Review of The Other Side of You by Amanda Craig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Crime – Gangs – Fresh Start – Retellings – YA

Cover – The Other Side of You


📖 This book follows Will, a young man from a rough estate who seems perpetually down on his luck. When he returns to his home he finds his Aunt murdered by a local gang and knows he must escape or he is next. Through chance, Will escapes and discovers a place he can hide safely; a garden with a greenhouse. He soon realises the food grown round about him is edible and even figures out how to grow more.

✍️ Will meets Padma and through his distant awareness of her (and later friendship with her,) he begins to reform, he no longer wishes to cause fear but be kind and even understood. He wants the opportunity to start again but as with all fables, his past doesn’t allow that and soon catches up with him.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

How did the glasshouse stay warm? The glass helped but there was even electricity. I flicked the switch just to check, and almost jumped out of my skin. Someone was talking out of a dusty old radio. I turned it off, sweating. But nobody came to check. It was as if I had become invisible.

🗺 This book is part of the “quick reads” collection which I like to intersperse between larger novels. The idea of this collection is exactly as it says on the tin (or should that be cover), a shorter than a normal book by world-leading authors (less than 100 pages). One of the things I quite like about these books is that they force the authors to cut out a lot of the waffle that sometimes goes on in books. This keeps the stories quite fast-paced with a lot happening in less time.

💔 Any Negatives: Despite being quite fast-paced, I didn’t initially get into this novel at the beginning with all the gangs and running around. However, I am really pleased I stuck with it as the story is great once it gets going.

💭 Overall View: The author has written this contemporary fable with the primary focus on the capacity to change. The desire (and ability) to leave one’s old life behind and begin again. The tale is sweet and the characters grow on you as the story progresses.

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Review of Future Bright, Future Grimm by D.J. MacLennan

Future Bright, Future Grimm: Transhumanist Tales for Mother Nature’s Offspring by D.J. MacLennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Future Bright, Future Grimm – Cover.



Genre: Fantasy – Fairytales – Mythical

📖 Disclaimer – I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

✍️ This book has such an interesting writing style, it is almost antiquated yet also modern, an intriguing blend. In a strange way, you feel smart reading but at the same time, the stories are recognisable as variations on traditional tales. Although these variations are far from the Disney versions you may be more familiar with.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

‘I come to take your daughter,’ said the red-lit being. ‘With me, she actualises; with you, she dies.’

‘I don’t know who or what you are,’ cried the woman, ‘but please don’t take my daughter. She’s all I have!’

‘You are all you have; she is all she has,’ came the dry rustle of response to the woman’s desperate plea. Then, with a loud pop-zip, the being was gone.

The woman stumbled back to her shack, whimpering as she went. She unlocked the sheet-iron door and burst in. But she was too late – her beloved daughter had been taken.

👓 This book contains 24 short stories and at the end of each one, the author provides detail of the original story and an overview of areas he changed during the re-telling (e.g. trading male for female viewpoints, adjusting time periods etc). I really enjoyed these creative insights. The stories are dark, shocking and striking. If anyone has ever read the “original” Grimm stories (for example in the original Grimm version Cinderella’s sisters cut off their toes to try to make them fit the slipper), Maclennan very much pays homage to this writing style.

👫 The author also includes a detailed introduction about the different terms used in fairy tales (such as Transhumanism) including insight into its use and historical references. This is very interesting

🗺 As a little side note (not that it should particularly matter) but the cover is also rather beautiful, harking back to traditional storybook style covers.

💭 Overall View: Not for the faint-hearted but this is a really intriguing collection of dark stories.

Review of Women & Power by Mary Beard

Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover – Women and Power


📖 I picked this book up at the airport on the way to a holiday. I had never heard of Mary Beard prior to it and it was just the concept and the initial pages which pulled me in but I must say it was an enjoyable read and I felt quite empowered after reading it.

✍️ The book is based on two lectures previously given by Mary Beard. Short but to the point. The historical aspects of the book were most intriguing. It explores the male authority within the western culture from multiple historic viewpoints, Greek, Roman, it even has a quick look at Queen Elizabeth the first and her most famous words “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too” or were they?

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

In the early fourth century BC, for example, Aristophanes devoted a whole comedy to the ‘hilarious’ fantasy that women might take over running the state. Part of the joke was that women couldn’t speak properly in public – or rather, they couldn’t adapt their private speech (which in this case was largely fixated on sex) to the lofty idiom of male politics.

👓 I wouldn’t say I agreed with every concept approached in this book, however, like all good books, it was certainly thought-provoking. Beard’s arguments are very compelling. It also stayed with me for quite some time after reading.

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At the time of reviewing this book it is on sale for £2.84 at Amazon (affiliate link):

https://amzn.to/3rW2DFY

📣 Disclaimer: This book review contains an affiliate link. This means I earn a small commission if you use the links on my book reviews to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, but you will help support my reading habit and keep me supplied in books to review. Thank you. 😘

Review of Wish You Were Dead by Peter James

Wish You Were Dead by Peter James

Genre: Crime – Thriller – Police Procedural

Cover – Wish You Were Dead

📖 This is a great holiday read for those wanting a crime twist to their holiday reading. Roy Grace is a detective superintendent who packs up his family for a luxury holiday at a small boutique type hotel in France. Arriving late, things go wrong very quickly, with an unhelpful host, and a member of their party not yet arrived, the holiday is stalled before it has even begun. Yet, things take a more sinister turn which leaves Roy fighting to protect his family from an old adversary he had hoped never to meet again.

✍️ As other reviewers have pointed out, this story does not involve the traditional police procedural detective novels some might expect if they are familiar with the Roy Grace novels. It instead focuses on his family and his need to protect them. I have never previously read the Roy Grace series but didn’t feel this detracted from the story.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

As Cleo dialled yet again, Bruno announced, reading from his iPad, ‘Papa, Mama, Listen!’
‘Yes, Bruno?’ Cleo said.
‘It says that next to being in a car, this is where you are most likely to die. Guess where?’
‘In an aeroplane?’ said Cleo, who did not like flying.
‘Wrong!’
‘Your kitchen,’ Roy Grace said.
‘Wrong, this is the third most likely place! It says here the next most likely place to dis is on holiday. We’re in a car and we are on holiday. Doesn’t that make it probable we are all going to die?’
Roy frowned. Bruno often came up with weird stuff. ‘So it’s lucky we’re not in a camper van, then, Bruno?’
‘Why?’
‘Because they have kitchens. So we would be in a car, on holiday and in a kitchen!’
They all laughed.¨C22C

👓 The story itself was fast-paced (which is how I like my crime novels) with the whole thing taking place in around 24 hours. I hadn’t read any of the previous Roy Grace novels but felt it gave more than enough backstory to those books to figure out who was whom and why they were important.

💔 Any Negatives: I enjoyed this story. I wouldn’t say it was as good as some of the other quick reads mostly because it is clearly an extension to or even an excerpt of a much larger series. Therefore, it is probably not the best place to start within a series. As a member of the quick-reads collection, it is often the aim to encourage the users to pick up a book and read which they wouldn’t normally. Something with so much backstory is probably not the best place to start. If a new reader now wanted to continue the series they need to decide whether to go back to the beginning of the Roy Grace series or try to pick up where this book sits and continue from there. I think that could be off-putting.

💭 Overall View: I enjoyed this book and it was great to see a lighter crime novel in amongst the quick-reads series. I enjoyed the story, the characters and the setting. I would certainly look out for other works by this author.

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At the time of reviewing this book it is on sale for £1.00 at Amazon (affiliate link):

https://amzn.to/35l41KF

📣 Disclaimer: This book review contains an affiliate link. This means I earn a small commission if you use the links on my book reviews to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, but you will help support my reading habit and keep me supplied in books to review. Thank you. 😘

Review of The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner

The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Non-Fiction, Parenting

Cover – The Unmumsy Mum

📖 The Unmumsy Mum writes candidly about motherhood like it really is: the messy, maddening, hilarious reality, how there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and how it is sometimes absolutely fine to not know what you are doing.

✍️ Life with small children is an amazing, eye-opening wondrous thing. An adventure I am so thrilled to be part of. However, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows and Instagram worthy pictures. It’s hard work (and often tiring). This is what this book aims to capture, the difficult sometimes bizarre times that no manual covers, making you realise that hurrah – you are not the only one feeling this way or going through this.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

The calm and collected woman from Birth One failed to show up for Birth Two. She sent her twin sister instead, who was a bit of a moron.
James’s assessment of Jude’s delivery (which kind of erased the reigning ‘You did so well, babe!’ praise) was ‘You were mental. I’ve never seen anything like it.’
Throughout the labour I switched from hysterical to withdrawn. I sploshed into the birthing pool with the expectation of labouring serenely while submerged in water, but it was less than an hour before I ungracefully heaved myself out, demanding ‘something that works!’

👓 I genuinely laughed out loud whilst reading this book. I hadn’t followed the author’s blog or even heard of her work but I was recommended the book by a fellow mummy friend and what a good recommendation it turned out to be. It’s smart, funny, sassy and enlightening. Whilst reading I took pictures of paragraphs and sent them to mummy friends with LO’s the same age as mine who I thought were likely to be going through the same things too.

👫 Whilst reading the book and laughing my husband actually made the remark, they need one of these for dad’s so I went online and found him one – Man vs Toddler, which I also highly recommend. Life is just so much more enjoyable when you can laugh about it. Even more so when you can enjoy it together and swap stories.

💔 Any Negatives: I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone pregnant or thinking about trying for children. It will probably scare them off but the book is meant to be light-hearted and taken in jest.
💭 Overall View: Make yourself a big bubble bath, grab a glass of wine and read this when your kids have driven you up the wall all day. It will make you feel so much better (and if it doesn’t you still have a bubble bath and wine – so it’s a win-win).

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At the time of reviewing this book it is on sale for £4.99 at Amazon (affiliate link): https://amzn.to/3r0Rrc4

📣 Disclaimer: This book review contains an affiliate link. This means I earn a small commission if you use the links on my book reviews to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, but you will help support my reading habit and keep me supplied in books to review. Thank you. 😘

Meet the Author – Geoff Le Pard

I can honestly say I was very excited to write this post. This is my first official participation in an author interview and wow – have I started on a good one. So without much further ado meeeeeettt (in my head at this point I am hearing a drumroll)….. Geoff Le Pard.

MEET THE AUTHOR - GEOFF LE PARD
MEET THE AUTHOR – GEOFF LE PARD

Many of you already know Geoff from his blog geofflepard.com, he’s also a regular contributor to the weekly #writephoto challenge and produces some phenomenal stories. He’s recently published a new book titled “The Art of Spirit Capture” (which can be found at the following links: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com ), so I sent Geoff a few questions to find out about the book, an insight into his writing process and to find out his favourite page-turners. His responses are (as you would expect from Geoff,) honest, brilliant and in places hilarious. I certainly had a huge smile, I hope you enjoy it too.

  • Tell us a bit about your book?

            It’s a mix of mystery, a bit of magic maybe, a Christmassy setting and possibly some romance. It follows Jason who we meet at the start when he’s been made redundant and is having to meet his ex to divi up their things. His brother is in a coma after a bike accident and very soon Jason’s going to be homeless. While this is happening he hears from a firm of lawyers that he and his brother have inherited his great aunt’s estate. When he goes to see the lawyer he finds out he’s going to be represented by Lotte who he knew as children and of whom he has less than favourable memories. The story centres on a Sussex town of Mendlesham, and its cast of characters who want to know Jason’s plans for his uncle’s captures. What are captures and why are they going to cause Jason so much grief and joy? You’ll have to read to find out.

  • Where do your ideas come from?

            Ah that old tricky one! This idea, you’ll be pleased to know came from a Writephoto prompt but they can come from anywhere. It might be a phrase (my first novel was based on the legal expression The Right to Roam, my first published novel on an incident in a hotel I worked in in 1976, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle). I’ve got ideas from: meeting a woman raising money for a soup kitchen in Union Sq, San Francisco; the first time I let our rescue dog off the lead; peering through a hoarding round a building site on my way home from work one evening. As you know, with a lot of short fiction, I am stimulated by prompts.

  • Do you start with a character or a plot?

            I’d say mostly plot, but the story only has legs if I can find two or more characters who I want to write about. Character is essential if the book is to be readable and coherent.

  • Do you do a lot of research, if so, what is your ratio of research-to-writing?

            I’m useless at research. My Harry Spittle Series are essentially historic in that they are set, variously, in 1976, 1981, 1987 and the one I’m in the middle of right now, 1997. That means a fair bit of research but mostly to check my memory or find something that happened at the relevant time to build in some credibility. Walking into Trouble is set mostly on the Cotswolds Way, a 110 mile long distance footpath so I needed to make sure I knew the settings (I have walked it but a while back so some things had to be checked). Otherwise I try to avoid it. Apart from forming Dire Straits two years early (I’ve apologised to Mark Knopfler) in my first book, I think I’ve gotten away with it mostly. I take my lead from Graham Swift who said he never did research when asked why he ended his Booker Prize winning novel Last Orders in Margate. Admitting he’d never been there, he said it just seemed right for his characters but he didn’t feel the need to join them.

  • Does sitting down to write a novel get easier now that you are on book no (12?)?

            Both, I suppose. I’m not intimidated by starting, by the amount of time I know it will take, the fact that writing the first draft is probably the easy bit and finishing that is merely opening Pandora’s box to months, maybe years of editing. But I remain terrified I will not be able to make it work, that the ending will elude me, that the characters will take me so far away from where I was aiming that I have a totally different novel. When I started Walking Into Trouble (under a very different title), it was to be a light comedic tale. In the end it became dark, difficult, exploring fractured relationships and the damage that affairs can cause. There’s little humour. I wasn’t sure I wanted that and as a result two characters were written too flat with no nuance. Once I accepted what it had become, I concentrated on them and it lifted off the page.

  • Who do you enjoy reading?

            Gosh. In terms of the genres I enjoy: humorous/fantasy has me reaching for Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Ben Aaronovitch, Marina Lewycka, Helen Fielding, Sue Townsend, Neil Gaiman, Fredrik Backman, PG Woodhouse, Graeme Simsion, Grant Naylor; Kim Harrison. Thriller/crime: Ian Rankin, Ann Cleeves, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart MacBride, Tess Gerritsen, Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky. Jolly good literary fiction: Iain Banks, Lionel Shriver, Graham Swift, Eimear McBride, Rachel Joyce, Emma Healey. Classics: Dickens, Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Patrick Harrison, HG Wells, Harper Lee, Dorothy L Sayers. Non fiction: Bill Bryson, Adam Kaye, Tim Spector. Indie: Anne Goodwin, Phil Taylor, Ali Potts, Ruth Sutton, Don Massenzio. Whew…

  • What is in your to-read pile?

            Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin, The Authority Gap by Mary-Ann Sieghart, The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff


Big, Big thank you to Geoff for agreeing to be featured and taking the time to answer all my questions. Also, a big thank you for your continued support with the #writephoto prompt. I’ve downloaded The Art of Spirit Capture and can’t wait to read it (especially in the approaching festive season, it just seems so fitting).


Check out Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page for more info and see his wonderful collection of publications.

Here are a few intro’s to get you started:

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Would you like to be featured?

If any New2writing followers have an upcoming book and would like to be featured, please drop me an email at kl.caley@yahoo.co.uk.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Take Care.

KL ❤

Review of Music To Make Friends By

Music To Make Friends By: Quick Reads 2019 by Hayley Long

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover – Music to Make Friends By




📖 This is a really intriguing little book. I initially purchased it as I enjoy the quick-reads series to which it belongs to. I don’t think there are many autobiographies amongst it (that I am aware of) so this seemed fun and a little different and at £1 worth a go.

✍️Well I wasn’t disappointed. This is a sweet little book about a woman going through life, told through music. The excitement of buying her first album, the sharing of common music with friends, joining your first fan club, getting a first job, having a boyfriend (who is sweet enough to create her a mixtape), travelling Europe, becoming a teacher and attending school dances. Quite a lot of life story in 99 pages, mostly told through the medium of song.

👓 This little book brought back quite a lot of memories for me too (who doesn’t remember the exciting times of visiting a woolies store with your eagerly saved pocket money). Everyone has special songs that can instantly bring back memories (good or bad) and that’s what this little book captures.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

‘The music?’ I crossed my fingers. ‘Can I choose it this time?’
Jeanie was silent for a moment and then she gave a snort of laughter. ‘Of course you can, love. You can choose anything you like as long as it’s Elton John.’

💭 Overall View: A light-hearted, funny, sweet little book. Full of nostalgia (particularly around how music shapes and inspires us). I’ve now added Marlena Shaw’s – Let’s Wade in the Water to my playlist too, such a brilliant little song to much this fun little book.

👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

At the time of reviewing this book it is on sale for £1.00 at Amazon (affiliate link):

https://amzn.to/3CgHY3E

Review of The Library Paradox

The Library Paradox by Catherine Shaw

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cover – The library paradox




📖 In Cambridge 1896, a professor is shot dead in his study. The only suspect was seen leaving the building a number of seconds before the shot was fired, and the witnesses testify no one else left the building after the shot. How could the killer have escaped? Venessa Weatherburn is asked to look into the case.

✍️ Firstly, I had not realised this was book 3 in a series so perhaps may have enjoyed it a little more being armed with that info. The book intrigued me from the offset. A historical murder mystery with the detective not being a middle-aged man (or older widow) but a young married mother with two young children of her own. It seemed intriguing. The reality of the story is she drops the kids off at her sister’s and then pretty much forgets about them.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

‘I don’t know, though,’ he said. ‘People tell stories around here all the time, and Peretz’s latest can always be counted upon to get a lot of appreciation. Peretz is one of our great Yiddish authors,’ he added, turning to me. Reaching up to a shelf, which held a pile of papers and well-thumbed tomes, he took down some old newspapers and glanced through them. I looked eagerly over his shoulder, but found myself confronted with Hebrew characters, as illegible to me as if I were staring at a blank wall.
‘You won’t be able to read this,’ he said, smiling. ‘Anyway, I don’t think I have the story here, as it only just came out. Listen, I’ll find it and translate it for you, and send one of my brothers to bring it over to you tomorrow. I don’t know what conclusions you’ll be able to draw from it; probably none.’
‘I would very much like to read the story, nevertheless,’ I said.

👓 The story is all told from Vanessa’s viewpoint (written as a memoir/diary style) and whilst at times she is an interesting character, strong-willed, questioning but approachable, the book tends to drift off into large amounts of mathematical theory. Some of which is relevant to the story but the majority just seemed to be page fillers and I found myself glossing over to try to get to the next part of the book that contained actual story content.

👫 Quite early in the book we find out that the murdered professor was an anti-Semite, who made no secret of his views and had a clear stance on the famous Dreyfus affair in France. Vanessa slowly ends up in the Jewish community in London. This then meant the book went on to explain a lot about the Hassidic sect of Judaism. Some of this was interesting ( I did enjoy learning about the families and the customs within the Jewish community and the comparisons made by the Christian Vanessa). However, again the author seemed to put in every possible bit of information about Jewish culture from that time and for me, it really began to detract from the story.

🗺 I enjoyed the historical setting and the descriptions of the buildings in and around Cambridge and sections of London were very visual.

💔 Any Negatives: The story itself, for me, had real potential a murdered professor and a real puzzle of how a murderer could get in and out unseen – brilliant stuff. However, I found myself enjoying the book less and less as the author repeatedly went into more and more mathematical theories. I also feel a lot of the religious elements were unnecessary and again slowed the book and story down. There were also a few too many characters I felt, I understand Jewish communities are large, and also scholarly circles at the university, but the number of new character introductions felt too much for a fiction novel.

💭 Overall View: The setting, the mystery and the main character were all great. However, the book was too focused on mathematics, Jewish religion, and antisemitism which ultimately detracted from the story. A bit of knowledge is very interesting but the author went too far.

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Review of Lockdown by Peter May

Lockdown by Peter May

My rating: 3.5 Stars

Cover - Lockdown by Peter May
Cover – Lockdown by Peter May


📖 I loved the premise of this book but I especially loved the Foreword. May began researching and writing this book in 2005, but there was little interest in the book world for it and some editors thought the idea of London in lockdown too far-fetched. If only they’d known then what we do now.

✍️The book itself centres around detective Jack McNeil who is asked to investigate the mystery of a murdered child’s bones. Jack himself is on the last day of the job instead of taking things easy and wrapping up he finds himself on a chase across London to unravel the case. His own family are hit with heartbreak in relation to the virus.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

(Page 273)
‘I’ll scream!’ she said in a voice made so tiny by fear that it barely penetrated the dark.
MacNeil said breathlessly, ‘If you scream, then so will I.’
Something in his voice stopped her struggling. She lay on the ground below him, gasping for breath, a strange wiry creature in a tweed jacket and skirt with a white blouse and pearl necklace. ‘Who the hell are you?’ she gasped.
‘Detective Inspector Jack MacNeil. Who the hell are you?’

👓 I would just like to mention I love Peter May’s work. His Lewis trilogy is a personal favourite, and I would highly recommend that collection to anyone. I wish stars were out of 10 instead of 5 as this book is a solid 7 out of 10.

👫 Jack McNeil is a great character. Your usual flawed policeman, with a troubled family/home life and a girlfriend within the medical department. All quite cliché but you do warm to him and find yourself willing him to succeed.

Dr Sarah Castelli is another great character. A clever, fearless, sixty-year-old Canadian. She’s tough as old boots and will do anything to get the answers she needs. The only problem with Dr Sarah Castelli is that despite the pivotal part she plays in the book and particularly the finale, we are only just introduced to her on page 277 of a 399-page book. I feel like such a crucial character to the plot should have been introduced and established earlier, not just thrown in towards the end.

🗺 This book is set in London and whilst it is probably trying to be realistic (and perhaps to Londoners it is), for me, it felt a bit like we were being dragged from pillar to post with every great London eye mark thrown in for effect.

💭 Overall View: I did enjoy this book and Peter May’s writing style is brilliant. The characters were interesting and the plot was clearly very well researched. I wish the book had maybe been edited a bit to tie some of the strands together a bit neater. You would think everyone would avoid the mention of Lockdown never mind actively choosing to read about it, but I’m glad I did. Brilliant crime drama, very dark in places, fast-paced and full of action.

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Review of The Donor – 5 Stars

The Donor by Clare Mackintosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Premise: Fourteen-year-old Meg is in recovery, six months previously she had a heart transplant. She has been given a second lease of life and is desperate to live it to its fullest. Her mother Lizzie is somewhat nervous, after years of living with the worry of Meg’s illness, she can’t help be cautious. When the bereaved mother of the donor, Karen, makes contact and asks to meet Meg, Lizzie worries, but she feels obligated to her for giving her daughter this new lease of life, begrudgingly she agrees. Soon Karen’s motives come into question and Meg’s attitude begins to change. Has Lizzie made a huge mistake allowing Karen to get to know Meg, worse still, is her daughter in danger?

I really enjoyed this short story, part of the “quick reads” collection which I love to intersperse with longer reads. The idea of this collection is exactly as it says on the tin (or should that be cover), a shorter than a normal book by world-leading authors. One of the things I quite like about these books is that they force the authors to cut out a lot of the waffle that sometimes goes on in books. This keeps the stories quite fast-paced with a lot happening in less time. I’m proud of authors who take on the challenge of writing these books so that they can be enjoyed by all even those who aren’t keen readers.

I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

‘She’s taking a lot of pills already,’ I say. The bottles are in the bathroom, their labels filled with long names I can’t pronounce.
‘These are supplements. They’ll help Meg stay healthy.’
‘She is healthy. She’s doing really well. The consultant said so.’ I don’t mean to sound so abrupt, but Steve turns to look at me, a shocked expression on his face.
‘Lizzie!’

The story is told from Lizzie’s point of view. She has felt so much strain from her daughter’s illness over the years. Her guilt and stress are palpable through the page and it’s pretty easy to picture yourself in her position, what would you do? How would you react?

The story of course captures the concept of organ donation (for a real-life insight into this I highly recommend Dan Walker’s book Remarkable People, there is a chapter on organ donation that is both heart-breaking and inspirational). The author also dabbles with the theory of cell memory, a really interesting concept that really adds to the story.

Overall View: Fast-paced, well-written, character-driven short novel. A really good read. A fantastic novelist! Cannot wait to read many more of her works.

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Extract – The Donor