Review: The Moonstone

The Moonstone
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Moonstone is a who-dunnit, told through various people’s diaries and reminisces. I loved the start of the book. Betteridge’s descriptions were excellent, especially when he briefly talked about his wife, but once his voice was reduced, the story started to plod and I did find it quite a challenge to finish. That said, it is a novel of its time and is still worth reading.

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Pacing on the far platform, arms bundled for protection against the dawn chill, her every movement, each expression, beguiled me. That day, and the next, the train stole her. On the third, she saw me. On the fourth, she smiled.

Groomed after a forlorn weekend, I catch my enchantress frantically scanning the platform whilst her carriage pulled away. She sighed as she found me, no time to wave.

Today, like yesterday, my heart is content; waving, she tenderly blows a kiss. Her arms protect her bundle, our child, before the train carries them off, returning them home to me tonight.

Review: The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was poorly today so picked a novel off the shelf and curled up on the sofa with a Lemsip. Julian Barnes’s “The Sense of an Ending” probably wasn’t the lightest choice I could have made, but the writing, particularly in the earlier sections was beautiful to read. Like many things that win prizes, books or films, I’m curiously surprised that it has been so lavishly praised. Yep, gorgeous writing with a rhythmic lilt, but for such a short novel, the story did seem to drag as I headed towards the finale.

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Course Decisions

At school, timetable clashes forced me to choose between art and biology. I told my wife this to justify my ignorance, but she was intolerant, shouting obscenities and slapping me at every opportunity. We had organised a water birth, so a rainy afternoon, gridlocked on the North Circular wasn’t a substitute. Nevertheless, helped by Google and memories of a Casualty episode, I delivered little Cooper, all on my own. Even so, this achievement didn’t tame her incessant nagging. Thankfully, there were two consolations: we were in her Mini, and whilst waiting for the ambulance, I shot some fantastic Leibovitz-style photographs.


My father went to buy a paper when I was six and never returned. Occasionally I wonder how he is, what he’s doing. My memories are of a giant, cradling me during a bedtime story, kissing my forehead, whispering secretively into my ear that I’m his favourite. I can’t picture how he’d look now.

One day, a letter arrived unexpectedly. ‘I’m dying, I want to make amends.’ He’d moved to London but the cancer destroying his body prevented him from travelling. My sisters saw him last week and said goodbye.

Today, I’m on the train. I’m going to Edinburgh.

Review: Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish

Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish
Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish by James Scott Bell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I did love this book. I read it from cover to cover within a week of buying it, and am fairly certain I’ll be returning to it again in the future. The chatty style is entertaining whilst carrying solid tips on how to develop plot lines that keep readers hooked. Highly recommend.

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Review: Hostile Witness

Hostile Witness
Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tried really hard not to like this book. I happened to stumble over it whilst searching for something else, noticed it was free and without expecting too much, decided to give it a pop. The first few chapters introduced cliches typical of the genre, harsh, abrasive sentences and off-the-shelf characters, all served with a very large splattering of grammatical errors. But … despite those faults, ‘Hostile Witness’ was very engaging. The writing was intelligent, the characters were well formed and Rebecca’s obvious knowledge of the legal process made it all entirely believable. It ended with a fizzle, rather than a bang, but even so, I’d recommend it, especially for those who like court room dramas.

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Review: Summer

Summer by Edith Wharton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book. Whilst it was wordy in places, the prose was well written and the book moved along at a good pace. One thing to say, though written in 1917, this is a very modern book, both in language and theme, and any book that can age a century and still be relevant is certainly worth a look.

p.s. I read the Gutenberg version of this book. This had a few minor mistakes, mostly sentences not being terminated and rolling into the next, but that’s not to say these aren’t present in other versions.

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Review: The Jewel of Seven Stars

The Jewel of Seven Stars
The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a book of two halves… I loved the start, got really into it, then it almost seemed like Bram Stoker got bored of it himself near the middle. The plot whittled away the further into the book you go, whilst the language took the other path and became far too bloated. After the great build-up, it could’ve been so much better…

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