Don’t Ask by Paul Carroll @paulcarrollink @RandomTTours #RandomTTours @matadorbooks #contemporaryfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Don’t Ask by Paul Carroll. This was a fabulous read and one that really caught my attention.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my wonderful copy of this book.

A DNA ancestry test opens up a Pandora’s Box of secrets.

When Elsa Watson takes a DNA ancestry test out of idle curiosity she little imagines the devastating consequences she is about to unleash.
Two families become reluctantly entwined as inconvenient truths and long suppressed memories resurface.

A #whodunnit with a difference, Don’t Ask visits the glam rock Seventies, Britpop, Operation Yewtree and #metoo within its alternating past and present chapter structure.

Purchase link – Amazon UK

My Review…

This really was a fabulous book to sit and read over a couple of days. The synopsis does mention some things that may be a trigger for some readers with the #metoo and Operation Yewtree, a police investigation into child abuse by TV personalities.

Given that this story does contain some hard to read themes, the author has approached it with care. For me, the story is about family and finding out the truth. A simple DNA test that you buy off the shelf to discover your ancestry is the catalyst for the story. A simple test to discover your heritage and where your roots hark back to. Sounds great until you discover that you have a close relationship with someone else.

Using this as the basis the author has woven a story that I found to be compelling reading. Family secrets are at the heart of the story and also embarrassment, shame and guilt. The author has taken the story to include many twists and turns that kept me guessing even when I knew some of the answers. Having the answers is not enough and the author has given an intriguing route for the reasons why. This does involve some unpleasantness, but it is kept in context and not embellished or over dramatised in my opinion.

The story involves different generations of two families, their backgrounds are told across a timeslip style. They flit back and forth between time and character. There is no warning or indication about these switches, but to be perfectly honest, once I got to know the characters I soon found it very easy to follow.

Discovering that you don’t know all about your family must be very hard. The author gives a feel of loss as the characters involved are discovering their truths. The story was a slow-paced one and this helped with getting to know the characters and how they have changed over the years, the memories that have been suropressed and their relationships with each other.

This is a novel that I really got on with and I do think the author has hit the balance well with the themes he has included. A mix of contemporary fiction and a mystery as the truth is finally revealed. The story of two families and their everyday lives is rocked by a simple and innocent DNA test. A sad story but one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author…

Paul Carroll has been drawn to ink and the written word since launching a rock fanzine in his late teens.

Born and bred in Leeds, Paul crossed the Pennines in the mid-70s to study English Language and English Literature at the University of Manchester. 

Chasing a job in journalism he stumbled into the world of PR and ten years after starting his career set up his own PR consultancy, Communique PR, in Manchester.

There he worked on many well-known brands including Boddingtons, Heineken, Thorntons Chocolate, Chicago Town Pizza, Big D peanuts, Co-op Funerals and Manchester Airport.

These days, Paul concentrates on his writing.

Paul’s books are full of dark humour and satirical takes.  His writing has been compared to that of Ben Elton, Nick Hornby and Jonathan Coe in tackling serious contemporary issues in a highly engaging and entertaining way.

Don’t Ask (Matador 2021) is Paul Carroll’s fourth novel, following A Matter of Life and Death (Matador, 2012), Written Off (Matador, 2016), and Trouble Brewing (Matador, 2017).

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#BookReview : Magnus and the Jewelled Book of the Universe : pub @matadorbooks : @NetGalley : #ChristmasBooksforChildren

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“Magnus and the Jewelled Book of the Universe” by S.L.Browne is available now in eBook and in paperback.  Published by Matador / Troubador Publishing

This is a children’s book recommended for ages 7-9 years.  A science fiction and fantasy read.  This is a book I read for as part of my idea for the books children would like for Christmas.

Synopsis:

In S. L. Browne’s debut children’s book, a small boy called Magnus is whisked away from a dying overheated Earth by his mentor Marlo, only to discover that he belongs to a tribe of aliens known as the Guardians of the Universe living in a different dimension. Marlo, a very ancient and disgruntled wizard, has failed to stop the evil Murdamond from destroying Earth through his unquenchable desire for shiny and beautiful things.

When Magnus arrives on his home planet, he finds that humans have not yet evolved and that dinosaurs still exist. Marlo tells Magnus that he fears that Murdamond will try to move to this new, healthy planet to steal all of its treasures now that he has ruined the old Earth. Upon their arrival in the Deruweld village, they discover that Murdamond has already arrived and he is holding Magnus’ parents hostage in the dungeon of his brand new castle.

Magnus realises he has been tasked with a dangerous and urgent problem to solve. He has to save his home planet, rescue his parents and save the Universe from the ghastly Murdamond and his henchmen. He must use all his wisdom and powers, along with his dinosaur friends and the strange Jewelled Book of the Universe that decides life would be more interesting if it transformed into a girl, in order to defeat Murdamond before it is too late.

Magnus and the Jewelled Book of the Universe is the first book in a fantasy trilogy that takes inspiration from Roald Dahl and Dick King Smith. The book contains dinosaurs, space travel and time travel in a humorous and magical story that will appeal to young readers aged 7-9 years. S. L. Browne’s debut book also contains an important message about climate change.

My Thoughts:

This is an interesting book with some diverse themes running through it.  Magnus is shown how he can travel to alternate universes, though tornado’s with ancient monolith as a portal and the magic book being the key.  On arrival at this other world, he is told to expect a simpler lifestyle where greed and money do not exist, but dinosaurs do!  While here he discovers more about himself and his other abilities.

This is a mish-mash of things, a mix of The Wizard of Oz and a twist of Roald Dahl.  The book looks at the way humans treat the earth, exploring the effects of money, power and greed.  But even in this other world setting there are traces of these and they are getting stronger.  It does sound as if it would be quite heavy reading when the topics include climate change, extinction of animals and power struggles, but it has been done in a basic way, not to simple though. I felt it was a good book to introduce these themes and wrap them around a suitable story.

As I read this, I kept thinking back to the books I read as a child.  Would I like this one ? Yes, actually I think I would have enjoyed it.  My one criticism is that this story did finish a little too abruptly, I didn’t feel that it was finished properly. I am aware of it being part of a series and in my copy, there was a preview of the next book, but it was just a little sudden.

I think this book would appeal to readers of the indicated 7-9 year age range.  An interesting story with a very important message, but done in a very accessible and not over the top sort of way.

I would like to express my thanks to NetGalley and Matador for my copy of this eARC.  I requested it and my views expressed here are my own and are unbiased.

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