WWW Wednesday (24 May) What are you reading today?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I picked this book up at the weekend but when I went to mark it as ‘currently reading’ on Goodreads I noticed a reviewer I trust mention that the book contains huge spoilers for the film The Usual Suspects, which I’d never seen. So I put the book down for a couple of days until I had a chance to watch the film (which I loved and am kicking myself for not having watched it before now). I picked the book up again last night and am really enjoying it.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I pre-ordered this book ages ago so it arrived on my kindle on release day but I’ve been keeping it to read when I could sit and read it in big chunks. I’ve read about a third of this now and am really enjoying it, it’s swirling around in my mind during the time when I’m not reading it and that’s always the sign of a compelling book!

Eleanor by Jason Gurley

This is my latest pick from my pre-2017 TBR and I’m enjoying it. It’s not what I thought it was going to be but it’s holding my attention so I’m keeping on with it.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I’ve not managed to read any more of this book this week but I hope to read a chunk of it over the weekend. I just feel like it’s a book that I need to read when I can really take it all in so I like to wait until the right time to pick it up.

What I recently finished reading:

Making Space by Sarah Tierney

I read this in two sittings earlier this week and I really enjoyed it. I’m on the blog tour for the book tomorrow and will be sharing my review so look out for that.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I loved this book so much, I feel quite bereft at having finished it. I was sent this for review so I’ll be reviewing this book soon but in the meantime I highly recommend you buying a copy of this, you won’t regret it.

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

I found this to be such a gripping read, it has an increasing sense of malices the book goes on and I didn’t want to put it down. I’ve already reviewed this book on my blog so you can read that here if you’d like to.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I adored this book, it’s such a beautiful and moving novel. I reviewed this on my blog last week so you can read my review here if you’d like to know more about my thoughts on it.

Becky by Darren Galsworthy

This is such a moving memoir by the father of Becky Watts, the teenager who was murdered by her step-brother a couple of years ago. It’s such an open and honest book, it’s heartbreaking to read.

What I plan on reading next:

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

I was contacted by the publicist for this book to ask if I’d like to read it for the blog tour and I immediately said yes as I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of Amanda’s previous novels. I’m really looking forward to starting this book in the next couple of days.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

I was sent a copy of this book to review a few weeks ago and am really keen to start reading it soon. I’m aiming to get to it over the weekend.

 

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

#BookReview: The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis @MichaelJBooks @tinaseskis ‏

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

About the Book

There’s trouble in paradise. . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

My Thoughts

I read and enjoyed Tina Seskis’ first novel a little while ago and loved it so when I heard she had a new book coming out I was keen to read it. I was thrilled when NetGalley approved my request recently.

Jemma and Jamie are on their honeymoon on a beautiful and exclusive island resort in the Maldives. One morning Jemma wakes up to find her new husband is missing and from there the novel slowly builds as we find out what led up to him disappearing and what actually happened to him.

The novel is told in alternating chapters of past and present, and this worked really well as I found myself engrossed in both parts of the story and wanting to see how the timeline would converge and where it was all leading. It’s also told in four parts, and I have to say that at the end of the first part my head was spinning and I simply had to read on as fast as I possibly could.

The atmosphere on this beautiful island becomes increasingly stifling as Jemma feels that everyone, staff and other guests alike, are suspecting her of harming her husband. Even the couple she had become friends with start being a bit more distant with her. She is unsure how to behave and worries about how people who see her around the island are perceiving her. The paranoia she feels grows and grows – it emanates off the page to the point it was making me nervous about what was going to happen next.

As the book went on I became more and more unnerved by the whole situation. I’m scared of open water as it is so the idea of being on a small island resort isn’t my idea of fun, but there is an underlying sense of malice in this book that you can never quite put your finger on why. It gave me that feeling you have when you’re seriously sleep-deprived and everything has that slightly unreal feeling to it. This isn’t a scary book but there is a real creepiness to it and it gets under your skin – the feeling doesn’t let up until well after you’ve finished reading. The writing in this book is brilliant in the way it really evokes these feelings in the reader, almost mimicking some of what Jemma is feeling.

I suspected just about everyone in this book of having had something to do with Jamie’s disappearance. During the times when I wasn’t reading, my mind was constantly pondering on various scenarios that could have happened. Tina Seskis throws in so many brilliant red herrings and twists that it’s impossible to know how it will all turn out. One of my suspicions did prove to be partially correct but I defy anyone to work out what exactly happened on this island!

This is a slow-burn thriller that builds the tension and the claustrophobic atmosphere to such a degree that it feels like you’re enmeshed in the situation yourself. It’s dark and twisty, gripping and impossible to put down! I highly recommend The Honeymoon.

The Honeymoon is due to be published on 1st June and can be pre-ordered now.

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

About the Author

tina seskis

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, before going off to study in the beautiful city of Bath and then moving to London, where she has lived on and off ever since.

Tina’s first novel One Step Too Far was released in 2013, and has since been published in 17 languages in over 60 countries. Her latest novel, The Honeymoon, will finally be released on 1st June 2017.

Tina lives in North London with her husband and son.

(Author photo and bio taken from: Goodreads)

Weekly Wrap-Up (21 May)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

This week has been a strange week. I was meant to switch my pain meds last weekend but the NHS cyber attack last week has held that up. I’m hoping to be able to get started on this in the couple of days or so though. So, as I said last week, I may be around less in the coming days, so please bear with me if I miss replying to any comments, or sharing posts etc.

I also had an appointment at home with my lovely neuro-physio and we’ve been talking about changing to a less-cumbersome leg brace now that my foot is holding a better position. I will need to wear my old one some of the time but it’s really fab to think that I might be able to change to something more comfortable.

 

This week I’ve finished reading six books:

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

This book has taken me longer to read than I thought it would and I’m not sure why because I really loved it. I think it was just a bad time for me to pick it up. It’s a brilliant read though, I recommend it.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I adored this book – it’s such a beautiful novel and one that will really stay with me for a long time to come. I reviewed it on my blog yesterday so you can read that here if you’d like to.

Becky by Darren Galsworthy

I saw this on my audio book site this week and decided to listen to it. It was such a moving read. I’m sure many people remember the news when teenager Becky Watts went missing a couple of years ago and it turned out her step-brother had murdered her. Her dad is so open in this book and I really admire his strength and openness.

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

This book has been on my TBR for ages and if I’m to be honest I have no idea when or why I bought it. I’m trying to read through some of my TBR this year so decided to give this a go. It was actually a good read, but because I’m older then the target audience I don’t think I got as much out of it as others may do.

Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

I really enjoyed reading this memoir. Stephen Westaby is an esteemed heart-surgeon in this book he shares some of his most memorable surgeries and patients. I’ll be reviewing this book soon but I highly recommend it.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

This is yet another book that has been languishing on my TBR. I actually bought this the day it was released and then never got around to reading it. I’m kicking myself about that now though as very much enjoyed this book and now am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series which is out soon.

 

This week I’ve blogged seven times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday: Review of The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Tuesday: Review of The Power by Naomi Alderman

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of Final Girls by Riley Sager

Friday: Review of The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

This is what I’m currently reading:

Making Space by Sarah Tierney

I’m almost finished reading this book and have really enjoyed reading it. I’m on the blog tour for this book later this week so look out for my review on Thursday (25th May).

Eleanor by Jason Gurley

I spotted this on my TBR this week and decided to make it my next read. I have to be honest and say that sci-fi isn’t really my thing these days so I’m enjoying the parts of this book set in the present reality more than the other parts but it is a really engaging read so I’ll keep going with this.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I’m enjoying this book so much – I’m trying to savour it because I know I’ll feel bereft when I get to the end of Eleanor’s story. It’s such an excellent novel.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I haven’t read much more of this week but I will be getting back to it as soon as I can. It’s such a powerful book.

 

the-state-of-my-2

Update on my TBR: 

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1932

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 9

Subtractions:

 

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1941

Oops! My TBR has increased this week after two weeks of keeping it fairly stable… ah well!


 

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


 

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

 

See my latest #bookhaul in my new Stacking the Shelves post (20 May)

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

Here are the books I bought this week:

IMG_9104

The Original 1982 by Lori Carson

I bought this book on a whim when it came up on my book recommendations on Amazon this week. I love Sliding Doors-type stories so this novel sounds like exactly my kind of thing. I hope to read this very soon, it feels like it’ll be a good summer read.

Synopsis:

The Original 1982 is the wise and memorable debut novel of love, regret, music, and motherhood, by singer and songwriter Lori Carson of the Golden Palominos.

It’s 1982, and Lisa is a 24-year-old waitress in New York City, an aspiring singer/songwriter, and girlfriend to a famous musician. That year, she makes a decision, almost without thinking about it.

But what if what if her decision had been different?

In a new 1982, Lisa chooses differently. Her career takes another direction. She becomes a mother. She loves differently–yet some things remain the same.

Alternating between two very different possibilities, The Original 1982 is a novel about how the choices we make affect the people we become–and about how the people we are affect the choices we make.

darren young child taken

Child Taken by Darren Young

I’ve seen great reviews of this book on some of my favourite blogs recently so I was keen to read it myself. I have a lot of review books to read at the moment but I’m going to try and squeeze this book in soon!

Synopsis:

One hot summer’s day, two-year-old Jessica Preston disappears from the beach. The police are convinced she drowned, but Sandra Preston won’t give up hope that her daughter is still alive. After all, a mother’s instinct is never wrong.
Is it?
Twenty years later, another child goes missing, and Sandra is approached by a young journalist who raises questions about what really happened to Jessica Preston all those years ago. But when the journalist discovers someone with an explosive secret, it threatens not only to reveal what’s been covered up for so long, but puts both their lives in danger.

 

I received four review books:

IMG_9114

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

I was very excited this week when the publicist for this book contacted me to ask if I’d like to read and review it on my blog. I couldn’t reply fast enough to say that I’d love to! The book arrived just a couple of days later and I’m so looking forward to reading this.

Synopsis:

Quentin and Lottie Bredin, like many modern couples, can’t afford to divorce. Having lost their jobs in the recession, they can’t afford to go on living in London; instead, they must downsize and move their three children to a house in a remote part of Devon. Arrogant and adulterous, Quentin can’t understand why Lottie is so angry; devastated and humiliated, Lottie feels herself to have been intolerably wounded.

Mud, mice and quarrels are one thing – but why is their rent so low? What is the mystery surrounding their unappealing new home? The beauty of the landscape is ravishing, yet it conceals a dark side involving poverty, revenge, abuse and violence which will rise up to threaten them.

Sally Verity, happily married but unhappily childless knows a different side to country life, as both a Health Visitor and a sheep farmer’s wife; and when Lottie’s innocent teenage son Xan gets a zero-hours contract at a local pie factory, he sees yet another. At the end of their year, the lives of all will be changed for ever.

A suspenseful black comedy, this is a rich, compassionate and enthralling novel in its depiction of the English countryside, and the potentially lethal interplay between money and marriage.

The Other Twin by L.V. Hay

The Other Twin by L.V. Hay

I was beyond excited when I got offered the chance to read and review this book for the blog tour. I’ve become such a massive fan of Orenda books, I just know every book published by them is going to be incredible. I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since I first saw the cover on twitter. I know for sure that this book won’t be on my TBR for very long at all!

Synopsis:

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

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

I loved the sound of this book when I first heard about it and then last week I read the fabulous Donna at chocolatenwaffles’ review and I couldn’t resist any longer. I immediately downloaded a copy from NetGalley and can’t wait to read this!

Synopsis:

A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

After I've Gone by Linda Green

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

I loved Linda Green’s previous novel so have been eagerly anticipating this new one. I spotted it on NetGalley this week so immediately requested it and was thrilled to be approved. I hope to read this one soon too as it sounds so good!

Synopsis:

YOU HAVE 18 MONTHS LEFT TO LIVE . . . On a wet Monday in January, Jess Mount checks Facebook and discovers her timeline appears to have skipped forward 18 months, to a day when shocked family and friends are posting heartbreaking tributes to her following her death in an accident. Jess is left scared and confused: is she the target of a cruel online prank or is this a terrifying glimpse of her true fate?
Amongst the posts are photos of a gorgeous son she has not yet conceived. But when new posts suggest her death was deliberate, Jess realises that if she changes the future to save her own life, the baby boy she has fallen in love with may never exist.

Giveaway win

IMG_9118

I was thrilled to find out that I’d won one of JaffaReadsToo blogiversary giveaways this week and my prize arrived yesterday. I won a copy of this gorgeous poetry pamphlet that was on my wishlist and then Jo surprised me with some lovely extra goodies too.

The poetry pamphlet is called Ten Poems of Kindness and was compiled by Jackie Kay, I’ll definitely be reading this very soon!

 


 

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

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

#BookReview: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo @HQstories @JillSantopolo

the light we lost.png

About the Book

Two people. One choice. What if?

Every love story has a beginning…

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet in New York on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. As the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

Over the next thirteen years they are torn apart, then brought back together, time and time again. It’s a journey of dreams, of desires, of jealousy, of forgiveness – and above all, love.

And as Lucy is faced with a devastating choice, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny or chance.

…what if this is how their story ends?

My Thoughts

The cover of The Light We Lost caught my eye first, and then when I read the synopsis I knew I had to get hold of this book. I was so happy when NetGalley approved me to read it.

The Light We Lost begins with two people, Lucy and Gabe, who meet on 11th September 2001 in New York. They experience that day together just a few miles away from where the twin towers fell, and the instant attraction they had to one another was heightened by being so close to such an horrific event. The book is then told from the viewpoint of Lucy, in short chapters as she looks over her relationship with Gabe, and all the things that have happened in their lives since that day.

‘The air was clear, the sky was blue – and everything had changed. We just didn’t know it yet’.

There is a real sense running through this book of fate and destiny. Lucy and Gabe do get together after a false start and everything in their relationship is passionate, every emotion is heightened and they fall so hard for each other. There was a sense of everything being on fast forward and it made me wonder about the nature of how we meet our partners. The idea that meeting on such a tragic and distressing day could give a real sense of needing to live in the now, of not being able to wait and see.  Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11 so clearly, it’s seared into all of our memories so it’s entirely possible to see the affect it would have on two young people who met on that day, who saw it from their rooftop.

‘There is an element of peace in believing that we’re only players on a stage, acting out stories directed by someone else.’

There was such a sense of yearning running through this book and from very early on it gave me the feeling that something awful was going to happen. The way it is told, with Lucy going back and forth in time in the way she tells her story, gives the feeling that something has already happened and we, the reader, just don’t know what it is yet. This book made me feel so many emotions – it made me feel hopeful and happy, it reminded me of that awful day in 2001, it made me cry, and it made me want to reach out through the pages to give Lucy and Gabe some advice, to make them see what is important in life.

There is so much love between Gabe and Lucy but it’s often so raw, and intense it’s still complicated and messy and not always how they want it to be. The novel explores how we have different relationships with different partners over the years, and there is a real sense of how it must be if you feel that you met the right person for you at the wrong time in your life.

This book is beautifully written, and it’s gorgeous to read. It’s one of those books that you want to read slowly and savour but at the same time you don’t want to be pulled out of this world. I felt such a connection to this novel, and I feel really quite bereft now I’ve finished reading it. I think this is a story that will stay with me, and this is one of those rare books that I’m sure I will re-read in the future.

The Light We Lost is out now!

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

About the Author

jill santopolo credit to charles grantham

Photo Credit: Charles Grantham

Jill Santopolo received a BA in English literature from Columbia University and an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s the author of three successful children’s and young-adult series and works as the editorial director of Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers group. An adjunct professor in The New School’s MFA program, Jill travels the world to speak about writing and storytelling. She lives in New York City.

(Bio taken from: penguinrandomhouse.com)

#BookReview: Final Girls by Riley Sager @riley_sager ‏@EburyPublishing ‏

30215662

About the Book

Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead…
They were called The Final Girls.
Three young women who survived unimaginable horror. Three victims of separate massacres grouped together by the press. Three strangers bound by similar traumas.
Lisa. Quincy. Samantha.
When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet. Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And after the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.

My Thoughts

I was drawn to this book when I first saw it being mentioned on social media – the cover is stunning and very striking, and when I read the synopsis I simply had to get my hands on it despite the fact that I’m a complete wimp and knew this book would unnerve me!

Final Girls is a novel about Quincy, a girl who was the lone survivor in a massacre at a secluded cottage in the woods. The novel starts ten years on from the massacre and Quincy appears to be putting the horrific trauma behind her – she has a successful baking blog and is in a happy relationship.

The Final Girls is a named coined by the media for the women who have each survived a massacre where everyone else was killed, basically after the girl who is always left standing at the end of teen horror movies.  Lisa was the first final girl, and she wrote a book about her experiences and since then has attempted to contact and support other people who have been through the same thing. The group consisted of Lisa and Samantha, and then when Quincy survives a massacre she becomes part of the group. She doesn’t want to join the actual group that Lisa has set up, but whether she likes it or not, she has been deemed a final girl. Quincy just wants to put what happened behind her – her memories of that traumatic night are buried and she doesn’t want to remember so she doesn’t want to talk about it or think about, she wants to take her meds and just move on. When Lisa comes to harm, Quincy is left reeling and in fear that something may happen to her too. This leads to her letting Sam into her life and from then on I was on edge. I didn’t trust Sam, I wasn’t even sure if Quincy was telling the truth about what happened. My brain was constantly mulling things over in the background trying to put it all together and work out what was going to happen.

The tension constantly ramps up throughout the book. I loved the way it was predominantly set in the present day but interspersed amongst that are short chapters leading up to the massacre where all Quincy’s friends were murdered. Quincy, under Sam’s influence starts behaving out of character and the stress of what happened to Lisa and the possibility of her memory of the massacre coming back lead to her acting out of character. It seems like she begins to lose her grip on what’s important in her life, and things start to spiral for her. She doesn’t have a support system in place and things start to turn ugly for her.

Once I got to the last quarter of the book I honestly felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was compelled to keep reading because I had to know what had happened in that house but I almost wanted to cover my eyes, if that makes sense. Sager gives a real sense of what it must have been like to be in that situation and terrified for your life and it’s hard to read, yet is impossible to look away from.

I had so many suspicions about various characters, and I had various scenarios running through my mind as I was reading, but I never quite figured out who was responsible. I only realised a couple of pages before it was revealed and I love that I couldn’t quite manage to work it all out before then. It’s not often that a book blindsides me but this one absolutely did.

This book is so dark and twisty, it’s addictive and compelling and utterly unputdownable! I literally started reading it early evening and I didn’t put it down until I’d finished reading at gone midnight! It genuinely gave me the creeps, I was really glad that I wasn’t home alone after I finished reading at night time!

Final Girls is due to be published on 11th July and can be pre-ordered now.

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

About the Author

Riley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

In addition to writing, Riley enjoys reading, movies and baking.

Riley’s first novel, FINAL GIRLS, will be published in July in the United States, the United Kingdom and fourteen other countries around the world.

(Bio taken from: rileysagerbooks.com)

WWW Wednesday (17 May) What are you reading today?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

Becky by Darren Galsworthy

I saw this on my audio book subscription yesterday and decided to make it my next listen. It’s a really sad book by the father of Becky Watts. It’s a very open and honest book, but very emotional to read.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

This book isn’t what I thought it was going to be but it has me hooked. It’s a really heartfelt, emotional read with some intrigue mixed in so I’m keen to know where this book is going.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This is such a great read. I’m so intrigued by Eleanor and am looking forward to reading more of this book and finding out more about her.

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

This book is a brilliant read – it’s one of those books that grabs you from the first page and keeps you gripped. I don’t know who to trust and am so keen to find out what’s going on!

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I’m still finding this book a fascinating read. I need to be in the right headspace to read this so it’s taking me a while but it is an excellent book and I recommend it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

I’ve had this on my TBR for ages so when I spotted it on my audio subscription yesterday I decided to listen to it. It’s an enjoyable enough book and I’m glad I finally read it.

Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

This memoir of one of our top heart surgeon’s was an incredible read. I’m trying to write my review of it now and hope to get that finished and posted soon but I can definitely recommend it.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

This book has been on my TBR since it was published over a year ago and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner because I really enjoyed it. At least reading it now means I’m ready for the sequel coming out soon. I’ll definitely be buying that and will read it soon.

The Zero by Jess Walter

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time but it finally caught my eye last week so I started reading and found it very hard to put down again. It’s a novel based around the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and it follows a police officer who is working at Ground Zero. He begins to have lapses in memory and is increasingly confused so the novel jumps around a lot and gradually the pieces come together for the reader and it all falls into place. I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

I Know My Name by CJ Cooke

I was sent a copy of this book by the author and have been excited to read it ever since it arrived. I can’t wait any longer to read it so am planning to pick it up this week.

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

I was pre-approved to read this on NetGalley a couple of weeks ago and have been very much looking forward to it. I really hope I can finally get to read it this week.

 

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

 

#BookReview: The Power by Naomi Alderman

41RUBuZRhZL

About the Book

‘She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She’d put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.’

Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light. What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?

My Thoughts

The Power is a really interesting novel that looks at the way men and woman are viewed and treated in society. In this novel teenage girls discover they have the power to inflict pain through their hands. Society becomes scared and outraged and wants to lock the girls away to protect society but it soon becomes apparent that the girls are awakening the power in older women. Soon all women have the power.

The first half of this book feels very empowering. It’s fascinating to see women going about their lives and knowing that they won’t ever be hurt as they leave a club late at night, who know absolutely that they can protect themselves even if they walk home alone. Suddenly it’s men who are being warned not to walk home alone at night, that are being warned not to behave in a way that may provoke girls with the power.

As The Power goes on Alderman begins to rebut the notion that woman are instinctively nurturing and caring. It becomes a more uncomfortable to read, it is unsettling and at times horrifying.  I’ve seen criticism of this book from people who haven’t read it saying that making men victims doesn’t make anything any better. I completely agree with that statement but it’s absolutely not what this book is about. The Power is all about empowering women but then looking at what happens when they have all that power, and just like now, it’s not all good. The power becomes a corrupting force for some of the women, they turn power-hungry and want to be on top at all costs, which is how it is in reality – too much power is always corrupting. I couldn’t understand the motives of some of the characters, I couldn’t identify or sympathise with what some of them did and it was right that this happened. I’ll be honest and say that I was a little concerned that The Power would be a man-hating novel but it isn’t, it really does look at what happens when the people that hold the power lose it, and others gain it. It’s terrifying, but also fascinating.

The novel is framed by letters from a male scholar to Naomi asking her opinion on his latest novel, The Power, and it ends with her thoughts after she read it. The last line in this novel is brilliant, one of the best final lines I’ve read in a long time. It left me thinking for a long time after I put the book down.

This is a fascinating novel, it will really make you think and it’ll stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. I definitely recommend it.

The Power is out now!

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

About the Author

naomi alderman

Naomi Alderman grew up in London and attended Oxford University and UEA. In 2006 she won the Orange Award for New Writers. In 2007, she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and one of Waterstones’ 25 Writers for the Future.

Her first novel, Disobedience, was published in ten languages. Penguin published her second novel, The Lessons, in 2010 and her third novel, The Liars’ Gospel, in August 2012. Her new novel, The Power, will be published at the end of October 2016. All of her novels have been chosen for BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime slot.

Her prize-winning short fiction has appeared in Prospect, on BBC Radio 4 and in a number of anthologies. In 2009 she was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award.

From 2004 to 2007 Naomi was lead writer on the alternate reality game Perplex City. She’s written online games for Penguin, the BBC, and other clients. In 2011 she wrote the Doctor Who tie-in novel Borrowed Time. In 2012, she co-created the top-selling smartphone fitness game and audio adventure Zombies, Run!, which is a market leader and has been downloaded millions of times.

Naomi broadcasts regularly, has guest-presented Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and writes frequently for the Guardian. She is one of the presenters of Science Stories, a programme about the history of science on BBC Radio 4, as well as presenting many one-off documentaries.

Naomi is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, has been mentored by Margaret Atwood as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, and in April 2013 she was named one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in their once-a-decade list.

(Bio and author photo taken from: NaomiAlderman.com)

#BookReview: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan @ruthmariehogan @TwoRoadsBooks

keeper-of-lost-things-hb

About the Book

MEET THE ‘KEEPER OF LOST THINGS’…
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you’ve finished reading.
WE’RE ALL JUST WAITING TO BE FOUND…

My Thoughts

From the moment I first read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it – what a brilliant premise for a novel! I love the idea of someone picking up and keeping safe all the lost things, and the idea of trying to reunite these items with their owners. It kind of made me feel that maybe some of the things I’ve been heartbroken to lose might have been picked up by someone who has looked after them over the years, rather than them having ended up in a bin. I admit that it made my heart sing.

The Keeper of Lost Things has two stories running through it. Anthony is the keeper of lost things – he began collecting lost things after his fiancee Therese died, and has carried on throughout the years. He is clearly still grieving for the love of his life but has channeled his emotion into trying to reunite people with their belongings – he seems to be focusing on this as a way atoning for his own loss. His story broke my heart – I felt such sadness for his loss and his pain. He reminded me a lot of my Grandad, who was forever mending things for people and when my Nan died he was broken himself and nothing could fix him.

‘It had been in his pocket as he stood waiting for Therese on the corner of Great Russell Street. But she never came, and by the time he got home that day, he had lost them both.’

Laura is Anthony’s housekeeper. She is dealing with the aftermath of a break-up and is feeling really low. She loves looking after Anthony and his home, but is shocked to find when Anthony dies that she is to become the holder of the lost things. Through this Laura meets Sunshine, who is a wonderful character. I adored her, her name really does suit her joyful personality.

The other story running throughout the book is about Eunice and Bomber. Their story is from the past and the way their story is woven through the novel with Laura’s story is wonderful. Bomber’s sister Portia is a wannabe novelist and this makes for comedy gold throughout the novel, there honestly were laugh-out-loud moments as Bomber read her latest attempt at writing.

Interspersed among the two story strands are the stories behind some of the lost things that Anthony has found and kept over the years. I loved these short snapshots of the life these items may have had before they were lost, it really made me think about all the times we see lost things in the street and often it seems like rubbish but some of these items will have been loved by their owners and probably much missed. The lost items exist in reality but it’s almost like they’re also metaphors for all the bigger losses we experience in out lives. The items are representatives of the moments that matter in our lives. The items we keep after we’ve lost a loved one became so much more precious because they’re all we have left, and our memories are so wrapped up in each item, so the thought of ever losing those things is almost too much to contemplate. Anthony’s collection of lost things seems filled with all the memories of people he has never met but he knows they need to be safe-guarded. It does give a sense of peace to know that someone like Anthony might be keeping our lost things safe.

The Keeper of Lost Things is one of those novels that will break your heart, but it will mend it again. It will make you cry, it will make you laugh and it will leave you holding your treasured items, and more so the people you love, a little tighter. It’s a beautiful novel, one that everyone will be able to identify with, and it’s one that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

The Keeper of Lost Things is out now!

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

About the Author

ruth hogan

I was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford.  My sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me.

As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on.  Luckily, my mum worked in a bookshop.  My favourite reads were The MoomintrollsA Hundred Million FrancsThe Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and the back of cereal packets, and gravestones.

I passed enough A levels to get a place at Goldsmiths College, University of London, to study English and Drama.  It was brilliant and I loved it. And then I got a proper job.

I worked for ten years in a senior local government position: a square peg in round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage.

In my early thirties I had a car accident which left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously.

It was all going well, but then in 2012 I got Cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing and the eventual result was The Keeper Of Lost Things.

I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering partner.  I am a magpie; always collecting treasures (or ‘junk’ depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan.

My favourite word is’ antimacassar’ and I still like reading gravestones.

(Bio and author photo taken from: TwoRoadsBooks.com)

Weekly Wrap-Up (14 May)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

 

IMG_9046

In happy news this week… I managed to have an hour out with my husband. The gorgeous weather coincided with his day off earlier this week so we went and sat in a lovely pub beer garden and had lunch outside. It was bliss to feel the sun on my skin and to just be outside for a little while. And it was wonderful to have time out with my husband and to just feel normal for a while. It’s been months since I’ve spent time outside and it made me so happy. This was our view 🙂

This week has been quite positive on the medical front but it means tough times ahead in the short term but will be worth it in the longer run. I’ve now managed to reduce my pain meds enough that I can switch to different meds, which will give me more control. In the short term this means my condition will be much worse due to sudden withdrawal and an increase in pain while my body adjusts. I’m trying to focus on the longer term when I will hopefully be better able to control my pain without feeling drugged up all the time. I’m only sharing this here as once the med change happens (it’s due to be in the next couple of days but it will depend on the NHS being back up and running) I will probably be around less for a little while. I may miss replying to comments here, or commenting and sharing your posts so please bear with me, I will be around as and when I can be.

I did have a productive couple of days at the start of last week and managed to write quite a few reviews and posts so I’ve got those scheduled. It means there will still be posts from me but I might not necessarily be around when the posts appear and links are tweeted.

This week I’ve finished reading four books:

The Zero by Jess Walter

This was my audio book for this week and I very much enjoyed listening to it. It’s a novel set around the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York but the main character is losing chunks of time and is increasingly confused so the story is told out of order. This book was so much more than I was expecting and I’m so glad that I stumbled upon it when sorting out my Kindle last week.

Fairytale Interrupted by RoseMarie Terenzio

This was an interesting book written by John F. Kennedy Jr.’s assistant. I enjoyed reading about the setting up of George magazine, and about John and Carolyn. I did find that Terenzio is a bit irritating at times but it didn’t stop me enjoying the book for the most part.

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

This is a beautiful novel, one that I think I’ll be reading again in the future. I was sent this for review so I’m hoping to get my thoughts written up and posted very soon.

The Way Back Home by Freya North

I was such a fan of Freya North’s novels when she was first published but I haven’t read anything by her for a few years now. I’m not sure when I bought this book but I found it on my kindle last week and decided to read it right away. I really enjoyed it, it isn’t my favourite book by her but it was a good read. I especially loved that Cat and Django from an earlier novel featured in this novel, it was nice to see how they both were.

 

This week I’ve blogged seven times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday: Guest post by Paul E. Hardisty about the evolution of his protagonist Claymore Stryker as part of the Reconciliation for the Dead blog tour

Tuesday: Review of Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Review of The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Friday: Review of The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I started reading this yesterday and am already engrossed. Eleanor Oliphant is a great character and it feels like she could be one of those characters that really stays with me after I finish the book.

The Light We Lost by Jill

I started reading this last night and it’s got me hooked. I’m intrigued by where the story is going and what happened between these two people.

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

This book is so gripping, it grabbed me on the first page and I begrudge having to put the book down when real life intervenes on my reading time.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

This is another book that has been on my TBR for ages – I actually bought it when it was published but never got around to reading it. I’ve discovered the audio version is part of my subscription service so I’m part listening and part reading it. I’m really enjoying it and am intrigued to know where the story is going.

Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

This is an incredible memoir of a top heart surgeon and I’ve been fascinated by the various surgeries that he has been involved with, or has pioneered himself. I’d recommend this book to everyone.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I’ve read another chapter of this book this week and am really engrossed in it now. It’s a similar book to And the Band Played on by Randy Schilts, and some of the same people do feature but a different perspective is given so it’s fascinating. I do find it utterly horrifying how various political elements stopped the cause of AIDS being known sooner.

 

the-state-of-my-2

Update on my TBR:

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1934

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 8

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 4

Books I’m currently reading: 6

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1932

Woo hoo! My TBR has gone down by two, which I’m very happy with. 🙂


 

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


 

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

 

See my new #bookhaul in this week’s Stacking the Shelves post (13 May)

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

Here are the books I bought this week:

IMG_9073

The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while so I decided to treat myself this week. I’ve got a lot of review books to read at the moment so this may have to wait a little while before I can read it but I am really looking forward to it.

Synopsis:

The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

IMG_9071

The Second Sister by Claire Kendal

I hadn’t heard much about this book but I’ve seen the cover on social media and it’s so striking that I had to know more. Once I read the synopsis I was very keen to read it so I treated myself to a copy.

Synopsis:

It is ten years since Ella’s sister Miranda disappeared without trace, leaving her young baby behind. Chilling new evidence links Miranda to the horrifying Jason Thorne, now in prison for murdering several women. Is it possible that Miranda knew him?

At thirty, Miranda’s age when she vanished, Ella looks uncannily like the sister she idolized. What holds Ella together is her love for her sister’s child and her work as a self-defence expert helping victims.

Haunted by the possibility that Thorne took Miranda, and driven by her nephew’s longing to know about his mother, Ella will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth – no matter how dangerous…

IMG_9069

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

The lovely Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings mentioned in a comment on my blog that she was reading this at the moment and very much enjoying it. I was sure I had a copy on my TBR and was just in the mood to read it but alas it seemed I was wrong. So when I was ordering my other books this week I thought I would treat myself to this one too. It’s a short book so I’m hoping I can squeeze it in between some of my review books soon.

Synopsis:

In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.

 

the good widow liz fenton

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

I read a fab review of this on the lovely NovelGossip’s blog this week so immediately went to add it to my wish list. I then spotted that it was part of the Kindle First selection for May and could download it for free so I did just that. I really hope to read this soon as it sounds gripping!

Synopsis:

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

 

The Trespasser by Tana French

The Trespasser by Tana French

I’ve read and enjoyed the first three books in the Murder Squad series so when I spotted the latest one on offer for £1.99 on Kindle this week I decided to buy it. It means I now have the rest of the series on my Kindle ready for me to read.

Synopsis:

There’s the murder squad you set your sights on at the beginning: the one where you’re playing knife-edge mind-games with psychopathic geniuses. And there’s the one you actually work on. The night shifts. The vicious pranks that go too far. Sifting the dregs for the case that might just be special.

Tonight’s case isn’t it. Uniforms call it in as a slam-dunk domestic.
Except when Conway takes a good look at the victim’s face, she realises she’s seen her somewhere before. And she knows there’s a different answer. And it takes her breath away.

This is the case she imagined. Precision-cut and savage, lithe and momentous.

 

I received two review books:

last seen by lucy clarke

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I spotted this in a NetGalley email this week and immediately went to request it. I loved Lucy Clarke’s previous novels so am really keen to read this one. I don’t think this will be on my TBR for long at all!

Synopsis:

Two boys missing. A seaside community with a dark secret at its heart…

Two little boys go missing out at sea – and only one is brought to shore.

For the boys’ mothers, best friends Sarah and Isla, the tragedy splinters a friendship. And The Sandbank – once an idyllic seaside haven – becomes a place of ghosts.

On the anniversary of the drowning, the other boy is missing. Parents Nick and Sarah try to quell their panic, but the Sandbank hums with tension as decade-old memories rise to the surface.

The truth lies in the past, like broken glass buried in the sand. Someone is hiding something – the question is, what did they see?

 

the impossible fortress

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak

I’ve heard so many great things about this book and have been wanting read it for a while so I was really pleased when I got approved on NetGalley this week. I want to read this one very soon!

Synopsis:

It’s 1987. Billy Marvin, the tallest boy in ninth grade, has just witnessed history. 

Wheel of Fortune presenter Vanna White is on the cover of Playboy. Billy and his friends, Alf and Clark, know that if they can get hold of the magazine, their world will change. For ever. But as Billy says, ‘No shopkeeper in America was going to sell Playboy to a fourteen-year-old boy.’

As they set out on their mission to find the most wanted images in America, they’re blissfully unaware of the dangers, dramas and garbage dumpsters that lie ahead. And of how a girl called Mary might just change one of their lives. For ever.

 

 

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

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

#BookReview: The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett @Ittymay @HQStories

the-people-at-number-9-by-felicity-everett

About the Book

‘Have you met them yet, the new couple?’

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.

When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…

Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs…

My Thoughts

This book intrigued me from the moment I first saw the cover and I simply had to read it. I love books about neighbours and the things that can go wrong between people who live next door to each other. I think it’s because we all have neighbours and they can be varying degrees of nice or nosey or rude – The People at Number 9 takes the idea of envy and ramps it up to make a brilliant read.

This book is centred around two couples – Sara and Neil, and the family who move in next door – Lou and Gav. Sara is the most intriguing character for me because initially she invites Lou in and seems perturbed that Lou doesn’t openly admire her kitchen, when most people do. I immediately thought I knew exactly the type of person she was but it quickly becomes apparent that Sara is more the kind of person that just wants to be accepted and admired. She is very drawn to Lou and to Gav and increasingly wants to be more like them. I couldn’t make my mind up whether Sara was easily led a lot of the time or whether she was one of those people who has somehow never really formed a sense of who she is and so latches on to whoever she’s around.

Sara becomes fixated with people very easily and doesn’t seem to let go. There is a moment where she talks about her first crush but rather than it being a moment of reminiscing it seems she’s still holds tightly to the memory and the wish that she had done things differently.

Gav and Lou seem to be the opposite type of people to Sara and Neil – they are bohemian in their lifestyle and very laid back. They have chilled out parties in their home, and they don’t worry that the decor isn’t super modern. Sara seems enthralled by them from the off. Lou and Gave seem quite lax about their children, which concerns Sara, leading her to step in to help.

Lou seems happy to have Sara be her new best friend, and as time moves on I started to feel that Lou was taking advantage of Sara’s good nature but at the same time I was uneasy about Sara – it also felt like she was pushing herself into Lou’s life as much as she could. It did feel like Gav and Lou were quietly mocking Sara for wanting to be like them whilst being perfectly happy to let her run around after their children.

It fascinated me noticing how Sara begins to talk more like Gav and Lou, she begins to feel jealous of their other friends and it’s like she believes she has a monopoly on them. Neil is in the background in this novel but gradually he seems to become more transfixed by the new neighbours too, and also a bit bemused by his wife’s behaviour and new attitude to things. It felt like we, the reader, could see an overview of the lives of these characters but the characters themselves were so enmeshed in their world that they could only see the tiny details. As the tension in the book builds it felt like I was watching a car crash in very slow motion, and I was powerless to look away as I read on to see if my suspicions would be proved correct.

This is one of those books where none of the characters are particularly likeable, and yet you find yourself drawn to them and you want to know more. This is a novel that is so much about envying what others have, about being insecure in your own skin, about being caught up in the new and shiny and forgetting about all the good that was already there. This book takes things to a level that wouldn’t happen to most people but it remains grounded in reality. I’m sure everyone who reads this book will see elements of people they know in these characters.

The People at Number 9 is quite a slow-burn novel and yet it feels fast-paced at the same time – I read it in two sittings as I didn’t want to put it down. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat thriller but there is a real undercurrent of uneasiness that runs throughout this novel. I loved this book and definitely recommend it.

The People at Number 9 is out now.

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

 

About the Author

felicity everett

 

Felicity Everett grew up in Manchester and attended Sussex University. After an early career in children’s publishing and freelance writing, which produced more than twenty-five works of children’s fiction and non-fiction, Felicity’s debut adult novel The Story of Us was published by Random House in 2011. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her family.

#BookReview: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr @emily_barr @penguinrandom

the-one-memory-of-flora-banks

About the Book

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN TRUST YOURSELF?

I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t, and the next day she remembers it. It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone. She thinks he’s moved to the Arctic.

Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?

My Thoughts

I’ve read a few of Emily Barr’s previous novels and always enjoyed them so I was excited when I got approved to read this new book, Emily Barr’s first young adult novel, back in January. I read the book back then but didn’t manage to get my review finished and posted but I can say that the book has really stayed fresh in my mind, which is always testament to a great read!

Flora Banks is such a brilliant character, I loved reading about her from the opening chapter. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to not be able to form new memories, to only have memories from childhood. Flora is now a teenager but her mother, in her need to protect Flora, keeps her trapped as a child. Flora tries to keep a grip on her life by writing notes to herself but inevitably they get muddled up, or moved and then she has to try and piece things together. One night she experiences her first kiss and the next day finds that she has remembered it. The details around the kiss are not there but she remembers the kiss so clearly.

The novel is all about Flora learning to forge her way in the world in spite of her memory problems. Flora believes that if she can just find the boy she kissed that it will unlock her memory, that he is now the answer to everything. Life never goes as planned though and Flora encounters a lot of difficulties on her journey to find him. She becomes fiercely determined to prove to herself that she is growing up and that she will be able to manage on her own. Reading about Flora as she attempts to find the boy she kissed is really touching. To see this girl making such valiant attempts to remember things, to find ways to trigger her memory is incredible.

I felt quite on edge at times as the novel went on, it was nerve-wracking seeing Flora out in the world without her support systems in place. There are moments when she becomes really quite confused and upset, and I was so involved in the novel that I wanted to reach into the pages and tell her it would be ok. I was really cheering her on and wanting her to find the boy on her own and for everything to work out fine.

I love how Emily Barr managed to show us Flora’s life, to show us how it is to have amnesia and while inevitably some things are repeated throughout the book as we experience Flora’s confusion each day, the book never feels repetitive.

I also really appreciated how this novel never became too cliched. I was fully expecting Flora to easily find the boy and for them to fall in love and live happily ever after as is often the case, but it wasn’t remotely straightforward for her. She has so many challenges to overcome and life is never going to be easy for her. The novel for me felt so much more about Flora finding a way to have some independence and to gain a life of her own than it is about a boy, although the boy is the catalyst for the story.

It was also really interesting how we get to see Flora with her childhood best friend Paige, who’s a healthy seventeen year old. The contrast between them is quite stark at times and it really highlights just how much Flora has missed out on due to her amnesia. Early in the book the two girls are at a party together and Flora really does seem like a child, it’s quite sad to see. Paige is tied to Flora because they were friends before the amnesia – Paige tries hard to be a good friend but you can see how hard it is for her at times, particularly in the early part of the novel. It must be so difficult to be growing up and having more and more independence while the girl you grew up with is still ten years old in her mind. This is so sensitively written and I was really hoping that their friendship would survive as the book goes on, more so than I was wanting a romance between Flora and the boy.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to everyone. It is aimed a young adults but it’s a book that can be enjoyed by anyone.

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

About the Author

emily barr

I started out working as a journalist in London, but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. I managed, somehow, to get commissioned to go travelling for a year, and came home with the beginnings of a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia. This became BACKPACK, a thriller which won the WH Smith New Talent Award, and I have since written eleven more novels published in the UK and around the world.

I live in Cornwall with my partner Craig and our children, and am working on my second YA novel, which is set in Rio.

(Bio taken from EmilyBarr.com)

WWW Wednesday (10 May) What are you reading today?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

I started this book yesterday and it’s so good, I just want to sit and read all day long. Unfortunately, I can’t but I will be reading in every spare second I have today!

The Zero by Jess Walters

I found this book on my Kindle recently but I couldn’t remember buying it so I looked the synopsis up and it sounded interesting. I started reading it this week and I’m hooked. It’s based around the 9/11 terrorist attacks but it’s told through the viewpoint of a police officer who is losing chunks of time and becoming increasingly confused, so it’s all out of order and strange. It’s a great read so far though and I’d recommend it.

Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

I was sent this book for review a couple of months ago and am finally reading it. It’s a brilliant memoir of a heart surgeon – his writing about the surgeries he’s been involved with are incredible.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This is an outstanding book about the AIDS crisis. It’s a look at the doctors and scientists trying to figure out what this disease was, it looks at some of the people affected by AIDS and it’s such a powerful and moving read.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Fairytale Interrupted by RoseMarie Terenzio

This is the memoir of John F. Kennedy Jr’s assistant and is an interesting read. It’s much more about RoseMarie but it’s fascinating to learn more about John and his wife, Carolyn. I also enjoyed reading about the setting up and launching of George magazine.

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

This book is wonderful, I’ve been completely enthralled with these characters and I didn’t want to come to the end of their story. I’ll be reviewing this on my blog soon.

The Way Back Home by Freya North

I found this on my Kindle the other day when I was re-organising it and decided to start reading right away. I really enjoyed this book, it’s not my favourite of Freya North’s book but it was a good read. I do love how characters from Freya North’s previous novels pop up in later books, and in this one it was Cat and Django so I did love finding out how they were both doing.

The Elephant in the Room by Jon Ronson

This is a very short book, just 52 pages long, about the run-up to the 2016 American Presidential election. It focuses on two or three people that are believed to have held a lot of influence with Donald Trump, and it makes for an interesting read.

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young

I found this on my Kindle too – shockingly it’d been on there since 2012! I’m annoyed that I didn’t pick it up until this week as once I started reading I absolutely fell in love with the story. It had me hooked all the way through and I immediately wanted to read the second book in the trilogy.

The Heroes’ Welcome by Louisa Young

This is the second book in the above series and I read it straight after the first book. I enjoyed this novel but it because it starts immediately where the first book finishes it feels like one book in my head. That’s not a bad thing though. I’m not looking forward to reading the third book and plan to get to that very soon.

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

This book is brilliant, I think it may even be my new favourite Sharon Bolton novel. I’m trying to get my review written at the moment so hopefully I’ll get that posted on here very soon.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

I’ve had this book on my TBR since it was first published and I’ve still not got around to reading it. I know that the next book in the series is coming out very soon so I’m keen to catch up.

 

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

#BookReview: Little Deaths by Emma Flint @picadorbooks ‏@flint_writes

little-deaths-emma-flint

About the Book

It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone—a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress—wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy’s body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.

As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth’s life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth’s little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman—and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children’s lives.

Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete’s interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there’s something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance—or is there something more sinister at play?

My Thoughts

I was approved to read this book from NetGalley back in January and I read it soon after but life got in the way of me getting my review written in a timely manner. I’m now quite pleased about that as I’ve had time to really think about the book and I can honestly say that it has stayed with me so strongly.

Little Deaths is a claustrophobic read; it’s set in a hot summer in 1965 and the heat feels stifling as it emanates from the page. There is a sense that the heat is intensifying the way everyone behaves.

Ruth is a fascinating character; I was intrigued by her and interested in her all the way through the novel. It was shocking to see how quick everyone was to judge that she likely murdered her two children entirely based on her looks and the fact that she was a single mother, but then it seems that all women are judged harshly, and so often it’s by other women and their peers. Ruth is a very glamorous woman and she enjoys going out dancing, but her outer appearance belies how she really feels. Ruth is uncomfortable in her own skin. She has an almost fear of any kind of bodily function – she panics when she feels herself begin to perspire and her mind obsesses about people noticing. She puts on her make up in a fastidious fashion – she cannot bear to be seen without it, even on the morning she finds her children missing. Society judges that she is vain and cold, but actually her make up is her mask – she needs it on in order to face the world, in order to cope. It is so easy for society to make judgements but people are far more complex than what we can see on the outside. For me, Ruth wanting to paint her face was her way of holding herself together when her life was spiralling out of control.

The way men see Ruth throughout this novel is also really fascinating. The police seem keen to see her as a scarlet woman and therefore someone who would likely have hurt her children, believing that she would kill them because they held her back from the lifestyle she wanted to be living. Then there is Pete, the young journalist, who quickly becomes fixated with Ruth and therefore believes she must be innocent. He imprints his own beliefs about Ruth onto her and begins to believe that he knows how she’s feeling. There doesn’t seem to be a man in this novel that can see Ruth as she really is – an independent woman who is doing her best in difficult circumstances. Even her estranged husband Frank cannot, or perhaps will not, see that Ruth is actually vulnerable and fragile, and that her wanting to look nice all the time is part of her defence mechanism.

Although we, as readers, are seeing a lot of the story through Ruth’s eyes we still can’t be sure that she is innocent. She maintains that she didn’t harm her children or take them out of the apartment, and she that worries people are thinking that she did. I thought she was most likely telling the truth but I couldn’t be sure that she wasn’t suffering from a breakdown of some kind and that she believed she hadn’t done it when really she might have done.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a crime or thriller novel before that has made me tearful. As this novel went on I felt more and more sad for Ruth. There is a moment when she feels a compulsion to buy a new dress and the way she is torn to shreds in the media for that one act made me want to weep for her. It was so apparent to me that she just wanted to look nice one more time for her babies, she wasn’t aware of it seeming inappropriate, she was just compelled to do it for them, and as a way of holding herself together. This makes sense knowing what we know about Ruth but the things that were said about her afterwards made my heart break.

I actually didn’t know when I was reading this novel that it was based on a true story, so when I read this at the end of the book I was horrified all over again at what society is capable of doing to women in the way we judge. There are still so many cases, particularly when a crime is committed, where society leaps to a judgement based on how the woman looks in a way that we don’t do with men. It’s sobering to think that what happened to Ruth, or Alice Crimmins, the woman she is based on, is still happening now.

This book had me completely and utterly engrossed all the way through, I begrudged real life interrupting my reading time.

Little Deaths is a stunning literary thriller and I highly recommend it. I read this novel back in January and it has stayed with me all these months and I feel sure it will still be in my top books of the year when I come to compile that list in December.

I received a copy of Little Deaths from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

emma flint

Emma Flint grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne, and has been writing fiction since she knew what stories were. She graduated from the University of St. Andrews with an MA in English Language and Literature, later completing a novel-writing course at the Faber Academy. She worked in Edinburgh for four years, and now lives in north London.

Since childhood, she has been drawn to true-crime stories, developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of real-life murder cases. She is equally fascinated by notorious historical figures and by unorthodox women – past, present and fictional.

All of these themes informed and inspired Little Deaths, a heady blend of sex, murder, obsession, noir and a femme fatale. Set in 1960s suburban New York, the novel re-tells a horrifying true story with a modern feminist slant.

(Bio taken from EmmaFlint.com)

Paul E. Hardisty on Claymore Stryker | Reconciliation of the Dead #blogtour @OrendaBooks

reconciliation-for-the-dead

Today I’m thrilled to be on the Orenda blog tour for Reconciliation of the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty. Paul has written a brilliant guest post about the evolution of Claymore Stryker for my stop.

 

The Evolution of Claymore Stryker

In the opening scene of my new novel, Reconciliation for the Dead, the lead character, Claymore Straker, is in Maputo, Mozambique, considering his future. It is 1997, and he is on the run, again. The events of the last few years (described in the first book of the series, the CWA Creasy New Blood Dagger shortlisted The Abrupt Physics of Dying, set in Yemen during the 1994 civil war; and the second book, The Evolution of Fear, set largely in Cyprus and Istanbul in 1995) are behind him now, but still raw in his memory.

He has just finished testifying to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, having returned to South Africa for the first time since being dishonourably discharged from the army and sent into exile over fifteen years earlier. Over three days of testimony, Clay takes us on a journey into the darkest chapter of his country’s history, revealing the horrifying events that led to him abandoning everything he was raised to believe in. It is 1980, Clay is a young paratrooper, fighting on the front lines in South Africa’s war against the communist insurgency in Angola. On a patrol deep behind enemy lines, Clay is confronted by an act of the most shocking brutality. It will change him forever. Wounded in battle, struggling to make sense of what he has witnessed, Clay tries to uncover the dark secret behind those events, and what lies hidden in apartheid’s murky core.

For fourteen years, Clay tries to forget the past, buries it deep. But as the years go by, his post-traumatic stress worsens. Then, working for an oil company in Yemen, everything starts to unravel, and the horrors of war come flooding back. As civil war erupts, he meets Rania LaTour, a French journalist. She becomes the dominant influence in his life. In the face of the terrible injustice he witnesses, he must decide whether to act, or turn away and abandon his friends. Later, in Cyprus, increasingly beguiled and influenced by Rania, he recognises his need for absolution, and realises that he must go back and tell the truth about what happened all those years ago in South Africa. Only then, he believes, will he find a measure of peace, and perhaps become the man Rania deserves.

As the series continues into its fourth, and quite possibly final, instalment (The Debased and the Faithful, due out in 2018), Clay continues to evolve as a person. In a way, I consider the series more a fictional biography in four parts, than a traditional crime series. The situations into which he is thrust, into which he drives himself, are the direct consequence of the events and the people that have shaped him. Each exerts its own unique influence, and together, combine to make him the person he is destined to become.  How it will all end, I don’t quite know yet. All I know is that Clay’s journey is not over, and is about to get a whole lot more difficult. Rania’s too.

 

About the Book

reconciliation-for-the-dead

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.

It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.

Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

About the Author

Paul Hardisty

Canadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

You can find Paul on twitter: @Hardisty_Paul

(Bio taken from Orenda Books website)

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the stops on the poster below:

Reconciliation for the Dead Blog Tour poster

Weekly Wrap-Up (7 May)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

This week has been a quiet one for the most part with nothing major to write about so I’ll get straight on to my reading and blogging news…

 

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

I loved this book – it’s one of those novels that grabs you on the first page and then the pace doesn’t really let up throughout. I’m thinking that I might try and review this one soon.

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

This book is incredible. It’s so powerful and brutal but compelling at the same time. I reviewed this for the blog tour this week so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young

I’ve had this book on my TBR for five years and finally picked it up this week. I’m annoyed at myself for not reading it sooner as I very much enjoyed it. So much so that I immediately picked up the second book in the trilogy…

The Heroes’ Welcome by Louisa Young

This is the second book in the above trilogy and has also been on my TBR for a while so I was really pleased that I enjoyed the first book and could get straight on with this one. The third book is now awaiting me on my TBR and I’m looking forward to reading that soon.

The Elephant in the Room by Jon Ronson

This is a very short book (52 pages) all about the run-up to the 2016 American presidential election and is very interesting. It predominantly looks at some of the men involved in the Trump campaign and how much influence they may have had.

 

 

This week I’ve blogged six times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

                Review of The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull for the blog tour

Monday: April Wrap-Up

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

                        Review of Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson for the blog tour

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

 

Fairytale Interrupted by RoseMarie Terenzio

I can’t even remember when I got this book but it was on my TBR and I spotted it when sorting my kindle this week. I picked it up and was intrigued enough to keep reading. It’s a book about John F. Kennedy Jr by his PA. I’m about a quarter of the way through it at the moment and so far it’s predominantly about setting up the magazine George and is really interesting.

The Way Back Home by Freya North

This is another book that I noticed when sorting my Kindle out and decided to make it my next read. I’ve read 10% of it so far and am struggling to get into it but I’ve always enjoyed Freya North’s books so am going to give it a bit longer to see if it grabs me.

Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

I was sent this for review a couple of months ago and finally got to pick it up this week. It’s a hard read because of the subject matter but it’s fascinating and I’m looking forward to reading more.

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

This book is so beautiful and I hope to be able to read more of this week. I’m really enjoying it but am struggling to read the faint print at the moment. I’m considering buying the ebook book, or the audio book if there is one, so I can find out what happens.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I read another couple of chapters of this book this week and am really engrossed in it. It’s a very powerful book and one I highly recommend.

the-state-of-my-2

Update on my TBR:

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1933

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 12

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 5

Books I’m currently reading: 5

TBR Books culled this week: 1

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1934

I’m really pleased that I’ve very nearly broken even with my TBR this week! Obviously it’d be better if I was reading more books than I was acquiring but keeping my TBR steady is better than the numbers going up and up!

 


 

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


 

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

See my new #bookhaul in this week’s Stacking the Shelves post (6 May)

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

Here are the books I bought this week:

51rsuxgEjYL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train so have been eagerly anticipating this book. I have heard mixed things about it but I still want to read it and see what I think. I hope to start reading this today or tomorrow.

Synopsis:

In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .

Set the Boy Free by Johnny Marr

Set the Boy Free by Johnny Marr

I’ve been wanting to read this for ages so when I spotted it in the kindle sale for £1.99 this week I snapped it up. I notice that I can now buy the audible version for £2.99 so I may do that and make this my next listen with my husband.

Synopsis:

Johnny Marr was born in 1960s Manchester to Irish emigrant parents and knew from an early age that he would be a musician. Forming his first band at thirteen, Marr spent his teenage years on the council estates of Wythenshawe playing guitar, devouring pop culture and inventing his own musical style.

It wasn’t until the early eighties, when Marr turned up on the doorstep of a singer named Steven Patrick Morrissey, that both a unique songwriting partnership and the group recognised as one of the most iconic bands of all time were formed. In 1983 The Smiths released their first single, and within a year their eponymous debut album reached number two in the UK chart, paving the way for mainstream and critical success on their own terms.

For Marr, tensions within the band and desire for a wider musical scope led to his departure from The Smiths in 1987, ensuring the end of one of the most influential British groups of a generation.

But this was just the beginning for Marr. From forming Electronic and The Healers to playing with Bryan Ferry, Talking Heads, Kirsty MacColl, Pet Shop Boys, Billy Bragg, Nile Rodgers and Bert Jansch. From joining The Pretenders, The The, Modest Mouse and The Cribs to recently collaborating with Hans Zimmer and receiving acclaim and worldwide success in his own right as a solo artist, Marr has never stopped. Here, for the first time, he tells his own side of the story.

From roaming the streets of Manchester to constantly pushing musical boundaries as the most loved guitarist Britain has ever produced, Johnny Marr’s memoir is the true history of music – told by one of its very own legends.

The Patriots by Sana Krasikov

The Patriots by Sana Krasikov

I’ve seen this book talked about on YouTube and it sounded really interesting so when I realised it was only £1.89 on Kindle I snapped it up. It’s a long novel so I’m going to save it for when I feel up to reading a longer book but I’m very much looking forward to getting to it.

Synopsis:

Growing up in 1930s Brooklyn, Florence Fein will do anything to escape the confining values of her family and her city, and create a life of meaning and consequence. When a new job and a love affair lead her to Moscow, she doesn’t think twice about abandoning America – only to discover, years later, that America has abandoned her.

Now, as her son Julian travels back to Moscow – entrusted to stitch together a murky transcontinental oil deal – he must dig into Florence’s past to discover who his mother really was and what she became. He must also persuade his own son, Lenny, to abandon his risky quest for prosperity in the cut-throat Russian marketplace. As he traces a thread from Depression-era America, through the collective housing and work camps of Stalin’s USSR, to the glittering, oil-rich world of New Russia, Julian finally begins to understand the role he has played – as a father, and as a son.

Epic in sweep and intimate in detail, The Patriots is both a compelling portrait of the entangled relationship between America and Russia, and a beautifully crafted story of three generations of one family caught between the forces of history and the consequences of past choices.

The Secret Mother by Victoria Delderfield

The Secret Mother by Victoria Delderfield

This is another book that I bought on a whim when I saw it in the kindle sale for 99p this week. I think this sounds like a really moving novel and I’m looking forward to sitting down with this one.

Synopsis:

Mai Ling is chasing the Chinese dream. She’s escaping to the city, seeking a new life, running away from the old customs of arranged marriage. The Secret Mother puts a face to the label Made in China. It tells the bittersweet story of a factory girl willing to risk everything. The Secret Mother uncovers the life of Mai Ling, who follows the Chinese dream and is denied motherhood when she must give up her twins in international adoption. Not to lose touch with her girls, Mai Ling follows them to England, and so begins a tale Netgalley reviewers called ‘heartfelt’, ‘intriguing’ and ‘a brilliant portrayal

Undertow by Elizabeth Heathcote

Undertow by Elizabeth Heathcote

This was an impulse buy as I was intrigued by the cover – it was another 99p book in the sale so I thought I’d take a chance on it. I enjoy these easy thrillers on days when my concentration isn’t great but I want to be caught up in a book.

Synopsis:

My husband’s lover. They said her death was a tragic accident. And I believed them . . . until now.

Carmen is happily married to Tom, a successful London lawyer and divorcé with three children. She is content to absorb the stresses of being a stepmother to teenagers and the stain of ‘second wife’. She knows she’ll always live in the shadow of another woman – not Tom’s first wife Laura, who is resolutely polite and determinedly respectable, but the lover that ended his first marriage: Zena. Zena who was shockingly beautiful. Zena who drowned swimming late one night.

But Carmen can overlook her husband’s dead mistress . . . until she starts to suspect that he might have been the person who killed her.

Obsession by Amanda Robson

Obsession by Amanda Robson

I had this book on pre-order when it was a bargain at 99p so it was a nice surprise when it appeared on my Kindle on Thursday. I love the cover of this one as well as the synopsis so hope to read this soon.

Synopsis:

One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?

It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.

Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?

Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?

Obsession is a dark, twisting thriller about how quickly our lives can fall apart when we act on our desires.

The Girlfriend by Michell Frances

The Girlfriend by Michell Frances

I saw this mentioned on social media a few times recently so went to Amazon to add it to my wish list but as it was on offer for the bargain price of 98p I decided to just buy it. I’m intrigued by this one and definitely want to try and read it before too long.

Synopsis:

A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she’ll wish she’d never told.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances is a gripping and chilling debut psychological thriller, based on the fall-out following an unforgiveable lie. It looks at the potentially charged relationship between girlfriend, boyfriend and his mother, which most women can identify with, and locates it in an extreme but believable setting.

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems.

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.

I also received five review books:

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

After reading Jo at MyChestnutReadingTree’s fabulous review of this novel I immediately requested it on NetGalley and was thrilled when I got the approval email! I want to read this very soon, hopefully this week.

Synopsis:

There’s trouble in paradise. . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy.

It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes.

After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

IMG_8987

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

I first saw the cover of this book on Twitter a few weeks ago and was so keen to read it. I was thrilled then I was offered the chance to be on the blog tour for the book. My date for the tour is mid-June so I’m trying to leave reading this until a bit nearer the time but I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to hold out for as it sounds like an incredible book.

Synopsis:

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops … Or does it? Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

IMG_8986

The One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria 

I got an email from the publicist for this book offering me the chance to review it and I immediately said yes. It sounds like such a great read, and doesn’t it have such a striking cover?

Synopsis:

Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?

Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.

There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.

But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…

IMG_8984

This Family of Things by Alison Jameson  

I spotted this book being offered to bloggers for review recently and immediately asked if I could have a copy. It sounds like such a gorgeous read and I’m really looking forward to getting to read it.

Synopsis:

On his way back up from the yard Bird had seen something white and round – a girl who had curled herself into a ball. Lifting her was like retrieving a ball of newspaper from out of the grass or an empty crisp bag that someone had flung over the ditch. She seemed to lack the bones and meat and muscle of real people. She felt as if she was filled with feathers.

On the day Midge Connors comes hurtling into Bird Keegan’s life, she flings open his small, quiet world. He and his two sisters, Olive and Margaret, have lived in the same isolated community all their lives, each one more alone than the others can know.

Taking in damaged, sharp-edged Midge, Bird invites the scorn of his neighbours and siblings. And as they slowly mend each other, family bonds – and the tie of the land – begin to weigh down on their tentative relationship. Can it survive the misunderstandings, contempt and violence of others?

A poignant and powerful study of the emotional lives of three siblings and the girl who breaks through their solitude.

IMG_8989

All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

I’m excited to have received an ARC of this book as it sounds so good! I’m actually reading Tall Oaks at the moment and loving it so I can’t wait to read this new book by the author.

Synopsis:

“Raine sometimes complains that nothing exciting is ever gonna happen in Grace again. Daddy told her careful what you wish for.”

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.

Then Summer goes missing.

Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.

But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .


 

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

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

#BookReview: Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson #BlogTour @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks

BLOCK 46 COVER AW.indd

About the Book

Evil remembers…

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.

Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?

Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French truecrime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to take part in the blog tour for Block 46 as I’d already heard about it and was really keen to read it.

This book was far more harrowing than I was expecting, and it was definitely more brutal and graphic in some of its descriptions and yet it was impossible to put down. I wanted to know what was going to happen, whether the case was going to be resolved and what all of the present-day murders had to do with the Buchenwald death camp.

I loved that this story is told predominantly through the eyes of a criminal profiler, Emily Roy, and a true crime investigative writer, Alexis Castells, who is also caught up in the murder of her friend Linnea. It gave a different slant to a crime novel than if it were told from a detective’s perspective and I found it really refreshing and different.

Emily is a fascinating character, I was intrigued by her all the way through the book. She has a very focused manner at times that leads her off into her own world and yet she deals with suspects so well and so cleverly. I also liked Alexis – she has a great way of being able to step back and see the bigger picture and complements Emily so well. They both have a tragedy in their pasts, which was touched on in this book so I’m interested to know more about that, along with how it’s affected them and made them who they are. I’m so pleased that there is to be a second book as I definitely want to spend more time with these two characters.

The scenes at Buchenwald were the hardest to read – it is so stark and unflinching, and I wasn’t expecting to read about the brutalities to the degree they were described. I could feel the sheer terror emanating through the pages. There were moments were I had to stop reading to just take a breath, but then the writing was so good that I was drawn to pick the book back up almost straight away.

Block 46 kept me guessing right until the very end – I genuinely couldn’t figure out who the murderer was. I thought I was onto something with a link to Buchenwald but I still picked the wrong strand to follow. I love when a book has me guessing and suspecting nearly everyone but not able to work it out; it doesn’t happen often but this book got me! I was honestly holding my breath as this novel gathered pace and I couldn’t read the words fast enough – I simply had to know who, what and where! The end, when it came, made sense but it left me reeling. I was honestly incapable of doing anything for quite a while after turning the last page, my mind wouldn’t stop turning over what I’d read. I was disturbed and unsettled by it but you’re meant to be, the writing is so brilliant.

Block 46 is harrowing, unflinching and brutal; it’s also brilliant, gripping and completely and utterly unputdownable! I highly recommend ordering a copy of this incredible crime thriller right away! I can’t wait to see what Johana Gustawsson writes next, I’ll certainly be first in line to buy it.

Block 46 was translated by Maxim Jakubowski.
Block 46 is due to be published on 15th May and can be pre-ordered now.

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

 

About the Author

Johana Photo

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour on the stops below:

block 46 blog tour poster

WWW Wednesday (3 May) What are you reading today?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young

I’ve had this book on my TBR since 2012 so I thought it was about time I finally picked it up. I’m really enjoying it and wishing I’d picked it up sooner!

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

I’m still very much enjoying this book but haven’t managed much reading from a screen, even my kindle, this week as my eyes have been really sore. I hope to get back to this very soon though as it’s such a great read.

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

This book has also fallen by the wayside a bit this week due to my fall last weekend as I’ve been struggling to hold print books even more than normal. I really hope I can get back to this soon as it’s a beautiful novel.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I’ve read a bit more of this book this week and am still finding it such a powerful read. I really hope to have time to read a big chunk of it soon as I think it is a book to really make time for.

What I recently finished reading:

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

This book is one that will stay with me. It’s such a harrowing read at times and yet one that you can’t stop thinking about when you’re not reading it. I’m actually on the blog tour for this today so you can read my review here if you’d like to.

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

This book is wonderful – I enjoyed every single second of reading it and highly recommend you pick it up soon. I reviewed this for the blog tour this week so you can read that here if you want to know more.

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

I’ve had this on my TBR for a little while now so when I spotted it was available on my audio subscription service I decided to listen to it. I really enjoy it and listened to it in just two sittings.

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

This book is brilliant, I can’t believe I’d not read it before now because once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. There was so much in this short novel that I already feel like I want to read it again! I highly recommend this if you’ve not read it before.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

This is another novel that I listened to over the last week. I’m not sure what I was excepting this to be about but it turned out to be something different – I still really enjoyed it though. It’s a YA novel but it’s done really well and I now want to listen or read the author’s first novel.

Titanic Lives by Richard Davenport-Hines

I found this audio book very interesting. I already knew quite a lot about the people involved with Titanic but there were things I didn’t know that I learnt from this book, which were fascinating. I recommend this if you’re interested in Titanic.

What I plan on reading next:

51rsuxgEjYL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I had this on pre-order and it arrived on my Kindle yesterday. I was so keen to start reading it immediately but need to finish one of my current reads first – hopefully I can start it today or tomorrow though!

 

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

April Wrap-Up post!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

April has been a quiet month for the most part. I’m still adjusting to medication changes, although that has been slowed down a bit now, so I haven’t felt up to doing much beyond my normal daily stuff. I did go out once this month with my husband, which was fab. We went record shopping on record store day, you can read about that in my weekly wrap-up post from yesterday. My husband collects records in the same way I collect books so our house is getting a bit full with both of our collections but at least we understand each other’s hobby!

In terms of blogging it’s been a good month. I was thrilled to have a few of my reviews from this month move into my most liked posts on my sidebar – and even had the top spot change a couple of times. First SweetPea got there and that was then knocked into the number two spot by See What I Have Done. Yesterday I got a notification telling me that I’d had my most likes in one day ever so that was lovely to read. I don’t obsess over my stats but it’s always nice to have a gauge that my blog is steadily growing as time goes by. I was also thrilled to discover that my review of See What I Have Done has been quoted on the new Lounge Books website, it made my day!

 

Here are the 19 books I read this month:

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

SweetPea by C.J. Skuse

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Affair by Amanda Brooke

The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

This Love by Dani Atkins

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing by Louise Rennison

He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly

Titanic Lives by Richard Davenport-Hines

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

April Blog Posts & Reviews

I managed to write and post eight reviews in April, which isn’t quite the three per week I was hoping to achieve but an average of two a week isn’t too bad. I did also post my regular posts: WWW Wednesday, Stacking the Shelves and Weekly Wrap-Up every week, which I’m happy about. Then I was lucky enough to interview two authors for my blog this month, and I got to feature a lovely author’s guest post. So all-in-all I’m happy with how many posts I shared on my blog this month but I would like to try and get some more reviews written and posted in May if I can.

Here are my reviews from April:

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

SweetPea by C.J. Skuse

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

The Affair by Amanda Brooke

This Love by Dani Atkins

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

 

Here are the author interviews I was lucky enough to do in April:

Jennifer Gilmour, author of Isolation Junction

Kay Langdale, author of The Comfort of Others

 

I also featured a guest post on my blog in April:

Lynda Renham, author of Remember Me, wrote a guest post about changing genres for her new novel

 

the-state-of-my-2

The state of my TBR:

The state of my TBR is something I’m starting to wish I’d never shared on my blog as every month I’m becoming more aware of how little willpower I have when it comes to books! I started the year with 1885 books on my TBR (these are all books that I own but haven’t read yet) and as of the end of April I now have 1933 unread books! I’m very aware that the number is going in completely the wrong direction but have so far being quite powerless to stop it.

I joined the Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads a little while ago and challenged myself to read at least 100 books that were on my TBR before the start of this year. I began to realise that I would struggle with getting my TBR reduced (although I am still trying to work on that) so am now trying to at least make sure that I’m reading a similar number of books I’ve owned a while to the new books I acquire. I’ve so far read 90 books this year and 41 were on my TBR before the start of 2017 so I’m happy with that ratio and hope to keep it up.

 


 

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

#BookReview: The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull #blogtour @rebeccamascull @HodderBooks

The wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

About the Book

In Edwardian England, aeroplanes are a new, magical invention, while female pilots are rare indeed.

When shy Della Dobbs meets her mother’s aunt, her life changes forever. Great Auntie Betty has come home from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, across whose windswept dunes the Wright Brothers tested their historic flying machines. Della develops a burning ambition to fly and Betty is determined to help her.

But the Great War is coming and it threatens to destroy everything – and everyone – Della loves.

Uplifting and page-turning, THE WILD AIR is a story about love, loss and following your dreams against all odds.

My Thoughts

The Wild Air is a wonderful novel, it drew me in from the prologue and had me captivated right through to the final page. This is the story of Cordelia (Della) Dobbs who knows that her place in life is to help her mother until such a time that she marries and has children of her own to raise. Della loves cycling and mending her bike and is fascinated by how things work. So when her Great-Auntie Betty arrives from America and introduces Della to kite flying and later aeroplanes it seems her life might be about to change beyond all recognition.

This book is so much about female ambition and determination and I loved that: from feisty, no-nonsense Great-Auntie Betty to her niece Della whose quiet desire to fly planes slowly becomes a real possibility. I so enjoyed seeing Della’s confidence slowly grow – it was lovely to see her find her voice, to begin to tentatively step forward and ask for what she wanted, to stand her ground. Even Della’s mum quietly admits to a long ago desire to achieve in a man’s world but it was something that she just couldn’t push ahead with. It means she has a real understanding of her daughter’s desire to achieve her dream though and she’s always very supportive of Della.

I’ve always been interested in the history around women pilots – I grew up near Hull so was always fascinated by Amy Johnson. Della felt like a real person to me, I absolutely believed in her – her sheer joy of flying planes just shines throughout this book and I was rooting for her all the way. It’s hard to imagine just how difficult it must have been for women in the Edwardian era to find a way into such a male-dominated arena. Della is referred to by one newspaper man as ‘little Della Dobbs’, which is so demeaning for an adult woman who is accomplishing so much in her field. It was also totally believable but still really quite shocking that some of the women who came to see Della were less than impressed with her achievements and were more interested in ‘the arrangements for [her] undercarriage’ – i.e. whether she still wore a corset! I really enjoyed reading about this obviously very well-researched time in history and about the women who paved the way for women pilots like Amy Johnson.

I have to mention one of the male characters in this book too. I loved Dud, he is such a great man and I loved his gentle nature and his enthusiasm for Della’s ambition to be a pilot. He believed in her from the day he saw her flying a kite and he never waivered in his belief in her. It was hard to read about what happened to him during the war, but again this was so beautifully and sensitively written – it really moved me.

The writing in this book is so beautiful and very evocative. My heart was in my mouth as Della gets her first taste of flying – I swear I could hear the propellers and could taste the engine oil. I was holding my breath as I willed her to get it right, to show the men on the ground exactly what she was made of. The moment she feels the wind in her hair for the first time, I could have been up there with her. The sheer magical joy just emanates from the page, it’s fabulous!

Rebecca Mascull really evokes what it was like to live in an era where flying was new and scary and exciting. This novel brought to life the way it must have felt to people to see these flying machines for the first time, and then for people to see female pilots in a time when women were expected to marry and raise a family, and not to have ambitions to have a career in any way equal to a man. The Wild Air is a beautiful, captivating novel and I highly recommend it.

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

The Wild Air is due to be published on 4th May by Hodder & Stoughton and can be pre-ordered now.

About the Author

Rebecca-Mascull-e1424274192376

Photo taken by Lisa Warrener

 

Rebecca Mascull is the author of THE VISITORS and SONG OF THE SEA MAID. She has previously worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England.

(Bio taken from: Hodder)

 

 

 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour at the blogs below:

BLOG TOUR POSTER-2

Weekly Wrap-Up (30 April)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

 

 

IMG_8930

Our RSD17 haul

It’s been a week of ups and downs this week! The ups were fab… my husband and I went record shopping on Record Store Day last Saturday and that was a lot of fun. It meant getting up at stupid o’clock to go wait in a queue in the freezing cold but that’s all part of it. The staff at the shop we went to were lovely – they handed out cups of tea and bacon rolls for anyone who wanted them, and they were so accommodating of me in my wheelchair when it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to get into the shop easily. We had a list of a few records that we really wanted to get and we were lucky to get all but two of them. We’ve since managed to get the final two online yesterday morning when all the remaining records were allowed to be put online by the record shops.

Unfortunately, it was overly ambitious for me to cope with being out so long in the cold and when we got home I had an horrendous fall. I managed to bruise all of my left side and banged my head quite badly. It really shook me up. I am prone to falling with my condition as my balance is off and I only have sensation in one leg (I’m paralysed down my right side) but this was the worst fall I’ve had in a while. Thankfully I’m starting to feel better now but it has affected me for most of this week.

Due to feeling so rough I’ve been taking it easy and have enjoyed relaxing with some audio books – they make up most of my reading for this week.

This week I’ve finished reading six books:

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

This is such a wonderful novel, I absolutely loved it. I’m actually on the blog tour today so you can read my review here if you’d like to.

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

This is one of my audio books for this week and I really enjoyed listening to it. I’d heard a lot of mixed things about the novel but I found it engaging and it had me hooked all the way through. I listened to it over three sittings and when I wasn’t listening I was thinking about it.

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while now so when I found it on my audio subscription this week I decided to listen to it. I’m annoyed with myself for not reading this before now as it was brilliant. I already want to read it again as it feels like it’s one of those short novels that is packed with so much subtle detail.

Titanic Lives by Richard Davenport-Hines

I really enjoyed this book, it was fascinating to find out more about the people who were involved with Titanic – from the designers to the engineers to the passengers. I knew a lot of the stories told in this book but some of it was new to me so it was nice to find out some things I didn’t know before.

He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly

I have to admit that I struggled to get into this book but once I did get into it I couldn’t put it down. I hope to get my review written and posted soon but I definitely recommend it.

Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing by Louise Rennison

I picked this up after my fall the other day and it was a perfect read for that moment in time. I’m way older than the target audience for this book but I still found it amusing. Louise Rennison really was such a great writer.

This week I’ve blogged five times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday: Interview with Kay Langdale for The Comfort of Others blog tour

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Review of See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

I’m finding this book hard to put down, it grabbed me early on and I’m begrudging the time when real life stops me from reading more. I’ll be reviewing this book on Wednesday for the blog tour so look out for my review then.

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

I can barely put into words how much I’m enjoying this book. If it wasn’t for me having such a bad week and struggling to hold a book to read I’d having finished this in a couple of sittings. I really hope I can get back to this very soon.

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

This is another book that I’ve had to leave to one side this week due to not being able to hold a print book very well. I was adoring it though and can’t wait to get back to it.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This is a really moving and powerful read that stays in your head every time you put it down. It’s interesting and well-written and I’m looking forward to reading more of it this week.

 


the-state-of-my-2

Update on my TBR: 

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1941

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 11

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 6

Books I’m currently reading: 4

TBR Books culled this week: 9

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1933

 

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


 

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

See my new #bookhaul in this week’s Stacking the Shelves post (29 April)

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

Here are the books I bought this week: 

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown

I love Isabel Ashdown’s writing so as soon as this was available for pre-order I ordered it. It was a lovely surprise when it appeared on my Kindle on Thursday as I’d forgotten it was release day. I want to read this soon – just need to read a few review books first.

Synopsis:

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I’ve seen this book around on social media and thought it sounded like a fascinating novel. I spotted it on a deal for 99p this week so decided to give it a go. I didn’t realise until I bought it just how long it is (over 700 pages!) so it might be a while before I have the time to sit and read this, hopefully not too long though.

Synopsis:

Yeongdo, Korea 1911.

In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.

Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story.

Through eight decades and four generations, Pachinko is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival.

Originals by Adam Grant

Originals by Adam Grant

This is a book I spotted in Kindle’s recent sale and thought it sounded interesting. I’m enjoying non-fiction at the moment so am looking forward to reading this one.

Synopsis:

Author examines how people can drive creative, moral, and organisational progress—and how leaders can encourage originality in their organisations.

How can we originate new ideas, policies and practices without risking it all? Adam Grant shows how to improve the world by championing novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battling conformity, and bucking outdated traditions.

Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt. Parents will learn how to nurture originality in children, and leaders will discover how to fight groupthink to build cultures that welcome dissent.

Told through dazzling case studies of people going against the grain, you’ll encounter an entrepreneur who pitches the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who challenged secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees who don’t criticize him, and the TV executive who saved Seinfeld from the cutting room floor. Originals will give you groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and how to change the world.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I can’t resist books about de-cluttering (yes, I know there’s an irony in that!) so I grabbed this one in the Kindle sale too. I enjoyed Marie Kondo’s first book so am really looking forward to reading this one.

Synopsis:

Spark Joy is an in-depth, line illustrated, room-by-room guide to decluttering and organising your home, from bedrooms and kitchens to bathrooms and living rooms as well as a wide range of items in different categories, including clothes, photographs, paperwork, books, cutlery, cosmetics, shoes, bags, wallets and valuables. Charming line drawings explain how to properly organise drawers, wardrobes, cupboards and cabinets. The illustrations also show Ms Kondo’s unique folding method, clearly showing how to fold anything from shirts, trousers and jackets to skirts, socks and bras.

The secret to Marie Kondo’s unique and simple KonMari tidying method is to focus on what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of. Ask yourself if something ‘sparks joy’ and suddenly it becomes so much easier to understand if you really need it in your home and your life. When you surround yourself with things you love you will find that your whole life begins to change.

Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, presents her unique tidying philosophy and introduces readers to the basics of her KonMari method. It has already transformed the homes and lives of millions of people around the world. Spark Joy is Marie Kondo’s in-depth tidying masterclass, focusing on the detail of how to declutter and organise your home.

Find a Way by Diana Nyad

Find a Way by Diana Nyad

This is my third Kindle sale purchase. I’m really drawn to books about human struggles at the moment, even if they’re not in any way related to what I’m going through it’s still really helping me to read about what other people have gone through and achieved. I really hope to get a chance to read this one soon.

Synopsis:

In the 1970s, Diana Nyad was widely regarded as the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world and set many world records, such as circling Manhattan Island and crossing the 102.5 miles between the Bahamas and Florida. But one record continually eluded her: becoming the first woman to swim between Cuba and the Florida Keys without a shark cage. Finally, in September 2013, after four failed attempts and at the age of 64, Diana completed the crossing after two days and two nights of continuous swimming-53 consecutive hours, 110 miles.

Millions of people watched her and cried and cheered and were dazzled and amazed by her tenacity and courage. This memoir is a dramatic, page turning account of the epic endurance quest that led to that moment, and is also a galvanizing call to live life boldly, in-the-moment-fearlessly, passionately, with no regrets.

What makes this book special is that it not only recounts an astonishing and hard won triumph, though it does tell the story of an extraordinary and improbable victory. What makes this book, and Nyad herself, so incredible is the fact of her monumental courage in the face of failure. Nyad failed, and failed, and failed, and failed, but never gave up, and this memoir shows her unwavering belief in the face of overwhelming odds. It is about perseverance, tenacity, and commitment on an epic scale.

Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel

Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel

I’ve had this book on my wish list for ages and decided to go ahead and buy it this week. 

Synopsis:

When Maisie is struck by lightning, her face is partially destroyed. She’s lucky enough to get a face transplant, but how do you live your life when you can’t even recognize yourself any more? She was a runner, a girlfriend, a good student … a normal girl. Now, after a single freak accident, all that has changed. As Maisie discovers how much her looks did and didn’t shape her relationship to the world, she has to redefine her own identity, and figure out what ‘lucky’ really means.

 

I also received four review books:

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

I’d forgotten that I’d requested this on NetGalley as it was such a long time ago, so it was a nice surprise this week to get an approval email. I’m very keen to read this book so I don’t think I’ll be too long getting to it.

Synopsis:

One hot August day a family drives to a mountain clearing to collect birch wood. Jenny, the mother, is in charge of lopping any small limbs off the logs with a hatchet. Wade, the father, does the stacking. The two daughters, June and May, aged nine and six, drink lemonade, swat away horseflies, bicker, sing snatches of songs as they while away the time.

But then something unimaginably shocking happens, an act so extreme it will scatter the family in every different direction.

In a story told from multiple perspectives and in razor-sharp prose, we gradually learn more about this act, and the way its violence, love and memory reverberate through the life of every character in Idaho.

Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

I really enjoyed Try Not to Breathe so have been eagerly anticipating this new book by Holly Seddon, it’s great to have a review copy to read and I can’t wait to read it.

Synopsis:

Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…

And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship…

The Night Visitor Lucy Atkins

The Night Visitor Lucy Atkins

I’ve heard so much praise for this book on Twitter recently that I was very keen to read it myself. I’m happy to have a review copy now and hope to read it very soon.

Synopsis:

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?

 

IMG_8921

Making Space by Sarah Tierney

I was contacted by the publicist for this book to ask if I’d like to read it and take part in the blog tour next month. I jumped at the chance as I’d already heard of the book and thought it sounded like my kind of read. I’ll be reading this in the next couple of weeks ahead of my tour date.

Synopsis:

Why do we hold onto things we don’t need? And let go of the things we do? Miriam is twenty-nine: temping, living with a flatmate who is no longer a friend, and still trying to find her place in life. She falls in love with Erik after he employs her to clear out his paper-packed home. They are worlds apart: he is forty-five, a successful photographer and artist and an obsessive hoarder still haunted by the end of his marriage. Miriam has an unsuccessful love life and has just got rid of most of her belongings. Somehow, they must find a way to reach each other.

Giveaway Win:

 

IMG_8920

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

This book arrived in the post yesterday and was a total surprise. There was no note with it so I wasn’t sure where it had come from. I then remembered entering a Goodreads giveaway and it turns out I won a copy. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so I’m going to try and make time to read it soon.

Synopsis:

Two women. Two versions of the truth.

Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak properly, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here. At least that’s the story she’s sticking to.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that sunny morning in May.
And only another life will do…

 


 

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

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

#BookReview: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt @TinderPress @PublicityBooks @IKillNovel

IMG_7803

About the Book

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

 

My Thoughts

I was beyond thrilled when I won a copy of See What I Have Done in a giveaway on twitter around Christmas-time. I read the book in a couple of sittings soon after it arrived but have held off posting my review until now so as to be closer to the release date.

This book is incredible. I knew a little about Lizzie Borden before reading the novel but this book really brought the case to life. The novel is told from the perspective of multiple narrators, who each add another layer to the story. It’s also told in a non-linear fashion – it opens with the murders having occurred and then goes back and forth from the days preceding the murders to the day of, and then the time that follows. I love the layering, the way each chapter adds a little more knowledge, and sometimes more questions, about the motivations of the characters.

I think the character I most cared about was Bridget – the maid who had travelled from Ireland to make a better life for herself and ended up in this cold and slightly strange family. Lizzie is the most memorable of characters though – she is never likeable, her manipulative side shows through from the start and she doesn’t seem to care who she tramples over to get what she wants. I was intrigued by her though. Sometimes it felt that Lizzie was much younger than the grown woman she was, but then there were flashes of a really calculating streak that showed her for the woman she was. Knowing from the start that it is she who is suspected of killing her father and step-mother with an axe, I was paying close attention to how she behaved before and after the killings.

The murders are gruesome and utterly horrific. It seemed impossible that a young woman could have physically done this to the large man her father was and yet her character traits made it seem absolutely possible. It made me uncomfortable that I believed it of her because of her being such a cold character, but then taking a step back it seemed she was the most likely culprit.

There are other suspects in the novel, and it seems likely that at least one of them is a plausible suspect. It’s strange that a man who is something of a wrong-un, who is asked to go to the house on the night of the murders by the Uncle of Lizzie and her older sister Emma, felt less likely to have done it than Lizzie.

The detail in the writing is stunning and so evocative – I swear I could smell the mutton broth on the stove in the kitchen as I was reading, and I felt like I could taste the pears from the trees in the garden. The stomach upset the family were suffering from was described in such a way that I ended up feeling very queasy as I was reading. There is a really stifling atmosphere around this house, it made me feel really claustrophobic and like the air in the room was pushing down on me at times and yet I still couldn’t stop reading. I love when the writing in a novel is so brilliant that it keeps you hooked even when you can hardly bear to read the unsettling, uncomfortable descriptions on the page.

I finished reading this book months ago now and yet it remains so vivid in my mind. I still think of the characters and what happened, it’s one of those books that really gets under your skin. I’m certain that this will be in my top ten books of this year – a book that makes you think, and one you can’t forget simply has to be up there in the best of the year list. I highly recommend this book. It’s due to be published on 2 May and you can pre-order it now.

I won a copy of this novel in a Twitter giveaway and have chosen to review it. All thoughts are my own.

The gorgeous proof copy that I was lucky enough to win has an interactive cover just like the one in this video: See What I Have Done blippar I’ll be buying a finished copy of the book but this is a proof that I will also be keeping in my my collection.

 

About the Author

328x328

After completing a Bachelor of Arts (Professional writing and editing), a Master of Arts (Creative Writing), and a Graduate Diploma of Information Management, Sarah currently works as a Reading & Literacy Coordinator (read: a fancy librarian) at a regional public library.

See What I Have Done is her first novel.

(Bio and author photo taken from here)

WWW Wednesday (26 April) What are you reading today?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

I was thrilled when I was asked if I’d like to read and review this book for the blog tour as I love Rebecca Mascull’s writing. I started reading the book this week and I completely and utterly love it. My review will be on my blog on Monday so please look out for that then.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a little while now but I spotted it on my audio book subscription service this week and decided to make it my new listen. I’m enjoying it so far, it’s an easy listen. It’s not quite what I thought it was going to be but it’s a good read.

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

I’m enjoying this book so much, it might even end up being my new favourite Sharon Bolton book (and that’s saying something as I LOVE all of her novels). I’m sure that had I not been having such a rough week I’d have read this in one sitting.

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

This is such a beautiful book that I’m utterly adoring. I want to read it slowly to savour it but I’m sure it’s going to become a firm favourite of mine. I was lucky enough to get to interview Kay Langdale for the blog tour this week so you can read that here if you’d like to.

Titanic Lives by Richard Davenport-Hines

This is a really interesting book about the people who were involved in the design and building of Titanic through to the people onboard when it hit the iceberg. I knew a lot of the stories already but it’s still very moving to read about so many people who were caught up in the tragedy.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I’ve not managed to read much of this book this week but I hope to get back to it very soon as I was finding it such a fascinating read.

 

What I recently finished reading:

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

I read the first third of this book in short bursts as and when I could but then I got so involved in the story at that point that I simply couldn’t put it down and read the rest in one sitting yesterday afternoon. I’ll be writing a review of this soon once I’ve got my thoughts in order but it’s definitely a book I recommend.

Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing by Louise Rennison

I’m way older than the target audience for this book but I spotted the audio book on my subscription service this week and I was having such a bad day that it seemed like the perfect book to give my mood a lift. Georgia is one of those characters that can be so irritating and daft but you can’t help but love her.

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

This is another book I found on audio in the last week and I enjoyed listening to it. It was one of those books that requires you to suspend disbelief a bit but it still a book that keeps you hooked.

What I plan on reading next:

IMG_8650

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I was thrilled to be sent an ARC of this book recently and can’t wait to read it. I hope to start it at some point over the next few days.

 


 

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

Interview with author @KayLangdale about The Comfort of Others #BlogTour @HodderBooks

 

Today I’m thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for Kay Landale’s The Comfort of Others and am very excited to be sharing an interview I’ve done with Kay.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your novel

The Comfort Of Others is my sixth novel. It tells the story of the friendship between an elderly woman, Minnie, and an eleven year old boy, Max. Both have issues that they need to come to terms with, and the novel is about how they approach that.

I live in Oxfordshire, am married and have four fledged children between the ages of nineteen and twenty four. When I’m not writing or reading I’m mostly walking or running, and my labradoodle Rocco is with me for all of the above – his favourite spot is beneath my writing desk.

I’m reading The Comfort of Others at the moment and am finding it very moving – in particular the way you show the loneliness of Max and Minnie, and the way it’s possible to find friends in the places you’d least expect. What inspired you to write it?

I’m so pleased that you are finding it moving – thank you.

Minnie was the character I started with. I was interested in portraying someone who has not lived the life she wanted to life, and who has been stigmatised by shame and secrecy. I wanted to explore how someone who was basically vulnerable and sinned against can manoeuvre themselves into a position where they see themselves as wholly at fault. I also wanted to think about how time can change the perspective by which something is viewed, and Rosemount was a means of ‘fastening’ Minnie into the period in which it all happened.

I was very conscious that Minnie wouldn’t open up to an adult and so I wanted to explore how a child – with a child’s unerring accuracy for truth – might be able to win her trust. Max is watchful; he is frequently just on the outside of things, and it was this shared quality which became the premise for their friendship.

I’m finding myself getting quite emotional at some of the things Max says but clearly doesn’t understand yet, but as an adult I see the bigger picture. I’m getting similar emotions coming up whilst reading Minnie’s story – from the way she’s looking back on her life and seeing things anew. Both characters feel like real people to me and I know I’m going to miss them when I finish reading. How did you find writing from the perspective of a young boy, and of an older lady?

I loved writing Max and Minnie.

Minnie came to me almost fully formed. I had such a strong sense of her girlhood – her exuberance, her zest for life – and of how her mother found that so very difficult. The emotional truth of her adult life also felt very immediate to me; her total withdrawal, her bruised reflections and her sadness that she has been so effectively snuffed out by her experiences.

I really enjoy writing from a child’s perspective. Most of my books contain this as a feature. What I loved about Max from the start was his desire to please; whether it’s his mother with her startling hair colours, the old man who gives him the dahlias, or Mrs Philips with her budgie and her buttered brazils. He is constantly trying to piece together the implications of his mother’s actions – which is the same as Minnie when she was a girl – and that kind of watchfulness was a very immersive writing experience.

How did you first come to be a writer?

When I was a child I always wanted to be a writer, and upon leaving university, I refined that into working with words, which I thought made a bit more (necessary) financial sense. I worked as a copywriter for a brand development consultancy, and then began having my children (four of them in five years).

I was totally rubbish at anything resembling controlled crying, and so when my children woke in the night, I would go and sit with them and just pat their backs or stroke their hair but not talk, as we all know how quickly that becomes a game of  i-spy. Sitting beside them in the darkness I began to think about the central character of my first novel – Martha – and basically began telling myself a story. I was working part-time at this point and realised that Martha was developing a hold on me when I would drive to work and be thinking about the plot rather than the meeting I was headed to. When my youngest child started nursery school, we realised we could just about make the numbers work as I could write without the cost of childcare, and so I resigned and began writing the book that became Redemption. For years I fitted my writing around school hours and term times, with lapses for example when they all got chicken pox in perfect sequence. Now that they have all fledged, my timetable is much more flexible. It was very disciplined in the early years!

It depends what stage of a book I’m at. If I’m mulling on the beginnings of an idea I don’t spend much time at my desk. I walk miles and I think, and have my notepad with me, and I tidy cupboards and wardrobes. I’m a big believer that if the mechanical, logical part of your brain is engaged, your creative thinking somehow is liberated.

When I’m writing a first draft, I’m very disciplined. I work most days and aim to have about three to four thousand useful words. That’s not always the case, especially if the plot takes a different turn and I need to pause to recalibrate. I’m very fond of a French phrase – Reculer per mieux sauter – which basically means to pause in order to jump better. I think it’s important to know when to do that.

When I reach the end of a book – the last 20,000 words – I get really obsessive and work much longer days and find it hard to think about anything else.

When I have a complete draft, I put it aside for a couple of weeks and catch up on everything I’ve neglected, and then return to it with fresh eyes and start editing and refining.

It never feels finished – I mostly get to a point where I can’t bear to look at it anymore!

IMG_8770

What has your journey to publication been like?

I’ve been hugely lucky. My first book was published by a small indie publisher, Transita. My second book – which was very dark – did not get an English publisher but went to a three way auction in Germany and then Poland, which was pleasing. I learned some lessons from why that hadn’t worked for a UK audience, and then my third book was signed by Hodder and Stoughton, and they have remained my publishers ever since. I’m working on my eight book now and am hugely proud and thrilled to be part of Hodder’s team of writers. They have a wonderful mural at Carmelite House called the River of Authors which streams around the lifts at each floor. My name is next to John Lennon’s, which is when a school register alphabetised strategy really pays off!

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End, Polly Clark’s Larchfield, and George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. I re-read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and now I’m reading Sarah Dunnant’s In the Name of the Family. I’ve got the new Elizabeth Strout on pre-order on Amazon and can’t wait for it to arrive!

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

Virginia Woolf, no question. To The Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway are two of my favourite books ever. Every sentence she is writes it so beautifully balanced, so loaded with psychological insight and with such an awareness of what it is to be alive; she would be sustaining company on a desert island.

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

That’s a very clever, very tricky question! I think it would probably need some analysis to answer correctly! I write obsessively about mothers, about mothering, about the ties that bind us. To be totally truthful I don’t know why this is such a preoccupation. I have the objective, lit-crit ability to see how much it features in my work – I found Minnie’s account of her mother’s death very moving to write and I hope it holds a truth about what we need to feel and hear as adult children – but I can’t subjectively tell you why that is the case.

How can people connect with you on social media?

Twitter @kaylangdale. I’m constantly vowing to be become better at it although am also mindful how it can suck up time. I always answer back, and really enjoy hearing from readers.

 


 

The Comfort of Others is out now and available from all good bookshops or online at BookDepository.

The blog tour continues all this week and you can find the other stops here:

Blog Tour Poster

Weekly Wrap-Up (23 April)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

This week has been an okay week, it was nice not to have any medical appointments or treatment and to be able to just potter about at home.

I’ve not managed to read quite as much as usual as I spent time catching up on Broadchurch (I’m sad this has ended as I loved it) and Big Little Lies (I read the book when it first came out but I can only remember half of how it ends so I’m intrigued to see how it all turns out. No spoilers please as it doesn’t air in the UK until tomorrow night. I think the casting for this show has been perfect and has made it such a brilliant series. I’ll miss it when it ends). I don’t watch a lot of TV but when I find a programme I like I tend to get hooked until it’s finished.

As I’m writing this post it’s Friday afternoon… I’m finishing and scheduling this post early this week (I normally write and schedule in advance and then amend the night before it posts if I’ve started or finished any other books) as I’m hoping to go record shopping on Saturday morning with my husband. It’s Record Store Day and there are some fab-sounding records on the list that we’d love to get.  I’ll update my instagram with our purchases and will write about how it went in next Sunday’s wrap-up post. I’m so hoping I manage to go – I haven’t left the house, other than for a handful of medical appointments, in literally weeks as I’ve been too unwell so it would be brilliant to get out.

 

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

I’ve had this on my TBR since it was published and this week it caught my eye in my audio library and I decided to pick it up. I listened to it over a couple of days and enjoyed it.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

This was a really interesting listen that I very much enjoyed. It may seem odd to read a book about marathon running when I can’t walk more than a handful of tiny steps but there was so much in this book that really struck a chord with me. It’s interesting to read about his writing process too. I’d recommend this.

This Love by Dani Atkins

I read this book in two sittings and fell completely in love with the story. This is one of those books that stays in your mind after you finish reading and I think it’ll be a rare book that I re-read in the future. I reviewed this on my blog this week so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

 

This week I’ve blogged six times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Monday: The Affair by Amanda Brooke

Tuesday: Interview with Jennifer Gilmour, author of Isolation Junction

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of This Love by Dani Atkins

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

I pre-ordered this book when I first heard about it and then forgot when release day was so it was a fab surprise this week when it arrived on my Kindle. I’m already reading this and am hooked, it’s such a great premise for a novel.

Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing by Louise Rennison

I love this series of books, it never fails to make me smile (even though I’m way older than the target audience) as it’s such fun writing. I was feeling really down yesterday after my fall so picked this up and it’s a perfect read for just now.

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

This book is gorgeous, I can’t quite put into words how much I’m loving this book. I’m deliberately reading it slowly to savour it. I’m on the blog tour for this on Monday and have a lovely interview with Kay that I can’t wait to share.

 

Titanic Lives by Richard Davenport-Hines

I’m still listening to the audio book of this and am finding it really interesting. Some of the things I knew and others I didn’t, the book is a really nice mix of stories about people involved in the building, or who were due to sail on the Titanic.

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

I’ve not picked this up much this week as I’ve been listening to more audio books. I’m really keen to know where this story is going though and really hope to pick this back up very soon.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This is another book that’s suffered from me leaning more towards audio books this week but I was finding this absolutely fascinating and I really want to get back to it this week.

 

the-state-of-my-2

Update on my TBR:

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1929

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 12

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

Books I’m currently reading: 6

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1941

 

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


 

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

See my new #BookHaul in my Stacking the Shelves post (22 April)

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

Here are the books I bought this week:

dead woman walking sharon bolton

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

I pre-ordered this book ages ago and had completely forgotten that it came out yesterday so it was a surprise to spot it on my Kindle on Thursday night! I’ve already read the first few chapters and it’s really good, I can’t wait to read more!

Synopsis:

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . .

Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali

Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali

I spotted this in the kindle sale this week and thought it sounded like a really interesting novel. I really hope I can read this soon.

Synopsis:

A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to learn a trade in 1920s Berlin. The city’s crowded streets, thriving arts scene, passionate politics and seedy cabarets provide the backdrop for a chance meeting with a woman, which will haunt him for the rest of his life. Emotionally powerful, intensely atmospheric and touchingly profound, Madonna in a Fur Coat is an unforgettable novel about new beginnings and the unfathomable nature of the human soul.

The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry

I’ve heard quite a bit about this book and it sounds intriguing so when I saw it in a daily deal for kindle this week I decided to buy it. I’m not sure when I’ll get to read it but hopefully before too long.

Synopsis:

Grayson Perry has been thinking about masculinity – what it is, how it operates, why little boys are thought to be made of slugs and snails – since he was a boy. Now, in this funny and necessary book, he turns round to look at men with a clear eye and ask, what sort of men would make the world a better place, for everyone?

What would happen if we rethought the old, macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different idea of what makes a man? Apart from giving up the coronary-inducing stress of always being ‘right’ and the vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships – and that’s happiness, right?

Grayson Perry admits he’s not immune from the stereotypes himself – as the psychoanalysts say, ‘if you spot it, you’ve got it’ – and his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, upgrading masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups.

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

This is another book that I had on pre-order that arrived on Kindle this week. It just sounds like such a gorgeous novel and I’m very much looking forward to curling up with it.

Synopsis:

You can trust a book to keep your secret . . .

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look closely, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are things she’ll never show you.

Fifteen years ago Loveday lost all she knew and loved in one unspeakable night. Now, she finds refuge in the unique little York bookshop where she works.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past. Someone is trying to send her a message. And she can’t hide any longer.

Lost for Words is a compelling, irresistible and heart-rending novel, with the emotional intensity of The Shock of the Fall and all the charm of The Little Paris Bookshop and 84 Charing Cross Road.

 

I also received two review books:

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I’ve heard so many good things about this book so I was really pleased to be approved for a review copy this week. This definitely won’t be on my TBR for very long at all!

Synopsis:

Today I know that L. is the sole reason for my powerlessness. And that the two years that we were friends almost made me stop writing for ever. Overwhelmed by the huge success of her latest novel, exhausted and unable to begin writing her next book, Delphine meets L. L. is the kind of impeccable, sophisticated woman who fascinates Delphine; a woman with smooth hair and perfectly filed nails, and a gift for saying the right thing. Delphine finds herself irresistibly drawn to her, their friendship growing as their meetings, notes and texts increase. But as L. begins to dress like Delphine, and, in the face of Delphine’s crippling inability to write, L. even offers to answer her emails, and their relationship rapidly intensifies. L. becomes more and more involved in Delphine’s life until she patiently takes control and turns it upside down: slowly, surely, insidiously. Based on a True Story is a chilling novel of suspense that will leave you questioning the truth and its significance long after you have turned the final page.

the sinking chef by sylvia ashby

The Sinking Chef by Sylvia Ashby

I read The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby a while ago and very much enjoyed it (you can read my review for that here if you’d like) so I was thrilled when Sylvia sent me the sweetest email this week with a copy of her latest book. I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

Synopsis:

Ashley has a YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. It’s filmed right in her kitchen, so she doesn’t go out much. When James calls with an offer to take her to lunch – the same James that got her fired from her dream job three years ago – she accepts. Against her better judgement, of course.

Now Ashley has all kinds of secrets and things are only going to get worse.
The Sinking Chef is a light, enjoyable and easy to read romantic comedy. With Sylvia Ashby’s gift of humour there is plenty to laugh and smile about, but the book does have its serious moments.

 


 

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

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

#BookReview: This Love by Dani Atkins @AtkinsDani ‏@jessbarratt88 @TeamBATC ‏

IMG_8551

About the Book

Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon – she’s a single, thirty-one year old translator who works from home in her one bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a very long time ago, when she was fifteen years old and tragedy struck her family. Her grief has left her scared of commitment and completely risk averse, so she plays it safe and keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a random passer-by, Ben, luckily happens to spot and rescue her. Suddenly her cocoon is shattered – what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?

My Thoughts

I was thrilled to be offered a copy of This Love to read and review as I very much enjoyed one of Dani Atkins earlier novels, Fractured so was very keen to read this latest book.

I loved This Love, I read it in two sittings and in the time I wasn’t reading I kept thinking about Sophie and Ben and wondering what was going to happen.

The opening chapters of this book when the fire encroaches on the flat below Sophie had me holding my breath – even though I knew the book was about Sophie, and therefore knew she would likely survive the fire, I was still so tense wondering how she was going to get out. I love when I get so engrossed in what is happening on the page I’m reading that it makes me forget what I knew about the book beforehand.

Ben is such a lovely man and you could see how much he wanted to be there for Sophie in a very genuine and gentlemanly way. Sophie really got to me though, I could identify with her – I totally understood how she had become the way she was because of what had happened to her family when she was younger. It would be easy to say that she should have dealt with it before but life isn’t always that easy, people can become trapped in their emotional pain especially if they don’t have the right support when they need it.

There are elements in this book that I saw coming, but I think Sophie would have also seen them coming if she hadn’t have been so trapped in her emotional pain. There were other things that completely shocked me but as the story was gradually revealed it made sense that this was the case and so was always believable.

I got so completely and utterly lost in the relationship between Sophie and Ben – the way they slowly become friends and Sophie begins to let her guard down and deal with the pain she’d been holding on to since she was a teenager. It felt like Ben was some kind of guardian angel, who came into her life to help her heal. I loved how he helped her re-discover who she was and therefore helped her to help herself to fix her life rather than him just being a knight in shining armour. It was wonderful to see Sophie growing in strength once she had Ben’s support and encouragement to start doing things she had avoided for so long.

The ending of this book had me sobbing, and that rarely happens to me when I’m reading. It was such a beautiful, and very moving, way to end the novel, and whilst it made me cry it also left me with such a real sense of hope.

This Love is one of those books that grabs you from the very first page and doesn’t let go until long after you’ve turned the last page. This is a novel that will stay with me for a very long time to come.

This Love is out now and available here.

I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Dani Atkins

Dani was born and brought up in Cockfosters- a small London suburb at the end of the Piccadilly Tube Line.

This served her well for commuting into the city, where from the age of 18 she worked in a succession of secretarial positions in companies as diverse as a BMW car dealership to the BBC. Dani spent her two hour commute avidly reading and dreamed that one day she would become an author herself.

When her two children grew up and left home, Dani set about turning this dream into reality and devoted her time to writing. She now lives in a rural Hertfordshire cottage with her husband, a soppy border collie dog and a haughty Siamese cat.

Her first novels FRACTURED (called THEN AND ALWAYS in the US) and THE STORY OF US published in 2014. In January 2016, her third novel, OUR SONG was published.

(Bio taken from author’s Goodreads page: Dani Atkins

WWW Wednesday (19 April) What are you reading today?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

Titanic Lives by Richard Davenport-Hines

This is my current audio book and I’m finding it really interesting. I’m over a quarter of the way through it and it really is focusing on various people involved in the Titanic – be it the wealthy people who would be traveling or the shipbuilders that worked on Titanic before she set sail.

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

I’m on the blog tour for this next week and am interviewing Kay Langdale for that. I really wanted to read the book before then so I could also review the book if I can, and I have to say that this is a beautiful novel that I’m very much enjoying.

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

I had to put this book to one side for the last few days as I just haven’t been in the right frame of mind to read in this genre. I picked it up again last night though and found it very hard to put down so I’m sure I’ll be finishing this and writing my review very soon.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This is such an interesting book – the way France has looked at the scientists, the doctors and the patients makes sure that this remains a very human book. It’s so powerful and incredibly moving.

 

What I recently finished reading:

This Love by Dani Atkins

I finished reading this book yesterday afternoon and then spent 20 mins sobbing. It’s not often that a book affects me so much but I really got caught up in this novel. Once I’ve got myself composed I will be writing a glowing review of this gorgeous book.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

This was my recent audio book and I really did enjoy it. I bought it in a daily deal on a whim and I’m glad I did. It may seem a bit strange to read a book about running when I can barely even walk but I actually got a lot out of this book and would recommend it.

The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

I had an ebook review copy of this book but decided to listen to the audio book and found the book much more engaging on audio. I’m in the middle of writing up my review now so hope to share that on my blog very soon.

The Affair by Amanda Brooke

I’ve already reviewed this book on my blog so you can read that here if you’d like to. I really enjoyed reading this book, it had more to the story than I was expecting and I’d recommend it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

I was so excited when I was offered this book for review and I just can’t wait any longer to read it, it sounds amazing!

Block 42 by Johana Gustawsson

I’m on the blog tour for this book at the start of May and have been looking forward to reading it ever since I first heard about it. I think this is going to be one of those impossible to put down books!

 

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

#Interview with Jennifer Gilmour, author of Isolation Junction! @JenLGilmour #IsolationJunction

I’m thrilled to welcome author Jennifer Gilmour to my blog today and to share a fascinating interview that I got to do with her.

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

Born in the North East, I am a young, married mum with three children.  I am an entrepreneur, running a family business from my home-base and I have a large readership of other young mums in business for my blog posts.

From an early age I have had a passion for writing and have been gathering ideas and plot lines from my teenage years. As a passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, I have amalgamated and fictionalised other survivors experiences alongside my own to write my first novel Isolation Junction detailing the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. I hope that in reading my book, I will raise awareness of this often hidden and unseen behaviour and empower women in abusive relationships to seek help for themselves and find the confidence to change their lives.

 

What is your book about?

I wrote my debut novel based on true events from my own and others experiences.  My book follows the story of Rose who is stuck in an abusive and coercive relationship referred to as Isolation Junction. After years of emotional abuse, the self doubt about her future and the erosion of her confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself alone, penniless and frightened Rose wonders how she will ever escape from the situation to provide a better life for herself and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1000 reasons why she perceives she can’t – will she have the courage to do it? And will she find the support to regain control and confidence?

 

How did you first come to be a writer?

I was on an awareness course about Domestic Abuse. Alongside me were about 8 other women who had been in abusive relationships. As the day progressed, I found that I simply couldn’t believe that some of the things that other women were saying were exactly what I had gone through but just in a different format. Domestic Abuse tends to go in a cycle and whichever way it begins, the behaviour spirals again and again. At first it could be months between incidents but for me, as time went on, there were many instances within one day. It is quite normal to try to prevent the cycle from starting again by changing your behaviour as much as possible. By the end of the course I had come to understand that we were all subjected to the same behaviour and that no one knew before that this could even happen to someone ie that a relationship can be so unhealthy and soul destroying. I realised that others simply needed to know more about this unacceptable behaviour; they need to see the warning signs before the relationship goes further or the behaviour gets even more serious.  On the other hand, I needed others to see the behaviour for what it is. If people are in a relationship and the behaviour within it is not acceptable and is not their fault, it can’t simply be changed by changing yourself.

I absolutely knew that I had a story to tell and with my previous unfinished written work I realised my first novel had to be more than a book. It had to be a message – a way for others to be able to pass on the story to help victims and to get the penny to drop and bring about realisation of what is happening sooner. This means that when the relationship ends victims and survivors realise they are not the only ones out there and its ok to talk about the abuse.

 

Where does your inspiration come from?

My passion for being an advocate drives my inspiration to write. Ultimately my own experiences and the want to change develop knowledge in those who don’t know what it is like to be subjected to emotional abuse and coercive control; as well as reassure other survivors that they are not alone because surviving is hard http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jennifer-gilmour/surviving-is-hard_1_b_13011174.html.

 

What is your writing routine?

I didn’t have a specific writing routine but to write my first book I had lots and lots of notes and even diary entries to aid my writing. I felt so passionately about why I was writing it came naturally and I only needed to sit down and make time to write. Towards the end of the journey my editor was part of this process. Writing book number two, I am more careful when I write and it will take naturally longer as I find that going back and writing about domestic abuse sometimes affects my emotional state. It is very important to me that I remain positive throughout my writing process and this is why I have brought out a series of stories you can read for free on my blog ‘The Fox Stories’; these have been more lighthearted and enjoyable for me to write. www.jennifergilmour.com/blog

 

What has your journey to publication been like?

As a self published author the road to publication was interesting and challenging and not perhaps as stressful as I had imagined it would be. There was a lot of flexibility with my debut novel and the choices I made like the cover for example, I was very excited seeing my work and vision come to life because of this. I was pleased to be a part of Team Author UK who help self published authors publish their manuscripts, and provide support through understanding how Amazon works and getting the book printed.

I am yet to approach publishers as I am self published. I decided to self publish because I wanted to start to get the message out there immediately. I have had interest but it is finding the right publishers for the novel and more specifically to find a publisher where my work fits into their portfolio as it is a work of fiction. The novel does include sensitive material which could be emotional for some people but I have, however, woven through the story romance and some comedic moments in the book to try and make it a more entertaining read despite its serious message.

 

What are you reading at the moment?

I have just finished Emotional Aid by Hayley Wheeler. Hayley is someone I have connected with due to the nature of both of our books. I am now reading ‘The Happy Woman: What can you learn from Kids, Dogs and Men’ by Jealeith Leigh-Brown who I have recently connected with as authors from the North-East. It is clearly emotionally beneficial for authors to support one another.

 

If you were to be stranded on a desert island and could choose just one author’s books to read, who would you pick and why?

It would be J.K.Rowling’s books simply because she provided me with escapism in my childhood, teens and early adult years . Every time I read over the Harry Potter series I pick up some ‘newisms’ I like to call them. Basically these are things I hadn’t noticed before. The detail J.K.Rowling has gone to that makes this happen in her books makes this possible, I never get bored of the plot line.

 

Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

How do you cope with ‘trolls’ or people that question your work?

I have had a couple of cases when I have had negative feedback about my writing on domestic abuse. Often this stems from individual self guilt. I don’t reply to those negative, personal trolling posts and I focus on those who have read the message behind my work. Usually a perpetrator is blind to what they are doing to the victim and so they feel frustrated in reading social media posts because it is normal behaviour for them and they like to defend their way of life. I have had messages of concern regarding my feelings where comments have been of a personal nature and have felt appreciative of the positive support offered which I feel is very endearing.  At the end of the day, positive debate regarding these issues is important and  I am thankful that it doesn’t hinder my career as I am able now to discuss the issues and to draw strength from this. Ultimately, I am lucky to have a supportive network around me.

 

How can people connect with you on social media?

Like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isolationjunctionbook

Follow me on Twitter at @JenLGilmour

Check out my website and subscribe to my blog and newsletter at www.jennifergilmour.com

isolation-junction-by-j-l-gilmour

Isolation Junction is out now and available from Amazon

 

 

#BookReview: The Affair by Amanda Brooke @AmandaBrookeAB @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK

the-affair-by-amanda-brooke

About the Book

A shocking story about a fifteen-year-old girl and the man who took advantage of her.

“You might as well know from the start, I’m not going to tell on him and I don’t care how much trouble I get in. It’s not like it could get any worse than it already is. I can’t. Don’t ask me why, I just can’t.”

When Nina finds out that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart. Because Scarlet won’t tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything. As the suspects mount – from Scarlett’s teacher to Nina’s new husband of less than a year – Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.

My Thoughts

I found this novel really drew me in and I actually read it all in one day.  If I’m to be honest I was expecting this book to be quite predictable but actually it wasn’t. Fifteen year old Scarlett has been having a relationship with an older man but when her mum finds out she refuses to say who it was with. Nina, her mum, is thrown into a tailspin and doesn’t know how to handle what has happened.

I thought it was clever that, as the reader, we don’t know who the relationship was with either. This book has multiple narrators – we mainly follow Nina, and Vicki – Scarlett’s teacher’s wife but we also get to see some of Scarlett’s thought processes interspersed throughout the novel. Immediately I suspected the teacher, but then I suspected the step-father, and briefly I even suspected Nina’s best friend’s husband. The two main men we’re led to suspect each seem to have opportunity to groom Scarlett and I couldn’t work out for a while who it most likely was.

We do get to see the life that Nina and Bryn lead as quite a newly-wed couple trying to adapt to living together with Nina’s two children. We also see a lot of Vicki and Rob, Scarlett’s teacher’s relationship and the way they seem madly in love. There are times when you’re reading that you wonder if it was neither of these men as they both seem happy and settled, but then you read the snippets from Scarlett’s viewpoint and remember that one of these men is likely a monster.

I have to say that I did feel uncomfortable that this book is centred around what is called an affair when it involved a fifteen year old. The two suspects are both in a position of power over her, and she is underage so really it’s not an affair: it’s a man taking advantage of a naive and underage girl. Scarlett does seem worldly-wise but it is very clear that she’s inexperienced and that she believes herself to be in love with the man. She believes he really wants to be with her at any cost. I can see how Scarlett views it as an affair – to her this is a relationship between equals. It’s clear that all of the adults in Scarlett’s life (barring the man who took advantage of her) are horrified at the supposed relationship so this changes the perception within the book from it being an affair to it being something much more serious.

The Affair is a novel that centres on a relationship between a man and an underage girl but it is about so much more than just that. It is just as much a look at how the female characters deal with the suspicion that the man they married, that they trust, could be cheating on them and how they have to then come to terms with the fact that the person their husband is involved with is a minor. I really appreciated all the strand to this novel, it made it a well-rounded and interesting read that throws up real moral dilemmas for the characters. This would make a great book club read as there is so much brought up in this book that would make for great discussion points.

I really enjoyed this novel – it kept me engrossed from start to finish and left me mulling it over once I’d finished reading. I’ll definitely be looking out for more of Amanda Brooke’s novels in the future.

The Affair is out now.

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

About the Author

dsc_0278-4crop

I live in Liverpool with my daughter Jessica and writing was most definitely a late discovery.  I didn’t really begin to explore creative writing until I was almost 40, at which point my young son Nathan was fighting for his life.  Poetry and keeping a journal helped me through those difficult times and the darker times to come when he died in 2006.  He was three years old.

I continued to write and in 2010 I was fortunate enough to find an agent.  Luigi Bonomi has a fantastic reputation which is truly deserved and with his help we transformed my first manuscript.  Shortly afterwards in 2011 I was offered a book deal with HarperCollins.

My first novel Yesterday’s Sun was published in January 2012.

(Bio taken from author’s website: amanda-brooke.com)

Weekly Wrap-Up (16 April)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

This week has been a tough one for various reasons. It would have been my mum’s birthday this week so I always find that an emotional day. It’s a few years now since my mum died but that wave of grief still catches me unawares sometimes and it’s tough.

I also started some new treatment aimed at helping with my pain. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the treatment but it was certainly much harder than I thought it would be. I’m hopeful that it may help me manage my pain in the longer term though so will definitely be continuing with it. It was exhausting though – I was absolutely shattered for two days afterwards so spent a lot of time just resting and listening to audio books.

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

I had a review copy of this to read but I ended up listening to it on audio and really enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

The Affair by Amanda Brooke

I enjoyed this book – it was different to what I was expecting and kept me hooked all the way through. Hopefully I’ll get my review up in the next week or so.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

This is another book I had a review copy of but I ended up switching to audio part way though. I enjoyed this book but I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed it as much if I was reading it rather than listening. I’ll write my review once I’ve got my thoughts in order.

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

I loved this book and can’t praise it highly enough. It was such an eye-opening and empowering read. I’ve already reviewed this for the blog tour so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

SweetPea by C.J. Skuse

This is such a brilliant and unique book and I loved it. Rhiannon is such a great character! I highly recommend this book. I’ve reviewed SweetPea this week so you can read that here if you want to know more.

This week I’ve blogged seven times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up (9 April)

Monday: Review of Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

                        Review of The Cows by Dawn O’Porter for the Blog Tour

Thursday: Review of SweetPea by C.J. Skuse

Friday: Review of Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller 

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves

This is what I’m currently reading: