Mini Reviews: Watching You, Nobody’s Wife, The Night Olivia Fell, and The Flower Girls!

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Today I’m sharing another selection of mini book reviews as I try to catch up. I LOVED all four of these books so wanted to make sure I shared my thoughts here.

 

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Watching You by Lisa Jewell

This book is such a brilliant psychological thriller. From the title you can guess that someone is being watched but what is so good about this book is the way that lots of people are being watched, or feel like they are, and sometimes it’s by people who are unaware that they shouldn’t be so invasively tracking someone’s movements and other times it’s by people who have more sinister motives. The novel opens with a body having been found and there appears to be an important piece of evidence left at the scene. We then get a picture gradually built up of who the victim is but also who might have wanted to hurt this person. The novel follows quite a few characters and figuring out how they might connect to each other, if at all and in what possible way, was brilliant! I really did enjoy this book and I already can’t wait to read Lisa jewell’s next novel!

 

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The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

I read this novel quite a while ago now so I’m embarrassed that I’ve somehow managed not to review it before now. I will say that despite the gap the novel is still really quite fresh in my mind so it shows it’s a book that really gets under your skin! This is about two sisters who murdered a young child when they were also young children. One of them was old enough to face trial and the other wasn’t. They’re now adults and Laurel is out of prison and trying to build a new life under her new identity. This all comes unstuck when she goes on holiday with her partner and a child goes missing from the hotel. This is such a brilliant novel that explores lots of angles to a case like this in a sensitive and thought-provoking way. I flew through the book because I was desperate to know what was going to happen in the end. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t already read it.

 

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The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

This is another book that I’m mortified to realise I haven’t reviewed yet, especially when I loved the novel so much. This is an incredible novel that is a great thriller but more than that it’s a brilliant exploration of the relationship between mothers and daughters. Abi is a single mum to Olivia, and one morning she’s woken to a phone call telling her that her daughter has been in an accident and is badly hurt. It turns out that Olivia had secrets from her mum and Abi is devastated that her daughter hadn’t felt she could confide in her. We also get Olivia’s story and gradually build up to the night she fell, and what actually happened to her. This is another book that I just didn’t want to put down, it  is a real page turner and I wanted to know how things were going to turn out. More than that I felt so emotionally invested in Abi and Olivia’s stories. It really reminded me of being a teenager and even though I was incredibly close to my mum there is always going to be a point when a teen begins to pull away and wants to keep some things private. This is a book that is really staying with me, and I can’t wait to read more by the author.

 

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Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson

This is another novel that I got utterly emotionally invested in very quickly. Initially the opening chapter made me think this was going to have thriller elements but it hasn’t really, it’s much more an exploration of the relationship between two sisters and their relationships with their respective partners. The characters in this book aren’t particularly likeable but they are all so real, and I could see bits of me and bits of people I’ve known in them. It’s easy to judge matters of the heart when they don’t affect you but this novel by showing the perspectives of all four characters really does show that nothing is black and white and it’d be so easy for us all to make a decision that has consequences we never could have foreseen. I only read this fairly recently but it’s really lodged itself in my heart, I keep thinking of the characters and wondering what’s happening in their lives since the final page. I definitely recommend this one!

 

 

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A New Book Haul (Stacking the Shelves 13 Jul 2019)!

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

 

Purchased Books / eBooks

 

The Gifts of the Body by Rebecca Brown

I’ve wanted to read this book for a while and decided to buy it this week. It’s a collection of linked short stories about care workers during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

What You Did by Claire McGowan

I feel that getting this book was serendipity as I wasn’t able to sign up to the blog tour when it was offered to me but I made a note of the title to pre-order it and when I went to do that I saw it was on the Kindle First book selection for July. So I got a copy ahead of publication and I can’t wait to read it!

Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain by Sarah Vallance

This is my other Kindle First pick for July as it sounds like a fascinating memoir about one woman’s experience of traumatic brain injury.

 

Borrowed AudioBooks

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Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin 

I borrowed this audio book from Scribd and while I found it quite interesting it just isn’t the book that its set up to be so it was disappointing. It’s much more about the author and her time in LA and her obsession with Joan Didion than it is about society’s obsession with murdered young women.

 

ARCs

I got a lovely surprise package from Orenda Books this week that contained the first four books mentioned below.

 

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson

I love this author’s writing and have very much enjoyed the first two books of hers that I’ve read so I’m thrilled to have a copy of this one.

Cage by Lilja Sigurdottir

I’m so keen to read this next book in the series so it was wonderful to get a surprise copy in the post!

 

In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone

I haven’t read anything by this author before (although I do have two of his other novels on my TBR) but this book sounds brilliant so I’m very happy to have it.

Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen

This is a new-to-me author who I’ve heard such good things about so I’m really looking forward to reading this book.

 

The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey

I was offered a copy of this by the author and I jumped at the chance to read it as it sounds like my kind of book. I hope to read this one very soon.

Maigret’s Childhood Friend by Georges Simenon

This was another surprise book that arrived in the post this week. I’ve not read any Maigret novels before but I’m happy to have the chance to read this one.

 


 

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

 

WWW Wednesdays (10 Jul 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

 

What I’m reading now:

Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

I just started reading this late last night but it’s such a gripping read. The opening is really different to anything I’ve read before and it just had me wanting to read more and more.

The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds

This is another really gripping read. I’m very intrigued about where the wife in the title might be and what could have happened to her.

Wrecking Crew: Demolishing the Case Against Steven Avery by John Ferak

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week as I wasn’t in much of a non-fiction mood but I’ll definitely get back to it soon.

 

What I recently finished reading:

How To Walk Away by Katherine Center

I’ve had this on my Kindle for a while now so when I spotted it on BorrowBox I decided to download the audio and listen to it instead. I really enjoyed this one and found it really uplifting.

The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes

I part-read and part-listened to this one and absolutely loved it! I love Elizabeth Haynes’ writing anyway and this book lived up to all her others that I’ve read. I found it fascinating how she blended fact with some fiction in such a brilliant way. I recommend this one!

The Last Stage by Louise Voss

I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find my full review here if you’d like to know more. I can say that I loved this book though and recommend it!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

This was one of my 20 Books of Summer picks and I’m so happy that I finally got to this. I very much enjoyed it, it was such an interesting novel that got me really invested in all of the characters. I’m now looking forward to reading The Reservoir Tapes soon.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This was another of my 20 Books of Summer and I’m so happy I read this. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Conversations with Friends as it just didn’t quite feel believable to me but I did like Sally Rooney’s writing so decided to try this one. I loved this book, it really reminded me of being the age of the characters and how miscommunications so easily happen in intimate relationships.

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

I’ve had this one on my TBR for way too long so when I spotted the audio book on my subscription service I decided to listen to it. I did enjoy this one but I think it would have worked better if I’d actually read it. I might come back and re-read the print version of this in the future.

The Wave by Virginia Moffatt

I really enjoyed this novel! It didn’t have as much depth as I might have liked but I loved the premise and I really enjoyed getting to know all of the characters and seeing how they dealt with what was going to happen.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond

I really enjoyed Ella Drummond’s first novel (my review is here) so I was delighted to be offered a spot on the blog tour for her next book. I’m planning to read this one this coming week and I can’t wait!

Looker by Laura Sims

I’ve been so keen to read this book so now I own a copy I don’t want to wait any longer to start reading it!

A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi

This is another of my 20 Books of Summer and I’m in the mood for getting lost in a longer book so I think this fits the bill. I love Penny Vincenzi’s writing so I know I’m going to love this one.

Inhuman Resources by Pierre LeMaitre

I’ve been wanting to read this one for absolutely ages and I put it on my 20 Books of Summer so I didn’t forget I had it and I think the time has come to pick it up! I hope to get to this one this week too. 🙂

 


 

I’m a paid member of Scribd (as mentioned above) and they have given me a code that will allow you to sign up and get two months free (and I would get one month free). If you’d like to try them out here is the link. I love Scribd and highly recommend them.

 


 

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

Review: The Last Stage by Louise Voss | @LouiseVoss1 @OrendaBooks @annecater

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About the Book

A violent and horrific incident forces a young woman to go into hiding, at the peak of her career as lead singer of an indie pop band. Years later, strange things start to happen and it becomes clear that some know who she is…

At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now living a quiet existence in a cottage on the grounds of an old stately home, she has put her past behind her and come to terms with her new life.

When a body is found in the manicured gardens of her home, and a series of inexplicable and unsettling events begins to occur, it becomes clear that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is … Someone who wants vengeance.

And this is only the beginning…

 

My Thoughts

The Last Stage follows Meredith. In the late 1980s she was a hugely successful indie star but something happened which led to her quitting her band at the height of their fame and she made sure to become unrecognisable by starting a new life working at a stately home. One night someone she works with goes missing in strange circumstances and Meredith starts to fear that the past is coming back to get her.

I’m a huge fan of Louise Voss (and have been ever since I bought her first novel To Be Someone, which is still one of my favourite and most read books!) and I’m so happy to say that this book more than lived up to my high expectations. The prologue is so creepy that it gave me chills and I knew then I was going to be hooked all the way through this book (and I was right!). The idea of waking up in the middle of the night to hear footsteps on the stairs and then your bedroom door handle starting to turn is terrifying!

The Last Stage is set in the present but we get chapters from the past from when a 17 year old Meredith goes off to Greenham Common and meets a girl there. I felt equally invested in both timelines and I was desperate to know how the past and present fit together to explain why Meredith was so scared by the thought of things from the past catching up with her.

Louise Voss has created such an interesting and intriguing protagonist in Meredith and I wanted to know more about her from the start. She does make some bad decisions in this book and at times I wanted to reach into the pages and make her do things differently but I could see why she chose to keep quiet about the unnerving things that were happening to her and around her. I think fear affects people in all kinds of ways and while some people would immediately beg for help and support, other people almost shut it down and believe that if they don’t acknowledge it out loud then it can’t possibly be really happening. I really felt for Meredith and was rooting for her to be okay.

I love the title of this book and how over the course of the novel you sense a different meaning in it. I initially thought it was about the last stage Meredith might have performed on as a rock star before she quit, then I thought it might be the last stage of her life but then I wondered if it might not be about Meredith but rather a reference to the last stage of a campaign to ruin her life.  Or maybe it’s more to do with the way Meredith has to confront her fears from her past (last as in previous stage) before she can move on. I love when a title gives me lots of possibilities to ponder over!

This book kept me guessing right to the end! I didn’t trust anyone in this novel, they all seemed like they might have something to hide and this made for such a thrilling read. The tension in The Last Stage is there from the start and it slowly builds and builds until you’re literally on the edge of your seat. I even found myself holding my breath during the more tense moments! I loved this novel so much, it was a perfect psychological thriller and one that I’ll be thinking about for a while. It’s tense, thrilling and will keep you up way past your bedtime (and by this point you’ll be nervously wondering if you can hear footsteps on the stairs and if the bedroom door handle is moving!!). An utterly brilliant read!

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

The Last Stage is out now in ebook and is available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

About the Author

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Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had 13 novels published – seven solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books. Her most recent book, The Old You, was a number-one bestseller in ebook. Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at http://www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in Salisbury and is a proud member of two female crime-writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

 

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

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Best Books of 2019… So Far!

Best Books of 2019 So far!

By the end of June this year I’d already read 162 books so I thought it might be nice to write a post about my favourite books that I’ve read this year so far. Some were published this year and some were published a while ago but all are books that I’ve read and loved between 1st January and 30th June this year!

These books are in no particular order, I loved them all!

So without further ado…

 

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Senseless by Anna Lickley

This book had to be on my list because it has such an honest portrayal of what it is to have a disability. I could identify with a lot in this novel and it’s so rare to see myself represented in a novel in this way so I feel a real connection to this book. It’s a really good novel all-round and I recommend it. My review is here if you’d like to know more.

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Song of the Robin by R.V. Biggs

This is a book I almost didn’t pick up but I am so glad I did because it’s such a brilliant novel. There is a real mystery running through the book, which had me enthralled. I also really connected with the exploration of grief. My full review is here.

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The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

This is quite a recent read but I keep finding myself thinking about it so I had to include it in this post. This is a novel that rewards the reader taking their time with it and once you’re invested it will have you hooked all the way to the end. I loved the way it captured how life is, how grief is and how time feels during pivotal moments in life. My review is here.

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The Rumour by Lesley Kara

I read this book very early on this year and it has really stayed with me. It’s a book that really looks at what it’s like to live in a small community and what happens when idle gossip fuels a rumour. I loved this book. My review is here.

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Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

This novel is such a brilliant look at domestic violence from so many angles and I found it really got under my skin. It’s such a great debut and I can’t wait for the second book in the series to be out! My review is here.

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Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

I was so excited to read this book and it completely and utterly lived up to my expectations. It’s a gorgeous feel-good novel! My review is here.

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Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

This book is beautiful – it’s funny and moving and just such a heart-warming novel to read. It’s definitely a book that I want to re-read at some point. Here is my review.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This is a recent read but Donna Tartt is one of my favourite authors and I loved The Goldfinch so much that it had to make my list. I haven’t managed to review this one yet but I hope to soon. In the meantime, I highly recommend it!

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The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

I found this book so gripping and moving, it had me under its spell from start to finish (and beyond because I still think of it now) so I had to have this one in my list! My review is here.

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Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This book is incredible! It was such an incise look at how modern life is, at our obsessions with social media and appearing like we have the most perfect lives. It is shocking and moving, and I still can’t stop thinking about this novel! My full review is here.

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Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

This is such a brilliant thriller novel. It’s a prescient novel but also such a stunning read. My review is here.

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Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

I adored this book! It’s a look at what happens when someone is told they have three months to live but it’s such a life-affirming, uplifting read in spite of what has happened. It’s wonderful and I recommend it! My review is here.

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A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

This novel is the most stunning and accurate portrayal I have ever read about what it is to be a sibling. I found it breathtaking at times and I know this is a book I will be thinking about for a long time to come. My review is here.

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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I got this book for Christmas and it was the very first book I read in 2019, and what a way to start a new year! This is such a stunning novel and it felt like such a treat to read it. I’m sad I didn’t manage to review it but I highly recommend it all the same!

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The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner

I listened to this book on audio and I just got lost in it. It’s such a beautifully written novel about the aftermath of the war on four characters, and I just loved it. I want everyone to read this book! My review is here.

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The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

I only read this psychological thriller very recently but it couldn’t not be on my list of best books. This is one of the best books in this genre that I’ve ever read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. My review is here.

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The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

I started reading this book one afternoon and I literally didn’t look up from the page until I finished reading. This is an incredible and stunning novel, one that will stay with me. My review is here.

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The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

I read this book out in the garden over a couple of lovely sunny afternoons and I just got lost in its pages. There is a dreamlike quality to this novel and I still feel slightly under its spell now! My review is here.

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Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I part-read and part-listened to this book and I loved every single second of it. It’s one of my all-time favourite audio books and I highly recommend it. I haven’t managed to post a review yet but I plan on doing so soon.

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The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

This was one of my picks for my 20 Books of Summer and I completely and utterly feel in love with this novel. It’s such a gorgeous novel that is both laugh out loud funny, and heartbreakingly moving. I adored it and hope to review it soon.

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Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book is amazing. I still don’t feel like I can do justice to it, I still feel like it’s got a hold on me that I can’t explain. My review is here and I just urge you to please go read this book if you haven’t already!

 

 

What are your favourite books of 2019 so far? I’d love to know!

 

 

 

 

Review: Something To Live For by Richard Roper

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About the Book

Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…

Andrew works with death for a living. Searching for people’s next of kin and attending the funerals if they don’t have anyone, he’s desperate to avoid the same fate for himself. Which is fine, because he has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.

The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and the little white lie he once told is about to catch up with him.

Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start.

 

My Thoughts

Something To Live For is the story of Andrew. He works for the council and his job is to deal with the aftermath of death – he has to find if the deceased person has a next of kin. Andrew is lonely but he’s accidentally told his boss that he’s got a happy family life and now he can’t u-turn on this lie he’s living.

Something To Live For is a stunning book and I adored it. Andrew has told his boss right before he got his job that he has a wife and two children at home but this isn’t true. Andrew lives in a grotty flat on his own and he’s lonely. All day at work he’s dealing with what happens when people die without a next of kin, without family and he takes it upon himself to go to the funerals of people who would otherwise have no one present. I felt so sad for Andrew, it’s such a lonely life he leads and you realise that his job must impact on his loneliness.

Andrew loves Ella Fitzgerald’s music and spends a lot of his spare time listening to her but he has an overwhelming visceral response that he can’t control to one of her songs. I immediately realised what was wrong with Andrew  but over the course of the novel we gradually find out about his past and learn more about how he has ended up the way he has.

Things begin to come unstuck for Andrew when his boss decides that his team needs to bond a bit more and suggests a Come Dine With Me idea whereby the whole team goes to a different team member’s house for dinner once a month. Andrew’s blood runs cold as he realises he has to get out of this or he’s going to be found out. The thought of just explaining how he got into living a lie isn’t something he can comprehend so his stress levels are rising. He then gets a new teammate, Peggy, and life begins to open up for Andrew in ways he couldn’t have imagined and the burden of his fictional family begins to overwhelm him.

Something To Live For also captures how much of our lives are now lived online. Andrew is part of an online community of train fans and he logs on every night to catch up, and yet he is so vulnerable and alone in reality. Social media can help make us feel less lonely but we still need people in our real lives in order to thrive. The book really shows how we can appear to have happy life but the reality can be so very different. More importantly though this book shows how if we take a step towards inviting people into our lives, asking for help when we need it, that the world can suddenly become a much bigger, brighter place and I loved this aspect of the novel.

This book is such a charming read; it’s very moving but also heart-warming and funny. I found Andrew to be such a believable character and I was rooting for him all the way through this book. It’s such an honest and sensitive portrayal of loneliness but it’s also a novel that is full of hope. The idea that if we can just be honest about our own lives, about the failures we perceive in ourselves that things really might get better. It left me with an overwhelming feeling that there is always hope, there is always a chance to change things. Life might not turn out as we planned but it’s still possible to find happiness down other avenues.

I adored Something To Live For, it’s one that will stay with me. It’s a wonderful thing for an author to make a reader feel real emotion at a character’s pain but in the next chapter have you laughing out loud at something. This is how life is and this gorgeous novel captures that in all its glory! I highly recommend this book!

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

Something To Live For is out now and available here.

 

 

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

 

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Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (6 Jul 2019)!

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

 

Purchased Books/eBooks

And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott

I’ve been wanting to read this ever since it came out so I’m thrilled to finally have my own copy. I hope to get to this one soon!

Cape May by Chip Creek

This is a book where I’ve seen great reviews by bloggers and have been wondering if it was for me. I then saw it in the kindle sale this week and I snapped it up. I love the cover of this book so if I enjoy it I will buy the print copy for my book case!

A Double Life by Flynn Berry

I bought this one on a whim as it sounded like my kind of read!

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

This was another impulse buy as the cover caught my eye and when I read the blurb I decided to give this one a go!

Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter

I’ve now read two of Karin Slaughter’s standalone novels and I keep hearing such good things about her series so I grabbed this one in a recent sale. I’m hoping to start this soon!

Wrecking Crew: Demolishing the Case Against Steven Avery by John Ferak

I watched and was fascinated by Making a Murderer so when I spotted this book that was published quite recently I couldn’t resist buying it. I’ve already started reading it and it’s interesting although so far doesn’t stray far from what is known from the documentary series.

 

Purchased AudioBooks (Audible UK’s 14th birthday sale has had some great books on offer!)

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

I read this book years ago and loved it, I’ve been wanting to re-read it so when I spotted it in the recent Audible sale I snapped it up. I might save this one to read later in the year.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

I’ve heard great things about this book so it’s another audio book that I couldn’t resist in the recent Audible sale.

The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore

I bought this on a whim from the Audible sale as it’s a period of history that I know virtually nothing about and I’m intrigued to learn more.

In At The Deep End by Kate Davies

I bought this one as it sounded like it might be a fun summer book to listen to so I expect to get to this one quite soon.

 

Borrowed AudioBooks

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Me and the Table by Stephen Hendry

I borrowed this book from my library via the BorrowBox app and I’ve already listened to it. It’s one of those books that I think I enjoyed more for listening to it, especially as Stephen Hendry narrates the audio. I recommend it if you’re a snooker fan!

 

ARCs

Looker by Laura Sims

I’ve been so keen to read this book so when I was offered a spot on the blog tour I jumped at the chance. I’ll definitely be reading this book soon and I can’t wait!

How It Was by Janet Ellis

I loved Janet Ellis’ previous novel The Butcher’s Hook so was keen to get her new book. I was really lucky to spot this in an email that was Read Now so I immediately went to NetGalley and downloaded it. I love the cover of this book and am drawn to wanting to read it asap!

The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

I LOVE Alex Marwood’s writing and have been eagerly anticipating a new book from her so I grabbed this one as soon as I saw it on NetGalley. I just know I’m going to love this novel!

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

I also got this from NetGalley this week. I requested it but didn’t hold out much hope as I know how popular this book is going to be so I was super excited when I got the approval email!

The Hiding Game by Louise Phillips

I requested this one on a whim when I saw it mentioned on FB, it sounds like my kind of book so I’m really happy to have a copy to read soon!

 


 

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

WWW Wednesdays (3 Jul 2019)!

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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 Last Stage by Louise Voss

I started reading this one last night and it’s one of those books where I begrudge real life interfering with my reading time. It’s such a brilliant read!

Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

I’ve had this on my TBR ever since it first came out so when I spotted it on BorrowBox this week I decided to listen to it while part reading it. I’m intrigued by it and am looking forward to listening to more.

The Wave by Virginia Moffatt

This book is really interesting. It’s about a disparate group of people who end up staying on a beach in Cornwall awaiting a tsunami; they know they don’t have time to escape so are trying to accept their fate and enjoy their last night. I’m completely invested in these characters and want them to survive!

Wrecking Crew: Demolishing the Case Against Steven Avery by John Ferak

I watched Making a Murderer season 1 and 2 and so when I spotted this book recently I decided to buy it and read more about the case. I’m only a little way in and so far it’s mostly what I’ve seen in the Netflix series but I’m still gripped.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

My husband bought me this hardback the year this book was published so I wanted to make sure I definitely finally read it this year. It’s the 4th book from my 20 Books of Summer challenge and I very much enjoyed it. It’s quite a slow, quiet novel but it was wonderful!

Me and the Table by Stephen Hendry

I downloaded the audio of this from Borrowbox on a whim as I’m a huge snooker fan and remember the years of poor Jimmy White never quite managing to beat Hendry in the World Championship Finals. This was a much better book than I expected and I really enjoyed it, I think it was it being on audio and having Hendry narrate it that really made it so good.

Something to Live For by Richard Roper

This book is such a life-affirming novel and I loved every minute that I spent reading it. I’ll be reviewing this one on the 7th July for the blog tour so please look out for my thoughts then!

Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard

I found this book about what it is to be a midwife in the NHS a fascinating read. I’m so glad I read it.

Something to Tell You by Lucy Diamond

This was a light-hearted read that I really enjoyed reading over the last few days. It kept me hooked all the way through.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This is another pick from my 20 Books of Summer and I hope to get to it this week. I’ve found the audio on Scribd* so I may part-listen and part-read it if I struggle with the hardback. I’m keen to see if I enjoy this one anymore than Conversations with Friends!

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

This is one of my 20 Books of Summer too and I’m just in the mood to read it so hopefully I’ll get to read it in the coming days.

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

This is an ARC I was sent and I am so keen to get to this book, it sounds like one I’m going to love so it’s high on my list to get to in the next week or so!

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

I recently read Last Seen Alive by this author and it reminded me how much I love her writing so I’m even more keen to get to her new one. It sounds like a fab summer thriller so I want to read it asap!

 


 

*I’m a paid member of Scribd (as mentioned above) and they have given me a code that will allow you to sign up and get two months free (and I would get one month free). If you’d like to try them out here is the link. I love Scribd and highly recommend them.

 


 

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

My 2019 Half-Year Reading Stats and Reflections!

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I keep track of my reading in a spreadsheet as well as on Goodreads and usually share my stats at the end of each year but I’ve been looking through my 2019 stats so far and decided to do a half-year post as well!

 

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I set my Goodreads reading challenge to 200 books, which is the same as my goal for 2018. I’ve read 162 books up to the end of June so 2019 has been one of my best ever reading years so far! My average page count per book is 353 so I’m very happy with that as it shows me that I’m reading what I want to read rather than focusing on shorter books.

 

The longest book that I’ve read so far this year is Middlemarch by George Eliot (my edition has 923 pages) and the shortest book is a poetry collection called The Sea Refuses No River by Bethany Rivers (it has 42 pages).

 

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I’m reasonably happy with the variety of genres that I’ve been reading in 2019 so far. I’m just a little disappointed that I haven’t read more non-fiction. When I add up memoir, true crime, essay collections and general non-fiction it comes to around a third of my reading in total and I would like to have done better with that. This is one benefit to looking at my stats mid-way through the year though as it means I know where I want to focus my reading more over the second half of the year.

 

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I’m still reading a lot more books by women than men. This stat has remained roughly the same ever since I started tracking my reading in more detail. I don’t consciously look to read more books by female authors so it’s interesting that I naturally seem to lean that way.

 

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I do try to read as diversely as possible and I’m doing okay with this but would like to do better. I think the problem is that when I read ARCs it’s usually to a timeframe and when I read my own books I’m trying to focus on books that I’ve owned for a longer time rather than just recent purchases so diversity in my reading is a bit limited by these factors. I will keep being aware though and hopefully this will be reflected throughout the rest of the year. I would like to read more books where disability is featured as it would be good to see myself reflected more in what I read so this might be where I try to focus initially.

 

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This is the first year ever in my life that audio books have become my main way of reading. I should just say that around half of the time when I listen to an audio book I also part-read the physical or ebook so while I’ve noted it as audio there has been an element of reading the print too. I would say this change to audio happened gradually over recent years as due to my physical disability I often struggle to hold a print book and to turn the pages, and with ebooks holding a kindle can be hard work. I can’t bend my head forward so even propping my kindle on a cushion I still can struggle. So audio books have become the way I can enjoy books and not aggravate my pain and other symptoms. They’re also a great distraction when I’m doing my physio exercises, or when I need to relax.

 

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I’m delighted to see this breakdown from my spreadsheet as it shows I’ve been reading more ARCS this year, which is what I wanted to do as I was getting a bit behind. I like that there is a nice balance with a reasonable percentage of books that I’ve bought and books I’ve borrowed in the mix too. I want to be reading more ARCs as I’d like to catch up and keep up with the books that I’m sent from publishers but it’s nice to read a few of my own books in amongst them.

 

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Just to give some balance to the previous breakdown, this chart shows the percentage of books that I’ve either bought myself or borrowed versus the ones that I’ve been sent from publishers and authors. I buy more books than I get sent and that is how I want it to remain as I want to continue to support authors and book shops.

 

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My TBR has spiralled out of control again this year so I need to get back on track with this. I think part of the problem is that a lot of my books are physical and I can’t always manage to turn the pages, or they’re ebooks and I can’t hold my kindle so they don’t get read. I’m now using Scribd and I’ve re-joined my local library and now have their BorrowBox app so I’ve been looking for audio versions of books that I own in order to read some of my TBR. Fingers crossed that this helps me get through some of the older books on my TBR mountain! As you can see from the above graphic, I also need to stop acquiring books faster than I could ever read them! I shall attempt to work on this.

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I’m also very overdue a sort through of my bookcases so getting rid of books that I know I won’t read will also help. My TBR currently stands at 2575 books (this is books that I already own) and I genuinely wanted to reduce it this year so I need to get myself back on track.

 

So that’s my 2019 so far in statistics! I’m really happy with how much I’ve read and how much I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been reading. I’m also pleased with the variety of books I’ve read. I need to work on my TBR but I suspect that’s going to always be out of control to some degree! Ah well! 😉

 

That Was The Month That Was… June 2019!

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June was a month that was full of reading and blogging so I’m a happy blogger right now! I read 30 books. I was hoping to try and blog every day in June, which I didn’t manage but, having said that, I blogged 31 times over the month (a couple of days I had more than one post) so I’m really pleased with that.

Otherwise my highlight for June came on the penultimate day of the month when we finally got to pick up our new car! It’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever be able to drive again but our new car gives me and my husband more freedom as it has a hoist in the boot to life my mobility scooter/wheelchair. Also, because it’s an SUV the seats are higher and the doors open wider so it’s easier for me to get in and out of the car.

 

Here are the books I read in June:

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

This thriller was really enjoyable but the final 20% or so just didn’t work for me. I do love Alice Feeney’s writing though so will be looking out for her other books in the future.

The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

This book was such a beautiful read. It got to me in a way that I wasn’t expecting and I loved that about it.

I Heart Hawaii by Lindsey Kelk

This was a wonderful ending to a fab series, it really did tie everything up in such a gorgeous way and I loved it!

The Sea Refuses No River by Bethany Rivers

This is a stunning poetry collection that explores grief after the death of a parent. I really connected to this one and recommend it.

Horizontal Collaboration by Navie and Carole Maurel

This graphic novel was such an interesting and engaging book, it really got under my skin in ways I didn’t expect it to so I really recommend it.

The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett

This was my first novel by this author and it definitely won’t be the last because I very much enjoyed it.

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

I’d had an ARC of this on my TBR for over a year so I was glad to finally pick it up.  It was a really gripping read so I’m really glad I read it.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

I listened to the audio book on Scribd* and found it really interesting but the way the book was written wasn’t quite as engaging as I hoped it would be.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I finally read this book this month and I’m so happy that I did because I loved it! I’ve had the hardback of this on my TBR ever since it was first published but somehow hadn’t read it yet. It was my priority book from my 20 Books of Summer challenge and I loved every single second that I spent reading this one!

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I had an ARC of this but I decided to buy the audiobook as I’d heard it was good and I’m so glad I did. I completely and utterly adored this book, I think it’s going to be one of my favourite reads of the year. I highly recommend it, especially the audio!

Every Mother’s Nightmare by Mark Thomas

I knew this would be a difficult read because of the subject matter but in the end it was the endless grammar, punctuation and formatting errors that almost made me give up on this. I did finish it but I wouldn’t recommend it.

What Red Was by Rosie Price

This was an okay read for me. I enjoyed the first half but then it just started to drag a little. The writing is really good but there were too many storylines for the length of the novel. I would look out for more books by this author in the future though.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

This was my second book for the 20 Books of Summer challenge and I adored it! It’s such a stunning novel and one that I keep finding myself thinking about.

The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe

This book is part-fiction and part-memoir and I loved it. It’s such a beautiful novel and one that really made me think over things in my own life from a new perspective. I already know that I want to re-read this.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

I really enjoyed this short novel about an unborn baby listening in to his mother and her boyfriend plotting the murder of his father! It’s reminded me how much I enjoy Ian McEwan’s writing.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I had an ARC of this but decided to listen to the audio and I’m so glad I did. I think the audio really added to this book and kept me engaged in the story all the way through.

After the End by Clare Mackintosh

This book is stunning! It’s such a heartbreaking read but it will also make you think. I loved this one and highly recommend it.

She’s Not There by Joy Fielding

I bought this book a while ago and have been so keen to read it so I’m glad to have got to it in June. It’s not a book that will really stay with me but I did really enjoy the time that I spent reading it.

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell

I enjoyed this book but it was lacking something for me. I think I just wanted a little bit more depth but that’s not to say that it wasn’t an enjoyable read.

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland

I really enjoyed this spy thriller and pretty much read it in one sitting. It’s a great premise and it’s such a gripping story so I recommend it.

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was published so when I spotted the audio on my library BorrowBox app I decided to part-listen and part-read this book. I really did enjoy this book and now I’m even more excited to read the author’s new book!

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

I really enjoyed this book, I read it all in one sitting as it’s a short book and it had more of an impact on me than I was expecting.

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

This is such a brilliant psychological thriller; it’s one of very, very few novels where I just didn’t work out what was going to happen. It’s a flawless thriller and I loved it. I highly recommend this one!

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

This is another book from my 20 Books of Summer challenge and I fell in love with this one. It’s such a gorgeous book and it’s one I’ll never forget! I did part-read and part-listen to this one (I listened on *Scribd) and the narrator, Paula Wilcox, is so perfect for this book.

Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

This is such a fascinating and intriguing book. I enjoyed seeing the process of how the author believes he may have solved the mystery of what happened to the hikers. I still feel like there’s something more to the story though so if anyone has any recommendations I’d love to hear them.

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

I found this book so interesting, it was such a good read. I was intrigued by the case that this book focuses on and also to learn more about Harper Lee. I will try and review this one soon but in the meantime I definitely recommend it.

Something To Tell You by Lucy Diamond

This is another book where I had a NetGalley copy but listened to it on audio. It’s such an engaging story that ends up being a really heart-warming read.

Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard

I found this book so interesting, it’s really eye-opening to read about what life is like for midwives. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

Something to Live For by Richard Roper

I loved this novel! It’s such a moving and heart-warming book and it was such a tonic on a couple of days when I was feeling a bit low and unwell. I’ll be reviewing this one next week for the blog tour.

Me and the Table by Stephen Hendry

I downloaded the audio of this on a whim when I saw it in the BorrowBox app, and I’m so glad I did because it was a really enjoyable memoir.

 


*I’m a paid member of Scribd (as mentioned above) and they have given me a code that will allow you to sign up and get two months free (and I would get one month free). If you’d like to try them out here is the link. I love Scribd and highly recommend them.


June Blog Posts & Reviews:

I started off June by Wrapping-Up May! May was a great reading month so June had a lot to live up to, and as you can see from this post it managed it! My first review of June was Dead Inside by Noelle Holten, a brilliant new crime novel by a fab blogger and author! I then continued on with my occasional Mini review series with my thoughts on Ordinary People by Diana Evans, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, The Furies by Katie Lowe, and Entanglement by Katy Mahood. I read the final book in the I Heart series I Heart Hawaii by Lindsey Kelk  and managed to review it straight away for once! It was then time for This Week in Books 5 June . My next review was of an incredible novel that I read in one sitting The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright. It was then my turn on the blog tour for We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont and I shared my review. It was then time for my first Book Haul  of the month!

In the second week of June I posted another selection of Mini reviews of Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka, I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney, The Golden Child by Wendy James, and Need to Know by Karen Cleveland. It was then time for my stop on the blog tour for A Modern Family by Helga Flatland, a book that left its mark on me and I’m sure it’ll be one of my books of the year! I also took part in the blog tour for The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw, another fab book! I then decided to go back to WWW Wednesdays  and shared my current and recent reads plus what I hoped to read next! My next review was of another incredible novel The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean, which I’m still finding myself thinking about weeks after reading it! Then it was time for another Book Haul!

In the third week of June I shared my review of The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett as part of the blog tour. It was my first book by the author and it definitely won’t be the last as I really enjoyed it. My next review was of the brilliant Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou. Then it was time for my next WWW Wednesdays post! It was then my turn to share my review of the beautiful debut novel Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor. My final review of this week was of the moving poetry collection The Sea Refuses No River by Bethany Rivers. Then it was time for another Book Haul (eek!).

In the last week of June I started by sharing another selection of Mini reviews of An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins, What Red Rose by Rosie Price, and Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter. I then got to share my review of the stunning graphic novel Horizontal Collaboration by Navie and Carole Maurel. It was my turn on the blog tour for The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North, this was one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read in a long time as it completely blindsided me! I also shared my latest WWW Wednesdays  post. I was delighted to share my thoughts on a gorgeous book that was part novel and part memoir The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe. Up next came my review of spy thriller Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland and that was followed by my thoughts on the incredible After the End by Clare Mackintosh! I then shared another book haul and that was followed with the audio book tag!

 

The state of my TBR:

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So I think I’m going to give up on tracking my TBR for the moment as it’s just completely out of control! I need to go through my books and have a sort out so once I’ve managed to get that done I may start tracking it again. I will be doing my mid-year book stats post later this week so my TBR will feature in that post. Eeeek!!

 

 

How was June for you? I hope you all had a good month and that you read lots of 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. 🙂

 

The Audio Book Tag!

Book Tag

I’ve been meaning to do this tag ever since I saw it on Nicki, and then on Meggy’s fabulous blogs so I’m happy to have finally got to it today!

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Teddy Ruxpin is a bit creepier looking than I remembered!

HAVE YOU ALWAYS LISTENED TO AUDIOBOOK OR WHEN DID YOU BEGIN?

I used to enjoy audio books on cassette as a young child (I played the tapes in my Teddy Ruxpin!) but then stopped listening to books for a long time. I started again when I began my English Literature degree as a mature student a few years ago. I always liked to read a book all the way through before going back to read it slowly and making notes when I was studying so doing my first read through on audio book during my two hour round trip commute each day (five days a week) helped me get my reading done. I discovered how much I loved listening to books and have enjoyed them ever since, and now I couldn’t read as much as I do without them!

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUDIOBOOK?

Gosh, that’s a tough question. I recently listened to Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reids on audio and that was such a brilliant listen, I recommend it! I also really loved Just Kids by Patti Smith, it added to the book for me that Patti reads her book herself. I also have a real fondness for Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things, narrated by Josh Cohen. I also just finished The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon (read by Paula Wilcox) and it was sheer perfection, the narration is spot on for the book!

 

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT AUDIOBOOKS?

The only thing I can think of is the inability to make notes or highlights of favourite paragraphs. I love highlighting on my kindle and I put loads of sticky tabs in books that I’m enjoying so I do miss being able to do that with audio books. Oh, and if I fall asleep reading on my kindle it opens to the page I was on whereas on audio it can be really difficult to find my place again!

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE DIFFERENCE IN EXPERIENCE BETWEEN PHYSICALLY READING A BOOK AND LISTENING TO IT?

For me, there isn’t really a difference. I can take in a story and remember it just as well when reading as I can when listening. I suppose when I think about it the biggest difference for me is that audio books allow me to keep ‘reading’ on the days when I physically can’t hold a book or turn pages, or when my eyes are particularly bad and I can’t focus to read.

I also find that some books seem to naturally work better for me on audio and some on the page, and I find that really interesting.

 

HOW AND WHEN DO YOU LISTEN?

I listen via either my iPhone or iPad mostly. I love how audio books give me much needed distraction when my pain levels are very bad and I can’t physically do much of                                        anything. I also listen when doing my physio exercises as they allow me to focus on two things at once which is really important for learning how to balance equally on both of my legs. I’ve also been known to listen to a couple of minutes of my audio book on my way up and down stairs (my stairlift is quite slow)!

 

WHAT STYLE/GENRE DO YOU PREFER?

I pretty much listen to audio books in the same genres I enjoy reading so non-fiction, memoir, thrillers, general fiction, historical fiction.

 

WHAT ARE SOME AUDIOBOOK/NARRATOR RECOMMENDATIONS?

I highly recommend Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which has multiple narrators and is so well done. I also recently listened to The Wych Elm by Tana French, and found the narrator Paul Nugent perfect for this novel so it really enhanced the reading experience for me. The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner (narrated by Colleen MacMahon) was a brilliant listen for me so I recommend that one too. I also really enjoyed Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch, it was a good story and the narrator Deryn Edwards really brought the book to life. Oh and I have to mention Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm, that was such a lovely listen and I do love when an author of non-fiction narrates their own book.

 

*I’m a paid member of Scribd (as mentioned above) and they have given me a code that will allow you to sign up and get two months free (and I would get one month free). If you’d like to try them out here is the link. I love Scribd and highly recommend them.

 

Do you listen to audio books? Do you have any recommendations to share?

 

My New Book Haul! (Stacking the Shelves 29 Jun 2019)

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

 

Purchased Books

The No You Never Listened To by Maggie Royer

This poetry collection has been on my wish list for ages but when I was sorting through the list this week it caught my eye again and I decided now was the time to buy it. I think this will be a tough read but also a cathartic one.

Bad Girls With Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten

I read and enjoyed one of the author’s previous novels so I bought this one without knowing a huge amount about it. I’m looking forward to reading it.

 

Purchased eBooks

Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

I’ve already read this book and it was fascinating. It was all about a journalist who tries to uncover what happened to a group of hikers who died on a mountain in 1959, a case that has remained unresolved.

Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness

I’ve seen some fab reviews of this from the recent blog tour so decided to treat myself. I’m not particularly interested in birds but it seems this book is much more about how the author helped himself through a tough time, and that really interests me.

Like Other Girls by Claire Hennesey

This was an impulse buy when it was a kindle daily deal this week!

 

Purchased AudioBooks (Audible UK’s 14th birthday sale has had some great books on offer!)

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

I was so excited to spot this book in the Audible sale as I loved Jane Harper’s first book and I’m hoping to read her second one soon. It’s fab to now have the third one waiting for me!

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

I’ve heard of this book before but I wasn’t sure if it fully appealed to me but spotting it on sale made me take a chance on it and I’m looking forward to listening to something a bit different.

Alone in Berlin by Hans Falluda

I had a paperback of this ages ago but never got around to reading it. I think this might be a book that works better for me on audio so I’m really glad to have this copy now.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

I bought this one entirely on the recommendation of a lovely lady in a FB book group. It doesn’t sound like my kind of read but I’m happy to try something a bit different and I’m looking forward to it.

Lost At Sea by Jon Ronson

I love Jon Ronson’s non-fiction books so am delighted to have another one to listen to soon.

Runaway by Peter May

I bought this audio book on a whim as it sounds like a good novel. I do like a crime novel that is set in the past and present so I think I’ll really enjoy this one.

 

ARCs

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

I actually got this book a couple of weeks ago but somehow missed if off my book haul. I’m so keen to get to this one as it sounds so good, I’ll definitely be reading this one very soon!

Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown

I love Isabel Ashdown’s writing so was delighted to get approved to read her forthcoming novel on NetGalley!

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

I requested this one on NG after seeing some good reviews of it so I’m really keen to start this one, it sounds like it’s going to be a really fast-paced thriller!

 


 

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

Review: After the End by Clare Mackintosh

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About the Book

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.

What if they could have both?

 

My Thoughts

After the End is the story of Max and Pip, a happily married couple with a young son, Dylan. But one day Dylan gets ill and a decision has to be made about what to do next, about what might be best for him and they just can’t agree.

After the End is a stunning novel. It looks at Max and Pip and how they cope with looking after a very ill child, how they cope in their different ways and how they view things so differently. Max needs to earn money so he continues to go to work, often this involves travelling but he is always thinking of his family. Pip has given up everything to be there with Dylan. She is always with him in the hospital, she looks after him there and she is the one that bears the brunt of seeing how ill he is day in, day out. They both adore him, they both want what’s best for him but they’ve had such a different experience of his illness that when the time comes to make the ultimate decision, they are just completely unable to agree.

I knew going into this book that it was going to be emotional but I wasn’t prepared for how much it would make me cry. The exploration of what it is to deal with a loved one being so ill was written so incredibly well. I don’t have children but I cared for my mum in the final months of her life and I know how much of a toll is takes on a person. Because of this I was on Pip’s side for the most part because, for me, it’s the person who is there the most that really understands the suffering, who understands that however much you love someone you sometimes have to step away and think what’s best for them. What I didn’t expect was how much reading Max’s point of view would affect me. At first, because of my own experiences, I thought he was selfish for not listening to his wife more. But then I could see that he loved Dylan every bit as much as Pip and he believed that what he wanted for their son was right, just as much as she thought she was right. It really made me pause.

The novel follows Max and Pip’s perspectives but we also get to hear from Dylan’s primary doctor, and that was really interesting. It added to the novel for me to know how she experienced the situation and how she felt about it all. The things that she goes through felt very real and believable.

So many issues are raised and dealt with in this book that are so relevant to modern society. Clare Mackintosh sensitively and intelligently deals with all of them so well, she covers so many angles and really makes you think about how you feel about these things, and what you would do in a similar situation.

After the End isn’t an easy read but it’s such a stunning novel and I’m so glad I read it. I definitely recommend this one, but I also recommend keeping a stash of tissues nearby to soak up the tears that will inevitably fall.

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

After the End is out now and available here.

 

Review: Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland | @TransworldBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

A strange sensation runs through me, a feeling that I don’t know this person in front of me, even though he matters more to me than anyone ever has, than anyone ever will.

You go into your son’s bedroom. It’s the usual mess. You tidy up some dirty plates, pick up some clothes, open the wardrobe to put them away.

And that’s when you find it. Something so shocking it doesn’t seem real.

And you realize a horrifying truth…

Your own son might be dangerous…

 

My Thoughts

The premise of Keep Her Close grabbed my attention right away! Steph is an FBI agent and a single mum to her teenage son Zach. One day she is in his room and she makes a horrifying discovery in his wardrobe. I immediately wanted to know more and I’m happy to say that this book kept me gripped all the way through.

Steph is an FBI agent and is trained in spotting when someone is lying and so when she confronts her son and he denies all knowledge she is convinced he’s telling the truth. This made for an interesting dynamic because I think people find it hard to believe a loved one is doing anything wrong so I wasn’t sure that Steph was right to believe Zach so easily. By the same token it’s her job to know and she understands issues of security so I wondered if maybe she was right and someone was setting Zach, or possibly her, up.

Keep Her Close is set in the present day but there are a few flashbacks spread throughout the novel, and I really enjoyed that element. I like being able to slowly piece together someone’s background and to build up a picture of how they got to be who they are.

Keep Her Close soon ramps up the tension as a colleague of Steph’s approaches her with intelligence he has about a domestic anarchist group that Zach may be involved in. Steph starts digging, determined to prove that her son is being set up but the investigation leads down some dark paths and I ended up not being sure at all of who I could trust in this novel.

I really liked Steph throughout this novel. She’s something of a flawed character in that she is stubborn and doesn’t easily let people in, neither in her private life nor at work, and this makes things harder for her. She also gets fixated on a particular problem to the detriment of other things that she should be doing. And she’s fiercely protective of her son. But, for me, all of this made her human and meant I could identify with her a lot of the time and I was always rooting for her.

This was such a fast-paced, gripping novel and it would make a perfect holiday read – it’s a book to pick up and devour while the real world disappears for a while!

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

Keep You Close is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Karen Cleveland Author Picture

Karen Cleveland spent eight years as a CIA analyst, focusing on counterterrorism and working briefly on rotation to the FBI. She has master’s degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Harvard University. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two young sons.

 

 

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

Keep You Close Blog Tour Poster

Review: The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe | @WmCollinsBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

What if you could tell the truth about who you are, without risking losing the one you love? This is a book about love affairs and why we choose to have them; a book for anyone who has ever loved and wondered what it is all about.

This is a book about the things we hide from other people. Love affairs, grief, domestic strife and the mess at the bottom of your handbag. Part memoir, part imagined history, in The Lost Properties of Love, Sophie Ratcliffe combines her own experience of childhood bereavement, a past lover, the reality about motherhood and marriage, with undiscovered stories about Tolstoy and trains, handbags and honeymoons to muse on the messiness of everyday life.

An extended train journey frames the action – and the author turns not to self-help manuals but to the fictions that have shaped our emotional and romantic landscape. Readers will find themselves propelled into Anna Karenina’s world of steam, commuting down the Northern Line, and checking out a New York El-train with Anthony Trollope’s forgotten muse, Kate Field.

As scenes in her own life collide with the stories of real and imaginary heroines, The Lost Properties of Love asks how we might find new ways of thinking about love and intimacy in the twenty-first century. Frank and painfully funny, this contemporary take on Brief Encounter – told to a backing track of classic 80s songs- is a compelling look at the workings of the human heart.

 

My Thoughts

The Lost Properties of Love is a beautiful book that is part fiction and part memoir. Each chapter takes place during a different train journey and it’s a stunning look at life and love.

The book is set out in chapters that are headed with a train journey’s departure and end point and a date. It roughly follows a chapter of the author’s reminisces about her own life followed by a chapter about Trollope and his muse, Kate Field, or of thoughts on the fictional Anna Karenina.

You soon get a sense that Sophie Ratcliffe is exploring the pivotal moments in her life that have made her who she is. The loss of her father when she was just a young teenager, the affair she had with an older married man a few years later are the main events and she ruminates on these from different angles, and from different stages in her life. She compares her emotions to how Anna Karenina might have felt, and she considers the affair Trollope possibly had with his muse Kate Field and how she may have felt.

There are different textures of loss. The lost hope we find again, and the lost that we think is gone for ever. The loss of an object in the silt of mud, the loss of a smell or sound. People are lost to us, or make themselves lost.

The author’s thoughts on the loss of her beloved father were what I most identified with. The loss of a parent changes you in ways you can’t imagine until you’ve experienced it. The quote below, for all its simplicity, took all the air out of my lungs for a few moments because this is exactly how it is. You have belongings and people and one day you may well lose them, and they may well be lost forever.

The thing about having stuff, like handbags, or mementos, or fathers, is that you might lose them.

The book also explores our relationship to objects, and to the way we all lead our lives. The protagonist in this book struggles to organise the mess in her home, and at one stage ruminates that the mess is now condensed in her handbag. I could really identify with this. I finally got on top of all of my mess last year but I still feel the pull to gather stuff around me when I’m feeling down. Sophie Ratcliffe’s description of Anna Karenina’s red handbag and the things inside it brought a lump to my throat.

There are some gorgeous references to books in this book too, which I adored and so identified with. Also The Lost Properties of Love has really made me want to re-read Anna Karenina very soon, and it’s always good to be reminded of a book that you loved many years ago and have yet to revisit.

There’s a reason one of the greatest novels in English begins with it heroine’s delight that there was no possibility of taking a walk that day. There’s a reason Jane Eyre appeals to teenagers. There are no window seats on family walks. You cannot read a book while walking with your family.

This whole book is a meander through a life, in the way a train journey meanders through landscapes; it’s a gorgeous way to reflect on life. The time on a train gives us a chance to ponder and to think and this book is such a wonderful reading experience; it also made me think about events in my own life and to ponder them from different angles.

The Lost Properties of Love is such a beautiful book, and one that has been lingering in my mind ever since I finished reading it. I already feel that it’s a book I want to re-read, that it’s a book that will reward me for re-reading it and I don’t often get that feeling about a book. I recommend this one!

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

The Lost Properties of Love is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Sophie Ratcliffe is an academic, writer, and literary critic. 

She teaches English at the University of Oxford, where she is an Associate Professor and Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall. 

She is the author of On Sympathy (Oxford University Press), and edited the authorised edition of P. G. Wodehouse’s letters. 

In her academic work, she is interested in ideas of emotion and the history of how we feel. 

She reviews regularly for the national press, and has served as a judge of a number of literary prizes, including the Baillie Gifford and Wellcome Book Prize.

Twitter @soratcli

 

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

Lost Properties of Love BT Poster

WWW Wednesdays (26 Jun 2019)!

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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:

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

This is a book that I heard about a while ago and then forgot the author and title but I had remembered the blurb, so when I got an email from Amazon this week recommending it to me I immediately bought it! I’m reading this now and it’s such a disturbing and yet fascinating read about a group of hikers in 1959 who went missing and were found dead in strange and unexplained circumstances. A lot of the book is recreating who the people were and the trail they walked before they came to harm and I’m finding it so interesting.

Something To Live For by Richard Roper

I’m only a few chapters into this novel but I can tell it’s going to be a book that I love. It follows a man who has a lonely life, and his job is to deal with the funerals of people who have died alone and have no family. His work colleagues want to start a Come Dine With Me idea of each member of staff cooking for the rest of their team at their home on rotation so I’m really keen to see what this leads to!

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

I finally picked this book back up this week and I read most of it yesterday! I’m so glad I got back into this because it’s such an interesting read. I’m up to the final section now and learning how much input Harper Lee had into Truman Capote’s research for In Cold Blood is fascinating.

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

This was my third pick for my 20 Books of Summer challenge and I’m so happy that I finally read this. What a gorgeous novel – so funny in places and moving in others. I have a lovely hardback of this but I found the audio on Scribd* so I part-listened and part-read it. The narrator, Paula Wilcox, is so perfect for this book and she really added to the novel. I will try to write a full review of this one soon.

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

This book was everything a psychological thriller should be and I loved it. I’ve already reviewed this so you can find my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

I’ve had an ARC of this on my TBR for way too long but I finally picked it up at the weekend and I read it in one sitting. I found this a really engrossing read, it had so much more to it than I was expecting and I really enjoyed it.

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

I’ve finally replaced my library card and downloaded BorrowBox so I can borrow audiobooks from there. I had an ebook of this but when I saw the audio I decided to listen to it. I flew through it and was listening to it every spare minute I had as I was so keen to find out what was going on and how it was all going to end. I recommend this one.

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland

I really enjoyed this new thriller and found it hard to put down. I’m going to be sharing my review of this one tomorrow so please look out for that then.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Last Stage by Louise Voss

I love Louise Voss’ writing and was hoping to get to this book this week but didn’t quite manage it but it’s definitely on my stack to read next! I can’t wait!

The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds

I was delighted to be approved for this book on NetGalley recently and am really keen to read it so I’m planning on making it one of my reads for the coming week!

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This is likely going to be my next pick from my 20 Books of Summer Challenge as I’ve found the audio on Scribd* so I’m going to part read my hardback and part listen to the audio. I found Conversations With Friends easier to get through on audio so am hoping it also adds to the reading experience of this one too.

 


 

*I’m a paid member of Scribd (as mentioned above) and they have given me a code that will allow you to sign up and get two months free (and I would get one month free). If you’d like to try them out here is the link. I love Scribd and highly recommend them.

 


 

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

Review: The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North | @Lauren_C_North @TransworldBooks @damppebbles

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About the Book

After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope.

When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is understanding and kind, and promises she can help Tess through the hardest time of her life.

But when a string of unsettling events happens and questions arise over her husband’s death, Tess starts to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but she’s at her most vulnerable, and that’s a dangerous place to be.

 

My Thoughts

The Perfect Betrayal is a psychological thriller that follows Tess. She is grief-stricken at the death of her husband Mark. She’s now alone with her young son Jamie and doesn’t see how she’s ever going to get through it. Then Shelley, a grief counsellor, arrives on her doorstep and shows Tess real kindness and she wants to help.

The Perfect Betrayal opens with Tess in hospital having sustained a stab wound and her son is missing! The novel then goes back in time to 55 days previously and the novel is then predominantly told in the weeks after Mark’s death leading up to Jamie’s 8th birthday party a few weeks later. It counts down the weeks in each chapter. Interspersed with this are snippets of Tess in hospital, and an interview with the police. This makes for a gripping and fast-paced read because I just wanted to know what on earth had happened! The tension builds slowly at first but then becomes so heightened that I felt like I was holding my breath at what I thought might happen next.

Oh my goodness, this book was brilliant! I was drawn into Tess’ story from the start, I really felt for her as she struggles to keep going after her husband’s sudden and shocking death. Her son Jamie is also devastated and Tess knows she has to keep going for him but she doesn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other. The depiction of grief in this book is so well done, so believable and I couldn’t see how Tess was ever going to get through it.

To make things worse for Tess her husband’s brother, Ian, is putting pressure on her to start Probate so that Mark’s finances can be put in order. He seems too aggressive and pushy with Tess at a time when she’s so vulnerable and she starts to feel quite threatened by him, which I completely understood.

I was suspicious of Shelley, the grief counsellor, as the way she comes into Tess’ life seemed strange at first and she seems to cross the boundaries of how a counsellor would behave. At the same time I could see she was offering friendship to Tess at a time when Tess was feeling so vulnerable and alone. I was never sure if I could trust Tess and had a feeling that she might have ulterior motives.

I’m keeping this review fairly vague because I want future readers to get the same experience as I did reading this book. So I will just end by saying that the characters in The Perfect Betrayal are so perfectly drawn and the storyline is breathtakingly brilliant. I had so many suspicions about everyone in this book and genuinely had no real idea of what might happen. This book is flawless; it really is the perfect psychological thriller! This is a book that I won’t ever forget and I already can’t wait to read more by Lauren North!

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

The Perfect Betrayal is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Lauren North writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and her dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation.

Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside. 

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lauren_C_North

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

 

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

Perfect Betrayal Blog Tour poster for PB

Review: Horizontal Collaboration by Carole Maurel and Navie | @rolcamaurel @KoreroPress #GraphicNovel @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

“Horizontal Collaboration” is a term used to describe the sexual and romantic relationships that some French women had with members of the occupying German forces during World War II. In this poignant, female-centered graphic novel created by writer/artist duo Carole Maurel and Mademoiselle Navie, the taboo of “sleeping with the enemy” is explored through the story of a passionate, and forbidden, affair. In June 1942, married Rose (whose husband is a prisoner of war) intervenes in the detainment of her Jewish friend and then accidentally embarks on a secret relationship with the investigating German officer, Mark. There is only one step between heroism and treason, and it’s often a dangerous one. Inside an apartment building on Paris’s 11th arrondissement, little escapes the notice of the blind husband of the concierge. Through his sightless but all-knowing eyes, we learn of Rose and Mark’s hidden relationship, and also of the intertwined stories and problems of the other tenants, largely women and children, who face such complex issues as domestic violence, incest, and prostitution. This fascinating graphic novel tackles the still-sensitive topic of who it is acceptable to love, and how, and the story’s drama is brought vividly to life by intimate and atmospheric illustrations.

 

My Thoughts

Horizontal Collaboration is a stunning graphic novel telling the story of women in World War 2. The book opens with Virginie and her grandmother Rose in the present day talking about love, and this leads to Rose reflecting back on the man she truly loved (not the man she married). We then discover the stories of three women whose lives overlap during the war, and get to understand things from each of their perspectives.

The novel is set in an apartment building and we get to see inside each of the inhabitants’ lives and how they all intertwine.

Rose is married to Raymond, who is away at war, and she is raising their young son Lucien. Over the course of the memoir we see her relationship with a German soldier, which she desperately needs to be kept secret but she has fallen in love with him and can’t stop seeing him. This is such a dangerous situation for Rose, but I couldn’t help but feel for her.

Josephine is another young woman who works at a cabaret club but is also working as an escort as its the only way she can make ends meet. I really liked her and felt so anxious that things weren’t going to work out for her. She seemed so lonely and sad, never giving her full self to anyone.

Then there is Madam Flament. She was something of an enigma to begin with. She seems to be quite scatty; she’s obsessed with her cats in the basement and seems to care more about them than the people living in her building. But there’s something that made me think she was watching and taking in everything that was happening, and this made me nervous about what this might lead to.

I will say that when I initially started reading this book I found it a little confusing as the story does jump from character to character. I soon realised that I needed to take my time with this novel and read it slowly, to properly appreciate the story being told and to enjoy the beautiful illustrations. Once I did this I became fully immersed in this book and I was captivated by what I was reading and seeing.

The illustrations throughout this novel are stunning. The colour palette is predominantly sepia toned but there is colour, and the way things like the way candles light up a room are captured so beautifully. The images capture the mood; the happy and the heartbreaking in such a way that I so many times had to pause for a few moments just to take in an image before moving on to the next part.

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Camile is one of the only men in this book and I found that his story was the thread that pulled the others together. He is a kindly, older man that the other people in the building seem to gravitate towards. Camile is blind and it’s fascinating that for all the atmosphere of the time made people suspicious of each other and jump to conclusions; it is the one who is blind that really saw the full picture. He heard all the things that weren’t been said, he put the pieces together but he also keeps his counsel.

It felt to me all the way through this book that it was going to have a tragic ending. I think it’s partly the time the book is set in but also there is a feeling of pressure building inside the individual characters in this book and you can feeling it simmering but you know some part of it is going to give way. The tension is palpable at times, and I spent a lot of the time I was reading this book holding my breath.

This novel really captures the fear of living through a war, and also the way that people had to find happiness where they could and to survive however they could. I really felt that this book showed how nothing is ever black and white, and that in war there are so many more shades of grey than you could ever imagine.

Horizontal Collaborations is a beautiful novel is every way. The story is incredibly written and so moving, and the illustrations are stunning. I’d recommend this book to everyone, and if you’ve never read a graphic novel before I urge you to give this one a try. This is such a poignant book that has imprinted itself on my heart and I won’t forget it!

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

Horizontal Collaboration is out now and available here.

 

About the Authors

Navie and Carol Maurel Author pic

Carole Maurel cut her teeth on animated films before devoting herself to illustration, in particular, graphic novels. Her 2017 book The Apocalypse According to Magda was awarded the Artémisia Avenir award, which celebrates women in comics.

Navie is a screenwriter for press, cinema and television. She has a degree in history from The Sorbonne in Paris, where she specialized in the history of fascism – making Horizontal Collaboration an excellent fit for her first graphic novel.

Twitter @rolcamaurel

 

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

Horizontal Collaboration BT Poster

Mini Book Reviews: An Anonymous Girl, The Neighbour, What Red Was, and Pieces of Her!

 

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

 

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An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

This is a novel about a woman who ends up taking part in a psychological study that seems to be about morality but ends up being so much more than it seemed. The novel becomes something of a cat and mouse game between the characters and it was hard to predict how it might all ends! I enjoyed the authors’ previous novel The Wife Between Us so was delighted to be approved to read this one on NetGalley. I ended up downloading the audio book and am really glad I did. The audio book was really well done with a clear distinction in the voice of the two main characters. I listened to this over the course of a couple of days and while it isn’t a book that will stay with me, I did enjoy it.

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The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

I’ve read and very much enjoyed one of Fiona Cummins’ previous novels so was very keen to read her latest. The Neighbours is a novel that follows the resident in a street where a series of murders have happened and a new family are just moving in. We also follow the killer and see the unravelling of their story. This is such a gripping and well-written crime thriller and I was hooked all the way through. It was fascinating to read the different character perspectives and to build up a picture of who each of the residents were. The reveal of the killer was shocking and I didn’t work out who it was, so that was brilliant for me as it’s rare that I don’t see an ending coming! I highly recommend this book!

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What Red Was by Rosie Price

This was one of the books I was most anticipating this year so I was delighted to get a copy on NetGalley. I’m really torn as to how I feel about this book because I loved the first half and flew through it, but the second half just dragged for me and I didn’t feel a real pull to pick the book back up. The central plot of this book is about an assault and I do have to say that this was incredibly well written and dealt with. It was so realistic and believable, and following Kate’s reaction to what happened to her was very moving. I think there were perhaps too many storylines competing with each other and that slightly took away from the main premise. I did love the writing though and I would look out for future books by Rosie Price.

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Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

This is the second book I’ve read by Karin Slaughter and I loved it! It follows Andrea who one day sees her mother react in a way she wouldn’t have expected her to be capable of during a shooting and this leads to Andrea’s life being turned upside down as she slowly uncovers her mother’s past. This book has so many twists and turns but all felt believable in the context of the novel. I did have an ARC of this book but I part-read and part-listened to the audio book. It works so well as both but the audio narration really added to the book for me and I highly recommend it.

Stacking the Shelves with a #bookhaul (22 Jun 2019)!

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

 

Purchased Books and eBooks

Rinse Spin Repeat by Edith Fassnidge

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so decided to treat myself with the little bit of money left on my book voucher from my birthday. This is a graphic novel memoir so I’ll probably read this very soon.

You Are What You Read by Jodie Jackson

I read some great reviews of this book on its recent blog tour and have been intrigued by it so decided to buy a copy. It’s a look at how what we read and see in the media affects us. It sounds fascinating and it’s not a big book so I hope to read this one quite soon.

 

Purchased AudioBooks

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while as I really enjoyed The Essex Serpent. I spotted it as a daily deal on Audible this week so I snapped it up!

The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins

This was an impulse buy when I saw this was a daily deal on Audible. I read one of Richard Dawkins’ books a few years ago now and found it really interesting so I’m intrigued by this one.

 

ARCs

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

I was super excited when this parcel arrived through my letterbox yesterday! I love Shari Lapena’s writing so can’t wait to read her latest!

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland

This book arrived at the start of this week and I’ve actually already read it. I really enjoyed this thriller and will be reviewing it soon for the blog tour.

Clear My Name by Paula Daly

I’m a huge fan of Paula Daly so couldn’t resist requesting this one on NetGalley. I was thrilled to be approved to read it and plan on getting to this very soon. I love Paula Daly’s writing so much that I didn’t even look what this book was about, I just knew I had to read it!

The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond

I read and enjoyed Ella’s first novel last year so was delighted to be invited to read her new novel for the blog tour. I’ll be reading this one in the coming weeks!

 

Gift

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Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain

A lovely blogger friend of mine so kindly offered to send me her copy of this book as I’ve been so keen to read it. It looks like a lovely summery read and I’m hoping for some nice weather so that I can read it out in the garden!


 

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

Book Review: The Sea Refuses No River by Bethany Rivers | @bethanyrivers77 @fly_press @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

The journey of grief is a strange one

and one not often talked about in our everyday reality of this society,

but I know what it’s like to dive deep,

down to the bottom of the wreck,

feel the ribs of the wreck,

after losing a parent so young in life

In this collection, the sea refuses no river, there is an acceptance of the pain and an acceptance of the healing moments; the healing journeys. To quote Adrienne Rich: I came to explore the wreck’, and in this collection, Bethany discovers how, ‘The words are purposes. The words are maps.’

 

My Thoughts

The Sea Refuses No River is a poetry collection that explores the different facets of grief. I was drawn to this book because ever since my mum died ten years ago I’ve felt a need to read other people’s experience of the same, or a similar, loss as it’s helped me process my own emotions.

This poetry collection is stunning! Bethany Rivers explores grief in a very honest and moving way. Some of the poems felt very emotional to me, and others felt very empowering in the way she looks grief right in the eye in such an unflinching way.

The third poem in the collection, At My Father’s Grave, brought a lump to my throat. It’s an easy poem to understand but there is real emotion and poignancy in the idea of looking beyond a loved one’s grave and seeing the flowers that are still thriving in the midst of the sadness. Life continues.

Look behind the stone.

I shuffle forwards and look down.

Snowdrops peeping

above the frosted ground.

I loved how the penultimate poem in this collection, I turn to the daffodils, looks at their brightness, and it felt like the two poems are the bookends of grief – you go from the depths of a dark winter to finally seeing the sunshine in the emerging spring. The poem before this is Every garden is a gift. This is the poem I’ve re-read most often so far. It initially made me think of the last hours of my mum’s life but the more I read it the more I felt that it’s more about allowing grief to be there in your life, finding a way to feel okay with it being there, whilst also allowing yourself to be happy again.

It’s Not About the Broccoli is similarly moving and is a poem that anyone who’s lost someone will connect with. We all have those thoughts of wondering how someone would have done something, and now we’ll never know. Also, how it’s so often the little things that bring up the biggest emotions once a parent has died.

I read this collection in one sitting to start with, I wanted to immerse myself in the whole book. I’ve since gone back at different times and read each poem on its own to get a sense of the individual works. There is a real sense of coming to terms with loss in this collection as a whole. There are poems that feel more raw but the further into the collection you get there is a sense of exploring how to live without your loved one, a sense of finding your place in a world that doesn’t have them in it anymore. It felt to me that the poems become about acceptance, about keeping a memory of your loved one alive while accepting that they are gone. I felt a whole gamut of emotions as I read this collection and by the end I felt a sense of peace.

The Sea Refuses No River is a stunning poetry collection. It’s an honest and personal journey through grief that many people will be able to connect with. I found real solace in this collection and it’s a book that I will return to time and again. I highly recommend this book.

Many thanks to Bethany, and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and the invitation to be on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

The Sea Refuses No River is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Bethany Rivers (M.A. in Creative Writing from Cardiff University) is a poet and author based in Shrewsbury, who has taught creative writing for over eleven years and mentored and coached many writers from the start of their writing project through to publication.

Website : http://www.writingyourvoice.org.uk/

Twitter : @bethanyrivers77

Author page on Facebook 

 

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

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Book Review: Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor | @melaniecantor @TransworldBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Jennifer Cole has just been told that she has a terminal blood disease. She has three months to live — ninety days to say goodbye to friends and family and put her affairs in order. Trying to focus on the positives (at least she’ll never lose her teeth) Jennifer realises she has one overriding regret: the words she’s left unsaid.
Rather than pursuing a frantic bucket list, she chooses to stay put, and write letters to three significant people in her life: her overbearing, selfish sister, her jelly-spined, cheating ex-husband, and her charming, unreliable ex-boyfriend finally telling them the things she’s always wanted to say but never dared.
At first, Jennifer feels cleansed by her catharsis. Liberated, even. But once you start telling the truth, it’s hard to stop. And, as she soon discovers, the truth isn’t always as straightforward as it seems, and death has a way of surprising you ..

 

My Thoughts

Death and Other Happy Endings follows Jennifer who has been feeling exhausted recently and after undergoing blood tests at the doctors is told she has a terminal illness and has three months left to live. She buys a calendar and starts counting the days, trying to work out what she should do with her final days. She decides to write letters to her sister, her ex-husband and her ex-boyfriend telling them all the things she wanted to say but never dared to!

I have to start by saying that the way I’ve described this book may make it seem a bit depressing but I swear to you that it’s absolutely not! It’s funny and moving, and it has you cheering Jennifer on. On hearing that she’s going to die soon she goes off for a walk and ends up doing something she never, ever would have done before she got the news. I knew then that this novel was going to be life-affirming and it was.

I loved that Jennifer wrote the letters that she did to her self-centred sister, her horrible ex-husband and her smarmy ex-boyfriend. She found it so cathartic, and it made me think of the kind of letters I might have written at points in my life to people who have treated me badly. It was satisfying to see her get it all out of her system. When my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer she got an urge to shred her wedding dress (she was long divorced but had kept her dress), I told her to just do it if it helped so she did. She felt so much better afterwards and wished she’d done it long ago. So I was thinking of her at times as I was reading Jennifer’s story and how she reacted to the diagnosis she received.

I also lost my best friend to cancer when I was in my early 20s and the last weeks I spent with her were full of laughter, and at times there were tears, but we were both so focused on wanting to live and have fun while we could. So I found it very moving when Jennifer and her best friend were talking about the wedding that Jennifer would likely not live to attend. It brought a lump to my throat but also happiness that at least Jennifer knew about the wedding and could help with the plans and choosing the dress.

This isn’t in any way a heavy-going book despite the subject matter but by the same token there is a believability in how Jennifer deals with the news she’s been given, and the way she grieves for the life she won’t get to have and the things she won’t get to do. Melanie Cantor has such a deft touch in the way she has written this book, it’s remarkable to deal with such a hard topic and never down play it whilst also retaining humour and lightness. It’s an utterly incredible novel.

Death and Other Happy Endings is a book that reminds you to live your life, to make time for the people that matter and to walk away from those that don’t. We all need a reminder of this from time to time and this book was the reminder I needed. I also felt like this novel gave me my best friend back for a little while as after I finished reading this I my mind was flooded with memories of her and that’s been wonderful for me.

There is so much life and joy in this book, it really is life-affirming. It’s a novel about friendships, about coming to terms with the past and finding a way forward when life has other plans for us. I adored this book – it made me cry, it made me laugh and I just felt a sense of the joy that can be found during even the hardest times. This book was solace for me and I will treasure it, it’s definitely going to be on my books of the year list! I highly recommend grabbing a copy of this book and reading it as soon as you possibly can!

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

Death and Other Happy Endings is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Melanie Cantor Author Picture

Melanie Cantor was a celebrity agent and publicist for over thirty years. Her clients included Ulrika Jonsson, Melinda Messenger and Melanie Sykes.

In 2004, she hosted a makeover show on Channel 4 called Making Space and in 2017 having just turned 60 she was scouted on Kings Cross station, subsequently appearing as a ‘real model’ in the most recent Dove campaign.

She turned her hand to writing in 2008. Death and other Happy Endings is her first published novel.

Twitter @melaniecantor

 

 

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

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WWW Wednesdays (19 Jun 2019)!

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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 Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

I’m only a few chapters into this book but it’s got my gripped so far! I’m really keen to see where it’s going to go!

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland

I received an ARC of this through the post earlier this week and it sounded so good that I’ve started reading it already!

Furious Hours by Casey Kep

I haven’t read anymore of this over the last week as I just wasn’t in the mood for non-fiction but I will be getting back to this over the coming week.

 

What I recently finished reading:

 

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell

I’ve been reading this on and off for the last couple of weeks. It really grabbed me initially but then I lost my way with it a bit. I’d still recommend it, I think it’s a case of it being me not the books.

She’s Not There by Joy Fielding

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while so was glad to get to it this week. I enjoyed it.

After the End by Clare Mackintosh

This book is incredible! It’s beautifully written, and it made me think. I will review this once I can get my thoughts down in a coherent fashion. I definitely recommend pre-ordering this though!

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendriks and Sarah Pekkanen

I had an ARC of this but decided to listen to the audiobook and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed listening to it but I’m not sure I would have got through it so quickly if I was reading it. I’ll review it when I’ve got my thoughts together.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

I’ve been wanting to read this for ages and it caught my eye on my bookshelf this week so I picked it up. I enjoyed it, it was certainly different from anything else I’ve read!

The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe

This book is stunning and I loved every minute that I spent reading it. It was a different read for me and I definitely recommend it. I’ll be reviewing this next week for the blog tour so please look out for that.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Last Stage by Louise Voss

I couldn’t resist buying the ebook of this last week when it was on offer (I have the paperback on pre-order but I’m just so keen to read it!) so this is going to be my next read. I love Louise Voss’ writing and have been a fan since her first book came out years ago!

Something to Live For by Richard Roper

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while now so definitely want to make it a priority to read in the coming week.

A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

I was thrilled to get approved for this on NetGalley a little while ago and it’s been calling to me ever since. I’m going to try and make time to read it this week!

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was first published and I’m so keen to read it this summer. I’ve picked it for my 20 Books of Summer and would really like to make it the next book I read off the list.


 

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

Book Review: Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou | @lauriepetrou @noexitpress @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Two sisters. One fire. A secret that won’t burn out.

The Grayson sisters are trouble. Everyone in their small town knows it. But noone can know of the secret that binds them together.

Hattie is the light. Penny is the darkness. Together, they have balance.

But one night the balance is toppled. A match is struck. A fire is started. A cruel husband is killed. The potential for a new life flickers in the fire’s embers, but resentment, guilt, and jealousy suffocate like smoke.

Their lives have been engulfed in flames will they ever be able to put them out?

 

My Thoughts

Sisters of Mine is about the two Grayson sisters. They live in a small town and everyone knows who they are. The people in the town don’t know all of the secrets the two women hold though. One night the two sisters set a fire and the repercussions of that night will be long lasting in their lives!

On the cover of my copy of Sisters of Mine it has a sticker warning that readers will burn through the novel in one sitting and I have to say that this was absolutely true for me. I started reading this novel and it had me under its spell from the opening chapter and I didn’t move from where I was sitting until after I turned the last page!

This is a really suspenseful and mysterious novel. There is a really strong bond between Hattie and Penny, one that isn’t necessarily based on them liking each other. There is a strange dynamic at play in their relationship and for a long time it seems like one of them is pulling all the strings but then the power shifts somewhat. Ultimately, they’re both complicit in making their lives turn out the way they did, and a lot of it has to do with jealousy and perceived wrong-doings between them. The title of this book is so perfect. Going into the book it seemed like it was a reference to two sisters who are close but once I started reading the book I could see its more a reference to the power play between them and ownership over each other.

This isn’t a black and white novel; the two sisters each have good and bad in them and it’s impossible to point at one of them and say that what they did was worse. They involve each other in everything and so the lines become very blurred about who is ultimately responsible and who did the worst thing.

Sister of Mine has a really claustrophobic atmosphere to it. I felt like I was right there with Penny and Hattie and it was stifling at times seeing their lives up close. The writing is brilliant to make me feel that way though, it really is a beautifully written book.

Sister of Mine is a compelling, claustrophobic and stunning look at two sisters and what each is prepared to do for the other. I loved this book, it is still lingering in my mind now and it’s a few weeks since I finished reading it. I recommend this one!

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

Sister of Mine is due to be published on 20 June and can be pre-ordered here.

 

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

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Book Review: The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett | @RachelAmphlett @BOTBSPublicity #TheFriendWhoLied

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About the Book

What she doesn’t know might kill her…Lisa Ashton receives a last-minute reprieve from death two weeks before her birthday. Regaining consciousness, she is horrified to learn one of her friends has been killed – and saved her life.

As she recovers, she uncovers a trail of carefully guarded reputations, disturbing rumours, and lies. Soon, Lisa begins to wonder if one of her friends is hiding a terrible secret.

Because five of them entered the escape room that day, and only four got out alive.

And someone is determined to cover their tracks before she can find out the truth.

Can Lisa find the killer before someone else dies?

 

My Thoughts

The Friend Who Lied follows Lisa, who as the book opens is just regaining consciousness and she has no idea what has happened. The novel then opens out as we follow the four friends as the secrets and lies that bound their group together may be about to break them apart!

The opening to this book is brilliant because we see things through Lisa’s eyes as she begins to come round, and for a moment I wasn’t sure what was happening! I wondered if she was being held somewhere but it quickly becomes clear that she is in hospital recovering from surgery that saved her life. We soon learn that five friends have been to an escape room but something has gone horribly wrong and one of them died.

Lisa’s friends are behaving oddly, they’re not visiting her as often as she would have expected and when she does see them she feels they’re keeping things from her. Then the police turn up asking questions about what happened in the escape room but Lisa can’t remember anything.

Lisa is the main character in this novel but we get the different perspectives of all four friends, and this made for a fascinating read. They have been friends since university, and I’m always intrigued by groups of people that remain friends long after they leave school/university as I never maintained my group of friends from that time because our lives moved in different directions. I’m in touch with some of them but not as a group. It seems this group of friends have things in common that will always bond them and I wanted to know more! The novel is mainly set in the present but there are chapters from their university days and that really ramps up the tension in this book as you start to understand who they are.

I didn’t trust anyone in this book – Hayley, David and Bec all seemed like they were out for themselves and very focused on how things would reflect on them. They all I loved how the focus shifted from one to another though because just as I thought I’d got to grips with what might be going on I got another viewpoint and my thoughts shifted again.

As you get further into the book you do feel the claustrophobia of the police closing in on this group as the investigation goes along. I thought it was really clever how these friends had done an escape room – a game where they were locked in and have to try and escape – and what happened there has led to them being in a real life escape room where their actual freedom is at stake!

I did have a growing suspicion about one of the characters as I got further into the book and I was proved right about them but there is more than one reveal as this book reaches its climax and I was stunned by most of them!

The Friend Who Lied is such a gripping thriller that had me hooked from start to finish! It was my first Rachel Amphlett novel but it absolutely won’t be my last, I can’t wait to read more from her! The Friend Who Lied is fast-paced, suspenseful and unputdownable; an all-round brilliant thriller!

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

The Friend Who Lied is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Rachel Amphlett author photo

Before turning to writing, USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor and English Spy Mysteries espionage novels and theDetective Kay Hunter British police procedural series.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

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

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A Brand New Book Haul (Stacking the Shelves)!

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

 

Birthday Books

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It was my birthday way back in January but I saved the book vouchers I got so that I could treat myself to some lovely books later in the year (it’s always nice to make a birthday gift last longer!). I finally spent the vouchers yesterday and got these three books! 🙂

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S by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

This book has fascinated me for the longest time as it’s a novel with marginalia that also tells a story plus it has notes and postcards and maps inserted amongst its pages. I’m so excited to sit down with this stunning book!

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Spring by Ali Smith

I love Autumn and Winter so I really wanted to get Spring in hardback too so I’m delighted to have this one. It’s even more beautiful in real life than it looked in pictures so I’m happy to own this one. I plan on reading this one very, very soon!

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The Girl Aquarium by Jen Campbell

I’ve been hearing about this poetry collection recently and am fascinated by its exploration of women and disability so I couldn’t resist buying it!

 

Purchased Books and eBooks

The Last Stage by Louise Voss

I’m a huge fan of Louise Voss (and have been since her first novel was published!) so I couldn’t resist grabbing the ebook of this while it was on offer this week. I’ll still be buying the paperback when it’s out to add to my collection!

How To Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics by Michael Pollan

I’m fascinated by how our minds work and so this book has been on my radar for a few months. I’m in the mood to read it now so decided to treat myself this week.

The Boy Who Stole Time by Mark Bowsher

I first heard about this book on Linda’s Book Bag late last year and it’s been on my mind ever since so when I spotted it this week I simply had to buy it. I think this will be an emotional read so I’ll save it to read when I’m in the right mood but I am so looking forward to getting to it.

Someone is Lying by Jenny Blackhurst

I’ve seen some brilliant reviews of this book during the recent blog tour and decided that I simply had to get a copy. It sounds like such a gripping thriller and I can’t wait to read it!

The Mother’s Mistake by Ruth Heald

I saw a fabulous review of this book on the wonderful Meggy at Chocolate ‘n’ Waffles blog this week and I immediately bought a copy! I can’t wait to read this thriller so don’t think it’ll be on my TBR for very long!

 

Purchased AudioBooks

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Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

I’ve been wanting to read this book for absolutely ages so when I saw the audiobook on a deal of the day on Audible this week I immediately clicked to buy. I’m really looking forward to listening to this book!

 

ARCs

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

I read the blurb for this book and was so intrigued that I immediately requested it on NetGalley. I was thrilled when I got approved and I can’t wait to read this!

Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

I read Claire Allan’s first thriller and really enjoyed it so when I realised she had a new one due out I knew I had to read it. This one sounds really intriguing and I’m so looking forward to it.

The Wave by Virginia Moffatt

This book sounds so interesting – it’s a thriller set at a time when a tsunami is bearing down. I’m really keen to get to this one soon.

How To Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

I requested this book on NetGalley after reading a very moving article about the author and how she came to write this book. I think this will be a moving and also heartwarming read.

 


 

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

Book Review: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean | @FelicityMcLean @PtBlankBks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #VanApfelGirls

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About the Book

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

Tikka Molloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long hot summer of 1992, growing up in a distant suburb in Australia surrounded by encroaching bushland. That summer, the hottest on record, was when the Van Apfel sisters – Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – mysteriously disappeared during the school’s Showstopper concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river.

Did they run away? Were they taken?  While the search for the sisters unites the small community, the mystery of their disappearance has never been solved.   Now, years later, Tikka has returned home, to try to make sense of that strange moment in time. The summer that shaped her.  The girls that she never forgot.

 

My Thoughts

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is about Tikka Molloy, aged 11, and her friendship with the three Van Apfel sisters: Hannah, Cordelia and Ruth. The novel begins with Tikka in the present day where she’s living in Baltimore but she has to travel back to Australia to visit her family and she wants to know more about what happened to the Van Apfel girls.

This book is absolutely stunning. I started reading it in the garden on a beautiful sunny day and I just got lost in its pages. I was intrigued from the opening chapter and I just loved everything about this book.

Tikka is an interesting character and I like the way the book is framed both from her viewpoint as an adult reflecting on her childhood with the Van Apfel sisters but also from her viewpoint when she was an 11 year old. It really highlighted the way we remember things differently from the way they perhaps really were, and also how we just don’t fully understand things when we’re children and looking back through adult’s eyes puts a whole different spin on things.

The writing in this novel is mesmerising. I could feel the heat, I could feel the oppressive atmosphere of the Van Apfel family home when their parents were there. I had such a knot in my stomach reading parts of this book as I could see the things that 11 year old Tikka couldn’t quite grasp.

We know from the start of the novel that the Van Apfel girls all went missing but we don’t know then whether they ran away or were kidnapped, or if they came to harm so there is a mystery running through this book but it’s much more a coming of age novel. The Van Apfel girls felt almost ghostly to me throughout this book, even when we were there with them as young girls before they disappeared – it was as if they were right there but you could never got too close, you could never really get to know them fully. It wasn’t so much they had secrets as much as they were just set slightly apart from everyone else, even their best friends.

There was so much I could relate to in this book, I so remember that time when you’re wanting independence and feeling so grown up. You begin to feel you have a power but you don’t yet fully understand consequences. I felt such fear for Cordelia as she is so aware of her own body and the affect she’s having on boys (and grown men who should know better) and reading that as an adult was unnerving. I was willing her, and her sisters, to all be okay but it felt like this book was always leading towards something sad. There is a feeling of melancholy in the three sisters, and in the book as a whole, which I couldn’t look away from.

Running through this novel is the news story big in 1992 about Lindy Chamberlain who was cleared of killing her baby. She is the woman whose baby was taken by a dingo and never found. This gave another level to this novel as it did more than just reinforce when it was set but also the way that sometimes a child does just disappear. The thinking  when it happened was that the mother must have killed her baby, but her appeal in 1992 found that actually what the mother said happened was more likely to be true. This in relation to the Van Apfel girls has haunted me in the parallels and what it’s perhaps telling us about what really happened to them.

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is ultimately Tikka’s story; it’s about her trying to come to terms to what happened the summer she was eleven. It’s haunted her whole life to date and she seems to be at a place where she needs some resolution that she just can’t find. This was so relatable, we might not have had the same experience as her but we all have things in our lives that haunt us, we all have those ‘what ifs’, and so often we believe if we’d just done something differently then things might have turned out better. It’s life though, and not everything works out.

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is a captivating, mesmerising and haunting novel that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s such a beautifully written novel and I’m so glad that I got the chance to read it. I already know that this will be one of my top books of this year and I highly recommend it.

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

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Felicity McLean was born in Sydney Australia. She graduated at Sydney University with a BA in English and Australian literature and worked as a book publicist before embarking on a freelance career. Her journalism has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Courier Mail and the Big Issue, among others, and she has ghost-written celebrity autobiographies. THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE is her first novel. She lives with her English husband and two young children in Australia.

 

 

 

 

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

Van Apfel Girls are Gone Blog tour Poster

 

WWW Wednesdays (12 Jun 2019)!

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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 Swap by Fiona Mitchell

This is a really gripping read! I’m really intrigued to find out what’s going to happen for the two couples and their children.

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

I haven’t read as much of this over the last week as I wanted to as I just wasn’t in the mood for non-fiction but I’m keen to get back to this so will be making this a priority this week.

The Lost Properties of Love by Sophie Ratcliffe

This is a gorgeous and really interesting read. I love how it’s written in vignettes from train journeys and am deliberately reading this slowly.

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

This is the second book I’ve reading from my 20 Books of Summer list and I adored this book. It’s such a brilliant novel and I’m so glad I read it. I hope to get a review of this written soon.

What Red Was by Rosie Price

I’m not sure how I feel about this book yet. I found the first half hard to put down but then I just wasn’t drawn to it and it’s taken me a few days to finish it. There were parts I loved and parts that I liked less. I will review this once I’ve got my thoughts together.

Every Mother’s Nightmare by Mark Thomas

This book was a difficult read because of the subject matter but also because the spelling and punctuation was awful. I wouldn’t recommend this one unfortunately.

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book was incredible! I had an ebook but I’d heard so many recommendations of the audio that I decided to buy that as well. I’m so glad I did because it’s a perfect audio book and I loved it. I hope to share my full thoughts on this soon!

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This was my first book from my 20 Books of Summer and I’m so glad that I finally picked this up. This was such a brilliant novel and I loved every minute that I spent reading it!

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

I listened to this on audio book and I found it interesting in places but it felt a bit flat in other places. It’s such a moving story though.

 

What I plan on reading next:

A Keeper by Graham Norton

This is on my 20 Books of Summer reading stack and I’m in the mood for reading this one so I plan on this being book 3 of my reading challenge.

The Friendship Pact by Alison James

I downloaded this book on a whim after spotting it on NetGalley last week. I love books that are set in the present but involve a mystery from the past so I think I’m going to really enjoy this one.

After the End by Clare Mackintosh

This was on my TBR for the last week but I didn’t manage to get to it so it’s going on my TBR for the week ahead. I feel like this is going to be an emotional read so I want to find a whole afternoon where I can just get lost in this book.

And Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

I was delighted to get pre-approved for this on NetGalley recently and I’m so keen to read this thriller as soon as I can.

 


 

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

Book Review: The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw | @claidlawauthor @AccentPress @annecater #RandomThingsTours

The Space FRONT COVER

About the Book

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

 

My Thoughts

The Space Between Time follows Emma from being a young girl to her becoming an adult. Her father is a really famous actor, and her grandfather is an obscure astrophysicist. As her father’s fame grows, her mother’s mental health seems to decline and Emma struggles to understand what is happening, while at the same time being deeply affected by it.

I really connected with Emma throughout this novel, there are so many things that she experiences that I could identify with. She goes through loss in different ways and her pain really radiated off the page. The way she feels grief was so palpable; the quote below is exactly how grief is.

Once, at a party, I smelled her perfume and came close to tears. I still feel that she’s close to by, almost within touching distance, her hand not quite on my shoulder, her lips not quite about to kiss the top of my head: not quite, and just out of sight. It’s as if she’s in another room, close by: her cremated particles reaching out, decaying on the breeze, becoming smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

I loved the parts of the book where Emma describes a photo of herself with her mum and dad at a film premiere but later we get another perspective on the photo as she works through her feelings about her father as he gets older. This made me cry, it so resonated with my own life and I felt I was right there with Emma. It captured grief and the slow acceptance of loss, but also the way we come to see things differently as we age. We perhaps understand more of our parents that we couldn’t possibly have grasped when we were younger and hadn’t got the reference points that being an adult ourselves brings. It’s also the acceptance that comes with getting older of taking people as they are, and that perhaps we expected more of them than they could give to us.

I came to love the fact that this book didn’t feel grounded in a particular time. There are references to things so you do know when it’s set but there is a real timeless feel to the novel. This is where the astrophysics comes into play – the idea of what is here now, and what was here before and what might be in the future. The whole novel seems to play with these ideas and Emma becomes interested in her grandfather’s work as she seeks solace from the loss in her life and it brings her comfort.

We all live in permanent chaos, however ordered our lives seem, with every innocuous action having lots of little consequences that are completely unpredictable.

There are some brilliant moments of humour sprinkled throughout too that made me properly laugh. The part of the book where Emma ends up at protest march with a man she slept with once is so perfectly written. Their argument ends up echoing the different banners around them and it’s utterly brilliant!

This is a novel that requires concentration and time so it took me a little while to get into it but there was a moment where this book just clicked for me and from then on I just couldn’t put it down. I fell in love with this story, it’s stunning!

The Space Between Time is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read and I’m so happy that I got the chance to read it.  This is a book to savour – I recommend reading it slowly and taking your time with it. There is so much of life – the beauty and the pain – contained within its pages and it’s a book where you won’t want to miss a thing. I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Accent Press for my copy of this book and to Anne of Random Things Tours for my invitation to be on this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

The Space Between Time is due out on 20 June and can be pre-ordered here.

 

 

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

The Space Between Time Blog Tour Poster

 

Book Review: A Modern Family by Helga Flatland | @HelgaFlatland @rosie_hedger @OrendaBooks @annecater

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About the Book

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

 

My Thoughts

A Modern Family follows three siblings – Liv, Ellen and Hakon, their partners, and children as they travel to Rome to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday. During the celebrations they find out that their parents have decided to divorce and this sends shockwaves through the family.

The novel is told from the perspectives of the three siblings and the way it unfolds is so well done. First we follow Liv, the eldest child, and she is someone who likes to feel in control who thinks she can keep everything together so the news from her parents knocks her world off its axis. When it moves to Ellen, the middle sibling, we see an overlap of the revelation of their parents announcement and her reaction to it before we then learn more about her life. She keeps herself to herself a lot more than her brother and sister. The novel then goes back to Liv, and then to Ellen again before we hear from Hakon, the younger brother and the baby of the family.

I’ve found it so hard to get my thoughts in any kind of order to write this review because I just connected with the novel so much. I’m one of three (and we have similar age gaps between us as the siblings in this novel) so the different perspectives all had something in them that I either recognised in myself or in one of my siblings, or in how we interacted with each other. I adored that the love the members of the family all have for each other is really clear, they have their conflicts but ultimately they do all care how the others are doing. But within that you see how the things that are small to one sibling can cause another to be crumbling inside and they just don’t get how or why they are reacting in the way they are. This is so heart-wrenchingly true that I wanted to cry at these moments.

Helga Flatland’s writing has a delicate poignancy that also really gets you in the gut at times. It’s insightful and it makes you think about situations you’ve been in with your own family.  I’m the eldest child in my family and I could understand how Liv felt a lot of the time. There is a pressure on being the oldest, right from childhood you’re expected to be more grown up and to look after, and be a good example for, the younger children. It stays with you into adulthood and it does shape who you become. I did find that I identified more with Ellen, the middle child in this novel, as the story progressed though. I felt for her as she struggled silently, privately and didn’t feel she could share what she was going through with her family. I could totally see why she didn’t say anything but I was willing her to. Sometimes the people we’re meant to have the closest relationships with are the very ones that it’s so hard to open up to. Hakon’s was the section that surprised me the most. Throughout the book, through his sisters’ eyes he’s someone who doesn’t want to conform to society’s stereotypes. He doesn’t believe in monogamy or marriage. I thought I knew the kind of person he was but when I got to see his perspective it was really lovely to see who he is behind all the big statements.

A Modern Family is a stunning novel – I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that so captured what it is to be a sibling, that captured the complicated dynamics of a family so perfectly and with such brilliant insight. At times this book made me cry, and at other times I was smiling to myself as I recognised a silly misunderstanding. I haven’t stopped thinking about these characters since I finished reading the book and I already want to read it all over again. I have to commend Rosie Hedger, the translator of A Modern Family, too because this felt like a novel that had been written in English. The way she has worked with Helga Flatland’s words is wonderful. I am certain that this will be one of my books of 2019, it’s incredible! I love it so much that I’m definitely going to buy a print copy (I read it on Kindle) to have with my favourite books on my bookcase! I can’t find all the words to do justice to A Modern Family but please just take my word for how beautiful it is and add it to your summer reading stacks now!

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

A Modern Family is due out on 13 June and can be pre-ordered here.

 

About the Author

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Helga Flatland ( born 16 September 1984) is a Norwegian novelist and children’s writer. She was born in Notodden and grew up in Flatdal. She made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Bli hvis du kan. Reis hvis du må, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ debutantpris . The novel was the first in a trilogy, and was followed by Alle vil hjem. Ingen vil tilbake (2012) and Det finnes ingen helhet (2013). In 2015 she published the novel Vingebelastning, as well as the children’s book Eline får besøk. In 2015 Flatland was awarded the Amalie Skram Prize and Mads Wiel Nygaard’s Endowment.

 

 

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

modern fam blog poster 2019

 

Mini Book Reviews: Girl in Snow, I Know Who You Are, The Golden Child & Need to Know!

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Today I’m sharing some more mini book reviews as I continue my mission to catch up with my reviews!

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Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

This book is billed as a thriller but it’s more of an exploration of three characters, and once I realised that’s what it was I really quite enjoyed this novel. The premise is that a teenage girl, Lucinda, has been found murdered and the novel is told from the perspective of three other characters: Cameron – a teenage boy who is quite obsessed with Lucinda, Jade – a teenage girl who thinks Lucinda has a perfect life and she wants that for herself, and Russ – one of the detectives investigating the murder. I did hope for a bit more depth in these characters but having said that I did get completely invested in wanting to know what had made them the way they were, and how far Cameron and Jade’s fixation with Lucinda might have led them. It’s a book that really looks at what makes us who we are and makes us do the things we do, and what the consequences of that is. I’ll definitely look out for more books by this author and I recommend this one.

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I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

I loved Alice Feeney’s previous novel, Sometimes I Lieso I had very high hopes for this new book. I was gripped very quickly and found it really hard to put down. The novel is about actress Aimee Sinclair. She comes home one day and finds her husband missing but she can’t remember when exactly she last saw him. The police get involved and very soon suspect Aimee of knowing more than she’s letting on. Aimee is something of an enigma, she plays on her acting skills to get her through situations but she’s also convinced she’s being stalked and becomes increasingly anxious and on edge. Interspersed with the chapters from the present day we find out about Aimee’s childhood, which was a difficult time for her. I’d say I very much enjoyed the first 80% or so of this novel but I just didn’t like the ending at all. I read a lot of thrillers and I’m quite happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride but the ending of this book was just too far-fetched for me. It brought me right out of the book and I was left disappointed. I still love Alice Feeney’s writing and I will definitely be buying whatever she writes next but this book just wasn’t for me in the end.

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The Golden Child by Wendy James

This is such a brilliant novel! It follows Lizzy who is a blogger and she shares her perfect life online; unfortunately the reality isn’t quite so perfect. There is a lot of tension with her husband, her mum and her mother-in-law; not to mention the normal trials and tribulations of her two teenage daughters. Then one day a nasty episode of bullying happens at her daughters’ school and the finger of blame is pointed at one of Lizzy’s daughters. You also get to see the other side of the story as the novel follows the mother of the girl who was so horribly bullied. It’s fascinating to see how the two women deal with the situation and how the whole thing slowly unravels. I found this book so difficult to put down once I started reading it. The multiple perspectives keeps the book moving at a pace, and the way the lives of the so-called perfect family unravels is so well done. This is such a great novel and I definitely recommend it!

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Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

I read this book quite a while ago now and that fact that it is still sticking in my head shows how good it is! It’s a novel about Vivien, a CIA analyst who works to try and uncover Russian cells in the USA. She’s also married with a young family so she’s juggling a lot. One day she uncovers something at work and can’t unsee what she’s seen. The slow realisation that everything she holds dear could now be at risk is terrifying for her and she’s put in the position of whether to protect family or country. This novel is a rollercoaster ride and one that I just couldn’t stop reading once I started it. And it has one of the most brilliant endings to a novel, I loved it! I can’t wait to read Karen Cleveland’s next novel, which I believe is due out very soon!

 

 

A Brand New Book Haul (Stacking the Shelves 8 Jun 2019)!

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

 

So, I haven’t shared a book haul for a couple of weeks so this is a rather large haul. I’m blaming Audible for having a fabulous sale (with books from my wish list in it!) when I actually had a few spare credits! Also, I went on NetGalley to leave some reviews and accidentally requested some more books… oops!

 

Purchased eBooks

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

I’ve seen so many fabulous reviews of this book so when I spotted the ebook on sale recently I couldn’t resist downloading it. I love the idea of a lost letter department so am excited to read this!

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

I bought this essay collection on a whim because I love Zadie Smith’s writing. I’ve recently enjoyed a couple of essay collections so I’m looking forward to dipping in and out of this one very soon.

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

I still haven’t read The Heart’s Invisible Furies but I feel sure I’m going to love it so I couldn’t resist buying another book by the author!

Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

I forgot that I’d pre-ordered this book so I was delighted when I discovered it on my kindle the other day. It felt like a present from past me to now me! I’m really keen to read this one so am going to try and get to it in the next week or so.

The Girl Before You by Nicola Rayner

I bought this on a whim too after seeing some reviews by bloggers that I trust so am looking forward to getting to this one.

Anna by Patricia Dixon

I bought this book after the author posted a really lovely post on her publication day and I could empathise with what she wrote so immediately went and ordered a copy of her book.

Happiness for Beginners by Carole Matthews

This was a kindle daily deal this week so I snapped it up. I really enjoy Carole Matthews’ novels so am happy to have another one on my TBR stack.

Every Mother’s Nightmare by Mark Thomas

I bought this one this week and am now half-way through it. The formatting of the book is awful though, which is such a shame, and I’m not sure I’ll continue with it.

 

Purchased Audiobooks

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde and The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde

I bought both of these audiobooks in a recent Audible sale when they had the first few books in a selection of series for £3 each! I’ve already got the first book so I can’t wait to start listening to these books!

People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Parry

This has been on my wish list for such a long time after a good friend recommended it to me. I decided to get the audio book in the recent Audible 2 for 1 sale!

Milkshakes and Morphine by Genevieve Fox

This memoir is a recent addition to my wish list so I was delighted to spot it in the same sale as the book above. I’m definitely going to be listening to this very soon.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

This is one of those books that I’ve heard so much about for so many years that I feel like I must have already read it but I actually haven’t. I do have a print copy of this on my TBR but couldn’t resist getting the audio book in the 2 for 1 sale.

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

This is another wish list book that was in the sale so I had to get to it. I’ve wanted to read this for a long time so I’m really happy to have a copy of it.

Tennison by Lynda la Plante

I’ve read quite a few books from this series but I’ve never read them in order so when I saw this first book in the Audible sale I decided to get it. I think it’s nice to re-read books in a different format than I first read it in to get a different experience of a story.

Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather by Tessa Boase

I needed another book to go with the one above to get 2 for 1 and this one jumped out at me. It sounds like such an interesting read so I’m really glad I got it.

Help Me! by Marianne Power

This was an Audible daily deal recently and it sounded like an interesting listen. I went through a phase of reading self help books when I was in my teens and so this book seemed like it would be a fun look at those kind of books.

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

I love The Book Thief so couldn’t resist grabbing this new one by the author when it was on an Audible daily deal. I’m looking forward to getting to this one.

Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally

This was also an Audible daily deal so I decided to get it. I have tried to read the book when it was first published but I just couldn’t finish it. I’m hoping that I might cope better with it on audio.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

I actually downloaded this book via Scribd and have just finished listening to it. It was an interesting book but I was hoping for something more from it.

 

ARCs

After the End by Claire Macintosh

This is one of my most anticipated books of the year so I was thrilled to get approved for it on NetGalley recently. I’m planning to read this as soon as I finished one of my current reads!

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

This is another book that I’ve been keen to get my hands on so again it was great to get approved on NetGalley to read it.

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

I love Claire Douglas’ novels so was delighted to get an email saying that I was pre-approved on NG for this new one. I love the premise of this one and hope to get to it very soon.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

I also got pre-approved for this one on NG and while it wasn’t on my radar at the time I’ve since seen some brilliant reviews of it and I think this will be a great read.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

This book isn’t due out until next year so I was surprised to get approved to read it straight away. I really want to read this one but feel like I should hold off until a bit nearer publication.

The Au Pair by Emma Rous

I requested this on a whim after seeing reviews of it. It sounds like my kind of book and one that I will likely devour over an afternoon!

The Friendship Pact by Alison James

I downloaded this on NG when I was browsing. It sounds like my kind of book and I can’t wait to get to it.

Horizontal Collaborations by Navie

I’ve already read this graphic novel set during the second world war. It’s got beautiful artwork and the story was very moving. I’ll be reviewing this one for the blog tour later this month.

The Sea Refuses No River by Bethany Rivers

I’ve also already read this poetry collection. It’s a beautiful collection looking at grief and I found it very moving. I’m on the blog tour for it this month so will be reviewing it then.

Don’t Feed the Bear by Rachel Elliott

This was a lovely surprise ARC that arrived a couple of weeks ago. It’s such a gorgeous book and I’m looking forward to reading it.


 

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

Book Review: We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont | @HeleneFermont @BOTBSPublicity

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About the Book

Is it ever too late for love?

When Mike dumps Louise on their 20th Wedding Anniversary, her entire world comes to an end.

Devastated and confused, she attempts to make sense of what happened and returns to a city she’s avoided for two decades.

Will she be able to move on with the man she left behind or will Mike’s increasingly violent and unhinged behaviour continue to haunt and ruin her life? When the reason Mike left her at long last is revealed Louise’s life is in serious danger.

 

My Thoughts

We Never Said Goodbye is the story of Louise. The novel opens with her waiting for her husband to come home so that they can go out and celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Instead he phones her to tell her that their marriage is over!

This is the second novel I’ve read by Helene Fermont and she writes character driven plots that also have gripping storylines. She takes time to let us get to know all of her characters and to get to grips with their motivations.

We predominantly follow Louise in this novel and I felt that I really got to know her. She’s understandably devastated by her husband leaving her, and it’s made worse by the way he did it. She has really good friends in her life who take care of her as she grieves the loss of her marriage and she eventually starts to feel more herself again.

In the meantime her estranged husband Mike is becoming increasingly self-centred and vicious with everyone in his life. He treats his friend and business partner with no respect and in his new relationship with Abby he likes to show who’s boss.

The central thread in this novel is about Louise and Mike but the off-shoots off this story are also riveting. I felt completely invested in finding out what was going to happen to everyone in this novel and this kept me turning the pages!

The novel is set in both London and Malmo in Sweden. I really enjoyed exploring Malmo through this novel as Helene Fermont really brings the place to life and I could really envision everywhere she described. I loved the way the storyline went in Malmo, as we get to know more of Louise’s family and more about her background.

I really enjoyed We Never Said Goodbye and recommend it if you like domestic thrillers with great character exploration!

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

We Never Said Goodbye is out now and available here.

 

 

About the Author

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Hélene Fermont writes character-driven psychological crime fiction with a Scandi Noir flavour. Known for her explosive, pacy narrative and storylines, she has published three novels – Because of YouWe Never Said Goodbye and His Guilty Secret – and two short story collections – The Love of Her Life and Who’s Sorry Now? Her fourth novel is due for release in the summer of 2019. After 20 years in London, Hélene recently returned to her native Sweden where she finds the unspoiled scenery and tranquillity a therapeutic boost for creativity. Enjoying a successful career as a Psychologist, when she’s not working her ‘day job’, Hélene spends her time writing, with friends and family, or playing with her beloved cat, Teddy. All three novels can be purchased via her website helenefermont.com/books/
Social Media Links:
 

 

 

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

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