#Review of My Awesome Autism by Nikki Saunders @NRSaundersbooks #autism #edutwitter #childrensbook #picturebook #primaryrocks #libraries

My Awesome Autism
By Nikki Saunders
Rated: 5 stars *****

If I were asked to describe this book in 3 words, they would be:
Bold, Creative and Positive!
The rest of the review can be discovered below, after the blurb.

my awesome autism cover

Blurb

We Are All Different! That’s Wonderful! Some Differences Are Easy To See…
A book about autism and diversity. This book is the first step to providing a communicational gateway for your child to learn about their autism in a positive and nurturing way.

Whilst delivering such love and reassurance, your child can enjoy the stimulating, colourful illustrations with you, and later revisit upon the child’s experiences thereafter.

my awesome autism cover

Review

This is such a positive and uplifting book that child-educators and parents/caregivers can all enjoy with children. It can be used for those with autism or even to help provide empathy and understanding to those who do not. All children can gain something from this book. The fact that everything is backed up with positive and warm words of love may make lots of children smile and perhaps feel good about themselves. It could also have that effect on families and teachers too as they read it with their child(ren).

Each page is simply illustrated in large brightly coloured pictures that bring the story to life. So, nothing too intricate and not too busy either.

It has a terrific accrostic using the word “Autism”. It is super positive. The book then goes on to show that everyone is different from hair to skin colour to skills to observation.

There’s a really clever picture within the book that demonstrates observation perfectly. It is drawn in a way that it could be a duck and a rabbit and asks which you see first. It reassures it doesn’t matter, just that people are different in what they initially see, both are right.

The book then goes on to demonstrating that people’s senses, feelings, likes and dislikes can all be different and each is backed up with still promoting that message of Love.

There’s an affirmation about being Amazing!

There’s a section on how everyone has strengths and weaknesses and how some people may find certain things trickier than others. It’s backed up with reassurance that this is ok!

Twitter Link  @NRSaundersbooks

 

The Descent by Matt Brolly @MattBrollyUK will keep you guessing #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Thriller #Review

The Descent
By Matt Brolly
Rated: 4 stars ****

Bestselling author – Matt Brolly, writes two series – The DCI Lambert Series and The Detective Louise Blackwell series. The Descent is part of The Detective Louise Blackwell series.

The Descent is set in the lovely seaside location of Weston-Super-Mare and gives the impression of a somewhat idyllic town, before throwing readers into something more sinister that turns it all upside down.

I thank Matt Brolly and Thomas & Mercer for allowing me to review as I’d been hoping to get a chance to review from one of the series for awhile.
Discover the blurb, review and about the author below, including website and Twitter links.

The Descent cover

Blurb

Were they pushed to the edge—or over it?

In the quiet coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, a body is discovered at the foot of a cliff just months after a near-identical tragedy—and Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell can’t believe it could be a coincidence.

Next to the body, she discovers a note that echoes one found beside the first: Death is not the end. Louise is certain that behind these desperate acts someone is pulling the strings, but how many more will plunge to their demise before she can find out who—and why?

Struggling to stay focused under the strain of her troubled brother’s disappearance with his young daughter, Louise hits a much-needed breakthrough when a third tragedy points to the involvement of a charismatic cult leader. The suspect is within her sights, but he knows she’s on to him…

Short on proof and with the body count rising, can Louise intercept his deadly mission—or has she taken on an unbeatable foe?

Review

The book asks, did she jump, did she not? What are the strange notes? 

The book is well-crafted as there is time to get to know the area, the characters and the story feels really well developed.

The prologue gives a great feel to Weston-Super-Mare, the setting of this book. So, even, if you haven’t physically travelled there before, you certainly can with ease with this book.

Amy Carlisle is one of the main characters , who is also within a group with Jay and Megan. Megan has been sleeping rough in Bristol (perfectly reasonable to travel from Bristol to Weston-Super-Mare).
Jay, Megan and Amy belong to a group to talk about their experiences of homelessness over tea that is not your normal breakfast tea and has unusual, interesting effects. It’s a great beginning to set the scene and introduce the chararcters before, in chapter one, readers meet, DI Louise Blackwell and her niece – Emily and within this family there’s domestic strife as all isn’t as harmonious as it could be.

The unfolding story is emotional and is well-written as it throws up social issues and also the crime itself, all intertwined to paint a picture of what’s really going on in terms of the mystery and today’s society.

There’s a body of a young woman discovered, presumed suicide by jumping, since a note is left. The crime scene on the backdrop of the sea and sand of Weston-Supermare creates a good setting and pace, which  makes it a book that you can sit back and relax with. The characters are ones that it was a pleasure to get to know and there’s a nice building up of the town and the areas where the book is set. There are also little bits about issues, such as the run-down high street that is thought-provoking of some human activity as it shows it used to be busy but hardly anyone uses it anymore, so it became shabby and many shops closed.
As the story moves on, so does the body count and the notes as the intrigue builds to whether notes that have also appeared before are connected or not. Matt Brolly is good at creating the mood and really humanising his characters with emotion and natural worry in case mistakes were made and wraps them all up well amongst the case itself.

The writing is well-rounded and done well, with characters to really get into and there’s enough to keep people guessing. It does feel between police procedural and thriller in some ways in its detailing, but all the same, it is a book that readers can really get into and makes the writing well rounded. It also means you can really get to know the surroundings, the issues and the people that make up this story in Weston-Super-Mare.

About the Author

@MattBrollyUK

www.mattbrolly.co.uk

Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky, Dead Embers and Dead Time. A prequel, Dead Water, will be released by Oblong Books in July 2019. In addition he is the author of the acclaimed near future crime novel, Zero.

May 2019 saw the release of a new thriller, The Controller, and in 2020 the first of a new crime series set in the West Country of the UK will be released by Thomas and Mercer(Amazon Publishing)

Matt also writes children’s books as M.J. Brolly. His first children’s book, The Sleeping Bug, is released by Oblong Books in December 2018.

Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

Sweet Sorrow is now in Paperback – #Review of this #Fiction #SummerRead by @DavidNWriter

Sweet Sorrow
By David Nicholls
Rated: 4 stars ****

As Sweet Sorrow is now in paperback in the UK and is being released in the US, I thought I would re-blog my review, that I first published quite some time ago now as it would make a very good summer read if you haven’t read it yet.
Check out the lovely new cover for the paperback version, about the author, the blurb and review. 

About the Author

David Nicholls is the bestselling author of USONE DAYSTARTER FOR TEN and THE UNDERSTUDY. His novels have sold over 8 million copies worldwide and are published in forty languages. David’s fifth novel, SWEET SORROW, was published by Hodder in July 2019. 

David trained as an actor before making the switch to writing. He is an award-winning screenwriter, with TV credits including the third series of Cold Feet, a much-praised modern version of Much Ado About NothingThe 7.39 and an adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. David wrote the screenplays for Great Expectations (2012) and Far from the Madding Crowd (2015, starring Carey Mulligan). He has twice been BAFTA nominated and his recent adaptation of Patrick Melrose from the novels by Edward St Aubyn won him an Emmy nomination. 

His bestselling first novel, STARTER FOR TEN, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 2004, and in 2006 David went on to write the screenplay of the film version.

His third novel, ONE DAY, was published in 2009 to extraordinary critical acclaim, and stayed in the Sunday Times top ten bestseller list for ten weeks on publication. ONE DAY won the 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year Award.

David’s fourth novel, US, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014 and was another no. 1 Sunday Times bestseller. In 2014, he was named Author of the Year .

 

Sweet Sorrow

Blurb

One life-changing summer
Charlie meets Fran…

In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.

But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.

 

Review

Sweet Sorrow – part of a quote of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.” Sweet Sorrow is one of the themes that runs throughout the book and one that David Nicholls deals with great skill to create a story of a man in his thirties looking back at life when he was 16 in 1997.

The beginning is dramatic to say the least: The world would end on Thursday at 3:55pm after the disco. That is what is decided in the world of school leavers on their last day of school. I must say, it certainly grabs attention. The graffiti and the scrawled messages on shirts friends messages is something many will be able to relate to. The last day of term is perfectly described with an almost tangible atmosphere and one which so many people would remember from their school days. There’s the usual teacher and lovers dancing to the slow music. There’s the awkwardness of people too such as between Charlie and Helen and when Charlie Lewis danced with Emily, who has more feelings for him that he does for her, which is such sweet sorrow. There’s also the worrying of exam results and the thoughts of completely failing.

There is some really touching writing when Charlie wishes he spoke to his school friends more. This in itself is thought-provoking about the way society can be now and back then and made me wonder how many people wish they just made that little bit more effort to keep in touch with others, and how in the future, even with all the technology to hand, there may be people who wish they had kept in touch with others more and differently. David Nicholls in his writing just seems so insightful.

Charlie’s life is not an easy one. His mum started a new life and job. This means a lot of caring for his dad, where there is a plenty of worrying times. The book highlights that sometimes life is unfair at times and can be really tough.

David Nicholls does give his main character – Charlie Lewis some hope when he meets Fran Fisher and his life changes. She belongs to the Full Fathom Five Theatre Co-operative, who are rehearsing Romeo and Juliet. He ended up joining the group, not that he really wanted to, he only wanted Fran’s phone number. David Nicholls shows great understanding and observation of young love and writes it characteristically of that age.

Later in the book there’s a party that is attended by Charlie. It is illustrated through the wonderful descriptions. Fran and Charlie do have their first kiss and it is a really lovely , tender romantic scene is painted. The writing is evocative and is so beautifully and tastefully written. As the book moves on readers will find out about what happens within this relationship.

The story twists and turns in the most unexpected ways as incidents happen and the book gathers a bit more pace as the tone changes.

There’s sweet sorrow again, like there was on that last day of school, but this time on the performance days of Romeo and Juliet through the description of mixed feelings of sadness it will be over with, but also glad. There are some heartwarming moments of his dad and what he thinks of his son acting his part out.

The book has a great ending and in its closing pages, it takes readers to years later and it makes for some very interesting reading to see what happened to the characters, now they have grown up.

Ultimately, David Nicholls captures adolescence very well. It is moving, holds some humour within it, amongst some sadness, bittersweetness, sweet sorrow within the big themes of life, which are written exquisitely. It is a vivid book. It is so picturesque in some of the descriptions and yet nothing is over described.  It is written exceptionally well and whether you have read a book by David Nicholls before or not, I recommend you give this perceptive book a read.     

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours #TheSkelfs #BlogTour #Review #NewBook #Thriller

The Big Chill
By Doug Johnstone
Rated: 5 stars *****

I hadn’t read any of Doug Johnstone’s books before, but I am very glad I have had the opportunity to read and review now. It turns out he’s very good in what he writes and I can see why he’s so critically accalimed. The Big Chill is a very good thriller that has depth of character and plot to it.
Discover more about this Edinburgh based author, the blurb and my review.
I also thank Orenda Books for supplying me with a book and Anne for inviting me on the blog tour.

About the Author

Doug Johnstone Author PicMcIlvanney-shortlisted Doug Johnstone’s follow-up to his critically acclaimed A Dark Matter, which introduced three generations of women from the Skelf family, who run both a funeral home and a private investigation business.
Doug Johnstone is the author of more ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

The Big Chill Cover

Blurb

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver ’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.
But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.

The Big Chill Cover

Review

Meet Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. They each have a chapter that rotates as the story goes along.

Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, the writing is well-plotted and enthralling, throughout. The Big Chill is interesting, intriguing and tightly written. I like the chapters alternating between each of the people mentioned above. Their parts that create the bigger picture of the story, are all interwoven well.
There are some cleverly placed film references in the book, which is enjoyable and quite different.

Dorothy and Jenny like being surrounded by dead people. Work takes them between the funeral parlour and being a Private Investagator.
Jenny is hired to find evidence of Orla, Liam’s wife, having an affair with the gardener.

Hannah on the other-hand is getting therapy because of something that happened to her dad.

There’s a fabulous energy through the main characters, fuelled by their anger of what happened to Hannah’s dad. It’s just very realistically written and allows readers to feel their anger and feel compassion for them.

It’s an interesting subject to write about – death in the way this book is written. There’s death, but there’s also a person with a psychological condition that is under control, but has made him believe he was dead.

The story looks a bit into what goes on in a funeral parlour, which is fairly different and how different people have died, which is fascinatingly written into this fictional book.

There’s deaths, including a murder, a case to be solved once as there is a suspect and at the heart of it all is Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. I enjoyed both the thriller element and how their lives are revealed.

I also like the tones within it and that whole pussy-footing around trying not to say the word “dead” to Hannah and her saying that it is okay to say “dead” to her is so realistically done. There is also the sadness, but also the compelling nature of this thriller, with a little bit of humour mixed in, that makes each page so enticing to read.

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Awakening – Musings on Planetary Survival by Sam Love @Samlovepoet @fly_press #poetry #ecology #environment #Awakening

Awakening –
Musings on Planetary Survival

by Sam Love
Rated: 3.5 stars

Climate Change is an emotive and provocative topic. It has been for many a decade with people from all sorts of backgrounds and generations coming together to make a point; to bring about change and to raise awareness, to also do our bit, be it changing how we travel, tend to nature, recycle etc. I do it and I’m sure a lot of you do it too. Now Sam Love has thrown his hat into the ring and come up with topical poetry, which does contain a bit of humour….. until you realise it is a reflection on what is actually going on.
I thank Isabelle Kenyon for inviting me on her latest Fly on the Wall Press blog tour. I also thank Sam Love for providing me with his book.

Discover more about the book below in the blurb and review.

Awakening cover

Blurb

Far from a doom and gloom autopsy of the contemporary environmental crisis, ‘Awakening’ indulges in fun. From the craziness of shipping bottled water 6,000 miles, to how bacteria evolves for a counterattack, this collection laughs at humanity’s war on nature. After reading Love’s poetry, you will never look at nature in the same way.

Awakening cover 2

Review

Split into sections – Awakenings, Origins, Impacts, Recovering Hope; this is a book of musings/poetry that focuses on the environment. It is thought-provoking about how the planet is, how human activity has an impact to, even like in “The Web” how people are perhaps wakening up, a bit anyway to the impact that altering one part of the food chain has an adverse effect on the bees, which of course everything needs to survive. It also goes a little into how people take things for granted. Taking things for granted is also echoed in “Awakening” and how it isn’t until something has disappeared that people realise what they have lost. This isn’t about the future or the past. It’s about the present. People mourn shops, libraries, forests, fields that have already been lost but there’s always a lead up, a road to things changing and being lost from the types of some human activity and the choices they make.

Origins talks about carbon footprint, especially in “Crazy Water” about the distance bottled water travels in the illusion of health. It also talks of composting to be good for the soil.

Impacts is exactly that as it shows this and some, perhaps solutions and how things work within the planet.

Recovering Hope in the end asks what’s “Your Legacy” going to be, whether it is planting a tree or walking or cycling more.

This book of poetry does get its messages across to get people talking and thinking. I think that’s partly where it is good is the main crux of it all, most is agreeable with parts, some parts aren’t quite, but then that will probably be the same with most people. The quality of the writing goes between being great to okay in this one. Never-the-less, the message, of which is an important one, of having to participate in looking after the planet is strongly there.

Awakening Blog Tour

#Review of the gritty – Snatched From Home by Graham Smith @GrahamSmith1972 @NightsBooks @RandomTTours #CrimeFiction #blogtour

Snatched From Home
By Graham Smith
Rated: 4 stars ****

A kidnapping that leads to blackmail and the first case for DI John Campbell to solve before time runs out is the crux of this gripping case.
Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me and for her and Graham Smith and Caffeine Nights Publishing for sending me a copy of the book.
Discover the blurb and review and a bit about this crime fiction author in Scotland, below.

Snatched From Home

Blurb

DI Harry Evans – Book 1

What would you do to save your children?

Middle-class parents Victoria and Nicholas Foulkes are distraught when their children are kidnapped against Nicholas’ gambling debts. Penniless and desperate the couple turn to crime as a way to raise the ransom.

Hot on their heels is recently bereaved DI Harry Evans and his Major Crimes team. Evans is fighting against enforced retirement and his replacement – DI John Campbell – is foisted upon him along with other cases. If he must leave the police then he wants one last big case before he goes.

In a race against time Victoria and Nicholas must evade the police while continuing to add to the ransom fund. If they don’t pay up on time the kidnappers have threatened to amputate their children’s limbs with an oxy-acetylene torch.

Can they save their children before time runs out?

Review

From page one, the action begins and spirals into any parent’s worst nightmare of a child being abducted in this gritty, fast-paced crime book. The setting is Carlisle, around the Lake District and the Scottish borders.

Victoria is left in tears but with a grit and determination to get her children, Samantha and Kyle back. It wasn’t a chance kidnapping either. It was all planned to force her into repaying debts that her husband – Nicholas, has and it takes a toll on the family.

DCI Peter Grantham and DI Campbell and DI Harry Evans are the detectives on the case. There’s no “pussy-footing” around with these guys and they certainly don’t “mince” their words. DI Campbell got the transfer he wanted out of Glasgow to Cumbria. Apart from dealing with crimes, there’s the more sociable side to them too, like talk of ‘pop-culture’. They’re definitely not a fan of the ‘pen-pushers’. They’re pretty rough and ready.

Every so often, in a manner that flows well, the book goes back to the children and their captives.

The characters that are created are engaging and pretty hard-hitting and no-nonsense. There are degrees of tension that ascends throughout.

About the Author

graham-smith-author-photo- (1)Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and four novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder. His ‘Lakes’ series which has three novels featuring DC Beth Young has received much critical acclaim.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Graham can be found at:

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor
Twitter
https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972
Website
http://www.grahamsmithauthor.com

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