Review of A Very Distant Shore by Jenny Colgan

A Very Distant Shore by Jenny Colgan

My rating:  3.5/4 Stars

Genre: Fiction – QuickReads

A very distant shore by Jenny Colgan – Cover

My rating: 3.5/4 Stars
Genre: Fiction – QuickReads
📖 I’ve only read Jenny Colgan’s work before in The Anniversary edited by Veronica Henry quick reads collection, which was a very enjoyable read. So, I picked up this book with high hopes. Known as a writer of romantic comedy fiction a light-hearted up-lifting book was what I was after, between reading some more serious pieces. However, that’s not exactly what I got with this book.
✍️ A Very Distant Shore is a tale about a remote Scottish Island of Mure which is in desperate need of a doctor. When Saif, a refugee doctor turns up, it captures the attention of the whole Island. Local schoolteacher Lorna has her own problems with an elderly ailing widowed father to look after. Perhaps the two of them are just what each other needs?
🗺 The setting was interesting, the writing was great, and I really did begin to care for the characters, especially Lorna. I really geared myself up to love this book. However…
💔 Negatives: Spoiler Alert So, I was expecting a rom-com with a happily ever after. Instead, I got a heartbreak and a death. The book finished and I was left feeling fairly flat and a bit cheated.
💭 Overall View: Brilliant little book. The refugee storyline was very interesting (possibly more so with what is happening in the world with Ukraine right now). The ending was a bit more down than I would like but still an interesting little book.

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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 The art of spirit capture by Geoff Le Pard

The art of spirit capture by Geoff Le Pard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Romance

📖 I have followed Geoff Le Pard’s writing online for some time, and it is always clever, witty and above all engrossing. So, despite this being the first novel of his I have read, I started it with high expectations. Despite these exposures to Geoff’s writing, I have never read anything quite like this (from Geoff or indeed any other author). The concept is brilliant, so unusual, it left me desperate to unravel the story and hoping for a happy ending for all.

✍️ The story is told from the viewpoint of Jason. Jason has lost his job, lost his girlfriend and his brother is in a coma. Life is in a pretty dark place. When he receives a phone call from a country lawyer explaining that he and his brother are beneficiaries to a recently deceased aunt, it gives him a chance to have a small break away from his everyday life.

👫 What Jason doesn’t expect is to come across an old childhood friend Lottie (Charlotte) who seems to switch between being open and helpful to distant and secretive. I loved how Jason and Lotte’s relationship evolves throughout the novel. I also enjoyed how Jason’s view of his aunt’s dog Viscount changes during the story.

👓 I would describe this book as a mystery at its core. Really the story is about Jason’s long-deceased uncle, Ben who possessed a gift of capturing a piece of spirit in a glass form. It is expected by many that Jason will know the secret to these creations and will continue to make them for the town. The captures are loved by many, but some people in the town mistrust the spirit captures or have had bad experiences with them, because of this the town is divided on whether the creation of these items should continue and expect Jason to make that decision.

Will Jason figure out how to create the captures, and if he does will he want to?

🗺 Setting: This book is mostly set near Lewes in the British countryside with occasional sprints back to London.

🗣 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:

“It’s still there. Ben used it as his main workshop until he died. Heather and I checked it out in the summer and it was still standing. We should take a look.”
“Is it in the middle of the woods?”
“Yes, In a clearing. There are other buildings now. It –“
“That stile! Near the tree I fell out of. That leads to it, doesn’t it?”
“That’s right, though it’ll be pretty overgrown. Ben walked that way from the cottage.”…

💭 Overall View: As mentioned, I went into this book expecting a quality story, which is what I got, and more. The characters and their relationships were very well handled, some subtle and intriguing, others brash and loud. The mystery was great and enjoyably, I hadn’t figured out the ending before I got to it. The touch of magic within this book is so endearing it and after reading I found myself thinking about the spirit captures, the concept is just marvellous. Highly recommended.

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At the time of reviewing this book, it is on sale for £1.99 at Amazon (affiliate link):

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