Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Turning for Home – Barney Norris #BlogTour #BookReview

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

A Grandfather on his eightieth birthday and his grand-daughter a mere quarter of a century old are the figureheads for the talented Barney Norris’s latest book, Turning For Home but don’t be mislead this is far deeper than the conventional birthday gathering where memories are both revived and made.

Robert Shawcross is eighty and despite the loss of his wife the year before he is holding his annual birthday party, the one Hattie his wife instigated when he was forty, originally conceived as an opportunity for the scattered family to gather. The party itself has diminished over the last few years with the decline in the older family members but Hattie’s sister Laura has taken up the baton and is there preparing the food for the gathering.

Robert is moved to reflect on his life, a civil servant he spent much of his time in Belfast and was there at the time of the Enniskellen bombing on Remembrance Sunday in 1987. A bomb which killed many civilians, missing the British Troops it was planned to kill. The reflection of this time is prompted by the arrest of the Sinn Fein Leader in 2014, the news hitting the press just before Robert’s big party. The Boston Tapes were recordings of interviews carried out with Loyalist and Republican paramilitaries between 2001 and 2006 on the understanding that they would not be published until the interviewee was dead, what it seems no-one had appreciated was that these men could implicate those still living, leading to the arrest of Gerry Adams following a police probe.

So we have real life events based on the ‘Troubles’ with both the Enniskellen bombing and the Boston Tapes but Barney Norris chooses smaller more intimate stories against this gigantic backdrop. We have Robert’s story, the part he thinks he played in the negotiations towards peace along with recognition that he was one small cog in a whole bigger wheel, told alongside his Grand-daughter, Kate’s tale whose far shorter life hasn’t been without its own struggles. Her story is less clear to begin with but with incremental revelations we see a young woman who had much to live for until tragedy struck and her life derailed leading to a spell in hospital. Kate’s story is of loss and of her search for something that perhaps will never materialise. This is a story of families who never really know the truth about each other and individuals who struggle with the gaps between the truth and hope.

And I think perhaps it’s very human as well. Isn’t the life of any person made up of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them.

This is a deeply poignant book, as books about characters nearing the end of their life are bound to be in some respects but it also has a message of hope. That just because the space between reality and dreams is wider than we’d like shouldn’t stop us from trying. Kate’s story is painful to read at times but worth persevering with, seeming just as relevant to this reader as the wider canvas that is its backdrop.

Barney Norris gives us both stories, interspersed with extracts from the Boston tapes, with lyrical prose and real depth. The struggles the two character’s face being unique to them but the language used will strike a chord as it charts the rise and fall of human emotions that are common to all of our lives.

A fantastic tale of betrayal, of love and hope and all the great emotions we ride throughout our lifetimes bought down in scale reflected through two people’s eyes, hearts and minds.

I’d like to thank the publishers Transworld who allowed me to read a copy of Turning for Home before publication on 11 January 2018, a book I was keen to read having thoroughly enjoyed Barney Norris’s debut novel Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain as well as Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and of course the author, Barney Norris.

First Published UK: 11 January 2018
Publisher: Transworld Books
No of Pages:272
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Don’t forget to catch the other stops on the Turning For Home Blog Tour which runs until 17 January 2018!

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 3)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading the latest novel by Peter May, I’ll Keep You Safe, which like the Lewis Trilogy is set in part on the Outer Hebrides and will be published on 11 January 2018.

Blurb

WHATEVER HAPPENS
Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane co-own the Hebridean company Ranish Tweed. On a business trip to Paris to promote their luxury brand, Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair, and then looks on as he and his lover are killed by a car bomb. She returns home to Lewis, bereft.
I’LL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU
Niamh begins to look back on her life with Ruairidh, desperate to identify anyone who may have held a grudge against him. The French police, meanwhile, have ruled out terrorism, and ruled in murder – and sent Detective Sylvie Braque to shadow their prime suspect: Niamh.
I’LL KEEP YOU SAFE, NO MATTER WHAT
As one woman works back through her memories, and the other moves forward with her investigation, the two draw ever closer to a deadly enemy with their own, murderous, designs. Amazon

The last book I finished was the thirteenth in the Hercule Poirot series; The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie in keeping with my vow to read more of my own books in 2018.

Blurb

Agatha Christie’s world-famous serial killer mystery.

There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place.

Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans… Amazon

Next, I will be reading Turning for Home by Barney Norris, which after the pleasure of Five River Met on a Wooded Plain, I’m really looking forward to.

 

Blurb


‘Isn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them. The whole world makes more sense if you remember that everyone has two lives, their real lives and their dreams, both stories only a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.’

Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins – it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all. Amazon

What does your reading week look like? Have you read any of my choices? Are you planning to?

Please leave your comments in the box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (October 29)

Last month I was honoured to take part in the Ngaio Marsh Awards blog tour to celebrate the finalists in the eighth annual Ngaio Marsh Awards, for excellence in New Zealand crime, mystery and thriller writing for which I reviewed the engaging non-fiction true crime book: The Many Deaths of Mary Dobie by David Hastings.

First-time crime writers Fiona Sussman, Finn Bell, and Michael Bennett swept the spoils at the 2017 Ngaio Marsh Awards in Christchurch on Saturday night.

Fiona Sussman is the first female author to win the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. THE LAST TIME WE SPOKE (Allison & Busby) is her second novel but the first foray into crime storytelling for the former GP who grew up in Apartheid South Africa. It explores the ongoing impact of a brutal home invasion on both victim and perpetrator. “Laden with empathy and insight,” said the international judging panel. “A challenging, emotional read, harrowing yet touching, this is brave and sophisticated storytelling.”

Self-published e-book author Finn Bell won Best First Novel for DEAD LEMONS and was a finalist for Best Crime Novel for PANCAKE MONEY. His debut explores themes of addiction, loss, and recovery as a wheelchair-bound man contemplating suicide decamps to a remote cottage in Southland, only to be obsessively drawn into a dangerous search for a father and daughter who went missing years before.

Experienced filmmaker Michael Bennett (Te Arawa) won the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Non Fiction for IN DARK PLACES (Paul Little Books), the astonishing tale of how teenage car thief Teina Pora spent decades in prison for the brutal murder of Susan Burdett, and the remarkable fight to free him. The international judging panel called it “a scintillating, expertly balanced account of one of the most grievous miscarriages of justice in New Zealand history”.

This Week on the Blog

My week kicked off with my review of William Boyd’s short story collection; The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth, probably one of the few books in this format that I have wholeheartedly enjoyed.

My excerpt post for Three Days and A Life by Pierre Lemaitre got a mixed reaction in the comments section, I’m going to be reading this one soon…

This Week in Books featured the authors Nina Bawden (more of her later), RC Bridgestock and Elly Griffiths 

RC Bridgestock appeared on Cleopatra Loves Books on Thursday when one half of this writing duo, Carol, joined me to share her favourite childhood books as part of the blog tour for When A Killer Strikes. There were so many familiar titles on this list and Carol’s love of the children’s library where she fell in love with the tatty books shines through

On Friday I reviewed the winning book of The Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition 2016 – Caz Frear deservedly walked away with the prize with her novel Sweet Little Dreams which is up there with my favourite crime reads of 2017.

I ended the week with my review of Nina Bawden’s book The Solitary Child a book that was full of foreboding and I tagged ‘incredibly enjoyable in a miserable sort of way’  Apart from the plot itself it was equally interesting to see the contemporary opinions in the late 1950s, I won’t go into details but there are parts that wouldn’t pass the PC police today.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Museum of You by Carys Bray which I adored, surprisingly because this isn’t my normal type of reading matter at all.  Twelve year old Clover Quinn never knew her mother and has just one blurry photo taken with her as a baby.  After a trip to Liverpool’s Maritime Museum and  having a conversation with one of the curators, she decided that she is going to sort through all her Mum’s belongings and find out all about her. Then she is going to display her findings in the second bedroom, complete with cards explaining each item in the display. This could have been a slushy story, but Carys Bray kept the tone just right and it is funny and heart-warming without descending into mush.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover

Blurb

Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He’s studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want – everything he can think of, at least – to be happy.

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother’s belongings. Volume isn’t important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.

But what you find depends on what you’re searching for. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

So having managed to negotiate the change to the new jurisdiction NetGalley I’m pleased to say all my unread books are still sat nicely on my shelf, including the latest addition, Turning For Home by Barney Norris. I loved his previous book of interlinked stories, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain so I’m looking forward to seeing what this one has to offer – it will be published in the UK on 11 January 2017.

Blurb

‘Wasn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People lived in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they had for them. Everyone needed their stories, the other side of the ribbon of their lives, the real life and the dream, the statement and the meaning, all of them a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.’

Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins – it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all. NetGalley

I also have bought a copy of The English Daughter by Maggie Wadey after being drawn to this non-fiction read after seeing a post on one of your lovely blogs – sadly I can’t remember whose. If it was you ‘thank you’

Blurb

As a child I was aware of my mother being different from my father and his family, and that her difference was somehow connected with her being Irish, but I knew almost nothing of her youth and upbringing. In the year or so before she died, she did begin to talk to me about her past. The first sequence of the book is based on those childhood memories. Only after my mother’s death do I go to Tipperary and there I begin to discover another story, the life she never told me about. Amazon

What have you found to read this week?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained just 2 so my TBR now has a total of 173
Physical Books – 96
Kindle Books – 56
NetGalley Books – 21