#BookReview: He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly @HodderBooks

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About the Book

Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…

 

My Thoughts

I first read Erin Kelly when I read the Broadchurch novel and I was hooked on her writing style so when I saw He Said/She Said was due out I knew I had to get my hands on it. I actually read this book earlier in the year but due to ill health am only reviewing it now, and I can honestly say that this book has really stayed with me in the intervening months – always the sign of a great novel!

He Said/She Said is a novel that hinges around Laura who witnesses a horrible attack during an eclipse, and her life is forever changed by that moment.

I loved the way this novel was set during an eclipse because we’ve all heard about how behaviour can change as the sun disappears. It’s so peculiar to know it’s daytime and yet there is no sun, the air cools down as the darkness grows, and then just as quickly it’s all over and the sun is back. The way Erin Kelly chose to use this as the moment Laura witness the assault is just brilliant because Laura would already have felt unsettled by the eclipse and then to see what she did would have been horrifying to her. It works so well to see how darkness descends so shockingly both literally and metaphorically in this novel.

He Said/She Said does move around in time – we get the build up to the assault and immediate aftermath in one strand and then in other chapters we’re in the present day and seeing the stress and anxiety that Laura and Kitt are living with. I thought the build up to the assault would be the part of the book that propelled it forward but I found that I was much more fascinated by how Laura dealt with it afterwards. She never feels safe, she seems quite paranoid but as you learn about what has happened you wonder if it’s that or if she really has reason to be frightened. I am always drawn to books that explore anxiety and trauma, having suffered from PTSD myself, and this book was so well done. I had to put it down a few times just to breathe because it really does show what it’s like when you’re reaching breaking point and you don’t know if you can trust your own reactions and perceptions anymore.

This novel also looks at a person’s perception of an event and the way in which we can convince ourselves that something must be true. There is a moment in this book where a lie is told, the teller of which believes it’s a tiny little lie but the repercussions are huge. The tension really builds from this point onwards and this is where the novel really becomes near impossible to put down.

This novel does have brilliant twists and turns, but it also has so much more than that. It’s a great exploration of how we deal with witnessing a traumatic event, and I loved it for that. He Said/She Said is a slow burn novel but it does continually build and build, and the tension really does reach edge-of-your-seat stuff! This is a novel that really gets under your skin and it’s one you won’t forget!

He Said/She Said is out now and I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. She read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998.

She has written for newspapers including the The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan.

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#BookReview: Lost in the Lake by A.J. Waines @AJWaines ‏

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for A.J. Waines new novel, Lost in the Lake!

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About the Book

She came at first for answers…now she’s back for you

Amateur viola player Rosie Chandler is the sole survivor of a crash which sends members of a string quartet plunging into a lake. Convinced the ‘accident’ was deliberate, but unable to recall what happened, she is determined to recover her lost memories and seeks out clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.

But Rosie is hiding something…

Sam is immediately drawn to the tragic Rosie and as she helps her piece the fragments together, the police find disturbing new evidence which raises further questions. Why is Rosie so desperate to recover her worthless viola? And what happened to the violin lost in the crash, worth over £2m?

When Rosie insists they return to the lake to relive the fatal incident, the truth about Rosie finally creeps up on Sam – but by now, she’s seriously out of her depth…

A stand alone novel (and the second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series), Lost in the Lake is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Psychological Thriller that will leave you glancing over your shoulder.

My Thoughts

I was drawn to Lost in the Lake from the moment I saw the atmospheric cover and I’m happy to say the novel itself more than lives up to it!

Lost in the Lake is the second in the Dr Samantha Willerby series but can be read as a standalone, which is how I read it. Sam is a fascinating character – she clearly cares about her work and her patients but struggles to balance this with keeping the right distance. Rosie is a woman who had a very traumatic childhood and has recently been in an accident and has come to Sam wanting help to recover lost memories of the crash. What builds from here is an edge of your seat, very fast-paced novel!

Sam is still coming to terms with the loss of one of her previous patients in difficult circumstances and is also trying hard to build a relationship with her sister, who is recovering from mental health issues. I felt for Sam throughout this book – she’s clearly a a bit lost in her personal life and seemed very lonely. She has good friends but they all seem to be moving on with their lives while she’s stil trying to figure out what she even wants. She feels for Rosie and wants to help her but it’s quickly clear to the reader that all might not be as it seems with Rosie.

I loved the way that as this novel builds there is a sense of Sam becoming undone as Rosie’s manipulative side begins to show itself. I found it fascinating how Sam starts to worry about her own state of mind and you really get a sense of how fine a line it can be between good mental health and mental illness. It made me feel really on edge and yet compelled to keep reading as I wasn’t sure how this was all going to end for Sam.

The work Sam does with Rosie to try and help recover her memories was really interesting. I’m always intrigued by books that cover topics like this, having suffered with PTSD myself, and Lost in the Lake was particularly fascinating in the way it makes you think about memory and the way we remember things – Rosie had a traumatic childhood and she feels abandoned but you get the sense that perhaps she wasn’t left behind in the way she thought she was, yet it has already become enmeshed in her and made her the person she is now. It leaves you wondering about whether there was a possibility that if Rosie had had the right support when she was younger if she might have turned out differently as an adult.

I also loved the central mystery in the book about what caused the crash and what the past might have to do with it. Knowing about Rosie’s past, and seeing her manipulative side from the very beginning of the book, I was immediately distrustful of her story of what she claims to remember about the accident but I couldn’t foresee how it was all going to turn out. It had me racing through the book keen to find out, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Lost in the Lake was my first A.J. Waines read but it absolutely won’t be my last! I’ve already bought her previous novels and will be reading them very soon. I highly recommend this one!

Lost in the Lake is out now!

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. Visit her website, blog, on Twitter, Facebook or sign up for her Newsletter.

 

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#BookReview: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #BlogTour

 

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech!

About the Book

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Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’ Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

My Thoughts

I read Louise Beech’s first novel, How to be Brave, last year and it was my top book of the year. I still find myself thinking about the characters and the story. So you can imagine how much I’ve been anticipating Maria in the Moon and I’m so happy to say that this completely exceeded my high expectations!

Maria in the Moon is so beautiful and incredibly moving. There are two strands to Maria in the Moon – the book is predominantly set in the aftermath of the horrendous floods that hit Hull in 2007 and focuses on Catherine. On being interviewed for the Flood Crisis helpline Catherine realises that she can’t remember a single thing from the year she was nine. This sets her mind in a spin as she begins to think back over points in her childhood to try and remember anything from that year. Catherine has had a difficult life – her father died when she was young, as did her Nanny Eve and she doesn’t have an easy relationship with her Mother which makes it all the more difficult for her to find out about her past.

I adored this novel; it is simply stunning and so powerful! I found I could really identify with Catherine. There are parts of her story that were really hard for me to read, coming a bit too close to my own experiences, but the writing is so beautiful that I had to keep reading through my tears. I was willing Catherine to remember what happened and for her to be able to come to terms with all aspects of her childhood. As Catherine begins to have strange fleeting flashes of what she thinks might be her memories there is a sense that you know what it coming before she does and the tension that builds in the novel from there is palpable.

‘When you’re nine,’ he’d insisted. When you’re nine. He died when I was eight.’

I sympathised such a lot with Catherine over the losses she’d experienced in her life. It’s such a difficult thing to not only to lose a parent but to lose how your life may have been if they had lived longer. The death of a parent changes how people see you, and how you see them, and it breaks some things in a way that they can’t be mended. Sometimes you get lucky and find a new normal with people and sometimes you just lose. I was willing Catherine on to find a new normal with the people left in her life to the point that I wanted to reach through the pages and tell the people around her to listen to her more. Louise Beech captured this so well, with such compassion and empathy in Maria in the Moon.

‘The image made my throat ache. He was perhaps the age my father would have been if he’d lived; I felt a pang of affection.

The part of the novel that focuses on the floods was so vivid and realistic. I lived in Hull during the floods that this novel centres around and whilst my home wasn’t affected, quite a few friends of mine were badly flooded. It was an horrendous time for people and Hull seemed to get forgotten about during that time and the city was left to fend for itself. Louise captures this so incredibly well, there were moments reading this that just took me right back there. All the skips in the street, all the ruined furniture, the people not knowing what to say to each other – it was heartbreaking. It genuinely feels that for anyone who hasn’t seen the devastation of flooding with their own eyes will really have a sense of how it feels after reading this book.

I have to just mention that I loved the references to places in Hull that I remember going to back in the day – the Christmas night out in Sharkeys in the novel brought back some fond memories for me. It’s so nostalgic reading a novel that is set in a time and place you have lived, and it gave me that weird sense of maybe having passed Catherine around there somewhere. Maybe in another time.

‘Without strong foundations, no external beauty can survive. Paint can only hide so much before the memories crawl out of the woodwork.’

Louise Beech has such an incredible way with words – she constructs sentences that really get you in your gut. There were many moments when I was reading this novel that I had to stop and take a breath but then I was compelled to get back to it. I loved the way Louise weaved the grief Catherine feels for her father in with the loss she feels about her home being so damaged in the floods. There is a part where she talks about her dad’s coat being like a cape to keep her safe but someone got rid of it after he died, and how she looked for that safe feeling but could never find it. It’s how she feels now about her water-logged home – that sense of her home being the cape that her dad allowed her to buy, to keep her safe, and now it’s broken and she can’t live there for a while. She doesn’t know if she will ever feel safe, and it’s clear she’s displaced and lost and grief-stricken all over again. We bought our house with the inheritance from my mum and because of that our home has taken on so much more meaning, so I really felt for Catherine.

Forgiveness and acceptance play such a big role in this novel – the issues are very sensitively dealt with and you can see all of the ways we all try to make sense of the things that have happened to us. For Catherine there was the way she had to deal with her childhood and the way she had to deal with her present and while they seem very different they are actually very similar. She chose to try and fix the brokenness by volunteering for the flood crisis helpline and actually this becomes the thing that breaks her down but leads to a sense of possibility.

This is a novel that is still lingering in my mind days after I finished reading it – it’s one that I actually don’t think will ever leave me and to be honest I don’t want it to. This is one of those very rare and very special novels that will make you feel all of the feelings, it will take hold of you and it won’t let you go. It’s an absolutely stunning novel and I highly, highly recommend Maria in the Moon!

Maria in the Moon is out now!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Louise has always been haunted by the sea, even before she knew the full story of her grandfather, the man who in part inspired novel How to be Brave. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from her bedroom window she can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired book, The Mountain in my Shoe.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism, and a one year column called Wholly Matrimony about modern marriage.

Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was released in 2015 and got to No 4 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart, and was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015. This novel came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story.

Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in 2016 and was inspired by her time with children in care. It explores what family truly means, and how far we will go for those we love. It longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.

Maria in the Moon is out now.

(Bio taken from: LouiseBeech.co.uk)

 

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#BookReview: The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin @emmdib ‏@HoZ_Books ‏#blogtour

 

 

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin and am sharing my review!

 

About the Book

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When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practise regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home.

It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realizes too late that she might become lost forever…

 

My Thoughts

I can never resist books about cults, there is something about them that intrigues me and terrifies me in equal measure so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review The Room by the Lake. I had high hopes for this novel from the moment I first saw the stunning cover and I’m so happy to say that it didn’t disappoint!

Caitlin lost her mum to cancer a year ago and has struggled to come to terms with the complicated relationship they had had due to her mother’s schizophrenia. She’s also now struggling with her dad’s alcoholism and just feels like she has nowhere to turn. One night it comes to a head with her dad and she finds herself running away, getting on a plane and being in New York. I know that summarising this it may seem a bit far-fetched but in reading you really do feel for Caitlin. I remember when my mum died of cancer and I was just so lost. I didn’t want to be where I was and I had nowhere else to go. I was lucky in that fate seemed to intervene in a good way in my life and I met my husband later that year and life began to get better. Reading this novel made me blood run cold at times because I wanted to run away in those initial months and it’s scary to think how easily vulnerable young people can get manipulated by monstrous people who seem kind.
I knew from the synopsis of this book that life was going to take a scary turn for Caitlin but when she meets Josh at a party I couldn’t help but hope he would be a force for good in her life. I wanted him to help her. Instead Caitlin is manipulated and taken to a house in the middle of nowhere, which on face value seems like a beautiful location to relax and recover from what she has been through. The place where Caitlin ends up is a cult but as with all cults she had no idea what was happening and very soon she finds that this lifestyle works for her. Until things begin to take a darker turn.

The people at the house Caitlin is taken to all seem very enmeshed in the running of things. They’re polite but distant to Caitlin at first but soon things begin to close in on her. The way the group eat and exercise seems to Caitlin as like a boot camp that may help her but it’s really a means of control. Something is a bit off about this place and it’s only when Caitlin begins therapy that the sinister atmosphere really begins to ramp up. It’s scary how quickly people can gain control over others by starting with small things and preying on our fears.

I thought The Room by the Lake was really cleverly done in the way that it is about a cult, which is fascinating, but it felt to me that it was more about Caitlin’s fear of her mother’s mental illness, and even more so her deepest darkest fear that the same thing could happen to her. I know from personal experience how terrifying it is when you think you’re losing your grip on reality so to have grown up with a parent who had a mental illness must heighten that to another level. The cult played on her fears and heightens them in such a cruel way. I honestly felt that Caitlin was healthy prior to ending up in the cult, she was grieving for her mum and she was so lonely. She just needed a good friend who she could trust who would make time to support her and to let her talk about her fears, and this is how she was pulled  into the cult. These people were the only people that she felt would listen to her. There are moments in the early part of the novel that could possibly be interpreted as the beginnings of Caitlin being mentally unwell but I felt it was grief. I think when grief is complex it is harder to work through and it seemed to me that Caitlin was just utterly mired in darkness – she’d hit her limit of what she could cope with and couldn’t take anymore. I could identify with how lost she felt, and how alone, and scarily for me I can see why she got caught up in the cult. This book gave me chills at times as I could see some of my younger self in Caitlin. 

I did begin to feel really unnerved by the various methods the cult used to exert control over Caitlin, it made me wonder if she would ever recover or if this might, ironically, end up being the thing that triggered mental illness in her. I keep finding myself wondering about her ever since I finished reading the book, she feels like a real person to me even though I know this is a work of fiction. Emma Dibdin’s writing really does get under your skin (in the best possible way!).

This is a novel that builds and builds all the way through. I read this in two sittings (and that’s only because I started reading late at night and I had to get some sleep but I picked it back up again in the morning!) as the writing just drew me in from the first page and it held me to the very end and beyond.

The Room by the Lake is a fascinating, intense psychological suspense novel that I highly recommend. It’s one of those books that really gets under your skin and haunts your thoughts. This will be a book that stays with me for a long time to come, I’m so glad I had the chance to read it and I’m already eagerly antipating whatever Emma Dibdin writes next!

The Room by the Lake is out now in Hardback, Audio and eBook.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Emma Dibdin is a journalist who writes about television and the arts.  She has been an editor at Hearst for four years, and her work has appeared in EsquireMarie ClaireHarper’s BazaarCosmopolitanTotal Film, and Indiewire.  Born and raised in Oxford, she currently lives in New York City.

(Bio taken from unitedagents.co.uk)

 

 

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#BookReview: The Way Back to Us by @kaylangdale @HodderFiction @JazminaMarsh

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Kay Langdale’s brand new novel, The Way Back to Us!

 

About the Book

Cover Since their youngest son, Teddy, was diagnosed with a life-defining illness, Anna has been fighting: against the friends who don’t know how to help; against the team assigned to Teddy’s care who constantly watch over Anna’s parenting; and against the impulse to put Teddy above all else – including his older brother, the watchful, sensitive Isaac.

And now Anna can’t seem to stop fighting against her husband, the one person who should be able to understand, but who somehow manages to carry on when Anna feels like she is suffocating under the weight of all the things that Teddy will never be able to do.

As Anna helplessly pushes Tom away, he can’t help but feel the absence of the simple familiarity that should come so easily, and must face the question: is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage, or leave?

 

My Thoughts

I’m going to start by saying that I’m a huge fan of Kay Langdale’s novels – the first one I ever read was Her Giant Octopus Moment and I adored it. I can say, with absolute honesty, that The Way Back to Us is her best yet! I read this in one sitting, I just didn’t want to put it down for a minute.

The Way Back to Us is a novel about a family of four who are still coming to terms with the fact that the youngest child, Teddy, has SMA – a rare genetic disorder that has changed all of their lives.

Anna, Teddy’s mum, gave up her career the very second Teddy got his diagnosis. There is a moment where she shares how she felt at that time and I felt so emotional as I was reading it. I don’t have children but I have lived through that horrendous life-defining moment where you know your world has moved on its axis and your life is forever changed. Anna becomes fiercely protective over Teddy – she’s become obsessive about cleaning and keeping him safe from germs but she’s utterly devoted to him and fights so hard for his right to attend a normal school. I could totally identify with her desire to stop germs coming into the house – I was the same when I was a carer to my mum as she went through chemo as part of the palliative care. It’s partly a need to protect your loved one but it’s also a way of having some control over the desperate circumstances you find yourself in. I felt such empathy for Anna, I wanted to reach through the pages and hug her.

Tom is Teddy’s dad and he is now the sole bread winner for the family and so is very focused on his work. When he gets home he rushes to his children to greet them but Anna is often distant with him and he doesn’t understand why. As a reader you have an all-seeing eye and can spot what is happening but these characters are mired in the situation and can’t see the wood for the trees. Tom clearly loves his children, and his wife, but when Anna seems to always be snapping at him to be careful with Teddy it’s easy to see why a work colleague starts to catch Tom’s eye. The situation they’re in is not an excuse to think about cheating but it’s so apparent that Tom loves his family – he just feels redundant as Anna is so focused on what needs to be done, and Tom is focused on work that there never seems to be time for them to sit and just talk about how they feel.

Isaac is Teddy’s older brother and he is such a wonderful child. Kay Langdale has the writing so spot on in that Isaac always comes across as a child but he is so perceptive, he can’t always understand what is going on with his parents but he picks up on the mood and the atmosphere. He is so caring towards his mum, he is really tuned in to her feelings and wants to do anything he can to help her. He tries to soothe her at times by trying to look on the bright side, and he takes care of himself to take some of the responsibility off her shoulders. The thing I loved most about Isaac though was his relationship with Teddy. He is so careful not to hurt him but at the same time is determined to help him try to do normal, fun things. There is a moment when Isaac tries to help Teddy learn to hop, which is impossible as Teddy can’t even stand unaided, but the amount of pure love and joy in both boys in that moment radiates from the page. I adored that moment and it makes me smile every time I think of it.

The novel is set in the present but we get the back story as the characters, particularly Anna, mulls over how she got here. As we learn about how Teddy was diagnosed  the language Anna uses in her own thoughts is so telling – there is a moment when the doctor explains how her genes and Tom’s led to Teddy having SMA and Anna ponders about other men she had relationships with and how their genes might have mixed differently but then she thinks of Tom ‘who carried it undetected towards me’. She doesn’t really blame Tom but it’s an undercurrent, a thing that can’t be said in their marriage – it shows her anger and her sadness that this has happened to them, to their child.

The clever way the story is built on in each chapter, with more layers and depth as we see other points of view ,is brilliant. Kay Langdale deftly shows how each person feels and what they think but how they often just can’t say it because their own pain holds them back, and they fear making things worse. It feels so real as you read this novel – the missed chances between Anna and Tom took my breath away at times, I was willing them to find a way to really communicate with each other. My heart broke when Tom tried to recreate old times with Anna  by fantasising on what they could spend his bonus on, he was trying so hard and I loved him for it, but Anna’s first words are how they could use the money to help Teddy, which is totally understandable, but it broke the spell of the moment. My heart was breaking for them both at this point.

I won’t give any spoilers but there is an incident with a kite in this novel and it’s in the aftermath of that where we really come to understand why each member of the family is the way they are. The mix of sheer joy from one, sheer terror from another, the misplaced fear and the worry from the other two is palpable. We learn so much in this part of the novel and it’s the point when it felt like make or break for this family and I was really hoping they would find a way to move toward each other again once the pain and anger subsided.

The Way Back to Us is at its heart a novel about how people cope when life throws a massive curveball at them. It’s a look at relationships – between a married couple, between parents and their children, and between siblings – that is so raw and honest that at times you need to pause and take a breath. The plot of this novel is very moving but it’s more a look at the characters, and they are such well thought out characters. The way Kay Langdale makes you feel sympathy for everyone in this family is so cleverly done – it would be easy to make Anna the good guy and Tom the bad guy in the marriage but that never happens. Instead, through the layering of the perspectives we just see the reality of their lives in its raw and honest state. There is heartbreak in this novel, and honestly I shed quite a few tears whilst reading, but there is beauty and joy too.

This novel is incredible and so beautifully written. I can’t stop thinking about these characters – they feel like real people to me. This is such an emotional novel – at times it’s heartbreaking but it really is such a stunning read. Kay Langdale is a master of crafting novels that feel so true and real, she really gets under the skin of her characters and makes them feel like people you know – I’m sure that these characters will have a hold on me for a long while to come. This is absolutely Kay Langdale’s best work to date and I am certain that The Way Back to Us will be one of my top books of this year – I’ll be recommending it to everyone! Go buy a copy now, you won’t regret it!

The Way Back to Us is out now.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

I was very lucky that I got to interview Kay Langdale when her previous novel, The Comfort of Others, was published so you can read more about her here if you’d like to.

 

About the Author

Kay Langdale © John Cairns

Kay Langdale was born in Coventry, England.

From a young age she loved to read and to write.

She attended Bedford College, London University, graduating with a first class degree in English Literature and then went to Oxford University where she completed a doctorate on Samuel Beckett’s prose fiction. She briefly taught twentieth century literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford before beginning work as an account handler and copywriter at a brand consultancy.

She is married to a South African entrepreneur, with whom she has four children who are now mostly grown. Kay divides her time between their homes in Oxfordshire and Devon.

Now writing her eighth novel, Kay also works as an editor for the charity The Children’s Radio Foundation which trains young broadcasters in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

When not writing Kay enjoys running, ballet barre, yoga, swimming, coastal walking, learning Italian, cooking and reading. Always reading.

(Bio taken from: KayLangdale.com)

 

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WWW Wednesday (26 Jul) What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

This is a non-fiction book about the terrorist attack on the Bataclan in Paris in 2015. It’s an incredibly moving, and very difficult, book to read. I keep having to put it down but I will finish it. It is well written, it’s just a very tough subject to read about.

All Out War: How Brexit Sunk Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman

This is my latest audio book and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a well-balanced look at what happened politically that led to the referendum, and the result to leave the EU. It’s a long book but it’s fascinating and engaging.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Levinich

This is a really interesting book and I’m so glad I picked it up. It’s non-fiction but the author is very much within the story being told, and there are parts that have been imagined based on the facts that are known. I’ll be reviewing this one once I’ve read it but I can already say that I’ll be recommending it.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’ve not read much of this in the last few days but I am so invested in this book now and will be reading more of it very soon.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

I really enjoyed this thriller and actually read it in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down. It’s fast-paced and keeps you gripped. I’ve already reviewed this for the blog tour so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to know more of what I thought of it.

Letters to Sarah by Sara Payne

This is such a moving and heartbreaking read, but an inspiring read at the same time. It’s a book to take time over and perhaps read one letter at a time but it’s a book I’d recommend.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Yesterday by Felicia Yap

I was so excited when I got approved for this on NetGalley a couple of weeks back and it’s been calling to me from my TBR ever since so I’m hoping I can start it in the next couple of days.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

I’ve had this book on my review pile for a little while now and it’s a book that keeps catching my eye so I’m also hoping to make time to read this one in the next week too.

 


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

#BookReview: Her Deadly Secret- @Christi_Curran #WhatsHerSecret? @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Christ Curran’s brand new novel, Her Deadly Secret!

About the Book

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

A FAMILY BUILT ON LIES…
A dark and twisty psychological thriller, in which a young girl is abducted and her family is confronted with a horror from deep in their past.
A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.
Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.
Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.
This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…

 

My Thoughts

I read and enjoyed Chris Curran’s previous novels so I was thrilled when I was invited to be a part of the blog tour for her new book, Her Deadly Secret. I was expecting great things and I’m so happy to say that it lived up to my expectations!

Her Deadly Secret is told from the viewpoint of two families. Joe and Hannah have just found out that their missing teenage daughter Lily has been murdered and are trying to find a way to cope whilst also being under the police spotlight. Rosie is happily married to Oliver but she still struggles to copy with the loss of her older sister many years ago. From the beginning I was suspecting a link between these two families but as the revelations start coming I was stunned!

I was very quickly invested in these characters, especially Joe, who is trying so hard to hold everything together as his wife falls apart. I also felt for Rosie as she dealt with the minefield of her father being back in her life after many years, and her mother’s acceptance of him. As much as I liked these two characters and generally was on their side, this novel does get so twisty that there were moment when I questioned my judgement of them.

This is a novel filled with secrets and lies, and eventually the house of cards starts to collapse as the truth begins to come out. I loved how some people were outright lying in their own selfish interests to cover their tracks but others were keeping secrets in order to try and protect others from the hurt of what they had believed at the time. This novel really does show the harm that can be done when people keep quiet in order to try to prevent loved ones from being hurt, even if it’s done with the best of intentions.

I raced through this novel in one sitting as it just grabbed me from the first chapter and kept me gripped, and needing answers right to the very last chapter! I thought I had it all figured out on more than one occasion but I have to admit that the final piece of the puzzle was just out of my grasp, which I loved as it’s nice to have a shock that you didn’t see coming in a thriller!

Her Deadly Secret is engrossing, twisty and when you think you’ve got it all figured out the rug will be pulled from under you all over again! I definitely recommend this novel!

I received a copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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Chris Curran lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex. Her first two psychological thrillers, Mindsight and Her Turn To Cry, were both Amazon bestsellers. She also writes short stories one of which was recently shortlisted for the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham award. Her latest novel, Her Deadly Secret, is published as an ebook on July 21 st 2017 and a paperback in August.

 

 

 

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following blogs:

BLOG TOUR- Her Deadly Secret (1)

Weekly Wrap-Up! (23 Jul)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

This week has been lovely as my husband has been on holiday from work. I’m not able to be out and about very much but it’s been nice to spend time together. He finally persuaded me to start watching Stranger Things, and I’m so annoyed that I put it off for so long before I’m absolutely loving it.

It’s been a strange last couple of days. I always find it hard to know that people I love are going through grief and sadness when I can’t do anything to really help.

 

This week I’ve finished reading four books:

Letters to Sarah by Sara Payne

This was a really emotional read but also an interesting one. Sara Payne is a remarkable woman in how she’s channeled her pain into trying to keep other children safe. I was also really inspired by how she’s worked to recover as much as she can after her stroke.

Three Days and a Life by Pierre LeMaitre

This book was brilliant! I literally couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting. I’m a big fan of Pierre LeMaitre and this book absolutely lived up to all my expectations. I’ll be reviewing this as soon as I can but I highly recommend it.

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

I was really intrigued by the premise for this book and the way social media was used to show someone their future. There was more to this book than I was expecting and I was really gripped by it. I read a review copy so I will be trying to get my review for this posted soon.

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

This book grabbed me from the opening chapter and had me so intrigued that I just couldn’t put it down. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Tuesday: Review of Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

This is one of those books that really grabs you from the start and makes you wish you’d started it at a time when you could just read all afternoon and finish it in one sitting.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnivich

I’d been really keen to read this book before I started it and yet somehow I didn’t know much about it. I’m completely gripped by it – it’s non-fiction but assumptions are made about certain situations in order to fill in blanks so it’s not completely non-fiction. It’s one of those books that really makes you think about things and I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I have to be honest and say that I’ve not been drawn to read any more of this novel this week. I’m going to keep it on my currently reading pile for another week and then if it still hasn’t called to me I may just DNF it. I don’t know if the problem is just me as the premise really grabbed me initially.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’ve read another few chapters of this and am finding it fascinating. It’s non-fiction but it’s written in a way that really flows so I’d recommend this to anyone, even if you don’t normally read non-fiction.

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Update on my TBR: 

 

As you may have noticed I didn’t post a Stacking the Shelves post yesterday and the reason for that is I didn’t buy or receive any new books by the time I normally write and schedule my post! I’m sure you’re all as shocked as I am!!

 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1999

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 0

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 4

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1996

 


 

How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a good week, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading over the last seven days. If you do a wrap-up post please feel free to share a link below.

#BookReview: The Other Twin by L. V. Hay @OrendaBooks @LucyVHayAuthor #TheOtherTwin

The Other Twin cover

About the Book

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth.

My Thoughts

I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Other Twin for weeks now and I’m so pleased that when I finally got to read it that it exceeded my expectations!

This is a psychological thriller but it is also so much more than that. It has twists and turns running throughout the book that will keep you on your toes until the very end when all is revealed, but it also is a very prescient look at very relevant issues in society at this moment. There is a lot about grief, about mental health and about the struggles facing the LGBTQ+ community. It’s also a look at the way we live our lives versus the way we present ourselves online – the novel takes India’s blog, and to a lesser extent the comments she receives on her posts, and shows how she was trying to explain her life to others while still concealing the reality and depth of what she was going through. I think so many people will relate to this in a variety of ways.

The novel is told predominantly from Poppy’s viewpoint but we also get a few chapters interspersed that are obviously important to the plot but we don’t know who the people are in the early part of the novel. This really helps to build tension and such a sense of uneasiness as you wonder how this will fit in to what happened to India. I was guessing for most of the book and whilst I did work it out before the reveal, I was still so on edge because by that point I was anxious that something really awful might be about to happen.

I didn’t really like any characters in this book (not that this matters at all because the story is so good) as most people seem to be focused on their own lives and there wasn’t a lot of warmth in any of them. Having said that, I did find Poppy’s grief and concern for what might have led up to her sister’s death palpable at times. It does lead her to make some strange, and sometimes downright stupid decisions that could potentially put her in danger, as she digs deeper into her sister’s life but I found her actions believable because of her grief and shock and that desperate need to know. I really felt for her because being estranged from a family member who then dies before any kind of reconciliation can happen must be so hard to come to terms with. Poppy did grow on me as the novel progressed and as she began to see what had been happening in the lives of the people around her, and as the tension really begins to ramp up, I was on the edge of my seat hoping that she would get through this unscathed.

I thought it was great that this book is set within a place that is generally known to be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community but that it also really explores what it is to have a family that doesn’t accept who you are. It must cause such a pain and conflict within to not be allowed to be who you are with the people who are supposed to love and accept you. The repercussions of this within the novel are enormous and it made me so angry  and so sad. I do love when a novel makes me feel such strong emotions for the characters and The Other Twin certainly does that.

I also love the title of this novel. When I read the synopsis for this book and saw that two of the characters are twins I assumed that the novel would predominantly be about them, and much of the novel does pivot on the these two and the way they see things and the way they behave but there seems to be so much else to this title. By the end of the novel it had me wondering if the title was also actually a play on the way people have two sides to them, which also ties into the idea of our real self and the self that we feel we have to, or are able to, present to the world. The cover design also played into this for me as when you wipe away steam on glass you may see the person standing on the other side or you may see a reflection of yourself.

This is a dark, disturbing and twisty suspense thriller, which also explores real and current issues in our society in a very honest, intelligent way. It grabbed me from the opening chapter and I’m not sure that it’s really let me go even now, days after I finished reading it. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut because it’s such an accomplished novel. I highly recommend The Other Twin! Already I can’t wait to see what Lucy V Hay writes next – I know I’ll be first in line to buy it though!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Lucy Hay author photo.jpg

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

 

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

Other twin blog tour poster new

 

WWW Wednesday (19 Jul) 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! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

 

 

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

I only started reading this late last night so I haven’t read much of it as yet but it’s already got under my skin and I’m keen to get back to it and find out what’s going to happen.

 

Letters to Sarah by Sara Payne

I bought this book last week and have been reading it off and on ever since. It’s a very open and honest, and incredibly moving book about Sara’s life since her daughter Sarah was murdered in 2000.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I’m going to be honest and say that while this book grabbed me very quickly in the beginning I’m finding the middle part a bit of a slog, it feels like the pace has dropped for me. I am still intrigued enough to want to know how things will end for these families so I will keep reading but am hoping the pace picks up again soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This book is such a great read – it’s disturbing but so interesting that I’m hooked on it now. I’m not reading it as fast as I’d normally read a book but it has definitely grabbed me.

What I recently finished reading:

Three Days and a Life by Pierre LeMaitre

I was sent a copy of this for review and have been so excited to read it as I love Pierre LeMaitre’s writing. This book felt a bit different to his previous novels but it’s no less engrossing and disturbing! I hope to get my review of this posted soon but in the meantime I highly recommend this one.

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

I very much enjoyed reading this book. I loved the premise of someone knowing what was in their future and then reading to see if what was in the future is what actually happened. I was sent a copy of this book for review so I’ll be writing that and sharing it very soon.

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

I read this in just two sittings as it grabbed me from the opening pages and kept me in it’s grasp until the very last page. I’m on the blog tour for this book tomorrow so I’ll be sharing my review then.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

This was such a moving book about Hannah’s life after she was in a car accident while 8 months pregnant and her unborn baby didn’t survive. I found that while I’ve never experienced what Hannah has I could identify with her grieving process and I’m really glad I read this book. I recommend it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

 

Is Monogamy Dead? by Rosie Gilby

I’m on the blog tour for this book at the beginning of August so am planning to read this in the next week. I’m really looking forward to this one as it looks like a really interesting read.

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

I’m also on the blog tour for this book soon so will definitely be reading it over the next few days. I’ve got high hopes for this one as I’ve enjoyed the author’s previous book and this one sounds even more like my type of book!


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

#BookReview: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf @hgudenkauf @HQstories #blogtour

 

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf and am sharing my review!

About the Book

‘I’m going to die tonight. But I won’t go quietly.’

Amelia Winn has a lot of regrets. She regrets the first drink after she lost her hearing. She regrets destroying her family as she spiralled into depression. Mostly, she regrets not calling Gwen Locke back.

Because now Gwen is dead. And as Amelia begins to unearth the terrible secrets that led to Gwen’s naked body being dumped in the freezing water, she realises that she might be next.

But how do you catch a killer when you can’t hear him coming?

 

My Thoughts

I’ve read and enjoyed Heather Gudenkauf’s novels in the past so I was looking forward to reading Not A Sound and I’m so happy to say that it lived up to my expectations.

Amelia Winn is a really interesting character and I got really engrossed in her journey throughout the book. Her life was torn apart when she was injured in a hit and run accident that left her profoundly deaf. This caused her life to spiral into depression and a problem with alcohol as she tried to cope, which led to her marriage breaking down. I had such sympathy for Amelia and was very invested in this novel and wanting her to be okay.

Amelia has dealt with what happened to her by cutting herself off from her old life, she no longer speaks to her old friends and spends most of her time alone with her hearing dog Stitch. They enjoy going paddle boarding together but one day this turns into a nightmare when Amelia discovers the body of an old friend of hers in the water. This sets in motion a train of events that will put Amelia’s life and sanity on the line all over again.

I liked that Amelia responds to what happened to her friend by immediately wanting to find out what happened to her. It gives Amelia a focus that is much needed in her life and whilst it comes from sad circumstances it does give Amelia a new direction.

This novel had me on the edge of my seat at times as Amelia begins to dig deeper into who might have killed Gwen. The fact that she is deaf really heightened the emotion in this book because I felt like I could hear things that she couldn’t, even though I was just reading words on a page – this is how invested I became in her story! It really does give such an insight into how life is for someone who is deaf – the difficulty Amelia has with phone calls for example and whilst her phone transcribes speech into text you can’t get the subtleties of meaning from a written translation of speech. There are times when Amelia doesn’t know if someone is being sarcastic, or sad or angry and it added to the story to be put in the shoes of someone who experiences the world differently to me. I’m disabled and know what it is to be paralysed and to have part of my body no longer feel like it is a part of me so I felt like I had some understanding of Amelia’s struggles, but even so I have no idea what it must be like to be unable to hear and I felt like this novel really gave me an insight.

This is a lighter thriller but still absolutely a novel that will keep you hooked all the way through to the end. I read it in just two sittings as I simply had to know how it was going to end. On more than one occasion I was sure that I had it all worked out but I never managed to completely put it all together and I like that it kept me guessing.

I loved Amelia and Stitch and really believe that there is potential for this novel to be turned into a series – I would be first in queue to buy the next novel if that happened!

This is Heather Gudenkauf’s best novel to date and I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

About the Author

Heather Gudenkauf

Heather Gudenkauf is the Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden and Not A Sound.

Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing loss (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.

Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.

Heather lives in Iowa with her family and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading and hiking. She is currently working on her next novel.

(Bio taken from: www.heathergudenkauf.com)

 

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

NOT A SOUND blog tour graphic

Weekly Wrap-Up! (16 Jul)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

This week has been a tiring week but a good one. My husband has been on holiday from work so we’ve been out a couple of times for short periods. It’s physically difficult for me to go out – the getting ready plus my brain and spine don’t cope well with being in a car – but it’s so wonderful mentally to be out.

This week also brought good news on the health-front as I finally had my assessment for a new leg brace. I’ve now had a plaster cast made for a new custom brace, which should hopefully be ready next month. The new brace will have cut-outs in the side so that it will be less cumbersome, which will be great. The person I saw really listened to what I said and seems keen to try and make things easier for me where possible. My current leg brace is so big in the foot that I have to buy mens shoes that are 2-3 sizes too big for me! The new orthotics team have said they’ll fit my brace more closely to my foot so I’ll only need to get shoes just one size too big this time so even that made me happy. 🙂

I haven’t done so much reading this week as I’ve been really tired and not able to concentrate much with having had a busy week but I have enjoyed the small amount of reading that I’ve done.

 

This week I’ve finished reading two books:

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

It’s taken me a little while to read this book because I was drawn to fiction last month but I’m so glad that I came back to this and finished. I got this for review so will be sharing my thoughts on it as soon as I get them in order.

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I really enjoyed this thriller so am very pleased to be on the blog tour for it this week! I’ll be sharing my review on the 18th July so please look out for that then.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Tuesday: Review of Last Seen by Lucy Clarke along with a guest post on beach hunting by Lucy

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Letters to Sarah by Sara Payne

This book showed up on the recommendations page on Amazon last night and I decided to buy the ebook. I’ve not even put this in a book haul yet but I’ve already started reading it. It’s a very moving read but such an open and honest book too.

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

I’m really enjoying this book, it seems a bit different to other thrillers that I’ve read recently and I’m so keen to find out how it will end.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

This book isn’t what I thought it was going to be but I’m definitely invested in it enough to keep reading as I want to know how things are going to turn out.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’m reading this in between my other books at the moment as it feels quite heavy for my brain just now but I am definitely hooked and will be reading this as often as I feel I can.

 

the-state-of-my-2

Update on my TBR:

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1991

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 9

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 2

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1999

 


 

How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a good week, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading over the last seven days. If you do a wrap-up post please feel free to share a link below.

See this week’s #bookhaul in my Stacking the Shelve post (15 Jul)

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

I bought these books:

dead letters by caite dolan-leach

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

I bought this ebook on a total whim when the cover caught my eye on Amazon and then the synopsis sounds really intriguing. I think this will be a quick read so I’m hoping to squeeze this in between review books soon.

Synopsis:

Ava doesn’t believe it when the email arrives to say that her twin sister is dead. It’s not grief or denial that causes her scepticism – it just feels too perfect to be anything other than Zelda’s usual manipulative scheming. And Ava knows her twin.

Two years after she left, vowing never to speak to Zelda again after the ultimate betrayal, Ava must return home to retrace her errant sister’s last steps. She soon finds notes that lead her on a twisted scavenger-hunt of her twin’s making.

Letter by letter, Ava unearths clues to her sister’s disappearance: and unveils harrowing truths of her own. A is for Ava, and Z is for Zelda, but deciphering the letters in-between is not so simple…

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall

I’ve seen this book on some of my favourite blogs recently and have been keen to read it. I spotted the ebook for a good price this week so snapped it up. This is one of those books that I want to read soon but that I also know I need to be in the right mood for but hopefully it won’t be too long before I read this one.

Synopsis:

After the sudden death of his wife, Audrey, Jonah sits on a bench in Kew Gardens, trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of his life.

Chloe, shaven-headed and abrasive, finds solace in the origami she meticulously folds. But when she meets Jonah, her carefully constructed defences threaten to fall.

Milly, a child quick to laugh, freely roams Kew, finding beauty everywhere she goes. But where is her mother and where does she go when the gardens are closed?

Harry’s purpose is to save plants from extinction. Quiet and enigmatic, he longs for something – or someone – who will root him more firmly to the earth.

Audrey links these strangers together. As the mystery of her death unravels, the characters journey through the seasons to learn that stories, like paper, can be refolded and reformed. Haunted by songs and origami birds, this novel is a love letter to a garden and a hymn to lost things.

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

This is a book that I owned and part-read many years ago and I’ve been wanting to sit and read it all the way through for some time now. I found a copy for a good price this week so now it’s on my shelves waiting for me when my brain is in gear enough to read it.

Synopsis:

Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being black in America. With a keen eye, he examines everything from the significance of the protest novel to the motives and circumstances of the many black expatriates of the time, from his home in “The Harlem Ghetto” to a sobering “Journey to Atlanta.”

Notes of a Native Son inaugurated Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the twentieth century, and many of his observations have proven almost prophetic. His criticism on topics such as the paternalism of white progressives or on his own friend Richard Wright’s work is pointed and unabashed. He was also one of the few writing on race at the time who addressed the issue with a powerful mixture of outrage at the gross physical and political violence against black citizens and measured understanding of their oppressors, which helped awaken a white audience to the injustices under their noses. Naturally, this combination of brazen criticism and unconventional empathy for white readers won Baldwin as much condemnation as praise.

Under the Sun by Lottie Moggach

Under the Sun by Lottie Moggach

This was another book I bought on a total whim when I spotted it for 99p on Kindle this week. I’ve read Lottie Moggach’s previous novel and enjoyed it so I’m hoping this one will live up to it.

Synopsis:

Anna’s friends and family think she is living the dream in her beautiful finca under the Spanish sun. But the reality is far from perfect. The handsome, complicated man she was building a life with has left with little more than a note to say goodbye and the future she imagined has crashed around her ears. Anna has secretly embarked on an ill-advised affair and lives above the dingy bar she runs in the sleepy beach town of Marea, surrounded by British expats as homesick and stuck as she is.

When Simon, a local businessman, offers to rent the finca, Anna hopes it will pave the way for her escape. But there is more to him than meets the eye, and when a body washes up on the beach in mysterious circumstances, Anna realizes she may be the only one with the power to unravel the truth. But how can she prove that Simon is connected, and how can she reclaim her house? Anna is prepared to risk everything to get home even though she’s no longer sure where home really is.

I received these review books:

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

I’ve not read any Karin Slaughter before despite feeling sure that I will love her writing so I decided to grab this one on NetGalley this week and I really want to read it very soon. I’m intrigued by the synopsis so I don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long at all!

Synopsis:

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville’s notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case which can’t help triggering the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried for ever…

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

I saw this on NetGalley when I got the above book and downloaded it as it sounds interesting. 

Synopsis:

What sort of mother would leave her all alone… a gripping and heart-wrenching domestic drama that won’t let you go.

Lily, who is almost three years old, wakes up alone at home with only her cuddly toy for company. She is afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers.

But why is Lily alone and why isn’t there anyone who can help her? What about the lonely old woman in the flat upstairs who wonders at the cries from the floor below? Or the grandmother who no longer sees Lily since her parents split up?

All the while a young woman lies in a coma in hospital – no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy… and for Lily, time is running out.

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

I loved Claire Douglas’ first novel The Sisters and have been eagerly anticipating this one so I was thrilled when I got approved for it on NetGalley yesterday. I’m really tempted to start reading this right away but I feel like I should read some of my other review books first.

Synopsis:

She can run
Libby Hall needs to hide, to escape from everything for a while. Which is why the house swap is a godsend. The chance for Libby and her husband Jamie to exchange their tiny Bath flat for a beautiful haven on the wild Cornish coast.

But she can’t hide
But before they can begin to heal their fragile marriage, Libby makes some disturbing discoveries about the house. And soon the peace and isolation begin to feel threatening. How alone are they? Why does she feel watched?

Because someone knows her secret
What is Jamie hiding? Is Libby being paranoid? And why does the house bring back such terrible memories? Memories Libby’s worked hard to bury. Memories of the night she last saw her best friend alive . . . and what he did.

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The Way Back to Us by Kay Langdale

I was super excited when I opened this book post yesterday as I love Kay Langdale’s writing. This sounds like a really emotional read but I’m so looking forward to reading it. Also, doesn’t this novel have such a gorgeous cover?!

Synopsis:

Since their youngest son, Teddy, was diagnosed with a life-defining illness, Anna has been fighting: against the friends who don’t know how to help; against the team assigned to Teddy’s care who constantly watch over Anna’s parenting; and against the impulse to put Teddy above all else – including his older brother, the watchful, sensitive Isaac.

And now Anna can’t seem to stop fighting against her husband, the one person who should be able to understand, but who somehow manages to carry on when Anna feels like she is suffocating under the weight of all the things that Teddy will never be able to do.

As Anna helplessly pushes Tom away, he can’t help but feel the absence of the simple familiarity that should come so easily, and must face the question: is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage, or leave?

Giveaway win!

I also won a giveaway on Instagram for a copy of Sweet Little Lies by Cat Frear, which I was very excited to receive! It was even more brilliant when the book arrived and it was a signed copy.

Synopsis:

WHAT I THOUGHT I KNEW

In 1998, Maryanne Doyle disappeared and Dad knew something about it?
Maryanne Doyle was never seen again.

WHAT I ACTUALLY KNOW

In 1998, Dad lied about knowing Maryanne Doyle.
Alice Lapaine has been found strangled near Dad’s pub.
Dad was in the local area for both Maryanne Doyle’s disappearance and Alice Lapaine’s murder – FACT
Connection?

Trust cuts both ways . . . what do you do when it’s gone?

 


 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

 

WWW Wednesday (12 Jul) 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! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

I’ve had this on my TBR for a while now and it finally caught my eye a couple of days ago and it’s such a great read! I’m finding it really hard to put down, it’s a different take on a thriller that I’ve not read before so it’s got me engrossed.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I bought this book in the kindle sale last week and have already started reading. It’s not what I thought it was going to be but it’s got me intrigued about what’s happening and how it’s going to end so I’m keen to read more.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve read a lot more of this book this week and I’m finding it such a moving and also inspiring read. I’d definitely recommend it but have some tissues to hand.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’ve finally got into this book and am finding it utterly fascinating. I’m really enjoying the way it’s written with one chapter about the men behind the Chicago World Fair and then alternate chapters about HH Holmes, it makes for a really dynamic read. I’ve only read a few chapters so far but I recommend this book.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I really enjoyed reading this thriller. It was refreshingly different to read a thriller where the protagonist is deaf. I’m on the blog tour for this book so will be sharing my review on the 18th July.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is such a brilliant novella! I was expecting it to be a straightforward dystopian read but it has so much depth to it and I adored it. I’ll be reviewing it once I can get my thoughts in order.

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I bought this book on kindle but I loved it so much that I’ve now treated myself to the hardback as well. I plan on buying copies for a couple of friends too and it’s a book I’ll be shouting from the rooftops about.

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I’m a huge fan of Lucy Clarke so have been eagerly anticipating this book and it exceeded my expectations! I loved it! I’ve already reviewed this book so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

What I plan on reading next:

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

I’ve been so excited to read this book and will definitely be reading it in the next couple of days! I’m anticipating it being unputdownable so will be sure to pick it up when I have an afternoon free.

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

I’m also excited to read this book, it’s one I’ve had my eye on for a while and I can’t wait to start it!


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

#BookReview: Last Seen by @lucyclarkebooks + guest post about beach hutting! @HarperCollinsUK

Today I’m very excited to be on the blog tour for Lucy Clarke’s brilliant new novel, Last Seen! I’m sharing my review with you later in this post but first a wonderful guest post, with some gorgeous photos, from Lucy herself!

 

LUCY CLARKE ON BEACH HUTTING

Lucy Clarke has grown up spending her summers in a beach hut. The stretch of beach where her family hut stands became the inspiration behind the setting in LAST SEEN. Here she shares some insights and photos about beach hut life.

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The setting for LAST SEEN was closely inspired by the summers I’ve spent in a beach hut. Our family have owned a hut since I was eight years old, and the friends I made during those first few summers are still – twenty-five years on – some of my closest friends. We grew up crashing through waves on body boards, or playing cards huddled in someone’s hut as the rain lashed down. I actually met my husband at the beach; his family owned the hut next door and I used to moon around on the shoreline watching him windsurf!

Now that many of us have children of our own, a new generation of little sandy-toed urchins are being introduced to the beach. Sharing a hut with our 2.5 year-old and a 9 month-old, has its own challenges (breakfast at 5am, anyone?), but their sheer excitement about a day spent at the beach is hard to beat.

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LAST SEEN is peppered with real details and observations from my own experiences of hut life – like crabbing from the jetty when I was a child, or digging a sand hole for my bump when I was pregnant. Although most of my beach hut memories are happy ones, like in any close-knit community there can also be conflicts and secrets and tragedies. In LAST SEEN I wanted to juxtapose the beautiful, remote setting of the sandbank with the darker threads that weave between Sarah and Isla’s friendship. (Thankfully though, all the events in the novel are entirely fictional!)

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I wrote much of the novel from our beach hut. It’s my very favourite place to write as I work so much better when I’m off-grid (I leave my laptop behind, turn off my phone, and write by hand). Sunny days are incredible, of course, but blustery, rainy ones hold a certain allure when the beach empties and the only sounds are rumbling waves or a whistling kettle.

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We spend much of our winters travelling, but come summer, there’s nowhere we’d rather be than in the beach hut. Like Sarah remarks in LAST SEEN, ‘What brings us back here, summer after summer, is that the beach hut unites our family . . . we step out of the rush of our normal lives and live outside-in, letting the rhythms of the weather and tides rule our days.’

 

 

About the Book

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing ever since I first read The Sea Sisters so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review her new novel, Last Seen for the blog tour! I have to say that Last Seen absolutely lived up to all of my expectations and I loved reading it!

Last Seen is predominantly a look at female friendship and how one decision can unwittingly set a relationship on a different course, one that you really don’t want to end up on. Sarah and Isla have been friends since they were younger, and Sarah has supported Isla through some of the hardest moments of her life. But then Isla decides to go travelling and what happens back home changes everything in a seemingly subtle way but as they appear to move on that one thing looms large throughout the book.

The reason I fell in love with The Sea Sisters was because of the way Lucy Clarke writes the relationship between women and Last Seen made me emotional for these two friends in the same way. Neither one of these women is perfect and neither is always likeable but they always felt like real people to me. I could see their flaws, and their issues and I liked them all the more for it. The detail is wonderful too – I smiled to myself when Sarah describes how someone from her past smelt of Dewberry shampoo. I must be a similar age to Sarah because I remember Dewberry so very well!

Sarah and Isla end up pregnant at the same time when they’re both still young and they look forward to bringing their boys up together. Sadly, things don’t work out like that when one summer, the year they turn ten, the boys go missing at sea and only one is found alive. This sets in motion a chain of revelations, guilt and jealousy that will affect these people forever.

This book so twisty, I genuinely couldn’t work out what was going to happen in the end. I had many suspicions as I was reading but all turned out to be wrong. It’s very rare for me to not be able to work out the ending of a thriller but this one got me and I loved it all the more for that. The end when it comes makes perfect sense and it sends you reeling but it’s so good!

This book is beautiful and twisty and utterly engrossing! I couldn’t put it down – I literally read it in one sitting. I highly recommend that you grab a copy of Last Seen for your summer reading, you definitely won’t regret it!

I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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Novelist, traveller, and fresh air enthusiast, Lucy Clarke is the author of four novels.

Lucy graduated from university with a first class degree in English Literature, but it wasn’t until she was on a six month road trip across the US and Canada, that she decided she’d love to be a novelist.

Many twists and turns later, Lucy’s debut novel, The Sea Sisters, was published (HarperCollins, 2013). It was a Richard & Judy Book Club choice, and has been published in over ten countries.

Since then she has released three more novels, A Single Breath (HarperCollins, 2014), The Blue (HarperCollins, 2015), and most recently Last Seen (HarperCollins, 2017).

Lucy is married to a professional windsurfer, and together with their young children they spend their winters travelling, and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.

(Bio taken from Lucy Clarke’s website)

 

You can follow the rest of the Last Seen blog tour at the following blogs:

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Weekly Wrap-Up! (9 Jul)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

This week has been an up and down week. I felt really rough the first half of the week having overdone things in the previous days and my body made me pay. The last couple of days have been nice though as my husband has been on holiday from work and we managed to go into town yesterday for a coffee, which was lovely. It was my first time out of the house for something fun in nearly four weeks so it was especially lovely, plus the sun was shining too which is always a bonus!

This week I also managed to get us tickets to see Phil Collins in concert later this year. This is testament to how much I love my husband because he’s a big fan of Phil Collins and I’m really not so much! I’m always up for live music though so it’s something to look forward to.

My reading has been better this week too. I’m back reading non-fiction, which I’m very pleased about. I’m happy with what I’ve managed to read over the last seven days, albeit two of the books were short and the others are mainly books I started prior to this week but I’m pleased all the same.

 

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

 

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is such a moving novella, it had so much more depth and was so much more moving than I was expecting and I loved reading it. I was sent this for review so will try and get my thoughts together to review this soon.

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I pre-ordered this book for my Kindle and read it over a couple of days in the week. I have to say that I found so much in this that was so soothing that I’ve now ordered a hardback copy as I feel sure this will be a book I read again and again. I’ll also be buying a couple of copies for gifts in the coming weeks. I highly recommend this book.

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I loved this book – I read it over two days (only because I needed to sleep in the middle otherwise it would have been in one sitting). Lucy Clarke can do no wrong in my eyes, I’ve loved all of her novels and this one may now be my joint favourite of hers. I’ll be reviewing the novel this week for the blog tour so look out for my stop on the 12th July.

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

This book is such a heartbreaking read but I’m so glad I read it. I’d like to review this one at some point if I can get my thoughts together but for now I would recommend it.

A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson

This was my audio book over the last week. I did find this predictable, I called what was going to happen in the first chapter, but having said that there was still enough in it to keep me listening all the way to the end.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: June Wrap-Up post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post (my new book haul)

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I bought the ebook of this a couple of days ago and couldn’t resist starting it straight away. If I’m to be honest it’s not exactly what I thought it was going to be but it’s got me completely engrossed and I keep thinking about it when I’m not reading it and wondering how it’s all going to turn out in the end.

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I’m reading this for a blog tour later this month and am really enjoying it. It’s interesting to read a thriller where the protagonist is deaf, it really adds another layer to things. I’d recommend this one.

 

The Child by Fiona Barton

This book has had to be left to one side this week as I just can’t manage to hold and turn the pages of a print book. I really hope I can get back to this very soon.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve been reading some more of this over the last couple of days and am back to being hooked. It’s such a moving, and emotional book but the way Hannah writes about her loss and her fight is very inspiring.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’ve also got back to reading this book this week and am finding it fascinating. I noticed that for UK readers it’s currently in the kindle sale for £1.99 so if you were thinking of buying it now would be a good time.

 

the-state-of-my-2

Update on my TBR: 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1982

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 14

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 5

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1991

 


 

How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a good week, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading over the last seven days. If you do a wrap-up post please feel free to share a link below.

See my new #bookhaul in my Stacking the Shelves post! (8 Jul)

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

I bought these books:

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I’ve been wanting to read this book since it was first published last year so when I saw the price had dropped to £3.99 on the ebook I decided to treat myself. I hope I can read this one soon.

Synopsis:

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world.

When We Rise by Cleve Jones

When We Rise by Cleve Jones

I recently read How to Survive a Plague and Cleve Jones is mentioned quite a lot in that book so when I saw him on Newsnight this week I knew I had to get hold of this book as soon as possible. I was really pleased when I found it on Amazon so I bought the kindle version and I plan on reading this very soon.

Synopsis:

Born in 1954, Cleve Jones was among the last generation of gay Americans who grew up wondering if there were others out there like himself. There were. Like thousands of other young people, Jones, nearly penniless, was drawn in the early 1970s to San Francisco, a city electrified by progressive politics and sexual freedom.

Jones found community – in the hotel rooms and ramshackle apartments shared by other young adventurers, in the city’s bathhouses and gay bars like The Stud, and in the burgeoning gay district, the Castro, where a New York transplant named Harvey Milk set up a camera shop, began shouting through his bullhorn, and soon became the nation’s most outspoken gay elected official. With Milk’s encouragement, Jones dove into politics and found his calling in ‘the movement.’ When Milk was killed by an assassin’s bullet in 1978, Jones took up his mentor’s progressive mantle – only to see the arrival of AIDS transform his life once again.

By turns tender and uproarious – and written entirely in his own words – When We Rise is Jones’ account of his remarkable life. He chronicles the heartbreak of losing countless friends to AIDS, which very nearly killed him, too; his co-founding of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation during the terrifying early years of the epidemic; his conception of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest community art project in history; the bewitching story of 1970s San Francisco and the magnetic spell it cast for thousands of young gay people and other misfits; and the harrowing, sexy, and sometimes hilarious stories of Cleve’s passionate relationships with friends and lovers during an era defined by both unprecedented freedom and possibility, and prejudice and violence alike.

When We Rise is not only the story of a hero to the LQBTQ community, but the vibrantly voice memoir of a full and transformative American life – an activist whose work continues today.

The Tiny One by eliza minot

The Tiny One by Eliza Minot

I’ve had my eye on this book for quite a while and decided to treat myself to a print copy this week. It was a bargain price for an American paperback so I’m really pleased with it. I’ll be reading this as soon as I can manage to hold a book again.

Synopsis:
Via Mahoney Revere is eight years old when her mother is killed in a car accident. Confused by anguish, bewildered by her mother’s absence, and mystified by the notion of death itself, Via retells the day of her mother’s death in minute detail, trying to discern the crack in the world through which her mother must have slipped. She takes us through the seemingly ordinary moments of her day, from a cold-cereal breakfast to math class, when she is called to the principal’s office to hear the news. Every small event of the tragic day calls up earlier memories from Via’s young life, resulting in a beautifully patterned portrait of a comfortable childhood guarded by a warm and loving mother. Via attempts to grasp ” how something so big could fit into such a little thing as a day.”

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I’ve seen some great reviews of this book recently so I bought the ebook (it’s a bargain at the moment at just £1.99). I started reading this last night and am already intrigued!

Synopsis:

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship’s safety.

One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their shattered lives.

Before Everything by Victoria Redel

Before Everything by Victoria Redel

I hadn’t heard anything about this book but it showed up on Amazon when I was buying my other ebooks and I loved the sound of it so decided to 1-click this one too. I’ll need to be in the right frame of mind to read this one as I think it’ll be an emotional read but I do want to read it soon.

Synopsis:

Anna, Molly, Ming, Caroline, Helen: the Old Friends.

Since adopting their official name aged eleven, they have seen each other through careers, children, illnesses, marriage, divorce, addiction, fame, fall outs.

But now, Anna – fiercely loved mother and friend, and the Old Friends’ glue – is diagnosed with cancer again, and this time, tired of recoveries and relapses, pitying looks and exhausting regimes, she simply says: no more.

As her health declines, the politics of the still lived-in world merge with memories of the past while each Old Friend tries to accept the truth of what is happening: they are losing someone they cannot imagine life without.

Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of wonderful women.

End of sixth grade they made it their official name. It was a joke one afternoon but they liked the way it sounded. Permanent. The Old Friends. This way, the five girls agree, it’s just a fact. And ours forever.

Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanon

Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

I’ve been wanting this book for a while too so when I spotted it in the kindle summer sale I snapped it up! I’m hoping to have the brain power to read this one soon as I really want to read it as soon as possible.

Synopsis:

Written in startlingly beautiful prose, HARMLESS LIKE YOU is set across New York, Berlin and Connecticut, following the stories of Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother who abandoned him when he was only two years old.
HARMLESS LIKE YOU is an unforgettable novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships and familial bonds, offering a unique exploration of love, loneliness and reconciliation.

The No-Spend Year

The No-Spend Year by Michelle McGagh

It seems quite ironic that I bought this book this week when I’ve been on yet another book buying spree but I love the sound of this and am really excited to read it as soon as I can.

Synopsis:

Personal finance journalist, Michelle McGagh, takes on a challenge to not spend money for a whole year in an engaging narrative that combines personal experience with accessible advice on money so you can learn to spend less and live more.

Michelle McGagh has been writing about money for over a decade. You’d think that would make her a whizz with her own cash, right? Wrong!

Spending with abandon and ignoring bank statements were her modus operandi. Just because she wasn’t in serious debt, apart from her massive London mortgage, she thought she was in control. She wasn’t.

Something needed to be done but rather than cut back here and there, Michelle’s approach was more radical. She set herself a challenge to not spend anything for an entire year. She pays her bills and she has a minimal budget for her weekly groceries and household essentials but otherwise Michelle doesn’t spend any money at all. She is finding creative ways to get the things she needs, to travel and to still be able to enjoy her time. Not only has she saved money but she is happier: no longer feeling the desire to buy things all the time or feeling the pressure of being sold to. Her relationship with money, with things, with time, with others has changed for the better.

The No Spend Year is Michelle’s honestly written and personal account of her challenge. But it is more than that, it is also a tool for life that will help you get to grips with your own financial situation. She talks about money in an accessible, unintimidating and often entertaining way and interspersed throughout are really brilliant personal finance tips and life hacks about interest, mortgages, savings , pensions and spending less to help you live a more financially secure life too.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

I’m a huge Sarah Waters fan and have loved all of her novels. I’ve already read this one but I lost my print copy a long while ago so I’ve replaced it with the kindle version. I’d really like to re-read this one at some point soon.

Synopsis:

Piercing the shadows of the naked stage was a single shaft of rosy limelight, and in the centre of this was a girl: the most marvellous girl – I knew it at once! – that I had ever seen.

A saucy, sensuous and multi-layered historical romance, Tipping the Velvet follows the glittering career of Nan King – oyster girl turned music-hall star turned rent boy turned East End ‘tom’.

Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County

Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County by Kristen Green

I’ve seen this book around online recently and liked the sound of it so I decided to just get it. It’s a gorgeous American hardback book and I definitely want to read this one before too long.

Synopsis:

Combining hard-hitting investigative journalism and a sweeping family narrative, this provocative true story reveals a little-known chapter of American history: the period after the Brown v. Board of Education decision when one Virginia school system refused to integrate.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision, Virginia’s Prince Edward County refused to obey the law. Rather than desegregate, the county closed its public schools, locking and chaining the doors. The community’s white leaders quickly established a private academy, commandeering supplies from the shuttered public schools to use in their all-white classrooms. Meanwhile, black parents had few options: keep their kids at home, move across county lines, or send them to live with relatives in other states. For five years, the schools remained closed.

Kristen Green, a longtime newspaper reporter, grew up in Farmville and attended Prince Edward Academy, which did not admit black students until 1986. In her journey to uncover what happened in her hometown before she was born, Green tells the stories of families divided by the school closures and of 1,700 black children denied an education. As she peels back the layers of this haunting period in our nation’s past, her own family’s role–no less complex and painful–comes to light.

How to Live- A User's Guide by Peter Johns

How to Live: A User’s Guide by Peter Johns

This showed up on the recommendations as I was adding the above book to my basket and as it was only £1 I bought it on a whim! It sounds like an inspiriting read and it’s a short book so I hope to squeeze this in soon.

Synopsis:

What do you give your daughter for her eighteenth birthday? After considering dresses, pets and parties, this father gave his daughter what would almost certainly have been close to the bottom of her wish list. He wrote a book for her.
In many ways Meg is an ordinary girl, but in one way she is different from most others: at the age of nine she was diagnosed with cancer. This took the form of a tumour that, by the time of her diagnosis, already filled most of her chest cavity. Later, despite months of chemotherapy, a second tumour started to grow. Normally this development is fatal and her parents were told as much. Only a bone marrow transplant and long sessions of full body irradiation saved her life, a result that her doctors had initially thought to be so improbable that there was an initial resistance into even making the attempt.
The title of this book, ‘How to Live’, therefore has a subsidiary meaning. It was written for someone who was once not expected to live, but who turned into a normal teenager full of bombast, anxiety, humour and stress. Her father, Peter Johns, based the book on his own imperfect – though eventually successful – life and what he has learnt from it.
It is a book that was written for Meg, but it is also a book for everyone.

Seas of Snow by Kerensa Jennings

Seas of Snow by Kerensa Jennings

This is another book that I’ve seen good reviews of recently so decided to buy it when I spotted it on a sale this week. It sounds like quite a heavy-going novel but also one that hooks you in. I’m not in the right mindset to read this just now but I will read it in the coming months.

Synopsis:

In 1950s England, six-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy; she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.

As Gracie grows older she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy, with whom she escapes into the poetic fantasy worlds they create.

But will fantasy be enough to save Gracie? Just how far will Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour go?

The story weaves between these events and the visits Billy pays many years later to an old friend, confused and dying in a hospice. It is here that he is forced to revisit the events of the past.

Seas of Snow is a haunting, psychological domestic drama that probes the nature and the origins of evil.

Recovered by Adrian James

Recovered by Adrian James

I don’t remember where I first heard about this book but it was on my wish list and this week it was free for a few days so I grabbed it. I really like the sound of this one and it sounds a bit different to what I’ve been reading lately so I may read this soon as some escapism.

Synopsis:

Jem, Scott and Christy are three friends in Cinnamon Twist, a struggling original band based in Northern England. Desperate for cash, they agree to some gigs playing covers to earn some quick money. This leads to a life-changing offer that proves impossible to turn down, testing their friendship and beliefs fundamentally.

This is a fun, fast-moving book. It explores how family, relationships and friendship become compromised by ambition and greed.

 

I received two review books:

The Break by Marian Keyes

The Break by Marian Keyes

I LOVE Marian Keyes’ novels and have been a fan since her first book came out but somehow I had no idea that she had a new novel due out later this year. I was browsing NetGalley a couple of days ago and happened to spot it so immediately requested. I actually squealed when I got approved to read it and I can’t wait to read this!

Synopsis:

If only.

Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her.

He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .

However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge.

For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?

The Break isn’t a story about falling in love but about staying in love. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

I’m on the blog tour for this novel in a couple of weeks time so will definitely be reading this very, very soon and I’m really looking forward to it.

Synopsis:

A FAMILY BUILT ON LIES…

A dark and twisty psychological thriller, in which a young girl is abducted and her family is confronted with a horror from deep in their past. Perfect for fans of BA Paris and Sue Fortin.

A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.

Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.

Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.

This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…

 


 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

June Wrap-Up post!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

June has flown by and I can’t believe it’s already July! The highlight of June for me was going to see Kraftwerk with my husband and it was absolutely brilliant. I still can’t believe that we managed to get tickets to see them!

I’m still going through my medication changes so I’m very up and down depending on where I am in the reduction plan. I was offered a new kind of treatment to potentially help with pain management and the person who is doing the treatment has ended up working with me on my PTSD. It’s been amazing for me to finally be shedding those symptoms, and once we’ve worked through those I’ll be starting on the pain protocol to see if it can help me cope better with my pain levels. It’s very draining, mentally and physically, but it’s worth it to be finally dealing with some very traumatic memories.

I also wanted to say here that I am so grateful to all of you who keep reading and sharing my posts, to those of you who comment and check in to see how I am. I honestly can’t tell you how much it means to me. I feel terrible that I’m not managing much time online at the moment and aren’t keeping up with all of your blogs just now. I promise that when I feel stronger I will be back commenting and catching up. In the meantime though – thank you so much.

 

Here are the 15 books I read this month:

 

Be Awesome by Hadley Freeman

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

 

Fabrice Muamba: I’m Still Standing by Fabrice Muamba

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

A Year Lost and Found by Michael Mayne

 

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

 

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett


June Blog Posts & Reviews:

I wrote my regular blog posts this month – my Weekly Wrap-Ups, WWW Wednesday posts and my Stacking the Shelves posts so I’m pleased that I didn’t miss any of those.  I didn’t manage to write as many reviews as I’d hoped but I did get five reviews posted which is better than nothing. I also had two fab guest posts from authors Kate Vane and Emily Benet.

Here are the reviews I shared in June:

I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

 

Here are my blog posts from June:

Kate Vane wrote a guest post for my blog all about choosing the title of her novel The Former Chief Executive

Emily Benet wrote about her perfect hen night in celebration of her brand new novel The Hen Party


the-state-of-my-2

The state of my TBR:

As any of you who read my weekly wrap-ups will already know, my plan to reduce my TBR this year has gone completely awry! Books are my pick-me-up so when I’m having a tough time I end up looking at books online and often end up buying one or two. My TBR is now very out of control, not helped by the fact that I didn’t read as much this month as I normally do!

I began this year with a TBR (this is books that I own) of 1885 books and it now stands at 1981 owned but unread books! My aim now is to just really try not to let it get over 2000. I need to get back to at least not buying anymore books than I can read in a month so that my TBR doesn’t get any bigger. My willpower is weak at the moment though.

So far this year I’ve read 129 books, and my target for the year is 200 so I’m definitely on track to achieve that. My Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge to make 100 of those books ones I owned before 31 Dec 2016 is on track. Of the books I’ve read so far this year 52 count for this challenge, which I’m very pleased about.


Quarterly Stats!

 

At the beginning of this year I started tracking my reading and book buying on a spreadsheet for the first time and I’m finding it fascinating to see the patterns in my reading. This is something I’ll definitely be continuing with. I decided to show my stats every three months so it’s that time again!

 

screenshot20

As I said above I’ve read 129 books this year so far, which amounts to 43,464 pages! I’m really interested in keeping an eye on my total page count as well as books read as it means I’m reading for enjoyment, regardless of how long a book is, rather than focusing on shorter books to get my books read numbers up.  Most of my books fall into the 300-399 pages bar but you can see I have read a couple of much longer books as well as a few shorter books.  The average length of book comes in at 339 pages, which I’m pleased with.

 

screenshot21

I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading for many years now and I enjoy the stats that I get from there but it doesn’t give a great deal of info. One thing I’m really enjoying about having my own spreadsheet to track other data, and it’s fascinating me to see the breakdown of author genders. This year I’m not consciously picking authors by gender so this is purely how my reading naturally has been. It’s interesting to see that in the first six months of this year 70% of my reading has been books written by female authors.

 

screenshot22

I read quite a lot of non-fiction last year and wanted to keep that up this year. It was my aim to try and make sure that at least a third of my reading was non-fiction or memoir. Of the 129 books I’ve read so far 35 are non-fiction, so this isn’t quite on target but I have had a month where I’ve needed escapism and fiction so it’s not surprising. I feel sure that my non-fiction mojo will come back and I’ll end up being back on target.  I am reading a wide variety of genres in general though, so I’m pleased overall. The genres I read most of are general fiction, thriller and non-fiction.

 

screenshot23

I’m also tracking how I acquire my books, which is also interesting to me. I’m happy to say that I buy the majority of my books, or have received them as gifts. I do get quite a lot of books from NetGalley and from publishers, which I am so grateful for but I think it’s good to see that I’m buying more books than I get sent as I do want to always support authors by buying their books, as well as reviewing them.

 


 

How was your June? I hope you all had a good month and that you read good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

WWW Wednesday (5 Jul) 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! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

 

What I’m reading now:

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I had this pre-ordered on Kindle as I’ve been so keen to read it. I started it last night and it’s brilliant, I really am getting so much out of it. In fact I’m finding it so brilliant that I’ve now ordered a hardback copy to have on my bookcase. I highly recommend this book!

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I’m a huge fan of Lucy Clarke and always look forward to a new novel from her. I’m so pleased to say that this book absolutely lives up to her previous books and I’m utterly engrossed in it.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I’ve listed this here but unfortunately I’m not actively reading this at the moment due to it being a large paperback and I physically can’t turn the pages just now. I have been very much hooked on the novel though and hope to be able to read more soon.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This book is so much more than I even expected it to be and even though it’s a short book I’m deliberately reading it slowly to take it all in.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve read a few more chapters of this book this week and am finding it such a powerful read. I recommend this book.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’m hoping to finally read a big chunk of this book in the coming week as my non-fiction mojo seems to be on its way back.

 

What I recently finished reading:

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

I hadn’t heard about this book until I saw Gemma being interviewed on This Morning last week and I immediately bought the ebook. This is an incredibly moving book and one I want to review once I’ve got my thoughts together.

A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson

I’ve had this on my TBR for ages but it’s never got to the top of the mountain but when I saw the audio book was on my subscription service last week I decided to listen to it. I did find it very predictable which was a little disappointing but it was an enjoyable enough listen.

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

This was my latest pick from my #20BooksofSummer challenge and I really enjoyed it. I read it over two days and found myself completely hooked. I recommend this one and am kicking myself for leaving it on my TBR for so long before picking it up.

What I plan on reading next:

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

I’ve been so excited to read this book for a good few weeks now and it’s finally time! I’ve heard so many good things about it and I think it’s going to be a real treat.

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

This was a book I hoped to read last week but didn’t manage to get to it. I’m going to make it a priority this week though and am really looking forward to it.


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

Weekly Wrap-Up! (2 Jul)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

This week has been another quiet week but I’m slowly having a de-clutter of the kitchen, which is proving very satisfying. I’ve discovered that I’m inadvertently a collector of jars – there were jars shoved in the back of a lot of cupboards and I had no idea I’d kept so many. They’ve now gone for recycling and we now have more space to put things away! Isn’t it funny how you don’t even realise the way your hoarding tendencies are playing out until you see the evidence for yourself?! Ha!

It was also an exciting week this week as my cousin has released his debut album. He lives in America so it’s wonderful that we live in an age where I can buy his album on iTunes in the UK on the day it was released! I’m so proud of him – his late mum and me were very close and I just know she would be bursting with pride at how he’s following his dreams.

 

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

This has been on my TBR ever since it was first published so I made it one of my choices for the #20BooksofSummer challenge and I’m so glad I did. I found myself really engrossed in this novel and very much enjoyed reading it.

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

This book caught my eye on my kindle last week and I immediately started reading. I got completely wrapped up in this novel and am still thinking about it now, a week after finishing it. I highly recommend this one.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was another of my #20BooksofSummer picks and I adored this novel! I’m not the biggest fan of Pride and Prejudice but this modern take on it was brilliant. It’s a great read for the summer and I definitely recommend it if you haven’t already read it.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Friday: Guest post by author Emily Benet on her ideal hen party as part of The Hen Party blog tour

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

I bought this book after seeing Gemma on This Morning last week and I started reading it right away. It’s a tough read because you see the pain the family were in when Milly went missing and you know it’s not going to have a good outcome. This is a very powerful book, I recommend it.

A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson

This is my current audio book – I picked it on a whim and it’s an okay listen. I’m about 20% in and it’s lacking something for me at the moment but I’m intrigued enough to keep going for now so hopefully it will pick up a bit soon.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I’ve had to leave this to one side this week as I just haven’t been able to turn the pages of a print book. I was really engrossed in the novel though so I really hope I can get back to it soon. If all else fails I’ll look at getting the ebook or the audio so I can carry on with it.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is a book that has got to me in ways I wasn’t expecting when I started reading so I’m now reading it much slower and savouring it. It’s a beautiful book though and one I’ll be recommending.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert AND The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Both of these books have been on hold again this week. I feel like I need to add them here as they are on my currently reading shelf and I do hope to continue with them soon. Both are brilliant reads, it’s just not been the right time for me to read them recently.

 

the-state-of-my-2

Update on my TBR: 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1973

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 9

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1982

 


 

How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a good week, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading over the last seven days. If you do a wrap-up post please feel free to share a link below.

See my new #BookHaul in my Stacking the Shelves post! (1 Jul)

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

I bought these books:

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I’ve had this on pre-order ever since I first heard about it as Cathy’s previous book The Last Act of Love is one of the best, and most moving, books I’ve read in the last couple of years. This new book feels like it will have a similar impact on me and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Synopsis:

When Cathy Rentzenbrink was still a teenager, her happy family was torn apart by an unthinkable tragedy. In A Manual for Heartache she describes how she learnt to live with grief and loss and find joy in the world again. She explores how to cope with life at its most difficult and overwhelming and how we can emerge from suffering forever changed, but filled with hope.

This is a moving, warm and uplifting book that offers solidarity and comfort to anyone going through a painful time, whatever it might be. It’s a book that will help to soothe an aching heart and assure its readers that they’re not alone.

Gemma Dowler

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

I hadn’t heard anything about this book until I saw Gemma being interviewed on This Morning a couple of days ago and I knew I had to read this book. I’ve already started reading it and it’s so moving.

Synopsis:

‘My name is Gemma Dowler. On 21 March 2002, a serial killer named Levi Bellfield stole my sister and sent our family to Hell…’

Everyone thinks they know the story of Milly Dowler.

Haunting headlines about the missing schoolgirl splashed across front pages. The family’s worst fears realised when her body was found months later. The years of waiting for the truth, only to learn that the killer, known to the police, lived just yards from where Milly had vanished. The parents subjected to horrific psychological torture at a trial orchestrated by the murderer. And the shocking revelation of what journalists would do for a story – criminal acts that brought down a national newspaper.

But these bare facts hide the true story.

In My Sister Milly, Gemma Dowler shares the heartbreaking account of Milly’s disappearance, the suspicions that fell on the family, the fatal errors made by the police, and the media’s obsession that focused relentlessly on every personal, intimate and emotional aspect of the Dowlers’ lives. It is the story of two stolen childhoods – Milly’s and Gemma’s – and about the love that kept the family together as they struggled with terrible darkness and injustice.

However, this book is a story of hope and recovery.

It’s taken fifteen years of pain for the family to find their voice. The family has worked hard and has received intensive therapy to recover from the trauma of Milly’s murder. Their story shows that whatever suffering you endure in life, there is always hope, and there is always love.

Now, for the first time, Gemma tells their story and that of the real Milly. Above all, in this book the family want to bring back to life their incredible daughter and sister. Now, finally, the truth about Milly Dowler can never be denied.

Dear you by Tessa Broad

Dear you by Tessa Broad

I’ve seen a few people chatting about this book on social media so have been keen to read it. I think this will be a tough book to read but it seems like it will ultimately be a healing and uplifting read.

Synopsis:

Tess Broad wanted children. She longed for them. It wasn’t to be.

In this candid and moving memoir, Tess writes to the children that never were. She writes to them as their adult selves with openness and honesty and tells them of the childhood she envisaged for them and the mother she believed she would be. She describes her reluctant transformation from the woebegone, wannabe mummy that she once was, to the woman she is now; childless but chilled, sailing through Mother’s Day with a smile on her face. Happy.

From the ‘trying for a family’ stage to the relentless treadmill of infertility treatment, Tess recounts her story with humour and pathos, taking the reader on her journey with her, sharing her experiences, the roller-coaster ride of IVF, the sudden departure of the husband whose children she wanted to have and ultimately to acceptance that the life she wanted and expected was not hers for the taking. This is a breathtaking memoir that offers a shoulder to lean on for everyone experiencing the uncertainties and pain of infertility.

Maurice by E.M. Forster

Maurice by E.M. Forster

I read this book many years ago and it’s always stayed with me so when I spotted the ebook at the bargain price of 99p I snapped it up. 

Synopsis:

As Maurice Hall makes his way through a traditional English education, he projects an outer confidence that masks troubling questions about his own identity. Frustrated and unfulfilled, a product of the bourgeoisie he will grow to despise, he has difficulty acknowledging his nascent attraction to men.

At Cambridge he meets Clive, who opens his eyes to a less conventional view of the nature of love. Yet when Maurice is confronted by the societal pressures of life beyond university, self-doubt and heartbreak threaten his quest for happiness.

Reckless by Chrissie Hynde

Reckless by Chrissie Hynde

I’ve been wanting to read this memoir for ages now so when I saw that Kindle had a sale on selected memoirs and this was included I immediately downloaded it. I hope I can read this soon as I think it’ll be such an interesting read.

Synopsis:

By the time she was 14, Chrissie Hynde knew she had to get out of Akron, Ohio. Her perfect ’50s American childhood upturned by a newly acquired taste for rock ’n’ roll, motorbikes and the ‘get down boys’ seen at gigs in and around Cleveland – Mitch Ryder, the Jeff Beck Group, the Velvet Underground and David Bowie among the many.

Wrapped up in the Kent State University riots and getting dangerously involved in the local biker and drug scenes, she escaped – to Mexico, Canada, Paris and finally London where she caught the embryonic punk scene just in time not only to witness it first-hand, but more importantly to seize the opportunity to form her own band, the Pretenders.

Iggy Pop, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Vivienne & Malcolm, Ray Davies … on every page household names mingle with small town heroes as we shift from bedroom to biker HQ; from squat to practice room; from pub gig to Top Of The Pops – the long and crooked path to stardom, and for the Pretenders, ultimately, tragedy.

That Chrissie Hynde is alive to tell the tale is, by her own admission, something of a miracle. Throughout she is brutally honest, wryly humorous and always highly entertaining. She has written one of the most evocative and colourful music memoirs to be published in recent years.

All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

This is another book that I’ve heard so many good things about and so when I spotted this in the monthly kindle deals earlier this week I grabbed it. 

Synopsis:

So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.

That means nothing to you, obviously, because you live here, in the crappy world we do have.

But it never should’ve turned out like this. And it’s all my fault – well, me and to a lesser extent my father.

And, yeah, I guess a little bit Penelope.

In both worlds, she’s the love of my life. But only a single version of her can exist.

I have one impossible chance to fix history’s greatest mistake and save this broken world.

Except it means saving one Penelope and losing the other forever – and I have absolutely no idea which to choose . . .

A House Full of Daughters by Juliet Nicholson

A House Full of Daughters by Juliet Nicolson

This is another kindle book that was in the sale and it sounded like such a fascinating book that I couldn’t resist it. 

Synopsis:

All families have their myths and Juliet Nicolson’s was no different: her flamenco dancing great-great-grandmother Pepita, the flirty manipulation of her great-grandmother Victoria, the infamous eccentricity of her grandmother Vita, her mother’s Tory-conventional background.

A House Full of Daughters takes us through seven generations of women. In the nineteenth-century slums of Malaga, the salons of fin-de-siècle Washington DC, an English boarding school during the Second World War, Chelsea in the 1960s, these women emerge for Juliet as people in their own right, but also as part of who she is and where she has come from.

Who Rules the World?- Reframings by Noam Chomsky

Who Rules the World?: Reframings by Noam Chomsky

I bought this on a whim as it sounds like an interesting read. I don’t know when I’ll get to read it but hopefully it won’t be too long.

Synopsis:

Noam Chomsky is the world’s foremost intellectual activist. Over the last half century, no one has done more to question the great global powers who govern our lives, forensically scrutinizing policies and actions, calling our politicians, institutions and media to account.

The culmination of years of work, Who Rules the World? is Chomsky’s definitive intellectual investigation into the major issues of our times. From the dark history of the US and Cuba to China’s global rise, from torture memos to sanctions on Iran, Chomsky explores how America’s talk of freedom and human rights is often at odds with its actions. Delving deep into the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel/Palestine, he provides nuanced, surprising insights into the workings of modern-day imperial power.

The world’s political and financial elite have become ever more insulated from democratic constraints on their actions. Chomsky shines a powerful light on this inconvenient truth. With climate change and nuclear proliferation threatening the survival of our civilization, the message has never been more pertinent or more urgent: the need for an engaged and active public to steer the world away from disaster grows ever greater.

Fiercely outspoken and rigorously argued, Who Rules the World? is an indispensable guide to how things really are from the lone authoritative voice courageous and clear-sighted enough to tell us the truth.

 

I received two review books:

 

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Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This book arrived in the post yesterday and it’s such a beautiful book, my photo doesn’t do it justice. The book sounds like such a powerful novel and I can’t wait to start reading it.

Synopsis:

With urgency and tenderness Evening Primrose explores issues of race, gender and the medical profession through the eyes of a junior doctor.

When Masechaba finally achieves her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, her ambition is tested as she faces the stark reality of South Africa’s public healthcare system.

As she leaves her deeply religious mother and makes friends with the politically-minded Nyasha, Masechaba’s eyes are opened to the rising xenophobic tension that carries echoes of apartheid.

Battling her inner demons, she must decide if she should take a stand to help her best friend, even it comes at a high personal cost.

 

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The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

I’d already been sent an advance ecopy of this book by the publisher but the print copy arrived this week and it’s a stunning book. I’ll be reading this very soon as I’m on the blog tour for it in July.

Synopsis:

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth …

 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

Find out what @EmilyBenet’s ideal hen party would be! #TheHenParty #BlogTour

Today I’m thrilled to welcome the wonderful Emily Benet back to my blog! Emily’s brand new novel, The Hen Party is out now and to celebrate Emily has told me all about her perfect hen party!

My Ideal Hen Party

Call me a party pooper but in my ideal hen party there are no rubber willies. Not dangling around my neck, not shooting up like a rocket from a hair band and not fixed to the end of my straw. I’m not that bothered about a sash either! Forget the L plates, at 33 years old I’ve only just learned to drive. The last thing I want to be reminded of while I’m trying to have a good time is my fear of driving alone!

In my book, the hens win a one-week holiday in Mallorca and are filmed for The Hen Party reality TV series. It sounds pretty great but the director has her own agenda and the hens themselves are keeping secrets from each other. I definitely wouldn’t want my hen party broadcast on national television and I’d only want my best friends around me.

In my ideal hen party the schedule would be very relaxed. I’d escape to an alpine cabin in the mountains and the day would begin with a swim and a picnic at the nearby river. Yep, I know it sounds a bit Enid Blyton, but hey, I love ginger beer… especially when mixed with rum. Although, I think cava suits the scene better. In proper glasses too. There would be a delicious spread. A lot of cheese. That bits important. A LOT OF CHEESE. And olives. I love olives.

It has to be sunny. We’ll go for a wander through the forest and all the wildlife will come out to meet us like in Snow White. Rabbits, hedgehogs, deer, maybe even a friendly bear. I love wildlife documentaries but would never have the patience to wait days on end for the perfect snap.

Back at our cabin, we’d have an Argentine-style barbeque with lots of red wine. The barbeque would turn into our bonfire which we’d inevitably end up dancing around to all our favourite tunes, because miraculously the signal will work perfectly for Spotify.

When the fire has gone out, we’ll lie on our backs and look up at the stars. I won’t have to pretend to see a shooting star like I did when I was little, because there will be so many. We’ll reminisce about the good times and have a good laugh at ourselves.

In short, my ideal hen party would be drama-free, unlike my book, The Hen Party!

 

 

I’ve previously interviewed Emily (you can read that here) and reviewed her last novel #PleaseRetweet, which I loved and highly recommend (you can read that here).

About the Book

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Film Director, Kate Miller, is in serious trouble. The entire cast and crew of the reality TV show The Hen Party has gone missing while filming in Mallorca. To make matters worse, the network boss has just flown in and will be arriving any minute to check up on her production.

Kate thinks it’s all her fault. She hasn’t exactly been following the guidelines.

But if she is to blame, why were the hens arguing among themselves? And why is the groom-to-be calling her in tears?

Kate doesn’t know the half of it. The hens have their own secrets and it’s only matter of time before they all come tumbling out.

A party of eight arrive on the island, but not everyone’s going home.

 

About the Author

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Emily is an author and award-winning blogger. Her debut book, Shop Girl Diaries, began as a blog. Her second, Spray Painted Bananas, racked up a million hits on the online platform Wattpad and  led to a 2 book deal with Harper Collins which led to social media comedy #PleaseRetweet. Her latest book, The Hen Party, is set in Mallorca where she lives with her husband and writes for abc mallorca magazine.

 

Universal Link:  https://books2read.com/u/b5Oyq7

My website: www.emilybenet.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EmilyBenetAuthor

Twitter: @EmilyBenet

 

 

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

Hen Party-Summer Blog Tour

WWW Wednesday (28 Jun) What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

 

What I’m reading now:

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

This is one of my picks for my #20BooksOfSummer challenge. I’ve had this on my TBR ever since it was first published so I’m really happy to finally have got to it. I’m really engrossed in it and wondering where it’s going to go.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I’m really enjoying this book, it grabbed me in the first few chapters and I’m finding myself thinking about it when I’m not reading it which is always the sign of a great novel. The only reason I’ve not read it quicker is because my copy is a large paperback so it’s difficult to hold for longer periods of time.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is a novella and I thought it would be a quick, easy read. It’s actually a book that has really got under my skin and I’m finding it an emotional read at the moment so now I’m savouring every page. It’s a beautiful novella.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I still haven’t managed to read any more of this book but the issue is entirely with me, not the book. I’m really hoping my non-fiction reading mojo returns soon so I can get back to this because it is such an interesting and moving book.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I did read a couple more chapters of this at the weekend and am finding it fascinating but my mood really isn’t for non-fiction just now so I’m just going to dip in and out of this and hope my mojo returns soon.

What I recently finished reading:

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

This book was brilliant! I got the ebook a few months ago after reading reviews on some of my favourite blogs and it caught my eye on my kindle this week. It’s a very difficult subject matter to write fiction about children who murder but Maggie James got the balance right. I’m going to try and review this at some point but for now I definitely recommend it.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was one of my #20BooksOfSummer and it was excellent. I have to be honest here and say that I’m not the biggest fan on Pride and Prejudice but it is a book I’ve read a few times over the years so I know it well, and this take on it was just brilliant! I very much enjoyed every minute that I spent reading this and highly recommend it.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I loved this book. It was one of those novels that really makes you think about what you’re reading as you’re reading it. I was engrossed in the pages but at the same time my brain was ticking over about what was going on. The writing is so good! I’ll be reviewing this one as soon as I get my thoughts together (hopefully soon!).

What I plan on reading next:

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I was planning to read this last week but didn’t get around to it so I’m putting it in my plan to read this week as I really want to read this asap!

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I was sent a copy of this book for review last week and I’m really keen to read it so hopefully I can get to it this week too.

 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

Weekly Wrap-Up! (25 Jun)

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This week has been very quiet, and yet eventful at the same time. I’ve made a huge leap forward in terms of finally beating my PTSD once and for all. I faced a big fear this week and it was actually okay so I feel like that’s been a huge achievement. It’s left me feeling very drained so I’ve not been reading as much, or blogging ,but hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.

 

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I really enjoyed reading this. It was different than I was expecting but it’s one of those books that is really unsettling and gives you a lot to think about. I’m hoping to get my thoughts together so I can review this soon but I definitely recommend it.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

This is the first book I’ve finished from my #20BooksOfSummer challenge. This was one of my three alternates but it was the one I most felt like reading so I went with it. I enjoyed this, it kept me hooked all the way through but I felt it was lacking something. I’m still planning to review it but need to get my thoughts together first.

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

This book has been on my TBR for ages so when I spotted the audio book on my subscription service I decided to part listen and part read it. I very much enjoyed this one, it had an intensity to it that I wasn’t expecting and it really made an impression on me.

This week I’ve blogged five times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

                 Review of Exquisite by Sarah Stovell for the blog tour

Monday: Review of One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

I bought this book a while ago after reading some great reviews and it caught my eye on my kindle yesterday so I started reading. It’s such a good book – one of those books that stays in my head even when I’m not reading and that I can’t wait to get back to. I definitely recommend this and it’s currently only 99p on kindle, which is such a bargain for a great read.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I was sent a surprise copy of this for review a few weeks ago and I finally got to start reading it this week. I’m really enjoying it, it’s great to see journalist Kate back as she was my favourite character in The Widow.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

I was expecting this to be a book that really grabbed me but I wasn’t expecting it to be such an emotional read. I love when a book surprises me in this way and I’m really looking forward to reading more of it.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I’ve really been loving reading this one, it’s a perfect summer read. I’m reading this as part of my #20BooksOfSummer challenge and I’m so glad I finally picked this up.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve not read anymore of this over the last week as I just haven’t been in the right frame of mind to read this but it is such an incredibly moving book and I will get back to it soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’m still not in much of a non-fiction mood but I did read another couple of chapters of this book this week and it’s so interesting. I hope to be able to read a bigger chunk of this soon.

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Update on my TBR:

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1956

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 20

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1973

See my huge #bookhaul in my Stacking the Shelves post! (24 Jun)

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

So last week I had a small book haul with just three books being added to my bookcase. Well, this week is a humungous book haul – I’m not quite sure how it happened but I’ve well and truly gone to town with the new books this week!!

 

I bought these books:

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

I’ve heard lots of good things about this book and am very intrigued by the comparisons to The Secret History (one of my all-time favourite books) so had to pre-order this one. I hope to read this soon.

Synopsis:

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago. As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else’s story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life. When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Philips

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Philips

I’ve seen some fab reviews of this book on blogs so decided to treat myself on release day this week. It sounds like a bit of a different read to what I’ve read recently so I’m hoping to squeeze this one in between review books soon.

Synopsis:

Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.

‘The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.’

When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.

It’s a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.

But sometimes the rules are different.

Marlena by Julie Buntin

Marlena by Julie Buntin

I’d seen this book around before it was released and thought it sounds like a really good read. I went to buy the ebook yesterday and it was the bargain price of £2.84! 

Synopsis:

Everything about fifteen-year-old Cat’s new town in rural Michigan is lonely and off-kilter, until she meets her neighbour, the manic, beautiful, pill-popping Marlena. Cat, inexperienced and desperate for connection, is quickly lured into Marlena’s orbit by little more than an arched eyebrow and a shake of white-blonde hair. As the two girls turn the untamed landscape of their desolate small town into a kind of playground, Cat catalogues a litany of firsts – first drink, first cigarette, first kiss – while Marlena’s habits harden and calcify. Within the year, Marlena is dead, drowned in six inches of icy water in the woods nearby. Now, decades later, when a ghost from that pivotal year surfaces unexpectedly, Cat must try to forgive herself and move on, even as the memory of Marlena keeps her tangled in the past.

The Living by Anjali Joseph

The Living by Anjali Joseph

I bought this on a whim when I got an email telling me it was on sale for £2.99. It seems to have very mixed reviews but I really like the sound of it so am hoping I’ll enjoy it. 

Synopsis:

There is a certain number of breaths each of us have to take, and no amount of care or carelessness can alter that.

This is the story of two lives. Claire is a young single mother working in one of England’s last remaining shoe factories, her adult life formed by a teenage relationship. Is she ready to move on from memory and the routine of her days? Arun makes hand-sewn chappals at his home in Kolhapur. A recovered alcoholic, now a grandfather, he negotiates the newfound indignities of old age while returning in thought to the extramarital affair he had years earlier.

These are lives woven through with the ongoing discipline of work and the responsibility and tedium of family life. Lives laced with the joys of friendship, the pleasure of sex, and the redemptive kindness of one’s own children. This is the story of the living.

 

Holding by Graham Norton

Holding by Graham Norton

I’ve been aware of this for ages but have never got around to buying it. I’m not sure if it’ll be my type of read or not but it was 99p in a kindle deal so I thought I’d give it a go.

Synopsis:

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste. So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel.

As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

I’ve yet to read Kate Hamer’s previous novel (although it is on my TBR somewhere) but I couldn’t resist this one at its current price of 98p on kindle).

Synopsis:

My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They’re not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I’m supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won’t say. I won’t tell them I’m going to hunt for my real parents. I don’t say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.

I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he’d give me a medal for lying.

I wasn’t lying. I’m a hunter for lost souls and I’m going to be with my real family. And I’m not going to let Mick stop me.

 

I got these books on my Kindle Unlimited subscription:

Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer

Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer

I saw this book when looking through what had been added to Kindle Unlimited recently and I thought it sounded intriguing. I’m not sure when I’ll get to read it but hopefully before too long.

Synopsis:

In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, with more than 80,000 copies in print, Why People Believe Weird Things debunks these nonsensical claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. In an entirely new chapter, “Why Smart People Believe in Weird Things,” Michael Shermer takes on science luminaries like physicist Frank Tippler and others, who hide their spiritual beliefs behind the trappings of science.

Shermer, science historian and true crusader, also reveals the more dangerous side of such illogical thinking, including Holocaust denial, the recovered-memory movement, the satanic ritual abuse scare, and other modern crazes. Why People Believe Strange Things is an eye-opening resource for the most gullible among us and those who want to protect them.

The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

I’ve got another book by this author on my TBR so when I saw this one I was keen to add it to my list. I love the sound of it from the synopsis.

Synopsis:

The villagers had never seen anything like it: dense white curtains of snow that instantly transformed the landscape. Not in autumn, not here in Burgundy. And on the same night a baby was discovered, dark-eyed little Maria, who would transform all their lives.

Hundreds of miles away in the mountains of Abruzzo, another foundling, Clara, astonishes everyone with her extraordinary talent for piano-playing. But her gifts go far beyond simple musicianship.

As a time of great danger looms, though the girls know nothing of each other, it is the bond that unites them and others like them, which will ultimately offer the only chance for good to prevail in the world.

The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov

The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov

I’ve read a couple of books by this publisher a while ago and have been keen to read more so when I spotted this book and the one below I couldn’t resist.

Synopsis:

A haunting Russian tale about the environmental legacy of the Cold War.

Yerzhan grows up in a remote part of Soviet Kazakhstan where atomic weapons are tested. As a young boy he falls in love with the neighbour’s daughter and one evening, to impress her, he dives into a forbidden lake. The radioactive water changes Yerzhan. He will never grow into a man. While the girl he loves becomes a beautiful woman.

Why Peirene chose to publish this book: Like a Grimm’s fairy tale, this story transforms an innermost fear into an outward reality. We witness a prepubescent boy’s secret terror of not growing up into a man. We also wander in a beautiful, fierce landscape unlike any other we find in Western literature. And by the end of Yerzhana’s tale we are awe-struck by our human resilience in the face of catastrophic, man-made, follies.

The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg

The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg

Synopsis:

A Shakespearean drama from icy Finland.

Finland, 1809. Henrik and Erik are brothers who fought on opposite sides in the war between Sweden and Russia. With peace declared, they both return to their snowed-in farm. But who is the master? Sexual tensions, old grudges, family secrets: all come to a head in this dark and gripping saga.

Why Peirene chose to publish this book: ‘This is a historical novel in miniature form. It deals in dark passions and delivers as many twists as a 500-page epic. And if that were not enough, each character speaks in a distinct voice and expresses a unique take on reality. I’m thrilled to be publishing a book that is as Finnish as a forest in winter – but that resembles a work from the American South: William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.’

I received seven review books:

Is Monogamy Dead? by Rosie Wilby

Is Monogamy Dead? by Rosie Wilby

I was offered the chance to read and review this for the forthcoming blog tour and am really looking forward to starting this. It sounds like a really interesting and fun read.

Synopsis:

In early 2013, comedian Rosie Wilby found herself at a crossroads with everything she’d ever believed about romantic relationships. When people asked, ‘who’s the love of your life?’ there was no simple answer. Did they mean her former flatmate who she’d experienced the most ecstatic, heady, yet ultimately doomed, fling with? Or did they mean the deep, lasting companionate partnerships that gave her a sense of belonging and family? Surely, most human beings need both.

Mixing humour, heartache and science, Is Monogamy Dead? details Rosie’s very personal quest to find out why Western society is clinging to a concept that doesn’t work that well for some of us and is laden with ambiguous assumptions.

Yesterday by Felicia Yap

Yesterday by Felicia Yap

I’ve seen this book around a lot on social media and I’ve been so keen to get hold of a copy so I was thrilled when I spotted it on NetGalley this week. I can’t wait to read this one!

Synopsis:

There are two types of people in the world: those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police?
Can you trust your husband?
Can you trust yourself?

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This is another book that I’ve been eager to get my hands on so I’m thrilled to have a copy now. This isn’t due out until the end of the year so I’m going to try and not read it too far ahead of publication but I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to hold out for!

Synopsis:

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

Aches and Gains by Paul Christo

Aches and Gains by Paul Christo

I spotted this on the read now section of NetGalley and immediately downloaded it. I suffer with severe chronic pain so am always open to things that may help me and this book grabbed my attention and I plan to read it soon (once my non-fiction mojo returns!).

Synopsis:

Pain is often treatable but doctors, medical professionals, and patients don’t understand the intricacies of chronic pain. Millions who suffer from pain become hopeless. With Aches and Gains, Dr. Paul Christo, a Johns Hopkins physician and leading pain specialist sheds new light on what it means to live with and overcome chronic pain. Dr. Christo shares celebrity interviews, including Naomi Judd, Lisa Swayze, Montel Williams, Ally Hilfiger, and Clay Walker, from his Sirius XM radio show Aches and Gains(R), and stories from patients who have found a way to overcome the pain that once controlled their lives. Offering traditional, integrative, and innovative methods of easing pain, the book is a life-changing tool for anyone associated with pain including pain sufferers themselves, doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and caregivers.

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

This is another book that has been on my radar for a while now so when I also spotted this on read now on NetGalley I simply had to download it. I’m really keen to read this one too!

Synopsis:

The only thing more dangerous than a lie . . . is the truth

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason: her father was murdered, her mother ran away to join a cult, and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her. Now, Josie has settled in New York with her boyfriend Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past – starting with her last name.

Then investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a hit podcast that reopens the case of her father’s murder and Josie’s carefully constructed world begins to unravel. She is forced to return to her hometown where she must confront the lies from her past – as well as those on which she has staked her future.

The Death of Her by Debbie Howells

The Death of Her by Debbie Howells

I requested this book on a whim as I love the sound of the synopsis, it really has me intrigued to know what’s going on so I’m looking forward to reading this.

Synopsis:

A woman’s body is discovered on a Cornish farm, battered and left for dead in a maize field. Airlifted to hospital, her life hanging in the balance, no one’s sure who she is. Three days later she comes round, but her memory is damaged. She knows her name – Evie – but no more, until she remembers another name. Angel – her three-year-old daughter.

As the police circulate Evie’s photo, someone recognizes her. Charlotte knew her years ago, at school, when another child went missing. Leah Danning, who vanished whilst in Evie’s care.

When the police search Evie’s home, there’s no sign of Angel. More disturbingly, there’s no evidence that she ever lived there, forcing the police to question whether Evie’s having some kind of breakdown.

But even from the darkest place she’s ever known, Evie believes her daughter is alive. The police remain unconvinced – unaware that on the fringes of Evie’s life, there’s someone else. Someone hidden, watching her every move, with their own agenda and their own twisted version of reality.

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Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I was contacted by the publisher about this book and as soon as I heard what it was about I immediately accepted a copy. It sounds like it’s a bit different to other books in the genre and I’m really keen to read this. I think I’ll be picking this up in the next week or so.

Synopsis:

‘I’m going to die tonight. But I won’t go quietly.’

Amelia Winn has a lot of regrets. She regrets the first drink after she lost her hearing. She regrets destroying her family as she spiralled into depression. Mostly, she regrets not calling Gwen Locke back.

Because now Gwen is dead. And as Amelia begins to unearth the terrible secrets that led to Gwen’s naked body being dumped in the freezing water, she realises that she might be next.

But how do you catch a killer when you can’t hear him coming?

 

Giveaway Win:

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I was over the moon to get an email from Quercus to tell me I had won this fabulous goody bag!

The books inside are:

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Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal

I was so pleased to discover this in my goody bag as it was on my wish list. I’ve read quite a few books that have been on the Wellcome prize shortlist and all have been incredible so I have high hopes for this one. 

Synopsis:

A twenty-four-hour whirlwind of death and life.

In the depths of a winter’s night, the heart of Simon Limbeau is resting, readying itself for the day to come. In a few hours’ time, just before six, his alarm will go off and he will venture into the freezing dawn, drive down to the beach, and go surfing with his friends. A trip he has made a hundred times and yet, today, the heart of Simon Limbeau will encounter a very different course.

But for now, the black-box of his body is free to leap, swell, melt and sink, just as it has throughout the years of Simon’s young life.

5.50 a.m.

This is his heart.

And here is its story.

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The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

I’d not heard of this book before but I love the sound of it from the synopsis, plus it’s a gorgeous looking book too! I think this is due to be published later in the summer so I’ll aim to read it and review around its publication date.

Synopsis:

Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead.

So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.

Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner – no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye.

These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.

This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers, and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening and entertaining guide.

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Not That Kind of Love by Clare Wise and Greg Wise

I’d not heard of this book before either but it sounds like a life-affirming and heart-breaking book. I’ll need to be in the right place to read this but I know it’s a book I’ll get a lot out of. The fact that it’s compared to The Last Act of Love makes me want to read it soon as I adored that book. I think this is due to be published early next year.

Synopsis:

A moving, thought-provoking and surprisingly humorous book which is both a description of a journey to death and a celebration of the act of living.
Based on Clare Wise’s blog, which she started when she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2013, Not That Kind of Love charts the highs and lows of the last three years of Clare’s life.
The end result is not a book that fills you with despair and anguish. On the contrary, Not That Kind of Love should be read by everybody for its candour, and for its warmth and spirit. Clare is an astonishingly dynamic, witty and fun personality, and her positivity and energy exude from every page.
As she becomes too weak to type, her brother – the actor Greg Wise – takes over, and the book morphs into a beautiful meditation on life, and the necessity of talking about death.
With echoes of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal and Cathy Rentzenbrink’s The Last Act of Love, it is a very special read that rejoices in the extraordinary and often underestimated sibling bond, and the importance of making the most of the ordinary pleasures life has to offer. As Greg Wise writes in the book: ‘Celebrate the small things, the small moments. If you find yourself with matching socks as you leave the house in the morning, that is a cause for celebration. If the rest of the day is spent finding the cure for cancer, or brokering world peace, then that’s a bonus.’

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The Confession by Jo Spain

This book sounds super intriguing and I’m really excited to have an early proof copy to read. I love the idea that we find out who did it on the first page and that it’s more of a whydunnit than a whodunnit. I think this book is also due out early next year.

Synopsis:

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

WWW Wednesday (21 Jun) What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

 

What I’m reading now:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was one of my choices for my #20BookofSummer and it’s such a great read for this time of year. I’m really enjoying this novel and definitely recommend it.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

As I think I said last week I’m not really in the mood for non-fiction so this book is still on the back burner. I’m hoping my non-fiction mojo returns soon as I definitely want to get back to this soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This is my other non-fiction read and it’s also been put to one side this week but again I hope to get back to it soon. Fingers crossed for the non-fiction vibe returning before too long.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I had to put this to one side this week as I was reading another review book that had similar themes and didn’t want to get the two mixed up in my head. I’m back reading this now and am really enjoying it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

This is a book that has been on my TBR for ages but has never reached the top but when I spotted it on my audio book subscription the other day I decided to listen to it. I got so engrossed in this novel, it really grabbed me and I recommend it.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

This was one of my alternate choices for #20BooksofSummer but it ended up being the one that called to me the most so I decided to read it. I feel a bit conflicted about it as I really enjoyed reading it, it held my attention throughout but it left me feeling a little deflated. I’m hoping to review it if I can get my thoughts together about it soon.

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

I loved this novel and read it in one sitting as there just wasn’t a place where I could stop reading – I simply had to know what was going to happen. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

This novel was incredible. It was one of those books that I picked up at exactly the right time and it was such a moving and soothing novel. I honestly think this will be one of my books of the year! I’ve already reviewed it so you can see why I loved it so much here.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

I’ve been reading this over the last couple of weeks and I have enjoyed it so much. There was so much more to the book than I was expecting and I think it’s one that will stay in my mind for a while to come.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I’ve been so excited about this book as I’m a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing and I simply can’t wait any longer to read this!

Three Days and a Life by Pierre LeMaitre

This arrived just the other day and I’m so keen to read it so am hoping to get to it this week!

 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

#BookReview: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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About the Book

Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the bad boy, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the jock, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident.

On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was approved to read this book from NetGalley as it has such an intriguing premise. I loved the movie The Breakfast Club so for it to have comparisons to that gave me high hopes!

The opening chapters of this novel are really intense, they grabbed me immediately and had me wondering what was going to happen next. The novel is then told from each of the perspectives of the four students who survived detention – we gradually get to see what their lives are like and it seems that they all have a potential motive for killing their classmate.

I really enjoyed how the teenagers changed as the novel progressed; it was also nice to see how, even though they all hung around in different groups before Simon’s death, they began to look out for one another in the aftermath. It made it really interesting as a reader too because as you get to know more about their pasts, you grow to like them more and it adds to the suspense that you don’t know for sure who you can trust. I did have my suspicions early on about what had happened in detention, and I was right, but there was more to the story than I had figured out so there were still shocks in store as the novel moves on. I would say that while this book does have the element of suspense there is much more to it than that. It’s more about the people left behind who suspicion falls on and we get to see how they cope with being under such scrutiny.

I have to be honest though and say that I did struggle to follow this novel because the voices of the main characters were not distinct enough from each other. I kept having to flick back because I couldn’t remember whose chapter I was currently reading and it made this novel a slower read for me than it might have been. It’s a small criticism but it would be remiss of me not to mention it because it did affect my enjoyment of the novel to a degree. That said, I would still recommend this novel because aside from this issue everything else is great and very enjoyable.

I’m a lot older than the target audience for this book but I have to say that, in terms of plot, it was one of the best YA books I’ve read in a long while so there are definite positives to this novel and I will be looking out for whatever Karen McManus writes next.

One of Us is Lying is out now!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Karen McManus

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. Her debut young adult novel, ONE OF US IS LYING, will be released from Delacorte Press/Random House on May 30, 2017. It will also be published internationally in 18 territories including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia.

(Author Bio and Photo taken from Goodreads)

#BookReview: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell @Sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks

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About the Book

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops … Or does it?

My Thoughts

This book has such a stunning cover and from the moment I first saw it on twitter I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. I’m thrilled to say that the book is just as stunning looking in real life and, more importantly, the novel inside that cover is even better!

This is a fascinating and tense novel about two women – one a successful writer who is married with two young children, and the other is a younger woman who is unsure about her life and what she wants, although writing really appeals to her. Initially it seems that Bo sees something in Alice’s writing and wants to encourage her but when she meets her she feels such a connection to her. Alice just wants to be accepted onto a writing course and when she is, she’s thrilled. There she meets Bo, the course leader, and they fall into what seems a really natural and easy friendship.

The novel initially has alternate chapters about Alice and then Bo, but then we get a whole section on one woman and then we see a similar timeline from the other woman. This is really well done because you come to think you know who the innocent party is but then you read another bit and you’re really not sure; it really builds the suspense at a hefty pace. As Alice and Bo each narrate their own section of this novel it becomes clear that one of them has to be an unreliable narrater because they can’t both be telling the truth, although this did lead me at one point to consider whether a third party had done some meddling and inflamed the situation so it really does have you wondering. Both women have had difficult times in their pasts and they each have traits that might lead them to become unhealthily attached to someone so it was impossible to work for a long time who was likely to be the most obsessive one. I did have more sympathy for one woman over the other for most of the novel but that did waiver at points because Sarah Stovell is a master manipulator of a writer and had me second-guessing myself more than once as I was reading!

There is a lot in this novel about mothers – both Alice and Bo seem to have had a complex relationship with each of their mothers and it seems to have shaped who they are now. It made me wonder if they were looking for mother or child substitutes in their lives but it was so much more complicated than that! The novel does explore whether the things that happen in people’s younger years can affect them when they’re adults, and whether a tough time in childhood can ever be an excuse for who people become as adults.

Exquisite is a claustrophobic, tense and thrilling novel that will grab you on the first page and won’t let you go until long after you’ve read the last page. I was literally sitting stock still with the book in my hands for a good few minutes when I read the ending, and I’m still thinking about it now and mulling it over! I love when a book leaves me feeling like this!

This is one of those novels that is impossible to put down, I honestly read it in one sitting because there just wasn’t a moment where I could stop reading – I simply had to know how this book was going to end! I highly recommend you go buy a copy of Exquisite right away, you won’t regret it!

Exquisite is out now!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

sarah stovell

 

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

(Bio & Author pic taken from: Orenda Books)

Weekly Wrap-Up! (18 Jun)

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This week has been a week of taking it easy so I’ve not had as many posts up on my blog, but it has been for a good reason. My husband and I went to see Kraftwerk on Wednesday night and it was an incredible show. They’re a band I never thought I would get to see live so it was brilliant. We didn’t take any photos of the concert but here’s the 3D glasses and a painted mural outside the venue 🙂 My pain levels and my neuro symptoms have been really bad the last couple of days but it was absolutely worth it to have had such a good night out.

 

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

I’ve been reading this book on and off for a couple of weeks now and have really enjoyed it. There was so much more in this novel than I was expecting and it’s one I definitely recommend.

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

I read this novel in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down. I’ve actually got my review on my blog today so you can read that here if you’d like to.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

This is a beautiful novel that I fell completely and utterly in love with. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read more of what I thought here if you’d like to. I highly recommend this book though, it’s stunning.

A Year Lost and Found by Michael Mayne

This is a very short book about the year Michael Mayne contracted a chronic illness and how he felt about that, and the role his strong religious beliefs played in how he coped. I found it a really soothing read, even though I’m not a religious person.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

This is another book that I’ve been reading on and off for a couple of weeks. I enjoyed it but it didn’t completely wow me. I’m still trying to write my review but hopefully I’ll have it posted soon.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Friday: Review of The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I only just started reading this last night but I’m a few chapters in and enjoying it. I think it’s a good pick for one of my #20bookofsummer reads.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

This was one of my three spare picks for my #20booksofsummer and it’s the one that has been calling to me the most. It grabbed me in the first chapter and I’m really hooked.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve not read much more of this over the last week as I just haven’t been in the mood for non-fiction. I’m hoping to get back to it soon as it’s such an interesting and moving read.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This has been on hold over the last couple of weeks too but I knew when I started this book that it would be a book that I read on and off as I felt up to it. I do hope to get back to it as soon as my non-fiction mojo returns.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I did read a bit more of this over the last week but I put it down again for the last few days as I was reading a book for a blog tour that was giving me a similar vibe and I didn’t want to risk them getting confused in my head. I will be picking this back up in the next day or so though.

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Update on my TBR: 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1958

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 3

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 5

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1956

 


 

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

See my new #bookhaul in my Stacking the Shelves post (17 Jun)

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

 

Guess what? I didn’t buy any new books this week! None. at. all! I can’t remember the last time that happened. I did receive some books for review though so I do still have a small book haul to share today…

 

I received three review books:

 

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Three Days and a Life by Pierre LeMaitre

I’m a huge fan of Pierre LeMaitre so I was thrilled when I received a copy of his forthcoming novel to review. I can’t wait to start reading this, it sounds brilliant!

Synopsis:

Antoine is twelve years old. His parents are divorced and he lives with his mother in Beauval, a small, backwater town surrounded by forests, where everyone knows everyone’s business, and nothing much ever happens. But in the last days of 1999, a series of events unfolds, culminating in the shocking vanishing without trace of a young child. The adults of the town are at a loss to explain the disappearance, but for Antoine, it all begins with the violent death of his neighbour’s dog. From that one brutal act, his fate and the fate of his neighbour’s six year old son are bound forever.

In the years following Rémi’s disappearance, Antoine wrestles with the role his actions played. As a seemingly inescapable net begins to tighten, breaking free from the suffocating environs of Beauval becomes a gnawing obsession. But how far does he have to run, and how long will it take before his past catches up with him again?

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The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

I’ve been getting some really intriguing postcards over the last week or so and then yesterday another one arrived along with this book. I’d not heard of the book before but it sounds like a really intense crime thriller and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Synopsis:

One man is dead. But thousands are his victims. Can a single murder avenge that of many?

When Christopher Drayton’s body is found at the foot of the Scarborough Bluffs, Detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are called to investigate his death. But as the secrets of his role in the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre surface, the harrowing significance of the case makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect. And when the victim is a man with far more deaths to his name, could it be that justice has at long last been served?

In this striking debut, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a compelling and provocative mystery exploring the complexities of identity, loss, and redemption.

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Chasing the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

I’d already received a proof of this book so it was a lovely surprise when a finished hardback arrived this week. I’m planning to read this very soon.

Synopsis:

An honest yet uplifting account of a woman’s life affected (but not defined) by the suicide of her husband and the deadly paradox of modern-day masculinity.

Punk rocker, bird nerd and book lover Rob Bell had a full, happy life. He had a loving wife, a big-bottomed dog named Daisy and a career as a respected science journalist. But beneath the carefully cultivated air of machoism and the need to help other people, he struggled with mental health and a drug addiction that began as a means to self-medicate his illness. In 2015, he ended his life in New Zealand on a winter’s night.

But what happened? How did a middle-class Catholic boy from the suburbs, who had an ocean of people who loved him, and a brain the size of a planet, end up dying alone by his own hand? How did it get to this point?

In the search to find out about the man she loved, and how he arrived at that desperate, dark moment, Poorna Bell, Executive Editor of The Huffington Post UK, went on a journey spanning New Zealand, India and England to discover more about him.

A month after his death, she shared her personal tragedy in an open letter to Rob on the site, which went on to be read by hundreds of thousands of people across the world. This is Poorna’s story, not only of how she met the man of her dreams and fell in love, but also Rob’s story and how he suffered with depression since childhood and had secretly been battling addiction as a means to cope with the illness.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 and a staggering 1 in 4 of us will experience mental illness disease at some point in our lives, but the stigma surrounding mental health means that millions still suffer in silence.

Chase the Rainbow is an affecting, poetic, and deeply personal journey which teaches to seek hope and happiness, even in the most tragic of circumstances. Shattering the stigma surrounding depression and suicide, Poorna Bell challenges us talk about what we most fear, and to better understand the personal struggles of those closest to us.

 

 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

 

#BookReview: The Things We Thought We Knew by @MahsudaSnaith @ThomasssHill @doubledayuk

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About the Book

Ravine and Marianne were best friends. They practised handstands together, raced slugs and went into the woods to play.

But now everything has changed.

Ten years later, Ravine lies in a bed plagued by chronic pain syndrome. And her best friend Marianne is gone.

How did their last adventure go so wrong? Who is to blame? And where is Marianne?

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of The Things We Thought We Knew for a little while now so I was thrilled when the publisher offered me an ARC to review recently. I’m so happy to say that this book was even more incredible than I was hoping it would be and I loved every minute that I was reading it.

I initially wanted to read The Things We Thought We Knew because I was fascinated to read a novel where the main character suffers from chronic pain, as it’s not something that is often found in novels. Mahsuda Snaith examines, in such a sensitive way, the complexities of pain – the way that pain can be physical and very real, and yet have roots to it that are emotional. I suffer with severe pain due to my spinal cord injury so am really drawn to books that explore pain in any way. In this book the character does recover early in the story but it’s the exploration of the reasons for her pain that moved me deeply. It takes a gentle hand to explore this without patronising people, like me, whose pain is unlikely to ever be better, and I really admire that in this book. Ravine ends up pretending about her physical pain but because I could see the other pain she was in I genuinely always felt sympathy for her – the physical pain that was real at one stage in her life became the only way she could block out the pain of her friend being gone.

‘There isn’t a constellation for pain, but if there were it would sweep over half the sky and be connected by a hundred stars.’

I was immediately drawn into the intrigue as to where Ravine’s best friend Marianne had gone. The novel opens in the present day and Marianne and her family have been gone from next door for a long time. Yet Ravine is in a state of limbo wondering where her best friend has gone. The picture of the childhood friendship of these two girls is gradually built up and I very much enjoyed reading this part of the book. It’s heartbreaking knowing that something pulled the two girls apart – the mystery of this had me hooked but it was more the way Ravine wrote about Marianne, a friend she clearly adored. These two girls had such a bond and Ravine lost herself when Marianne went away, and this affected me so deeply. This quote actually made me cry, it’s so poignant:

‘Even as a child I knew my life was rooted in yours. How am I meant to carry on when the roots have been pulled out?’

This is a coming-of-age novel about finding your place in the world, and about coming to an understanding of why people are the way they are. I really enjoyed reading about Ravine’s childhood as an asian girl growing up on a council estate in Leicester. The way it’s a multi-cultural city and yet a child can still stand out as being different because of the way her family express their beliefs, for Ravine it’s the way her mother dresses, and the way she has her dress. Ravine compares herself in childhood to her best friend Marianne, whose family is also asian but they dress in jeans and t-shirts and so fit in better. There are many memorable characters who live near Ravine, who are all so richly-drawn and memorable – even the ones we only hear about, such as the old lady across the landing from Ravine’s family. There is a real sense that everyone has their own problems to deal with and gradually through the book we get to see this. Ravine as a child, and then as a teenager stuck in her bedroom, doesn’t get to see the subtitles of why people are the way they are but we, the reader, really see the pain in what some people have to live through.

Ultimately though, this is a novel about memories; it’s a look at how we can, through no fault of our own, remember things differently than they were; it’s a look at how sometimes we choose to delude ourselves because the truth is just too painful to bear. It’s a novel about how we  protect ourselves from the most painful parts of life, it’s about how we survive when the worst thing we can imagine happens. It’s also a look at whether redemption ever comes, whether someone should suffer for what they’re perceived to have done or whether the pain they feel inside is enough punishment. Ravine’s pain is very, very real – some of it is physical and some of it emotional but all of it is real and she has spent a more than half of her life hurting. I was rooting for Ravine all the way through this novel, and she’s someone I absolutely won’t forget any time soon.

‘Memories pretend to leave you but they’re always there. Always ready to catch you off guard, to remind you that life is never as simple as what you happen to be dealing with at the time.

There is always the past, waiting to pounce.’

This novel is stunningly beautiful for so many reasons – the gorgeous writing and the wonderful turns of phrase, the brilliant and complex characters, and for the most heartbreaking descriptions of pain, in all its forms, that I’ve read in a long time. Very occasionally, if you’re really lucky, a book will come into your life at exactly the right moment and it will break your heart but then it will mend it again and make you feel so much better; this is that book for me. I am sure that this novel will be in my top books for this year, it’s definitely one I will remember and think about for a long time to come.

The Things We Thought We Knew is out now and I highly recommend you grab a copy as soon as you can!

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

mahsuda snaith

Mahsuda Snaith was born in Luton and brought up on a Leicester council estate.  She is a writer of novels, short stories and plays, and is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014, Bristol Short Story Prize 2014 as well as a finalist for the Mslexia Novel Competition 2013.  Mahsuda leads creative writing workshops at De Montfort University, has performed her work at literary festivals and has been anthologised by The Asian Writer, Words with Jam and Closure: Contemporary Black British Stories.

Mahsuda’s first novel is The Things We Thought We Knew. It will be published by Transworld in 2017 in the UK.

(Bio taken from: http://www.watsonlittle.com/client/mahsuda-snaith. Author photo taken from twitter.)

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following blogs:

The Things We Thought We Knew Tour Poster

 

WWW Wednesday (14 Jun) 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! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review this book as it’s one that’s been on my wish list ever since I first heard about it. I started reading it yesterday and it hooked me in straight away and I feel sure this is going to be a book that I’ll love.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I haven’t read much more of this book since my last WWW Wednesday post as I’ve been struggling with non-fiction this week due to needing more my books to give me escapism. This is such a great book though and I hope to get back to it very soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This is my other non-fiction book and this has also been put to one side since my last post. The book had really grabbed me so I’m hoping to get back to it soon, it just wasn’t the right book for me this week.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

I discovered the audio book version of this book on my audio subscription app this week so I’m half-listening and half-reading this and am enjoying it so much. I had high hopes for the book and it’s actually even better than I was expecting.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

This book has been on the back burner for most of the last week but I did pick it back up last night and read quite a few pages of it so I’m hoping I can continue and finish this soon. It’s such a great read, I just wish life hadn’t got in the way of me reading it quicker.

What I recently finished reading:

A Year Lost and Found by Michael Mayne

I bought this book a few weeks ago after reading about it in another book I read earlier this year. If I’m to be completely honest it was more religious than I normally like to read but in the context of illness and recovery and how people deal with life-changing conditions it was a really soothing read for me and I’m so glad I read it.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

I finished reading this book earlier this week but haven’t managed to write my review as yet. I did enjoy the book but it fell a bit flat for me so I’m letting it settle for a few days before I write my review.

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

This book is brilliant and I highly recommend it! I’ve already reviewed it so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

What I plan on reading next:

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

I’ve been so excited to read this book but have been holding off until nearer my date on the blog tour… and now it’s finally time to start reading it! I’ve heard only great things about this book.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

I treated myself to this book a couple of weeks ago and it’s been calling to me from my bookcase ever since so I can’t hold off reading it any longer!

Bad Choices by Ali Almossawi

This book was sent to me for review at the weekend and it looks like such a fun and interesting read and a book that I can dip in and out of so I’d like to start it soon.

 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.