Shadow Jumper by J M Forster

                                               an adventure novel for 10-15 yrs (approx) Shadow Jumper

Unusual and intriguing from the start, Shadow Jumper is partly the story of light-sensitive Jack Philips and the mystery of his missing father, and partly about ‘letting go’. Jack believes his scientist dad is the only one who can cure his worsening skin condition, which, when touched by sunlight, becomes blistered and sore.  Only allowed out after sundown, Jack finds freedom by free-running across roof tops at dusk - and where he also finds an unexpected friend in the sad and angry Beth.  Despite initial reservations, Jack and Beth form a strong friendship that they both come to rely upon as they get more and more involved in the search for Jack’s dad.  Both outsiders by circumstance, Jack and Beth show an independent spirit, and with neither of them with anything to lose, embark fearlessly on their journey.

Shadow Jumper is an adventure story for older children and captures well the isolation that many in the early teenage years will be able to relate to. There are some very serious themes running through this book, and in truth, it is unusual to find them all in one plot, but JM Forster weaves them together well, and there is much to spark the interest of readers. The book cover is dramatic with a hint of gothic, but the story is not really about free-running or ‘shadow jumping’; more about how two young people let the self-erected barriers that keep them isolated be broken down, with the added tension of what really happened to Jack’s dad bubbling in the background.  Sensitive readers should be aware though, that although not graphic in any way, the latter part of the story is set in a laboratory where animal experimentation takes place.   This is one of the more adult themes in the book, but carefully and judiciously handled by the author.  JM Forster writes good tension and brings her young protagonists to life - and it is good to see young male and female characters on an equal footing.  Readers would, I’m sure, be able to find something in either character to empathise with.

The Nurse Wore Nail Varnish by Margaret Alsop 

The Nurse Wore Nail Varnish

I liked this book. It is evocative of another time and place, when values and aspirations were so very different to today's. If you're 60+ there is a lot in this book to relate to, to understand - to simply get. 

We're introduced to Ruthie from birth, when the time and date of a birth wasn't that important, when there wasn't a photographer on hand to snap the moment, when ultrasounds were non-existant - rather, a time when mother and baby were pleased just to have survived the experience. Ruthie tells us about the 2ndWW, about being moved from Portsmouth to the countryside to avoid the bombs, to growing up in a rather cold, unloved household (Victorian children often grew into remote early 20th century parents, already having witnessed the horror of the 1st World War), through the 1950's, 60's and 70's - but this book is clever in that it then goes into the future. We pass the point of now, and author Margaret Alsop takes Ruthie and her adult grandchildren into an as-yet unknown future. The writing is clear, in places jolly, and often poignant to the point of sadness. It's half true-life story with much observation and wit.


 Urge To Kill by JJ Franklin

Detective Inspector Matt Turrell returns from honeymoon to face the most bizarre and dangerous case of his career after the body of a woman is found at a luxury spa near Stratford-upon-Avon. However, struggling within the confines of his new marriage, and haunted by a past mistake, Matt finds it difficult to concentrate. Killer, Clive Draper, is a clever, ambiguous character whose motives and personality is not beyond empathy. Empowered by his first kill, Clive uses his charm to draw further victims into his net. Seeing Matt as his mortal enemy, he uses his charisma to lure Matt’s new wife into his snare. With the danger coming ever closer to home, Matt finds himself drawn into a deadly duel, where he must put his own life on the line and where the stakes have never been higher. Urge to Kill is the first in a series of novels featuring DI Matt Turrell of the Warwickshire Police. It is a rich psychological thriller with great character development of both the detective and the serial killer. The reader quickly becomes engaged in the epic battle between the two men. The book is set within the historic district of Stratford-upon-Avon. Lots of twists and turns in this whodunnit - except we know from the beginning who did do it, which is why this book is so difficult to put down.  Will our detective get his man?  We all want him to, but..  A good crime novel from writer JJ Franklin.  Available from Amazon as both paperback and Kindle. Book 2 in the series available 2014