Boat Home

Antony M Brown – The Red Address Book

Alison Bruce – The Promise DC Gary Goodhew #6

Alison Bruce – The Siren DC Gary Goodhew #2

Elizabeth Buchan – The New Mrs Clifton

Suzanne Bugler – The Safest Place

Alafair Burke – The Ex

Graeme Macrae Burnet – His Bloody Project

Alexandra Burt – Little Girl Gone

Sian Busby – A Commonplace Killing

Sian Busby – The Cruel Mother

Flourish.jpgC

Alex Caan – Cut To The Bone

Jane Cable – The Faerie Tree

Graeme Cameron – Normal

Louise Candlish – The Disappearance of Emily Marr

Louise Candlish – The Intruder at Number 40

Louise Candlish – Other People’s Secrets

Louise Candlish – Our House

Louise Candlish – The Sudden Departure of the Frasers

Louise Candlish – The Swimming Pool

Joanna Cannon – Three Things About Elsie

Truman Capote – Breakfast at Tiffany’s 

Truman Capote – In Cold Blood

Laura Carlin – The Wicked Cometh

Elisabeth Carpenter – Only a Mother 

 Emmanuel Carrère – The Adversary

Jane Carter Woodrow – Rose West: A Making of a Monster

Tania Carver – The Doll’s House

James Cary – Crossword Ends In Violence (5)

Jane Casey – After The Fire Maeve Kerrigan #6

Jane Casey – Cruel Acts Maeve Kerrigan #8

Jane Casey – The Kill Maeve Kerrigan #5

Jane Casey – Left for Dead Maeve Kerrigan #0.5

Jane Casey – Let The Dead Speak Maeve Kerrigan #7

Jane Casey – The Stranger You Know Maeve Kerrigan #4

Steve Cavanagh – The Defence

HS Chandler – Degrees of Guilt

Eve Chase – Black Rabbit Hall

Eve Chase – The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde

Agatha Christie – The A.B.C. Murders

Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None

Agatha Christie – Hickory Dickory Dock

Agatha Christie – The Murder at the Vicarage

Agatha Christie – Murder is Easy

Agatha Christie – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Agatha Christie – Murder on the Orient Express

Agatha Christie – One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

Agatha Christie – The Thirteen Problems

Ann Cleeves – Raven Black Shetland #1

Ann Cleeves – Silent Voices

Rory Clements – Martyr

Nicci Cloke – Lay Me Down

Deborah Cohen – Family Secrets

Tamar Cohen – The Broken

Tammy Cohen – Deadly Divorces

Tammy Cohen – Dying For Christmas

Tammy Cohen – First One Missing

Tamar Cohen – The Mistress’s Revenge

Tamar Cohen – Someone Else’s Wedding

Tammy Cohen – They All Fall Down

Tammy Cohen – When She Was Bad

Emma Cole – Every Secret Thing

Kate Colquhoun – Did She Kill Him?

Barbara Comyns – Our Spoons Came From Woolworths

Michael Stewart Conway – Caversham Lock

Michael Stewart Conway – Caversham Road

Barabara Copperthwaite – Flowers for the Dead

Elizabeth Cooke – Rutherford Park

Natasha Cooper – No Escape

Julie Corbin – Now That You’re Gone

Jane Corry – Blood Sisters

Jane Corry – My Husband’s Wife

Andrew Cowan – Worthless Men

Edmund Crispin – The Moving Toyshop

Kathryn Croft – The Girl With No Past

Kathryn Croft – The Girl You Lost

Kathryn Croft – While You Were Sleeping

Julia Crouch – Her Husband’s Lover

Julia Crouch – Tarnished

Julia Crouch – The Long Fall

Sinéad Crowley – Are You Watching Me? DS Claire Boyle #2

Sinéad Crowley – Can Anybody Help Me? DS Claire Boyle #1

Sinéad Crowley – One Bad Turn DS Claire Boyle #3

Fiona Cummins – The Neighbour 

Chris Curran – Her Deadly Secret

Judith Cutler – Green and Pleasant Land

Flourish.jpgD

Suellen Dainty – The Housekeeper

Paula Daly – Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Paula Daly – Keep Your Friends Close

Paula Daly – The Mistake I Made

Paula Daly – Open Your Eyes

Paula Daly – The Trophy Child

Sandra Danby – Ignoring Gravity

Nina Darnton – The Perfect Mother

Bea Davenport – In Too Deep

Bea Davenport – This Little Piggy

Caitlin Davies – Family Likeness

Caitlin Davies – The Ghost Of Lily Painter

Jane Davis – A Funeral For An Owl

Jane Davis – Half-Truths And White Lies

Jane Davis – I Stopped Time

Jane Davis – Smash All The Windows 

Jane Davis – These Fragile Things

Elizabeth Day – Home Fires

Kit de Waal – My Name is Leon

Kit de Waal – The Trick to Time

Luke Delaney – The Toy Taker

Robert Dinsdale – Little Exiles

Anthony Doerr – All The Light We Cannot See

Charlie Donlea – Don’t Believe It

Emma Donoghue – Room

Louise Doughty – Apple Tree Yard

Louise Douglas – The Secret By The Lake

Louise Douglas – Your Beautiful Lies

Renita D’Silva – Monsoon Memories

Renita D’Silva – The Forgotten Daughter

Renita D’Silva – The Stolen Girl

Ruth Dugdall – Humber Boy B #3

Ruth Dugdall – Nowhere Girl #4

Ruth Dugdall – The Sacrificial Man #2

Ruth Dugdall – The Woman Before Me #1

Sabine Durrant – Lie With Me

Sabine Durrant – Remember Me This Way

Sabine Durrant – Take Me In

Sabine Durrant – Under Your Skin

Claire Dyer – The Last Day

Claire Dyer – The Perfect Affair

Flourish.jpgE

Piu Marie Eatwell – The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse

 Mark Edwards – The Magpies

Mark Edwards – Because She Loves Me

Martin Edwards – The Arsenic Labyrinth Lake District Mystery #3

Martin Edwards – The Cipher Garden Lake District Mystery #2

Martin Edwards – The Coffin Trail Lake District Mystery #1

Martin Edwards – Dancing for the Hangman

Martin Edwards – The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books 

Elsebeth Egholm – Dead Souls

Susan Eliot Wright – The Things We Never Said

Susan Eliot Wright – The Secrets We Left Behind

J.T. Ellison – No One Knows

Nuala Ellwood – My Sister’s Bones

Jennie Ensor – Blind Side

Jennie Ensor – The Girl in His Eyes

Colin Evans – The Killing of Georgie Moore

Elizabeth Evans – As Good As Dead

Harriet Evans – A Place For Us

Lissa Evans – Crooked Heart

Natalie Meg Evans – The Dress Thief

Felicity Everett – The People at Number 9

Flourish.jpgF

Jane Fallon – Faking Friends

Jane Fallon – My Sweet Revenge

Jane Fallon – Skeletons 

Jane Fallon – Tell Me A Secret

Natalie Fergie – The Sewing Machine

Clare Fisher – All The Good Things

Helen FitzGerald – Bloody Women

Helen FitzGerald – The Cry

Helen FitzGerald – The Exit

Helen FitzGerald – My Last Confession

Helen FitzGerald – Viral

Rebecca Fleet – The House Swap

Emma Flint – Little Deaths

Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl

Lucy Foley – The Book of Lost and Found

Margaret Forster – My Life in Houses

Margaret Forster – The Unknown Bridesmaid

Karin Fossum – The Drowned Boy

Karin Fossum – The Murder of Harriet Krohn

John Foster – Nine Times In Ten

N.J. Fountain – Painkiller

Christopher Fowler – The Book of Forgotten Authors

Dorothy Fowler – What Remains Behind

Margalit Fox – Conan Doyle for the Defence

Patty Francis- The Liars Diary

Ros Franey – The Dissent of Annie Lang

Sarah Franklin – Shelter

Caz Frear – Sweet Little Lies

Kimberley Freeman -Wildflower Hill

Nicci French – Friday On My Mind Frieda Klein #5

Nicci French – Saturday Requiem Frieda Klein #6

Nicci French – Sunday Morning Coming Down Frieda Klein #7

Nicci French – Thursday’s Child Frieda Klein #4

Nicci French – Waiting for Wednesday Frieda Klein #3

Paul French – Midnight in Peking

Tana French – Broken Harbour

Tana French – The Secret Place

Tana French – The Trespasser

Tana French – The Wych Elm

Flourish.jpgG

Christine Gardner – Not Guilty

Helen Garner – This House of Grief

Pascal Garnier – The A26

Pascal Garnier – Boxes

Pascal Garnier – Moon in a Dead Eye

Alison Gaylin – What Remains of Me

Hélène Gestern – The People in the Photo

Elizabeth Gifford – The Secrets Of The Sea House

Elizabeth Gill – The Fall and Rise of Lucy Charlton

Andrea Gillies – The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay

Lesley Glaister – Nina Todd Has Gone

Holly Goddard Jones – The Next Time You See Me

Celina Grace – Hushabye

Celina Grace – Requiem

Celina Grace – Imago

Eliza Graham – Another Day Gone

Eliza Graham – The One I Was

Peter Graham – Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century

Camilla Grebe – The Ice Beneath Her

Graham Greene – The End of the Affair

Iona Grey – Letters to the Lost

Isabelle Grey – The Bad Mother

Isabelle Grey – Good Girls Don’t Die Grace Fisher #1

Isabelle Grey – Shot Through The Heart Grace Fisher #2

Isabelle Grey – The Special Girls Grace Fisher #3

Isabelle Grey – Wrong Way Home Grace Fisher #4

Michael Griesbach – The Innocent Killer

Elly Griffiths – The Blood Card Stephens & Mephisto #3

Elly Griffiths – The Chalk Pit Ruth Galloway #9

Elly Griffiths – The Dark Angel Ruth Galloway #10

Elly Griffiths – The Ghost Fields Ruth Galloway #7

Elly Griffiths – The Outcast Dead Ruth Galloway #6

Elly Griffiths – Smoke and Mirrors Stephens &  Mephisto #2

Elly Griffiths – The Stranger Diaries

Elly Griffiths – The Stone Circle Ruth Galloway #11

Elly Griffiths – The Woman in Blue Ruth Galloway #8

Elly Griffiths – The Vanishing Box Stephens &  Mephisto #4

Elly Griffiths – The Zig-Zag Girl Stephens & Mephisto #1

Rebecca Griffiths – A Place to Lie

Lauren Groff – Fates and Furies

Heather Gudenkauf – Little Mercies

Heather Gudenkauf – Missing Pieces

Heather Gudenkauf – Not A Sound

Flourish.jpg

H

Araminta Hall – Dot

Araminta Hall – Our Kind of Cruelty

Kate Hamer – The Doll Funeral

Penny Hancock – A Trick of the Mind

Helene Hanff – 84 Charing Cross Road

Jean Hanff Korelitz – You Should Have Known

John F Hanley – Against The Tide

John F Hanley – The Last Boat

Kristen Hannah – The Nightingale

Sophie Hannah – A Game For All The Family

Sophie Hannah – Did You See Melody?

Sophie Hannah – The Carrier

Sophie Hannah – The Narrow Bed

Sophie Hannah – The Telling Error

Emma Hannigan – The Summer Guests

Emma Hannigan – The Heart of Winter

Kathryn Harkup – A is For Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

Claire Harman – Murder by the Book 

Fiona Harper – The Other Us

Jane Harper – The Dry

Jane Harper – The Lost Man

L.P.Hartley – The Go-Between

L.P. Hartley – The Shrimp and the Anemone

Mary S. Hartman – Victorian Murderesses

C.J. Hartner – Rowan’s Well

David Hastings – The Many Deaths of Mary Dobie

Paula Hawkins – The Girl On The Train

Antonia Hayes – Relativity

Samantha Hayes – Until You’re Mine

Samatha Hayes – Before You Die

Samantha Hayes – You Belong To Me

Elizabeth Haynes – Behind Closed Doors (DCI Louisa Smith #2)

Elizabeth Haynes – Human Remains

Elizabeth Haynes – The Murder of Harriet Monckton

Elizabeth Haynes – Never Alone

Elizabeth Haynes – Promises to Keep

Elizabeth Haynes – Under A Silent Moon (DCI Louisa Smith #1)

Katherine Hayton – Found Near WaterKatherine Hayton – Found Near Water

Julia Heaberlin – Black-Eyed Susans

Emma Healey – Elizabeth Is Missing

James Henry – Blackwater

James Henry – Frost at Midnight DI Frost Prequel #4

James Henry – Morning Frost DI Frost Prequel #3

Sally Hepworth – The Family Next Door

Sally Hepworth – The Mother-in-Law

Sally Hepworth – The Things We Keep

Patricia Highsmith – The Talented Mr Ripley

Sarah Hilary – Come And Find Me DI Marnie Rome #5

Sarah Hilary – No Other Darkness DI Marnie Rome #2

Sarah Hilary – Quieter Than Killing DI Marnie Rome #4

Sarah Hilary – Someone Else’s Skin DI Marnie Rome #1

Sarah Hilary – Tastes Like Fear DI Marnie Rome #3

Mark Hill – The Two O’clock Boy

Reginald Hill – A Clubbable Woman Dalziel & Pascoe #1

Reginald Hill – Bones and Silence Dalziel & Pascoe #11

Reginald Hill – Child’s Play Dalziel & Pascoe #9

Reginald Hill – Pictures of Perfection Dalziel & Pascoe #14

Reginald Hill – The Stranger House

Reginald Hill – Under World Dalziel & Pascoe #10

Susan Hill – Soul of Discretion

Victoria Hislop – The Island

Frances Hodgeson Burnett- The Shuttle

Andrea Hodgkinson – Spilt Milk

Jiliane Hoffman – All The Little Pieces

Phil Hogan – A Pleasure and a Calling

Eva Holland – The Daughter’s Secret

Anna Hope – The Ballroom

Anna Hope – Wake

Ellen Horan – 31 Bond Street 

Rachel Hore – Last Letter Home

Rachel Hore – The Silent Tide

Rachel Hore – A Week in Paris

Babs Horton – A Jarful of Angels

Jane Housham – The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane

Catherine Ryan Howard – Distress Signals

Debbie Howells – The Beauty of the End

Debbie Howells – The Bones of You

Lisa Howorth – Flying Shoes

Linda Huber – Chosen Child

Linda Huber – The Cold Cold Sea

Linda Huber – Ward Zero

Cara Hunter – Close to Home

Cara Hunter – In the Dark

Cara Hunter – No Way Out

Flourish.jpgI

Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson – House Of Evidence

Kim Izzo – Seven Days in May

Flourish.jpgJ

David Jackson – A Tapping At My Door Nathan Cody #1

David Jackson – Don’t Make a Sound Nathan Cody #3

David Jackson – Hope to Die Nathan Cody #2

David Jackson – Pariah Callum Doyle #1

Maggie James – Blackwater Lake

Maggie James – His Kidnapper’s Shoes

P.D. James – The Lighthouse

P.D. James & T.A. Critchley – The Maul And The Pear Tree

Peter James – A Twist Of  The Knife

Peter James – Dead at First Sight Roy Grace #15

Peter James – Dead If You Don’t Roy Grace #14

Peter James – Dead Man’s Time Roy Grace #9

Peter James – Love You Dead Roy Grace #12

Peter James – Need You Dead Roy Grace #13

Peter James – Want You Dead Roy Grace #10

Peter James – You Are Dead Roy Grace #11

Rebecca James – Sweet Damage

Wendy James – The Golden Child

Wendy James – The Mistake

Wendy James – Out Of The Silence

Anna Jaquiery – Death In The Rainy Season

Charlotte Jay – A Hank Of Hair

Amanda Jennings – The Cliff House

Amanda Jennings – In Her Wake

Lisa Jewell – Before I Met You

Lisa Jewell – I Found You

Lisa Jewell – The Girls

Lisa Jewell – The House We Grew Up In

Lisa Jewell – The Making of Us

Lisa Jewell – Then She Was Gone

Lisa Jewell – The Third Wife

Lisa Jewell – The Truth About Melody Browne

Lisa Jewell – Watching You 

Jennifer Johnston – This is Not a Novel

Catherine Jones – Wonder Girls

Jack Jordan – Anything For Her

Alison Joseph – The Dying Light

Flourish.jpgK

Stephen Kaminski – Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk

Emma Kavanagh – Case 48: The Kidnapping of Isaiah Rae Short Story

Emma Kavanagh – Falling

Emma Kavanagh – Hidden

Emma Kavanagh – The Killer on the Wall

Emma Kavanagh – The Missing Hours

Emma Kavanagh – To Catch A Killer

Linda Kavanagh – The Secret Wife

Erin Kelly – Broadchurch

Erin Kelly – Broadchurch: The End Is Where It Begins

Erin Kelly – Broachurch: The Letter

Erin Kelly – Broadchurch: Old Friends

Erin Kelly – Broadchurch: Over The Side

Erin Kelly – Broadchurch: Protection

Erin Kelly – Broadchurch: One More Secret

Erin Kelly – Broadchurch: The Leaving of Claire Ripley

Erin Kelly – Broadchurch: Thirteen Hours

Erin Kelly – He Said/She Said

Erin Kelly – The Burning Air

Erin Kelly – The Ties That Bind

Jim Kelly – The Water Clock

Claire Kendal – The Book of You

Christobel Kent – The Crooked House

Hannah Kent – Burial Rites

Hannah Kent – The Good People

Caroline Kepnes – You

Margot Kinberg – Past Tense

Judith Kinghorn – The Memory Of Lost Senses

Liza Klaussmann – Tigers in Red Weather

Renée Knight – Disclaimer

Renée Knight – The Secretary

Herman Koch – Dear Mr M

Herman Koch – The Dinner

Herman Koch – Summer House with Swimming Pool

Jeffrey H Konis – The Conversations We Never Had

Dorothy Koomson  – The Brighton Mermaid

Dorothy Koomson – The Flavours of Love

Dorothy Koomson – That Girl From Nowhere

Mary Kubica – Don’t You Cry

Mary Kubica – The Good Girl

Mary Kubica – Pretty Baby

Mary Kubica – When the Lights Go Out

Flourish.jpgL

Lynda La Plante – Good Friday Tennison #3

Lynda La Plante – Murder Mile Tennison #4

Camilla Lackberg – Buried Angels

Camilla Läckberg – The Girl in the Woods

Camilla Lackberg – The Ice Child

Camilla Lackberg – The Lost Boy

Camilla Lackberg – The Stonecutter

Stephanie Lam – The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House

Ali Land – Good Me, Bad Me

Harriet Lane – Her

Shari Lapena – The Couple Next Door

Catherine Law – The September Garden

Deborah Lawrenson – The Sea Garden

Anthony Le Moignan – A Long Goodbye

Caroline Lea -When the Sky Fell Apart

Simon Lelic – The House

Simon Lelic – The Liar’s Room

Pierre Lemaitre – Blood Wedding

Pierre Lemaitre – Three Days and a Life

Judith Lennox – The Jeweller’s Wife

Judith Lennox – One Last Dance

H.A. Leuschel – Manipulated Lives

Luana Lewis – Don’t Stand So Close

Nell Leyshon – The Colour Of Milk

Alison Light – Common People

Alison Light – Mrs Woolf and the Servants

Elizabeth Little – Dear Daughter

Joan Lock – Dead Centre

Shari Low – One Day in December

Marie Belloc Lowndes – The Lodger

Natalie Lucus – Sixteen Sixty-One

Sofia Lundberg – The Red Address Book

Rosamund Lupton – The Quality of Silence

Jane Lythell – The Lie of You 

Flourish.jpg

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

A Funeral for an Owl – Jane Davis

Contemporary Fiction 5*'s
Contemporary Fiction
5*’s

Everything changes for Jim the day he finds a pair of binoculars and picks them up. Kneeling on the back of the sofa looking out over the lamplight night from his London council flat he spots a barn owl. Using his trusty bird book for reference he begins to learn the Latin names for the birds that he spots down by the railway tracks. At the beginning of the summer holidays in 1992 Jim meets a girl near his favourite bird watching spot and the whole course of his life changes.

Set in London this story spans twenty years as the older Jim, now a teacher, reflects on his younger self to help Shamayal, but is Jim’s story strong and relevant enough to overcome the culture of the streets today?

Jane’s writing drew me in from the very first page with a school playground fight that certainly seemed only too real and believable. This fight would have consequences to all involved as Jim overstepped his boundary as a teacher to try to help Shamayal. The fact that Jim and Shamayal are both missing important people in their lives makes a deep impression on the way they act, as well as strongly influencing their hopes and dreams. Jane is one of those writers that make you really believe the story you are being told; the descriptions of places meant that I felt I was by the railway tracks, in the high-rise flat or in the school playground witnessing a fight, a true gift.

At times I found the story is heart-breaking, at others touching as the wonderful characters took up residence in my heart especially my favourite secondary character Bins. At times I was able to sympathise with each of characters, at others I wanted to shout at them but at no time did I stop caring about any of them. This to me is the true measure of a good read!

The eBook is available now and the paperback is due out on 1 December 2013 A Funeral for an Owl
I got to know Jane when she commented on one of my earliest reviews on Amazon for her award winning book Half-truths & White Lies – click on the cover to see my review
Half-truths and White Lies

It was her historical novel I Stopped Time: A Historical Novel that cemented the fact that she was now a must-read author. I loved this book so much as it tells a story using photographs.

Click on the cover to read my review.

I stopped time

Jane’s third book These Fragile Things  is set in the 1980’s which made for some fantastic nostalgia of my teenage years!
These Fragile Things

If you haven’t already done so please read the interview Jane Davis kindly gave me to celebrate the publication of A Funeral for an Owl.  Alternatively you can contact her using the following links

Website: where she posts interesting articles and interviews with authors
Facebook
Twitter
PinterestA Funeral for an Owl

Posted in Author Interview

Interview with Jane Davis author of A Funeral for an Owl

Cover-Artwork-187x300

So here is my very first interview with an author!  Jane Davis wrote one of my favourite novels of all time ‘I Stopped Time’ and when she sent me her latest book A Funeral for an Owl I cheekily asked if I could do an interview with her when it was published.  To my delight she agreed.

Cleo: What theme was the basis for A Funeral for an Owl?

Jane:  A Funeral for an Owl shares its central theme with Half-truths and White Lies, I Stopped Time, and to a lesser extent These Fragile Things, that is the influence that missing persons have on our lives. Whether an absent parent, the child who never was, a friend who died an untimely death, the object of our unrequited love who finds a love of his own, the friends we lose touch with, we all collect them, particularly as we get older.  In my own life, the influence of those who are missing is as great, and possibly greater still, than those who are present. The fact that someone is absent creates the ultimate What if? question, the question authors have to toy with when thinking about the premise for their plots.

This theme was something that I had explored tentatively in my previous fiction, but I found myself studying the Missing Persons ads in The Metro, the fourteen and fifteen-year-olds whose stories aren’t sufficiently high-profile to land them on the pages of newspapers.  They are simply slipping between the cracks. And so I looked into the facts. One in ten children ‘run away’ from home before they reach the age of sixteen, an estimated 100,000 every year. Shockingly, a quarter of those young people are actually forced out of their homes by parents or carers. Two-thirds are not reported to the police as missing. That’s 75,000 children for whom a Missing Persons ad will never be placed. All of these children are highly vulnerable, at risk of substance abuse, sexual exploitation and homelessness. Mobile phones and social networking sites have made it even easier to target them. I include a particularly poignant quote from Lady Catherine Meye at the beginning of my novel. “We can’t establish for certain how many children are missing. You’d have more chance of finding a stray dog.” But what if some of the rules that are put in place with the best of intentions – to protect children – actually deprive the most vulnerable of confidential counsel from someone they trust? I appreciate that not everyone will agree with that view, but when I was growing up we had a wonderful teacher who operated an open-house and provided a safe place for those who were struggling at home, no questions asked. It was surprising who would turn up at her door. Today, in an environment when any relationship between teachers and pupils outside the classroom is taboo, she would be sacked. I think that’s terribly sad. Fiction provides a unique opportunity to tell one side of a story through the eyes of one or two characters. It’s not the whole picture by any means, but it is one aspect of it.

Cleo: The telling of the story from more than one perspective was something that I really loved about this book. As a reader it gave me far more to think about than if it had just been told from Jim’s point of view.

Cleo: A Funeral For An Owl main protagonists, Jim and Shamayal, are male; is it harder to write from this perspective?

Jane: There are challenges about writing from a man’s perspective. Some of them are based on the myths perpetuated by popular women’s magazines – about how many times a day men think about sex, for example. When I’m not sure how to approach a topic, I turn to books. I also rely on gut feeling about how much detail people actually want to read. Something implied can be far more powerful than something that is explicit. I prefer describing emotions rather than mechanics. Young Jim does undergo something of a sexual awakening when he meets Aimee White, a girl from the other side of the tracks – smart and what we used to call middle class – who is a whole year older than him. Graham Joyce’s The Tooth Fairy provided a wonderful example of the confusion of finding yourself aroused by someone you are not attracted to. Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad provided fantastic examples of how to portray flawed characters in a non-judgemental way – people who don’t always understand the reasons why they do things. I take comfort in the fact that I am not so convinced as Cosmopolitan is that there is a ‘typical male’, but even if I’m wrong, my characters are not intended to be typical. I hope that, through young Jim, I have sympathetically addressed the pressures boys feel to behave in a so-called ‘masculine way.’ The main challenge in writing Shamayal was creating the fight scene. That was new territory for me. Again, my intention was to create a sense of fear rather than to be graphic. (I should perhaps explain that this isn’t a book about sex and violence.)

Cleo: I totally agree with you as I do not believe that boy’s issues and concerns are that different from those that girls have. Certainly my experience of teenagers of both sexes along with the multitude of their friends that passed through my door have proved that in fact the concerns are pretty similar.

Cleo: Did you see or hear about a playground fight involving gangs or was this woven in later in the process?

Thankfully the only playground fight I have ever seen close up was between my best friend and the school skin-head (also a girl). It began during a game of netball and I can’t tell you what it was about, but it must have been some righteous cause, because my friend wouldn’t have fought over any other. The skin-head should have had the advantage as girls’ fights consist primarily of scratching and hair-pulling, but my friend won.

The original draft of A Funeral for an Owl only told the story of what happened between Jim and Aimee in 1992. That was rejected by my then publisher as they felt it lacked a strong female protagonist. It was only later that I came back to the material, which I was convinced was too good to be consigned to that dusty drawer reserved for rejected manuscripts. I was surprised that I felt a real affection for it. I kept returning to it and decided to update it with Shamayal’s story. By layering the story I was able to reflect on cause and effect. I was able to tell the story of how Jim would put his career on the line to stop history repeating itself. I was able to allow Bins to be a bit of a hero. It was also an opportunity to acknowledge the enormous changes I have witnessed over the past twenty or so years. The cultural mix – in my South London middle school there was one black family. My friends’ children simply cannot understand how we survived without mobile phones in the ‘olden days’ and why there are so few photographs of us. Children and adults were members of different species. Gangs were very different things then. Children did not kill children. Today, hearing about gang fights is unavoidable. I read a lot of personal accounts during my research, including one victim’s who was dumped in a bin and left for dead. Sadly, there are lots of truths in my book.

Cleo: I think the fact that the book contains a lot of truths is what makes it so powerful, the change in attitudes in the last twenty years certainly adds context to both parts of this story.

Cleo: My favourite secondary character has to be Bins, a man who spends most of his time in the bin store at Ralegh Grove, the estate Shamayal lives on. Is he based, even vaguely on someone you know?

Jane: No is the short answer, but it’s not a very satisfactory one. Some readers assumed that Bins was autistic, but that wasn’t my intention at all. I suffered from depression for many years and, in an age when suicide statistics speak for themselves, I enjoy celebrating people who have found their own ways of living. In my locality we have a wizard who walks the length of the high street in his full regalia, complete with a black cat on his shoulder; we have a very masculine-looking Scotsman who wears a very badly-fitting cotton floral dress; we have a man who walks the streets with a tank strapped to his back spraying the air, and a young chap who stands on street corners conducting the traffic, and singing hymns at the top of his voice. These are all logical responses to an insane world. Small communities – and children in particular – accommodate people who don’t fall into our narrow definition of what is ‘normal’. It was only when watching a programme about the artist Chuck Close that I became aware of the condition Prosopagnosia, or ‘face blindness’, and appreciated how someone who didn’t appear to recognise someone he had met dozens of times before might be treated as if he was stupid, and if he was treated as if he was stupid, how he might eventually come to believe that.

Cleo:  I asked this question was because I often feel that the importance of identifiable characters outside the main protagonists is often overlooked. I loved Bins and his interactions with both Shamayal and Jim bought a tear to my eye, I’m a softy for people caring for others particularly when on the surface it looks like Bins needs help too!

Cleo: I thought Ayisha seemed a little prim and proper at the start of the book, did you like her less than the other characters?

Jane: Ayisha is opinionated, it’s true. She is also a person who has been brought up with rules and believes that they’re there for good reason. She knows that her colleague Jim has breached the teachers’ code of conduct by befriending fourteen-year-old Shamayal. In the aftermath of the playground fight during which Jim is stabbed, Ayisha administers first aid. She’s in shock and understandably so. This is far outside her normal experience. She makes a split-second decision that it would be wrong to report Jim. He is in no position to defend himself: imagine the headlines if he doesn’t pull through. But in that split-second she puts her own teaching career on the line. So, yes, when she finds out that Jim has done all that she suspected and more, she’s furious with him. Because it’s too late. She is involved, even though she really doesn’t want to be. Far from disliking Ayisha, I am completely sympathetic. But for her ethnic background, I am a lot like her.

Cleo: I don’t want to give the impression I didn’t like Ayisha, I came to admire her decision to put her career on the line enormously as the book progressed. So moving swiftly onto the next question…

Cleo: Who was your favourite character in the book and why?

Jane: I think that Jim’s Granddad is a very powerful character. He is another missing person by the time that the action in the book begins, but he represents everything that was good about Jim’s difficult childhood. He recognised that Jim’s dad, Frank, favoured his brother, Nick, because he was more masculine, and he tried to compensate.

“He was a gentleman.”
Shamayal’s recovery swift, the mocking manner returned with a vengeance. “Posh?”
“God, no! He had a face full of stubble and tattoos up to his armpits. I meant in the old-fashioned sense. He was born at a time when showing manners and respecting his elders weren’t seen as weaknesses.”
Shamayal looked doubtful: this definition implied a loss of face.
“Granddad understood me better than anyone else.” Jim found himself smiling. “He was just old enough to remember what it was like to be really young.”

Cleo: Have you ever been bird-watching and if so did you learn the names of the birds in a similar way to Jim?

Jane: I’m not a bird-watcher, but I am a very keen walker, I enjoy observing life on a small scale. It’s important to slow down, to get away from technology, to observe the changing seasons. I’ve just returned home from a trip to the Lake District, but it is equally possible to experience these things in your local park. Apart from Ralegh Grove, which is fictional (based on my experience of living on High Path council estate, where I bought my first flat), the places I describe are within walking distance of my house. I simply recorded all of the birds I saw and looked them up. So-called garden birds are declining at a frightening rate, so it’s possible that this simple pleasure isn’t one that will be with us for ever. The one exception to my writing-down-and-looking-up rule is my owl. I am not absolutely sure that there are barn owls in Carshalton – although, if there were, it is likely they would be found by the sides of the railway lines. The owl is such a powerful image in mythology and folklore that his appearance was non-negotiable. I visited several wonderful websites when looking for inspiration: http://www.barnowltrust.org.uk provided me with beautiful and moving photographs that left me with a very clear image of what I wanted to try to convey in words. They do wonderful work and run adoption schemes for owls, which makes a very nice present – if you don’t want to buy a book.

I introduced the bird-watching aspect in tribute to Barry Hines’s heart-breaking portrayal of Billy in A Kestrel for a Knave. Like Billy, by discovering birds, Jim discovers another way of being that sets him apart from his father and brother and the assumptions that, like them, he will turn to a life of petty crime. He also sets himself apart from boys of his own age.

Cleo: The myth that you use wasn’t one I’d heard before, but one that I will now always remember.

Cleo: All your books are very different; do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

Jane: In the world of traditional publishing, it is not a smart move to make your books too different. The issue of genre is not quite so thorny in self-publishing, which recognises that authors want to develop and grow through experimentation and that readers do not want to read the same old recycled plot with different casts.

There is a school of thought that tells you that must have a clear idea of where the plot will take you before you start writing. If that was the case, I would never have put pen to paper. I choose to take the advice of authors who say exactly the opposite:

Debby Holt claims that there are plot-driven novels and character-driven novels. Hers fall into the latter category and I’m with her. Joanne Harris, too, says that women often write in this way, while men prefer to plot.

Stephen King’s advice from his book On Writing: is to start with a single question and see how that idea develops. The question always begins ‘what if’ and his usually follow the lines of ‘What if aliens landed in Arizona?’ or ‘What if zombies invaded my hometown?’

Sir Terry Pratchett uses a method he calls The Valley of the Clouds. In the valley of the clouds there are mountains but you can only see the very tops of the peaks. It is your job as an author to work out how to get to the mountains. As a walker, I really connect with this description.
Have a clear idea about your characters, give them background stories, put them in a conflicted scenario and take the idea to its natural conclusion. If you’re lucky and your characters are right, with a fair wind, they will take control and do most of the donkey work for you. Shamayal is one example of this. His spoke very clearly to me because he has a very definite speech pattern and he is unafraid of saying things to an adult that simply wouldn’t have been acceptable when I was growing up. That said, my method does result in some serious nail-biting, but I think that to plot rigidly would be to stifle the characters.

Cleo: Have you always written stories?

Jane: No. I always used to draw pictures. I might have pursued art but, after years of As, a grade C in return for my experimental silk-screening for my Art O Level dampened any ambitions I had in that department. I left school at the age of sixteen and never returned to it. These days I stick to photography.

Cleo: That’s a really original answer as most writers appear to have been scribbling notes away for years. I’m sure that will be good  for aspiring writers to know, particularly as it is NaNo season!

Cleo: What made you sit down and start your first novel?

Jane: There were several reasons why I started to write. The first was that, although I had been an artistic child, my work in insurance provided no creative outlet. Secondly, it was a question of timing rather than one of time. I spent many years with ample time on my hands, but I didn’t start to write until I was in a relationship with someone who gave me confidence to express myself. Finally, I needed something to write about. Something happened in my life that I needed to make sense of and I used writing to explore how I felt about it. I think that most writers start because they want to make sense of the world.

Cleo: Do you work on one book at a time?

Jane: After the first book is out there, it’s almost impossible to work on one book at a time. At the moment I am marketing last year’s double release, preparing for the launch of A Funeral for an Owl and am 65,000 words into a new project which I’m still too superstitious to talk about. I’m at the panic-inducing stage where I know what happens at the end but I can’t seem to find the path to my final peak!

Cleo: That is such an eloquent way of describing all the work we readers often forget that goes into writing and publishing a book.  I can’t wait to see what the new book is about but I won’t push for an answer, yet….

Cleo: When can readers look forward to reading A Funeral for an Owl?

Jane: The eBook is available immediately and the paperback is due for release on 1 December 2013

Thank you for providing such interesting and in-depth answers to my questions.  It has been an absolute pleasure to feature you on my blog.

My review of A Funeral for an Owl will follow tomorrow.

A Funeral for an Owl
Half-truths & White Lies
I Stopped Time: A Historical Novel
These Fragile Things

Cropped BW (2)

Jane Davis would love you to connect with her using any of the following:
Website:   where she posts interesting articles and interviews with authors
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
A Funeral for an Owl

Congratulations!!!

champagne

I Stopped Time Earns Gold Badge Endorsement

Number One Indie Book Endorsement Site Gives Jane Davis’s Latest Novel the Thumbs Up

Read more about this award which is in addition to that already received for These Fragile Things on the author’s website http://www.jane-davis.co.uk/2013/09/03/i-stopped-time-earns-gold-badge-endorsement/

Having blogged about this author yesterday – well more in relation to my very first blog interview – I am delighted for her and thoroughly endorse the judge’s decision!

For more about the award itself check out http://www.compulsionreads.com/pages/readers

I didn’t know about this award scheme but having read through the site it makes sense. I am always up for trying out new authors and I have really enjoyed some books that would not have made it through the traditional publishing route but it is disappointing when the quality is not there.

I am now looking to see what else they have given awards to that I can add to my metaphorical pile on my kindle!

Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly Posts

Musing Mondays (September 2)

musingmondays51Hosted by shouldbereading.wordpress

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• What you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

My Musing

I am currently re-reading A Funeral for an Owl by Jane Davis. Why am I reading this again?

Well I’m really excited; the book is due to be published at Christmas time (hence why there is no book cover for this one) and Jane has agreed to do an interview with me on my blog! Now I know lots of you do this sort of thing regularly but it is my first time so I want to ask the right questions so I’m reading it with that in mind now.

Jane has amazed me again by coming up with an entirely different type of book from a subject matter viewpoint although the writing still immediately draws you into the storyline. This book-to-be starts with a playground fight, a teacher getting injured and a compelling back-story of a bright boy born on the wrong side of the tracks (literally). If that has whetted your appetite come back for the full review in December.

Jane’s first book Half-Truth and White Lies was a worthy winner of the Daily Mail/Transworld First Novel Award. There is nothing of the novice about her technique, which shows all the confidence of a natural-born writer. (John Harding, Daily Mail) in 2008. I read and reviewed this on Amazon in 2010 and got a reply from Jane which started our correspondence.
Jane kindly gave me a preview of I Stopped Time a long time before it was published and I fell in love with it. This book reminded me of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore in this dual-time novel with a focus on photography.

“Three. I have three stories,” Lottie Parker tells her solicitor while putting her affairs in order. “But it was Oscar Wilde who said that a story is almost certainly a lie.”

Since then I have read her latest novel These Fragile Things that is set in Streatham in the 1980’s

“Would you risk ridicule and scorn – knowing others besides yourself will be affected – to voice a seemingly impossible claim?
How would you react if your daughter claimed to be seeing visions?
What if you and your wife couldn’t agree whether to support her or to demand a medical explanation?
What then?”

I have to admit the subject matter could have put me off if I didn’t trust the author to tell a good story and I wasn’t disappointed.

So I’m back to reading the manuscript of A Funeral for an Owl so I can do the author justice in my very first interview!
Did I also tell you I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements so my name will be in print!

Christmas present

This is one of the best Christmas presents ever!!!

Reviews for Jane Davis

 

Half-truths and White Lies
These Fragile Things
I stopped time

Jane is looking for advance reviewers and posted the following comment

If any of you would like to be advance reviewers of a Funeral for an Owl please get in touch as I’m trying to get a bit of momentum going! (Cleo has beaten me to it.) You can contact me via my website or on janerossdale@btinternet.com. You can also read extracts of my other books there. Jane

Posted in Books I have read

These Fragile Things – Jane Davis

Contemporary Fiction 4*'s
Contemporary Fiction
4*’s

Having read both Half-truths & White Lies and I Stopped Time, two very different books, I was keen to see what delights were on offer in this book. I was not disappointed.

The story is set in Streatham, London in the early 80’s. Judy Jones, pops into a telephone box to have a conversation, without her mother listening in, when a wall collapses on her. Religion, in particular Catholicism, feature strongly as themes of near-death experiences and religious fervour, not subject matter I’d normally seek out, but the strength of the writing lifts the subject matter making it immensely readable. I was instantly drawn into the book and really wanted to know how the family would cope with all the changes including Judy’s father converting to Catholicism against her mother’s wishes.

Jane Davis really does bring characters to life, mothers, fathers, friends, teachers are all perfectly described along with their actions and reactions to events. I love the occasional asides, an overheard conversation here, or a mental comparison of one home with another there, all of which helps to anchor the story.

Ultimately relationships, albeit in extraordinary circumstances, are central to this book.

I was pleased to see there is a preview of another book included in the kindle edition by this talented writer

I Stopped Time – Jane Davis
I Stopped Time

Half-truths and White Lies

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (October 2014 to October 2018)


5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. I will be celebrating Five years of blogging later this year and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

So without further ado let’s see what books October has brought to me over the last five years!

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

In October 2014 I started a new crime fiction series – on reflection this is the root of the huge TBR as I want to keep up with all the series and sample all the wonderful standalone books on offer. Anyway Isabelle Grey wowed me with the first in the series featuring Detective Sergeant Grace Fisher in Good Girls Don’t Die. Why? Well, this is an intricately plotted story which has a number of threads that held my attention from beginning to the end. As in any good detective novel the red herrings are carefully placed and far from obvious, the motive believable and above all populated by a great range of characters. Grace is an appealing protagonist and one who despite her unfortunate start in Essex is more normal than many who populate this genre.

I’m pleased to confirm that four books on this series hasn’t gone off the boil and if you have a kindle, the eBook version is just 99p at the time of writing this post.

Blurb

Sometimes the danger is too close to see. A dark and gripping crime thriller introducing DI Grace Fisher.

Accused of grassing up a fellow officer and driven brutally out of home and job, DI Grace Fisher is thankful to survive some dark times and find haven with the Major Investigation Team in Essex. Any hopes of a quiet start to her new life are dashed by the discovery of the body of a female student, last seen at a popular bar in Colchester. Grace has her first case.

When a second student, also out drinking, is murdered and left grotesquely posed, the case becomes headline news.

Someone is leaking disturbing details to a tabloid crime reporter. Is it the killer? Or a detective close to the case?

With another victim dead, and under siege by the media, the murder inquiry hits a dead end. The review team brought in to shake things up is headed by Grace’s old DCI. Who is going to listen to her now? Amazon

Life was tough in October 2015 I but I was taken away from it all thanks to The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, a fabulous dual time-line novel featuring the relatively recent past of the 1980s for the actions which govern the consequences in the present.

With the crux of the story concentrating on five firm friends the interplay between them was an absorbing in itself. In short this is an incredibly evocative book which conjures up a place of hope for the idealistic graduates. Where better to try out a self-sufficient lifestyle, particularly when the summer seems to roll ahead forever and there is food to eat from the land, including fish from the lake. The present is equally compelling with the author accurately capturing the essence of the grief that Lila is suffering from, without it becoming so depressing I didn’t want to continue. That underpinned by great plotting what more can I say?

Blurb

1980. On a hot summer’s day five friends stumble upon an abandoned cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. Isolated and run-down, it offers a retreat, somewhere they can escape from the world. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise…

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the remote cottage. Bruised from a tragic accident and with her marriage in crisis, she finds renovating the tumbledown house gives her a renewed sense of purpose. But why did the cottage’s previous inhabitants leave their belongings behind? And why can’t she shake the feeling that someone is watching her? Amazon

In October 2016 I did something I rarely do, I read a book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize of that year; His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet recounts the story of the murders and the subsequent trial of his purported ancestor Roderick Macrae, a seventeen year old crofter.

The book is structured as if it were a work of non-fiction with the longest section given over to Roderick’s only statement, written at the behest of his advocate Mr Andrew Sinclair while he was awaiting trial at Inverness Castle, having been swiftly detained after the bodies had been found.

This is a book that had me captivated, and confused as I repeatedly reminded myself it was fiction, not fact. If you love historical crimes, this is a book not to be missed.

Blurb

The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.

Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary. Amazon

Last year I was reading the non-fiction book The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler in which he has collated ninety-nine authors who for one reason or another are no longer seen on the bookshelves of bookshops or libraries but somehow glimmer on our collective consciousness, and their works fluttered at the edges of many when he kicked this project off.

Unlike so many such lists that are produced this collector of these forgotten authors has brought together a set of authors from the Victorian times up to the more recent, the entire range of genres taking in slapstick comedy through Sci-Fi, poetry, literary fiction and crime. Obviously with so many authors each one gets a brief mention detailing the often prodigious output, why they were popular and why they may well have fallen out of favour as the years rolled on.

This really is the perfect present for any bibliophile.

Blurb

Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead.

So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.

Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner – no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye.

These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.

This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers, and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening and entertaining guide. Amazon

As 2018 has been a year when I have tried to read a larger percentage of the books I already own it is only fitting that my favourite book for October this year has been A Jarful of Angels by Babs Horton. This is a book about a missing child, but one unlike any other you are likely to have read, which is why it gets my vote.

It’s a hard book to to categorise so I’ll describe it as a tale of childhood with all the grim realities of adults misunderstanding you the poverty of life driven to the edges by the magical world that only children can create and yet realism seeps through as an adult watches the world filtered through the eyes of children. This is not a twee look at childhood and nor is it a book populated by faux adults, this book is grim in parts but I think the most truthful reflection of the childhood I’ve ever read. That’s not to say there isn’t so much for an adult to wonder at, and about!

Blurb

The remote town in the Welsh valleys was a wonderful, magical- but sometimes dangerous place in which to grow up. It was there that Iffy, Bessie, Fatty and Billy experienced a plague of frogs one summer, stumbled upon a garden full of dancing statues, found a skull with its front teeth missing- and discovered just what it was that mad Carty Annie was collecting so secretly in those jars of hers. But at the end of that long, hot summer of 1963,one of the four children disappeared.

Over thirty years later, retired detective Will Sloane, never able to forget the unsolved case, returns to Wales to resume his search for the truth. His investigation will draw him into a number of interlocking mysteries,each one more puzzling than the last. Amazon

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018