Saturday, September 09, 2017

Shtum
















 



Shtum
By Jem Lester
An Orion paperback, 2017



This is an incredibly difficult book to review without giving away enormous chunks of the plot, which I always hate doing.

Ben and Emma Jewell are the parents of Jonah, who is ten and profoundly autistic. Ben and Emma appear to be just about coping with the rigid complexities of dealing with Jonah's daily needs, their work committments and their marriage, but when the question arises as to what school Jonah will attend when he leaves his current school, absolutely everything falls apart, quite literally.

 In one fell swoop, Ben finds himself wifeless, homeless and sole parent to Jonah, and in despair, he turns to his father, Georg, for help. It seems that Ben's descent into alcoholism is racing unchecked, and it is only when he discovers that somehow Jonah is unlocking the secrets of his family's past from his grandfather Georg that Ben begins to tentatively repair his relationship with his father......

For a book which deals with the Holocaust and the issues which surround the care of children with severely complex autism, this is a book with great touches of humour with scenes which made me laugh out loud and all too many scenes which made me cry. Jonah may not be able to talk, but he speaks to his family in many different ways and on many different levels, and they all talk back to him in their own ways too. But will they all ever learn to talk to each other?

This is a profoundly moving book about life, marriage, love, families and the struggles which the parents of every disabled child face in their determination to get their children the very best care they possibly can, and the battles which they face in doing so.

A troubling yet hopeful book, very well worth the read.
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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Traybakes


                                                



Traybakes: 40 Brilliant One-Tin Bakes For Enjoying, Giving And Selling

By Hannah Miles

Lorenz Books, March 2017



I found this book in my local library and simply had to check it out and bring it home! 

 My daughter very kindly offered to do a test bake of one of the recipes, so she made the Apple Shortcake bars, which were absolutely delicious. 

The only downside was that these really are large traybakes, and we ended up eating the bars quite literally for days. 

An absolutely wonderful book if you need to cater on a large scale for school/parish events, bake sales, parties etc, but otherwise the recipes really do need to be scaled down dramatically for normal domestic use which I did not feel confident doing.
 Recipes were varied and fun,  including Brownies, Blondies, a variety of Flapjacks, some appropriately Healthy Eating recipes and some gluten-free recipes too.




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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Silent Weapon




Silent Weapon
By Andy McNab
Published by Doubleday, August 2017


This is the second in the "Street Soldier" Young Adult series about Sean Harker, former gang lad and petty criminal, who gets recruited into the Army in the first book.

Sean has made good, turned his life around and created a whole new life for himself in the Army, after an admittedly pretty rocky start. Fresh from a tour of duty abroad, he is expecting to arrive safely back in Britain and then prepare for some holiday leave in sunny Tenerife, but things do not go according to plan. Their civilian plane is diverted and then the airport is attacked by terrorists.

Caught right in the middle of it all, Sean and his companions fight back....but this is not the end of the problem, in fact it is just the very beginning of a desperate search against time to track down the terrorists and disable their deadly biological weapon hidden on Sean's own home turf by people he knows from his past.

This made utterly compelling  and eye-opening reading; I found I was rapidly sharing Harker's concern, anger, disbelief and fear that radicalisation and terrorism could take place on his estate in London, among the people he knows and has grown up with. Everything he has believed about terrorism until now is turned on its head and he has very limited time to use his local knowledge of places and people to find those responsible and discover exactly what the weapon is before it is too late and a pandemic is unleashed.

An excellent story, which I ended up reading in one sitting and couldn't put it down. How on earth he is going to top this particular book, I have no idea, but I am equally sure that he will manage it.




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Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Almost A Minyan








Almost A Minyan

By Lori S. Kline &  Susan Simon

Published by Sociosights Press, April 2017



Jewish synagogue worship requires a quorum of ten adults - a minyan - in order for Torah to be read and some services to be held.  Our young heroine is keen and eager to grow up and fulfil her ambition to join her beloved father and grandfather as part of the minyan at her local shul.

Sometimes the congregation struggles to find ten adults to make up the minyan and being able to take part herself seems a long way off as she wistfully describes the joy her father and grandfather feel as they attend services at the synagogue and observe the Jewish religious requirements.

Her life continues as normal, until her grandfather falls ill and sadly dies. Her world is turned upside down by this sad loss. However, it is not too long until the wonderful day arrives when her father reminds her that her Hebrew birthday is here and she is at last old enough to count as one of the minyan for morning prayers at the synagogue.

When she gets there, she is now officially part of the minyan, and to her utter joy and delight, she receives another wonderful gift too.....

The story describes Jewish life, bereavement, grief, worship and happiness, all seamlessly integrated in this lovely book,  told in verse throughout and delightfully illustrated. It has been an absolute delight and a pleasure to review!

Many thanks to Sociosights Press for sending me a digital copy to read and review.

http://www.sociosights.com/




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