Maria Savva's Blog

May 25, 2019

Book review: Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Ronan Hession

LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAULLEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL by Ronan Hession

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a book that I chose to read because I liked the cover. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. In this case, it definitely did. "Leonard and Hungry Paul" is a story about two thirty-something friends who are both at a stage in their lives where they feel like they don't fit in anywhere. Other people seem to be able to get on with their lives, while Leonard and Hungry Paul just exist. Leonard is living alone after the recent death of his mother and seeks solace in his friend Hungry Paul who is also quite a lonely figure, living with his parents and treated as if he is incapable of making his own decisions.

Leonard and Hungry Paul have a lot in common and observe the world somewhat differently from those around them. These two characters seem like real people, and are well-developed by the author. I found myself engrossed in their stories; reading the book is like chatting with an old friend. As I neared the end of it, I felt sad, almost like saying goodbye to a friend. The hallmarks of a good book.

The two main characters are very relatable and I think that's why the book has found such a wide readership. There is a Hungry Paul and Leonard in all of us, almost the inner child. It's a memorable story, and the kind of book you could read again and again. Leonard and Hungry Paul is overflowing with wisdom. One of the best books I've read for a while.



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Published on May 25, 2019 04:40 Tags: leonard-and-hungry-paul, novel, review, ronan-hession

May 5, 2019

Writing Update

As many of you know, I've been working on a sequel to my novel The Spider for the past few years.



The book is now finished and is titled "Evil Never Dies". It has been edited and I'm getting some reader feedback before I publish it.

Here's a draft blurb that I've come up with that will give you a bit of an idea of what the book is about:

After finding the poisonous spider for Rex, George believes his problems are over. But tragedy strikes and George finds himself back inside The Spider’s web; his life is at risk and his freedom is at stake.

“Evil Never Dies” follows George as he fights to reclaim his life and take back control.

This dark, tangled mystery explores the known and the unknown, the real and the illusory.

Touching on a wealth of relatable subjects including divorce, death, the afterlife, homelessness, crime, and addiction, “Evil Never Dies” takes the reader on an intense and emotional journey.

Catch up with the other characters from book 1, “The Spider”, including Roisin, Glen, Hugh, and Abigail, as they face more life-changing challenges.


You can get book 1 at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01...

I have a great cover design for "Evil Never Dies", which was designed by Kat at Aeternum Designs (https://www.eveningskypublishingservi...)

Kat also designed the covers for The Spider, Lost and Found, and A Time to Tell). I will reveal the cover nearer to the release date.



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I'm also working on another collection of short stories. The book "Out of Time" is a collection of ten stories, eight of which were originally featured on the online literary magazine The Write Launch in 2017 (https://thewritelaunch.com/)

Two of the stories are brand new, written this year. I'm putting the finishing touches to "Out of Time" and hope to announce the release date soon.

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I've also started work on a new story, which might become my next novel. The idea came to me recently and so far I've been writing it in the traditional way, pen and paper. I'll reveal more about that in due course.

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Finally, I wanted to let you know about an interview I recently did for Helle Gade's website.

You can read it here: https://hellegade.com/2019/05/04/auth...
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April 22, 2019

Book review: Changing Angels, by Julie Elizabeth Powell

Changing AngelsChanging Angels by Julie Elizabeth Powell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’ve always enjoyed Julie Elizabeth Powell’s books; they’re always imaginative and original. “Changing Angels” is no exception. It starts off following the lives of two children, Faith and Jake. They do not know each other, but are connected somehow, in an unexplained way. The novel's chapters alternate between Jake’s story and Faith’s story.

As the main characters are both children at the start of the novel, I was wondering for a while whether this was a story written for children. However, the author was only setting out the background to what becomes a crime thriller, with some disturbing scenes.

Jake and Faith's first encounter is when Faith is still a child, on a bus, and Jake sees her from the street. They both treasure that memory as something significant, although they do not know why.

The two meet a few years later, and both instantly recognise each other as if they’d met before. They talk to each other as if they are old friends. At this point I wondered whether the tale would be a fantasy tale.

Jake and Faith feel a connection as if they have known each other all their lives, although they both come from quite different backgrounds.

The story takes a dramatic turn when the couple plan to meet for a romantic day out but Faith doesn’t turn up. What ensues is both unexpected and tragic. This leads to the second half of the novel, which is much more fast-paced.

"Changing Angels" is probably the author’s best work to date. It’s complex and contains many characters, who all seem like real people, all having very distinct personalities. One thing this author does very well is that she writes novels and stories that contain multiple characters and every character is always memorable in some way.

“Changing Angels” explores the idea of a sixth sense, guardian angels, soulmates, and other such matters. These concepts lay the foundation for the fantasy side of the novel. This lighter more romantic side is balanced by the story of a criminal gang and how that darker side of life becomes part of Faith and Jake's reality.

The book is engaging and thought-provoking. It will make you question what is real and what is imagined. It makes you think about whether certain things are predestined, and how everything is connected. It’s an imaginative tale with a deeper meaning.

To sum up, “Changing Angels” is an entertaining thriller with believable characters and a fantasy theme. Well worth reading.





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April 21, 2019

Book review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of AuschwitzThe Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Much of this book is difficult to read because of the subject matter; everything being related took place at a very dark time in history. However, I found that the prose flowed in a way that carried the story forward and kept my interest throughout. I became engrossed in these characters' stories. The main character, Lale, a Jewish man, was assigned the role of tattooist—tattooing a number on the arms of all the people who were captured and taken to Auschwitz and Birkenau. Lale's role, although almost privileged (it bought him time, as he was of use to the SS who had captured him), was a double-edged sword; having to watch others being killed every day, and being treated differently, meant that he was always torn, left with the feeling that he was working for the SS against his own people. This aspect of his story was compelling. He risked his life by doing things to help his fellow captives, while working in his role as a tattooist. There were many times when he came very close to being killed.

What makes Lale's story compulsive is the fact that while being a captive in such horrendous circumstances, there was still enough hope and faith within him that he was able to fall in love and plan a future in such uncertain times. He fell in love with Gita, a woman he was tattooing, at first sight. Their romance blossomed over the years they were held at the camp, and it is a story that adds some light to this otherwise incredibly sad tale.

Lale's account of what was happening in the camp sheds light on the atrocious and inhumane treatment of innocent people at Auschwitz. Lale told the author, Heather Morris, that he wanted his story to be told in the hope that "It would never happen again". As well as showing the worst side of human nature, one of the things Lale's story highlights is that even where the unimaginable is happening, there will always be people who are willing to risk their lives for others, and they are the true heroes.




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April 20, 2019

Book review: The Truth Pixie, by Matt Haig

The Truth Pixie (Christmas Series, #3.5)The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a fun book for children, but it also contains some poignant words and an important message.

The books central character, The Truth Pixie, is cursed and can only tell the truth. For much of the book, this is seen as a negative, something that is spoiling the pixie's life. She loses all her friends and ends up alone, with only a mouse in her hair for company.

However, the curse actually works in her favour when she is captured by a giant. After her lucky escape, she finds herself in the home of a young girl, Aada. Aada is sad because of a few things that have happened to her family, and also because she will soon have to move home. She asks the pixie whether she will be okay. The Truth Pixie worries that if she tells Aada the whole truth, Aada will be even sadder. This leads to a wonderfully touching part of the book where The Truth Pixie manages to make Aada happy even though she only tells the truth.

There is a deep wisdom in this book, about taking the good with the bad. It's told in the form of delightful rhyming verse. It would make a lovely gift for any child.





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Published on April 20, 2019 07:49 Tags: children-s-books, matt-haig, review, rhyming-verse, the-truth-pixie

Book review: It's What He Would've Wanted, by Sean Hughes

It's What He Would've WantedIt's What He Would've Wanted by Sean Hughes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


"It's What He Would've Wanted" is a dark comedy. I got the impression that this book was semi-autobiographical, the main character being very similar to the Sean we knew and loved from his stand up shows. The novel tells the story of Shea, whose father commits suicide. Shea finds his father's diaries and is inspired to look more deeply into his father's past to find out what could have led him to take his own life.

It's an intricate mystery, with lots of humour but also lots of introspective prose and darker parts to the tale. There are sections of the book where the author seems to be speaking directly to the reader, rather than narrating the characters' views; that reminded me of the segments in "Sean's Show" when Sean would take a few minutes to talk directly to the audience.

Although the book is quite dark, it's entertaining and thought-provoking. Much like Sean's stand-up comedy, this story vents certain frustrations about life and the human condition in an honest and open way.

If you were a fan of Sean's comedy, I would definitely recommend this book.



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Published on April 20, 2019 07:40 Tags: comedy, fiction, it-s-what-he-would-ve-wanted, novel, sean-hughes

Book review: There's a Walrus In My Bed!, by Ciara Flood

There's a Walrus in My Bed!There's a Walrus in My Bed! by Ciara Flood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I've bought both of Ciara Flood's previous books for my nephew and nieces, and they absolutely love them, so I decided to buy this latest book for them as well. It's beautifully illustrated, as are all this author's books. The story is a lot of fun. It's a cleverly written story, and it was a hit with the children. If you're looking for a gift for a child, this book is perfect. I'd also recommend Ciara Flood's other books: Those Pesky Rabbits and The Perfect Picnic.







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Published on April 20, 2019 05:28 Tags: art, children-s-books, ciara-flood, illustrated, there-s-a-walrus-in-my-bed

Book review: The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

The Bell JarThe Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I watched a documentary about Sylvia Plath's life last year and it made me curious to read this book. It was the only novel written by Plath, and she died about a month after its release. The documentary featured many people who had know Plath, and they all said that this book was written about real events and was more of an autobiography than a fiction novel.

There is a real feeling that the main character, Esther Greenwood, feels very uncomfortable and pigeonholed in the life that she leads. This book is the story about that character's struggle with mental illness, and many believe it's Sylvia Plath's own story of her battle with clinical depression, or bipolar. It's an intriguing insight into the types of facilities and 'cures' that were available for mental illness in the early part of the 20th Century.

Although this book does relate many examples of when Esther Greenwood was depressed or suicidal, and portrays her as disillusioned a lot of the time, I got the feeling that the voice of the author held a lot of hope for the future despite everything that had gone before. The way it is written, although dark, is not depressing. It contains a wealth of humour.

Worth reading.



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Published on April 20, 2019 05:10 Tags: autobigraphy, fiction, mental-illness, sylvia-plath, the-bell-jar

February 16, 2019

Book review: Out of the Darkness (Joe Cavelli, Paranormal PI Book 2), by Darcia Helle

Out of the Darkness (Joe Cavelli, Paranormal PI Book 2)Out of the Darkness by Darcia Helle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


"Out of the Darkness" is the second book in a series. "Into the Light", the first book introduced us to Joe Cavelli who has an interesting talent, he's a private investigator who can communicate with ghosts. If you haven't read the first book, I would highly recommend it. It's memorable and one of my favourite Darcia Helle novels. Just like "Into the Light", "Out of the Darkness" contains a lot of humour as well as some thought-provoking literature. This is an author who digs deep into her characters and the way they behave, seemingly always looking for the reasons behind their actions.

In "Out of the Darkness" Joe is faced with a new mystery when he's contacted by the spirit of a man named Gus. Gus wants to know why he is stuck in a black void and wants to find a way out. Joe then begins to help Gus's spirit, trying to find out what happened to him. This does not seem to be a straightforward case and isn't easy to solve. There are many surprising twists and turns until the final satisfying conclusion.

There are elements of fantasy, mystery, and suspense in this novel. It is a complex story containing many intriguing characters, seamlessly woven into an attention-grabbing and entertaining work of fiction.



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Published on February 16, 2019 08:17 Tags: darcia-helle, fantasy, fiction, mystery, new-release, novel, review, suspense

December 24, 2018

Favourite reads of 2018

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine




My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eleanor-Olip...


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The Guest Cat



My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Guest-Cat-Ta...


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I Hate (love) Brussels Sprouts



My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brussels-Spr...

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Under



My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Under-David-...

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WaR: Wizards and Robots



My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/WaR-Wizards-...

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Stark Contrasts




My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stark-Contra...

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What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography



My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Does-Th...

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Unwed (Dovetail Cove, 1976)



My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unwed-Doveta...

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24 Stories: of Hope for Survivors of the Grenfell Tower Fire




My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/24-Stories-S...

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Dark Flash 3



My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Flash-3...

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Whispers In The Tower



My review: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whispers-Tow...
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