Difference between revisions of "Book Reviews From The Bookbag"

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search
Line 24: Line 24:
|summary=Tam Hardie had been determined to find the grave - and it took some finding, in an overgrown old cemetery.  It was a strange thing for Scotland's premier criminal to do, but Tam was getting old and there were things he wanted to do.  Only, his family didn't hear from him again after he'd said that he'd found the grave - the one which said that it shouldn't be opened - and his three sons began to worry.  Tam Junior, Frankie and Dave wouldn't normally go to the police but they weren't certain where their father had been and they were worried.
|summary=Tam Hardie had been determined to find the grave - and it took some finding - in an overgrown old cemetery.  It was a strange thing for Scotland's premier criminal to do, but Tam was getting old and there were things he wanted to do.  Only, his family didn't hear from him again after he'd said that he'd found the grave - the one which said that it shouldn't be opened - and his three sons began to worry.  Tam Junior, Frankie and Dave wouldn't normally go to the police but they weren't certain where their father had been and they were worried.

Revision as of 14:10, 19 July 2021

Reviews by readers from all the many walks of literary life. With author interviews, features and top tens. You'll be sure to find something you'll want to read here. Dig in!

Find us on Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter, Follow us on Instagram Instagram and LinkedIn

There are currently 15,829 reviews at TheBookbag.

Want to find out more about us?

The Best New Books

Read new reviews by category.

Read the latest features.

Read reviews of books about to be published.


Review of

Dead Man's Grave (DS Max Craigie) by Neil Lancaster

4star.jpg Crime

Tam Hardie had been determined to find the grave - and it took some finding - in an overgrown old cemetery. It was a strange thing for Scotland's premier criminal to do, but Tam was getting old and there were things he wanted to do. Only, his family didn't hear from him again after he'd said that he'd found the grave - the one which said that it shouldn't be opened - and his three sons began to worry. Tam Junior, Frankie and Dave wouldn't normally go to the police but they weren't certain where their father had been and they were worried. Full Review


Review of

The Tiny Gestures of Small Flowers by Emily Critchley

3star.jpg General Fiction

The Tiny Gestures of Small Flowers had all the hallmarks of something good. I was intrigued by the plot, liked the design of the book, and thought the author's work sounded interesting. From the outset it all looked incredibly promising. So what on earth went wrong here? Full Review


Review of

Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan

4.5star.jpg Thrillers

If you're of a certain vintage, it's hard to read the words Good Neighbours without adding a sing-song that's when Good Neighbours…become…good friends. Maple Street is no Ramsay Street, though, Arlo and Gertie live a world apart from the Melbourne suburbs. They're one of 18 households on the crescent, quite new arrivals having moved in a year earlier. They're not quite like all the other families (he's an ex rocker, she's a former beauty queen) but they've made some friends and their kids have settled in, and it's all going ok. Until it isn't. One hot, clammy, sticky, sweaty summer, a sinkhole opens up in the park across the way. It's a revolting mess of dirt and chaos, but for the residents of Maple Street, the worst is yet to come. Full Review


Review of

The Small Things by Lisa Thompson

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Although Anna has friends at school, she feels like she never really fits in. Her family don't have enough money to let her do after school activities, and so she feels like her life at home is boring in comparison to theirs. When a new girl joins her class, Anna is asked to partner her, but things are complicated because the new girl, Ellie, is unwell and so can't attend school in person. Instead, she joins in with the class by using a robot. Can Anna overcome the challenge of making friends with someone through a robot, and is she even interesting enough to be a good friend to Ellie? Full Review


Review of

We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba

5star.jpg Politics and Society

To be a dark-skinned Black woman is to be seen as less desirable, less hireable, less intelligent and ultimately less valuable than my light-skinned counterparts... We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba

0.7% of English Literature GCSE students in England study a book by a writer of colour while only 7% study a book by a woman. The Bookseller 29 June 2021

Otegha Uwagba came to the UK from Kenya when she was five years old. Her sisters were seven and nine. It was her mother who came first, with her father joining them later. The family was hard-working, principled and determined that their children would have the best education possible. There was always a painful awareness of money although this did not translate into a shortage of anything: it was simply carefully harvested. When Otegha was ten the family acquired a car. For Otegha, education meant a scholarship to a private school in London and then a place at New College, Oxford. Full Review


Review of

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

4star.jpg Thrillers

Lucy Locke's early life hadn't been easy but she'd built a good and decent life in the aftermath. She's now married to Daniel, who co-owns Locke-Povey Marine on Penleith Beach, and they live at Wild Ridge on Mortis Point with Billie, Lucy's daughter and Fin, the child she had with Daniel. They have financial difficulties, some caused by Nick Povey, Daniel's partner and so-called best friend. Nick and Daniel have a history together from the time they both spent in a children's home but it's difficult to think that Nick has Daniel's best interests at heart, particularly where Lucy, or money, is concerned. Full Review


Review of

Kate on the Case by Hannah Peck

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Kate, although I got the impression she'd rather be a Catherine – and one specific Catherine at that. For Catherine Rodriguez is Kate's idol, and the author of our heroine's favourite possession, The Special Correspondent Manual. Armed with a plucky father, that book, and her talking mouse called Rupert, she is all equipped to manage a train ride to the Arctic, to see her scientist mother for the first time in yonks. However, this is a train ride with a difference, for on board is a greedy-seeming harridan and her cat, a thief – and two glowing eyes, shining from the darkness in a blink-and-you'll-miss-them style. It's definitely a case for a new young investigative journalist... Full Review


Review of

Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt: Archibald Lox series, Volume 2, book 1 of 3 by Darren Shan

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

The second trilogy in Shan's Merge saga opens with our hero, Archie, back in London in the world of the Born. It's not been easy, explaining to his foster parents where he's been, or slipping back into ordinary life and forgetting about Inez and his other friends in the Merge, but Archie has done his best.... well, except for visiting veteran locksmith Winston in Big Ben's clock tower and except for fiddling with that sneaky master lock in Seven Dials every time he can sneak away. Full Review


Review of

My Mess is a Bit of Life: Adventures in Anxiety by Georgia Pritchett

4star.jpg Autobiography

Georgia Pritchett has always been anxious, even as a child. She would worry about whether the monsters under the bed were comfortable: it was the sort of life where if she had nothing to worry about she would become anxious but such occasions were few and far between. On a visit to a therapist, as an adult, when she was completely unable to speak about what was wrong with her it was suggested that she should write it down and My Mess is a Bit of a Life: Adventures in Anxiety is the result - or so we are given to believe. Full Review


Review of

The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Faith's family home is teetering on the edge of a cliff, literally. Is that crack in the garden getting bigger? Is the house starting to slope a little? And as the house seems to be falling apart, so is Faith's family. Her dad has disappeared, and her mum is struggling to cope, barely leaving her bed. So that leaves Faith in charge, taking care of her little brother Noah, taking care of her mum, feeding everyone, getting Noah to school, and avoiding awkward questions from interfering teachers. Is her little brother okay? Why is he obsessed with what he claims is a ghost in the cellar? What should she do about the house? Can she find a way to raise enough money to fix it? What's happened to her dad? Why did he disappear? Maybe he'll come back if she manages to get funding for the house? She carries the weight of all these worries on her constantly, and she doesn't know how much longer the cliff will hold together, or how long she can keep on keeping on. Full Review


Review of

Risk of Harm by Lucie Whitehouse

4.5star.jpg Crime

DCI Robin Lyons is back in her native Birmingham after her less-than-comfortable departure from the Met. She might have been reinstated but the whole episode left a nasty taste in her mouth. She was now working for Detective Chief Superintendent Samir Jaffrey - then the man who had broken her heart nearly twenty years before. She and her fifteen-year-old daughter have moved out of her parent's home into a rented house but there's still a difficult situation with her brother Luke who has gone out of his way to make life difficult for Robin since she was a young child. He's married to Natalie, now and has a young child but he's still got it in for Robin. Full Review


Review of

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

4.5star.jpg Thrillers

Sometimes I wonder if I take my pleasures too sadly - and The First Day of Spring was one such occasion. The writing is superb and completely compelling. The characterisation is excellent and the plot grips you and won't let go. So, what's the problem? Well, the problem is Chrissie, the main character. When we first meet her she's just eight years old, small for her age and she readily tells us that she's just killed someone - a two-year-old boy. She's completely cold about what she's done with her main memory being that whilst she was killing - suffocating - her hands seized up. There's a clue that Chrissie isn't completely responsible for her actions a little later in the book: when will Steven come back, she wonders? Hasn't he been dead for long enough? Full Review


Review of

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman

4.5star.jpg Thrillers

British actress Mia Eliot is on the cusp of success. Great success. If the rumours are true, award season is going to treat her well, acknowledging her for her latest, critically acclaimed production. She's going places but so, unfortunately, is her partner. And the places he's going take him towards lies, deceit and a pretty young thing in the form of his new co-star. It's a good time for Mia to escape, and pilot season in LA provides just the excuse. Full Review


Review of

Madrigal: A Closely Guarded Secret by Christophe Medler

4star.jpg Historical Fiction

Set against the backdrop of the English Civil War, a secret plan (code-named Madrigal) is discovered by Sir Robert Douse in the summer of 1642. As a loyal servant of the King, and Head of the Secret Service, it is Robert's duty to uncover the details of the plan and follow the clues to uncover one of the most guarded secrets in history—especially since the plot could affect the King. Full Review


Review of

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

4star.jpg Fantasy

On the night of her sacred burning, Princess Malini defies her brother and refuses to step on to the pyre. She is immediately sent to be imprisoned on the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once filled with a community of people who got powers from the mysterious deathless waters. But now the temple is nothing more than an overgrown, decaying ruin. One day, Malini witnesses a girl kill someone with magic. Instead of reporting her for such a gruesome crime, Malini claims that the girl saved her from an attacker and begs for the girl to become her own personal maidservant. Full Review


Review of

The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry

4star.jpg Thrillers

Sarah Wallace said that she grew up on a council estate in Kent and that she had two brothers and two sisters. It seemed to have been a loving, stable family. When we first meet her, she can't sleep because her son, Freddie, who's nearly sixteen, hasn't come home by the time he sort of half-promised he'd be in by. Her husband, Tom, is fast asleep: they're moving house in the morning but he's still going to be going to work and he needs his sleep. He wakes, though, when Freddie does come in and overhears him tell his mother that he's killed someone. Full Review


Review of

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

4star.jpg Thrillers

Joseph Knox, known for his series surrounding Detective Aidan Waits, has created a new genre with his latest novel, "True Crime Story". The story follows the disappearance of Zoe Nolan from her university halls of residence. Split into four parts, the reader is taken through the life and disappearance of Zoe through the eyes of her twin sister, other family, friends and professionals, such as the police. The various accounts help the reader get to know Zoe, or at least the Zoe she presented to others. However, the twists and turns at the end of each chapter leave you shocked, confused and unsure of what is true or fabricated. Whose accounts can we trust? Full Review


Review of

No, No, No! by Justine Avery and Naday Meldova

4star.jpg For Sharing

They say the best picture books are the simplest ones. And nothing could be truer of this latest from Justine Avery, a Bookbag favourite.

No, No, No! is based around the simplest text imaginable.

No, no, no! Okay, okay. Yes, you may.

That's it! But, like all the best picture books, this tiny snippet of text is a veritable tardis - so much bigger on the inside that it appears on the outside. Full Review


Review of

Against a Peacock Sky by Monica Connell

5star.jpg Travel

Monica Connell went to Nepal to do the fieldwork for her Ph.D. in social anthropology. I think it is important to know that. She went on a grant-supported trip, with a relatively specific objective. She wasn't a hippy wanderer looking for Shangri-la. She wasn't a mere tourist passing through. She went with a fundamental aim of learning about these people and how they lived. She also went, presumably, with the academic discipline of how to find these things out, how to organise them in her mind, how to "understand" them in the context of her own paradigms, and how to keep enough notes and files and photos to help her create some greater sense of the experience after the event. Fortunately, she also went with a sense of open-ness and curiosity and a willingness to muck-in, to break her own rules and to truly connect with the people of the village where she hauled up. Full Review


Review of

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

5star.jpg Crime

Mariana was convinced that Professor Edward Fosca had committed two murders and looked likely to get away with them both. She needed to think carefully about what she knew and decide how she should proceed.

Everything - or so she thought - had begun with the death of Tara Hampton on the Paradise nature reserve in Cambridge. She'd been brutally stabbed and Mariana's niece, Zoe, had telephoned her in distress. Tara had been her best friend and she was struggling to cope. Mariana wasn't entirely happy about having to go to Cambridge, but she caught the first fast train from King's Cross. Mariana and Zoe were close and had been made all the more so by the death of Mariana's husband, Sebastian, in a swimming accident on Naxos some fourteen months earlier. Zoe had been their surrogate daughter after the death of Zoe's mother and Mariana's sister, Eliza. Full Review


Review of

Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths by Maisie Chan

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Danny is eleven years old, and what he really, really loves to do is draw. He creates fantastical comics, whilst his best friend Ravi adds the words. Danny's dad, however, wants Danny to concentrate on his maths, and forget about the drawing, because he says nobody can make a living from drawing! At least Danny has his own room, where he can draw in secret and in peace. But then one day his parents tell him they have a surprise for him, and this surprise turns out to be his grandmother who has come over from China to live with them, and who will not only be sharing Danny's bedroom but she will also be sleeping on the top bunk of his bunk bed! Danny is horrified! His Nai Nai (grandmother) speaks no English, and Danny finds himself forced into being her babysitter, and showing her around the town. Poor Danny, stuck on a maths project, frustrated with his bedroom situation, and then he even has a falling out with Ravi...how on earth will things ever get better?! Full Review


Review of

Rabbits by Terry Miles

4.5star.jpg Science Fiction

Welcome to the world of The Game. Or should that be the game, for while it ought to be capitalised to high heaven, it never leaves lower case throughout this book. It's also called Rabbits, although only as a slangy term for it – as far as anyone knows, it has no official title, no official source, no hard and fast structure, and to the average person no obvious entry point. A bit like the game of life then. Yes, this is the game of life for a certain tribe of people – the fan of the conspiracy, the computer game, the hack from the darkest of webs. People like our hero, K, named like that in the least Kafkaesque manner possible. K and his bezzies are trying to be historians of the game, and have studied amongst many things the most unique of high score boards, for the lists of who has successfully won the game are in the most peculiar places, and are still very short. However this time it's different. This time the game seems the most dangerous, nay lethal, the most broken it's ever been – morally and otherwise. Unfortunately for K, in trying to sort out what the game is doing, if it's even being played, and how his loved ones might be kept safe, he is only to find out that the line between observing and learning about the game, and playing it, is a very thin one indeed... Full Review


Review of

Widowland by C J Carey

4star.jpg General Fiction

It's April 1953, and Adolf Hitler's schedule includes going to Moscow to attend the state funeral of Joseph Stalin then within weeks coming to London, parading around a bit, and watching over the sanctioned return to the throne of Edward VIII with his wife, Queen Wallis. For yes, Britain caved in the lead-up to the World War Two that certainly didn't happen as we know it, and we are now a protectorate – well, we share enough of the same blood as the Germanic peoples on the mainland. But this is most certainly a different Britain, for Nazi-styled phrenology, and ideas of female purpose, has put all of that gender into a caste system, ranging from high-brow office bigwigs to the drudges, and beyond those, right on down to the childless, the husbandless and the widows. Female literacy is actively discouraged. And in this puritanical existence, our heroine, Rose Ransom, is employed with the task of bowdlerising classical literature to take all encouragement for female emancipation out of it – after all, not every book can be banned, and not every story excised immediately from British civilisation, and so they just get a hefty tweak towards the party line before they're stamped ready for reprint. That is her job, at least, until the first emerging signs of female protest come to light, with their potential to spoil Hitler's visit. Full Review


Review of

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

4star.jpg General Fiction

Veronica is a devoted single mother to her son, Sebastian - but she can't give him everything he wants. Sebastian has decided that it's time for him to have sex. But as an autistic 20 year-old, that's easier said than done. And it's starting to cause them both problems. Full Review


Review of

Cape Henry House by Jolly Walker Bittick

4star.jpg General Fiction

Meet Bosner, or, to give him his full title, Petty Officer Third Class Bosner. We never really find out if he has a first name: there's merely a hint that he had the nickname 'Secretary' at one point. He's simply Bosner to one and all. When we first encounter him he's exploring his memories of 2008 when he was a greaser on helicopters (or helos, as they were called) at a naval establishment. The hours could be long and he was often working nights but at the age of twenty-one, there was always a way to work some fun (think drinking and eating) into his day. Full Review


Review of

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

5star.jpg Fantasy

In Red's family, the first daughter becomes queen, and the second daughter becomes a sacrifice. To Red's misfortune, she is the second daughter. Sent alone into the woods with nothing but the cape on her back, Red knows what to expect: within the woods is a wolf, and he is the one who will decide the fate of their kingdom. If she is not a worthy sacrifice, the monsters he keeps contained to the woods will be released, and the fabled kings he keeps hostage will never be returned—or so the stories go. But when Red enters the woods, expecting nothing more than to be killed within the hour, she finds that the legends are lies. The wolf is not a monster—he's a man. Full Review


Review of

Twitch by M G Leonard

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Twitch is a boy who loves birds. He keeps pigeons at home, and chickens, and even has swallows nesting in his bedroom! His time spent watching and helping birds is easy compared to that of his time in school. But things are about to change for Twitch in all aspects of his life as there is a dangerous bank robber on the run, and it's possible that the missing bank haul is hidden somewhere in Aves Wood, the place where Twitch has his secret hide and that he knows like the back of his hand! Can Twitch solve the mystery, and find the missing millions? Full Review


Review of

The Cursed Girls by Caro Ramsay

4star.jpg Thrillers

Megan Melvick's earliest memory is of her fourth birthday: she followed her grandfather down to the pond, only to find that he'd hanged himself. Twenty years later she's back home again and this time the occasion is no less sad. She's there to say her final farewells to her sister, Melissa, who is dying of anorexia. As she dies, Melissa whispers 'sorry' to Megan but what did she mean? There were lots of things, minor and major cruelties, for which Melissa might have been sorry - or was it even a question? Was she asking if Megan was sorry for sleeping with Melissa's husband, Jago, on their wedding day? The Melvicks might seem to have everything - Ivan Melvick was Lord Lieutenant of the County and money was never in short supply - but there did seem to be a curse. In addition to Melissa's health problems, Megan was deaf and their mother, Beth, had left suddenly three years before. Would she come back for her elder daughter's funeral? Full Review


Review of

The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jonasson and Victoria Cribb

4star.jpg Crime

Una was not thriving in Reykjavik: it was some years since her beloved father had committed suicide without leaving any explanation and since then she'd given up her medical studies and retrained as a teacher. She was thirty years old and money was tight. Her friend, Sara, showed her an advert for a job in Skalar on the Langanes Peninsula. There were only ten people in the village but a teacher was required for two children: a salary would be paid and accommodation provided. Una was the only applicant and the job meant that she could let her flat in Reykjavik and, hopefully, save some money over the winter which her contract covered. Full Review


Review of

For Any Other Truth (DCI Jim Daley) by Denzil Meyrick

3.5star.jpg Crime

We learn that MI5 is having its problems with environmental terrorists supergluing themselves to awkward places. But that's London, isn't it? What's happening in Kinloch?

When a light aircraft crash lands at Machrie airport, DCI Jim Daley and his colleague, Acting DI Brian Scott, head off for the airport straight away. It soon becomes evident though that both occupants of the plane were dead before take off. How could that be? The sort of tech which would make that possible isn't available to the paying public. And why have the man no identification on them - or even labels in their clothes? Full Review


Review of

Understanding Human Nature: A User's Guide to Life by Richard Brook

4.5star.jpg Lifestyle

I am a firm believer that sometimes we choose books, and sometimes books choose us. In my case, this is one of the latter. Not so very long ago, if I had come across this book I'd have skimmed it, found some of it interesting, but it would not have 'hit home' in the way that it does now. I believe it came to me not just because I was likely to give it a favourable review [ full disclosure The Bookbag's u.s.p. is that people chose their own books rather than getting them randomly, so there is a predisposition towards expecting to like the book, even if it doesn't always turn out that way ] – but also because it is a book I needed to read, right now. Full Review