The One by @JohnMarrs1 #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview #amreading #TheOne

Today I’m thrilled to tell you all about one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, The One by John Marrs.

Now and again I read a book, and I’m aware that this is a personal and possibly non-transferable feeling, which blows me away, because it’s perfect; the writing, the characters, the plot, and the themes it opens up to me, all merge into one perfect whole, leading to a unique experience as a reader, and a writer in my case.

The One is a brilliant book. I wish I hadn’t read it so that I could read it all over again, and this is why…

****

My Review of The One by John Marrs

The One is an ingenious, well-written, moving and thought-provoking novel, which is a perfect read for anyone living in our contradictory, contemporary century.

Marrs proves you can write an engaging, fast-paced thriller which is also great literature, not a single word is out of place.

The One has an original plot and engaging characters. Marrs is a master story-teller, creating varied characters and surprising readers by withholding information until the last minute, so we are constantly on our toes.

There are 103 short and enticing chapters which are perfectly contrived. Each chapter is told in the third person, from one of the five main characters’ point of view. Each chapter begins exactly where the character’s last narration took off and ends with a bang, so the reader is looking forward to, and has to wait for a few chapters, for the character’s next appearance.

The characters are constantly at a crossroads, and such as life itself, when one hurdle is overcome, another bomb is dropped.

The transitions are smooth and regular, so it’s easy to follow the story line, which is completely unpredictable and perfectly contrived. There are surprises, twists and turns in every chapter right up to the final bang!

The themes dealt with are timeless, universal issues which affect us all, such as the nature of love, and the difference, or not, between infatuation, love and sex, determinism versus environmentalism, the virtues, or not, of genetic engineering and scientific advances which may affect the way we live and love profoundly, the role of social media in creating or recreating our views of ourselves and our world… Readers are constantly provoked by controversial themes and complex, unexpected situations.

Some reviewers have described it as dark, but I don’t agree. It is true that there are dark themes, scenes and characters, but there are also inspiring, positive moments and people. The One shows the many facets of human nature and the difficulties of balancing the punches life throws at us with our principles, and that’s not dark, it’s reality. Overall, I felt there were a lot of decent people and good vibrations in the novel’s universe, in spite of the darkness.

It stands out as one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

****

Blurb

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

Amazon UK buy link.

Amazon US buy link 

****

About John Marrs:

John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, England, who has spent the last 20 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.
He has written for publications including The Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World’s Sunday Magazine.
His debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, he released his second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.
In May 2017 came his third book, The One. It was chosen as the book of the month for BBC Radio 2’s Book Club.
The Wronged Sons was re-edited and re-released in July 2017 under a new title, When You Disappeared.
And his fourth book, The Good Samaritan, is set for release in November 2017.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

Check out Luccia Gray’s other reviews.

Check out Luccia Gray’s reviews on amazon

Betrayal by @MartinaCole #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog #amreviewing #crime

I spotted Betrayal, last month while in the UK, in the WH Smith Bestsellers shelf. I liked the cover and the blurb, so I decided to buy a copy. I had never read any books by Martina Cole, and I really didn’t know what to expect, other than a crime thriller with some romance.

In fact, I was surprised because Betrayal was a very hard book for me to review. The theme, setting and characters were challenging. I can’t say I enjoyed it, because it was both an emotional as well as a disturbing experience, although the violence and crime is rarely graphic and never gratuitous. Overall, I’m glad I read it.

I was lucky enough to read Betrayal on holiday, by the beach!

My first and main challenge was that I didn’t like or feel any type of affinity to any of the characters, at all. Although it takes place mostly in and around areas of London, such as Brixton, which I am familiar with, the events and characters were so removed from my own experiences or even comfort zone  that they could have happened on another planet.

On the other hand, the author does a great job of presenting and building disquieting and troublesome characters in such a way that the reader feels empathy, and I could almost, and it’s a big almost, sympathise with them, at times.

It was a bit like a simplified version of The Godfather in a London council estate. We are introduced to the life and times of Aiden O’Hara, head of his family of hard-up and neglected, young delinquents living on a council estate, who end up becoming rich and influential drug dealers controlling all the merchandise coming into London from Jamaica and Columbia.

Almost all of the characters fall into one or several of the following categories: heavy drinkers, drug users, drug dealers, murderers, prostitutes, pimps, and many of them are often violent and mentally unstable. None of the main characters has a regular or normal job or education, as they are all directly or indirectly part of the mob. There are a few characters who appear fleetingly, such as police officers, actors, singers, politicians, and health professionals, who are part of the mainstream, but they are all corrupt. It’s a world I find difficult to understand or grasp, which is why this novel was an eye-opener, albeit a disturbing one. It reveals a world I know exists, but mostly avoid and rarely interact with.

Although the O’Hara family was tight and supportive, and even seemed happy at times, most of their lives were traumatic, to say the least. I did feel sympathy for many of the characters because they were practically forced to embrace a life of crime. As a teacher, I have occasionally dealt with similar youngsters and their families, and it made me question how we fail as a society due to the insufficient funding and intervention of social services, formal education and training, and psychological or careers counselling.

There was a brave, yet weak, attempt to convince ‘clever’ Aiden to pursue his studies, but if they were to keep the family together, delinquency or poverty were their only options. If he had pursued a more traditional approach to exploiting his astuteness and earning a living, there would have been a novel, too, because Aiden is a worthy character for any novel, however, it would have been a very different novel.

There were many disturbing events throughout, but the last chapter was so dramatic, that I felt shocked almost to tears, and that’s thanks to Martina Cole’s ability to bring me into the novel and feel as if I know and care about the characters.

I have mixed feelings about the final chapter, the epilogue. I understand the need for closure after such a dramatic ending in the previous chapter, but it felt like an anticlimax and somehow justified all the violence and crime which had taken place before and would continue to take place in the future.

Betrayal has 126 short chapters, which in some cases were too short and slightly disjointed. The first half of the novel was excellently executed, but it dragged a little in the middle and there was a lot of telling and repetition, and some confusing head hopping in the POV in the second half. Overall, I believe it would have benefitted from more thorough editing.

On the other hand, I also think it could have been longer, because the premise is ambitious, as it covers almost 40 years and three generations of O’Haras. Some characters and events would have needed more depth and it could have become a more powerful novel. I think the author has the talent to write a masterpiece as well as a fast and easy to read bestseller, and I hope that one day I’ll have the pleasure of reading it.

Overall it was an engrossing read, mainly because the main characters, especially Aidan, his mother, and some of his siblings, were so vividly portrayed. The reader is immersed in the characters’ criminal world, which might not be to every reader’s liking, but will not leave any reader indifferent, which is why I gave it four stars.

Especially for lovers of organised crime thrillers and intense family sagas, set in the UK.

US buy link

UK buy link

Martina Cole is the acknowledged queen of crime drama with more than twenty novels to her name, of which over a dozen have been No.1 bestsellers.

Several of Martina’s novels have been adapted for the screen, including The Take and The Runaway which were shown on Sky 1 to remarkable reviews. In addition, Two Women and The Graft have been adapted for the stage; both were highly acclaimed when performed at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, which also staged Dangerous Lady in 2012, celebrating twenty years since Martina’s debut novel was published.

More about Martina Cole here

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

Check out Luccia Gray’s other reviews.

Check out Luccia Gray’s reviews on amazon

#SilentSunday Morning Walk Around Stansted Mountfitchet

 

Enjoy your Sunday!

Where are you going for a walk?

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Close To Me’ by Amanda Reynolds @AmandaReynoldsj #BookReview #amreviewing

Today on #TuesdayBookBlog I’m reviewing Close To Me, a gripping psychological thriller by Amanda Reynolds.

 

Close to me is a gripping psychological thriller and family drama. It is a difficult book to review without including any spoilers, but I’ll do my best.

I read it over a few days, finishing it late one night, because I had to find out what happened in the end. When I completed it, I literally couldn’t sleep, because I had been so wrapped up in the characters and the story, that I found the events both absorbing and unsettling.

The writing and especially the characterisation and plot impressed me so much that it even led me to rethink my own life, and the lives of so many women in their fifties, readjusting to their new situation after their children leave home. I’m about the same age as Jo, the main character, and although my life is nothing like hers, I couldn’t help thinking, what if? How well do we really know our children, our husbands? Or our close friends and colleagues? Even ourselves?

Jo thought she had an ideal family. A doting husband who was an actuary in London, earning a high salary, a comfortable lifestyle, two wonderful, adult children, and she was a stay-at-home mum, who was devoted to her family and her part-time volunteer work.

One day, after having a domestic accident, she forgot everything that had happened during the previous year of her life. Her husband convinced her children that she shouldn’t be informed of what had happened, until she remembered on her own, which, by the way, he hoped would never happen.

Jo gradually pieced together the previous year, which had been her ‘annus horribilis’, without her family’s help, leading to an unexpected and devastating finale.

The story is told from Jo’s point of view, starting with, ‘The day of the fall’, and moving backwards and forwards from that point in time, until her life is finally pieced together, ending with ‘Three months after the fall’.

Jo’s drama, is not unique in many aspects, but the suspenseful way in which the plot is gradually unveiled, and the final twist, leads to a unique reading experience.

Especially for readers who enjoy intense, thought-provoking and suspenseful, psychological thrillers.

US buy link

UK buy link

Find out more by visiting Amanda Reynold’s webpage.

Follow Amanda on Twitter.

****

Check out Luccia Gray’s other reviews.

Check out Luccia Gray’s reviews on amazon

Have you written a great psychological thriller? Let me know about it.

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

#FridayFictioneers ‘The Babysitter’ #FlashFiction

I’m thrilled to be with you yet again on Friday with my Friday Fictioneers story of Alice Pendragon and her adventures, thanks to the photo prompts and inspiration provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields at Friday Fictioneers. Check out this weekly challenge here.

Alice does it again. She always seems to be annoying one man or other, except Billy of course! Today we’ll be meeting her baby sitter…

 

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Butolt

*

The BabySitter

Wayne looked over the counter at the waitress. “Fancy a movie when you finish here, Cheryl?”

“I’m babysitting tonight.”

“Again, with that crazy kid in her spooky old house?”

“She’s different, special really. She helped me with my French exam and my creative writing assignment.”

“I thought you were dropping out and working full-time here. We agreed to save up for a deposit on a house.”

“I’ve decided to apply for college.”

“Don’t you want us to get married?”

“I do, but I’ve decided to go to College first.”

He shook his head. “That little girl is putting weird ideas in your head.”    

****

All my ‘Alice’ flash fiction written for the Friday Fictioneers Challenge can be read as standalones, but if you’re interested in reading previous stories of Alice’s adventures, here  they are!

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

#ThursdayDoors The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, Spain. Part I

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon and linking up on Norm’s blog here.

The main door of the outer walls of the Mosque. called La Puerta del Perdón, or the Door of Forgiveness.

There was originally a Visigothic Christian Basilica of Saint Vincent, on this site. Some remains are preserved inside the Mosque.  After the Muslim invasion of Spain, the church was divided into Muslim and Christian halves from 711 – 784, when Abd al-Rahman I, bought it from the Christians, demolished the original church and started building the the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

The Mosque has since undergone numerous extensions until 1236, when the building was repossessed by the Christians and used as a Catholic place of worship. The Christian conversion included the insertion of a Cathedral within the mosque in the 16th century.

More information about the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba here.

A close up of the door knockers.

The Belfry Tower, above the main door, was a Christian addition in the 13th century.

Another view of the belfry Tower of the Mosque-Cathedral taken from a nearby street.

It’s a fascinating place. It’s like looking at hundreds of years of history, offering different and complementing ideas of architecture, art, beauty and religious worship in one building.

The Mosque-Cathedral has many more doors on the outer walls and inside. I’ll be showing you others in the coming Thursdays.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

#WordlessWednesday ‘Steel’ #Haiku

Photographed on  my way to Malaga Airport.

Seen in Malaga, on the walls surrounding a Secondary School 

Steel over steel, up

Above the graffiti walls,

Art and Science, steel grey.

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

#Writephoto ‘Rolling Stones’ Thursday Photo Prompt #amwriting #Poem

*

Rolling Stones

While ancient arches stare

Wide-eyed, at the languid

Leaves and slippery moss walls,

Stones roll along the stream

Into the vast unknown,

Searching for the distant

Place where restless, merry

Pebbles skip and frolic,

 While gathering no moss,

Even if they know there

is no satisfaction

In trying to escape

the rhythm of the music.

****

Roll on Mick Jagger!

Somehow, today photo prompt took me to The Rolling Stones…

****

This poem was written in response to Sue Vincent’s weekly Thursday Photo Prompt. Check out Sue’s wonderful blog for more information. 

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Lie To Me’ by Jess Ryder @jessryderauthor #BookReview #Amreviewing

Today on #TuesdayBookBlog I offer you my review of Lie to Me, a gripping new psychological thriller by Jess Ryder.

Meredith was told her mother had abandoned her and her father as a result of her mental health problems. One day, when she’s helping her father move, she discovers a video recording her mother made of herself when she was four years old. Her father refuses to give her any details, so Meredith embarks on a journey in search of her mother, which leads her straight into an unsolved murder which took place over thirty years ago.

Although the murder mystery is central to the plot, Lie to Me is also a family drama, where lies and mental illness have overwhelmed the parents of a young child in need of answers and in search of the truth.

The plot was believable and well woven, with plenty of twists and turns and a few red herrings, too! The ending wasn’t shocking, but it was unexpected and intriguing. The murder mystery is finally, albeit tragically and distressfully, solved, and Meredith, who was stuck in an emotional and professional rut, is able to move on in a completely new and exciting direction.

The use of present and past tense and first and third person narrator was cleverly done. The events which occurred in 1984 were narrated in the past tense and third person, while the events which occur in the novel’s present time are narrated in the present tense, in the first person, by Meredith. This clearly defines present and past, and the use of the present tense adds pace and suspense.

The characters were realistic and well-rounded, and they all had plenty of flaws, the main ones being dishonesty and selfishness. Meredith sometimes annoyed me for being too indecisive, her ex-boyfriend was too ambitious, Cara too naive, Isobel too manipulative, and Jay too keen to take advantage of others. Her father seemed like a reliable and caring man who spoiled his relationship with his daughter by failing to tell her the truth, or even face it himself.

I listened to the audio version, which helps give each person a unique tone and voice.

Especially for lovers of gripping psychological thrillers.

UK buy link

US buy link

Lie to Me was published on 19th April by .

Follow Jess on Twitter @jessryderauthor

Visit Jess’s Web page 

****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

 

#CarrotRanch #FlashFiction Challenge ‘The Rat Catcher’ @Charli_Mills

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. May 11, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about trading. Trade away and go where the prompt leads you. Find out more, read other entries or join in here!

I’ve returned to Victorian England once again for my contribution. 

***

Trading Rats: The Rat Catcher

The seller stood with his back to the door holding a swinging cage of squealing rats.

‘How much?’ asked the buyer.

‘A guinea.’

The buyer stroked his beard. ‘Two shillings.’

‘What? I went down the gutters for days risking my life to catch them!’

The buyer looked at the bite marks and blood on the seller’s hands. ‘You need to sell and find a doctor or you’re a dead man.’

The seller leaned back into the door which closed with a loud bang. ‘Two guineas, or I drop this cage, it smashes and we’ll both be devoured for dinner.’

****

Who decides the price in illegal trading? Buyer? Seller? Is it a question of supply and demand, as in any other negotiation? Or is it the person who has less to lose? What happens when the buyer or the seller gets too greedy?

****

Rat Catchers had a lot of work in Victorian England for three reasons.

1- Rat baiting was a popular, albeit illegal sport, which involved a lot of money with rich and poor people betting. In this case, rat catchers caught live rats.

2- Other rat catchers were paid to kill rats in different parts of the country.

3- Finally rich ladies liked to keep rats as pets in squirrel cages. A practice which I have heard is also popular nowadays.

Many of the rat catchers were children. They preferred catching rats to cleaning chimneys, working in coal mines, or hawking wares, because it was easier and paid better.

De-ratting English manors and businesses was often more lucrative as children could earn from two shillings to one pound. By the way, a guinea was 21 shillings.

If anyone is interested in finding out more:

Full Revelations of a Professional Rat-catcher After 25 Years’ Experience

This fascinating book, written in 1889, is a fascinating and informative read.

More information on this web page about Victorian England.

*****

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon

 

%d bloggers like this: