Happy Halloween

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Happy Halloween

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Spooky tale

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In The Dead Summer by Helen Moorhouse we meet Martha who divorced her cheating husband, sold the house in London they shared, quit the advertising job she despised, packed her own and her six moth old daughter’s bags and moved to start a new life in an isolated cottage in the countryside. She was hoping to finally write a book she always wanted to. She came across the picturesque Hawthorn Cottage when while browsing rental properties on the Internet. The farmer’s cottage was abandoned for years and only recently renovated by its new owner Rob Mountford. She fell in love with the place and booked it for the next six months.

After the first night in the new place Martha already questioned her decision. She wondered if they would be alright in such a remote location. She was getting an uneasy feeling about the house. The lights on the baby monitor spiked all the way to red and she heard a loud noise, but found her daughter Ruby peacefully asleep. It left her puzzled. With the first light of the sunny morning, all her fears of the previous night disappeared. She felt a bit silly that she let her imagination carry her away.

Still there were things that bugged her. Why, she wondered, did the postman refuse to drop her mail to the cottage and kept leaving it all the way down the road? Why did the local crazy old lady keep referring to the cottage as the Eyrie Farm? Was there something about the place that she didn’t know? It seemed perfect during the day. Her new friend Mary convinced her she shouldn’t be listening to the made up spooky tales.

Another story plot runs parallel in the book. Back in the 50’s two young Irish women were sent to the Eyrie Farm, which was owned by the girls’ father’s friend at the time. Their parents planned for them to stay there till the older of the two sisters, Marion gave birth to her child. The baby was then meant to be put into adoption and they could return home with their secret unraveled.

Marion made the stay a real hardship for her younger sibling Lily. Lily was eager to make Marion as comfortable as possible in her condition, but the pregnant young woman hated the place and the fact that she was pregnant. She didn’t seem to care much about anything and anybody, not even her unborn child.

It was a spooky tale that gripped right from the start and kept you glued to the pages till the very end. Full of interesting characters. Pragmatic Will and sensitive Gabriel introduced to Martha’s by her old friend Sue, who send them to her rescue. Why? Find out for yourself. I don’t think I have come across such a ghostly kind of a thriller before, but I enjoyed reading it. If you like scary stories, you will not be disappointed. 3 PlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300pxpumpkins, broom sticks or candle wicks.

Pumpkins, broom sticks or candle wicks rating

PlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300px– one of the best books I read

PlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300px– charmed

PlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300px– good read

PlainPumpkin-300pxPlainPumpkin-300px– disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

PlainPumpkin-300px– don’t waste your time

Right behind you

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The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty is a rather intriguing story about a hypnotherapist who meets a man called Patrick. She hopes that this time he will be the one for her, unlike her previous long term relationships. He confesses to her that he comes with a package and he doesn’t mean his eight year old boy. He is a widower. After his wife Colleen died of cancer he was in relationship with Saskia. Saskia isn’t quite out of the picture. She is following him almost everywhere, texting, sending letters and gifts. He has a stocker. Ellen’s reaction at first is amusement, she even finds it a bit exciting. She wonders if she should be afraid instead, if they are in any kind of danger.

Readers get to see Saskia’s point of view as well, and it is hard not to feel some degree of compassion. Even Ellen has some level of understanding towards the woman. Saskia struggles to come to terms with the break up. She says, that if she had been widowed people would let her grieve for years, and because she got dumped she is expected to just get over it and carry on as normal. She is devastated having lost not only Patrick but also Jack. She stepped into the role of his mam and was suddenly asked to give him up, just like that. She just wants to be part of their life. What has innocently started as one phone call reminding Patrick of Jack’s swimming lesson, has slowly and gradually escalated towards stocking.

Liane Moriarty draws a believable picture of each persons’ feelings and thoughts, she is not holding back. Their emotions are real and complex, just like in real life, they are never simple and straightforward. Ellen feels Saskia loved Patrick more than she does, and fears that Patrick loved his first wife more than he ever loved Saskia or herself.

The unhealthy situation builds tensions in everyone. Ellen feels sorry for the abandoned girl and sees Patrick’s wrongdoings. Patrick is hurt that Ellen doesn’t see the anxiety that Saskia is causing him nowadays. Something has to break sooner or later. If you are curious how the situation is resolved, I encourage you to read the book. From me 4 Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px picture frames, photo albums or stones.

 

Picture frames, photo albums or stones rating.

 

Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px – one of the best books I read

Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px – charmed

Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px – good read

Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

Angelo-Gemmi-frame-outline-300px – don’t waste your time

Twelve days of Christmas

Winter Tales by Kenneth Steven

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Thank you for this generous review!

Kenneth Steven

I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I don’t usually choose short stories fearing that they will leave me wanting more. But something about the title and the cover made me reach for it. It looked wintry and magical. And when I read that the stories were placed in different settings, different countries even, I decided that I had to read it.

After reading the first story, I knew I have chosen well. It was a perfectly shaped slice, it didn’t need anything taken away or anything added. The Cullen Skink was about a fisherman who has lost his son at sea and was helping his widowed wife with the care of their only child. The little boy who has never met his own father became very dear to the old man’s heart.

The next one, Elmeness, was containing all the goodness of a good writing. Really, really short but reach like an essence. A small orphaned school girl Annie was too young to comprehend the whole extend of her tragic situation and was enjoying her summer holidays and her aunt’s baking. Although the first two stories were soaked thoroughly with great sadness, they also bore hope towards what the future might bring.

In The Skylarks and the Horses we meet Dr Aitken who is treating patients with, what we would have called nowadays a post traumatic stress disorder. His patients are soldiers who fought on the front. Despite the large and growing number of the men that come to the hospital, he takes a particular interest in a man called Ruary. This story is longer than the previous two. It was a bit unclear in places who was the narrator describing, or who was speaking, perbaps it could use a bit more editing to make it easier to follow. It was an intersting story but it left me wondering, just like the doctor had, who the patient was and what has happened to him.

Nex one called Lemon Ice Cream was about an Italian family from Sicily who leave their lemon grove behing and head for New York taking with them whatever they could carry, including an old family recipe for lemon ice cream. The author skilfully brings the city into life, the metropoli can be both amazing and frightening. I found this particular story deeply sad.

Through the next one The Song of a Robin, we see the horrifying fate of the soldiers on the fronts during the I World War. Young men, drawn in by various resons, sometimes stories they heard and a promisse of an adventure, had their life changed for ever, often loosing what they treasured most. Even if they managed to survive they were left scarred for life with both physical and psychological wounds.

I liked The Listener. It was a story about a writer who hasn’t written anything significant for the last decade and one day decided to rent a cabin in the rural area of the country, to listen to the nature’s heart beat in hope of finding his lost talent. The descriptions of the wilderness close to the Arctic Circle in Finland where amazing and packed with a great amount of detail for a short story.

In A Christmas Child we meet a fisherman called Angus, who is bracing himself for a long and cold winter with very little luck in bringing any fish. He refuses to be part of the crowd who go and take supplies from a wrack of a ship. They inform him that they won’t share their goods with him, as he is unwilling to help them. In the end it turns out that they bring him something precious after all.

In Out Ronald sets on a long journey after an argument with his brother over a girl. He takes rides from strangers, works on a ship and reaches as far as South America, where he feels homesick and tries to find ways to go back home to Scotland. It was a funny story.

The Gift was a story about a traveller family who has settled in Dublin after they lost their baby boy to pneumonia. They never wished for his sister to share his fate, so they moved into a house to put a roof over her head, to keep her warm. There is another story inside this one, a legend that explains why the travellers feel the pull to move from one place to another. A nice Christmas story.

In The Healing a young monk Sasha asks for the privilige to visit the chapel of St. Lucy that is believed to grant health to the pilgrims. It is not his health he is praying for but his sister’s with whom he had no contact, but feels needs his help.

The next one The Miracle describes a woman called Sonia who out of compassion visits an elderly woman Marie. Marie is an Irish woman and lives in a part of Glasgow that supports Rangers and is hostile towards Catholics. Sonia makes her tea and attends to her needs, trying to make things easier and more confotable for the old woman whose days seem to be counted.

The last story, the longest I believe, called The Ice was about a boy Lewis whose father decided to send him to a bording school after the boy’s mother dies. Lewis comes home for Christmas to the Scottish highlands, where his family lives, and cannot wait for the lake in front of their house to freeze over, so they can cross it to get to their cabin lodge. He is counting the days and dreading the time when he will have to return to his school, where he is bullied by the other boys. This story will take your heart out and wrench it.

Twelve stories, each one very different than the other. I loved them all, some more than the other. Gladly 4 rubi-300pxrubi-300pxrubi-300pxrubi-300px gem stones, frozen lakes or fire logs.

Gem stones, frozen lakes or fire logs rating.

rubi-300pxrubi-300pxrubi-300pxrubi-300pxrubi-300px – one of the best books I read

rubi-300pxrubi-300pxrubi-300pxrubi-300px – charmed

rubi-300pxrubi-300pxrubi-300px – good read

rubi-300pxrubi-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

rubi-300px – don’t waste your time

 

Knock on my door

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As readers of The People Next Door by Roisin Meaney we enter three townhouses to watch their occupants lifes. Yvonne from number seven is living with her young adult daughter Clara. Yvonne is a widowed whose husband died tragically shortly after they got married. Right before the accident, Yvonne has informed him that she wanted a divorce. He didn’t take it well and asked her to reconsider. She feels horrible knowing that he has died unhappy and that she felt a slight relief. She wanders if her son has confided in his mother, as her mother in law seems to be full of resentment towards her. Clara hides a dark and painful secret she is yet unwilling to share with anyone, including her mother.

Her next door neighbour Dan has been dumped by his wife Ali two years after they got married. She left him for his uncle Brendan. Dan was now living on canned beans, sausages and frozen pizzas. He decided to take in a tenant to help him pay the bills. A middle aged man has moved into the spare bedroom who luckily turned out to love cooking delicious meals. He is an eccentric and insists on wearing an old funny hat whenever he goes out. But something seems to be bothering Kieran that prevents him from sleeping, so he keeps pacing around the house at night. Dan realises that he doesn’t really know anything about the man he let into his home.

Kathryn from number nine loves her husband Jason, but is worried that the age difference may cause him to loose interest in her. She is ten years or so older than him and desperate to have a baby, but after two miscarriages and a stillborn child she has given up hope. Her mother in law Grainne moved into their house when she fell and broke her hip, she keeps reminding Jason about Kathryn’s age and shows no signs of planning to move back to her house again, complaining of reacuring headaches.

The neighbours mingle and their lives get entwined at times, but each house bears their own weight of drama. A book full of vigour and a bit of romance. A light read, good for the long autumnal evenings. Three old hats nicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300px, scones or forks.

Old hats, scones or forks rating

nicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300px – one of the best books I read

nicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300px – charmed

nicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300px – good read

nicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300pxnicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

nicubunu-Adventurer-hat-300px – don’t waste your time