Anne Bonny #BookReview The Good Daughter by @SlaughterKarin @fictionpubteam @HarperFiction #CrimeFiction #Sisterhood

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The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Synopsis:

One ran. One stayed. But who is…the good daughter?

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s childhoods were destroyed by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – a notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family consumed by secrets from that shocking night.

Twenty-eight years later, Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer. But when violence comes to their home town again, the case triggers memories she’s desperately tried to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family won’t stay buried for ever…

My Review:

The novel opens at the temporary farmhouse residence of the two teen sisters Samantha and Charlotte aka Charlie. Samantha is the older sister at 15yrs old and Charlie is just 13yrs old. When the novel opens in 1989, it is just a mere 8 days after the lives of the family were destroyed in an arson attack at their home. Their father Rusty is a DA and the family often receive violent threats due to the nature of the crimes he defends. The mother is known as ‘Gamma’ due to her doctorate in two science subjects. The family appears from the outside in, to be very loving but with progressive attitudes towards justice and the law.

Then one day two men appear in the kitchen and their lives are changed forever. . .

‘Promise me you’ll always take care of Charlie’
Gamma to Samantha.

The novel then jumps to the present day, 28yrs later. Charlie is now a defence lawyer herself. She makes her way to Pikeville middle school, to return a phone to a one-night stand (a teacher). When shots ring out in the background and Charlie finds herself caught up in a terrifying school shooting. . .

‘The most violent hour of her life had snapped back into her waking memory’

The shooter is teenage girl, Kelly Wilson she is just 16yrs and appears to be suffering from some form of mental break. Charlie and Mr Huckabee attempt to assist Kelly’s apprehension and prevent her from being shot by the police. They find themselves facing obstruction of justice charges and nursing bruises. Why are the police so determined to shoot dead the suspect? Is Kelly likely to see a fair trial in this small community?

‘A just society is a lawful society’

The novel is very thought-provoking with regards to school shootings. The psychology of the suspect and arresting police officers are intriguing viewpoints. The media attention and the desperate search of a motive and all fully explored.

With Kelly found nearly catatonic after arrest. Rusty is keen to act as the defence attorney. Was Kelly a victim of bullying? Any motive will offer little comfort to the families of the victims. Mr Pinkman and Lucy Alexander (8yrs) shot dead on a normal school day, in what appears to be a premeditated act of murder. .

Charlie makes her way to the suspect’s family residence. What she finds, is a family in poverty. A yearbook full of vile abusive bullying. A child with a diminished capacity and a crime just waiting to happen. . .

When Rusty is stabbed, in an attempt on his life. Charlie rushes to the hospital, it is at this point she is urged to call her sister Samantha.

The novel is cleverly written, to combine the crimes of the past with the school shooting of the present. The sisters have a very complex relationship, which has been dictated by the crime that has scarred their lives. Sam is still living with the physical and mental scars of what took place that day in 1989. The chronic pain and daily struggles have taken their toll. The physical symptoms filter over to the psychology of her survival. This novel offers a unique perspective into the story of survivors.

The sisters are strong, determined and educated. Which adds to their journey and makes their story a truly powerful one indeed. The lengths we will go to, to protect those we hold dear, is a fascinating concept for a novel.
I am the oldest female sibling, I have an older brother, five younger brothers and two younger sisters. I like to think I could muster the bravery and physical/mental strength of Sam. But I could also see how this could impact the relationships going forward. If you sacrifice yourself for your sibling, how do they ever return the gratitude? Is it right/wrong to feel morally owed something emotionally or on principal in return?

‘The truth can rot from the inside.
It doesn’t leave room for anything else’

I think this is a very powerful novel and would work perfectly for book groups. There are multiple themes for debate. I myself was quite captivated with the psychology between the sisters and what sisterhood means to various individuals. 4*

KS
Karin Slaughter
Website
Twitter

#Review Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by @GailHoneyman #BestSeller @HarperCollinsUK @PamelaDormanBks

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Synopsis:

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

My review:

I was instantly drawn into this quirky novel surrounding the even more quirky Eleanor Oliphant. She leads a lonely existence, chastised weekly by her mother and mocked by her co-workers. She develops a small infatuation with an anonymous singer and decides that is the solution to all her problems.
But Eleanor has so much more to learn about life, love and herself……

I loved the dialogue from Eleanor, her matter of fact and often brutally honest responses to situations, reminded me of my autistic son’s flippant remarks. Both very observant and seem to lack any real filter. But both also truly innocent in their approaches. This is what made me develop a soft spot for the character. I urged her to get to the bottom of her problems and discover a life outside the confines of her flat.
Enter new work colleague Raymond.

Eleanor begins a growing friendship with IT work colleague Raymond. This is when we discover more about her personality and background. The loneliness and emotional pain, the denial of a mother’s love can bring is heart-breaking.
But it also adds to the psychology of why Eleanor is, the way she is.
I quickly came to realise, everyone needs a Raymond. Someone that doesn’t give up on you, not matter how tough life is.
Even more importantly the subtle message that it is ok, to not be ok, and need some help!

There are various themes I could go into but to go into too much detail would spoil how the novel unfolds. I read this novel in a single afternoon and was engrossed in the world of Eleanor and I can easily see why it has been snapped up by Reese Wetherspoon’s production company.
I look forward to watching the movie with my daughter upon release!

GH
Gail Honeyman
Twitter

My #BlogTour #Review The Chalk Man by @cjtudor #NewRelease #BestSeller @MichaelJBooks @CrownPublishing @JennyPlatt90 #CrimeFiction reviews by @annebonnybook

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*
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The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor 
Synopsis:

You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you.
It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran – the Chalk Man.

He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body.

Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure.

Is history going to repeat itself?

Was it ever really over?

Will this game only end in the same way?

My review:

I have followed the hype for this novel via social media and I was very intrigued. The synopsis is rather vague, which I quite liked. It immediately draws your attention and you want to learn more. I thought this was going to be a standard crime fiction novel, but I was wrong. Not only was I wrong, but I was in for a real treat!
The chalk man grips hold of you and won’t let go!
I read the entire novel in one sitting, staying well up past my bed time and feeling increasingly freaked out at 2am.

There are parts of the novel that reminded me of IT.
The story of a bunch of childhood friends, into the modern day.
The story that haunts them and the secrets of their shared past!
The novel isn’t a horror novel and the chalk man isn’t pennywise. But it held this eerie feeling from 80 pages in and I couldn’t get the plot out of my head. There was NO way I was putting this novel down, until I had some answers.

The novel opens with a dark prologue detailing the discovery of a body with a missing head! So, you are made well aware from the onset, that this novel has some very dark scenes. The novel has alternate chapters between 1986 and 2016. The 1986 era, is very well written. The terminology, the childhood games and friendship circle are all, spot on! The author has done a fantastic job of bringing the era alive.
Then it begins to tell the story of our protagonist Eddie/Ed…….

In 1986 Eddie aka Eddie Munster, had a gang of friends. Fat Gav, Hoppo, metal Mickey and the only girl Nicky. They meet every Saturday, to hang around the local park and build dens etc. This particular Saturday is special because the fair is in town and we all remember that feeling when the fair comes to town!!!
There is a freak accident at the fair and this brings in the introduction of waltzer girl Elisa. Elisa is the victim of the accident that leaves her horrifically disfigured. It also introduces her saviour and the new mysterious teacher Mr Halloran.

“They were wrong. Mr Halloran was many things, but normal was never one of them” – Eddie

Mr Halloran is the gang’s new teacher, at the start of term in September. He is new to the town and noticeable, as Mr Halloran is an albino. But at the opening of the novel he is portrayed as the hero that saves Elisa’s life. But there is always a shadowy, mysterious element when he enters a scene. For me personally, he became a character that evoked feelings of mistrust and a slight dislike. Why is he so creepy? What is his fascination with befriending the children? I HAD to know more about Mr Halloran!

In 2016, Eddie is now known as Ed, he is a 42yr old English teacher. Ed has stayed local and still lives in his childhood home in Anderbury. Slowly, over the course of the chapters we catch up with the rest of the gang and where they are now!
The characterisation of the gang, is brilliant and an example of some very skilled writing. It brings back childhood memories.
Even in the 2016 scenes, there is an element of mystery in the build-up. Ed starts receiving weird letters of chalk drawings. He has a young lodger Chloe, who intrudes herself into the story. He also has a dinner guest due, an old friend.
*What went through my head was, ‘he is having an old friend for dinner’. There were some subtle hints and nods to famous scary scenes.
That really added to the eerie feel of the novel.

At this point in my reading, I had hit 1am. The whole house was asleep and as I crept downstairs to the bathroom. I managed to freak myself out, which resulted in a scream and nearly waking the whole house up!
*So, a word to the wise, probably best to not read this in the dark at 1am!
The novel continues to jump between 1986 and 2016. We learn more about the elusive chalk man. How he haunts the gang and ultimately why!
Each chapter is cleverly written to drip feed information, that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
There is a real depth to the novel, details added so that the author can build upon the growing guessing game within the readers mind! Mr Halloran appears every so often with his creepy one liners, which made me even more distrustful of his intentions.

“Better to be a fool than an angel” Mr Halloran
In the modern day, someone or something is haunting the gang. When adult Mickey ends up dead, the novel really picks up its pace. There are some disturbing scenes of bullying from the past and we learn this gang is as complex as it is fascinating!
When the past and the present finally collide, it is a rollercoaster of an ending, that is in my opinion, completely unpredictable.

Huge respect to the author on this amazing debut novel.
I predict a bright future ahead of her and some sleepless nights ahead of me! 4.5*

CJ
C.J. Tudor
Authors links:
Facebook
Twitter

 

#Review – A Rising Man, 5* Genius and Q&A with author, Abir Mukherjee. @radiomukhers #WaterstonesThrillerOfTheMonth

Super excited to feature this novel on my blog today and I can’t rate this book highly  enough! This novel has all the perfect ingredients of a brilliant 5* Genius read and it is no surprise to me, that Waterstones have chosen it as there thriller of the month for May!

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A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee

The synopsis:

India, 1919. Desperate for a fresh start, Captain Sam Wyndham arrives to take up an important post in Calcutta’s police force.

He is soon called to the scene of a horrifying murder. The victim was a senior official, and a note in his mouth warns the British to leave India – or else.

With the stability of the Empire under threat, Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee must solve the case quickly. But there are some who will do anything to stop them…

My review:

Britain, a Christian country where theft is not only illegal, it’s also considered a sin. So few modern brits, are aware of the thievery, of their ancestors. I urge you to read this novel. It’s not only a brilliant read but an education on the impact of colonialism. It just may shatter your illusions of the Empire!

This novel is historical crime fiction, set in 1919 India following a case with the Imperial Police Force. The protagonist Captain Sam Wyndham is a new arrival to Calcutta and a former Scotland Yard detective. Having known death and misery all his life and fresh from the battle scenes of the Great War he hopes to start a new life with his new posting. Partnered with Sgt ‘Surrender-not’ Banerjee, a native of India and arrogant/bigoted Inspector Digby they are summoned to their first case.

A dead body has been found in a ‘gullee’ alley/open sewer adjacent to a brothel. The throat has been cut and the eyes have been pecked from the head. The corpse is that of Alexander MacAuley and he has a note stuffed in his mouth that reads “no more warnings English, blood will run in the street. Quit India”. MacAuley works for the Government in Bengal, who’s central job is to act as a peacekeeper between the British and the natives. Is this a political killing? If so who and why?

There are several comparisons between Calcutta and London, this helps you understand the setting much better. There is a genuine feel for the people, weather, buildings, atmosphere and the culture. You really get a sense for the weather with descriptions such as monsoon rains and steaming jungle humidity. There is one very significant paragraph where Sam can hear the Muezzins call to prayer at 5.30am. I lived in Cyprus, right on the border to the Turkish North, despite being an atheist myself, there is an incredible beauty in waking to hear the unity of people in prayer.

The novel is a very honest portrayal of the impact of colonialism on the natives. Something we gloss over or whitewash in British history, too often. The novel talks of the divide in race and also how inferiority/superiority has driven a division between two races of people. We see how wealthy businessmen are able to manipulate the Bengalis, purely motivated by greed. Upon arrival at the Bengal Club Sam notices a sign stating “no dogs or Indians beyond this point”. How did 150,000 Brits rule over 300 million natives? When it is assumed this is an assassination of a senior British official by native ‘terrorists’ I am forced to ask myself who are the real terrorists?

We slowly become aware that there is corruption and cover-ups leading right up to the peak of those in the colonial hierarchy. In Calcutta anyone can be bought for the right amount of Rupees, Brit or native! But what happens when a man discovers his morals? Is that a death sentence itself? When there’s an attempt to rob a local Darjeeling mail train and a train guard is killed, Sam becomes convinced there is a connection. I love the way that Sam constantly questions himself and his surroundings throughout the plot. Will Sam solve the case? Will ‘Surrender-not’ earn Sam and Digby’s respect? Does British justice, mean justice, only for the British?

I absolutely loved this novel. I am a huge fan of historical crime fiction and there is nothing quite like this, I have ever read before. Unique with its era and setting, this is one series to follow! Abir MuKherjee has managed to cleverly put together one of the finest novels I have read this year so far! Out of 83 read so far this year A Rising Man is my 8Th edition to the 5* Genius list! Very highly recommended! – 5* Genius.

Q&A:

AM: Hi Abby. Thanks for reviewing A Rising Man, and for having me on your blog.

Q) For the readers, can you give a summary of your background and your series?

A) My parents emigrated to the UK in the sixties and, though born in London, I grew up in the West of Scotland, which other than the climate, is a fantastic part of the world. However due to work, I’ve been an exile in London for the last seventeen years.

The series is set in India during the late British Raj and features Sam Wyndham, an ex-Scotland Yard detective who, having survived the First World War, ends up working for the Imperial Police Force in Calcutta primarily because it’s slightly preferable to suicide. He’s assisted by an Indian sergeant, Surendranath Banerjee, but his British colleagues can’t pronounce his name and so re-christen him ‘Surrender-not’.

I’m hoping that the series will chart the ups and downs of British India from 1919 to Indian independence in 1947 as seen through the eyes of these two men, but at the same time I expect there’ll be a lot of dead bodies along the way.

Q) One thing I absolutely loved about your novel, was the historical elements. What was the inspiration behind the era and setting? Why Calcutta?

A) I find the period of British rule in India a particularly fascinating place and time, unique in many respects and one that’s been overlooked, especially in terms of crime fiction. I think that period in history has contributed so much to modern India and Britain, and it was a time that saw the best and the worst of both peoples.

I made a conscious decision to set the series in Calcutta, not just because it was the place my parents came from, but it’s a fascinating city, unique in many respects and in the period that the series is set, it was the premier city in Asia, as glamorous and exotic a location as anywhere in the world. But it was a city undergoing immense change and it was the centre of the freedom movement, a hotbed of agitation against British rule. The history of Calcutta is the history of the British in India. Their presence still cries out from its streets, its buildings and in its outlook.

It would have been harder for me to write authentically while setting it in another Indian city. While I know Bombay and Delhi quite well, I don’t speak the language. Also, I don’t think either city had the same hothouse atmosphere that Calcutta had during the period.

Q) The two main protagonists Cpt Sam Wyndham and Sgt ‘surrender-not’ Banerjee, are very different. What was the thought process behind their characterisation?

A) That’s a great question. I think we have a tendency to view the period of the British Raj either through rose tinted spectacles, or to sweep that aspect of our history under the carpet. Similarly, Indians tend to view it primarily through the prism of Gandhi’s independence movement. I wanted to look at the period from a different angle and I felt the best way to do that was through the eyes of two individuals, one British and one Indian, but both unwedded to any preconceived notions. Sam comes to India as a jaded cynic, unwilling to swallow any preconceived notions his superiors might have about the natives, and Surrender-not, though Indian, is British educated. Both men are, to a degree, fish out of water.

Q) The novel is very detailed in regards of its honest portrayal of colonialism and the British Empire. What was your research process?

A) My family is from Calcutta, so there was a lot of asking of questions of old family members and friends. I also made a few trips to the city and that helped to get a sense of the place. During one visit, I was lucky enough to be given access to the Calcutta Police Museum where a lot of the police documents from the period are on exhibit. That was fascinating, as the Kolkata Police today has a rather ambivalent view of its own history during that time. In terms of research though, most of that was done sitting at home and trawling the internet.

Q) I have read many novels on colonialism, rather ashamedly more regarding Africa than India. I found this novel to be very educational, in terms of that you really feel you’re within the era. Was that your intention?

A) To a large extent, yes. The Raj period isn’t really taught in British schools. In fact, I learned more about German history in the nineteen twenties and thirties than I did about British history in the period. My impetus to write this book came from a desire to tell the story of a time and place which I felt neither British nor Indian sources did justice to.

At the same time, I didn’t want to write a history book, but rather a thriller that would tell its own story, set against the backdrop of that historical period.

Q) My teenage daughter is obsessed by Indian culture, the clothes, food and sights to see etc. She has made it quite clear, she intends to travel to visit India as soon as she is old enough. Are there any parts of Indian culture that you love, but couldn’t fit into the novel?

A) Loads, though not all of it good! I find Indian mythology quite fascinating. The pantheon of stories of gods and demons and heroic figures which has been built up over thousands of years is especially interesting. I’d love to explore some of that side of India in future books.

Q) A Necessary Evil #2 in the series is due out 1st June this year, can you give us any snippets of information about the plot?

A) The new book is set in 1920 and Sam and Surrender-not find themselves investigating the assassination of the son of a maharajah. Their enquiries lead them to the fabulously wealthy state of Sambalpore and before they know it, they’re in the middle of a case which has sinister repercussions for the whole kingdom.

In their time, the Indian maharajahs were the wealthiest men in the world and were revered almost as gods by many of their subjects. A lot of them were descended from warrior kings, but during the Raj they had little real power. As a result, a lot of them became feckless and debauched, spending their money on palaces, harems full of concubines and fleets of Rolls Royces. It just seemed a really colourful period in history and I was keen to see what Sam and Surrender-not would make of it.

Q) What was your journey from the original idea to publication?

A) My journey was a wee bit different from most debut authors’ tales of dedication and persistence, and I suppose it started as a bit of a mid-life crisis. I’m an accountant by profession and have spent the past twenty years in finance. I was thirty-nine, hurtling towards forty and I thought, maybe there might be more to life than accounting.

Then I saw an interview with Lee Child on BBC Breakfast where he talked about how, at the age of forty, he started writing, and I thought, why not? I’d always wanted to write a book but had never had the confidence, and as far as mid-life crises went, writing a novel seemed safer than buying a motorbike and piercing my ear.

I started writing A Rising Man in September 2013 and a few weeks later, I came across details of the Harvill Secker Crime Writing Competition in the Telegraph, looking for new and unpublished crime writers. I tidied up the first few chapters, wrote the synopsis and sent off my entry.

A few months later, I got an e mail telling me I’d won and that Harvill Secker were going to publish my novel. Except I didn’t have a novel, only about thirty thousand rough words which didn’t always fit together. Fortunately, I had a wonderful editor and team at Harvill who, over the space of eighteen months, guided me and helped me to turn those words into a proper novel.

Q) Your novel has received huge recognition and praise, what has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) There have been so many great moments – holding the first copy of the book in my hands; seeing it in the shops; reading reviews in the papers; and meeting some of my heroes such as Val McDermid and Ian Rankin. To be honest though, the best moments have been the personal ones, such as seeing my late father’s name in the dedication and being invited to give a talk at my old school. I hadn’t been back there in over twenty years and it brought back so many memories. I also met up with some of my former teachers who are still there, and that was incredibly special.

Q) Will there be a #3 in the series, is this something currently being written?

A) There will indeed, and I’m currently writing it (though am way behind schedule). It hasn’t got a title yet, but it’s set in December 1921 and sees Sam and Surrender-not back in Calcutta, on the trail of a serial killer. The backdrop is Gandhi’s civil disobedience campaign of that year, when the Mahatma’s slogan was Freedom within the Year. That year is drawing to a close and tensions in the city are high. Into this charged environment, the British decide to send the Prince of Wales on a visit to India, arriving in Calcutta on Christmas Day.

*Huge thanks to Abir for being kind enough to take part in a Q&A on my blog and I wish you every success in your writing career 🙂
AM: It’s been my pleasure, Abby. Thanks once again for having me on!

AM
Photo credit: Nick Tucker

Authors Links:
Web: www.abirmukherjee.com
Twitter: @radiomukhers

For those of you who have already read and loved, A Rising Man. You will be delighted to know #2 in the series is due out, just next month!

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A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee is released on the 1st June and is available for pre-order now! 🙂

Synopsis:

India, 1920. Captain Wyndham and Sergeant Banerjee of the Calcutta Police Force investigate the dramatic assassination of a Maharajah’s son.

The fabulously wealthy kingdom of Sambalpore is home to tigers, elephants, diamond mines and the beautiful Palace of the Sun. But when the heir to the throne is assassinated in the presence of Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant ‘Surrender-Not’ Banerjee, they discover a kingdom riven with suppressed conflict. Prince Adhir was a moderniser whose attitudes – and romantic relationship – may have upset the more religious elements of his country, while his brother – now in line to the throne – appears to be a feckless playboy.

As Wyndham and Banerjee desperately try to unravel the mystery behind the assassination, they become entangled in a dangerous world where those in power live by their own rules and those who cross their paths pay with their lives. They must find a murderer, before the murderer finds them…

The Novel that changed my reading habits!

Every so often a novel comes along and completely blows you away! It is often unexpected and sometimes even with a book you had put off reading. This happened with one particular read for me and opened me up to a whole new genre……………. Literary. There are lots of articles and statistics regarding what people read and if there are changes in trends. The most recent one I have seen was regarding Literary novels and their slight decline in popularity. I can’t speak for the UK in general but I can speak for my experience so here goes!

 

It starts for me way back in the days of GCSE English class. I loved the Shakespeare and reading. But I failed miserably at most of the other literature and not surprisingly grammar skills too. It resulted in a failed GCSE and a lifetime complex! From then on until 2014 I would avoid any novels I considered ‘too clever’ for me. I resided myself to except that I was ‘thick’ and something’s I would just never get………That was until.

Lying in bed in 2014 in chronic pain with a spinal injury. I was devouring books daily and my poor suffering husband would come back from Waterstones with bags of novels! He is not a reader and would ask the staff to help him choose. One day he came home with Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. I was well aware of the novel and it’s huge success but it was on the list I would deem ‘too clever’ for me.

I decided to give it a try. Then something very unexpected happened, I got it! Not only did I get it, I bloody loved it! I cannot explain my love for that trilogy enough. I read all 3 novels in a weekend and had an horrendous book hangover. I literally mourned it ending! It is also the reason I have a 3 second answer to the often asked reader question which book character would you date? Leo Demidov without a shadow of a doubt! Before I pack up my bags and head off to communist Russia, let me explain what it changed.

Whilst suffering with my book hangover and book grief. I suddenly realised maybe all was not lost for me. Maybe just maybe no book is ‘too clever’ and I should give more of this genre a try. Well I had an epic journey of new novels to discover! The Book Of Night Women by Marlon James, A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale and even the modern classic The Last Exit To Brooklyn by Hubery Selby Jr. I am now at the point where I often buy several of the longlisted novels when the lists are revealed. More importantly I no longer fear that any book is ‘too clever’ and I read more books than ever before.

I often wonder if other people have experienced this, with any genre? Especially given that many people my age (33) experienced bad/unhelpful schooling. I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts/opinions on this. So feel free to comment or email me!

I would urge anyone with the ‘too clever’ fear to bite the bullet and buy a novel that challenges you, it may just change you!

*I am aware Child 44 could come under crime/historical genre. But I regard it as literature and with how it lifted my fears and self-loathing. It is one novel I will never ever forget!