Book Review: Blame, by Paul Read #BLAME #blogtour #bookreview

Publisher: Legend Press

Publication date:  15th April 2017

Following the opening scenes of a less than flawless dispersal of cremated ashes on top of a hill, Blame sees the rehabilitation of a life after laying ghosts to rest. Its stark triggers of regret, judgement and recognition generates both contempt and concern for the main character, as he revisits the misery of his childhood and fumbles his way through an indifferent period of grief.  

As a rational, intelligent pharmacist, Lucas Marr is familiar with dissecting data. Yet his usual analytical tactics are of no use when he learns that the father he hasn’t seen for ten years has passed away. He trades his current salvation from addiction to binge on precious moments that cannot be revived, as retakes are no longer permitted.

His father’s sudden departure attempts to lure Lucas into temptation. As his will-power strikes the delicate balance between giving in and giving up his gradual indecision feels intense and authentic. While Lucas revisits his past through a diary written by his outraged younger self, a boy who was caught in the crossfire without little explanation, he painfully overlooks an opportunity which diminishes his self-discipline further.

Events that coincide with significant dates in our recent traumatic history are written into the story. As the rest of the world continues to turn, Lucas escaped to the other side of it before he found what he was looking for. His struggles to make sense of earlier divisive instances compared with the incriminating present day recollections made me pause to think how we deceive our impressionable selves. As the circumstances surrounding his father’s death are clarified he has the opportunity to finally process his father’s behaviour and the reasons for it.

What I found particularly perceptive was the subtle evidence of caring from a distance. For instance, his father displays the photographs of both his children sitting side by side not only in different frames, but in periods of time: Lucas is forever a boy as there would be no opportunities to capture a new moment, while his younger brother Ryan has grown into an adult. Also Lucas’s diary was found among his father’s effects and contained the gradual decline of his blissful childhood contentment, the den he made with his neighbour, and the invader who trespassed on their friendship. I was a mere bystander and witnessing just how stealthily everything fell into oblivion was emotionally brutal.

Blame opens the door to the agony of life and invites its caustic and destructive challenges in. It’s so astutely written that have no hesitation in highly recommending it.

Rating:    5/5

(I received a copy of this title from the publishers and it is my pleasure to provide an unbiased review.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

‘Cleverly and astutely observed’ Eben Venter

‘Shocking and wickedly funny’ Neil Hegarty

‘A raw, startlingly honest novel about family, love and redemption’ Matthew Norman

‘At a time when high-quality contemporary literary fiction is rarer than ever, Paul Read’s novels are a much-needed tonic’ Matt Thorne

It is the summer of 1989 when Lucas witnesses an event that will tear his family apart. Over a decade later, his estranged father succumbs to a suspected heart attack.

Lucas shuns grief and escapes to New York with his colleague Mariana. However, a dark secret from his past threatens to re-emerge and destroy the burgeoning relationship before it has even begun.

When his father’s girlfriend fails to reappear after reporting his death, the true cause of his demise falls under scrutiny. And as the startling truth comes to light, Lucas must confront the fact that father and son may not have been so different after all.


(Courtesy of Amazon UK. Photograph courtesy of Publisher.)

After gaining a first in Fine Art at the Kent Institute of Art and Design at Canterbury, Paul Read found employment at Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road before becoming a teacher. He has taught at several inner city schools as an Art and English teacher, both in England and Italy, where he currently lives with his partner and two children. He received a distinction in creative writing for his MA at City University London.

The Art Teacher was published in 2016 by Legend Press.

His second novel, Blame, will be published in April 2017.






Book Review: The Art Teacher, by Paul Read #Legend100

Publisher:  Legend Press

Publication date:  1st September 2016

The Art Teacher - My Review

The Art Teacher - CoverThe Art Teacher is a portrayal of a blemished world where desperate youths are top of a dangerous food chain and the authorities are slowly losing their minds. Take every streetwise retort and sideways glare fuelled by troubled teenage tribes and simply accept that despite possessing a teaching degree, immense life experience, and your best efforts, you haven’t got a hope in hell of influencing their poor life choices.

An inoffensive Art Teacher wouldn’t normally orbit the infamous Braddock estate except he teaches the majority of the local kids who live at this unfortunate post code, infamous for its recruitment of youths into one of the territorial gangs – little did he know their worlds would soon collide.

Patrick might be paid to turn up every day and educate them on how to throw a pot to the best of their abilities and decorate it afterwards, but ironically all their interest lay in similar pursuits such as hurling clay bricks and daubing senseless graffiti tags all over the neighbourhood.

Yes, the cunning kids featured in The Art Teacher would seamlessly blend into a heckling pack of hyenas circling its prey. Their complacency in the classroom originates from dark, unpredictable motives and that’s the liberally greased slippery slope right there, as any problem behaviour is given a wide birth and their unbridled distain for authority is relatively unchallenged for fear of reprisal.

That is, until Patrick’s dignity is teetering on the verge of non-existent and he confronts one of his more troublesome students. The subject that day was Denis, self-appointed spawn of the devil by nature of his unruly actions. He uses the scar from his hair lip to his advantage to strike a menacing pose before he grunts something obnoxious at Patrick; wearing that scowl like a badge of honour he tallies invisible medals from the dishonourable deeds he’s been engaged in.

It was truly awful to witness Patrick’s downward spiral into oblivion as his spontaneous challenge only resulted in a larger target being placed on his back. While escape from the battle cries of the anonymous students who elected themselves judge and jury is nigh on impossible, retaliation festers behind their smirking jaws but it’s nothing like he (or I as a reader) could ever imagine.

On the flip side of the coin, in a place where hope isn’t snuffed out, Patrick attempts to side step the bad eggs to help one of his students pleading help. Frequent visits to the grim Braddock estate opens his eyes, yet naivety will be his downfall as he’s outsmarted at every turn. This brooding plot aims to turn Patrick into a social pariah, and the intimidation and taunting he suffers attracts the interest of the local police to his door when they are drafted in to investigate a major incident on the estate which will alter the course of his life forever.

The Art Teacher excelled beyond anything I was expecting. The steady and continual layering is most excellently done until the tension is as snap-worthy as Patrick’s patience threshold. There’s a razor sharp observation of everything that has been damaged sociologically within the blink of a generation. Despite the oppressive air of despondency smothering them all the writing is fresh, engaging, and slices through contemporary issues with ease.


(I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review, with my sincere thanks.)

Legend 100

The Art Teacher - Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

‘This is a superb debut… gritty, disturbing and pacy. It opens with thrilling intensity and never lets up.’ — Alex Lake, author of After Anna

Patrick Owen managed seven years at Highfields Secondary School without punching a pupil in the face.

Unknowingly drawn into a war against his own pupils, Patrick’s patience finally snaps as he finds himself the number one target with the boy the school just can’t seem to expel.

When one of his Art students needs his help, she unwittingly pulls Patrick further into the line of fire, altering their lives forever.

With the media circling and rumours of his involvement reaching new highs, Patrick must escape the world he lives in, or face the consequences.


The Art Teacher - Author Profile

(Courtesy of Goodreads. Photograph with permission of Legend Press.)

Paul Read Author Profile

After gaining a first in Fine Art at the Kent Institute of Art and Design at Canterbury, Paul Read moved to London, finding employment at Foyles bookshop before becoming a teacher. He has worked in several inner-city schools as an Art, English and supply teacher, both in England and Italy. He received a distinction from City University London for his creative writing MA.

A few years ago, Paul was involved in a hit-and-run incident which put him in a wheelchair for several months and was where he wrote the first draft of The Art Teacher. He lives with Patricia and their two children.