Wednesday 29 May 2019

In Other Words by John Garrett

While at my parents house last week my dad passed me this book to read. Being a lifelong Blade and having known the author since a school days trip to France I didn't need asking twice.

What this is is a collection of interviews with former Sheffield United players, stretching from the pre war era to more recent times. There are players I remember and ones I don't and what comes across from them all is a love of this club that is ours. Seeing how football has changed over the decades, through the words of those who were there, is still a real eye-opener.

These interviews have all been taken from the match day programme UTB (Up The Blades) and as I dipped in it brought back many memories for me - going to the Junior Blade enclosure with JG himself as schoolkids, years as a season ticket holder with my old pal Darren Thornton where we saw many of the folks interviewed here - Good Times.

As I remember, as a youngster my dad gave me the chance to choose for myself which Sheffield team I wanted to follow taking me to see both Blades and Owls. As I recall, each trip to Hillsborough it rained (seriously, that's all I remember about it) whereas the trips to The Lane still feel fresh. In reality there was no choice to make 😉

Anyway, back to the book. This is a really well put together collection that would be of interest to football fans in general, not just fans of Sheffield United


John Garrett is also the author of Sheffield United - The Biography (with Gary Armstrong), Folklore and Fables and 125 Years of Sheffield United FC. (seriously, what he doesn't know about the club isn't worth knowing)

Thanks for the loan of the book dad, I'll be getting my own copy soon

Monday 27 May 2019

We Can See You by Simon Kernick

 Welcome to Day 1 of the blog tour for Simon Kernick's latest thriller 'We Can See You'.

A best selling author and life coach with a high profile TV show Brook Conner's life is 'on track'...until the night she arrives home to find her daughter and the daughter's nanny missing and a note left behind - 'We have your daughter, do what we say and she will be returned. Do not contact the police or deviate from orders. We will know, we can see you at all times (or words to that effect)

Before long Brook is on the run with one plan - rescue her daughter and God help anyone who gets in her way!

The story alternates between Brook's story and her being questioned by the police, so a kind of 'then and now' story. It's certainly a fast paced one and (forgive the cliché) a real page turner. There are twists and turns aplenty and a reveal that certainly caught me on the hop.

I have never read a Simon Kernick novel before this one but I guess I've got a lot of catching up to do. This is an author who can keep the reader gripped. We Can See You could quite easily become THE beach read of the summer.


Thank you to Isabelle Ralphs at Penguin and Arrow Publishing for inviting me onto this blog tour, NetGalley for the review file and, please, have a look at the other posts by bloggers on this tour

Sunday 19 May 2019

Smoke in the Glass by Chris Humphreys

 Welcome to the final day of the blog tour for Chris Humphreys' Smoke in the Glass.

I must start by saying this had some interesting ideas and, thankfully, they were as well realised as I had hoped. The setting for the story is a world split into 4 parts, each kept separate from the other by 'unclimable mountains and unsailable seas'. In the past 3 of the 4 lands (I'm not sure about the 4th) were visited by a being who granted some of them gifts, foremost amongst these gifts was immortality. For me that was all the hook I needed. The immortality, you see, is quite random and we see this early on when two characters go to rescue a couple of children. During the ensuing fight both are killed but one stays seas and the other re-awakens to find he is now an immortal.

The 3 lands we visit are very different, one felt Egyptian based, one African (although I did waver on that at times) and one was definitely Norse based (my favourite) so the lead characters all felt very different. They handle their immortality differently too. Whereas two of the lands seem to use it to build a base of wealth and power those in the Norse land use it also for 'sport'. They are constantly fighting and keeping tally of who has killed who the most.

But into these lands comes an invasion from the fourth land and 3 must come together to save all. Yup, you guessed it, there's a prophecy involved - and I do love a good prophecy in my fantasy fiction.

This is a promising start to a new series, although it does feel like an introductory piece at times. The world building and character development worked well for me and I'm looking forward to the next volume. The only downside for me is that this was a NetGalley copy, therefore not quite  'the finished article' and there were a few issues with the text that threw me out of my reading rhythm but, you know what? I enjoyed it enough that I will be getting a print copy from the bookstore first chance I get ready for my re-read before the next volume.

A solid 4/5 stars

Thanks very much to Stevie Finegan at Gollancz for inviting me onto this blog tour and NetGalley for providing the file.

Please also try and visit the other sites of the bloggers on this tour.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

The Poison Song by Jen Williams

Welcome to day 3 of the blog tour for The Poison Song, the final part of Jen Williams' Winnowing Flame series.

As we begin this final volume our heroes are on the back of a victory against the invading Jure'lia but things are still a long way from being wonderful. The Jure'lia are planning to come back bigger and badder than before and it's going to take something special to defeat them.

As you would expect from a series of this quality the characters (and the reader) are really put through the wringer. The battles are huge and the losses hit hard but it is, when all is said and done, a cracking end to an excellent series.

For me, where Williams excels is the way the characters interact. The language is not flowery or overdone, these are folks who call a spade a spade. They snark at each other and it makes them seem more realistic. In the three main leads, Vintage, Tor and Noon you have three people you would be happy to be down the pub with as well as adventuring and saving the world.

As with her previous series (The Copper Cat) Jen Williams pulls off the ending in epic style giving me no other option than to give it a well deserved 5/5*

Now I'm going to go sit in the corner with a box of tissues and let it all sink in
Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and to Jen for being such an awesome teller of tales and all round lovely person.

Please, if you get the chance, have a look at the other awesome bloggers on this tour

Thursday 9 May 2019

Growing Pains by Mike Shooter

I'll start by saying this is not my usual kind of read. I got a request via email though, asking if I would consider reviewing it, read the accompanying info and decided to have a look.

I'm glad I did.

The author, Dr Mike Shooter is a psychiatrist who has worked with children and adolescents and this is, mainly, a selection of stories about these patients. His way of looking at their issues, treating them etc. aren't always the expected. He actually takes time to get to know them, talk to them, get to the root of the problem instead of just filling them full of pills. And it really works.

I'm not going to pretend this was an easy read - it really wasn't, and I did find it easier to read a chapter or two and then step away and reading something else for a while.

So, who would appreciate this book? Anyone who has family, friends or loved ones struggling with anxiety, depression etc. Anyone with an interest in this kind of work and most importantly, anyone suffering from these kind of issues. This is a book that will give you hope, will make you understand the future isn't as dark as it may seem.

So, not an easy read but highly recommended 4*