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.

 

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Update on my TBR:

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 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)

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

 

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 one review book:

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 ‏

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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

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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:

Titanic Lives by Richard Davenport-Hines

I’ve just started listening to this on audio but am finding it interesting so far. At the moment it’s not been hugely focused on the Titanic but it has set the background scene to what happened really well.

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

I received a copy of this in the post on Thursday and started reading it yesterday afternoon. It’s such a lovely novel and I’m very much enjoying it.

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

I’ve not managed to read many print or ebooks this week with not feeling great so I’ve not picked this up for a couple of days but from the few chapters I read earlier in the week I am so keen to get back to this book to see what happens. It’s so good!

What I Talk about when I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami

This is my other current audio book and I’m really enjoying it. There is so much in this book about writing, and about how he came to be a runner and how the two things are linked for him. I’m getting so much out of this book and highly recommend it.

This Love by Dani Atkins

This is a gorgeous book that I’m absolutely loving. I had to put it down for a few days as I’ve been struggling to hold print books this week but I can’t wait to get back to it.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This book is fascinating. It’s such a moving and powerful book about what happened during the Aids crisis in the 80s. It reminds me of Randy Schilts’ book And the Band Played On. I definitely recommend this book.

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Update on my TBR…  

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1914

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 12

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 5

Books I’m currently reading: 6

TBR Books culled this week: 2

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1929

I have a confession this week about the state of my TBR… the numbers won’t add up properly today because I discovered that I had a few audiobooks and a few books on my Kobo app from a while ago that I hadn’t ever added to my Goodreads and so hadn’t been counted in my TBR. These amounted to 16 books. Oops! So I have 1929 books on my TBR now and that is accurate it’s just that the sum won’t add up properly because of my error.

 


 

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 (15 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 is the print book I bought this week:

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness & Siobhan Dowd

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so I finally treated myself to the illustrated edition last weekend and I’m looking forward to finally reading this. I’ve heard it’s a real tearjerker so I’ll wait for the right time to sit and read this.

Synopsis:

The bestselling novel about love, loss and hope from the twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness, soon to be a major motion picture. Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.

Here are the 5 eBooks I bought this week:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I already mentioned this in my WWW Wednesday post but I hadn’t written about it in a haul yet. I’ve seen so many tweets about this book and everyone seems to be raving about how good it is so I couldn’t resist buying a copy. It sounds like such a powerful book. I hope to read this over the weekend. 

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

I’ve always loved Jon McGregor’s writing so had this on pre-order and was very happy to see it on my kindle the other day. I really like to sit and savour his writing so will save this for when I have time to read it over a few hours. 

Synopsis:

Midwinter in the early years of this century. A teenage girl on holiday has gone missing in the hills at the heart of England. The villagers are called up to join the search, fanning out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on their usually quiet home.

Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

The search for the missing girl goes on, but so does everyday life. As it must.

As the seasons unfold there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together or break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals.

Bats hang in the eaves of the church and herons stand sentry in the river; fieldfares flock in the hawthorn trees and badgers and foxes prowl deep in the woods – mating and fighting, hunting and dying.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

I heard about this on YouTube and thought it sounded like an interesting read (not to mention it having such a gorgeous cover). I got sent a 50% off code for any book on kobo this week so decided to get this one. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Synopsis:

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

I’ve been wanting to read this since it was published last year, and now I’ve listened to the audio of her previous memoir I decided to finally get this too. I think it will be a sad read but also nice to read more of her life story.

Synopsis:

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diaristbrims with the candour and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

 

The Vegetarian by Han King

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

I’ve heard so much hype around this book and have been wanting to read it for ages. I spotted it at a bargain price this week so snapped it up. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I get to this but I do think I’ll need to be in the right frame of mind to read it.

Synopsis:

Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more ‘plant-like’ existence, decides to become a vegetarian, prompted by grotesque recurring nightmares. In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard-of and societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision is a shocking act of subversion. Her passive rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, leading her bland husband to self-justified acts of sexual sadism. His cruelties drive her towards attempted suicide and hospitalisation. She unknowingly captivates her sister’s husband, a video artist. She becomes the focus of his increasingly erotic and unhinged artworks, while spiralling further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming – impossibly, ecstatically – a tree.

Fraught, disturbing and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

Here is the audio book that I bought this week:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it. I decided to use my latest Audible credit to get the audio book this week and I’m really looking forward to starting this as soon as I finish my current listen.

Synopsis:

Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.

Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portraits, Homegoing is a searing and profound debut from a masterly new writer.

I also received 6 ARCs:

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The Child by Fiona Barton

I was thrilled to be contacted by the publicist for this book this week asking if I’d like to review it. I immediately said yes and am so looking forward to reading it. It was lovely to received a thank you card signed by Fiona Barton in with the book too.

Synopsis:

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

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The Betrayals by Fiona Neill

I was excited to receive this book this week too, it sounds like such a good read and I really want to read it as soon as I can.

Synopsis:

When Rosie Rankin’s best friend has an affair with her husband, the consequences reverberate down through the lives of two families.

Relationships are torn apart. Friendships shattered. And childish innocence destroyed.

Her daughter Daisy’s fragile hold on reality begins to unravel when a letter arrives that opens up all the old wounds. Rosie’s teenage son Max blames himself for everything which happened that long hot summer. And her brittle ex-husband Nick has his own version of events.

As long-repressed memories bubble to the surface, the past has never seemed more present and the truth more murky.

Sometimes there are four sides to every story.

Who do you believe?

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The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

I was sent a copy of this to read ahead of doing a Q&A with the author for the blog tour at the end of the month. I’ve already started reading it and it’s such a lovely, enjoyable novel.

Synopsis:

Minnie and her sister Clara, spinsters both, live in a dilapidated country house in the middle of a housing estate, built when their father sold off the family’s land. Now in their seventies, their days follow a well-established routine: long gone are the garden parties, the tennis lessons and their suffocatingly strict mother. Gone, too, is any mention of what happened when Minnie was sixteen, and the secret the family buried in the grounds of their estate.

Directly opposite them lives Max, an 11-year-old whose life with his mum has changed beyond recognition since her new boyfriend arrived. Cast aside, he takes solace in Minnie’s careful routine, observed through his bedroom window.

Over the course of the summer, both begin to tell their stories: Max through a Dictaphone, Minnie through a diary. As their tales intertwine, ghosts are put to rest and challenges faced, in a story that is as dark as it is uplifting.

gone min kym

Gone by Min Kym

I requested this on NetGalley and was thrilled to be approved. I’m fascinated by Min Kym’s story, I think it will be an emotional read but a really interesting one too.

Synopsis:

At 7 years old Min Kym was a prodigy, the youngest ever pupil at the Purcell School of Music. At 11 she won her first international prize. She worked with many violins, waiting for the day she would play ‘the one’. At 21 she found it: a rare 1696 Stradivarius, perfectly suited to her build and temperament. Her career soared. She recorded the Brahms concerto and a world tour was planned.

Then, in a train station café, her violin was stolen. In an instant her world collapsed. She descended into a terrifying limbo land, unable to play another note.

This is Min’s extraordinary story – of a young woman staring into the void, wondering who she was, who she had been. It is a story of isolation and dependence, of love, loss and betrayal, and the intense, almost human bond that a musician has with their instrument. Above all it’s a story of hope through a journey back to music.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

I spotted this on NetGalley this week and requested it immediately. I’ve loved Lisa Jewell’s novels ever since I read After the Party when it first came out a few years ago. Her novels have got darker in recent years but I love them just as much. I can’t wait to read this one!

Synopsis:

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW 
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.

Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?

An Act of Silence by Coletee McBeth

An Act of Silence by ColletteMcBeth

I loved Collette McBeth’s previous two novels but had no idea she was due to publish another one. I was excited to spot this on NetGalley and even more excited to be approved to read it. I want to read it soon but am going to try and wait until a little nearer publication.

Synopsis:

These are the facts I collect.

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. They next morning she was found in an allotment.

Mariela is dead.

Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning

Linda Moscow loves her son; it’s her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she’s not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?

She’s done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.

Now, the past is catching up with them. As old secrets resurface, Lind is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it’s her life on the line…

 


 

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.

Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller @Fig_Tree_Books @PenguinUKBooks @ClaireFuller2

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About the Book:

‘Gil Coleman looked down from the window and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.’

Gil’s wife, Ingrid has been missing, presumed drowned, for twelve years.

A possible sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home. Together they begin to confront the mystery of their mother. Is Ingrid dead? Or did she leave? And do the letters hidden within Gil’s books hold the answer to the truth behind his marriage, a truth hidden from everyone including his own children?

My Thoughts:

This is the first novel I’ve read by Claire Fuller and I very much enjoyed it. Swimming Lessons is a real character-driven novel told partly in letters from the past and partly in the present day. I loved the way that a picture was gradually built up of this family, the way all their brokenness, their quirks and emotions were shown in one light in the present day and then there was another layer when we read a letter from the past.

In the present Gil has had a fall and is in hospital so his daughters Nan and Flora rush back to their childhood home to look after their father. We see the house through their eyes – all the piles and piles of books crowding every inch of space and immediately I wanted to know more.

We then begin to read the letters from Ingrid – mother to the two girls, who disappeared one day years earlier and of whom no trace has ever been found. We see through her eyes the happy times, the heartbreaking times that she went through with Gil. We learn from the very first letter that she wrote to him many times and then hid the letters in a book she felt was appropriate in some way. We don’t know how many Gil ever found or read, and there’s an added melancholy feel that runs through the book caused by missed chances and lack of knowing. In the present day we see the daughters occasionally pick up a book, and we, the reader, know there is a letter from their mother to their father in there, but for whatever reason they don’t find it. This left me feeling almost bereft at times.

There is a sense that Ingrid must be dead, for there have never been any sightings of her since the day she disappeared. Yet, there is also a haunting sense that she’s just around the corner, that if you just turned around quicker she’d be there. This broke my heart at times when the two daughters could sense her. My mum died a few years ago and sometimes I can randomly smell her perfume in my house, and for a moment I go still and it feels like she’s right there. It’s comforting, even though I know it’s not real. I think this sums up so much of this novel – the idea of people feeling things or sensing things but not always knowing what it means or how to deal with it. Then sometimes it’s the opposite – Gil’s lack of awareness, or lack of care, of his wife led to the emotional loss of her from their marriage before she was fully lost from all of their lives.

The ending of this book is perfect in my opinion, I honestly can’t see how it could have ended differently. The whole story is like a family haunted by memories and secrets and things they don’t know, so to wrap it all up in a neat bow would have been too heavy-handed. The beautiful wistfulness of the writing combined with the heartbreaking storyline is just incredible and I fell in love with this novel – it’s one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

I have Claire Fuller’s debut novel on my TBR and will definitely be reading it soon, and I already can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Swimming Lessons is out now.

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

About the Author:

Claire fuller

 

Claire Fuller trained as a sculptor before working in marketing for many years. In 2013 she completed an MA in Creative Writing, and wrote her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days. It was published in the UK by Penguin, in the US by Tin House, in Canada by House of Anansi and bought for translation in 15 other countries. Our Endless Numbered Days won the 2015 Desmond Elliott prize.
Claire’s second novel, Swimming Lessons will be published in early 2017.

 

(Bio taken from author’s Goodreads profile: Goodreads: Claire Fuller)

#BookReview: SweetPea by C.J. Skuse #SweetPea @HQStories @CeeJaytheAuthor

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About the Book

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.
Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.
From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

My Thoughts

I received SweetPea in the post as a total surprise and I was immediately drawn to the stunning cover design and wanted to know more about the book. I was then intrigued by the synopsis and the idea of a serial killer being described as a girl-next-door type.

Rhiannon is such a brilliant character; she’s so funny and sarcastic and her observations of the people around her are just so darkly amusing. There were so many times in the book that I was properly laughing at something she had said. I love the way she writes a kill list at the start of her diary entries about the people that have annoyed her on that particular day, it’s brilliant. It becomes so easy to understand her annoyances, and some of the things that annoy her are the exact things that annoy me, and that was unnerving when you then remember that this is a woman who deals with her issues with people by killing them. I actually stuck lots of sticky notes to highlight my favourite Rhiannon quotes but when I looked through the book to quote some here they’re mostly too crude or sweary to share! I did really identify with her hatred of all things to do with hen parties – that bit made me giggle. Also, I don’t want to quote it here in case it causes offence to anyone but personally as someone who suffers from a neurological condition I have to admit that I properly burst out laughing at her ‘movers and shakers’ idea for the newspaper she worked for.

A quote I will share is this one because it made me laugh so much and when I tried to read it out to my husband I couldn’t get my words out for laughing:

I didn’t cut off the penis this time. It’s not a trophy thing with me. That would be stupid, like the burglars who always leave the taps on in Home Alone. Besides, where would I put them all? We’ve only got a two-bed flat. It was hard enough deciding where to put the dehumidifier.

This is what makes the book so brilliant – Rhiannon has such an hilarious and sarcastic way of saying things that really appealed to me.

The way Rhiannon tortures her school bully is horrible to read, and the way she goes after men to kill them isn’t exactly pleasant either but because as the reader you’re in Rhiannon’s head and therefore are seeing her reasoning it’s almost as if you forget that she’s actually a psychopath. You get totally wrapped up in what Rhiannon is saying and then you pause and realise that she, aside from being a serial killer, actually comes across as a really normal woman, and someone that you could see yourself being friends with it is so deeply unsettling.

Rhiannon as a character does have depth to her too, it’s not all witty retorts and evil thoughts and deeds. She survived an horrific and brutal attack when she was a young child and whilst that is never given as a reason for her turning out the way she has, you can see a child-like side to her at times. She’s obsessed with her Sylvanian Family and spends a lot of time making her doll’s house perfect and no one is allowed to touch it. It seems odd for a grown woman to be so fixated but it felt to me like it was a lingering effect of the damage that had been done to her.

I read the final two thirds of this novel in one go because I just wanted to know what was going to happen and how it would all turn out for Rhiannon. Her behaviour escalates throughout the novel, and at the same time there is are snapshot of a slightly more normal side of her emerging too so it becomes impossible to put the book down as you just want to know which side of her will win out. It’s a weird thing when you don’t want someone to get caught and yet you know she’s unhinged and has murdered people – I couldn’t see how the book was going to end. I won’t give any spoilers but I thought the ending was perfect for the story.

This is a darkly funny novel that really gets under your skin; Rhiannon is like Bridget Jones mixed with Psycho – she’s such a unique character and someone I won’t forget for a very long time to come. SweetPea is a laugh-out-loud funny novel about a very sarcastic and witty psychopath… and if that doesn’t make you want to read it I don’t know what will! This is the first book that I’ve read by C.J. Skuse but it absolutely definitely won’t be the last.

Sweet Pea is due to by published on 20th April in the UK and I highly recommend you pre-order your copy now!

I received a copy of Sweet Pea from the publisher HQ in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

C.J. SKUSE is the author of the Young Adult novels PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC (Chicken House), MONSTER and THE DEVIANTS (Mira Ink). She was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels lectures in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. C.J. is currently working on adult novel SWEETPEA for HQ/HarperCollins (out April 2017).

C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and murder sites. She hates carnivals, hard-boiled eggs and coughing. The movies Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Ruby Sparks were all probably based on her ideas; she just didn’t get to write them down in time. Before she dies, she would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Ryan Gosling present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

You can find C.J. Skuse on Facebook or on Twitter CeejaytheAuthor

 

#BookReview: The Cows by Dawn O’Porter #DontFollowTheHerd @HotPatooties @fictionpubteam

the-cows-by-dawn-oporter

About the Book

COW n.
/ka?/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

THE COWS is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.
It’s bold and brilliant.
It’s searingly perceptive.
It’s about never following the herd.

And everyone is going to be talking about it.

My Thoughts

I have to start this review by saying that I completely and utterly adored The Cows! It’s a brilliant novel and it was exactly what I needed to be reading at the moment I read it.

This is a novel that really shows what it is to be a woman – the way we’re judged, the way we judge each other, the way we’re all trying to live up to an ideal that none of us can attain. The Cows is told through three narratives. Each of the three characters is so well-written that they feel like real people, and each voice is so distinct that you never lose track of who it is that you’re reading about.Tara is a single mother, who never told the father of her child that she was pregnant, and she feels she has to be a success at work and at home, to be everything to everybody. Cam is a very successful blogger who doesn’t want children but this ends up becoming the very thing that she is judged on and defined by even though it’s only one small part of who she is.  Then there’s Stella who is alone in the world – her twin sister, and her mum are both dead; her relationship is on the rocks and she desperately wants a baby. She feels such anger at the cards life has dealt her and yet is powerless to change what has happened.

I felt such a mix of emotions whilst reading this book – I was giggling at one point and tearful at another. The contrast between the women, but also the small similarities, really gave this novel depth and warmth. I’m very happily married but don’t have children. I never felt a huge longing for a baby but now life has made sure that I will never have children and that’s a strange thing to contemplate sometimes. I can understand Stella’s hopes and fears but I found it very hard to sympathise with the desperate lengths she went to. Ultimately though, she deserved understanding and care because she was driven to the point of madness by her need for a child, and also by her loneliness. Perhaps she would have behaved differently if she’d had a supportive friend who she could talk to and confide in. Cam is a fiercely independent woman and I admired her attitude to life, she’s the kind of woman I would love to be friends with. She is who she is and she never apologises for that, yet she remains such a lovely person. Cam’s relationship with her dad made me tearful – the way she let him help her with things because she knew it made him feel better made her all the more fab. I think she became my favourite character. What Tara did was shocking but what happened to her as a result was horrifying, and it echoed many of the stories we hear about women who do something and are caught on camera and then are judged for it forevermore. I felt so sorry for her with all the horrible attention and judgment that were thrown at her. The humiliation she felt was palpable, and the way other people, but women in particular, judged her generally but then with the infamy on top was awful but sadly all too recognisable

The society we live in now with social media being what it is is scary. Anything that we do is captured and there forever and no one is ever allowed to make a mistake, and so often we sit in judgment of others. I love social media because for one thing I wouldn’t have met my husband without it (we met on twitter) but also because I’m now housebound through disability and twitter and Facebook make me feel less alone, but there is a dark side to social media and it’s horrible to see and must be terrifying to experience.

The Cows is one of those novels that really shows the way that social media affects us – how it can ruin your life, or rather the trolls on social media can. It shows that you can be really well liked on social media and have lots of followers who hang on your every word but one opinion that the general public disagree with and the tide can turn against you. But it also shows the way that social media can bring friends our way that prove more loyal and kind in a crisis than the people we thought were our friends. The Cows also shows the power of standing up to what people say about you, about holding your head high regardless,and about the way there are still good people out there who will have your back.

The great thing that I took away from that book was the way it made me see that I don’t have to apologise for who I am. It reinforced for me that I can be who I am and I don’t have to say sorry for not being who others want me to be. It left me with a real sense of empowerment at a time when I was feeling like society had thrown me on the scrapheap. I honestly can’t put into words just how much I loved this book, it’s such an incredible read and I fully expect it will make my top ten books of 2017.

Dawn O’Porter tackles issues facing women head on in this book, she doesn’t shy away from any topic and it’s so refreshing to read. The Cows will make you laugh, it will make you cry; it will make you nod your head in recognition and it may well make you cringe at times but it’s a book that you want to keep reading and don’t want to end. This is a novel of our times and it’s one that I will read again and again. I highly recommend that you go buy a copy right now!

I received a copy of The Cows from HarperCollins via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Photograph by David Loftus


Dawn O’Porter is a broadcaster and print journalist who lives in London with her husband Chris, cat Lilu and dog Potato. She has made thirteen documentaries about all sorts of things, including polygamy, childbirth, geishas, body image, breast cancer and even the movie DIRTY DANCING.

Dawn has written for various UK newspapers and magazines including GRAZIA and STYLIST. She is also a highly prolific Tweeter and blogger of The Dawn Report. Although Dawn lives in London she spends a lot of time in LA and travels a lot. You may have seen her dragging two huge pink suitcases with broken wheels and a Siamese cat (Lilu) in a box through international airports. At some point she plans to get new suitcases – the cat, however, has a few years left in her yet.

 


 

You can follow the rest of this tour at the lovely blogs below:

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WWW Wednesday (12 April)

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

I only started reading this late last night but I can see it’s going to be one of those books that has me hooked. I already can’t wait to get back to it (and will be picking it up as soon as I have this post written and scheduled)!

This Love by Dani Atkins

I was sent this gorgeous paperback for review recently and am absolutely loving it. I keep thinking of the characters when I’m not reading it, which is always the sign of an amazing book.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This is such an interesting book, I’m so glad I spotted it on the Wellcome prize and decided to buy it. It’s a long book so I’ll probably be reading it for quite a while but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it already!

What I Talk about when I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami

This is my current audiobook. It may seem a strange book for someone who can’t walk to want to listen to a book about running but I thought my struggles to walk a few steps might have something in common with training for a marathon. This book is so much for than I thought it was going to be and I think it will become one of those rare books that I listen to more than once. The thoughts and philosophy in this book are just wonderful.

 

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

I loved this book, it’s absolutely brilliant and I highly recommend it. I’m actually on the blog tour for this book today so you should be able to see my review now.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

I finished this a couple of days ago and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I enjoyed it but I’m not sure that I’d have managed to finish it if I’d not swapped from reading it to listening to it. I did receive a review copy of this so I will be attempting to review it as soon as I can.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

This book is so good, I loved it. I’m mid-way through writing my review now so I hope to get that posted soon. I can’t recommend the book highly enough though.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The three books below that I hope to read this week. I haven’t actually showed these books in a book haul yet so I will be writing more about these books in my Stacking the Shelves post on Saturday.

Gone by Min Kym

I was really pleased to get approved for this on NetGalley earlier this week as it sounds like a fascinating read. I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I’ve heard so many great things about this book that I couldn’t resist treating myself at the weekend. I really want to 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: Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish @Zer0Books @steleenaish ‏

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

About the Book

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert said Dirty Dancing “might have been a decent movie if it had allowed itself to be about anything.” In this broadly researched and accessible text, Stephen Lee Naish sets out to deconstruct and unlock a film that has haunted him for decades, and argues that Dirty Dancing, the 1987 sleeper hit about a young middle-class girl who falls for a handsome working-class dance instructor, is actually about everything. The film is a union of history, politics, sixties and eighties culture, era-defining music, class, gender, and race, and of course features one of the best love stories set to film. Using scene-by-scene analyses, personal interpretation, and comparative study, it’s time to take Dirty Dancing out of the corner and place it under the microscope.

My Thoughts

I accidentally ended up with this book from NetGalley and I was in two minds about whether to read it or to just contact the publisher and explain my error. In the end I decided to read it. I think everyone my age will have watched and loved Dirty Dancing when they were around their early teens. I know so many people who still consider this one of their favourite films. It was my favourite feel-good film for many years.

This is a wonderful book for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the film as it really does look at all the key moments, and allows you to re-live them. I liked the descriptions of some of the deleted scenes from the film and the discussion on how they may or may not have added to the storyline had they have been left in – it’s made me want to buy the special edition DVD so I can see those deleted scenes now! Occasionally there are really interesting references to other studies that have discussed Dirty Dancing and I would have loved more of that, but it has led me to look at the bibliography at the back of this book so that I can maybe read more on the subject another time.

I’ve always seen the depth in Dirty Dancing, and assume that most people have – the way the main plot line hinges on Penny’s botched abortion, and the way the politics (and class and race issues) of the time the film was set really did have a huge impact on the story being told. This book considers the themes of the film and how out there it was for the time it was set, and the time it was made. I only wish that there had been more of a discussion about about why no one makes films like Dirty Dancing anymore, and that’s not me being nostalgic, it’s a genuine thing that interests me as to why we don’t have romantic films that look at serious issues in the way that Dirty Dancing did anymore. Now romantic films always seem to be very light and fluffy and while I enjoy them from time to time none of them are all that memorable, whereas Dirty Dancing always feels forward-thinking in the way it tackled big issues.

There is an interesting chapter earlier in the book that compares the themes of Dirty Dancing to those in Blue Velvet and I found that quite fascinating as on the surface I don’t automatically think of these films being in any way similar. I now see the common themes that Naish discussed in the book and it has made me ponder them, and to want to re-watch both films to see what else I may have missed in my previous viewings of them.

Naish also discusses how certain quotes from Dirty Dancing have become part of popular culture now. The way we all quote ‘I carried a watermelon’, for example, as shorthand for the most mortifying things we’ve ever said or done.

I found the author’s analysis of the end of Dirty Dancing utterly fascinating. I’ve watched the film numerous times and I’ve always thought that the ending was just super romantic and a perfect end to the film. Naish considers the idea that the whole ending was just a fantasy that Baby was having, it was what she imagined happened and that really the love story between her and Johnny was over when he left Kellermans earlier in the the film. I actually see that this is entirely plausible and it has made me really think about whether this is more likely than how I’ve always viewed it.

All in all this is an interesting, nostalgic look back on a great film and if you’re a Dirty Dancing fan I think you’ll very much enjoy this book – I definitely recommend it.

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing is due to be published on 28 April.

I received a copy of this book from Zer0Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Weekly Wrap-Up (9 April)

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This week I’ve had a quiet week due to not feeling well so I don’t really have anything news to share on here. So on with the books and stuff…

This week I’ve finished reading 3 books:

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

I read this book in one sitting last week and very much enjoyed it. It was a gripping read and I recommend it. I reviewed it for the blog tour yesterday so you can read my review here if you’d like to.

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

I wasn’t sure about reading this but I decided to give it a go. It was fairly enjoyable but I’m not sure it’s what I thought it was going to be. I’m planning to review this soon so look out for that.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

I was struggling to read this book so I bought the audio book this week and found it worked better for me on audio. It’s a really tough subject matter but very well-written. I’m possibly going to write a review on it if I can get my thoughts together.

This week I’ve blogged six times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday: March Wrap-Up 

Tuesday: A guest post by author Lynda Renham on changing genre for her new novel, Remember Me

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

                   Review of Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I started reading this a couple of days ago and am finding it fascinating. It’s a long book so I think it’ll be one I’m reading on and off for a little while but I know it’s going to be a book I get a lot out of.

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

I’m absolutely loving this book. I’ve very nearly finished it and will really miss it once I have finished it. I’m on the blog tour for this book this week so look out for my review on the 12 April as part of the tour.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

I finally had the strength in my hands to pick this back up yesterday and I’ve been engrossed in it for much of the weekend so far. It’s such a good read, I recommend it.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

This is my current audio book and I’m not too far off finishing this one either. I love the concept of the novel and I’m enjoying it but it’s not keeping me hooked as much as I thought it would.

 

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Update on my TBR…  

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1913

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 5

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

Books I’m currently reading: 4

TBR Books culled this week: 10

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1914

#BookReview: Good as Gone by Amy Gentry @unlandedgentry @HQStories #BlogTour

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About the Book

Eight years ago, thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night.

In the years since, her family have papered over the cracks of their grief – while hoping against hope that Julie is still alive.

And then, one night, the doorbell rings.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered a copy of Good as Gone to review for the blog tour as it sounded like such a gripping read, and I have to say that I wasn’t disappointed. I read this in one sitting as I just got lost in the novel for an entire afternoon!

I’m always intrigued by novels where someone has gone missing and then seemingly returns years later. It’s one of those things that you can barely even imagine and yet it has happened in real life too. In this novel I was immediately curious as to where Julie had been, and if this even really was Julie that had come back. I would imagine that if your child had been missing for all those years and someone who looked just like her came to your door you wouldn’t immediately question if it really was her because you would so badly want it to be. In Good as Gone it felt believable to me that the family accepted Julie back so quickly and didn’t question the situation, but as a reader I was quickly wondering if this really was going to be a happy ending for the family and it really made the book a gripping, rollercoaster of a read that I was so unsure and unsettled by Julie.

As we begin to learn more about Julie and where she might have been in the intervening years and what might have happened to her I found I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages, I simply had to know how it was all going to turn out.

My favourite thing about this book was the chapters by all the different people and how each chapter gives a clue and gradually a picture is built up about what has happened. It was great how the reader has much more information than the family and we are there in each setting and trying to understand whether this person was Julie or if that person was, but we also see the family trying to come to terms with what has happened, and they start uncovering secrets that have been held in the intervening years and have to deal with the fallout from that. I found I was trying to put the pieces together from the start and some things I got wrong and others I got right, it was very cleverly written.

I definitely recommend this book – it’s a gripping, absorbing rollercoaster of a thriller that will keep you turning the pages long into the night. Go buy a copy now, you won’t regret it!

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

 

Good as Gone header

Exclusive content from Amy Gentry:

What was your inspiration for writing the book? How has working in women’s shelters influenced Julie’s story?

For about a year, I volunteered as an on-call emergency room advocate for victims of sexual assault. When assault victims turned up in the emergency room requesting a forensic exam (aka rape kit), I would dispatch to the hospital to provide in-room advocacy and resources from the shelter. Thus I spent lots of time, often in the middle of the night, with survivors of sexual trauma in the immediate aftermath of their assaults. I was asked by women to sit in the room with them during the forensic exam, even hold their hands. I sat in hospital rooms with students, strippers, mothers, grandmothers, homeless prostitutes, veterans, political campaigners, athletes, you name it. The stories of abused and assaulted women were very real and vivid to me as I wrote the parts of my story that dealt with those topics. I became especially alert to the ways in which victims of these crimes struggle to protect themselves in the wake of trauma, often making choices which might seem to an outsider to be the wrong ones because they may hurt others or lead to the victim herself being retraumatized. Yet I came to understand how important that sense of choice can be for helping victims preserve a sense of agency and personhood that has been violated during the assault. Demanding that victims look or act a certain way, either before or after their assault, is one way we discredit victims and perpetuate rape culture. I also talked to many police and other first responders, and came to understand how flawed and human these professionals are in their own, often biased, responses to sexual assault victims. There is no such thing as a perfect victim, because people behave erratically in the wake of severe trauma; but for some reason we seem to demand perfection of sexual assault victims. This is really the underlying theme I wanted to explore with Good as Gone.

 

About the Author

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Amy Gentry lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two cats. After graduating in 2011 with a PhD in English from the University of Chicago, she began a freelance writing career, writing book reviews, cultural criticism, and, for one strange and wonderful year, a fashion column. She frequently reviews fiction for the Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Journal, and her writing has appeared in Salon.com, xoJane, The Rumpus, the Austin Chronicle, the Texas ObserverLA Review of BooksGastronomica, and the Best Food Writing of 2014GOOD AS GONE, her first thriller, is set in her hometown of Houston, Texas.

Bio taken from the author’s website: amygentryauthor.com 

 

Follow the rest of the blog tour at these lovely blogs:

Good as Gone blog tour

Stacking the Shelves (8 April) #BookHaul

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

 

Here are the 3 eBooks I bought this week:

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The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

I read a brilliant review for this book on Cleopatra Loves Books blog this week and it sold the book to me. I’d previously thought that this wasn’t a book for me but Cleo wrote about it in such a way that it made me feel like I simply had to read the book as soon as I could. I bought a copy a couple of days later and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Synopsis:

When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.

Underground Airlines by ben winters

Underground Airlines by Ben Winters

I’ve had this book on my wish list since I first heard about it last year so when I spotted it in the Kindle sale this week for just £1.99 I snapped it up. I think this is a book that I’ll need to be in the right mood for so hopefully I will be soon.

Synopsis:

A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He’s got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called “the Hard Four.” On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn’t right–with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself.

A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Tracking Jackdaw through the back rooms of churches, empty parking garages, hotels, and medical offices, Victor believes he’s hot on the trail. But his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won’t reveal the extraordinary stakes of Jackdaw’s case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor’s salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all–though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface.

Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country’s arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost.

Hear Me by Julia North

Hear Me by Julia North

I spotted a tweet this week offering the ebook of this for free so I immediately signed up for a copy. The synopsis really makes me want to read this as soon as I can.

Synopsis:

After yet another shameful one-night stand Lissa has to accept that her sisters are right – she is an alcoholic and it’s time for rehab. She hates the idea of therapy, doesn’t want to examine her past, but just as she begins to see reasons for her drinking, life takes a brutal turn.

Who are her fellow patients? Why is one of them so damned perfect?

Hear Me is a powerful story about life and death, addiction and sobriety, racism and the fight for justice – but above all it is a story about love.

 

I also received 1 ARC:

 

 

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

I was sent a copy of this to review as I’m taking part in the blog tour for this in May. The synopsis sounds so good and I’m really looking forward to reading this.

Synopsis:

In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewelry designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In 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 true-crime 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.

And I won a giveaway:

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The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase

I received this book at the weekend and there was no note with it so I had no idea where it came from but I finally found out that it was a Goodreads giveaway win. I was thrilled when I opened the package as I’ve been seeing this book on social media and have been so keen to read it.

Synopsis:

Nineteen fifty-nine. The four Wilde sisters, Margot, Flora, Pam and Dot, are spending the summer in the Cotswolds, at Applecote Manor. Affectionately called the Wildlings, the sisters are exceptionally close, yet this year there’s a sense of nostalgia. Things are changing.

Except for Applecote itself, a house that seems frozen in time. The sisters haven’t been there in five years; not since their cousin Audrey mysteriously vanished.

But as they discover Applecote’s old secrets and new temptations, the bond between the sisters starts to splinter. Until the night when everything spirals out of control and the Wildlings form a bond far thicker than blood . . .

 

 


 

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

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

WWW Wednesday (5 April) What are you reading at the moment?

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 Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This is such a great book, I’m really happy to have my reading mojo back after a wobbly few days and to be able to dive straight back into this novel.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

I’m listening to this on audio at the moment and really enjoying it. It really subverts male and female roles, which makes for a thought-provoking read.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

I’m hoping to be able to finish this book this week. It’s had to be put to one side over the last week or two as I haven’t managed to hold a print book to read but I’m really keen to know how the rest of the novel’s going to go so am going to aim for reading a chapter at a time and see how I cope.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

I pretty much read this in one sitting yesterday, it just grabbed me straight away and kept me hooked. I’m on the blog tour for this on Saturday so I’ll be sharing my review then so look out for that.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

This has been on my currently reading list for a few weeks now but I’ve been struggling to read more serious non-fiction. A couple of days ago I decided to get the audio book version as I thought listening to it might be better for me and I’m glad I did. I finished the second half of the book in just two days. It’s a really hard subject matter but such a well-written book. I originally got a NetGalley copy of this a couple of years ago but I had to DNF it as it wasn’t the right time for me to read it. I then bought my own copy to try again so I’m thinking I may still try and review this.

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

This is such a great read. It’s one of those novels that really got under my skin, and there were parts that made me really uncomfortable and yet I couldn’t stop reading. It’s a book that will really stay with me and I recommend it. I was so pleased that it made the Baileys prize short list this week.

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

I accidentally got this from NetGalley (when I mistakenly clicked on a link in an email from them) and decided I would give it a go. I will review this with it being from NetGalley but I’m not sure that I particularly recommend it as there wasn’t as much analysis of the film as I would have expected.

What I plan on reading next:

Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

I’ve had this on my review book TBR for a couple of months now and just haven’t felt in the right mood to read it. Hearing the buzz around it now it’s made the Baileys short list this week has made me want to read it asap as it does feel like it could be a book that I will love.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I bought this with my birthday money last month and have been keen to pick it up ever since. I wanted to finish One of Us first though as having two long non-fiction books on the go at once felt a bit daunting. I’m really looking forward to starting this.

 

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.

Lynda Renham on changing genre for her new novel #RememberMe! #guestpost @LyndaRenham

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Today on my blog I’m thrilled to welcome author Lynda Renham, who has written a lovely guest post for me about her brand new thriller Remember Me.

 

About the Book

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A new neighbour moves next door. They seem nice enough. You go to their house for dinner. It’s a nice house.  And then things start to change. The vase in your house is suddenly on their landing. The colour of your kitchen becomes the colour of their kitchen. How much of your life will SHE take? ‘Remember Me’ is an unsettling and on the edge of your seat thriller.

 Clare is glad when the new neighbours move in. It’s nice to have a new friend.  But as time moves on Clare begins to fear for her child and her own sanity. 

 

 

Lynda’s Post

As a writer the thought of changing the genre that I normally write was a bit nerve-wracking but I decided to go for it because I had such great ideas in my head and after all, a writer is a writer. We surely can’t be expected to write the same things over and over.

I love writing comedy and very much enjoyed writing ‘Phoebe Smith’s Private Blog’

However, a writer’s life is a lonely one. Every book is your new baby and how it is received by the readers becomes a really personal thing.

I had a fair amount of writers block while producing the new one. There is nothing worse than sitting in front of a lap top with a blank document on the screen and absolutely nothing in your head. I always turn to the fridge unfortunately. Or even worse, the chocolate basket that sits tempting me.

My new novel titled ‘Remember Me’ saw me consume a lot of chocolate.

It’s not scary. It’s a thriller rather than a horror story but there are a few twists and turns and the twist is quite unexpected. I hope very much you enjoy it.

I love to hear from my readers so do get in touch. I’m on Twitter @lyndarenham and I have a Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/lyndarenhamauthor/ Do join me and tell me what you think of the books.

The next book will be a romantic comedy again. It’s quite nice to chop and change a bit. I’m very much hoping my readers will enjoy this new book. You can buy it at the promotional price of 99p or if you’re part of Amazon’s prime subscription then you can borrow it for FREE.  Click here to go to Remember Me on Amazon.

 

About the Author

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I’m the author of the bestselling Romantic Comedy novels ‘Croissants and Jam’ ‘Coconuts and Wonderbras’ and ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’  The Dog’s Bollocks Rory’s Proposal’ and ‘It Had to be You‘ I’m also the author of ‘The Diary of Rector Byrnes’ I live in the beautiful Cotswolds with my husband Andrew and one cat, named Bendy.

 

 

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March Wrap-Up post!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

March has been a tough month in my personal life due to my medication changes. It’s hard to get across just how difficult it is to have a condition that requires medication to manage symptoms, and how the medication then causes problems in itself. I’ve been on very strong pain medication since before I was diagnosed and now I know my condition will never improve, and may even worsen over time, I want to make the best of what I’m left with. So I took the decision to try and reduce my pain medication, in spite of the severe pain I live with. This has been a long term reduction programme and it’s been going ok. It was in March that I got to a low enough dose that I’m struggling. I do have other things that I do to help me manage my pain but it’s taken all my reserves of mental strength to cope. It’s only going to get worse over the coming weeks and I just have to prepare myself as best I can. Once I’m off this medication my pain levels will be assessed again and it may be that I end up on a different medication but I just want to see what I can cope with.

Here are the 22 books I read this month:

Scarlett Says by Scarlett Moffatt

Forever Yours by Daniel Glauttauer

The Escape by C. L. Taylor

Willow Walk by SJI Holliday

The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After by Jenny Colgan

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

And the Sun Shine Now by Adrian Tempany

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Now We Are 40 by Tiffanie Darke

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

A Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

Hillsborough Untold by Norman Bettison


March Blog Posts & Reviews

I wrote my regular Weekly Wrap-Ups, Stacking the Shelves, and WWW Wednesday posts. Then I also managed to review twelve books, which I’m pleased about. It was my aim from the start of March to post three reviews a week on average and I’ve managed that. Ideally, I’d post more reviews than this but three feels manageable along side the regular posts I do each week (health permitting of course)

Here are my reviews that I shared in March:

Everything But the Truth by Gillian McAllister

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel 

It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris 

The Escape by C. L. Taylor

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney

The Best We Could Do by Thi But

Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

I also shared a great guest post in March:

Mark Stewart, author of The Absence of Wings, wrote a post for my blog all about speaking up for the voiceless in his short story collection


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The state of my TBR:

I’ve had a few people ask my about my TBR recently so I just want to clarify that my TBR consists purely of books that I already own. I don’t count wish list books as TBR. This goes for anywhere that you see my TBR so if you look at my Goodreads the books listed as ‘to read’ are all books that I own. Hence the need to reduce it – if these books were just wish list books I wouldn’t be bothered how big the list was.

The State of my TBR is not great at the moment. I’ve demonstrated a lack of willpower throughout March and my TBR is creeping up, and is now higher than it was at the start of January!

I started this year with 1885 books on my TBR, and was doing well for the first couple of months as in February my TBR was down to 1861. However, in March a combination of a couple of giveaway wins, review copies arriving, a kindle book sale and spending my birthday book vouchers my TBR has now increased to 1913! I was a bit shocked when I realised how much my TBR has grown in the course of a month.

I don’t want to stop buying books but I do think I need to get better at not buying so many books each week. I’d at least like to try and not acquire more than I can read in a month so that my TBR would then remain steady, so that’s what I’m going to try and do in March. Wish me luck (or maybe that should read wish my willpower!!)

I also want to get in the habit of regularly going through my TBR and making sure that I’m only keeping the books that I still want to read. I’m thinking this should be something I do every month, or at least every quarter.


Quarterly Stats!

I’ve been tracking my reading using a spreadsheet since the start of 2017, which is the first time I’ve ever done this and I’m really enjoying seeing how various aspects of my reading are going. So I’ve decided that at the end of every quarter (March, June, September and December) I’m going to add an extra section to those monthly wrap-ups to share some of the things I’ve noticed in my reading patterns.

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I’ve read 71 books from January to March, and that amounts to 23,326 pages. I’m finding it really interesting to track pages read alongside books read as it shows that I’m not just reading short books to get my numbers up. The longest book I’ve read so far this year is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, which has 849 pages. My average page count is 326, which is around the length of an average book so I’m pleased with that. 

I’m pleased to discover that in the first three months of this year that 65% of the books I’ve read have been by women. The diversity of my reading in other areas could be improved – I would like to read more work in translation, and also more books written in own voices but I’m otherwise pleased with the breadth of what I’ve been reading.

 

 

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I’ve read from a variety of genres and am happy that of 71 books read, 21 have been non-fiction/memoir so far. I wanted to try and make sure that around a third of what I read this year was non-fiction so I’m not far off being on track for that.

 

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I’ve also kept track of how I acquire my books so thought it would be interesting to show that here as well. Over half of the books I’ve got this year were ones I bought myself, and quite a few have been given to me as gifts. The percentage of review books are the smaller number.

 

 

 

 

All in all I’m pleased with how my reading, reviewing and blogging has been in March. I’m aware that I’m not sure how I’m going to be feeling during April so I’m not planning too much in the way of reading or blogging goals. I’ll read when I can and review when I can and see how it goes. I am going to be taking part in a couple of blog tours so am already reading those books so I can get the posts written and scheduled in advance. I’ll be using any good spells of health to read and review and write blog posts so I’m hoping to have regular content on here even if I’m not around quite as much in reality.

 

How was your March? 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. 🙂

Weekly Wrap-Up (2 April)

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This week has been a bit rubbish if I’m honest. The effects of reducing my pain meds have really kicked in and I just feel horrid a lot of the time. I was meant to be going to a gig in the week with my husband, and we’d had the tickets for ages, but there was no way I was going to manage it. We stayed in and treated ourselves to a takeaway instead, which was lovely but I still wish we could have gone out.

I’ve barely managed to read anything all week – the two books I have finished are the ones I managed to pick up again just yesterday and were books I’ve been reading on and off for a little while now.

I’m going to be starting a new treatment soon, which is more experimental, but I’m going into it with a positive mindset and am hoping that it helps me.

This week I’ve finished reading two books:

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

I found this to be such a compelling read, it really drew me in. Some of the things that happen hit a nerve with me but it’s so well written that even then I didn’t want to stop reading. I love books that make me uncomfortable but still have me under their spell, and this one was definitely one of those. I definitely recommend this.

Hillsborough Untold by Norman Bettison

I didn’t notice who this book was by when it arrived so it was only when I started reading this that I realised. I wouldn’t have picked this up had I have known but once I had the book I was intrigued to know what he had to say. I do think it’s important to hear all sides but in this case, when the police have been held responsible after so many years, it does feel like there’s nothing more to be heard from them that can add anything. Having said that, I do think it’s wrong that officers can take early retirement in order to get out of facing an investigation into their alleged wrong-doing, and that, because the other officers involved did this, Bettison bore more of the criticism in his career. I wouldn’t recommend this.

This week I’ve blogged seven times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Monday: Review of Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Tuesday: Review of The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: A guest post by Mark Stewart, author of The Absence of Wings, all about how he speaks up for the voiceless in his short story collection

Friday: Review of The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

I just started this book last night and it’s got me hooked already so I reckon, concentration span permitting, that this may be one of those books that I finish in one sitting!

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

This is a really interesting look at the film Dirty Dancing and what the backdrop to the film was in terms of politics of the time it was made, and the time it was set. It’s a short book so I hope to be able to finish it this week.

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This is a brilliant novel, I’m really enjoying it. I actually missed this book when I had a few days of not being well enough to read this week so I’m really looking forward to picking it up again.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

This is such a great read. I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t managed to read anymore of it this week due to lack of concentration but also due to horrible lack of dexterity in my hands meaning print books aren’t the easiest to read at the moment. I’m so keen to see where this story is going though so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to it this week.

One of Us by Asne Serierstad

I’ve managed to read a bit more of this over the last week and am really hoping that my brain power will be back to full(ish) strength soon so that I can finish this book. It’s such an interesting book but I wish I could have managed to read it in fewer sittings.

 

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Update on my TBR… 

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1895

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts:  23

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 2

Books I’m currently reading: 5

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1913

 


 

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. I’ll be posting my monthly wrap-up for March on here tomorrow so please look out for that! 🙂

A huge #BookHaul this week in my Stacking the Shelves (1 April) post!

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

 

I have a HUGE book haul to share with you this week as I was lucky enough to win a TBR of Dreams run on twitter last weekend and the books arrived on Monday. I also was sent some gorgeous ARCs this week so it all adds up to a bumper Stacking the Shelves post this week!

 

These are the 1 print & 3 eBooks I bought this week:

Sleep It Off Lady by Jean Rhys

Sleep It Off Lady by Jean Rhys

I’ve been a huge fan of Jean Rhys for many years now but I’ve never sat and read all of this short story collection. My copy got lost a while ago so I finally bought another copy and it will be a real treat to sit and read this collection.

Synopsis:

Sleep It Off Lady, originally published in late 1976, was famed Dominican author Jean Rhys’ final collection of short stories. The sixteen stories in this collection stretch over an approximate 75-year period, starting from the end of the nineteenth century (November 1899) to the present time of writing (circa 1975).

A Life Between Us by Louise Walters

A Life Between Us by Louise Walters

Quite a few of my favourite bloggers have featured this book recently in the run up to publication so I knew I had to buy a copy as soon as it was released. The synopsis sounds really intriguing and I’m sure this will be a book I very much enjoy. This novel is currently just 99p on Kindle so it’s an absolute bargain!

Synopsis:

Tina Thornton’s twin sister Meg died in a childhood accident, but for almost forty years Tina has secretly blamed herself for her sister’s death. During a visit to her aging Uncle Edward and his sister Lucia, who both harbour dark secrets of their own, Tina makes a discovery that forces her to finally question her memories of the day her sister died.

Who, if anyone, did kill Meg? As Tina finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the tangled family mysteries of her estranged parents, her beautiful French Aunt Simone, the fading, compassionate Uncle Edward, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all.

A Life Between Us is a beautifully evocative story of a family torn apart at the seams, which will appeal to readers who enjoy family sagas and modern-day mysteries.

Siren by AnneMarie Neary

Siren by Annemarie Neary

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a while now so when I spotted it in the spring sale for Kindle I snapped it up. I’m really keen to read this one so I’m putting it quite high on my TBR.

Synopsis:

Ireland, 2004

Róisín Burns has spent over twenty-five years living a lie.

Brian Lonergan, a rising politician, has used the time to reinvent himself.

But scandal is brewing around him, and Róisín knows the truth.

Lonergan stole her life as a young girl. And now she wants it back.

But he is still one step ahead …

It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

I’m not sure where I first heard about this book but when I saw it was a kindle daily deal this week the title and cover were already familiar to me. I read the synopsis and it seems like one of those books that needs to be read at the moment. I think I’ll need to be in the right mood to read it but I hope I can get to it soon.

Synopsis:

A vain, outlandish, anti-immigrant, fearmongering demagogue runs for President of the United States – and wins. Sinclair Lewis’s chilling 1935 bestseller is the story of Buzz Windrip, ‘Professional Common Man’, who promises poor, angry voters that he will make America proud and prosperous once more, but takes the country down a far darker path. As the new regime slides into authoritarianism, newspaper editor Doremus Jessop can’t believe it will last – but is he right? This cautionary tale of liberal complacency in the face of populist tyranny shows it really can happen here.

 

I also received 7 ARCs:

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I Know My Name by CJ Cooke

I’m a real fan of CJ Cooke – one of her earlier novels, The Guardian Angel’s Journal is a favourite of mine so I was thrilled when she offered up a handful of copies of her forthcoming novel and I was quick enough to get one. It arrived yesterday and I was super excited to spot that it’s a signed copy. I can’t wait to read this book!

Synopsis:

…But what if that’s the only thing you can remember?

Komméno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I can’t even put into words how excited I was when the publisher of this contacted me to ask if I’d like to review it. I have heard so many great things about this book and have been so keen to read it. I’ll be starting this one very, very soon!

Synopsis:

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

I’ve seen pics of this book on social media over the last week or so and have been so keen to find out more about it. I then spotted it was on NetGalley so requested it and was super excited to get approved the following day. The book’s not out until August so I feel like I should try and wait a little while before reading but I’m not sure I can resist it!

Synopsis:

Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

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The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

This was my surprise book post of the week and I’m very happy to have received it. It sounds like the kind of book I’ll really get engrossed in so I’m keen to read it soon.

Synopsis:

A debut literary thriller from an incredible new voice. What do you do when the man who gave you everything turns out to be a killer? Perfect for fans of STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel.

Trapper was my family even though I didn’t know a sure thing about him… Trapper was the kind a’ family you choose for yourself, the kind that gets closer’n blood.

He was what I chose and I chose wrong.

Lost in the harsh forest as a child, Elka was taken in and raised by the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who taught her all she knows. So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

As winter sets in, Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her real parents. But Lyon is never far behind, and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. Soon Elka must confront the darkest memories of her past- and end Trapper’s killing spree for good.

The wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

The wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

I was contacted by the publisher about this book to see if I’d like to read it for the blog tour and I immediately said yes. I’ve read and enjoyed one of Rebecca’s previous novels and this one sounds like something I’ll love. I’m looking forward to starting this one.

Synopsis:

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.

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

I was invited to read this one on NetGalley, which felt very serendipitous as I’d earlier read about the book and very much wanted to read it! I don’t think this will be waiting on my TBR for very long.

Synopsis:

‘O felt her presence behind him like a fire at his back.’

Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.

The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s’ suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practise a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Watching over the shoulders of four 11-year-olds – Osei, Dee, Ian and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi – Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

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Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty

I’m taking part in the blog tour for this book in May so am looking forward to reading the book before then. I’ve not read any of Paul Hardisty’s other books but I’m intrigued to see what this one is like.

Synopsis:

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.

I also won a TBR of Dreams giveaway on twitter this week, which included NINE fabulous books.

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A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

I was super excited to win a copy of this as it was on my wish list and I’ve been so looking forward to reading it. I then read an article about Alice Martineau who inspired this novel so I’m intrigued to read it. I’m hoping to start reading this over the next week or so.

Synopsis:

Tom fell in love with Alice the moment he saw her. He realises that being with her will not be easy, but she is a force of nature, a burst of sunlight in his otherwise ordinary world.

Some people might look at Alice and think she has everything, but Alice knows she is not like other women. Her life is complicated, unpredictable, difficult. Alice does not like pity. All she wants to do, has ever wanted to do, is sing.

Alice has been told not to follow her dreams. But when fate has already dealt a tough hand, it’s time to stop listening to everyone else and only follow their hearts.

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Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain

This sounds like a lovely, light-hearted summer read and one I think will be perfect when I’m in need of a pick-me-up.

Synopsis:

For everyone dreaming of escaping to the country, fall in love this summer at Skylark Farm…

Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn’t quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it.

Dreaming of organic orchards, paddling in streams and frolicking in fields, Amber packs up her things and moves to Skylark Farm. But life is not quite how she imagined – it’s cold and dirty and the farm buildings are dilapidated and crumbling.

But Amber is determined to make the best of it and throws herself into farm life. But can she really fit in here? And can she and Jake stay together when they are so different?

A story of love in the countryside from the author of the bestselling The Cherry Tree Café. Perfect for Escape to the Country dreamers, Cath Kidston fans and Country Living addicts!

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How Not to Fall in Love by Catherine Bennetto

I love the sound of this book from the synopsis, I think it’ll be another book to keep for when I need a feel-good read.

Synopsis:

Life is 10% planning, 10% design and 80% totally winging it…

Join Emma as she guides you through How Not to become accidentally knocked up at the age of 27, How Not to unceremoniously dump the father of your child, and then How Not to lose the job that (even though you hate it) is the only thing between you and being homeless…

Hilarious and heart-warming, How Not to Fall in Love, Actually will make you laugh, make you cry, and will reassure you that perhaps your life is not that bad, actually…

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A Year at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

I actually read the first novella in this collected series at Christmas last year and wanted to read the rest of the novellas but hadn’t yet got around to it. So I was really happy to find this book in my giveaway win as I can now revisit the first part and then find out what happens in the rest of the novel.

Synopsis:

A Year at the Star and Sixpence is Holly Hepburn’s four Star and Sixpence novellas collected together as a novel for the first time. 
When sisters Nessie and Sam inherit a little pub in a beautiful country village they jump at the chance to escape their messy lives and start afresh. But when they arrive at the Star and Sixpence, it’s not quite what they imagined – it’s pretty much derelict, ruined by debts, and it’s going to be a huge job to get it up and running again. But they are determined to make the best of this new life and they set about making the pub the heart of the village once again. Their first year at the Star and Sixpence won’t be easy, though nothing worth doing ever is.
But when the sisters’ past comes back to haunt them, they start to think that the fresh start they needed is very far away indeed…

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All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

I read a couple of Adriana Trigiani’s novels years ago and really enjoyed them but I haven’t picked one up since. I’d heard of this book and thought it sounded great but hadn’t picked a copy up as yet, so I was pleased to win a copy. I love the era that this book is set in so I think it’ll be making its way to the top of my TBR very soon.

Synopsis:

Clark Gable, Loretta Young, Spencer Tracy, David Niven, Carole Lombard lead a magnificent cast of characters, real and imagined, in Adriana Trigiani’s new novel set in the rich landscape of 1930s’ Los Angeles. In this spectacular saga as radiant, thrilling and beguiling as Hollywood itself, Trigiani takes us back to the golden age of movie-making and into the complex and glamorous world of a young actress hungry for fame, success – and love. With meticulous, beautiful detail, she paints a rich landscape, where European and American artisans flocked to pursue the ultimate dream: to tell stories on the silver screen.

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These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton

This sounds like a gorgeous read and one I’m really keen to get to soon. I think this may be the book I read after the Alice Peterson novel!

Synopsis:

A novel about love. Raw important love. Small, beautiful love. And what happens when the person you love cannot be yours… Perfect for fans of Rowan Coleman, Jane Green and David Nicholls.

Kate and Becca are cousins and best friends. They have grown up together and shared all the most important milestones in their lives: childhood birthday parties, eighteenth birthdays, and now a wedding day as they each marry their childhood sweethearts, Charlie and Julian.

Kate has always loved Charlie – they were meant to be. Then she discovers that life never turns out quite how you expect it to. And love doesn’t always follow the journey it should.

But best friends are forever, and true love will find a way, won’t it…?

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The Love of a Lifetime by Melissa Hill

I’ve loved the three previous novels I’ve read by Melissa Hill so I have high hopes for this one. I’m really looking forward to reading this as soon as I can.

Synopsis:

Hollywood movies are Beth’s passion. She hopes her life will always be filled with ‘movie moments’, where things like serendipity and fate happen every day. Her boyfriend Danny has always been the embodiment of her perfect Hollywood hero – though after seven years together the initial silver-screen romance has settled into something more predictable.

And then, one morning at work, Beth receives an anonymous delivery of a take-out coffee cup with a cryptic message suggesting a meeting at Tiffany’s. From there, she is given a series of clues directing her to some of NYC’s most popular landmarks – a treasure hunt using unique rom-com-related prompts perfect for a movie-lover like Beth to decipher. And Beth is forced to wonder: has Danny realised their relationship needs a boost – or could it be that charming new work colleague Ryan, with his intense gaze, flirtatious smile and almost encyclopaedic movie knowledge, wants to sweep her off her feet? And how would she feel about taking a chance on a new leading man in her life?

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The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson

I’ve read a few reviews of this on blogs over the last week or two and it sounded like such a lovely, warm-hearted read. I was so happy to find I’d won a hardback copy in the giveaway and am definitely going to be reading this soon.

Synopsis:

When Lewis Harley has a health scare in his early forties, he takes it as a wake-up call. So he and his  wife Charlotte leave behind life in the fast lane and Lewis opens the antique shop he has dreamed of. Bonnie Brookland was brought up in the antiques trade and now works for the man who bought out her father’s business, but she isn’t happy there. So when she walks into Lew’s shop, she knows this is the place for her.

As Bonnie and Lew start to work together, they soon realise that there is more to their relationship than either thought. But Bonnie is trapped in an unhappy marriage, and Lew and Charlotte have more problems than they care to admit. Each has secrets in their past which are about to be uncovered. Can they find the happiness they both deserve?

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Orange Blossom Days by Patricia Scanlan

I haven’t read a Patricia Scanlan book for about fifteen years now but I have fond memories of enjoying escaping into one of her books. I’m looking forward to reading this new one for nostalgia’s sake.

Synopsis:

In a beautiful southern Spanish town, where the sea sparkles and orange blossoms scent the air, the gates of a brand new apartment complex, La Joya de Andalucía, glide open to welcome the new owners. 

Anna and Austen MacDonald, an Irish couple, are preparing to enjoy their retirement to the full. But the demands of family cause problems they have never foreseen and shake their marriage to the core.

Sally-Ann Connolly Cooper, a feisty Texan mother of two young teenagers, is reeling from her husband’s infidelity. La Joya becomes a place of solace for Sally-Ann, in more ways than one.

Eduardo Sanchez, a haughty Madrileño, has set out with single-minded determination to become El Presidente of the complex’s management committee. But pride comes before a fall.

Jutta Sauer Perez, a sophisticated German who aspires to own her very own apartment in La Joya, works hard to reach her goal. Then the unthinkable happens.

As their lives entwine and friendships and enmities develop, it becomes apparent that La Joya is not quite the haven they all expect it to be…


 

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 Trophy Child by Paula Daly @GroveAtlantic

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About the book

Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.

My thoughts

I’m a big fan of Paula Daly’s writing so was eagerly anticipating The Trophy Child and I have to say that it didn’t disappoint.

Karen is a real tiger mum. She puts all her hope and ambition onto her daughter, trying to mould her into the perfect person. Karen won’t accept failure, won’t even accept good enough – Bronte has to be perfect. Bronte is obviously struggling at not being allowed to be a normal child with time to play with friends, and the situation is like a giant pressure cooker. Bronte’s step-sister Verity has already lashed out at Karen once, and there is still such a fury simmering under the surface in their relationship. Karen’s husband, and father of both girls, is quite ineffectual when it comes to to his family – he basically wants to keep the peace and if he can’t keep the peace he’ll do his best to stay out of the situation.

I think what I loved the most about this novel was all the layers. I thought it was going to be a novel about a child who goes missing and the way the family copes but it’s about so much more than that. There are so many different dynamics to the family at the centre of this novel that it makes for a fascinating look at why people are the way they are. We see how it feels to be the second wife, the step-child, the half-sister, the first wife, and the husband who seems to be caught between his wife and ex-wife, his children and step-child. It was the relationships between all the characters that fascinated me the most, especially when the police become involved. It’s the characters that make this novel so brilliant, even more so than the great plot. None of the characters are particularly likeable and that made this book so fascinating as I wasn’t sure how I felt when they were in turmoil. It made me consider my own emotions and I love when a novel draws me into it to this degree.

I have to admit that I did not see where this book was going. I was so confident for a fair bit of this novel that I knew how it was going to end and I was completely wrong. It’s not often that a book has me stumped but this one got me and I loved it for that!

This is definitely one of those ‘just one more chapter…’ books that you end up staying up ’til the early hours reading because you just can’t put it down. It’s a gripping read, and really does have you turning the pages at a frantic rate as you want to know what is going on.

The Trophy Child is a disturbing look at how tense and difficult trying to integrate children from one relationship, and a child from a second relationship into one family can be. This novel takes the situation to an extreme but the the day-to-day issues within this family will resonate with readers, and will likely send a cold shiver down some spines!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Trophy Child is out now and available to buy here.

About the author

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Paula Daly was born in Lancashire. Before beginning her first novel JUST WHAT KIND OF MOTHER ARE YOU? she was a self-employed physiotherapist. She lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children and whippet Skippy.

Speaking Up For the Voiceless| #guestpost by Mark Stewart #TheAbsenceOfWings @pendragonmist

Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Mark Stewart to my blog. Mark is the author of the short story collection The Absence of Wings, and has written a great guest post about why he writes short stories for my blog today.

 

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Speaking up for the voiceless – why I write short stories

 

“I’ve enjoyed and admired the stories of Mark Stewart that I have read: they strike me as fine bonsai pieces, strong in their structure and dense in their grain, full of surprising drama.”  

Robert Macfarlane (Author of “The Wild Places”, and “Landmarks”)

 

Short stories just don’t sell, especially short stories written by unknown authors. This is the refrain I have heard in response to every submission I’ve ever made to an agent or a publisher. “I’m sorry, luvvie, but your stories just aren’t right for my list. Good luck elsewhere.” And yet in spite of such feedback I carry on writing.

There are plenty of nature books around but how many of them really tell the truth about mankind’s impact on the natural world? Humanity is running out of time to re-discover its sense of compassion, to finally stop its long and abusive relationship with nature. The oceanic biosphere is now heavily polluted, perhaps irreversibly so, with fish stocks dangerously near to collapse. Life on the land for animals in factory farms is no better; they must endure lives of unimaginable cruelty before suffering an early death. Other creatures, perhaps nobler and certainly far more innocent than humans, are being hunted to the point of extinction. And yet, in spite of a sense of impending ecological collapse, a sense that we are all standing on the gallows with the trap door about to open beneath our feet, I carry on writing.

I don’t have the enormous luxury and privilege of writing for a living. As a working dad I have to find time to write in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Either way it’s a hard slog, a struggle to find both motivation and inspiration. My mind won’t focus and my body wants to sleep. These lonely hours are what Tolkien referred to as “the bitter watches of the night”, when the dream of securing a mainstream publishing contract seems as remote as the Moon. And yet I carry on writing.

My stories are despatches from the front line of humanity’s war with nature. And like all war reporters I have been appalled and discouraged by what I’ve seen. But I won’t stop reporting back. The idea that nature is a commodity that must be exploited and consumed, that the creatures we share this world with are no more than disposable items, has to be challenged.

I was taken to task by one agent because my stories weren’t cheery enough for her taste (perhaps it was the same agent that claimed my short stories contained too many words). And yet I refuse to put down my pen or walk away from my keyboard. Because in the end I want to believe that things will change. Not just in the insular world of publishing which may one day come to value indie writers. But in the real world, where many of the animals described in my stories are struggling to survive. It is their stories that matter. They don’t have a voice and so must rely on others to speak up on their behalf. That is why I carry on writing.

About the Author

Mark Stewart is the author of two collections of short stories designed to highlight the plight of captive, endangered and mistreated animals. His first collection (The Screaming Planet) can be found online here:

http://markdestewart.wixsite.com/thescreamingplanet

The second collection (The Absence of Wings), which has consistently attracted five star reviews, is available on Amazon.

A third collection of short stories (“The Fire Trees”) is due out in June 2017.

Mark can be followed on Twitter @pendragonmist and on Facebook TheScreamingPlanet

 

About the Book

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The Absence of Wings is a collection of short stories intended to show the world through the eyes of some of the Earth’s most endangered and persecuted animals.

The collection is an ark of sorts, offering a literary refuge for creatures that may one day exist only in story books, fables and myths.

Here you will find, among other stories:

•A mariner snatched from the deck of his ship by a sea wraith

•The lament of a whale dragged onto the killing deck of a harpoon ship

•A caged polar bear whose only taste of freedom comes from a racial memory of the arctic tundra

•A shark that can swim into the sleeping minds of human beings

•And a dolphin whose only chance of returning to open water lies in the movement of the tides on one particular night of the year

These are stories that will change the way you look at the natural world.

The Absence of Wings is available on ebook and in paperback from Amazon and is out now.

WWW Wednesday (29 March) What are you reading today?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

I started this book yesterday and am finding it an engrossing read. It’s not exactly what I thought it was going to be but it is such a good read so far.

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

I accidentally ended up with this book on NetGalley and wasn’t sure about reading it but decided to give it a go. It’s an interesting look at the movie and I’ve already learnt some things I didn’t know about it (and I was a mega fan back in the day).

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

I’m enjoying this book so much. It really does look at they way some are treated in society but there is humour there too. I’m excited that I’m on the blog tour for this book and can’t wait to share my thoughts!

The Power by Naomi Alderman

This is my audio book for this week and I’m enjoying it.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

This is such a great read. The main character is fascinating and has me utterly inrigued. The only reason I haven’t read this in one sitting is because my copy is a large paperback and I’ve been struggling with the dexterity in my hands again this week.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

I’ve finally got back to reading more of this over the last couple of days. It’s such a horrifying read but so well-written.

What I recently finished reading:

A Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

This is such a lovely book and I recommend it to all David Bowie fans. It has essays from lots of people who knew with him over the years, and so many gorgeous photos.

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

This is a heartbreaking but ultimately healing YA book about coping with grief. I reviewed this on my blog yesterday so if you click the title you can read my thoughts there.

Now We Are 40 by Tiffanie Darke

This is a great read for all Generation X-ers – it covers all the good and the not-so-good from the 90s. I very much enjoyed it.

What I plan on reading next:

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

I won a giveaway at the end of last week and was sent a stack of gorgeous books, and this was one of them. This sounds like such an incredible novel that I can’t wait to start it. (I’ll be writing about all of the books I won in my Stacking the Shelves post on Saturday or you can see a photo on my Instagram now)

This Love by Dani Atkins

I was sent this for review at the end of last week and I’m so keen to read it as soon as I can so this is also on my TBR for 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.

#BookReview: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui @AbramsBooks

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About the Book

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui.

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.

In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

My Thoughts

I requested this graphic memoir as I read a few of them last year and wanted to make sure I read more this year. This sounded interesting so I was pleased when I was approved.

I was expecting a graphic about a family’s experience of fleeing Vietnam to America and, whilst this book is about that, it’s also about so much more. It’s about three generations of a family and how their lives have been, how one generation affects the next. It looks at how it feels to be other, to move to a different country and feel that their ways are slowly changing you to be more like them. The way Ma looks out and sees all the streets around their house are named after American Presidents and feels it’s turning her more American and on the next page talks about a school shooting – I could feel how small and scared she felt.

This book is also very much about loss – not just loss of where you’re from, your culture, but also the loss of babies and that really got to me. The way the novel opens with a baby being born and then the reader is taken back over all the babies that Thi’s parents had, including the baby that died. It’s heartbreaking.

The baby being born as the book begins is a new grandchild for Ma, and she can’t bear being in the room with her daughter as she gives birth and her reason is that it brings the pain back. At first it seemed strange that she had given birth so many times and now couldn’t help her daughter, but then it dawns on you that the pain she can’t face, and the memories coming back are the ones of loss, the heartache – not just of her babies but of her homeland, and all the things she’s lost or had to leave behind in her life.

The book still resonates with the world we live in now, the way the family moved to San Diego from Vietnam to make a life for themselves but aren’t welcomed by everyone in the port city as people are still raw from what happened during the Vietnam war. The woman feels other, outcast, different. The family struggle to fit in, to make a life in America. The children feel the frustration of their father but are too young to understand where it comes from. They can’t comprehend the disappointment of their dad’s life – the way he has come to America to make a better life and now all he worked for in Vietnam, his degree etc, are worthless and unrecognised and so he comes to feel worthless and invisible.

This graphic memoir looks at the way political changes have a direct affect on the people who love there; it really highlights how the political is made personal. It also really makes you think about the way we see a photo and are led to believe that it’s the whole story but for the people involved, the people who live in a war-torn country it doesn’t show context or the whole story.

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An example of the art style in the book

‘I had no idea that the terror I felt was only the long shadow of his own…’

The book is about how the pain from one generation is revisited on the next. It’s about how we have to understand what came before, what happened to our parents and grandparents to grasp how they came to be how they are. It’s about finding tolerance and peace with the bad that has been done to us.

There is a lot of heartache in this memoir. It really brings home how everyone has their own story, and how an event that may have led to the best time of your life could have been the thing that took someone else away from what made them happy. It really gives you something to think about, the way that one decision can change everything and you can’t go back. When Ma and Bo met it was the best thing that happened to him, but for Ma, it took her away from her studies and she grew to resent that. Ma fell pregnant before marriage, so circumstance dictated that she marry Bo and she duly did, but then the baby died and Ma was already trapped in this marriage.

When Thi’s family finally, after so much planning and hardship, get to leave Vietnam it is on a crowded boat in the dead of night, they had no way of knowing what awaited them on the journey or whether they’d even make it. Ma was heavily pregnant at the time. It must have been terrifying – and it really made me think of the images we see on the news now of desperate people fleeing war-torn countries – knowing they risk their lives in cramped boats but also knowing that they can’t stay in their home land another day.

It was incredibly affecting when I read about what Thi refers to as the ‘refugee reflex’. The way that in a new country there is so much to learn but the biggest lesson she learnt as a child was to know where the folder of important documents was at all times, and to make sure you grab it in the event of leaving home in any kind of an emergency. To learn that when so young and to have that reflex stay with you, it’s heartbreaking to thing of living with that fear even when you have finally reached a place of safety.

The memoir gradually brings you back to the present day, where Thi has given birth in the hospital and it leads her to reflect on her relationship with her parents. She ponders on that moment when you realise that you’re not the centre of the universe, and that you can’t keep hanging on to resentment about your parents not being who you thought they were, or who you wanted them to be. People are who they are and Thi realises that you have to be okay with that. It becomes a little existential at the end as Thi wonders at the way we’re all joined to those who came before us, and I found this incredibly moving and humbling.

The images in this novel are so striking, they really fit the story being told and add to its impact. The colour palette is very muted with just black and white with an orange wash that is used in various ways throughout. It really is beautiful to look at.

I highly recommend reading this memoir. It’s one of those books that really stays with you for a long time after reading.

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

#BookReview: The Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

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About the Book

What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?

One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

My Thoughts

This is an incredibly moving novel about bereavement and finding your way through grief. Carver sent a text to his friend, and this led to the car accident that killed his three best friends and now he has to find a way to live with that.

I have to be honest and say that I found it a bit far-fetched that someone who sent a text could potentially be held legally responsible for the death of the person who read that text whilst they were driving and died in an accident as a result. This jarred with me and made it difficult to get into this book. However, once I put that to one side and focused on what the book was really about I found it such a heartbreaking read.

I lost my best friend when I was just a little older than Carver, and it’s so hard to process that someone so young can just be gone. I felt such empathy for Carver, and his thoughts through his grieving process were so real and raw to me. The descriptions of grief are so well written and absolutely believable.

Carver and the Nana of one of his friends decide to hold a goodbye day – where they spend a day together doing the things that each of them had enjoyed with Blake, and sharing their memories. I think this is such a wonderful idea, a dedicated time to share things – it must be a very emotional but ultimately cathartic experience.

Carver then holds a goodbye day with the parents of his other two friends who were killed. Each of the three days show the different ways that people grieve after losing a child – the devastation, the anger, the hurt. It’s palpable in places. I found the goodbye day Carver spends with Mars’ dad to be the most emotional and affecting.

Through the course of the novel Carver works through all of the feelings that come with grief, and the over-riding emotion is loneliness and this broke my heart. I remember that feeling so well, and it’s such a hard thing to come through. Once you lost someone you’re so close to you can never be the same person again, you just have to learn to be ok with the loss of them and the loss of the part of you that they took with them.

This book ultimately is a book about redemption, about how we atone for the things we’ve done wrong, or are perceived to have done wrong. It’s a book about the depths of grief, but our ability to recover and to find a way through the pain. I highly recommend it.

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

About the Author

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Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.

Weekly Wrap-Up (26 March)

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This week I’ve not done much as I’m physically struggling with the adjustments to my pain medication. I’ve been in need of distraction so have been trying to get some long-overdue reviews posted on my blog, and also have been reading and listening to books.

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

This is a lovely book and I really enjoyed reading all the stories from various people who knew David Bowie. The photos are great too. I’d recommend this to David Bowie fans.

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

I just finished reading this yesterday and found it such a moving novel. I’ve already written my review so that’ll be up on my blog tomorrow if you’d like to read it.

Now We Are 40 by Tiffanie Darke

I really enjoyed reading this book – it really does bring back so many memories from the 90s. Some great memories and some not so good but it is a journey on how we, as a society, got from there to here. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who is around the age of 40.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

I listened to the audio of this book and very much enjoyed it. The narrater was great and I found the book easy to listen to. It’s a novel that really gives you a lot to think about though – every time I stopped the book I found I was thinking about all of the issues and ideas that I’d just been reading about. I can see why this book won the Man Booker last year, and I would absolutely recommend reading it if you haven’t already.

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

This book is so refreshing to read because it’s such a modern concept – a novel told in a series of podcasts! I enjoyed it and will be looking out to see what the author writes next.

This week I’ve blogged six times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday: Review of Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

Tuesday: Review of The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Wednesday: WWW Wednesdays

Friday: Review of The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

The Power by Naomi Alderman

This is my current audio book and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve had the book on my TBR since the end of last year and now I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner because it’s so good. It’s an interesting premise for a novel and has a very strong message throughout.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

This is such a good read – if it wasn’t such a big paperback I’m sure I’d have read it in one or two sittings but I’m just physically struggling to hold it at the moment. I do keep thinking about it when I’m not reading and when I do manage to read some of it, it feels like a treat. The black humour running through this novel is brilliant.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

I’ve managed to read a few more chapters of this week and am hoping to be able to finish it this week. It’s such a fascinating and horrifying book, the only reason I’ve not read it sooner is because I’ve not had the concentration for heavier non-fiction in recent weeks. I’d absolutely recommend this though.

 

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Update on my TBR…

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1882

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 15 

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 5

Books I’m currently reading: 3

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1895

 


 

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 (25 March)

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

 

These are the & eBooks I bought this week:

Substance- Inside New Order by Peter Hook

Substance: Inside New Order by Peter Hook

I’m a huge Joy Division and New Order fan, so can never resist a book about them. This has been on my radar since it was first published so when I spotted it in a kindle daily deal offer this week I snapped it up. It’s a much longer book than I realised so it may be a while before I get a chance to read it but I’m looking forward to it.

Synopsis:

Two acclaimed albums, an upcoming US tour – Joy Division had the world at their feet. Then, on the eve of that tour and the beginning of what would surely have been an international success story, the band’s troubled lead singer, Ian Curtis, killed himself.

‘We didn’t really think about it afterwards. It just sort of happened. One day we were Joy Division, then our lead singer killed himself and the next time we got together, we were a new band…’Peter Hook

That band was New Order.

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Buy Buy Baby by Helen MacKinven

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a while so when I spotted on twitter that it had been made free on Amazon for this weekend I immediately downloaded it. It sounds like such a good read and I can’t wait to start it. I believe the book is free all weekend so it’s worth having a look if you’re in the UK.

Synopsis:

What price tag would you put on a baby?
Set in and around Glasgow, Buy Buy Baby is a moving and funny story of life, loss and longing.
Packed full of bitchy banter, it follows the bittersweet quest of two very different women united by the same desire – they desperately want a baby.
Carol talks to her dog, has an expensive eBay habit and relies on wine to forget she’s no longer a mum following the death of her young son.
Cheeky besom Julia is career-driven and appears to have it all. But after disastrous attempts at internet dating, she feels there is a baby-shaped hole in her life.
In steps Dan, a total charmer with a solution to their problems.
But only if they are willing to pay the price, on every level…

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The Absence of Wings by Mark Stewart

I was contacted by the author about this book and as it sounds like something I’d be interested in reading I downloaded it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription. I’m finding myself drawn to books about the natural world at the moment so I’m looking forward to this one.

Synopsis:

“The Absence of Wings” is a collection of short stories intended to show the world through the eyes of some of the Earth’s most endangered and persecuted animals.

The collection is an ark of sorts, offering a literary refuge for creatures that may one day exist only in story books, fables and myths.

These are stories that will change the way you look at the natural world.

Lost Connections by Jim Ody

Lost Connections by Jim Ody

I got this book when it was a freebie on Amazon this week as it looks like an engrossing mystery novel. I hope to get a chance to read this soon.

Synopsis:

What would you do if the most important person to you had been kidnapped? One minute your daughter is there, and the next she has been bundled into a van right under your nose. They want something of your father’s. You don’t know what that is, and your father mysteriously disappeared over 7 years ago. Going to the police is not an option. And the answers will slowly appear in the most unlikely of places.

As single-parent Eddie’s world falls apart, an unlikely alliance forms between friends and neighbours who put their differences aside, to help get his daughter Daisy back. As the mystery unfolds a huge secret is uncovered that not only will affect Eddie and his family, but the whole of mankind…

Phantom Limb by Lucinda Berry

Phantom Limb by Lucinda Berry

The cover of this book caught my eye when I was looking through the Kindle Unlimited books this week, so I decided to download it. The book sounds intriguing and one that would keep me hooked so I may well pick this one up very soon.

Synopsis:

Emily and Elizabeth spend their childhood locked in a bedroom and terrorized by a mother who drinks too much and disappears for days. The identical twins are rescued by a family determined to be their saviors.

But there’s some horrors love can’t erase…

Elizabeth wakes in a hospital, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak. The last thing she remembers is finding Emily’s body in their bathroom. Days before, she was falling in love and starting college. Now, she’s surrounded by men who talk to themselves and women who pull out their eyebrows.

As she delves deeper into the mystery surrounding Emily’s death, she discovers shocking secrets and holes in her memory that force her to remember what she’s worked so hard to forget—the beatings, the blood, the special friends. Her life spins out of control at a terrifying speed as she desperately tries to unravel the psychological puzzle of her past before it’s too late.

I also received 8 ARCs:

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Fell by Jenn Ashworth

I’ll be honest here… I actually squealed when this book arrived this week! It’s a book that I’ve heard so many good things about and I’ve been so keen to read it. I’m so excited to read that I may well start it this weekend!

Synopsis:

When Annette Clifford returns to her childhood home on the edge of Morecambe Bay, she despairs: the long-empty house is crumbling, undermined by two voracious sycamores. What she doesn’t realise is that she’s not alone: her arrival has woken the spirits of her parents, who anxiously watch over her, longing to make amends. Because as the past comes back to Jack and Netty, they begin to see the summer of 1963 clearly, when Netty was desperately ill and a stranger moved in. Charismatic, mercurial Timothy Richardson, with his seemingly miraculous powers of healing, who drew all their attention away from Annette… Now, they must try to draw another stranger towards her, one who can rescue her.

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This Love by Dani Atkins

I was contacted by the publisher to ask if I’d like to read and review this and of course I said yes! I read Fractured by Dani Atkins back when it first came out and I loved it so I’m really looking forward to reading this new one by her. I hope to get chance to start reading it next week.

Synopsis:

Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a long time ago, but could this love change all of that?

Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon – she’s a single, 31-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 dreams when she was a teenager and tragedy struck her family.

So, to be safe, she 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 passer-by, Ben, sees her and rescues her.

Suddenly her cocoon is shattered – what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

I requested this on NetGalley and was thrilled when I got approved. The premise for this book sounds so creepy and intriguing. I’m trying to hold off reading this now as it’s not published until later in the year but I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to resist.

Synopsis:

Maria wants to be friends.
But Maria is dead.
Isn’t she?

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past, her heart nearly stops.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life with a terrible secret.

As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there’s much she didn’t know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, never to be heard from again – until now. . .

A Book of Untruths by Miranda Doyle

A Book of Untruths by Miranda Doyle

I wished for this book on NetGalley so was very excited when my wish was granted. I’m really intrigued about the way this book is set out, it sounds like a very interesting way to tell your story and that’s what caught my attention with this book. I’m very keen to read this one soon.

Synopsis:

A Book of Untruths is a family story told through a series of lies. Each short chapter features one of these lies and each lie builds to form a picture of a life-Miranda Doyle’s life as she struggles to understand her complicated family and her own place within it.

This is a book about love, family and marriage. It is about the fallibility of human beings and the terrible things we do to one another. It is about the ways we get at-or avoid-the truth. And it is about storytelling itself: how we build a sense of ourselves and our place in the world.

A Book of Untruths is a surprising, shocking and invigorating book that edges towards the truth through an engagement with falsehood. It brings questions to its readers; not answers.

 

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

This is another of my wished for books on NetGalley that got granted this week. It was the cover of this one that caught my eye and then when I read the synopsis I knew I had to read it. 

Synopsis:

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed and darkly observant. A college student in Dublin and aspiring writer, she works at a literary agency by day. At night, she performs spoken word with her best friend Bobbi, who used to be her girlfriend. When they are profiled by Melissa, a well-known journalist, they enter an exotic orbit of beautiful houses, raucous dinner parties and holidays in Provence.

Initially unimpressed, Frances finds herself embroiled in a risky menage a quatre when she begins an affair with Nick, Melissa’s actor husband. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new – a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment. But as Frances tries to keep control, her relationships increasingly unspool: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally even with Bobbi.

Written with rare precision and probing intelligence, Conversations with Friends is exquisitely alive to the pleasures and inhibitions of youth.

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

I was pre-approved for this one on NetGalley, which was a lovely surprise. I love the sound of this and really want to read it but it’s a tough subject matter for me so I’m going to wait for the right time to read this one.

Synopsis:

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

Stuff I've Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook

Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook

This is another NetGalley book where the cover caught my eye first. I’m trying to read more poetry this year and this sounds like a great collection. I think it might be one of those serendipitous happenings where the right book found me at the right time with this one, so I really hope I’m right. 

Synopsis:

Structured like an old-school mix-tape, Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately is Alicia Cook’s lyric message to anyone who has dealt with addiction. “Side A” touches on all aspects of the human condition: life, death, love, trauma, and growth. “Side B” contains haunting black-out remixes of those poems.

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

I accidentally ended up with this one from NetGalley – you know when you click a link in an email by accident and the book gets added to your shelf?  The young part of me really wants to read this as Dirty Dancing was one of my favourite films when I was a young teen. The other part of me has personal reasons for not being able to cope with the film anymore. I want to try and read this but I’m on the fence at the moment.

Synopsis:

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert said Dirty Dancing “”might have been a decent movie if it had allowed itself to be about anything.”” In this broadly researched and accessible text, Stephen Lee Naish sets out to deconstruct and unlock a film that has haunted him for decades, and argues that Dirty Dancing, the 1987 sleeper hit about a young middle-class girl who falls for a handsome working-class dance instructor, is actually about everything. The film is a union of history, politics, sixties and eighties culture, era-defining music, class, gender, and race, and of course features one of the best love stories set to film. Using scene-by-scene analyses, personal interpretation, and comparative study, it’s time to take Dirty Dancing out of the corner and place it under the microscope.

I also won a giveaway this week on JaffaReadsToo blog…

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Foxes Unearthed by Lucy Jones

Firstly, hasn’t this book got the most gorgeous cover? It really is a stunning looking book. I’m really interested to read this and to learn move about foxes, so hopefully I’ll be able to read it very soon.

Synopsis:

As one of the largest predators left in Britain, the fox is captivating: a comfortably familiar figure in our country landscapes; an intriguing flash of bright-eyed wildness in our towns.

Yet no other animal attracts such controversy, has provoked more column inches or been so ambiguously woven into our culture over centuries, perceived variously as a beautiful animal, a cunning rogue, a vicious pest and a worthy foe. As well as being the most ubiquitous of wild animals, it is also the least understood.

In Foxes Unearthed Lucy Jones investigates the truth about foxes in a media landscape that often carries complex agendas. Delving into fact, fiction, folklore and her own family history, Lucy travels the length of Britain to find out first-hand why these animals incite such passionate emotions, revealing our rich and complex relationship with one of our most loved – and most vilified – wild animals. This compelling narrative adds much-needed depth to the debate on foxes, asking what our attitudes towards the red fox say about us – and, ultimately, about our relationship with the natural world.

 


 

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 Breakdown by B. A. Paris

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About the Book:

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

It all started that night in the woods.

Cass Anderson didn’t stop to help the woman in the car, and now she’s dead.

Ever since, silent calls have been plaguing Cass and she’s sure someone is watching her.

Consumed by guilt, she’s also starting to forget things. Whether she took her pills, what her house alarm code is – and if the knife in the kitchen really had blood on it.

Bestselling author B A Paris is back with a brand new psychological thriller full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Thoughts:

The opening of this book properly gave me the creeps. The idea of driving down a dark lane on a rainy night, knowing you’re in the middle of nowhere, and then seeing a car parked up, or possibly broken down in a lay by, is really unnerving to me. Cass sees the car and is unsure what to do, she stops and tries to see if anyone is in the car. It felt like the opening to a horror movie and I was really on edge wondering what was going to happen next, whilst at the same time being nervous to read on. Cass makes the decision that I think a lot of people on their own on a night like that would make, and that is to drive on, but this decision has consequences that no one could forsee and it sets this novel up brilliantly!

The following day Cass’s husband tells her that a woman has been murdered in the lay-by and she can’t bring herself to admit to being there. Cass then becomes convinced that someone may have seen her that night and may now be watching her. She starts receiving strange phone calls and becomes increasingly anxious. The problem Cass has is like the old adage… just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. As a reader you’re aware that some of what Cass is anxious about is genuine because we’re in the know but other things we can’t be sure if she’s being paranoid.

The Breakdown is a book that’s fast-paced and easy to read but at the same time it does ramp up the tension, and it genuinely had me on edge at times. It was a book that I didn’t want to put down though because I really wanted to know what was going to happen and I read it in one sitting. This book does require suspension of disbelief at times, and I did work out the ending quite early on, but it’s such an engrossing read and it has many twists and turns that will have you second-guessing yourself all the way through. The ending is satisfying and does tie everything up nicely.

The Breakdown is out now and I highly recommend buying a copy!

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

WWW Wednesdays (22 March) What are you reading?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! 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 Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This book is so good. I’m really loving it – I want to try and read it slowly because I’m enjoying it so much but it’s calling to me to just read it all in one go.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

I can’t believe I’ve left this on my TBR for four months before picking it up because it’s such a good read. I started reading it last night and I can’t wait to get back to it today.

Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse

This is a book that was sent to me as a complete surprise so I didn’t really know what it was about. I picked it up this week and am finding it a really good read – it’s got a lot of dark humour in it but it’s great.

Now We Are 40 by Tiffanie Darke

This is still such an enjoyable read. It’s covering a wide-range of topics relating mainly to the 90s, some good and some not-so good but it’s really interesting.

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

I’m still reading this on and off. It’s a good read and I’m finding that I’m enjoying it whilst I’m reading it but when I put it down it isn’t calling me back to it.

A Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

This is a book that is really lovely to dip in and out of. It has gorgeous photos of David Bowie and recollections of him from various friends and collaborators from various points in his life.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

I’ll be honest, I haven’t picked this up in the last week so it maybe shouldn’t be in this post. It’s a brilliant book, I’ve just not been in the right frame of mind to read heavier non-fiction but I definitely want to keep reading this as soon as I feel better. Hopefully it won’t be long.

What I recently finished reading:

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

I finished listening to this audio book yesterday and very much enjoyed it. It was easy to read and yet really kept making me pause for thought at what I was reading. I can see why this won the Man Booker last year.

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

I was engrossed in this book for most of Monday. I really enjoyed reading a book set out as podcasts. I’m debating whether to review this or not on my blog, I feel like I have a fair bit to say but there are already a lot of reviews of this out there.

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

I loved this book. It felt refreshingly different to me to have a book set in a newsroom, and to see a news producer investigating a crime. I reviewed this on Tuesday so you read my full thoughts here if you’d like to.

Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins

This was an enjoyable listen but I think I enjoyed it more for listening to the audio with my husband as it was good to discuss it with him. I found myself getting annoyed by Phil Collins’s lack of consideration for each of his wives but the stories he tells of early in his career, and of Live Aid are really interesting.

Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

I really enjoyed this book and found it really opened my eyes to some of my own issues with keeping things. I reviewed this on my blog on Monday so feel free to check that out here if you’d like to know more.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

I read this over a couple of days at the end of last week and really enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon but in the meantime I do recommend it.

What I plan on reading next:

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

I’ve had a review copy of this on my TBR since the end of 2016 so I think it’s time I started reading. It sounds like a really gripping read.

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

I bought this at the weekend with my birthday vouchers and I’m really keen to read it so I’m putting it on my up next pile.

 


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 Cutaway by Christina Kovac @christina_kovac @HannahVRoss

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About the Book

The Newsroom meets Gone Girl.” —Cosmopolitan

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

My Thoughts

I loved this book – I knew as soon as I read the quote describing this as ‘The Newsroom meets Gone Girl’ that I had to read it, and it didn’t let me down.

It felt refreshing to me to set a story about a missing woman in a newsroom with the police investigation as the side story. I was intrigued about what had happened to the missing woman but more so about the news producer Virginia Knightly’s fascination with her. This novel felt entirely believable in the way a crime is reported on the news – the push for new news, to be first on the air, to get the most sensational story at all costs.

Virginia is a great character, and I really enjoyed learning more about her as the novel went on. She’s such a determined, focused woman and she never relies on a man to help her, and I loved that. Virginia does have her issues, and they have made her who she is now but they never affect her ability to do her job. She does tend to be much more focused on certain cases as a result of her past but it reads as an interesting dynamic rather than a character flaw.

It’s not often that I read a crime/thriller novel without trying to work out whodunnit but with The Cutaway I was enjoying the story so much that I just got swept away in what was happening. I was suspicious of a couple of characters but I wasn’t actively trying to figure out how it might end, and it was brilliant to just read and see it all unfold. I was right to be suspicious about one of the characters but I was completely wrong about the other.

I loved the setting of Washington DC – it’s a place I’ve never been to and yet the writing in this novel made me feel like I had. The place just comes alive in this book, and it feels so real, almost like the setting is a character in its own right.

I also loved the setting of the newsroom, and the characters in this novel so much that I feel like, whilst this is a standalone and does have a resolution of sorts at the end, I want more. I would love if this became the first book in the series.

This isn’t a fast-paced thriller but it is gripping and once you’re hooked you simply won’t be able to put the book down until you’ve finished reading. I pretty much read this in one sitting and found it utterly engrossing.

The Cutaway is due to be published on 6th April in the UK, in both ebook and hardcover formats, and can be pre-ordered here.

I received a copy of The Cutaway via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Christina Kovac managed newsrooms and produced crime and political stories in the District. Her career as a television journalist began with Fox 5’s Ten O’Clock News, followed by the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. For the last nine years, she worked at the Washington Bureau of NBC News. She lives with her family outside of Washington D.C.

 

#BookReview: Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

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About the Book:

From Hoarders to The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the question of what to do with all of our stuff seems to be on everyone’s mind. Eve Schaub’s new memoir is the tale of how one woman organized an entire room in her house that had been overtaken by pointless items. It’s also a deeply inspiring and frequently hilarious examination of why we keep stuff in the first place—and how to let it all go.

Eve O. Schaub graduated from Cornell and Rochester Institute of Technology. She has written for Vermont Life and Vermont Magazine, among others. During her family’s year of no sugar, Schaub blogged regularly and was often a guest on WAMC, New York’s NPR affiliate, as well as a regular visitor to Vermont Public Radio. She lives in Vermont with her family.

My Thoughts:

I requested this book from NetGalley because I can’t resist books about clutter, which is kind of ironic given that my natural tendency is to hoard stuff!

I have to be honest and say that the first couple of chapters of this book didn’t pull me in,  reading about someone’s room full of clutter that they know has a dead mouse in, and also that a cat has peed all over made me feel a bit squeamish. This isn’t the kind of clutter situation that I can identify with. I do tend to want to keep things but I’m also quite obsessive about cleaning.

I’m so glad that I decided to give the book another go through because from the point when Eve starts to explore what makes a hoarder, and what makes her the way she is I was fascinated and I could really identify with some of the things she discovered about herself.

There is a point where she writes that as a child she believed she had to keep everything so that she’d have enough stuff to fill her own home when she was grown up, and that is just how I was too. I kept all my childhood ornaments for years because I believed that shelves had to be filled with stuff. The idea that some people had empty surfaces in their home was alien to me. Eve’s father had a problem with clutter so she sees that her issues partly came from seeing what his house was like. My mum was very sentimental and could never get rid of things that people had given her, so I can see how Eve, and I, ended up being clutter bugs.

The part that really got to me was when Eve talks about her belief that if she lets go of things that she is sentimental about then she risks losing the memory of that particular point in time: that by holding on to the object, she has a trigger to bring back the memories instantly. I struggle with this too. It’s really hard when you get to an age where you’ve lost people who meant the world to you, how do you let go of the things they gave you? I felt Eve’s pain as she tried to work out which things to keep, and which to let go of.

Eve has an issue with making decisions, she really fears making a wrong choice and believes this feeds into her obsession with keeping things. This was eye-opening for me. I’ve always been indecisive but have never connected that to the way I keep things, but it makes total sense that if you really dread making a bad decision that you would find it hard to be confident in the things you get rid of. Eve gradually learns that it’s not the end of the world if you get rid of something and later wish you hadn’t, and that’s something I’ve learnt during my regular de-cluttering sessions. To be honest, I’ve agonised over some of the things I’ve being considering getting rid of but once they’re out of my house I’ve never regretted any of it. Objects might hold memories but they can’t bring a person back, it’s how you feel in your heart that matters.

One of the things Eve struggled with most was dealing with her paperwork. She couldn’t get rid of any of it without reading it first and then had to deal with whatever memory was attached before she could move on to the next lot of papers. It really struck a chord with me when Eve said: ‘… I keep souvenirs even of negative occurrences in my life, for fear that without them I would forget that event and even any lesson learnt from that event’. It sounds utterly ridiculous to keep paperwork from the worst moments of your life, but I used to be exactly the same. My mum kept some papers that were so painful to her but she felt she couldn’t ever shred them. When she died I took the papers for safe-keeping, and added some of my own from the year my mum was dying. I kept all of her hospital letters because I didn’t want to forget, and yet I was trying to hard not to drown in all the trauma that happened in that year. I moved in with my then new boyfriend (now my husband) the year my mum died and I took all the paperwork with me because I just couldn’t leave it behind – it felt like it was haunting me. Then one day I decided enough was enough. I burnt the lot and it was so therapeutic to let it go for both me, and my mum’s memory. I try to always remember now that the things we keep will one day be someone else’s problem to deal with and it helps me get rid of stuff that’s not really important in the grand scheme of things. Eve learns the same lesson in a different way. We can’t keep everything, we don’t have the room. So if you can only keep a fraction of the stuff, pick the good stuff, the happy stuff.

This isn’t a how-to book, it’s not about helping you clear your clutter. It is one woman’s open and honest journey through her own battle with clutter but in the process of reading you will probably recognise yourself in Eve, as I did, and it will spur you on to deal with your own clutter.

I highly recommend this book. Year of No Clutter is out now and available here.

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

About the Author:

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Serial memoirist Eve O. Schaub lives with her family in Vermont and enjoys performing experiments on them so she can write about it.

During 2011 Eve wrote a blog about her family’s attempt to live and eat for a year without any added sugar in their food, which became the book Year of No Sugar (Sourcebooks, 2014). She has been a guest on theDr. Oz Show, and FOX and Friends, and has appeared in numerous print and online outlets. She considers not hyperventilating on national television one of her greatest accomplishments.

Her upcoming book, Year of No Clutter, (March, 2017) reveals her deepest, darkest secret: clutter. In it, she details her struggle to transform herself from a self-described “clutter-gatherer” into a neat, organized person who can actually walk through every room of her house and does not feel the need to keep everything from childhood raincoats to cat fur. And yes, the family gets roped in on this one too.

Eve holds a BA and  BFA from Cornell University, and a MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. At various times she has been a newspaper reporter, magazine columnist, and copy writer. She likes to say that she has written for everything but the classifieds section, but in truth she did that too.

(Author bio taken from her website: EveSchaub.com)

Weekly Wrap-Up (19 March)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

This week has been a bit of rough week. I’ve reduced my pain meds again and it’s left me feeling really unwell at times. This is going to be par for the course on and off for the next couple of months so I just need to get on with it as best as I can.

I did cheer myself up with an online book buying splurge as I still had my birthday book vouchers so that was lovely. I shared what I got in my Stacking the Shelves post yesterday if you’d like to see that.

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

This is such a good read. It’s a crime thriller but the focus is on the newsroom, and how they report a crime, the way they get information, and also how easily a reporter can become obsessed with a case. It’s not a fast-paced, twisty novel so far but it does grip you from the the opening chapter. I highly recommend this one. I’ll be writing my review of this one soon.

Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins

This is the audio book I’ve been listening to with my husband over the last month. I’m not really a Phil Collins fan but I found myself really enjoying this book. The first half was better than the second half for me. I enjoyed hearing about how his career got started, and about the people he worked with etc, and hearing what was going on behind the scenes at Live Aid was very amusing, but I didn’t like the way he was so dismissive of how his treatment of each of his wives affected them. I know we all paint ourselves in our best light but it’s hard to listen to someone have seemingly no awareness of how he made other people feel. Aside from that aspect of the book, Phil Collins shared some great stories that did make us laugh, or caused a few raised eyebrows so I would recommend this to fans of his, but be ready to grit your teeth when he talks about his various relationships with women.

Year of No Clutter by Eve Schaub

I struggled to get into this book but I’m glad I persevered. I found that as the book went on I could identify with a lot of how Eve felt about her clutter, and the reasons why she had let it build up. I’ll be reviewing this on my blog soon.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

I’m a big fan of Paula Daly’s novels so was very excited to read this one. It kept me engrossed all the way through but I’m still unsure how to rate it. I read an ARC so I will be reviewing it as soon as I’ve got my thoughts in order.

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

This is also a review book and I’ve had it on my TBR for a little while now but I’m annoyed with myself for being so slow to pick it up as I loved it. It grabbed me from the opening and I’m still thinking about it now, days after I finished reading. I hope to get my review finished and posted on my blog soon.

 

This week I’ve blogged six times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Monday: Review of It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Review of The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

Friday: Review of Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

I’ve only read the first few pages of this novel so far but I can tell it’s going to be one that I won’t be able to put down once I pick it up again!

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

This is my current audio book and I’m really enjoying it. It’s such a clever book that really gives you a lot to think about, whilst remaining easy to read and enjoyable.

Now We Are 40 by Tiffanie Darke

This is such a good read. The first few chapters bring back memories of the 90s, with talk of pre-internet/mobile phone, the fashion, the music, the obsession we all had with The Body Shop (I loved Dewberry body spray from there!). Then the book discusses the internet boom and the impact it had on the creative industries, and on women. I’d definitely recommend this to Generation X-ers!

 

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

I’m enjoying this book but it’s suffering from me being in the middle of it but not really in the mood to read it. I hope to get back to it in the next few days.

A Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

This is a lovely book to dip in and out of as it’s a collaborative book featuring people who knew David Bowie, and it has some great photos in it too.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad

I’m still struggling to read serious non-fiction so I haven’t read much of this over the last week. Hopefully, if I feel a bit better this week I’ll be able to read more of it. It’s a great read, it’s just bad timing for me to be reading it right now.

 

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Update on my TBR… 

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

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1871

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 16 

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 5

Books I’m currently reading: 6

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1882


 

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 Stacking the Shelves (18 March)

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

 

I’ve had a spending spree this week as I finally spent some of my birthday book vouchers! My birthday was back in January but I have a thing where I like to keep vouchers for a while so I can have a splurge a bit later on in the year!

 

These are the print & eBooks I bought:

Christodora by Tim Murphy

Christodora by Tim Murphy

I’ve had this book on my wish list ever since I heard about it last year. It was published this year so I had to get it! I’m really looking forward to reading this but I’d like to save it for when I have time to read it in big chunks. It won’t be on my TBR for long though.

Synopsis:

In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbour, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly’s and Jared’s lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, the couple’s adopted son, Mateo, grows to appreciate the opportunities for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers.

As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.

our hearts will burn us down

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

I heard about this on a youtube channel and it sounded like a book I had to read. I’m intrigued by the comparisons to Station Eleven as I adored that book. I’m always a bit wary of novels about school shootings as it needs to be handled very carefully and sensitively but I’ve heard really good things about this book. I hope to read this very soon.

Synopsis:

The lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath in this powerful debut novel, a coming-of-age story with the haunting power of Station Eleven and the bittersweet poignancy of Everything I Never Told You.

As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina are eager to capture all the memorable moments of their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School—the plays and football games, dances and fund-drives, teachers and classes that are the epicenter of their teenage lives. But how do you document a horrific tragedy—a deadly school shooting by a classmate?

Struggling to comprehend this cataclysmic event—and propelled by a sense of responsibility to the town, their parents, and their school—these four “lucky” survivors vow to honor the memories of those lost, and also, the memories forgotten in the shadow of violence. But the shooting is only the first inexplicable trauma to rock their small suburban St. Louis town. A series of mysterious house fires have hit the families of the victims one by one, pushing the grieving town to the edge.

Nick, the son of the lead detective investigating the events, plunges into the case on his own, scouring the Internet to uncover what could cause a fire with no evident starting point. As their friend pulls farther away, Matt and Christina battle to save damaged relationships, while Zola fights to keep herself together.

New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin

New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin

I’ve been trying to read more short story collections in recent times and this is one I heard about recently and thought it sounded wonderful.  I’m excited to read this so will be starting it very soon. (on a side note, I have a fear of dolls though so this cover is terrifying for me…eeek!)

Synopsis:

In contemporary America, an un-named college student sets out on an obsessive journey of discovery to collect and record the life-stories of total strangers. The interviews that follow have echoes of another, far more famous literary journey, undertaken long ago and in another world.Drawing on the original, unexpurgated tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, six of their most famous works are re-imagined in the rich and endlessly varied landscapes of contemporary America.From the glass towers of Manhattan to the remoteness of the Blue Ridge mountains; from the swamps of Louisiana to the jaded glamour of Hollywood, New World Fairy Tales reclaims the fairy tale for the modern adult audience. A haunting blend of romance and realism, these stripped-back narratives of human experience are the perfect read for anyone who has read their child a bedtime fairy story, and wondered who ever said these were stories meant for children.

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

First Love by Gwendoline Riley

I’ve been hearing about this book everywhere at the moment and have found myself swept up in the hype and wanting to read it. It’s a short novel that I think I’ll want to read in one sitting so I’ll be starting this in the next few days.

Synopsis:

Neve is a writer in her mid-30s married to an older man, Edwyn. For now they are in a place of relative peace, but their past battles have left scars. As Neve recalls the decisions that led her to this marriage, she tells of other loves and other debts, from her bullying father and her self-involved mother to a musician who played her and a series of lonely flights from place to place.

Drawing the reader into the battleground of her relationship, Neve spins a story of helplessness and hostility, an ongoing conflict in which both husband and wife have played a part. But is this, nonetheless, also a story of love?

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Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada

This is another book that I’ve had my eye on for a while. It sounds like it could be a heartbreaking and harrowing read at times but also a beautiful read. And look at the cover – isn’t it stunning? I’ll need to be in the right frame of mind to read this one but I definitely want to get to it soon.

Synopsis:

Someone tickled me behind my ears, under my arms. I curled up, became a full moon, and rolled on the floor. I may also have emitted a few hoarse shrieks. Then I lifted my rump to the sky and tucked my head beneath my belly: Now I was a sickle moon, still too young to imagine any danger. Innocent, I opened my anus to the cosmos and felt it in my bowels.

A bear, born and raised in captivity, is devastated by the loss of his keeper; another finds herself performing in the circus; a third sits down one day and pens a memoir which becomes an international sensation, and causes her to flee her home.

Through the stories of these three bears, Tawada reflects on our own humanity, the ways in which we belong to one another and the ways in which we are formed. Delicate and surreal, Memoirs of a Polar Bear takes the reader into foreign bodies and foreign climes, and immerses us in what the New Yorker has called ‘Yoko Tawada’s magnificent strangeness’.

How to Survive a Plague- The Story of Activists and Scientists by David France

How to Survive a Plague: The Story of Activists and Scientists by David France

I saw this book was on the shortlist for the Wellcome prize and knew I had to read it. I’ve found previous picks of theirs to be fascinating reads and I’m sure this will be too. This is a long book so it might be one that I start soon and then read on and off as and when my brain is up to serious non-fiction.

Synopsis:

How to Survive a Plague by David France is the riveting, powerful and profoundly moving story of the AIDS epidemic and the grass-roots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Around the globe, the 15.8 million people taking anti-AIDS drugs today are alive thanks to their efforts.

Not since the publication of Randy Shilts’s now classic And the Band Played On in 1987 has a book sought to measure the AIDS plague in such brutally human, intimate, and soaring terms.

Weaving together the stories of dozens of individuals, this is an insider’s account of a pivotal moment in our history and one that changed the way that medical science is practised worldwide.

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

I’ve heard so many good things about this book so when I spotted it in a Kindle Daily Deal for 99p last weekend I snapped it up. This is only a short book so I hope to find a free afternoon soon where I can sit and read this in one sitting.

Synopsis:

It is March 30th 1924.

It is Mothering Sunday.

How will Jane Fairchild, orphan and housemaid, occupy her time when she has no mother to visit? How, shaped by the events of this never to be forgotten day, will her future unfold?

Beginning with an intimate assignation and opening to embrace decades, Mothering Sundayhas at its heart both the story of a life and the life that stories can magically contain. Constantly surprising, joyously sensual and deeply moving, it is Graham Swift at his thrilling best.

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Now We Are 40 by Tiffanie Darke

I’ve been wanting to read this book so badly so I decided to treat myself seeing as I had the vouchers, and I started reading it straight away. I’m not quite 40 yet but I’m a Generation X-er (just!), and my husband is in his mid-40s so he definitely is, so this book is bringing back memories. 

Synopsis:

What happened to Generation X? Millenials dominate our Facebook feeds and people bang on about the baby boomers – but what about us? The lost generation, the middle youth, the middle child of today. Are we still cool?

Generation X? Remember them? The kids who believed they’d never grow up. The generation Douglas Coupland immortalised in his novel of the same name. The wry, knowing navel-gazers obsessed with cool and be