Book reviews - fiction

Book review – Tree Magic

Harriet Springbett’s debut novel will launch on 9 January
ISBN – 9781907605994 by Watchword eBooks (an Impress imprint)


Tree Magic is the story of an isolated child who misuses her talents to cause harm. The ensuing accident propels Rainbow out of childhood and into her teenage years. As she seeks her place in the world, we feel the impact of that trauma and watch Rainbow shape her adult self.

Springbett uses the analogy of a tree to show how the girl is the mother of the woman and treats us to a broad exploration of the life of sapling as it matures. In this deceptively gentle novel, we see two kinds of adolescent – the rebellious and the obedient – and discover they are two sides of the same coin.

The author shows her empathy for young adults in a tumultuous preface, that speaks with the voice of a teenager caught in a stream of bubbling thoughts and ideas. And in a generous layer of detail, that hints at the wealth of influences and decisions that add up to form our personalities.

We grow to wonder if Rainbow’s gift of Tree Magic is real or part of a deep metaphor that entwines its structure with her story. With a subtle flair, Springbett grows interest and sympathy for her characters; this reader wanted to know how they turned out and had her fingers crossed. I also found that I hope the Tree Magic is real.

Book reviews - fiction

Neither Nowt Nor Summat – a book review

As McMillan states this book is not so much about Yorkshire, but about the author and poet and his relationship with the County.

McMillan’s experiences are shared with a myriad cast of characters who we see through the eyes of the Bard of Barnsley. Perhaps my roots shine through as I giggled and chortled my way around a region that is larger than, richer than and has more people than several European countries, certainly my other half did not see the funny side of

“Because there were two fours in the number I surmised that I was on the forty-fourth floor.”

Given the recent news that regional accent (and dialects) are dying out, this book can stand as a eulogy to a language that evokes a people who are strong and dour, or generous and community driven – perhaps all four. McMillan provides a range of personal anecdotes and historic fact in a loose, but compelling, structure that carries us on a personal journey to become “Yorkshire Enough”.

Book reviews - fiction

Quark Soup by Harriet Springbett

Springbett starts with an assault of flavours and textures and quickly hits the reader with a one-two punch that completes the metaphor of the opening paragraph and literally takes the breath away.

The timespan of this short story is a mere couple of minutes, yet in that time the protagonist feels, remembers and tastes every aspect of her love for her husband.

With a bombshell happening in the third paragraph, it is hard to see how the author will resolve this emotional story. And yet she does with a sleight of hand that is as natural and beautiful as the prose.

Quark Soup was recently awarded third prize in the Sengora International Short Story competition. A real deserved plaudit for Springbett’s approach to the genre.

Read Harriet Springbett’s blog

Read the Sengora announcement here

Download and read Quark Soup

Book reviews - fiction, short story, Uncategorized

The Colonist – a short story review

I love short stories. The right author can immerse me in a strong, vibrant world, capture my imagination and challenge my thoughts. So it was a pleasure to learn of Galley Beggar’s Singles. The short stories in this series cost one pound each and provide several minutes of pure pleasure.

Ruby Cowling’s The Colonist is no exception. Its tight cast of characters and teasing style led me into several false assumptions as I spied on a few critical days in the lives of two emotionally challenged brothers.

As behoves a good short story, there is a twist in the tale. But it is subtle and may only appear when you sit back and contemplate this little world.

Book reviews - fiction, science fiction

Ender’s Game – a book review

A bit of background

My rag eared copy…
and the back

When I go to see a movie based on a book that I know, I generally re-read the book.  So seeing the trailer for Ender’s game was a siren song.  This is one of my favourite books and I wanted to remember why I love it  and to tell you about it.  I wasn’t disappointed and hope you won’t be either.

Continue reading “Ender’s Game – a book review”