Tag Archives: review

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. Review 

It’s easy to see why The Alchemist has achieved status as a modern classic. 

This is the story of a shepherd boy from Spain who follows his dreams to Egypt to find treasure. His journey is far from easy but he follows the omens, guidance and belief in himself to assist him on his journey. 


This is a book about love and happiness, about following dreams and listening to your heart. It is not without reason, the message I took from it was not to ‘follow your dreams regardless’ but to believe in yourself and not make excuses for why you can’t do something when the only thing stopping you is fear of the unknown and the desire to remain comfortable with what you know. I believe this is something we all do, whether eating at the same restaurant, drinking in the same pubs, shopping at the same stores. Or something bigger like staying in a job you hate because you need the money, not studying for that degree because you’re afraid you won’t have time. 

It’s a very overused saying but you only have one life so go out there and live it to the full! 

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler. Review 

Phew! What a roller coaster ride. I haven’t read such an engaging, well written thriller in a while. 

The Other Girl is authored by Erica Spindler best known for her ability to jump between genres, beginning with Mills & Boon style romances, fitting in some of her delicious crime thrillers featuring The Malones and Stacey Killian and even fitting in some cross genre crime/sci fi fiction with her Lightkeepers series. 

This new novel features a brand new detective Miranda Rader and I really hope that we get to see some more of Miranda in the future. Miranda comes from a troubled background, after getting busted for possession of pot when she was 15 and spending some time in juvenile prison, Miranda turned her life around and became a police officer. 


Miranda is brought in as lead detective to investigate the murder of a professor at the local university. Son of the prestigious President of the University, the pressure is on to find out who killed him in such a brutal way. As Miranda begins to put together the pieces which may link the dead man to a terrifying night from her past, suddenly she’s gone from Apple of the Chief’s eye to a suspect. The only people who seem to be on her side are her partner Jake and her best friend Summer who owns a bar (with a really cool name!) The Toasted Cat. 


But who can Miranda trust, it’s clear somebody is setting her up but who? Then she remembers there was another girl there that night, another girl who knows what happens and who exactly covered it up… but who is The Other Girl? 


This was a well written and fast paced novel. Erica has a wonderful way of writing and throws in particularly good red herrings, I’m not ashamed to admit that I fell for one of them hook, line and sinker. But there’s a sadness to this novel too as it shows how a woman must struggle in a man’s world, how someone who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks can be manipulated and disbelieved and the corruption within law enforcement, where money can buy you anything. 

Judas by Amos Oz. Review. 

Judas by Amos Oz is one of the shortlisted novels for this year’s Man Booker Prize. 

The novel is about a young man called Shmeul. An aethiest and a student he is planning to write a paper about Jewish views on Jesus. During this time his girlfriend Yardena leaves him for her ex boyfriend and he quits school to go and work for a reclusive old man as his companion, and continue work on his paper. 

The story alternates between Shmuel’s life in his new home and the paper he is writing. I found it an extremely interesting novel which discussed different religions that despite GCSE RE I wasn’t aware of. For example I had no idea that Jewish people do not believe that Jesus was the son of God. Shmuel’s paper covers an interesting topic, exploring the character of Judas Iscariot and his motivation for Jesus’ crucifixion. 

Shmuel is a melancholy character, he finds happiness in nothing, hates loneliness but also doesn’t enjoy himself in company. As his sister writes to him, he talks, lectures but doesn’t have conversations. 

I can completely understand why this novel has been shortlisted for the prize. Amos Oz writes to an extremely high quality. His writing is captivating. Although the novel’s pace is slow the subject matter is so interesting that it holds your attention nevertheless. 

It is undoubtably a thought provoking and melancholy novel, bringing together issues of war, politics and religion narrated by the story of a young man still trying to find himself and what he would like to do with his life. 

Death Shall Come by Simon R Green. Review. 

‘Call me Ishamael’ you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that you were about to start reading Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick. But this is a series which is set to be a completely different type of classic. 

This is the second book I’ve read in the Ishmael Jones series by Simon R Green and the fourth in the series overall. Which answers the question do I need to read them in order? No. There is always a little background at the beginning that fills you in on who Ishmael is and what’s going on with him. 

Ishmael Jones (which isn’t his real name) is an alien who crash landed on earth 50 years ago, his spaceship turned him into something resembling a human and he’s since joined the service of a covert government operation led by the strict Colonel. 


The Ishmael books all feature a mystery which Ishmael and his endearing human girlfriend Penny have to solve. This time they’re carted off to the mysterious house of the Colonel’s wife’s family who hold one of the largest private collections of Egyptian artefacts in the world. Including a brand new mummy that they want to show off. 


The Ishmael Jones series is an excellent example of genre blending, imagine Scoony Doo meets My Parents are Aliens for grownups. Ishmael and Penny have an amusing relationship and the books are just generally very easy reads, they’re not particularly long and the mysteries are hard to solve because it’s usually something supernatural at work and hiding in plain sight. 


I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and hope there will be some more if only to determine Ishamael’s true origins. Will he ever know where he came from and why? 

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Review 

The Beautiful Ones is the first novel I have read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia but I’m really glad I decided to give it a try. 

Hauntingly beautiful this novel tells the story of unrequited love from the perspective of the lover and the loved. 


Set in what is presumably based on historical France (although the time period isn’t clear). Antonina (Nina) is a naive girl from the countryside taking part in her first grand season in the city of Loisail. Nina is staying with her favourite cousin and his wife who seems to inexplicably dislike her. Nina is used to dislike though, her telekinetic powers are why she couldn’t find a suitable husband at home and her less than perfect manners and lack of ability to be ladylike in public just seem to make things worse. 


But Nina’s attention and affection are captured by the enigmatic if slightly distracted Hector Auvray a telekinetic performer, as they become closer she is certain that a marriage proposal is imminent but there are other things at play that Nina knows nothing about. She has become a bit player in a game that goes back more than a decade. 


I found this book to be very engaging. It was an interesting take on a historical novel with the addition of the characters telekinetic powers. It sssms to be more of a play on the usual historical novel, while some things remain true to the times, others show a decided change. Valérie’s spite and malice make her an excellent villain against the naive and yet lovable Nina. This novel highlights the saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. 


I really liked the characters of both Nina and Hector and I was rooting for them the whole way through, I won’t say if they had a happy ending though, as always I won’t give any spoilers! 

I’ll definitely look into reading more from this author in the future! 

One of Us is Lying by Karen .M. McManus. Review 

One of Us is lying is the hotly anticipated new YA novel from Karen M McManus. The concept instantly intrigued me. Five students are all in detention when one of them dies. The other four are instantly under suspicion. One of the people in that room knows what happened but nobodies owning up. 


The novel is a very very easy read, not because of the subject matter or the writing style but because it’s so interesting. A murder mystery for teen readers. 


All of the students have a Secret which they wanted to keep quiet. There’s Nate who despite being on probation is still drug dealing. Bronwyn is super smart and heading for valedictorian or is she..? Cooper is the all star baseball player who goes out with the prettiest girl in school, but is she who he really wants to be with? And then there’s Addy, super pretty, popular and devoted to her boyfriend Jake but maybe being on the inside means she can’t see what’s going on. 


Simon ran a gossip app, like Gossip Girl but doubly as cruel and he had secrets about all of the others that they wouldn’t want to come out.  


The novel has plenty of twists and turns and suspicions jump from person to person so that even the reader doesn’t know who to trust. There’s the usual teen spats and bitchiness but with a darker undertone that I really loved. 


I really enjoyed this book, it was perfect in a very different way to the usual YA storylines. It was well written and all the characters were likeable and engaging. I really loved one of the relationships which developed along the way although I won’t say who it is though as I like to avoid spoilers. What I will say though is that I loved, loved, loved, this book and everyone should read it! 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Review 

I decided to purchase and read this book because I’d seen everyone talking about the Netflix series and I wanted to read it first. 

Thirteen Reasons Why is the story of a teenage girl called Hannah Barker who kills herself. A week later Clay Jensen a teen boy who loved Hannah receives a package on his doorstep containing a bunch of cassette tapes which Hannah recorded before her death, to provide Thirteen Reasons Why Hannah was driven to do what she did. 


For obvious reasons it’s a very emotive novel. Suicide, teen or otherwise is a trigger subject and very upsetting. I suppose I half expected it to be very dramatic, which it wasn’t. 

But wait… that’s not a criticism, far from it. As someone who was bullied all the way through high school I understand what this book is trying to say, and what I hope is that other people do too. I hope this book and for those who don’t read, this series, achieve what it has set out to do. That is, the way that things which some people perceive to be ‘small’ or insignificant things, can really affect other people’s lives. 


It highlights how bullying is more than just attacking people physically or verbally. How it can be small things like spreading a ‘little’ rumour, or stealing something which would have made that persons day. 


But what this book is also about, is the people left behind. There is a lot of focus on blame but also on the things that the person themselves could have done differently, the way that Hannah towards the end almost sets herself up to make her life as terrible as possible in order to finalise her decision. It explores the complexity of the depressed mind and how reason can go out of the window when life becomes so terrible and you feel so alone. How one chain of events can cause you to make a decision about ending your life. 


What I hope this book, and this series does is reminds people to be nice to other people because you don’t know how much that person needs just one smiling face in their day.