Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt

imageI knew that Devastation Road was always going to be a difficult book to read, but after reading the Dynamite Room and seeing a lot of glowing reviews I decided to go ahead and try and put aside any emotional thoughts.
It takes place in Czechoslovakia just at the end of the war. Owen wakes up in a field. His clothes don’t fit him and he has no recollection of why he is there or what year it is. He starts walking, trying not to be affected by the tragedy that he sees along the way. Over the course of his journey he is joined by Janek, a Czech teenager and Irena a young Polish Jew who has a baby. They meet many others on their journey. All who are hoping to get somewhere, anywhere where they can attempt to rebuild their lives.
As the journey progresses more is revealed about Owen, Janek and Irena and why they are in the situation that they are in. Janek, at times has a lot of anger and loses his temper often. Much of this is isn’t in English. Some you can work out but some you can’t, but this is what it would have been like for Owen and it worked well staying untranslated.
The last third of the novel was the most upsetting. Tales that were told by characters who were essential but only minor were very moving.
Devastation Road is easily one of the best books I have read, it will definitely be one of my top reads of 2015.

My Grandfather was a prisoner of war in XXb which was in Marienburg in Prussia. One of the last entries in his diary that he kept says
On March into Germany 10-1-45 to 26-4-45. Just one of many hundreds of refugees walking across Europe at this time.

Stirred With Love by Marcie Steele from @bookouture

Romantic Comedy is not a style of book that I would usually read but I am familiar with the author’s other novels (writing as Mel Sherratt) and love them. Plus I also needed a break from my usual choice of crime fiction.
I was not disappointed. It was very enjoyable reading about Lily, Kate and Chloe. Three different generations of independent women and their determination to open the coffee shop and make it successful. All three had experienced a loss or uncertainty over the future and all three helped each other deal with it. One of the reasons I liked it so much was the relationship between the three. They had their disagreements like everybody does but they were resolved. It’s very much a feel good novel, and even though I did cry a couple of times it was lovely, light hearted easy read and I am looking forward very much to reading the next Marcie Steele. And I would LOVE to visit the coffee shop!
With thanks to the publisher and the author for the copy via netgalley.image

The Widow by Fiona Barton

imageThe Widow by Fiona Barton is being published as the book to watch in 2016. I received my copy as a limited edition proof (number 22/100) at this years crime festival in Harrogate. Even though it won’t be published for a few months yet I decided to read it early, before any opinion I had was influenced by hype.
It is a good book but one that I did struggle with at times. The narrative switches between different people. That of the widow I did like reading although at times I felt she was older than the age she was said to be. There was also the police officer who failed in the investigation and refused to let go. And then there was the journalist. It was this part of the novel that I struggled with. I found it draining to read and unfortunately it was a fairly large part of the novel. The husband and Bella’s mother also have their turn but not to any huge degree.
It is clever and I’ve not really read anything like it before. Most crime books I have read focus on the police rather than that of a relative of a suspect. Sadly it is the image of the press that I am left with.

The Lost by Claire McGowan

imageNot everyone who’s missing is lost..

The Lost had been sat in the kindle pile for a while and after seeing a flurry of tweets about the new book in the series I decided to see what I was missing.
I found it to be a fantastic novel. The first in a new series Paula Maguire has been employed by the police force in her home town. She is working with a team who are assigned to cold cases but who are also investigating a current case, the disappearances of two missing teenage girls. She doesn’t really want to be back there. Looking after her father, seeing old friends she hasn’t been in touch with for years and unanswered questions about her Mother’s disappearance years earlier.
The team were brilliant. Consisting of both Catholic and Protestant, Northern and Southern Irish, the way they interacted with each other was a joy to read. I could hear the dialect as I read, something that I have felt in other novels seemed false.
The investigation has its problems and initially Paula isn’t accepted by the others but she is determined to solve the case with or without their help.
It was a great book to read, I know that there are at least another two I can read and I’m looking forward to doing so. I see great potential for the team of detectives in Ballyterrin.

The Life I Left Behind

imageThe Life I Left Behind had me hooked right from the beginning. It starts with one of my biggest fears, that of finding somebody dead whilst out walking. The whole of the novel is told from three women’s point of view. The police officer Victoria, who is investigating the murder of Eve and consequently looking into the assault on Melody. Then there is Melody whose life has never been the same since the attack on her, and finally Eve. Eve is the women whose body was found, and her story about how she got there is fascinating. She was a journalist who started investigating the sentence against the man who attacked Melody and whether he was wrongly accused.
I found Melody hard to engage with at first. I think this was mainly due to her relationship with very controlling Sam who seemed to manipulate the way she was left after the attack. But as I got more into her story I liked her very much. And hated him more by the page.
Victoria was determined to get to the truth regarding the two cases. Even if it means upsetting her superior who investigated the original case. Very much a minor character compared to the other two who dominated the story.
I loved Eve, her humour, compassion and her determination to get the true story from Melody’s ordeal was fantastic to read. She was a delight and I loved getting to ‘know’ her.
This novel is easily one of my top ten books of the year. Highly recommended, especially if you like something that little bit different.
Thanks to the publisher and the author for the copy via netgalley.