WWW Wednesdays (28 Jul ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

I’ve only read the first couple of chapters of this one so far but I’m enjoying it. I loved the first book in the series so I have high hopes for this!

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

I love Cecelia Ahern’s writing so have been really keen to get to this one and I’m really enjoying it. It feels different to some of her other novels but it’s very good and I can’t wait to read more.

Intimations by Zadie Smith

This is an essay collection written during the early days of the pandemic. I love Zadie Smith’s writing so I’m enjoying that aspect but the actual content isn’t engaging me as much as I hoped it would. I’m still keen to read more though.

Recent Reads

Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig

This is a brilliant book all about Rebekah’s life as a disabled person and I found it so relatable. The things that she has experienced and the ignorance some people show towards her is both eye-opening and so similar to my own experiences of being a wheelchair user. I would recommend this book to everyone, it’s such a good read.

How to Save a Life by Liz Fenton

I got the ebook of this one on Kindle Unlimited and it came with the audio version so I listened to it. It was an okay read but it’s not one that’ll stay with me. It follows a man who bumps into his ex girlfriend and they agree to go on a date but on that date she dies. The novel is then him stuck in groundhog day as he keeps waking up on the same day and trying to save her life.

Justice for Helen by Marie Mccourt

This is a non-fiction book that Marie wrote about her daughter Helen. Helen was murdered in 1986 and her killer was convicted but to this day has refused to say where her body is. Marie has successfully campaigned for Helen’s Law whereby at parole hearings it must be taken into account how much the killer has complied with authorities. Sadly the bill was passed after Helen’s killer was released. Marie has written such a moving account of her daughter’s life, and of the years she has had without her. It’s a book that will really stay with me and I absolutely recommend it.

Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon

I listened to this on audio and loved it. I will admit that the first chapter didn’t grab me and I wasn’t sure it was going to be for me but then a moment came where I just fell in love with it and I couldn’t stop listening. This follows a man in the aftermath of his wife’s death – it’s a novel about grief and loss but also about love and about how you learn to live after the worst has happened.

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

I’ve already reviewed this book so you can find my thoughts here.

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

This was another really good read! This is a novel that is hard to read at times due to the subject matter but it’s a great read and so I would recommend it. It follows two sisters in the aftermath of a tragedy where a young child dies due to one sister forgetting he was in her car. The court case that follows threatens to tear the sisters apart. The exploration of all the different emotions and actions in this case is handled really well and I did enjoy this one (if enjoy is the right word).

What I Might Read Next

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride

I got both of these books from NetGalley a few days ago and I’m really keen to start them so I’ll hopefully be picking them up once I’ve finished my current reads.

Mini Book Reviews: The Island Home | Yours Cheerfully | All My Mothers | Unwell Women

The Island Home by Libby Page

I love Libby Page’s writing and this book was every bit as lovely as her previous novels! The Island Home follows two characters in alternating chapters – Lorna who left the island of Kip under a cloud when she was a teenager and has never been back; and Alice who is Lorna’s sister-in-law but the two women have never met. The two women have daughters the same age who have been chatting online and now Lorna is going back to Kip. This is a gorgeous novels that really explores family dynamics, female friendship and found family in an honest and believable way. Kip has a wonderful community and all the characters in this novel felt like real people and I now want to go there and meet them! This book has it’s darker moments but on the whole it’s a feel-good novel that really pulls at your heartstrings. I loved it and definitely recommend it!

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

This is the sequel to Dear Mrs Bird so we’re back with Emmie at Women’s Friend magazine in the months following the end of the previous novel. I loved this book, it was just as lovely as the first one and I got completely swept up in it. This time Emmie gets involved with a campaign to encourage more women into war work and I loved it. We see the strength of the women but also their vulnerabilities and how much harder life is made for them by bosses who think they should be the same as men and yet also keep their home and raise their children but with no support from anyone. I was glad Bunty was back in this novel as I adore her friendship with Emmie. This is such a lovely read and I recommend it!

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen

This novel is simply stunning! I loved Joanna Glen’s previous novel and this one is every bit as good, if not even better! All My Mothers follows Eva (sounds like ever not evil!) from being a young child and realising that there are gaps in her childhood photos and memories and she wants to know why. We see the lovely friend she makes on her first day of school and the way that girl’s family take Eva under their wing. I adored the book with the rainbow mothers and how this comes up time and again throughout the novel as Eva tries to work out who she is and where she comes from. It’s a novel about found family and how you can find real love and a real bond with people who aren’t blood relations, and that this is just as good. I was moved to tears more than once as I read this novel but I was completely swept away in Eva’s story and I just couldn’t put it down – I read it all in one sitting. I already want to go back and read it again! I highly recommend this one!

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

This is an incredibly powerful non-fiction book looking at the history of how women have been treated in western medicine over the centuries – it covers ancient Greece and medieval times right up to the present day. It’s such a fascinating book but also anger-inducing at the way women have suffered – and still suffer – due to the lack of research and understanding into female diseases and illnesses. I’m someone who has dealt with more than my fair share of doctors who have been very dismissive of me only for it to later turn out that they made a huge mistake that has cost me dearly in terms of health. This book really highlights how entrenched medicine has always been in maintaining something of a status quo but it also gives hope seeing the rise of female doctors, and male doctors who want to understand and further others’ understanding of female diseases. It’s a shocking read and one that will make you angry but it’s very comprehensive and well written and I definitely recommend it.

WWW Wednesdays (21 July ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

I’ve read the first five chapters of this one so far and I can’t wait to read more. It’s a fascinating look at the history of how women have been treated by medical professionals over the years.

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

I started this book yesterday and I am gripped. It follows the awful story of a young child dying in a hot car having been forgotten about. The novel then follows the child’s parents and his mother’s sister, who left the child as we find out what happened. I feel like there are going to be twists and turns in this novel and I’m intrigued to see where it’s going.

Recent Reads

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen

This book is beautiful, I adored it! It follows Eva who lives with her parents who are quite cold and she never feels like she fits with them. Over the years she enjoys other people’s families and sees what she has missed out on. Ultimately this is a novel about found family and how that can bring you so much, and be just as important as the family you start out with. I loved this novel and I highly recommend it.

The Heights by Louise Candlish

Wow, this book is so good. I was gripped from start to finish and definitely think this is Candlish’s best book to date! This book follows a mother who becomes fixated on the boy who she knows is a bad influence on her son but things get out of control. I couldn’t put this book down, and now I’ve finished it I keep thinking about it!

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

This was one of my most anticipated reads for this year and I’m really happy to say that it didn’t disappoint! It follows three women in the aftermath of a murder and it’s so gripping!

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

I very much enjoyed this audiobook. It is the sequel to Dear Mrs Bird and it was lovely to be back with Emmie and seeing how her life is going. This is a book looking at women’s issues during the war and it manages to both highlight how difficult it was while at the same time being a feel-good read. I loved this and I recommend it.

The Island Home by Libby Page

This is a lovely read and I very much enjoyed it. I loved reading about the characters and the island of Kip, it’s such a feel-good read. I recommend this one.

What I Might Read Next

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

These are the next two books to be read from my NetGalley shelf and while they’re not published until September I’m so keen to get to them so will hopefully get to read them this week.

What are you at the moment? Have you read any good books recently? I’d love to know 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Fragile | Rock Paper Scissors | The Couple at No. 9 | 56 Days

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

I listened to this book on audio from NetGalley and I found it really engrossing. It follows Nell who has had a difficult childhood. She ended up in foster care but her foster mum was quite neglectful and left her and Joe to pretty much look after a younger child, Rosie, on their own. One day something terrible happens and Nell and Joe end up running away to London. Time has moved on a little when we first meet Nell and she is trying to find Joe but also to find somewhere to live and she ends up becoming a house keeper for Dr Wilder. This novel has an insidious sense of foreboding running through it – both in the present and as we slowly learn about the past – and I really enjoyed that element. This felt quite an intense book, I felt really invested in Nell’s story and finding out about her but at the same time it felt quite claustrophobic. I listened to this book in just two sittings though because I just wanted to know what was going to happen and how it was all going to end!

This book is out now!

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

I loved this book! Rock Paper Scissors follows Adam and Amelia in alternating chapters as they go on a mini break for their tenth wedding anniversary. Also interspersed throughout the novel are also letters to Adam from his wife. The couple are clearly not the happiest of couples and when they arrive at their destination it’s clear this is not the cosy escape and chance to reignite their love that each might have hoped. They’re staying in a converted church in the middle of nowhere, it’s snowing and isolated and a bit creepy. It’s clear from the start that something isn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on what was going on. I had so many things running through my head about what might be happening and I was wrong every single time, which I loved! This book had me hooked from start to finish and I read it all in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down! This is Alice Feeney at her best and I very much enjoyed this one. If you loved Sometimes I Lie then you’ll adore this!

This book is due to be published on 19th August.

The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas

The premise of this novel gave me chills – Tom and Saffron, who is pregnant with their first baby, have moved into their dream home which she has inherited from her Grandmother. They’re in the middle of a renovation project when their builders find two skeletons buried in the back garden! Police begin investigating and it seems there might be a connection to Saffy’s grandma Rose. We also get chapters set in the past when Rose first moved to the cottage and slowly the two timelines build up a picture of all the people who have lived in this house and how any of them might be connected to the present day discovery. I found this novel really gripping, I loved both timelines and I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen. This novel kept me on my toes and I really enjoyed it!

This book is due to be published on 19th August.

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

This book is brilliant! It follows Ciara and Oliver who randomly meet one day and seem to click straight away. But then lockdown is announced and they decide to move in together for this period of time so that they can keep seeing each other. This is 56 days ago. In the present day we follow the police as a body has been found in an apartment and it’s the place this new couple were living! I was gripped from the very first pages of this novel and I devoured it as I just didn’t want to put it down. This is a novel that seems like it’s going one way and then the rug is pulled out from under you and I loved that. I was stunned by some of the reveals that come along and it had me unnerved that I hadn’t seen certain things coming. This is my favourite thriller of the year so far and I highly recommend it!

This book is due to be published on 19th August.

I received all four of these books from the publishers via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Mini Book Reviews: Sorrow and Bliss | True Crime Story | The Lucky Eight | The Night She Disappeared

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

This book is stunning! It follows Martha, who has suffered with bouts of mental illness throughout her life ever since she was a teenager. She struggles to see how she fits anywhere and often feels like her life is coasting without much input from her. She’s married to Patrick and finds herself living in an executive home that she hates. This novel is very funny – at times laugh out loud funny and at other time painfully funny but it’s also so sensitive in its depiction of depression and mental illness. I loved the pop culture references – the bit about Prince William genuinely made me laugh and I knew then that this was going to be a me book. Martha’s illness is never mentioned by name, which I thought was very clever as it allows readers to identify with what she’s going through without the focus being on what is actually wrong. Martha messes up in this novel, she gets things wrong and people get hurt – herself included but she always remains likeable and someone that you recognise traits of in either yourself or people you know. This is a brilliant novel and I already wish I could go back and read it all again for the first time. I highly recommend it.

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

This book was so gripping, I felt like it consumed me for the period of time I was reading it! It’s the story of Zoe Nolan who went missing after a night out and now we follow her friends and family in the immediate aftermath and much later on. The uniqueness of this novel is that it’s framed as true crime with the author becoming a character in the novel through his correspondence with struggling writer Evelyn who is researching the case and writing a book about the disappearance. Knox pushes himself into Evelyn’s life and offers advice, even when not wanted, as to how she can improve her book. We then get to read Evelyn’s book and the changes and additions that Knox has made. It feels like a case within a case and there is so much to puzzle over and so much to be intrigued by. I was hooked from the very start of this book and even when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it and wondering what had happened to Zoe. I didn’t work out any aspect of whodunnit or why and I love that I had no idea. I definitely recommend this one!

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler

This was an interesting thriller. Five years ago there was a plane crash where only eight people survived. Those eight have got together on the anniversary and one of them is murdered! We follow various characters and here about their lives before the crash and after and see how it affected them. They all seem to have secrets and things they want to keep hidden so suspicion falls on quite a few people. Later another survivor is murdered and the stakes get even higher! I was suspicious of all the people in this novel and while I thought I had it all worked out there would be another clue and I would be back to the drawing board, which I really liked. I enjoyed reading this one but it’s not a book that will stay with me, it’s a fun holiday read and I would recommend it for that.

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

This book was so good! It follows teenage mum Tallulah in 2017 as she goes on a night out with her boyfriend, and follows Tallulah’s mum Kim in 2018 in the aftermath of Tallulah’s disappearance. I love that this novel goes back and forth in time so we get to know Tallulah and what her life was like before she disappeared and we learn that not everything was as it seemed. We also get Sophie’s perspective in the present as she gets involved with the case and wants to help find out what happened to this girl. I found this book so hard to put down, I ended up reading it in just two sittings as I had to know! There are twists and turns throughout the novel and so many things I didn’t see coming, and even when I spotted what was going to happen next the rug was still pulled from under me as there was so much more than I had worked out. I loved this novel, I think it might even be my favourite Lisa Jewell novel so I highly recommend it!

WWW Wednesdays (14 Jul ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

The Island Home by Libby Page

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

Recent Reads

Death on Ocean Boulevard by Caitlin Rother

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

What I Might Read Next

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen

The Heights by Louise Candlish

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

What are you reading this week? What have you recently finished reading? I’d love to know! 🙂

My 2021 Reading Stats (so far)!

I can’t believe that we’re halfway through 2021 already, I really don’t know where the time has gone. I always love looking at my reading spreadsheets at this point in the year to see how my reading looks like so far.

I set my reading goal at 100 books for this year and I’ve already completed my Goodreads challenge. I set my goal to less than normal as I was hoping to focus on reading some bigger books this year but so far that hasn’t really happened. I’m happy to have finished 116 books already though and am looking forward to reading lots more books over the second half of the year.

The longest book that I’ve read so far this year is The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker – my edition had 640 pages. The shortest book I’ve read was one I grabbed on a whim while I have a free trial of Kindle Unlimited – Suzy Lamplugh: Missing by Netta Newbound which had 49 pages. The average page count of books I’ve read this year is 344, which I’m very happy with.

This is the breakdown of genres that I’ve read this year. I’m fairly happy with the spread of what I’m reading although I’m a little disappointed that the nonfiction reads amount to a combined total of just 19.1% as I usually read more. I think it’s down to life being stressful and my anxiety levels being high and so I’ve sought out escapism in thrillers and general fiction. I hope as life begins to feel more normal that my reading tastes will start to go back to how they used to be and I might get more nonfiction read then.

As is definitely the norm for me I’ve read far more female authors than male this year. I’ve never consciously picked more books by female authors it’s just how my reading naturally seems to fall and I’m happy with this.

This chart shows the format of books that I’ve been reading this year. I’m surprised that the audiobook percentage is so low but I think this is because my husband only went back to work (after being on furlough) a month or so ago so up until then I didn’t have as much chance to listen to books. I have still been buying audiobooks though so I have lots to look forward to listening to over the rest of the year. My ebook reading percentage is very high but I’ve been reading my way through my NetGalley books and also due to my new eye problem I struggle to read print books now and need to be able to adjust the size of font. I think going forward my reading will be pretty much all ebooks and audiobooks, with the occasional print book in the mix as I do still have print books on my bookcase that I’d like to read if I can.

This chart shows where I acquired the books that I’ve been reading in 2021. This breakdown is about what I expected it to be as I’ve really been focusing on reading NetGalley books this year as I try to catch up on ARCs. A lot of my review copies were acquired last year so it’s been good to finally get those read and reviewed.

This chart shows where I’ve been getting my books from in 2021. I always like to look at this chart in my spreadsheet as it shows that while I am lucky to receive and read ARCs I do still buy the vast majority of my books. I always want to support authors and publishers so I’m really pleased with how my acquisitions breakdown.

So that’s my 2021 reading so far in statistics!

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

WWW Wednesdays (7 Jul ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

Death on Ocean Boulevard by Caitlin Rother

This is a true crime book about the death of Rebecca who was found dead in an apparent suicide but the way her body was found makes it seem very implausible that she did this to herself. The crime scene was compromised early on due to it initially being called in as a suicide. I don’t remember this case at the time so I know nothing about what happens but it’s devastating to read about what happened.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

I’m about a quarter of the way into this one and so far this is Alice Feeney at her best! The novel so far follows a married couple who are having a weekend away in the middle of nowhere to try and get their marriage back on track. We follow each of their points of view in alternating chapters interspersed with a letter from the wife to her husband that she has written on each of their anniversaries. There is a real sense of unease from the start with this novel and I feel quite on edge reading it – I can’t wait to read more though and to see where this novel is going!

Recent Reads

Safe at Home by Lauren North

This is such a gripping read following an anxious woman who feels the need to keep her children close. One night she trusts one of her eleven year old daughters to stay home alone for twenty minutes but she gets delayed and when she gets home it’s clear something has happened but her daughter won’t talk about it. I really enjoyed this novel, it kept me guessing all the way through.

Hope Close by Tina Seskis

I got this one on audio from Kindle Unlimited and I enjoyed listening to it. It follows a handful of residents on Hope Close, all with their secrets to hide and it follows them as things begin to resurface and cause issues in the present.

The Other Wife by Claire McGowan

I also listened to this one on Kindle Unlimited and it was an okay book. It follows three women who all seem separate from one another but it seems certain that their paths will cross at some point. There are twists in store and some of them caught me off guard but it was just an okay read for me.

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler

This was a fun read following a group of people who all survived the same plane crash and are now bound together as being part of the media-dubbed ‘lucky eight’. There are secrets and lies amongst this group and so when one of them is found dead – presumed murdered – the pressure mounts. I enjoyed this one, it kept me gripped all the way through.

Stronger by Poorna Bell

I love Poorna Bell’s writing so was keen to get to this one. I borrowed the audiobook from the library and I listened to it over two days. This is the author’s story of how she found sport after her husband’s sudden death. She got into weight lifting and the book is all about how sport can help in all aspects of life – physical and mental – and I found it fascinating. I can’t exercise in any meaningful way because of my disability but I am working on losing weight to improve my health and I know the difference it makes when your body starts to feel stronger and healthier.

The Miracle Pill by Peter Walker

This is another fascinating audiobook about how our sedentary lives are damaging our health in so many ways. It’s full of science and anecdotal evidence along with the author’s own experiences and I found it to be so interesting. I would recommend this to everyone and I’m planning on buying a kindle copy so I can read it and highlight relevant sections.

What I Might Read Next

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

The Pact by Sharon Bolton

As usual I don’t know what I’ll read this week but the above three are the ones that are calling to me the most right now!

My Favourite NonFiction of 2021 So Far!

Yesterday I shared my favourite novels that I’ve read this year so far and today it’s the turn of nonfiction books. I’ve not read as much nonfiction this year as I normally do but the books I have read have been excellent, and these eight books are the best of the best.

Best nonfiction read in 2021 so far!

How to be Broken by Dr Emma Kavanagh

This Party’s Dead by Erica Buist

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

Super Sick by Allison Alexander

Invisible Women by Caroline Cried Perez

Really Saying Something by Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward

Hungry by Grace Dent

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

What’s your favourite nonfiction read of this year so far? I’d love to know! 🙂

My Favourite Novels of 2021 so far!

I can’t believe we’re halfway through 2021 already! This means that it’s time to pick my favourite books that I’ve read this year so far though, and while making this list is hard I do love putting this post together and showcasing my favourite books.

Today I’m sharing my favourite novels that I’ve read this year and tomorrow I will share my favourite nonfiction books.

The books I’ve chosen are all books that have made a difference to my life in some way this year and I’m so grateful to have found so many wonderful books. My list is in no particular order as it was impossible to pick a favourite, all 21 of these books are well worth a read. 🙂

Here are my favourite novels of 2021 so far…

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

Mountain Road, Late at Night by Alan Rossi

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle

Truth by Told by Kia Abdullah

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Outsiders by James Corbett

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

What are your favourite novels of the year so far? I’d love to know! 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Both of You | The First Day of Spring | The Murder of Graham Catton | Passenger List

Today I’m sharing some more of my mini reviews of books that I’ve enjoyed recently. All four of these books are from NetGalley but are out now!

Both of You by Adele Parks

Both of You is the story of Leigh who is happily married with two step-children but one day she disappears. Her husband is slow to report her missing as she works away during the week so he wasn’t sure when exactly she disappeared. We follow him, and the detective who is working on the case. Then soon after another woman is reported missing by her husband and it’s in similar circumstances and this is when the tension begins to ramp up. I found this book really fast-paced and while I spotted whodunnit early on my enjoyment was not marred by this as I was so invested in the why and the how. There are quite a few suspects and suspicious happenings throughout the book which does put you off the scent somewhat, which I liked. I read this book in just a day as I didn’t want to put it down, I needed to know if my suspicions were correct and to see how it would end. I would say that the ending is very abrupt and you are left reeling a little bit by that but the more the book sits with you the more it makes sense for it to end the way it does. I recommend this one for your summer reading plans!

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

I really enjoyed The First Day of Spring – I listened to the audiobook and I read it every single chance I had as I just wanted to know how this novel was going to go. The story follows Chrissie who seems quite neglected and has a difficult home life – her mother is very cold and her father is often absent. One day she kills a younger child and does all she can to avoid being caught. This novel is so delicately written that you can’t help but have sympathy and compassion for Chrissie, even when you know what she’s done. It’s actually heartbreaking when you hear her thoughts of what death means and it’s awful when you realise how little she understands. The novel also follows Chrissie as an adult when she has a young child of her own and is struggling to know how to nurture a child when she was never nurtured. I found this such a moving novel, which is rare in crime fiction. It really got to me and I keep finding myself thinking about it. It’s definitely a novel that makes you pause and think, whilst also being such a gripping and engaging thriller. I recommend this one!

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

I can’t help but be drawn to novels featuring a crime podcast so this one seemed like it was for me. The novel follows Hannah whose husband was murdered in the family home a decade before. Hannah can’t remember all the details of what happened but a man named Mike was convicted of the crime. Now a true crime podcast is going over the case and looking at potential new evidence. Hannah works at a psychiatric clinic and has had her own mental health battles so this is a very stressful time for her. She felt like quite an unreliable narrator to me and I was never sure whether I could believe what she was portraying. This novel does requite some suspension of disbelief but it didn’t stop my enjoyment nor did it stop me reading at every opportunity as I wanted to know whodunnit and why. There wasn’t as much of the actual podcast in this novel as I’d hoped there would be – we hear about it second hand as Hannah and her family talk about it whereas I’d been expecting some transcripts. I enjoyed this novel all the same though and will definitely read more by this author in the future.

Passenger List by John Dryden

I seem to be reading a lot of books recently about bad things that happen involving planes but I’m finding them all quite addictive. Passenger List follows Kaitlin as she tries to find out what happened to the flight that went missing with her twin brother on board. She doesn’t believe the official explanation and is determined to get to the truth. This novel does require a lot of suspension of disbelief but if you can do that then it is a very fast paced page turner and one that will keep you guessing all the way to the end. There are lots dark alleys and red herrings in the novel alongside quite a few shady characters but all this serves to keep you on your toes, and I quite liked not knowing who to trust and not knowing if Kaitlin was making good decisions or not. This would make a great holiday read!

That Was The Month That Was… June 2021!

June has really flown by! My husband is back at work and we’re back in a normal routine again now. I’ve had my second vaccine (well, I will have had it when this post goes live) so it’s good to finally be fully vaccinated. I’m hoping to start getting out and about a bit more from now on.

We did go to the opticians in June as we were overdue for eye tests. My vision has been getting worse so I was expecting to need new varifocals but actually my vision hasn’t changed much, the problem is my eye. The optician thinks it’s linked to the damage in my spinal cord, which sadly means nothing much can be done. He has given me some eye exercises to do so I’m working on those in the hope it will help strengthen the muscles in my eye. I’ve also got reading glasses for when I’m spending longer periods reading. It all means that I’m struggling to read print books and this isn’t going to change so I have to accept more reading on Kindle (where I can make the font bigger) and listening to audio books from now on. I’m struggling with reading on a computer screen so I can only apologise for being so slow to read and reply to comments. I do always appreciate comments on my posts and feel awful that I can’t reply very quickly or to comment on your blogs as much as I would dearly like to.

I didn’t read as much in June as I’d planned to but we’ve been watching a lot of the Euros and also squeezing in episodes of The Sopranos where we can. We’re now only a few episodes from the end and part of me is keen to see how it ends and the other part of me doesn’t want it to end because it’s been so good.

Here are the books I read in June…

The Outsiders by James Corbett

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

Super Sick by Allison Alexander

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

Suzy Lamplugh: Missing by Netta Newbound

Claudia Lawrence: Missing by Netta Newbound

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

Passenger List by John Dryden

Both of You by Adele Parks

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

How was June for you? I hope it was a good month and that you’re keeping well. What was your favourite book read in June? I’d love to know! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (30 Jun ’21)! What are you reading?

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

Current Reads

The Island Home by Libby Page

I wanted to save this book to read this week as when this post goes live I’ll have had my second vaccine (and hopefully I won’t be feeling as ill as with the first) and know that Libby Page writes such engaging, comforting books. I’ve only read the first couple of chapters so far but I know I’m going to love this one.

The Miracle Pill by Peter Walker

I bought this audio book on a whim in the recent Audible sale and I’m so glad I did. This is a really interesting book about how we got so sedentary and how we can change. There is so much information about how the smallest changes can have a huge impact on our bodies and I’m finding it so motivating as I continue on my weight loss journey.

Recent Reads

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker-Burks

I bought a copy of this on Kindle in the end as I was struggling to read the print book and I’m so glad I did. This book is so moving but such an incredible read. Ruth is an amazing woman, the way she reached out to men who were dying from AIDS and ostracised from their families as a result is incredible. She acknowledged her fear but she pushed through because her compassion won through. This is a book everyone should read.

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

I devoured this thriller in one sitting, I honestly just didn’t want to put it down for a minute! It’s a lockdown novel focusing on a couple who have been on a handful of dates at the beginning of Coronavirus restrictions and they decide to move in together so they can still see each other in lockdown. The novel opens with a body being found and then goes back and forth in time as we learn who is dead, what happened and how the couple are connected. It’s such a gripping book, I loved it!

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

I read most of this novel in one sitting too as it was just so gripping and I wanted to know what happened! It follows a young mum as she struggles in her relationship with her boyfriend, and is captivated by a new friend at college. We also follow her mum in the aftermath of her daughter’s disappearance. This book had me so enthralled, I was annoyed when real life pulled me away from the story. I recommend this one too!

Both of You by Adele Parks

This is another great read from this week. It’s a novel about a woman that goes missing, and her husband as he tries to work out what happened. We also get the perspective of the police. The case becomes even more intense when another woman goes missing and her husband seems a little off. I really enjoyed this book, it kept me on my toes all the way through. I had to suspend disbelief at times, and I did work out what was going on quite early but none of that stopped me enjoying the novel.

Passenger List by John Dryden

This novel follows Kaitlin as she desperately hunts for the truth when the plane her twin brother was travelling on goes missing. She doesn’t believe the official story and is determined to find out what happened to her brother and the other passengers. This novel was different to what I was expecting and it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief but it was a quick, fun read.

What I Might Read Next

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

These are the next three books on my NetGalley shelf so I hope to get to them this week. I don’t know how much reading I’ll get done, it depends how I feel post vaccine but hopefully I’ll be fine this time and can keep reading!

Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen | @OrendaBooks @KtAllenWriting

About the Book

Armed with one broken heart and a (borrowed) sausage dog, Rachel is on a mission to find out why her baby was born sleeping.

Because Everything Happens for a Reason…

Doesn’t it?

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.

When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she’s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.

Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…

Both a heart-wrenching portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life-affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.

My Thoughts

Everything Happens for a Reason follows Rachel as she tries to make sense of the loss of her baby. The novel takes the form of emails that she writes to an initially unnamed person. This was sparked by someone saying to her that everything happens for a reason and Rachel fixates on wanting to know what the reason was. She remembers that on the day she found out she was pregnant that she saved a man who was about to jump in front of a train and she decides to find him and see if he is the reason.

I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it but I will admit that I was apprehensive about the subject matter – baby loss is not an easy subject to read about but this book is so beautifully written. Katie Allen writes with such honesty and sensitivity, she deftly balances humour and heartbreak. I’m so glad I picked this book up.

Rachel’s baby was stillborn and she is now understandably lost. She is on maternity leave but she has no baby. Her decision to search for the man whose life she saved gives her some purpose and fills her time. In the process of finding him she meets some other people who become so important in her life and I loved seeing their relationship build, it really was so lovely to read. I also enjoyed reading about the time Rachel spends with Ben, the man from the train, as she goes on his regular dog walks with him.

Nothing fully fills Rachel’s days as all she wants is her baby. She and her husband aren’t able to connect and communicate how they’re feeling to each other. There are times when it’s so apparent how much they still love each other but they can’t seem to find a way to show it. I can’t even imagine the pain of losing a baby, I have suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks and I know that is in no way the same thing although it was incredible painful as it turned out to be my only ever chance of being a mum. I know how it feels to lose loved ones and how it rips your life apart and you are never the same afterwards. Katie Allen captures the feeling of being lost, of being unable to communicate your pain and grief to others, and of feeling so alone in such a heartrending way. I felt heartbroken for Rachel as I read her story.

There are lighter moments throughout this novel which balance Rachel’s pain. I loved reading about the dogs she gets to know through Ben’s work – they all felt so real to me and now I want a pet dog! Also the bonds that form between some of the people Rachel meets are really lovely – Lola and her fabulous daughter. The friendships are gorgeous and life-affirming.

I was curious how this novel would end and was hoping Rachel would find some peace and happiness again that would be long-lasting. I loved the way she found reasons to live and ways to enjoy life, even when she wasn’t looking to find this. Healing can take many forms and often comes from the things we least expect it to.

Everything Happens for a Reason is such a beautiful and moving novel, one that really resonated with me. I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.About the Author

About the Author

Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her ‘Everything happens for a reason’.

Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband, children, dog, cat and stick insects. When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels.

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

WWW Wednesdays (23 Jun ’21!)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Passenger List by John Dryden

I started this book yesterday and it’s such a fast-paced, gripping read that I don’t think I’ll be long finishing it. It follows a young woman whose brother was one of the passengers on a plane that went missing. She is seeking the truth about what happened to him and the flight.

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

I haven’t managed to read anymore of this book this week due to my eye issues but I’ve now bought a kindle copy so I’m definitely going to be reading a lot more of it this week.

Recent Reads

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

I listened to the audiobook of this one on Audible and I really enjoyed it. It’s the story of a woman who is writing a book about Opal and Nev, whilst also wanting to find out more about what happened the night her father was killed. It’s a very engaging read that really draws you in and I was listening every chance I had as I wanted to find out how it would all end.

Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

This is Tayari Jones’ debut novel and it’s so good. It’s a novel told from the perspectives of three black children in Atlanta in the 1970s during the time when young black people were disappearing and being murdered but the authorities were not doing as much as they should have been to investigate and find the killer. I knew about about the real life murders but this novel told from the point of view of children was heartbreaking and devastating. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a very long time to come.

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

This is a moving novel about Rachel whose baby was born sleeping and now she’s on maternity leave and trying to find a way to understand what happened to her son. She decides to track down a man whose life she saved on the day she found out she was pregnant. I really enjoyed this novel – it explores grief in such a powerful way but the story is balanced with some lighter moments. I’ll be reviewing this one tomorrow but in the meantime I recommend it!

What I Might Read Next

Both of You by Adele Parks

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

The Island Home by Libby Page

All three of these books are the next books on my NetGalley shelf so I hope to read them this week. I’ve accidentally requested a few new books recently so I want to focus on these books again so I can catch up again and get my reviews posted in a reasonable time frame.

Super Sick: Making Peace with Chronic Illness by Allison Alexander | @allisonexander

About the Book

Superheroes aren’t sick. 

They certainly don’t have chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, or diarrhea. After all, spandex suits and sudden bowel movements don’t mix. Do they? 

With raw sincerity and tongue-in-cheek humour, Alexander holds nothing back while discussing how to navigate doctors, dating, sex, friendships, faith, and embarrassing symptoms. Part memoir, part research, part pop culture analysis, Super Sick offers a friendly hand to anyone with chronic illness, a reminder that they aren’t alone and have much to offer the world.

With a new foreword, updated information, and bonus materials, this is a must-read for anyone who has—or knows someone who has—a chronic illness.

My Thoughts

Super Sick is a non-fiction book by chronic illness sufferer Allison Alexander. As soon as I heard about this book I knew I had to read it as I love the idea of a book about chronic illness being told through the lens of superheroes. I’m so glad I read this book because it really is excellent.

Each chapter starts with the story of a different hero and then that leads Allison to relate this to her own experiences of chronic illness. There is a real honesty in this book, Allison doesn’t hold back on what her life is like at times and how her illness affects her, but there is also a lot of humour and positivity. The balance is incredibly well done.

I suffer from chronic illness and pain, and I’m disabled so I was intrigued by this book and I found myself nodding my head in solidarity with Allison for some of her horrible experiences that I have also been through. I also found myself smiling wryly, also in solidarity, for the humour you have to find in the awkward experiences and also in the dealing with people who say the most inappropriate things. Like Allison, I have had to smile sweetly of often when someone suggests a new miracle cure (like they think I haven’t tried everything there is to try).

I love the way Allison explores the different issues that come up when a person is chronically ill. From the relief of diagnosis but then the comedown when you realise you can’t be easily fixed (if at all) and then have to find a way to live with what’s happened. In one chapter she looks at the three types of suffering as seen in buddhism and this was fascinating, it really spoke to how I am and made me think. She also explores the way women are so often dismissed when it comes to pain, and how we’re often expected to put up with more – this is also my experience. There is so much relief that comes when someone believes you but so much distress when you’re not taken seriously.

I highlighted quite a few passages as I was reading this book but my favourite is this one:

‘Suffering people can find meaning in life just the same. We lose again and again. And again. Forever. But we still choose to fight. If I consider myself this way, I am a superhero instead of a character relegated to the sidelines, even if I don’t feel very mighty.’

This is a brilliant book if you have a chronic illness yourself or if you have someone in your life who has. It’s also an excellent, informative book for everyone to read – it’s accessible and easy to read and it really gives a great insight into what it is like to live with a chronic illness. I highly recommend this book!

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech | @OrendaBooks @LouiseWriter @RandomTTours

About the Book

When the mother of an autistic young man hires a call girl to make him happy, three lives collide in unexpected and moving ways … changing everything. A devastatingly beautiful, rich and thought-provoking novel that will warm your heart.

Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely. Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy … she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.

Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.

When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.

A topical and moving drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family … to survive … This Is How We Are Human is a searching, rich and thought-provoking novel with a emotional core that will warm and break your heart.

My Thoughts

This is How We Are Human was one of my most highly anticipated books of this year and I’m so happy to say that I completely and utterly adored it!

Sebastian is twenty years, six months and two days old, he’s autistic and he just wants to meet a woman and have sex. His mum Veronica is struggling with how best to support him, she just wants him to be happy and accepted. Violetta is an escort who is only doing this work to pay for her nursing degree and her father’s care.

This book is incredible! Louise Beech has this wonderful ability to put the reader in everyone’s shoes and to allow you to see a situation from all sides – we get to really understand and care about all three of these characters and to want them all to be happy. There is such sensitivity and beauty in this novel and Louise has taken such a delicate subject matter and handled it so deftly.

I really felt for all three characters. I could see how difficult it was for Sebastian, it broke my heart at times reading about his advances towards women and the reactions he got. I could see how great a mum Veronica is and how she just desperately wants to do the right thing for her son. She wants him to meet a nice girl and to be happy in his life but she knows that in the short term at least a sex worker might be the answer. She agonises over the morality of what she’s considering and then one day the answer seems to be right in front of her. Violetta is the character I most felt for, she is in a job that she doesn’t enjoy but she sees it as a means to an end. There is only her and she needs her dad to be properly looked after and his care is specialist and expensive. My heart was in my mouth at times reading about the situations she had to go through when at work and I just felt so sad for her.

This is a very thought-provoking novel, it explores so well the issues around different people’s needs and how best to meet those needs. There is also so much love and care and compassion running right through this novel, it’s such a moving story but it’s also funny and real and gives you hope.

The storytelling in this book is so beautiful and delicate. I loved seeing Violetta and Sebastian’s connection and how they built a friendship, I adored how Violetta did her best to show the real her and to not let this just be a transaction.

This Is How We Are Human is one of the most stunning books I’ve ever read – very real and heartbreaking at times but it’s funny and heartwarming and more than anything it is full of love. It’s such a beautiful novel that really does explore how we are human. I miss Sebastian, Veronica and Violetta so much, I keep thinking about them and wondering how they are. They are so real to me and I already want to go back and revisit their story all over again! This will, without doubt, be in my top books of 2021 and I highly, highly recommend it!

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

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

WWW Wednesdays (16 Jun ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

This is a moving novel about a woman trying to come to terms with, and understand the reasons for, the stillbirth of her son. She is trying desperately to find the reason why it happened and decides to try and find the man whose life she saved the day she found out she was pregnant. I’m really enjoying this one so far and am keen to read more of it very soon.

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

This book is just incredible and if it weren’t for my eye problems I think I would have read it in one sitting. As it is I can only manage a few pages at a time so I’m thinking of buying a kindle copy so that I can just read it all now, I really want to get to know Ruth’s story of her time caring for men with AIDS in a time when there was very little care from anyone else in her community.

Recent Reads

Super Sick by Allison Alexander

I really enjoyed this non-fiction book which explores Allison’s experiences of chronic illness and pain through the lens of superheroes. I loved the way she wrote this book and it added a different dynamic to her story. I could identify with a lot of what is in this book being disabled and a chronic pain sufferer myself. I will be reviewing this one as soon as I’ve got my thoughts in order but in the meantime I recommend it.

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

I got approved for the audiobook of this from NetGalley this week and I immediately started listening to it. It’s a novel told in two timelines about a young girl who murdered a younger child. Her story is heartbreaking and you can’t help but feel for her with the life she has led. This is such a good read and one I’ll be thinking of for a while to come.

This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a really long time. It’s the story of Sebastian, an autistic young man who just wants to have sex; his lovely mum; and Violetta who works as an escort in order to be able to pay for specialist care for her father. Louise is such an incredible writer and I can’t put into words how amazing this book is. I will be reviewing it later this week once I’ve got my thoughts together but I definitely recommend it!

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

Oh my goodness, this book is brilliant! It’s the best crime fiction book I’ve read in ages and I keep finding myself thinking about it. It follows a woman who is writing a book about a missing young woman, and her email correspondence with Joseph Knox. We also get to read all the chapters of her book along side her and Joseph’s chats about it. This is a book that keeps you on your toes all the way to the end – it’s creepy and gripping and it’s just a rollercoaster ride. I recommend this one!

What I Might Read Next

Passenger List by John Dryden

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

I don’t know what I’ll read this week but Passenger List is the next book on my NetGalley shelf so I hope to get to this one. The other two are books that I treated myself to this week and am very keen to read so I really want to try and make time to read them.

WWW Wednesdays (9 Jun ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

This is such an intriguing book, I’m so keen to keep reading to see where it goes next!

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

This is an incredible memoir and Ruth is such an amazing woman. I hope to read more of it this week.

Recent Reads

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

I borrowed the audio book of this from the library and I found it such a fascinating book from which I learnt a lot that I didn’t know. I’d quite like to buy a kindle copy of this one so that I can read it again in the future.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

This is a stunning book – it’s both very moving and very funny, it captures what it’s like to live with a mental illness so well. I recommend it.

What I Might Read Next

Passenger List by John Dryden

This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

As is now the norm for me I’m planning on reading the next book on my NetGalley shelf which is Passenger List. I also would like to read This is How We Are Human as it’s for a forthcoming blog tour and I just know I’m going to adore it. The final book is off my own TBR and is one that I’m keen to read while I’m in the middle of a post-lockdown clear out in my home.

One Last Time by Helga Flatland | @OrendaBooks

About the Book

Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her – and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia – it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heartwarming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

With all of Helga Flatland’s trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all – and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an exquisite, enchantingly beautiful novel that us to treasure and rethink … everything.

My Thoughts

Two years ago I read and reviewed A Modern Family by Helga Flatland and found a writer whose words resonated with me in such a powerful way. I knew I had to read anything of hers that I could so as soon as I heard about her new book One Last Time I immediately signed up for the blog tour and have been eagerly anticipating getting lost in Flatland’s writing all over again.

One Last Time is about three generations of women in a family told from the perspective of two of them. Anne is the matriarch who has struggled in her own life after her husband’s stroke at a young age. She wasn’t a perfect mother and her daughter Sigrid seems unable to move on from the perceived slights in her childhood. Mia is Sigrid’s daughter and while we don’t hear from her directly we see a lot of her in the novel. One Last Time opens with Anne being diagnosed with cancer and the fallout from that.

I adore the way Flatland captures the reality of family dynamics and the way she explores the fragility of memories. It’s heartbreaking at times how Sigrid reminds her mother of something not done in her childhood but then we see Anne’s viewpoint later on and realise what Sigrid doesn’t. We see behaviours echoing through the generations as Mia mirrors both Anne and Sigrid but neither sees themselves in her actions.

I did wonder if this book might be too hard for me to read as I lost my own mum to cancer a few years ago but actually Flatland has this remarkable ability to write about such a devastating topic but find a balance between the light and dark.

I found it hard to connect with Sigrid at times, she seems very detached and aloof but there are moments when you see her pain and heartbreak and your heart breaks with her. She clearly loves her mother but she wants an apology for her childhood, and yet she can’t articulate this. I remember the immediate aftermath of my mum’s terminal diagnosis and I had so much I wanted to say but it all got stuck in my throat and it was choking me. It seems like Sigrid feels a lot of that through the novel.

It was fascinating seeing Anne through Sigrid’s eyes and then hearing Anne’s perspectives but also seeing what Sigrid is like as a mother. It captures the reality of life so movingly – the way we can only see things from our own point of view and it’s near impossible to really get a sense of how it was for someone else, how hard it might have been for them. I found this aspect of the novel so poignant, and so relatable.

This is a novel that made me cry quite a few times. Flatland has captured so beautifully how women in a family relate to each other and what it is like to have the bottom fall out of your world when you learn you mother is dying. The novel is never depressing, never overwhelming – it’s just a beautiful, tender exploration of the grief that comes with approaching loss. I have to commend the translator Rosie Hedger too as this book never feels like a work in translation, it’s incredible!

One Last Time is my favourite novel of 2021 so far, I know it will be a novel that stays with me for a very long time to come. I highly recommend it!

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

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

WWW Wednesdays (2 Jun ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

I’ve only just started reading this book and I’m only a few pages into it so I can’t say much about it as yet except that I’m loving it.

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

This is the book I’ve been most anticipating from my 20 Books of Summer TBR and I’m so glad to finally be reading this one. It’s very moving but Ruth’s story is incredible, I’m keen to read more of this one as soon as I can.

Recent Reads

The Outsiders by James Corbett

This novel is brilliant. I just finished it yesterday and I’m sad that it’s over. It follows a man from 1981 to the present day and it covers real events which are woven through this character’s life. I’ll be reviewing this one soon once I’ve got my thoughts together.

This Lovely City by Louise Hare

I listened to the audio book of this one and I really enjoyed it. It is told from two perspectives and follows these characters in 1950s London. Lawrie arrived from Jamaica on Empire Windrush and is making a life for himself in London but one day he finds a dead baby and is immediately under suspicion. This is such an engaging novel and one that I didn’t want to stop listening to.

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

I enjoyed this novel about a woman whose husband is murdered in their family home and now ten years on the case is in the spotlight again due to a podcast about the murder. This novel does require suspension of disbelief but it’s still such a gripping page turner, it’s a fun read.

What I Might Read Next

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

The Island Home by Libby Page

The above three books are the next ones to be published from my NetGalley shelf so I hope to get to them in the coming week.

That Was The Month That Was… May 2021!

May was a month of beginning to get back to normal for us. I had my vaccine early in the month and it feels so good to have had it. I wasn’t very well for a little while after it but I’m still so glad I had it done. Then at the weekend my husband started back at work after fifteen months off. It’s an anxious time him being back at work but it’s good to have more of a normal routine again. We also spent time with my husband’s mum in her lovely garden in the sunshine so that was fabulous. I’m struggling with life getting back to normal but it feels good to be taking these steps.

I’ve had a good reading month and have finished eighteen books in May. I feel like I would have read more but we started watching The Sopranos (the first time either of us has ever watched it…) and it’s taking over our lives. We’ve been watching for around three weeks and are on season five. I’m kind of dreading it being over as I’m enjoying it so much.

I’m still predominantly reading one book at a time and this is really working for me. I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve ever read like this before but it’s good to have a change. I’ve mainly reading books from NetGalley or books I’ve been sent for review so that I can catch up but from June onwards I’ll be adding in my 20 Books of Summer as well. I’m looking forward to challenging myself to read 20 print books from my bookcase.

Here are the books I read in May…

Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill

This Party’s Dead by Erica Buist

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

One of Them by Musa Okwonga

Luster by Raven Leilani

The Final Chapter by Jerome Loubry

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Five Strangers by E. V. Adamson

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

How to be Broken by Emma Kavanagh

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

Falling by T. J. Newman

Broken by R. V. Biggs

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

This Lovely City by Louise Hare

How was May for you? I hope it was a good month and that you’re keeping well. What was your favourite book read in May? I’d love to know! 🙂

20 Books of Summer 2021!

I always look forward to joining in with Cathy at 746 Books reading challenge every summer. It’s such an easy going and fun challenge to read either 10, 15 or 20 books over the summer months.

I’ve been trying to decide on my 20 books of summer reading plans for a couple of weeks now and I think I’ve finally made my choices (although there are actually 21 books on my list as I couldn’t narrow it down any further! Plus it’s giving me options if I want to swap one for another). As has become the norm for me now I’m planning to read 20 print books over the summer, which is a real challenge for me and I’m looking forward to reading some more books from my bookshelves.

Here are my 20 books of summer:

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

Just Ignore Him by Alan Davies

Look What You Made Me Do by Helene Walsmley-Johnson

Not That Kind of Love by Clare and Greg Wise

Driven by Rosemary Smith

No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

XX by Angela Chadwick

The Time it Takes to Fall by Margaret Lazarus Dean

The Betrayals by Maureen Lindley

How to be Safe by Tom McAllister

The Red Word by Sarah Henstra

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

The Light Between Us by Katie Khan

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester

So there we have it… my 21 books of summer! I hope to read all of them but I struggle with reading physical books so I’ll just enjoy what I can read. I’ll still be reading other books on my Kindle and audio books so I can always switch my plans to those books if I need to.

What are you planning to read over the summer? I’d love to know what your reading plans are. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Falling | Malibu Rising | Black Buck | The Killing Kind

Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of books that I’ve read and loved recently. I got all four of these books via NetGalley and all of them were excellent reads.

Falling by T. J. Newman

This book was one of my most anticipated books of 2021 and so when my wish got granted on NetGalley on Friday I knew this had to be my next read, and it more than lived up to my expectations for it. Falling is your worst nightmare – a pilot is in mid-air when he finds out his family have been held hostage and he has to choose between his family’s lives and the lives of all 149 people on his airline! The novel gets going immediately and the pace doesn’t let up for a second all the way through! I literally didn’t put this book down once I started reading – the way it’s told from multiple perspectives meant I was always desperate to know what was happening to everyone else and so it was a case of just one more chapter, and one more etc until I turned the final page! I had some suspicions about the perpetrators of this crime but I didn’t work it all out and I love that it kept surprising me throughout. There are moments where you have to suspend disbelief but I didn’t mind that at all because by then I was so invested in the plot and I was fully onboard (no pun intended) for wherever this story was taking me! I highly recommend this one!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I loved Daisy Jones and The Six was have been very keen to get my hands on this new book and I’m so happy to say that I also loved this one! Malibu Rising follows the Riva family over many years. In the first part we get to meet June and Mick and see how they fell in love an started a family, and in alternating chapters we see the four children as adults as they live their lives. During this part I was much more interested in learning more about June than anyone else, I wanted to know what happened to her. By the second half of the book as we catch up to the present in these character’s lives I was fully invested in this whole family. The dynamics between them was really interesting and I could identify with how each sibling views the others differently from how they view themselves, which makes for interesting interactions between them even as close as they are to each other. I mostly felt for Nina – she’s the eldest and has had to sacrifice so much for this family and she does it without ever begrudging it. The build up to the Riva annual party really ramps up in the second part of the novel and I was really tense wondering what was going to happen. I very much enjoyed all the different snippets we get as we hear from various people at the party. It builds a great picture of what is going on. The end of the book was a surprise but I loved it, it was the most perfect way to end this novel. I recommend adding this one to your summer reading piles!

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

This is a standalone novel by Jane Casey and I’m so glad I picked it up. This book follows Ingrid, a barrister, who feels that she’s been stalked and she suspects the man behind it might be a man who’s case she defended a couple of years earlier. The novel moves back and forth in time so we find out more about this man, and also where Ingrid is now and what happened when he came looking for her before. It’s a real cat and mouse novel where you’re not sure who you can trust, there are even moments when you doubt Ingrid is telling the whole truth and I loved being kept on my toes. I found John Webster, the man Ingrid believes is stalking her fascinating. He is creepy and yet at the same time very earnest so it’s hard to weigh up what the story is with him. I did began to have my suspicions about what might be happening and I was right but even then there were twists in store. This was such a good read, I definitely recommend it. Now I really need to make time to start on Jane Casey’s series as I have quite a few of those books on my TBR and still haven’t ever picked the first one up!

Black Buck by Mateo by Askaripour

This novel is brilliant! It’s not my usual type of read as I’m not a big fan of satire but I am so glad I read this book, it’s so good! Darren is a young black man who lives with his mom and he works in Starbucks. He hates coffee but he’s good at his job. Then one day he’s offered a position at a big start up company and he can’t resist finding out more. The novel explores the issues around race in America and it was uncomfortable to read at times. Some of the things done to Buck, as he gets nicknamed because of his previous job, are truly awful but he keeps on sucking it up and showing it up determined to be the best and to make some serious money. The novel is set out like a manual for black people that white people are encouraged to also read, this is Buck telling you his story. There are moments that seemed unreal, and moments of real darkness balanced with some very funny scenes – it’s such a compelling novel and I found it really hard to put down. It’s a book that I’d like to re-read in the future, it’s one that’s really staying fresh in my mind. I highly recommend this one!

WWW Wednesdays (26 May ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

I just started reading this one yesterday but I’m already hooked and am really keen to see where this is going.

This Lovely City by Louise Hare

I haven’t had much chance for audio book listening this week so I’m not much further into this one. My husband is back at work next week though so I’ll be back to listening to books throughout the day so I hope to finish this one then.

Recent Reads

Broken by R. V. Biggs

I reviewed this book yesterday so you can find my full thoughts by clicking the title above. I very much enjoyed this one though and I recommend all three books in the series!

Falling by T. J. Newman

This is a very fast paced book following a plane hijacking and I couldn’t put this down. I ended up going to be very late as I simply had to know how it was going to end.

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

This is a standalone book and I devoured it. It follows a barrister who believes a man she once defended is stalking her and wants her dead. The cat and mouse element of this novel is so tense and I found it very hard to put down.

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

This is a beautiful novel following three generations of a family when matriarch is diagnosed with terminal cancer. It’s such a moving novel but never depressing. This is my favourite book of the year so far – I’ll be reviewing it in June for the blog tour.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I very much enjoyed this novel. It follows the Riva family over the years in the build up to a big star-studded party that Nina hosts every year. I loved reading about the dynamics in this family and seeing how they all dealt with things that happened. I recommend this one.

What I Might Read Next

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

The Outsiders by James Corbett

I’m still focusing on reading review books and this week I got approved for a couple more NetGalley books which are due to be published imminently so those are the first two on my reading plan for this week. The Outsiders was in my plans for last week but I didn’t quite get to it so I definitely want to pick this one up in the coming days.

Broken by R.V. Biggs

About the Book

Scarred by a tragic past, eleven year old Jamie Walker chooses not to speak.

Consumed with jealous rage, Jimmy Gillespie is driven to violence.

And John Macintyre awakens from a vivid nightmare convinced he is going to kill.

Living high upon the Scottish hills, John and Sarah Macintyre enjoy a serene life until a televised news bulletin sends them on a desperate search for a missing child.

After finding the child and returning him safely to his parents, the Macintyres are approached by the local press, attracting both unexpected and unwanted attention.

But the aftermath of the media coverage changes the course of their lives forever, and events are set in motion that are joyful, heart breaking – and terrifying.

My Thoughts

I read and adored the first two books in this series (Song of the Robin and Reunion) and always hoped there would be a third novel so I was thrilled to discover book three – Broken and I’m so happy to say that I loved this one too.

Broken starts a while after Reunion ended and you get to catch up with Sarah, John and Claire. They are living in Scotland now and are making a life for themselves there after all the shocks and discoveries in the previous novel. I was so pleased to see this family settled and happy but life soon has plans for them.

Early in Broken a local child goes missing – a boy from Claire’s class at school. Claire senses where he might be and the family go looking for him. This leads to a lot of media attention, which inevitably brings bad news to the family’s door. A man who believes he has a claim on the family home turns up and he’s determined to take what he thinks is rightfully his!

Alongside this the Mcintyres are given the opportunity to help two traumatised children who need help and a loving home. Joseph and Jamie are great characters and I loved reading about them and how they began to settle in. It was especially interesting to read about Jamie and how Claire seemed to have an instant connection with him. I found this so intriguing and wondered if Jamie perhaps had some kind of gift himself that she could sense.

There is a lot more exploration of fate and destiny in this novel, as with the previous books, but this time we, along with John, Sarah and Claire themselves, learn more about how they tap into each other’s spiritual powers and connections and how these can be used. I found all of this fascinating and loved reading these parts of the novel. I think we all have a deeper connection with the people closest to us but John and Sarah have an even deeper connection that allows them to sense each other’s auras and to tap into this to know what is going on.

I’m always drawn to books that look at fate and destiny as it’s something I never really thought about or believed in but then the way I met my husband so soon after losing my mum has led so many people to say to me that they believe she sent him to me. It’s a lovely way to think and I do find it a comforting thought.

Broken felt a much faster paced novel than the previous two and has thriller elements alongside spirituality but it’s very much grounded in the real world in the present day. It still has a main focus of the Macintyre family and the way they are learning to live with their gifts and abilities. I read most of the book in one sitting as it’s such a page turner and I so badly wanted to know if the Mcintyres were all going to be okay in the end.

As always with R. V. Biggs’ writing, I felt such a strong connection to these characters and I feel sad to have finished the book and to have left them behind. I keep thinking of them and wondering how they are, which is always a sign of how much I connected to a book.

I think Broken could be read as a standalone but to get the most out of this beautiful, moving story you need to start with Song of the Robin. The series as a whole explores grief and loss, healing and recovery, and the way you can find a way through the darkest of times. There is magic running through the three novels that gave me such solace and I am so grateful to have discovered them and had the chance to read them. I adore these books! Broken is a brilliant addition to a stunning series and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

About the Author

R V Biggs lives in a small ex-mining village near Wolverhampton, England, with his wife Julie, and Mags the black lab. He has four grown up children and six grandchildren.

Walking with the dog is a favorite pastime and much of the story line for his first novel was developed during these lengthy outings.

Robert worked for 35 years in telecommunications but changed career paths to a managerial supporting role within a local Mental Health NHS trust. It was during the period between these roles that the concept for Song of the Robin was born.

Robert is a firm believer that destiny and co-incidence exist hand in hand and this conviction extends to his writing. He has a passion for holistic well-being and after first-hand experience of the potential healing powers of Reiki, a form of energy therapy, took a Reiki level 1 training course to heighten his spiritual awareness. Robert’s experiences in these areas helped conceive the ideas that led to Song of the Robin and its sequel Reunion, novels with central themes of fate, love and the strength of family. His writing however is not fantasy but is set in modern times involving real people living real lives.

How to be Broken by Dr Emma Kavanagh

About the Book

The past year has been ROUGH. It has pushed so many of us right to our absolute limits.

If, you have found yourself:

– Not being able to sleep 
– Wanting to cry all time 
– Being terrified of everything changing
– Trying to understand what has happened to the world

Then this is the book for you.

In 2020, while it seemed that the world was falling apart, psychologist Dr Emma Kavanagh began bringing together the psychological research on the impact of trauma, what it means, and what it does for us – the good and the bad. Within the psychological literature, she found important clues about why trauma and stress are not the life sentences they sometimes seem to be, and, most importantly, how they can often lead to growth beyond the despair.

This is a book about why it’s ok to struggle, why it’s ok to fall apart, and why it’s ok to be broken. Because, once we give ourselves permission to be broken, we can put the pieces back together. And we can come back, stronger than we were before.

My Thoughts

I saw this book on twitter on publication day and the title alone made me immediately one-click on my Kindle! I’m so glad that I spotted this book and that I read it as it has been exactly what I needed.

The book is short at 124 pages so it doesn’t feel overwhelming when you start it and the author writes in such a way that you can take in all the information even when your brain is feeling frazzled, which I really appreciated.

The book starts from the personal as Emma writes about how she felt as the pandemic approached our shores but then she widens out to look at examples from other things that have happened in the world and how our brains cause us to act in times of high stress and trauma.

I really connected to this book as, like Emma, I also have complex PTSD. I was very lucky that after suffering for more than twenty years I got treatment three years ago that finally gave me my life back. Unfortunately the pandemic has caused me to go backwards a bit as my coping strategies tend to be the ones I used to survive and this is so frustrating to me. This book has helped me better than anything else I’ve read to understand why this has happened and why it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There is a section in the book where Emma talks about how people, when caught up in an horrendous situation, such as a fire in a nightclub, often panic and try to get out the door they came in through rather than looking for other exit but so does everyone else, which makes it harder for anyone to get out. However, people with ‘broken brains’ who perhaps have PTSD or anxiety often make sure they know where all of the doors are when they go anywhere. The first thing I do when I go anywhere is look for where the doors are, it’s instinctive in me and I never connected my need to do this with the behaviours that have come back during the pandemic. I already feel so much calmer now I understand that my ‘broken brain’ is actually just trying to keep me safe. I understand now what is happening in my head and I know I have got past it before so I know I can do it again. I’d never heard the term post-traumatic growth until I read this book but it makes total sense to me that we can go on to find positives after the darkness.

I also found it fascinating and useful to read about how we can get tunnel vision and fixate on an aspect of something but then our brains look for more information that confirm what we believe, and this causes us to not see the bigger picture anymore. I really recognised this in myself as I was reading it – my consumption of news relating to covid-19 definitely falls into this pattern. I’ve been making a point since reading How to be Broken of reading less news and making sure that when I do click on articles that I look for the positive ones or the ones that give a different perspective to what I usually focus on and I think this is really going to help me.

I think this is an invaluable book for everyone to read as the country is beginning to come out of lockdown, especially for people who feel uncertain and anxious about it. The book helps contextualise why we behave as we do and why we feel as we do – it makes you feel less alone with it all. I finished this book on Sunday and immediately felt able to put a plan in place for when my husband returns to work later this month – something that I’ve been very scared about for many reasons but now we have a plan that makes sense to both of us and I’m feeling much calmer and more in control.

I know this is a rambling review where I can’t put into words exactly how I feel about this book, I just want to urge everyone to read it. It’s a brilliant read and one that will soothe your anxious brain. I highly recommend this one!

WWW Wednesdays (19 May ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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!

My reading has taken a bit of a backseat over the last week as my husband and I finally started watching The Sopranos and it is taking over our lives! We’ve both wanted to watch it ever since it was first on but somehow have never got around to it until now. He’s going back to work soon so we wanted to make a start on watching this before he went back. I’ve also been quite poorly ever since my vaccine a couple of weeks ago so binge watching a TV show has been perfect while I’m recovering.

Current Reads

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

I only started reading this one last night but I can already tell that I’m going to love it. It’s such a realistic and moving portrayal of mother daughter relationships. I can’t wait to read more!

This Lovely City by Louise Hare

I got this audiobook via the Borrowbox app and I’m really enjoying it. I’d heard only good things about it before I borrowed it so I’ve been keen to get to it.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is another great book that I’m very much enjoying. It tells the story of four siblings in 1982, and the story of their parents in the late 50s onwards. At the moment I’m more invested in the story of the parents but I’m so keen to see where the novel is going!

Recent Reads

How to be Broken by Dr Emma Kavanagh

This book is incredible and I highly recommend it. It’s a nonfiction book looking at how stress and trauma affects our way of thinking but how our ‘broken brains’ have potential for post traumatic growth. I found this book so helpful and reassuring and it’s helped me understand some of my own behaviours better than anything I’ve read in a really long time. I’ll be reviewing this once I’ve got my thoughts into some kind of order.

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

I borrowed the audiobook of this via Borrowbox and I really enjoyed it. I’ve kept seeing the book around and have been so intrigued by it so I’m glad I finally read it. It’s intriguing and tense, and now I want to know more about the real life story that inspired it.

Five Strangers by E. V. Adamson

This novel follows two women in the aftermath of a murder that one is a witness too. The premise of this book sounded so good but the novel was actually about something different so I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I hoped I would.

What I Might Read Next

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

The Outsiders by James Corbett

I’m still predominantly reading my NetGalley books in publication order but with a couple of other review books mixed in so this week I hope to read the next two on NG and a book from Eye and Lightning that I got recently and am keen to read this month. I’m not reading quite as much at the moment with not being well but hopefully I’ll be back to full speed soon.

WWW Wednesdays (12 May ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Five Strangers by E. V. Adamson

I downloaded this one on a whim from NetGalley the other day as it sounded good. It’s about a woman who witnesses a brutal attack one day and then begins to question if she really saw things happen the way she thought she had. It’s told from two perspectives and is fast-paced. I’m enjoying it and am keen to see where it’s going!

Recent Reads

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

I very much enjoyed this novel about a young black man who gets a great opportunity to work for a start up and life beings to get much more complicated. I hope to have my review posted of this one in the next few days but in the meantime I definitely recommend it.

The Final Chapter by Jerome Loubry

I really enjoyed this gripping thriller. Click the title if you’d like to read my mini review!

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

This was a dark read that kept me gripped all the way through. Click the title if you’d like to read my mini review!

Luster by Raven Leilani

I borrowed this one on audio from the library and I don’t really know how I feel about it. I didn’t enjoy it and I’m not really sure what it was trying to do.

One of Them by Musa Okwonga

This was a fascinating memoir of a young black man’s experiences of going to Eton and I very much enjoyed it. Click the title if you’d like to read my mini review!

What I Might Read Next

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

I’m still reading my NetGalley books in order of publication so the first two books on my list for the coming week are the ones due to be published next so I hope to get to them this week. The third book is one I’m reading for a blog tour in June so I’d like to read it well ahead of time. I’m so looking forward to all three of these books, it feels like it could be an excellent reading week! 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: The End of Men | Madam | The Final Chapter | All Boys Aren’t Blue

It’s time for another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read recently. These four books are from NetGalley and I enjoyed them all.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

The End of Men opens with an A&E doctor realising that a virus is spreading through her department and she attempts to warn authorities. The novel then moves forward a day or two and then a few days at a time following a large cast of characters as we see how they react and cope with the virus and the implications it may have for their own lives. I was concerned this might be too much to read given that we’re living through a pandemic in the real world but actually I found it different enough that I enjoyed reading it. There are similarities to what we’re living through but there are differences too – in the novel women can carry the virus but it’s only males who die from it and only one in ten males are immune. We see people from all walks of life suffering through the pandemic and it’s heartbreaking the loss that people go through. I did find it hard to connect to any other characters in the book though – all the voices read the same to me and I kept having to flick back to the start of the chapter to see who I was with at the time. Also I understand that the focus of the novel was the virus but I felt that there wasn’t a lot of emotion in the early part of the book, it left me feeling a bit cold and disconnected from what was happening. Later on as time has moved on quite a lot there was more acknowledgement of loss and some moments really brought a lump to my throat. Overall, I did enjoy this novel – it was definitely compelling and I recommend it!

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

I was eagerly anticipating this novel as it seemed like it would be packed with all the things I love in a novel and I did enjoy it. Madam follows Rose Christie as she is recruited to teach Classics at the prestigious girls’s boarding school Caldonbrae Hall in Scotland. It soon becomes apparent that Rose is the first new teacher at the school in many years and there seems to be a lot of secrets being kept from her. The girls she teaches seem odd at times and the other members of staff are quite cold towards her. I found this novel suspenseful and I enjoyed getting lost within the pages. My only criticism is that it felt that some parts of the novel were too long and this detracted from what was happening in the novel for me. On the whole though I did enjoy this one – I thought it was unsettling at times and I loved that I didn’t know anymore than Rose did so I was right along with her as she tried to figure out what she had got herself into. This was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it.

The Final Chapter by Jerome Loubry

I’ve been so keen to read this book so when I got approved for it on NetGalley on Saturday I immediately started reading it and I read the whole thing in one sitting! The Final Chapter follows David, a famous writer, who one day receives a typed book in the post and it turns his world upside down. The pages he receives detail what happened in the summer of 1986 when a young girl he knew was murdered. It then turns out that his childhood best friend received the same book but with a different ending. David is determined to work out what the book is trying to tell him about that fateful summer. This novel is so fast-paced, with short chapters that make it impossible to put it down as you keep thinking that you’ll just read one more chapter! This novel grabbed me from the beginning and I was enthralled all the way to the end. It’s a book that doesn’t always add up but it’s such a fun ride and I loved every minute that I spent reading it. I recommend this one if you want an addictive, fast-paced and fun read.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

This is such an emotional memoir aimed at younger readers but one that all ages will get something from. All Boys Aren’t Blue is Johnson’s story of growing up black and queer and he details his experiences of the things he went through and had to deal with. Through the book there is exploration of race, sexuality and gender, each handled so well and whilst not pulling any punches it is appropriate to its audience. I found this book heartbreaking at times; it’s horrendous to read what Johnson has been through in his life, but it’s also inspiring to read of the way he has come through their struggles and found peace in who he is. I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to everyone.

Mini Book Reviews: One of Them | This Party’s Dead | Perimenopause Power | West of Jim Crow #NonFiction

Today I have another selection of mini reviews to share. This time it’s four non-fiction books that I got through NetGalley. I found them all really interesting and have learnt a lot from them.

West of Jim Crow by Lynn M. Hudson

This is an incredibly eye-opening book that explores the effect of the Jim Crow laws across California predominantly in the early part of the twentieth century. It’s an academic book but still very readable. I’m so glad I picked it up and I learnt a lot from it. I know racism happens everywhere but I ignorantly believed that the worst race atrocities historically were in the southern states of America and had no real idea of what had happened in California. I found it hard to read at times, especially as a lot of my family lived in California for a long time and never have any of them talked about these issues and the idea they were blind to it is hard to rationalise. The book is set out in sections, each covering a different issue. There are the issues with segregation in schools and the local swimming pool; lynching; the Ku Klux Klan; and what happened in the town of Allenworth where black people tried to make a life for themselves. It’s also hard to read how laws that existed still didn’t offer any attempt at equality because the white people in power continued to act and interpret the law in the way they always had done. This is a book to read slowly, to really take in what you’re reading. It’s a book that I will be thinking about for a long time to come and I highly recommend it.

Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill

I’ve been wanting to pick this book up for a while as I’m of an age where I need a better understanding of perimenopause. I’m glad I finally got around to it. The book is set out in distinct chapters which allows the reader to go straight to the section that they need information about and can go back and forth through the book. I read it from cover to cover as I wanted to see what the book was about overall but I think I would benefit from going back to certain chapters as and when I need more information. On the whole this book gave me a reasonable overview of what to expect but I felt there was a lot that I would ignore in here. There were parts that didn’t feel very grounded in science and so were a bit wishy washy and that’s not what I want in guidance, and some section felt overly long and not hugely relevant. Having said that, the sections on HRT and the different forms it comes in was very interesting. Also the advice to push with medical professionals if you don’t feel you’re being heard. I’m glad I read this one and I will refer back to some of it as and when the time comes.

This Party’s Dead by Erica Buist

This book grabbed my attention as soon as I saw the cover and the title and I’m so glad I picked it up. The author found herself unable to cope after the sudden death of her father-in-law to be; she didn’t feel she had a right to be in the depths of grief and yet couldn’t shake it off. In the end she decides to go to seven death festivals around the world to experience how other cultures deal with death to see if the way we deal (or don’t really deal) with death in Britain is hampering our ability to grieve. I found this book fascinating; I learnt so much about other cultures and it really made me think about the way we shut down talk of death in this country. I could identify with a lot of how Erica felt as I have similar fears but since my mum died I feel it’s much more important to talk openly about our wishes and what we want to happen when we’re gone. I enjoyed seeing Erica’s personal journey as she learnt new things on her travels and how she embraced all her new experiences even when they made her feel uncomfortable. This is a book that I would recommend to everyone. It’s hard to read at times but the mostly it’s inspiring and hopeful and it’s a chance to explore your own feelings around death.

One of Them by Musa Okwonga

One of Them is a fascinating memoir about what it was like as a young working class black boy to go to Eton. Okwonga is a brilliant writer and this book is so readable. It’s a very powerful book that explores racism and privilege but it’s also a personal memoir. I loved reading about what it took to get into Eton and what it was like to study there. Mostly this book was a very insightful look at race in Britain and what it feels like to be black and british. The author is a similar age to me and so it was shocking at times to read about how different his life was to mine just based on the colour of his skin. The fear he has at certain points in his life of people who he knows are looking at him as a young black man was palpable, and the way he was profiled by the police was shocking to read about. This is a book that will make you think but it’s so readable. I definitely want to read more writing by Musa Okwonga and will be going to look up his other books as soon as I’ve finished writing this post. I highly recommend this book, it’s one that I think everyone should read.

WWW Wednesdays (5 May ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

One of Them by Musa Okwonga

This is such an interesting memoir about a young working class black man’s experience of going to Eton. I’m only a little way into this at the moment but I can’t wait to read more.

Recent Reads

This Party’s Dead by Erica Buist

This is a fascinating book about the author confronting her fear of death by going to death festivals around the world to see how other cultures deal with dying. I thought this was such a good read, and one that is filled with hope and peace.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I didn’t enjoy this one very much. I borrowed the audiobook from the library and I did listen to the whole book but it wasn’t for me sadly.

Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill

This was a useful read about perimenopause – some of it wasn’t for me but a lot of it was useful and interesting. This is a book that you can refer back to as it’s easy to navigate the chapters of the ebook to find the information you’re looking for so I will definitely be keeping it for the future.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

This is a novel about a pandemic that is killing men across the world. I enjoyed the premise and seeing how the plague was dealt with. My only gripe is that it was hard to keep track of all the characters but I would still recommend it.

West of Jim Crow by Lynn M. Hudson

This is a fascinating nonfiction book about how the Jim Crow laws affected the lives of black people in California. I found this book eye-opening and horrifying but I learnt so much that I didn’t know. It’s an academic book but it’s very readable and I would recommend it to everyone.

What I Might Read Next

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

These are the next books on my NetGalley shelf so I’m hoping to get to them this week. I’m now reading my NG books in publication order so these books have either been published very recently or are due to be published very soon. I’m writing and scheduling this post on Monday as I’m having my vaccine this week and don’t know how I’ll be afterwards so it might be that I don’t read much this week or that I need to pick up whichever book catches my eye. These are the books I’d like to read next though.

That Was The Month That Was… April 2021!

Well, I can’t believe that April is over already! I really don’t know where the time is going these days. April was an okay month here. It was my husband’s birthday so we had a lovely day for that – we had a takeaway from our favourite Indian restaurant (our first takeaway in 14 months!) so that was a fabulous treat!

My weight loss is continuing, which I’m very happy about. I’ve now lost a total of 4 stone 8lb since September last year. It’s been pretty consistent although it’s now closer to 1lb a week rather than the 2lb it was in the first few months but I’m just happy that it’s still coming off. I’m calorie counting and while I never thought I’d be someone who calorie counted, it’s working perfectly for me so I’m sticking with it.

The main thing that happened in April was my reading mojo finally came back! It’s been a bumpy time with my reading ever since the first lockdown happened last year and I really miss books when I can’t read at my normal level. It’s been wonderful to finally get lost in one book after another. I’ve also discovered that having a set TBR seems to be the way to go at the moment, which is bizarre for me having always been a mood reader but I don’t care as long as I’m reading again! My plan at the moment is to read my way through my NetGalley shelf and it’s working. I now have twelve books on there (I got approved for a couple this week so had been down to ten) and my ratio is 98%. All of the books still to be read are published this year so I’m almost up to date!

Here are the books that I read in April:

Like a House on Fire by Caroline Hulse

Dead Head by C.J. Skuse

Truth be Told by Kia Abdullah

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

The Split by Sharon Bolton

Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor

Boy Queen by George Lester

The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Mountain Road, Late at Night by Alan Rossi

Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

Five Hundred Miles from You by Jenny Colgan

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves

That Night by Gillian McAllister

West of Jim Crow by Lynn M. Hudson

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

How was your April? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading over the last month or so. 🙂

The Silent Friend by Diane Jeffrey | @dianefjeffrey @HQStories

About the Book

Tragedy brought them together. The truth will tear them apart.

It’s supposed to be Laura’s dream holiday: a trip to France with a group of friends to see their favourite band play live. But the holiday quickly turns to disaster, and Laura is left haunted by terrifying images from the worst night of her life.

When Laura finds an online support group for victims like her, she’s not convinced it will help. But then Sandrine replies to her message, and she seems to understand what Laura’s going through, in a way that no one else can.

Soon, Laura and Sandrine are sharing their deepest thoughts and feelings with each other. But one of them has a terrible secret – she isn’t who she says she is. And once the twisted truth is revealed, there’s no going back… 

My Thoughts

I’ve previously read The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey and I loved it so I was highly anticipating reading her new one The Silent Friend and I’m so pleased to say that it lived up to all of my hopes for it!

I have to start by saying that this is one of those novels where it’s best to know no more than what it says in the synopsis. It does mean that as you get into the book and discover what it’s about it comes as something of a shock but it adds to the reading experience. My review will be vague so as not to spoil anything.

The novel follows two characters – Laura and Sandy – in alternating chapters; it also goes back and forth in time a little as the story builds. The novel opens with Laura struggling to come to terms with something that happened when she was on a holiday with a group of her friends. I really felt for Laura as while I haven’t experienced what she has been through I have suffered with similar feelings and emotions. Sandy has also had something terrible happen in her family and she decides to set up an online support group to try and help others who have been through similar. This is how she and Laura meet.

I felt sorry for both women, they had been through a lot and were struggling to figure out how to move on with their lives. We soon find out that one of them is not being honest about who she is though and this is where the tension really begins to heighten in the novel.

This novel has twists and turns, some I suspected were coming and others genuinely shocked me. It’s a domestic suspense novel that has thriller elements and it really keeps you on your toes. I had no idea what was coming and as I was reading it, my stomach was in a knot. The writing brings the drama to life in such a visceral way that it made me feel like I was right there along with the characters. It was hard to read at times but the writing is sensitive and that’s what made me keep turning the pages.

This is one of those books where I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. It’s not an easy read at times, and there were moments where I put the book down for a brief period before continuing but ultimately this is a really compelling read and a book that you just have to keep reading. I wanted to know how it was all going to end, I wanted to know where the characters were going to end up.

The Silent Friend is a very powerful novel that will take your breath away at times. It’s a book that will make you think and it’s one that will really stay with you. I recommend it!

WWW Wednesdays (28 Apr ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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!

Well, it’s the second week in a row where I’ve just been reading every chance I’ve got so it really feels like the reading slump might finally be over. I’m still reading my way through my NetGalley shelf and this focused approach is really working for me. I’ve been approved for one book this week but I’ve read and reviewed four books so my shelf now stands at 11 books and my ratio is at 98% (for the first time ever!!).

Current Reads

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

I only started this one last night so have only read the first couple of chapters but I’m gripped already! This is set during a pandemic that is killing men. It feels a bit strange to read a pandemic book during a pandemic but I think this is going to be a really good read.

Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill

I’m finding this book really interesting and helpful so far. It’s a good book for women in their early 40s to pick up and it’s set out in easy to follow chapters on different aspects of perimenopause. Some of it is less interesting to me personally but other bits are incredibly helpful.

West of Jim Crow by Lynn M. Hudson

I’ve been reading this one slowly over the past week and am now over a third of the way through and am finding it to be such an eye-opening read. I had no idea that the Jim Crow laws had such an impact on the laws in California well into the 1900s. This is quite an academic book but it’s very accessible and I’d recommend it.

Recent Reads

I’ve already reviewed all of the books that I’ve read this week so you can find out more about what I thought about them by clicking the titles.

That Night by Gillian McAllister

The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten

What I Might Read Next

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

One of Them by Musa Okwonga

As I said at the start of this post I’m working on reading my way through my NetGalley shelf and so these three books are the next ones to be published so I hope to get to these this week.

Mini Book Reviews: That Night | The Good Sister | Every Vow You Break | The Ends of the Earth

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve recently finished reading. All of these books are from NetGalley via the publisher as I’m still focusing on reading my way through my NetGalley shelf.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister follows twin sisters Fern and Rose – Fern in the present and Rose in the past through her diary entries. The sisters have always been very close – Rose has protected Fern from their aggressive mother as they were growing up and still holds Fern close now in adulthood. Fern has sensory issues and Rose tries to keep her protected from the things that aggravate her. I really enjoyed this book and seeing the way the two women present themselves but also the undercurrent of tension that begins to creep into their relationship was fascinating. Something happened when they were children and Fern lives with the guilt and it stops her being able to form bonds with other people so she relies heavily on Rose. I adored reading Fern’s perspective – she’s so warm and genuine but refuses to do anything she doesn’t want to do. She’s such a brilliant character and when she meets Wally in the library where she works I was rooting for her to see how things might develop with him. This is a gripping novel that has moments of darkness balanced with a lot of light and I loved it. This is the first novel that I’ve read by Sally Hepworth but I now want to seek out everything she has ever written!

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

This novel follows Abigail as she is about to marry her fiance Bruce. They’ve had a whirlwind romance and everything has happened very quickly. At Abigail’s hen party she has a one night stand and when this man contacts her before the wedding she is fearful that her happy ever after might be about to fall apart! This premise drew me in right away and I couldn’t wait to read this book but I’m sorry to say that it just didn’t really work for me. I’ve read and loved the author’s previous novels but this one just lacked something for me. The plot does have twists in store and I didn’t see them coming, which I did like but the suspension of disbelief required was too much for me and I just couldn’t get invested. I also had issues with the way Abigail later describes her one night stand, it felt too obvious to me that this was a male author writing a female character and it really pulled me out of the story. This is a fast-paced read and I did finish it in a couple of sittings but it’s just not my favourite by the author.

The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves

The Silent Treatment was one of my favourite books of last year so this new one by the author was on my highly anticipated list and I’m so happy to say that I very much enjoyed it. The Ends of the Earth follows Mary, who for seven years has stood at a railway station holding a sign saying ‘Come Home Jim’. The novel follows her in the present as we see what her life is like and how desperate she is to find Jim; it alternates with a timeline in the past when Mary and Jim first met and we get to see how they fell in love and made a life together. This is a beautiful novel that really draws you in. There is quite a focus on mental health, men’s mental health in particular, and this was so good to read about in a novel. There needs to be more awareness of this and more encouragement for men to be able to talk and this novel shows this without it ever feeling forced. The novel also follows a young journalist who meets Mary by chance and decides to try and help her find Jim. This novel had me under its spell very quickly and now I’ve finished it I keep wondering how the characters are now, which, for me, is always the sign of an excellent read. I recommend this one!

That Night by Gillian McAllister

I’ve read and very much enjoyed all of Gillian McAllister’s novels but this is her best one yet! I read the whole thing in two sittings and I loved it! That Night follows the three Plant siblings – Joe, Cathy and Frannie. They all live next door to each other, they work at the same vet practice and they own a holiday home in Verona together. One night whilst on holiday Frannie calls Cathy in the early house begging for her help. When she gets there Frannie is distraught, as is Joe who has also arrived, and a man appears to be dead! The novel follows each of the siblings along with Joe’s wife Lydia as we see their perspectives and how they each feel about the others. We also have a timeline in the present day but it’s not clear for a while who exactly this person is. This is such a gripping thriller that has you racing through the pages wanting to know how and why, wanting to make sense of what has happened and wondering what you would do in their shoes. It’s also a brilliant look at sibling relationships and how each relates to the other, and the jealousies and the feeling of being left out that can linger well into adulthood. This was such a brilliant thriller and I highly recommend it!

Mini Book Reviews: The Appeal | Hostage | When I Was Ten | Dead Perfect

I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews today of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently. These are all books that I got from NetGalley and I can recommend all of them.

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

This was such a fun read, different to anything I’ve read for a long while. We follow two law students as they’re given a file of documents relating to a murder and as the reader we get to see everything that they get given – emails, text messages, records of 999 calls and notes and slowly you piece together who everyone is and what it is that’s happened. We know from the start that someone has been murdered, and someone has been convicted of murder but we don’t know who. We also get told that not everyone is as they seem. This was so intriguing to me! When I first started reading I did think it was going to be hard to keep track of who was who as this novel has quite a large cast of characters but I found the voices are very distinct and once I got into the novel it was easy to follow what was happening. I did work out what had happened from the clues throughout but I had so much fun working it out that I would absolutely recommend this novel!

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

I’m a real fan of Clare Mackintosh’s writing so have been keen to read this forthcoming novel of hers. Hostage follows flight attendant Mina as she is about to board a landmark 20 hour non-stop flight from London to Sydney. It also follows her husband Adam in alternating chapters. Once the flight takes off Mina starts seeing items of hers on board that she didn’t bring with her and chillingly it soon becomes apparent that there is someone on board intent on taking control of the plane. The build up to the hijacking was so good, I was really tense as I was reading and wondering what was going to happen and how it was all going to end. The latter part of the novel requires suspension of disbelief, which I was a little disappointed by, but at the same time by this point I was so invested in the characters that I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know how exactly it was going to end. There were some surprises for me in the novel and I love that I didn’t see how it was all going to ultimately end. This was a really gripping and thrilling novel, I recommend it.

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

This book was unputdownable for me – I read the whole novel in one sitting because I simply had to know how it was going to end! Twenty years ago a married couple were brutally murdered in their own home. One of their two daughters confessed to the crime and was sent to a young offenders unit. Now in the present day one sister is married with a child and the other is all over the news telling her story and looking for her sister. It’s not clear which sister is the murderer and the reveal was a shock but as this comes fairly early in the novel I was desperate to know more and what else was going on with this family. The novel is hard to read at times, especially the sections set in the past but it’s really well written and plotted so you can’t help but keep turning the pages. I found this such an engrossing novel. I’ve enjoyed all of Fiona Cummins’ novels that I’ve read so far but this one is definitely her best one yet! I highly recommend it!

Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten

This is the third novel in the DC Maggie Jamieson series and I’ve enjoyed them all. This book follows Maggie as she investigates a stalker who has escalated to murder and seems to be fixating on her colleague Dr Kate Moloney. The team are in a race against time to stop the killer striking again. We see a lot more of Maggie’s emotional side in this novel as she is very close to Kate and so is trying to be professional at work while being understandably hugely concerned for her friend’s welfare. I did spot who the killer was early on but I didn’t mind that I’d worked it out as it was plausible that the team didn’t spot them sooner so I was just rooting for them to figure it out. The murderer in this book is chilling in what he does when he kidnaps a woman, it really is the stuff of nightmares. I found this another gripping installment in the series and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Maggie and her team!

WWW Wednesdays (21 April ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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!

Well, I don’t want to jinx myself but it seems like my reading slump may finally be over! I’ve had the best reading week that I’ve had in months and months so I’m really hoping this is me back on track. I’ve been reading through my outstanding NetGalley books in order I downloaded them until I caught up with current and forthcoming titles (and then I’ll start reading in publication order) and this seems to be working for me. I have always been a mood reader and a set TBR has never worked for me before but it seems that right now what my brain needs is a plan so I’m sticking with it. My NetGalley shelf only has 18 books remaining (down from 54 at the start of the year) and my feedback ratio is at 97%. I’m determined to catch up on these books before I request any new ones.

Current Reads

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

This book is so good! It’s a murder investigation but the novel is all the documents the investigators have to work with so you’re reading lots of emails and text messages and notes. At first I thought it was going to be confusing to follow with quite a large cast of characters but the voices are all distinct from each other so once you get into it it’s easy to follow. I can’t wait to read more!

Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten

This is the third in a crime detective series and I’m enjoying catching up with all the characters. This novel is very tense as the murderer is seemingly obsessed with Dr Kate Moloney and so the team is on a race against time to solve the case before anything happens to her.

West of Jim Crow by Lynn M. Hudson

I’ve only read the introduction to this one so far but I’m keen to read more. This is an academic book about how the Jim Crow laws affected people in California. I plan on reading this one chapter at a time and then putting it down to digest what I’ve read before reading the next chapter. I want to be able to absorb what I’m reading.

Recent Reads

The titles in green below are books that I’ve already reviewed so please click on the titles if you’d like to know more. 🙂

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

This was such a disturbing and gripping novel but one that I couldn’t put down – I read it all in one sitting as I simply had to know what was going on! I really enjoyed this one.

Five Hundred Miles From You by Jenny Colgan

Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

Mountain Road, Late at Night by Alan Rossi

This is a stunning novel that explores the grief that comes after a sudden death of a loved one and the repercussions of having to work out where you go from here. It has four sections – each narrated by a different member of the family as we learn what their motivations are and why they are being the way they are. I adored this novel, it’s one that feels like it will really stay with me and I’m sure it will be in my best books of the year!

What I Might Read Next

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

These are the next three books on my NetGalley shelf so as I said at the start of this post I’m reading through a strict TBR now instead of mood reading so I fully expect to pick these books up this week. I still can’t believe that I’m not mood reading at the moment but it’s working so I’m going with it! 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Home Stretch | Perfect Tunes | Dear Justyce | Hush Little Baby

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read over the last week or so. I got all of these books from NetGalley and am now slowly catching up on my review books. This selection were all great reads and I recommend them!

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

This is such a stunning novel – I read it all in one sitting because I just didn’t want to put it down for a second. Home Stretch follows a small community in rural Ireland who are reeling from an horrific car crash that has killed three young people and seriously injured a fourth. Two young men escaped with no injuries. The ramifications are huge for the town as parents and siblings and friends try to come to terms with what happened. The novel starts in 1987 but goes back and forth in time up to 2019. We mainly follow Connor, a young gay man who was driving the car, and we see how much this has affected him and his family. The snippets we get from the other families affected by the accident are so moving. Norton really captures people’s thoughts in such a real way – there is a moment at one of the funeral’s when one mother is relieved that the wedding didn’t happen when she see’s what the bride’s mother is wearing at her daughter’s funeral and this felt so true to life. We all know these people in our own lives. There are twists and turns, and things that I didn’t see coming, but more than that this is a beautiful novel about finding your way in the world, and about how you find home again when the absolute worst thing has happened to you. I adored this book; it will absolutely be in my top books of this year! I highly recommend it!

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

This novel follows Laura as she moves to New York at the start of the new millenium. She dreams of making it as a singer/song writer but she is quite shy and always seems to be in her best friend’s shadow. One night she goes to see a band and meets the singer, Dylan, and her life begins to change in so many ways. She is besotted with Dylan, wanting to spend every second with him but life has other plans for her. The novel then moves quickly forward in time as we see Laura trying to navigate life with her teenage daughter. She still yearns to be a song writer but never seems to have time to sit and be creative. She’s not inspired anymore and is instead fully focused on her daughter and making ends meet. This is a novel about falling madly in love when you’re young, of having big dreams and feeling like they really might come true but then the reality of life and how we cope when we end up on a different path. Laura is a very passive character but I couldn’t help but root for her, I know what it is like to let life sweep you along because it’s easier than pushing forward for what you want. The end left me with mixed feelings but at the same time it was a perfect ending to Laura’s story. I really enjoyed this novel and I recommend it.

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

This is the companion novel to Dear Martin, which I read and loved last year. Each can be read as a standalone but I recommend reading them both in order. In Dear Justyce we follow Quan, who is in juvenile detention and we slowly get his back story. He knew Justyce when he was younger but their lives have taken very different roads. Justyce is doing well at college and Quan is imprisoned with no idea when he’ll ever see freedom again. He begins writing letters to Justyce and we gradually see how he ended up here. I found this such a moving novel, it’s really hard hitting at times with just how unjust the criminal justice system is and how rigged it is against non-white people. You can see as you read that Quan is a good person who just wanted better for his siblings but he had such a tough start in life and got caught up in things he couldn’t get out of. I loved how Justyce rallied support for Quan and how his group of friends are determined to make things right for him. This is a book that I know will stay with me. It’s such a powerful and stunning novel, it’s one that everyone should read.

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

This novel follows DC Beth Chamberlain as she investigates the murder of a young baby whose body has been found on a building site. It is believed the baby could be Alicia Owens who has been missing for fifteen years so Beth has to go back through the case and to re-investigate everything. This is a mysterious novel which has you wondering where the baby had been kept for all the intervening years and who could have killed her, and why. Alicia’s mother, Marie, is quite a closed book but has re-married and had another child whereas her ex-husband hasn’t moved on at all and still isn’t coping too well. The wider family all seem like they might have secrets to hide and as the novel goes on things start to unravel. I enjoyed this book, it was the third in a series but the first one I’ve read and it works perfectly well as a standalone. I found the central mystery intriguing and was shocked when the reveal of who and how and why comes. I’d recommend this one if you like British crime fiction!

Mini Book Reviews: Hungry | Space Hopper | The Weekend | Five Hundred Miles From You

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

Hungry

I completely and utterly adored this book! Hungry is Grace Dent’s memoir and in it she details her life through with real emphasis on food. I’m just a little bit younger than Dent so a lot of her food memories are very similar to mine – the thrill of a Sara Lee Gateau as a very special treat is one such memory. I loved reading about her childhood in Carlisle, a place I know well, and her love for her family. There is so much love that shines out of these pages. Anyone who grew up in the north in the 70s and 80s will identify with this book so much. As Dent gets a little older and starts to move away from her family and to build a career for herself we see how she got into being a food critic and this was every bit as interesting as her childhood. There is sadness and worry along the way too as her dad starts to show signs of dementia and her mum suffers with ill health too but the way Dent and her siblings rally around was wonderful to read about. I can’t put into words just how much I loved this book, I enjoyed every single bit of it and I would recommend it to everyone. This will definitely be one of my top books of 2021, I’m certain of it!

The Weekend

This novel follows three older women who are returning to their friend Sylvie’s home to clear it out after her death. The four women had been friends for many years but there are secrets being kept and also the difficulties of how they’ve all changed over the years that all have to be dealt with over the course of one weekend. Jude is very self-controlled and likes everything to be just so. Wendy is more eccentric and goes with the flow so when she turns up with her elderly, incontinent dog Jude is horrified. Adele is an out of work actress who is on the brink of being homeless and can’t bring herself to tell her oldest friends of her latest plight. I loved the writing in this novel; it’s the first I’ve read by Charlotte Wood and it won’t be the last. I found it hard to warm to any of the characters at first but as the novel goes on and we see the vulnerabilities of the women I couldn’t help but feel sadness at what life had thrown at them. This is a melancholy, reflective novel but it still left me feeling hopeful. I enjoyed this novel and I recommend it!

Space Hopper

This novel follows Faye who is happily married with children but she still misses her mum who died when she was 8. One day she finds her old Space Hopper box in the attic and it transports her back to the 70s in the year or so before her mother died! There is so much I loved about this novel. I really connected with how much Faye was desperate to travel back to her mother as she missed her so much. I think anyone who has lost their parent would find it hard to resist having one more day with them, even when you realise you might sacrifice things in the present. I loved seeing Faye connect with her mum and getting to know her as an adult. It’s a novel where the time travel element doesn’t really make sense, even within the story, so I definitely had to suspend my disbelief but I was so invested in Faye and her desire to have more time with her mum that I was happy to do that. This novel was so soothing to me in the week when it should have been my mum’s 70th birthday and I’m so glad that I picked it up when I did. I recommend it.

Five Hundred Miles From You

This novel follows Lissa and Corman. Lissa lives in London and loves her job as a community nurse but when one day she witnesses a traumatic incident she struggles to cope and is offered a three-month job swap with Cormac. He lives in a remote Scottish village and loves his life as a nurse there. Over time Lissa and Cormac have to swap notes about patients and a bond starts to form. I loved reading about how each of them had to find their feet in a completely new place, and it was fun seeing their friends too and how they coped with the swap. I didn’t enjoy this as much as previous novels by the author but it was still a really fun read and I’m glad I read it. This book is the third in a series but can definitely be read a standalone. An enjoyable summer read!

WWW Wednesdays (14 Apr ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

Five Hundred Miles from You by Jenny Colgan

Mountain Road, Late at Night by Alan Rossi

The first two are NetGalley books and I’m really enjoying them both. Mountain Road was a gift from my husband recently and I’m finding it utterly engrossing and very moving.

Recent Reads

The Split by Sharon Bolton

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor

The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

It’s been a good reading week this week. My husband was watching golf all weekend and so I sat and read a lot of books. It’s been a long time since I read books back to back and finishing them in one sitting. I’m hoping my reading mojo is properly coming back now as I really miss reading how I used to. The above books are all the ones I finished this week – a couple I started the week before and have now finished and others I’ve read in their entirety. The ones in green have already been reviewed so click if you want to know more. 🙂

What I Might Read Next

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

I’m really focusing on reading my NetGalley books at the moment so the above three books are the ones that are catching my eye as I put this post together and I hope to read and review them this week. 🙂

What are you reading this week? I’d love to know! 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Her Last Holiday | The Black Kids | Boy Queen | The Gin O’Clock Club

Today I’m sharing more mini reviews of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently!

Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor

Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on her last holiday – a wellness retreat in Gozo. The retreat was run by Soul Shrink Tom and his wife Kate. Two people died on that retreat and Tom was sent to prison but Jenna’s death was ruled a suicide and her family just don’t believe this is the truth of what happened. Now Fran’s mum has persuaded her to go on Tom’s re-launched retreat so that she can try and find out what happened to Jenna. This novel is really gripping – I read it all in one sitting as I just had to know what had happened to Jenna but also what was going to happen in the present at the new retreat. The novel is told from Fran’s perspective and also Kate and Tom’s, which made for a really interesting narrative. I was fascinated by how the retreats came to be and the power behind them but also by Fran’s determination to find out what happened to Jenna. This novel has twists and turns and just when you think you’ve got a grip of what’s happening, the rug is pulled out from under you again. I loved this novel, it kept me on my toes all the way to the end and I love that it did! I recommend it!

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so am glad I finally picked it up this week. The Black Kids follows teenager Ashley in the wake of the Rodney King trial and subsequent riots in 1992. In the beginning Ashley has a tight-knit group of friends and they’re typical teenagers but as she sees more of what is happening around her she starts to find her voice and to speak up against the casual racism her friends often use. Ashley’s sister Jo is the character that I found most interesting in this novel – she isn’t afraid to speak out and to fight for what she believes in and I was hoping to see more of this in Ashley. Ashley is a more conflicted character, which is understandable given her age and all the things you go