Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

What seems a lifetime ago, I was one of those readers that was sucked into the world of ‘P.S I Love You’. It was a book that made me a firm of the work of Ceclia Ahern.

So, when we knew that we would have the chance to meet Holly again, seven years after the story of ‘P.S I Love You’ ended, I was very excited. It has taken me a little while to pick the book up, simply because I knew that it would be an emotional read. And I was not wrong.

There is joy as you are reunited with Holly, her family and friends. But there is so much emotion as we realise that Gerry’s ghost is still playing a big part in Holly’s life and maybe she has not come as far in seven years as she thought she had. However, Holly meets some people in the ‘P.S I Love You Club’ who take her on a journey of self-discovery she may not have ever realised she needed.

Ahern tells the story in her usual beautiful style. Her books are so readable and, for me, this was like returning to an old friend. A perfect read in these strange times – a hug in a book.

So, if you have not met Holly yet, grab ‘P.S I Love You’, and – if you have – remember to read the ‘Postscript’. And, when you have done that, why not pick up a pen and send some happy mail?

Armadale by Wilkie Collins

I think – well I know – I have a book hangover from this glorious novel. Read as part of a buddy read-along, I actually finished ahead of the game, because I could not put the book down. In fact, at the moment, this may be my favourite book from the pen of Wilkie Collins.

Collins’ characterisation in this novel is outstanding, which is a key reason that I found the book engaging. The characters embody the narrative, each so clearly individual and representative of the role they are going to play. The villains are fabulously villainous although, as the tale progresses, Miss Gwilt (if that is who she really is) starts to become a little conflicted.

This book, some may say, could have been ahead of its time, as the strongest, most determined character in the book is a female. We all know that there is a continuous debate about females being represented in fiction, but Collins packs no punches with his character Miss Gwilt. Strong, determined, independent – she is fabulous (although you are probably not supposed to be a fan of her).

The tale is excellent, as with many of Wilkie Collins books. There is mystery, intrigue, mistaken identity, scandal – the list goes on. It is all just wonderfully thrilling from the word go (No Spoilers!).

If you have not read a book by Wilkie Collins or a Victorian sensation novel, then this could be a great place to start.

Dead Famous by Greg Jenner

I have read this as part of a Twitter History Bookclub, however, it is not like I really needed an excuse, as I have been kee to get my hands on a copy as soon as I knew this book was going to be brought to the world.

I am fascinated by stories from history – good job as I am a history teacher. And, like many who have a passion for history, it was not any of the big stories or artefacts that sparked that passion – it was a story of a portrait and an execution, told to me by a Beefeater at the Tower of London. So, ‘Dead Famous’ is perfect, despite being about the history of celebrity, for lovers of some of those lesser-known tales. You will have heard of some of the characters you encounter, but, for me, much of the joy came from reading tales of those that I did not know. Again, sparking an interst to find out so much more (pleased to say Greg Jenner kindly supplies additonal reading material at the end – so don’t be surprised if your to-be-read pile shoots up).

This book is beautifully written, with humour throughout, is not a daunting read, but fully informative as it attempts to tackle the complex idea of celebrity; something that you will certainly be left rethinking by the end of the book.

I can certainly call this book a lockdown highlight and would urge you to pick up a copy if you can. You may come to the end of it with a new love of histoty, or at least much more of an idea of exactly what makes a celebrity, ot what creates a celebrated figure.

Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

I have been desperate to read this book for ages – so decided to order a copy as a lockdown treat. And what a treat this book is – I am not sure that I can do it justice.

This is a stunning novel, in more ways than one. Just starting with the cover; what a beauty. The illustrations throughout the book are beautiful and bring the wonderful words to life.

We follow Michael in this coming of age story. Michael blossoms into the beautiful Black Flamingo – as his find his identity and place in the world as a gay man. This touches on so many subjects, like racism, homophobia, realtionships (of all kinds) and identity; all handled so well through the beautiful writing of Dean Atta. His perfect prose tells Michael’s story with such warmth and emotion, creating a beautiful page-turner that is impossible to put down.

This lovely YA book is one that I will be recommending to everyone to read, as it is absolutely brilliant – I can already see a re-read on the horizon.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

This is the third novel I have read by Jane Harper – and, yet again, I really enjoyed it.

This is a clever tale: a locked room mystery, yet set in the vast Australian outback. It is amazing how somewhere so open could be so suffocating – but it certainly can be isolating.

Cam dies, at the site of the isolated grave of the stockman: a landmark that has become infamous with all the stories surrounding it. And now there will be another story: why would Cam be there alone when he knows the territory and the dangers so well. So easily it is written off as a choice Cam made, but his brother Nathan is not so sure.

As the tale unfolds, secrets are unearthed and characters are called into question. Especially the character of Cam. Could someone have killed him after all?

This is a brillaintly atmospheric book. Using the landscape of the Australian outback, not just as a setting but also as a chracter. I could not put it down, as there are a number of interesting threads that lead into the overall mystery.

I would really recommend the books of Jane Harper, so why not give them a go?