Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Disclaimer - Renee Knight - a cleverly constructed maze of a book

From Goodreads:

A remarkable debut in the vein of Before I Go to Sleep—and already an international sensation—Disclaimer is a brilliantly conceived, deeply unsettling psychological thriller about a woman haunted by secrets, the consuming desire for revenge, and the terrible price we pay when we try to hide the truth

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day she became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.

Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day . . . even if the shocking truth might destroy her.

My thoughts:

If you like your books convoluted this is one twisty turny tale that won't disappoint.

With secrets galore gradually being unpeeled, layer upon layer and red herrings scattered throughout, it kept me guessing and gasping like all the best of psychological chillers.

This is the story of Catherine, a successful documentary maker, who upon finding a novel beside her bed, reads it, only to discover it is based on her past life - a past she has kept firmly concealed, until now when her secrets threaten to erupt and change her life.

It's also the story of retired teacher Stephen Brigstocke a confused and shambling ruin of a man, dealing with loss and loneliness, their lives collide and cause Catherine to face her demons, but can she maintain her carefully constructed life and how much of it is based on lies?

I loved the storyline, cleverly written beginning with you as the reader not really understanding anything, and desperate to be let in on what it is Catherine has kept hidden and why, then as bits and pieces are revealed about Catherines past, sometimes they provide a lightbulb moment and sometimes a shadowy hint like a badly developed negative with a fleeting shadow cast across it and frequently reavealing something rather different than you expected.

One minute I pitied one character, then my perception changed and I scorned them, my sympathies lay with one person then I doubted my loyalties were in the right place.

Perhaps it was a little difficult to really get inside the characters and feel kinship with them as much as I like in a book, but possibly this is part of the nature of the book based on secrets and concealment. The backbone of the story is after all about hoe keeping something deliberately hidden can have huge consequences almost as great as the thing you were trying to hide in the beginning.

I found it a real attention grabber, which I just wanted to read a little more and then a little more still. Until I was quite suddenly at the end and even the ending didn't disappoint. A satisfying and cleverly constructed maze of a book.

My thanks to Random House publishers and Netgalley for allowing me to be one of the privileged few to read this in advance of publication.

Monday, 29 December 2014

The Book of Strange New Things - Michel Faber - an alien environment for me

From Goodreads:

It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.

Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.

My thoughts:

I dithered about whether to read this book or not. The subject matter is so far outside my normal comfort zone I wasn't sure I'd be able to relate to it in any way but I LOVE the authors previous books.

I seldom read science fiction - I am an atheist who is totally incomprehensive of any form of religious belief - I prefer my books to have a female protagonist. This book ticks none of my boxes, its about a Christian man, Peter who flies off to a recently colonised planet, to preach his religion to the alien inhabitants.

When I told my partner a little about this book which was keeping me reading 'til the early hours he shook his head and asked "You gotta be kidding - why on Earth would YOU read something like that???"

I found myself lost in an alien environment - although I could accept the aliens, the setting and the people, I floundered in the dark to understand how anyone can live their life by a belief as strong and pretty unshakeable as this.

So why did I love it? It has to be the authors innate ability to grab your imagination, throw you into a situation you'll never be comfortable with and with a few well placed words make you feel as at home as you do in your own bed.

The narrator of the story, Peter, is a pastor, a reborn Christian who together with his beloved wife Bea, looks after the congregation in their Church in England. Their devoutness shines from them in their longing to convert every soul they meet to Christianity, their piety is equalled only by their love for each other, which is why they feel their relationship will be strong enough to survive a lengthy separation and as we meet the couple, Peter is setting off on a journey of immense proportions. He has been employed by a major Corporation at a very generous stipend, to fly to another solar system and be the preacher to an indigenous population of alien beings.

He relishes this new challenge and discovers upon arrival that the population of "Oasans" not only accept but relish his teachings, calling his Bible "the book of strange new things".

Meanwhile back at home, Bea is struggling without Peter, her rock. The world is going through a series of disaster after disaster, which compare sufficently with events that we have witnessed to be believable but which become so frequent and so intense that society begins to crumble. Her letters to Peter become more desperate and cynical but he feels so removed from everything he can hardly imagine what she's going through. He tries to share with her the wonders he is experiencing but fails to be able to put it into words.

What happens to a relationship, when the one abiding concept which brought you together becomes the thing which is now driving you apart?

I did struggle with the religious aspect of the book, I knew I would, unlike the aliens I am unable to just accept, I don't get religion at all and never will. But what I did love were the aliens themselves. The way they speak, the descriptions of their homeland and the workers at the USIC base from where Peter is based were all painted so beautifully I was there!

Michel Faber is immaculate at creating vivid characters and placing them in situations you'd never before considered yet being instantly at home there - as in The Crimson Petal and the White, which paints a graphic picture of Victorian prostition yet was so intensely real to me. I grieve for some of the characters still, 5 years after reading it, now thats what I call skilled penmanship!

Above and beyond everything in the book of strange new things, is the story of a long distance relationship, a situation I could relate to and the resultant crisis of faith, which I couldn't, and it was the picture of this happening from both sides in the couples correspondence with each other that really grabbed me.

The details of the world we know falling apart so quickly was so intense and horribly believable that I almost wanted to find it was all in Beas imagination, sadly it isn't and one of the things which happens which eventually causes her to turn away from religion was so harrowing, I almost stopped reading the book at that point, not far from the end.

When Peter uncovers the Oasans enigma, my heart broke for these small gentle, accepting and trusting alien people.

If you, like me, aren't sure about the religious aspect but something about this book, or my review, tempts you I'd recommend giving it a go, it's well worth the effort (the actual reading is effortless) it's left me with lots of questions and is still in my mind 3 days after I finished it, I felt I needed some time to reflect before reviewing, but overall I'm SO very glad I read it it's good to break free from the mould and succumb to something different once in a while and this was a really great book to round off my reading for 2014.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Girl in the Red Coat - by Kate Hamer - haunting and ethereal

From the publisher

Kate Hamer's stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Carmel has always been different. Carmel's mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter's strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children's festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.
My thoughts ....

Oooh, what a fabulous debut novel this is. I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy just before I went on my pre-Christmas holiday (I was also most unfortunate to come down with a bad dose of flu at the same time which meant the first half of my holiday in the sun, was spent lolling around, recuperating and gave me plenty of time to read)

This haunting and ethereal psychological chiller, the story of a missing child and her Mothers search for her, is written in the voices of 2 of the most compelling fictional characters I've come across in some time.

Narrated in turn by Mother and daughter both experiencing the same event over a lengthy period, from 2 very different viewpoints. Beth, recently abandoned by her husband, single Mum of 8 year old Carmel, a dreamy, slightly fey, bookish and bright. yet completely adored daughter. Still stressed by her husbands betrayal, Beth battles to put her own hurt aside and make quality time with Carmel. One day they head off together to a story tellers festival. In this exciting and lively atmosphere Beth tries to stave off panic attacks and make sure Carmel has a day to remember, but her pre-occupation and momentary lapses of concentration lead to the unthinkable and in a split second her daughter is missing, abducted for a special reason - but by whom and why?

What follows is the story of guilt and self recrimination of a devoted Mum who blames herself for her daughters absence and her conviction that they'll be re-united. Even more compelling is Carmels tale, spanning continents and told in the voice of an 8 year old, the book reminded me slightly of Room [book:Room|7937843] Carmel is special, unique and utterly believeable. Almost a coming of age story we watch Carmel grow, and discover how her life progresses without the maternal love she craves. There is an other wordliness to the telling and the feelings and thoughts which swirl around Beths mind and impeccably written, as is the destiny of a growing girl with exceptional potential.

Due to be released in March 2015 this is definitely one to watch for and already destined to be one of my favourite reads.

Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen - quirky and shrewd

From the Publishers blurb

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there'll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out .

But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?

My thoughts ...

I was hearing a lot of praise for this book, theres a real buzz about it on-line with blog tours and promotions and reviews popping up with comparisons to Gone Girl Gone Girl and some of my favourite authors and most respected reviewers are saying - read this - it's great! Theres nothing quite like this kind of rumble in the web jungle to pique my interest and also make me a little nervous about reading a book, high expectations can mean an even greater disappointment if it doesn't live up to the hype!

It almost did for me what others promised, but just failed to completely blow me away by the sheer amount of disbelief I needed to suspend in order to accept the storyline. However it's an excellent, well written, chilling, Christmas themed read, and if you're looking for something to read over the holidays you could do a lot worse than curl up with Dying for Christmas.

Our journey begins with Jessica Gold narrating the story of her Christmas, she's stressed as hell, doing her Christmas shopping and takes a break in a busy cafe. Brilliant start - who couldn't relate to that? But this familiar scene rapidly slips into nightmare territory with her unwise acceptance of a lift from an intriguing stranger, Dominic, a brief dalliance to flatter her ego that turns into a kidnap scenario, with many alarming and disturbing angles.

We are held captive, with Jess, as Dominic is revealed to be a hugely disturbed individual, who keeps her locked in his apartment, presenting her, daily, with a range of increasingly bizarre and unsettling Christmas gifts which all reveal a bit more about his own disturbed psyche and unsettling background. 

Then theres - part Two ....

The blurb says Jessica has a secret and no, I didn't guess it, but when her mystery is revealed halfway through the book, thats when things get cunning and even more complex and to call it twisty is like calling molten lava warm.

There is also the parallel storyline of Kim the police officer, struggling to further her own career and to hang on to family life.

Jess is the archetypical unreliable narrator, the characters are all highly unlikeable and I'm growing used to reading books with whom I fail to find an empathy with any character at all, but with this book I increasingly felt the greatest of contempt for every single character created by Ms. Cohen even Kim who I think was possibly created in the hope of having one character we might relate or warm to but I wanted to slap her selfish face too.

Original and quirky, entertaining and shrewd but possibly tries just a little too hard to shock and surprise, following the Gone girl formula from the brief and intriguing synopsis to the highly formulaic cover of a women in red running away in the snow. Does it succeed? theres only one way to find out - you'll have to read it to have an opinion.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Crooked Heart - Lissa Evans - atmospheric WW2 drama

From Goodreads: 

When Noel Bostock – aged ten, no family - is evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, he ends up living in St Albans with Vera Sedge - thirty-six and drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she's unscrupulous about how she gets it.
Noel's mourning his godmother, Mattie, a former suffragette. Brought up to share her disdain for authority and eclectic approach to education, he has little in common with other children and even less with Vee, who hurtles impulsively from one self-made crisis to the next. The war's thrown up new opportunities for making money but what Vee needs (and what she's never had) is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.

On her own, she's a disaster. With Noel, she's a team.

Together they cook up an idea. Criss-crossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life.

But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn't actually safe at all… 

My Review:

A completely captivating and utterly charming read. Set amidst the uncretainty and struggle of world war 2 it tells the story of young orphan, Noel, an unprepossessing lad who has few friends, sticking out ears and a love of books and an extensive vocabulary which can make him come across as pompous.

Noel has spent his formative years being brought up by his revered Aunt Mattie an opinionated ex suffragette. Watching her slide into senile dementia is a step too far for Noel and he becomes even more insular, meaning that when he is evacuated from London, he is one of the least likely youngsters to be placed in a warm and caring home. He ends up being billeted with the disorganised and brash Vee who always has an eye for making a penny or two (not always strictly above board) and her willingness to accept Noel into her home initially stems from an idea for a money making scam.

In this none too homely billet live Vees mother, with selective mutism who spends her days writing lengthy letters to people in power criticising the war efforts, and including irrelevant facts about her life.

Also her son Donald, thoroughly unlikeable, but the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and he too has his eye on the main chance - to profiteer from the war.

Vee and Noel thrown together form a formidable duo and when they combine efforts they begin to have a grudging respect for one another.

I like Vee, I thought she had a hard life and was making the best of things. The wartime descriptions seem accurate and very atmospheric, I really felt as though I was there in the public air raid shelters and creeping about in the blackout with my barely there torch.

I shed a little tear towards the end and for me, even though its a quick read it had something of the Book thief about it, I've also seen it compared to Goodnight Mr Tom and I agree if you enjoyed that book you'll probably love this also - I did and will be looking for more books by this, hitherto unknown to me, author.

My thanks to Netgalley for feeding my E-reader with this review copy.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

My Favourite reads of 2014

Its coming to the end of the year and as I'll be away on holiday for a large part of December I've decided to compile my top 20 books of the year.

My tastes are leaning more towards the psychological thriller genre, but I've also read a few cracking historical books and some lovely family drama/ romantic novels. Not surprising that 17/20 are female authors as I make no bones about often being able to relate far better to characters created by women. Anyway all these 20 got a roaring 5 star review from me and I can highly recommend them all.

Top reads of 2014

Top 3 

One to watch out for in 2015...
The Girl on the train, Paula Hawkins
My favourite read this year is a book which most readers have yet to discover as it's not due for publication until later in 2015. You lucky things!
If you like tangled tales, unreliable narrators, apprehension and tension in your stories look no further. The Girl on the train is waiting to blow your mind - go for it!

Beautiful day, Kate Anthony
Beautiful day is a beautiful read, in fact it's a beautiful offering altogether from Penguin with a delightfully pretty cover and the sheer readability which grabs you from page one.

Keep your friends close, Paula Daly
This rollercoaster of misplaced trust, hidden pasts, secrets, betrayal and psychological mayhem grabs you by the short and curlies from paragraph one.

All the others in no particular order

Who are you, Elizabeth Forbes
It is merciless and barbaric and yet heart wrenching too, it plays with your mind and gets in your head and is as twisted as anything I've ever read.

The Accident, CL Taylor
It's the story of Sue who's teenage daughter Charlotte lies in a coma after an accident. You won't know whether to trust everything Sue tells us, you'll begin to doubt her reliability as a narrator, but you will just have to keep on reading to find out the awful truths in this gripping and haunting novel.

Her, Harriet Lane
A creeping cliffhanger

A trick of the mind, Penny Hancock
A real page turner with flawed characters in a flawless story

Remember me this way, Sabine Durrant
Twisted and devious with a menacing feel which creeps up on you

The hidden girl, Louise Millar
A twisty, psychological, mystery thriller set between bustling London and the quiet rural backwaters of Suffolk

The Testament of Vida Tremayne, Sarah Vincent
This creepy and menacing psychological chiller, looks at difficult family relationships, loneliness, stress and mental health frailties

The memory book, Rowan Coleman
A truly epic novel that will remain in my memory for years after I have forgotten how to use my front door key and how to put on my shoes!

Little mercies, Heather Gudenkauf
A family drama which was like taking part in an unfolding tragedy I could do nothing about but cheer from the sidelines and hold my breath when things got to their very worst

Ghostwritten, Isabel Wolff
A moving and haunting account of how two women's lives are moulded by tragedy and loss.

Where love lies, Julie Cohen
A romantic read with a little darker twist to it

The gilded lily, Deborah Swift
Historical fiction set in grimy, 17th century, restoration London

The vanishing witch Karen Maitland
Historical drama set amidst the peasants rebellion in medieval Lincolnshire where superstition rules.

The Fair Fight, Anna Freeman
Set in 18th century Bristol this is the story of Ruth a pugilist, brought up in a brothel, gritty and realistic iits a fabulous piece of historical drama.

More than this, Patrick Ness
Written for the YA reader yet the adult themes, feelings and emotions make it a must read for any age.
Mr Mercedes, Stephen King
Evil genius from the master of thrills.

The extraordinary life of Frank Derrick age 81, JB Morrison
You'd have to read this book to appreciate its humour and poignancy yet in many ways I found it unbearably sad. It's about old age, loneliness and the importance relatively small kindnesses assume to someone who is alone.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Mr Mercedes - Stephen King - evil genius

From Goodreads:

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the "perk" and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.

Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.
My review

Those friends who know my reading tastes will know and agree with the following summary: I categorically loathe detective stories and murder investigations and what I detest even more are those which form part of a series.

So, when I found out that one of the recent Stephen Kings, Mr Mercedes, was no less than the first in a series of investigative police dramas, featuring a retired cop no less I nearly didn't even start to read it.

I'm so glad I did though - it just goes to show that superb writing style transcends genre prejudice. As usual Kings lithe ability to throw you on a speeding conveyor belt right from the first page, comes to the fore here and what this is is a gripping, taut, apprehension filled whirl.

Right at the start he introduces some characters I was really getting to like, I was rooting for them, thinking yeah its going to be interesting seeing how these guys lives pan out - then BANG! He wipes them out in a horrific and shocking crime spree that is the backbone of the story.

Meanwhile retired cop Bill Hodges sits at home watching daytime tv, getting fat and contemplating the possibility that not just his career but his whole life is over. With nothing much to live for he frets and worries over the one that got away the sick, monstrous perpetrator of one of the most horrifing crimes he ever tried to solve - and failed.

That guy was Brady Hartsfield, Mr Mercedes who ploughed a stolen Merc into a whole bunch of people killing and maiming indiscriminately. Bill doesn't know it was Brady of course he just wonders who could have don ethis and how the sicko could have eluded him and his ex partner for so long. Then a letter arrives that is about to shock Bill out of his apathy. Gradually he discovers he has got something to live for after all - revenge.

We get inside the warped and deluded brain of Brady who makes Norman Bates look like your average sweetheart by comparison. King introduces some amazing characters, who we will in turn, love or loathe but never feel apathy towards. There are his usual wry and witty flashes of laugh out loud humour and above all the tension and horror he excels at, in an out and out thriller that if it had been written by anyone else just wouldn't have worked for me.

Superb, if I loved it diehard thriller fans must surely adore it too. Stephen King you're an evil genius as devious as your characters.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent - menacing

From the blurb....

A lonely novelist, A devoted fan, A journal that speaks of unspeakable things… Author Vida Tremayne lies silent in a hospital bed. The forces which brought about her terrifying decline are shrouded in mystery. 

Meanwhile, her estranged daughter Dory is forced to abandon her fast paced city life to be by her mother’s bedside. Dory is resentful. She hates the country and she and her mother were never exactly close. 

Luckily Vida already has a carer, the enigmatic Rhiannon Townsend. A long-standing fan of Vida’s, Rhiannon is happy to take care of the bedside vigil. Dory is free to resume her life. Or is she? 

Then she discovers her mother’s journal. Vida’s chilling testament reveals the trigger for her spiralling into madness. It also reveals the danger that still lurks close by. A danger that will call on Dory’s every reserve of courage if she’s to free her mother, and maybe in doing so, to free herself.

My review: 

I love discovering new authors - I especially love coming across a debut author whose work is so compelling you don't even realise how sucked into the story you've become until you look up and find you've been lost in the book for hours, this is one such book.

In “The testament of Vida Tremayne”, the author has obviously drawn on her own experiences in the world of writing to create this darkly menacing story. It’s deceptive gentle pace belies the sinister under tones and menacing, macabre darkness that seeps into the story like fog.

In this book we are introduced to 3 women, all very different and none of them very likeable, if I’m honest. But you don’t have to like the characters in a book to find what happens to them compelling.

Firstly there is the eponymous Vida Tremayne, a middle aged author who has lost her creativity, it deserted her at about the same time as her husband absconded with a younger woman, and Vida feeling lonely and isolated in her quaint old tumbledown cottage, begins to realise the extent she shut out her own daughter, whilst in her writing heyday.

We are also introduced to her daughter, the impatient, chain smoking, Dory, or Dorothea, living in the city, with a busy career as an estate agent, a string of failed relationships and a desire not to be drawn back into her slightly eccentric Mothers life.

But Vida becomes ill, nobody knows quite what is wrong with her, Dory is summoned to her aid and upon returning to Vidas home, The Gingerbread house, she is surprised and somewhat relieved to find Vida has a friend staying there, the rather hippy, dippy Rhiannon, who seems prepared to take some of the pressure off Dory’s shoulders whilst Vida lies in hospital. Catatonic and unresponsive, has Vida had a nervous breakdown? Is there any hope for her recovery? Can Rhiannon help or has she an ulterior motive?

The story is told in part by Dory and the remainder in the form of Vidas diary notes, which begin to go some way to throwing a little light on what has happened, who the Rhiannon is and where she came from and it becomes obvious sinister forces are at play, with an enigmatic large cat like creature we keep catching glimpses of.

I have read comparisons made, to Stephen Kings Misery and I would also say there is an element of The Thirteenth tale by Diane Setterfield, (although very loosely), the main characters share the same first name Vida, and are authors. I think this will appeal to people who enjoyed the aforementioned book.

This creepy and menacing psychological chiller, looks at difficult family relationships, loneliness, stress and mental health frailties. The settings are painted beautifully, especially the Long Mynd in Shropshire and the Gingerbread house which plays a large part and almost has its own personality. An intensely disturbing yet very engrossing tale and I look forward eagerly to any future work by Sarah Vincent.

Friday, 14 November 2014

A trick of the mind - Penny Hancock - flawed characters in a flawless story

From Goodreads: 

Have you committed a crime ...or are you the victim of one?

Driving down to the cottage in Southwold she's newly inherited from her Aunty May, Ellie senses she is on the edge of something new. The life she's always dreamed of living as a successful artist seems as though it is about to begin. So excited is she that she barely notices when the car bumps against something on the road.

That evening Ellie hears a news flash on the radio. A man was seriously injured in a hit and run on the very road she was driving down that evening. Then Ellie remembers the thump she heard. Could she have been responsible for putting a man in hospital? Unable to hold the doubts at bay, she decides to visit the victim to lay her mind to rest, little knowing that the consequences of this decision will change her life forever.

My Review

I loved this book, it was everything I look for in a twisty tale, with hidden secrets from the past emerging at every turn, flawed characters who turn out not to be everything they at first appear to be and a story that keeps you turning the pages. What more could you possibly want in a book? A cute loveable dog perhaps - it has that too in the ever present canine companion Pepper.

Like Penny Hancocks earlier novel, Tideline, the author draws on her own obvious connection with the river and her own experiences in life, working as a teacher to name just one, to ensure the settings and characters are strong and believeable.

In a Trick of the mind we meet Ellie as she is driving to the cottage she has inherited from her recently deceased Aunt, momentarily distracted whilst driving she bumps a tree branch, it's only upon her arrival at the cottage, when she hears on the news about a hit and run accident on the very stretch of road she has just driven, that she starts to believe it could have been her that caused the accident, knocked somone over in fact and things seem to begin to point the finger at this having been the case her wing mirror is smashed, she distinctly remembers a thud, a tree branch in the road - or was it? Is this just a trick of the mind?

However its also at this point we begin to view Ellie as being of a nervous disposition, she is a worrier and has little nervous quirks like always checking over her shoulder, three times, she is easily distracted and quite imaginitive, not a strong person its almost possible to wonder if she is quite right in the head.

As Ellie sets out to discover whether she has in fact been involved in a hit and run, we too wonder di she or didn't she? As she uncovers more about the evening in question it brings a new man into her life, Patrick. Recently out of a relationship herself her needy side comes even more to the fore, as does her need to atone and nurture and she finds herself falling in love.

As her life begins to change in many ways we see her make increasingly rash and foolish decisions and its only when the past begins to reveal the effects events have on shaping a persons personality that we realise the depths people can sink to.

Revealing many layers beneath the surface just like the river portrayed in one of Ellies paintings of water this book is perfect for the mystery lover who can suspend their belief that because they would never do something foolish nobody else would, the psychological chills are great and it never failed to enetertain me and keep me guessing. A real page turner with flawed characters in a flawless story. My grateful thanks to the folks at Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy to review - thus keeping me up until the early hours, reading just one more page!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Invention of wings - Sue Monk Kidd - slavery and racism in the Deep South

From Goodreads:

Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

My Review:

The invention of wings is a historical novel based around the lives of two women, one of them a factual character, Sarah Grimke a revolutionary female rights campaigner.

In the book we are introduced to Sarah on her 11th birthday when the gift she is presented with is a slave Hetty, a little girl known as Handful who is to be Sarahs maid. Thus begins a lifetime of opposition to slavery in the Deep South of USA where slavery is a fact of life and white folk rule and anyone who dares to oppose this is considered a pariah in society, especially if that person is a woman.

The book is an epic tale of early female emancipation and looks rather brutally at the lives of slaves and how their mistresses are no more free than they are, bound by rules and respectability to live a life not of their own choosing. It is also a story of friendship beyond the boundaries of acceptable society.

The book will appeal to anyone who enjoyed The Help, which, by the way I intensely DISliked. I actually preferred the authors previous book The Secret Life of Bees and found it a slightly easier read.

This is a much harsher and harder book to read, however it is superbly researched and told, and perfect for anyone interested in the history of slavery and rascism in the Deep Southern states of America.

I was kindly provided with a copy through Bookbridgr to read and review.

Our Zoo - June Mottershead - full of animal magic

From Goodreads:

Until I brought friends back from school I didn't realise that most people didn't have baby lions in their bedrooms when they were sick, or bring parrots into the house so they wouldn't catch cold.'

Chester Zoo is counted among the top 10 zoos in the world and, with over 11,000 animals and 400 species, it is the most visited wildlife attraction in Britain. Unlike other zoos that owe their existence to philanthropists, explorers or big game hunters, Chester Zoo was the brainchild of one working-class man with a dream he had nurtured since he was a boy: to build a zoo without bars.

June Mottorshead was four years old when her father, George, moved his family to Upton, two miles out Chester, to begin the process of turning his dream into a reality. With no other children around to play with - her sister Muriel was 10 years older - June's friends became the animals. Her closest companion was an orphaned chimpanzee which her sister hadshe hand reared, and for six years the two were inseparable. June soon became the poster girl for Chester Zoo and photographs of her cuddling lion clubs, head-butting a goat or opening the beak of a pelican soon graced the front pages of British newspapers. She was 13 when war was declared on 1939 and, with the backbone of the staff headed for the front, it fell to June to take over as head keeper. Keeping the zoo running while the war waged was no easy task. Despite rationing the animals had to be fed and all of them - penguins, elephants, leopards, tigers, lions, kangaroos and polar bears - needed to be moved into secure locked quarters inside as soon as the air raid siren sounded.

June, now in her eighties, is the guardian of her family's legacy.

My review:

I loved the tv series based on this book. When I was offered a copy to review through Bookbridgr I thought it would take over where the tv series left off, however it's quite different to the dramatisation which I now realise was rather loosely based on the events around the creation and building of Chester zoo.

This book narrates the true memoirs and reminiscences of June Mottershead, youngest daughter of the zoo family who was only 4 years old when the family moved to Upton to turn a run down staley home and its grounds into what developed into Chester zoo.

Most of it is based around what family life was like when you share your home with a menagerie of wild creatures and the difficulties faced by the family and presented by the breakout of world war 2. Obviously the early memories are a little sketchy as June was so young when it all began. 

Although the story takes us forward chronologically from the beginning, it is narrated exactly as if the author is reminiscing about her past talking to us, occasionally she gets sidetracked and sometimes she doesn't explain fully who everyone is or how things came about but as a 4 or 5 year old she probably doesn't remember the early stuff too clearly. Her sister Mew (Muriel) was the main zoo keeper, whilst June was going about the business of growing up in a very unusual set up.

Its a lovely, gentle read, perfect for animal lovers and people who like memoirs set in WW2 and would make an ideal christmas gift for anyone who liked the TV series.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Waiting for Doggo - Mark B Mills - doggedly determined to win you over

From Goodreads:

No-one ever called Dan a pushover. But then no-one ever called him fast-track either. He likes driving slowly, playing Sudoku on his iPhone, swapping one scruffy jumper for another. He's been with Clara for four years and he's been perfectly happy; but now she's left him, leaving nothing but a long letter filled with incriminations and a small, white, almost hairless dog, named Doggo. So now Dan is single, a man without any kind of partner whether working or in love. He's just one reluctant dog owner. Find a new home for him, that's the plan. Come on...everyone knows the old adage about the best laid plans and besides, Doggo is one special kind of a four legged friend...and an inspiration.

My thoughts:

Q. How can you guarantee readers will fall for your leading character in droves?

A. Make sure he's a quirky, loveable dog!

Like most other readers of Waiting for Doggo I fell, hook line and sinker for the eponymous canine of this quirky, quick read by Mark B. Mills.

However I failed to warm quite so much to his human counterpart Dan, whom I found to be a rather self centred, show off, too laddish for my taste.

It’s a simple little story told by Dan, whose long standing girlfriend has left him (I’d have gone a LOT sooner) and bequeathed him the ugly, snappy little rescue dog she took in from Battersea, who he doesn’t really want. Dan is also having a bit of a crisis on the work front and a few upheavals in his personal life. Of course being suddenly single again leaves the poor chap at the mercies of every predatory female who comes along.

It’s all told light heartedly with some genuinely humorous moments especially ones surrounding the delightful Doggo, who steals the show as I’m sure he was intended to, I was especially amused by his obsession with Jennifer Aniston. Also a rather tear jerking little scene towards the end of the book which had me wiping my eye.

A quick easy, romantic read and a must for anyone who likes curmudgeonly canine companions who are doggedly determined to win you over.

My thanks to Netgalley and Headline for my advance review copy.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Liar's Chair - Rebecca Whitney - disturbing

From Goodreads:

Rachel Teller and her husband David appear happy, prosperous and fulfilled. The big house, the successful business . . . They have everything.

However, control, not love, fuels their relationship and David has no idea his wife indulges in drunken indiscretions. When Rachel kills a man in a hit and run, the meticulously maintained veneer over their life begins to crack.

Destroying all evidence of the accident, David insists they continue as normal. Rachel though is racked with guilt and as her behaviour becomes increasingly self-destructive she not only inflames David's darker side, but also uncovers her own long-suppressed memories of shame. Can Rachel confront her past and atone for her terrible crime? Not if her husband has anything to do with it . . .

A startling, dark and audacious novel set in and around the Brighton streets, The Liar's Chair will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the final page has been turned. A stunning psychological portrait of a woman in a toxic marriage, Rebecca Whitney's debut will show that sometimes the darkest shadow holds the truth you have been hiding from . 

My thoughts .....

The Liar's chair is the clever, disturbing, debut novel by Rebecca Whitney, which looks at the psychological turbulence of being trapped in a venomous marriage.

Rachel is already struggling to maintain a veneer of respectablity, trapped in a relationship which brings her no solace, she is returning from a night of drunken indiscretion when her car hits a vagrant killing him. As the accident occurs on a lonely stretch of road she panics and drags the body into the trees and leaves the scene.

Husband David offers to help her conceal the crime in order to continue to present to the world the pretence of civility and opulent success the couple enjoy, to all outward appearances. But she has just presented him with the perfect opportunity to be more sadistically controlling. Her already dissatisfying, sham of a marriage when coupled with her crippling guilt becomes a trap from which she can only escape inside her head by indulging in increasingly self destructive behaviour.

This story illustrates the downward spiral of a woman tortured by guilt and haunted by her own past and present. Neither character is in any way likeable. David is a self centred shit, although I felt his behaviour might have actually been shown to be even worse and I was a little irked by Rachels self destruct mentality, constantly blaming childhood events and other people for her own foibles and rather large flaws.

However I really admire authors who can create characters I believe enough to dislike and the rather impudent and shady storyline kept me turning the pages deep into the night, it's dark and disturbing and has just enough of the "there, but for the grace of God" about it to make you think, and then think again.

A thoroughly enjoyable caliginous read with characters who will make you cringe and a tense, unconventional, truly chilling storyline. My huge thanks to Panmacmillan/ Mantle books for my advance copy.

The book will be launched in January - keep your Christmas book tokens for this one and you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The girl on the train - Paula Hawkins - full of apprehension and tension

From Goodreads: 

To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.
Just goes to show.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every evening. Every day she passes the same Victorian terraces, stops at the same signal, and sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess seem so happy together.

Then one day Rachel sees something she shouldn't have seen, and soon after, Jess disappears. Suddenly Rachel is chasing the truth and unable to trust anyone. Not even herself.

MY thoughts ....

Completely blew me away - superb psychological thriller. 

Where do I begin to share my thoughts on this one .... when it made such a huge impact on me? It's the story of Rachel, the girl on the train, who commutes daily, the train journey itself becoming a huge focal point of her days. She watches the same houses as she passes by and recognises certain people so well she feels she knows them - she is the ultimate people watcher and concocts little stories about their lives until one day she witnesses something disconcerting and worrying and feels she must do something - but what? 

A young woman is missing and because of her observations from the train, Rachel thinks she may be able to throw a little light on what has happened to her. She is used to being disbelieved so is at first reluctant to get involved. As she gets drawn more deeply into the lives of others we realise her own life isn't quite as it at first appears and secrets begin to emerge which threw me time and time again. I had huge sympathy for her situation despite her often being her own worst enemy. This story is so tightly woven it wraps itself around you like suffocating in kid leather. Impeccably constructed and penned with breathtaking intensity.

A police investigation is going on around the missing girl and Rachel tries to do her own investigation, but is thwarted time and again and we begin to wonder if she knows more than she is letting on about what happened or maybe she is barking up completely the wrong tree?

The story is told in the different voices of 3 women, all a similar age and in similar circumstances yet all very different (and all with hidden flaws) and this technique works incredibly well

Unreliable narrators have become De Rigeur since [book:Gone Girl|21480930] set the bar and, like gone girl, this work contains several different viewpoints and we don't really know who can be trusted or even who to believe. It sucked me in from the first few words and kept me in a state of nail biting tension throughout.

Its a refreshing relief for the women in the story to have such dark and yet very recognisable faults and vices, it makes them so immensely human yet kept me wary and alert all through the book.

To say much more would be tantamount to spoilers and I don't want to spoil the pleasure anyone is going to get from reading this - if you like tangled tales, unreliable narrators, apprehension and tension in your stories look no further. The Girl on the train is waiting to blow your mind - go for it!

My grateful thanks to and the publisher Random House for providing my advance copy of this super book, in exchange for sharing my thoughts.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The book of You - Claire Kendal - Scary stalker story

From the Publishers blurb

A terrifying psychological thriller about obsession and power, perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep.

Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.

Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.

Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined.

But how do you protect yourself from an enemy no one else can see?

My thoughts

The kind of book that makes you look over your shoulder, not once but several times.

A terrifying diary written by a victim of a stalker, Clarissa is a dainty, fragile, little thing who is being stalked and the book takes the form of a diary she is advised to keep, by the helpline leaflets. The guy who is stalking her is a thoroughly nasty, deranged character with seemingly very little motive for making this girls life a nightmare.

At the same time as writing her diary Clarissa is taking part in jury service which offers her a welcome break from routine and the chance to make some new friends outside her work, where her stalker can reach and manipulate her.

I couldn't really relate to her as she seems a very flaky and needy type of woman yet I could really sense the terror she must have been feeling and as her stalker ramps up his assaults and bizarre gift giving I felt her fear and loathing.

Clarissa is a bit of an enigma, well brought up, she is polite and meek yet has been mistress to a married man, her usual oufits include a hand made dress, coupled with stockings and hand knitted mittens! She also seems a little too keen to get into a relationship whilst she is barely out of one disastrous one and is still being terrified on a daily basis by Rafe the guy who just won't take no for an answer

As the story continues there are scenes of graphic terror and abuse of women, which made me glad it wasn't me yet I had to keep on reading to find out what happens. A scary and rather nasty look inside the mind of a depraved man and his victim.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Love song of Miss Queenie Hennessey - Rachel Joyce

From the publishers blurb Via Goodreads

From the author of the 2 million+ copy, worldwide bestseller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, an exquisite, funny and heartrending parallel story.

When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note to him had explained she was dying from cancer. How can she wait?

A new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write a second letter; only this time she must tell Harold the truth. Composing this letter, the volunteer promises, will ensure Queenie hangs on. It will also atone for the secrets of the past. As the volunteer points out, ‘It isn’t Harold who is saving you. It is you, saving Harold Fry.’

This is that letter. A letter that was never sent.

Told in simple, emotionally-honest prose, with a mischievous bite, this is a novella about a woman who falls in love but chooses not to claim it. It is about friendship and kindness as well as the small victories that pass unrecorded. It is about the truth and the significance - the gentle heroism - of a life lived alone.

Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was just the beginning...

My Thoughts

Finished this delightful book last week on my holiday, shed a tear or two over this sweet, emotional story.

For anyone who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry this is a companion novel the author has written to portray the life of Queenie the woman who is waiting in a hospice for Harold, whilst he undertakes his epic walk.

Of course, the hospice setting gives you a hint that it's going to be quite poignant and I did blub somewhat. It's quite a sad little tale in many ways but is told with the same deft lightness of touch and a wry humour, which I so enjoyed in Harold Frys story.

Queenie is dying and her final days in a hospice have been shaken somewhat by the news that an old friend and colleague is walking the length of the UK to see her and she must wait until he gets there, she has already waited a long time to see him again but there is something she feels a burning need to tell him. To fill in the long hours of waiting, between medication, pain and impossible meals with fellow residents, she accepts the advice and help of an newly arrived and understanding Nun, Sister Mary Inconnu, to write everything down in a letter to Harold and this book is the result of her thoughts and confessions.

In it, we learn about Queenies life, her friendship with Harold, her later years creating a wonderful sea garden and discover what it is she is unable to forgive herself for, what she was unable to speak of and as we journey towards her final days we watch her find an inner peace through her reminiscences and remembering.

There are some really heart wrenching moments and I heartily recommend this lovely read and defy anyone not to give a little sob filled gasp near the end when certain facts are revealed, as did I. 

It's a charming and beautiful emotional read and I don't want to give too much away, so my lips are sealed until you read it yourself. My thanks to the publisher Transworldbooks for my lovely advance copy.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Long Fall - Julia Crouch - Mind twisting

From the publisher ...

How far would you go to protect your secrets?

Greece, 1980

Emma takes part in a shattering, violent event. An event to which she is anything but an innocent bystander.
She is only eighteen, but this marks her fall from innocence.
It will haunt her for the rest of her life.

London, now

Kate has the perfect existence: a glossy image, a glamorous home, a perfect family.
But there are cracks.
All is not what it seems.

And now the two worlds are about to collide.
Somebody's out for revenge.
Someone who has been waiting thirty years...

MY thoughts ....

Exciting very twisty dual time psychological mind bender. Provided for me by in exchange for sharing my thoughts.

The dual time layers are headed before and after and are set in 1980 and 2013. The story begins back in 1980 when young Emma sets off travelling despite being quite a nervy, neurotic individual she is determined to find her way around alone. Brought up in Ripon she finds suddenly being alone in France leads her to make a few ill advised decisions which have truly catastrophic results. Heading off to Greece doesn't make her feel much better. She's not used to coping alone. She has had what little confidence she was developing shattered beyond repair and when salvation comes along in the form of slightly older Jake and then Beattie, she clings to the security of the lifeline this budding friendship promises.

In 2013 we are allowed a glimpse into the privileged life of Kate. Middle aged, wealthy and apparently successful Kate would seem to have it all, but her life is blighted by past events, not least of which was the devastating loss of her youngest daughter Martha. But she has managed to turn this around by throwing herself into founding a charity, Marthas wish, dedicated to her late daughters memory she fundraises for a cause close to Marthas heart and this is what has kept her from toppling over the edge into despair. Despite a deep unwillingness to be seen in public, Kate faces some of her many phobias and allows her photograph to be published in a publicity campaign for the charity and despite her reluctance taked part in a tv interview which is about to cause her well hidden past to re-emerge and shatter her well ordered life.

And then .... things become .... FRANTIC

We hop back and forth in time, watching events unfold over which we have no control. The main characters are all deeply flawed, some of the narratives can't be taken at face value and there are many, many hidden secrets, some of which emerge slowly like a trickle of water running down your back and some which burst forth shrieking at you like a banshee to leave your mouth dry and your heart pounding.

I found it difficult to like any of the characters at all, I had some sympathy for Emma, who is shaped almost entirely by circumstance, yet I found her too needy and neurotic to admire. 

I needed to suspend belief a little when events finally reached their rather inevitable climax, but this didn't spoil the fun one bit, after all ghastly and implausible things do happen and people can be as completely abhorrent as one particular individual turns out to be.

A terrifically exciting and mind blowing book which proceeds at breathless pace throughout. My sincere thanks to  the fabulous author and the publisher for this scintillating read.

Round the bend - Alistair McGuiness

Today I'm delighted to be taking part in the virtual book tour for the new travel book - Round the bend - by Alistair McGuiness. I was invited to take part by the lovely Dorothy Thompson at Pump up your book and when I received my free ebook copy I curled up with it to become the armchair traveller this book's perfect for.

Here's what the publisher says about the book:

From the Amazon to the Andes and Kilimanjaro to Cape Town
This adventure story captures the reality and exhilaration of leaving home to undertake Gap Year travel in South America, Africa, Fiji and Australia.
Three things happened simultaneously. The lioness charged, Alistair fled across the parched savannah and his wife screamed for him to run faster. Stuffed deep inside his tattered rucksack was a guidebook containing advice on what to do in wildlife emergencies, which he planned to read if he survived the next thirty seconds. Future plans to climb Kilimanjaro, teach English in the Amazon and live in Australia were temporarily forgotten as he turned to face the pouncing lioness, thinking back to the words of advice from his mother-in-law. "Don't do anything silly, and look after Francine." 

From deep underground in a remote Bolivian mine to the scorched Australian outback, Round the Bend is an adventure travel story. It explores the turbulence of redundancy, the excitement of travel, the anguish of leaving home and the challenges of starting a new life in Australia

My thoughts:

I’m taking part in the virtual book tour for this exciting travel journal, I’d rather be actually taking part in some of the adventures this couple have but being an armchair traveller and reading about it is the next best thing and as so many of the events are MISadventures perhaps it's safer to just sit and read it in the comfort of my own home.

Alistair and his wife Fran are a middle aged couple taking a gap year. Following the shock of redundancy they decide they’d quite like to emigrate to the other side of the world, but to satisfy their longing to see more of the world they have a year visiting places many of us only dream about.

Their journey takes them to South America, then the heart of Africa before finally making it Down Under. The author has a keen sense of humour and a great descriptive turn of phrase which paints a really good picture of the places he’s been and the people he met.

From the humble beginnings trying and failing to learn a foreign language to help him on his travels, to his misadventures and near misses with rhino, lions, etc on safari it’s obvious his self-deprecating style has good reason, he’s one of those haphazard travelers to whom you instantly sense things are going to go awry for – and as other peoples mishaps are fun to read about this makes for a very entertaining read, it had me laughing out loud in many places. I'm glad I didn't go travelling with him, I think I'd have lost patience, he just won't be told!! But if he'd sat quietly in the back of the bus all the way he wouldn't have come back with such great tales.

If you love listening to other peoples travel adventures, pull up a comfy armchair, settle back and head off on safari with Alistair. 

For More Information

  • Round the Bend: From Luton to Peru to Ningaloo, a Search for Life After Redundancy is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
About the Author

Alistair McGuiness grew up in the UK in a town called Luton, which lies 30 miles north of London. Family holidays were spent in County Donegal, Ireland, staying with his Grandmother in their large family home where she had once raised fifteen children.
It was these annual trips that made Alistair realise his Great Uncles were SeanachaĆ­s (Irish story tellers). After a few pints of Guinness in the family bar, brothers Barney and Francis would entertain the evening crowds with their recitations of life in rural Ireland. As their rustic voices carried across the crowded room, Alistair would watch and listen as the animated tales mesmorised the overseas visitors.
44 countries and four decades later, Alistair now calls Australia home and in the tradition of Great Uncles Barney and Francis, loves to recite stories. He lives between the beach and the forest with his wife, two young boys and a fun puppy called Peppi. After decades of adventurous escapades Alistair is calming down and has decided to write more and bungee jump less!
He works as a Business Improvement Specialist and has just spent three years as a fly in fly out employee at a remote iron ore mine site in Western Australia. As a trainer and facilitator, he has worked in Europe and Australia and is passionate about helping people and organisations to become successful.
A fun family day for Alistair would be fishing from the local jetty with his boys, taking the puppy for a walk along the beach at sunset and cooking a scrumptious curry in the evening with his wife.
An ideal adventurous day for Alistair would be a days walking and scrambling in the Lake District with friends, followed by a visit to a village pub nestled deep in the English countryside.
For More Information

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