The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis

Review

This book should without a doubt be on some prestigious lists. It is a superbly told story and Paulson-Ellis is a spectacular storyteller. The way she weaves the individual threads through the timelines and the story, is done in such a subtle way you almost don’t realise she is doing it.

The story takes place in the present with the heir hunter Solomon Farthing and in the past with his grandfather in the First World War. Whilst the story bounces back and forth it also takes pit-stops in the years in between. Connections are drawn from the small group of soldiers to the same men in the future and their offspring. The result is a well-plotted narrative about guilt, brotherhood, loyalty and a question of conscience.

There is a parallel between the betting games the soldiers play to pass the time and to fight the fear and anxiety, and the veterans who connect with each other after the war, specifically the items they place as bets. Each one of them brings something, leaves an item and then takes another thing with them. A spool of thread, buttons, walnuts, fruit, cap badges and a pawn ticket. Anything can become one man’s treasure in a setting where every single item can become as precious as a cave full of gold.

At times I had tears in my eyes, it’s emotional and nostalgic, especially because the author brings realism and authenticity to the table. As a reader you can’t help but think about the young boys and men who died under appalling circumstances. Often following the orders that meant they knew they were nothing but bullet fodder for the enemy. Nothing but numbers for their own country.

Would you lead your brothers in arms into death – on a suicide mission? Would you risk death to ensure others cheat death? Of course disregarding an order meant death by firing squad. The crimes of cowardice, pacifism and just pure trauma took far too many victims in the war.

It’s historical war fiction, literary fiction and simultaneously a story filled with unanswered questions and mysteries. It is an excellent read. A book that belongs on best books lists.

Buy The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Mantle; pub date 5 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @mspaulsonellis on Twitter, Visit marypaulsonellis.co.uk

The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

augusta hopeFor me the story is about all of us being connected at some level, regardless of where we are in the world. Six degrees of separation. It’s also about fate and small pieces of a large puzzle fitting together to create a bigger picture. One could say it’s coincidence, one could also say there is no such thing as coincidence.

Augusta  and Julia are twins, but they couldn’t be more different. Julia is everything her parents expect her to be and more, and Augusta dances to her very own music. She loves words. Words are life, discovery, mystery and knowledge. Words lead to people, things and places. They are doors to other worlds.

Simultaneously the reader is introduced to Parfait on the other side of the world. His life is a complete contrast to that of Augusta, and there is no connection between the two, barring a wish and a dream of places far away.

The juxtaposition of the two lives of these two young people is relevant to our day and age, especially that of Parfait. His fate as a refugee and that of his brother is tragic. Glen wants us to see the way we live our day-to-day lives, whilst men, women and children risk their lives to reach a safer country in an attempt to escape their war-torn countries and the violence.

In a way Julia becomes the guilty conscience the author hopes our society will develop. We need to stop acting as if we see nothing, hear nothing and then speak nothing. A visceral connection needs to be strung from us to them.

Both Parfait and Augusta experience and have to deal with incredible grief and guilt. It is one of the bridges that connects and leads them to each other. In fact they become the hypothetical bridge of connection.

It’s a profound and emotional piece of literary fiction. The main character has shades of Eleanor Oliphant, and the story is introspective with politics and family dynamics woven into this beautiful contemporary read.

Buy The Other Half of Augusta Hope at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: The Borough Press; pub date 13 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @JoannaGlenBooks on Twitter

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

ten thousandI love this story. It is what every child holds deep in their imagination. What every inner child sat inside an adult screams for. Imagine doors, just random doors in the middle of nowhere, somewhere and even here. Doors that lead to other places, countries and people. Doors driven by the invisible magic in the world, but only visible to a few.

There’s a moment in the story when Harrow balances the readers on the precipice of whether what January is experiencing is real or fiction. A fictional narrative drummed up by the trauma of grief and the pain of neglect. A young girl who has had episodes of delusions over the years or is that what Locke would have us believe.

It all seems too far-fetched to be true. Doors in the middle of fields that lead to other places.  A book that tells the story of a young girl who happens upon the opening of a door at the right time and then spends years trying to reestablish a connection made within moments. Moments that haunt her and set her on an incredible path to discover the truth.

This book has incredible depth and beauty. It’s the kind of story that inspires both the young and old, and creates readers. It allows readers to step further than they believed – one page at a time. Magic of old and blood magic of new.

It’s YA fantasy, but I would recommend it for younger readers too. Fantasy melded with historical fiction with an essence of literary fiction.

Buy The Ten Thousand Doors of January at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orbit; pub date ecopy 10 Sept. 2019, Hardcover pub date 12 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @AlixEHarrow on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit alixeharrow.wixsite.com/author

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

ducth housePatchett is truly a writer who knows and has fine-tuned her craft, which is especially evident within the pages of this powerful tale of family, abandonment, perspectives and above all the individuality of relationships. Not one is the same.

Each relationship we create, foster or even tear asunder is identifiable to ourselves by our own frame of reference, experiences and memories. It is never quite the same for someone else, which is why a group of us can all know a person well and yet experience relationships with that person on a completely different level and way to every other person in said group.

I think that is one of the most poignant parts of the story. It is certainly the aspect that defines the role of the absentee mother. What Danny feels and has experienced isn’t what Maeve experienced in regards to their mother, which in turn also applies to Cyril and the rest of the women from the Dutch house.

The house itself, which is integral to the plot, and the emotions which are tethered to said house become singular relationships in their own right. Once again, it takes on a different level of importance for each one of the characters.

Danny and Maeve struggle with the fact their mother just upped and left them, which is compounded tenfold when their father brings home a new stepmother and two stepsisters. A stepmother who is fascinated by the house and wealth her marriage brings with it. A woman who feels as if Danny and Maeve are the enemies.

The siblings have a strong bond necessitated by the indifference and neglect they experience. Neither of them understands the intricacies of their relationship until others intrude upon it. Towards the end Danny finally understands the measure and depth of their relationship and wherein his peace and happiness really lies.

I loved the way Patchett wove and spun this story. It’s beautiful and yet simultaneously also incredibly sad at times. It’s literary fiction, a beautiful contemporary read about altruistic relationships and family dynamics.

Buy/Pre-order The Dutch House at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing; pub date 24 September 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Bloomsbury.

Visit annpatchett.com

How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid

This is book 11 in the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, and after reading this one I absolutely will have to go back and re-read previous one. Tony is sat in jail for killing someone and Carol has retired from the police force. What the heck happened?

Breathing fresh air and new ideas into a long-term series isn’t easy when you have a huge solid fan-base. Readers don’t always like drastic changes. Kudos to McDermid for giving readers what they need without them being aware that they need it.

Putting Tony back to square one by destroying his reputation, his career and severing his important relationships is a gutsy move. It’s also one that allows the series to develop in multiple directions. Perhaps not in the way readers expect, but hey that is what makes McDermid such a popular writer.

As Tony resigns himself to life behind bars he also tries to spend it wisely and in a way that supports his fellow prisoners. Unfortunately his very academic and privileged way of thinking can come across as pompous, despite his good intentions.

Meanwhile on the outside members of the old team get a chance to prove themselves whilst out from under the large shadow of Hill and Jordan. Adjusting to a new boss and team isn’t as easy as it sounds. Jordan also has to try and come to terms with the repercussions of multiple traumatic events in order to move forward.

This time the author brings a more reflective read, as opposed to a crime and violence heavy read to the table. In a way McDermid is giving Hill and Jordan a moment to breathe in the chaos. A chance to re-evaluate their relationship and friendship. It will be interesting to see where the author takes the series and characters going forward.

Buy How the Dead Speak at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publication date in UK: 22 August 2019. Publisher: Little, Brown. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Little Brown.

Follow @valmcdermid on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit valmcdermid.com

Read my reviews of Out of Bounds and Insidious Intent by Val McDermid.

Today is Paperback Publication Day for Appetite for Risk by Jack Leavers

It’s Launch weekend for Appetite for Risk by Jack Leavers! Today is Paperback Publication Day for this fast-paced riveting action thriller.

Follow @jackleavers on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit jackleavers.com, Buy Appetite for Risk

About the book

A fast-paced action thriller inspired by real events in the aftermath of the Iraq War.

With Saddam Hussein deposed and an entire country in need of rebuilding, former Royal Marine John Pierce hears the siren call of adventure and opportunity. His fledgling UK business is struggling to support his young family and he has connections in the Iraqi capital – fate seems to point one way.

In early 2004, Pierce rolls the dice when he jumps into a taxi in Jordan and heads for the turmoil of postwar Baghdad to grab a share of the reconstruction gold rush. But when Iraq spirals into the hell of a full-blown insurgency, he must rely on his wits and his local friends if he’s to evade the rampant bloodshed.

As the action rolls across the blood-stained Iraqi landscape and embraces London’s seedy underbelly, Pierce tangles with the authorities at home and finds himself thrust into the heart of British and American covert operations against Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Having set out with little more than ambitious goals and an appetite for risk, can a determined ex-bootneck survive the mounting chaos unscathed and succeed in hitting the jackpot?Review

I think I was somewhere between fascinated and thrown off by the way John has whole conversations with himself inside his head during the majority of the story. It’s written in a constantly flowing and updating journalistic report kind of way, and appears to be an ongoing thought process.

At first John appears to be a man with no threads or connections. The perfect person to move between all parties without inviting too much interest or attracting any for that matter. Not a spy, a silent asset or a company man. He is just someone who will use his expertise and excellent gut instinct to navigate dangerous situations for people who would rather remain hidden.

It’s very much a Jack Reacher kind of read, but with a more grounded family guy, who unfortunately appears to have a voracious appetite for dangerous situations. He is always smack bang in the middle of the action.

What Leavers does spectacularly well is to capture the tension between foreigners and the native inhabitants of Iraq. He doesn’t sugar-coat the volatility, the mistrust or the disdain towards foreign nationals. He straight up gives it to the reader in a brusque manner. Look, this is what happens when the dissidents capture you. Your life has no meaning to them other than honour for relieving the world of an infidel.

It’s a fast-paced riveting action thriller. The main character has a certain charm, which is directly linked to his need for speed and adventure.

Buy Appetite for Risk at Amazon Uk – Paperback – Kindle or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Book Guild Publishing Ltd; Paperback pub date 28 July 2019. Buy at Amazon com – Paperback – Kindle, Buy at Barnes&Noble.

Dead If You Don’t by Peter James

This is book fourteen in the DSI Roy Grace series.

I thought James brought this book back to the roots of Grace a wee bit. It was certainly a fast-paced read from beginning to end, but I am referring to a sense of nostalgia it awakens in relation to the earlier books in the series.

There was less focus on Grace, his family and his personal life, aside from the whole bomb fiasco. Instead the majority of the read is focused on the dirty criminal underworld Grace finds himself pulled into.

The story begins with a horrific scenario when Grace and his son find themselves in a stadium at the same time as the many lives in said stadium are under threat. Somewhere in there is a bomb, which is about to go off at any minute and there is no time to get out before it does. Thus Grace is thrust, head-first into this action packed thriller.

Whilst every ear and eye is on a possible detonation a young boy goes missing. The son of a successful businessman, who also has a nasty gambling habit. The kind of habit that ends up with him being the perfect target for a group of ruthless criminals. The type that doesn’t mind if they kill a kid.

It had the feel of a television show, a weekly series featuring a popular police detective. It’s a sound crime thriller with a decent pace. James tends to deliver a good read though. This is no exception.

It’s very much urban crime meets modern mafia, which is tackled by good ol’ Brit policing.

Buy Dead If You Don’t at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pan Macmillan; pub date 17 May 2018. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @peterjamesuk on Twitter, Visit peterjames.com