Here’s my review of The Fear Within by J.S. Law. Have you read it? Did you like it?
Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’
Bit ill, bit puffy, bit late, but here is a video diary of all the books I’ve been sent over Autumn. Have you read any? Do you like the sound of any? What shall I read first? AND don’t miss your chance to win five of the books in the video…
Hi guys, here’s my publication day review of Susi Holliday’s The Deaths of December. How many Christmas things can you spot in it? I had to raid the loft. Would this make you want to read it? Have you read it? What do you think?
Get ready for an author interview with a twist! Learn more about what your favourite authors are truly like, when I ask them some more unusual questions. In today’s Book Blast I challenge Theakstons’ Crime Novel of the Year winner and DI Marnie Rome author Sarah Hilary to two truths and a lie. Let me know what you think, guys?
I am freakin’ excited that Follow Me is at number 39 in the UK Kindle Chart. You can grab it for ONLY 99p here.
‘[Clarke] really gets to what modern life is on the internet.’
‘An original idea’
‘Freddie is a magnificently monstrous character’
~ Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4
‘Written in the sharpest style, the story races along, leaving the reader almost as breathless as the heroine – but there is a verve to it that is impossible to resist. A playwright and a screenwriter, Clarke is certainly someone to watch.’
‘Slick and clever’
~ The Sun
‘Cunningly plotted but should be gulped down as frothy fun with great zeitgeisty gags’
~ The Sunday Express
‘Set in a London of East End hipsters, Tinder hook-ups, and internships, this tongue-in-cheek tale explores murder in the age of social media’
~ The Sunday Mirror
‘A very contemporary nightmare, delivered with panache’
~ The Independent
‘Clarke has made an appealing flawed female lead who’ll make immediate sense to readers who enjoyed Rachel in The Girl On The Train. An invigorating cat-and-mouse game, with a dark and filthy wit that deliciously spikes the regular drenchings of gore’
~ Crime Scene Magazine
‘A chilling debut’
~ Hello! Magazine
‘Follow Me is compelling, a proper page-turner’
~ Emerald Street
‘Gripping, darkly funny and feminist, I loved Follow Me’
~ Caroline Criado-Perez
‘Follow Me is a well written, taut, absolutely fascinating and scarily good crime novel that is too true to life…It will certainly make you look at social media and Twitter in particular with the utmost scepticism and horror. Outstanding! Clearly the start of a wonderful series, superbly written. I definitely want more.’
~ Shots Magazine
Fuck This Journal is an inspired and hilarious swipe at all those think positive books that claim to encourage your creativity. If you see ‘meaningful’ saccharine quotes overlaid on photos of sunsets and roll your eyes: this is the book for you. If you’ve ever read a ‘creatively stimulating’ tome, or sat through a lesson engaged in an arty exercise: this book is for you.
At a time when colouring books are marketed at adults, this is a refreshingly droll look at instigating your ‘cre-hate-tivity’. Full of comic drawings and amusingly pointless exercises, such as: ‘Let’s adopt a trick from Ernest Hemingway. He said “when I seek inspiration I write the word ‘inspiration’ over and over again” Hey! Why not give it a try in the space below?’ This is a book that’s sure to raise a laugh and a half.
Managing to introduce a narrative into the collection of witty and dour illustrations and exercises, Shaw’s bitter alter ego reveals a story of: divorce from Carol, near bankruptcy, and thwarted dreams. I have certainly met this hard done by, chip on the shoulder type in pubs and creative writing classes before, which adds a deliciously satirical layer to the book. Fuck This Journal is a genuinely unique comic work. Buy this as a gift for yourself and all the creatives in your life. That’s Christmas sorted.
Fuck This Journal by Dale Shaw: Fucking buy this 5/5
I love lists. I make lists for everything from shopping lists, to lists of things I want to do in the coming year. They help me remember, clarify and stay focused. Forget the iPhone Generation, when I think of the ‘listicles’ that appear on Buzzfeed I know we’re the List Generation. Which is what is so initially appealing about The Thirty List: a romantic comedy that tells the story of Rachel, newly separated from her husband, who draws up a list of all the things she’d meant to do before turning thirty and sets about ticking them off. We all have that list. The one with the big things on it, our hopes and dreams, but how many of us actually tackle them? Rachel jumps in wholeheartedly, and as they say, hilarity ensues.
Woods deftly weaves the tender pathos of Rachel’s broken marriage and impending divorce, with deep belly laugh inducing jokes at the perils of house hunting in London, trying to find a job, trying to make a living, and the day to day troubles that concern most of us. Structuring the story around Rachel’s list, the reader is soon invested in not only the completing of the tasks but also the reconstruction of Rachel’s life. Forced to move in with a grumpy man named Patrick and his four year old son Alex, Rachel corrals her new landlord into writing his own list and this is where the fun really starts. I snorted with laughter at moments in this book, and kept shouting out bits to my companions: ‘Listen to this bit! So funny!’
But Woods is more than a writer of great jokes, the pace and depth of this warm hearted tale built to a real moment of crisis I did not see coming, and one which moved me to tears. There is love and heartbreak and hope in this book: a perfect summer read. Put reading it at the top of your to-do list.
The Thirty List, by Eva Woods: top of my list 5/5
I read a lot of books, see a lot of plays, and watch a lot of films. It’s my job: you can’t write without studying your craft (well you can be you probably won’t get far), and that includes digesting as much material as possible. The creative process is a hard thing to define and explain, but for me a large part of it is to be stimulated: different genres and different mediums all feed back into my ideas and what I’m working on. A newspaper story, a documentary, a superhero film, a literary novel, a four-minute Youtube sitcom: it all goes into the melting pot. For me it’s all about story: and you find that in every form of expression.
All this creative-crudité-crunching means I come across some amazing things I want to share: plays that made me cry, books that made me laugh out loud, and films that chilled me. It also means I come across things I find not so successful. Creativity is subjective, and even if I find flaws in works I understand that getting a book written and published, producing a play, or getting a movie green lit is a big deal. It’s hard to achieve, and it takes a vast amount of work. We’re talking years of sweat and tears and determination and very possibly near-bankruptcy. I also know the finished article an audience receives has had the input of many others: a book will be shaped by an editor, a film re-written numerous times by multiple writing teams, a play tailored by a theatre. The faults you think you can see in a creative piece don’t necessarily originate from the writer.
So who am I to blog negatively about someone else’s work? We’re all learning, we’re all growing, we’re all hopefully moving forwards. If I don’t like something I don’t review it. I write about the things I enjoyed or loved*. There are already enough hurdles artists have to overcome, there is already enough rejection to endure: they don’t need a silly little blog giving them a bad review.
*If you or your publisher have sent me your book and I have not reviewed it, please do not assume it is because I didn’t like it: sometimes life gets in the way and my to-read pile gets out of control. My apologies.
A year or so ago I was at my favourite writing retreat and met fellow guest Rebecca Whitney, who was working on what would become The Liar’s Chair. Sat in front of the fire clutching a glass of wine, I listened rapt as she read an extract. I remember being consumed by the desire to know what happened next. Now finished and published by Pan Macmillan I have my answer.
The Liar’s Chair is the story of Rachel Teller, a prosperous businesswoman who accidentally kills a man in a hit and run incident. It is a taut, gripping plot, with controlling husband David covering up the accident and insisting Rachel and he pretend nothing has happened. But this one act of violence sends fissures across the meticulously cultivated veneer of Rachel ‘s seemingly perfect life, and arouses her husband’s darker side.
I got in the bath to start reading this book and didn’t get out until I’d finished. Wrinkled like a prune and having emptied the boiler of hot water, I was fascinated by Rachel and her plight. But more than simply a tense page-turner, The Liar’s Chair is a stunning psychological profile of a character. Whitney delves through the shadows of Rachel’s life to bring the reader an extraordinary understanding of the woman we meet on the first page. Rachel is a troubled character and I’ve seen a few reviews sighting her as unlikeable, but I think we should be wary of damning protagonists on their likability. This is not a popularity contest, and all too often the question of likeability is only raised in regards to female writers and female protagonists: so unused are we to seeing real representations of women. Rachel is not a two dimensional portrait, but a complex, augmented, fully-formed person. She is very very real. Something I hope we see more of when it comes to female characters.
If you’re in the mood for a pacey psychological thriller, and don’t mind abandoning your plans for the day, then I’d recommend The Liar’s Chair.
The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney: dark, startling and compelling 4/5
I fear the celebrity who takes to writing books: please don’t let this be a painful exercise in ego. So I was wary of Losing It, the debut novel from actress Helen Lederer, who is well-loved for her role of dippy Catriona in Absolutely Fabulous. I shouldn’t have worried. Lederer is hardly a stranger to the typewriter, having an extensive portfolio of her own comedy material already notching up her word count. And it shows in Losing It.
The story of Millie, a fifty-something, one-time QVC starlet, who agrees to be the front woman of a new diet pill in a bid to lose weight, pay off her debts, and get a sex life is packed full of laughs. Every other line of this sharp mid-lit novel is a joke, and Millie’s riotous adventures gallop along faster than the personal trainer that’s been forced upon her. From randy second-best friends with testosterone implants, to dodgy next door neighbours with a bad line in yoga pants and erect sundials, the cast of characters in this book are as lovable as they are hysterical.
A triumph of observational wit, Lederer’s style is reminiscent of the late Sue Townsend. As an author her fearless confrontation of life’s humiliations had me crying with laughter and routing for Millie. And what a bloody great delight to read a funny, fast-paced novel, where the heroine is a fifty-something woman who, shock, horror, and gasp, is interested in sex. (At least she thinks she is). When I grow up I want to be Millie. Minus the explosive food poisoning incident.
Losing It, Helen Lederer: A delightful and delicious treat to be devoured: 5/5
*I subsequently had the chance to meet Helen at her book launch, and was touched by her talent, warmth, and in particular the generous way she seeks to support and encourage other creatives she meets. A top woman with a top book.
1 2 Next