I’d completely misunderstood the blurb for The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean. I assumed it to be one of those kidnap victim sagas about someone abducted and held for many years (like Room and many books since). And it kinda is. But’s also about the far weightier and fraught topic of human trafficking, or at least its aftermath and its repercussions.
The most important thing you need to know about The Sight of You by Holly Miller is that I bloody loved it. Like LOVE loved it. I randomly picked it off my overflow TBR pile (on the trolley in my bathroom) not entirely sure what I was in for. Although if I’m honest I was probably slightly worried by the mention of premonitions as I’m not a fan of the illogical in my reading.
But… oh my god, I was smitten from the get-go. By Miller’s writing. By her characters. I was in love. I note a quote from Beth O’Leary inside the book and think it’s reminiscent of her book (I also loved) The Flatshare, which offers readers a growing relationship from both a male and female perspective. This does the same and Miller’s written it in a way that Joel and Callie are funny, charismatic and likeable as individuals; so as a couple who perfectly complement the other, they’re addictive.
I don’t read short stories. And yes I know, it’s weird and makes no sense. However as I launched into Stephen King’s newest release If It Bleeds, I was reminded that much of his early work, that I loved, were (in fact) short stories.
The title’s namesake, If It Bleeds, is in fact possibly almost a novella and is a sequel to The Outsider. It’s complemented by three other shorter stories and I actually… preferred a couple of those as I’m not a huge fan of the fantasy / horror genre. Twisty yes, but I’m a lover of logic so I like trying to wrap my head around something mysterious or even mind-bending, rather than fantastical. If that makes sense.
I enjoyed The Roanoke Girls published in 2017 but Amy Engel’s latest release, The Familiar Dark, actually frog-leapt over several other books for a rather superficial reason. Its slimness.
Don’t get me wrong, the backcover blurb made it sound gripping, so I was keen to read it—but given everything that’s happening in the world—like many others, I’m struggling to maintain focus for extensive amounts of time. Large tomes have felt a little overwhelming. But I knew (again from the blurb) this would be a book I could read in a sitting. (And it was!)
What I really liked about this book by Sophie Hannah is that though the lead character Beth sees something completely impossible, she’s conscious of its improbability and considers alternatives despite being sure she’s not mistaken. And of course, given my logic-loving ways…. I also liked that Hannah steers clear of the fantastic and (eventually) the inexplicable as we unpick the mystery.
The first part of this book introduces us to one of our narrators and lead characters. Interestingly it doesn’t touch on ‘the institute’ at all. I’d read the backcover blurb and wondered what on earth disgraced-but-heroic cop Tim Jamieson had to do with gifted kids being kidnapped in Maine but Stephen King is such a masterful storyteller I didn’t really care. I was happy to read about Tim hitch-hiking to DuPray, South Carolina and the people he met along the way, as well as the way he settled into the local community on his arrival.
Even though the cover seemed very familiar it wasn’t until I checked my Goodreads account that I discovered I hadn’t read Erin Kelly’s popular He Said / She Said, which was released 2017. I had – however – read her 2014 novel, The Ties That Bind.
Stone Mothers, we learn, is what the Victorians used to call their mental hospitals because they had faith that the architecture and building design could literally nurse the sick back to health.
I suspect if you asked many people of my generation (and perhaps those born a decade or so before / after) we’d say that Enid Blyton was one of the biggest influences on our reading lives.
I have VERY vivid memories of going to our former library to borrow Noddy books and I LOVED the Faraway Tree, Wishing Chair, Secret Seven and Amelia Jane (though her less so, cos she WAS naughty) but most particularly The Famous Five.
Stephen King is a very gifted writer. I suspect I – and many others – have been distracted over the years by his plots and quirky / endearing / just pure evil characters… that it’s easy to forget how effortlessly engaging his writing can be.
It was something that struck me most in his new novel, The Outsider, which is predominantly centred around new character and local cop Ralph Anderson, although King later introduces Holly Gibney – who regular readers met in the Mr Mercedes / Finders Keepers / End of Watch series.