Book Review: How to Make a Movie in 12 Days by Fiona Hardy

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This book has the best crafted opening chapter I’ve read in a long time. From there it settles into a pleasant middle grade novel with enough touches of brilliance to make up for a few problematic areas.

Eleven-year-old Hayley is obsessed with films and wants to be a director. She and her grandmother were writing the script for a horror film about a killer rose bush, which her grandmother was also going to star in, when she unexpectedly died. Hayley is devastated. But part of Hayley’s inheritance is a brand new video camera so that she can start making her movie. Hayley suggests to her mother that they throw a party to celebrate her grandmother’s life and screen the movie at it. The only date they can get at the function hall leaves Hayley just twelve days to film all the scenes, edit them together and finalise the movie. Thus the title of the book. Continue reading

Book Review: Matilda Is Missing by Caroline Overington

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I am still yet to read a book by Caroline Overington that I haven’t liked. This isn’t her best book but it seems like Overington’s worst books are still better than the best books of many other writers.

Softie Monaghan and Garry Hartshorn should never have gotten married. She was a sophisticated career woman. He was a rough country boy who’d had plenty of jobs but no career. But she was desperate for a child and he knew a good thing when he saw it. Even before Matilda was born, Softie knew she’d made a mistake. But she wanted a proper family for her daughter so she tried to push through.

But after two years, she was a broken woman (it seems clear that there’s some sort of post-natal depression going on as well as having a husband whose parenting approach is completely at odds with her own). So she takes Matilda and leaves. Continue reading

Book Review: Ghost Child by Caroline Overington

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This could easily have been a true story (in fact, I sought out the statement at the front of the book that declared it was fiction just to make sure). It has an awful sense of realism about it and maybe that’s why the story itself ends up being almost inconsequential. More than anything else, this is a character study, an extraordinary character study presented in beautifully simple writing by a very fine writer. Continue reading

Book Review: Visioner (The Shifter War Book 2) by KK Ness

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Danil and Hafryn are back! If you liked Messenger, then you’ll like Visioner as well as they are very similar books. Danil is still a fish out of water, Hafryn is still his devoted lover and protector, and they still don’t know who they can really trust.

After winning the battle at the end of Messenger to save the deadlands from Roldaerian magi and the evil Kaul, Danil is now its custodian. It’s a position that chooses the person, not the other way around. Under his care, the once lifeless area is flourishing with greenery and, more importantly, leylines and kiandrite crystals that speak to him. Danil has just found his first proper kiandrite crystal (instead of the flecks that the magi have been stealing for decades to use in their magic spells) when he is surprised by a Roldaerian emissary and her guards. They wish to be taken to the High Council of Amas to negotiate a peace treaty on orders from King Liam of Roldaer. Continue reading

Book Review: Paula and Me by John “JJ” Jeffery

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Full disclosure time:

*I was engaged and paid to edit this book (although that means I’ve read it five times so I feel very qualified to review it).
*JJ and my father worked together and played football together during their twenties (about forty years ago and before I was born so JJ and I have never physically met).
*This is the first autobiography/memoir I’ve read in a long time so I have nothing to compare it to. I guess I’ll just have to review it on its own merits.

Told in linear chronology, Paula and Me is the story of John Jeffery’s life. It starts out ordinarily enough, a little boy growing up on the fringes of a big city’s suburbs, riding bikes, kicking a football, spending as much time with his friends as possible, bored by school and dreaming of some kind of adventure. It’s terribly evocative of the innocence of the 1950s and 1960s, of times that now seem alien to us. But it’s also obvious that it is simply building up to something else because, as JJ admits in the introduction, “the story of my life is – for the most part – the story of my life with Paula.” Continue reading