Tag Archives: books review

Bellman and Black- Diane Setterfield

Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge (by the publisher) in exchange for an honest review


As a boy, William Bellman commits one small cruel act that appears to have unforseen and terrible consequences. The killing of a rook with his catapult is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. And by the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, he seems indeed, to be a man blessed by fortune.

Until tragedy strikes, and the stranger in black comes, and William Bellman starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, he enters into a bargain. A rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.


I was a little unsure about reading this book. I had read good reviews, but I had also read a lot of reviews which said it really didn’t match up to The Thirteenth Tale. I haven’t read The Thirteenth Tale yet (I just got it actually) and was worried that if I didn’t enjoy Bellman and Black then I wouldn’t want to read The Thirteenth Tale…and then I might miss out.

Luckily I enjoyed Bellman and Black quite a lot. It wasn’t a traditional ghost story, in fact you could almost think that it wasn’t a ghost story at all. Except that it at least has a paranormal element, if not actually a ghost element.
I’m not sure if I would call it creepy exactly. It’s more a bit…err….I can’t think of the word. It make you unsure, it’s seems like it almost could happen, except for some little things.

It did take me a little while to get into, and I don’t think I would have finished it so soon if I hadn’t been reading it in hospital. Having said that if The Thirteenth Tale is actually better then I think I may actually end up loving it.


Buy it:

Kindle (£4.72)

Hardback (£7.68)

Paperback; pre-order (£7.40)

Other Reviews:

Words for Worms

Literary Lindsey

Under a Grey Sky

Silver’s Reviews

Have I missed your review? Post a link in comments and I will add it here


Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Mystery, Paranormal

Life After Life- Kate Atkinson

Disclaimer: I was given an advance copy of Life After Life free of charge by the publisher (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from amazon)

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?


I really did not want this book to end, it was, just, wow, there’s no words! I’m sad that it ended when it did. I have that sort of melancholy feeling you get from finishing a book that’s really special. I can’t remember the last time I felt that, maybe as far back as The Elegance of the Hedgehog (and that was back in 2010)? In some way it’s greater because the story didn’t have to end there. The nature of the story means it never really had to end, although I suppose if it didn’t end Atkinson would still be writing it and I wouldn’t have got to read it at all!

How can I describe this book? It’s a sort of epic Groundhog Day. It’s strange how everything seems sort of inevitable, even though Ursula has lived it before, has knowledge from that former life, even though you know she should fix it you’re scared that the same thing will just happen again, and again, and again. You’re shouting at her. You know what’s going to happen and there’s a sadness, and a dread, somehow you don’t think she’ll fix it.

I think that shows something of Atkinson’s writing talent, and ability to get you into a story, that your emotions trump your logic, every, single, time.

I loved Ursula, when everything changed, however she decided to live that life, she was still, undeniably Ursula, and that’s probably a hard thing to achieve. I enjoyed the whole family dynamic too, and that was something which barely changed.

A lot of the story focused around the second world war, which is a period of time I like to read fiction about. It was interesting though because Ursula’s different lives meant you could see the war from different angles, and with a sort of hindsight which was built into the novel, rather than from the reader living in a different time.

I’ve never read any Atkinson before, she’s known for crime stories, which aren’t generally my thing, but I may read more of her now.


Life After Life is released on 14th March, you can pre-order it now:

Kindle (£8.50)

Hardback (£10.63)

Paperback– released September (£10.09)

Other Reviews:

Sam Still Reading

Have I missed your review? Link me in comments and I’ll add it here.


Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review, Historical

The Complication of Sisters- Katherine Mariaca-Sullivan

Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

An argument with her older sister led author/artist Katherine Mariaca-Sullivan to examine what it means to be a sister. What she discovered is that, even as young sisters grow into women, some of the rivalries and frustrations that marked their early years do not necessarily grow up. With humor and wit, Katherine reveals some of the sisterly baggage that she has been carrying for decades, as well as her conclusion that no matter how complicated the relationship between sisters, there is really no stronger bond. This book, expressed in stories and illustrations, is perfect for any woman who is a sister. It is sure to spark memories, recover early bonds, and to heal old hurts.


This is an extremely short book (less than 100 pages) and I finished it in the space of one 15 minute bus journey.

It wasn’t really what I expected either, it was more a series of musings than of short stories. Sometimes the musings spoke of a specific event, but each one was no longer than a page. Each ‘story’ had a picture to go along with it which was a nice addition.

I certainly felt I gained a sense of Mariaca-Sullivan’s relationship with her sister, but the majority of the time I didn’t feel that it described my relationships with my sisters.

I can see this making a nice gift book for your sister (if it speaks to you), and it would be nice to share and talk about together.


Buy it:

Kindle (£3.83)

Paperback- Colour (£8.87)

Paperback- Black and White (£7.21)

1 Comment

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Short story

The Etymologicon- Mark Forsyth

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth’s Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words. It’s an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, and explaining precisely what the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.


I got a little bit addicted to the knowledge from this book while reading it, I miss tweeting the bits I found interesting. In fact I miss finding the interesting bits, hopefully following Forsyth’s Blog will help remedy that.

I really did enjoy this book. Anyone who follows my twitter feed can probably see I loved finding out about the words. (Soon was the Anglo-Saxon word for now, but humans are by nature procrastinators so the meaning changed. Did you know that?).

The writing was very conversational, which made it very easy to read and easy to understand.

I also loved how each chapter linked into the next by linking the words each chapter started and ended with. It did make it a little hard to put down however, which is not so good when you’re on a bus, or on your lunch break.

It also made me a little dead to the world, a number of times people started talking to me only for me not the notice.

Can’t wait to read Forsyth’s most recent offering, The Horologicon.


Buy it:

Kindle (£5.19)

Hardback (£7.40)


Filed under Language, non-fiction review