LITERARY FICTION, MUST READ

LADDER TO THE SKY BY JOHN BOYNE

John Boyne knocks it out of the park again. This is another masterpiece. The protagonist “Maurice Swift”, from a very early age, longed to be a famous, best-selling author. There’s one problem, Maurice cannot come up with stories. He has no imagination. So, what does he do you might ask. He uses his good looks and charm to cozy up to successful story-tellers by however means necessary. He is asexual. Even though he is distractingly handsome, to both men and women, he cares nothing for sex. He uses his sexuality on both men and women throughout this book. He tramples on everyone on his way up the ladder to success. I believe he is what we’d call today a psychopath. He leaves broken and hurt associates all along the way. However, the higher we climb, the farther we have to fall.

John Boyne is one of my favorite authors. Every book I have ever read by him has been brilliant. He just simply knows how to develop a story with characters you will never forget.

If you haven’t read this book, run, do not walk to your nearest bookseller and buy a copy. I have full confidence you too will be hooked like I am.

John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.

He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he won the Curtis Brown prize. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.

John Boyne is the author of ten novels for adults and five for young readers, as well as a collection of short stories.

His novels are published in over 50 languages.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which to date has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and a film adaptation was released in September 2008. Boyne resides in Dublin. He is represented by the literary agent Simon Trewin at WME in London, United Kingdom.

LITERARY FICTION

Bluethroat Morning – Jacqui Lofthouse

An intricately written novel.

This book was provided to me from NetGalley, Blackbird Publishing and Jacqui Lofthouse in exchange for my honest opinion. To them, I send my deepest gratitude. 

Bluethroat Morning by Jacqui Lofthouse was beautifully written with intricate plot and sub-plots. It’s a rather long book, but I didn’t mind this and never lost interest once. 

Harry Bliss is a retiring school teacher who was married to a former super-model, Alison Oakley Bliss who turned best-selling author. Her book was very well received and she had many fans. Inexplicably, six years prior to the start of this novel, Alison had taken a writing holiday in a small town called Glaven. The Glaven River is in the eastern English county of Norfolk, is 10½ miles long and flows through picturesque North Norfolk countryside to the North Sea. Today, it is a popular tourist destination, but Alison rents a run-down cottage there to finish her second book without distractions. 

Harry is absolutely devastated by his wife’s unexpected suicide. He is determined to find out what transpired the last two weeks of Alison’s life. Harry is also going through a mid-life crisis. He has been somewhat of a recluse in the years since Alison’s death and thinks its time to come out of the shell. 

In comes Helen. Oh, lovely, 19-year-old Helen. The daughter of Harry’s closest friend at school where he teaches. Helen bears a strong resemblance to Arabella, who was his great-grandfather’s wife. Arabella also committed suicide by walking naked into the water and drowning for unknown reasons just as Alison did. Harry and Helen start a torrid, although inappropriate, affair and she travels with him to Glaven to try to find answers. Helen is also a huge fan of Alison, both through her modeling career and her author status. 

What transpires after that, I will withhold. This book is expertly written and intricate in detail, both of the characters and the surrounding area. My hat is off to Jacqui Lofthouse. She weaves a web of secrets and revelations that are shown to the reader slowly and deliciously. 

It is an excellent book. I enjoyed it very much. 

About the Author

Jacqui began her career as an actor touring India as Sheila in J.B. Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’. She went on to study Drama and English at the University of Bristol and subsequently worked in radio production and media training. In 1992 she studied for her MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia under Sir Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain.

Jacqui has taught creative writing in a broad variety of settings including from City University to Feltham Young Offenders Institution. She has also taught English and Drama in London secondary schools. 

In 2005, Jacqui founded The Writing Coach, a coaching and mentoring organisation for writers (www.thewritingcoach.co.uk). She is currently working on her first YA novel and returning to actor training at Identity School of Acting. (less)