David’s Bookshelf Issue 4

‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – The Build-Up to Christmas. Winter and Christmas Parties at Harehills County Primary School in the 1960s. Cup of Tea Tales

  1. ‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – The Build-Up to Christmas. Winter and Christmas Parties at Harehills County Primary School in the 1960s.
  2. ‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – Hippy Attempt on the Summit of Mount Snowdon. What Foolish Things We Did as Students!
  3. ‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – Ashworth’s Sweet-Shop, Harehills. Sweets, Victory V Lozenges, Sweet Cigarettes and Other Delights We Have Lost Over The Years. 
  4. ‘Cup of Tea Tales’ – A’ Levels, the Final Year at High School, Planning to Leave Home, Getting into College and Growing Older if Not Wiser.
  5. David’s Bookshelf Issue 5

Well, I said I would review The Thursday Murder Club and this week I will. I will also review another couple of books from self-published authors. I am currently about halfway through my next novel, Slipshod. This is a Whodunnit with some twists and so I hope readers will find it entertaining.

The difficulty for new writers is getting people to read their work. The commitment to read someone’s book is around the four-and-a-half to five-hour mark for a shortish novel. Of course, if the book is well written this is no chore, but sometimes it can be fairly arduous. I hope I can find something positive to say about a book, but there are times when I can’t. On these occasions, I feel it is better to say nothing.

I know how hurtful some people can be and successful authors are not immune to over-the-top criticism. I glanced through some reviews of The Thursday Murder Club after I had written mine and a book as successful as this still had some people writing scathing criticisms and rating it lowly. Of course, the vast majority have enjoyed the book, and the writer is laughing all the way to the bank. I feel some people do this to a work of art to say, look at me! To stir up reactions or maybe just to make them feel big. In Australia, it is called the Tall Poppy Syndrome, and it is common when artists become famous that the tide of popularity can swing against them.

Anyway, here is my personal review of:

The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman

I had heard all the buzz about Richard Osman’s first novel, and as a fan of his House of Games TV Series, I wanted to read it. The first thing I want to say is that you can’t avoid Richard’s voice as his characters tell their tales of murder and crime linked to a retirement village in England, and if you like him, you will like this book.

The owner/developer of the village wants to make major renovations, and this involves purchasing local farmland, the removal of a cemetery that was part of the original convent, and some of the village facilities. A group of retired residents investigate the murder of the builder. The group meets weekly as The Thursday Murder Club, and previously reviewed files kept by a retired policewoman, but this is their first live, or should I say, dead case.

This book caters to the market of baby-boomers who still have life and a sense of adventure in them. I count myself one of these and I really enjoyed Richard’s work. That is not to say that the book is without flaws. At first, I found his very short, two-page chapters a little challenging, but like the mystery itself, it pulls together and you can’t help but be charmed by the characters, their foibles, secrets and weaknesses. These are real people, dealing with the disappointments of life, the loss of loved ones, illness, and physical decline, but they have a zest for life and a desire to make the best of their remaining time. Justice is served, but it is not always in the way society expects.

Richard’s work is insightful, addictive, generous and without malice. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Thursday Murder Club, understand its success, and look forward to reading his other books in the series. Is it the greatest work of fiction? No. Does it show something we would like to see of the human spirit? Yes! More than this, it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Choosing the Dark – Brian Marshall

Not Just a Story About a Band

I started this book with little knowledge apart from that it dealt with the music industry in San Francisco in the 1980s. Having been in bands during this period, I read with a keen interest and understanding. Brian Marshall did not disappoint. He captured the end of the punk days and the new waves that were following. He writes with ease and conviction. His protagonist, Rob, finishes school and leaves his home to live, temporarily, with his medical student sister in San Francisco. Family expectations are placed on Rob that he doesn’t want to meet. He is a drummer, and he has hopes of becoming a success in the music industry, but to make a living, he finds work as a dishwasher. He meets Annie and the creative, but damaged Kurt, but this is not a rag to riches story, it is far more than that.

The most pleasing aspect of the book is it is more than a story about a band. We get an insight into teenage angst, family life, independence, creativity, life, death and ultimately, the meaning of life. I thoroughly enjoyed Choosing the Dark and highly recommend it.

Jinx by Melissa K. Magner

Hidden depths! Hidden Secrets!

Jinx begins as an easily accessible book. Written for the mainly young female adult market, it is set in a coastal town in the USA. The main characters are Jinx, real name Jan, and Shelley. The two sixteen-year-old girls were expecting an enjoyable holiday from school, but things turned out to be very different. Jan’s parents are away and so she is staying with Shelley and her father, a police officer.

Things turn sinister with the discovery of a metal box and inside a necklace. Jinx wears the necklace, and this leads to a schism forming between the girls. Supernatural forces, possession, an old legend, and danger make this an enjoyable tale where villains become heroes and the good guys become villains, and nothing is as it seems. The book was started by the author’s grandmother, Patricia M. Kasper, and was completed by Melissa. There is a definite change as the story becomes brutal, violent and edges on horror.

Personally, I felt this was a much more satisfying read than I expected, and it is an enjoyable YA horror/fantasy.

Obviously, the first of the three books is a major seller and I can see why, but the other two are both worth a read. There are hidden gems out there away from the publicity of the major publishers, so why not give some a try?

Good Reading

David

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