Book Review: The Stone in My Pocket

Mysterious goings-on are filtered through this coming of age novel with unique twists and turns.


“Why would I want to read about the paranormal when I was living it?”

Overview

In the dead of night, Nathan Love suddenly hears a strange voice in his garden, accompanied by a shadowed figure watching over him. Immediately, his world is tinted with a sense of strangeness, that he cannot quite work out. 

After a visit to his local bookshop, Nathan soon ends up with a Saturday job there and finds himself apart of a spiritual circle group, led by the owner of the bookshop, Iris.

Nathan hopes that in joining this group, he will be able to uncover the mystery of the shadowed figure he saw in this bedroom. All of this, he keeps from his parents. After all, his mother is a devout Catholic and his father has always turned a nose up to his strange stories. 

Through a mixture of messages, spirits and realisations, Nathan is led to believe that the shadowed figure was a reincarnation of his Grandfather who recently passed away, and Nathan believes that he is trying to convey a message to the family.

Strange goings-on, struggles at school and difficulties with making friends make the experience of adolescence one that is fraught with difficulties. Nathan is not close with his parents and finds solace in his job at the bookshop and the friendships made within the circle group. But sooner rather than later, the strangeness and questions in his life will be uncovered.

Please note, a copy of this book was kindly gifted to me by the author, in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author

Matthew Keeley is the author of two novels, A Stone in My Pocket being the most recent, due to Covid related delays, this is now due to be published in early 2021 by The Conrad Press. His debut novel, Turning the Hourglass, was published in 2019. 

Whilst being a full-time author and writer, Matthew also teaches English to secondary school pupils. He likes to write within the realms of speculative fiction, magic realism and literary fiction.

You can find out more information about Matthew and the expected release of A Stone in My Pocket, via his website.


My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

First and foremost, what I loved about this book was the immediate hook. The mysterious figure seen in Nathan’s garden is enough to keep anyone reading. 

Immediately the reader has all sorts of questions “who is the figure?” “what is it doing here?” “what does this mean for Nathan and his family?” are just a few that crossed my mind in the first few pages. Being gripping from the start is always a good thing, but the result of the story was told in such a fast-paced and well-structured manner, that the remainder of the novel was never a disappointment.

Due to the initial hook — the rest of the story is spent trying to explain the mysterious happenings that occurred in Nathan’s garden and what this could mean. Nathan, the protagonist, aims to finds answers to this by joining a spiritual circle, where he truly immerses himself in the medium world.

Everything about the story contains an element of strangeness, from the eerie small-town setting to the use of a protagonist who never quite fits in -  this is a coming of age novel with unique twists and turns.

Nathan spends a considerable amount of time working in the bookshop where he also attends his circle meetings, which naturally appealed to me, as someone who also loves bookshops. There’s something special about a novel that heavily features all things bookish. 

Image via Uplash

The range of characters presented and how they are woven throughout the story to unravel the mysterious goings-on is impressive. 

Nathan as the protagonist is naturally flawed and a confused adolescent who has never really fit in with his peers or family. He is trying to navigate through his life and struggles with school as his mind is preoccupied with solving the strange goings-on that happened outside his bedroom window. I valued his perspective, and it was nice to delve into the mindset of a quirky adolescent — for once.

Iris, the owner of the bookshop, is also a fabulously crafted character who symbolises the sense of strangeness carried throughout the book. She is presented as almost a mother or grandmother figure to Nathan, who finds himself more and more detached from his parents as he tries to keep his activities within the circle group a secret.

The premise is alluring, and the delivery was very sophisticated with the crafting of interesting characters and a suspenseful plot. It had an explosive ending, which I shall not reveal, but all of Nathan’s secrets are suddenly exposed to his parents and everything unravels before his eyes. 

I found the ending to be quite abrupt, which I was slightly disappointed with, given the suspense carried throughout the story. In this way, the story could have benefited from tying up some loose ends. 

Overall, I enjoyed this novel despite it not being a story I would not normally turn to. I am not a massive lover of the supernatural, especially in fiction, but I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and ended up enjoying it. I liked the characters, premise, setting and sense of unrelenting strangeness that filtered throughout the story.


A coming of age novel with a sense of eerie strangeness. For lovers of the supernatural, magic realism and character-driven stories — this is a brilliant read from start to finish.

Many thanks to the author, Matthew Keeley for providing me with a free copy of this book


Originally published on Medium in Write and Review, [insert date]

When Writing Goes Well It’s Great

It seems rather self explanatory, no?

I had a dry patch earlier on in the month and I couldn’t for the life of me stomach the courage to write. Well – write what I wanted to at least. This came at a time when I got my first batch of copywriting work on a freelance basis, and all my energy was going into that, so I guess it makes sense.

After having a terrible Sunday where I didn’t accomplish anything – today I’m back in the saddle and have written over 2,000 words AND done some more copywriting work. It’s funny how the days go, isn’t it? Sometimes you have a day where all you want to do is work, and then other’s, you don’t want to get out of bed. Well, that’s what I find anyway.

Two article’s I wrote on Medium were accepted into publications today and published too, which makes me happy. One of them is about my journey with reading and where it all started, and the other is about what writers can do when they have a day where they don’t feel like writing. Hey, maybe I should be taking some of my advice…


How I Became a Reader ~ The Personal Essayist

What Can You Do on a Non-writing Day? ~ Writer’s Blokke


Today has been a good day and reminded me of what I can achieve when I put my mind to it. I’ve had some meaningful conversations with other writers, done some exercise and felt positive overall. Additionally, I haven’t been lured in by the false promises of my phone and social media – which is always a plus.

Last week I took a whole week off social media, completely cold turkey, and it caused me to think about a lot of things. In that time away from it, I realised I wasn’t gaining anything from being on Instagram and following the lives of strangers, who I didn’t care about. So I deleted my account altogether, and now only have my writing one where I follow bookstagram accounts and read other reviews.

If social media is making you come away feeling more negative than before you went in, I’d recommend taking some time away to reflect on how it makes you feel when it’s not there. I’ll be writing an article about my experience shortly, so watch this space.

I guess it always feels good to start a new week off on a positive note. I hope everyone has had a good day and achieved all they wanted to. And if they didn’t, then that’s okay too. Tomorrow is a new day.

Goodnight,

Violet ✨


Do tell me if you like these journal style blog posts, I love writing them (and reading other people’s) so let me know what you think.

A Change of Direction

Long time no see! It has been a while since I’ve been posting on this blog regularly, so I thought I should get around to addressing the elephant in the room.

I started this blog a long time ago but committed myself to post on here regularly at the start of the year. This blog has offered me a lot of comfort and a way to express myself in a period of my life which has been fraught with a lot of uncertainty. Graduating in 2020, and then being hit by a global pandemic was not on the list of things I thought would happen this year, but there you go, it just goes to show we never know what’s around the corner.

I like to think I’ve grown a lot since starting this blog. I like to think that I have gotten better at writing, talking about books and of course, reading and expanding my horizons. I hope in some way I’ve managed to inspire someone to pick up a book after they’ve read one of my reviews.

During the pandemic and being out of work for 7 months, writing and reading have been my lifeline. It has been my source of distraction, escapism and labor of love during this rollercoaster period. Although I’m 23 and have nearly been a graduate for a year, I haven’t moved forwards much, and although I can’t blame the pandemic alone, it’s taken a significant toll on the kind of direction I see myself in.

Like many, I’m starting to question whether I want the big career that everyone always chases after. In recent months, I’ve preferred the idea of living a quiet life and having just enough money and savings to live comfortably and at ease.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, and feel the pressure mounting everyday. I’m 23, and still haven’t ever had a “proper job” and sometimes it can be hard to see how I’m adding to the world in a positive way – which is something I’ve always wanted to do.

All I know is that I love writing and hope that one day it can be good enough to make me a living and make an impact on someone’s life. Maybe that’s selfish and a bit pig-headed, I don’t know. But all I do know is that I love both reading and writing and hope that one day I can spend the rest of my life doing these things. What’s the point in spending a minute of your life not doing something you love?

I’ve been quiet on this blog as I’ve been swept into the minefield that is Medium. Before I started writing on there, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know if my writing would get drowned out by the sheer range of amazing writers there, or if I could get more noticed than I do over here. I will stress that writing for me isn’t solely about getting noticed, but it’s nice to make an impact and be recognized for my work.

The brunt of it is, as each day passes I am growing more fond of Medium and seeing far more benefits. Not to say this doesn’t happen on WordPress from time to time, but the community of writers over there are incredibly supportive and some of the friendliest strangers I’ve ever come across. The wealth of publications and the standard of writing never fails to amaze me, and I generally feel kind of honoured to be part of it as I use it to explore and experiment into what kind of writer I want to be. In that respects, this blog is going to take a backseat now.

The reality of it is, I find Medium is easier to write on, and in two months I nearly have three times the audience over there than I do on here. I’m less into the blogging style of writing and that’s why I am attracted to the simplicity of Medium. I feel like it prioritizes the quality of writing over anything else – which appeals to me.

In many ways, this blog was the start of everything. When I felt truly alone and hopeless in my first year of university, I turned to this blog for the first time and wrote about how I felt. It was the first time I had been so honest online about my feelings and it paved the way for growing my confidence. Looking back, I like to think that I now write with greater eloquence, wit and appeal – but who knows!

This blog has also given me a lot of opportunities in recent months, as I’ve been approached by small publishers and authors to review and read books, which I never thought would happen! I’m so grateful for everyone who has ever reached out to me and feel truly humbled that I can play a small part in spreading the word for some wonderful books. I’m taking a small break from that at the moment, but I’ll be accepting review requests again soon.

In other words – from now on, I’m primarily going to be publishing over on Medium.

However, that doesn’t mean this blog is going to be deleted or that I won’t be active on here from time to time. I plan to use this platform primarily as a portfolio and a place to direct people to when looking for work, but I will still be posting book reviews. The WordPress and Medium community are very different, but I can find value in both, which is why I’m going to remain using them both.

If you are a Medium user, you can find my profile here and I’ve also started a publication over there with the same name as this blog, The Violet Review, if you would like to follow that too.

So, expect to see less content over here, as I focus more of my attention on Medium. That’s not to say I won’t be posting, but it will probably be more personal things, rants and ramblings, sandwiched between book reviews and the like.

Thank you to everyone who has followed, liked or commented on my blog posts – it means a lot to me and continues to do so. This isn’t a goodbye, but just to update you on some changes I’m making as to the direction of my writing.

Happy reading!

Violet

Sunday Post #6

In this weekly wind up, I recap what I’ve published during the week and share with you what I’m currently reading. I hope you’ve all had a great week, and continue to stay safe in these challenging times.


I’m going to be honest – I am struggling to write and I’ve been feeling like this for quite a few days. I have so many ideas for things, but when it comes down to sitting and writing, I lack the motivation and will to string words together.

This weekend I’ve been feeling very low in general, and I think that’s partly to do with my hormones and everything that goes with that – so I’m not going to be too harsh on myself, but I am disappointed as I wanted to get lots of writing done this weekend. I wouldn’t mind usually but I’ve been commissioned a lot of copywriting work to do next week which is going to take up most of my time, so I’d hoped to get some posts written that I could publish. It hasn’t happened – but I guess it’s not the end of the world.

I’ve haven’t even felt like reading these past few weeks – which is very unlike me. Every time I pick up a book I find it hard to concentrate and get absorbed in the story. As a result, I’m still reading the same book I was about three weeks ago when I updated you. It feels like a bit of a failure, but we can’t be perfect all of the time. I’m hoping I’ll get my reading mojo back soon.

The seasons have well and truly changed and we’ve had constant rain for just over a week. The leaves are beginning to fall and the nights are drawing in. I do love Autumn but this year it’s filling me with a lot of anxiety due to the uncertainty that remains. October is the last month of the furlough scheme, and after that, I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s only a few weeks to go and yet I still don’t know what’s happening with my job. The virus is picking up rapidly, and we had over 12,000 reported cases yesterday – and it feels like it’s going to be a very bleak winter. But I’m trying to stay positive – as always, and continue to write.

This is a bit rambly to read but quite cathartic to write, I hope you don’t mind!


What’s Been Published (2 week round-up)

Book Review: Such a Fun Age

Time is All We Have: Reflections on Grief, Loss, and Living Peach Street Magazine

Is Reading Productive? Medium, An Idea

An Essential Read: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Medium, Curious

5 Reasons Why You Should Read “Such a Fun Age” (Can you tell I really liked this book?) Medium, Books Are Our Superpower


So, October was a big milestone for me in terms of writing as I made over £100 on Medium, which was up from £0.95 from my first month. I’m writing for me and because I love it, but it’s amazing to be getting recognized for my efforts and I’m starting to feel like I’m building up an audience over there. I think Medium is a fairer platform for writer’s and eventually, I’ll publish solely on there, but this blog will always be here for reviews and everything else.

As I said, I’m still reading the same books I was in my last update so I won’t repeat myself and tell you again. As always, you can always follow me over on Goodreads to stay up to date.

I’ve got a few things in the pipeline that should be published soon – including a piece for Black History month and a lifestyle piece exploring adult acne. I’m hoping that next week is going to be more positive and I can get out of this slumber!


Happy reading and keep staying safe!

Sunday post #1 A busy writing week

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

This week I’ve gotten back into the flow of writing. I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the writing process and have since learned the importance of making writing into a habit. It may seem like an obvious thing, but to me, I used to think I should only write if I felt inspired – but I realised I could be waiting around for ages and that may never happen.

Every day this week I have been getting up slightly earlier and writing first thing – I was surprised how quickly the words have been flowing and how addictive it has been. Before doing this I was always worried this approach could potentially make writing a bit of a chore – but I think I’ve fallen even more in love with it. I’ve been writing mostly over on Medium, where you are all welcome to follow me there too. I have been exploring the platform and do like the element of simplicity it gives.

The week-long heatwave in the UK finally broke, which meant I naturally felt more like doing things. We’ve been having lots of rain and the air generally feels a lot fresher. I also went back to the gym for the first time in 5 months and was pleasantly surprised at how safe I felt. I closely monitor the number of Covid cases in my area and as soon as that goes up – I will adjust my habits, but for now, it’s been over a week without any new cases.

This Week on the blog

Book Review: Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

A Fascinating Edition to a Nostalgic Series: Midnight Sun (review)

8 Thoughts from Reading the Little Friend, by Donna Tartt (review)

This Week elsewhere

5 Things I’ve Learnt Since Having The Coil

5 Reasons Why Twilight Isn’t as Bad as You Thought

How to Read 5 Books a Month

Is Freedom Always a Force for Good?

Three Ways to Get Books for Free

Currently reading

How I learned to Hate in Ohio

David Stuart MacLean

I am about mid-way through this book and already am completely hooked. It’s an e-ARC which is due to be published this October. It follows the life of Barry Nadler as he starts his freshman year of high school. It narrates his dysfunctional family life and his attempt to be as invisible as possible.

Containing undertones of the difficulties of race and xenophobia within rural Ohio, it provides a social commentary on Barry’s small, but growing world. It is startlingly comic but a deeply revealing narrative about the seeds of middle-class grievances and the shaping of modern American political consensus.

Posts in the pipeline…?

There will be a review soon of the above book – possibly next week. I’ll be writing more over on Medium as well if you’d like to follow me there. I’m currently preparing to write a few other pieces published elsewhere – one on Kamala Harris and the other on the importance of intersectional feminism, so look out for those, which will be on my socials.

For this blog, I’m also thinking about doing a small book haul, as I recently treated myself to some new books. Well, second hand, but new books if you get what I mean. I’ve never written one of those though, so I’m unsure of where to start!

Image: Andrew Neel via Uplash

Favourite articles read this week

Mini-Reviews | An American Marriage & The Mothers ~ @ Gil Reads Books. I was very happy to see the return of Gil’s book reviews, I love reading her reviews as she writes so eloquently, and also tends to read the same kind of books as me!

Mini Review, Midnight Sun ~ @ Dee’s Reading Tree. Having also recently finished Midnight Sun, I was glad to hear that Dee felt the same kind of nostalgia as I did. I found being inside Edward’s mind and seeing another version of the story very interesting too.

It’s too hot ~ @ really (not a runner) England has been going through a heatwave and by the second or third consecutive day, I was very sick of it too. I very much empathized with this post, running in the heat is a nightmare, I just avoided it all together!

Book Review: Such a Fun Age ~ @ Books and Bakes Having just ordered this, I found this review very useful and it was incredibly well written and made me excited to read the book.

The 5 States that Will Decide the Election ~ @ Dave Fymbo. I’m getting a bit obsessive over following the US election, and I found this post really useful. I find US politics a mind field at the best of times, but this was very explanatory.

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Writing ~ @ Matt Lillywhite. This was the post that made me realise I need to write every day, so I am eternally grateful to Matt for writing this! I’d encourage every budding writer to have a read, I found it very motivational.

Have a great week everybody!

Please noteI was not paid for any of the reviews mentioned, all opinions are my own. However, if you are interested in buying the books via Amazon, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link on the titles mentioned, you would be helping a newbie writer out! I will receive a small fee from Amazon, but it won’t affect the price of your book.