A Novel Page reviews

pile of assorted novel books

AION’s resident book reviewer A Novel Page has read plenty this month, and here’s what she thinks of four of them. Follow ANovelPage on insta.

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary

Long story short: Siobhan, Miranda and Jane are all stood up on Valentine’s Day… by the same man. 

Thoughts: I was incredibly lucky to have been invited to the book launch event for #TheNoShow at Quercus’ offices last month. It was such a wholesome event and I was fan-girling so hard; thankfully, this book delivered…and more!

I’m definitely a thriller girl through and through, however, I will always make an exception for Beth O’Leary’s books. They always leave me feeling warm, happy and content. Whilst ’The No Show’ had all the hallmarks of a O’Leary’s books, it had an extra oomph that wasn’t present in her previous ones.

It’s difficult writing this review because I really want to gush about how amazing it is (it really is!), but I’m mindful about revealing any spoilers. I knew very little about the plot prior to reading it and I’m very glad about that. All I want to say is that this is very different: it’s a romantic-comedy… with suspense and mystery.

Honestly, there were points where I was baffled by what was going on. I really thought I knew what was going to happen and when, but I was very wrong! There is such much more going on in this book that you will initially realise. It’s very clever and it outsmarted me!

The characters were, in standard O’Leary form, so very real. You just feel like you know them in real life. I loved Siobhan – she was definitely the most like me! The characterisation was incredible and unique… a bit like the plot. I know this is a super duper vague review, but you’ll thank me later (I promise).

This is a truly ambitious, creative and original novel… and it really works. I was pleasantly surprised at how O’Leary’s talents know no bounds. This is my favourite so far!

It’s pretty obvious that this is a must read… the only question is: how soon will you read it? Meanwhile, I cannot wait for the next book!!

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N.B.: I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.

A Novel page rates this book 9/10


Midnight Express by Billy Hayes with William Hoffer

Long story short: Billy was arrested carrying four pounds of hash whilst trying to board a plane in Istanbul. He’s sentenced to 30 years, but it’s not long before he’s planning his escape.

Thoughts: This was strongly recommended to me by a friend, and let me tell you… it’s absolutely wild.

I have to start with a disclaimer that this will not be a book that everyone enjoys. It is graphic and, at times, shocking.

Anyway, review time! This is a seriously compelling memoir. Billy comes across as very genuine and honest. You can’t help but shake your head at his initial stupidity, but then you also can’t help root for him and his escape.

I couldn’t even begin to imagine myself in his position and at that age! There’s no way that I would have had the same outcome as him. Going to prison is bad enough, let alone in a country where you don’t speak the language! Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t put the book down. It was obvious that he successfully escapes but I needed to know HOW.

The curiousity just kept me turning the pages. I marvelled at the ingenuity of the prisoners for making do in such shambolic and inhumane conditions. This is why I’m so thankful for Billy’s brutal honesty. He even expresses disdain for some of the things he had to do; this really helped to humanise him and create that connection with the reader.

It’s not the best piece of literature that I’ve read. The writing style is a little jaded and inconsistent, but that’s ok as this is an individual with a story to tell. There’s no doubt that Billy not only tells his story effortlessly, but it also promises to stay with you. I do wish that there were further updates on the lives of Billy and his fellow inmates… but I guess that’s what google is for though?

I’ve heard that this is a film which I will definitely be watching at some point. I’ll be interested to see how closely it resembles the novel – apparently it does but there are a couple of major changes.

So I will say that I cannot recommend this enough. It’s a dangerously addictive read and one that will stay with you for a while!

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A Novel page rates this book 9/10

N.B.: I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.


Fix the System by Laura Bates

Long story short: Laura Bates explores the systemic sexism present in five key societal institutions: education, politics, media, policing and criminal justice.

Thoughts: Thank you so much @tandemcollectiveuk for sending me a copy of this and having me on the read-a-long!

I don’t think I even need to write this disclaimer, but this book will make you SO angry! It can get quite depressing when you realise how entrenched misogyny, sexism and abuse are in society today.

This is a thoroughly researched and excellently written book. I love the way in which Bates interwove facts with the experiences of individuals. I hadn’t heard of The Everyday Sexism Project until now, but it’s brilliantly devastating.

I genuinely think that this needs to be kept and taught in all schools/institutions of authority – why isn’t this compulsory reading? It’s engaging and very was easy to read.

Laura Bates comes across as an incredibly personable and formidable individual. The fact that the conversation doesn’t just stop at white women is hugely commendable. Bates uses her platform to recognise the privilege that she has and how society (and the justice system) rarely pay attention to violence again non-white females. This intersectionality is largely ignored in the widestream media so this was really needed.

Of course, this analysis isn’t just limited to women. There is a lot of discussion as to how men are also suffering harm from The System. Not only does Bates describe the problems, but she also offers solutions! It left a sense of optimism and hope in my mind – something I really needed after some of the chapters!

Ultimately, this is an extremely empowering book and one that I urge everyone to pick up and read!

A Novel page rates this book 9/10

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N.B.: I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.


Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Long story short: Marcos is a worker at a ’Special Meat’ factory. One day, he’s given a forbidden gift: a female specimen…

Thoughts: No joke, this was actually the most messed up book I have ever read. Hands down. I genuinely couldn’t not give it a 9 because no other book has ever made me feel this creeped out.

So I weirdly picked this for a holiday read because I genuinely thought that the ‘creepiness’ was overrated and overhyped. Oh, how I was wrong…Sorry Joe for the amount of times I said how f’d this novel was (which was after every page).

It’s graphic. The writing style is very cold, detatched and blunt, but this only added to the shock I experienced whilst reading this. It’s wrtten in the third person so, again, it’s disengaged. It’s only a short novel so you’re not too traumatised(ish).

It is weirdly addictive – I couldn’t stop reading it because I was fasinated. The ending? Absolutely wild. Wow.

It is worth noting that this is a translated piece of work. It’s not perfect, but it’s doesn’t detract from how powerful the novel actually is. Similarly, there are some parts which are left very vauge. There were a lot of quetions that I had at the close of the novel and it did get frustrating at times not knowing the WHY. But perhaps this was meant to mirror the confusion of the citizens?

You might not think it, but this is a very thought-provoking novel. I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, I am a meat-eater and it’s something that I’ve always said wouldn’t change. However, this novel really made me think about the meat industry and consumption. It is incredibly detailed (and graphic) but it serves its purpose.

The analysis of language was incredible. It made you think about ‘pork’ v pig, ‘beef’ v cow. It’s a very compelling and somewhat believable plot line.

Can I say that I loved this book, or is that weird? Whatever Bazterrica set out to achieve, she bloody well did. It’s not for everyone, but if you can stomach it, then I would highly recommend it.

A Novel page rates this book 9/10

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