book reviews , different studio guests each week. Join us every Thursday between 12 and 1pm on Radio Scilly 107.9fm or log on to radioscilly.com.

Missed any programmes? See below for list of guests, books and other details discussed.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

CJ Sansom - Lamentation

review by showhost Jan 2015
It has been a while since I read one of his books and I had forgotten how much I enjoy them.
This is another of his Shardlake series, set in Tudor England.  Mathew Shardlake is a hatchback barrister/lawyer.  In past books he has taken on work for the Royal household.  But it's 1546 king Henry 8th is not well and getting nearer death.  His successor is the very young 8yr old Prince Edward (to be 6th). The political struggle is raging between the Catholic & protestant councillors, for the control of government once Henry is dead.
Heretics are still being hunted across London and the story opens with a radical protestant Anne Askew being burnt at the stake after being tortured in the tower.
The Catholic party want to get rid of Catherine Parr (6th) wife and when they learn she has written a book, a confessional book - lamentations of a sinner - they steal it in the hope they can use it against her and turn Henry against her and accuse her of heresy.  They also hope to turn Henry back to the Pope. Catherine sends for Shardlake in the hope he can trace the document.  One torn piece of the manuscript is found in the house of a murdered printer. An as remakes investigations lead him and his trusted employer and friends Barak & Nicholas into a web of political intrigue and danger, a place where Shardlake said he would never venture again.
It is a very unsafe time with politics and religious views changing with the wind and never uttered.
I just love these books - they transport you to Tudor England - not a nice place to be - sights and smells and intrigue. Shardlake is such a wonderful character. If you like historical mysteries you'll love it or any of his previous books

Charity Norman - The Son in Law

Review by showhost Jan 2015
I have never read any book by this author before but I fancied a different, lighter read to take away with me on a quick break.  I like to get away from my normal genre, crime, adventure, and thought this one was more a family drama.  It was definitely a family drama, but extremely well written and engrossing.  It certainly stays with you for a while after.
Joseph Scott was married to Zoe, a gregarious, beautiful young woman who he loved immensely.  They had 3 children, Scarlett 10, Theo 6 and Ben 1.  One day Joseph, the loving father, changed their family forever when he killed his wife, their mother.  The children were present at the time and Scarlett had to dial emergency services.  Joseph was sentenced to imprisonment for manslaughter.  The children sent to live with their maternal grandparents.
4 years later Joseph Scott is released.  He wants to see his children.  But they haven't seen him since they witnessed him killing their mother.  They are traumatised and frightened.  His mother in law (Hannah) and father in law (Freddy) are determined to do battle to stop him having any access.  They despise the man who killed the light in their life, their only daughter.
But Joseph can't let go, he wants access and hopes that one day they will be a family again.
The unfolding story is told from different perspectives, that of Scarlet, Joseph, Theo and Hannah.  This is why it has been likened to a Jodi Picoult.  That and the issues it raises.  Was Joseph let off too lightly?  Would you forgive someone who killed your only child?  Was the bipolar issue portrayed in enough depth?
It will probably cause great discussion in your book group.


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Marian Keyes - This Charming Man

review written and read live on bookshow on 8th Jan 2015 by Ro Bennett

'Everybody remembers where they were the day they heard that Paddy de Courcy was getting married'

But for four women in particular, the big news about the charismatic politician is especially momentous . . .

Stylist Lola has every reason to be interested in who Paddy's marrying - because she's his girlfriend, yet she definitely isn't the bride-to-be . . . Journalist Grace wants the inside story on the de Courcy engagement and thinks Lola holds the key . . . while Grace's sister, Marnie, still can't forget her first love: a certain Paddy de Courcy. And what of the soon-to-be Mrs de Courcy? Alicia will do anything for her fiancé and is determined to be the perfect wife. But does she know the real Paddy?

Four very different women.
One awfully charming man.

This is a very long book - almost 900 pages. It fluctuates between the four women and their interwoven stories and relationships with Paddy de Courcy. Gradually the reader gets drawn into the intrigue surrounding the enigma who is Paddy de Courcy - a wealthy, charismatic, ambitious politician, and gets to know the character of each woman and the role they played in his life. 

The first chapter starts with Lola, a young fashion stylist and I did find that her initially prolonged agonising over her situation got rather tedious to the extent that I nearly stopped reading the book. I’m glad I didn’t as I grew quite fond of her as the story progressed and enjoyed reading about her escapades as she gradually came to terms with her situation and made another life for herself. 

I also liked and admired the sassy journalist Grace, although when it came to the chapters about her sister Marnie, a self-obsessed alcoholic, I found myself skimming chunks where she was wallowing in self pity for pages on end. I can’t be doing with people who are immersed in a victim mentality - I find it tedious in the extreme and reading about it was equally intensely irritating. In fact the author could have reduced the size of the book with no adverse effects by cutting out half of the brooding, fretting and whingeing passages.   

Despite this, I found the rest of it a very absorbing book with unexpected surprises and shocks, suspense, twists and turns and interesting sub plots.  Many of the peripheral characters were entertaining and there was humour to balance the dark elements and angst.  

Sandwiched in between each chapter was a paragraph describing a nasty incident of domestic violence. Gradually the reason for this is revealed. It’s very clever and the reader is taken on an emotional roller- coaster.  I’m glad I stuck with it - but I must say that I got so involved  with the storyline that I actually had a nightmare about it...evidence I suppose of a convincing bit of writing!

Hugh Howey - Shift Wool Trilogy Book 2

review written and read live on bookshow on 8th Jan 2015 by Ro Bennett

This is book 2 of the Wool Trilogy which forms a part of a series of nine science fiction novellas called the Silo Saga which is divided into three parts: Wool, Shift and Dust. 

Howey first began the series in 2011, initially writing Wool as a stand-alone self published short story on Amazon, but as it grew in popularity he expanded it so that the Wool omnibus now consists of 5 stories.   

The Shift Omnibus comprises three books: Legacy, Order and Pact. I am reviewing Legacy. Finally there’s a book called Dust which ties it all together.

The story of Wool takes place on a post-apocolyptic  Earth. Those who have survived the disaster live in the Silo, a subterranean city extending over one hundred and fifty storeys beneath the surface.

The First Shift, Legacy is a prequel to the story in the Wool novels. The reader learns what led to the catastrophe through the eyes of Donald, a young congressman.    

The book starts with some rather possibly disturbing true facts.  In 2007, the Centre for Automation in Naniobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platforms that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnosis, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate.

The same year, CBS re-aired a programme about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic events.

At almost the same time in humanity’s broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened.

The Prologue is set in 2110:  Beneath the hills of Fulton County, Georgia.  Here is an extract: 

Troy returned to the living and found himself inside of a tomb. He awoke to a world of confinement, a thick sheet of frosted glass pressed near to his face. Dark shapes stirred on the other side of the icy murk. He tried to lift his arms, to beat on the glass, but his muscles were too weak. He attempted to scream -  but could only cough. The taste in his mouth was foul. His ears rang with the clank of heavy locks opening, the hiss of air, the squeak of hinges long dormant.

In the first chapter the story switches back to 2049 tin Washington D,C. with congressman Donald Keene waiting to meet with Senator Thurman, a powerful, charismatic politician who is about to employ him in a prestigious job as a surveyor of an innovative and very important building project. As the story unfolds, the reader discovers what the building project is and why 38 years later Troy finds himself awakening in a tomb.  

Howey’s imagination is mind blowing. It’s a very clever idea and the story is fascinating and scary with loads of suspense and drama.  The story really makes you think, because in some ways, parts of it seem horribly plausible. 
I was tempted to read the whole series one after another, but decided to pace myself and intersperse the books with something lighter in between.  I found it pretty compulsive page turning reading.

Monday, 29 December 2014

David Baddiel – The Secret Purpose




Reviewed by showhost 29th Dec 2014.
It’s the build up to WW2 and in Germany persecution of the jews has begun, businesses closed down, segregation, beatings and strict rules.  Those who are lucky manage to get visa’s and escape before the real massacres begin.
One such person is Isaac Fabian.  Isaac, a Jewish communist, is married to lulu, a Christian, which did not go down well with their families,and they have a baby daughter. But because of his wife’s family connections they do manage to get that visa and escape to Britain, leaving behind his parents and siblings.
He doesn't realise how uninterested the British government will be to the plight of the Jews-  passing all the stories off as Jewish propaganda and how a little beating here and there was probably deserved for dissent.
On arrival in London Isaac and his family find themselves segregated.  Isaac is interned on the Isle of Man whilst his wife and child (because they are Christian and not Jewish) remain in a rented room in London.
On the Isle of Man they are treated well but do not have access to any news or information.
June Murray works for the British government - Ministry of Information department - and is perturbed by some of the reports coming out of Germany and the memos received from British Ops which basically request the information to be ignored, and not made public to

the British public.  June is appalled by this indifference so sets out to gather first hand reports from the internees.  Isaac Fabian is one of those internees and becomes involved.

The beaurocracy of the English government was a revelation, how they disbelieved the reports about the Nazi atrocities and were a little racist towards Jews themselves and the internment on the IOMan was an unknown fact to me.
I started  to read it because I had agreed to as part of our bookgroup, but I was not rushing to pick it up but when I did I became interested in it again.
I thought it was a well written book which captured the mood of the time very well. It wasn't a harrowing book.  But I found myself skipping a few paragraphs at times later in the book. The novel is a mixture of historical fact & fiction. 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Dylan Thomas - A Child's Christmas in Wales

Book review written by Sue Major & read live on bookshow 18th Dec 2014


Postmen and presents and good things to eat, snowballs, music and song.....Dylan Thomas's classic account of Christmas in a small Welsh town is filled with festive fun and excitement.

This is one of my favourite reads at Christmas. It's a magical little story which recalls the   wonderful Christmases of his childhood, and it stirs nostalgic memories of family get-togethers on many Christmas days in my past. It's a quick read....to accompany a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie, perhaps....but it's a joyous one which always leaves me  with a warm glow.
 Dylan tells us of his pals and carol singing, of his presents “Useful and not”, his Aunts who come to visit “ some of them brittle like faded teacups” , and his large Uncles trying out new cigars in front of a roaring fire and of snow in which you can write rude words about your neighbours.

It is written in Dylan Thomas's metaphorical language which might be tricky for younger children, but it is in no way a book just for the young...it's a smasher for adults of all ages, and I highly recommend it to everyone .

Michael Morpurgo - Private Peaceful



Book review written by Brian Lowen & read live on bookshow 18th Dec 2014
A lovely book this set in the times leading up to the first world war, suitable for adults and children.

The story is told by Thomas Peaceful, sixteen years old, who is holed up in an old barn, somewhere in France, near the front line in the war. He is spending the night here, waiting for the dawn and unable to get to sleep, but we do not know why and what dreadful thing he is waiting for, until the end of the story.

As he lays there, hour by hour, he thinks back over his short life and all the things that have happened to him and his family.

Tommo, as he is known, is the youngest of three children with Charlie as the next up and the oldest is Big Joe who unfortunately is a bit simple and cannot read or write so did not go to school with Tommo and Charlie. Charlie was always one class ahead of Tommo but he always looked out for his younger brother and then Tommo was lucky in palling up with Molly, who he had a big crush on. The three of them had many adventures together on the large estate where they lived. Their Dad was a forester for the Colonel who lived up in the big house and owned the estate, including their small cottage, which was tied to the job.

So, hour by hour, through the night we follow the story until the two boys leave school and get jobs on the estate. When war
breaks out, Charlie is volunteered by the Colonel to enlist in the Infantry. Tommo, not wanting to be separated from his brother, lies about his age and enlists as well.

The story is full of lovely reminiscences and is a joy to read. The characters are all well drawn, and this is an easy to read book.