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What I read in May 2020 (Part 1)

There are two book reviews in this post.

The Healing Knife Could revenge cut her free? by SL Russell was published in March 2020.

I bought this book from a local bookshop, which was able to send out books during the early stages of lockdown. It is a novel about a female heart surgeon. Although it was almost possible to guess some of the twists in the story, others were completely unexpected, including some amusing ones. The writing is good and the author draws on her experience of places to set the scene for parts of the story, which is divided into four parts rather like the acts of a play with the setting changing between each. It was a completely different story from two earlier books of hers, which I have read and reviewed. I enjoyed it.

I have met both the author and Wendy H. Jones, who interviewed her in a podcast about writing medical thrillers.

I bought Picked for a Purpose Bearing fruit through times of hardship by Mel Menzies from the author’s website. She has a special offer during the lockdown and purchasing her books is a way of supporting The Prince’s Trust. I was impressed by the speed with which the book arrived and the communications regarding its dispatch. I have read and reviewed a few earlier books by Mel Menzies. Picked for a Purpose is an autobiography with a difference. After each chapter there are questions about the reader’s response to various issues, raised through events in the story. These can be helpful in finding new ways to approach the difficulties in our own lives and perhaps letting go of damaging or hurtful things from the past. Then there is a reflection on how the Bible helps in a specific relevant manner. The analogy of a Christian life being like a plant is carried through the book with chapter headings and Bible verses.

I found the book particularly interesting as some of the places were familiar to me. I had even attended one of the same schools as the author, but some time later!

In spite of (or perhaps because of) some very difficult times in her life, Mel Menzies’ aim is to comfort others with the comfort she has received. This is a book, which has the potential to help readers understand themselves better and to give them hope no matter what problems they are facing in life. I intend to reread it to consider more deeply some of the questions with respect to my own life.

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What I read in June 2016

I have been reading fiction and non-fiction in June.

During Mental Health Awareness Week I retweeted a tweet from Lion Hudson and was surprised a couple of weeks later to learn that I had won a book.  The book I received at the beginning of June was Stress: How to de-stress without doing less by Dr Kate Middleton.  At least here in the UK The author’s name is memorable as it was also the maiden name of a young lady, who married into the royal family!

I reviewed Stress soon after I read it over on Sue’s considered trifles.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

I also read six works of fiction.  (Two before Stress and four after.)

Being Miss by Fran Hill is a light-hearted look at a day in the life of a teacher in a private school in England.  The link is to a kindle edition, but I read a paperback copy.

The Silver Chair is from the Narnia series by CS Lewis.  For some reason I have not found the story of this book as memorable as some of the others.  In the few days before writers met at Scargill House in Yorkshire, there had been a family event on the theme of The Silver Chair.  On my return home I reread it.  This time I enjoyed it more than I had previously.  Eustace (a character from my favourite of the Narnia series – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) features in this story along with a girl from the dreadful school he attended.

The Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier is an earthy historical novel set in North America in the time of Queen Victoria’s reign.  I have read several of Tracy Chevalier’s earlier books and am going to look out for a couple I have missed.  She writes extremely well; her books are always well-researched and approach her subject matter from an unusual angle.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is not by the originator of the characters, Bertie Wooster and his man-servant, Jeeves, but by Sebastian Faulks.  This book is a tribute to P.G.Wodehouse.  It maintains the same light-hearted style and the scheming of the characters is likely to keep readers turning the pages.  The layout of the paperback copy I borrowed from the library has more white space between the lines than the Penguin books by P.G. Wodehouse on my bookshelf. One of the reasons for writing the book was to introduce new (younger) readers to the original.  This would seem to be an effective way of doing so. It is a very funny book.

Chosen? by Mel Menzies is the second of the Evie Adams books.  I was a little disappointed by the layout of this book, but once I became lost in the story I stopped noticing the minor irritations.  I reviewed the first of these books, Time to Shine, last year. This latest book looks at family relationships and has some unexpected twists in the plot. I enjoyed it.

Losing Face by Annie Try tells a story using emails with Word documents attached to them.  The authors of these are two teenage girls.  Although one of the girls has suffered severe injuries in a road traffic accident, she attempts to reassure her friend (and the reader) that nothing she is about to read will be too gruesome. It is a well-written book about peer-pressure, friendship and many issues of relevance to young people.  The unusual format keeps the sections short and makes it easy to keep turning the pages.  I found that it worked extremely well.  It is an emotional read, but well worth the effort.

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Books I read in July

Towards the end of June I was procrastinating on Facebook, when another member of a writers’ group explained why she writes fiction rather than true stories.

My own work in progress is a true story.  I decided to research the possibility of fictionalising my story.  My first step was to read two books by the author mentioned above.
Product Details
To begin I read A painful post mortem as an e-book.  I bought it from Amazon and read it on my laptop’s Kindle app.   I found the style easy to read.  The suspense was maintained in an interesting manner.  I particularly liked the way the book ended.  Some things are more important than pursuing justice at all costs.

I then took advantage of a special offer on Mel Menzies’ latest book Time to Shine, published in June 2015.  (I read it in paperback, which I prefer to an e-book.)Product Details

She was hoping for a review, but it was my pleasure to write one and post it on Amazon UK.

A counselling session sets the scene and two stories are developed in parallel.  The counsellor has a life that is not without its own dilemmas.

This is a very well-crafted book.  The suspense is maintained until the end with all the loose ends tied up satisfactorily.

I thoroughly recommend it and wish I could have read something like this when my own children were teenagers.

I wholeheartedly recommend both these books to anyone, who has dealings with teenagers, young adults or who is finding relationships within their family difficult.  There is much wisdom here.