Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Chroma- Imogen's Secret by B .Fleetwood. Review.

What a revelation, a  children's fantasy grounded in the  Present Day and the Present Day UK at that.

Anyone who has popped over to my sister blog 

will know that the idea of emotions being read through the medium of colours is an idea close to my heart, but this book, the first in a series, takes that premise to a whole new level. And knocks my little effort into a cocked hat.

I do not want to give away plot, but suffice to say that Imogen's gift and the origins of it will keep you reading from first page to last. 

The story is fast paced, the mythology  and rules of the world(s) Imogen inhabits are solid and intriguing and the romantic elements seem authentic and not forced unlike many of the stories written for younger readers. 

Suffice to say this older reader was equally enthralled by the tale. There is enough tension and mystery in the plot to ensure that readers who pick up this book will thirst to read the next. No one is quite who they seem which makes Imogen's particular skill so central to the narrative .

It is beautifully written with the colour motifs being excellently utilised to represent every facet of human emotion and mood. This attention to fine detail lifts the story into a richer and more cohesive piece that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I happily offer five stars

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Fingers in the Sparkle jar by Chris Packham

I am of a certain age, my childhood viewing was dominated by two things Mr Phillip Schofield  in his pre-greyfox days and the rather interesting spiky hair stylings of one Chris Packham, a young man whose sheer exuberance probably inspired a million child naturalists.

Thanks to the good people at Netgalley, I am privileged to have been given the opportunity to read this memoir by the naturalist best known now for Autumn watch and Spring watch.

This is not a comfortable read by any means, there is a choppiness to the narrative that takes a little bit of getting used to but it is worth the effort. The story of this vulnerable and fragile soul is told often by incidental bystanders, neighbours , shop staff , all the adults whose spheres this rather otherworldly child might have passed through. Often a figure in the distance, always a little too earnest for adults not yet familiar with the (and I hate to use this term) Autism spectrum.

Young Chris is like a much much more intense version of a young Gerald Durrell, a room filled with jars, carcasses and bones, an unlimitless desire to learn and watch every living thing, to see things closer, to exist in the same space as all the wonders of nature is brilliantly demonstrated in the vignettes that make up the book.  His passion is fascinating and the enthusiasm we see on our screens today and what endeared me to Chris back in my childhood, is evident in every description of a fall of light on a leaf or the scents and sounds of the wonders he catalogues and researches with such meticulous attention to detail.

The description of the relationship between the kestrel and Chris is some of the most beautiful writing I have seen in a while. Boy and bird have a symbiosis that just leaps off the page.

What makes this book a little bit sobering , is the distinct emotional disconnect that appears  to have delineated the isolation that seems to have dogged Chris' formative years. The book made me sad and uncomfortable but Chris's story is compelling.

The tragic meeting of circumstances that led to Chris's suicide attempt is still a little bit nebulous, but the bravery it took to expose this part of his life is astounding. In fact the searing honesty that is evident on every page, the unflinching way he reveals himself is what makes this memoir all the more affecting. Where perhaps Chris lacks in what "normal folk" might consider empathy, his acceptance of the condition is what actually makes Chris extraordinary and his book so memorable.

Highly recommended.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Book Review: Then, Now Always by Isabelle Broom

Having enjoyed Isabelle Broom's previous novel which was set in Prague, I had very high hopes about this offering set in Andalusia. I was not disappointed, Ms Bloom is extremely skilled in evoking the sensual delights of the settings of her novels and here the flavours and scents of Spain provide a wonderfully sensual experience to the reading of the novel.

The relationships explored whilst on a location shoot in the Spain of the holidays of her teenage years are as tangy and complex as the Sangria served in the quaint bars of heroine Hannah's Memory. We have plenty to get involved in here, we have the crush (unrequited ) on the older more sophisticated boss, a glamourous French ingenue, the stalwart best friend who has been around so long that perhaps she is taking him for granted?

Into this mix comes the mysterious British woman who has made the area home for forty years and the step -Sister whose presence in her life has caused Hannah much consternation and resentment at home, so this invasion of her perfect idyll and her interest in best pal Tom are the ultimate betrayals.

This is a glorious story, rather more than a sun, sea aand romance novel. It is  brilliantly nuanced and beautiful whilst still treading familiar  romantic waters so that  it is the book that will  happily grace any lounger next the pool this Summer, and I suspect, brighten a dull day in autumn just as beautifully. With an ending that travels rather differently that I first suspected it might, the story becomes more about Hannah discovering truths about herself rather than a pure romance fantasy, giving the book much more breadth.

I cannot reccomend this any higher than to  simply say I found myself missing Spain the moment I finished and yet I have never myself set foot on it's shores.

Then.Now.Always. Is Published on 20th of April by Penguin U.K. -Michael Joseph