My Name is Venus Black By Heather Lloyd

Title: My Name is Venus Black

Author: Heather Lloyd

Publisher: The Dial Press

First Published: 27th February 2018


Venus Black is a straitlaced A student fascinated by the study of astronomy—until the night she commits a shocking crime that tears her family apart and ignites a media firestorm. Venus refuses to talk about what happened or why, except to blame her mother. Adding to the mystery, Venus’s developmentally challenged younger brother, Leo, goes missing.

More than five years later, Venus is released from prison with a suitcase of used clothes, a fake identity, and a determination to escape her painful past. Estranged from her mother, and with her beloved brother still missing, she sets out to make a fresh start in Seattle, skittish and alone. But as new people enter her orbit—including a romantic interest and a young girl who seems like a mirror image of her former lost self—old wounds resurface, and Venus realizes that she can’t find a future while she’s running from her past. (From Goodreads, 9th April 2019).


“My Name is Venus Black” is a novel of mystery. What happened to to cause Venus to murder? What happened to Venus’s brother? Why is her relationship with her mother so fraught?

It is also a story of readjustment, leaning how to cope in a world that you have been so removed from. Learning to look after yourself and finding a place in a world where everyone knows what you have done. But this is a story of so many different stories. So many different relationships. It tackles so many topics that are important and show the blurry lines of right and wrong.

Structurally we mainly follow Venus, and the second narrative of Venus’s brother Leo’s story. We also see things from Venus’s mothers point of view as well, and the view of the individuals who look after Leo. There is a lot of mystery and I do not want to divulge too much. This is a novel that I went into blind and I think that is possibly the best way to read this book.

“My Name is Venus Black” is fantastically constructed, with multiple stories that keep you wanting to read more. You desperately want everything to work out, but with such a complicated past is that ever possible?

If you are looking for a novel with light mystery, complex relationships, and complex moral conundrums I would recommend “My Name is Venus Black”. Go into it not knowing much and you will be glad that you did.

I really love this novel, it is fantastically constructed and extremely well written.

5 out of 5

The Silver Linings Playbook By Mathew Quick

Title: The Silver Linings Playbook

Author: Mathew Quick

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books

First Published: 2nd September 2008


Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G! (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)


I initially saw ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ film adaption, and thus the film will have barged it’s way into my reading experience, despite my attempts to avoid this happening. So I will say my review is slightly contaminated with the film adaption, and please keep that in mind!

When Pat returns to his parents home he must begin to deal with his time in a mental health facility, what instigated his stay and how to move forward in his life. The problem is, Pat’s main focus is in trying to win back his ex wife. He starts reading all the novels she teaches her school kids, has become athletic and has attempted to make himself the husband he thinks will bring his wife back.

I really enjoyed ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ due to the fantastic characters. Firstly, Pat and his true determination to improve himself, despite the slightly misguided intentions. Tiffany, as damaged as Pat, with an abrupt personality that continues to shock. Pat’s therapist is a man who entertains and is an avid Eagles fan just like Pat. It is these characters that make the book. If it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would have enjoyed it.

The book is written in quite a simplistic style, with Pat as the narrator, and sometimes it is slightly monotonous as it sometimes appears to be lists of activities. However, I think this is Mathew Quick (the author) trying to emulate the childish nature of Pat, in which case it is a good narrative tool. My other issue was the constant talk about the Eagles matches. Being female, with little interest in sport, this just causes frustration. But, it is Pat’s character and is integral to the culture in which Pat belongs.

A book that deals with multiple issues, brings humor into some dark situations, shows determination, and strength of character.

Again I must reiterate that I saw the film first, and that has affected my reading of this novel. However, I really enjoyed this novel, despite the film taking away my ability to use my imagination.

A book that many will enjoy.

4 out of 5

Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore By Robin Sloan

Title: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Author: Robin Sloan

Publisher: MacMillian

First Published: 2nd October 2012


The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore. (From Goodreads, 17th July 2013)


I love books about books. So was very interested in Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and considering the hype around the book tubing/blogging community was happy to get my hands on this novel.

Clay begins work at the strange hole in the wall bookstore in San Francisco, but Clay soon realises that there is more to this bookstore. Soon we are brought into a world where books and computers combine to work out puzzles within the texts.

I found the beginning of the novel very exciting, and was pulled in by the absurdity of some of the characters and the mystery of the bookstore, but as it went on I lost interest. Everything became an argument about computers and books and I lost the magical feel that I felt at the beginning of the novel.

This is a novel that had a lot of potential but I felt lost focus. It was more the momentum of the story that keeps you going. The want to find the answer to the puzzle.

I feel that I wanted this book to be one of my favorites of the year before I even bought it that left me feeling disappointed. The turn away from a book focus to a computer focus wasn’t something that I enjoyed and feel that if I knew that was going to happen I may have enjoyed this novel more.

A book with so much potential, but falling short.

3.5 out of 5

Accidents Happen By Louise Millar

Title: Accidents Happen

Author: Louise Millar

Publisher: Atria

First Published: 1st April 2013


Kate Parker has weathered unimaginable horrors—her parents died in a traffic accident on her wedding night, and her husband, Hugo, was murdered in a tragic break-in gone wrong. All she has left is her young son, Jack, and determined to make a better future for him, she attempts to pull her life back together. But are she and her son safe? (From Goodreads 27th June 2013)


I was slightly hesitant after I began reading and thought ‘am I reading another OCD book right after reading Addition??’ but soon I realised that this was a completely different style of book with some anxiety traits focused on but not OCD. Kate’s adult life has not been easy, and now living alone with her son Jack all she wants is for both of them to be safe, but is Kate focusing too much on her anxieties? Determined to show her in-laws that she is trying to get better for her sake and Jack’s sake she begins to deal with her anxiety. Meeting an acclaimed Scottish Statistician she begins to take a journey towards normality. Her life is getting better, her love life is beginning to heat up, but can it all be too good to be true?

I really enjoyed this book, I found it to be a bit slow at the beginning but by the last quarter it picked up speed, and a lot of speed! This is a psychological thriller that leads you along gently before erupting into pure edge of the seat action.

My best advice for this novel is keep with it. It may seem a bit slow and anxiety focused to begin with but soon you learn more and more about Kate’s life and why she is the way she is, then the pace quickens and quickens before going off into a sprint.
4 out of 5

Addition By Toni Jordan

Title: Addition

Author: Toni Jordan

Publisher: Sceptre

First Published: 2008


Everything counts . . .

Grace Lisa Vandenburg orders her world with numbers: how many bananas she buys, how many steps she takes to the café, where she chooses to sit, how many poppy seeds are in her daily piece of orange cake. Every morning she uses 100 strokes to brush her hair, 160 strokes to brush her teeth. She remembers the day she started to count, how she used numbers to organize her adolescence, her career, even the men she dated. But something went wrong. Grace used to be a teacher, but now she’s surviving on disability checks. According to the parents of one of her former students, “she’s mad.”

Most people don’t understand that numbers rule, not just the world in a macro way but their world, their own world. Their lives. They don’t really understand that everything and everybody are connected by a mathematical formula. Counting is what defines us . . . the only thing that gives our lives meaning is the knowledge that eventually we all will die. That’s what makes each minute important. Without the ability to count our days, our hours, our loved ones . . . there’s no meaning. Our lives would have no meaning. Without counting, our lives are unexamined. Not valued. Not precious. This consciousness, this ability to rejoice when we gain something and grieve when we lose something—this is what separates us from other animals. Counting, adding, measuring, timing. It’s what makes us human.

Grace’s father is dead and her mother is a mystery to her. Her sister wants to sympathize but she really doesn’t understand. Only Hilary, her favorite niece, connects with her. And Grace can only connect with Nikola Tesla, the turn-of-the-twentieth-century inventor whose portrait sits on her bedside table and who rescues her in her dreams. Then one day all the tables at her regular café are full, and as she hesitates in the doorway a stranger—Seamus Joseph O’Reilly (19 letters in his name, just like Grace’s)—invites her to sit with him. Grace is not the least bit sentimental. But she understands that no matter how organized you are, how many systems you put in place, you can’t plan for people. They are unpredictable and full of possibilities—like life itself, a series of maybes and what-ifs.

And suddenly, Grace may be about to lose count of the number of ways she can fall in love. (From Goodreads, 28th June 2013)


Well if you have made it to the review after the largest blurb on earth (pause for laughter…). This is a novel that has been living in my bookcase for about 3 or 4 years. It is a fictional account of Grace who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Grace must count items, actions, everything to ease her anxiety. Her life is structured.But when she meets Seamus her structure begins to disappear. Will this relationship make or break Grace?

I enjoyed this novel. I thought the way OCD was dealt with was good, and accurate. It shows that OCD is not always about cleaning, that it can stop people from living their lives. But this good side was brought down because of the romance focus of the novel. I did not realise that this novel was more of a romance than someone dealing with a mental illness. Maybe if I had looked more into the book and read reviews 4 years ago I would have realised that this was the case.

I think if you want a quirky romance which strays slightly from the usual romance genera this will be for you. If you like the more hard hitting, rough mental health stories which I ‘enjoy’ and find very educational Addition is probably not for you.

3 out of 5

Into the Darkest Corner By Elizabeth Haynes

Elizabeth Haynes debut novel and a fantastic one at that! Switching between the past and present of Catherine’s life. In the past she is outgoing, wearing beautiful party dresses, drinking, and flirtatious. Now she is living with severe OCD and can barely function. Spending most evenings checking and rechecking her doors and windows.

Both times have love interests. Lee, a bouncer, undercover police officer and general hard man. And Stuart her new neighbor, is understanding and helps Catherine beginning the road to recovery and a step back into a social life.

As the novel progresses we get a real insight to why Catherine has developed OCD and that the facade which Lee had fooled everyone.

A psychological thriller which demonstrates true understanding and sound research into the subject matter. You will not be able to put it down!

A fantastic novel and a excellent debut.

Cafe du Jour By Lilian Darcy

This is not the typical book I would normally pick up – mainly the cover made me think it was more of a chick-lit, light-romance novel. However I was pleasantly surprised with the layers involved in Cafe du Jour.

Susie is a chef, a girlfriend, a sister and a daughter. Her career is at a standstill as the restaurant she works at is barely scraping by. Her boyfriend of four years is always traveling and is now starting a new-age type course to help people ‘grow’, much to Susie’s annoyance. Her sister, Karen, has been in a serious motorbike accident and is in hospital receiving rehab. Her parents only see her when she is visiting her sister in hospital and they have a strained relationship with a lack of ability to share their feelings. Her boss, Julie, treats her like a daughter but can this relationship hold when the restaurant is taken over by Julies son?

There are many little stories within this book and each one has it’s own path leading to Susie’s growth and change of directions. It is written in a diary style, though it doesn’t feel like that when you are reading it, for the benefit of Karen so she can learn what was happening while she was recovering from her serious accident.

This is a nice book about ones journey in discovering who are your real friends and what really matters in life.

I will rate it 3.5 stars and describe it as a ‘pool side book’ – one for your holidays!