Carla Acheson


Category: Book Reviews (Page 1 of 4)

Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen MinutesNineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This isn’t my favorite Picoult novel but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Picoult has a great ability to embroider her narrative with only essential comparisons and details. She uses examples and phrases that pull at your emotions in a deeply evocative way.
The story is about a young teenage boy called Peter who sacrifices his own future by seeking revenge on his high school bullies; ultimately shooting them (and others) dead in a final tragic act of redemption.
But the most interesting aspect of this story, for me, was in the exploration of the quietly ‘displaced’ victims. Those who cared for him and became permanently scarred and affected by his actions. His childhood friend Josie, the girl he grew up with (and fell for) but she later ignored Peter to stay in favor with the more ‘acceptable’ high school crowd. Also Lacy, Peter’s mother; a woman who had already lost one child in a tragic incident and is now losing her second. And then there is Peter himself, a sensitive, bright and caring young teenager who was viewed in high school as a social ‘misfit,’ to become a detached cold-blooded murderer. It is the reaction of the whole town towards the young murderer, and Picoult’s effective way of showing us the viewpoint from every characters angle that really scrapes at your emotions.
The meaningful essence of this book stays with you long after reading. It reminds you that people are never just black and white and that sadly, even the perpetrators of some very hideous crimes are also ‘victims’ too.

View all my reviews

Review: Someone New by Zoe Miller

This review is based upon a pre-publication copy provided by the publisher via

‘Someone New’ is a well-structured story which covers strong relationship issues such as obsession and trust. It ultimately begs the question.. ‘Do we really know a person inside out?’

Young and attractive Grace unexpectedly finds happiness after ditching her intensely clingy ex and meeting the ‘new-agey’ and spiritually inspiring Danny McBride. But after just six weeks of their euphoric time together a tragic bike accident kills her perfect lover and Grace is left to pick up the pieces, as well as try to understand what exactly happened that fateful night.

Aside from Grace’s story we are given a parallel narrative from her sister Lucia, the enviably brilliant and organised career-woman whose life with her wealthy and handsome husband is already too perfect enough to change, or is it? Lucia’s story throws an interesting angle on the core value of the ‘perfect’ marriage and paves the way for some unexpected deep-rooted maternal desires to come to the fore.

Additionally, we also gain insight into the tangled emotions of Matt, the cop who is helping Grace with her subconscious fear that Danny’s death was not merely an accident. As Matt comes to learn more about Grace and her seemingly perfect late lover, he helps her to unveil secrets about him she would never have believed. Matt too is forced to confront his own insecurities about the woman he loves who is slowly slipping out of his grasp.

The unfolding plot in ’Someone New,’ evolves at a steady pace allowing the reader to come to know the characters and how their lives become entangled together as they work through their inner-most fears and desires.

I enjoyed reading this novel. I felt the writing style was fluid, easy to read, and the story held my attention throughout. Even though the characters were fictional they were well depicted enough to feel chillingly real.

4/5 stars.


Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time


Reality and the spirit world collide together in a compelling story.

This is the first novel I have read by author, Jodi Picoult, but I’m very glad that I did. Leaving Time brought tears to my eyes more than once, and if it is possible to have some kind of emotional attachment to a story, this one did it for me.

The story is told in more than one narrative viewpoint. A decade after a fatal incident at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee occurs, three characters set out to solve the mystery of missing person, Alice Metcalf.

We have Jenna, Alice’s thirteen year old daughter, Virgil, a down-and-out Detective, and Serenity, a fallen from grace TV Psychic. Quite an oddly eclectic bunch to string together, but somehow Picoult effortlessly weaves together the fabric of their lives, hopes and fears in an astonishingly authentic way.

Through reading her mother’s journals, Jenna attempts to find out how she disappeared and why she had abandoned her. At least two thirds of this book will teach you about the behaviour of elephants through Alice’s viewpoint.. I particularly loved the portrayal of how elephants interact as a herd, and how they grieve for their young. I found that I lost myself in most of this text. Whilst I realise that some reviewers disliked this part of the book, for me it was an eye-opening revelation and almost a dedication to their memory, inducing pity and highlighting the sad plight of their cruel mistreatment by humans.

From the Author’s Note, we can see that she undertook a huge amount of research in exploring these animals, hence I felt that the chapters did not detract from the story, but enhanced it in a way that skimming over the surface would have been the difference between a profound and deeply rooted story to one that merely lies flat on a bed of freshly mown grass.

As the trio finally come to the end of their search and the threads of the story are wrapped up, a major plot twist  is revealed which I did not see coming, and though you might have to suspend disbelief in order to fully appreciate it, Picoult’s writing is so competent; it works!

One of the best reads I have picked up in a while.

5/5 stars
Available on Amazon

Review: The Girl in the Photograph – Kate Riordan

The Girl in the Photographby Kate Riordan

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton, whose only trace remains in a few tantalizingly blurred photographs. Why will no-one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?

The storyline centres on motherhood, the shame and disgrace of being an unmarried mother, as well as post-partum depression – something which we rarely get to view in the Victorian era. These elements are weaved into a tale around Stanton house and its buried secrets.

There were some very evocative and poignant descriptions in this 400 page novel. The story was interesting, though the pace a little to slow for my taste, which made the read slightly tedious to complete. The dual narrative introduces you firstly to Alice, a young unmarried lady in the Edwardian era, who is sent to Stanton House to await the birth of a child that she may be forced to give up, and Elizabeth Stanton, an upper class woman suffering multiple miscarriages and post partum depression who had lived at Stanton many years before.

If you are a reader who wishes to savour deeply colourful description and slow building suspense this is a perfect choice. There were instances where the book did feel hauntingly atmospheric, though sometimes I felt the intertwining stories were a little enforced.

‘Gripping’ is not how I would describe this read, but the author’s exploration of the maternal themes mentioned above were interesting enough to hold my attention, and the air of mystery throughout the book prevailed until the very end.




Review: My Dream of You by Nuala OFaolain

mydreamofyouMy Dream of You is one of those powerful stories that stays with you long after reading.

The story is narrated by Kathleen, a travel writer from Ireland, who at the death of a close colleague and friend begins to evaluate her life at the age of fifty. Struggling with loneliness and a deep lack of fulfilment she embarks on a journey back to the Ireland she left at the age of seventeen in order to confront her roots and deal with the demons of her past.

Much of the book is devoted to Kathleen’s memories of her sketchy and sad childhood which is slightly reminiscent of Frank McCourt’s, Angela’s Ashes. No mistaking here that the authentic dialect and descriptions add a beautiful visual depth to this story in a similar fashion. There are also reflections throughout the book on the potato famine, and many times the heartfelt emotions which were conveyed simply swept you up and away in a sometimes uncomfortable but pleasant way, in that you felt you were not just reading a sentence but indulging in some beautifully articulated irish literature.

The heart of the story is Kathleen’s inner struggle to feel loved and whether or not she will ever again find a passionate lover, an experience which she had only briefly tasted once in her younger years. When married ‘Shay ‘ appears in her life he becomes a fulfilling lover, if only for a fleeting time. Soon Kathleen is faced with the difficult choice of facing life as a middle-aged woman indulging in only sporadic unions with her lover, or the alternative option of never encountering a soul-bonding sexual experience ever again.

The ending ties together all her thoughts, self-discoveries, and final choices as she embarks on a new life without the people she has loved, and let go, both in the past and the present.

Overall the book was riveting and I found myself lost in its prose. For those who appreciate self-exploratory books with a deeper connection I truly recommend it as a pleasurable read.

My Dream of Youis available on Amazon.

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