WWW Wednesdays (22 Nov)! What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

 

What I’m reading now:

Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli 

I’ve heard about this book on a few BookTube videos recently and so put it on my wishlist. I then spotted it on my audio book subscription so I immediately downloaded it and am now half-way through listening to it. It’s a really interesting book.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin

This is an ARC that I’ve had on my TBR for a few weeks now and I finally started reading it last night. It’s such a heartbreaking book but it’s such an important and prescient read. I have such admiration for Trayvon’s parents in the way they have tried to channel their grief into raising awareness and to honour their son’s life. I’ll definitely be reviewing this one when I’ve finished reading it.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon & Mary Phelan

This is such a lovely book, it’s a real feel-good and quite nostalgic read. I recommend this if you want a light-hearted book about two girls in the early 80s as they begin their adult lives.

Coco Chanel:The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

I’m enjoying this book so much. It’s only taking me so long to read it because my copy is a really heavy hardback – it’s a beautiful book and one I’ll definitely be keeping but it’s hard to hold and read for more than a chapter at a time. It’s printed on thick glossy paper and has lots of great photos throughout. I recommend it.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

This is still on my currently reading and I do intend to get back to it soon but I’ve been drawn to non-fiction on other subjects over the last week so I’m going with how I feel.

What I recently finished reading:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

This book has been on my TBR for over three years but when I finally picked it up this week I honestly couldn’t put it down. I read it in two sittings and it feels like one of this books that will really stay with me. I highly recommend it.

Friends Like These by Danny Wallace

This is an audible book that I’ve owned for seven years and somehow have never listened to it! I was in need of something light to listen to at the weekend so put this on and I enjoyed it. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it when I was younger but it was still interesting to see how Danny tracked down his old school friends.

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

This was a really fascinating book and the New York Stock Exchange and how companies would do anything to have the edge over others. I didn’t put it on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR because I was worried it might be a bit dry and take me a long while to read but I was so wrong. I found that once I picked this book up I didn’t want to put it down and ended up reading it in just a couple of sittings.

Whatever… Love is Love by Maria Bello

This is another audio book that I listened to on a whim. It was an easy listen and there were sections that really made me pause to think about my own life and how I view myself. As a whole it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped it might be but I’m still glad I read it.

What I plan on reading next:

Hystories by Elaine Showalter

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages and promised myself I would definitely get to it this November so I’m really hoping I can read it this week.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

I’m always fascinated by the books that Jon Ronson writes and this one sounds like it’ll be a brilliant read.

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

I hoped to read this last week and didn’t get to it so I’m putting it on my TBR for the week ahead. I’m really looking forward to this one.


 

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

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Weekly Wrap-Up (19 Nov)!

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

I want to start this post by saying a huge thank you to everyone who visits my blog, and especially to this who have commented recently. I’m aware that I’m slow to respond at the moment, and also that I’m not managing to comment on as many of your blogs as I’d like to, but I will get there. Please know that even when it takes me a while I respond, I do very much appreciate every comment.

This week has been quite quiet as I’ve not been feeling great. I have got a lot of reading done though, which has been lovely. I’ve been seeking escapism in books as I have another round of medical appointments and tests coming up and I don’t want to think about those until I have to.

Last night my husband and I curled up and watched The Deer Hunter, which we haven’t seen in a few years. It was so nice to just relax and watch a film together but it doesn’t matter how many times you see this film, it’s never not heartbreaking.

 

This week I’ve finished reading seven books:

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

This is a book that I was going to put on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR and then forgot about! I spotted it this week and was just in the mood to read it so decided to go ahead anyway. I read it in two sittings and found it such a fascinating insight into what goes on in Wall Street.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I really enjoyed reading this book! I read it a chapter or two at a time throughout the week in between other books and it really worked for me like that. If I’m to be completely honest I did find the author a bit irritating and she didn’t seem to have much of a concept of how lucky she was but, having said that, I loved reading about the lifestyle in Denmark and it has made me want to move there! I’d still recommend the book too.

Whatever… Love is Love by Maria Bello

This is another non-fiction book that wasn’t on my TBR for this month but it caught my eye amongst my audio books. It was an interesting listen, and some parts were thought-provoking but I don’t think it’s a book that will really stick with me.

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

This is a novel that I read this week as I was in need of some escapism and non-fiction wasn’t giving me that so instead I picked up this book, which I owned before this year so it’s another one that counts towards my Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads. I enjoyed this thriller, it kept me interested all the way through and I’ll definitely pick up Sam’s next book, Bad Sister.

Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)

This is such a powerful book about Rio’s grief after the death of his wife. I found it to be a really honest and moving book. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read more of my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

This was the other novel that I read this week when needing some escapism. I really enjoyed this book – I do love Lucy Clarke’s writing.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a very short book that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and I’m glad I finally got to it. It’s one of those books that makes you think about your own thoughts and ideas about things.

 

This week I’ve blogged three times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I just started this book yesterday but it’s already got me engrossed. I don’t think it’ll take me very long to read this. I’m expecting it to be quite harrowing at times but I’ve seen so many people recommend it that I have to read it.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon and Mary Phelan

This is letters between Catherine and Mary in 1984 – the year they leave school and one goes on to further study and the other goes to France to be an au pair. I’m so enjoying this one, it’s wonderful.

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

This is a really interesting look at Coco Chanel’s life and I’m really enjoying it. My copy of the book is physically very heavy so I’ll be quite slow to read this but it’s such a treat every time I pick it up.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week but I will be getting back to it soon as I was finding it really interesting.


 

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

Mimi Thebo writes of the accident, PTSD & recovery that inspired her novel Hospital High @JHPsocial

Today I’m sharing a very inspiring guest post from Mimi Thebo, author of Hospital High, about how what happened to her when she was a teenager inspired her to write her novel.

 

When I was 14 years old, I died in a car accident. I didn’t stay dead, obviously, but I was badly injured. I spent my high school years in and out of hospital. Then, when I was patched up sufficiently, I started my life and never looked back.

It had been a grim time. Dad left the family before the accident and my grandma died after it – all within nine months. My mother and I suffered poverty…we couldn’t afford to heat the whole house and we went without food. The car might have hit the tree, but I’d lost more than my voice and my health in that time…I’d lost my whole way of life. My best friend had been driving the car, and so, inevitably, we grew apart and, by the following summer, I had lost her, too.

It was no wonder I never looked back on the events of 1974.

I got on with my life. I was lucky enough to go to university, and even with health and mobility challenges…and my father refusing to pay the agreed maintenance…I eventually graduated with a good degree. The doctors had told me I’d never be strong enough to work, but I pulled long shifts as a waitress to make the money I needed and was just fine. They’d also told me I should never marry, since I’d be ‘a burden’ to any future husband. But I met a boy who wasn’t frightened of that. We married and I moved to the UK.

I continued to prove the doctors wrong. I climbed mountains. I worked double shifts, sometimes 80 hours in a week.  In London, I learned to type and was soon running whole offices. But then I confounded everyone – I quit work, did an MA in Creative Writing and, within a year, had published two books and began lecturing at a university.

I had put the misery of my youth completely behind me.

Only I hadn’t.

I write stories of hope and recovery and redemption.  I write not just because I want to be a writer or want to make money, but because I want to inspire other people, to help them in their life journeys. And I wasn’t sure I was doing that. My books were good – good enough to get published and sell reasonably well. But they weren’t best-sellers or winning important prizes. There was something missing in my writing, something that made it too fluffy and light, even when I was trying to write about serious issues. And I knew what it was.

I hadn’t really dealt with that horrible time in my past. It was an editor who first suggested that I should write the story of my accident, but I didn’t even consider her suggestion. Ten years later, however, I was ready to listen. I had to confront my past and I had to do it the only way I knew how. I had to write it.

It took five years. At times, I was afraid reading my hospital records and remembering the things that had happened would re-trigger my PTSD.  I didn’t want to try writing about it during the teaching year or when I was solely responsible for my young daughter’s care. So I wrote it in the margins of school life; when school was in session and university wasn’t.

At last I finished writing about the most horrible time in my life. And then I wrote my breakthrough book for children, Dreaming the Bear – it was nominated for every prize in children’s fiction. Writing my trauma had worked for me. And it had worked in more ways than one. It made my writing stronger, but it also made me stronger.

Now the story of my accident, slightly fictionalised, is being published. I hope Hospital High helps other people to deal with their own trauma…  Perhaps it might even inspire them to get the pain of their past down on paper and out of their minds forever. It would make me very happy if it did.

 

 

Did you know writing can help you heal from physical as well as mental wounds?

Studies have shown that writing for a few minutes a day helped cancer patients respond to treatment, made people’s wounds heal faster and even lowered T-cell counts in HIV sufferers.

According to research, writing for twenty minutes a day has a profound effect on anxiety and depression.

You don’t have to write stories or poetry to get the benefit –and you don’t even have to write about worries or illness. You can get the benefit by writing about anything – even scribbling about fashion, football scores or gardening can improve your mental and physical health.

If you begin to enjoy writing for pleasure, there are writers groups and evening classes in every area. Contact your local library or the Arts Council to find one near you.

 

Hospital High is out now in ebook and paperback!

 

About the Author

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Mimi Thebo is a Carnegie-longlisted author for children and teens. Her work has been translated into twelve languages, adapted for a BAFTA-winning BBC film, illustrated in light and signed for deaf children by ITV. Born in the USA, she is based in SouthWest England, where she is Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Bristol and a Royal Literary Fellow.

 

 

About the Book

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My life had been saved…and boy, was I annoyed. Humour and attitude keep Coco going when things get grim. Her relationships with her mother, hospital staff and other injured teens sustain her when her school friendships fall apart. But although everyone’s working to give Coco a normal life, Coco doesn’t think ‘normal’ is enough… When she was fourteen, the author Mimi Thebo died in a car accident. Hospital High is a young adult novel based on the day she died and the subsequent three years spent recovering from the accident.

 

My TBR for the 20 Books of Summer!

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It’s 20 Books of Summer time! This is organised by Cathy at 746 Books and I’ve decided to join in this year and am really looking forward to making a start on my summer 2017 reading. I don’t normally make TBRs as the minute I make a list of books to read I almost immediately then want to read anything but those choices so this will be a real challenge for me! I’ve decided to just put books from my own TBR on this list and I will read review books in between these books.

So, here are my 20 Book of Summer for 2017!

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The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

My husband bought me this for my birthday last year and I was so excited to read it and yet somehow it’s still on my TBR so this book is one I definitely want to make the time to read this summer.

Synopsis:

England,1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

The Green Road by Anne Enright

The Green Road by Anne Enright

I love Anne Enright’s novels so I bought this one when it was published and then I’ve been saving it for the right time. I really do want to read this so I’m not saving it anymore, I’m determined to read it this summer.

Synopsis:

Hanna, Dan, Constance and Emmet return to the west coast of Ireland for a final family Christmas in the home their mother is about to sell. As the feast turns to near painful comedy, a last, desperate act from Rosaleen – a woman who doesn’t quite know how to love her children – forces them to confront the weight of family ties and the road that brought them home.

 

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The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier

I so badly wanted to read this book when I first heard about it that I bought an American copy and had to wait three weeks for it to arrive. Then it got put on my bookcase and has stayed there ever since. As soon as I started making my books for the summer TBR I knew this book had to be on my list.

Synopsis:

Summer vacation on Great Rock Island was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a sudden accident. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.
The complicated portrait of Elizabeth her troubled upbringing, and her route to marriage and motherhood makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a period of uncertainty in her own marriage.When an unfamiliar man s name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn t know about her friend, including where she was really going on the day she died.
The more Kate reads, the more she learns the complicated truth of who Elizabeth really was, and rethinks her own choices as a wife, mother, and professional, and the legacy she herself would want to leave behind.

Christodora by Tim Murphy

Christodora by Tim Murphy

This book only came out this year and I’m determined not to leave it on my TBR for ages as I’m so keen to read it. It’s one of those books that I want to make time to read in big chunks and the summer seems the perfect time for doing that.

Synopsis:

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

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

The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnett

The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnett

This is another book that I bought when it was first released and never got around to reading it. I still really want to read it so it had to be on my summer reading pile.

Synopsis:

1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.

2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .

Recently divorced and with two young children, Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she’s far from convinced the journey will be worthwhile.

But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There’s just one problem – Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash.

Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . .

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The Life of Hunger by Amelie Nothomb

This is a book that has been on my wish list for over a decade and I finally got around to buying a copy in the edition I wanted a couple of months ago so I’m definitely going to make time to read this very soon.

Synopsis:

In a wistful, funny, clever, and eccentric fictional memoir, Amélie Nothomb casts herself as hunger – in all its many guises. Recounting the formative journeys of her youth, from Tokyo to Peking to Paris to New York, The Life of Hunger is a brilliant and moving examination of the self.

 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I’m starting to feel a little embarrassed now at how many books are on my summer list that I’ve owned since they were first out… but this is another one. I’m really keen to read this one as the premise intrigues me.

Synopsis:

The Bennet sisters have been summoned from New York City.

Liz and Jane are good daughters. They’ve come home to suburban Cincinnati to get their mother to stop feeding their father steak as he recovers from heart surgery, to tidy up the crumbling Tudor-style family home, and to wrench their three sisters from their various states of arrested development.

Once they are under the same roof, old patterns return fast. Soon enough they are being berated for their single status, their only respite the early morning runs they escape on together. For two successful women in their late thirties, it really is too much to bear. That is, until the Lucas family’s BBQ throws them in the way of some eligible single men…

Chip Bingley is not only a charming doctor, he’s a reality TV star too. But Chip’s friend, haughty neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, can barely stomach Cincinnati or its inhabitants. Jane is entranced by Chip; Liz, sceptical of Darcy. As Liz is consumed by her father’s mounting medical bills, her wayward sisters and Cousin Willie trying to stick his tongue down her throat, it isn’t only the local chilli that will leave a bad aftertaste.

But where there are hearts that beat and mothers that push, the mysterious course of love will resolve itself in the most entertaining and unlikely of ways. And from the hand of Curtis Sittenfeld, Pride & Prejudice is catapulted into our modern world singing out with hilarity and truth.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

I’m a fan of Ian McEwan’s writing, although he can be a bit hit or miss. The premise for this book sounds fascinating so it’s another one that I had to put on my summer reading pile.

Synopsis:

Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.

 

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jamson

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while too and have been keen to read it but it has felt like a book I should save for the summer so this absolutely had to make my summer reading plan.

Synopsis:

The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen’s lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.

As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.

It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .

Until something goes wrong.

New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin

New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin

I only bought this book fairly recently but I’m so looking forward to reading this short story collection so have added it to my summer reading.

Synopsis:

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

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The Past by Tessa Hadley

I’m a huge Tessa Hadley fan so have been very much looking forward to this novel. It’s one I’ve been saving for the warmer weather as it feels like summer is the right time for this book.

Synopsis:

These three weeks may be their last time in their family home; the upkeep is prohibitive, and they may be forced to sell this beloved house filled with memories of their shared past (their mother took them there to live when she left their father). Yet beneath the idyllic pastoral surface, hidden passions, devastating secrets, and dangerous hostilities threaten to consume them.

Sophisticated and sleek, Roland’s new wife (his third) arouses his sisters’ jealousies and insecurities. Kasim, the twenty-year-old son of Alice’s ex-boyfriend, becomes enchanted with Molly, Roland’s sixteen-year-old daughter. Fran’s young children make an unsettling discovery in a dilapidated cottage in the woods that shatters their innocence. Passion erupts where it’s least expected, leveling the quiet self-possession of Harriet, the eldest sister.

Over the course of this summer holiday, the family’s stories and silences intertwine, small disturbances build into familial crises, and a way of life–bourgeois, literate, ritualized, Anglican–winds down to its inevitable end.

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Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

I’ve had this book for a while and have been keeping it to read as a treat but now feels like the time. I’m really excited to read this book.

Synopsis:

From a prizewinning, beloved young author, a provocative collection that explores the lives of colorful, intrepid women in history. “These stories linger in one’s memory long after reading them” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
The fascinating characters in Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “collection of stories as beautiful and strange as the women who inspired them” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) are defined by their creative impulses, fierce independence, and sometimes reckless decisions. In “The Siege at Whale Cay,” cross-dressing Standard Oil heiress Joe Carstairs seduces Marlene Dietrich. In “A High-Grade Bitch Sits Down for Lunch,” aviator and writer Beryl Markham lives alone in Nairobi and engages in a battle of wills with a stallion. In “Hell-Diving Women,” the first integrated, all-girl swing band sparks a violent reaction in North Carolina.
Other heroines, born in proximity to the spotlight, struggle to distinguish themselves: Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde’s wild niece, Dolly; Edna St. Vincent Millay’s talented sister, Norma; James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia. Almost Famous Women offers an elegant and intimate look at artists who desired recognition. “By assiduously depicting their intimacy and power struggles, Bergman allows for a close examination of the multiplicity of women’s experiences” (The New York Times Book Review).
The world wasn’t always kind to the women who star in these stories, but through Mayhew Bergman’s stunning imagination, they receive the attention they deserve.

Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant

Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant

Oh dear, this is another book that I’ve owned since it was published but haven’t managed to read it as yet. It sounds like such a great read so I’m putting it on my summer list and really hope to get to it.

Synopsis:

‘If you go back and look at your life there are certain scenes, acts, or maybe just incidents on which everything that follows seems to depend. If only you could narrate them, then you might be understood. I mean the part of yourself that you don’t know how to explain.’

In the early seventies, a glamorous and androgynous couple known as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas, they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But their mesmerising flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories.

For Adele, who also has something to conceal, Evie becomes an obsession – an obsession which becomes lifelong after the night of Adele’s twentieth birthday party. What happened that evening and who was complicit are questions that have haunted Adele ever since. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for the past forty years.

From summers in 1970s Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after she has disappeared, Evie will go on challenging everyone’s ideas of how their lives should turn out.

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

I’ve been wanting to read this book for such a long time but I keep putting it off because it’s such an emotive subject matter. It caught my eye in amongst my books when I was deciding on this TBR so I’m adding it and hope I’ll be okay to read it this summer.

Synopsis:

Ellen Gulden is a successful, young New York journalist. But when her mother, Kate, is diagnosed with cancer, she leaves her life in the city to return home and care for her. In the short time they have left, the relationship between mother and daughter – tender, awkward and revealing – deepens, and Ellen is forced to confront painful truths about her adored father.

But in the weeks that follow Kate’s death, events take a shocking and unexpected turn. Family emotions are laid bare as a new drama is played out, and overnight Ellen goes from devoted daughter to prime suspect, accused of the mercy killing of her ‘one true thing’.

One True Thing is the devastating story of a mother and daughter, of love and loss, and of shattering choices.

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In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

My husband surprised me with this lovely signed hardback of Judy Blume’s latest novel Christmas 2015 and I was so excited to read it as I’m a huge fan. It’s another book that I’ve been saving for the right time, which now seems silly so I’m going to enjoy it over the summer.

Synopsis:

In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life.

Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen and in love for the first time, three planes fell from the sky within three months, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, Judy Blume weaves a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are for ever changed in the aftermath.

The plane crashes bring some people closer together and tear others apart; they create myths and unlock secrets. As Miri experiences the ordinary joys and pains of growing up in extraordinary circumstances, a young journalist makes his name reporting tragedy. And through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.

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Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis

I treated myself to this book a few months ago and it’s been calling to me recently so I’m adding it to my summer TBR. Anne Bronte is my favourite writer of the Bronte sisters so I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this book. I hope it lives up to my expectations.

Synopsis:

Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings — virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë.

Or that’s what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead.

Take Courage is Samantha’s personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time — and her more celebrated siblings — and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.

Significance by Jo Mazelis

Significance by Jo Mazelis

I’ve had this book for quite a while too but recently I’ve seen a couple of reviews of it and it sounds like such a brilliant read that I simply had to add it to my TBR for the next couple of months.

Synopsis:

Lucy Swann is trying on a new life. She s cut and dyed her hair and bought new clothes, but she s only got as far as a small town in northern France when her flight is violently cut short. When Inspector Vivier and his handsome assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance. Lucy s death, like a stone thrown into a pool, sends out far-reaching ripples, altering the lives of people who never knew her as well as those of her loved ones back home.”

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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I can’t believe that I’ve not read this book before now. I’ve had it on my wish list for such a long time and only treated myself to a copy recently. This is a book that feels right for a long summer evening when I can just sit and read.

Synopsis:

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity.

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Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

I originally had a review copy of this from NetGalley but it was right before life got on top of me last year and I didn’t managed to read it. I knew it would be a book I’d enjoy so I bought myself a copy and really want to read it soon.

Synopsis:

Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I feel like this book is a bit of a cheat because I only bought it very recently but I really want to read it as soon as I can so wanted to add it to this list.

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

I’ve also picked three extra books just in case I don’t get on with any of the books above…

 

The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for quite a long while but it never seems to get to the top of my TBR during the summer months. I’m adding it as an extra in case one of my other books doesn’t end up grabbing me, but hopefully I will get a chance to read it this summer regardless.

Synopsis:

Nine Lives. Four Generations. One Family. The MacEntees are no ordinary family.
Determined to be different from other people, they have carved out a place for themselves in Irish life by the sheer force of their personalities. But when a series of misfortunes befall them over the course of one long hot summer, even the MacEntees will struggle to make sense of who they are.
As media storms rage about them and secrets rise to the surface, Deirdre plans a family party for her 80th birthday-and with it one final, shocking surprise.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

Initially this book was in my 20 books of summer but I’ve already read a book by this author this year so it seems only fair to read some of my other books first. I really want to read this book soon though so if I have a good summer of reading and get through all of my other choices I will read this one too.

Synopsis:

From the number one bestselling author of Midwives comes this riveting medical thriller about a lawyer, a homeopath, and a tragic death.

When one of homeopath Carissa Lake’s patients falls into an allergy-induced coma, possibly due to her prescribed remedy, Leland Fowler’s office starts investigating the case. But Leland is also one of Carissa’s patients, and he is beginning to realize that he has fallen in love with her. As love and legal obligations collide, Leland comes face-to-face with an ethical dilemma of enormous proportions.

Graceful, intelligent, and suspenseful, The Law of Similars is a powerful examination of the links between hope and hubris, love and deception.

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

This was also in my initial 20 books but I decided it might be a bit similar to another book on my list so I’m adding it here as an extra option. I love the sound of the book though so it’s another one that I will try to get to as well as all of my other selections.

Synopsis:

It’s an idyllic New England summer, and Sadie is a precocious only child on the edge of adolescence. It seems like July and August will pass lazily by, just as they have every year before. But one day, Sadie and her best friend play a seemingly harmless prank on a neighborhood girl. Soon after, that same little girl disappears from a backyard barbecue; and she is never seen again. Twenty years pass, and Sadie is still living in the same quiet suburb. She’s married to a good man, has two beautiful children, and seems to have put her past behind her. But when a boy from her old neighborhood returns to town, the nightmares of that summer will begin to resurface, and its unsolved mysteries will finally become clear.

 


 

Anyone is welcome to join in with this challenge – just pick your 20 books (or 10, or 5) for over the summer and write a post about them. Then sign up to the page on 746 Books on 1st June! The challenge will run from 1st June to 3rd September 2017. You can share your lists and your progress on twitter using #20BooksofSummer

 

Will you be joining in with #20BooksofSummer this year? What are you planning to read over the coming months?

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

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

 

About the Book

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

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

 

 

Lynda’s Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

 

 

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See my new #bookhaul in my Stacking the Shelves post! (11 March)

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

This week I received five ARCS:

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Sweet Pea by S.J. Skuse

This was surprise book post this week and I was thrilled when I opened it. Firstly, it has a stunning cover, and secondly, the synopsis sounds brilliant. I hope to get a chance to read this in the next couple of weeks.

Synopsis:

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

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

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

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

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

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The Good Guy by Susan Beale

This was the gorgeous book post that arrived on Thursday and I was so happy to receive it. I really want to read this one soon as it sounds so good.

Synopsis:

A deeply compelling novel set in 1960s suburban America for fans of The Engagements and Tigers in Red Weather.

Ted, a car-tyre salesman in 1960s suburban New England, is a dreamer who craves admiration. His wife, Abigail, longs for a life of the mind. Single-girl Penny just wants to be loved. When a chance encounter brings Ted and Penny together, he becomes enamoured and begins inventing a whole new life with her at its centre. But when this fantasy collides with reality, the fallout threatens everything, and everyone, he holds dear.

The Good Guy is a deeply compelling debut about love, marriage and what happens when good intentions and self-deception are taken to extremes.

The Lauras by Sara Taylor

The Lauras by Sara Taylor

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a while so when I saw a NetGalley email yesterday that it was available as a Read Now book I immediately went and downloaded it. I really want to read this soon. Also, isn’t is another gorgeous cover?!

Synopsis:

I didn’t realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong…

As Ma and Alex make their way from Virginia to California, each new state prompts stories and secrets of a life before Alex. Together they put to rest unsettled scores, heal old wounds, and search out lost friends. But Alex can’t forget the life they’ve left behind.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I can’t remember how I heard about this book but I’ve had a request pending on NetGalley for a couple of weeks now so was really happy to get an approval email this week. The book’s not out for a couple of months so I’m going to try and leave this one for a little while as I have other review books to read that are out sooner, but it’s going to be tough resisting it.

Synopsis:

Two people. One choice. What if?

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet at Columbia University on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. And as the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

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

And as Lucy is faced with a decision she thought she’d never have to make, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny, or chance. What if they should have been living a different life all along?

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Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

This is another NetGalley book and I’ve already started reading this one. I have to be honest that the book isn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be when I requested it, but I am enjoying it and it’s holding my attention so far.

Synopsis:

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

 

These are the two print & eBooks I bought:

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Because I was Lonely by Hayley Mitchell

I’ve seen this book reviewed on some of my favourite blogs recently so I was unable to resist buying a copy on release day! I really like the sound of the plot and don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long.

Synopsis:

“Meet Rachel. She is caught in a spiral of endless crying, dirty nappies, and sleepless nights. She fears for her sanity – and the safety of her children.

She’s lonely.

Meet Adam. Suffering from the pain and trauma of a terrible accident that he blames himself for, he stays at home, unable to bring himself to leave the house.

He’s lonely.

So when Rachel and Adam rekindle their long lost friendship online, what starts as a little harmless flirtation, soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them.

Four lonely people. Two unhappy marriages. One dangerous, but inevitable climax.”

Beautiful Affliction by Lene Fogelberg

Beautiful Affliction by Lene Fogelberg

A lovely blogger, BelleUnruh, mentioned this book in a comment on my post last week and when I looked it up I decided to buy a copy right away. It sounds like an emotional, but very life-affirming book and I’m sure it won’t be on my TBR for very long.

Synopsis:

Lene Fogelberg is dying—she is sure of it—but no doctor in Sweden, her home country, believes her. Love stories enfold her, with her husband, her two precious daughters, her enchanting surroundings, but the question she has carried in her heart since childhood—Will I die young?—is threatening all she holds dear, even her sanity. When her young family moves to the US, an answer, a diagnosis, is finally found: she is in the last stages of a fatal congenital heart disease. But is it too late?

 


 

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

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

 

 

 

February 2017 Wrap-Up!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

February has been an up and down month. There have been stressful things to deal with, and medical appointments and tests to get through. There was also a broken Kindle Voyage (eek!). Things eventually began to be sorted out and towards the end of the month I got a replacement Kindle through the warranty, and we got some unexpected good news in the post. My husband had two weeks off from work and whilst I wasn’t well enough for us to do much, it was lovely to have the time together.

It’s been a fab reading month, I still can’t quite believe how many great books I read in February! Unfortunately, whilst I’ve been reading a lot I’m struggling to write reviews at the moment. This, in part, is because I lost my notes when my Kindle malfunctioned so I will have to write reviews from memory (and my memory is awful), but also because I’m in the middle of altering my medication and it’s a struggle for me to get my words down coherently. I may have to just write some very short, basic reviews in order to catch up as the amount I now have waiting to be written is starting to stress me out.

 

Here are the 26 books I read this month:

Well-Read Women by Samantha Hahn

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

The Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Rage by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

F*cking Apostrophes by Simon Griffin

Just Kids by Patti Smith

A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah

Watch Me by Angela Clarke

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Child Who by Simon Lelic

Final Girls by Riley Sager

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

Black Wood by SJI Holliday

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

 


Here are the blog posts I wrote:

I wrote my regular blog posts – WWW Wednesday, Stacking the Shelves every Saturday and a weekly wrap-up on a Sunday. Other than that I shared my January wrap-up post at the beginning of February. I also wrote about my fabulous birthday book haul too. I didn’t manage to write and post any reviews, which I’m really down about but as I said earlier life is getting in the way at the moment. Hopefully I can catch up soon.

 


 

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The state of my TBR:

In January, I wrote a post about the state of my TBR and made a plan to try and read more of the books I already owned. This has already proved to be rather more difficult than I anticipated… I have read a lot more of my own books, rather than just focusing on new ones, but I’ve also been buying a lot of books. I did join the Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads in February though and have pledged to read at least 100 books that were on my TBR before the end of 2016 and have so far read 26 books that counted for that. This means that half of the books I’ve read this year so far have been my already owned books, and half were new or review books so am pleased with that ratio at the moment.

I’m also in the middle of a sort out of both my kindle books and my print books and am trying to make sure that all the books that are on my TBR are books that I really want to read. Anything that doesn’t appeal anymore is going to be deleted from my Kindle or taken to the charity shop. I’m also becoming much more okay with DNFing books – I’m fast realising that life is too short to push on with books that I’m really not enjoying. The combination of DNFing books and having an ongoing book cull has meant my TBR is currently going in the right direction! I now have 1861 unread books (as of 28 Feb), down from 1885 at the start of the year and hopefully I can keep reading my way through the TBR mountain.

 


 

How was your February? Did you read any good books? Please tell me what your favourite book from February was, and if you have a February wrap-up post on your blog please feel free to share the link below.

 

My Birthday Book Haul!

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It was my birthday at the weekend and I was very lucky to receive lots of lovely new books so wanted to do a haul post.

My husband gave me 21 books! Some of them he chose from my wish list but others were brilliant surprises. I’m very excited to read all of my new books but I have to be honest and admit to an immediate favourite because it’s such a beautiful book.

 

It’s Well-Read Women by Samantha Hahn. I’d not heard of this book before but it’s a perfect gift for a book lover. Samantha has picked some iconic women from literature and a favourite quote by them, and has then painted their portrait. I’ve added a photo of one of the spreads so you can see how gorgeous this book is. This is definitely a book that I’ll treasure.

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This was such a great surprise pick for me. I read Sebastian Barry’s Secret Scripture last year and really enjoyed it so I was really wanting to read this one. My husband must have had great foresight to pick this up for me as it won the Costa Book award this week!

 

These are two books that caught my eye online recently as I really wanted to read them both so added them to my wish list. They’re both huge hardbacks so will have to wait until I feel a bit stronger but I’m really looking forward to reading them.

 

These were two surprise books and both are perfect picks for me. I love Chris Bohjalian’s novels so am thrilled to have this one in hardback. It’s a beautiful book, the photo I’ve taken doesn’t do the cover justice. I’ve already started reading this one and am very much enjoying it. Whitegirl sounds fascinating and I’m looking forward to reading it.

 

These three children’s books are lovely. The Literature Book has lots of snippets about books and some great quotes in it, it’s perfect for me to flick through when I’m not feeling well enough to read a book. The Teddy Robinson Storybook is one my mum used to read to me when I was little but my copy got lost many years ago. This is part of the same series as my copy of The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse that I got for my birthday last year so I’m really happy to have matching editions. The Dylan Thomas book is a gorgeous clothbound hardback, with lovely illustrations. This will definitely be on my December TBR for this year!

 

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I really like the Penguin Little Black Classics so these were great choices for me. He picked up books by three classic authors that I love and all three of these books are ones I’ve never read before.

 

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I’ve never read any Angela Thirkell but she’s an author that I’ve heard great things avid recently so I asked for a selection of her novels. I’m really looking forward to starting these lovely Virago editions.

 

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The Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker is another set of books that I’ve wanted to read for ages and have never got around to so I put these on my wishlist too. I hope to read these soon.

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Edna O’Brien has been an author I’ve wanted to read for the last couple of years but quite a few of her books seem to be out of print. I was so happy to receive these three books from my wish list and I really can’t wait to start reading!

 

 

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My husband also got me David Bowie’s Let’s Dance on CD. This is one of first albums I loved as a child, and whilst I fully acknowledge that it’s not his best work it is the album that made me love his music, and as I got older I gradually bought and fell in love with every single album he made. I can’t play records anymore as I don’t have the dexterity in my hands to use the turntable so I’m really happy to have this on CD again!

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I also received this gorgeous bouquet of flowers that had a lovely box of chocolates with them!

My lovely mum-in-law came round to see in my on my birthday and she gave me, amongst other things, some Amazon vouchers and I’m so tempted to spend them on some new books but am trying to resist for now!

I wasn’t well enough to go out and celebrate my birthday but still had a really lovely day at home. Books are such an amazing gift, especially for someone who’s housebound most of the time, as they are a gift that lasts for such a long time.

 

I’ll still be joining in with Stacking the Shelves tomorrow as I have bought a couple of audio and ebooks this week so look out for that post then.

 

January Wrap-Up!

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January is always a tough month for me due to very sad memories but this year I focused on escaping into books as much as I could and as a result I’ve had a great reading month. Here are the 23 books I read in January….

Spiders from Mars by Woody Woodmansey (my review is here)

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polinski by Samantha Geimer

Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson (my review is here)

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Relativity by Antonia Hayes (my review is here)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

How Much the Heart Can Hold by Carys Bray et al

Lies by TM Logan (my review is here)

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson (my review is here)

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Loving the Life Less Lived by Gail Marie Mitchell (my review is here)

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest

Howards End is on the Landing: My Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill

Rattle by Fiona Cummins (my review is here)

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Girl Before by JP Delaney (my review is here)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

The Life of Rylan by Rylan Clark-Neal

Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre

 

I managed to review eight of the above books, along with two the two titles below which I’d read at the end of 2016 but didn’t get a chance to review them at the time. Click the titles to read the reviews if you’d like to:

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

I’m planning reviews for at least a few more of the above books so hopefully they’ll be up on my blog soon.

 

I also wrote blog posts about my Top Ten Fiction and Top Ten Non-Fiction reads of 2016. I shared my Reading Bingo 2016 results, which was a lot of fun. I hadn’t planned my reading to fit the bingo challenge so I was thrilled to find that I got a full house! I also wrote a post about my Christmas Book Haul.

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I then confessed to the State of my TBR and my plans to reduce it this year. I started the year with 1885 books (that I already own) on my TBR and as of the end of January my TBR stands at 1901 (not including the 6 books I’m currently reading). In fairness, I have read quite a few books off my TBR in January but I also had my birthday and my lovely husband bought me 21 books! I feel like I’m doing well with my TBR considering how many books I added to it with gifts and review books. I really hope to get my TBR back to around 1885 this month and then I’ll be (sort of) back on track to try and reduce it.

One of my other aims this year was to read some of the longer books that have been languishing on my shelves for a long time and I’m sticking to that so far. In January I read two books that were over 500 pages each – The Poisonwood Bible and The Book of Strange New Things so I’m pleased with that. I’m also currently reading The Luminaries, which is almost 900 pages long. It’s important to me to read books that I’ve owned for a long time and still not read so I need to focus on that a bit more this month.

I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading for quite a few years now and I’ll continue to do so but I recently found a spreadsheet online where I can track my reading in more detail. I’m finding it fascinating to see where my habits lie when it comes to the books I read. This is the lovely YouTuber who kindly shared her spreadsheet Portal in the Pages


 

How was your January? Did you read any good books? Please tell me what your favourite book from January was, and if you have a January wrap-up post on your blog please feel free to share the link below.

 

2017 Reading Plans and The State of My TBR

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I’ve been pondering on whether to write a blog post on the subject of the size of my TBR, and my attempts to reduce it, but I’ve always been too ashamed to admit to how many books I own that I haven’t read yet. The new year seems a good time to put it out there once and for all so that I can then add a small update about the state of my TBR to my weekly or monthly wrap-ups, which I hope will keep spurring me on to focus on reading the books I already own.

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My Goodreads TBR as of late summer 2016

 

 

So, before I go into that fully I should make clear that last summer when I was in the midst of my horrible reading slump, I took some time to go through all of my print and ebooks to really think about whether I still even wanted to read them. This led to me donating a lot of books to charity, and to me permanently deleting some ebooks. I wanted to be really ruthless and just be honest with myself about my books. The above photo was taken before I started deleting the books I’d got rid of from my Goodreads account. I then got rid of around 3000 (yes, that does say three thousand) books from my TBR.

That left me with my current TBR which at this moment in time consists entirely of books that I still really want to read, including the review books I’ve received. So my TBR as of 1st January stood at 1879 books (print, ebooks and audiobooks combined). I’ve since been sent one book for review, and I bought five Kindle books in the recent sale (which you can read about in my Stacking the Shelves post).

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My Goodreads TBR as of 8 Jan 2017

 

I did read 211 books last year so if I keep reading at that rate it will take me around nine years to read my TBR as it stands right now. So I’m aware that I will need to curb my book buying as much as I can, and that I’ll also need to regularly look through my books to get rid of anything that I no longer want to read.

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I realised quite a few things about how my reading tastes have changed whilst struggling through my reading slump last year. I re-discovered my love of non-fiction and so this year I want to really make an effort to read some of the non-fiction books that have been languishing on my shelves for years now.

Through doing my Reading Bingo post last week I was able to really reflect and take note of how my reading went in 2016 and was shocked to realise that I didn’t read a single classic book and I only read one book that was first published more than twenty years ago. I do have quite a lot of classics on my TBR so I want to read at least some of them this year.

So, everything has come together to make me realise that I need to spend more time reading the books I already own, and that I need to be more aware of my reading. I want to make time to read some books that really challenge me, that make me think, that maybe require a bit more research to get the most out of them. One challenge I’ve decided to do this year is the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, which is a list of 24 challenges to try to get people reading more widely and reading more difficult books (if you want to join in with that you can read about it on Book Riot’s website). My TBR does consist of a real mix of genres so just by reading the books I already own will push me out of the comfort zone that I got into last year.

I will, of course, still be reading some new releases and will still be accepting some review books as I very much enjoy reading new books. I just want to read a wider variety of books this year and to push myself a little in what I’m reading.

 

So in summary:

My current TBR is (as of 8 Jan 2017): 1885

This is made up of :-

Print books: 181

eBooks: 1590

audiobooks: 108

(The numbers won’t quite add up as some books I own copies in more than one format. e.g. I sometimes buy the audible book when I get the ebook and then I list it in both categories etc but they only show in the ‘to read’ section once so the overall number is definitely correct.)


 

Have you made any reading resolutions or goals for this year? Have you dared work out the size of your TBR? Please share your goals and challenges for 2017 in the comments. Also, if you have any advice for keeping me on track to read my own books, please share them with me.

My Christmas Book Haul!

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It seems a little late to be doing a Christmas book haul but I really wanted to share the books that I got for Christmas and haven’t been able to get this post together until now. As a lifelong bookworm I sometimes get one or two books for Christmas but up until I met my husband these book were always books I had asked for as most people say that they can’t buy me books because either they think I already have everything, or they think books are boring! My husband has always given me some books for Christmas as stocking fillers and I’ve always been so happy and grateful for them. This year though I got a book mountain. I think there are twenty-six books in total…

Firstly, I got this gorgeous set of eight Vintage Christmas books

They were in a lovely set together and I’ve already read two of them. The titles are:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Dickens at Christmas by Charles Dickens

Christmas Holiday by W. Somerset Maugham

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg

If On A Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome

I love that some of them are more winter reads than Christmas reads as it means I can continue reading them now Christmas is over. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the more festive ones as next Christmas gets here.

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I also got this beautiful Puffin hardback edition of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This book was one of my all-time favourite reads a a child and whilst I still have my original copy, it’s so old and battered that I wouldn’t dare re-read that edition. I’ve kept looking at this hardback copy online but couldn’t justify buying it for myself, I’m over the moon to finally own it and will definitely be re-reading it this year!

Continuing the theme of childhood reads, he also gave me this beautiful slipcase edition of Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass. It’s such a beautiful set and I’m looking forward to re-reading these books.

I have a pet guinea pig (called Robson), who is so adorable, so these next two books were perfect for me. I’m now wondering whether I could bribe Robson into dressing up as Oliver  Twist! Haha!

Back to serious reading now… Here are the novels that I was given:

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan

Unbecoming by Rebecca Sherm

The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

The Non-Fiction books I got:

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland

Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield

The Girl by Samantha Geimer

There was one short story collection:

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This book is called Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai and it sounds like such a brilliant book. I can’t wait to dip into these stories. Also, what a gorgeous cover!

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It’s become something of a tradition to get me one of the illustrated Carol Ann Duffy poem books for Christmas and this year he chose Another Night Before Christmas because it is illustrated by Rob Ryan, whose illustrations I love.

 

The final gifts weren’t books but they were partly related to books…

Two Penguin mugs – A Common Reader by Virginia Woolf and A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. I’m still not sure how my husband knew I adored Virginia Woolf but I’m over the moon with these mugs!

An Aladdin Sane necklace that I first saw earlier this year and have wanted ever since. I’m so happy to finally own it (and it fits with me also getting another Bowie biography). I also got a gorgeous sunflower necklace from the same company as it’s my favourite flower.


 

I was very spoilt and don’t think receiving so many books for Christmas will ever be topped! It was wonderful… and my husband, who hates wrapping presents, wrapped everything individually too so it was like being a kid again having so much to open on Christmas morning!

 

Did you have a nice Christmas? Were you given any new books, or have you bought some yourself for Christmas?

My Top Ten Non-Fiction Reads 2016

 

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Yesterday I posted my Top Ten fiction reads of 2016 (which you can read here if you missed it) and today I’m sharing my Top Ten Non-Fiction reads. I’ve always enjoyed reading non-fiction but I tend to lean more towards fiction so this year I’ve made a real effort to read more non-fiction. Out of the 211 books I read in 2016, 67 were non-fiction. I’ve read quite a wide variety of books and these are the ten that have stayed with me.

A Mother's Reckoning- Living in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy by Sue Klebold

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

This book is an honest memoir by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters. She writes this book in a very open way, it felt like she held nothing back. It really showed the pain she feels at what her son did, but also the pain she feels at not realising what was going on his life leading up to the shooting. She is also a mother grieving the loss of her son, she raised him and has happy memories from when he was younger and you can feel the conflict and confusion and sheer pain radiate from the page. It’s one of the most honest memoirs I’ve ever read, it really felt like a no-holds-barred read and deserves all of the praise it has received.

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Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

This is a very involving, very moving and shocking account of the deaths of young people in America in the course of one day. All the young people were killed in shootings – some were innocent bystanders, some were caught up in gangs. The bigger picture is examined to a degree as to how and why this is happening. I found this to be a difficult read but it’s an important one and I would highly recommend it.

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In Plain Sight by Dan Davies

This is an examination of the life and the despicable crimes committed by Jimmy Savile. It’s a long and detailed read that looks at what Jimmy Savile did and how he got away with it. It’s not an easy read in terms of subject matter but it’s well-written and really gives an insight into how and why people collude in such terrible crimes.

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Unbecoming by Una

This is a graphic non-fiction book, one of the first I’ve ever read and I found it incredibly moving. It’s one woman’s story of her rape as a young teenager, whilst she was living in Yorkshire at the time the Yorkshire Ripper was still on the loose. The way she tells her story really got to me and there were times I had to take a break from reading before I could carry on. It’s such an important story and one of the best I’ve ever read on the subject of rape and abuse.

 

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Death at Seaworld by David Kirby

I feel very passionately that killer whales should not be kept in captivity anyway but this book opened my eyes to the level of mistreatment that these beautiful creatures are put through purely for the public’s entertainment. I’ve been to Seaworld, when I was a teenager, and it shocked me to see how tiny the pools were that the whales are kept in. Later on the same holiday I was lucky enough to go on a whale watching boat trip to see killer whales in the wild and it was shocking to see the difference between the captive whales and the wild ones. David Kirby’s book looks at these differences and explores what could be done with the captive whales in order to give them a better life given that they probably can’t be put back into the wild.

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On Bowie by Rob Sheffield

This book was a joy to read. It’s not an in-depth biography and it doesn’t pretend to be – it’s basically a love letter to David Bowie from a fan, and reading it as a fan myself it was wonderful. It’s quite a short book, and it didn’t contain anything that I didn’t already know about David Bowie, or his music, but reading it in the aftermath of his death just felt like solace. It’s a moving and heartfelt book that I would highly recommend this book to all Bowie fans.

 

1971 - Never A Dull Moment- Rock's Golden Year by David Hepworth

1971: Never A Dull Moment by David Hepworth

My husband isn’t much of a reader – he collects records like I collect books – so when his mum bought him a copy of this for his birthday last year it was one that we both wanted to read. We ended up getting another copy of it on audible and we listened to it together. It was a lovely way to share the experience of reading a book. The book is set out with one chapter for each month of 1971 and whilst he does widen the narrative beyond each month, he always brings it back to the point nicely. At the end of each chapter is Hepworth’s song picks from that month so my husband made a playlist of all of the songs and it was fun to listen to after we’d finished the book.

 

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Spectacles by Sue Perkins

This was one of my Christmas presents in 2015 and I’d been so looking forward to reading it at the time but got sidetracked with review books. When I finally did pick it up after my reading slump in the summer I found that I couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderful book and  I think it’s one I may re-read in the future.

 

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Breaking the Silence by Jo Milne

This was a review book that I read a few weeks ago but have somehow forgotten to ever post my review so I will share a full review this month at some point. This is the story of Jo Milne was was deaf her whole life and then began to go blind. It was at this point that she was offered surgery to attempt to give her hearing. The story of Jo’s life up to the point she had the surgery was fascinating, it’s a real insight into what it must be like to be deaf. The story post-surgery had me in tears on more than one occasion. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.

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Rise by Sian Williams

I was drawn to this book because I’d seen interviews with Sian on TV and was really interested to read her account of trauma. I’ve suffered with cPTSD in the past and whilst I consider myself to be recovered now, I do still have to be mindful of my triggers and probably will always be hyper-alert to certain things. It doesn’t affect my life anymore though. This book was so much more than I thought it would be. It’s a really honest account of what happened to her, but it’s also a very accessible look at various treatments and the different ways trauma affects people. It looks at why some people go on to be diagnosed with PTSD and others don’t. I highlighted so many parts of this book and am sure I’ll re-read it in the future. it’s a really interesting read and I’d definitely recommend it.


 

So, that’s my Top Ten non-fiction reads of 2016! Did you read much non-fiction last year? What were your stand-out books? I’d love some more non-fiction recommendations as I definitely want to carry on reading more in 2017.

If you missed my Top Ten Fiction reads of 2016, you can read it here.

 

 

Miranda Dickinson’s Top 5 Songs and Searching for a Silver Lining! #BlogTour

Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Miranda Dickinson to my blog! Miranda has shared five of her favourite songs from the 1950s and explained what they mean to her and how they fit in to her gorgeous new novel Searching for a Silver Lining!

My Favourite Fifties’ Songs by Miranda Dickinson

Music plays a huge part in my book, Searching for a Silver Lining. I first came up with the idea in a café that plays fabulous 1950s music – which in turn gave me the idea to have a running playlist through the chapter headings of the books.

There’s something wonderfully evocative and positive about Fifties’ music. It captures a time when young people were finally finding a voice and an identity and had high hopes for their own future. This is the world that the five young singers of The Silver Five inhabited – and their hopes and dreams form a central part of the story.

Trying to pick my favourites was hard work, but here are my top five 1950s songs:

1.Ain’t That a Shame by Fats Domino (1955)

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The moment you hear the opening bars of this song you can imagine yourself in the 1950s. It’s a classic that never fails to make me smile. In my book it’s the title of the opening chapter, where we first meet Mattie Bell as she comes to terms with losing her beloved Grandpa Joe – and battles regret about the argument that stole her last precious months with him.

2.That’s All Right by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill (1954)

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I’ve developed a bit of a thing for Elvis lately (you may have seen my Lego Elvis posts on Twitter and Instagram!) and this is the man himself at the very beginning of his career. I love the confidence and exuberance of his performance.

3.Memories are Made of This by Dean Martin (1955)

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You have to love Dean Martin! It’s a cute, catchy tune with Martin’s trademark smooth crooning – pure Fifties’ magic. In Searching for a Silver Lining it’s the title of the chapter where we see Mattie’s shop with all its retro treasures and the invitation to share them at a local retirement home’s memory day that will change Mattie’s life forever…

4.The Story of My Life by Michael Holliday (1958)

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Only in a 1950s tune can whistling work! It’s two minutes, twelve seconds of pure joy and I love it. In my book this is the title song for the chapter where former Fifties’ singing star Reenie Silver begins to share her memories with Mattie.

5.You Send Me by Sam Cooke (1957)

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I just adore this song. It’s romantic, sweet and Sam Cooke’s wonderful voice gives me shivers. It’s very special now because it’s the title of the very last chapter in Searching for a Silver Lining. I’m not giving anything away, but this chapter is my favourite in the entire book.

I’ve also written and recorded the song that appears in the book as The Silver Five’s biggest hit. Keep watching my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channel to find out how you can download it…

Thanks so much for reading this blog exclusive! For more, follow my Searching for a Silver Lining blog tour. I really hope you enjoy reading the story!

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Huge thank you to Miranda for writing this fabulous post for my blog. I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading it as much as I did.

 

About the book:

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It began with a promise . . . 

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything . . .

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.

Touchingly funny, warm and life-affirming, this is a sparkling story of second chances. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern, Searching for a Silver Lining will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

About the author:

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Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. From an early age she dreamed of writing a book that would make the heady heights of Kingswinford Library and today she is a bestselling author. She began to write in earnest when a friend gave her The World’s Slowest PC, and has subsequently written the bestselling novelsFairytale of New YorkWelcome to My WorldIt Started With a KissWhen I Fall in LoveTake A Look At Me Now,I’ll Take New York and A Parcel for Anna Browne. Miranda lives with her husband Bob and daughter Flo in Dudley.

To find out more about Miranda visit www.miranda-dickinson.com and find her on Twitter @wurdsmyth.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Back!

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Hello all!

Well, my plan to have a week or two away from blogging has turned into a few months away from blogging so I feel like I owe you all an update.

My reason for not blogging in recent weeks is all down to my health situation. I’ve been struggling to manage my condition and to balance all of the things I need to do on a daily basis, and consequently something had to give. My reading mojo had completely disappeared, I was very behind on reviews and was just feeling under so much additional pressure from that and so as a result book blogging stopped being enjoyable for a while. Medically it’s been a tough summer with lots of appointments and trying new treatments to attempt to get some of my symptoms better controlled.  The reality is that I am having to learn to live with severe pain – it’s amazing at the ability we develop to tolerate the thing we thought might break us but it’s still not always easy. Day to day life is tough in the sense of not being independent and needing help with just about everything, but as I’m learning to prioritise my time and energy better I’m much happier and am feeling more able to make the most of what I can do.

Since I’ve been having a break I’ve finally managed to get back into reading (yay!) and am very much enjoying books again. One thing that I’ve realised through the reading that I’ve done over the summer is that I had lost my way with reading this year. I’ve read such a wide variety of books over the last couple of months, and am very much enjoying non-fiction in particular at the moment but I’ve realised that I hadn’t had a chance to read much in that genre for ages because I was focusing on review books. It’s really made me see where I let blogging become a pressure for me: I was taking on too many review books at a time and then there was no time to read books that I’d bought (or even to keep up with the review books I’d accepted), and I got sucked into the notion that if I say no to a book I’m offered then maybe that publisher won’t ask me to review for them in the future. This is entirely my own fault but I’ve had a wake up call now and know to not take on more than I can cope with.

The reality is that I have to enjoy what I’m doing otherwise it’s just another chore in my life rather than my hobby and the thing I do to escape into other worlds. So, as I begin to find my way back into blogging and reviewing I’m setting myself some very strict rules. I’m only going to accept a handful of review books at a time, regardless of how many books I’ve spotted on NetGalley that are must reads! I’m only going to accept review copies I’m offered if they’re books that I really feel like reading at the time. I need to be excited about books again and I need to keep that feeling there, I can’t let myself get bogged down. My life is tough enough without my turning my only hobby into a weight on my shoulders.

So, I’m back to book blogging again and I’m excited about that! I’m not going to be posting daily anymore – initially I’ll just be blogging as and when I can depending on my health but I’m hoping to find a regular blogging routine that suits me and allows blog readers to know when to expect new posts from me.

One more thing before I end this post… I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has continued to follow my blog whilst I’ve not been posting and also to say another huge thank you to all my new followers. I really do appreciate the fact that so many of you have stuck by me in my absence.

3 Quotes Challenge & a Bookish Memory | Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is my second day of the 3 Quotes Challenge, I was nominated for this challenge by A House of Books blog. As with yesterday’s post, I’m also using this as a chance to continue my Bookish Memories series that I started when I first began blogging.

Today my quote comes from another favourite book of mine – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

 

Fahrenheit 451 © 2016 Paul Carlyle

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

Many years ago I was a member of Bookcrossing and as part of a UK email group people used to lend each other books. One day I saw a book being talked about called Fahrenheit 451 and initially it didn’t interest me as it’s classed as sci-fi and it’s not one of my most favourite genres. A fellow bookcrosser persuaded me to give it a go when she explained it’s about a dystopian society where books are banned! I’m so glad I gave it a go as after one reading I knew it was going to become a real favourite of mine.

The Government of the day has banned books, and fire fighters exist to burn any books that are found – hence the title as paper burns at 451 degrees fahrenheit. Montag is a firefighter who one day cannot resist the lure of books and he ends up in serious trouble. He goes on the run and ends up in a place where books are being saved, perhaps not in their current form but still saved nonetheless.

Even though this book was originally published in 1953, it relates so well to the modern world. The thought that big brother is always watching and monitoring us through TVs or computers, the fear that ebooks will kill print books when really it’s the words in the books that matter not the medium in which they’re read. I would encourage all book lovers to grab a copy of this book and read it as soon as possible!

The quote I picked stands out to me in this book because it’s so beautiful and true. It’s a quote I often think about because it’s both a comfort when you’ve lost loved ones but also a reminder that if you do anything with a passion then you are making a difference. There are many other wonderful quotes that I could have picked from the book but this one is my favourite.

I bought a battered second-hand copy of Fahrenheit 451 soon after I sent the borrowed copy back to its owner. I’ve read it so many times that it was falling to pieces and being held together with tape! For my birthday a few years ago my husband bought me this beautiful clothbound hardback copy which I love! I think I would go as far as to say it’s my favourite edition of all of my books.

I have to give credit to my husband for taking the fab photo of my copy of the books used in this post, I love the way ha got the effect of flame around the book – it’s so fitting to that the novel is about. Please note that no flames were actually used and the book is safe! 🙂

Please feel free to join in with the 3 Quotes Challenge. The challenge is just to post one quote every day for three days – the rest of this post is just what I chose to add.

3 Quotes Challenge & a Bookish Memory | After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell

To take part in the 3 Quotes Challenge all you have to do is thank the person who nominated you and link back to their post. Post a quote on your blog every day for three days. Nominate three other bloggers each day.

I was nominated to join in with this a really long time ago by the lovely ahouseofbooks and I just never got around to doing it. I keep seeing the tag around and really want to join in so thought I’d do it now.


I want to link my 3 Quotes Challenge to a series I started called Bookish Memories that I started when I first began my blog but have neglected for ages.

My first quote is from After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell

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“What are you supposed to do with all the love you have for somebody if that person is no longer there? What happens to all that leftover love? Do you suppress it? Do you ignore it? Are you supposed to give it to someone else?” 

I lost my best friend in 2000 and I was heartbroken. I had gone through bereavement before but it was nothing like how this felt. We were only a few months apart in age and the idea of someone my own age and so full of life dying at the age of 20 was beyond my comprehension. I couldn’t focus on anything, I couldn’t read and I was in a really bad place.

One day I was flicking through a magazine my mum had given me and I saw a tiny review for a book called After You’d Gone. I’d never heard of the novel or the author but in the review was the above quote and it just made me want this book like I’d never wanted to get hold of a book before! I just felt that this book would help me, the quote just got to me so much because those were the questions I needed answers to.

I immediately rang my local book shop to ask if they had it in stock but they told me it wasn’t released for another few days. So, I pre-ordered a copy and on release day I waited outside the shop for it to open. The very second I got the book I started reading – I literally walked to the bus stop while reading, I carried on reading on the bus journey home (even though reading on moving vehicles makes me feel very sick). I finished the book in three hours and in that time I cried and cried but by the end I felt soothed. Even though the loss in After You’d Gone is a different loss to the one I was going through, the emotions and reactions were so similar and I connected with this book so strongly.

I started reading After You’d Gone again that night but this time around I read it slowly, I savoured it and I had a pack of post-it notes next to me so I could mark all my favourite paragraphs (there were a lot!). It’s honestly not overstating to say that After You’d Gone saved me.

I’ve treasured my copy of this book for all these years since and it’s one of very few books that I re-read every couple of years. It’s my go-to book when I need to be consoled and comforted.

I’ve pre-ordered every single Maggie O’Farrell book since then, I never need to read the synopsis because I trust her – I know that her writing will never let me down and it never, ever has. Just last week I read her latest book, and it’s a masterpiece (my review is here if you’d like to read it. I love all of her books – particularly The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and her new one, This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell started off her career as a novellist with an incredible book and then somehow has got better with every book that follows but I will always say that After You’d Gone is my favourite book by her because of my strong emotional attachment to it.

About the Book

The groundbreaking debut novel from Maggie O’Farrell, After You’d Goneis a stunning, best-selling story of wrenching love and grief.

A distraught young woman boards a train at King’s Cross to return to her family in Scotland. Six hours later, she catches sight of something so terrible in a mirror at Waverley Station that she gets on the next train back to London.

After You’d Gone follows Alice’s mental journey through her own past, after a traffic accident has left her in a coma. A love story that is also a story of absence, and of how our choices can reverberate through the generations, it slowly draws us closer to a dark secret at a family’s heart.

 


Do you have a strong emotional attachment to a book? Please tell me your story in the comments, I’d love to hear.


 

I nominate any who’d like to take part in this challenge. Please note that the challenge it just to share a favourite quote every day for three days, everything else in this post was just what I chose to add.

 

 

New Look for Rather Too Fond of Books!

Rather Too Fondof Books-6

Over the last few days I’ve been making some changes to my blog. I finally took the plunge yesterday and bought my own domain so my blog is now rathertoofondofbooks.com (all my old links with wordpress in will still work). I just feel so sure now that I will continue blogging for the foreseeable future and wanted to do something to mark that.

I’ve also been working on a new look for my blog. I’ve been thinking about giving it a makeover for a while as I’ve never liked the theme I had but it all takes time. Anyway, my lovely husband has kindly taken some fab photos of my books for me to use as headers and in my blog posts and I’m very happy with those. I just don’t have an eye for photography at all so I’m over the moon with my lovely new book images.

Just for comparison, this is what my blog looked like before…

Old Blog!! copy

I used this photo of my books as my old header because it’s the only photo I already had of my bookcases but I’ve never really liked the picture. I’m so pleased to now have a header that looks smarter and is more reflective of me and the books I love.

I’m going to be creating some new post headings too, so everything will have had an overhaul and been brought much more up-to-date.

Anyway, you can see my new look right here… what do you think? I hope you all like it and that it won’t take you long to recognise the new me!

The winners of my Rose’s Vintage giveaway are…

Rose's Vintage (online)-2

Thank you to all of you who entered my giveaway for one of three e-copies of Rose’s Vintage by Kayte Nunn. I have just picked the three winner on Rafflecopter and the lucky winners are:

Karl Borowy

Rhonda Lomazow

Suzanne Smith

Thank you again to Black Inc Books for offering the prizes and congratulations to all three winners!

My March Wrap-Up Post (2016)

Monthly Wrap-Up

Well, March has been a better month reading-wise and also personally. Personal news first, in case you’ve missed it, is that I finally got a stairlift fitted in my home, which means I can now safely go up and down the stairs on my own. I fought against this for so long and the minute it was in I felt like a weight had been lifted off me. It’s brilliant to be able to go downstairs whenever I want to without needing help on the stairs. 

I’ve been reading a lot more again during March, which is such a relief. My reading slump had been going on since the end of December and was starting to feel like it might never end. Unfortunately, we can’t seem to get my pain levels under any sort of control a lot of the time so I still can’t read as fast as before, or for as long a period as I lose concentration much more easily but it is great to be able to lose myself in a book even for just a short while at a time. I tend to spend my days reading a while, blogging a while, resting a longer while and then repeating! My blog really takes it out of me, it’s painful to type and it’s hard to think clearly but it gives me such a sense of having achieved something in my day that I refuse to give it up.

I managed to read seventeen books this month (well, sixteen books and a short story), which is not as many as I would have hoped but is way more than the previous two months when I was going through a major reading slump so I’m pleased at what I read. I’ve managed to review seven of these books so far, the ones I’ve reviewed are at the top of my list and have links so you can click to read them if you’d like to. I hope to review the other books but it’ll depend on time and my health situation.

Time to Say Goodbye by SD Robertson

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

Quicksand by Steve Toltz

You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

The Missing by CL Taylor

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay

A Woman in a Million by Monica Wood

The Art of Wearing Hats by Helena Sheffield

A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby

Sally Ride by Lynn Sherr

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall 

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

The Good Mother by AL Bird

 

I also reviewed three other books that I read in February but didn’t manage to review until March:

The Silent Girls by Ann Troup 

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis


 

I was very lucky this month that I got to interview four authors on my blog. You can read them all at the links below:

Janet Ellis (author of The Butcher’s Hook)

 

Carol Lovekin (author of Ghostbird)

 

Caroline James (author of Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean and Me) 

 

East of Coker banner (2)

Andy Owen (author of East of Coker)

 


 

Also on my blog I featured a lovely guest post by Elle Turner (author of Tapestry) and took part in a cover reveal for The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs


 

Then to round off what has been a brilliant month of blogging, I wrote a blog post this week about keeping books for the right moment (you can read that here) and it has become one of the most read posts on my blog and is the most liked so I’m thrilled about that. I’m not very confident in writing posts, I usually stick to reviews, so it was really lovely that something I wrote struck such a chord with some of my readers. 

My blog is still growing, which is brilliant. I’ve been blogging for about seven months now and enjoy it so much, I couldn’t imagine not being a blogger now!

Over the course of the next month on my blog I want to make a new blog header, and to make some new headers for my posts. My husband is much better at taking photos than me so he’s very kindly agreed to take some pics of my favourite books so that we can make them into some nicer headers. I’m looking forward to getting that done. I do keep pondering about changing my WP theme as I’ve never really liked this one, but I know how to make changes in this theme and how to keep it up to date so I’m reluctant to mess about with that just at the moment. Hopefully a new header will at least brighten things up a bit!

 


 

So, that was my month! How was your March? Has it been a book-filled month for you? Please feel free to share in the comments below, or to leave a link to your own March Wrap-Up post.

WWW Wednesdays (30 March 2016)

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

This book has me utterly engrossed – I literally only put it down when real life forces me too! I cannot figure out what is going on but I can sense there is going to be a shock in store. I hope to have some reading time later on today and so will probably finish it then.

Synopsis:

The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.

Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.

The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear.

The person who has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.

Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before.

dear dad by giselle green

Dear Dad by Giselle Green

This is such a great read. I knew it was going to be good but I wasn’t expecting it to get to me in the way it has, I can’t stop thinking about these characters and I want to get back to reading about them as soon as I possibly can. Dear Dad is due out tomorrow so I’d really like to finish it as soon as I can to have my review ready but at the same time I want to take my time reading to make the book last longer as I don’t want to finish it, it’s so good.

Synopsis:

Handsome, 28-year old, Nate Hardman is a frontline reporter with a big problem. Suffering from shell-shock and unable to leave his house, he’s already lost his social life and his girlfriend. Now his career prospects are sinking fast. 

9 year-old Adam Boxley who lives alone with his ageing nan, also has big problems. Neglected at home and bullied at school, he’s desperate to reach out to his dad – and that’s when he sends his first letter to Nate. Only Nate’s not who he thinks he is. Will he help? More importantly – can he? 

Across town meanwhile, caring but impulsive teacher Jenna Tierney really wants to help Adam – except the feisty redhead has already had enough of teaching. Recently hurt by yet another cheating boyfriend, Jenna’s now set her sights on pursuing a dream career abroad … only she’s about to meet Nate – her dream man who’ll make her re-think everything.  

The big question is; can three people desperate to find love, ever find happiness when they’re only connected by one big lie?

 

I am also still reading these books that I started before this week:

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

Truth, Lies and O-Rings by Allan J. McDonald & James R. Hansen


What I recently finished reading: 

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

I plan to have my review up for this book in the next few days… at the moment I’m struggling to get it written as I just adored this book. I find it so hard to review books that I loved as I can never do them justice but I will do my best. I will say that I finished this book almost a week ago and I still find myself thinking about the characters and actually wondering how they are!

Synopsis:

Miss Ona Vitkus has – aside from three months in the summer of 1914 – lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected. 

The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never…

Only it’s been two weeks now since he last visited, and she’s starting to think he’s not so different from all the rest.

Then the boy’s father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son’s good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life’s ambition to complete . . .

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

I finished this book a couple of days ago but has yet haven’t managed to finish my review. I’m struggling with this one because I have conflicting thoughts about it and so am trying to get them written down in a coherent review. Hopefully I’ll have it ready to post very soon.

Synopsis:

They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened…

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.


 

What I plan on reading next:

In The Light Of What We See by Sarah Painter

In The Light of What We See by Sarah Painter

I’m very excited to start reading this book, it sounds so good. I hope to be reading it later today.

Synopsis:

Brighton, 1938: Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed. Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse. But danger stalks the hospital too, and she’ll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps. And then there are the things she sees…Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.

Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is brought to the same hospital after a near-fatal car crash. She is in terrible pain but recalls nothing. She’s not even sure whom to trust. Mina too sees things that others cannot, but now, in hospital, her visions are clearer than ever…

Two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by a shared space and a common need to salvage their lives.


 

I posted a piece on Monday about how I’ve realised that I keep a lot of books (you can read my post HERE if you’d like to), that I badly want to read, for the right moment but then the build up is so big that the right moment never comes. So I’m trying to think of the best way to set myself a challenge to start reading these books. I think it will help if I make sure I list one in my WWW Wednesday post every week and then make sure I at least start reading it before the following week comes around.


 

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

 

Blog Post: Keeping Books for ‘Best’!

 

cropped-books1

I downloaded the latest operating system for my iPad last week without really paying attention to what the update would do to my device. The reality is that it changed how iBooks works and as a result I had to re-download and then re-organise all of my books. I have so many ebooks that this is a mammoth task and I wasn’t happy at having to do it but I realised it would be a good opportunity to weed out books I’m probably never going to read and to make sure the books I really badly want to read are where I can easily find them.

Seems like a good plan, huh?

The problem is that it turns out that I have hundreds (well over a thousand actually) ebooks that I classed as being books I want to read as soon as possible! It’s not just ebooks either, I do have fewer print books than ebooks these days but I do still have books that I’ve had for years that I really want to read.

I got to thinking then about why I have so many unread books that I classify as being books I want to read soon and then I realised what it is.

Bear with me here…

My mum used to keep nice things for best. As a result her best things, her most favourite things hardly ever got used or worn. When my mum died I cried so much at how many of her lovely clothes she had perhaps only worn once or twice, and then there were the few items that had had better days that she continued to keep wearing. I realised that day that I was the same as my mum. I had so many lovely things that I kept in a cupboard or away in a box where  they wouldn’t get damaged but what use are nice things if you never get to feel the joy of wearing them or using them.

I take great joy from the fact that every day my husband and I eat with my mum’s best cutlery. I’d always loved her best set of tableware but it came out at Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions only. I made a promise to myself on the day I left her home for the last time that I would use this cutlery every day and I have stuck to it. It makes me happy.

Sorting out my ebooks this week I realised that I have developed the habit of keeping my books for ‘best’. By this I mean that when I buy a book that I know I will absolutely love I save it for the right moment, for that perfect time when I can just curl up in the right mood and just read. The problem is that when you’ve saved a book for so long there never seems to be a right moment and the book ends up left unread for months, even years.

It’s such a silly thing to do because I’m usually a good judge of what books I will and won’t like, and so often I’ve sat down with whatever book has caught my attention on that particular day and find I simply can’t put it down because serendipitously it is the right book for that moment in time! 

For example I recently read Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, I had to read it for a specific date as I was on the blog tour but it so happened that it was absolutely the right moment in my life to read it as it had such a profound impact on me. I can’t stop thinking about the story, it completely and utterly captivated me.

I realise now that I need to start reading the books I’m keeping for best, because like wearing a brand new dress when I’m just mooching about the house, it lifts my mood and feels like I’m giving myself a little treat.

So I’m making a new rule for myself that I have to stop keeping books for ‘best’. Books are there for reading, not for cluttering up an iPad or gathering dust on a bookcase. I’m going to think about the best way to challenge myself to start reading these books… I’ll possibly start and write a blog post every now and then about how I’m getting on. If you have any ideas on how best to keep myself on track with this then please comment below.

 

*The image in this post is also my blog header and was taken where I used to live and I still have some of these books unread on my bookcase but I do really really want to read them so it’s not just ebooks, it’s all of my books!


 

 

Do you recognise yourself in this post at all? Do you keep books for a particular time that then never seems to come? How do you make sure that books you really want to read don’t end up gathering dust on your shelves forever more?

Weekly Wrap-Up (27 March 2016)

Weekly wrap-up banner

SundayBlogShare

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

 

 

This week has been a fab week on my blog. I was thrilled to pass 300 WordPress followers earlier in the week and then just yesterday I noticed that I’d passed 2000 total followers! I’ve only been blogging since the end of August so am feeling quite overwhelmed to find that I have so many people reading my blog. Thank you so much to each and every one of you. I started my blog after a really tough time in my real life as it gave me something positive to focus on every day. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain how much this blog and the support I’ve received has meant to me but I am so very, very grateful.


 

This week I’ve read three books:

The Missing by C. L. Taylor

This was a great read – a very intense, hard to put down novel about a family trying to come to terms with a missing teenager. It’s more of a mystery than a psychological thriller but it’s definitely one not to be missed. I hope to have a review of it up on my blog this week.

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

There were aspects of this novel that were really well done and others that I feel conflicted about so I’m struggling to review it at the moment. I hope to find the words for a review and to have it up on my blog soon.

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

I just finished reading this novel last night and it had me in tears, I found it to be such a moving novel but ultimately very uplifting. I’m hoping to run a giveaway for a hardback copy of the novel along with my review so I’m intending to have this ready to go in the next week or two, so please keep an eye out for that.


 

I’ve managed to blog five times this week.

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up Post

Monday: Blog Tour – Review of Ghostbird and interview with its author, Carol Lovekin

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday Post

Thursday: Q&A with Caroline James, author of Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean and Me

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves Post


 

Coming soon on my blog:

I have a busy time ahead this week with medical appointments that I know will take a lot out of me so I’m just going to blog if I’m up to it. I do have an author interview almost written up, and I have a couple of reviews ready for posting so hopefully I’ll manage to get this content on my blog over the course of this week.


 

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

Dear Dad by Giselle Green

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

Truth, Lies and O-Rings by Allan J. McDonald and James R. Hansen

I had started reading The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen but I hadn’t realised that the release date has been put back to July so as I’d only read a few chapters I’ve decided to put this book to one side until nearer the publication date. It is a book I was enjoying and I’ll look forward to reading it in its entirety closer to July.

 


 

What have you been reading this week? Please feel free to link to your weekly wrap-up post, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below! I love to hear what you’re all reading. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves (26 March 2016)

stacking-the-shelves

(Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.)

This week I received two books for review:

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

I just loved the sound of the synopsis for this book and knew I had to read it! I hope to get a chance to start reading it soon.

Breaking the Silence by Jo Milne

I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book. I remember watching the video of Jo Milne hearing for the first time on the news a couple of years ago and am really interested to learn more about her life. I’m sure I’ll be reading this very soon, especially as I’m still enjoying non-fiction so much at the moment.


 

I also went on another kindle book buying splurge. Some of these books are new releases and some are in the current sale.

The Primrose Path by Rebecca Griffiths

I’ve seen people tweeting about this book and so couldn’t resist buying it on release day on Thursday. I’m trying to catch up on review books just now but I hope to squeeze this book in very soon!

Beneath the Surface by Heidi Perks

This is another book that I’ve heard so much about on social media and so I pre-ordered it a while ago. It appeared on my Kindle on Thursday morning and I can’t wait to read it!

Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon

I’ve been aware of this novel for a while and knew it was something that I was very interested in reading but I never got around to buying a copy. I happened to see it mentioned in a blog the other day and it spurred me on to just treat myself to a copy. I definitely want to read this one soon.

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

The premise of this book sounded fascinating to me and I’m keen to read it as soon as I possibly can.

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

I’m a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern’s novels, I’ve read and loved them all and so when I heard that her next book would be a YA novel I was intrigued. There was no way I was going to be able to resist getting a copy to see what it’s like!

Playthings by Alex Pheby

I heard about this book on social media recently and immediately bought a copy.

The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Bell (£1.19 in the spring sale)

This sounds like a sweet, light-hearted read.

The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield (99p in the spring sale)

This book has been on my wish list for a while but I’ve seen mixed reviews so was undecided as to whether I was going to get it or not but then I spotted it in the Kindle spring sale for 99p and figured it was worth taking a chance on for that price! Hopefully I’ll be one of the readers who really enjoys it.

 


 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday (23 March 2016)

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

I started reading this novel yesterday and am really enjoying it. I’m only a few chapters in but I can already sense the slightly sinister atmosphere that is beginning to build. I hope to be well enough to read more of this very soon.

Synopsis:

In the heady swelter of a London summer, the Elm Hill lido opens.

For teacher Natalie Steele, the school holiday typically means weeks of carefully planned activities with her husband Ed and their daughter Molly. But not this year.

Despite Molly’s extreme phobia of the water, Natalie is drawn to the lido and its dazzling social scene, led by the glamorous Lara Channing. Soon Natalie is spending long, intoxicating days with Lara at the pool – and intimate evenings at her home. Natalie’s real life begins to feel very far away.

But is the new friendship everything it seems? Why is Natalie haunted by memories from another summer years ago? And, without realising, has she been swept dangerously out of her depth?

I’m also still reading these books from last week as I’ve not felt up to reading as much in the last few days:

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Truth, Lies and O-Rings by Allan J. McDonald and James R. Hansen


What I recently finished reading: 

ghostbird cover final  front only

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

I adored this book – so much so that it was near impossible for me to put into words how I felt about it. I was on the blog tour yesterday so shared my review (along with an interview with the author), you can read that HERE if you’d like to. I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough through, it’s definitely one not to be missed!

Synopsis:

Nothing hurts like not knowing who you are. Nobody will tell Cadi anything about her father and her sister. Her mother Violet believes she can only cope with the past by never talking about it. Lili, Cadi’s aunt, is stuck in the middle, bound by a promise she shouldn’t have made. But this summer, Cadi is determined to find out the truth.

In a world of hauntings and magic, in a village where it rains throughout August, as Cadi starts on her search the secrets and the ghosts begin to wake up. None of the Hopkins women will be able to escape them.

 

The Missing by C. L. Taylor

The Missing by C. L. Taylor

I’ve been reading this on and off for the past few days and really enjoyed it. The novel does centre around a mystery and there are some thriller elements to it but it doesn’t really feel like a psychological thriller to me. It is a good read though and I would recommend it.  I hope to have my review up on my blog in the next week or so.

Synopsis:

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide…


What I plan on reading next:

dear dad by giselle green

Dear Dad by Giselle Green

I plan to start reading this in the next day or two so that I can (hopefully) have my review ready for released day on 31st March. I’ve enjoyed the previous Giselle Green novels that I’ve read so I’m really looking forward to starting this one.

Synopsis:

Handsome, 28-year old, Nate Hardman is a frontline reporter with a big problem. Suffering from shell-shock and unable to leave his house, he’s already lost his social life and his girlfriend. Now his career prospects are sinking fast. 

9 year-old Adam Boxley who lives alone with his ageing nan, also has big problems. Neglected at home and bullied at school, he’s desperate to reach out to his dad – and that’s when he sends his first letter to Nate. Only Nate’s not who he thinks he is. Will he help? More importantly – can he? 

Across town meanwhile, caring but impulsive teacher Jenna Tierney really wants to help Adam – except the feisty redhead has already had enough of teaching. Recently hurt by yet another cheating boyfriend, Jenna’s now set her sights on pursuing a dream career abroad … only she’s about to meet Nate – her dream man who’ll make her re-think everything.  

The big question is; can three people desperate to find love, ever find happiness when they’re only connected by one big lie?

I hope to start reading a couple of other books this week too but I need to finish my current reads first, hopefully I’ll be back to reading at normal speed very soon and can catch up a bit more.


 

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

Weekly Wrap-Up (20 March 2016)

Weekly wrap-up banner

SundayBlogShare

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

 

This week has been a busy week for me with a lot of things that have really taken it out of me but it’s been a productive week too.

The biggest and best thing to happen this week was that I got my stairlift installed! I can’t quite put into words how much happier I feel already at being able to get down the stairs. It’s wonderful and I now wish I hadn’t resisted for so long. Finally being able to spend time in a different room of the house has been lovely but it’s really taken it out of me, I’ve been exhausted the last couple of days. It was worth it this week though just to experience the freedom of getting down the stairs again.

Due to the busy week and increased pain levels and fatigue I haven’t managed to read as much as I would have liked this week. I have still being able to read for a little while on most days though, which I’m pleased about. I hate when I have whole days where I don’t manage to read anything at all.


 

This week I’ve read three books:

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

You Sent Me a Letter by Lucy Dawson I reviewed this book on my blog on Friday so you can read it HERE if you’d like to.

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin I’ll be sharing my review of this book on my blog tomorrow as part of the blog tour so please look out for that.


 

I’ve managed to blog seven times this week, which I’m very happy about. I miss blogging on the times when I’m not able to.

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up Post

Monday: Q&A with Andy Owen (author of East of Coker)

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

 Cover reveal for The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

Friday: Review of You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post


 

Coming soon on my blog:

Monday: I’m on the blog tour for Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin so will be able to share my review of this wonderful novel and also a Q&A with the author herself!

I haven’t got the rest of my blog week scheduled yet but I do know that I will have a Q&A with author Caroline James, and I have some reviews to write and post too of books that I’ve read over the last couple of weeks.


 

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

 

The Missing by C. L. Taylor

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Truth, Lies and O-Rings by Allan J. McDonald and James R. Hansen

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen


 

What have you been reading this week? Please feel free to link to your weekly wrap-up post, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below! I love to hear what you’re all reading. 🙂

 

Stacking the Shelves (19 March 2016)

stacking-the-shelves

(Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.)

This week I’ve tried to be more restrained in my book buying and I have been to a degree but I still couldn’t resist buying a few books!

Here are the new books that I purchased this week:

Love Like Salt: A Memoir by Helen Stevenson I’ve heard so much about this book on social media and have been really wanting to read it. I hope to get to it soon.

Mrs Houdini by Victoria Kelly I bought this book on a bit of a whim! I saw the cover and thought it looked fab and then when I read the synopsis it sounded like a really good read.

When We Were Alive by C. J. Fisher This is book I’ve seen reviewed on quite a few blogs recently so when I spotted it at a good price on Kindle I thought I’d download it.

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie I saw this reviewed on MyChesnutReadingTree‘s blog this week and went straight to my Kindle and downloaded it. I can’t wait to read it, it sounds like my type of book.

Case 48 by Emma Kavanagh (a free short story on Amazon Kindle) I’ve loved all of Emma Kavanagh’s novels so when I spotted this free short story it was a no brainer to download it.


I also received these books for review:

The Missing by C. L. Taylor I was thrilled that my request for this book was approved, I adore C. L. Taylor’s writing and wanted to read this book asap! I do have it on pre-order so will still have a print copy on release day but I couldn’t resist the chance to read and review it sooner! I’ve started reading it already so should be able to review it next week.

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird I’m really looking forward to reading this review book too, so much so that it’s next on my list when I’ve finished The Missing.

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom I was offered the chance to read and review Wonder Cruise this week and I’m looking forward to starting it. 

The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby I was also offered the chance to review this book too, it may be a little while before I get to it but I am looking forward to reading it.


 

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

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

Cover Reveal: The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

I’m very excited to be able to share the gorgeous cover for The Joyce Girl, the debut novel by Annabel Abbs!

Final front cover

Isn’t it a beauty? 

I’m thrilled to have been invited to be on the blog tour for The Joyce Girl later this year and can’t wait to read it.

About the book:

1928
Avant-garde Paris is buzzing with the latest ideas in art, music, literature and dance. Lucia, the talented and ambitious daughter of James Joyce, is making her name as a dancer, training with some of the world’s most gi ed performers. When a young Samuel Beckett comes to work for her father, she’s captivated by his quiet intensity and falls passionately in love. Persuaded she has clairvoyant powers, Lucia believes
her destiny is to marry Beckett. But when her beloved brother is enticed away, the hidden threads of the Joyce’s lives begin to unravel, destroying Lucia’s dreams and foiling her attempts to escape the shadow of her genius father.

1934
Her life in tatters, Lucia is sent by her father to pioneering psychoanalyst, Doctor Jung. For years she has kept quiet. But now she decides to speak.

Based on the true story of Lucia, The Joyce Girl is a beautiful story of thwarted ambition and the nurtur- ing but ultimately destructive love of a father.

A mesmerising and original debut, The Joyce Girl will be published in the UK and Ireland in paperback and eBook in June 2016.

Profits from first year royalties go to YoungMinds in memory of Lucia Joyce, who spent most of her life interred in an asylum.

 

The Joyce Girl won the Impress Prize for New Writers in September 2015. The shortlist was judged by a panel of experts in the publishing industry. The novel was also longlisted for the Bath Novel Award and the Caledonia Novel Award.

About the author:

Annabel Abbs grew up in Bristol, Wales and Sussex, before stud- ying English Literature at the University of East Anglia. Her
debut novel, e Joyce Girl, won the 2015 Impress Prize and was longlisted for the 2015 Bath Novel Award and the 2015 Caledonia Novel Award. Her short stories have been long and shortlisted for various awards. She is now completing her second novel, based on the life of Frieda von Richthofen, wife and muse to D.H. Lawrence.

Before she began writing she spent 15 years running a marketing consultancy where her clients included Reuters, Sony and the FT. She lives in London and Sussex with her husband and four children.

@annabelabbs
@The_JoyceGirl

http://www.facebook.com/annabel.abbs

 

WWW Wednesday (16 March 2016)

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

The missing

The Missing by C. L. Taylor

I was so excited when I saw that this book was going to be available on Net Galley and was thrilled when my request was approved. I *love* C. L. Taylor’s books so much. I actually already have this on pre-order but couldn’t resist the chance to read and review it sooner. I’ll still look forward to my copy arriving in the post though.

Synopsis:

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide…

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

I am enjoying this book so much, it’s a very amusing novel and one I’m finding hard to put down.

Synopsis:

When Amber Green, a shop assistant in an exclusive London boutique is plucked from obscurity and mistakenly offered a job working with Mona Armstrong, the infamous, jet-setting ‘stylist to the stars’, she hits the ground running, helping to style some of Hollywood’s hottest (and craziest) starlets.

As awards season spins into action Mona is in hot demand and Amber’s life turned upside down. Suddenly she catching the attention of two very different suitors, TV producer Rob and Hollywood bad boy rising star Liam. How will Amber keep her head? And what the hell will everyone wear?

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

I was lucky to win a signed copy of this novel in a competition and it’s definitely a book that I will treasure as it’s such a beautiful, moving story. I’m about halfway through it and whenever I’m not reading it I’m thinking about the characters. 

Synopsis:

A one-in-a-million story for anyone who loves to laugh, cry, and think about how extraordinary ordinary life can be. Not to be missed by readers who loved THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, ELIZABETH IS MISSING or THE SHOCK OF THE FALL.

Miss Ona Vitkus has – aside from three months in the summer of 1914 – lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected. 

The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never…

Only it’s been two weeks now since he last visited, and she’s starting to think he’s not so different from all the rest.

Then the boy’s father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son’s good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life’s ambition to complete . . .

The Day of Second Chances

The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen

I’ve hard this novel on my review shelf for a while now and this week it was calling to me. I wish I’d read it sooner now because it’s such a good book, another one that’s had to put down.

Synopsis:

Can you imagine keeping a secret so devastating, you couldn’t even tell the people you love?

Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo’s secret could smash apart the ‘normal’ family life she’s fought so hard to build.

Lydia’s secret could bring her love – or the loss of everything that matters to her.

One summer’s day, grandmother, mother and daughter’s secrets will collide in a single dramatic moment.

Is it too late for second chances?

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

This novel is so enchantingly beautiful, I’m actually not sure how I will ever to justice to it in a review. I’m deliberately reading it slowly as I just want it to last forever. Ghostbird is released tomorrow so please go buy a copy, you won’t want to miss this book! My review will be up on Monday (the 21st March) as part of the blog tour and I’ll also have a Q&A with the author, Carol Lovekin, which I can’t wait to share.

Synopsis:

Nothing hurts like not knowing who you are. Nobody will tell Cadi anything about her father and her sister. Her mother Violet believes she can only cope with the past by never talking about it. Lili, Cadi’s aunt, is stuck in the middle, bound by a promise she shouldn’t have made. But this summer, Cadi is determined to find out the truth.

In a world of hauntings and magic, in a village where it rains throughout August, as Cadi starts on her search the secrets and the ghosts begin to wake up. None of the Hopkins women will be able to escape them.

truth lies and o-rings

Truth, Lies and, O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Disaster by Allan J. McDonald & James R. Hansen

I’m still reading this book and I think I will be for a while. It’s a fascinating read but it’s not one to read in big chunks.

Synopsis:

On a cold January morning in 1986, NASA launched the Space Shuttle Challenger, despite warnings against doing so by many individuals, including Allan McDonald. The fiery destruction of Challenger on live television moments after launch remains an indelible image in the nation’s collective memory.

In Truth, Lies, and O-Rings, McDonald, a skilled engineer and executive, relives the tragedy from where he stood at Launch Control Center. As he fought to draw attention to the real reasons behind the disaster, he was the only one targeted for retribution by both NASA and his employer, Morton Thiokol, Inc., makers of the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters. In this whistle-blowing yet rigorous and fair-minded book, McDonald, with the assistance of internationally distinguished aerospace historian James R. Hansen, addresses all of the factors that led to the accident, some of which were never included in NASA’s Failure Team report submitted to the Presidential Commission.

Truth, Lies, and O-Rings is the first look at the Challenger tragedy and its aftermath from someone who was on the inside, recognized the potential disaster, and tried to prevent it. It also addresses the early warnings of very severe debris issues from the first two post-Challenger flights, which ultimately resulted in the loss of Columbia some fifteen years later.


 

What I recently finished reading: 

I’m so happy to report that my reading mojo is finally back! This week I have finished SIX books!! Some of these books I’ve been reading for a while and just finished them this week but I did read three whole books from start to finish since last Wednesday. I’ve only managed to review on of these books so far but I do plan on reviewing the rest very soon so look out for those.

Quicksand by Steve Toltz (I was on the blog tour for this book on Friday so you can read my review here if you’d like to)

You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

Sally Ride by Lynn Sherr

A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby


 

What I plan on reading next:

the good mother

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

I was super excited to received a review copy of this book as it sounds so good. I hope to start reading it in the next few days and I suspect it’ll be one of those that I can’t put down.

Synopsis:

The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.

Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.

The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear.

The person who has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.

Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before.

the night that changed everthing

The Night That Changed Everything by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

I’m so looking forward to reading this book, it sounds like such a good read. I’ve heard lots of good things about it so I’m sure I’m going to really enjoy it.

Synopsis:

Rebecca is the only girl she knows who didn’t cry at the end of Titanic. Ben is the only man he knows who did. Rebecca’s untidy but Ben doesn’t mind picking up her pieces. Ben is laid back by Rebecca keeps him on his toes. They’re a perfect match.

Nothing can come between them. Or so they think.

When a throwaway comment reveals a secret from the past, their love story is rewritten.

Can they recover from the night that changed everything? And how do you forgive when you can’t forget?

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

I’m such a big fan of Louise Candlish’s novels so I can’t wait to start reading this one.

Synopsis:

In the heady swelter of a London summer, the Elm Hill lido opens.

For teacher Natalie Steele, the school holiday typically means weeks of carefully planned activities with her husband Ed and their daughter Molly. But not this year.

Despite Molly’s extreme phobia of the water, Natalie is drawn to the lido and its dazzling social scene, led by the glamorous Lara Channing. Soon Natalie is spending long, intoxicating days with Lara at the pool – and intimate evenings at her home. Natalie’s real life begins to feel very far away.

But is the new friendship everything it seems? Why is Natalie haunted by memories from another summer years ago? And, without realising, has she been swept dangerously out of her depth?

 


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

 

 

Q&A with Andy Owen (Author of East of Coker)

 

 

East of Coker banner (2)

I recently got to do a Q&A with Andy Owens, author of East of Coker, and am pleased to able to share it with you today.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I am married with two young children and I live in West London. East of Coker is my second novel. 

How did you first come to be a writer? 

Through reading. I have always read – both fiction and non-fiction. More specifically, whilst working for the government in the UK on counter terrorism duties I read Moby Dick and was struck between the similarities between some of the characters and situations in the novel and some of those I was encountering in my day job. When Melville introduces Ismael to us speaking of the need when he feels it is a ‘damp, drizzly November’ in his soul, to get to sea, he highlights something enduring in human nature. He highlighted the same existential ennui that I was seeing in some of those that were going off not to sea, but the mountains to join terrorist organisations and that had formed a part of the motivation to sign up for some of the soldiers I had previously served with. Melville’s characters embark on a journey that explores themes of obsession, belief, belonging and the impact of charismatic leaders on a group – all themes I was interested in and were relevant to some of the issues of today. 

So, I started to write as I thought I had something to say on a subject that was been dealt with in a shallow and often ignorant way. It was something I had experience of and I thought I had found an interesting idea of how to do it – an idea that would mean it was a good story too. Since I started reading I had always been fascinated by how we recycle stories from one generation to the next. Ultimately I wanted to contribute to an important conversation that was been dominated by the loudest voices rather the most thoughtful. I also hoped it could be a way of helping raising funds for a good cause through donating the royalties. 

What is your book East of Coker about?

If my first book Invective was about why people want to go off and fight, East of Coker is about what happens after you have ‘visited a place where the surface layer has been eroded and the bedrock that is beneath us all is exposed’. More than this it is also about how we can help each other move on. It moves through a London and an Iraq that shadows TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, asking what duty do those left behind have to those that would otherwise be forgotten and, how through acceptance of what we have done, who we are, and where we are all inevitably heading to, what happiness can be found. I think in the end it is a love story, but maybe not one in the traditional sense. 

It follows the lives of Arthur, a wounded veteran of an old war, the love he left behind, an injured veteran of a new war and an Iraqi family in Basra, become intertwined as they all try in different ways to cope with the uncertainty the conflicts they have been exposed to has created. As their stories eventually collide in a hospital in London, while riots outside get closer each night, Arthur tries to free himself from the anchors of the past and ensure his new friend does not suffer like he has. As Arthur learns how to accept his fate he realises there is one more fight he must fight. He must reach the woman who has been waiting for him to return, for all these years, before time runs out. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a family try to cope with the consequences of a modern war fought on ancient soil by unwelcome intruders, threatening their way of life and traditions. I hope that despite some of its subject matter it is ultimately uplifting. 

All royalties are donated to the Shoulder to Shoulder Project, a volunteer mentoring programme that supports ex-service men and women who are recovering from mental health issues or having difficulty adjusting to civilian life.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Ultimately it is experience and imagination, in that order. Both books have started with ideas. The ideas themselves are inspired by the desire to tell stories from the perspective of those who may not have a voice. I agree with Susan Sontag when in ‘At the Same Time: Essays & Speeches’ she muses on what literature can do and she says ‘literature can train, and exercise, our ability to weep for those who are not us or ours’. She says that writers ‘evoke our common humanity in narratives with which we can identify, even though the lives may be remote from our own’. Our brains are hardwired to learn through stories, from when we first sat round the fire, to the parables of the early religions through the whole body of world literature. We learn what we are like and value as a society by understand our own stories, but maybe more importantly we learn what others are like, learn that we are more alike than different by learning the stories of others and experiencing the world through their eyes even for the brief time it takes to read a few pages. Writing gives you the opportunity to increase the amount of empathy in the world, which should provide enough inspiration to give it a go. 

What is your writing routine?

I start with an idea, then do the research, then do the writing. Writing happens in bursts and mostly at 30,000 feet. I travel a lot with work, mostly to Africa and Latin America, so long flights are great opportunities to get focussed bursts done with no distractions. 

What’s your favourite book?

It’s a really hard question to answer, there are so many and different books have meant different things to me at different times. In the last  12 months I read Sebald for the first time. Reading Austerlitz taught me that you could tell a story through the gaps in what you do write. It stayed with me for a long time after, just as Camus’ The Outsider had many years ago. On a list of my favourite books Joyce’s Ulysses, which made me first realise that you could write language in a way that reading it could be like listening to music, and Homer’s original. Hemmingway, Orwell and Graves writing on war influenced me greatly and I will always happily read anything by William Boyd, Julian Barnes, Marilyn Robinson or John Le Carrie. And Moby Dick obviously…

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

What will you have? A Guinness please

How can people connect with you on social media?

I am on Twitter (@owen_andy)


 

East of Coker is out now and available to buy on Kindle from Amazon. The book will also be available in print later this month via The War Writers’ Campaign. Please check out their website.

East of Coker banner (2)

 

About the book:

The lives of Arthur, a wounded veteran of an old war, the love he left behind, an injured veteran of a new war and an Iraqi family in Basra, become intertwined as they all try in different ways to cope with the uncertainty the conflicts they have been exposed to has created. Each chapter is told through a separate voice seeing conflict from different sides. 

Their stories eventually collide in a hospital in London, while riots outside get closer each night, when Arthur recovering from a stroke meets the injured veteran from Iraq who is struggling more with mental injuries than the physical ones he received in the incident he described to us in previous chapters. Arthur tries to free himself from the anchors of the past and ensure his new friend does not suffer like he has. He helps his friend realise he should talk to his family and learn to move on like he never managed to do. As Arthur learns how to accept his fate he realises there is one more fight he must fight. He must reach the woman who has been waiting for him to return, for all these years, before time runs out. He uses all his strength to make one final journey to find out that she is still there waiting.    
East of Coker moves through a London and an Iraq that shadows TS Eliot’s Waste Land, asking what duty do those left behind have to those that would otherwise be forgotten and, how through acceptance of what we have done, who we are, and where we are all inevitably heading to, what happiness can be found. 

‘This is an ambitious and thoughtful book, valuable both for itself and its charitable links. It weaves stories of loss and war around a structure of T.S. Eliot’s the Waste Land and speaks for, as well as supports, some of those for whom speech is difficult yet necessary in the wake of past trauma.’ Gay Watson, A Philosophy of Emptiness.

Weekly Wrap-Up (13th March 2016)

Weekly wrap-up banner

SundayBlogShare

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

 

This week has been a much better for week in terms of reading, I finally feel like my mojo is really, properly on its way back. I’ve finished five books (most were books that I’ve been part way through for a while, only one was a book I started and finished in the same week), I’ve started some new books and most importantly when I’m not reading I look forward to getting back to my books! It’s wonderful to feel like this again. Now I just need my reading speed to pick up as I’m not used to reading so slowly but I’m sure that will come back soon now I’m excited about reading again.

My real life has been up and down this week. I had an appointment on Monday that was important but it was very hard on my body and triggered off the very severe pain that I get. I had to spend the rest of the day flat on my back in bed as I could not move. It’s taken a couple of days for things to begin to ease but I’m finally back at a more normal level of pain for me now.

I’m excited for this week as I’m due to have my stairlift installed and I just can’t wait, I feel like a small child waiting for Christmas to arrive and I’m practically counting the minutes down now! I don’t want to have a stairlift but I do want the freedom to go downstairs in my own home when I want to.


This week I’ve finished reading five books:

Apart from Quicksand, which I did read within the last seven days, I’ve been reading these books for a while now and just managed to finish them this week.

Quicksand by Steve Toltz (I was on the blog tour for this book on Friday and I shared my review so please check that out here.)

Sally Ride by Lynn Sherr

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

The Art of Wearing Hats by Helena Sheffield

A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby

The four books that I haven’t reviewed yet are on my list to review so hopefully I’ll get those posted on my blog in the next couple of weeks or so.


 

I’ve managed to blog six times this week, which I’m very pleased about.

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Tuesday: Review of Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of Time to Say Goodbye by SD Robertson

Friday: Blog tour and review of Quicksand by Steve Toltz

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

Coming soon on my blog:

I don’t plan a set schedule for my blog unless I have blog tour scheduled in but I do usually know what I’d like to post on each day, health permitting! This week I will definitely have an interview with author Andy Owen about his new book, East of Coker. I also plan to review two or three of the books I’ve finished recently. And, of course, I’ll still be joining in with my regular WWW Wednesday, Stacking the Shelves on Saturday and on Sunday will be my Weekly Wrap-Up post.


 

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

Truth, Lies and O-Rings by Allan J. McDonald and James R. Hansen

I’m still finding this book to be fascinating but it’s quite technical so I’m just reading a chapter here and there. It’s also over 800 pages long so I reckon this will be an ongoing read for quite a while.

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

This is another fab book by Tammy Cohen, I’m now 62% through it and have got my suspicions about certain characters! I want to keep reading but real life keeps interrupting.

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

This book was gifted to me on Net Galley a while ago and I’ve been really keen to read it but somehow haven’t got around to it until now. I’ve only read three chapters so far but I’m hooked and can’t wait to see what happens next to Amber Green!

The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen

This is another Net Galley book that I was so keen to read when I was approved for it but then real life got tough and my reading mojo upped and left. Now it’s back I couldn’t resist choosing this for my next read. It’s such a good book, I just wish I had more hours in the day to read!


 

What have you been reading this week? Please feel free to link to your weekly wrap-up post, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below! I love to hear what you’re all reading. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves (12 March 2016)

stacking-the-shelves

(Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.)

This week I have received a few books for review and have bought a few as well so my TBR is showing no sign of shrinking as yet!

A Mother's Love by Santa Montefiore my book

 

I won a book in a twitter giveaway this week and my prize arrived within days, so that was really lovely. Here’s the book I won – a beautiful hardback copy of Santa Montefiore’s A Mother’s Love, I can’t wait to read it.

 

 

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

 

I was also chosen to review Louise Candlish’s forthcoming book The Swimming Pool for LoveReading, which I’m thrilled about. It will be my first time reviewing for them so I’m excited. The book arrived yesterday morning and I plan to start reading it very soon. I do love Louise Candlish’s novels!

 

 

Tell Me Lies by Rececca Muddiman

 

My other exciting book post this week was a copy of Rebecca Muddiman’s brand new book Tell Me Lies for review. I do love Rebecca’s writing and have enjoyed her previous books so I’m looking forward to this one.

 

 

 

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace

 

 

I requested one book on Net Galley this week (which was very restrained by my standards!) and was approved for it. The book is The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace. I’ve heard only great things about this book so I’m very excited to read it soon.

 

I was also offered a couple of books to review privately and hope to have time to read these books soon.

East of Coker by Andy Owen (Andy is going to be featuring on my blog next week in an interview I did with him so look out for that.)

Dear Dad by Giselle Green


 

I also bought a few new books this week.

Lover by Anna Raverat

Eleanor by Jason Gurley

The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis