Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The One In A Million Boy - Monica Wood

The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don't they teach you anything at school?
So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who's been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she's confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.
One Saturday, he doesn't show up. Ona starts to think he's not so special after all, but then his father Quinn arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son's good deed. The boy's mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that even at her age the world can surprise you, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find yourself again.


This really is a remarkable book I totally forgot I was reading a story - how Monica Wood ever came up with this story line is just amazing to me. The back story to Ona, who is now 104, is just so interesting and I really felt like I was sitting there listening to her tell it.

Although the book title suggests the main character is the boy he really takes a back seat once he establishes his love of world records - then steps in his Father Quinn. He really just wants to finish what his son started in helping out Ona. But what ensues is so much more as Ona helps Quinn find himself again and give herself a new lease of life too. 

I do wish Ona was a real person, I would love to meet her. From her card tricks to her wonderful tales of her life and her Lithuanian roots. I also feel I have taken so much from this book that I can't articulate but I feel better for having read it.

I knew I was approaching the end of the book and wondered - "how was the author going to end this lovely story". Well - I don't do spoilers but to say that it was a brilliant ending and had me in floods of tears - in a good way!

This is a book that will stay with me for a very long time.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars.

My thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a free e copy of this book for review.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A Field Guide To Reality - Joanna Kavenna


Eliade Jencks knows the only reason people call at midnight is to tell you someone has died. Professor Solete was one of her few friends. Perhaps her only friend. But his friends don't think much of her - a vague, scruffy waitress, impatient with philosophical onanism at parties. Naturally, they're horrified to find out that Solete has left her his Field Guide to Reality.
The Guide has taken on legendary proportions among the celebrated minds of Oxford. The work of a lifetime, it purportedly advances Solete's great philosophical Theory of Everything and even defines the very nature of reality. A big, important book. Only, they can't find it.
So, baffled, grieving, and slightly annoyed, Eliade sets out on a quest for the missing manuscript, and falls down a rabbit-hole of metaphysical possibility. From a psychotropic tea party to the Priests of the Quantum Realm, she trips her way through Solete's wonderland reality and, without quite meaning to, bursts open the boundaries of her own.
In this clever, darkly ironic and moving novel, Granta Best of Young British author Joanna Kavenna displays fearless originality and dread wit in confronting the strangeness of reality and how we contend with the disappearance of those we love.
Beautiful original drawings by Oly Ralfe illustrate this haunting tale of bringing light to an empty roo

This book felt like Alice in wonderland to me - I had no idea what was going on and so I just went with it as I was intrigued by the cryptic Solete and his message from beyond the grave.

I think I sort of understood what was happening at the end but really apart from being a beautifully bound book I was not really enjoying reading this book. The illustrations were dark and dystopian and took up about half of the novel.

Perhaps I am not learned enough to read this and understand beyond the basic mystery level.

I'm giving it 3 out of 5 stars.
I was sent the book by Real Readers for review.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Did You Ever Have a Family - Bill Clegg


Monday, 8 August 2016

London Stone - Nick Bydwyn



When I began this book I was intrigued - seemingly unrelated events might be connected. How does a Private Investigator take the same job from two different people when they both want the same item?

The Private Investigator Drake Sanders is himself a great character in that he reads like a real person and gets himself into scrapes which realistically he doesn't get out of too well! The writing was at times a little too long winded and descriptive, when all I really wanted was action, and to get to the chase.

The scene was set well and all of a sudden it just didn't add up, but Drake Sanders didn't appear to be seeing the warning signs - surely I was not going to be able to second guess better than the Private Investigator. 

That is really where the book and me parted company - I read to the end but felt I had figured it out before Drake Sanders and he wasn't keeping up with me.

A good story but to me read a little like a 1970s movie.

I'm giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

My thanks go to Netgalley for an advance e copy of the book.