Peter Donnelly


Violeta – Isabel Allende

22 January 2022
Violeta Book Cover Violeta
Isabel Allende
Literary Fiction
Bloomsbury Publishing
25 January 2022

This sweeping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Petal of the Sea tells the epic story of Violeta del Valle, a woman whose life spans one hundred years and bears witness to the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century. Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth. Through her father's prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling... She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women's rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics. Told through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor will carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.


Isabel Allende’s latest novel is mesmerising and beautifully written with the authentic feel of a memoir. In 2020, in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, Violeta del Valle, now…

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The Annual Bookend: Volume 4 (2021)

4 January 2022
The Annual Bookend: Volume 4 (2021) Book Cover The Annual Bookend: Volume 4 (2021)
Annual Review
Peter Donnelly
The Reading Desk
1 January 2022

I hope you enjoy the recap of 2021 below and if you relish recommended lists of books, we have provided many through the year and particularly in this last month. The turn of the year is always full of expectations, new promises and new challenges. Each year this involves setting a target number of books plus choices to be made to help authors, publishers and readers. In 2022 I hope I can continue to read a wide variety of books, and from published, Indie, debut, and established authors. This year I want to revisit the classics and side more with CS Lewis when he says

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

rather than as Mark Twain wittingly stated

“‘Classic’ – a book which people praise and don’t read.”

Best wishes to the writing community in its diverse range of authors and support services.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,And nodding by the fire, take down this book,And slowly read, and dream of the soft lookYour eyes had once,…

Dystopian Mystery

Corinth 2642 AD – Bindiya Schaefer

4 January 2022
Corinth 2642 AD Book Cover Corinth 2642 AD
Bindiya Schaefer
21 September 2021

In the year 2642, no one person is ethnically like the other. Globalization, war, and other catalysts have given birth to a diverse and multi-ethnic new world. Not everyone feels this new society is ideal, though. A select group of seven colonies-a pureblood, white supremacist cult complete with arranged marriages and heavily guarded borders-have only had one mission: protect the bloodline from contamination and produce the next generation of survivors. But some young people, destined for a life without choices, make a run for it, including Cara, the granddaughter of Julius Bull, the colonies' leader. Desperate to keep her dissidence quiet for fear of potentially inciting a power struggle within the colonies, Bull brings in Jimmy Matoo-a Special Investigator from San Francisco whose brother was found dead near one of the colonies the same night Cara disappeared. For Matoo, the visit to Corinth, Oregon, is eye-opening. He has never seen a white person before and is shocked by their ideas of imperialism, racial purity, and the prospect of arranged marriages in the 27th century. His investigation reveals that dozens of young colony members have gone missing over the years, and some have been found dead on the outskirts of Corinth. With the clock ticking, San Francisco's Detective Matoo's missing persons investigation soon becomes a fight for survival-turns out the residents don't like a brown fellow in their midst. Can he find Cara, figure out what happened to his brother, and save the leader's family from the Cabal before it's too late? Maybe. But first, he must find out who in the colony has the means and connections to smuggle the dissidents out without being detected because it could be the difference between life and death.


Bindiya Schaefer’s debut book was a surprising gem, delivering a uniquely captivating story packed with drama in a dystopian future. Underlying is an indictment on how we racially see…

Historical Fiction Mystery

The Last House on the Street – Diane Chamberlain

13 December 2021
The Last House on the Street Book Cover The Last House on the Street
Diane Chamberlain
St. Martin's Press
11 January 2022

"From bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel that perfectly interweaves history, mystery, and social justice. When Kayla Carter's husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. When she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It's clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area...and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla's elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it's clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families"--

The Last House on the Street is an engaging, thoughtful and horrific mystery that the past cries out to be solved.

As two architects, Kayla Carter and her husband, Jackson, designed…


You, Again – Nick Spalding

9 December 2021
You Again? Book Cover You Again?
Nick Spalding
Lake Union Publishing

From the bestselling author of Dumped, Actually comes a hilarious, heartfelt story about marriage, divorce and what the hell happens next. Amy and Joel's honeymoon in the Maldives was the perfect week of love, sun, sex and a free minibar...but unfortunately, it was also the high point of a marriage that quickly descended into an absolute disaster zone. Eight years on, they're back in paradise, trying to recreate the magic with new partners. What a crying shame they've picked the same week to do it... Trapped together on an island small enough to spit across with the wind behind you, Amy and Joel pick up right where they left off: at total loggerheads. And so begins a hideous week of rivalry, one-upmanship and score-settling--as each tries to prove they've now comprehensively won at life. The thing is, hurt and pain are strongest where there was once love. And what if being back in this island paradise, with all its wonderful memories, sets sparks flying in more ways than one?


Nick Spalding is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud in every book he writes, and this one is no exception. Nick identifies contemporary issues and crafts situations around…