I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
I love a book that defies genre labelling, and ‘The Weighing Of The Heart’, is a perfect example. Told in the first person from Nick’s perspective. He is an ‘Englishman in New York’ and totally captivated by everything he experiences and sees, at least in the beginning. His descriptions and emotions, as he lives in the city, evoke rich visual imagery in the reader’s mind, whether they have experienced New York , or not.
It is almost memoir like in quality, as he tells his story to his eager audience. An artist, he is drawn to one of his landladies works of art from Ancient Egypt. Given the mystic and legend that surrounds ancient Egyptian relics, it is not surprising that he covets it obsessionally, and here the story takes on a more sinister theme.
Romance with another beautiful artist , also dominates his thinking, what starts off as attraction, darkens and deepens .Here the story explores the power of attraction, and how it too can be an obsession.
Mystery and criminal intent fuse with hope and passion to provide a gripping and surprising tale set in a city everyone wants to love.
Excerpt From The Weighing OF the Heart – Chapter one – Paul Tudor Owen
Paul Tudor Owen was born in Manchester in 1978, and was educated at the University of Sheffield, the University of Pittsburgh, and the London School of Economics.
He began his career as a local newspaper reporter in north-west London, and currently works at the Guardian, where he spent three years as deputy head of US news at the paper’s New York office.
A family ripped asunder. A terrible secret lurks in a thrilling novel of love, grief, and mystery.
Patrick thought his grandfather, John, died before he was born. In later life, he finds out that it wasn’t true. For the first five years of Patrick’s life, they stayed in the same small village. So why were they kept apart?
Patrick wishes to search the past to find the reason – but only if he can be united with his young daughter first. And that means bringing her home to Scotland. It means journeying to France to take her away from the care of her mother, Patrick’s ex-wife.
In 1915, with the war raging in Europe, John is a young man working on the family farm. Not yet old enough to enlist but aware of its looming threat, he meets Catherine. But his attempts at courtship end suddenly when an accident rips his life apart.
Told in alternate chapters, set, mainly, in South-West Scotland, this is the dramatic story of Patrick, interwoven with John’s traumatic life.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Two men, in two time periods, both battle against their demons and life’s injustices. Patrick and John are related, and Patrick is on a quest to explore the mystery surrounding his grandfather.
Patrick is confused and unhappy, his marriage to a younger woman ends badly, and he loses contact with his daughter. His plan to reunite with her is the focus of his story. His need to find out what happened to his Grandfather equates to his need to find parallels and assume some control in his own life.
John’ story is set in Scotland during the early twentieth century. The setting and historical details of this time period are interesting and bring John’s character to life. His story is poignant. The ominous presence of World War 1, is another claustrophobic element in this part of the story.
The stories are well written and the mystery is carefully revealed, in a plot that has many twists. The male characters are complex and realistic. The female characters are much more simply drawn, perhaps because they are seen from John and Patrick’s point of view, and they both lack an intrinsic understanding of what motivates them?
A deep, and sometimes dark story of two men’s lives, with a good mystery to solve and an overriding theme of sadness and loss.
Guest Post – RR Gall – Two Tides To Turn
How Stressed Are you?
The candle is wicked. The man is rugged.
The dignitary is present to present the present to the present champion. It is
the timekeeper’s job to record the latest record.
This has been bothering me for a while now
– the lack of guidance. And I take my hat off to anyone trying to come to grips
with the rather tricky, awkward language of English. It must be extremely
difficult when given no direction on where to stress certain words. In some
ways, it is amazing how this language has become so prevalent. At the moment, more
people speak it than any other – approximately 2 billion – with native speakers
by far in the minority.
A quick scan through other languages shows
that many have steady rules on where the emphasis should be. In Spanish, unless
indicated by an accent, the stress is on the penultimate syllable if the word
ends in a vowel, or if there is a vowel followed by the letter ‘s’ or ‘n’. If
not, the stress will be on the last syllable.
In Italian, again if there is no
direction, the stress tends to be on the penultimate syllable.
And in Greek, it appears they take no
chances, shovelling on more accents than coal on the Flying Scotsman, but with
the rule that only the last three syllables are ripe, and can be picked, for stressing.
In English, we are left to fend for
One bright aspect though, I hope I’m right
in saying, is that our lack of rules makes English ideally suited for cryptic
crosswords. Such crosswords do exist in other languages, but only in a handful
of them – German, Hebrew, Italian, Hindi, and a few others.
Back to the start then. How did you get on
with the sentences?
The candle has a wick. The candle is
wicked(1) (one syllable, pronounce like tricked).
The man has a rug (or toupee, hairpiece).
The man is rugged(1) (like hugged).
(Are there any rugged(2) men who are
rugged(1)? Perhaps not – or maybe is a matter of taste. I’ll leave you to come
to a conclusion on that.)
Is beloved always a (3) or can it go to (2)?
What about crooked and aged? You might be able to come up with a few of your
own. If you do, I wouldn’t mind hearing them as I am preparing a more extensive
Wait a minute! Oh, no. Just as I was about
to pat myself on the back with my new aid to indicate pronunciation, up steps the
next sentence, and my method falls flat on its face, no use to anyone. Why didn’t
I just write: the dignitary is here to hand over the gift to the current
champion? It would have saved any confusion. Never mind.
But don’t get me started on some other baffling
In 1875, the Punch Magazine highlighted the number of different ways the letters ‘ough’ could be said in English with this sentence: “A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode, coughing and hiccoughing, thoughtfully through the streets of Scarborough.”
So am I stressed about all this? A little.
And I’ll say again, to anyone taking on my native language, I doff my hat to those
learning or learned – now is that ‘learned’ with a (1) or a (2)?
RR Gall lives in Scotland and is the author of: The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit, The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts, The Case of the Hermit’s Guest Bedroom Two Tides To Turn, A Different Place to Die, Only the Living Can Die.
It’s a beautiful day for a wedding. White roses scent the air and the summer sunlight streams in. A spoon chimes against a champagne flute and the room falls silent. And there he is – my husband – getting to his feet to propose a toast. He’s still handsome. His new wife is next to him, gazing upwards, oblivious.
I’m not supposed to be here. All these years in the same town and I had no idea until I saw his name on the seating plan. He lived with me, once. Loved me. Small-town memories are long, but the people in this room don’t want to remember.
They say the healing is in letting go, but after what he did, he needs to know we haven’t gone away just because he’s shut his eyes.
So I take Daisy by the hand and step forward from the shadows. He notices us and his eyes widen. The champagne glass falls from his hand and smashes. Then he sags forward, making a terrible sound – a sort of strangled scream…
A powerfully emotional novel with a dark secret at its heart. This family drama will keep you hooked until the very last page.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
An enthralling family drama told from four female perspectives that reveals a story that is emotional, honest, poignant and shocking.
Beginning with a wedding and two uninvited guests, and a seemingly tragic event, you may be forgiven for thinking you know what this story is about before it begins, but you’re probably wrong.
The story begins with Paula and the wedding. Then the time frame slips into the past and Jenny (Mother,) Ava(Eldest Daughter), and Ellie(Youngest Daughter) begin to tell their stories. The plot reveals events that change their lives and shape their futures. The appearance of Mark gives hope to Jenny, but disruption for the daughters. Gradually you learn Mark’s secrets and his controlling personality traits. The major plot twist confirms my opinion of Mark.
The story’s pace, keeps the reader engaged. The twists are subtle but resonate. The complex plot, never loses its way, even as detail and layers are added.
The characters are complex and authentic. It is easy to empathise with all the female characters, excepting Ingrid(Mark’s Mother). Ellie’s character is particularly well written, and I enjoyed the added dimension she brings to the story.
The ending is satisfying, being both hopeful and realistic.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a difficult book for me to review.
I like the beginning, where Julia, obviously at a crossroads in her life decides to use long- service leave and savings, to attend a three-month spiritual retreat. I did smile that she thought to leave a sixteen and eighteen-year-old with just their father wouldn’t cause any problems, but that aside the beginning is good and full of promise for a literary adventure.
When she arrives, I wondered what I was letting myself in for. The prose was steeped in Christian church language, and I couldn’t see how this would be an enjoyable book for me, but I was in for a surprise, and I’m glad I persevered.
The characters are wonderful, believable, complex and flawed. They bring the story to life, as they find that a spiritual retreat is not what they imagined. This is especially true for Julia.Her reawakening is more physical, initially than spiritual, but the consequences of her actions, change her whole life.
The plot moves away from Christain doctrine and concentrates on Julia and her fellow retreaters quest for faith. The issues raised are complex and interesting, and the plot twists reveal more of the characters’ personalities and the true reasons they are there.
The last part of the story concentrates on Julia’s arrival at home, and what follows. It is engaging to read, and the final scenes are poignant.
So, if like me you enjoy to read something different, this is worthy of your time. Literary fiction with a message about faith, family and prejudice.
Originally from England, Sue
worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to
concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories,
articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:
Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian
Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from
drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina
Stead Award, 2014.
Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW
Christina Stead Award, 2016.
The Sky-Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.
Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker
family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017
Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year-old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Feed Thy Enemy, based on
her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face
of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a
starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Sue’s current project, A Question of Country, is a novel exploring the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity.
Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism. Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.
Deadly Prospects is book 1 in the
Scottish Mystery series. 1869, Sutherland, Scotland. For years the people of
this remote area of the Highlands have lived a hard life. Now a local Gold Rush
has attracted the Pan-European Mining Company to the area, and Solveig McCleery
is determined to re-open the Brora mines and give the population the riches
they deserve. But when work starts on re-opening the mines, the body of a
prospector is discovered, and odd inscriptions found on stones near the corpse.
Before the meaning of these strange marks can be deciphered another body is
discovered. Are these attacks connected to the re-opening of the mines? Will
Solveig’s plan succeed in bringing peace and prosperity back to the area? Or
has she put in motion something far more sinister?
I received a copy of this book from Urbane Publications in return for an honest review.
I love a good mystery, and this one set in Scotland in the late nineteenth century is full of atmosphere, historical detail, mysterious occurrence and realistic characters.
If you have a love literary fiction, this story will appeal, it’s not commercial fiction. The plot is complex and the characters historically authentic. There is so much historical detail, to let you see how it was to live in this place, at this time, that it slows to pace, and makes the story difficult to get into to.
The first part of the story set in Iceland is dramatic, full of vivid imagery and shocking. I expected the rest of the book to be similar in pace and impact, but truthfully, the pace didn’t find this level again, until the final chapters. When the story regained the adrenaline-inducing impact of the first part.
The mystery is complex and interesting, the connection with the first part is tied up nicely at the end. The setting is well -described, you can feel the desperation, isolation and poverty the workers felt when their livelihood was taken away. Solveig and her counterparts are well written and in the end, you feel the sadness of what has gone before, whilst feeling there is hope for the future. The mystery holds its secrets until the end, which is exciting and menacing.
Clio was born in Yorkshire, spent her later childhood in Devon before returning to Yorkshire to go to university. For the last twenty-five years, she has lived in the Scottish Highlands where she intends to remain. She eschewed the usual route of marriage, mortgage, children, and instead spent her working life in libraries, filling her home with books and sharing that home with dogs. She began writing for personal amusement in the late nineties, then began entering short story competitions, getting shortlisted and then winning, which led directly to a publication deal with Headline. Her book, The Anatomist’s Dream, was nominated for the Man Booker 2015 and longlisted for the Bailey’s Prize in 2016. Twitter
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction – Borough Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I’m always a little wary of critically acclaimed, and over-hyped books, often they are not as good as they are reputed to be. So I started this one with trepidation. Initial impressions are that is honest, raw, and full of experiences of urban life in Brisbane that do not make easy reading.
Eli and August, are brothers, their carers’ lives are driven by drugs, and the boys have to constantly battle adversity to keep the family together. Despite the family’s dysfunctionality, the love the boys feel for their mother and each other dominates this story and puts into perspective many of the bizarre and often frightening experiences they endure.
At the end of this lengthy book, there is a note from the author, about how the story came into being, what it means to him and the story’s themes. It is, on reading this that you appreciate, it is more of a memoir than fiction, although seen through a young child’s and then young boys eyes. I wish I’d read this note first because it grounds this complex story, and makes it more relatable.
There is a great deal of imagination in this story, magic if you like, which I attributed to a young boy’s need to escape from the harshness of his life, and give himself the power to overcome some its more sordid aspects.
I’m still not sure if I liked it, but the writing is engaging and authentic, the story moves forward in an understandable way, and it gives an insider view of Australian life, particularly life in Brisbane and Queensland, through a young person’s viewpoint.
The characters are the lifeblood of this story, and the author indicates that they are based on people he knows or a medley of them, in his personal and journalistic life. Many are not likeable, and the danger the children are exposed to is disturbing, but they are real, and the reality of this story is what stays with you.
An unusual tale of growing up and surviving life in a gritty urban setting. With a cast of characters, covering the spectrum of humanity, and the humour, love and magic required to reach adulthood.
On an ordinary Saturday morning in 1996, the residents of Nightingale Point wake up to their normal lives and worries.
Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.
It’s a day like any other until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Whilst the idea for this story is familiar and contemporary, it is the believable, complex characters that make it worth reading for me. The author’s knowledge of this setting and social ethos makes the reader feel part of the story. The characters easy to empathise, even when they are not always likeable.
The ordinariness of life in the tower block setting makes the tragic event both dramaticand unexpected. There is a careful build-up of characterisation at the beginning so that when the event occurs, you care what happens.
The aftermath is also well written and explores in a sensitive way what happens to our characters afterwards. The ending is poignant but hopeful. emphasising the quality of the community and the individuals who comprise it. They are born into adversity and rise above it, making a story that could be too sad, life-affirming and heartwarming.