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About Hazel

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  • Biography
    Married with 2 boys, a dog and a cat.
  • Location
    Freezing Glasgow
  • Interests
    Reading, films, theatre, music, eating, sleeping all humanly pleasures.
  • How did you hear about this site?
    The Observer

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Glasgow, Scotland
  • Interests
    Books, films, music, drawing, tattoos, comics, walking.

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2,120 profile views
  1. It’s a nice room. Somewhere I can escape too. The irony is, I have never read Pratchett, maybe need to rectify that.
  2. I recently changed one of my bedrooms into a proper library, lined the walls with bookshelves, bought a reading chair and side table, proper reading light, painted the walls dark green and I placed David’s bust of Terry Pratchett on the side table. It seemed fitting and a nice place to remember my friend.
  3. Sean Jackson is celebrating his fiftieth birthday with his friends, family, drugs and alcohol. His first wife has dumped his teenage twin daughters, Mills and India, on him for the weekend and his second wife won’t babysit his new toddler twin daughters, Coco and Ruby for him so that he can have a hedonistic weekend with his hedonistic best friends. Quite frankly, a collection of truly horrid people. Then little Coco goes missing. Fast forward a number of years and Sean, on his fourth wife, has suffered a massive heart attack. His friends and remaining family members gather for his funeral. Milla meets up with Ruby to take her to the funeral, after not being in contact for many years. Ruby asks “what happened to Coco?” And so, in alternating chapters between the birthday weekend and now, the funeral, we find out what happened to Coco. This is absolutely kept me reading to find out what happened to Coco, though the characters at the birthday party are truly awful people and Sean, the man at the center of everything, is a truly awful person. Claire, his second wife and mother to Coco, is nicely portrayed, first as the materialistic, selfish, gold digging socialite then as a mother, desperately sad and misunderstood by a group of narcissistic people. And interestingly, this is one of those books where not everything is settled by the end. Which I enjoyed immensely.
  4. Set in a school in Wiltshire, Chalk takes its title from the giant chalk drawing of a horse carved into a hillside, an artwork that inspires power in our protagonist Andrew Waggoner. In the same vein as books such as I Am King of the Castle by Susan Hill, The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks or even Lord of the Flies by William Golding, childhood bullying becomes very violent causing Andrew Waggoner to split into two people, himself and Waggoner - a warrior who tells Andrew what to do, givens him strength and promises to take over Andrew to get what he needs. The violent bullying incident that causes this is horrific and it's not implausible to believe that it would cause a psychological break in a vulnerable, isolated teenager. Only Waggoner threatens to overwhelm Andrew and change everything with no turning back. The medieval power of the ancient chalk horse only adds to his power. I enjoyed this book a lot, I think it would make a great book for teenage boys. I particularly enjoyed that it was set in Thatcher's Britain with cultural touchstones that I recognised.
  5. This a a crime debut and promises good things from its author, Lara Dearman. Journalist Jennifer returns to her childhood home of Guernsey after violent incident related to a disturbing story she was working on. Struggling to recover, Jennifer is drawn into the murder of a girl found on the beach after Jennifer returns to her habit of swimming in the sea no matter the weather. Working with the laconic DCI Michael Gilbert, she works to uncover a murderer living on the island. This is a solid crime novel, cold and salt-soaked which promises a great start for Dearman.
  6. Another of those 'characters go to isolated, happens to be haunted, house' tales. Why are we so fascinated by them? Because a house should be a safe home? Because we like to believe that our loved ones never leave? Because home is what we all recognise and should be reassured by so upsetting that is the scariest thing we can imagine? This one is different. This isn't family members the character's have never met. This isn't children versus elderly relatives. This isn't a groaning ancient manor house...well it is, but not in a Turn of the Screw kind of way. Jack and Ali need fresh start. Leaving behind a traumatic event, they sell up and move into a commune in Rosalind House, an old psychiatric hospital in the countryside. Here this house is busy with a collection of people, each coming to Rosalind House for their own reasons, learning skills enabling them to be useful in this idyllic setting. Something goes bump in the night and things become not as they seem. But the ghosts here are of the present day kind not the ancient kind and the tales heads in a direction you did not quite expect at the start. Hugely enjoyable.
  7. Apparently this slim novella was famously given to Bill Clinton by Monica Lewinsky. I can see why. The whole novel is a conversation between a man and a woman over the phone, over one night. It is one of those sex chat lines so popular in the early 90s. A version of Tinder I guess. They discuss their many sexual escapades with other partners, dress for each other, pleasure each other and discuss the nature of sex and love and modern relationships. The book places the reader in a sort of voyeuristic relationship, a menage a trois with these two callers. It is in turns interesting, uncomfortable and erotic. Is it something I would read again? Probably not. I like suspense and it is utterly lacking in that. I guess if there was any it would be in the sexual play between the two which you know will end up in a climax. Pun intended. But you know. The purpose of their call is clearly defined from the get go.
  8. Rowling's crime series about Cormoran Strike and Robin is a oddity to me. Not particularly graphic, set in world's that I find quite dry and populist, they don't immediately scream my kind of reading. However, the writing and the plotting is excellent and the relationship between Cormoran and Robin is completely gripping. Cormoran's morose, laconic dialogue is at times amusing - he is a great character. The books are a solid staple - you know you are going to get a good read.
  9. As a huge crime fan, serial killer...I hate to use the word fan...and fan of the macabre in general, I picked up this book interested in reading about the day to day life of those people who clean up after real life crimes, but this book is so much more than that, in fact it was very, very little about that. Sarah Krasnostein meets Sandra Pankhurst, a business owner who cleans up crime scenes and hoarders' houses. She does this with love and without judgment. She has the gift of the gab, immediately empathetic, sympathetic and reassuring dealing with those who have mental health issues or impacted by a traumatic death close to them. But Sandra is so much more than this. She is transgender. She was a prostitute. She was married to a woman. She was a father. She was an unwanted and abused son. And it is these section of her life that the book mainly focuses on. It is a difficult read. You are sympathetic one minute, angry the next. How could she walk out on her children? How could her family treat her so badly? How could men treat her so badly? How can she make amends? Why doesn't she try harder to make amends? How can she be so ambivalent about her children? So many questions, so many conflicting emotions? But you admire her. Ultimately, that's how I felt about Sandra. Well worth the read.
  10. Darling White is a black, single mother struggling to raise her disabled son and London during the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Amidst turmoil and unrest, she finds love with Thomas. A chance meeting leads to love leads to a very quick marriage. Darling and her son Stevie move in with Thomas and his teenage daughter Lola. Typically, daughter and step-mother clash, only Lola has a helping hand in taunting and threatening Darling. Lola becomes enmeshed in a growing group of right wingers via her latest crush at school. But it might not be them that brings Darling down, it may be her own past that catches up with her. We know from the beginning that this is a tale that is not going to end in a happily ever after. This book fairly zips along and I was intrigued as to how this step-daughter/step-mother tail was going to play out. The weak area is definitely Thomas - he is not important to the story and the author can't hide her ambivalence to him. He is a ghost, a cypher and a shadow who flits in and out. He barely engages in the growing tension between his beloved daughter (is she beloved? We never really see or know that he loves his daughter apart from giving her a stupid cutesy nick name - her name being so close to Lolita is not lost on me), and his new wife apart from the initial 'sweep her off her feet', Cinderalla romancing. He placidly accepts the events in the denouement. He is a terrible character, merely there to bring Darling and Lola together. And the book suffers for this disregard.
  11. I picked this up because I had seen so many plaudits for Aickman for being a "magician" with horror and thriller storytelling. Kim Newman on the back of my copy notes "...the best, the subtlest and creepiest author of ghost stories". I didn't finish it - not because it was too scary or creepy but because Aickman's writing is clearly of its time and I suspect he was a very...old-fashioned...gent. I think that's a polite way of saying misogynist.
  12. I seem to chime with everyone else here. I had read Bauer's Rubbernecker and Blacklands previously and see that I gave both three stars which isn't usually enough to keep with an author, but I was surprised to see this nominated for the Booker and thought that Bauer had hit her stride, this being a genre-defying crime novel. Disappointingly it wasn't. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it because I absolutely did. I found Jack's life post Mum going missing was very interesting, how the family had fallen apart, how he did what he could to keep the family going and more importantly together. I found the opening scenario of a mother going for help, leaving her children in the car quite terrifying. But...and it's a big but, how Jack reconnects with his mum's murderer just felt clumsy. It is explained and seems just plausible but it just doesn't feel right. The murderer has no depth - merely placeholder for the 'bad guy' because the story required one.
  13. Tara and Kyle are sent to live with the grandparents they have never met after their mother is hospitalized following a car crash. The grandparents live in an isolated farm house living a charmed solitary life where they garden and bake. Despite the trauma of having to leave their mother alone in hospital, the children are happy to be so adored and waited on hand and feet by their loving grandparents. It is never spoken of, why their mother forbade contact. But the grandparents are so forgiving and bear no malice. Until Tara hears bumps in the night and a strange man walks past her bedroom window. Then things begin to change. Suspicions grow and desperation sets in. This started off as a so-so YA novel, how many 'sent to live with excommunicated family members in a haunted house' stories have you read, but the denouement is pretty horrific which will more than satisfy mature YA and adults alike. I have a few issues with the writing, which I wish I could recall to provide examples, which almost made me stop reading early on but I am glad to have pushed past this.
  14. This is an excellent YA novel which as an adult, I enjoyed just as much as any adult crime novel. A modern, deathly take on one of my favourite films The Breakfast Club - five students serve detention, each of them very different and during detention one of them dies. Right in front of everyone else, including the supervisory teacher. The boy who is killed wrote a gossip blog about the goings on in the school which makes him pretty much enemy number one. In alternating chapters each of the four remaining students go through the aftermath of the murder. Suspicion, investigations - both formal and informal - petty, teenage dramas and love. I was pretty much gripped to this book. While the characters were stereotypes (the jock, the criminal, the scholar, the princess...) and much of the narrative is inspired cultural touchstones such as The Breakfast Club, McManus weaves twisty narratives from these pupils who each have their own traumas and issues to deal with over and above the crime for which they are all under investigation for.
  15. John Cleaver is a teenage boy with a lot of macabre thoughts. He and his mother live above a morticians - his mum is the mortician and he often gets to help her with the cadavers. But John also knows he is a serial killer. He just hasn't actually killed anyone yet. He is obsessed with serial killers and is happy, excited even to talk about them and store facts and figures. But now something in his hometown is killing people- ripping them to shreds and John gets drawn in as he obsessively hunts the hunter. I really enjoyed this books, the narrative kept me guessing how much John was involved in the killings, how much he was struggling with his dark thoughts and how this was going to affect a teenager on the cusp of making his first kill. Wells' writing style is fizzy and sparky, quick and erudite much like an intelligent teenager.
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