Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew

The Blurb On The Back:

During Frankie’s first sexual experience with the quiet and lovely Benjamin, she gets her period.  It’s only blood, they agree.  But soon a graphic meme goes viral, turning their fun, intimate afternoon into something disgusting, mortifying and damaging.  As the online shaming takes on a horrifying life of its own, Frankie begins to wonder: is her real life over?

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Master List of Books Read in 2020

  1. Why Cities Look The Way They Do by Richard J Williams.
  2. The Widows Of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey.
  3. Moneyland by Oliver Bullough.
  4. The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.
  5. Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, The US And The Struggle For Global Power by Richard McGregor.
  6. Fallen by Benedict Jacka.
  7. The End Of Aspiration by Duncan Exley.
  8. Dancing Jax by Robin Jarvis.
  9. Dear Life by Rachel Clarke.
  10. Skulduggery Pleasant – Resurrection by Derek Landy.
  11. Pride: The Story Of The LGBTQ Equality Movement by Matthew Todd.
  12. Money In The Morgue by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy.
  13. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay And A Mother’s Will To Survive by Stephanie Land.
  14. Skulduggery Pleasant Midnight by Derek Landy.
  15. Russia by Dmitri Trenin.
  16. Enduring Love by Ian McEwan.
  17. Stay The Course: The Story Of Vanguard And The Index Revolution by John C. Bogle.
  18. Nobody Walks by Mick Herron.
  19. Build It: The Rebel Playbook For World-Class Employee Engagement by Glenn Elliott and Debra Corey.
  20. The Price Guide To The Occult by Leslye Walton.
  21. The Case For People’s Quantitative Easing by Frances Coppola.
  22. A Pocketful Of Stars by Aisha Bushby.
  23. The Econocracy: On The Perils Of Leaving Economics To The Experts by Joe Earle, Cahal Moran and Zach Ward-Perkins.
  24. Skin Deep by Liz Nugent.
  25. Liquid Crystal Nightingale by Eeleen Lee.
  26. The Haven by Simon Lelic.
  27. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta.
  28. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley.
  29. Supercharg3d: How 3D Printing Will Drive Your Supply Chain by Len Pannett.
  30. The Haven Revolution by Simon Lelic.
  31. The Catch by Mick Herron.
  32. The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher.
  33. M&A Disputes: A Professional Guide To Accounting Arbitrations by A. Vincent Biemans and Gerald M. Hansen.
  34. The Girl With Space In Her Heart by Lara Williamson.
  35. The Atlas Of Disease by Sandra Hempel.
  36. Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus.
  37. Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich.
  38. This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher.
  39. Primo Levi: The Last Interview – Conversations with Giovanni Tesio by Giovanni Tesio.
  40. Generation Left by Keir Milburn.
  41. Deadpool: The Complete Collection Volume 1 by Daniel Way, Andy Diggle, Steve Dillon, Paco Medina, Carlo Barberi and Bong Dazo.
  42. Gunnerkrigg Court Volume 1: Orientation by Thomas Siddell.
  43. One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus.
  44. Resisters: 52 Young Women Making Herstory Right Now by Lauren Sharkey and Manjit Thapp.
  45. The Chalk Man by C J Tudor.
  46. The Sex Factor: How Women Made The West Rich by Victoria Bateman.
  47. Riddle Of The Runes by Janina Ramirez.
  48. That Will Never Work by Marc Randolph.
  49. Way Of The Waves by Janina Ramirez.
  50. The Far Right Today by Cas Mudde.
  51. Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew.

2019 In Books And Onwards To 2020

So, my annual round up has rolled around again.  People say things seem to come around quicker as you get older but I gotta say that 2019 has drrraaaaaaaggggged at times.  Also got to say that personally, I am not feeling optimistic for 2020 but, hey, maybe it will surprise me.

I set myself a target of 130 books to read in 2019 and I met that target dead on, although it was a bit touch and go towards the end thanks to Real Life getting in the way.

I wanted 20% of those 130 books to be by Writers of Colour and, disappointingly, I failed for the second year running and read 21 (which is 16%).  This is an improvement on where I was in 2018, when I only managed 12% but still not where I wanted to be in terms of supporting diverse voices.  I can’t even say that it’s down to not looking to pick up books by WOC because I definitely have a lot on my To Be Read Pile both in terms of selecting ARCs and buying them in stores.

Anyway, I think that the solution is to make sure I’m consciously scheduling WOC when I’m working out what I want to read next.  Usually I just pick up the next book that meets my then current fancy but I’m trying to be more ordered this year so I am running a mini stack of books that I pre-select to read in the next month.  This should also mean that I manage my To Be Read Pile more efficiently (when you see what’s on it behind the cut you’ll understand why I want to get a grip on it).

Gender-wise, I wanted a 50/50 split between men and women in 2019 and I broadly hit it.  Of the 130 books I read, 63 were authored/co-authored/edited/co-edited by women, which is 48%.  This is slightly down on 2018 (where I managed 48%) and I think that some of that is because I made a conscious effort to read more non-fiction in 2019 and a lot of that tended to be from men.

I didn’t set a non-fiction target for 2019 other than wanting to read more of it.  In the end 47 of the 130 were non-fiction works (so that’s 36%).  This is an improvement on the 26% I managed in 2018, so I’m pleased with that.

In terms of aspirations for 2020, I’m looking to achieve the following:

  • a total reading target of 130.  I’ve picked this because my commute has changed compared to last year, so it should be achievable while also leaving me some writing time for my personal, non-review projects.
  • a 50/50 gender split.
  • 20% of the books read to be by or co-written by writers of colour.
  • 40% of the books read to be non-fiction.

As with 2019, I’m not going to be scheduling posts here because I don’t want to put pressure on myself in terms of getting reviews done.  This is and remains very much a personal book review blog rather than a ‘side hustle’ and I don’t want it to start feeling like work because I’ve managed to keep my book review blog going since 2006 by making clear it’s my hobby.  Similarly, I’m not going to be switching my focus to any specific genre or market (although long term observers will know that I tend towards crime fiction, thrillers and fantasy).

It’s been 3 years since I moved my blog here to WordPress from Livejournal and my hit count has grown year on year, which is pretty miraculous given I don’t do a lot to promote it and I don’t do any of the interviews, competitions or other content that harder working people in the book review community do.  Although I do suspect that some of that hit count was from a DOS attack on WordPress over the summer …

My most popular review of 2019 in terms of hits was actually an old one from 2017 – Need To Know by Karen Cleveland.  My most popular review from 2019 was The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman (it’s the conclusion to a well done YA historical fantasy if you’re interested).

I’ve set out my favourite books of 2019 below (in no particular order):


The Secret Barrister: Stories Of The Law And How It Is Broken is a passionate, clearly written and damning book that is essential reading for anyone who cares about the United Kingdom they set out how the English criminal legal system should work and why it is going so drastically wrong.

Heimat: A German Family Album by Nora Krug is a beautifully illustrated graphic memoir (which mixes Krugg’s drawings with photographs), in which she examines who she is as a German-American and comes to terms with her attitude to Germany’s recent history by seeking to learn more about the lives of her grandparents under Nazi rule and the role they played in the regime.

Chernobyl: History Of A Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy is a horrifying, moving and meticulously researched book (winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize in 2018 for non-fiction), that depicts the events surrounding the explosion of the No 4 reactor at Chernobyl on 26 April 1986 and the cover up and clear up that followed while going onto explain how it contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.


The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carré.  There’s a reason why this book is viewed as a classic in the spy thriller genre. It’s the third in John Le Carré’s GEORGE SMILEY SERIES (a follow-up to CALL FOR THE DEAD) and although Smiley is very much in a minor (albeit critical) supporting role that doesn’t matter because this ice-cold, ruthless, brutal spy thriller novel is an exquisitely plotted affair about treachery and counter-espionage and how lives become disposable to those in power when it suits their interests.


Teen Pioneers – Young People Who Have Changed The World by Ben Hubbard is an inspirational YA non-fiction book, consisting of mini biographies for 21 people who were all teenagers when they acted to try and change the world. Some you may have heard of, e.g. Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and the Hong Kong activist, Joshua Wong, and others you will hear more of in the future. It’s the perfect book to wave at any grown-up who dares to complain about young people lacking motivation and seeking to take all the time and it honestly gave me some hope for the future.


The Dog Who Saved The World by Ross Welford is an utterly delightful SF book that takes a dog-mad protagonist to a grim future.  The world building is great, Welford makes some excellent points about privilege and refugees and features an interesting morally ambivalent side character who will make you think.  Welford is one of my favourite children’s authors and this book is worth your time (even if you don’t have children!).

Death In The Spotlight by Robin Stevens is the 7th in this on-going murder mystery series and another well-plotted mystery filled with some devilish twists and great character development for Daisy and Hazel.  I especially liked a key revelation about Daisy and her sexuality (which Stevens does well to contextualise in the time) but Hazel also gains a lot of confidence and self-awareness and I welcomes seeing Alexander and George again.  Again, this is one of those series that is worth your time even if you don’t have kids in the target age group – there has not been a duff book in it and they’re genuinely good mysteries that are perfect if you already like the Golden Age detective authors like Christie or Sayers.

The Land Of Roar by Jenny McLachlan is a middle grade fantasy novel that’s gorgeously illustrated by Ben Mantle and the first of a duology (the sequel to which is due out in 2020).  It’s a stunningly good read – moving, funny and with a lot to say about facing your fears, embracing the power of imagination and the destructive need to be cool with the ‘in crowd’.  It tips its hat at the Narnia and Peter Pan tradition, while updating it for a more tech savvy and less gender stereotyped readership.

My To Be Read Pile now stands at a hideously horrifying 733.  At the beginning of 2019 it was 570.

My name is Caroline Hooton, and I have a book acquisition problem.  Someone please help me.  Please.

I don’t do resolutions, but one of my ‘things’ for 2020 is that I’m going to try not to take every book offered to me for review and to steer clear of bookshops so that I’m not indulging in my book buying habit (which did spiral out of control towards the end of 2019) – some women buy handbags and shoes when they’re stressed; I go on book buying binges.

The full list is behind the cut for anyone interested and, as always, if there’s anything on there that you particularly recommend then please do let me know and I will move it up my list.

Finally, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s checked out this blog over 2019 or liked or left a comment and my very best wishes to all of you for 2020.


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2018 In Books And Onwards To 2019

2018 was an emotional rollercoaster for me.  I don’t use this blog to talk about my personal life (and no doubt it would bore the pants off people here if I did) but let’s just say that my one take-away from 2018 is that nothing is forever, never ever say never and take your chances where you find them.

So with that trite lifeism out of the way, I’ll get to the good stuff.

I set myself a target of 125 books to read in 2018 and I actually beat that with 127 (full list is here).  I wanted 20% of the books I read in 2018 to be non-fiction and in the end, I hit 34 in total (so that’s 26%).  I am seriously starting to get into non-fiction, especially politics and social policy and 6 of my books of the year are non-fiction so you can definitely expect to see more of it on my blog in 2019.

I was less successful in reading writers of colour (WOC).  I’d set myself a target of 20% of my list to be WOC but in the end only 16 of the books I read were by WOC (so that’s 12%).  I’m disappointed in myself about that but I did search out more WOC for my To Read Pile and I definitely want to make that 20% target this year.

Gender wise my list was evenly split again – 49% by women and 51% men.  It’s relatively easy to hit that as a target though because I read a lot of children’s and YA and it tends to be female author driven.

Aspirations for 2019 reading wise is to keep with the thrillers and crime novels as I am still working on one in real life and they help me to think about structure, plot and character.  I’m looking at reading 20% of books by WOC and 50/50 male/female.

Because this remains a personal review blog, I’m not going to be scheduling posts and I’m not going to focus on any particular genre or market.  I do appreciate everyone who stops by the blog and many thanks to those of you who have liked my posts or left a comment.

I’ve set out below my favourite books of 2018 (in no particular order):


In Pursuit Of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer’s by Joseph Jebelli – this is a fascinating if at times awful and depressing read about Alzheimer’s and how we’re working towards a treatment for it.

Refuge: Transforming A Broken Refugee System by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier – given how often we see refugees dominating the news cycle, this is a timely and compassionate book about how the refugee system works, the political compromises that have contributed to the crises and looks at a potential way of reforming the international system.

The Gender Games by Juno Dawson – this is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that’s part memoir and part sharp critique on society’s roles on gender and which is hilariously funny and sharply observed.

The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Changes The Way We Think, Live And Die by Keith Payne – is an eye-opening must-read about the social psychology of poverty and income and how it impacts on inequality and discrimination and frankly, if Barack Obama has it down as one of his books of the year, then really who am I to argue?



A Spoonful Of Murder by Robin Stevens – the Wells and Wong mystery series just gets better and better with this book seeing the detective duo head for Hong Kong when Hazel’s grandfather dies and Daisy discovering that, for once, she’s not the most important person in town …

The Legend Of Kevin by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre – just really tickled me.  It’s a lovely, simple story of the friendship between a young boy and a flying horse but there’s some great humour, the illustrations are fabulous and the sea monkeys are really very naughty indeed.

What Is Race? Who Are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions by Claire Heuchan & Nikesh Shukla – confronts questions of racism, difference and racists straight on in an easy-to-understand way that doesn’t talk down to the reader and doesn’t avoid hard questions while adding personal experiences that help build empathy and understanding.



London Rules by Mick Herron – I am a massive fan of the SLOUGH HOUSE SERIES anyway and this latest instalment is another hilarious and sharply plotted affair about MI5’s embarrassments and how they are each trying to deal with the fallout from the previous book.

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – is a brilliantly plotted mash-up of QUANTUM LEAP, GROUNDHOG DAY and Golden Age Detective fiction that kept me thinking long after I finished it.



The 57 Bus: A True Story Of Two Teenagers And The Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater – is an astounding non-fiction book about a real-life crime that looks at both victim and perpetrator with huge empathy and respect.

My To Read Pile for 2019 stands at a horrifying 570 (for reference, I started 2018 with 416).  I am going to cut down what I add to it during this year because I need to get it under control – I’m already almost out of shelf space and am reduced to piling them up around the house.  Anyway, full list is behind the cut for those interested and if there’s anything you specifically recommend then let me know and I’ll move it up the list.

Thank you again for reading and best wishes to you all for 2019.

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2017 In Books And Onwards To 2018

I don’t tend to do much “normal” blogging on this site because I figure it’s easier to just keep it to reviews but also because, if I’m being honest, I’m not convinced anyone’s really interested in reading my blathering on.  However, I’ve seen a number of book reviewers whose blogs I follow do a 2017 round up and thought it might be interesting to do the same.

I  had set myself a target of reading 150 books in 2017 and actually managed 152 – the most I’ve ever read in a single year.  The full list is here if anyone’s interested in checking it out.  The vast majority of books have been thrillers (58 of my reviews in total) – mainly because one of my “things” (I don’t do resolutions) for 2018 is to try and write a thriller of my own.  I wanted to read more non-fiction in 2017 and I succeeded in that (24 books read – so almost 16%) and I have found that very beneficial – exposing me to new ideas, theories and bits of information that I’d never normally have been drawn to and, at times discovering that sometimes the truth is indeed more fascinating and stranger than fiction.  Of the books I read, 76 were by female writers (so 50%) and 16 by writers of colour (so about 10.5%) – those aren’t bad statistics, but I’m aware that I can improve on that – particularly for writers of colour as I really need to read more diversely.

I’ve been very fortunate to benefit from being a member of the Amazon Vine Programme (119 of the books I read came courtesy of that) but I’ve also benefited from the kind folk at Faber & Faber, Scholastic, Shrine Bell, Simon & Schuster and Walker Books.  Many thanks to the PR and marketing people at all of them for thinking of me.

There’s a lot of on-line rumour about what Amazon is going to do with the UK Vine programme going forward (indeed 2017 was dogged by rumours that it was about to end at any moment).  I can’t complain if it does – I have had a very good run there and am grateful for the opportunities it’s given me – plus, it may well be better for me if it does finish because I have a massive To Read Pile for 2018 that I really need to make some inroads on (I’m not even joking about that – I’ve hidden the list behind a jump cut because it’s at the point where I’m quite ashamed about how out of control it is).

I moved my blog to WordPress from Livejournal at the end of 2017 (with a complete back up of my posts sitting on my Dreamwidth account) and didn’t really expect to get much in the way of traction.  This has always been a personal review blog that reflects whatever I want to read at a particular time so it’s a bit of a pot pourri of genres and markets when the trend in book blogging seems to be to focus on one or two particular genres.  Plus I don’t do scheduled review posts – fitting them in during my spare time so there may be a week between some posts and sometimes there’ll be several posts on the same day.  Anyway, I’ve been surprised and very pleased to see that a number of people have got enough of an interest in it to follow so hello and thank you to all 29 of you who have subscribed and another hello and thank you to the 1,664 visitors who have checked out the site at some point during 2017.  Many thanks as well to those who have taken the time to comment.

In terms of my favourite books of 2017, I’ve set out the ones I rated the most highly below:

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An All New And Shiny Review Blog

Thanks to Livejournal opting to locate its servers to Russia, I’ve decided to move the review blog that I’ve been running since January 2006 to WordPress and Dreamwidth.

The original LJ blog with all the links and master lists can still be found on Livejournal at or alternatively at Dreamwidth on Quippe.  Due to issues with trying to import my LJ to WordPress, I’ll be updating on Dreamwidth and cross-posting here.