It’s time to say farewell

It’s time for me to stop book blogging. This is for a health reason that I’m not going into detail about because I’m still undergoing tests.

I’ve enjoyed the book blogging experience, especially as it inadvertently made many of my dreams come true. I’ve always wanted to be quoted in the praise pages of novels and I am. I’ve been to literary festivals and met many writers, and it’s been wonderful to say thank you in person to many of those who’ve made a difference to my life. I’ve also made friends with many lovely writers and bloggers and people in the publishing community generally along the way.

I always wondered if I could write and now I know I can. Big thanks to author Megan Taylor and her inspiring writing classes, and to authors Eve Makis and Anthony Cropper for giving me an opportunity to read a couple of pieces at Five Leaves Bookshop.

Thank you all for following, liking and commenting on my book review posts. I have loved the engagement. My final great reads tips are as follows:

The Testament by Kim Sherwood – an incredibly moving exploration of survivor guilt. Beautifully written and unforgettable.

The Overstory by Richard Powers – an epic novel that will inspire you to rethink your relationship with the world around you. I love this book so much I found myself slowing down to savour the writing.

The One Who Wrote Destiny by Nikesh Shukla – a wonderful novel about immigration and the challenges of integration, and how each new generation assumes that the previous generation is blind to their suffering, only to discover that courage comes in many forms. Told with humour, heart and insight into all sides of the debate.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce – which is one timely, gripping, fury inducing novel. If ever a novel made it clear that misogyny can happen to anyone from any walk of life, and be a stealthy, gas lighting experience that creeps up on you, this is it. Published next February.

The Unmapped Mind by Christian Donlan: A Memoir of Neurology, Incurable Disease and Learning How to Live – Christian became a dad just as he learned he had multiple sclerosis. Like his newborn daughter, he finds himself exploring a new landscape but always with a writer’s eye. The history of multiple sclerosis and the latest research is interspersed with his observations of life as a new dad coming to terms with having an incurable disease. Evocative, moving and a masterclass in observation for any writer.

My latest book purchase is The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes. 

I know that Elizabeth has put her heart and soul into this book because she has been sharing the entire journey from the initial idea, to the research to the final product across social media. This is a passion project inspired by true events. Elizabeth is giving a voice to a young woman who was never heard at the time.

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable 42778418_1883642635059047_2412398016796295168_nparentage and religious habits, is found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent.

The community is appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the surgeon reports that Harriet was around six months pregnant.

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final hours through the eyes of those closest to her and the last people to see her alive. Her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover—all are suspects; each has a reason to want her dead.

Brimming with lust, mistrust and guilt, The Murder of Harriet Monckton is a masterclass of suspense from one of our greatest crime writers.

I’ve always loved Elizabeth’s writing and I suspect that this is going be an immersive and moving read that will keep me hooked from the first page to the last. 

That’s it, my last six recommended reads on this blog. Farewell and happy reading! 

Pam

Good books have always been an anchor through storms of change. 

Pamreader

 

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Review of Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Transcription is an interesting concept. When you transcribe something it always Transcriptionremains open to interpretation. Everyone will perceive something different, depending on what resonates with them at the time.

Juliet Armstrong is sixty as the story begins in 1981. She’s lying in a road after being hit by a car, wondering if her past has caught up with her, while pondering on the futility of war and the death of innocence. Continue reading “Review of Transcription by Kate Atkinson”

Review of Snap by Belinda Bauer

The novel starts strongly with a sensory visual depiction of three children who’ve been left in a car on the hard shoulder of the southbound M5 while their mother goes in search of an emergency phone.

It has been an hour since Jack (11), Joy (9) and Merry (2) watched their mother snap-belinda-bauerdisappear up the road. You can feel the rising heat in the car, the threatening thunder of the lorries flying past and the mixture of fear and responsibility coursing through Jack, as he takes the initiative to gather everyone up and go in search of her.

Only they never find their mother.

Three years later Jack has complete responsibility for running the family home, as their father has walked out and no one has bothered to check in on them since the case was closed.

This novel isn’t about what happened to the children’s mother, it’s about the criminal level of neglect the children are subjected to as numerous adults fail them. Continue reading “Review of Snap by Belinda Bauer”

Review of The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

“Being a human is a complicated game – like seeing a ghost in a mirror and trying to echo everything they do.”

I knew I was going to love Grace the second I read that opening line. Grace has the-state-of-gracea horse, a best friend and a budding romance with Gabe, which all sounds like a lovely life until you realise that she also has Asperger’s Syndrome and begin to understand how challenging every day interactions are for someone with this syndrome. It’s innate and not something that can be cured.

The world never truly adapted to Grace, she has had to adapt to the rest of the world and when you’re a teenager that becomes even more complex. Especially when there are unexplained changes going on in the family home.

I loved how Grace describes how she tunes in to a conversation then gets distracted by another chat and loses the thread of the one she’s in. People sometimes think those with Asperger’s don’t pick up on facial cues, but they can, they know when they’ve missed a step in the flow and it throws them, as it throws Grace here. She’s picked it up that she’s lost the thread of the conversation, but the person without her condition who is talking hasn’t, the second they look at her oddly makes Grace’s mask slip.

And when the mask slips all her senses become intensified. Sounds are louder, smells more intense, light is brighter, flavours are stronger and texture is more dense. Grace has an engaging turn of phrase as she keeps putting herself out there, then retreats when overwhelmed to try and make sense of what she experiences. She’s a highly observant character, often humorous and knowledgable but also in some ways naive.

This is when Grace starts to over think everything, running through every scenario numerous times to the point of catastrophic thinking, which leads to a series of events where Grace thinks she’s to blame for what happens. There is no one she can turn to who will stop what they’re doing long enough to register that she’s heading into catastrophic thinking and help her to pull back from it.

Through this experience Grace learns a lot about herself, her friendships and her family and they do in return. As I turned the last page I was filled with hope, hope that many people may read this novel and realise that it’s time we adapted and took the perspective of people like Grace into consideration instead of expecting them to conform. As mutual understanding can be beneficial for everyone.

“It’s okay to get things wrong. We’re all still learning. The day you stop learning, my love, is the day you stop living.”

Grace’s Grandma

I bought my copy of The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas from Five Leaves Bookshop.

Follow Rachael on twitter: @karamina.

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books: YA.

Find out more about Asperger’s Syndrome: The National Autistic Society

Review of The Maid’s Room by Fiona Mitchell

I’ve been watching Fiona Mitchell’s progression from journalist to novelist with the-maids-roominterest and was delighted when she announced that she had landed a book deal with Hodder to publish The Maid’s Room.

Mitchell has always written with empathy and insight, two skills that are evident in this novel about the plight of Philippino maids in Singapore. The story begins powerfully, with a description of the standard concrete room that passes for maid’s accommodation. A small airless space with a mattress on the floor and laundry equipment lining the walls.

Jules and David are a married couple who’ve recently moved to Singapore and they’re invited to a party hosted by a brittle mother of two called Amber. Mitchell captures the soulless nature of the experience for Jules by vividly describing the hard contours of the environment and people she meets. There’s a distinct lack of warmth that separates Jules from everyone else, enabling her to see the maid that discretely moves about the room in a way that the other women actively avoid doing.

Dolly is Amber’s maid and she has a secret Continue reading “Review of The Maid’s Room by Fiona Mitchell”

Review of The Park Bench by Chabouté

How often do you think about the lifetime of a bench and the people who come to rest on it? 

The Park Bench by Chabouté focuses on moments in time and what they reveal about the personalities who find the bench, from the carving the-park-benchattempts of two children that ends in one injury, to the tenderness of an old couple who share an iced bun at a set time on the bench each day. From the young man who comes to sit with a bouquet of flowers and waits, to the homeless person who attempts to take refuge only to be moved on by security.

Some visitors to the bench are regulars, while others are just passing through, allowing Chabouté to explore themes of change both through the seasons and the regulars. Continue reading “Review of The Park Bench by Chabouté”

Review of Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

Former con artist turned defence lawyer – Eddie Flynn – takes on a case to prove thirteen-steve-cavanaghthe innocence of Hollywood celebrity Robert Soloman, who has been charged with double murder, just as his own personal life takes a nose dive. Flynn is struggling with the compulsion to defend the defenceless, while recognising that the life he has chosen could endanger those he cares about.

Flynn struggles with this dilemma as he goes up against a ruthless killer who has found a way to be on the jury trial for the celebrity murder. He also has to deal with a renowned prosecutor who appears determined to win regardless of truth or innocence.

This is a game of cat and mouse, as the strings of everyone in the courtroom are played like a puppet by a killer who believes they are invincible, Continue reading “Review of Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh”