Calling Major Tom by David M Barnett #BookReview #CallingMajorTom

About this book…

A man who has given up on the world.

Forty-something Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

A family who show him how to live.

But beneath his grumpy exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world… for good.

My review…

This is such a unique plot idea that it actually took me a while to get used to it-I kept expecting some sort of twist-but no, it is really about an unlikely astronaut on his way to Mars who misdials a number on his phone! Now, most of us have said at sometime that we’d like some time to ourselves but here Thomas Major really is off for some very serious “alone time”. But as we flashback to Thomas as a child and his difficult journey to adulthood, we start to realise why this grumpy, middle aged man has made such a big decision.

I’m sure everyone who reviews this book will mention the late, great David Bowie as it’s really difficult not to have a certain tune running through your head the whole time of reading it (and afterwards too!!!) But the coincidence of being called Thomas Major provides lots of humour, unfortunately, its mainly all at at his expense! The relationship that develops between him and Gladys, Ellie and James is absolutely wonderful in all its honesty and gentle humour whilst running far deeper than I had expected. As these characters work through their secrets from the past, they unexpectedly help each other look forward to a more positive future. Gladys, especially, was a character I took to my heart straight away and whilst I found Thomas to be a difficult and cantankerous loner with zero “people skills” at the start, my feelings definitely changed once we find out more about him.

This is a wonderfully crafted book, full of quirky characters and humbling situations. It’s a book about family and relationships and the realities of love and loss. I felt sadness but I also felt the love of humankind for its own survival, as we tumble through time and space ourselves, reaching out for others to make our journey a happier one. I look forward to reading more books by David Barnett as he has a special gift for making the unthinkable work and work very well indeed!

I received a copy of this book via netgalley and have chosen to read and review it.

Calling Major Tom: The Feel-Good Novel of 2017 is available to purchase now at Amazon UK.

About the author…

David Barnett
David Barnett is an award-winning journalist and author based in West Yorkshire. He was born in Wigan, Lancashire, in 1970 and has worked in regional newspapers since 1989. He is the author of the Gideon Smith alternate history series from Tor Books, beginning in 2013 with Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl. David is also the author of Hinterland (2005, reprinted 2008), Angelglass (2007) and The Janus House and Other Two-Faced Tales (2009), all published by Immanion Press, as well as popCULT!, published in 2011 from Pendragon Press. His work has been translated into Czech, Russian and German. He is represented by the literary agent John Jarrold. David is married to Claire, also an award-winning journalist, and they have two children, Charlie and Alice.

The Mountain In My Shoe by Louise Beech #BlogTour #BookReview @OrendaBooks @LouiseWriter

I am absolutely delighted to be a stop on the Blog Tour for The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech so a huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for this very exciting opportunity!

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About this book…

A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself.

On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.

Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.

My review…

I know that I’m not alone in saying that I so adored How to be Brave, the first novel by Louise Beech, that I was worried about reading her follow up as I didn’t want to be disappointed by my (probably unrealistically high) expectations! But I should have trusted the extraordinary talent of this “new literary talent on the block” as, although a different style of book to How to be Brave, this book totally exceeded my expectations….I absolutely LOVED it! In fact I decided to sleep on my review so that I got it just right and did it justice. But even now, after a sleepless night where the characters refused to stop interacting with my brain, I know that my words will never live up to the emotions that literally bubbled to the surface from reading this poignant tale.

Although billed as a psychological thriller this has so much more depth to it than you can hope to expect in that genre. The story is told with three character points of view, firstly Bernadette who’s an official friend to a fostered 10 year old boy. From the start we are very aware that her marriage is not functioning as others do. She seems very controlled by her husband and there is definitely some psychological abuse as well as a possible history of physical abuse. But I took to this quiet and nervously unassuming woman as soon as she was introduced. Then we have Conor who has gone missing from his foster mum’s house and may be heading for his real family. And the final teller of tales is The Book. Now I found The Book to be the most heartbreaking  and difficult of the three turns to read. My heart ached for the baby, toddler and then young schoolboy that Conor became. Let down by adults, never through any fault of his own, it gave an insight into a system that I had never experienced written about in such a way  before. It truly tugged at my heartstrings but all the while balancing that emotion with a promise of hope.

I know that writers are advised to “show” readers not tell them  and with her soft, almost poetic writing style Louise Beech makes her characters and settings as real to the reader as if they were there on the page with them. This stunning book will stay with me for quite some time to come.

The Mountain in My Shoe is published by Orenda Books and is available in ebook with the paperback being published on 30th September 2016. Available to buy from Amazon UK.

About the author…

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose début novel How To Be Bravewas a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

About this book…

DOES EVERYTHING IN LIFE HAPPEN PURELY BY CHANCE? OR ARE WE GUIDED TOWARDS PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP US IN OUR HOUR OF NEED?
Following the sudden death of her beloved mother, Jessica Gibson’s world falls apart. But after meeting a man who seems heaven-sent, she starts to feel she has something to live for again, and soon discovers that their connection holds far more significance than she could ever have imagined. And when Jessica strikes an unlikely bond with Alexandra Green, the two new friends are taken on an emotional journey into the world of the supernatural, where psychic mediums pass on messages from beyond the grave. What — or who — is causing the strange goings-on in Alex’s home? What secret is she keeping from Jessica? And who is the young woman who so badly needs their help? In a series of surprising twists and turns, the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place and a mystery is unwittingly solved — with life-changing consequences for all involved.
‘Out of the Darkness’ is an uplifting tale of friendship and redemption; of love and loss. And life…after death.

My review…

I don’t think a book has made me feel as emotional as this for quite some time and I actually feel quite bereft now that I’ve finished it! When I was offered a review copy by the author Katy Hogan, I accepted after having a quick look at the blurb. But this book is so much more than I expected! Weirdly enough, it sat on my TBR pile for a few weeks as I was prioritising the review books I read in the order they had arrived. But then something strange happened and I won ANOTHER copy of the book in a competition that I don’t even remember entering! So from that I realised that someone, somewhere was trying to tell me to get on and read this book!!!

Jessica is in pieces after early death of her mother, to whom she was very close. Her grief has overtaken her to such an extent that she takes no pleasure even in her own life. After an unexpected meeting with an old school friend she ends up meeting a man called Finn who may make her wake up from her days of heartbreak and enjoy life again. She also attends a grievance counselling group where she meets Hannah and then one night they meet Alex, who helps Jess when she collapses after leaving a counselling session. These three woman seem destined to meet and they have a mysterious bond between them. Alex has been having visions and this leads the women to consult a clairvoyant. What happens next is a very moving, emotional journey for the friends.

Whether or not you believe in the afterlife in any form, this is a beautiful book dealing with death and how those left behind deal with their grief. I don’t like supernatural novels but this is nothing like I have read before! It is written with such gentleness, slowly building up the characters and the relationships they form whilst delivering a message of hope that goodbye is not always the end. I’m so glad that I read it and will now pass it along for others to make up their own minds. Well, one of them I will! The other copy has earned itself a place on my “favourites” bookcase so thank you very much to Katy Hogan.

Available to buy at Amazon

About the author…

Having grown up with a mother who consulted her tarot cards on a weekly basis, and who would frequently sense an other-worldly presence, it has always been perfectly natural for me to assume that there is more to this life than meets the eye. I have even experienced a few mysterious encounters myself. But it was only when I suffered the loss of a loved one that I started to question the possibility of life after death, and decided to find out more. And so began a fascinating quest, where I met ‘ordinary’ people who claimed to have experienced the extraordinary. This is where I found the inspiration for my debut novel, ‘Out of the Darkness’. Although it’s fiction, much of the phenomena written about in the story have been experienced by me, my friends, or people I spoke to during my research. I have started work on my second novel, but when I’m not writing, you will find me keeping tabs on my teenage children, or walking my dogs in the Hertfordshire countryside. Please see http://www.outofthedarknessnovel.com