Fiction

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The Image of You by Adele Parks

Zoe laughed her head off when she read Anna’s online dating profile. – Opening sentence The Image of You is a clever and gripping book about two identical twins, Anna and Zoe. Despite sharing the same DNA, they are polar opposites; Anna is optimistic, sweet and caring, and dreams of settling down with Mr Right, having children and living happily ever after. Zoe, on the other hand, is daring, sultry and a risk-taker. Anna calls her “an addict”. I got a good grasp of the direction of this novel in the prologue, which includes the following: I’m thirty-one and have been so very, very good all my life; not so much as a flirty text sent to one guy whilst I was with another. I’m faithful first and foremost. I think loyalty is all, it’s the backbone of all relationships – nay, the very oxygen – but that is not the…

Hollow Shores by Gary Budden

My old man was a lorry driver, back in the eighties. – Opening sentence Hollow Shores is the debut collection of intertwined short stories by writer Gary Budden, combining psychogeography, history, nature, punk sub-culture and more. In the acknowledgements, Budden writes, “A massive thanks to Nathan Connolly at Dead Ink for taking a punt on what he described as ‘a really weird book’.” “Really weird” is definitely one way to describe this collection, but I would prefer to choose enchanting, haunting or melancholic instead. Indeed, I’ve never read anything like it (and probably won’t again). All these stories are centred between the stretch of coast between Norfolk and Kent, including the Thames estuaries,  known as the ‘Hollow Shores’. Where fiction mingles with fact, Budden made me nostalgic for a place I’ve never actually visited. As the various characters deal with themes of loss, change, relationships, self-enlightenment, home and family, they all share a…

Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee

More than a hundred years had passed since the single tiny seed broke free and left its home. – Opening sentence I didn’t know anything about Broken Branches prior to reading it, although the blurb hints about a ‘family curse’ which intrigued me a lot. Other reviewers have described Broken Branches as a mystery and/or horror – but although it tries to be a bit ‘spooky’ in places; it wasn’t enough to scare me at all and I wouldn’t characterise it as such. The story is about a man called Ian Perkins. After the unfortunate passing of his older brother, Ian inherits his old childhood home. With his wife and young child, Ian moves into the home and makes it his mission to get to the bottom of the so-called family ‘curse’. Ian is a realistic and relatable character, but early on it’s obvious that not everything it quite what it seems. Author M.…

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