#BookReview PANENKA by RONAN HESSION

ABOUT THE BOOK


His name was Joseph, but for years they had called him Panenka, a name that was his sadness and his story. Panenka has spent 25 years living with the disastrous mistakes of his past, which have made him an exile in his home town and cost him his dearest relationships. Now aged 50, Panenka begins to rebuild an improvised family life with his estranged daughter and her seven year old son.

But at night, Panenka suffers crippling headaches that he calls his Iron Mask. Faced with losing everything, he meets Esther, a woman who has come to live in the town to escape her own disappointments. Together, they find resonance in each other’s experiences and learn new ways to let love into their broken lives.


PUBLISHED BY BLUEMOOSE BOOKS


PUBLICATION DATE – 26TH MAY 2021


PRE-ORDER LINKS

Waterstones

Blackwell’s

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

I wanted my first book read in 2021 to be a stunner – I haven’t been disappointed!! The champion writer of capturing human emotions and life dilemmas faced is back with this breathtaking piece that brings us the character of Panenka, who in his 50’s and is suffering cripping late night headaches, and has done so since his football career finished. With the recent reports of ex footballers dealing with head injuries after their careers, this is a timely release but centres mostly on the effect of those dealing with the consequences and trying to carry on – and often sticking their head in the sand hoping it’s just a headache and nothing too serious.

Surrounding Panenka is his family – his daughter and his beloved grandson Arthur – and they’re very close which is something that hasn’t always been that way. But time and his failing health, has given Panenka space to reflect and regret and in this book it shows the side of life when we overthink, we rue decisions made and play out moments in our head thinking how life could have been so different.

While he’s dealing with struggling to ask for help, we also have flashbacks to his football career for the team Seneca FC. It plays a huge part in the local community and their lives, making stars of their players and how the good times, and bad, on the pitch played out over the years. As a football fan myself, I often forget the ‘humans’ behind the names, and it was fascinating to read Panenka and his story of key moments in his football career and the impact they had on him as a person. The jubilation after a great game, the despair after a bad one…..

But overall, it’s a story of human emotions. Those who struggle to reach out and ask for help, of people feeling unloved or unwanted, rarely showing a vunerability and wanting to find a connection with someone that leaves you able to share your fears instead of feeling like a burden and that you’ll upset your loved ones by sharing too much. It’s about living with regrets and trying to make up for them and all those ‘if only’ moments…..

An absolutely spectacular read and one I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to start the year off with….. is it too early to make my ‘2021 books of the year’ list??!!! Wonderful!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE SOUND MIRROR by HEIDI JAMES

ABOUT THE BOOK

Tamara is going to kill her mother, but she isn’t the villain. Tamara just has to finish what began at her birth and put an end to the damage encoded in her blood. Leaving her job in Communications, Tamara dresses carefully and hires a car, making the trip from London to her hometown in Kent, to visit her mother for the last time. Accompanied by a chorus of ancestors, Tamara is harried by voices from the past and the future that reveal the struggles, joys and secrets of these women’s lives that continue to echo through and impact her own.

The Sound Mirror spans three familial generations from British Occupied India to Southern England, through intimately rendered characters, Heidi James has crafted a haunting and moving examination of class, war, violence, family and shame from the rich details of ordinary lives

PUBLISHED BY BLUEMOOSE BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

One of those understated books that just makes you sit up, take notice of every single word, emotion and feeling and just admire the way the story was crafted and created! It’s fair to say I adored every page!


As we meet the main character, Tamara, she is on her way to kill her mother … there’s more to this story than meets the eye! And what transpires over the course of the book is Tamara and her story, interwoven with 2 other fascinating women, Claire and Ada. 3 very different women, different eras, different areas and all with very different stories to tell. All those stories and experiences are as captivating, dark, troubling and fascinating as each other.

This is a book that tells the story of women who are undervalued, who are belittled, controlled, constantly being picked apart and shows the damage that creates on their personas. Your heart just aches for the women and the struggles they face on a day to day basis. It was so clear to see that these women were just living life doing what was expected of them, feeling trapped and seemingly forever living this cycle of disappointment.

This was such a clever and unique book . I loved the way the stories linked and how the roles of women are often just taken for granted, no matter what the woman actually wants! It’s an insightful, honest and sobering – it blew me away and I’m already eager to read it again!!

★★★★★

#BookReview LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL by RONAN HESSION @Ofmooseandmen

ABOUT THE BOOK

Leonard and Hungry Paul are two friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st century.

‘The figure in Munch’s painting isn’t actually screaming!’ Hungry Paul said. ‘Really, are you sure?’ Replied Leonard. ‘Absolutely. That’s the whole thing. The figure is actually closing his ears to block outa scream. Isn’t that amazing? A painting can be so misunderstood and still become so famous.’

LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is the story of two quiet friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change the world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.

published by Bluemoose Books

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website

Amazon

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

A sheer delight!  No over the top characters, no outlandish plot, just a story of 2 men who are perfectly content in their own skin.   They have their routines, they live very quiet lives – it may be unconventional for many but for them it works perfectly.  And they both have hearts of gold who will often overthink situations, but that method works for them and I just fell  more and more in love with them with each page I turned!

Leonard and Hungry Paul are the men in question – they’re both very loyal to their families, and loyal in friendship too.  Their quiet way of living is at odds with the louder, more hurried world we’re now living in and as they encounter new situations they try and make sense of it all, seeking solace in a board game and a chat.

There is a real innocence about this book – there are no big egos involved, and they’re completely at ease with who they are and what their place is in the world.  And the relationships between family and friends were so solid and really touching.  They find comfort in one another, but still find time to test the water  and make the scary jump into new territories, without making a fuss or even telling others until it has become a reality or success.

As Leonard ventures into the world of dating I found myself sharing his anguish over how to make the first move, what’s the right etiquette etc, and as Hungry Paul wins a competition and finds a new job, I was almost proud of him, watching on as he navigated a new start – and I want in on the Sunday Night Quiet Club!!! It sounds like my kind of club!!

This is a book where you revel in their victories and share their pain when they’re suffering.  It’s a celebration of the quiet souls in this world who don’t need constant attention or praise and brings to attention the fact that the little things in life can bring the biggest rewards. It’s not about who has got the most money, or the flashiest car, if you don’t have that peace of mind of knowing who you are as a person,  then it’s all worthless. And these men are very clear as to who they are!

So many wonderful little details throughout made this such a perfect book – and I cherished every single page!! Highly recommended!!

🐟🐟🐟🐟🐟

#20BooksOfSummer Man With A Seagull on his Head by Harriet Paige #bookreview

Finally I’m back with another book finished off the list!  This was book 10 and another one from my ‘little’ list, where it’s under 200 pages.  I think that is 7 books read now from my ‘little’ list so I really need to up my game on the ‘large’ book front – if only there weren’t so many other books I need to read for blog tours and publication dates!!

And what a stunner of a book this was!  I don’t know if I connected to it more because it was set very locally to me, but I just found it to be so absorbing and touching!

A gull falls from the sky and strikes a council worker on the beach below. From that moment on he is obsessed, a crazed visionary depicting the scene and the unknown figure with in who filled his view at the moment of impact. The mysterious beauty of his creations draws others to him, but can they lay hold of that which possesses him? And what of his anonymous muse?

‘A bona fide gem. A book that would be a credit on any short list.’Guardian

PUBLISHED BY BlueMoose Books

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website  £8.99

hive.co.uk  £6.25

WHSmith  £6.47

MY REVIEW

Quirky and poignant – my kind of book! And set in the south east corner of Essex that I know so well, this was a wonderfully touching little read that made a very hot afternoon fly by.

Centred around Ray Eccles who lives a quiet life in a quiet cul-de-sac in Southend On Sea, he’s a succesful artist but you’d never know it to see him. Happy to stay out of the limelight and keep to himself – but that all changes when he has a rather unfortunate incident on Shoebury East Beach with a seagull. Witnessed by one woman, he returns home from hospital with her face on his mind and starts his obsession with her that takes over his whole artistic outlook and sees him paint the same scene for 10 years.

The woman who saw the incident with the seagull has her own quiet life – working in a clothes shop, living a normal life but when the work of Ray Eccles becomes a huge success, she knows that the face he is painting is her. She doesn’t know how to feel about it and the struggle she faces is brilliantly portrayed.

The whole cast of charaters in this book are such a wonderful mix of the good and bad sides of humanity. The art studio owners who look upon Ray as their pet project when they take his work to London and have him move in with them, the local reporter from the Evening Echo trying to make her name with a breaking story, and especially Ray himself who never escapes his ‘oddball’ personna and seems happiest when he’s doing his own thing and not living by the rules of normal life.

I loved the touching and human side of the story and the familiarity of the places visited really brought this to life for me – any book that features Keddies is fine by me! It had a great mix of humour and tragedy, and the absurd side of the art world where anything seems to go if it has the right PR behind it, no matter the effect on the artist who was just trying to make sense of what happened to him and dealing with his grief and loneliness.

A stunning little book and one I’m very glad to have read!

★★★★