Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (8 Aug 20)!

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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!

Purchased eBooks

The Other Girl by C. D. Major

I’ve been so keen to get my hands on this book so when I discovered it was part of the Amazon Prime First Reads this month I immediately downloaded it on my Kindle. I can’t wait to read this one!

They thought she was insane. But what if she was telling the truth? 1942, New Zealand. Edith’s been locked away for a long time. She was just five years old when she was sent to Seacliff Lunatic Asylum. Fifteen years later, she has few memories of her life before the asylum, but longs for one beyond it. When she survives a devastating fire that destroys her ward, Edith is questioned by the police and a young doctor, Declan Harris. Intrigued by his beautiful patient, Declan begins to doubt the official reasons for her incarceration. Is she truly mad—or could the impossible stories she told as a child actually be true? Time is running out. With Edie awaiting a new and permanent treatment, soon there will be little of her left to save. Meanwhile intrigue has tipped into obsession—Declan needs to uncover the truth, but in doing so he will risk losing everything. As he sets out to save her mind, will he lose his own?

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now so I bought it this week and I’m really keen to pick it up. It might even be my next read!

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people… In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

I Love the Bones of You by Christopher Eccleston

This is another book that I’ve wanted to read ever since it was first published so when I spotted it on a Kindle deal for 99p this week I bought it right away. I think this will be an interesting and emotional memoir, and it’s one I hope to get to soon.

Drawing on his memories, Chris will describe a vivid life of growing up in a Salford, working-class household in the 1970s with his siblings, a loving mother, and the totemic figure of his hardworking, serious-minded and socialist father – Ronnie. How his life changed from a potential future as ‘factory fodder’ in his native Northwest, to a deep-rooted desire to perform on stage, and what developed into a burgeoning acting career – from his stunning film debut Let Him Have It; to the BBC’s landmark drama miniseries Our Friends in the North; his remarkable relaunch of the iconic Doctor Who franchise; and many more BAFTA-nominated roles over the past three decades such as starring in the current production of Macbeth for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford; and, playing the role of the grandfather in the BBC1 hit drama series The A Word.
Along this path of fame and fortune also lay a man still bonded to his home city of Salford, his politics, his family, and especially his beloved parents. Chris will discuss openly the loss of his father and his family’s struggle to cope with his condition over the past decade of his life as they watched his health deteriorate. A journey thousands of British families travel on each year. A heart-rending, honest and often touching memoir of a man embedded in his roots and mourning the loss of the father who nurtured those roots. 

Lost You by Haylen Beck

I bought this Kindle book on a total whim as the cover caught my eye and I liked the sound of the premise. I hope it’s as good as it sounds!

YOU’RE LOOKING FOR YOUR SON. BUT SHE FOUND HIM FIRST Libby would do anything for her three-year-old son Ethan. And after a traumatic year, a holiday seems the perfect antidote for them both. Their hotel is peaceful, safe and friendly, yet Libby can’t help feeling that someone is watching her. Watching Ethan. Because, for years, Libby has lived with a secret. Just when Libby is starting to relax, Ethan steps into an elevator on his own, and the doors close before Libby can stop them. Moments later, Ethan is gone. Libby thought she had been through the worst, but her nightmare is only just beginning. And in a desperate hunt for her son, it becomes clear she’s not the only one looking for him…

Review Books

Homecoming by Luan Goldie

I read and loved Luan Goldie’s previous novel so when I spotted her forthcoming book on NetGalley I had to request it. I was delighted to be approved to read it this week and will definitely be reading this very soon!

For years Yvonne has tried to keep her demons buried and focus on moving forward. But her guilt is always with her and weighs heavily on her heart. Kiama has had to grow up without a mother, and while there is so much he remembers about her, there is still plenty he doesn’t know. And there’s only one person who can fill in the gaps. Lewis wants nothing more than to keep Kiama, his son, safe, but the thought of Kiama dredging up the past worries Lewis deeply. And Lewis doesn’t know if he’s ready to let the only woman he’s ever loved back into his life. When Kiama seeks Yvonne out and asks her to come with him to Kenya, the place that holds the answers to his questions, she knows she can’t refuse. And this one act sets in motion an unravelling of the past that no one is ready for.

Purchased AudioBooks

I’ve had an Audible membership for years and years now and have been paying monthly for one book but I realised that it was much better value to pay for a year’s membership upfront and get 24 credits to spend. It meant I had to use up the six credits I already had or I would have lost them so I decide to buy the following six books from my wish list. I can’t wait to listen to all of these!

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donohue

Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney. In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Lifemagazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced. In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton. But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.

Pain and Prejudice by Gabrielle Jackson

‘Women are in pain, all through their bodies; they’re in pain with their periods, and while having sex; they have pelvic pain, migraine, headaches, joint aches, painful bladders, irritable bowels, sore lower backs, muscle pain, vulval pain, vaginal pain, jaw pain, muscle aches. And many are so, so tired … But women’s pain is all too often dismissed, their illnesses misdiagnosed or ignored. In medicine, man is the default human being. Any deviation is atypical, abnormal, deficient.’ Fourteen years after being diagnosed with endometriosis, Gabrielle Jackson couldn’t believe how little had changed in the treatment and knowledge of the disease. In 2015, her personal story kick-started a worldwide investigation into the disease by The Guardian; thousands of women got in touch to tell their own stories and many more read and shared the material. What began as one issue led Jackson to explore how women – historically and through to the present day – are under-served by the systems that should keep them happy, healthy and informed about their bodies. Pain and Prejudice is a vital testament to how social taboos and medical ignorance keep women sick and in anguish. The stark reality is that women’s pain is not taken as seriously as men’s. Women are more likely to be disbelieved and denied treatment than men, even though women are far more likely to be suffering from chronic pain.

The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness–how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people–sane, normal, well-adjusted members of society–went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.  But, as Cahalan’s explosive new research shows, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?

Me by Elton John

In his only official autobiography, music icon Elton John writes about his extraordinary life, which is also the subject of the film Rocketman. Christened Reginald Dwight, he was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the London suburb of Pinner and dreamed of becoming a pop star. By the age of twenty-three, he was on his first tour of America, facing an astonished audience in his tight silver hotpants, bare legs and a T-shirt with ROCK AND ROLL emblazoned across it in sequins. Elton John had arrived and the music world would never be the same again. His life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his LA swimming pool to disco-dancing with the Queen; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation. All the while, Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade. In Me Elton also writes about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father.

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

This is the next non-fiction book I plan on reading, it’s one I’ve heard a lot about and I think it’ll be a good one to read alongside the others I’ve either already read or got on my TBR stack.

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

#BookReview: The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

About the Book

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.

My Thoughts

The Summer of Madness is a lovely short story that follows Kurt who has been dumped by his girlfriend and he wants to try and win her back. Kurt sets himself up at the local station and starts reading a section of Wuthering Heights out loud. He’s going to come back every day until he’s finished the novel in the hopes that his ex girlfriend will find out about it and come to see him.

Kurt’s reading begins to attract small crowds – some people stop for a few minutes as they’re passing by and others end up coming to listen day after day. I enjoyed seeing these other characters too and even in such a short story there was enough about them to make me curious and to want to see what might happen to them as a result of the reading.

It was interesting that Kurt’s girlfriend broke up with him and now he’s making a grand gesture to win her back. It is touched on in the story that this isn’t the kind of thing that we always think of as grandly romantic anymore, that this is Kurt’s summer of madness in the way he thinks this can win her back. I really liked that the story briefly discusses this.

We learn more about why Kurt’s girlfriend broke up with him and so I was curious as to whether this story would have a happy ending where she came back. I wasn’t sure that she would but then I wasn’t sure how the story would end if she didn’t. I love that this story genuinely kept me on my toes until the end.

The Summer of Madness is such a lovely summer read and perfect for picking up in your lunch break. It was a story that kept me turning the pages as I wanted to know how things were going to go for Kurt. I very much enjoyed this gorgeous short story and I definitely recommend it!

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

The Summer of Madness is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (5 Aug 20)! 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!

Current Reads

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

So, I finally started reading this mammoth book! I have a hardback edition but I’ve also got the ebook from the library as it’s too much for me to hold the hardback for long. I’m actually really enjoying this book, it’s such an interesting read. The lack of full-stops is something I got used to really easily and it’s never bothered me to stop reading at any point on a page, I don’t need chapters, so this is really enjoyable. I find it works best if I read in chunks rather than a few pages here and there, and I do need to take the odd break from it but I love coming back to it. I’m currently on page 306 of 1030!

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I’m really enjoying this book. It follows Emira, a young black woman who babysits for a white couple. One night they ask her to take their child to the store and while there she is accused of kidnapping the child. It also follows Alix, the mother of the child, and she is a busy and successful woman who is very media savvy and aware of optics. It’s eye-opening to read Emira’s point of view and to see just how many micro-aggressions she has to deal with every single day. There is such a contrast with Alix’s life and how she suddenly finds herself wanting to get to know Emira better. I can’t wait to read more of this one.

Recent Reads

The New Girl by Harriet Walker

This novel follows two women: Margot who is a fashion editor at a high end magazine, she’s also pregnant and will be going on maternity leave soon; and Maggie, the woman who is brought in to replace her. Margot finds out that her best friend Winnie has suffered a stillbirth on the day she hires Maggie and it sends he into a spiral. She doesn’t handle any of it very well. I found this novel very slow over the first half but then something happens mid-way through and we get a different perspective and from then on I was gripped. This is more a domestic drama than a thriller so I was a bit disappointed that I thought I was getting something different. I did enjoy the second half though.

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke

This novel is stunning! It follows the journey of a song and the impact it has on people. First we meet Arie and Diana who are very much in love. Diana finds it hard to communicate her emotions in words so she starts composes a song for Arie. Soon after something happens to Diana and a man picks up her composition and takes it home. The song reaches as far as Australia, Canada and Edinburgh and it has such an effect of all of those who hear it. I love how the song threads all the way through the novel, it’s such a beautiful book. I’ll be reviewing this one on 10th August for the blog tour so look out for my thoughts then. In the meantime I highly recommend it!

All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

This is the sequel to The Ice Cream Girls and I really enjoyed it. It follows lots of characters but the core story is about the daughter of one of the Ice Cream Girls and the younger brother of the other. This goes back and forth in time through multiple perspectives as we explore how the next generation views what the previous was accused, and in one case, convicted of. It is a little confusing to follow on audio book at times as it jumps around in time and through characters so frequently so it’s one to listen to in big chunks. I really enjoyed this one and recommend it.

The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

This is such a lovely short story and I really enjoyed it. It follows Kurt as he embarks on a plan to win his ex-girlfriend back. She has dumped him because he was selfish and so now he’s decided to stand at the station every day reading his way through her favourite novel Wuthering Heights in the hope she’ll see him there. It’s a sweet story and perfect for reading during your lunch break. I’ll be reviewing this one soon but I recommend it in the meantime!

What I Might Read Next

I don’t know what I might read next but the books that are catching my attention right now are these four. The first three are books I got from NetGalley and the fourth is a library book on the BorrowBox app that is next on my anti-racism reading list.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

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. 🙂

That Was The Month That Was… July 2020!

July seems to have flown by, I can’t believe it’s already August! July was mainly spent watching a lot of football and reading loads of great books. We also finally watched the last season of Orange is the New Black.

The Government says shielding is now over but given that I haven’t left the house in five months I’m not planning on rushing things. I hope to be able to at least go for a short drive with my husband before too much longer.

I had another amazing reading month and finished a lot of books. It helps that my new headphones mean I can listen to audio books again. My 20 Books of Summer has stalled though as I’m struggling to hold physical books for any length of time. I think I only read one of my planned TBR in July and started another. Hopefully I’ll be able to complete my challenge to read 20 physical books.

I read 29 books (mainly ebooks and audiobooks) in July and that came to a total of 10,588 pages. I’m really pleased with how much I read, and how many amazing books I got to in July. I hope August is as good!

The Books I read

My July Blog Posts

My Mid-Year Reading Stats!

Book Haul

My Favourite Books of the Year So Far!

Review of The Greatest of Enemies by B. R. Maycock

Book Haul

Mini Book Reviews of My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish, One Step Behind by Lauren North, and Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

Audiobook Review of Come Again by Robert Webb

Review of Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Book Haul

Mini Book Reviews of Finders, Keepers by Sabine Durrant, Mine by Clare Empson, Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent, and Innocent or Guilty by A. M. Taylor

Audiobook Review of Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

Audiobook Review of The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Book Haul

Mini Book Reviews of How To Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi, The Search Party by Simon Lelic, The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton, and How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

Review of The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

Book Haul

How was July for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that July has been okay. What was your favourite book from July? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (1 Aug 2020)!

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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!

Purchased eBooks

Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay

I’ve had my eye on this book for a little while now and decided to buy it this week. I’m keen to get to this one soon.

From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay’s journey in Red Dust Road is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. In a book remarkable for its warmth and candour, she discovers that inheritance is about much more than genes: that we are shaped by songs as much as by cells, and that what triumphs, ultimately, is love…

Just Before I Died by S. K. Tremayne

I’ve read most of S. K. Tremayne’s novels to date but somehow missed this one being published. I spotted it on Kindle for 99p this week and so snapped it up!

Why did you do that to me Mummy, don’t you love me? Kath lives with her husband Adam and daughter Lyla in a desolate stone longhouse deep in Dartmoor National Park. She likes her life the moors are beautiful, if bleak and she counts herself as happy, even if they struggle with money, and work, and her daughter’s shyness. But one day Kath wakes up from a coma, with a vague memory of a near-fatal car accident. She hugs her daughter close, likewise her husband Adam. But there’s something wrong. Adam seems furious with her and Lyla is acting evermore strangely. They should be delighted to see her alive, snatched from certain death. But they won’t meet her gaze. Then Kath learns that the car crash wasn’t an accident, and her whole life collapses into a world of panic, and danger.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

I downloaded this one on a whim when I spotted it on a daily deal this week!

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams. Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same. Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to.

Review Books

The Searcher by Tana French

I love Tana French’s writing so was beyond thrilled when I got sent a NetGalley widget for her forthcoming new novel this week. I’m so happy to have a copy of this one and can’t wait to read it!

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever. Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch. Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door. 

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

I also love Louise Jensen’s writing so when I heard she had a new one coming out and it was on NetGalley I immediately requested it. I’m so pleased to have this one on my kindle and plan on reading it soon.

Three little girls missing. One family torn apart… Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe. Twenty years ago these three sisters were taken. What came after they disappeared was far worse. It should have brought them together, but how can a family ever recover? Especially when not everyone is telling the truth . . . 

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

I requested this one on a whim when I spotted it on NetGalley. I love reading novels in verse, and I’m trying to read more diversely too so this one just jumped out at me. I’ll definitely read this one soon.

The story that I thought was my life didn’t start on the day I was born . Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.  The story that I think will be my life starts today. Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

I love A Keeper when I read it last year so am delighted to have a copy of his latest novel on my Kindle. This one sounds really good so I’m keen to get to it.

It is 1987 and a small Irish community is preparing for the wedding of two of its young inhabitants. They’re barely adults, not so long out of school and still part of the same set of friends they’ve grown up with. As the friends head home from the beach that last night before the wedding, there is a car accident. Three survive the crash but three are killed. And the reverberations are felt throughout the small town. Connor, the young driver of the car, lives. But staying among the angry and the mourning is almost as hard as living with the shame, and so he leaves the only place he knows for another life. Travelling first to Liverpool, then London, by the noughties he has made a home – of sorts – for himself in New York. The city provides shelter and possibility for the displaced, somewhere Connor can forget his past and forge a new life. But the secrets, the unspoken longings and regrets that have come to haunt those left behind will not be silenced. And before long, Connor will have to meet his past. 

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

I read and enjoyed the author’s previous novel The Escape Room but have heard this new one is even better. The premise sounds like my kind of read so I can’t wait to pick this up, I may even make it my next read!

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help. The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

The author offered me a copy of this short story and the premise sounded really good so I accepted. I’ve already read this one and really enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.

Pigeonhole App

Keep Her Quiet by Emma Curtis

I got this book on Pigeonhole and am already a couple of days behind in joining in on the read. I plan on starting this today though and can’t wait!

Jenny has just given birth to the baby she’s always wanted. She’s never been this happy. Her husband, Leo, knows this baby girl can’t be his. He’s never felt so betrayed. The same night, a vulnerable young woman, Hannah, wakes to find her newborn lifeless beside her. She’s crazed with grief. When chance throws Hannah into Leo’s path, they make a plan that will have shattering consequences for all of them. Years later, a sixteen-year-old girl reads an article in a newspaper, and embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about herself. But what she learns will put everything she has ever known – and her own life – in grave danger. Because some people will go to desperate lengths to protect the secrets their lives are built on . . .

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (29 Jul 20)! What are you reading?

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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!

Current Reads

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I just started reading this last night so have only read the first couple of chapters so far but I can’t wait to read more. It follows Emira, a young black woman who babysits for a white couple. One night they ask her to take their child to the store and while there she is accused of kidnapping the child. It also follows Alix, the mother of the child, and she is a busy and successful woman who is very media savvy and aware of optics. I’m really keen to read more about these two women and to see where this novel is going.

The New Girl by Harriet Walker

This novel follows two women: Margot who is a fashion editor at a high end magazine, she’s also pregnant and will be going on maternity leave soon; and Maggie, the woman who is brought in to replace her. Margot finds out that her best friend Winnie has suffered a stillbirth on the day she hires Maggie and it sends he into a spiral. She doesn’t handle any of it very well. I’m only a few chapters into this one but I’m intrigued to see where it’s going. We know from the prologue that a woman dies but we don’t know who! It seems both Margot and Maggie are driven and it feels like there is already jealousy and competitiveness between them. I’m looking forward to reading more.

All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year as I loved The Ice Cream Girls. I’m really enjoying this one. It follows lots of characters but the core story is about the daughter of one of the Ice Cream Girls and the younger brother of the other. This goes back and forth in time through multiple perspectives as we explore how the next generation views what the previous was accused, and in one case, convicted of. It is a little confusing to follow on audio book at times as it jumps around in time and through characters so frequently so it’s one to listen to in big chunks. I’m really enjoying this one though and am keen to see how it’s all going to end!

Recent Reads

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

This is a stunning novel and one I won’t forget. This one follows Anna and Adam, a couple who fall in love on holiday and decide to stay together afterwards. We know from the very start that something has gone wrong but we don’t know what. I adored reading about the holiday romance, it was so lovely and believable. Even when they begin to have problems once back to reality the love was still there. I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find my full review here if you’d like to know more.

Small Island by Andrea Levy

I read this book many years ago at University but I’ve been wanting to listen to the audio book as Andrea Levy narrates it and I finally got to it over the last week. I really enjoyed the audio, it’s brilliantly done. The novel follows Hortense as she arrives in the UK from Jamaica to join her new husband. We also meet Queenie, Gilbert’s landlady. The novel really puts you into the mindset of what it was to come to this country as a black person in the 40s, and how the English viewed even war heroes like Gilbert as second-class citizens. I very much enjoyed this novel and I recommend it.

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

This novel follows a police detective Iona as she starts investigating the disappearance of a married man. I’m only a couple of chapters into this one but we’ve met the group of mothers, one of whom is married to the missing man. There seems to be a class divide in the mothers’ group, and they almost seem like frenemies at first but there is way more to these women than we see at first. I really enjoyed this book. I had to suspend disbelief at times but I didn’t mind as I was so engrossed in the book I just wanted to know what was going to happen! I’ve already reviewed this one here.

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

This is one of my 20 Books of Summer and I’m so pleased to have read it. It follows Cate and her son Leo as having found themselves homeless they have to go to her late husband’s family home, the Hatters Museum, for the summer. There they meet the formidable Araminta and have to find their feet in this new world they’ve found themselves in. There are secrets and lies that begin to come to the fore and Cate finds that she’s not the only person hiding things. I loved the characters in this novel, and seeing how they all found their way with each other. It’s such an engrossing and beautiful novel, I recommend it!

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

This is about a family who are split apart when two of them have to go into witness protection. Lauren and her daughter Zara are trying to figure out their new lives and who they have to be now. Lauren’s husband Aidan is trying to figure out how he can help them be safe. This novel is so tense, every time anyone does anything that might potentially put them at risk I find myself holding my breath. I really enjoyed this one and have already reviewed it here.

What I Might Read Next

I’m still mood reading whilst also trying to focus on the books on my NetGalley shelf so these books are the ones that I think I’ll be reading next. The first three are NetGalley books. I’ve been wanting to read Ducks, Newburyport for ages and have had a copy since my birthday earlier this year. I feel like I’m ready to face picking up such a long read so we’ll see how I get on!

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake

True Story by Kate Reed Petty

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

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 Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley | @MsAmeliaHenley @HQStories

About the Book

This is not a typical love story, but it’s our love story.

Anna wasn’t looking for love when Adam swept her off her feet but there was no denying their connection, and she believed they would be together forever.

Years later, cracks have appeared in their relationship. Anna is questioning whether their love can really be eternal when a cruel twist of fate delivers a crushing blow, and Anna and Adam are completely lost to one another. Now, Anna needs Adam more than ever, but the way back to him has life-changing consequences.

Is a second chance at first love really worth the sacrifice? Anna needs to decide and time is running out…

My Thoughts

I’ve read and love all of Louise Jensen’s novels to date so when I heard that her new book was to be a different genre under an alter ego I was so keen to read it. I’m so pleased to say that I completely and utterly adored it!

The Life We Almost Had follows the love story of Anna and Adam. Anna was newly single when she met Adam on her honeymoon! Her fiance had dumped her two weeks before the wedding so she was on honeymoon with her best friend Nell and she absolutely wasn’t looking for a holiday romance. However, she soon meets Adam and he is everything her fiance wasn’t. He’s kind and charming and soon utterly besotted with Anna! I loved reading about the beginnings of their romance, the writing really captures that feeling of getting to know someone who you know it going to be special in your life. The novel moves on to the realities of trying to continue a holiday romance when you get back home and realise you live hours apart from each other. They try to make it work but face some really difficult times over the years.

We know from the beginning of the novel that something has torn these two apart but we don’t know what. I love that as I got absorbed in the early days of their love story that I forgot things were going to go awry and I was so upset for them when it did. The way that Adam and Anna begin to fall apart was so real. We get each of their perspectives and you really can see it from both sides. There were times when I wanted to reach into the pages and sit them down and make them talk honestly to each other. The pain they were each in stopped them being able to talk though and it was so sad to read. I was rooting for them to make it work, to find a way to talk to each other. So when Adam suggests something to Anna I was so sure it was all going to work out.

There is so much more in this novel that I can’t mention here because I wouldn’t want to spoil this book but there is something so beautiful and remarkable in what Amelia Henley does. I wanted it all to be real and possible because it’s breathtaking and incredible.

The Life We Almost Had is a novel that made me cry but it also made me smile; there is so much love running through this book, even when it seems Anna and Adam have got too far apart you can see that the love is still there between them. I adored this book and it’s one that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s a stunning novel and one that I know will stay with me. I highly recommend this one!

The Life We Almost Had is out now and available here.

Mini Book Reviews: How To Be An AntiRacist |The Search Party | The Mothers | How To Disappear

How To Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. It’s a non-fiction book that is about how it’s not enough to just be not racist, we have to actively be anti-racist. The author examines his own thoughts and emotions on the subject and provokes the reader to think about their own ideas. Each chapter is on a different subject and opens with a brief description of the main terms used. I really liked how the book is set out and it meant I could read a chapter and then put the book down and take time to digest what I’d read before moving on to the next chapter. This is a US book but I still found it really enlightening as a British person living in the UK. It made me feel so much more empowered to be more pro-active as an anti-racist, and to speak out more when I see racist behaviour. I recommend this one and now I’m keen to start reading the author’s previous book Stamped From The Beginning.

The Search Party by Simon Lelic

I’ve read most of the author’s previous novels and enjoyed them but this one is his best yet! It follows a group of friends who decide to form a search party to go looking for their friend Sadie. The police are involved but this group feels that the police are not doing enough and are looking in the wrong place. We meet this group after the search and we hear their stories via the police interviews, which takes us back in time to before and during the search. I love how the picture of what happened is slowly built up and there are moments in this novel that are so tense I was holding my breath. There are red herrings along the way, which were also great as it threw me completely off the scent but it does all make sense at the end. We also find out that this group of friends don’t all like each other very much and they all have their reasons for wanting to find Sadie! We also get the perspective of the detective and he has his own past ties to this small town and this adds even more intrigue to the novel. I recommend this one!

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

This book was the oldest one on my NetGalley shelf and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner because it was such a gripping read. It follows a police officer investigating a missing man. We then follow a group of five mothers and we learn about how they became friends and how they are with each other. The missing man is the husband of one of these women and it seems there is more to the story than we initially find out. I really enjoyed how it went back and forth in time as we get to know the women and their back stories. At first it seems like they’re frenemies but there is a bond between them. I love stories about female friendship and this was another good one, and it went in a different direction than I was expecting so I loved that aspect. There are moments in the novel where I had to suspend my disbelief but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all as I was fully invested in the wider story. I recommend this one!

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

I love this author’s novels so have been eagerly anticipating this new one and it didn’t disappoint. This book follows teenager Zara who witnesses a crime and the repercussions mean her and her mum Lauren have to go into witness protection for their own safety. Lauren’s husband Aidan doesn’t go with them as he needs to stay near his own daughter Poppy. The first part of this book is so fast-paced and I couldn’t read it quick enough. Then the tension starts to build and I had to keep putting the book down, I was so anxious about the rules that kept being broken and what the consequences might be. And yet the book kept pulling me back because I just needed to know! This is a rollercoaster ride of a book and it definitely keeps you on your toes. I really enjoyed this one and I recommend it!

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (25 Jul 20)!

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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!

Purchased eBooks

Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch

I’ve seen this book around in recent weeks and thought it sounded really interesting so when I spotted it in the Kindle Daily Deals earlier this week I bought it. I hope to get to this one soon.

Afua Hirsch is British. Her parents are British. She was raised, educated and socialised in Britain. Her partner, daughter, sister and the vast majority of her friends are British. So why is her identity and sense of belonging a subject of debate? The reason is simply because of the colour of her skin. Blending history, memoir and individual experiences, Afua Hirsch reveals the identity crisis at the heart of Britain today. Far from affecting only minority people, Britain is a nation in denial about its past and its present. We believe we are the nation of abolition, but forget we are the nation of slavery. We sit proudly at the apex of the Commonwealth, but we flinch from the legacy of the Empire. We are convinced that fairness is one of our values, but that immigration is one of our problems. Brit(ish) is the story of how and why this came to be, and an urgent call for change.

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

This is another book that I got from the Kindle Daily Deals this week. It’s one I’ve read really good reviews of and am keen to read soon.

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins—aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony—and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family? What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

I keep hearing great things about Samantha Irby’s writing but didn’t know which book to start with so when this book popped up in the Kindle Daily Deals I immediately bought it. I’m just in the mood to read an essay collection so I may pick this up very soon.

A new essay collection from Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America. Irby is turning forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and is courted by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife and two step-children in a small white, Republican town in Michigan where she now hosts book clubs. This is the bourgeois life of dreams. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “skinny, luminous peoples” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” and hides Entenmann’s cookies under her bed and unopened bills under her pillow.

The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Dare

This is another book that I keep hearing about and it sounds like such an interesting novel that I couldn’t resist buying it.

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. As the only daughter of a broke father, she is a valuable commodity. Removed from school and sold as a third wife to an old man, Adunni’s life amounts to this: four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens and a new TV. When unspeakable tragedy swiftly strikes in her new home, she is secretly sold as a domestic servant to a household in the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where no one will talk about the strange disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. No one but Adunni… As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless servant, fourteen-year-old Adunni is repeatedly told that she is nothing. But Adunni won’t be silenced. She is determined to find her voice – in a whisper, in song, in broken English – until she can speak for herself, for the girls like Rebecca who came before, and for all the girls who will follow.

Review Books

The Thursday Murder Club By Richard Osman

This is one of my most anticipated reads of this year so I was thrilled to be approved to read it from NetGalley. I don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long at all!

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings. But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case. The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

This is another of my most anticipated reads for 2020 so when I spotted the audio book on NetGalley I hit that request button right away. I was delighted to be approved to read this one yesterday and it will definitely be the next book I listen to!

Verity is telling lies… And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder. Serena has been lying for years. . . And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable… Poppy’s lies have come back to haunt her . . . So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves? Everyone lies. But whose lies are going to end in tragedy? 

The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams

This is another audio book that I got from NetGalley this week. I’ve heard good things about this book and it sounds like a fun summer listen. I’m looking forward to getting to it.

She’s single. But it can still be complicated… Penny Bridge has always been unlucky in love. So she can’t believe it when she meets a remarkable new man. Followed by another. And then another… And all of them want to date her. Penny has to choose between three. But are any of them The One?

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

I requested this audiobook on the BorrowBox app a few weeks ago so have been eagerly awaiting my turn to listen to it. It finally downloaded this week so I’m keen to get to it. I think I’ll listen to the new Dorothy Koomson novel first and then this one.

KENSINGTON AVE, PHILADELPHIA: THE FIRST PLACE YOU GO FOR DRUGS OR SEX. THE LAST PLACE YOU WANT TO LOOK FOR YOUR SISTER. Mickey Fitzpatrick has been patrolling the 24th District for years. She knows most of the working women by name. She knows what desperation looks like and what people will do when they need a fix. She’s become used to finding overdose victims: their numbers are growing every year. But every time she sees someone sprawled out, slumped over, cold to the touch, she has to pray it’s not her sister, Kacey. When the bodies of murdered sex workers start turning up on the Ave, the Chief of Police is keen to bury the news. They’re not the kind of victims that generate a whole lot of press anyway. But Mickey is obsessed, dangerously so, with finding the perpetrator – before Kacey becomes the next victim.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

The Switch by Beth O’Leary #AudioBook

About the Book

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest.

Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

So they decide to try a two-month swap.

Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.

But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love?

My Thoughts

I read and loved The Flatshare by this author last year so was delighted to spot her new one, The Switch, on audiobook on NetGalley last week. I was thrilled to be approved to listen to it and I’m so pleased to say that I loved it!

The Switch follows Leena, who having been successful in her career has had a bit of a blip and has been given two months off work. She is stunned and doesn’t know what to do with herself. The novel also follows Leena’s beloved Grandma Eileen, who is newly single and trying to find her feet on the dating scene. Leena and Eileen decide to swap homes for the two months – Eileen will move to London and Leena will move back to the Yorkshire village where she grew up!

I loved Eileen from the very start of this novel, and having her character narrated by the brilliant Alison Steadman only added to how much I adored her! I love older characters who are full of life and know what they want. Eileen wants to find love again but she doesn’t suffer fools. I adored seeing her dating exploits in London and was rooting for her to find Mr Right.

Leena was a little harder to like at the beginning, there was clearly something holding her back. Once we learn what she, and her family, have been through I came to understand why she is the way she is. I loved seeing her trying to figure out how to get through being back in the village she’d grown up in, and trying to navigate a better relationship with her estranged mum. I was so moved by the moment in the novel when there is a break through between the two characters, it made me quite tearful.

The narrators for this audiobook are utterly perfect and they really added an extra layer of enjoyment to the novel. Alison Steadman (Pamela in Gavin and Stacy) is wonderful, her voice is so warm and she was a perfect Eileen. Leena is narrated by Daisy Edgar-Jones (Marianne in Normal People) and again she just seem so suited to this role. I definitely recommend the audio book, and I will be looking out for more audio books narrated by both of these women in the future.

The Switch is a perfect read for this summer: it provides warmth and much-needed escapism from the world we’re living in. There is some depth to this novel but the lightness always balances the sadder parts. I adored this one and highly recommend it!

The Switch is out now on audiobook here and in hardback and ebook here.

WWW Wednesdays (22 Jul 20)! What are you reading?

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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!

Current Reads

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

This novel follows a police detective Iona as she starts investigating the disappearance of a married man. I’m only a couple of chapters into this one but we’ve met the group of mothers, one of whom is married to the missing man. There seems to be a class divide in the mothers’ group, and they almost seem like frenemies at the moment. I’m keen to find out what’s going on and also to see how the prologue, where someone seems to be about to smother a baby, fits into the whole story. This is definitely intriguing and I want to know more!

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

This is about a family who are split apart when two of them have to go into witness protection. Lauren and her daughter Zara are trying to figure out their new lives and who they have to be now. Lauren’s husband Aidan is trying to figure out how he can help them be safe. This novel is so tense, every time anyone does anything that might potentially put them at risk I find myself holding my breath. It’s really good and I can’t wait to find out what happens and if everyone will be okay!

Small Island by Andrea Levy

I read this book many years ago and remember enjoying it. I’ve heard people talking about it again recently and decided to buy the audio book so I could listen to it. Andrea Levy narrates the book and it’s excellent hearing her voice her own characters. I’m very much enjoying this one and recommend the audio book.

Recent Reads

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

I’ve had this book on my TBR for three years but I finally picked it up this week and I read it in one sitting. It’s one of the most powerful and eye-opening book on race that I’ve read to date. There is a lot of focus on Serena Williams, as well as the micro-aggressions that are so appalling and shocking. It’s a brilliant book and I recommend it to everyone.

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

I listened to the audio book of this from NetGalley and I really enjoyed it. It follows three women in their 40s: Eleanor, Nancy and Mary. The novel opens with Eleanor learning that Nancy has been murdered. It then is told in three parts: first Eleanor in the present, then Nancy in the past leading up to her murder, and finally it concludes with Mary. I loved the exploration of female friendship and all the complexities that come with being a group of three. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find my thoughts here.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

This is another audio book that I listened to on the NetGalley app. I really enjoyed this one too. It follows Leena who is given two months off work and she ends up swapping homes with her beloved Grandma Eileen. The novel alternates between them and I really loved getting to know their back story and seeing what was going to happen to them in their new lives. It’s a really heartwarming book and lovely escapism. I’ll be reviewing this soon but in the meantime I recommend it!

I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin

I recently watched the documentary film of the same name and found it such an emotional and interesting watch so decided to read the book soon afterwards. Raoul Peck sought permission from the Baldwin estate to look at the 30 pages of notes James Baldwin had made on a book he intended to write called Remember This House about the murders of Medgar Evans, Malcom X and Martin Luther King. He then took these notes and fleshed them out to make the documentary and accompanying book I Am Not Your Negro. It’s really well done and I’m so glad I read this one. I recommend it.

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

I couldn’t resist reading this one very soon after I was approved to read it from NetGalley as I love Sarah Moss’ writing. Summerwater is set all in one day on a Scottish cabin park. It follows twelve characters, and each has their own chapter so you really get to know them. You can sense that it’s all building towards something and this makes this slow-burn character novel impossible to put down. I read it all in one sitting and I highly recommend it.

Mine by Clare Empson

I loved Clare Empson’s previous novel Him so was really keen to read her new one and I loved it. It follows Luke in the present day as he meets his birth mother Alice for the first time and gets to know her. Then in alternating chapters it follows Alice back in the 70s as she falls in love for the first time with the lead singer of a band. This is an emotional and absorbing read and I adored it. I’ve reviewed it here.

Innocent or Guilty by A. M. Taylor

This is the oldest book on my NetGalley shelf so in my attempt to catch up I wanted to read it and I’m so pleased I finally go to it as it was a good read. It follows Olivia as she gets involved with a true crime podcast in an attempt to clear her twin brother Ethan. He’s in prison for the murder of Tyler Washington a decade earlier when they were all 18. I loved the podcast element of this novel and the short transcripts that feature throughout the novel. I did predict some of it but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. I’ve already reviewed this book here.

Come Again by Robert Webb

This is another audiobook that I got from NetGalley and I enjoyed it. It follows Kate who is grieving after the sudden death of her husband Luke. It’s told in three parts: the first in the present day where Kate is mired in grief; the second where Kate wakes up back in the 1990s where she is about to meet Luke for the first time; and the third where Kate is back in the present and in the midst of a car chase! Olivia Colman narrates this audiobook and she really adds to the novel, I really recommend the audio. I reviewed this book here.

What I Might Read Next

I’m still working on catching up with some of my NetGalley books at the moment so in the coming days I’m likely to be reading more of them. I’m reading by whim just now but these four are the ones that appeal to me the most as I’m writing this post!

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

The Split by Sharon Bolton

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

Watch Over You by M. J. Ford

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. 🙂

Audio Book Review: Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

About The Book

Nancy, Eleanor and Mary met at college and have been friends ever since, through marriages, children and love affairs. 

Nancy married her college sweetheart and is now missing that excitement of her youth.

Eleanor put her career above all else and hasn’t looked back, despite her soft spot for Nancy’s husband.

Mary fell pregnant far too young and is now coping with three children and a mentally unwell husband.

But when Nancy is killed, Eleanor and Mary must align themselves to uncover her killer. And as each of their stories unfold, they realise that there are many different truths to find, and many different ways to bring justice for those we love…

Everyone wants a perfect life. But there is no such thing…

My Thoughts

I read and loved Araminta Hall’s previous novel Our Kind of Cruelty so when I spotted her forthcoming audiobook on NetGalley I couldn’t download it fast enough!

Imperfect Women is about three women: Eleanor, Nancy and Mary who have all been friends since University. The novel opens with Eleanor getting a late night phone call from Nancy’s husband Robert to say she hasn’t come home. It turns out that Nancy has been murdered. The novel is told in three parts: First we get Eleanor’s story, then it goes back in time and we get Nancy’s perspective right up until her murder, and then we end with Mary’s point of view.

I love novels that explore female friendships, I find them endlessly fascinating. There are so many complexities and perceived slights, jealousies and drama that has happened between these three women over the years. Two are married with children, one has remained single and childless. Two each have an affair, and one has a husband who has had multiple affairs over the years. This leads to insecurities, and sometimes a lack of understanding and compassion between the women. Also, three is so often a crowd and even though Eleanor, Nancy and Mary are all adults in their 40s there is still a sense of jealousy whenever two meet without the other. It felt really believable to me.

This is a thriller and the mystery running through the novel about who Nancy was meeting the night she was killed, and who might have killed her does keep you gripped. I worked out one of these things but not the other so was on the edge of my seat as the reveals start to come.

The narrator of this audio book, Helen Keeley, is excellent! She really captures the emotion and the tension within each of the three women in the novel. There’s a definite difference between each of the character’s voices which meant I always knew whose perspective I was listening to. I’ll definitely be looking out for more books read by Helen Keeley in the future!

I really enjoyed this novel, it really grabs you from the opening chapter and it keeps you hooked right until the very end. I recommend this one!

Imperfect Women is due to be published on 4th August and is available to pre-order on audiobook here, and in hardback and ebook here.

Mini Book Reviews: Finders, Keepers | Mine | Our Little Cruelties | Innocent or Guilty?

Finders, Keepers by Sabine Durrant

I loved this book, it’s my new favourite Sabine Durrant novel! It follows Verity who lives alone in the only house she’s ever lived in. One day she has new neighbours move in next door and she goes out of her way to befriend the couple and their children, particularly their son Max. When the novel opens Ailsa is living with Verity so straight away I was keen to find out why and what had happened. The novel then slowly unfolds and we go discover how Verity became so close to her neighbours, and a little about how they viewed her. We also see her bond with Max, as she begins to tutor him. This is a slow-burn novel but it’s so gripping that I read it all in one sitting! I loved the slow reveals and the way the plot and the characters developed. There is more to Verity than you know at first and the gradual peeling back of layers in her character is fascinating. I highly recommend this one!

Mine by Clare Empson

This novel is stunning! I loved the author’s debut novel and this one absolutely lives up to it. It follows two characters – Luke and Alice. Luke’s storyline is set in 2000 where he’s married and has a young baby. Luke was adopted as a baby and he’s finally meeting his birth mum Alice. The alternate chapters are told from her perspective in 1972 when aged almost nineteen she meets a singer and falls head over heels in love. I was enthralled equally by both timelines and I wanted to know what was going to happen. There are such devastating moments in this novel that broke my heart and actually made me cry. It made me feel such sympathy for both characters, and I never lost that sympathy for them even when things begin to go wrong. There is so much depth to this novel, and so much is explored about adoption and the affect it can have. I loved this novel and already wish I could go back and read it all over again.

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

The premise of this book is so intriguing – three brothers who have a complex relationship and now one of them is dead, but which one? The novel is told in three parts – each told from a different brother’s point of view and I loved this. It was fascinating to go back and forth in time in each perspective and see all the little cruelties (sometimes real and sometimes perceived) done, and then to see another brother’s different take on what happened. It really built up such a vivid picture of sibling relationships and the pressures put on each of them. This is a slow-burn book but it’s gripping and it keeps you turning the pages. I love that it was impossible to work out who was dead and which brother had killed him, and I don’t even know how Liz Nugent managed to do that. I’m in awe though! This was such a good read and I definitely recommend it!

Innocent or Guilty? by A. M. Taylor

This book has been on my NetGalley shelf for ages and I finally read it last week and I’m so glad I picked it up, it was a good read. It follows Olivia Hall who is asked to take part in a true crime podcast investigating her twin brother Ethan. Ethan is in prison for killing Tyler Washington a decade earlier when they were all 18. I really enjoyed following Olivia and the podcast team as they went back to the town where the murder happened. I also enjoyed the sections where we got transcripts of the podcast. I did work out whodunnit really early on but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book as I wanted to know why and how, and what was going to happen as the book progressed. I enjoyed this one and would look out for more books by this author.

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (18 Jul 20)!

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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!

Purchased eBooks

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

I read and enjoyed An American Marriage last year so when I spotted this book by the author on Kindle this week I decided to treat myself. It sounds like such a good read and I’m looking forward to getting to it.

With the opening line of Silver Sparrow, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” author Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and two teenage girls caught in the middle.  Set in a middle-class neighbourhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families—the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters ”the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle ”she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another’s lives.

Review Books

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

I was delighted to be approved to read this one on NetGalley this week as I’ve been keen to read it. I actually picked it up yesterday and read it all in one sitting. It’s such a brilliant novella! I’ll be reviewing it soon but in the meantime I highly recommend it.

On the longest day of the summer, twelve people sit cooped up with their families in a faded Scottish cabin park. The endless rain leaves them with little to do but watch the other residents. A woman goes running up the Ben as if fleeing; a retired couple reminisce about neighbours long since moved on; a teenage boy braves the dark waters of the loch in his red kayak. Each person is wrapped in their own cares but increasingly alert to the makeshift community around them. One particular family, a mother and daughter without the right clothes or the right manners, starts to draw the attention of the others. Tensions rise and all watch on, unaware of the tragedy that lies ahead as night finally falls.

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

I requested this one from NetGalley on a whim as I can’t resist books about music. This sounds like such a good read and I can’t wait to get to it.

It’s the early days of the new millennium, and Laura has arrived in New York City’s East Village in the hopes of recording her first album. A songwriter with a one-of-a-kind talent, she’s just beginning to book gigs with her beautiful best friend when she falls hard for a troubled but magnetic musician whose star is on the rise. Their time together is stormy and short-lived – but will reverberate for the rest of Laura’s life. Fifteen years later, Laura’s teenage daughter is asking questions about her father, questions Laura does not want to answer. Laura has built a stable life in Brooklyn that bears little resemblance to the one she envisioned all those years ago, and she’s taken pains to close the door on what was and what might have been. When her best friend – now a famous musician – comes to town, opportunity knocks for Laura for a second time. Has growing older changed who she is and what she most wants? After all the sacrifices and compromises she’s made along the way, how much is she still that girl from Ohio, with big talent and big dreams?

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

I read and loved Araminta Hall’s previous novel Our Kind of Cruelty so when I spotted her new book on the Listen Now section of NetGalley I couldn’t download it fast enough. I think this will be my next audiobook listen once I’ve finished my current one.

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, a loving husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous and wealthy, with adoring friends and family—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, maybe even themselves. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question: who killed Nancy?

All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle

I’ve read some great reviews of this one so requested it on NetGalley. I’m so pleased to be approved to read this one and plan on reading it soon.

Life is waiting to happen to Hubert Bird. But first he has to open his front door and let it in. In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment. But Hubert Bird is lying. The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul. Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on. Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out. Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . . Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows will he ever get to live the life he’s pretended to have for so long?

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke

I was offered the chance to read and review this book for the blog tour and I immediately said yes! This is another book that centres around a song and I love the sound of it.

This is the story of a love song . . . And like any good love song, it has two parts. In Australia, Arie Johnson waits impatiently for classical pianist Diana Clare to return from a world tour, hopeful that after seven years together she’ll finally agree to marry him. On her travels, Diana composes a song for Arie. It’s the perfect way to express her love, knowing they’ll spend their lives together . . . Won’t they? Then late one night, her love song is overheard, and begins its own journey across the world. In Scotland, Evie Greenlees is drifting. It’s been years since she left Australia with a backpack, a one-way ticket and a dream of becoming a poet. Now she spends her days making coffee and her nights serving beer. And she’s not even sure whether the guy she lives with is really her boyfriend or just a flatmate. Then one day she hears an exquisite love song. One that will connect her to a man with a broken heart . . .

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

I read and loved The Flatshare by this author last year so have been keen to read her new one. I was lucky to get this audiobook from NetGalley this week and I’m already listening to it. It’s such a lovely book and Alison Steadman and Daisy Edgar-Jones are perfect narraters. I’m very much enjoying this one!

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

Under A Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

This is another audiobook that I got from NetGalley this week (I’m so excited about audiobooks now being on there for review!). I downloaded this one on a whim as it sounds like such a lovely read for the summer. I’m looking forward to this one.

One summer to change her life… Wanda Williams has always dreamed of leaving her wellies behind her and travelling the world! Yet every time she comes close to following her heart, life always seems to get in the way. So, when her mother ends up in hospital and her sister finds out she’s pregnant with twins, Wanda knows that only she can save the crumbling campsite at the family farm. Together with her friends in the village, she sets about sprucing up the site, mowing the fields, replanting the allotment and baking homemade goodies for the campers. But when a long-lost face from her past turns up, Wanda’s world is turned upside-down. And under a starry sky, anything can happen…

Come Again by Robert Webb

I was thrilled to spot this audiobook on NetGalley as I’ve been so keen to read it. I’ve actually already read and reviewed this one so you can find my full thoughts here.

Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart. One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this was the day she first met Luke. But he is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same…

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

About the Book

It is nearly midnight, and very cold. Yet in this dark place of long grass and tall trees where cats hunt and foxes shriek, a girl is waiting… When Saffyre Maddox was ten something terrible happened and she’s carried the pain of it around with her ever since. The man who she thought was going to heal her didn’t, and now she hides from him, invisible in the shadows, learning his secrets; secrets she could use to blow his safe, cosy world apart. Owen Pick is invisible too. He’s thirty-three years old and he’s never had a girlfriend, he’s never even had a friend. Nobody sees him. Nobody cares about him. But when Saffyre Maddox disappears from opposite his house on Valentine’s night, suddenly the whole world is looking at him. Accusing him. Holding him responsible. Because he’s just the type, isn’t he? A bit creepy?

My Thoughts

I love Lisa Jewell’s writing so was thrilled to be approved to read her forthcoming novel on NetGalley. I’m so happy to say that it more than lived up to my expectations, it’s my new favourite novel by her!

Invisible Girl follows three characters. Saffyre is a troubled teenager who has had a terrible life so far. She’s been in therapy for quite a long time but feels unable to open up fully in her sessions. Owen is a 33 year old man who lives in a flat with his Aunt. He lives an unhappy life, unable to find love and people are quick to judge him odd and creepy. Cate lives opposite Owen with her husband and two teenagers, and she is increasingly wary of Owen. One night Saffyre goes missing and the last sighting of her was outside Owen’s home.

I loved this novel. It’s a great thriller, it builds quite slowly and the tension as you wonder what is going to happen becomes palpable. It’s brilliant how you have the space to get to know each of the characters and to understand a bit more about why they are the way they are, and then the pacing begins to ramp up.

Cate initially seems very paranoid about quite a few things, and suspicious of her husband. She seems quite a nervous person so when her daughter’s best friend claims to have been assaulted just across from their flat Cate is immediately suspicious of Owen.

As the novel progresses we get to understand why Owen finds it difficult to form relationships with women, and I began to feel sorry for him. We also learn more about Saffyre and it turns out she has a connection to the street where Owen and Cate live!

I love how this novel really makes you think about the snap judgements we make of others: how quickly the media, and people in general, can turn on the person who looks a little odd, the one who keeps to themselves even if there’s no evidence of wrongdoing. I can think of a few prominent real life cases where this has happened and it’s shocking. The novel also made me think about how slow we are to question ourselves about the people in our lives when they may have a motive.

This is a real page-turner of a novel, I read it in a couple of sittings because I was completely gripped and I needed to know how it was all going to turn out for everyone. I felt so invested in some of these character’s lives and I needed to know if they were going to be okay. I loved this book and it’s highly recommended by me!

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

Invisible Girl is due to be published on 6th August and can be pre-ordered here.

#AudioBook Review: Come Again by Robert Webb

About the Book

Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart. One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this was the day she first met Luke. But he is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same…

My Thoughts

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now so when I spotted the audiobook on NetGalley AND discovered that Olivia Colman was narrating it I immediately downloaded it!

Come Again follows Kate, a woman in her 40s who is mired in grief following the sudden death of her husband Luke a few months earlier. She’s really struggling and trying to cope as best as she can. Then she discovers something awful on her boss’s computer and gets fired. I really liked Kate right from the start, I felt so sorry for her that life had turned so bad for her. I was rooting for her to find a way to hold on through her grief. Olivia Colman is perfect to narrate this book, the warmth of her voice was spot on for Kate’s character.

In the second part of this novel Kate wakes up to discover it’s 1992, she’s 18 years old and just starting uni in York! She quickly realises that this might be her chance to save Luke. Very soon it becomes apparent that it’s impossible to make things happen exactly as they did the first time and I found this part of the book so much fun to read. I loved seeing how Kate met her long term friends for the first time and how she met Luke. It was really quite funny seeing her make off-the-cuff comments about events that hadn’t happened yet in 1992, and dealing with her new friends asking her questions about the future because they think she might be psychic. This whole part of the novel is so nostalgic and lovely.

Part three of the book is set back in the present and Kate is in her own time again. If I’m to be honest this part of the book didn’t work as well for me initially. The novel seems to veer in an unexpected and slightly ridiculous direction that doesn’t make sense and doesn’t fit with the rest of the plot. Thankfully Webb does get things back on track and ultimately I did love how the novel ended.

The narration of Come Again is perfection! Olivia Colman really added something to this book for me and the time I was listening flew by as I got absorbed in the novel. I love that she is a similar age to Kate so her voice was authentic and it made the chapters set in 1992 feel so believable because Kate still sounded like she was in her 40s even though her body was now 18 again. I hope she narrates more novels in the future.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend it on audio because Olivia Colman really adds something special with her narration, which is warm and funny and brilliant. Come Again is a good first novel and I would definitely read more by Robert Webb in the future.

I received an audio copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Come Again is out now and available as an audiobook here, and as a hardback and ebook here.

WWW Wednesdays (15 Jul 20)! 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!

Current Reads

Come Again by Robert Webb

I was thrilled to find that NetGalley have launched audiobooks this week and I immediately downloaded this one. I started listening to it straight away and am already halfway through it. Olivia Colman is narrating it and she is perfect for this book! The novel follows Kate whose husband has recently died and she’s not coping. Then one day she wakes up and finds herself in her 18 year old body and realises she can find Luke again and maybe this time she can save him. I’m really enjoying it and am intrigued to see where it’s going.

Innocent or Guilty? by A. M. Taylor (This also seems to be known as The Killer You Know)

This is the oldest book on my NetGalley shelf so I attempt to catch up I wanted to get to it. I did start reading this early into lockdown and just couldn’t get into it. I’m so glad I came back to it and started it again this week though as I’m totally gripped. It follows Olivia whose twin brother is in prison for murdering a boy at their school. She is persuaded to allow a true crime podcast to investigate what happened and as she is sure her brother is innocent she thinks they will help get him a re-trial. At the moment I have my suspicions about who the guilty party is but I have no idea how its all going to play out. I can’t wait to read more!

Recent Reads

How to Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

I’ve been reading this one all week and am glad I read it slowly so I could take in what was being said. I found this a good introduction to why it’s important to be an antiracist and why being not racist is not enough. I appreciated how the author reflects on his own racist ideas as this made the book feel very inclusive in the way it’s asking us to all look at ourselves to see how we can do better. I need to mull the book over a little more but I will review it soon.

The Search Party by Simon Lelic

I think this is my new favourite book by this author! It follows a group of friends who form a search party to look for their missing friend Sadie. Things aren’t quite as they seem though and there are quite a few secrets within this group and everyone has their own reason for wanting Sadie to be found. I enjoyed how the detective has his own tragic ties to the town and how that played into his thoughts on what might have happened. I recommend this one!

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

This is another gripping thriller that I devoured in one sitting! It follows two couples and the power dynamics in their relationships. It looks a lot at the obsession over money and how it is when others have more than you. There is more than one reveal in this novel as it goes along and my head was spinning by the end. I loved it though. I’ve already reviewed this one here if you’d like to know more.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

I’ve had a copy of this book since it was published but decide to borrow the audio book from the library and I’m glad I did. It works so well on audio. It follows a very privileged white woman in New York who decides to take a year out of her life and sleep it away using various medications prescribed by an unscrupulous psychiatrist. She treats her best friend appallingly and is so self-obsessed. And yet I couldn’t help but be fascinated and to care what would happen to her in the end. I loved this book and now want to read everything this author has ever written!

Finders, Keepers by Sabine Durrant

This is another book that I read in one sitting over the course of an afternoon and I loved it. It’s a novel about obsessive behaviours and it’s so good. It follows Verity who has her neighbour Ailsa living with her and we gradually learn about how they became friends and what happened to Ailsa’s husband. There is so much more to the story and I was engrossed in this one. I recommend it!

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

This novel follows Astrid, a recovering alcoholic who is back living with her mum. She starts attending AA meetings and there she meets two women – one who she forms a bond with and one who she’s immediately suspicious about. Astrid has a secret but fears someone has found out as she feels like she’s being followed and watched. I enjoyed this one! I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it more than lived up to my expectations. It follows Vanessa in the past when she as 15 and in the present day. She had what she thinks as a relationship with her teacher whilst at school but it’s clear that he was actually grooming her. In the present Vanessa is forced to confront her memories of that relationship and to face that fact that maybe she, like other girls at the school, was also abused. I recommend that everyone reads this book, it’s stunning! It’s not always easy to read but it’s so powerful and so well-written. I’ve reviewed this one already so you can find my thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

This was another great read from the last week (although I had read most of it the week before)! I love Lisa Jewell’s writing and this book is every bit as good as her previous novels. It follows three people: Saffyre, a troubled teenager who goes missing; Kate whose family has moved into a flat in a new area and she’s paranoid about her husband and suspicious of the man across the road; Owen who is that man, and he is a little odd which makes people target him. Saffyre goes missing outside Owen’s house. I loved how this book gives insight into why people think the way they do and how it shows the complexity of people. I really enjoyed this book!

What I Might Read Next

I’m trying to catch up with some of my NetGalley books at the moment so the first three books that I’d like to read this week are all from my NG shelf. The fourth book is the next book that I want to read from my 20 Books of Summer TBR as I’m aware it’s nearly the halfway point of the challenge and I need to not lose momentum now!

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

Mine by Clare Empson

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

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. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: My Dark Vanessa | The Other Passenger | One Step Behind | Who Did You Tell?

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it absolutely lived up to my hopes for it! It follows Vanessa both in the present day and in the past when she had a relationship with her teacher Jacob Straynewhile she was still a student. Vanessa hears that a woman who went to the same school has accused Strayne of grooming and abusing her and she wants Vanessa to also come forward. She is stunned because she believes her and Strayne were in a loving relationship. As the novel progresses it’s very uncomfortable to read how Strayne clearly groomed Vanessa, and to see how she viewed it as a mutual attraction. It’s also hard to read how she has remained friends with him in all the years since. Over the course of the book Vanessa is forced to confront what happened between her and Strayne and it’s devastating. This book is so stunningly written and it never shies away from the reality of what happened to Vanessa. This is a book that will really stay with me and I highly recommend it.

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

I love Louise Candlish’s writing so have been looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint! The novel follows Jamie and his wife Claire, and a younger couple they become friends with, Kit and Melia. Claire and Jamie live in a big posh house that Claire inherited but Kit is obsessed with money and status. The novel opens with Jamie being questioned as Kit has disappeared and it seems he was the last person to see him. The timeline then goes back and forth between the present day and the year previous when the two men first met and became friends. This novel is increasingly dark and twisted and I loved that! Everyone in this book seems to be obsessed with status and where they are in relation to others which makes them so unlikeable and yet fascinating at the same time. Nothing is quite as it seems with this one, it keeps you guessing! I recommend it!

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel The Perfect Betrayal so I was excited to read her new one. This book follows two women – Jenna and Sophie. Jenna is a busy A&E doctor and mum of two. She seems to have a perfect life but now someone is stalking her. She is increasingly anxious about the stalker and tries to find out more about them. Then one day he arrives in A&E after a serious accident and she is the doctor in charge. She has to decide if she’s treat him like any other patient or take matters into her own hands. Sophie is feeling increasingly trapped in her relationship. She loves the apartment they share but her boyfriend is tracking her movements and wanting her to account for where she has been every minute of the day. I was curious if the two women’s lives would interconnect and what would happen with Jenna’s stalker. I was gripped by this one and found it a fast-paced read. The first half is quite a slow-build and then the book starts accelerating – I really liked this pacing, it made me feel like I was trapped in this situation with Jenna. I recommend this one!

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

I’ve previously read and loved The Rumour by this author so was looking forward to this one, and I did really enjoy it. It follows Astrid who is a recovering alcoholic and as a result of her problems is back living with her mum. She joins a local AA meeting and there meets two women – Rosie and Helen. She hits it off with one but is quickly suspicious of the other. She also soon feels like she is being followed and watched. I do love an unreliable narrator so loved how I wasn’t always sure about whether Astrid was telling us the truth of what happened. I enjoyed seeing Astrid trying to make a new life for herself and felt for her when she agonised over how much of her past she should reveal, and when. I did see where this book was going from early on but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment as I was keen to know if Astrid was going to be okay in the end. Plus there was more than meets the eye when the denouement does come!

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (11 Jul 20)!

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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!

Purchased eBooks

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages but hadn’t got around to buying it so when I spotted it in a Kindle Daily Deal yesterday I snapped it up. I’m looking forward to reading this one.

In 1988 Saul Adler (a narcissistic, young historian) is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. He is apparently fine; he gets up and goes to see his art student girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. They have sex then break up, but not before she has photographed Saul crossing the same Abbey Road. Saul leaves to study in communist East Berlin, two months before the Wall comes down. There he will encounter – significantly – both his assigned translator and his translator’s sister, who swears she has seen a jaguar prowling the city. He will fall in love and brood upon his difficult, authoritarian father. And he will befriend a hippy, Rainer, who may or may not be a Stasi agent, but will certainly return to haunt him in middle age. Slipping slyly between time zones and leaving a spiralling trail, Deborah Levy’s electrifying The Man Who Saw Everything examines what we see and what we fail to see, the grave crime of carelessness, the weight of history and our ruinous attempts to shrug it off.

The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn by Freya Kennedy

I downloaded this on Kindle recently when it was free. I love the author’s work under her alter-ego so am intrigued to read a novel by her that’s a completely different genre!

Libby Quinn is sick and tired of being sensible. After years of slogging her guts out for nothing at a PR company, she finds herself redundant and about to plough every last penny of her savings into refurbishing a ramshackle shop and making her dream become a reality. She hopes the opening of bookshop on Ivy Lane will be the perfect tribute to her beloved grandfather who instilled a love of reading and books in her from an early age. When her love life and friendships become even more complicated – will Libby have the courage to follow her dreams? Or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

Seven Lies Elizabeth Kay

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while and decided to buy it this week. I’m really intrigued about all the lies in this novel and what is going to happen. I don’t think this will be waiting very long to be read!

It all started with one little lie . . .Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they were eleven years old. They have a lot in common. In their early twenties they both fell in love and married handsome young men. But Jane never liked Marnie’s husband. He was always so loud and obnoxious, so much larger than life. Which is rather ironic now, of course.Because if Jane had been honest – if she hadn’t lied – then perhaps her best friend’s husband might still be alive . . . This is Jane’s opportunity to tell the truth, the question is: Do you believe her?

No Win Race: A Story of Belonging, Britishness and Sport by Derek A. Bardowell

I spotted this one on Kindle just the other day and I immediately bought it. I’m trying to read and educate myself on racism at the moment and as a football fan this perspective really called to me. I hope to get to this one very soon.

In the eighties, black footballers emerged from the dressing room to find bananas being hurled from the stands. But the abuse didn’t stop at the full-time whistle – racial harassment in sport mirrored the experience of many in society. As a kid from the East End, Derek Bardowell found solace in the success of black athletes. It is what bonded three generations of his family. Yet even now, success on the field seldom converts to power or justice away from it. No Win Race is Bardowell‘s deeply personal exploration into the complexities and biases implicit in being black in Britain, told through the prism of sport. Covering the period between the Brixton ‘riots’ and Brexit, this visceral, powerful book is for those who want an honest insight into UK race relations, and for anyone who understands that sport is more than just a game. 

Review Books

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

I read and love Dear Martin a few weeks ago and as soon as I heard there was to be a follow-up novel I knew I wanted to read it. I was delighted to be approved to read this one on NetGalley this week and plan on reading this very, very soon.

In the stunning sequel to the New York Times bestseller Dear Martin, bestselling author Nic Stone unflinchingly explores race and inequality and the impact of both on young black lives.  Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister grew up a block apart in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Wynwood Heights. Years later, Justyce walks the illustrious halls of Yale University . . . and Quan sits behind bars at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center. Through a series of flashbacks and letters to Justyce, Quan’s story takes form. Troubles at home and misunderstandings at school give rise to police encounters and tough decisions. But then there’s a dead cop and a weapon with Quan’s prints on it. What leads a bright kid down a road to a murder charge? Not even Quan is sure…

West of Jim Crow by Lynn M. Hudson

I downloaded this from the Read Now section of NetGalley this week as it sounded like a fascinating read and one that will give me a greater understanding of race issues across America.

African American resistance to white supremacy from California statehood to the 1950s. African Americans who moved to California in hopes of finding freedom and full citizenship instead faced all-too-familiar racial segregation. As one transplant put it, “The only difference between Pasadena and Mississippi is the way they are spelled.” From the beaches to streetcars to schools, the Golden State—in contrast to its reputation for tolerance—perfected many methods of controlling people of color. Lynn M. Hudson deepens our understanding of the practices that African Americans in the West deployed to dismantle Jim Crow in the quest for civil rights prior to the 1960s. Faced with institutionalized racism, black Californians used both established and improvised tactics to resist and survive the state’s color line. Hudson rediscovers forgotten stories like the experimental all-black community of Allensworth, the California Ku Klux Klan’s campaign of terror against African Americans, the bitter struggle to integrate public swimming pools in Pasadena and elsewhere, and segregationists’ preoccupation with gender and sexuality.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales From The Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

I’m fascinated by this novel and have been wanting to read it for a little while now so was thrilled to be approved on NetGalley.

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time… From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold comes a story of four new customers each of whom is hoping to take advantage of Cafe Funiculi Funicula’s time-travelling offer. Among some faces that will be familiar to readers of Kawaguchi’s previous novel, we will be introduced to: The man who goes back to see his best friend who died 22 years ago; The son who was unable to attend his own mother’s funeral; The man who travelled to see the girl who he could not marry; The old detective who never gave his wife that gift… This beautiful, simple tale tells the story of people who must face up to their past, in order to move on with their lives. Kawaguchi once again invites the reader to ask themselves: what would you change if you could travel back in time?

Have you got any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (8 Jul 20)! 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!

Current Reads

How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

I started reading this book last night and have been engrossed in it. It’s a book that has a really good mix of education on what antiracism is along with it being part-memoir. The author explores his own experiences of having racist ideas and internalised racism. It’s an eye-opening read and one that I’m finding very useful and interesting.

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

I started reading this yesterday too and am so intrigued by where this one’s going to go. It follows two characters: Saffyre, a teenage girl who has had a tough life and is now in therapy; and Cate a married mother of two whose husband is Saffyre’s therapist. Cate seems to be very edgy and easily tipped into paranoia and I can’t quite weigh her up as yet. It feels like this novel is slowly building up to something but I’m not sure what as yet but I can’t wait to read more and find out!

Recent Reads

The Confession by Jessie Burton

My husband bought me this book for Christmas and I saved it to read over the summer and I’m so glad I got to read this one now. It’s such a stunning book, I read it in just two sittings as I didn’t want to put it down. It follows Elise in the 1980s when she meets Constance and their relationship changes the course of Elise’s life. It also follows Rose in the present day as she’s searching for her mother. She knows Constance was the last person to see her and now she wants answers. I loved this book, how the past and present interweave and how it all unfolds. It’s excellent and I recommend it!

Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

This is another book my husband bought me and I’ve been so keen to read it. I picked it up this week and was quickly engrossed in it. I love how open and honest Megan has been in sharing the awful things she was taught to believe, it was hard to read at times. It was interesting to learn how the structure of the Westboro Baptist Church operated and how easily someone could be frozen out of the family. I was most fascinated by how Megan came to question the teachings she had grown up with and how ultimately she left the church. I’m so glad I read this book and I recommend it!

The Greatest of Enemies by B. R. Maycock

I go this book from Kindle Unlimited and I loved it. It’s a gorgeous novella following two women, Bex and Louise, who are thrown together and they really don’t like each other, they have nothing at all in common apart from they’re both really good friends with Holly (but she’s currently out of the country!). It follows what’s been happening in each of their lives and the impact it has on them. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find out more of my thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

This was another gift from my husband, he bought it for me as a surprise as I’d been saying I wanted to know about what happened after watching the TV mini series Chernobyl last year. This is such a well-written and well-researched book and I’m so pleased I read it. I liked the structure of the book – in the beginning there are alternate chapters of the build up to the accident, alongside the history of nuclear power and the accidents that had happened prior to Chernobyl. Then when the accident happens the structure follows various people and what they were doing and what happened. I definitely recommend this one!

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

I got this book on a whim from Kindle Unlimited and I’m so happy that I picked it up. This is a stunning novel and one that I can’t stop thinking about. It follows Jake as he’s on the run in the North Yorkshire Moors trying to escape a murder charge. The novel moves around in time as he thinks about his late wife and his lost son. The mix of desolation with the tenderness of the writing makes this such a poignant read. I highly recommend this one.

What I Might Read Next

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

With the books above that count towards my 20 Books of Summer challenge I’m now read 11 of the 20 I picked. So it’s time to get to the next book and I think it’s going to be Sweet Sorrow. I’ve been so keen to read this one and I know I’m going to love it. I think it follows a budding romance between two teenagers and given that it’s set in 1997 I think it’s going to feel like a wonderful nostalgic read.

The Search Party by Simon Lelic

I’ve read most of this author’s books now and this one sounds like it potentially could be his best yet! It’s a novel about a young woman who’s gone missing, and her best friends decide to look for her. It seems though that all know secrets about Sadie that they don’t want to share and the search party becomes a witch hunt! I’m so intrigued by this one and can’t wait to read it!

Black, Listed by Jeffrey Boakye

Here is the Goodreads blurb for this one: Taking a panoramic look at global black history, interrogating both contemporary and historical culture, Black, Listed investigates the ways in which black communities (and individuals) have been represented, oppressed, mimicked, celebrated, and othered. Part historical study, part autobiographical musing, part pop culture vivisection, it’s a comprehensive attempt to make sense of blackness from the vantage point of the hilarious and insightful psyche of Jeffrey Boakye.

I’m really looking forward to get to this one, it sounds like another fascinating read that will give me another insight as I read more books by BIPOC authors to better educate myself on how to be antiracist.

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

I’m so intrigued by this book. It follows the aftermath of a beloved and caring mother who has been murdered and her teenage daughter is missing. The community is shocked and no one can understand what has happened or why. Once the police and journalists start digging around the past starts to come to fore nothing will be the same again. I bought this book a few weeks ago on a whim now reading the blurb again I want to read this book asap!

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 Greatest of Enemies by B. R. Maycock | @BRMaycock

About the Book

Get ready for fireworks as two women with very different personalities become housemates!
Bex has settled in well into the small town of Abbeyglen. Yes, she misses her housemate Holly, but she has plenty to do what with the setup of the new Caulfield’s café, her blogging and of course her work in Blackwater Financial Services.
Louise is shocked when she arrives in the town of Abbeyglen to find it has changed, everything looks too new and shiny, and who is this person in Holly’s apartment?!
With Bex’s bff heading for domestic bliss, some unwelcome changes in work, and now the arrival of eternally negative Louise, can Bex remain her usual chirpy self or will handbags at dawn, daytime and night-time too bring out a side to her she never knew existed?

My Thoughts

I’m a big fan of B. R. Maycock’s writing and have previously read and reviewed Snowday, and the first book in the Abbeyglen series Pushing Her luck. I have been eagerly anticipating this follow up to Pushing Her Luck and I’m so pleased to say it absolutely lived up to my hopes!

It was lovely to be back in Abbeyglen and seeing the changes that were really taking place after the end of the previous book. The village is gradually being spruced up and you can tell all the residents are enjoying things picking up.

The Greatest of Enemies follows Holly’s new flatmate Bex and Holly’s best friend Louise and unfortunately they don’t exactly hit it off! Holly is in Australia with her new man and Bex now has the flat to herself when Louise, who Holly had been trying so hard to contact in book one, suddenly arrives back in Ireland as a surprise! Bex is a real happy-go-lucky person and feels she has to make Louise feel at home but Louise tries her patience from the very start!

The novel follows both women as we find out more about them and what has been going on in their lives. Bex is frustrated at work as she moves to a new role and feels left out of the office gang she used to be a part of. Louise is home after a horrible break up and seems to be angry at the whole world as a result.

I love Bex, she’s such a great character and I want to be her best friend. She’s so bubbly and she really cares about people and wants them to be happy. Louise was a little harder to warm to but the more I got to know her the more she grew on me and I could see she was just hurting.

I love how this series brings new characters in but lets us see what has been happening with those who were the main characters in the previous book. This one ends with Rachel, Bex’s best friend, and now I’m keen to see what’s going to happen next in her life!

The Greatest of Enemies is such a lovely novella about two women who have no choice but to find a way to get on. It’s full of giggles and fun, some romance and good friends. The scene with the canal boat had me in stitches as I could totally envisage it and it feels like something that could so easily happen in real life!

The Greatest of Enemies works really well as a standalone but the first book is so wonderful that I highly recommend starting at the very beginning. Either way I adored this book and am already eagerly anticipating the next Abbeyglen book!

The Greatest of Enemies is out now and available here.

My Favourite books of 2020… so far!

Last year I decided to do a post about my favourite books of the year so far (as of 30 June) and whilst this year I haven’t read quite as many books as last year at this point I decided to still do it. It’s always lovely to have the chance to celebrate amazing books!

At the time of writing this post I’ve read 115 books and have 20 five star reads that I simply can’t narrow down any further. These aren’t necessarily books published this year but the books I loved most that I’ve read this year. The books are in no particular order, I loved them all!

So here are my top 20 books of 2020 so far!

It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans

A new spin on It’s A Wonderful Life and it’s gorgeous. It doesn’t shy away from the severity of depression but manages to still be a feel-good novel. I loved this one and will re-read it again one Christmas!

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Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten

A brilliant crime novel that will have you on the edge of your seat. This is fast becoming a favourite new crime series!

Containment by Vanda Symon

This is the third book in the Sam Shephard series and she is now one of my most favourite characters. I love spending time with her in a new novel and I can’t wait to read more!

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

I haven’t managed to review this one as yet but I absolutely recommend it. It’s a novel about a teenage boy called Justyce who’s dealing with the racism in the society around him – from the police and from people in his school. He deals with it by writing letters to Martin Luther King. It’s a prescient novel and I still find myself thinking about it.

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

This is my new favourite Sarah Vaughan novel. It’s a novel about toxic friendships, about not feeling like you can be your true self with even your closest friends and what happens when suspicion sets in. I loved this book!

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

This is a stunning novel that looks at what caused a man to stop talking to his wife for six months, and what happens when she suddenly stops talking to him. We learn about what happened from both of their perspectives and it’s so moving. I adored this book and I already want to re-read it!

Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

This is a stunning, claustrophobic novel about the immediate aftermath of a teenage girl going missing. It has a dream-like quality to it and I got swept away in this book.

Black and British by David Olusoga

I haven’t reviewed this book yet but it’s a brilliant and eye-opening non-fiction book that I recommend to everyone. It’s the forgotten history of black people in the UK and I learnt so much from this book. It helps you join the dots of the things you learnt at school and the full story of why and how things happened.

One Split Second by Caroline Bond

This book is heartbreaking but it’s a book I couldn’t stop reading (I read it in just two sittings). It follows the aftermath of an horrific car accident as the survivors come to terms what happened and the impact it’s had on their lives. I loved this book and it’s one that is really staying with me.

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This is a brilliant novel that packs so much into it’s few pages (it’s only around 200 pages long). It follows a doctor as she deals with race issues in her life in South Africa. Her struggles with her periods were so relatable in a way that I’ve never found in a novel before. Later something horrific happens to her and it was hard to read and yet I couldn’t look away. This is such a powerful and compelling book.

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

This novel follows a disparate group of people on a normal morning but who get caught up in a hostage situation. I loved learning about the characters in this book and how they coped in the terrifying situation they found themselves in. It’s an excellent novel and I recommend it.

Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie

I’ve not reviewed this book as yet but it’s one that I read as I was trying to get out of my reading slump and I just got completely engrossed in this story. It follows a few characters who live in a tower block in London before and after a terrible event occurs. I loved these characters, and how the novel explored how the event affects them. I recommend this one and can’t wait to see what Luan Goldie writes next!

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

I read and loved The Roanoke Girls a few years back so was keen to read the author’s new novel. I devoured it! It’s such a dark, unsettling novel but one that I just couldn’t put down. I still keep finding myself thinking about this book, it’s one that haunts you. I loved it.

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Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

This was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it absolutely lived up to my hopes for it. It follows Edward in the aftermath of a plane crash where he was the sole survivor. His parents and brother died in the crash so he has to live with his Aunt and Uncle. The novel also shows what happened on the day of the plane crash – you get to know, briefly, the people onboard, which makes it even more heartbreaking. I adored this novel and want to re-read it one day.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

This is such a powerful and moving memoir, I’m so glad I read it. Chanel Miller is the young woman who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner. This book is her telling her own story in her own words and she is such a courageous woman. I recommend that everyone read this one.

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

I had this novel on my TBR for ages before I picked it up, which I’m kicking myself about as when I did pick it up I read it in just a couple of sittings. This is such a beautiful novel, one that makes you wonder about fate and destiny, and also makes you want to live in the moment. It’s a book you need tissues for but it’s such a gorgeous read.

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

I’m a huge fan of Carol Lovekin’s writing and this novel was another stunning book. It explores grief and the loss of a mother, and it’s so beautiful. I highlighted so many paragraphs as I was reading it and I keep thinking about it. I know I will re-visit this one of these days.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

This is another stunning book following a teenage girl in the present whilst also filling in her back story with chapters about her mum, dad and grandparents. She knows her mum was her age when she was born and that is the catalyst for everything that happens down the line. This book is short and at times spare in the writing but it packs such an emotional punch. I recommend it.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

This is one of my most favourite books of this year so far. I wanted to read it because it’s premise is intriguing (an engaged woman dreams of a different life with a different man and five years later she bumps into this man) but the real love story in this is the one between the two women who are the best of friends. It’s an incredible book, one that made me cry but also made me smile. I adored this one!

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

If I had to pick just one book that was my favourite of 2020 so far it would have to be this one. Before reading I felt a little intimidated by it but from a couple of pages in I was gripped. I love all the interweaved stories running through this book, I love the characters and the surprises along the way. It’s a stunning novel and one I will never forget.

Okay, so I said I had a top 20 books of 2020 and I do… all of the above. I always like to sit with a book for a while before I put it on a list of favourites but I read a book on the very last day of June and it just feels like it should be on this list. So I’m adding an honourable mention at the end. I know I’m cheating but it’s my blog, my rules! So the 21st book in my Top 20 is…

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

This is a stunning novel, one that I’m struggling to write about as yet because I loved it so much. It’s set on the North Yorkshire Moors and follows Jake, a man on the run from a murder charge. It explores his memories of his relationship with his late wife, and his lost son. It also looks at his complicated relationship with his new love. I’m originally from this part of the country and I felt I was right back there with Jake. This novel mixes utter desolation, hardship and violence with such beautiful, poetic writing. I loved this book and I highly recommend it!

What are you favourite books of 2020 so far? I’d love to know. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a Bumper Book Haul (04 Jul 20)!

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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!

Purchased eBooks

Black, Listed by Jeffrey Boakye

AFRO-CARIBBEAN. COLOURED. ETHNIC MINORITY. IMMIGRANT. BAME. URBAN. WOKE. FAM. BLACK.

These are just some of the terms being wrestled with in Black, Listed, an exploration of twenty-first century Black identity told through a list of insults, insights and everything in between.

Taking a panoramic look at global Black history and contemporary culture, this book investigates the ways in which Black communities (and individuals) have been represented, oppressed, mimicked, celebrated and othered. Part autobiographical musing, part pop culture vivisection, it’s a comprehensive attempt to make sense of blackness from the vantage point of the hilarious and insightful psyche of Jeffrey Boakye.

I hadn’t heard of this book before but I spotted it in the Kindle sale for July and bought it on a whim. It sounds like a really interesting book and one that I want to get to very soon.

I Can’t Breathe by Matt Taibbi

The incredible story of the death of Eric Garner, the birth of the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement and the new fault lines of race, protest, policing and the power of the people.

On July 17, 2014, a forty-three-year-old black man named Eric Garner died in New York after a police officer put him in a “chokehold” during an arrest for selling bootleg cigarettes. The final moments of his life were captured on video and seen by millions – his agonised last words, “I can’t breathe,” becoming a rallying cry for the nascent Black Lives Matter protest movement. 

Matt Taibbi tells the full story of the man who inspired a movement – neither villain nor victim, but a fiercely proud individual determined to do the best he could for his family. Featuring vivid vignettes of life on the street, this powerful narrative of urban America is a riveting work of literary journalism and a scathing indictment of law enforcement in the twenty-first century. I Can’t Breathe tells the story of one man to tell the story of countless others, and the power of people to rise up against injustice.

This is a book that I’ve had on my list for a while now and it’s another book, like They Can’t Kill Us All, that explores how the Black Lives Matter movement came about and has evolved and I definitely want to understand more about this.

Face It by Debbie Harry

DEBBIE HARRY is a musician, actor, activist and the iconic face of New York City cool. As the front-woman of Blondie, she and the band forged a new sound that brought together the worlds of rock, punk, disco, reggae and hip-hop to create some of the most beloved pop songs of all time. As a muse, she collaborated with some of the boldest artists of the past four decades. The scope of Debbie Harry’s impact on our culture has been matched only by her reticence to reveal her rich inner life – until now.

In an arresting mix of visceral, soulful storytelling and stunning visuals that includes never-before-seen photographs, bespoke illustrations and fan art installations, Face It upends the standard music memoir while delivering a truly prismatic portrait. With all the grit, grime, and glory recounted in intimate detail, Face It recreates the downtown scene of 1970s New York City, where Blondie played alongside the Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop and David Bowie.

Following her path from glorious commercial success to heroin addiction, the near-death of partner Chris Stein, a heart-wrenching bankruptcy, and Blondie’s break-up as a band to her multifaceted acting career in more than thirty films, a stunning solo career and the triumphant return of her band, and her tireless advocacy for the environment and LGBTQ rights, Face It is a cinematic story of a woman who made her own path, and set the standard for a generation of artists who followed in her footsteps – a memoir as dynamic as its subject.

I love Debbie Harry (and Blondie) so couldn’t resist snapping up this memoir when I spotted it for just £2.99 on Kindle recently.

Dancing by the Light of the Moon by Gyles Brandreth

A little poetry really can save your life . . .

Poetry is officially good for you.

Not only does it enhance literacy in the young, but learning poetry by heart is the one truly pleasurable thing you can do to improve memoryboost brain powerextend your vocabularyand beat cognitive decline as time goes by.

In Dancing by the Light of the Moon, Gyles Brandreth shares over 250 poems to read, relish and recite, as well as his advice on how to learn poetry by heart, and the benefits of doing so.

Whether you are nine, nineteen or ninety, the poems and advice in this book provide the most enjoyable, moving and inspiring way to ensure a lifetime of dancing by the light of the moon – one joyous poem at a time . . .

I saw another book blogger (I’m so sorry I can’t remember who it was, perhaps Nicki?) write about this book very recently and I thought it sounded fascinating so when I saw it in the Kindle sale I immediately bought it.

The Cutting Place by Jane Casey

Everyone’s heard the rumours about elite gentlemen’s clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence . . . and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine.

DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared. 

It’s clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own – even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige’s death? Or will time run out for Maeve first?

So, I have to admit that this is the ninth book in this series and I haven’t read the first one yet! I definitely want to start this series from the beginning soon and I feel sure I will love it so it was worth getting this one in the sale so I have it ready for when I get to it!

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

I keep hearing about this book and thinking it sounds like a fun, engaging read for the summer so I downloaded it for kindle this week. I’m really enjoying this kind of book at the moment so I don’t think I’ll be too long getting to this one.

The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith

Poppy Denby, arts and entertainment editor at the Daily Globe, covers an exhibition of Russian art, hosted by White Russian refugees, including members of the surviving exiled Romanov royal family. There is an armed robbery, a guard is shot, and the largest Fabergé egg in the collection is stolen. While the egg itself is valuable, the secrets it contains within are priceless–secrets that could threaten major political powers.

Suspects are aplenty, including the former keeper of the Fabergé egg, a Russian princess named Selena Romanova Yusopova. The interim Bolshevik Russian ambassador, Vasili Safin, inserts himself into the investigation, as he believes the egg–and the other treasures–should all be restored to the Russian people.

Poppy, her editor, Rollo, press photographer Daniel, and the other staff of the Globe are delighted to be once again in the middle of a sensational story. But soon the investigation takes a dark turn when another body is found and an employee of the newspaper becomes a suspect. The race is on to find both the key and the egg–can they be found before the killer strikes again?

I read and loved the first book in this series, The Jazz Files, quite a long time ago but then never sought out the other books. I don’t know why but I’ve put that right now buying this second book and I’m looking forward to seeing what Poppy Denby has been getting up to.

Review Books

Summer by Ali Smith

In the present, Sacha knows the world’s in trouble. Her brother Robert just is trouble. Their mother and father are having trouble. Meanwhile the world’s in meltdown – and the real meltdown hasn’t even started yet. In the past, a lovely summer. A different brother and sister know they’re living on borrowed time. 

This is a story about people on the brink of change. They’re family, but they think they’re strangers. So: where does family begin? And what do people who think they’ve got nothing in common have in common?

Summer.

I loved the first two books in this seasonal quartet (I have Spring on my 20 Books of Summer TBR) so am delighted to have the final part on my Kindle ready to read as soon as I’ve read Spring. I’m keen to see how Ali Smith concludes the quartet!

Here Is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Ana and Connor have been having an affair for three years. In hotel rooms and coffee shops, swiftly deleted texts and briefly snatched weekends, they have built a world with none but the two of them in it.

But then the unimaginable happens, and Ana finds herself alone, trapped inside her secret.

How can we lose someone the world never knew was ours? How do we grieve for something no one else can ever find out? In her desperate bid for answers, Ana seeks out the shadowy figure who has always stood just beyond her reach – Connor’s wife Rebecca.

Peeling away the layers of two overlapping marriages, Here Is the Beehive is a devastating excavation of risk, obsession and loss.

I read and loved One by this author a long while ago, and then very recently read and enjoyed Moonrise so when I saw she had a new book on NetGalley I immediately requested it. This sounds so good and I’m looking forward to reading it.

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now? 

Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully. 

But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved

Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain. 

As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: What does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?

Two possible futures. One impossible choice. 

I really enjoy Jodi Picoult’s novels so when I saw other bloggers writing about this forthcoming one I had serious envy! I was thrilled when I got an approval email from NetGalley a few days ago. This isn’t out until October but it’s already calling to me from my TBR mountain.

After the Silence by Louise O’Neill

Nessa Crowley’s murderer has been protected by silence for ten years.
Until a team of documentary makers decide to find out the truth.

On the day of Henry and Keelin Kinsella’s wild party at their big house a violent storm engulfed the island of Inisrun, cutting it off from the mainland. When morning broke Nessa Crowley’s lifeless body lay in the garden, her last breath silenced by the music and the thunder.

The killer couldn’t have escaped Inisrun, but no-one was charged with the murder. The mystery that surrounded the death of Nessa remained hidden. But the islanders knew who to blame for the crime that changed them forever. 

Ten years later a documentary crew arrives, there to lift the lid off the Kinsella’s carefully constructed lives, determined to find evidence that will prove Henry’s guilt and Keelin’s complicity in the murder of beautiful Nessa.

I love Louise O’Neill’s writing, her previous novel Almost Love is one that still stays with me and I read it last year, so I was very happy to be approved to read this new one from NetGalley. I’m intrigued by this plot so I don’t think I’ll be too long before I read this one.

Library Books (BorrowBox App) / Kindle Unlimited

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

Midwinter. As former farmhand Jake, a widower in his seventies, wanders the beautiful, austere moors of North Yorkshire trying to evade capture, we learn of the events of his past: the wife he loved and lost, their child he knows cannot be his, and the deep-seated need for revenge that manifests itself in a moment of violence. On the coast, Jake’s friend, Sheila, receives the devastating news. The aftermath of Jake’s actions, and what it brings to the surface, will change her life forever. But how will she react when he turns up at her door? As beauty and tenderness blend with violence, this story transports us to a different world, subtly exploring love and loss in a language that both bruises and heals.

I got this book from Kindle Unlimited and I’ve already read it. I’m in awe of this book; it’s utterly stunning and I think it’s one that will stay with me for a very long time. If you haven’t already read it then I highly recommend it.

The Greatest of Enemies by B. R. Maycock

Get ready for fireworks as two women with very different personalities become housemates!
Bex has settled in well into the small town of Abbeyglen. Yes, she misses her housemate Holly, but she has plenty to do what with the setup of the new Caulfield’s café, her blogging and of course her work in Blackwater Financial Services.
Louise is shocked when she arrives in the town of Abbeyglen to find it has changed, everything looks too new and shiny, and who is this person in Holly’s apartment?!
With Bex’s bff heading for domestic bliss, some unwelcome changes in work, and now the arrival of eternally negative Louise, can Bex remain her usual chirpy self or will handbags at dawn, daytime and night-time too bring out a side to her she never knew existed?

Somehow I missed this book being published but as soon as I spotted it on Kindle Unlimited this week and downloaded it right away. I also started reading it straight away and I very much enjoyed it. It follows on from Pushing Her Luck but can be read as a standalone. I love this series!

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

My 2020 Half-Year Reading Stats!

I can’t believe we’re already halfway through 2020! I always like to look over my reading spreadsheets at the end of June to see what my reading has looked like so far. This year I’m finally (very slowly) learning how to amend the spreadsheet I got from someone else to make it track more of what I want to track. So seeing as I’ve been looking through my stats I thought it would be fun to share them.

I set my reading goal at 250 this year based on the fact that I had a phenomenal reading year in 2019. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that illness and then a pandemic were going to derail my reading for a few weeks. Thankfully my reading slump is over now and I’m slowly catching up to where I would like to be. As you can see above I’m 8 books behind my target but I started June 24 books behind so I’m getting there!

The longest book that I’ve read this year so far was Truth, Lies and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster by Allan J. McDonald (at 656 pages) and the shortest was Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee (at 68 pages). The average page length of the books I’ve read is 337, which I’m happy about.

I’m reasonably happy with the breakdown of the genres I’ve read this year so far. I’m pleased that there is a good variety and even some genres that I normally avoid (horror, sci fi and fantasy). I’m a bit disappointed at the ratio of fiction to non-fiction with only 22.9% of my reading being non-fiction. Having said that it has been such a strange year that I’ve needed more escapism and it’s not really a surprise that I’ve been picking up much more fiction. Hopefully the rest of the year will balance this out a bit.

As seems to be the norm for me I’ve read way more female authors than male and I’m okay with that. I don’t consciously chose a book based on gender but ever since I’ve been tracking my reading I’ve noticed that it’s a pattern for me to read more by women.

This is the picture of which format I read the most and it doesn’t surprise me that it looks like this at the moment. I’ve been reading more on my Kindle as I physically struggle to hold print books so I always read less of them, and my audio book listening has been reduced whilst my husband has been on furlough (although I have now bought some new wireless headphones so that I can listen when in the same room as him without forcing him to listen along with me!).

I’m really pleased with this breakdown. It shows that I’m dividing my reading time fairly evenly between catching on on review copies and reading books I’ve bought but it also shows that I’m making use of my library’s BorrowBox app. I think this is the most satisfied I’ve been with how my reading breakdown is.

To add balance to the previous chart this one shows where I’ve been acquiring books this year. I like to show this chart as it shows that even though I’m a blogger I do buy most of my books with just over a quarter of the books I’ve got this year have been for review.

I’ve completely lost control of my TBR again this year. My excuse for January is that it was my birthday and I got a lot of books. My excuse for February is that I had book tokens from my birthday to spend (and spend them I did!). I don’t have an excuse for the rest of the year, although in April I did get a lot of review books from NetGalley so that perhaps explains that spike. The end result is the following graph…

You can see the black line is the planned gentle reduction in my TBR for this year and the blue line is where I am! Ooops! I’ve even had an unhaul of my books but still there is a big gap between the plan and the reality. I do need to curb my book buying in the coming months so hopefully my TBR will be in a better state by the end of the year. Just for reference my TBR is all the print books, ebooks and audio books I own but haven’t read yet and it currently stands at 2811 (yep two thousand, eight hundred and eleven!)!!

This graph shows what my TBR was at the very start of the year and this part of my spreadsheet tracks how many of those pre-2020 books I’ve read, DNF or unhauled. I’m really pleased that 52 of the 115 books I’ve read so far this year were off my TBR from before this year but it shows how big my TBR is when the slice of pie is still so tiny. I like this chart as it makes me face up to just how many books I own and it makes me want to read more of them.

I’m still tracking the diversity in my reading as I’m so aware that I need to make a conscious effort to be better in this area. The above chart is a simplified version of my tracking which shows 36% of the books I’ve read this year so far were either diverse or own voices books, which is okay but I want to do better. At the moment I’m reading a lot of books by BIPOC authors as I want to educate myself as much as I possibly can. I also want to read more books by or about people with disabilities as I don’t often see myself reflected in books and realise I need to make more effort to seek these books out. Hopefully the diversity in my reading by the end of the year when I look at these stats again will be better.

This graph isn’t really about reading stats but I wanted to include it as this year I had space on my spreadsheet to track my reading speed. As people often ask me how I read so much this chart shows how many pages I read in an hour (averaged out per month). I don’t speed read but I am naturally a relatively fast reader.

So that’s my 2020 reading so far in statistics! I’m pleased with the books I’ve read and the variety in my reading. I know I need to work on my TBR but I suspect I’m never going to get control of that. I’m a bookaholic, what can I say?! 😉

How is your reading going this year? I hope you’re reading lots of lovely books. 🙂

That Was The Month That Was… June 2020!

June was one of those strange months that has sped by whilst also going really slowly. Does that even make sense?!

I’m still shielding and it looks like I will be until 1 August so nothing has really changed for me even though from what I see on the news a lot of the country is slowly returning to some kind of normality. I haven’t left the house yet, mainly because my asthma is really bad at the moment and it’s impossible to wear a mask when my breathing is already bad. My husband is still on furlough and we still don’t know when he’ll be returning to work, we’re waiting to hear.

Football is back so we’re enjoying watching that. It’s great having all of the matches televised although it does mean that some days we’re in danger of having square eyes! The waiting to see what’s happening with Newcastle United is getting endless now but what can you do?! At least it looks like we’re not going to be relegated!

My reading mojo is back in full swing and I read 30 books in June! It was helped by some sunny days in the garden where I only take a book out with me (no phone or laptop!) so I’m not distracted by anything. I also treated myself to some new wireless headphones so that I can listen to more of my audio books.

The Books I Read

The Posts I Blogged

Mini Book Reviews: The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper, The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel, His and Hers by Alice Feeney, and Funny Weather by Olivia Laing

Monthly Wrap-Up: That Was The Month That Was… May 2020

Mini Book Reviews: The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan, One Split Second by Caroline Bond, Living My Best Life by Claire Frost, and In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Mini Book Reviews: You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell, When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill, Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa, and Born Lippy by Jo Brand

Review: Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee

Mini Book Reviews: The Old You by Louise Voss, Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan, While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins, and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Review: Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

Mini Book Reviews: Heatstoke by Hazel Barkworth, Blurred Lines by Hannah Begbie, All The Lonely People by David Owen, The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

Review: The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

How was June for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that June has been okay. What was your favourite book from June? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (1 Jul 20)! What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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!

Current Reads

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

I have a month of Kindle Unlimited at the moment and this book was one that really caught my eye. I started reading it late last night and I’ve been engrossed in it. It follows Jack – a man on the run following the murder of another man in a nursing home. The novel goes back and forth in time through Jack’s memories as he travels the North Yorkshire Moors in an attempt to escape. It’s beautifully written and reminds me of home. I’m thoroughly enjoying this one.

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

My husband bought me this for my birthday earlier this year after we’d been engrossed in the TV drama Chernobyl and he knew I wanted to know more about what happened. I finally picked the book up this week (one of my 20 Books of Summer TBR) and have been gripped by it. It’s really well-written and very readable. I’ve already learnt things I didn’t know before and am keen to read more of this in the coming days.

Recent Reads

When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

I finished reading this yesterday and I can’t stop thinking about it. This is Patrisse’s memoir and she tells the story of her life, and of her father and her brother Monte and how they got trapped in the system. It’s heartbreaking and it will make you angry, it should make you angry. It was interesting to see how all the things in Patrisse’s life led to her, along with two other women, beginning the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a book that everyone should read and it’s certainly one that will stay with me.

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel The Perfect Betrayal so was keen to get to this one. While it wasn’t quite as good it was still a very good read and it kept me guessing all the way to the reveal, which doesn’t happen very often so I was thrilled by that. It follows Jenna, and A&E doctor who has a stalker and one day the stalker is admitted to hospital after an accident. The story is narrated by Jenna, and Sophie, the sister of Jenna’s stalker and it’s really gripping.

The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle

I was a huge Mike Gayle fan back in the day but somehow haven’t read anything by him in quite a few years now. I spotted this book on my Audible account when I was looking for something to listen to and it was lovely to get back to a book by him. This follows a man trying to cope with life and his two young daughters after the sudden death of his wife. It also follows his late wife’s mum who moves in to help the family cope. It was an enjoyable listen.

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

I read this book a stave at a time on the Pigeonhole app and that was such a fun way to read this book, I quite enjoy being left on a cliffhanger and eagerly anticipating the next stave the following day. This novel follows Marie, whose best friend Nina has recently died. Marie wants to help Nina’s family and soon makes herself indispensable to them. It feels like Marie is far too obsessed but there is more to this novel than meets the eye and I really enjoyed the ride!

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

This is a memoir that explores what it is to struggle with your weight – both the physical weight of your own body but also the weight of being black in America and the weight of all the things that make you who you are. I listened to the audio of this and it was excellent. Kiese writes in such an open way about the things he has experienced and the affect it’s had on him and it’s impossible not to be moved by his story. I recommend this one.

The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

This is a lovely novel about the love between two friends – Hannah and Mona, who work together at the 24-hour cafe. The novel is first narrated by Hannah and later by Mona so we get to see both of their perspectives and to understand how they got to where they are. We also get to meet some of the customers of the cafe and I loved the snapshots we get of other people’s lives. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find my full thoughts here.

All The Lonely People by David Owen

This is a thought-provoking novel that explores loneliness in such a different way. Kat is lonely but finds her people online, until one day a ‘prank’ is played on her that is so vile she feels she has no choice but to delete everything. She then literally begins to fade away. Wesley is one of the boys involved in the prank but he is also lonely. I found this such an interesting novel and it’s one I keep thinking about. I reviewed it here if you’d like to know more. I recommend it.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

I loved this book! Queenie is such a real character, I was fully invested in her story. She’s in a relationship with a man who is gaslighting her, she medicates herself using sex and she’s trying to make a success of her career. She’s so feisty and no-nonsense but you start to see her vulnerable side and you just root for her all the way through his book. I was so angry at the way men treat her at times and wanted her to kick them all into touch and be happy. I definitely recommend this one.

What I Might Read Next

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

I’ve had this on my NetGalley shelf since before it was published and I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet as I loved the author’s previous novel, The Rumour. This book is about Astrid, an alcoholic who is going to meetings and is working on righting her wrongdoings. But now someone knows what Astrid is running away from and they’re going to make sure she knows just what she did. This sounds great and I’m looking forward to picking it up.

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell’s novels so am delighted to have a copy of her new book from NetGalley. This is about Saffyre, a troubled woman who is dealing with the trauma of her past. One day she goes missing, and the last sighting of her is outside Owen’s house. He’s a loner who’s invisible in his own life, and now the finger of blame is pointing at him because he’s different. I can’t wait to read this one, it sounds so good!

Spring by Ali Smith

This week I got approved to read Ali Smith’s Summer on NetGalley so I really need to get on and read Spring asap. Spring is one of my 20 Books of Summer so I was planning to read it this summer anyway but now I have a push to read it sooner rather than later. I’ve really enjoyed the first two parts of this quartet so can’t wait to read more.

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

I was sent a copy of this book for review quite a while ago now and I love Ruth Hogan’s writing so I don’t know why I haven’t read it before now. I added it to my 20 Books of Summer TBR as it sounded like a summery read and I can’t wait to get to it. It’s a novel that explores grief and the way the chance encounters we make with other people can bring us back to life again.

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. 🙂

Book Review: The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves | @AbbieGreaves1

About the Book

A lifetime together. Six months of silence. One last chance.

Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for six months.

For weeks they have lived under the same roof, slept in the same bed and eaten at the same table – all without words.

Maggie has plenty of ideas as to why her husband has gone quiet.

But it will take another heartbreaking turn of events before Frank finally starts to unravel the secrets that have silenced him.

Is this where their story ends?
Or is it where it begins?

My Thoughts

I picked this book up to read in the garden one sunny afternoon and I literally didn’t put the book down until I’d finished reading it. I was enthralled by it and needed to know how it was all going to end!

Maggie and Frank have been married for over forty years. They love each other dearly but one day, six months ago, Frank stopped speaking. He was still every bit as loving towards Maggie but he hasn’t spoken a single word in all that time. Maggie struggles to understand what is going on and the novel opens with her writing her journal and taking some tablets.

What follows is Frank’s distress as his wife has now fallen silent and he slowly sits with her and begins to tell the story of their lives together and how he got to here. Alongside this Frank finds Maggie’s journal and he beings to understand how she got to where she is.

Maggie has always wanted to be a mother and it becomes a big focus for her, but it seems like it’s never going to happen so her and Frank have to accept what they have – each other. Then one day Maggie discovers she is pregnant and is delighted. Motherhood isn’t quite the dream she imagined it would be though, it’s so much harder and there is so much scope for miscommunication and misunderstanding. Maggie and Frank love their child but sometimes that isn’t enough, and they have to deal with the way their child wants to live her life her own way.

This is a novel about a beautiful and loving relationship that has faced hugely difficult times. Maggie and Frank have tried so hard to do the right thing for each other and for their daughter, and each in their own way has tried to protect the other from heartbreak. This is the thing that was almost their undoing though because when the worst happened neither could tell the other their story of what happened.

I love how this is such a believable story of a marriage, and I love how Frank and Maggie never stop loving each other even through the most difficult of times. Everything they do is out of love, even when it’s inadvertently pulling them in different directions.

This is such a moving, and at times utterly heartbreaking, read but the writing is stunning and you get so invested in Frank and Maggie’s story that you just can’t stop reading. I miss these two people, they felt so real to me and I wanted to climb into the book and make everything okay. I finished reading this book a couple of weeks or so ago and I still keep thinking about them. I adored it.

The Silent Treatment is one of my favourite books of the year and it’s one I think I’ll re-read in the future. It’s one that I highly recommend!

The Silent Treatment is out now and available here.

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

Mini Book Reviews: Heatstroke | Blurred Lines | All The Lonely People | The 24-Hour Cafe

Today I’m sharing another selection of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently.

Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

This is such a brilliant read – so intense and claustrophobic but impossible to put down! The novel follows Rachel, mum to Mia and also teacher to her peers so when Mia’s friend Lily goes missing Rachel becomes increasingly obsessed with what might have happened. I read this book in the garden on a very hot day and it really added to the tension emanating from the pages I was reading. There are shocks in store in the novel but there is also a blending of what is actually happening and what is imagined to be happening, which gives the book a dreamlike feel. I got completely swept up in this and had no idea how it would all play out in the end. I definitely recommend this one!

Blurred Lines by Hannh Begbie

Blurred Lines is a prescient novel that really makes you think. It follows Becky who is on the verge of real success in her career but one night she walks into her boss’ house and sees him with a woman who is not his wife. Later the woman accuses him of rape and Becky is forced to think that what she saw may not have been consensual and is paralysed over what to do about it. The novel also goes back in time to Becky’s past and the awful thing that happened to her as a teenager which altered the course of her own life. I found this to be a really gripping novel and one that makes you put yourself in these women’s shoes and think about what you would do. It’s not always black and white especially when past trauma is still affecting you. I did find some aspects of the novel to be predictable but that didn’t stop me being gripped because I just wanted to know if Becky was going to be okay. I recommend this one.

All the Lonely People by David Owen

I had this novel on my NetGalley shelf unread for way longer than I should have and I’m kicking myself now because I very much enjoyed this book. It follows Kat who is very lonely, she has no friends at school but lives for her online friends. She becomes the victim of a cruel ‘prank’ which forces her to close her online accounts and she begins to literally fade away. It also follows Wesley who is part of the group who pranked her but we soon see he’s not like the other boys involved and he feels very guilty. We soon learn that he also has a lonely life and has more responsibility on his young shoulders than he should have. I found this such an insightful novel that really explores loneliness and what it’s like to just want to disappear from your own life. It moved me more than I thought it would and it made me think. The use of the fade is really clever and poignant. This is a book that I keep thinking about it and is one that I’m sure will stay with me. I highly recommend it.

The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

This is book 7 from my 20 Books of Summer TBR!

I was lucky to receive an ARC of this earlier this year but somehow it lingered on my bookcase until last week. When I finally picked it up I devoured it in just two sittings and very much enjoyed it. It follows Hannah and Mona who work shifts in a 24-hour cafe in London. The novel first follows Hannah’s story, and then halfway through it switches to Mona. We see how they came to be friends and how close they are but also the way small hurts become bigger ones when not acknowledged. I really felt for both of them as the novel progressed. We also meet quite a few of the customers to the cafe as they briefly pass through and I loved this part of the book. There are small acts of kindness that run through the novel and it warmed my heart. I recommend this one, it’s a perfect novel to escape into during these strange times we’re currently living in. It will warm your heart!

Stacking the Shelves with my latest Book Haul (27 Jun 20)!

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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!

Purchased eBooks

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney

With a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people and a global reach, the Spanish flu of 1918–1920 was the greatest human disaster, not only of the twentieth century, but possibly in all of recorded history. And yet, in our popular conception it exists largely as a footnote to World War I.

In Pale Rider, Laura Spinney recounts the story of an overlooked pandemic, tracing it from Alaska to Brazil, from Persia to Spain, and from South Africa to Odessa. She shows how the pandemic was shaped by the interaction of a virus and the humans it encountered; and how this devastating natural experiment put both the ingenuity and the vulnerability of humans to the test.

Laura Spinney demonstrates that the Spanish flu was as significant – if not more so – as two world wars in shaping the modern world; in disrupting, and often permanently altering, global politics, race relations, family structures, and thinking across medicine, religion and the arts.

I’d literally just been reading reviews of this book when I spotted that it was on a Kindle daily deal this week so I snapped it up. I go through phases of wanting to pretend this pandemic isn’t happening and then other phases of wanting to read about pandemics from the past and how people survived. I’m really keen to get to this one.

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

All it takes to unravel a life… is one home truth. 

Marin used to have it all. Married to the love of her life, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family – until their world falls apart the day their son Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. With her sanity ebbing, Marin hires a private investigator to pick up where the police left off.

But instead of finding Sebastian, she learns that Derek is having an affair with a much younger woman. This discovery sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband. Derek’s mistress is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. Permanently.

I read and enjoyed this author’s previous novel Jar of Hearts so have been wanting to get my hands on this new one. After reading some brilliant reviews of it I decided to treat myself and plan on reading this one very soon.

A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson

1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen. 

Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels. 

Burning with the heat and light of Greece, A Theatre for Dreamers is a spellbinding novel about utopian dreams and innocence lost – and the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius.

I first heard about this when I was invited to take part in the blog tour but I had to skip that as I was right in the midst of the dreaded reading slump. I knew this was a book that I wanted to read though so I also treated myself to this one. It sounds like such an intense and stunning summer read!

Purchased AudioBooks

Saturday Requiem by Nicci French

Thirteen years ago eighteen year old Hannah Docherty was arrested for the brutal murder of her family. It was an open and shut case and Hannah’s been incarcerated in a secure hospital ever since.

When psychotherapist Frieda Klein is asked to meet Hannah and give her assessment of her she reluctantly agrees. What she finds horrifies her. Hannah has become a tragic figure, old before her time. And Frieda is haunted by the thought that Hannah might be as much of a victim as her family; that something wasn’t right all those years ago.

And as Hannah’s case takes hold of her, Frieda soon begins to realise that she’s up against someone who’ll go to any lengths to protect themselves . . .

I haven’t actually started reading this series yet but it’s one of those series that I’ve already decided that I’m going to love! I have the first three books so when I spotted this one in the Audible sale yesterday I grabbed it. I think I’m going to start this series soon, I’ve heard so many people saying how good it is.

Pigeonhole App

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down. Nina and Marie were best friends—until Nina was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before she died, Nina asked Marie to fulfill her final wishes. But her mistake was in thinking Marie was someone she could trust. What Nina didn’t know was that Marie always wanted her beautiful life, and that Marie has an agenda of her own. She’ll do anything to get what she wants. Marie thinks she can keep her promise to her friend’s family on her own terms. But what she doesn’t know is that Nina was hiding explosive secrets of her own… 

I’m a little behind on reading this one on Pigeonhole as all the staves are now available but I’m still very much enjoying it. I’m completely gripped by these characters, none of whom are particularly likeable, but I can’t yet work out what is going on. I can’t wait to read more!

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (24 Jun 20)! 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!

Current Reads

When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan Cullors & Asha Bandele

At the time of writing this I’ve only read the opening pages of this book but I can tell that this is going to be a memoir that is completely engrossing. I wanted to read this one while They Can’t Kill Us All is still fresh in my mind as I feel this is going to be a good companion book to that one in understanding how the Black Lives Matter movement is evolving.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

I started reading this novel in March and was really enjoying it but then my mind become so full of anxiety over Coronavirus that I hit a reading slump and just couldn’t read anything. I knew this was a book that I wanted to come back to so yesterday I picked it back up and started it again from the beginning and I’m enjoying it every bit as much as I was before.

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

I’m reading this book on the Pigeonhole app and am utterly gripped, I find myself eagerly refreshing the app after midnight each day waiting for the next stave (set of chapters) to arrive on my phone. This book follows Marie who is most definitely an unreliable narrator! Her best friend Nina has died and Marie is determined to help her grieving husband and children through this awful time. She inserts herself into their life and is fixated on being a part of their family. I’m really enjoying this one!

All the Lonely People by David Owen

This is a NetGalley book that I’ve had on my Kindle for quite a long time. I’m so pleased that I finally picked it up now as it’s such an interesting read. It follows Kat and Wesley, two teenagers who go to the same school. Kat has been the victim of a horrible campaign that has forced her offline and isolated her and she finds herself literally fading. Wesley got involved with two other boys who are behind the attacks on Kat but he feels awful about what he’s done and wants to somehow fix it. It’s a very prescient and powerful novel.

Recent Reads

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

I’ve been reading this book over the last couple of weeks and have deliberately taken my time with it as I wanted to really take in what I was reading and process it. Olusoga takes us through the forgotten history of black people in Britain and I learnt so much that I didn’t know before. I really appreciated how this book joined so many dots for me that I hadn’t fully connected before. I learnt about the white parts of some of this history in school but it was never, ever taught to us how it connected to what was happening in America and across the world as part of the slave trade. I’m ashamed that I’ve never properly sought out this history before but now I know better I’m determined to do better. As an aside I’ve discovered that the TV series of the same name which accompanies this book is being repeated on BBC4 if anyone is interested in watching it.

Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

This book is brilliant! It follows Charlotte as she shares her dating disasters but the novel has so much depth and it deals with some very serious issues. Charlotte has had quite a few dating dramas but through the novel she meets her Mr Right on Tinder but things don’t work out and we slowly find out what happened. I couldn’t put this book down, I read it all in one sitting as I just wanted to know what was going to happen. I reviewed this book yesterday so you can find my full thoughts here but I absolutely recommend this one.

#MeToo by Patricia Dixon

I got a month of Kindle Unlimited a few days ago and downloaded this book as I’ve seen it featured on quite a few blogs recently. It was a quick and gripping read. It follows three characters – Stan who is in prison convicted of raping his girlfriend; Billie who was Stan’s ex-girlfriend; and Kelly the woman who accused Stan of rape. I enjoyed seeing how this story played out and getting the different perspectives as a picture gradually emerges of just what happened the night of the rape. I read this in a couple of sittings and was gripped by it.

The Old You by Louise Voss

This is one of my 20 Books of Summer and I’m so pleased I finally picked it up. It follows Lynn as she comes to terms with her husband being diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Strange things start happening in and around the house and Lynn begins to doubt her own sanity. This is such a twisty book that you completely derails you on more than one occasion. I love Louise’s writing and this is one of her best novels. I’ve already reviewed it so you can find out more here.

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

I borrowed this book from BorrowBox this week and read it in one sitting. It follows a teenage boy whose brother has been on death row for most of his life and he gets to visit him during the two months before he’s due to be put to death. This is an emotional read and I got swept up in this story. It’s heartbreaking but also beautifully written.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

I started reading a NetGalley Arc of this but switched to audio book when I was struggling with it. It worked better for me on audio but ultimately this wasn’t really a book for me. I have reviewed this so you can see more of my thoughts here.

What I Might Read Next

How to be an AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

I want to read this book as soon as I’ve finished reading When They Call You A Terrorist. I have Stamped from the Beginning by this author on my TBR but I think How to be an AntiRacist is the one I want to read first. As I watch documentaries and news reports and listen to the discussions that are happening in the wake of George Floyd’s murder I am increasingly aware of the insidious nature of the racism that people think isn’t racism and how we need to be better at calling this out. I think this book will open my eyes even further so I’m keen to read it very soon.

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel The Perfect Betrayal so am excited to read her new one, I have such high hopes for this one. This book follows Jenna – a wife, mother and a doctor but she’s also the victim of a stalker. But one day her stalker is brought into the hospital after an accident and she suddenly finds the power back in her hands. I’m so intrigued by this and can’t wait to start reading it!

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

I’ve read and loved all of Louise Jenson’s thrillers so when I found out she had a book coming out under a pseudonym in a different genre I knew I had to read it! This follows a couple – Anna and Adam – who believed they’d be together forever but now a few years down the line cracks are showing and something happens to break them apart. This sounds like such an emotional read but one I’m really looking forward to picking up.

The 24 Hour Cafe by Libby Page

I was sent a copy of this book a while ago for review and haven’t managed to pick it up so I put it on my 20 Books of Summer TBR and hope to pick it up this week. I’m hoping for the predicted heatwave to finally arrive so that I can read it in the garden. This book follows Stella who runs a cafe that never sleeps, and two women who work there – Hannah and Mona. People come to the cafe for all sorts of reasons and I’m looking forward to meeting the staff and customers in this novel. It sounds like a lovely summer read!

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. 🙂

#BookReview: Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte @jemmaforte

About the Book

Left, left, left, left, left, right. What are any of us looking for as we swipe away? Someone to go on holiday with? Sex? Validation? Love forever after, or all of the above?  

Charlotte knows what she wants. Having focused on her career for years, she’s after a partner, a father for her unborn children, a family. 

And it looks like she’s found it, in the shape of James. After hundreds of dates and pointless exchanges, she’s hit the online jackpot, won the dating lottery, which is why when it goes away, it’s so incredibly painful. 

Charlotte’s devastated but then, things take a turn for the ‘even worse’ and nothing is safe and that’s when things get tricky.  

As her world collapses the light at the end of the tunnel fades. But will it go out completely?  

Bad dates, love, scandal, betrayal, no one can say life isn’t exciting. But sometimes, exciting is the last thing you need…

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when Jemma Forte offered me an ecopy of Be Careful What You Swipe For as I had already seen the book and was very keen to read it. I’m so pleased that I did read it because it was such a brilliant read!

Charlotte is fast approaching 40 and she’s wants to settle down with Mr Right and to start a family like so many of her friends have done. She’s on all the dating apps and has had some awful dates but she keeps trying. Charlotte is also very focused on her work – she’s a make up artist at a TV station and she’s hoping she might get a promotion very soon.

The novel opens with Charlotte telling the reader about her bad dates, about her previous relationships and why they went wrong but then we see her swipe right for someone new and he sounds like he could be the one!

I was expecting this book to be quite a light read about the perils of modern dating but it’s so much more than that. The novel tackles some really tough subjects like depression and anxiety, and how the actions of others can have such far-reaching consequences whether the person meant harm or not.

As Charlotte begins to face the aftermath of all that has happened to her she learns a lot about the facade we all so often present on social media. The way we want to be seen in our best light and that isn’t always the reality. I love the way she explores how she sees others and how others see her and then where it all leads her. It was refreshing to read about all this happening to someone very close to my age, I could really identify with some of Charlotte’s insecurities and her wish to be like her friends.

There is some humour running through the book to lighten things up a little. Some of the early dates were toe-curlingly cringeworthy and made me giggle. It reminded me of my first date with my husband (we met on twitter) where I was so nervous I literally couldn’t speak to him for about half an hour!! I wouldn’t have blamed him for doing a runner but he stayed and eleven years on we’re very happily married.

Ultimately, I was cheering Charlotte on from the beginning of this book all the way to the end (and beyond). I wanted her to find happiness in her own right and to find a man who could share her happiness. She has such an horrendous time and what happens to her is a nightmare and she deserved so much better than she got from some of the men in her life. I keep thinking of her since I finished the book and even though I know she’s just a fictional character I cared so much about her that I keep hoping she’s happy and fulfilled.

Be Careful What You Swipe For is a brilliant novel that explores the dating scene, mental health issues and the harm that our social media addictions can do. It’s a very prescient novel that has real depth and sensitivity to it and I loved it. I highly recommend this one!

Be Careful What You Swipe For is out now and available from here as a paperback and ebook.

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

Mini Book Reviews: The Old You | While I Was Sleeping | Little Disasters | Fleishman is in Trouble

Today I’m sharing a new selection of books that I’ve read recently. The first two are from my 20 Books of Summer TBR so I’m still doing well with that. I think I’ve read six book from my stack now and have reviewed five of them, which makes me happy. The other two books are from NetGalley so I’m still getting through my review books, which I’m really pleased about.

The Old You by Louise Voss

I’ve had this book on my TBR for over a year and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner because I very much enjoyed it. The novel follows Lynn Naismith who is shocked and devastated when her husband Ed is diagnosed with early-onset Dementia. She struggles with the manifestations of his symptoms but then strange things start happening in and around the house and she begins to question herself. This novel is so twisty and just when you think you have a grip of it the rug is pulled from under you yet again. As it progresses we learn more about Lynn, and more about Ed’s past and nothing is quite as it seemed at the start. I devoured this book in a couple of sittings and highly recommend it.

While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

This is a book I was sent from a publicist a couple of years ago and it got forgotten about on my bookcase. I do love Dani Atkins’ writing so I picked it up whilst sitting out in the garden one day last week and I read the whole book in one go! The novel follows Maddie as she wakes from a coma after being hit by a car. Life has change quite a bit for her and she has a lot to get used to. It also follows Chloe who is a hospital volunteer who gets to know Maddie’s fiance Ryan. We spend a lot of time getting to know both of these women, and there is so much heart in this book. It’s a novel that will bring a lump to your throat more than once but it will also restore your faith in human nature. While I Was Sleeping was so much more than I thought it was going to be and I very much enjoyed it. I definitely recommend this one!

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

I read and enjoyed Anatomy of a Scandal by this author but Little Disasters is even better! This book follows Jess – all her friends think she’s a perfect stay-at-home mum devoted to her children but when an incident happens and her baby is badly hurt conclusions are jumped to. Liz is Jess’ best friend and also the hospital consultant on duty when Jess brings her baby in. The novel follows the two women as they struggle with what happened and the fall out from it. There is the thriller element to this novel of wanting to know what happened and how but more than that it’s an exploration of the pressures on women, and the tension that runs through some female friendships which makes it hard to be honest when you’re struggling. This is an intense, gripping novel and one that refuses to leave me – I’m still thinking about it and I read it a few weeks ago now. I recommend it!

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

This is a novel that I got from NetGalley and I had a couple of false starts with it before deciding to borrow the audio book from the library and I have to admit that it did work better for me on audio. The novel opens with Toby Fleishman – a recently separated 41 year old who is suddenly having to cope with his two children on his own as his wife Rachel has seemingly had enough. What follows is a self-obsessed, arrogant man who spends pages and pages telling us all about the women he’s slept with or is flirting with online. In between that he’s constantly bad-mouthing Rachel. He never lets up! I had heard that this novel has a big twist partway through that makes it so worth the first half but to be honest I guessed what would happen. Ultimately, I just felt very sorry for the two children caught up in this, and to a lesser extent for Rachel. I did enjoy the latter stage of the book more than the first part but ultimately it wasn’t a novel for me.

Stacking the Shelves with a Book Haul (20 Jun 20)!

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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!

Purchased eBooks

Chase Darkness With Me: How One True Crime Writer Started Solving Murders by Billy Jensen

This is a true crime book about a writer that began solving murders. Billy Jensen was good friends with Michelle McNamara (author of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark) and helped to complete her book after she died. I hadn’t heard of the book until it popped up in an email from Amazon and I was immediately intrigued so I bought it!

Review Books

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

I requested this book from NetGalley after reading about it in an email from them and I was delighted to be approved. This is a YA novel set in LA in 1992 in the wake of the assault on Rodney King. It follows Ashley and her friends as they try to live their lives as the riots begin all around them. Ashley finds herself having to confront her own race and how this makes her different from her friends in a way that it hadn’t seem to before. She finds herself questioning who is the us? And who is the them? I can’t wait to read this one.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

I’ve seen this book on social media and I’ve been so keen to read it so I was thrilled to be approved to read it from NetGalley this week. It’s about a crime novelist who’s living a reclusive life these days. His editor turns up at his home so they can look through his early work to ready it for being republished. Julia notices that there seem to be clues through his work that seem to reference an unsolved murder from 30 years earlier. The book then becomes a battle of wits! This one sounds so good and I can’t wait to start reading it!

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

MoonRise by Sarah Crossan

I borrowed the ebook of this on BorrowBox and I’m already reading it. It follows Joe who’s older brother Ed was put on death row for the murder of a police officer when Joe was only 6. Now Joe is 17 and Ed wants to see him. The novel goes back and forth in time as we learn more about their family and what happened to break them apart. I love the way Sarah Crossan writes and am enjoying this novel.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

#BookReview: Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee @sjhigbee

About the Book

Castellan the Black, now better known as Casta the Grey, has led an eventful life, but these days he’s content to live alone in his mountaintop lair, fending off occasional attacks from the food and waiting to die. At least, that’s what he tells himself.

Babysitting his young grandchildren is definitely not on his to do list. Sammy Jo doesn’t care that the world used to cower before Casta’s wrath. She doesn’t want barbecued knight in armour – it’s tinned food – and that’s that. Sadly, her little brother Billy Bob is more inclined to follow her lead than his grandfather’s, and what’s a grumpy old dragon to do with two such intransigent youngsters?

Things go from bad to worse when he wakes up from a nap to find they’ve been hunting for more appealing treats. Organic, free-range lunch was exactly what they needed, according to a very proud Sammy Jo. He’s never seen the food so upset, and now it’s coming up the hill, armed with spears and bows, hell bent on revenge.

Things go from bad to worse when he has to move in with the rest of the family. Whoever said family life was boring hasn’t lived alongside these two pesky lizards. Keeping his grandkids out of trouble might be more of a challenge than this over the mountain warrior can handle.

My Thoughts

I wanted to read this short story as soon as I read the blurb on the author S J Higbee’s blog, it sounded like wonderful fun and escapism. I’m so glad I picked it up because it was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Casta is a cantankerous old dragon so when he’s put in charge of his two grandchildren – Sammy Jo and Billy Bob – for the day he’s not best pleased about it. His young charges run rings around him wanting different food to what he has provided and wanting freedom. As a result of the dragonets actions he has to move in with his daughter and son-in-law and the children and this makes him ever more grumpy!

I loved Casta the Grey, he’s one of those grandads that is genuinely grumpy and easily annoyed but from very early on there are moments where you can see his love for the dragonets, even if he’s determined not to let anyone see. I adored seeing his character growth and in particular the fondness he really develops for Sammy Jo. He begins to see more in her than he’d realised was there and their bond was just gorgeous. It made me nostalgic for my Grandparents and reminded me of some very happy memories.

I don’t normally read fantasy but this short story is so lovely. The descriptions of the dragons are fab and it reminded me of books I loved when I was a child and made me wonder why I never reach for the genre anymore. I think I may widen my horizons in future as a result of reading this. At its heart this is a story about family, about appreciating what you have and learning to accept that no one is perfect but you can love them anyway. This story will warm your heart, it’s really wonderful and I highly recommend it!

Picky Eaters is due to be published as an ebook on 22 June and can be pre-ordered here now. All proceeds from the book are going to mental health charities.

I received a copy of this story from BookSprout. All thoughts are my own.

WWW Wednesdays (17 Jun 20)! 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!

Current Reads

The Old You by Louise Voss

I’ve only read the first couple of chapters of this novel but I’m already gripped. This is about a married couple – Lynn and Ed. Lynn gave up her career when she married Ed and now he’s been diagnosed with early onset dementia. But as strange things begin to happen, she wonders if it’s her mind playing tricks rather than Ed’s. I can’t wait to read more!

All the Lonely People by David Owen

This book has been on my NetGalley shelf for a lot longer than it should have been but I finally picked it up a couple of days ago and am enjoying it. It is following two teenagers – Kat who has been the victim of a horrible campaign to get her to delete her blog and all of her social media, and Wesley who played his part in the campaign but is already feeling guilty about it. Kat suddenly begins to literally fade and become translucent and I’m so intrigued about what is going on!

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

This is a fascinating social history of black people in Britain. The author has researched all the way back to roman times and it’s such an eye-opening and interesting book. It’s a book that I’m learning a lot from but at the same time it’s incredibly readable. I highly recommend this one and I’m keen to keep picking it up.

Recent Reads

While I was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

I picked this book up from my 20 Books of Summer TBR yesterday and read the first couple of hundred pages while sitting out in the garden. By then I was too gripped to put it down so I read the rest last night! This book follows Maddie as she wakes from a come after being hit by a car. Life has change quite a bit for her and she has a lot to get used to. It also follows Chloe who is a hospital volunteer who gets to know Maddie’s fiance Ryan. This book was so much more than I thought it was going to be and I very much enjoyed it.

When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill

I enjoyed this book, which I picked from my NetGalley shelf last week. It’s about Liam who moves back into his ex-wife’s home when she’s diagnosed with a terminal illness. When Jennifer dies Liam is convinced it’s suicide but the police think it’s murder. I’m intrigued to read more and to find out what did happen to Jennifer and who, if anyone, is involved. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find out more here.

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

This was another pick from my 20 Books of Summer TBR and is another book that I read in one sitting. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking read that I utterly adored. It follows a couple who have been married for over 40 years but Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for the last 6 months. The novel opens with Maggie attempting suicide and what follows is the story of their lives, of why Frank stopped speaking and why Maggie took those pills. This book is stunning, I was enthralled the whole way through it and I still keep thinking of Frank and Maggie. I highly recommend this one.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

I’ve had a copy of this book on my TBR for around a year but I’ve seen so many recommendations of it that I picked it up this week and I read it all in one go. It follows Justyce, a black teenager who one night finds himself wrongly arrested because of the colour of his skin. He then begins writing letters to Martin Luther King and he tries to live more as Martin did. This novel explores so many aspects of racism, and of how insidious it is. This is a book that will smash your heart into a million pieces but it does leave room for hope. I can’t put into words how brilliant this novel is and I’m so glad I read it.

Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee

This is a short story that is being published this week (my review will be posted in the coming days!) and all proceeds are being donated to NHS charities. This is a story about grumpy grandfather dragon who just wants a quiet life but now he has to look after his grandchildren, and they want to do their own thing. It’s a great escape of a read and I recommend it!

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I listened to this book on audio and I definitely recommend this medium as it follows Bri who wants to become a top rapper and throughout the audiobook you hear the raps she has written and performed. Bri is such a great character, she truly believes in herself and her music and doesn’t want to let anyone stand in her way. She faces a battle when people assume her lyrics are saying things she didn’t mean and then is judged as being an another angry black girl. She continues to fight her corner and to stand up for herself and her music. I recommend this one!

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This is an incredible novella that explores xenophobia through the viewpoint of Masechaba, a young doctor in South Africa. This book packs so much into its few pages and I was spellbound by it. Masechaba’s struggles with her own body through her periods was so visceral and relatable, and later the horrific thing that happens to her along with the aftermath was so hard to read and yet I couldn’t look away. I very much recommend this one!

What I Might Read Next

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

On the morning of Monday 23rd December, Jamie Buckby takes the commuter riverboat from his home in St Mary’s, southeast London, to work in Central London, noting that his good friend and neighbour Kit Roper has not turned up for the 7.30am service they usually catch together. At the London Eye, where he disembarks for his job in a café behind the South Bank Centre, Jamie is met by the police. Kit has been reported missing by his wife. As Jamie is taken in for questioning, he discovers someone saw him arguing with Kit on the boat home late on Friday night. The other passenger believes Jamie committed murder. But what really happened? 

I’ve enjoyed Louise Candlish’s previous novels and the blurb of this one sounds so good and I can’t wait to read it!

The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake

Lottie is always in a hurry, rushing through her days ticking tasks off her to-do lists. Teddy is worried about his granddaughter – and he knows that his late wife, Lily, would have known exactly what to say to make things better. Now that Lily has gone, it’s up to Teddy to talk some sense into Lottie. With the help of Arjun, Geoffrey and Howard, the elderly reprobates who make up his Gin O’Clock Club, Teddy makes a plan to help Lottie find her way back to the things that really matter – family, friendship and love. But as Lottie balances a high-powered job with her reluctant attendance at whist drives, ballroom dances and bingo, Teddy wonders if she’s really ready to open up her heart to the possibility of true happiness…

This sounds like a fun summer read so I’m adding it the TBR of books I hope to read in the coming week.

How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister

You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good? Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back. The only choice is to disappear. From their family, their friends, even from Lauren’s husband. No goodbyes. Just new names, new home, new lives. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new. As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is much harder . . .

The blurb of this book sounds so good and so intriguing so I’m keen to get to it as soon as I can.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet. 

I was very lucky to receive an ARC of this book and have been so looking forward to reading it as I’m a massive Maggie O’Farrell fan. I didn’t want to pick it up in the midst of my reading slump so I’ve been waiting until I was back on track and now I simply can’t wait any longer 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. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Evening Primrose | When the Time Comes | Born Lippy | You and Me, Always

Today I’m sharing mini reviews of some of the books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently. The first is one that I’ve had on my NetGalley shelf for a little while and the other three are all books from my 20 Books of Summer TBR so I’m happy to have got to all of these books.

When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill

I didn’t realise this was the third book in a series until after I’d finished it but it works perfectly as a standalone. This novel follows what happens in the wake of Jenny Buckley’s death. Her estranged husband says it was suicide but the police think it was murder. The novel follows the perspectives of quite a few characters and goes back and time to just before and after Jenny’s death. I loved the way we slowly build up a picture of who everyone is and begin to suspect what might have happened and whether anyone else was involved. I did think there were perhaps too many story strands going on and one in particular involving the detective was distracting. Having said that I was invested in finding out what happened and I did enjoy reading it.