Wednesday, 4 December 2019

My Year in Books 2019: November

Bit of a busy month in November, so I didn't get much time for reading. Still, I've got a couple of reviews for this month.

This is the penultimate review post of the year. In case you're interested, the other posts from this year are here:January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October. But here are my reviews for November...

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (2012)


In February, I read Rachel Joyce’s Perfect and enjoyed it. I picked up The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in a charity shop in Cleveleys this summer, and I thought I’d give it a go this month. Joyce’s slightly earlier (and perhaps more famous) novel is the story of Harold Fry. At the very beginning of the book, Harold receives a letter from Queenie Hennessey, a woman he worked with two decades earlier. Harold hasn’t seen Queenie in twenty years, but he discovers she is now in a hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Harold tries to write a reply to Queenie’s letter, but he struggles to find the right words. When he sets out for the postbox, he finds he can’t bring himself to post his attempt, and so… he carries on walking. Joyce’s captivating novel tells the story of Harold’s walk, but it also a lot more. It’s a novel about grief and love (and, like the many people Harold meets along his way, the reader might initially misunderstand the nature of the grief and love behind the story). It’s also a novel about a story that has been resolutely not told for twenty years. When that story emerges, it’s a bit of a sucker punch, and I will admit to sobbing openly at some chapters. But the book is also very funny – and human, hopeful, heart-warming, and hard to put down. Although the setting is a little ‘unlikely’, the characters are surprisingly believable and sympathetic. I really recommend this one.

The Boy Who Fell by Jo Spain (2019)


My mum and I have been working our way through Jo Spain’s novels, ever since I stumbled upon her first DCI Tom Reynolds novel last Christmas. To be honest, I’m wondering why I had to ‘stumble’ on it, as Spain is a really talented writer, and the more I read of her work the more I wonder why I hadn’t seen more people shouting about her work! Anyway, my mum lent me the fourth and fifth books in the series, but I’ve decided to save The Darkest Place for my annual December getaway. The Boy Who Fell is the fifth book in the series – and I sort of suspect it may be the final instalment. And I think it might be my favourite! On the verge of a life-changing promotion, Tom Reynolds is asked by a colleague to look into an apparently open-and-shut case involving her cousin. A young man named Luke Connolly has been pushed to his death from the window of an abandoned house (with a tragic history). The local police already have a suspect in custody, and they believe they have more than enough evidence to secure a prosecution. DCI Reynolds is reluctant to push things – especially since that would leave him open to accusations of trying to cover things up for a colleague – but there’s just enough room for doubt. There’s a neat puzzle, plenty of clues, and a well-paced investigation here. It’s also a surprisingly warm book, with some lovely moments involving the detective’s team.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

OUT NOW: Nothing (Hic Dragones, 2019)


Bleak landscapes, empty hearts, insignificant lives, dystopian futures, extinction, limbo, uncertainty, death. A beautiful void or a horrific state of being. The simple complexity of nothingness.

A new anthology of short stories, edited by Hannah Kate, that take place when everything has gone, in the empty spaces that are left, and with the people that cling to a last deceptive semblance of something—anything—in the face of the void. Embark on a journey to nowhere, with no one, meaning nothing.

Contents:

'Four Blank Pages' by Daisy Black
'Nobody' by K. Bannerman
'Nothing but Darkness' by Patrick Lacey
'A Banquet of Stars' by Anthony Cowin
'The Empty People' by Amanda Steel
'Ashes' by C.V. Leedham
'State of You' by Jeanette Greaves
'Projection' by Ackley Lewis
'The Experiment' by Sally Davies
'Mrs Frankenstein's Void' by Valentine George
'The Forever Sea' by Melanie Stott
'The House Lights Dim' by Tim Major
'Trap Street' by Hannah Kate
'White Stone' by Rue Karney
'The March' by M. Raymond
'The Sum of our Memories' by Sara L. Uckelman
'Traps' by David Turnbull
'The Hole is Waiting' by Tony Rabig
'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Square' by Nancy Schumann
'Blisters' by Sarah Peploe

For more information, or to get a copy of the book, please visit the Hic Dragones website.