The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes was published on 1 January 2015 in paperback by Transworld and is Anna McPartlin's sixth book.
It's almost seven years agThe Last Days of Rabbit Hayes was published on 1 January 2015 in paperback by Transworld and is Anna McPartlin's sixth book.
It's almost seven years ago since I read Pack Up The Moon by Anna McPartlin which is her debut novel, but I do remember that I really enjoyed it. I have no idea why I've not read her later books, no idea at all, but I've just checked my (overflowing) bookshelves and found that I have two of her novels on my to-be-read pile. That thrills me because I have been totally engrossed in The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes for the past couple of days, and really really want to catch up on her other novels that I have sadly neglected.
So, where to begin? The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes deals with a very difficult subject; a subject that will have touched most of us during our lives at some stage. As a woman who is fast approaching the big FIVE OH, breast cancer is something that terrifies me, and to be honest, at first, I thought that I was going to really struggle with this book.
I laughed so hard, I laughed out loud. Yes, laughed. Anna McPartlin has a way with words, a way of describing her characters, and a fine touch for dialogue that despite the seriousness of the subject matter adds another layer to her story. She has created the most wonderful Irish family that I've ever had the pleasure of reading about. My Mother's family are Irish, I've spent a lot of time with them, and I can honestly say that the Hayes family are truly authentic ... and sweary, and rude and oh so funny.
Rabbit Hayes has cancer. She had breast cancer, it went away, it came back and it spread. It wasn't until she fell and broke her leg that anyone realised just how far it had spread. The end is near and Rabbit will spend those last days in a hospice. She will be cared for, and the pain will be monitored and she will be surrounded by her family and closest friends.
Whilst Rabbit is in the hospice she dreams of Johnny Fay, the guy who let her go all those years ago. The reader is treated to different voices throughout the novel, the story is told by Rabbit, her daughter Juliet, her mother Molly, her father Jack, her brother Davey, her sister Grace, her best friend Marjorie, and by Johnny. Each character's voice is perfectly created, individual with their own personality, their own feelings and each one brings so much more to the story.
This really is a beautiful book. At times it is bleak, but it is incredibly moving and funny, there are times when your heart will feel like it is breaking, you will read the final page and feel as though you've been punched, hard, right in the face. You will also recognise the kindness of humanity, the importance of family, and the benefit of laughter....more
Humber Boy B killed a child eight years ago. That child was ten-years-old, and so was Humber Boy B. He was christened Humber Boy B at the time of theHumber Boy B killed a child eight years ago. That child was ten-years-old, and so was Humber Boy B. He was christened Humber Boy B at the time of the court case, and the reader never does find out his given name. He is now known as Ben, he has been released from custody and given a new identity, a new life well away from Hull, and Cate is his probation officer.
We all know of cases like this, the most famous one being the killing of James Bulger, but there have been many children who have killed over the years, and everyone has a view about what should happen to them.
Humber Boy B tells Ben's story from different angles. The reader hears from Ben himself, and from Cate, and we are also taken back to 'the day' - the day of the murder, the day that the small child was pushed to his death from the cold steel railings of the Humber Bridge. In between these viewpoints are excerpts from a Facebook page that has been created by the dead child's mother - it's been set up with the aim of finding Humber Boy B. These excerpts are short, but so chilling. The increased venom and hate posted by users of the Facebook page set the scene for what really is a shocking ending to this story.
Ruth Dugdall draws on her own experiences as a probation officer and writes with intelligence and authenticity. This novel is shocking, it is totally gripping and it is so very chilling. The Humber Bridge is so symbolic throughout this story, it is not just the scene of the crime, it is also a symbol of Ben's other life; his home, his family, his regrets. Whilst Hull will always be home to Ben, his memories are scarred by the pain and neglect that he suffered whilst living there. His uncaring mother, his cruel step-father, the hunger, the deprivation - it was only the love of his older brother Adam that kept him sane.
Humber Boy B is both character driven and issues driven. Ruth Dugdall has populated this novel with characters who are often flawed, but always realistic. She has captured the emotions and feelings that surround cases such as this so well, from the empathic caring Cate who has her own problems to deal with, to the hate-fuelled 'Silent Friend' from Facebook.
Stories such as this will always divide people, but nothing is ever clear-cut and the shocking and very unexpected ending of Humber Boy B turns the whole story on it's head.
This is a chilling psychological thriller that really is difficult to put down, and will leave the reader thinking and considering well after the final page has been turned....more
The Secrets We Share is the story of a family, and is led by Clara Conway. Clara is eighty, she's been a successful business woman, a devoted wife andThe Secrets We Share is the story of a family, and is led by Clara Conway. Clara is eighty, she's been a successful business woman, a devoted wife and a loving mother. Her family have had their problems over the years, and Clara decides that it's time to finally lay things to rest.
Clara's son Max left home over twenty years ago and has never returned. His sister Ava is a troubled, unhappy woman who exudes style and glamour on the outside, but inside she is battling with many demons. Ava was hurt dreadfully when Max left, and finds it difficult to forgive him for the heartbreak his departure caused.
When Clara tracks down Max and his family in America and discovers that she has a seventeen-year-old grand daughter Nathalie, she becomes determined to heal the rifts that have torn apart her family.
Nathalie herself is troubled; she is grieving and confused, and the last thing she expected was to hear from a grandmother who she thought had died many years before. Nor does she want to travel from stylish LA to some back street town in rural Ireland. Despite her fears and her objections, Nathalie arrives at her grandmother's house, and she and Clara start to get to know each other.
Nathalie does not just find her living relatives, she also uncovers secrets from Clara's past. Secrets that have been hidden for many years and that have shaped this family, and caused the rift.
I become totally engrossed in this story which on the face of it appears to be a fairly light read, and whilst it is a very easy read, the author deals with some hard-hitting and sensitive issues, giving the story a depth that I really did not expect.
Emma Hannigan's writing is warm and sincere, she loosely based the plot of The Secrets We Share on her own family history, and the realism and authenticity of her story shines through.
The characters who populate the story are wonderful; Clara is wise, yet sad, she knows that she has made mistakes over the years, and that her actions have caused harm, yet she has learned from this and is determined to make things right. She is quirky and funny and a little bit over the top. Clara's daughter Ava was possibly my favourite character; a complex woman who has hidden depths that she hides from everyone, even herself. Ava stumbles from one disaster to another, never learning and dogged in her desire never to be hurt again. Nathalie is bright and enquiring, she is sad and confused, but has inherited her grandmother's wise ways.
The Secrets We Share is emotional, endearing and very enjoyable. Emma Hannigan is a gifted storyteller. I enjoyed this story so very much....more
It was to be expected that 2014 would be the year of World War I novels. I've read and reviewed some excellent books set in this era already this yearIt was to be expected that 2014 would be the year of World War I novels. I've read and reviewed some excellent books set in this era already this year. Each one of them has been very different, looking at different aspects of the Great War and The Poppy Factory can take it's place alongside these - it's a fascinating, interesting and very well-written story, and had me gripped from the first paragraph.
The Poppy Factory is a dual-time story and opens with Jess, a newly qualified paramedic who completes a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Jess faced the full horror of serving on the front line, dealing with horrific injuries and death on an almost daily basis. Whilst in Afghanistan, Jess coped well, but on her return to civilian life she struggles to adapt and is haunted by flash backs. Jess finds solace in alcohol and alienates those that love her the most. Unable to carry on in the job that she's dreamt of doing for all of her life and wondering if she will ever return to the normal, loving girl that she was before, Jess discovers her great-grandmother Rose's diaries. Written during the Great War of 1914-1918, Rose opens her heart and bares her soul through the diaries.
The Poppy Factory is a wonderful story of life during World War I, especially for the women left behind when their men went off to fight. These women became the breadwinners, they mourned the deaths of so many of their loved ones, they adapted to a life of rationing and making do and bringing up their children alone.
Liz Trenow writes with flair and passion, she has recreated the life of a soldier's wife so well, creating a wholly believable character in Rose.
Despite the advances in technology, travel and the passing of a hundred years, the parallels between these two eras are clear. The fragility of the human brain and body will always remain the same, and the horrors of disability caused by war are still as relevant today. Liz Trenow examines the effect of Post Traumatic Street Disorder on ordinary soldiers and their loved ones, and highlights how modern society has become somewhat more accepting of this debilitating condition.
The Poppy Factory really is a fabulous read. Rose's story is told in diary form which works so well and avoids any 'padding' out - it's straight to the point, and honest. Jess is a more complex character who I was rooting for throughout the book....more
Set against the miner's strike in the early 80s, in a small Yorkshire pit town; Public Battles, Private Wars is a story of a community's fight to survSet against the miner's strike in the early 80s, in a small Yorkshire pit town; Public Battles, Private Wars is a story of a community's fight to survive and one woman's personal journey.
Mandy and Rob married young, and had kids. They live amongst family and friends and Rob followed the rest of his family to work down the pit. Mandy has secret dreams, she wants to learn to type, she regrets her wasted schooldays, and knows that she could do more. Mrs Thatcher threatens to shut the pits, the men go on strike and Mandy uses her love of cooking to head up the soup kitchen. It's not long before she's the spokeswoman for the Action Group - travelling to London, giving talks, being interviewed by the newspapers - using her brain.
What should have brought her and Rob together seems to have pushed them further apart, and when Mandy's old school friend Ruth moves back into town, with her ex-soldier husband Dan, relationships seem to deteriorate even more.
Ruth seems to have it all. A good job, nice clothes, a great figure, money to spend, but Mandy senses that things are not all that they seem between Dan and Ruth.
Laura Wilkinson is great with words. Her fictionalised town of Fenley could be any of the small pit towns in South Yorkshire, her characters have real Northern grit, the language is spot on. This story is authentic and the setting is excellently portrayed.
I particularly enjoyed the fact that whilst Public Battles, Private Wars is set around the miner's strike, it is not wholly consumed by it. The story is more about the people, especially the women, and how they coped and how they grew during the twelve months that the men were out.
A well-written, compelling story with some great characters. Public Battlers, Private Wars is a story that looks at friendships, community, love and jealousy....more
I don't usually read books out of sequence, but I had no idea that The Winter Foundlings was the third instalment of the Alice Quentin series. HoweverI don't usually read books out of sequence, but I had no idea that The Winter Foundlings was the third instalment of the Alice Quentin series. However, this really does not detract from the story in any way. The Winter Foundlings works very well as a stand-alone thriller as the author is adept at incorporating snippets of Alice's past into the current storyline. Saying that, I do really want to go back and read the first two in this series; Crossbones Yard (June 2012), and A Killing of Angels (July 2013).
Alice Quentin is a psychologist and she is usually based in a large London hospital, but has accepted a secondment to Northwood high-secure psychiatric hospital where she is carrying out a research project.
Young girls are being murdered. Four youngsters have gone missing, three bodies have been found and the third girl is still missing. The disappearances and killings bear the trademark of Louis Kinsella, a serial killer who is a patient at Northwood. Alice is asked to interview him, to try to get him to shed some light on what is happening.
The Winter Foundlings is a very well researched story that depicts life in a modern high-security hospital extremely well. The author writes authentically about both the patients and the staff of the unit. As a working environment, a high-security hospital is pretty unique and the staff develop a close bond with each other, along with a sense of humour that is often misunderstood. Kate Rhodes has managed to convey the strange world of life behind locked doors and barred windows, whilst still keeping the reader intrigued in a very clever plot that has red herrings and twists and turns throughout.
Alice Quentin is a great character. It is clear that she has battled her own demons, and carries a far bit of baggage about her past. I will be interested to discover more about her relationship with her mother and her brother Will who both appear fleetingly in this story.
The human brain is a complex machine and when a wire becomes loose, or the chemicals within it become unbalanced we are often presented with psychotic and violent behaviour. Louis Kinsella is most certainly a psychopath; extremely intelligent, manipulative and a cold-blooded killer. Kate Rhodes has created a monster who reminded me at times of Hannibal Lector and John Kramer from the Saw movies.
I enjoyed The Winter Foundlings very much. I enjoyed the chase to discover the truth about the killings, I enjoyed the cast of multi-layered and realistic characters and I enjoyed the setting. Kate Rhodes has created an excellent lead character in Alice Quentin, I'm really looking forward to reading more in this series....more
No Name Lane by Howard Linskey will be published by Penguin on 12 March 2015 in paperback.
No Name Lane is a long book, it runs to almost 500 pages, buNo Name Lane by Howard Linskey will be published by Penguin on 12 March 2015 in paperback.
No Name Lane is a long book, it runs to almost 500 pages, but despite the length, it is an accessible, quite simple story.
Set in the North East of England, in a fairly average, if a little run-down, ex-mining village, this is the first instalment in a new crime series that fans of Peter Robinson and Stuart MacBride will enjoy.
DC Ian Bradshaw is a young, troubled copper. He's out of favour with the top brass of the force, and with his colleagues. There is a serial killer on the loose, he targets young girls and the investigating team have no leads, and no ideas. Bradshaw is desperate to work on the case, but instead, he finds himself on the outskirts of the team, concentrating on trying to discover the identity of a recently uncovered skeleton. It's clear that this is an old case, and Bradshaw despairs of finding anyone in the village who can shed light on a murder that took place sixty years ago.
Tom Carney is in a similar place to Bradshaw. A local who left to work as a journalist on a tabloid newspaper in London, he too finds himself excluded from his team. He made a huge mistake, and has returned to his old stomping ground to nurse his wounds. Tom soon finds himself caught up in both the current investigation and the decades old murder. Teaming up with local reporter Helen, Tom is determined that this story will be the one that proves to his editor that he really is a great journalist.
Howard Linskey has created a fast-moving and intricate story. The plot moves at a fast pace, throwing up surprises and unexpected discoveries at every turn. His characters are well drawn, if a little predictable in this genre; with the troubled detective and the well-worn journalist with issues of his own.
The North East setting is described so well, with the bluntness and wry humour of the people of the region expertly woven into the dialogue.
Gritty, with an intriguing plot; No Name Lane is a great start to this new series, I look forward to reading more about Bradshaw and Carney in the future.
My thanks to Real Readers who sent my copy for review...more