books

Writing and Editing Tips Revisited: Writing a Blurb #writingtips #wwwblogs

website-migration-failed-frustrated-woman-at-laptop-300x200

Almost as feared as the dreaded synopsis, the book blurb has the power to turn wonderful writers to jelly. But the blurb is the hook, along with the cover, to reel those readers in. You need to make sure that you entice your reader, that you intrigue them without giving too much away. Longer than the elevator pitch, but shorter than a synopsis, the book blurb is key to whetting a reader’s appetite.

So how should you approach it? Here are some quick tips on getting that blurb up to scratch.

Keep it short. This is NOT a synopsis. You want a couple of two to three line paragraphs. Too much and you risk giving too much away and turning off your reader. Too little and you might miss the mark.

Mention your main character(s). It’s important for your reader to know who the book is about.

Be precise. There is no place or space for vagueness, long-windedness or clever clever vocabulary in your blurb. Short, sharp, to the point.

Make it interesting. Obviously. What’s intriguing about the story? Why would I want to read it?

Don’t give away the ending. It might sound silly to even point that out – but it does happen.

Don’t compare yourself to other writers or compare the book to other books. Tell your potential reader that you’re the next J.K Rowling or Stephen King and you’re more likely to annoy them than anything.

Watch out for clichés or overused words and phrases. Try and be refreshing and new. And interesting.

Good luck!

Advertisements

‘Fire Damage’ by Kate Medina #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

fire damage

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

To find a killer, she must unlock a child’s terror…

The first in an exciting new crime series featuring psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn – a brilliantly complex character who struggles with a dark past of her own. Perfect for fans of Nicci French and Val McDermid.

A traumatized little boy

Four years old, terrified, disturbed – Sami is a child in need of help. Now it’s up to psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn to find the cause of his suffering and unlock his darkest memories, before it’s too late.

A psychologist with a secret

Meanwhile Jessie is haunted by an awful truth of her own. She works alongside former patient, Captain Ben Callan, to investigate a violent death – but the ghosts of her past refuse to leave her.

A body washed up on the beach

When a burnt corpse is found on the Sussex coast, Jessie begins to uncover a link between her two cases – and a desperate killer will do anything to keep it buried…

Army psychologist Jessie Flynn is asked to treat the traumatised four-year-old son of an army major. His father has been badly burned in a petrol bomb attack in Afghanistan and it seems that he is the terrifying ‘shadowman’ at the heart of Sami’s terror. But the situation is far more complex than that, and Jessie’s investigations lead her to make some intriguing discoveries about Nooria, the boy’s mother.

Jessie is also asked to help a former patient, Captain Ben Callan, with his investigation into the apparent murder of a soldier in Afghanistan. And does a body washed up on a Chichester beach have links with either case?

There were some parts of this book that I found really gripping and thoroughly enjoyed. Jessie is an interesting main character and is certainly three-dimensional. Her history has a huge effect on her everyday life and this adds an extra depth to her character, and her relationship with Callan is also well-written. I didn’t guess the twist at the end either. And Sami is a hugely effective character, and very sensitively written

However, the story took a while to get going and I did find myself skipping through some of it. And there were aspects of the writer’s style that I didn’t like. There were quite a few incomplete sentences. Sometimes these worked, adding drama and tension, but quite often they just seemed awkward and unfinished.

And the ending felt very rushed. Everything was tied up very quickly in almost one scene, which was a little disappointing, particularly as things took a while to get going in the beginning.

3-stars-out-of-5

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.

‘The Former Chief Executive’ by Kate Vane #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview @k8vane

#RBRT Review Team

I read and reviewed ‘The Former Chief Executive’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

chief exec

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Without your past, who are you?
Deborah was a respected hospital manager until a tragedy destroyed her reputation. She has lost her career, her husband and even her name.
Luca wants to stay in the moment. For the first time in his life he has hope and a home. But a fresh start is hard on a zero-hours contract, harder if old voices fill your mind.
When a garden share scheme brings them together, Deborah is beguiled by Luca’s youth and grace. He makes her husband’s garden live again. He helps her when she’s at her lowest. But can she trust him? And when the time comes to confront her past, can she find the strength?
This sharply drawn short novel explores the distance between the generations – between health and wealth, owners and workers, guilt and blame.

Deborah’s vision of her retirement – to spend her days finally relaxing with her husband Peter after a long career – has had to be reimagined. Peter has died, and she is alone, struggling to know what to do with her time and how to live without him, and without the career that defined her.

Luca is also struggling – struggling with life after prison, a new job, a pregnant girlfriend. He finds solace in working on Deborah’s garden and the two develop a friendship.

But the arrival of Deborah’s daughter complicates things as their problematic relationship is put under new pressure. And Deborah also has to contend with her past, and the fear that it will come back to ruin the present.

This is a thoughtful book, measured and considered. The pace is rather slow, but it works with writing that is skilful and assured. The characters are incredibly well-drawn and have so many layers – they have a real depth, and, while not all are exactly likeable, their stories are compelling, and you really care about what happens to them.

My only issue is that I feel this could have been longer. I wanted to know more about Deborah’s past, about what happened at the hospital. And I wanted more about her relationship with Eleanor. Luca is so interesting too, and I felt that there were things in his past that could be explored more thoroughly. The writing is so well-crafted, so good, that it seemed a shame that that wasn’t more of it!

This is a well-crafted and enjoyable read. The restrained tone is deceiving – there is a great deal going on here, a lot of it seething away under the surface. The author shows a great amount of skill in resisting the temptation to let everything bubble over.

An excellent novella.

4.5 out of 5

‘Fever Dream’ by Samanta Schweblin #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

fever

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child.

The two seem anxious and, at David’s ever more insistent prompting, Amanda recounts a series of events from the apparently recent past. As David pushes her to recall whatever trauma has landed her in her terminal state, he unwittingly opens a chest of horrors, and suddenly the terrifying nature of their reality is brought into shocking focus.

One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange and deeply unsettling psychological menace in this cautionary tale of maternal love, broken souls and the power and desperation of family.

This is a very unusual novella, structured as questions and answers between a dying woman, Amanda, and a child, David, who is not hers. Amanda has been on holiday with her daughter, Nina, and has befriended Carla, David’s mother. Carla is frightened of David, calls him a monster, and tells Amanda that her son has been ‘transmigrated’ into another body after being poisoned.

This ‘new’ David is certainly strange, but is Carla telling the truth? Is she deluded? How has Amanda ended up dying in a hospital bed? And where is Nina?

The writing here (translated by Megan McDowell) is just excellent. There is a sense of foreboding, of menace, a real strangeness to the tale that is executed beautifully. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure, but I found it completely absorbing. In an age of disappointing, box-ticking, formulaic books, it was a genuine pleasure to read. There are no answers here, no satisfying resolution. It’s creepy, uncanny and weird, really, if I’m honest. But it’s brilliant.

5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy for review.

 

 

‘FARMAGEDDON – THE TRUE COST OF CHEAP MEAT’ BY PHILIP LYMBERY #FRIDAYREADS #BOOKREVIEW #NATIONALVEGETARIANWEEK

It’s National vegetarian Week this week in the UK. I’ve shared this review several times – but it’s such an excellent, thought-provoking read that it definitely warrants sharing again.

farmageddon

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

A caveat before I begin this review – a very long time ago I worked for Compassion in World Farming. I’m also a non-dairy consuming pescatarian (occasionally eat fish but definitely no meat and no dairy or eggs) and am still a supporter of CIWF. Philip Lymbery is the CEO of CIWF, a charity that campaigns to end factory farming and to improve the welfare of farm animals around the world.

‘Farmageddon’ is a thought-provoking and very readable account of what is going on in the farming industry worldwide and how that not only has consequences for the animals but also for all of us. I have to be honest, I have a lot more respect for livestock farmers than I do for the majority of meat eaters who pop into the supermarket,  buy a £2.99 chicken for dinner and don’t for one second think about how that chicken was raised and killed so cheaply. The type of people who put their fingers in their ears and don’t want to know where their food comes from. People seem to still believe that pigs and cows and sheep and chickens all live on Old MacDonald’s farm, happily chomping away at grass in the fields or pecking in the farmyard, despite all the evidence that’s now available to the contrary.

The consequences of humanity’s reliance on meat are far-reaching and potentially devastating. This book explores in a thoughtful and intelligent way the disasters that have already been caused by our appetite for cheap meat – the decline in the number of birds, for example (in the last forty years the population of tree sparrows, grey partridges and skylarks, among others, have plummeted), the threat to bees, and the pollution caused by the need to get rid of the huge amounts of waste produced by the millions and millions of animals now being farmed.

I know from experience that people don’t want to be preached at – and this book isn’t preachy at all. The author isn’t trying to make you vegan – he is just telling you what he has seen, from China to the US, to South America and though Europe, and gives options and alternatives that could see an end to the suffering of those millions of animals (and they do suffer) and better health and a better environment for everyone.

This book is, in my opinion, an absolute must read. It isn’t always comfortable reading, but it’s time we pulled our fingers out of our ears.

5 stars

 

‘He Said/She Said’ by Erin Kelly #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

he said

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden… something she never could have guessed.

Kit is an eclipse chaser, something he’s been doing since he was a child. In 1999, he attends a festival in Cornwall with new girlfriend Laura to see an eclipse, which they watch together. Returning to the campsite, they see what Laura assumes is a rape. This incident impacts the rest of their lives together, and they become embroiled in a situation where no one really knows who’s telling the truth. And Beth, the alleged victim, won’t leave them alone.

The story flips between what happens at the festival and its aftermath and the present day – 2015. Laura and Kit are living under assumed names, terrified of their past catching up with them. Laura is pregnant with twins and Kit is about to set off to the Faroe Islands to see a last eclipse before fatherhood. We hear the story from both Laura and Kit, which works really well to set up the tension and to create an atmosphere where the reader doesn’t really know what, or who, to believe.

I did really enjoy reading this book. It’s a clever plot with a twist that is genuinely surprising. The characters are well-drawn and, unlike some other reviewers, I did warm to them, particularly Laura, and could definitely understand her motivations. It was a real page-turner.

However, there were a couple of things that didn’t really work for me. Laura and Kit keep referring to an incident in Zambia, after the alleged assault. It is hinted that something major happened. When this was revealed it was a real let down. And they also refer to a video online that is terribly upsetting for Laura. Again, it isn’t, and this is another let down. If things are built up like this, then the reader deserves something worthy of all that tension.

That said, this is a really good read. The author understands how to build tension and how to keep a reader engaged. I’d definitely recommend it.

4 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy for review.

‘All Our Wrong Todays’ by Elan Mastai #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

todays

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

When Tom loses the love of his life, time travel seems like the only answer. . . what could possibly go wrong?

Elan Mastai’s breakthrough novel brings a whole new dimension to a classic love story.

So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.

That means nothing to you, obviously, because you live here, in the crappy world we do have.

But it never should’ve turned out like this. And it’s all my fault – well, me and to a lesser extent my father.

And, yeah, I guess a little bit Penelope.

In both worlds, she’s the love of my life. But only a single version of her can exist.

I have one impossible chance to fix history’s greatest mistake and save this broken world.

Tom lives in a different 2016. A better 2016 than the one we had (which, to be honest, isn’t that difficult), made possible by a never-ending source of clean energy discovered in the 1950s. Tom’s world is peaceful, carefree, perfect. But his life isn’t. His father, a brilliant scientist, is distant and disinterested. Tom feels like a failure.

It’s quite a complicated plot, but suffice it to say, Tom messes with his father’s time machine, changes the course of history and ends up in our, rather crappy, 2016.

The concepts behind time travel give me a headache. I just can’t get my head around the whole idea. And neither can Tom, really. But he has to sort things out to save all those people he accidentally got rid of. Of course, it isn’t that simple. There’s his new family to consider, who are much nicer that the old one. And there’s the new Penelope too.

Tom is a great main character. Aware of his short-comings, he’s an honest narrator. The reader really feels his panic about what he’s done, the dawning reality of where he is and what his new life means. The journal style works very well and does help the reader to identify closely with Tom. The other characters are, on the whole, also well-drawn and three-dimensional and the author allows their flaws to show. The novel explores his complex relationships, and at the heart of this is a love story.

There are a few places where things are a little repetitive and long-winded, but they are few and far between. And I did feel that new Penelope was rather too perfect. But aside from these minor points, the novel was clever, well-written and very readable despite its complexity.

I still don’t really understand time travel though.

5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy.

‘Everything but the Truth’ by Gillian McAllister #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

truth

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Do you ever check your partner’s phone? 
Should you? 
Are you prepared for the consequences?

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister’s stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

This is such a compelling debut novel. Rachel has a secret hidden in her past; something she doesn’t want to share with new boyfriend Jack. But Jack seems to be hiding something too, and Rachel can’t help but begin to snoop around. It begins with a checking an email, then her compulsion to find out exactly what he’s hiding grows stronger – she begins to dig deeper and deeper, and what she finds has the potential to destroy their relationship, even though they are expecting a baby together.

But was what Jack did so terrible? And can she justify poking around in his past?

Just who exactly is in the wrong here?

I absolutely loved a lot of things about this novel. I liked Rachel a lot, and really sympathised with her, but I also felt really sorry for Jack, even while I felt so frustrated too – I just wanted them both to be honest. But this reaction just proves the skill of the author – you can completely see why they get themselves into this mess, and how hard it is to get out of it.

The secret in Rachel’s past is revealed very gradually, and I did feel emotional reading about it. The dilemma she finds herself in is so well-written – I kept having conversations with people, trying to find out what they would do in her shoes. That’s surely the sign of an excellent book.

I do have a couple of little grumbles. There are a few inconsistencies – more a problem with the editing though than the writing. This would normally be enough to knock a star off my rating, but I liked this book so much that I can’t. This is a really, really good read.

5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for providing a review copy.

 

‘Behind Her Eyes’ by Sarah Pinborough #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

 

Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending…

‘Sarah Pinborough is about to become your new obsession’ Harlan Coben

Louise

Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets…

David

Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife…

Adele

Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise’s new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks… Is David really is the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears?
Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?

419idx4wssl-_sx325_bo1204203200_

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

This was the first book I read in 2017 and it got the reading year off to a fabulous start!

Through the eyes of both Louise, struggling and unhappy single mum, and glamorous and seemingly together and accomplished Adele, the author draws you into a story where you soon realise that you don’t know who to believe or who to trust. But this is much more than a mysterious, dark love triangle – there’s a massive twist that I guarantee you really won’t see coming.

Aside from the very, very clever twist, the writing itself is excellent. The characters are well-developed, believable and Louise is relatable and really likeable. The dialogue is convincing and the situations and settings are authentic however strange the story becomes.

A remarkable book, enjoyable and compelling – do read it!

5 stars

 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a review copy.

My Books of 2016 #FridayReads #IAmReading

Bookshelf-2

When I started writing this post I wanted to list every book I’ve read this year that I would recommend but it soon became obvious that the post would be far too long and no one would read it all. So I’ve whittled it down and here are the books that really were the standouts. Funnily enough, they’re mostly non-fiction.

‘Farmageddon’ by Philip Lymbery

farmageddon

Farm animals have been disappearing from our fields as the production of food has become a global industry. We no longer know for certain what is entering the food chain and what we are eating, as the UK horsemeat scandal demonstrated. We are reaching a tipping point as the farming revolution threatens our countryside, health and the quality of our food wherever we live in the world.
Farmageddon is a fascinating and terrifying investigative journey behind the closed doors of a runaway industry across the world, from the UK, Europe and the USA, to China, Argentina, Peru and Mexico. It is both a wake-up call to change our current food production and eating practices and an attempt to find a way to a better farming future.

This isn’t preachy at all, just factual and fantastically well-written. Everyone needs to read this book.

‘Chasing the Scream’ by Johann Hari

9781408857854

Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the war on drugs is not what we see on our TV screens. In Chasing the Scream, Johann Hari shares his discoveries through the riveting true stories he uncovered on a 30,000-mile journey – from the founder of the war on drugs who stalked and killed Billie Holiday, to a transgender crack dealer in Brooklyn, to the only country that has ever decriminalised all drugs, with remarkable results. You will never look at addiction – or our society – in the same way again.

This is such an eye-opener. It is genuinely life-changing.

Two by the fabulous Jenny Lawson:

‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’

pretend

Have you ever embarrassed yourself so badly you thought you’d never get over it? Have you ever wished your family could be just like everyone else’s? Have you ever been followed to school by your father’s herd of turkeys, mistaken a marriage proposal for an attempted murder or got your arm stuck inside a cow? OK, maybe that’s just Jenny Lawson . . . The bestselling memoir from one of America’s most outlandishly hilarious writers.

and ‘Furiously Happy’

51Z3ZotTWfL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best. As Jenny says: ‘You can’t experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.’ It’s a philosophy that has – quite literally – saved her life.

I discovered Jenny Lawson through a review I read on another blog (see, reviews really work). She is a truly fabulous writer, a warm, funny and genuine person and her insight and humour have helped me with some of the issues that have and do affect my own family. Just wonderful.

‘Nights at the Circus’ by Angela Carter

nights-at-the-circus2

Is Sophie Fevvers, toast of Europe’s capitals, part swan…or all fake?
Courted by the Prince of Wales and painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, she is an aerialiste extraordinaire and star of Colonel Kearney’s circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover the truth behind her identity. Dazzled by his love for her, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser has no choice but to join the circus on its magical tour through turn-of-the-nineteenth-century London, St Petersburg and Siberia.

I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to read this. The writing is assured, clever without being pretentious, lyrical in places. It’s a book I’ll remember for a long time – unforgettable, colourful, and chaotic. A masterpiece.

‘The Devil You Know’ by Terry Tyler

61u3megpz6l

Every serial killer is someone’s friend, spouse, lover or child….
Young women are being murdered in the Lincolnshire town of Lyndford, where five people fear someone close to them might be the monster the police are searching for.
One of them is right.
Juliet sees an expert’s profile of the average serial killer and realises that her abusive husband, Paul, ticks all the boxes.
Maisie thinks her mum’s new boyfriend seems too good to be true. Is she the only person who can see through Gary’s friendly, sensitive façade?
Tamsin is besotted with her office crush, Jake. Then love turns to suspicion…
Steve is used to his childhood friend, Dan, being a loud mouthed Lothario with little respect for the truth. But is a new influence in his life leading him down a more sinister path?
Dorothy’s beloved son, Orlando, is keeping a secret from her—a chilling discovery forces her to confront her worst fears.
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is a character-driven psychological drama that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Terry Tyler is an independent author who always comes in handy when you’re having an argument with someone who thinks self-publishing is a last resort. Read any of Terry’s books and you’ll realise that independent authors can be just as entertaining and accomplished as any of the authors published by the Big Five (or however many it is). An intriguing storyline, fabulous characterisation, technically excellent, what more could you ask for?

‘Dear Thief’ by Samantha Harvey

thief

In the middle of a winter’s night, a woman wraps herself in a blanket, picks up a pen and starts writing to an estranged friend. In answer to a question you asked a long time ago, she writes, and so begins a letter that calls up a shared past both women have preferred to forget. 
Without knowing if her friend, Butterfly, is even alive or dead, she writes night after night – a letter of friendship that turns into something more revealing and recriminating. By turns a belated outlet of rage, an act of self-defence, and an offering of forgiveness, the letter revisits a betrayal that happened a decade and a half before, and dissects what is left of a friendship caught between the forces of hatred and love.

This book was an absolute joy to read. The quiet but stunningly beautiful narrative tells the story of a woman who has been betrayed, who is now addressing that betrayal, confronting, if only in words, in a letter, the friend who let her down. A powerful book from an incredibly talented writer.

Honourable mentions – in no particular order

Stiff’ by Mary Roach

stiff

A book about death and what happens to you afterwards! Weirdly uplifting and life-affirming, this book is hilarious and sobering in equal measures.

‘The Woman Who Thought Too Much’ by Joanne Limburg

thought-too-much

Joanne’s experiences and her insightful, clever prose do a lot to explode the misconceptions and myths around OCD. A must read for those with OCD or those who are supporting an OCD sufferer.

‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ by Azar Nafisi

readinglolitaintehran

Revolutionary Iran seen through the lens of a group of women who come together over books. Beautiful, intelligent and fascinating.

‘No More Mulberries’ by Mary Smith

mulberries

The story of a Scottish midwife living in Afghanistan, the author’s skill at creating an authentic sense of time and place makes this an absolute joy to read. And Miriam is one of the warmest, most likeable characters I’ve read this year.

‘Flesh’ by Dylan J. Morgan

20793203

I haven’t read a good horror story in ages, and this took me back to Stephen King and all those books I’d loved. Satisfyingly scary.

‘The Brazilian Husband’ by Rebecca Powell

brazilian-husband

Judith and her step-daughter Rosa travel to Brazil with Judith’s husbands ashes. What they find out about his past makes them question their own relationship. Intelligent, thoughtful, engaging. A really competent debut.

‘Fallow’ by Daniel Shand

fallow-2

Another scary one. Dark, disturbing but difficult to put down, Fallow tells the story of Paul and Mikey, two brothers who are on the run from someone or something. Clever and compelling, there are shades of Iain Banks’ Wasp Factory here, but Shand restrains himself somewhat, avoiding some of the more gratuitous detail of Banks’ novel. A gripping read.

‘Never Coming Back’ by Deidre Palmer

Never-Coming-Back-Deirdre-Palmer.jpg

The topic of guilt and grief and how different people deal with loss and tragedy is at the heart of this extremely thoughtful and well-written novel. The characters are beautifully drawn and three-dimensional. Layla, in particular, is compelling; her mixed emotions, her grief, her guilt, vividly and realistically portrayed. I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely book

I also read/re-read quite a few classics this year as I’m trying to complete the David Bowie Reading Challenge. ‘Nights at the Circus’ was part of this. Other books that I read for the challenge that I recommend are:

‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ by Muriel Spark

‘Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy’ by Rumer Godden

‘Billy Liar’ by Keith Waterhouse

‘1984’ by George Orwell (and in the light of the events of 2016, this is a really scary read!)

‘Fingersmith’ by Sarah Waters (a re-read)

‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert (another re-read)

Well, still an incredibly long post. Hope you got to the end!

Happy reading in 2017! And a very happy New Year.

Happy New Year Greeting Card.png