Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

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This year, Emmie can’t wait to share her favourite Christmas traditions with her boyfriend, Grant. So when his hectic work schedule has him more ‘bah humbug’ than ‘ho, ho, ho,’ Emmie creates a holiday-themed scavenger hunt to help him find his festive spirit.

But Emmie’s plan for a romantic mountaintop rendezvous backfires when a mix-up has the wrong guy showing up at Christmas Point. Sam, a bestselling mystery writer, thinks Emmie’s clever clues are from his agent, to help him get over his epic writer’s block. When the two come face-to-face, Emmie sees Sam only as the wrong guy, but Sam, intrigued by Emmie, decides to stay, hoping the small, enchanting town will help inspire a new book idea.

When Grant keeps getting delayed by work, he tells Emmie to start doing the special Christmas activities she planned without him. Emmie is disappointed, until Sam joins her and she starts wondering if the wrong guy is really Mr. Right.

With Christmas coming fast, Emmie will need the magic of the season to help steer her heart in the direction of true love . . .

 

I read Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler last year and really enjoyed it so I was delighted to discover a new book Finding Christmas this year and I loved it even more!

After reading a mixed bag of Christmas novels so far this year I’m delighted to say that Finding Christmas is jam-packed with Christmas!

Emmie is known as Miss Christmas as she absolutely loves the season. She starts her preparations early and she can’t resist adding more and more to her festive decor as Christmas draws near. Her boyfriend Grant is a workaholic though and he doesn’t really get Emmie’s love of Christmas. She decides to arrange a romantic Christmas break for them and she invites him along by setting up a scavenger hunt. Then there’s Sam, a mystery writer, who also loves Christmas but he’s struggling with writer’s block this year. So when his agent promises to help him and he gets given the first clue in a scavenger hunt he happily follows along!

Once Emmie is aware of the mix-up she gets hold of Grant and he promises to join her the next day but he keeps getting delayed by work. Sam is so embarrassed that he’s accidentally ended up in Christmas Point but he’s determined to enjoy it. So Sam and Emmie do some of the activities on Emmie’s list and they find that they have a lot in common!

Christmas Point is the ultimate festive town – there is snow and Christmas trees, hot chocolate and gingerbread. The Inn where Emmie stays is so well-described that I could completely envisage it all, it feels like somewhere I’ve been to. And I adored getting to know Dasher the dog, he was my favourite character in the book!

I really liked the way the characters in this book honoured their lost loved ones in the run up to Christmas. I know in my own life that I have things that I do each year in honour of my late mum. The scene in Finding Christmas with the snowmen brought tears to my eyes, it was so lovely.

My only slight criticism is that I didn’t like the promotion of Schaler’s other work towards the end of the novel, it took me out of the story somewhat. If I ignore that tiny element then I can honestly say that this book is a perfect read for anyone who wants a festive read that is truly all about Christmas. It really got me in the festive spirit and I adored it. Finding Christmas is Christmas personified and I very much enjoyed it. If you want a Christmas book that is full of festive spirit then this is the book for you! I recommend this one!

Finding Christmas is out now and available here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Poetry for Christmas by Orna Ross | @ornaross @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Poetry for Christmas Front Cover

About the Book

This poetry book makes a perfect holiday gift or stocking filler.

Whether you’re marking the Christian Christmas, the Chinese Dongzhi, the Jewish Hannukah, the Hindi Makaraa Sankrānti, the Irish Meán Geimhridh, or any other mid-winter festival, the hibernal solstice is a celebration of rebirth and renewal.The ever-present potential for beginning anew, as signified by the return of light, is the theme of this chapbook. In it, you’ll find a poem for each of the twelve days of this season when the days start to get longer again, that will encourage you to rejoice, reflect and recharge.

Reconnect with the wonder of the world through the powerful pleasure of inspirational poetry.

 

My Thoughts

Poetry for Christmas is a wonderful collection of poems that is perfect for reading in winter. It celebrates the joys and reflects on the darker days in this season; it’s a lovely reminder that spring and renewal is just around the corner. It’s a book that gives you time to pause and relax in the busyness of the season.

Poetry for Christmas is set out in four sections: Rebirth, Renew, Reconnect, and Rejoice. I read through this collection all in one go as I like to get a sense of a poetry collection as a whole but then I went back and read each section in turn at different times to give myself a chance to really appreciate them and I’m so glad I did this.

I loved the opening poem Soaring as it perfectly encapsulates how the run-up to Christmas makes us all feel – the rushing around trying to get things done in the damp, dark days but it’s the reminder that the light will come again. There is a joy in seeing the Christmas lights and taking a moment to appreciate them but it’s also about the fact that the light of spring is just around the corner.

The poem that most affected me was Raindrop Spray. It’s about seeing things through the viewpoint of a loved one who is no longer here. I know that since my mum died that I make sure to take time for honouring her at this time of year because she loved Christmas and it’s not the same without her. Raindrop Spray spoke to that feeling for me, the way we can still see things as they saw them and in those moments it’s like they’re still here.

I also loved Christmas Rain and the way it shows how it helps to see things in a different light if you can. The seemingly never-ending grey rain, the endless consumerism of Christmas… but then the joy of the smell of the Christmas tree, and the rain that perhaps holds the promise of snow. This poem captures a lot of how we feel at this time of year and it leaves you with hope. A wonderful way to end a gorgeous collection of poetry.

I very much enjoyed Poetry for Christmas, and I think it is a book I will revisit. It’s a wonderful collection for everyone, it speaks to what this season is like and when I turned the final page I felt solace and calm and hopeful. This book would make a wonderful Christmas gift for a loved one, or a lovely treat for yourself. I highly recommend this one!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and my invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Poetry for Christmas is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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ORNA ROSS is an award-winning writer, an advocate for independent authors and other creative entrepreneurs, and “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” [The Bookseller]. She writes novels, poems and nonfiction guides for creatives, and is Founder-Director of two popular online communities, the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and The Creativist Club. She lives in London and writes, publishes and teaches around the globe. When not writing, you’ll probably find her reading.

Website : http://www.ornaross.com/

Twitter : @ornaross

Author Page on Facebook

Instagram @ornaross

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Poetry For Christmas BT Poster

It’s a Secret-Santa-off today as I review Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo and The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux!

Today I’m sharing mini reviews in the battle of the secret santas!

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The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

I love reading festive books in December and it’s always nice to mix up the romance with the crime fiction to keep it interesting! The Secret Santa is about secrets and murder in Aspen in the run up to Christmas! Real estate agent Claudine decides to combine the office secret santa with showing off a fabulous house to a pop star who is a potential buyer. It seems this house has a lot of history and someone in this group knows more than they’re letting on. I do love stories where a group of people come together and you know the past is going to catch up with them so this book was right up my street. I loved the snowy Aspen location and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. The secret santa game is done in such a way that it’s intense and people are clearly on edge as the gift giving goes along. The only thing for me was that I didn’t think the reader really had a chance at solving the whole mystery, it all felt a little out of nowhere but having said that there are more than one elements to the secret and the other reveals were brilliant. I enjoyed this book and will definitely look out for more by this author.

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Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo

This book is set in a secondary school and follows Angel Green as she’s revising hard for her scholarship exam and also gets involved in organising the school Christmas fundraiser with her estranged friend Caspar. This school also has an annual secret santa so throughout the month of December everyone receives gifts from a person chosen at random. Angel’s gifts seem really quite meaningful and she’s incredibly curious about who might be behind them. As Angel and Caspar work together on the fundraiser they begin to remember how much fun they had together as children and wonder if they could be friends again but Caspar is flaky and often leaves Angel to deal with the fundraiser at the last minute. She is frustrated by this and can’t work out what is going on with him. I enjoyed this book, it’s an incredibly sweet YA novel set in the run up to Christmas. It reminded me of being a teen and the way you would have no idea if someone likes you or not, and you’re too scared to try and find out. It’s a nostalgic read and I’m really glad I read it.

When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell | @emmamitchellfpr @BakerPromo #WhenStarsWillShine

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About the Book

When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for When Stars Will Shine compiled by Emma Mitchell. This is a short story collection from a wide range of authors and it’s such a brilliant read. All the proceeds from this book go to Help for Heroes.

I don’t read a lot of short story collections because I tend to find the stories get blurred together in my mind but When Stars Will Shine is packed with such excellent stories that they’ve genuinely all remained distinct in my mind. There is such a variety in the type of stories and that made this such an exciting collection to read, there really is something for everyone in this book.

The collection opens with a beautiful and poignant poem by 11 year old Megan Steer which sets the bar really high and every single story lives up to it. There are stories about redemption, about loss, about family and love. There are twists and surprises galore, it’s such a brilliant collection!

I can’t really pick a favourite story as I genuinely enjoyed them all but I will mention some of them briefly here:

The opening story is Frederick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman is such a poignant and moving story. Likewise, Malcom Hollingdrake’s Died of Wounds is stunning and a real tear-jerker. I find stories from either of the World Wars heartbreaking – my lovely Nan lost her father in WW1 and her husband went missing presumed dead fighting in WW2. These two stories just got me in the gut and made me cry but it really does give you a sense of the loss and pain of the war but also a sense of hope that comes in the aftermath and in the generations that follow.

Believe by Mark Brownless is a really clever story. It begins as something that feels lovely and heart-warming and by the end my head was spinning. I love a story that can completely catch me off guard and this one certainly did that!

Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell is one of those perfect stories to read on a dark, cold night in the run up to Christmas, it had me gripped and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end. Excellent story!

Stewart Giles’ Free Time is such a well-written story. He has created a story that is so believable and scary to begin with and then it become even more horrifying as it goes along. I can’t stop thinking about this story and I now need to read more by this author!

I’m a huge fan of Louise Jensen‘s novels so was delighted to find a short story by her in this collection. Her story The Christmas Killer is brilliant! It appears to be a story about a lonely older man struggling to get through the festive period but it takes an unexpectedly dark turn!

Billy McLoughlin’s The Invitation is a gorgeous story about forgiveness, about finding people you’ve lost along the way and being able to move on from the past. This is a lovely story to read at this time of year and it’s one that is really staying with me.

Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli is such a heart-warming story, I adored this one. It shows how a small act of kindness can make a much bigger difference in life than you ever might imagine. A wonderful story for Christmas!

Jane Risdon’s Penance had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. This is a creepy, sad story that I was gripped by. I had no idea where it was going or how it was going to end. I loved it!

The collection ends with Family Time by Graham Smith and this story was brilliant! It’s one of those stories where you’re not quite sure where it’s going, it feels a little sinister as if violence is just around the corner but nothing is quite as it seems. I felt emotional by the end. An excellent story for this time of year.

When Stars Will Shine is a phenomenal collection of short stories that also serves as a fabulous taster menu for discovering new authors. My wish list is now huge with books by all the authors in this collection as every single story is so good that I now want to read more by each and every one of them. I highly recommend this book, it’s one I know I’ll re-read in the years to come and it’s one I think everyone will enjoy!

 

Here is the full contents page for the book:

Fredrick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman

Four Seasons by Robert Scragg

The Close Encounter by Gordon Bickerstaff

Believe by Mark Brownless

What Can Possibly Go Wrong? by Lucy Cameron

Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell

The Art of War and Peace by John Carson

A Gift for Christmas by Kris Egleton

Free Time by Stewart Giles

Died of Wounds by Malcolm Hollingdrake

The Christmas Killer by Louise Jensen

The Village Hotel by Alex Kane

A Present of Presence by HR Kemp

The Invitation by Billy McLaughlin

Brothers Forever by Paul Moore

Girl in a Red Shirt by Owen Mullen

Pivotal Moments by Anna Franklin Osborne

Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli

Time for a Barbeque by Carmen Radtke

Christmas Present by Lexi Rees

Inside Out by KA Richardson

Penance by Jane Risdon

New Year’s Resolution by Robert Scragg

Family Time by Graham Smith

 

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for my copy of this book and the invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

 

When Stars Will Shine is out now in paperback and ebook and is available here.

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Blog Tour Week One NEW

Blog Tour Week Two NEW

WWW Wednesdays (11 Dec 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl

I bought this on kindle and then I spotted I could also get the audio book from Audible for £2.99 so I have both versions and am switching between the two. I’m enjoying this book but so far there’s no Christmas so I’m hoping there is some festive stuff soon.

Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

This book is FULL of Christmas and I am loving it! It’s exactly what I want in a festive book and it’s really making me feel Christmassy.

Last Christmas by Emma Thompson & Greg Wise

I’m really enjoying dipping in and out of this book and reading about how other people spend Christmas. It’s making me think, and it’s also making me feel nostalgic. It’s a great collection so far.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

This book got put to one side last week but I picked it back up yesterday and am gripped so I expect to finish this one very soon.

 

What I recently finished reading:

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was first published so I’m glad to have finally got to it. I enjoyed this one, it’s set at Christmas which I appreciated and has family dramas galore. It didn’t make me feel quite as festive as I’d hoped but I did really enjoy it.

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

I borrowed the audiobook of this from BorrowBox and really enjoyed listening to it. It was my first Sarah Morgan book but it definitely won’t be the last!

Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo

This is a really sweet YA book set in the run-up to Christmas. I found this cute and it made me remember what it was like to be a teenager.

Pushing Her Luck by B. R. Maycock

I read this book over the weekend and it was exactly what I needed. I got swept up in Holly’s life and it was fab escapism. I reviewed this yesterday so you can find my full thoughts here.

When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell

This is a brilliant collection of short stories by different authors and I loved it. I’ll be reviewing it tomorrow for the blog tour so please look out for my post then.

Coming Home for Christmas by Jenny Hale

I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of this author’s previous Christmas novels Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses, and It Started With Christmas so I was looking forward to this one. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t as Christmassy and romantic as I’d hoped it would be.

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I am so happy that I picked up this audio book as it’s a return to form for the Shopaholic series and I loved this. It was so fun and festive and Becky is as hilarious as ever! I recommend it!

 

What I plan on reading next:

Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle & Maureen Johnson

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a couple of years and am determined to get to it this week so that I can watch the new Netflix film of it!

The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch by Tom Fletcher

I read and loved The Christmasaurus last year so I couldn’t resist buying the sequel this year and I can’t wait to read it!

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Pushing Her Luck by B. R. Maycock | @BRMaycock

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About the Book

Holly Caulfield has won the Irish National Lottery and sets in motion a plan to save the village of Abbeyglen. But who would have thought that giving money away could be so difficult?

With a resident’s association that’s clamouring for more and more money, an old lady who’s decided that a dream cruise is in her grasp and a couple who may not want that dream wedding after all, Holly’s finding it hard to keep it together!

With a new love interest and an ex-husband hot on her heels, it’s up to Holly to figure out what can truly make her happy.

 

My Thoughts

I read and loved Snowday by B. R. Maycock last year so I was delighted to discover has has a new book out. I’m so happy to say that Pushing Her Luck more than lived up to my hopes for it!

Pushing Her Luck is set in a very small town called Abbeyglen and follows Holly. She works in the local shop so knows all the hopes and dreams of the locals. So when she wins the lottery she immediately decides to help out the people of her town. Unfortunately people don’t always do what you think they will and the locals who are given money have other ideas of what to spend it on!

Holly is such a big-hearted woman who really cares about people so when she wins the lottery she immediately thinks of all the good she can do with the money for the people in her town. She doesn’t think of herself for a second – her mind goes to the couple who haven’t been able to afford to get married, the woman who needs a new roof, the single mother who needs a home.

Holly enlists a financial advisor to help her with her quest to make people happy and there we meet John. He gets involved in keeping track of Holly’s spending and he gets to dish out the money to the lucky recipients as Holly wants to remain anonymous. Things start to get awkward when John realises that people aren’t spending the money on the things they were supposed to! Also, there is a slight complication as Holly is separated from her husband but not yet divorced, and she has a distant relationship with her parents. Life doesn’t run quite as smoothly as you might imagine after a huge lottery win!

Pushing Her Luck is a really wonderful novel. It looks at what it is to be a lottery winner and the way we all have dreams of what we’d do if we won but things don’t always work out the way you hope. Sometimes things have to go a bit awry in order for us to find out what we really wanted and needed in our lives and this novel is Holly’s journey to that place.

I completely and utterly fell in love with this novel and I can’t wait to read the sequel next year. I want to know what happens after the end of Pushing Her Luck and I really hope Holly has all of her wishes come true! She definitely won the biggest and best prize in this novel (and it’s not necessarily the lottery win!).

If you’re looking for a gorgeous feel-good read then look no further than Pushing Her Luck, I can’t recommend it highly enough! It’s out now as an ebook and it would make a wonderful gift to send to a loved one’s kindle this Christmas!

I received a copy of this book from the author. All thoughts are my own.

Pushing Her Luck is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Brmaycock

When B R Maycock (Berni to all you lovely people!)isn’t dreaming up vibrant leads for romantic comedies, she’s ingesting books for her blog (https://brmaycock.wordpress.com/), in particular chick lit (her first love!) books, romantic comedies and thrillers. She can also be found playing footie or watching Marvel, DC or Star Wars movies and cartoons in Co. Westmeath, Ireland with her brilliantly out there husband, Keith, and their four epic little men.

Her debut ‘It Started With A Snub’ and Christmas romantic comedy ‘Snowday’ are available now on Amazon, as is Pushing Her Luck, the first of a series about AbbeyGlen Village, whose luck is about to change …

She has one goal and that’s simply to make readers smile and/ or laugh (a splutter rates highest;)).

Connect with Bernadette 

BRMaycock’s book Blog  

Alice Teale is Missing by H. A. Linskey

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About the Book

As usual, seventeen-year-old Alice Teale walked out of school at the end of a bright spring day.

Except she’s not been seen since.

Alice was popular and well-liked, and her boyfriend, friends and family are desperate to find her.

But when the police start asking questions, it becomes clear that almost everyone has something to hide.

Detectives Beth Winter and Lucas Black don’t know which way to turn – but then they receive a disturbing package.

Pages from Alice’s precious diary.

Who could have sent them? And what have they done with Alice?

 

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was approved to read Alice Teale is Missing on NetGalley and I’m so pleased to say that it more than lived up to my expectations!

Alice Teale is Missing is a novel that looks at the disappearance of teenager Alice – she is seen leaving school one afternoon but then is never seen again. Her disappearance is being investigated by detectives Lucas Black and Beth Winter, and interspersed with chapters following the investigation we get to read snippets of Alice’s diary.

I loved how this story was told – it was great to see who Alice was and how she was feeling in the period leading up to her disappearance. It made her feel like a real person and I felt really invested in whether she would be found.

I also adored Black and Winter together, they made for such an interesting team and I loved the way they were new to working together and so sizing each other up whilst also working on the investigation. Black is the more senior detective and Winter respects that but she’s also not afraid to put forward her views. I’m really hoping that this book is the first in a series and that we might get another book with Black and Winter because they are my new favourite detective duo.

The investigation into Alice’s disappearance grows increasingly complex as Black and Winter interview witnesses and potential suspects. There are some unsavoury people connected to the school and you don’t know if this is a lead or if it’s a red herring.

I devoured Alice Teale is Missing in one sitting as I was so engrossed in the novel, and the writing is brilliant. I simply had to know what had happened to Alice and where she was. I will definitely be looking for more books by this author, and I highly recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Alice Teale is Missing is out now in ebook format and available here. You can also pre-order the paperback at the same link.

Book Reviews: Do Not Feed the Bear | Body Tourists | Snowglobe | All the Water in the World

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Today I’m sharing a selection of mini book reviews of books that I’ve read and loved recently!

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Do Not Feed the Bear by Rachel Elliott

This book was sent to me by the publisher and it was a total surprise but I am so glad I got this book. Do Not Feed The Bear is a quirky, moving and brilliant novel that follows free-runner Sydney. She never feels like she can be still in life ever since something awful happened in her family the summer she was ten. This is a novel that really shows what grief is like, what feeling like you don’t belong is like but also what it is to find people who love you. I cried quite a bit when I read this book but I also smiled a lot and when I turned the final page my takeaway feeling was solace. This is a stunning book and one that has stolen a piece of my heart. I adore it and I highly recommend it!

 

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Body Tourists by Jane Rogers

This is not my usual kind of read but I spotted it on SJHigbee’s blog and her post made me want to read it and I’m so glad I did. This is set in a future where a private clinic has pioneered a medical technique that enables people to be brought back to life by having their memory bank transferred into young people’s bodies for fourteen days at a time. It’s a chance for people to put things right, to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones. The story is told from multiple viewpoints – the people who are brought back, the people who agree to give up their body for a time and the people running the clinic. There is so much in this novel, it’s so moving to think of having the chance to spend time with a loved one again and to have one more conversation so that really got to me. The novel is also so much about the ethics of paying people to sacrifice their own body for two weeks, the secrecy surrounding what actually happens and the way the truth is buried if anything goes wrong. It really is such a thought-provoking novel and it’s one that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. I recommend this one, and if you’re not sure it’s your type of book I urge you to give it a try.

 

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All the Water in the World by Karen Raney

This is a really moving novel told from dual perspectives – Maddy who is sixteen and has cancer, and her mum Eve. We hear from both of them in alternating chapters and it really is an exploration of coming to terms with loss and of trying to connect when things are going wrong. I really enjoyed that it fully explored both perspectives not just from the point of view of them as mother and daughter but also who they are as people. There is real honesty in this book and these two characters felt so real to me. This book really got me in the gut for so many reasons and it’s one that I keep finding myself thinking about. It’s tender, honest and stunning – I definitely recommend this book.

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Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

This is a gorgeous middle grade novel that follows 12 year old Clementine. Her mum disappeared when she was younger and now it’s just her and her dad. She one day finds a house and inside it’s full of snowglobes and people seem to be trapped inside them. This leads to Clem making huge discoveries about her lost mum, and herself. I don’t normally read fantasy but this is a lovely magical novel that I know I would have loved as a child. It’s a beautiful read that I’d recommend to everyone, it’s a perfect winter read to curl up with!

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (7 Dec 2019)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

Books and eBooks

Parkland by Dave Cullen

I read Columbine by this author when it came out a few years ago and it was so well-written and researched so I’ve been keen to read this book about the Parkland shootings and how the students reacted afterwards. I’ll definitely be picking this one up early in the new year.

A Faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg

This has been on my wish list for a while and I decided to treat myself this week. It’s a novel but it’s based on the real life attempted assassination of Andy Warhol and follows the female perpetrator of the crime. It sounds fascinating and I’m keen to get to this one.

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

I can’t believe that not only have I not read this but I also seem to have lost my copy so this is a new purchase as I really want to read this one soon.

25 Days ‘Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander

This was an impulse buy after I read a couple of fab reviews and it was a bargain at 99p on kindle this week. I can’t resist a Christmas novel (although I already have more than I can read between now and Christmas! Oops!)

Lanny by Max Porter

Grief is the Thing with Feathers is one of the first books I got for review after I started my blog and it’s a book that has really stayed with me so I was keen to get a copy of Lanny. I bought it this week and I think I need to be in the right mood to read this one but I am looking forward to it.

 

Audiobooks

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I’ve been so keen to read this as I love a Christmas book but I’ve found the more recent Shopaholic books not as good as the early ones. Anyway, I had a credit on Audible and I decided to download the audio book. I’ve already starting listening to this and it’s already made me laugh so this is definitely a return to form for this series and I’m so happy about that!

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

I’ve read Peter Pan numerous times over the years but I spotted that Audible have this free for members for Christmas so I couldn’t resist downloading it. I’ve never listened to it on audio before so I’m looking forward to experiencing it in a different format.

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew by Milly Johnson

I really enjoy Milly Johnson’s novels on audio so when I saw this on a daily deal on Audible this week I snapped it up. I’m saving this for when I need a cosy, comfort read.

Everybody Died So I Got a Dog by Emily Dean

I’d never heard of this book before but when I saw it in the recent Audible sale and read the blurb it called to me. I’m drawn to books about grief and recovery so I think I’ll really connect to this and I’m looking forward to listening to this one.

 

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Poetry for Christmas by Orna Ross

I’ve been really looking forward to reading this collection ever since I was offered a spot on the blog tour so I’m delighted to have a copy and I’ll be reading this one very soon.

What She Saw Last Night by M. J. Cross

I’ve seen some fab reviews of this book on the blog tour so I requested it on NetGalley and I got approved yesterday so I’m thrilled to have a copy of this. I plan on reading this soon.


 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

Christmas at the Chateau by Lorraine Wilson | @RomanceMinx @rararesources

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About the Book

A Christmas she’ll remember forever…

Poppy is looking forward to spending her first Christmas in France at her boyfriend, Leo’s, Château. And as the snow falls softly around the dramatic castle, Poppy can’t think of anything more magical.

There are new traditions to discover, a cosy Christmas market to explore and best of all, a promise of secret treasure hunt from gorgeous Leo. Only family pressure and uncertainty about her future in France can threaten to cast a shadow over the holiday.

When the treasure hunt takes an unexpected turn Poppy knows for sure this is one Christmas she’ll remember forever.

Christmas at the Chateau

My Thoughts

I was drawn to Christmas at the Chateau because of the gorgeous cover, it really did make me want to curl up in front of a fire with a glass of Baileys to read it!

Poppy is living in France and will be spending her first Christmas there with her boyfriend Leo and his family at their chateau. She’s looking forward to it but she can’t stop herself second guessing what other people think so she ties herself up in knots worrying about what might happen in the future.

This is a romance novella and I loved reading about Poppy and Leo and was hoping they would get a happy ever after with Leo. I loved that it’s also a story about friendship – the bond Poppy has with her room-mate Joanne was really lovely.

Having said all of that I have to admit that my favourite characters were Peanut and Pickwick – the gorgeous dogs that live with Poppy! I loved that Peanut is a self-taught dancer and has a YouTube channel, it just warmed my heart and made me smile!

I didn’t realise when I got this novella that it’s the second in a series but enough is explained that you don’t need to have read the first book. It works well as a standalone but I loved the characters enough that I want to know more about their back stories so I will be buying the first book in this series so I can catch up soon.

Christmas at the Chateau is the perfect novella to read in the busy lead up to Christmas as it’s short and can be read in an hour or so, it gives such great escapism and gets you totally in the mood for the festive season. It’s full of romance and Christmas, and dancing dogs… what more can you possibly want? I recommend this one.

Many thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book and the invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Christmas at the Chateau is out now and available here.

 

 

About the Author

Lorraine with dogs

Lorraine Wilson writes flirty, feel-good fiction for One More Chapter – a Harper Collins imprint – and is unashamedly fond of happy endings. She loves hearing from readers and feels incredibly grateful to be doing the job she always dreamt of.

She splits her time between the South of France and Cambridgeshire and is usually either writing or reading while being sat on, walked over or barked at by one of her growing band of rescue dogs.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LorraineWilsonWriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Romanceminx

 

WWW Wednesdays (4 Dec 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Love, Secret Santa by S. Domingo

I started reading this last night and it’s such a lovely YA Christmas read, I’m very much enjoying this one.

When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell

I’m thoroughly enjoying dipping in and out of this short story collection, it’s such a good read. As this is a book that is raising money for charity I took part in a cover reveal for it a few weeks ago and since then there’s been an issue with pre-orders but that is now all up and running. So if you’d like to know more about the book and to pre-order it please click here.

Pushing Her Luck by B. R. Maycock

I’ve only just started this one but I’m already hooked and I can’t wait to read more of it  over the next couple of days!

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

This is my current audio book which I got from the library. It’s an enjoyable listen so far and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

I’ll Have What She’s Having by Erin Carlson

I bought this at the weekend and am really enjoying it. It’s a non-fiction book about Nora Ephron’s three rom-coms and it’s such a fun read. I now want to watch When Harry Met Sally for the umpteenth time! 🙂

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

I haven’t read much more of this book since last week I as I got caught up with Christmas reading but I will be getting back to this one very soon.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Body Tourists by Jane Rogers

This was such a good read, something completely different for me but I’m so glad I picked it up. I’ll be reviewing this once I’ve got my thoughts in order.

The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

This was a fun read about a group gathering and secrets being uncovered. It was a quick, enjoyable book.

Home Truths by Tina Seskis

I really enjoyed this thriller, I read it all in one sitting as I was desperate to know what was going on. I reviewed this yesterday so you can read my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell

I really enjoyed dipping in and out of this book during Non-Fiction November. I wrote a mini review of this on Monday as part of my wrap-up post so you can read that here if you’d like to.

All the Water in the World by Karen Raney

This book was different than I was expecting but it was a good read and I’m glad I read it. I hope to get a review up of this one very soon.

Dopesick by Beth Macy

This book was such an interesting and moving read and I’m so glad I read it. I knew a reasonable amount about the opioid crisis but this book was still eye-opening to me. I wrote a mini review on Monday which you can find here.

Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

This is a lovely, moving middle grade read and I really enjoyed it.

Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan

I’m sorry to say that I found this such a disappointing read. I downloaded the audio from the library and was looking forward to a festive read but it has nothing to do with Christmas at all. There is a blink and you miss it mention of Christmas and that’s it. It was an okay read but not what it was billed to be.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

This was on my TBR for last week and I didn’t quite get to it so it’s definitely a priority for the coming week, I’m looking forward to this one.

Last Christmas by Emma Thompson & Greg Wise

I’m also really keen to get to this as I love having a Christmas book that I can dip in and out of in December.

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

I’ve had the ebook of this on my TBR ever since it was first published so when I spotted the audio book on my library app this week I immediately downloaded it. This will definitely be my next audio book and I can’t wait!

One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot

I got this book on Kindle when it was free recently so I think I’m going to buy the audio book so I can part-read and part-listen to this one. I love Mandy’s Christmas books so I have high hopes for this one. I’ve previously read and reviewed One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot and I adored it!

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Home Truths by Tina Seskis

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About the Book

A strong marriage can cope with the unexpected. But can it survive the unimaginable?

American nanny Eleanor was never meant to meet Alex. But when she walks into his London police station to report a stalker, everything changes for them both. He’s convinced he can protect her from anything and anyone. She hopes her darkest days are behind her.

As they settle into their life together, two hundred miles away another young couple faces an uncertain future. Christie knows Paul is a decent man, but she can’t shake a clairvoyant’s warning: ‘Never trust your husband . . .’ When a work trip tests their bond, will she overcome her fears for the sake of her family?

Ten years later, both couples are still together, for better or worse. But as doubts and resentments begin bubbling steadily to the surface, all four of them start to question the choices they’ve made.

At least the secrets they all brought into their marriages are still well hidden.

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Tina Seskis’ writing so I was thrilled to get a copy of Home Truths and I’m really pleased to say that I loved it!

Home Truths opens with a young American woman, Eleanor, reporting a stalker to the police. The officer, Alex, who deals with her is immediately drawn to her and wants to look after her. We also follow a couple, Christie and Paul, who are really happy together but a visit to a psychic puts doubts in Christie’s mind and this comes to haunt her.

I did find the first couple of chapters a little difficult to get into but once I got into the flow of the writing I honestly couldn’t put this down and I read it all in one sitting! I love it when books feature multiple characters and I feel equally invested in finding out about all of them. It meant I enjoyed each chapter but was also keen to get back to the other characters and this made the book so gripping and fast-paced for me.

I found Home Truths to be an incisive portrayal of marriage and how one moment of not being open with your spouse can have ramifications that are further reaching than you can imagine. This is a thriller but it felt like a character study too – we see the day to day of these two couples’ lives and you really get to understand them but then the novel moves forward a few years and you see where they are now.

I loved the exploration of what makes a person who they are, and the way that each of the four main characters had things about them that made you question them. We know from early on that something bad happens in the book but I couldn’t for the life of me work out who was involved. I was mulling over several possibilities and whilst I got close with some of it I was wrong for the most part! I love when a book keeps me guessing all the way to the reveal.

I’ve really enjoyed all of Tina Seskis’ novels to date but I can definitely say that Home Truths is her best yet! I could not put this book down and even now I’m still thinking about it. I highly recommend this one!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Home Truths is out now and available here.

Non-Fiction November Round-Up and Mini Book Reviews!

Today I wanted to write a post to wrap-up my Non-Fiction November as I had such a lovely reading month. I didn’t fully stick to my planned TBR but I managed to read a lot of non-fiction and I enjoyed everything I read. Some books I’ve already reviewed so will link back to those and the others I will briefly review in this post.

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

This book had been on my TBR for quite a while so I wanted to make sure I got to it in November and I’m really glad I did. My review is here.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was published so I’m really glad I finally picked it up. I really enjoyed reading this and found it so interesting. I’m a huge Joy Division fan so already knew a lot about the band but I still learnt things in this book that I didn’t know before. Peter Hook is so open in this book and it was really interesting to see Ian Curtis through his bandmate’s eyes, it gave a different perspective. I already have Peter Hook’s second memoir so I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times on Television by Louis Theroux

I love Louis Theroux’s documentaries on TV, I find his approach so different and engaging and he really brings so much out of his subjects. I was really keen to read this book so when I saw it on my library’s audio book app I immediately downloaded it. This book covers his life and how he got into TV. He takes you through his work and the different TV shows he’s made, along with his reflections as he looks back. There was quite a bit about Jimmy Savile, which I found really interesting. Louis narrates the audio book himself so I definitely recommend this format.

I Carried A Watermelon: Dirty Dancing and Me by Katy Brand

I only got this book after I’d made my TBR list for non-fiction November but I couldn’t resist reading it as soon as I got it. I loved this one and have reviewed it here.

The Undying: A Meditation on Modern Illness by Anne Boyer

This is another ARC that I wanted to make sure I got to in November. It was a tough read because of the subject matter but it’s very well-written and it made me think. My review is here.

My Autobiography by David Jason

I’m a real fan of David Jason, I’ve watched and loved so many series that he’s been in over the years (in particular Only Fools and Horses, and A Touch of Frost) so I was really keen to finally read his autobiography. This was such a fun read learning about his life and how he got into showbusiness. He has so many great stories from over the years – some hilarious and some very moving, and I very much enjoyed reading all of them. I recommend this book if you’re a fan, it’s such a good read.

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book a few weeks ago and have been so keen to read it. I’m so glad I picked it up as it’s such a good read. I’ve reviewed it here.

Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones

I’m not a fan of Owen Jones at all so I’m not sure how I came to own a copy of this book but I’m really glad that I decided to take a chance on it as it was a really interesting look at the working class.

The Death of a President by William Manchester

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages so when I finally bought the audio book a few months ago I knew I had to put it on my TBR for nonfiction November. This book covers the brief period before JFK was assassinated and then the days afterwards. It’s a really comprehensive look at what happened and how people reacted to it. I already knew a lot of what was in this book but there were still things that I didn’t know. It’s a fascinating book and I recommend it.

James Baldwin and the 1980s by Joseph Vogel

This book has been on my TBR for a couple of years as I’ve felt intimidated by it. I’m so pleased that I finally read it though as it was so interesting and it’s sparked off my interest in some other books as I want to know more. My review is here.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I bought the audio book of this and I’m so glad I did as it was a joy to listen to. I really enjoyed learning more about Michelle Obama and the life she has lived. It was fascinating to read about how her life was before she met Obama, to hear how she grew up and what her family was like. I then loved hearing the story of how she and Obama met and discovering how she felt about him getting into politics, also how it was for her and their daughters once he became president. This is a really open and honest memoir and I loved it!

Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly by Jim DeRogatis

I spotted this book on my library’s audio book app and immediately downloaded it. I hadn’t heard of the book before but I was intrigued to read it and I’m glad I did. This is an incredible piece of writing that is very well researched and put together. The journalist has followed the stories around R. Kelly for many years and eventually decided to put a book together. He interviews so many people, including R. Kelly’s accusers and the result is a brilliant expose. This isn’t always an easy book to read because of the subject matter but if you’re at all interested in this case I recommend it.

Logical Family: A Memoir by Armistead Maupin

I bought this book on kindle when it was first published but I ended up listening to the audio book during the month. I adored it as it’s read by Armistead Maupin himself so it was a lovely experience to hear him tell his own story. This is such a fascinating memoir of a life well-lived. He talks of how he was inspired to create some of the characters in Tales of the City, he shares about his upbringing and all the loss he experienced during the AIDS crisis. There is humour and sadness, and it’s just a wonderful memoir.

How To Be Human: A Manual by Ruby Wax

This is another book that I wanted to make sure to get to in November and I found it a good read. My review is here.

The Heretics by Will Storr

I found this book on my library audio book service so downloaded it on a whim and I’m glad I did. This wasn’t as in depth on any of the subjects covered as I was expecting but it was still such an engaging book. I enjoyed it.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This book is such an incredible read and one I’m so pleased I read. I’m in awe of how much work and research must have gone into this book as the author put together a biography of each of these five women. It’s all about their lives, rather than about who killed them and it really made them real to me. I found this such a moving read and I felt so emotional about each of the women, I won’t ever forget them. This is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year and I’ll be recommending it to everyone.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I really enjoyed this essay collection and got a lot so much out of reading it. My review is here if you’d like to know more.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

I read Oranges are not the Only Fruit many years ago but despite buying this memoir when it was published I had never got to read it. I’m so glad I spotted it on my library’s audio book app as it meant I could listen to the author read it to me. This is such an interesting and moving book, one that really made me think as I was reading it. There is such honesty in the book and I’m so glad I finally read it.

Dopesick by Beth Macy

This is such an important book and one I’m so glad I read but it was a tough read. I’ve been interested in the rise of the opioid epidemic for a few years now but even so this book was still so eye-opening to me. Macy gives the stats and the politics but she also really focuses on the personal giving us the stories of people from all walks of life who have ended up addicted to opioids in one form or another. This book made me angry at how people are being failed by the system but it was also incredibly moving, I felt so emotional as I got to the end. This is not an easy read but it’s a book I highly recommend.

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell

I’m a huge David Bowie fan so was very keen to read this book. It’s a really enjoyable book about the one hundred books that David Bowie considered the most influential. It’s a real mix of books and it’s fascinating to learn more about the ones I haven’t read yet (quite a few are now on my wish list now!). There is a list of all the books at the start so you get an overview of the titles. Then you get each title with a short essay about the book and what Bowie liked about it or what he took from it. At the end the author suggests a song or two that would work well with the book and I really liked that element. It made me take time to sit and think about the books and Bowie’s music and the influence that he took from what he was reading. Some of the links seems somewhat tenuous but others I knew of and it was interesting to get more understanding of them. I also have to mention how fab it was to see that the author thinks Tin Machine may get proper recognition one of these days – I’ve always thought they were under-rated and I love both of the Tin Machine albums. I definitely recommend this book to fans of David Bowie but I think readers in general who are looking to find some new books to read would also enjoy this.

 

Book Reviews: Constellations | If I Forget You | Histories | The School Friend

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Today I’m sharing a selection of mini reviews of books I’ve read recently!

 

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Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I added this book to my TBR after reading one of the essays in a newspaper article. The one I read was probably the one that had the biggest emotional impact on me as its about the death of a close friend, and it’s incredibly moving. The moment when you get a phone call telling you that someone the same age as you, someone you love, has died is something that never leaves you. I also really connected with all the stories Sinead told about her medical battles over the years as I know what it is to have a lifetime of health struggles and to have to adapt to them. I smiled at the story of when Sinead was in a wheelchair as a teenager and was dreading how the other teens would react to her but the boys just immediately started messing about with her chair and made her feel so normal. I had that exact same experience at age 13 and to this day I think about it whenever I’m feeling self-conscious about my disability. I definitely identified with Sinead’s take on the pain scale, I had a wry smile on my face reading that as it’s so hard to explain to others how pain feels and how bad it is. This is a beautiful collection that takes you through what it is to be a woman and I very much enjoyed it. I recommend it!

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The School Friend by Alison James

This is the kind of thriller I’m always drawn to – a novel told in past and present about something that people did as children that has been kept secret until now! It seems Lucy has the perfect life – a happy marriage, a lovely house and good friends but all is not as it seems and she needs to get away. This leads her to being back in contact with her childhood best friend Adele. Adele has lived a tough life never having money or much stability so seems opposite to Lucy but the two share a secret about the death of a friend they had as pre-teens. This book gripped me from start to finish, it did require suspension of disbelief but that didn’t stop it being a really enjoyable read!

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Histories by Sam Guglani

This is a collection of interlinked short stories set in an NHS hospital. I loved the way you get to see from the perspectives of lots of different people in the hospital – the doctors and nurses, the cleaners, the patients and the receptionists. Each person had their own story to tell but in the background or on the periphery you see other people’s stories. Later you see some of the background from the perspective of the person involved and it feels like being really close to a story and then slowly pulling back from it to make a fuller picture. I really enjoyed this book and found it’s one that is really staying with me. I highly recommend it!

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If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

Thomas Christopher Greene wrote one of my favourite books – The Headmaster’s Wife so I’ve been really looking forward to reading this book. I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed it. The novel is told in alternating chapters from Henry and Margot, and also in the past and the present. This couple met and dated at university but were forced apart and they moved on with their lives. Then one day Henry sees Margot in New York and he wants to talk to her, to know what happened in her life. The longing and the missed opportunities in this book makes it such a bittersweet read. I read this in one sitting and I keep thinking about Henry and Margot ever since I finished reading it. I definitely recommend this one!

 

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (30 Nov 2019)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Books and eBooks

The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch by Tom Fletcher

I read and really enjoyed The Christmasaurus last year so couldn’t resist buying a copy of the latest book. I’m so looking forward to curling up with this one afternoon in December!

The Christmas Invitation by Trisha Ashley

I bought this in the Kindle sale as it sounds like a lovely Christmas novel. I enjoyed Trisha Ashley’s writing so I’m happy to have a copy of this book.

Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl

I bought this one after reading some really good reviews on the blog tour. It sounds like a sweet festive read.

The Worst Noel by Amy M. Reade

This is a Christmas cosy crime novel and I bought it on impulse for 99p. I love the cover and am keen to pick this one up to see what the story is like.

The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon

This book has been on my radar for a while so when I saw it in the kindle sale for just £1.99 I decided to grab a copy. I already have some books about gender on my non-fiction list for the new year and I think this will make a good addition to those.

The Power of Moments by Chip Heath

I don’t recall where I first heard about this book but it was on my wish list and when I was browsing the other day I saw the kindle edition had dropped in price so decided to buy it. I’m really interested in what this book’s about so hope to get to it soon.

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

This book was a total impulse buy as the premise sounded so intriguing!

I’ll Have What She’s Having by Erin Carlson

This is a book I had to buy when I heard about it this week as it’s all about three rom-coms (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail) by Nora Ephron and it just sounds like such a fun read about films that I love!

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

I couldn’t resist buying this one as I’m really intrigued by it, and I love Turn of the Screw so am interested to see this new take on it.

17 Church Row by James Carol

This is another impulse buy as I’ve read so many great reviews of it on the blog tour and then when I looked it up it was a bargain price for kindle so I immediately bought it. I’ve just read a thriller that has similar themes regarding home assistant technology but the story sounds very different so I’m keen to get to this one.

Tell Me Everything by Amy Hatvany

I read and enjoyed the author’s previous novel so was keen to read her latest. This one sounds very different but like it could be a good read.

 

ARCs

Pushing Her Luck by B. R. Maycock

I read and loved this author’s previous novel Snowday last year so I was delighted when she asked me if I’d like to read her new book. I love the sound of this book and can’t wait to read it!

Last Christmas by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise

I spotted this book on NetGalley yesterday and requested it on a whim. I got approved for it within five minutes of requesting so I’m planning on dipping in and out of this for the next little while.

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The High Moments by Sara-Ella Ozbek, & Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

These two books were a lovely surprise gift in the post this week and it really brightened my day. Both of these books sound fabulous and I can’t wait to read them!

 

 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

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About the Book

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

 

My Thoughts

I bought and read PS. I Love You when it was first published and I adored it so I was delighted to hear a sequel was coming out. I wondered if it would capture the emotions that the first book did and I’m so pleased to say that it did, perhaps even more so!

Postscript is set seven years after the end of PS I Love you and Holly is doing well. Then one day she is invited to help with a group called the PS I Love You Club, which was inspired by the story of the letters that Holly received every month in the year after Gerry died. Holly is really unsure about it, she’s moved on and doesn’t want to go back to those feelings but at the same time she knows how the letters helped her and feels she should at least hear the club out.

The PS I Love You Club is a group of people who are all facing their own mortality and they want Holly to help them leave letters behind for their own loved ones. On attending a meeting Holly agrees to help and from then on we see her relationships with the individuals in this group build.

I loved this book, it explores grief and loss in so many ways but it’s done in a way that ultimately feels uplifting. Holly explores how she feels now about the letters Gerry left, and she ponders how he must have felt when he was writing them. We see how she uses her feelings to help others work through their own approaches to leaving something behind.

Postscript is a wonderful book – it will make you cry, it will make you hold you loved ones a bit tighter but it will also make you smile and it will ultimately leave you feeling uplifted. I’m so glad that I read this book, it’s definitely one of my favourites of this year and I recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Postscript is out now and available here.

One Christmas Night by Hayley Webster

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About the Book

Nine lives. One street. And a secret behind every door.

Christmas is ruined on Newbury Street, Norwich.

Presents have been going missing from resident’s homes. There are rumours going around that it’s one of their own who’s been stealing from the neighbours. Festive spirit is being replaced with suspicion and the inhabitants of Newbury Street don’t know who to trust. The police presence isn’t helping matters, especially when they all have something to hide.

But Christmas is a time for miracles… and if they open themselves up to hope and look out for each other, they might discover the biggest miracle of all.

 

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, I’ve just found my new favourite Christmas book in One Christmas Night! The novel follows nine people who all live in the same street, and each of them have their secrets! It’s almost Christmas and someone has been stealing presents and food from the residents’ homes and rumours abound that it’s someone who lives in their street.

There is a lot of suspicion and sadness in this book but the overwhelming takeaway from it is the sense of community and kindness that comes from darkness.

The novel opens on Christmas Eve with an unidentified person breaking into a home and gleefully stealing their gifts and food. It was horrible to think of someone doing this, especially at Christmas. We then get to meet the inhabitants of Newbury Street.

Poor Joanie has a dreadful shock early in the book and she was already feeling down. I really connected with her. She is struggling as it’s ten months since her beloved mum died, her dad is already in a new relationship and Joannie just wants to make Christmas how her mum made it. She’s frazzled and grieving. I remember my last Christmas with my mum when she was so ill, and the first one after she died. It’s never the same when you’ve lost someone important. I love how Joannie loves Christmas so much that she’s determined to keep going however hard it is. Hayley Webster captures life in such a beautiful way and her writing moved me to tears more than once as I read this book.

All the residents of Newbury Street know of each other but it’s a typical street in that some neighbours are friends, some know each other to say hello to and others are suspicious of each other. I loved how the owners of the local pub try to bring everyone together on Christmas Eve with a fundraiser.

The way the kinder residents of this street pull together and support each other made my heart sing. I turned the final page of this book and just felt such peace. This book has sadness and difficult times but it’s still the most gorgeous and festive novel. It’s full of forgiveness and finding solace, it’s about making new memories and finding ways to move on while still remembering what came before. It really does capture the spirit of Christmas and it really is the most beautiful book! I’ll definitely be re-reading it over Christmases to come! I can’t recommend it highly enough!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

One Christmas Night is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (27 Nov 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

 

Dopesick by Beth Macy

I discovered this book during Non-Fiction November and decided to read it straight away. It’s a hard book as its looking at drug addiction but it’s well-written and really interesting.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

I’m a fan of this author so was thrilled to get to read her forthcoming novel Three Hours. I’m finding this book to be gripping and tense… it’s hard to put down!

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell

I’m really enjoying dipping in and out of this book and learning more about the books that Bowie loved plus a bit more about said books.

Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

This is a gorgeous winter read and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. It’s a middle grade/YA book and it’s stunning!

 

What I recently finished reading:

Alice Teale is Missing by Howard Linskey

I read this book over the last two days and it was so good. I loved the two detectives in this novel and am hoping this might become a series and that we’ll get to see them again.

Christmas at the Chateau by Lorraine Wilson

This is a short novella that I read in about an hour but it’s a really lovely story. It’s set at Christmas and is full of romance. I’ll be reviewing this one on 5th December for the blog tour so please look out for that then. In the meantime I recommend it!

One Christmas Night by Hayley Webster

This book is gorgeous, I loved every single minute that I spent reading it. It’s a Christmas novel that is different from other books I’ve read and I just adored it. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

I’d had this book on my TBR for 3.5 years, which is terrible as I know I love the author’s writing. Anyway, I finally picked it up this week and it was a lovely short read. It’s all about relationships, secrets and regret.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

I can’t believe I’ve never read this one before but it was such a good book. I found it such a moving and open read, one that will stay with me.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

This is a brilliant book of essays all about Sinead’s life and about being a woman. I did love some of the essays more than others but all are excellently written. I recommend it.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This book is brilliant. I’m in awe of the author and the amount of research she must have done to put these women’s stories together. I love that the focus is entirely on each of them and isn’t about who killed them. I recommend this to everyone, it’s one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year.

The Assistant by S. K. Tremayne

I really enjoyed this thriller, it was one of those that’s unnerving and unputdownable at the same time. I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

I was delighted to get an ARC of this a while ago and have held off reading it until nearer publication but given that I’ll be focussed on Christmas reading soon I thought I’d sneak this one in this week!

Home Truths by Tina Seskis

This is another book that I really wanted to get to before publication day so I’m determined to pick this one up in the next day or two!

Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

This is the next Christmas book I want to get to and I’m looking forward to this one. I read a book, Christmas Camp, by the author last year and loved it so I have high hopes for this one

The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

This is a festive thriller and I’m so keen to get to this one so I might pick this one up in the coming days too!

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

The Assistant by S. K. Tremayne

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About the Book

She watches you constantly.
Newly divorced Jo is delighted to move into her best friend’s spare room almost rent-free. The high-tech luxury Camden flat is managed by a meticulous Home Assistant, called Electra, that takes care of the heating, the lights – and sometimes Jo even turns to her for company.

She knows all your secrets.
Until, late one night, Electra says one sentence that rips Jo’s fragile world in two: ‘I know what you did.’ And Jo is horrified. Because in her past she did do something terrible. Something unforgivable.

Now she wants to destroy you.
Only two other people in the whole world know Jo’s secret. And they would never tell anyone. Would they? As a fierce winter brings London to a standstill, Jo begins to understand that the Assistant on the shelf doesn’t just want to control Jo; it wants to destroy her.

 

My thoughts

I’ve previously read The Ice Twins by this author and that book really unnerved me but still I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy of The Assistant as the premise sounded so unique and so prescient. I’m so pleased to say that I loved this book!

The Assistant is all about Jo. She’s a freelance journalist and struggling to manage financially. She’s renting a room in a luxury apartment in London owned by her best friend Tabitha, the whole place is controlled by a Home Assistant called Electra. Tabitha spends a lot of time at her boyfriend’s house so Jo is often on her own in the apartment for large spans of time. One day Electra suddenly says ‘I know what you did’ and Jo’s life begins to spiral!

As someone who has voice controlled gadgets through my home this book was terrifying! It made me want to rip them all out and throw them away!! Jo is really unnerved but she wonders if she imagined it, or if she’s over tired but Electra doesn’t let it go. It becomes clear that Electra knows about Jo’s past and it seems determined that she’s going to pay.

I was engrossed in this book from start to finish, I read it in just two sittings because I simply had to know what was going on. We find out what happened to Jo in her past but you’re then wondering who would want to drag it all up now all these years later. There are people in Jo’s life that I was suspicious of all the way through the novel but I could never put my finger on who exactly could be behind the horror. Alongside this Jo is over-reliant on sleeping pills and she’s not always careful of the dose she takes so there is an element of wondering if what is happening is some kind of hallucination. I love that this book kept me guessing right the way to the end.

This is the first novel I’ve read where home assistant technology is a large part of the plot and I loved it. It was so different and terrifying because we all have technology in our homes that potentially could be used against us. I found this such a good read and I definitely recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Assistant is due to be published in ebook on 29th November and can be pre-ordered here.

Non-Fiction November: Books I’ve Added to my TBR!

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I can’t believe that we’re already in the final week of Non-Fiction November! I’ve really enjoyed taking part this year and have not only read some fabulous books but I’ve discovered some brilliant-sounding books recommended by other bloggers. So, as part of today’s Non-Fiction November prompt from Rennie from What’s Nonfiction I’m sharing some of the books I’ve added to my To Be Read stack!

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I discovered Dope Sick by Beth Macy on Deb aka Curly Geek’s blog and found her review so compelling that I not only bought a copy of the book but I’m reading it now. It’s not an easy read because of the subject matter but it’s such a fascinating book. I also spotted The Library Book by Susan Orlean in the same post and have added this book to my wish list and plan to get hold of this one soon as it sounds really good.

the outrun by amy liptrot

On a similar theme, I read a brilliant review of The Outrun by Amy Liptrot on WhatCathyReadNext’s blog this week so I’m definitely going to be adding this book to my TBR. I find books about addiction and recovery really interesting and helpful so I’m keen to get to this one.

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During the first week of Non-Fiction November I enjoyed reading Karen at Booker Talk’s post about her favourite non-fiction and saw she recommended The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. It sounded like such a good read so I decided to buy the audio book and hope to listen to this one soon.

Over on Liz at LibroFullTime’s blog I’ve enjoyed a couple of posts. One was where she paired Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other with Lovers and Strangers by Clair Wills. I’m hoping to read the former very soon so am really interested to get hold of a copy of the latter to read alongside it. I also really enjoyed her Be the Expert / Become the Expert post. I’ve bought a copy of Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness as it sounds like a calming read, and I’ve added Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss to my wish list along with the other books about Iceland mentioned as I’m intrigued to know more.

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I love reading reviews at What’s Nonfiction and it was here that I discovered that Susannah Cahalan had written another book (I loved her previous book Brain on Fire). The great Pretender sounds like my kind of book as I’m always so interested in reading about illness and diagnosis so I’ve added this one to my wish list and plan to read it soon.

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On SpiritBlog’s Year in Nonfiction post I spotted a book called Bringing Columbia Home by Michael D. Leinbach and Jonathan H. Ward and I immediately looked it up. It’s about the space shuttle Columbia and as I’ve been fascinated by space ever since I was a small child I had to put this book on my wish list.

Also on the subject of space travel I was reminded by NeverEnoughNovels’ blog of The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, which is on my TBR but I’ve never made the time to read it. I also discovered Rocket Men by Robert Kurson on this blog, it’s a book that I’ve never heard of before but it sounds like my kind of read so it’s on my wish list.

On Bookish Beck’s blog I read a great review of Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper, a book that was already on my radar and alongside this review was a review of Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life by Amber Scorah, which is in a similar vein looking at what it is to leave religion and make a new life. Both of these books are on my wish list and I hope to get to them very soon.

In the week we did Book Pairings as a prompt you may recall that I recommended Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer alongside Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar so it was great to discover on MusingsOfALiteraryWanderer’s blog recommendations for these two books along with two more: The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and The Ledge by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan. I’ve added both to my wish list and hope to get to read them soon.

UnrulyReader shared a post on Being an Expert on home organisation, which I loved reading. I second her recommendation of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying! I discovered a few more organising books that I hadn’t heard of before so have made a note of the titles. I’m particularly interested in Good Housekeeping’s Simple Organising Wisdom.

I found HappiestWhenReading’s blog post about the best books on grief. I also recommended Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman in one of my Non-Fiction November posts but I discovered a few new-to-me books in this post. The one that most stood out to me is  After This, and Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief both by Claire Bidwell-Smith so I’ve added both of these to my wish list and intend to buy them very soon.

Over on BookdOut blog a post about becoming an expert caught my attention. In the post is a selection of books about Australian true crime featuring female perpetrators and I actually can’t name just one book from this post as I’ve actually added all the books to my wish list! I can’t help but be intrigued about crime and what makes people do the things they do so I’m keen to read these books.

In another post written that week is one about books about the Royal Family over on Hopewell’s Library of Life’s blog. Again this is a post where I can’t really choose a single book as all of them look fascinating and I’ve made a note of all of the titles!

 


 

So all in all it’s been a bumper Non-Fiction November for me as I’ve found loads of new books to add to my TBR. Have you added any books to your TBR stacks during Non-Fiction November? I hope you’ve discovered some fab new books, I’d love to hear about them. 🙂

 

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman | @LucyColemanauth @Aria_Fiction @rararesources

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About the Book

Christmas and romance are in the air…

It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.

So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?

Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!

 

My Thoughts

I was drawn to this book by the gorgeous festive cover and I’m really happy to say that the novel really lives up to it!

Magic Under the Mistletoe opens on 23rd December as Leesa is flying back to England to spend Christmas with her ex in-laws. The man she is working for, Cary, is on the same flight but whilst he’s up in first class, Leesa is crammed in economy and he keeps sending her more edits to do. As they finally land in England the snow is falling heavily and there’s no way for Leesa to get where she’s going right away so Cary offers to take her to his family’s home. Misunderstandings happen immediately when Cary’s grandmother assumes Leesa is his girlfriend and no one corrects her. This leads to Leesa and Cary forming a pact where they’ll pretend they’re together to help each other out over the holiday season!

This novel spans the course of a year but it opens with Christmas and it ends the following Christmas so there is a lot of the festive season in the book, which I loved. The year-long timespan gives space to really get to know Cary and Leesa, and they both have issues in their lives. There is some tough themes in the novel but they are handled really well and in a believable way. It’s cleverly handled because it grounds the book in reality but there is a real sense of fun and festivity throughout, and this is how real life is.

I loved Cary’s grandmother Cressida, she was adorable and I want to adopt her as my gran! She is desperate for both of her grandsons to be happy and loved but she’s never too interfering. I also loved the house she lives in – it’s a huge house but it sounded so cosy and warm. I could totally picture the huge Christmas tree in the hall and the decorations running throughout the house. It really made me feel festive as I was reading, and I already want to re-visit!

This is the first book I’ve read by Lucy Colman but it definitely won’t be the last! Magic Under the Mistletoe is a gorgeous, warm-hearted novel that will give you all of the Christmas feels! I recommend it!

Many thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book and the invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Magic Under the Mistletoe is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. She writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Website: https://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucyColemanAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanAuth 

 

Giveaway to Win a Signed paperback copy of Snowflakes over Holly Cove and Christmas Pamper Pack. (UK only)

Mistletoe prize Rachel

Click here to enter the giveaway!

 

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

 

You can find the rest of the tour at the following blogs:

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Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (23 Nov 2019)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Books and eBooks

The Body Lies by Jo Baker

This book has been on my radar for age so when I spotted it for 99p on kindle yesterday I snapped it up! I don’t think this one will be on my TBR for very long as I’m keen to get to it.

With the End in Mind by Kathryn Mannix

I bought this one on a whim when I spotted it on a Kindle Daily Deal yesterday. I think this sounds fascinating and it’s one I’ll have to be in the right mood for but I’m glad to own it.

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

I’ve read the first two books in this series and have the third one so I couldn’t resist getting this fourth book in a deal this week. I do enjoy these books so I’m happy to have the next two to read now.

Ma’am Darling by Craig Brown

I’ve been wanting to read this book as I’ve heard such good things about it so I’m glad to have my own copy. I did get it on audio from the library a while back but I heard it has a lot of photos in it so I wanted to get it in ebook format instead.

Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm by Jaimie Admans

I bought this as it sounds like such a lovely Christmas read and I’m gearing up to begin my festive reading properly as soon as December arrives!

Christmas at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild

I downloaded this book for my kindle on a total whim as I love the cover so much! It looks like such a Christmassy book and I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

 

Audio Books

Gone Fishing by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse

I bought this one on an Audible daily deal as I thought it might be something my husband might enjoy listening to. It sounds like an interesting and relaxing audio book so I’m looking forward to this one.

Where the Light Gets In by Lucy Dillon

I bought this one on a whim when it was on an Audible daily deal earlier this week. I’ve read and enjoyed one of the author’s earlier novels so I’m glad to have this one on my TBR.

 

ARCs

Keeper by Jessica Moor

This is one of my most anticipated books for 2020 so I was thrilled to be approved to read it on NetGalley. I’m trying to hold off reading it until nearer the release date but I may give in and read this early!

Christmas at the Chateau by Lorraine Wilson

I couldn’t reply fast enough when I was offered the chance to read this book for the forthcoming blog tour as it sounds like such a lovely Christmas read. I’ll be picking this up very soon!

 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

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About the Book

The greatest love story is the one you least expect . . .

Alice is stifled, bored, and misunderstood.

So when she meets wealthy and handsome American, Bennett Van Cleve, she is quickly swept off her feet.

Marrying him and moving to America seems like a great adventure – but life as a newlywed in stuffy Baileyville, Kentucky, is not at all what she hoped for.

Until, that is, she responds to a call for volunteers to start a travelling library, surprising herself by saying yes, before her husband can say no . . .

Led by feisty and rebellious Margery O’Hare, this unlikely group of women travel far and wide on their mission to bring books and reading to those that need it, and Alice finally finds the freedom, friendship and love that she’s been looking for.

But not everyone approves of what they are doing, especially her new father-in-law. And when the town turns against them, will their belief in each other and their work be enough?

 

My Thoughts

The Giver of Stars is the perfect book for people who love reading! This is such a stunning novel following five women who were all leading very different lives and all get brought together to become part of a travelling library! It’s set in depression-era Kentucky and it does immediately transport you to this time and I got swept up in it right from the very start.

I have to admit that I’ve found some Jojo Moyes books just okay but others I have loved. My favourite up to reading this one was The Last Letter To Your Lover but The Giver of Stars has beaten it for me. I got completely swept up in the story of these women and I can’t stop thinking about them and the lives they led. I want to know more about the women who really did do this work and I loved when a book sparks off an interest in me.

The novel is all about this small group of women and we see the bonds that gradually form between them. It really feels like such an empowering book, I adored it. The travelling library is based in a township but the patrons all live out in the most rural of areas so the women go out on horses to deliver books to these families. They go out in all weathers all year round each on their own route and I found it so inspiring.

The Giver of Stars predominantly follows Alice who is newly married and expects to learn about life with her new husband but things aren’t right with him from the start. She looks for ways to make it work and to make things better but nothing seems to help so she throws herself increasingly into her work at the library trying to at least find satisfaction in her own life. I loved Alice, I was rooting for her the whole way through the novel.

I was thrilled to be approved for an ARC of this book from NetGalley but I decided to buy a copy of the audio book from Audible so that I could part-read and part-listen and this really worked well for this book. The audio is wonderful and really brought the book to life even more for me so I recommend it.

I so often say that historical fiction isn’t my favourite genre but then I read a book like this that I fall in love with and immediately want to re-read and it reminds me that there are books out there for everyone in all genres, we just have to find the right ones for us. I highly recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Giver of Stars is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (20 Nov 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This book is so good! The amount of research that the author must have had to do in order to give such a full picture of each of these women’s life is so impressive. I’m in awe of her. This is a book that I want to both savour and devour, it’s brilliant. I have no doubt that this will be one of my standout books of the year.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

This is also a brilliant read and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve been dipping in and out of it but I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to put it down, it’s so good.

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell

I only started this book last night so I’m not very far into it but I know I’m going to to enjoy it. I think it might be one I dip in and out of over the next week or two.

Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

In my quest to catch up with my NetGalley ARCS as much as I can before the year is out this book is the next on my list. I’ve only read the opening chapter so far but it feels like a very lovely, magical book.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

This is such a lovely, romantic book and I really enjoyed it. I’ll be reviewing it next week for the blog tour so please look out for my thoughts then.

The School Friend by Alison James

This is an ARC that has been on my NetGalley shelf for a while so I finally read it this week and it was an enjoyable read.

How to be Human by Ruby Wax

This was one of my Non-Fiction November picks and I’m glad I finally read it. It’s a good overview of how to deal with emotions around certain things and has a decent guide to easy mindfulness exercises in the back. My full review is here.

Logical Family: A Memoir by Armistead Maupin

I listened to the audio book of this and really enjoyed it. Armistead Maupin narrates it himself which really added to my enjoyment of his memoir. It’s made me want to start reading Tales of the City all over again so I may do that in the new year!

Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly by Jim Rogatis

I borrowed this book from the library audio books app on a whim and I’m really glad I got to listen to this one. It’s written by a journalist who has been looking into the revelations about R. Kelly since the 90s so it’s a really interesting and insightful book. I recommend it.

James Baldwin and the 1980s by Joseph Vogel

I’d almost finished this book when I wrote my post last week and I’m really pleased that I stuck with this one as it turned out to be such a fascinating book. It’s sparked my interest to want to read all of James Baldwin’s writing (I’ve only read a couple of his books before). My thoughts on it are here if you’d like to know more.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I listened to this on audio and I’m so glad I did. There’s nothing like a memoir that’s read by the author and this book was such a treat. I adored this book and I highly recommend it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

One Christmas Night by Hayley Webster

This is my next planned Christmas read and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve got an ARC from NetGalley but I think I’m going to get the audio book so I can listen to it as I read.

When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell

This is a Christmas short story collection and I’ve been so keen to start reading it so I think I’m going to dip in and out of this one over the next week or two.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

This is the next book I want to read from my Non-Fiction November TBR. I’ve heard such good things about this and I can’t wait to start it.

Lost Connections by Johann Hari

This is also on my Non-Fiction November TBR and I think this is the one I’ll pick up after Three Women as I’m keen to read this one before the end of the month.

 


 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

How to be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax with a Neuroscientist and a Monk #NonFiction #NonFictionNovember

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About the Book

It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you’re on all twos and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? We’ve started treating ourselves more like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones: as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it. (Many people I know are now on iWife4 or iHusband8, the motto being, if it’s new, it’s better.)

We can’t stop the future from arriving, no matter what drugs we’re on. But even if nearly every part of us becomes robotic, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’, and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness.

I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain. We answer every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you’ll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while now so I added it to my non-fiction November TBR and wanted to make sure I got to it this month. I actually ended up reading it in one sitting yesterday afternoon!

How to be Human is a really honest look at how the stress in our lives affects us and what we can do about it. Ruby Wax has written this book in conjunction with a neuroscientist and a monk so it really does give a really good perspective on how we can better understand and help ourselves.

The book is set out in chapters each covering a different topic from relationships to parenthood to forgiveness. We get an overview of the topic from Ruby and then a few pages of Ruby, the monk and the neuroscientist discussing the issue. These conversations are both funny and helpful, which I liked. It’s nice to read a book that has light-hearted take on a serious issue as it makes it easier to take in the information, especially if you’re struggling with your mental health at the time.

At the end of each chapter Ruby Wax refers you to chapter 11 where you get a whole corresponding section with various mindfulness and mediation exercises to help you with the thing you’re struggling with.

I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t get as much out of this book as I’d hoped but that could be because I’m in a good mental health place these days and I’ve already discovered the huge benefits of regular mindfulness. I will say that the exercises in the back of the book are excellent – a lot of them are already a part of my daily mediation routine and I highly recommend them. Some are things you can do in the time it takes you to brush your teeth on a morning, and others requite a little longer but all will benefit your state of mind in time.

The chapter that I did find really helpful was the one at the end on forgiveness. Ruby Wax alludes to an awful relationship with her mother earlier in the book and in the forgiveness chapter she discovers more about her family in past generations. This journey and the subsequent conversation with the monk and the neuroscientist were illuminating for me. I struggle with forgiveness when someone has done something truly despicable but this book reminded me again that sometimes you have to forgive for your own sake but that doesn’t mean you have to have a relationship with the person who hurt you, or even tell them they’re forgiven. It’s an important reminder, and one we perhaps all need from time to time.

I would definitely recommend How to be Human particularly if you’re struggling with your mental health a little bit and want some really easy to follow guidance on why mindfulness can help and how to go about learning to do it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

How to be human is out now and available here.

My Favourite Non-Fiction Books! #NonFictionNovember

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This week as part of Non-Fiction November Shelf Aware has set the prompt for us to talk about what makes a book a favourite. What qualities do you look for in non-fiction?

 

I love reading non-fiction and definitely read more of it in recent years than I ever used to before. I’m one of those readers that always has multiple books on the go at once and at least one of my books is always non-fiction.

When I first starting getting into non-fiction it was mainly through reading memoirs and biographies of people that I was interested in and I’m still drawn to them. They’re generally quite easy reads and the focus is on one person so they’re easy to follow. I find them good when my pain levels are high and I need a book that doesn’t require huge amounts of concentration. Alongside my love of memoirs are the easier non-fiction books that read almost like fiction because they’re so unputdownable!

The first grown-up non-fiction book I remember reading is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I read it the summer I was 8 and I can still remember the devastating, eye-opening impact that it had on me. The next biography that made an impact was Still Me by Christopher Reeve. I bought this in hardback the day it was released and I read it in one sitting. I was so moved by his struggle and his openness in the book. I didn’t know when I read it that one day I would be partially paralysed, it doesn’t compare to what happened to him but it does give me even more insight. I’m also recommending The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. This is a memoir of a woman who whilst ill and confined to bed takes to watching nature, this is such a beautiful book and is one I stumbled across and am so glad it found me. On a lighter note I also included Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm, which is a must-read if you were a child and teenage reader (particularly if you’re in your 40s now). I adore this book! A fun read, also for 40+ year olds is Now We Are 40 which is all about Generation X and I loved it. Finally I recommend The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater – it’s part Christmas memoir and part cookbook and it’s such a gorgeous book to read as the festive season comes around.

 

I also enjoy reading non-fiction to learn and often find myself drawn to factual books when I’ve been reading a novel or watching something on TV and want to know more. I’m more likely to fall down a rabbit-hole of one book leading to another these days and I love it when that happens. It so often ends with a book that is quite a distance subject-wise from where I started which then sends me off on another track.

In this section I’ve included Pain-Free Life by Andrea Hayes and Mindfulness for Health by Vidyamala Burch as both have massively helped me find a way to live with the chronic pain I’m permanently. I recommend them if you’re a pain sufferer. In Plain Sight is about Jimmy Savile and is such a well-written book about how his crimes were discovered. The Emperor of all Maladies and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks are both about cancer. The first is a history of cancer told in such a fascinating way, it’s a brilliant book. The second is about the cells doctors took from Henrietta that are still used today but her family weren’t informed about what was done. It’s such a moving and interesting book. Death at Seaworld is a brilliant book that really opens your eyes to what is happening at Seaworld. This book made me so angry but that’s a good thing and it’s a book more people should read. Hillsborough: The Truth is the full story of what happened and is a must-read. I’ve read it twice and it’s still so shocking for so many reasons. The Looming Tower is an excellent read about the factors that led up to 9/11 and has since been adapted for TV. The Red Parts is a memoir about Nelson’s Aunt’s murder, which happened before she was born and I’ve found this has really stayed with me. Last but not least is Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space, which was such an interesting read. It’s incredible to read her story and find out how she came to be an astronaut but also the extra struggles she had being the first woman, and how things had to be considered that never had before.

 

My concentration for more academic non-fiction isn’t great these days but when I want to read something to learn or to gain much more depth on a subject I will still pick these books up. I loved all the academic books that I read when I was doing my degree many years ago but I struggle now I’m out of the habit and do find these books more daunting.

Here I’m recommending just four books. The first is A Literature of their Own, which I bought in my first week at Uni when I heard Elaine Showalter was going to be giving a guest lecture. I’m such a fan of her writing now and want to re-read this one soon. I’ve also included Aspects of the Novel, which I devoured immediately after buying it and really enjoyed it. The Case of Peter Pan came in really useful for an essay I was writing but I’ve since re-read the book and find it such an interesting read. I want to read more by the author. I’m also including James Baldwin and the 1980s, which I’ve only recently finished but it’s sparked me into wanting to read so many other books so it feels right to include it.

Ultimately, I think my favourite kind of non-fiction is books that are the ones where I’m learning more about something but without the book being too academic. It means I can learn whilst enjoying my reading and it feels less pressured for me when my health isn’t so good.

 

Also, I have to squeeze in a mention that I do have something of an addiction to books about de-cluttering. I love Marie Kondo’s books (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy as it’s her method that finally clicked with me to sort my whole house out (and it’s stayed tidy ever since! Here is a post about my clutter journey.)  but if I see a book about hoarding or de-cluttering I still have to read them! I also found Banish Clutter Forever, which helped me with re-organising my house after I’d decluttered. It’s based on the idea that we always know where our toothbrush is because we keep it right where we use it so if we apply that principle to everything else we own our homes should be easier to tidy and it should be easier to find things. I’ve reviewed Un*fuck Your Habitat here if you’d like to know more about this one.

 

What are some of your favourite types of non-fiction? What are your favourite non-fiction books? If you have any recommendations for me based on any of the books in this post please let me know, I’m always looking for more books to read! 🙂

Book Reviews: James Baldwin and the 1980s | Chase the Rainbow | Furious Hours | The Dark Side of the Mind

 

mini nonfiction reviews

Today I’m sharing a selection of mini book reviews of some recent non-fiction books that were excellent reads!

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James Baldwin and the 1980s by Joseph Vogel

This book took me a while to read but I’m so glad that I kept going with it because it’s a fascinating read. I’ve read a couple of James Baldwin’s well-known books but I didn’t know as much about him and the context of when he was writing as I thought I did. This book covers sexuality, racism and the AIDS crisis all in the context of the 1980s and the political agenda of the time. I was fascinated by the chapter on AIDS and the play that Baldwin wrote that has never been published. The author brought this play, and the themes Baldwin was exploring, to life for me so whilst I might never get a chance to see or read this play I have an understanding of the work now. I was also fascinated by the chapter that focused on the Atlanta child murders. I’d heard about these murders from watching Mindhunter on Netflix but didn’t know anymore about it than that so I was appalled to read more of the background and aftermath of this case. Baldwin was fascinated by the focus on race and sexuality during the case and had a lot to say about how the case was handled. I’ve now put Baldwin’s Evidence of Things Not Seen on my wish list and I think this will be the next book of his that I pick up. This is quite an academic book but it’s absolutely well worth a read, I recommend it!

 

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Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was first published but I finally picked it up recently and I’m so glad I did. This is Poorna Bell’s story of her husband’s depression and addiction, and sadly his eventual suicide. This is such an honest and moving book, it’s hard to read at times but it’s well-written and that kept me turning the pages. Poorna Bell is so open about what happened with her husband, but also her own feelings and how it affected her living with someone who was living with demons. She explores the aftermath of her husband’s death – both the immediate weeks and then some time later. The balance of seeing the time after as she begins to heal means this book shows the whole gamut of what it is to live through what she has. I recommend this book.

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The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book recently and put it on my Non-Fiction November TBR and I’m so glad I got to read it as it’s such a fascinating book. Kerry Daynes is a forensic psychologist and in this book she shares her stories from her very first work placement in a prison and throughout her career. She has worked with all kinds of people and this book is so interesting. You can sense her frustration when the system fails but also her satisfaction when a person is helped. Some of what Kerry has had to deal with is shocking and terrifying but you get a real sense of what day to day life is like in her job. She has worked in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, homes for vulnerable women and has also done some TV work and private practice. This is one of those non-fiction books that is almost like reading fiction in that it’s near impossible to put down once you start reading – I read it in just two sittings and really enjoyed it. I recommend it!

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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

I picked this book up because of the mention of Harper Lee and I’m so glad I did. The book isn’t all about her, but the story being told is fascinating none-the-less. The book is in three sections – the first is about Willie Maxwell, a man who murdered members of his family in order to claim the life insurance he’d taken out on them. The second part focuses on Willie’s lawyer Tom Radney and later the lawyer of the man who killed Willie. The third part of the book is the trial and this is where Harper Lee comes into it. She followed the trial closely and took notes intending to write a book. This section is so interesting as we learn about her close friendship with Truman Capote and how her helping him with In Cold Blood led her to want to write her own book about a murder trial. The whole book is fascinating though because it’s such a bizarre story and I found I just couldn’t put it down. I recommend it!

Stacking the Shelves with my new Book Haul!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Books and eBooks

Born Lippy: How to do Female by Jo Brand

A lovely blogger friend very kindly sent me her copy of this book this week. It’s a book that I’m really keen to read so I’m going to try and get to it this month while it’s Non-Fiction November!

Christmas With Dull People by Saki

I spotted this book online this week and bought it purely based on the title as I was really intrigued by it. It’s a tiny book with a couple of short stories in so I’m looking forward to reading this one next month.

A Fabulous Creation: How LPs Saved Our Lives by David Hepworth

I’ve previously read one of David Hepworth’s books and very much enjoyed it so when I spotted this one on sale on kindle this week I immediately downloaded it. I can never resist books about music and records!

The Corset by Laura Purcell

This was another impulse buy when I saw this was on a kindle daily deal this week. It sounds like my kind of novel and it’s one I think will be good to read as the nights draw in so I don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long.

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

And another impulse buy from the kindle daily deal! I grabbed this one as I noticed that if I bought this I could download the audio version for £2.99 so I think I’ll do that and listen to this one. It sounds like an interesting book!

One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot

I read and loved a Christmas book by this author a couple of years ago so I couldn’t resist adding this one to my TBR this week! It sounds like a really lovely festive romance!

 

Audio Books

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Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly by Jim DeRogartis

I downloaded this book from my library audio book app this week on a whim. I’ve already started listening to this one and it’s really interesting – I’m about 90 mins into the book and I’ve already found out things that I didn’t know before so I’m keen to get back to this one.

 


 

Audible had a 2 for 1 book sale on last weekend and I had a couple of credits so I bought these four audio books!

Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher

I chose this book on a whim as it sounded like a really engrossing family saga set around Christmas and I thought it would make a good listen throughout December.

One of Your Own: The Life and Death of Myra Hindley by Carol Ann Lee

I spotted this book and decided to get it as I’m always intrigued to know more about the backgrounds and psychology of people like Myra Hindley.

You Left Early by Louisa Young

I’ve had this book on my wish list for ages so I snapped this up when I saw it in the offer.

Look What You Made Me Do by Helena Walmsley-Johnson

I also got this book off my wish list as I’ve been wanting to read it ever since it was first published.

 

ARCs

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

I’ve been so keen to read this book so when I saw it on NetGalley this week I immediately requested it and was delighted to be approved. If I love this as much as I think I’m going to I will definitely be buying it in hardback to have on my bookcase.

When Stars Will Shine edited by Emma Mitchell

This book should have been in last week’s book haul but I somehow managed to miss adding it so I’m sharing it now. This is a Christmas short story collection that is raising money for charity to Help the Heroes. I’m really looking forward to starting this one!


 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

The Undying by Anne Boyer #NonFiction #BookReview

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About the Book

Blending memoir with critique, an award-winning poet and essayist’s devastating exploration of sickness and health, cancer and the cancer industry, in the modern world

A week after her 41st birthday, Anne Boyer was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. For a single mother living payslip to payslip, the condition was both a crisis and an initiation into new ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of illness.

In The Undying – at once her harrowing memoir of survival, and a 21st-century Illness as Metaphor – Boyer draws on sources from ancient Roman dream diarists to cancer vloggers to explore the experience of illness. She investigates the quackeries, casualties and ecological costs of cancer under capitalism, and dives into the long line of women writing about their own illnesses and deaths, among them Audre Lorde, Kathy Acker and Susan Sontag.

Genre-bending, devastating and profoundly humane, The Undying is an unmissably insightful meditation on cancer, the cancer industry and the sicknesses and glories of contemporary life.

 

My Thoughts

The Undying is an interesting book that blends memoir with an exploration of what it is to be a patient, and how the cancer industry is run.

I wanted to read this book because I’m drawn to books about illness and also having had loved ones die of cancer this book sounded like a really powerful read. I found this a hard book to read but it’s a fascinating read at the same time.

Anne Boyer was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 41 years old. She was a single mother at the time with no financial safety net so faced a very uncertain future. I don’t know a huge amount about health-care in America (I live in the UK) but I got such a real sense of how difficult navigating cancer-care there is.

Boyer also references the history of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and looks at where we are now. It was horrifying to read of the studies that show doctors are, in some cases, over-diagnosing cancer. I knew that sometimes the protocol can be over-zealous but it seems there are times when what is happening is more than that.

I was interested to read Boyer’s thoughts around the evolution of the pink ribbon and breast cancer. Boyer gives the history of the ribbon, which I didn’t know (although I thought I did) and how it’s now being monopolised and seems to her to make breast cancer seem a light and fluffy thing rather than a very serious illness. I can understand her thoughts and feelings, especially when some places use the pink ribbon to sell things but only give the tiniest percentage of profits to charity.

‘Every person with a body should be given a guide to dying as soon as they are born.’

The parts of the book that most spoke to me though are about the language we use around cancer and I definitely echo Boyer’s thoughts. I can’t stand the phrase ‘lost the battle’, people I love have fought so hard to live and still died but it wasn’t for want of trying. Also, the idea that people have to be positive because it gives a better outcome which is not true. I’m a firm believer in being positive because it makes life easier if you can find light in the tunnel but I also believe that in the wake of a devastating diagnosis people have to be allowed to express all of their feelings. Suppressing them in order to appear positive is all about making it easier for the people around the patient and not for the patient themselves.

‘Cancer kills people, as does treatment, as  does lack of treatment, and what anyone feels or believes has nothing to do with it. I could hold every right idea, exhibit every virtue, do every good deed, and follow every institutional command and still die of cancer, or I could believe and do every wrong thing and still live.’

Boyer looks at all aspects of cancer – from how it affected her personally to how other patients differ in their opinion and approach, to the history of the disease and how it’s been viewed over the years, to how we view the patient. I cared for mum when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I found this book such a cathartic reading experience. So much of how I felt seeing how so-called friends stopped calling, and how family distanced themselves reflects how it was for my mum. Boyer is so honest about the things that hurt and infuriate and frustrate during the process of treatment and surgery. I felt like I had an even greater insight into what it is to face this disease after I finished this book.

I found The Undying to be a fascinating book and the writing is stunning so I’d absolutely recommend it but be mindful that it’s a tough read at times due to the nature of the subject matter. It’s one of those books that perhaps needs to find readers at the right moment for them.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Undying is out now and available here.

I Carried a Watermelon: Dirty Dancing and Me by Katy Brand #NonFiction #BookReview

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About the Book

I Carried a Watermelon is a love story to Dirty Dancing. A warm, witty and accessible look at how Katy Brand’s life-long obsession with the film has influenced her own attitudes to sex, love, romance, rights and responsibilities.

It explores the legacy of the film, from pushing women’s stories to the forefront of commercial cinema, to its ‘Gold Standard’ depiction of abortion according to leading pro-choice campaigners, and its fresh and powerful take on the classic ‘coming of age’ story told from a naïve but idealistic 17-year-old girl’s point of view.

Part memoir based on a personal obsession, part homage to a monster hit and a work of genius, Katy will explore her own memories and experiences, and talk to other fans of the film, to examine its legacy as a piece of filmmaking with a social agenda that many miss on first viewing. One of the most celebrated and viewed films ever made is about to have the time of its life.

 

My Thoughts

I was thrilled to get a copy of I Carried a Watermelon as I’ve been a fan of Dirty Dancing ever since I first saw it when I was 11 – my cousin who’s 2 years older than me brought her video round to my house and I was mesmerised by what I saw. It turns out that Katy Brand is a similar age to me and was the same age when she first saw the film so I could really identify with her thoughts and feelings about the film so needless to say I adored this book!

Katy Brand takes us through her first experience of watching the film and how obsessed she quickly became with it. I could totally identify with her wanting to watch it over and over again but not being able to because she’d not recorded it. Also the pain of finally getting my own copy on video and it eventually getting chewed! She also explores the themes in the film and how it stands up to the test of time. There are some stories from behind the scenes, some of which I hadn’t known. Katy also visits the resort which was Kellermans and I loved these parts of the book, it felt like I was along on the trip and experiencing it all for myself!

I loved the way Katy Brand discusses how we see the women in Dirty Dancing and how our opinion of them changes as we grow older and I totally concur with what she says. The way as pre-teens we all wanted to be Baby and to have a holiday romance with Johnny but we didn’t really understand what happened with Penny or why it was such a big deal. Then you get a little older and you learn the fears of job insecurity and you understand what abortion is and suddenly it’s Penny you focus on as you watch; and now as 40 year olds we understand the older women such as Vivian and Baby’s mother a bit more.

I have a complicated relationship with Dirty Dancing, which I won’t go into here, but for years it was my favourite film, my go-to film when I needed cheering up. However, for a long time I lost all the happiness that the film used to bring me. In recent years I’ve slowly been getting that love back and this book has been the icing on the cake for that. I now want to grab some popcorn and get lost in Baby’s story all over again!

I Carried a Watermelon is a fabulous book for anyone who loves the film Dirty Dancing. I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

I Carried a Watermelon is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (13 Nov 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’ve been so looking forward to listening to this on audio book and am so happy to say that I’m enjoying it even more than I thought I would. Michelle Obama’s life is so interesting and I can’t wait to read more.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I’ve only read the first essay in this book so far but I really enjoyed it so I’m very glad that I finally picked this book up.

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

I started reading this last night when I wasn’t feeling well and it’s perfect escapism. I’m sure I’m going to fly through this one tomorrow when I pick it back up!

James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

I’ve been really enjoying this book this week and at the time of writing this post only have 20% of it left to read so I may well have finished it by the time this post goes live. This is such a fascinating book, I recommend it if you’re a James Baldwin fan.

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Death of a President by William Manchester

I’ve been listening to this on audio for the past couple of weeks and have found it such an interesting look at the short period leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the few days following his funeral. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in this period of history.

Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones

I can’t stand Owen Jones so I’m not sure how I ended up buying this book on Audible but I’m actually glad I did. It’s an interesting look at how society views the working class. There is definite bias in the book but it’s still a book that gives you something to think about.

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I’ve been so looking forward to this book and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint. The author relates insights into patients and illness that she has encountered during her career as a forensic psychologist. I recommend this one as it’s so interesting but also very readable.

The Undying: A Meditation on Modern Illness by Anne Boyer

This was a hard read because of the subject matter but it was also really interesting. The author has a lot to say about the way we look at cancer and cancer patients, along with the campaigns run around the illness. I will review this one once I’ve had time to mull over my thoughts on it.

David Jason: My Autobiography by David Jason

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it first came out six years ago but I finally read it this week and I very much enjoyed it. It covers most of David Jason’s life from his childhood through to Frost. I’ve got his next memoir on my TBR so I’m tempted to start that soon!

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand

This book was such a fun, nostalgic read and I really enjoyed it. I will be reviewing it soon but can already say that if you love Dirty Dancing then this is a book for you!

 

What I plan on reading next:

Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life by John O’Connell

This is both a Non-Fiction November pick and one of my NetGalley must-read books plus it’s a book I’m really keen to read so I’m hoping to get to this one in the coming days.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

I’d hoped to pick this book up last week but didn’t quite get to it but it’s definitely next up from the audio books on my Non-Fiction November TBR and I’m so looking forward to this one.

Deceit and Self-Deception by Robert Trivers

This is another of my Non-Fiction November TBR picks and I’d really like to make a start on it this week. I have tried to read this once before and failed but I’m still keen to read it so now is the time!

The School Friend by Alison James

I’m continuing on my quest to catch up on my NetGalley reads before the end of the year and this book is up next on my list. I think I’m going to love this one!

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

 

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver | @OrendaBooks @Will_Carver @annecater

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About the Book

Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

 

My Thoughts

I have to start this review by saying I have no idea how to write this review so apologies if this ends up being a ramble. Nothing Important Happened Today is like nothing I’ve ever read before and I don’t know how to write about it!

Nothing Important Happened Today opens with nine people who’ve never met before all arriving at about the same time on Chelsea Bridge, they put ropes around their necks and they jump to their deaths. We then find that they each received a letter in the post that morning telling them that Nothing Important Happened Today! This chilled me to the core but I simply had to know more so I kept reading.

The novel is told in short vignettes that gradually get pieced together to make up the whole story. We briefly see the lives of the nine who jumped, although we only know them by the numbers they’ve been assigned. This is clever because it means they’re the ‘everyman’ – they could be you or me or someone one you know. Interspersed with these stories we see an old man who seems obsessed with what happened on the bridge, we see a Detective who is on leave visiting his psychiatrist and wondering about the people on the bridge. We also get to see the lives of the poor 32 people on a train who witnessed the nine jump to their deaths and the impact it has on some of them.

The novel isn’t told from any one viewpoint but you feel like there is still an over-arching voice that is controlling what we learn and when we learn it. I felt like I was being pulled into something that I both wanted to look away from and wanted to know more about. I felt I was being manipulated by the person running the cult that isn’t a cult, and it really made me pause for thought about how cults come to be and how they draw people in.

This book isn’t an easy read for anyone. It gave me chills, it’s quite possibly the most disturbing book I’ve ever read. It plagued my mind when I wasn’t reading it and it affected my sleep but I would still absolutely say that it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year! It made me think more than any other book I’ve read this year, it’s still making me think now a couple of weeks after I finished reading it. You need to be in the right frame of mind to pick this book up but it’s absolutely a book worth reading. The insight into how we think of cults and how cults work was fascinating, the way it makes you think about everything in a slightly different light is brilliant.

I’ve lost people to suicide, and whilst I didn’t know the man there was a very public and horrific suicide attempt in my town recently that happened when I was reading this book, so this wasn’t the easiest of reads for me. I did have to keep putting it down and giving myself some space from it but I was always compelled to come back to it because it’s so well-written and it’s such a thought-provoking book.

Nothing Important Happened Today is a book that heavily features suicide but it’s not really about suicide, it’s about the way that society and social media has an affect on all of us. It’s about how people can be preyed upon when they’re vulnerable to it and therefore not aware of how someone is playing them. It’s about how we can find ourselves caught up in something awful and not even know we’re caught up in it until it’s too late. It’s also about the way we’ve become almost immune to horror because we see it all the time on social media and on the news channels. People are so quick to record everything on their phones and there’s always a rush to be the first person on social media talking about something horrible that’s happened. We forget that these things involve real people with loved ones. This book is makes such a powerful statement about modern society and it’s absolutely a wake-up call! This is a book for now, for our era and it’s a book that everyone should read.

Nothing Important Happened Today is so dark and disturbing, I feel like it’s really messed with my mind but it’s made its mark on me more than anything else I’ve read this year. This book is a future classic, mark my words! This book is a must-read and I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for my copy of this book and my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Nothing Important Happened Today is out now in ebook and available for pre-order in print here.

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Non-Fiction November: Become the Expert… on Gender!

This week as part of Non-Fiction November the prompt set by Katie at Doing Dewey is to Be the Expert / Ask the Expert / Become the Expert. I’ve decided to go with Become the Expert as there is a topic that I’ve bought a few books on but have yet to read any of them.

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I want to learn more about gender as it seems there is more and more in the media about this and I feel like I don’t know as much as I would like to. I often think back to my own childhood as a girl with brothers and I feel like back then we all played with dolls and tractors. Lego was made in primary colours and for everyone. But when I look back at photos I’m always wearing pretty dresses and my brothers wore more practical clothes.

So these are the books I’d like to read in the coming months:

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The Gender Agenda by Ros Ball and James Millar

I think this book would be a good place for me to start as it’s a book compiled from tweets and blogs that the parents kept as their children were growing up. It feels like it will be an accessible and fairly quick read that will give me an overview of how society views boys and girls differently, and how stereotypes keep being reinforced (even when we perhaps try not to do this).

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Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine

This book looks at gender from the angle of neuroscience and psychology to see whether men and women’s brains are wired differently, and to further understand what role the way we are brought up has on our adult lives. I’m fascinated to read this book, I think it will be one that really gives me much more understanding on the subject of gender.

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Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O’Toole

This book is slightly different in that it looks at gender but more specifically at women and how we dress and perform in order to fit society’s norms. I think the author is trying to challenge the stereotypes and to re-write the agenda. This book sounds so interesting to me and is one I’ve wanted to read for ages.

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The Gender Games by Juno Dawson

I had to add this book to my quest to understand more about gender as the sub-title to this book is ‘The Problem with Men and Women, from Someone Who Has Been Both’. Juno is a trans-woman so she is able to bring another perspective to my learning about gender. I’ve had this book on my TBR for a year now and haven’t managed to get to it but in putting this post together it’s reminded me how much I want to read it.

Do you have any recommendations of more books on gender that might give me further insight and understanding? I’d love to add to my TBR on this subject.

 

 

 

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Books and eBooks

 

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it so I was delighted when a lovely blogger offered to send me her copy. I hope to read this in the coming weeks after non-fiction November.

Illness as a Metaphor & AIDS as its Metaphors by Susan Sontag

I’ve wanted to read this book for the longest time so I finally decided to buy it this week. I think I may add it to my Non-Fiction November TBR. as I really want to read it now.

 

They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery

This is another book I’ve had on my wish list for a while now and decided to buy it this week. I may add this on to my Non-Fiction November stack too!

The Evil Beneath by A. J. Waines

I’m such a fan of A. J. Waines (see my reviews of Lost in the Lake and Perfect Bones) so when I saw her tweet that this book was free I immediately downloaded it. I’ve somehow missed reading this book before now so I’m looking forward to getting to it.

 

Audio Books

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Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drugs Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages and I got the ebook a while ago but then spotted that I could add the audio to it so I did that this week. I’m really keen to read this one as it’s a subject that I’m really interested in so I don’t think I’ll be too long getting to this!

ARCs

The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

I loved Libby Page’s previous novel The Lido was so thrilled to receive a copy of this book. I’m going to try and hold off reading it until the new year but I’m really keen to read it soon.

All the Water in the World by Karen Raney

I downloaded this ARC from NetGalley on the Read Now section entirely on a whim as I was intrigued by the premise. I hope it’s as good as it sounds.

The Holdout by Graham Moore

I requested this one on NetGalley as I loved the idea of a book set around a jury and I’m so thrilled that I got approved to read it this week!

 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

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About the Book

PLAY
Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE
Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

REWIND
This is an explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Catherine Ryan Howard, and particularly loved her previous novel The Liar’s Girl, and can happily say that Rewind is her best yet! The premise of Rewind is brilliant and the book absolutely delivers!

Rewind has a really interesting set up with each chapter being Pause, Rewind, Fast Forward or Stop and this is brilliant because it really helps you know where you are in a story that jumps around a little, as well as making for more intrigue.

Andrew manages Shanamore Holiday Cottages and has a creepy obsession with watching his female guests through a hidden camera in their bedroom. This was so unnerving to me and has made me never want to stay in an Air BnB ever again!

Natalie is a young married woman who has a level of fame and is well-known on social media. One day she disappears and no one has any idea where she might have gone.

Audrey is a young reporter who is desperate for a proper story to work on so that she can make her name as a journalist. She gets a chance to write a brief piece on Natalie and this leads to her being pulled into find where she is and what has happened to her.

I loved this book! It has such a terrifying opening and from that moment on I didn’t put the book down once and read it all in one sitting! All the characters are so believable and I was so scared about Audrey ending up at Shanamore Cottages and what might happened to her. I was also really intrigued by what could have happened to Natalie – as we delve further into her story it becomes apparent, as is so often the case, that her social media doesn’t show the whole truth about her life and perhaps she wasn’t as happy as she appeared to be. I went back and forth on what could have happened to her and if Shanamore Cottage played it’s part or if there was more to the story with her husband.

The way the book the moves back and forward in time really adds to the building suspense throughout as whilst you know where you are in time, you get so engrossed in the story that you can’t quite piece together who was where and when. You have to know the past in order to understand the present, and as you fast forward to the future you being to see how the previous section slots in. The moments when you pause really do lead to head spinning moments that make you question everything you read up to this point. It’s so good and so well-written!

This is such a brilliant novel for the modern age looking at the negative side of social media and the way readily available cameras make it so easy for voyeurs and obsessives to track their victims. This book is disturbing, thrilling and impossible to put down. I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Corvus for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Rewind is out now and available here.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

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About the Book

In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

 

My Thoughts

Full Disclosure is a brilliant novel about what it is to be a teenager living with HIV. Simone contracted HIV from her birth mother so she has lived her whole life with it. She takes her antiretroviral medication every day and she goes for regular check-ups at the hospital. She lives her with two dads and now she’s at the age where she might start dating they’re concerned about how she will deal with that along with HIV. Simone has already had to move schools when everyone found out about her medical status and her dads understandably want to protect her.

This is such a brilliant book that really explores what it must be like to have had a diagnosis your whole life and to have managed it well, only to reach an age where you’re thinking of boyfriends and perhaps becoming sexually active and all of a sudden it’s an issue you have to confront. Simone worries about how she would tell a boy, and if it would put them off her. She worries at which stage of a relationship she would have to start the conversation. I loved that she comes across as really mature in many ways but also as an ordinary teenage girl who fancies boys and hangs around with her friends.

Simone is shocked to find out that the boy she fancies likes her back and they end up going on a date. Her friends are so happy for her until she starts putting him first and they feel left out and let down. So Simone is dealing with all of this when she gets a note threaten to expose her medical status if she doesn’t break up with her boyfriend. She has no idea who could have written it but it sends her into a tailspin and she doesn’t know who she can trust or who she can turn to.

I loved this book, it’s so well-written and it’s full of diversity. The characters are diverse but none feel like they are there for the sake of diversity, all are there and we learn about them in a very matter of fact way – just like in real life. I really appreciated that there aren’t any token characters, there is just a mix of people as in any social group.

Full Disclosure is a book for everyone, it really brings awareness about living with HIV in such a believable way. This book impacted me in a similar way to The Hate U Give, it’s a great read that makes you think and it stays with you after you’ve read it.

 

I wrote a post pairing fiction books with non-fiction this week and I included Full Disclosure so if you’d like to find more books about HIV please read my post here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Full Disclosure is out now and available here.

Violet by SJI Holliday | @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks @annecater

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About the Book

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of SJI Holliday’s writing, in particular her previous novel The Lingering, but I have to say that Violet is absolutely her best book yet! I read the whole thing in one sitting, I got completely and utterly engrossed in it!

We meet Violet as she’s alone outside a train station in Thailand, she’s been dumped by her boyfriend and she needs a train ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express. Carrie is also travelling alone as her best friend broke her ankle right before they were due to leave and Carrie decided to go on her own. She still has Laura’s ticket and as luck would have it she bumps into Violet and the two get drunk together and realise they could take then next part of the trip with each other. So far, so good!

The novel is told from Violet’s perspective but we do get to see some of Carrie’s thoughts in the form of emails she sends home, predominantly to her best friend Laura. This makes it really interesting as we get to see how they really feel about each other. At the same time I was never sure how honest they were being, either to themselves or to other people!

I soon noticed that there was something off about Violet, a sense that she isn’t completely honest about who she is and this got me interested. At the same time I wasn’t entirely sure about Carrie either. It’s great to start off a novel like this though because I didn’t know who I could trust and I certainly didn’t know if one of them had just made a huge mistake in joining forces with the other.

‘I’m from Nottingham,’ I say, laughing. I throw a peanut in the air and catch it in my mouth. I’ve not idea where that came from. The city, or the peanut trick.

[…]

‘Would you believe […] I’m quite good at accents, actually.’ She throws a peanut and tries to catch it, but it goes way wide of the mark. She swears under her breath, but she’s grinning. ‘Oh damn it,’ she says in a good approximation of my accent. She’s right. She’s a decent mimic.

It soon becomes clear that Carrie is vivacious and outgoing, she likes to get to know other travellers on the train but Violet is much more reserved and had been hoping that she and Carrie could spend time alone together. This leads to tensions between the girls and the dynamic starts to get really interesting. It’s really clever because, in my experience, women are always weighing each other up at the beginning of a friendship so there are things here that seem off but could just be the two women being perfectly normal and keeping their guards up. Yet there is a sense that there is more to the undercurrent between these two women!

Neither girl is particularly likeable, which is perfect in this novel as it adds to you feeling wary of both of them and it makes it harder to work out who is not who she says she is. I loved how they initially both seem so friendly with each other but you soon start to see the cracks appear. Carrie wonders if she was wrong to let Violet travel with her. Violet wonders if Carrie really likes her and if she’d be better off moving on alone. It slowly becomes apparent that these two are more like frenemies than friends! You can sense the cat and mouse game but you can’t ever put your finger on who is in which role… or even if they’re chasing each other first one way and then the other.

This book kept me on my toes right the way to the end. There is a moment when I smugly had it all worked out, I could see what was going on and I knew how it was going to go. And then BAM, I was so completely and utterly wrong! I love it when a book goes a different way to what I was expecting, it doesn’t happen often so when it does it’s hugely satisfying. Violet is an incredible psychological thriller, the best I’ve read this year! It’s dark, disturbing and utterly impossible to put down! I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for my copy of this book and for my blog tour invitation. All Thoughts are my own.

Violet is out now in ebook and available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

You can find the rest of this blog tour at the following stops:

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WWW Wednesdays (6 Nov 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand

I’ve only read a tiny bit of this book at the time I’m writing this post but I can tell it’s going to be a fun, nostalgic read and I can’t wait to read more!

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book recently and have been so keen to read it so am glad to finally have started it. It’s a really good read so far.

The Death of a President by William Manchester

This is such an interesting audio book and I’ve listened to it quite a lot over the last few days. I think I’m about half-way through it and will definitely be listening to more in the coming days.

James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

I’m still reading this one in short bursts, I’m finding it really interesting but it feels a little more academic than I was expecting and my brain’s not always up to that at the moment. It’s a good book though, I recommend it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

I should say here that whilst I finished nine books this week, half of them were books that I’d read a lot of before this week!

 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I loved this book, it’s my new favourite Agatha Christie novel! I now want to make time to re-read more of her books in the new year.

Nothing Important Happened Here by Will Carver

This is such a hard book to write about as it was like nothing I’ve read before and the issue of suicide is a difficult subject matter but it was a brilliant book. I’m reviewing this one for the blog tour next week so please look out for that.

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times in Television by Louis Theroux

I borrowed this book on audio from my local library and I very much enjoyed it. Louis Theroux narrates the book (I always love it when the author of a memoir narrates the audio, it adds to the story for me). I think I might like to have the hardback of this one to have on my bookcase!

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

I loved this novel and reviewed it yesterday so you can read my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more. I read it in one sitting and definitely recommend it.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook

I almost put this on my Non-Fiction November TBR but having left it off the list I was just in the mood to read it so I picked it up anyway. It was such a good read and I’m glad I finally got to it.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

This is such a good YA novel about a teenage girl living with HIV. It’s a really good portrayal of teenage life, as well as featuring diverse characters and a very believable plot. I’ll review this very soon.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

This is the first Diane Chamberlain that I’ve picked up in a really long time but it was such a good read and has reminded me of how much I used to enjoy her books. This one might even be my new favourite of hers!

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a long time now so I made sure it was on my Non-Fiction November TBR this year. I’m really glad I finally picked it up as it was such an honest exploration of what it’s like to live with someone with depression and addiction. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

I loved this Christmas novella and have already reviewed it here if you’d like to know more.

 

What I plan on reading next:

I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

This thriller has been on my NetGalley shelf for quite a few months now and is the next book I hope to get to in my plan to catch up before the end of the year. I’m looking forward to this one, it sounds intriguing!

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

This is the next Christmas book that I plan on reading and I’m really looking forward to getting to it.

Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle

I’m trying really hard to reduce the single-use plastics in our home and this is a book that can help me achieve more than I’m already managing.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This is a book I’ve been really keen to get to so I’d like to make this one of my next Non-Fiction November reads.

 

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

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About the Book

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

 

My Thoughts

I’ve loved all of Dawn O’Porter’s novels to date, especially The Cows, and So Lucky is another brilliant read!

So Lucky follows three women: Beth who has a new baby but is very unhappy in her marriage, Ruby who feels she needs to keep her entire body covered at all times, and Lauren who we mainly see through her Instagram posts and seems to have a perfect sparkly life.

I read So Lucky in one sitting as once I started reading it I just didn’t want to put it down. Dawn O’Porter is so good at capturing what it is to be a woman in the modern age and the pressure we all feel to conform to society’s norms. There is a sense that women should be perfect – we should remove all of our body hair and be smiley and happy at all times. Life just isn’t like that!

Beth is besotted with her young baby but she also loves her career so she’s back at working planning Lauren’s wedding but she’s also pumping breast milk and trying to be a good wife. Her husband has had no interest in sex ever since she got pregnant and Beth just wants to feel desired. She’s also having to deal with her interfering mother-in-law who her husband seems to always defer to. I felt really sorry for Beth, it’s so difficult to be in a relationship where your partner won’t discuss issues. My ex was awful for sweeping everything under the carpet and pretending nothing was wrong, it makes for such stress in the home.

Ruby is separated from her husband but she’s cordial with him because they have a three year old daughter, Bonnie. I really felt for Ruby, she had a difficult time as a child and she can’t seem to relate to her own child now. She also has a secret that means she feels she has to keep her body covered at all times. Her attempting to get a wax with her child in the room was so tense and I wanted to climb through the pages and help Ruby.

It was brilliant to read a novel like this where the women are close to my own age. I still have so many insecurities as a 40 year old but it’s not always represented in novels as much as it is for younger women. It felt like Beth represented the not being allowed to be who you are and to talk openly about what you want in life, and Ruby represented all the body issues that women have. They were both such real women to me though and I could see myself, and women I know, in both of them.

Lauren is a younger woman on the verge of marrying the man of her dreams. We get to know her through her instagram posts that are full of inspirational hashtags and often sponsored. She seems to have a perfect life. As the novel progresses we find out that Beth is Lauren’s wedding planner, and Ruby is going to work on the wedding photos so through them we get to meet Lauren in real life, and it seems all is not quite as glossy as it seems on her Instagram. She has an over-bearing mother and fears that her fiance might be attracted to other women. It really showed how social media allows us to give the impression that our lives are so perfect but the reality is that everyone has their insecurities and their problems but we forget that sometimes and think we’re the only one.

I love how real all three women felt in this novel, and how we gradually get to know why they are the way they are and we see how they try to accommodate for what they see as their inadequacies. There are some utterly mortifying moments in the novel, which were toe-curling in the embarrassment factor but I loved that because life is like this. Things often aren’t as we might imagine them to be!

Ultimately, I found this a really relatable, moving novel that also saw the funny side of things too. I very much enjoyed this book and I already can’t wait to read Dawn O’Porter’s next book! I highly recommend this one!

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

So Lucky is out now and available here.

If You Like That, You’ll Love This! #Fiction #NonFiction #BookPairings

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It’s week 2 of Non-Fiction November and this week’s prompt is over on Sarah’s Book Shelves and it is all about pairing up non-fiction books with fiction.

I thought this was going to be really difficult but once I took a few minutes to think about it, and to scroll through my Goodreads account, I came up with a few!

Firstly I have a couple of nonfiction books to recommended.. If you loved one then I think you’ll love the other too!

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer + Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

I read both of these books in 2019 and they are both such fascinating reads. Each features explorations of very cold, inhospitable places and reflections on what happened along with some history. Dead Mountain is looking at a mysterious case from the 1950s where a group of experienced explorers all died in very strange circumstances. Into Thin Air is about a group who climb Everest in the 1990s but something goes wrong near the summit and people died. Afterwards there was a lot of discussion about the truth of what happened that day. I think if you enjoyed one of these books you would also enjoy the other.

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink + Past Caring by Audrey Jenkinson

I read these books quite a long time ago but it’s testament to them that I still remember them so clearly. The Last Act of Love is an incredibly moving book about the aftermath of an accident that seriously injured Cathy’s brother. She and her family looked after him from then on until his death. Past Caring is a book that I discovered in the months after my mum died and it was a huge help to me. It’s all about how it feels, and how to cope, when you have been a carer for a loved one who has since died. It’s hard to suddenly not be a carer anymore, to not be needed when it’s been your life for so long. I recommend both of these books – the first is a book for everyone and the second is more for if you have been caring for someone, it really is an excellent resource.

 

Then I have some fiction books that I’ve read and enjoyed so have paired them with some non-fiction titles that are linked in some way.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett + How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS by David France AND And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Schilts

I just finished reading Full Disclosure at the weekend so I haven’t yet written my review. As soon as I started writing this post though I knew I had to include it. It’s about a teenage girl who is HIV Positive (which she contracted from her birth mother). She lives with her two dads and lives a very normal life. The book is a brilliant portrayal of what it is to live with HIV in the present day and I recommend it. I wanted to pair it with two books that both give such an excellent overview of the history of HIV and AIDS. Randy Schilts book is an older book so it doesn’t cover more recent developments but it is still a very good read. David France’s book is very recent and I found it fascinating. Both non-fiction books are well-researched but they’re written in a very accessible way and I would recommend them to anyone wanting to know more.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith + It’s All in Your Head: True Stories of Imaginary Illness by Suzanne O’Sullivan

The Things We Thought We Knew is a brilliant novel following a teenager who is bedbound with chronic pain. Through the novel we learn that her childhood best friend went missing and she has struggled to cope with the loss. Her situation is complex and I felt such sympathy for her. I adored the novel and am keen to re-read it. The non-fiction I recommend after reading the novel is It’s All in Your Head. I read this book whilst recovering from neurosurgery and I got engrossed in it. It’s a book by a doctor who is exploring illnesses where there is no apparent physical cause. She never says it’s all in your mind in a dismissive way, it’s more a fascinating look at how our minds can cause symptoms to present in the body. These symptoms need treating just as much as actual physical illness but O’Sullivan shows how patients and doctors need to be open to exploring other avenues such as psychotherapy. I loved the book and highly recommend it.

Carry You by Beth Thomas + Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman

I read Carry You about five years ago and it’s a book that’s really stayed with me. It’s a contemporary novel and the main character is trying to re-build her life after the death of her mum. I loved the book and want to re-read it soon. I’m pairing it with Motherless Daughters, which is a book I discovered in the months after my mum died. It was the book I needed in those months and I recommend it to anyone who has lost their mother. I liked how Hope tells her own story but the book also contains lots of other women’s stories too so it really is a book for any woman whose mother has died. It’s perhaps not a book if you haven’t experienced that loss but it’s one to make a note of, I have since gifted copies to friends who are grieving the loss of their own mother.

Still Lives by Maria Hummell + After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry 

I read Still Lives very recently and found it a really interesting read. It features an art exhibition by a female artist who has painted herself into the murder scene of women who became infamous after their deaths (such as Nicole Brown-Simpson). It’s a crime thriller but what stood out to me was the exploration of how society either fetishises murdered women, or it ignores them completely to focus on the killer. I’m pairing this with After the Eclipse, which is one of my favourite non-fiction books that I’ve read this year. In this book Sarah Perry writes about the murder of her mum when she was a young teenager. Sarah explores her own emotions from the time but also looks back on the time through her adult eyes. She really made me think about how in our fascination with true crime documentaries we often almost forget that the murdered woman was a person, she had a family and friends. This is a book I recommend to everyone.