Book review: The Heights by Juliet Bell

The heightsThe heights by Juliet Bell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A retelling of Wuthering Heights set in the 1980s during the Miner’s Strike. I studied Wuthering Heights at A-level, so I was curious to see how this went.
It was wonderful. For the first few chapters, I kept trying to link back to the characters in the original – Lockwood is a detective who has a hunch about Heathcliff, ‘Nellie’ Dean is a social worker etc, but after a while I stopped bothering and just got caught up in the story. I stayed up until silly o’clock in the morning to finish it … even though I knew what was coming!

The story retains the dark, compelling feel of the original. The characters are as depressing and horrible as they were, but with slightly more modern sensibilities. The amount of death, which would have been less unusual 200 years ago, is unusual even in 1980s Yorkshire, and DCI Lockwood’s obsession with the family and the unusually high death rate addresses that. As with the original, the setting is an active character in story, with the blue hill always looming in the background in more ways than one.

This is a story of obsession and revenge. It would have been nice for DCI Lockwood to have found Heathcliff guilty of something, but that would change the ending from the original (and I would have been enraged!), so the small resolution at the end was the best there could be. I liked the small lilt of hope at the end too.

Overall, this is a great adaptation of a classic. I loved it.

Disclaimer: I got a a review copy from Netgalley (thank you!). I know the authors as we are all members of the Romantic Novelists Association.

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Buy on Amazon.co.uk The Heights: A gripping modern re-telling of Wuthering Heights

Buy on Amazon.com The Heights: A gripping modern re-telling of Wuthering Heights

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Book review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book. It’s a cute NA romance about career focused coder and hopeless romantic Rishi.
I sometimes go on about diversity in fiction and this is exactly the sort of thing I go on about. It’s a lovely, quirky romance about a coding geek who meets a comic book geek. Dimple is serious, intense and completely focused on her goal of getting her app made. Rishi is courteous, charming and the quintessential dutiful son. They are both Indian, but they are also realistic and compelling characters without slipping into stereotypes. I was really invested in them and desperately wanted them to have their happy ending. When it came, I was grinning.

This is a fantastic book. Sweet, funny and moving.

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Do romance heroines have to be ‘nice’?

Continuing on my tour of blogs – today I’ve over at Short Book and Scribes, talking about the ‘unlikable’ heroine. I don’t find Olivia in Girl In Trouble particularly unlikable, but she’s not your kooky, clutzy, oh-so-nice girl either. She’s outspoken, laddish and confident. I don’t think that precludes her from being liked … or means she can’t have a happy ending. Do you?

Go check out the post here: http://shortbookandscribes.uk/guest-posts/guestpost-rhoda-baxter-talks-about-writing-flawed-heroines-rhodabaxter/

Diversity in genre fiction. Why I would like to see more.

As part of the promo for Girl In Trouble (which came out yesterday – you can still grab it for 99p if you act fast), I was given the chance to do a guest post on Rachel’s Random Reads. Rachel asked me why representation in fiction mattered to me. You can read my very personal reasons for wanting to see more non-white characters in genre fiction here:

https://rachelsrandomreads.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/guest-post-representation-matters-by.html

And here’s a picture of Girl In Trouble, in case you’re not seeing enough of this week 😉

Girl in Trouble cover 3 w quote

Book review: Into The Woods by John Yorke

Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell ThemInto The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are lots of books about the ‘how’ of story. This book is about the ‘why’ of story.

Humans learn through stories. You will always remember a story more easily than a fact, which is why the earliest lessons we learn are through fables and cautionary tales. John Yorke looks at the way stories are structured and draws parallels between the structure of popular/successful stories and the human learning process.

It’s reasonably academic in tone and it won’t teach you how to write – but if you’re already some way along in the writing journey, then it’s definitely worth reading.

This is a fascinating book that makes you think about why stories have a structure and why it’s important. Highly recommended for writers.

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Out of Practice by Penny Parkes

Out of PracticeOut of Practice by Penny Parkes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely story! The book is ostensibly about GP Dr Holly Graham, who is new to the village of Larkford and loving it there. But there’s a whole cast of characters who come in and out of the story, all of whom are lovable. My favourite is ice-maiden Dr Julia Channing. What a fabulous character.

It’s a heartwarming small town romance. It touches lightly on social issues so that they are highlighted without the story getting mired in it. The characters are all realistic and compelling. I really enjoyed it.

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Book Review: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary ImpactThe Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We can all recount moments that changed our lives. This book is about those moments – what they have in common, how to recognise a moment and, most importantly, how to create one. There are a range of examples of how ‘moments’ can be used to change things – from teaching, to improving sanitation in the developing world, to turning around failing schools.

The writing style is conversational and accessible, but there seems to be sound research behind everything. Because of the storytelling aspects of the book, I found it quite a moving read in places (especially the bit about the guy who wrote his mother a letter).

I heartily recommend this book, especially to anyone who feels like their life is stuck in a rut. It certainly made me think about how I could do things better (or at least differently), so I guess reading it was a moment in itself.

I received a free copy of this from Netgalley/ the publishers in return for an honest review. Thank you!

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Book review: Famous by Jenny Holiday

FamousFamous by Jenny Holiday

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One day, at the height of his infamy, Evan Winslow meets a girl called Emmy. His muse. (except he’s just quit painting).
Seven years later, Emmy has become Emmerson Quinn – mega star. Evan is hiding out, teaching in a small university. When Emmy turns up needing a place to hide, he understands.
The thing I loved about this book is that the characters are so believable. Great dialogue (not snappy for the sake of the one-liner, but genuinely natural). The characters change as the book progresses. Evan is over protective, but learns not to be over the top about it. Emmy is kooky (and annoyingly super competent at every-bloody-thing), but learns that she doesn’t have to please everyone.
Mrs Johanssen, Evan’s neighbour is just totally awesome.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to the sequel.

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