My Review of Eternity Leave by Simon Kettlewell.

I received a copy of Eternity Leave from the author in return for an honest review.

I gave the book 4* out of 5*

Blurb:

ETERNITY LEAVE:

A MUST READ FOR ANY PARENT…

FOUR CHILDREN. ONE MAN. HOW HARD CAN IT BE?…

Dear Chloe, Emma, Ruby, and Ollie,

‘I am applying for the position you haven’t advertised, has no specific job description and no hope of fiscal reward. I am applying because I have this misguided belief that it will look like it does on the cover photo of ‘The Complete Guide to Childcare’ where everyone appears relaxed and bright-eyed, not knackered, irascible or covered in snot.

Armed with a pristine copy of ‘The Complete Guide to Childcare’, ambitions to be the next literary giant and live off the grid, what could possibly go wrong?

‘Five minutes after Brigit’s maternity leave ended I realised the magnitude of my error. I was now the sole carer for two six-month old children who thought the hands smearing yoghurt over their faces belonged to somebody else, and a two-year old who walked for five steps and decided it wasn’t for her.’

I crashed into a world of mainly strong, resourceful, resilient women, a mountain of nappies to rival Kilimanjaro and a widening gap where my self-esteem used to reside.

I am a man. I soon discovered this was not an excuse…’

My Review:

Simon Kettlewell’s Eternity Leave has been on my TBR list for some weeks, and I was sorry I’d left it so long because It’s an easy and enjoyable account of family life. Humorous yet poignant at the same time, it’s a story that many parents will recognise and identify with. Yet, as a stay at home father (not a mother) there is a obvious and unique slant on this account of the chores and trials that the narrator lives through, coping throughout the years from the children being babies to teenagers (oh, those wonderful years when the adult is never right and needs to be patronised!. Yet at no time is there any melodramatic response to these encounters, these carefully negotiated concessions.)

I ‘ve said this is an easy read, but only because it’s one any parent can recognise and nod along with (and grandparent might give a sigh of relief and laugh because its something they have lived through). But also it’s a cleverly written, evenly paced, droll story, told with great insight to reveal each of the children’s character – and judged so honestly, but with great affection – admirable in itself.

Yet, despite the wry humour (with which I thoroughly delighted in) there is also a sense of isolation in being a stay at home father; of being ‘the other’, that is threaded throughout the book. Even an inability to share with other parents what the narrator has shared with the reader. Even so, nowhere is the a sense that this father would rather be holding down any other kind of ‘job’ but that which he has been given. The narrative is undeniably optimistic and gives a sense of satisfaction and relish in his part in leading his family to adulthood in the best way he knows how.

This is yet another book by Simon Kettlewell that I thoroughly recommend.

Please see my previous review of his book of Dead Dog Floating: https://bit.ly/31eJMcw

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My Review of Write Your Way Out Of Depression: Practical Self-Therapy For Creative Writers by Rayne Hall and Alexander Draghici

 

depression

The Blurb:

Use your writing talent and your skill with words heal yourself. Author Rayne Hall and psychologist Alexander Draghici show fourteen practical strategies for self-therapy.

Do you feel like you’re trapped in a dark hole of morass, sinking deeper and deeper, the mud rising to your hips, your chest, your throat? Is despair smothering you like a heavy blanket? Is your own life moving past you like a train, and you are forced to watch and cannot board? Has crippling lethargy wrapped its tentacles around you so tightly that you cannot move, sucking from you all energy and the will to live?

If you want to get better, to feel alive again, if you want to step out of this darkness and take control of your recovery, this book can help.

 My Review:

This has been a difficult year for both me and my family and, as someone who sometimes sufferes from ‘crippling lethargy’ because of depression, I was hopeful when I was approached to read and write an honest review of Write Your Way Out Of Depression….

This is an interesting and helpful book. I wouldn’t have expected anything else from Rayne Hall; as an author and a creative writing tutor I have bought quite a few of her very helpful ‘How To’ writing books.

In Write Your Way Out Of Depression Rayne’s methods are backed by psychologist Alexander Draghici whose input is to support  her theory of dealing and coping with depression through various writing strategies, and to let the reader know how these may help. The techniquues are simply described, easy to understand, approaches to taking control of those dark thoughts and moods.

 The co-authors also highlight the risks of excessive brooding and self-analysis. The emphasis is on practical ways to write our way through depression…and hopefully out the other side. No guarantees, unlike so many ‘cure-all’ approaches; just down-to-earth techniques that I could follow, with the added bonus that it could also help my own writing.

The layout of the book is simple to follow; there is a chapter for each technique, which is divided into three; the what I call the exercise (rather than the technique), Rayne’s understanding and knowledge of each (as a sufferer herself of depression, they have, at various times, helped her) and, finally, Alexander’s expert opinion and advice.  I found both of these last sections as interesting and perceptive as the techniques themselves.  Each co-author has had their own mental issues to deal with in one way or another;  as I’ve mentioned Rayne’s experiences and Alexander’s battle with anxiety attacks in his youth.

I cannot give this book higher praise than to urge anyone who is suffering from depression and feels they would like to try writing as a way to ‘step out of this darkness and take control of your recovery…’  to buy  Write Your Way Out Of Depression: Practical Self-Therapy For Creative Writers  I did. It worked for me. It could work for you.

 Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk:  http://amzn.to/2fEuEj5

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2glvCQH

My Review of Who Killed Vivien Morse (DCI Hatherall Book 4) by Diana J Febry for #RBRT

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I gave  Who Killed Vivien Morse? by Diana J Febry  4 out of 5*

The Blurb:

Vivien Morse, a young social worker is discovered battered to death in Silver Lady Woods. Everyone assumes she was attacked by her estranged husband until her supervisor disappears. The connection appears to be Vivien’s last client. A damaged and disturbed girl who believes a bundle of rags is her lost baby and never leaves the family farm while she awaits the return of her lover.

The matter is confused by the arrival of a stranger to the area clearly searching for something or someone and an escaped convict with connections to the area.

DCI Hatherall has to separate fact from fantasy to discover who did kill Vivien Morse.

My Review:

I hadn’t read any of Diana J Febry’s work before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I have read the later books in a series before and been confused by the characters involved but  Who Killed Vivien Morse? (the fourth book of the protagonist, DCI Peter Hatherall  series) can be read as a stand alone book without any difficulty.

 I loved this author’s style of writing which, by the way, is certainly not revealed in the Blurb. I expected a purely crime driven story. In the Blurb there is no mention of the dark humour, the small twists of idiosyncrasy in the characters, especially in Peter Hatherall and Fiona Williams, the short, witty descriptions of them and their dialogue. 

The narrative meanders through many ‘red herrings’ to keep the reader guessing and entertained while meeting all the characters; all well rounded, most with complicated backgrounds and relationships (that are drip-fed throughout the story – no information dumping here!) All interesting, all have a part to play in the narrative.

The dialogue is so well written that it is easy to tell who is speaking without any dialogue tags and, alongside the thought-provoking, more significant interchanges, is peppered with wry, dry humour. I loved some of the earlier conversations between  Peter Hatherall and Fiona Williams.

 Set in a typical rural English; the victim,  Vivien Morse,a young social worker, is found murdered in a place called Silver Lady Woods, Febry’s descriptions are brief but succinct; just enough to give a flavour of the place. 

But there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a fast-moving  murder mystery; there is a serious thread running throughout that the investigation has to succeed before another murder is committed. Certainly kept me on my toes. (and I always guessed wrong) 

All in all Who Killed Vivien Morse?  by Diana J Febry is a book I recommend.

Buying Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2dnWom0

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2efb49z

My Review of Redemption Song by Laura Wilkinson #RBRT

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the book’s blurb:

“Saffron is studying for a promising career in medicine until a horrific accident changes her life for ever. Needing to escape London, she moves to a small coastal town to live with her mother. Saffron hates the small town existence and feels trapped until she meets Joe, another outsider. Despite initial misgivings, they grow closer to each other as they realise they have a lot in common. Like Saffron, Joe has a complicated past … one that’s creeping up on his present. Can Joe escape his demons for long enough to live a normal life – and can Saffron reveal the truth about what really happened on that fateful night? Love is the one thing they need most, but will they – can they – risk it?
Redemption Song is a captivating, insightful look at what happens when everything goes wrong – and the process of putting the pieces back together again.”

I liked Redemption Song; as the blurb says it’s  captivating novel. Laura Wilkinson has an even,straightforward writing style that actually disguises the difficulty in keeping together what is a complex story. On the whole the plot runs smoothly, giving equal balance to the tension and the everyday lives of the characters.

The characters of the two protagonists, Saffron and Joe are well written and rounded; it’s easy to empathise with each of them and to follow their progress, both individually and in the way their relationship grows. I liked the descriptions of their appearance; they way they looked, the clothes worn, deftly and subtly inserted without a heavy handed ‘dumping’ of detail. The other characters that provide a background to the story:Rain, Saffron’s mother, Eifion and Ceri are also well defined and add a sub-plot that weaves deftly through the main plot.

The dialogue is realistic, although sometimes the internal dialogue felt too much like the spoken dialogue and less like a stream of consciousness. Saying that, I was able to tell who was speaking all the way through the book; the author gave each character an individual, distinctive voice.

The descriptions of the various settings: the church, the seaside town of Coed Mawr, the pier, are well written and convincing; I think it worth mentioning that  there are some beautiful descriptions of Coed Mawr.  I found it easy  to imagine the characters moving around in each scene

There are only two reasons I didn’t give Redemption Song five stars and the first is a personal one; I became irritated by the drawn out mystery of Joe’s background, the constant mention of his need for revenge and the flatness of the characters, Simon and Freddie. I realised they were friends from Joe’s school-days but they didn’t come alive for me in the way I thought they should have when I discovered their importance to the story.  The other reason was I wasn’t quite convinced by the character of Allegra but I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was because I felt she was portrayed as a one-sided character, maybe it was because, as a reader I learned something of her earlier in the book but wasn’t sure exactly why she was part of the story.

Anyway, this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story as a whole. I loved Laura Wilkinson’s s writing style and look forward to reading more from this author in the future.  I would definitely recommend Redemption Song

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

Find copies here:

Amazon.co.uk:

http://amzn.to/1RoLONL

Amazon.com

http://amzn.to/1K2N1Ct