Calling Major Tom by David M.Barnett
A rollicking, feel-good story about an antisocial man, on his way to start a colony on Mars, and his chance relationship with a family facing hard times back on earth. There’s suspense aplenty as the story rushes towards a major science competition, which could make or break the family. I absolutely loved Gladys, the grandmother who seems not to have all her marbles, but nonetheless emerges as the heroine when things start to really unravel. Politically incorrect, larger than life and totally useless at managing the family finances, she is just wonderful and her telephone conversations with Major Tom are hilarious. I think I was expecting more from this read as the book was marketed as ideal for fans of Ove (A Man Called Ove). That was one of my favourite reads last year, but unfortunately Major Tom was no Ove and I felt I didn’t get to know him well enough. I suspect I would have upped my rating from 3.5 stars to 4 if my expectations hadn’t been raised so high. All the other characters in the book, however, leapt off the page and I recommend it as a fun, light and enjoyable read for both adults and teens.
Little Sister, by Isabel Ashdown
This was a definite 5-star read for me. Little Sister kept me guessing and I loved the clever way the author dropped in tiny snippets about the history between the two sisters as the story unfolded. The stakes are high as a baby girl has disappeared and I was desperate for the family as days and days go by with no progress in the investigation. But this book is so much more than a great story, full of suspense. Isabel Ashdown is a skilled author with a wonderful way with words that makes her characters absolutely real and totally believable. Even those who only made cameo appearances were brilliantly sketched. The descriptions of the relationship between the sisters when they were younger were brilliant. I was really drawn into this story. I hated putting the book down and couldn’t wait to get back to it. I even snuck in some daytime reading, desperate to see what would happen next. It’s well worth a read.
A definite 5-star read
Edward Unspooled, by Craig Lancaster
I have always loved Edward Stanton and have so enjoyed seeing his life blossom as it unfolds. This gentle story, the third in the series, sees Edward (who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome) and his wife expecting a child. The story is told through the letters Edward writes to his unborn baby (with postscripts from his wife, Sheila, who is dealing with her own serious issues). Sheila suggests the letters as a way for Edward to overcome his anxiety about adding to their family, and start relating to the baby. (She’s pretty spot-on sometimes!) As the foetus develops, so Edward’s family expands unexpectedly in another direction, his friendships develop and life becomes fuller. But it’s not all love and roses. There’s drama aplenty, and it’s gratifying to see the new maturity with which Edward navigates the hardships. Gone is the Edward who cannot start the day without obsessively recording the temperature and time he wakes up (although he does include numerous statistical graphs in his letters to his baby!). With continued support from his therapist, Edward relates more to people, has a growing circle of friends, builds relationships and learns more empathy. Edward Unspooled is beautifully written. It’s hilarious, sad and utterly enthralling. I recommend it highly. Although it can easily be read as a standalone book, I would read 600 Hours of Edward, following by Edward Adrift, before reading this one. That way you won’t miss out.