Six Months to Get a Life by Ben Adams

Adams

At the beginning of Six Months to Get a Life I found Ben Adams’ novel a relaxed easy read, of the type you might find in a Women’s magazine, except that this story is told from the point of view of a man.  A man in the middle of a mid-life crisis, his marriage is over, he is living with his parents and spending weekends looking after his sons.

Graham Hope works in a boring office, earns barely enough to fund the maintenance of his ex-wife and sons, and longs for a new relationship.  Writing in the form of a diary, he decides to take a positive attitude, intending that on his 43rd birthday in exactly 6 months he will have a more interesting job, his own place to live, a social life and a good relationship with Sean and Jack.

At first we are forced to despair of Graham.  He lacks confidence, relies on others and is indecisive.  A blind date introduces him to “Miss Putney” but is this the promise of sexual satisfaction and companionship that he seeks?  He may be forced to find another job quicker than he intended and increasing tension in his parent’s house, partly caused by his amiable but messy dog Albus, means an alternative residence is becoming urgent.

I enjoyed the fact that the novel is rooted in the present day with detailed references to last year’s football World Cup and mention of current events.  Jack & Sean are charming, yet normal, boys at the outset of their teenage years.  Although it is not easy to empathise with “the Ex” wife, Graham does allow us to understand her point of view.  There is a delightful, very British, ironic humour running through the story.

As soon as things begin to improve for Graham, disaster strikes and he is forced to face up to his feelings and intentions for the future.  The book takes a more serious turn, and I found myself reading well into the night to reach the denouement.  This would make such a good TV serial but in the meantime I recommend that you read the book!

Rosie's Book Review team 1

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Tales from Null City by Barb Taub

Barb Taub

This book contains two stories; the first and longest is Payback is a Witch.

I would not usually pick up a fantasy book as my first choice, but I have found that those written for YA are by far the best. Fantasy requires an inventive mind, creative ideas and preferably, a sense of humour. Luckily Barb Taub has all three, in spades.

As far as I am concerned, you are on to a winner if you live with an enormous Norwegian Forest cat, called Bygul, especially if she is also a goddess who can vanish. But the real heroine of this story is Claire Danielsen, a young witch struggling to continue the work her mother and grandmother did before her. Living alone in the woods she channels the power given to her by her goddess in order to fight evil. Six years earlier she had trained as a Warden to protect the innocents against those who plan to destroy Null City, alongside Peter Oshiro, whom she had loved and walked away from, but now he is back in her life.

Claire’s character is particularly well developed. We feel her confusion, her determination and her pain. She tries to shield Peter from harm and to maintain her lonely independence as the increasing danger of Barghests, the Black Hounds, and the unsolved mystery of her mother’s death cause her to banish both him and her goddess, Bygul.

Barb shows the reader how Claire becomes aware of the threat around her very effectively using these words, “The blackboard-scratching itch in her brain had intensified until it now felt like claws slashing inside her head.”

This is a great read for excitement, tension, romance and a twist in the tail.
The second story, Just for the Spell of it, is a shorter and lighter tale with less feeling of impending doom although there are parallels with the first story. Once again there is a female heroine with special powers with an attractive male sidekick. Eirie Danu is a radio DJ with a popular bubbly personality; Liam, her fellow Warden, is a serious, unemotional young man in person, but he is also a zany prankster who rings up her radio show with daft messages.

Eirie and Liam are given the task of finding a missing Argentinian soccer player and a baby who is apparently Eirie’s sister. We discover that Eirie was the daughter of the Queen of the Fae from a land of eternal youth but Eirie had abdicated as heir when she thought her mother had died several years ago.

We accompany Eirie and Liam through frightening adventure and a roller-coaster relationship as she reveals to him that she is more than just a fun loving girl and they both make decisions about commitment.

These two refreshingly different tales are well worth investigating and I will certainly be seeking out the earlier books to learn more about Null City.

Rosie's Book Review team 1