Stacking the Shelves with a brand new book haul (18 May 2019)!

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

 

Purchased eBooks

After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott

Jo Malone: My Story by Jo Malone

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

The Secretary by Renee Knight

 

Purchased Audio Books

The Hoarder by Jess Kidd

Rival Queens by Kate Williams

 


 

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

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#BookReview: Take Me To The Edge by Katya Boirand | @Katyahazel @Unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Take Me To The Edge Cover

About the Book

FIVE WORDS IS ALL IT TAKES TO PROVOKE A CHAIN OF CREATION. That is what Katya Boirand discovered the first time she asked a friend for five words and then turned them into a poem, using the words and the subject as her inspiration. This spark started a movement, and soon Katya was asking friends and strangers alike for their five words of choice. Take Me to the Edge is a selection of these poems, sitting alongside a portrait of each subject, in this stunning and joyous celebration of language, connection and art.

 

My Thoughts

Take Me To The Edge is a collection of poems which all stem from just five words that different people in Katya Boirand’s life had given her. The words are random and often seemingly completely unconnected but Boirand has taken these words and written some gorgeous poems that are collected together in this beautiful book.

The book itself is a lovely hardback and it felt like a real treat to sit down and read. Each poem is on a double page spread with one side being the poem and the other a stunning photograph of the person who gave her the five words. It really is a delight to read the poem and to take time to appreciate the fabulous photography too.

I adored the interconnectedness throughout this book in that the poems each come from five words a friend has given her. Then the photo of her friend is taken in such a way to encapsulate  the poem that came from those words. It was such a special experience to notice this and it really made me slow down to take each page in.

There are poems, like the one taken from Matt McCabe’s five words, that had a greater effect on me when combined with the fabulous photo of him on Westminster Bridge in London – it really made me stop and ponder the poem a little longer, and to think of the importance of the words ‘Fold fear beneath love / Feel peace in its prime‘. There are poems like the one created from Trish Campbell’s words that captivated me. This poem is one I read quite a few times and really sat and thought about. The photo of Trish in the sea is so perfect in combination with the poem that it brought a lump to my throat. Then there are the poems that feel really intimate, such as the poem that gave the collection its title, using words from Naurija Ziukaite – ‘Ah love, my one / I implore you / Take me to the edge‘. All so different and showing so many aspects of what makes us human.

The poems cover a wide scope but there is such a connection to the ones that went before and the ones that came after because of how they came to be. They are a snapshot of each person’s life but also of life in general and I certainly found there were a few poems that really spoke to me.

I love that at the back of the book there is a brief biography of each person who contributed five words, along with the five words they had given Boirand. When I discovered this I immediately went back and read each poem again, whilst referencing against the words they had picked. This was such a lovely thing to be able to do and I really appreciated that on getting to the end of the collection there was more for me to learn.

The thing I loved most about this book was the pure joy that I found in reading it. It’s a beautiful object, with stunning photographs and gorgeous poems. It’s a celebration of life and it was a welcome escape from all the trials and tribulations of the world we’re living in at the moment. I definitely recommend this book, I know I’ll be buying copies as gifts for people that I know will love this every bit as much as I did.

Take Me To The Edge is beautiful, captivating and a wonderful escapism!

Many thanks to the Unbound and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Take Me To The Edge is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Katya Boirand Author Pic

Katya Boirand is an actress, dancer, writer and poet. She has travelled the world but now has roots in London. Take Me to the Edge is her first poetry collection.

 

 

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

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This Week in Books (15 May 2019)! What are you reading?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Take Me To The Edge by Katya Boirand

This is a poetry collection and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve already read this once but am reading it again to get my thoughts together. I’ll be reviewing this for the blog tour on Friday so look out for my thoughts then.

Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor

This is really different to Jennie’s previous book The Girl in his Eyes (which I reviewed here) but it’s such a good read. I’m very much enjoying it.

The Family Man by Tim Lebbon

I’ve had this book on my TBR for ages so when I spotted the audio book on my subscription service I decided to part listen and part read. I’m glad I got the audio because I think I may have DNF it if I was reading it as it’s not what I was expecting. It’s an okay read.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

I’m still very much enjoying reading this book and wishing I’d got to it much sooner. I’m about two thirds of the way through it now and am going to really miss it once I’ve finished reading it.

 

Then

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

I loved this book! It’s hard to believe it’s a debut novel as it’s really good. I’ll be reviewing this one in a couple of weeks time for the tour but I definitely recommend it in the meantime!

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

I listened to this book on audio this week and really enjoyed it. It wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping but it was a really enthralling novel. I’ll be looking out for more of her books in the future.

At The Birth of Bowie by Phil Lancaster

My lovely mum-in-law gave me this for my birthday earlier this year and I’ve been keen to read it so picked it up one afternoon this week. I ended up reading it in one sitting. It wasn’t the best written book but the stories Phil Lancaster tells are brilliant to discover.

We Are Not Such Things by Justine van Der Luen

This was my non-fiction audio for the last week and it was a fascinating listen. It wasn’t exactly the book I thought it was going to be but it was such a good book.

The Treatment by C. L. Taylor

I’ve had a copy of this book for a while too and have part-read and part-listened to this one too. It was a fast-paced and gripping novel and I enjoyed it.

10 Things To Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe

This was a really moving read about a teenage girl coming to terms with the loss of her father whilst going into her final year of school. It was a really good read, I recommend it.

The End of the End of the Earth by Jonathan Franzen

This was such a good essay collection, I got a lot more out of it than I was expecting.

 

Next

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

I was sent an ARC of this last week and it’s been calling to me from my TBR – I don’t think I can wait any longer to pick this up so I hope to get to it this week.

We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont

I had hoped to start this over the last week but didn’t manage to get to it so it’s on my TBR for the coming week.

The Holiday by T.M. Logan

I got a copy of this on NetGalley and it sounds like such a fast-paced summer read so I might pick it up and read it in the garden while the weather it so glorious!

 


 

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

Stacking the Shelves with a Bumper Book Haul (11 May 2019)!

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

I’m not sure how I’ve missed joining in with Stacking the Shelve for the last four weeks but somehow I have. So today I’m sharing all of the books I’ve got in the last month! It’s rather a lot but I’m excited to read them all!

 

Purchased Books

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell

Midnight Chicken by Ella Risbridger

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

On The Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back by Stacey Dooley

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

The Nanny by Gilly MacMillan

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down by Allan Jones

Apple of My Eye by Claire Allan

Love You Gone by Rona Halsall

No Way Out by Cara Hunter

Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott

The Passengers by John Marrs

 

Borrowed Books

Keep Her Close by M. J. Ford

We Are Not Such Things by Justine Van Der Luen

ARCS

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Stop at Nothing by Tammy Cohen

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

The Holiday by T. M. Logan

Living My Best Life by Claire Frost

When I Lost You by Merrilyn Davies

 

 


 

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

 

#BookReview: Song of the Robin by R. V. Biggs | @RVBiggs @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

The whispered voices and unsettling dreams were puzzling enough, but when the visions began, disquiet crept into Sarah Richards’ heart.

Living a joyless and unfulfilled existence, Sarah’s life, however, is ordered and routine. But one autumn morning she sees a figure waving to her, the figure of a man more ghostly than real
Several times he appears, but is the spectre harmless, or are his intentions malevolent?

Disturbed and intrigued, Sarah endeavours to understand the mystery, to identify her unknown stalker.

But with each visitation, she becomes ever more bewildered, and as her ordered life begins to unravel, she questions the reality of all that she knows, and with mounting horror, even her own sanity.

My Thoughts

Song of the Robin is a novel about Sarah who starts having unsettling visions and losing track of time. Her life seems very unhappy and unfulfilling, and she becomes increasingly focused on the person in her visions rather than her real life.

I found I sympathised with Sarah from the start as she’s stuck in an unhappy marriage with a man who doesn’t seem to have much respect for her. She’s increasingly on her own and feeling frustrated with how much she has to do around the house. The visions she has are creepy and unsettling to read about as it’s not clear what’s going on initially – is it a ghost, is Sarah hallucinating, is she ill? As the book progresses I became frightened for her as her life seems to descend out of control. Her friend tries to get her to see a doctor but Sarah is too lost in trying to work out who she is seeing and hearing in her visions to be able to help herself. I suffered with PTSD for many years and one of my symptoms was absences where time would pass and I would literally have no concept of it. This isn’t what is wrong with Sarah but it gave me a real connection to her as I know how frightening it is to one minute be in one place and another to realise you’re somewhere else with no memory of getting there. This aspect of the novel is very well written and I was absorbed in it.

I gradually began to work out what might be happening to Sarah but I didn’t really get it right. It was so unsettling as flashes of her visions began to make some sense to me but I could never fully put my finger on what was going on. I loved that it kept me guessing until all was revealed.

Alongside the storyline with Sarah’s visions we learn more about Sarah’s life. She lost her mum a while ago and she misses her terribly. There is a moment in the book when she goes to visit her mum’s grave and something happens that brings her immense comfort. I admit I cried at this point in the novel. My mum died a decade ago and I still miss her – sometimes I can still smell her perfume and I find it so comforting. I highlighted the section in the book and I will re-read it on the days when I feel in need of some solace. There is a real exploration of the strong bond we have with loved ones, even when they’re no longer with us, throughout this novel. There is a sense that we will always find our way back to the people we love in one way or another and I adored the way these parts of the book were written.

The writing in this novel is beautifully descriptive. Some of it is set in Scotland and I could visualise the landscape as if I was right there with the characters. I do love when setting in a book is done well, and it’s wonderful to feel like I’ve experienced a place that I’ve never been to before.

This book was so different to anything that I’ve read before and I’m so glad I took a chance and read it. This is one of those books that’s hard to define but it has something in it for everyone – it’s a mystery, it’s creepy at times but it’s also really comforting and beautiful. Song of the Robin is a book that I loved and I’ll be recommending it to everyone I can!

Song of the Robin is a captivating, mysterious and brilliant debut novel. I will certainly be looking out for more of R. V. Biggs’ work!

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

Song of the Robin is out now in ebook and paperback and is available here.

 

About the Author

R V Biggs Author Photo

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

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

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

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

 

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

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This Week in Books (8 May 2019)! What are you reading at the moment?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham

I’ve owned a copy of this book ever since it was first published but have only just got around to picking it up to read this week. I’m in two minds about it but I think on the whole it’s an engrossing read.

10 Things To Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe

This is great read. It’s really emotional at times but it also takes me back to what it was like being a teenager. I’m on the blog tour for this one so I’ll be reviewing it on 21 May.

The End of The End of The Earth by Jonathan Frantzen

I won a copy of this book a couple of months ago and was just in the mood to read an essay collection recently so I started this one. It’s really interesting and I’m enjoying it so far.

Dead Inside by Noelle Holton

This is such a good read, I’m finding it hard to put down!

Middlemarch by George Eliot

I’ve been reading this over the last couple of weeks and am loving it! I don’t know why I’ve put off reading it all these years.

 

Then

Keep Her Close by M. J. Ford

I really enjoyed this second book in the series and will definitely be looking out for the third when it’s published. I really like the lead character and am keen to see what’s next in her life!

How To Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White

I read this author’s book on decluttering a few months ago and was keen to read this one too. I struggle to have a cleaning routine with my health and disability being the way they are and this book made me reminded me that the small tasks do add up over time.

Song of the Robin by R. V. Biggs

This book was really different to what I normally read but I very much enjoyed it. It was a much more emotional read than I was expecting and one I won’t forget. I’m reviewing this book on Friday so please keep an eye out for that.

The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond

I really enjoyed this novel about adoption. It was emotional and thought-provoking, and a book that I think will stay with me. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Missing Molly by Natalie Barelli

I bought this on kindle in a recent sale and then discovered it on my audio book subscription so I part read and part listened to it. It was a good read but not one that will stay with me.

The Furies by Katie Lowe

I had a review copy of this book but again found it on my audio subscription so I listened to most of it. I very much enjoyed this one and definitely recommend it.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

I adored this novel! I wasn’t expecting it to affect me as much as it did but it was so good. I’ve already reviewed it so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

This book was brilliant! I’ve read and enjoyed other books by this author but this book was in another league. I loved every minute that I spent reading it. I’ll be reviewing this one later this month but in the meantime I recommend it!

 

Next

Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor

I loved Jennie’s previous novel (which I reviewed here) so I’m really looking forward to reading her next one this week!

We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont

I also read and enjoyed Helene’s earlier novel (review here) so I’m keen to get to this one.

Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou

I’m on the blog tour for this book next month and my copy of the book arrived a couple of days ago so I’m really keen to pick it up.

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

I requested this on NetGalley a couple of weeks ago and was delighted to be approved for it. I’m really intrigued by the book so I think I’m going to try and pick it up this week!


 

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

#BookReview: The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond | @Bond2Caroline @CorvusBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

To lose your family is heart-breaking.

To be forgotten by them is unforgiveable.

Cassie and Erin are sisters. They are close – in age, looks and personality – but there is one crucial difference: Cassie is adopted.

At seventeen, Cassie sets out to find her birth mother. She is hungry for the truth, but she discovers her adoption was far more complicated than even she could have imagined. In uncovering her birth identity Cassie learns that her adoptive parents have kept a terrible secret from her her whole life, a secret that now threatens to destroy everything she has ever held dear.

 

My Thoughts

The Forgotten Sister is the story of Cassie, who was adopted by her parents when she was two. She’s had a happy, safe life with them but she is beginning to wonder about her birth mother. This leads to secrets and lies being uncovered and life as Cassie knew it could be about to be destroyed.

This novel is told predominantly in the present day, with some flashbacks to a few years previously. It opens with Cassie’s parents getting a phone call that she’s been hurt and then goes back to four months previously. I was gripped by this novel right from the beginning. The characters are all so real and believable and I was intrigued by how they got to where they were.

Cassie is such a great character. She has a normal relationship with her parents, and a close relationship with her younger sister Erin. She has a boyfriend who her parents don’t fully approve of so there is some normal teenage sneaking around but on the whole she’s honest with her family. Then one day she realises she wants to know more about her birth mother but when she asks her parents she senses that they’re not telling her the whole truth. Her parents do go down the route of trying social services to see if her mother can be found but in the meantime Cassie takes things into her own hands. Cassie now has secrets and she becomes very determined to do what she has to to find her birth mother. She develops quite an attitude at times, but whilst I could see how reckless and naive she was at times I never stopped sympathising with her.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be adopted and to not know anything about your birth parents. The moment Cassie has the realisation that she doesn’t know if there are any illnesses in her family was startling to me, and I really felt for her as she reacted with shock at all the things she doesn’t know, and might never get to know.

I did feel for Cassie’s parents too. They made a decision when they adopted Cassie and have had to live with that ever since. I was shocked at the way they behaved at times but over the course of the novel I could see that they had done the best they could with the place they were in. What initially seemed like a cut and dry situation actually had many degrees to it, and this is what gave this novel its strength.

Ultimately, this is a novel that explores what makes a family, and how keeping secrets – even with the best of intentions – will always have consequences down the line. I felt that this novel was a very real, and emotional look at adoption from many angles and I really appreciated the insight it gave me.

The Forgotten Sister is a powerful and emotional novel that is very readable; it will linger in your head long after you’ve finished reading. I recommend it!

Many thanks to Corvus Books and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Forgotten Sister is out now in ebook and paperback and is available here.

 

About the Author

Caroline Bond Author Picture

Caroline Bondwas born in Scarborough and studied English at Oxford University before working as a market researcher for 25 years. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Leeds Trinity University, and lives in Leeds with her husband and three children. Her first novel, The Second Child, was published in 2018.

 

 

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

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#BookReview: Breakers by Doug Johnstone | @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #TartanNoir #Breakers @annecater

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About the Book

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.

On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.

With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.

 

My Thoughts

Breakers follows Tyler, a seventeen year old boy, who is living in a really deprived area. His mum is a drug addict and incapable of looking after her family so Tyler is take care of his little sister Bean. He also has two older siblings, Barry and Kelly, who drag Tyler into their life of stealing from rich people’s homes. One night a burglary goes wrong and Tyler doesn’t know how to cope with what’s happened.

Early on in the novel Tyler is along with his brother and sister scoping out a home to burgle and Tyler had a bad feeling as soon as he starts going through the family’s belongings. Something isn’t quite right. Then the worst happens and the homeowner arrives home and Barry stabs the woman and leaves her for dead. At this point I was so angry with what they’d done but very quickly we see that Tyler has a conscience. He was forced to go along on the robbery and he tries to make right what has happened in the small way he can without implicating anyone. Tyler knows that if anything happens to him that his little sister will be taken into care and he refuses to let that happen to her.

This is a novel that shows the level of deprivation that people are living in, it was hard to read at times as Tyler has clearly taken on all responsibility for a sister that is only ten years younger than him. He hasn’t had much of a childhood and now at the point when he should be out with his friends and finding his feet in the world he’s having to be a parent to his sibling. He never begrudges anything that he does for Bean though, and she clearly trusts him to look after her so their bond is a beautiful thing in that shone through all the darkness in their lives. I never expected to feel so attached to Tyler. I soon had him weighed up and I was rooting for him all the way through this novel. There were moments when I could have cried for him, and moments when I wanted to swoop in and help. Mostly I was in awe of his ability to take care of his sister and his mum, and to never let his own fears and worries fall on their shoulders. He never loses compassion for his mum either, in spite of the mess she’s in and I found that incredibly moving. He gets frustrated with the situation she’s in but he never punishes her for it, he knows he might lose her to the drugs but part of him never lets go of the hope that she might one day find her way out.

Sometimes Tyler needs some time and space away from the weight of his family dramas and he breaks into houses for some peace, and to experience a short time of seeing what someone else’s family might be like. On one of these break-ins he meets Flick and they form a friendship. The contrast between Tyler and Flick’s lives was stark to begin with. Her family have money and Flick seemingly has everything she could possibly want. As the book goes on it’s apparent that they have more in common than it first appeared as both are looking for someone who understands them and accepts them for who they are. It seems like each may have found the person they need and I was willing for them to find a way to be together.

This is such a hard-hitting and devastating novel but it has such heart, which gives it a beauty that I wasn’t expecting. I knew I was going to like this book before I even started reading it but I didn’t expect that I was going to love it quite as much as I did. I finished reading this a few days ago and I feel like my love for it is just grown stronger. I keep thinking about Tyler and hoping he’s okay. It’s a book that gave me so much more than I was expecting and it’s left its mark on my heart. I now want to read everything that Doug Johnstone has ever written!

Breakers is fast-paced, gritty and dark but there is hope at its centre. I found this novel impossible to put down and I’m in awe of how good it is. I highly recommend it, it’s absolutely brilliant!

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

Breakers is out now in ebook and available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

 

About the Author

Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His ninth novel, Fault Lines, was published by Orenda Books in May 2018. His previous books include The Jump, shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Novel, Gone Again, an Amazon bestseller, and Hit & Run (2012) which was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

Doug was recently Writer in Residence with William Purves Funeral Directors. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow, and was RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh 2014-2016. Doug was also Writer in Residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. He is also a mentor and manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy and Emergents in the Scottish Highlands.

Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield as player-manager. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released three solo EPs. He currently plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a crime writing supergroup featuring Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste.

Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars. He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

 

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

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#BookReview: The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir (Narrated by Penny Scott-Andrews) | @SussexMysteries @penandrews @rararesources #TheTapestryBag

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About the Book

In the quiet seaside town of Tamarisk Bay,the police appear to be doing little to find Zara.  Her friend Janie decides to make it her mission to track her down.   It’s the ‘swinging sixties’ and Janie fears that Zara may be mixed up with drugs, alcohol, or worse.  As Janie explores the strange circumstances of Zara’s disappearance, she starts to question the truth about Joel’s death.

Janie runs the mobile library and has a passion for crime fiction, especially Agatha Christie.  Can Poirot help Janie solve the mystery of Zara’s disappearance?

As she looks for clues Janie comes across some unsavoury characters who each have a reason for wanting Joel dead.  Can she untangle the web of lies and find out the truth?

 

My Thoughts

Janie is a young woman who reconnects with her old friend Zara but then soon after something terrible happens and Zara disappears. Janie then makes it her mission to discover what happened to her. Janie is passionate about crime and mystery novels, in particular Agatha Christie, so she uses her knowledge gleaned from these books to help her solve Zara’s disappearance!

I listened to this book on audio (from Audible) and I was very quickly drawn into the story. I felt like the narrator, Penny Scott-Andrews, really captured Janie’s spirit and personality and brought her to life. Janie is young, and a little naive, but she’s also enthusiastic and wants to be a part of things. Early in the novel we learn that Janie has recently re-connected with her old school friend Zara and the two women begin having fun getting to know each other again. I felt like Janie really was in awe of Zara and it brought out the younger side of her as she was back looking up to Zara and wanting to be confident like her. Janie is happily married and Zara has a boyfriend Jamie and all seems great until something terrible happens and Zara retreats into herself. Janie immediately goes to Zara’s aid and helps her through the heartache but then one day Zara disappears, and leaves no trace of herself behind.

Janie quickly becomes frustrated with how little the police appear to be doing to find Zara and so she starts to follow her own leads, inspired by her beloved Poirot! I loved this part of the book because Janie is the kind of amateur detective that I think I would likely be. She finds clues and pieces together elements of what might have happened but she struggles to put it all together. I think in part due to her naivety over what some people are actually capable of. She is such an endearing young woman though and I loved reading about her.

There is a real sense of time and place in The Tapestry Bag, which I also adored. It’s set in the 60s, which I hadn’t been aware of when I started listening but I soon felt like I was immersed in that time period. The location is a small seaside town called Tamerisk Bay and I felt the novel captured what it is to live in a small town. It really worked as Janie tries to uncover what happened to Zara whilst also not wanting all and sundry to know she is playing amateur detective! This all added to my love of this novel.

As I was coming to the end of this book I was delighted to realise that there is another book featuring Janie and I already cannot wait to read, or listen, to it. It’s wonderful to discover a new (to me) author whose writing was exactly what I needed when I read it, and who now is going to be a must-buy author!

The Tapestry Bag is a brilliant and gripping mystery novel, which I utterly adored and I highly recommend it!

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

The Tapestry Bag is out now on audio book and is available here.

 

About the Author

The Tapestry Bag - Author Photo

Isabella Muir is the author of a popular Agatha Christie style crime series – the Sussex Crime Mysteries. These Agatha Christie style stories are set in in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke, who has a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.

Her latest novel – The Forgotten Children – takes her writing into another genre.  Still focusing on events in the 1960s The Forgotten Children tells the story of the injustices experienced by thousands as a result of the British child migrant policy.

Isabella has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.

Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor/

https://twitter.com/SussexMysteries

https://isabellamuir.com/

 

About the Narrator

Penny Scott-Andrews trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama. For many years she performed in The West End, as well as on the fringes of London, Brighton and Edinburgh. She also has plenty of touring experience playing leading roles, such as Gwendoline in The Importance of Being Earnest, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Olivia in Twelfth Night. However, she is at her happiest in the recording studio and has had the pleasure of recording dozens of audiobooks and radio dramas.

Twitter: @penandrews

 

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Giveaway to Win 1 x Audiobook of The Tapestry Bag (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494221/?

 

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

The Tapestry Bag Full Tour Banner

That Was The Month That Was… April 2019! #ReadingWrapUp

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April was a busy month for me so I’ve been feeling shattered but it was a productive month so it was worth it.

My husband had two weeks holiday from work and most of our time was spent shopping for a new car, and it was harder work than I’d envisioned. Our current car is old and we got it before my disability happened so it’s really not practical for me. We’ve now chosen our new car and are awaiting a delivery date.

We then spent a lot of our time binge-watching Line of Duty (I’d seen a couple of series but he’d seen none of it so we watched from the beginning). It was stressful avoiding spoilers for the current series as we were catching up but we finally watched episode 5 of series 5  late on Sunday night so we’re up to date ready for the final episode this weekend!

 

Here are the books I read in April:

 

Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

 

Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

 

The Case of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir

 

The Blame Game by C. J. Cooke

TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up and The Conspiracy by Jack Cashill

The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner

Mary’s Household Tips and Tricks by Mary Berry

 

April Blog Posts & Reviews:

That Was The Month That Was… March

Review of Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Review of Sleep by C. L. Taylor

Review of Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick

Review of 55 by James Delargy

This Week in Books (10 April)

Stacking the Shelves (13 April)

Review of Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

Review of The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

This Week in Books (17 April)

Review of Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

Review of Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

This Week in Books (24 April)

Ten Things You Didn’t Know about Samantha Henthorn, Author of Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue (Guest Post)

 

The state of my TBR:

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So my TBR is completely and utterly out of control again! My plan to reduce my TBR by a small number each month so that it would be 200 books smaller by the end of this year has gone awry! Given my plan I should have 2367 or fewer books on my TBR but the actual number is 2526! Ooops! I was aware that I’m accumulating books faster than I’m reading them but I didn’t realise the numbers were so far apart from each other. I think I need to have another book cull and to really think more about the books I’m buying or accepting for review. (Or accept that I’m going to have a TBR mountain that I never get to the bottom of!).

 


 

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

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Samantha Henthorn! Author of #CurmudgeonAvenue | @SamanthaHfinds @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Today I’m delighted to welcome Samantha Henthorn, author of Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue, to my blog to share with us ten things about herself!

 

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Me

One: I used to be a psychiatric nurse. There is a long, boring story here… After twenty year’s service, the NHS decided to retire me because I have MS. However, nursing has gifted me with the skill of observation. I am a ‘people person’ one who knows a lot about people – even ‘nincompoops’ like the ones who live in my romantic-comedy-drama series Curmudgeon Avenue.

Two: I have only been to France twice during my life, even though most of Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenueis set in France. I went to Brittany when I was eleven years old on a family holiday. And Rocamadour – another family holiday this time with my husband’s family. Plenty of wine was required on the latter holiday, and this is reflected in the book.

Three: Staying with the French theme, I cannot speak French. My high school French was lurking inside me, willing me to be one of those clever bilingual folk. So when I retired, I attended a two hour per week French course at my local library. This was a wonderful experience, the teacher was amazing. Despite this I am still unable to speak French and as time goes on, I am forgetting even more. I do remember the teacher talking about how, in France, bread is bought twice a day. I missed an hour following this statement, imagining my life as a French woman, dragging myself on my mobility scooter to the shop and back – twice! If you do happen to read Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue, you would find *slight spoiler alert* that French speaking skills were not required. And anyway, one of my proof readers lived in France for a year (with full command of the language).

Four: I had a great Auntie Edna when I was little, and she was nothing like the character Edna in my book. Auntie Edna was actually my dad’s auntie. Sadly no longer with us, but memories of her are. Dad tells me that she ‘married beneath herself’ (admit it- you love archaic phrases like this), to his mother’s brother. Whenever she opened her handbag, the room would fill with perfume – even to this day I have tried to recreate this glamour. Auntie Edna taught me how to put lipstick on when I was seven years old, by ‘smacking my lips together’. I chose the name Edna for my character because she is an absolute horror and do not know any living person with this name – (I once accidentally called a horrid character Elaine, I know an Elaine in real life, she’s lovely).

Five: Auntie Edna taught me how to make Radcliffe h’ors doevres. Or rather, mini cheddars with a squirt of Primula cheese dotted on each one (Primula with ham if you can get it) and presented on a serving plate. Perfect for impromptu parties, camping, or simply coming home tipsy and hungry. Radcliffe h’ors doevres feature heavily in the Curmudgeon Avenue series. Other brands of cheese crackers and spread are available.

Six: I’m very happily married, I really am. Although many of the characters in my series are either unhappily married or in an on/off entanglement, this is not based on anything that is happening to me. *Had to put this in because Mr Henthorn is always really concerned that ‘people will think it’s about him’ – it isn’t. (Rolls eyes).

Seven: I hardly ever say ‘well fancy’ and if I do, I’m joking or writing it in dialogue. Ahh vernacular within prose, a punishing mistress. I do sometimes have a feeling of self doubt; do people think I’m stupid? Do I sound stupid? I cannot help, and wouldn’t want to change where I’m from. I love Manchester, in particular the northern parts, Whitefield and Radcliffe (where the Curmudgeon Avenue series is set) and Bury, where I’m from. I enjoy our quirky way of saying things, our sense of humour. I have aimed to breathe Manchester life into my characters.

Eight: I’m studying a creative writing degree with the Open University and this helped me to decide that the Curmudgeon Avenue series should be witness narrated. ‘Walls have ears’ so this four storey terrace witnesses what goes on with the intertwined lives of its residents and narrates the series. The example of witness narration that the Open University quoted was The Great Gatsby… hark at me stylizing myself on a modern classic!

Nine: One of my books, 1962 is about cycling and I don’t even own a bicycle. This novel was inspired by my dad’s love and obsession with cycling. He seemed to have a special language dedicated bicycles and in turn, that inspired me.

Ten: I am covered in tattoos. The final fun factoid about me is that I have been ‘collecting artwork’ … Covered is perhaps an exaggeration, but I am inked! Usually only visible during the summer months, when jumpers and socks can be discarded my skin boasts a strawberry plant and butterflies on my foot and ankle. A large cherry blossom on my back and a pin-up-girl nurse on my arm (tasteful in full Gabardine cape). None on my face.

 

About the Book

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When Genevieve Dubois returned to Curmudgeon Avenue, this opened up the opportunity for Edna to realise her long held dream of escaping to France. But as Edna embraces all things European, Genevieve appears to be shying away from her French roots.
Meanwhile, returning to Curmudgeon Avenue for the third time, the wind had blown in the truth about the tall, handsome stranger and although Harold and Edith had been relieved to discover that he is neither an elephant detective, nor a fraud investigator, Toonan had been a little disappointed that he was not interested in her either. Matteo Dubois was looking for his mother, Genevieve Dubois, and although he did not find her on Curmudgeon Avenue, you have probably guessed that he is about to cause a disturbance- FINALLY! There is hope that the set of nincompoops that live here currently will move out, and leave me in peace! Edna had already escaped with Genevieve to France, which was a real shame for me, because Edna was one of the less annoying ones. This delightful third off-beat comedy romance book in the Curmudgeon Avenue series will make you smile.

 

About the Author

Samantha Henthorn Author Pic

Samantha Henthorn was born in 1970something in Bury, England. She has had short stories and poetry published in magazines. Her books include the Curmudgeon Avenue series (The Terraced House Diaries and The Harold and Edith adventures). ‘1962’, ‘Quirky Tales to Make Your Day’ and ‘Piccalilly’

She has two cats, one dog, one gorgeous grown up daughter and one husband. When not reading or writing, she is listening to heavy metal and would be thrilled to bits if someone read her books.

Blog : samanthahenthornfindstherightwords.WordPress.com

 Twitter: @SamanthaHfinds

 

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

FINAL Edna & Genevieve BT Poster

This Week in Books (24 Apr 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Middlemarch by George Eliot

This is a book that I’ve put off reading for years and I don’t know why. I started reading it yesterday and I’m very much enjoying it. It’s lovely to be engrossed in such a chunky book and I can’t wait to read more.

The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond

This is an intriguing book so far and I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

This book is brilliant! It has such a great opening line and has had me gripped from then on. I love the dark humour running through it!

TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover Up and The Conspiracy by Jack Cashill

I’ve not read much more of this book as it requires more brain power than I’ve had recently. It’s been a busy week so I’ve been too tired to concentrate but I will definitely get back to this in the coming week.

 

Then

The Blame Game by C. J. Cooke

I’m a huge fan of C. J. Cooke and am so happy to say that I loved this novel, her newest release. I hope to review this one soon.

The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir

I listened to this on audio and really enjoyed it. I was expecting it to be darker than it was but actually once I got into the story I was enthralled the whole way through. I will definitely be picking up the second book in the series!

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

This book was so good. It was everything you could want in a crime thriller and I definitely recommend it.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

I listened to this on audio and really enjoyed it. It was heartbreaking at times but I loved the way it focused on people figuring out who they are more than what actually happened in the school.

 

Next

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

I’m so looking forward to reading this book so it’s firmly on my TBR for the coming week.

Dead Inside by Noelle Holton

I’ve been so keen to start reading this novel and it’s finally time for me to pick it up and I can’t wait!

Song of the Robin by R. V. Biggs

I intended to read this last week but it wasn’t the right time so I’m hoping to pick it back up in the coming week.

10 Things to Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe

I’m on the blog tour for this book in May and have been so keen to read it so it’s going on the list and hopefully I’ll get to read it over the next few days!

 


 

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

Book Review: Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly |@JollyAlice @Unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Coventry, 1941. The morning after one of the worst nights of the Blitz. Twenty-two-year-old Rose enters the remains of a bombed house to find her best friend dead. Shocked and confused, she makes a split-second decision that will reverberate for generations to come.

More than fifty years later, in modern-day Brighton, Rose’s granddaughter Lara waits for the return of her eighteen-year-old son Jay. Reckless and idealistic, he has gone to Iraq to stand on a conflict line as an unarmed witness to peace.

Lara holds her parents, Mollie and Rufus, partly responsible for Jay’s departure. But in her attempts to explain their thwarted passions, she finds all her assumptions about her own life are called into question.

Then into this damaged family come two strangers – Oliver, a former faith healer, and Jemmy, a young woman devastated by the loss of a baby. Together they help to establish a partial peace – but at what cost?

 

My Thoughts

Between the Regions of Kindness is a novel that follows several characters, and is set in two timelines – 1941 during the Blitz and 2003 in the run up to the beginning of the Iraq war. The novel opens in Coventry in 1941 and in the aftermath of a bombing Rose goes to her friend’s house and shockingly finds her dead. Here Rose makes a decision that has ramifications throughout the years that follow. In 2003 we follow Lara, Rose’s Grand-daughter as she tries to come to terms with her son’s decision to go to Iraq on a peace mission.

The novel really explores the experience of being a mother – some of the women to their grown children and another woman to her unborn baby. Jay is a troubled young man and we first know of him through his mother Lara’s perspective and as she goes into his bedroom it becomes increasingly clear that she is at a loss. She doesn’t understand why her son has gone off on a peace mission, and she didn’t have any idea that he was even planning to do this. She is stunned and gradually, over the course of the novel, she comes to know more about why her son was doing what he was doing. She only really gets to know her son in his absence and through very sporadic communications with him while he’s away. This contrasts so stunningly with the young Rose and the decision she made in 1941 when her and her daughter Mollie were living through the Blitz.

I was most affected by Jemmy, a young woman who has recently lost a baby and is now pregnant again. The loss of her first baby was heart-breaking to read about – I know what this loss feels like and the way it is explored in this novel was so honest and real. Soon after we meet Jemmy we learn that she’s pregnant again but she’s unable to feel the joy she felt before, there is just so much fear eating away at her. Her increasing desperation to keep this baby safe was palpable and I was hoping along with her that she would get a happy ending this time.

There is also an exploration of the stories that run through a family and how each generation hears parts of them and tries to understand how they came to be. Rose’s daughter Mollie (Lara’s mother) had a troubled youth and it impacted who she came to be as grew older. There are many tales that she tells such as the time she fell off a roof and throughout the novel it seems to Lara that these are embellished or possibly not even true. We do get to find out the truth of the stories, but also about what made Mollie who she is.

Then there is Oliver, a man who used to be a faith healer but after life has dealt him some blows he’s not sure he has any power to heal anymore. There are things that happen around him that made me wonder if he could heal but for me his real power came in the muddling along of his budding friendship with Lara. Sometimes it’s not in an actual healing that someone begins to be mended but it’s the having someone who will listen and be there, no matter what you throw at them that starts to heal someone.

Between the Regions of Kindness is ultimately a novel about resilience, about how we have to find a way to pick ourselves back up when the worst has happened. It’s about how people have to be vulnerable, have to let others in so that they can help us find the way through our pain, and conversely people have to let us see the person underneath the brave face so that we can help them. The exploration of grief is palpable at times but Alice Jolly’s writing is so beautiful that you just have to keep reading.

I adore the cover of Between the Regions of Kindness, it just immediately shows that even in the darkest moments new things will grow. Flowers will appear, and kindness will be shown (sometimes from the most unlikely sources but it will be there). It really is a wonderful cover and is so perfect for this stunning novel.

I loved Between the Regions of Kindness! It’s quite a chunky book but I still read it over the course of two afternoons, it just pulls you in from the opening chapter and keeps you under its spell until long after you’ve finished reading. It’s impossible for me to do any kind of justice to this novel in my review but if you take away one thing from reading my rambling thoughts it’s that this is a book not to be missed. I would recommend this to everyone. It’s rare to find a book that has so much depth and beauty while at the same time never shying away from the really harrowing parts of life. It’s a stunning book, one I am so glad I had the chance to read.

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

Between the Regions of Kindness is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Alice Jolly is a novelist and playwright. She has published two novels with Simon and Schuster and has been commissioned four times by the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. She has also written for Paines Plough and her work has been performed at The Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden and The Space, East London. In 2014 one of her short stories won The Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize. Her memoir Dead Babies and Seaside Towns was published by Unbound in July 2015, and won the PEN Ackerley Prize 2016. She teaches creative writing on the Mst at Oxford University.

 

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

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Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow | @mattthewcrow @CorsairBooks #BaxtersRequiem @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.

Baxter is many things – raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur; but ‘good patient’ he is not. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare. Then he meets Gregory.

Greg is just nineteen years old, but he has already suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going. Seeing the boy’s pain, Baxter decides to take him under his wing.

Together they embark on a spirited journey to the war graves of Northern France, for Baxter to pay tribute to the love of his life; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned.

As Baxter shares his memories, Gregory starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live every last second we have while we’re here.

 

My Thoughts

Mr Baxter is 94 years old and not happy to be a resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home. Greg is 19 and ends up working at the care home where he meets Baxter. Initially it doesn’t seem possible that a directionless young adult and forthright Baxter would get along but somehow they forge a connection.

I started reading this after lunch one day and I literally didn’t put it down until I’d turned the last page later on that afternoon. I was pulled into this story from the opening pages and I just had to keep reading.

I had a soft spot for Baxter from the start, he gives off a grumpy vibe but you can see very quickly that he has a great sense of humour. There is a moment very early on in the book when Baxter has a chat with his doctor about music and I properly laughed when I read it. My husband loves jazz and I can’t bear it so me and Baxter were like kindred spirits from the off!

‘”Are you fond of music?”

“I like jazz.”

“So that’s a no then […] If you can’t carry a tune then learn a f*cking trade”.

Baxter also has a real caring side for those who are struggling, he doesn’t show it all the time but you can sense it’s there. Greg made my heart ache; it’s so awful to read about a young person who is carrying so much on his shoulders. He has been through the most awful loss and he has no one in his life that he can talk to. His dad has shut down and won’t face up to things and so Greg is on his own with his grief. He ends up working at the retirement home and Baxter immediately realises that Greg isn’t just a sullen young man but is actually in such pain and torment.

‘[Greg] felt like there was a lifetime of conversation inside him, somewhere, and hoped that one day he’d find a companion who would encourage it to emerge.’

The friendship that grows between Greg and Baxter is heartwarming, I absolutely adored seeing them getting to know each other. It’s never mawkish despite the heartbreak that each of them has gone through – Matthew Crow hits the most perfect tone in the way these two men get to know more about each other. Baxter begins to bring Greg out of himself a bit more, and Greg seems to brighten Baxter’s days without even realising he’s doing it. Alongside this present day story we get to hear Baxter’s back story and I was enthralled. He found the great love of his life as quite a young man and for a while they lived in a cocoon in Baxter’s house. They were hopeful that one day they could go out as a couple but for that moment in time they were just so happy to have found each other. But then the war broke out and Thomas is called up. I shed tears when this happened, and again when he actually left. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like to see your soul mate go off to war not knowing if you’ll ever get them back home with you again.

“When she passed […] it blew through me like a f*cking hurricane. Nobody understood, you see. Nobody had lost what I had lost. We’d all suffered, granted. But grief, it’s a different shape for everyone”.

“It’s a different size, too.”

Over the course of the novel we learn more about Greg’s story and, for me, it just began to feel like Greg and Baxter were destined to meet. Their paths crossed at a time when they both had a growing need for closure, for someone who would make time for them and they forged a beautiful friendship. I loved how Baxter helped Greg gain a bit more confidence to make friends with people around the home. It was wonderful to meet Winnifred – I want to be her when I grow up!

I almost didn’t sign up to read this book for the blog tour because I find it really upsetting to read about men lost in the war. My late Nan lost her first husband in the Second World War and finding the ‘missing presumed dead’ telegram about him after she died was one of the most heartbreaking moments in my life. It still makes me want to weep when I think about it all these years later. I’m so glad that I did pick Baxter’s Requiem up though because the tears I cried whilst reading it were cathartic and healing, and ultimately this book has a lot of joy radiating from its pages too.

I read this book a few weeks ago now and I still keep thinking about Baxter and Greg. They are two wonderful characters that I won’t ever forget! Baxter’s Requiem is one of those really special books that steal a piece of your heart, it’s now firmly on my favourites shelf and it will be a book that I re-read. It’s beautiful and moving, heartbreaking but also life-affirming… there just aren’t enough superlatives to do it justice, I just urge you to please go read it!

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

Baxter’s Requiem is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Matthew was born and raised in Newcastle and began freelancing for newspapers and magazines whilst still at school, writing about the arts and pop culture.

He has written four novels, Ashes and My Dearest Jonah – the second of which was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize for Literature – and one book for young adults, In Bloom, which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and the North East Teen Book Award, and listed in the Telegraph’s Best YA of 2014 List.

His fourth book, Another Place, is also be for young adults and was published by Atom in August 2017.

Matthew’s most recent novel, Baxter’s Requiem, was published in September 2018 by Corsair.

 

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

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This Week in Books (17 Apr 2019)! What are you reading at the moment?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Song of the Robin by R. V. Biggs

I just started this book last night but it’s got me gripped already and I’m looking forward to reading more of it over the coming days.

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

I loved Fiona Cummins first novel and I’m enjoying this one even more! It’s full of intrigue and it’s really creepy!

The Hate List by Jennifer Brown

This is my current audio book and I’m enjoying it, I’m intrigued to see where the story is going to go.

TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up and The Conspiracy by Jack Cashill

I’ve read a bit more of this book over the last week and I am finding it really interesting. There’s just a lot of people and references throughout and my brain is struggling to keep track at the moment but I hope to get back to this properly very soon.

 

Then

The Case of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

This book was fascinating and it’s left me with lots to think about with regards to how children who kill are dealt with. I loved Gitta’s writing style and I definitely want to read more of her non-fiction books in the future.

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

I adored this novel, it’s one of my favourite books of the year so far! I reviewed it on here yesterday so you can read my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

This book was chunkier than I was expecting it to be but I still read it in just two sittings as it’s such a brilliant and absorbing novel. I really did love this one and keep thinking about it ever since I finished it. I’ll be reviewing it on Friday for the blog tour so please keep a look out for that.

 

Next

The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond

I’ve got a copy of this one on my kindle and I’ve been so looking forward to reading it so this feels like it might be the week to pick it up!

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

This is another ARC and as I’ve loved previous books by the author I’m really keen to read it asap so hopefully I’ll get chance to start it this week.

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while now and I’ve kept putting it off because it sounds a bit too creepy for me. I’m just in the mood for it now though so I think as soon as I’ve finished reading The Neighbour I’ll be picking this one up!

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

This is a non-fiction book that I got from NetGalley and I’m really intrigued by it so I think this will be my next non-fiction read!

 


 

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

#BookReview: The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon | @VandaSymon @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #TheRingmaster #SamShephard

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About the Book

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

 

My Thoughts

I adored getting to know Sam Shephard in Overkill and I’m thrilled to have the chance to share my thoughts on the brilliant second book in the series featuring her, The Ringmaster!

The Ringmaster follows Sam as she investigates the murder of a university student. In the course of the investigation Sam ends up looking in to the circus that’s in town as it seems possible that there is a link. Sam has recently been promoted and has moved to Dunedin but her superior officer isn’t happy with this and makes Sam’s work life difficult but she is determined to prove herself.

Throughout The Ringmaster I loved seeing Sam build a working relationship with her fellow Officer Smithy and hope to see more of him in future novels. I also enjoyed seeing her tentatively embarking on a new romantic relationship. Sam is such a down to earth woman – she isn’t perfect but she’s very likeable and works really hard – so that seeing her go about her day having the sort of mishaps that happen to me at inopportune moments just really endears her to me. I feel like I could be friends with her. I said in my review of Overkill that I thought I might have found a new detective to fill the Kinsey Millhone-shaped hole in my life and now I can absolutely confirm that I absolutely have! Sam Shephard is such a brilliant character!

The opening of The Ringmaster is shocking, perhaps not quite as shocking as the opening chapter of Overkill, but very nearly! It seems a young woman may have been lured to her death and there’s something so terrifying and devastating about the idea of someone being killed like that by someone they trusted and cared about.

The Ringmaster is a novel that really explores at how it is to be other, to feel on the outside, to be marginalised. Sam is new to the Dunedin and made to feel like an outsider at work, she’s also having to stay with her friend Maggie’s family so doesn’t have a home of her own at the moment. The circus workers that get questioned over the murder are of various nationalities and this seems to heighten suspicion around them regarding the murder. I know what it is to other and it’s so hard when you feel that people have pre-judged you on something you can do nothing about. My circumstances are very different to the workers from the circus but I still felt an empathy for them as they tried very hard to fit in.

I struggle with understanding circuses that use animals, it doesn’t sit right with me at all. I was felt particularly sad reading about Cassie the elephant in her enclosure. In one part of the novel something really awful happens at the circus, which leads to heartbreaking scenes and I found myself in tears at this part of the book. Vanda Symon has such a brilliant way of writing scenes such as this though – she doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of the situation but at the same time there is a real sensitivity to her writing that makes me want to keep reading.

The Ringmaster has an underlying tension running through it as you look with suspicion at quite a few characters wondering if they might be the murderer. I enjoyed the psychology aspect of the investigation as Sam, with help from Maggie, tries to profile the murderer in order to try and get a lead in the case. This is definitely a whodunnit crime mystery but it’s also very much a whydunnit so even if you think you know who the murderer is you’ll still have to work out the why. I loved that there was more than one element and it certainly kept me on my toes as I was reading. The why was more of a shock to me than the who but I was still left utterly reeling by the end!

Vanda Symon is such a brilliant writer who brings something really fresh to crime fiction, a genre that I read a lot of but Vanda’s books really do stand out in the crowd.  The Ringmaster is an emotional, powerful and gripping novel. I loved it and highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Orenda for my copy of the book and to Anne for the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Ringmaster is out now and available here.

 

I’ve previously reviewed Overkill, the first book in this series, here.

 

About the Author

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Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

 

 

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

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Book Review: Amazing Grace by Kim Nash | @KimTheBookworm @HeraBooks @rararesources

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About the Book

She’s taking her life back, one step at a time…

Grace thought she had it all. Living in the beautiful village of Little Ollington, along with head teacher husband Mark and gorgeous son, Archie, she devoted herself to being the perfect mum and the perfect wife, her little family giving her everything she ever wanted.

Until that fateful day when she walked in on Mark kissing his secretary – and her perfect life fell apart.

Now she’s a single mum to Archie, trying to find her way in life and keep things together for his sake. Saturday nights consist of a Chinese takeaway eaten in front of the TV clad in greying pyjamas, and she can’t remember the last time she had a kiss from anyone aside from her dog, Becks

Grace’s life needs a shake up – fast. So when gorgeous gardener Vinnie turns up on her doorstep, his twinkling eyes suggesting that he might be interested in more than just her conifers, she might just have found the answer to her prayers. But as Grace falls deeper for Vinnie, ten-year-old Archie fears that his mum finding love means she’ll never reconcile with the dad he loves.

So when ex-husband Mark begs her for another chance, telling her he’s changed from the man that broke her heart, Grace finds herself with an impossible dilemma. Should she take back Mark and reunite the family that Archie loves? Or risk it all for a new chance of happiness?

 

My Thoughts

Amazing Grace is the story of Grace who is separated from her husband and is trying to re-build her life along with her ten-year-old son Archie and dog Becks. She’s ambling along in life – she has a nice house and a job she enjoys but she’s not feeling very fulfilled and her life is lacking some sparkle. Then one day Vinnie arrives and it might just be that Grace is going to get a chance at happiness.

I loved Grace from the minute I started reading this book. She’s so easy to identify with and I was rooting for her to get her happy ending from the start. She’s such a warm person and someone who wants to do right by the people she loves but she ends up spreading herself a little thin at times. I also adored her friend Monica who decides to help Grace makeover her life with a new wardrobe and some matchmaking!

Grace’s ex-husband Mark is such an arrogant, smarmy man and Grace is left agonising over whether she should forgive his affair and give him another chance because in doing so she’d no longer have to share custody of their son and she could be with Archie all the time. I was hoping she would give herself time to think about this became Grace is clearly way too good for Mark. I’m not a violent person but he really made me want to slap him at times in this book!

Vinnie on the other hand is a wonderful man who seems to just want the best for Grace.  I have to admit that I was a little suspicious of him for a while as he seemed almost too good to be true. I soon decided that he was genuine and I was rooting for him and Grace to get together. I loved seeing Grace getting to know him though and finding her feet on the dating scene again. It’s not easy putting yourself out there after a long-term relationship and Monica’s ‘help’ wasn’t always the most useful (although some of the dates did make me giggle!).

Amazing Grace has some really moving, heartfelt moments throughout as Grace is still very much missing her mum who died a few years previously. I really felt for her as she so badly wanted to hear her mum’s voice or to ask for some advice. There is one moment in particular with Grace and her mum that made me sob when I read it but it was healing, happy tears. I really could identify with Grace, I still miss my mum so much and Kim Nash captures the loss of a mother so beautifully and poignantly. Amazing Grace retains its lightness throughout – Kim has such a deft way of writing heartache that shows the reality of it without it ever feeling heavy.

Kim has a huge talent for writing characters that feel so real – everyone in this book feels like someone I might bump in to. It takes real care to make even the more peripheral characters memorable but Kim does it brilliantly! The older couple that she met in the park for example are so vivid in my mind even now, and they were only in the book for a few pages.

Amazing Grace is one of those really special books that I will treasure. It made me snort with laughter, and it made me shed a few tears but most of all it made me feel happy, smiley and comforted – I adored every single second that I spent reading it. It’s an amazing book, one I would recommend to absolutely everyone. Amazing Grace is one of my favourite books of the year and I now can’t wait to read whatever Kim writes next!

Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and Hera Books for my copy of the book and the invitation to be on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Amazing Grace is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Amazin Grace - Kim Nash author photo

Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger at www.kimthebookworm.co.uk.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.

Amazing Grace is her debut novel with Hera Books and will be out on 10th April 2019

Connect with Kim on Social Media here:
Twitter: (@KimTheBookworm) https://twitter.com/KimTheBookworm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimTheBookWorm/
Instagram: @Kim_the_bookworm

 

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

Amazing Grace Full Tour Banner

Stacking the Shelves with a New Book Haul (13 Apr 2019)!

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

 

I didn’t manage to post about my book haul last week so this post is a bumper two week book haul! I’ve acquired way too many books over the last fortnight but I’ve not been well and I can’t resist temptation when I’m not feeling great (that’s my excuse anyway!!).

 

Books I Bought

To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine

I still haven’t read Clothes Music Boys but I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy of this as it sounds like a book I will love. I hope to get to it soon.

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant

I’ve wanted to read this book ever since it was first published but I never seem to remember about it when I’m book shopping but this week I finally bought a copy and I can’t wait to read it!

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

This was an impulse by on Kindle as the blurb grabbed me and I couldn’t resist!

To Catch a Killer by Emma Kavanagh

I also bought this on Kindle as I love this author and I believe this book might be the start of a series so I’m really keen to read it soon.

Freefall by Jessica Barry

Another impulse buy on Kindle!

The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre

I love Pierre Lemaitre’s writing but somehow missed buying a copy of this book when it came out but I’ve rectified that now and I’m looking forward to reading this.

I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

I read another book by this author quite a long time ago and remember really enjoying it so I couldn’t resist picking this book up when I spotted it.

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

I’ve not read anything by this author before but the blurb sounded really good so I bought this on Kindle.

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen McManus

I enjoyed the author’s first book so when I saw this on the Kindle daily deal this week I snapped it up!

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid

This was an Audible purchase as I’m enjoying listening to books at the moment so grabbed this one on a whim when it was deal of the day.

 

ARCS I Received

Call Me A Liar by Collette McBeth

I received a surprise copy of this in the post last week and I was thrilled! I love Collette McBeth’s writing and have been eagerly anticipating this book being released.

Constellations by Sinead Gleeson

I read an extract from this book in one of the papers last week and I knew then that I had to read the book. I was delighted to be approved to read it on NetGalley and will be reading it very soon.

The Carer by Deborah Moggach

This is another of my highly anticipated 2019 releases so I was so happy to be approved to read it on NG this week.

Dead Inside by Noelle Holton

I’ve been so looking forward to reading blogger-turned-author Noelle’s debut novel so am thrilled to have a copy on my kindle and will definitely be reading this one very soon!

How to Treat People by Molly Case

I requested this book on NG as the premise sounded really interesting.

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

I loved Alice Feeney’s first book so have been keen to read this second novel.

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

I’d forgotten I’d requested this book on NG so it was a fab surprise when I got an approval email for it.

The Water Cure by Sophie Macintosh

It was lovely to be sent a pre-approved link for this NG book as I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages. I hope to get to this very soon.

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

I downloaded this book from NG on a read now as it sounds fascinating. It’s about a murder that Harper Lee was researching but she ended up not writing a book about it. I couldn’t resist that premise.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

I’m delighted to have been sent this book as Orenda Books are always brilliant and this one sounds so good. I’ll be reading this one soon as I’m going to be on the blog tour for it next month.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

This is another Orenda book and I’m so keen to read this one. I’ve enjoyed the author’s previous books but this one sounds even better!

Song of the Robin by R. V. Biggs

I’m going to be on the blog tour for this book and I’m really intrigued to read the book. I wasn’t sure if it was for me at first but now I can’t wait to start reading it!

10 Things To Do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’ Keeffe

This sounds like an emotional but also uplifting book and I’m really enjoying books like this at the moment so it won’t be long before I pick this one up.

We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont

I’ve read a previous book by Helene Fermont and very much enjoyed it so I’m delighted to have another of her books to read.

The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir

This is another blog tour book, it’s an audio book so I expect I’ll be listening to this in the coming week as I find audio is the easiest way for me to read books at the moment.

 

 


 

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

This Week in Books (10 Apr 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

I just started reading this last night so am only a few chapters in but it’s grabbed me already and I can’t wait to read more. It’s a long book so I’m hoping to get an afternoon where I can just get completely lost in this story!

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

This is a wonderful book – it’s a gorgeous novel but it’s ended up being a more cathartic read for me than I was expecting. I think this is going to become a firm favourite of mine!

TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up and The Conspiracy by Jack Cashill

I’ve not read much more of this over the last week or two as I had some books I needed to read first for blog tours. I’m planning to get back to this in the coming days though as I was finding it really interesting.

 

Then

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

This book was so good! I loved Vanda Symon’s previous novel and this one is every bit as good! I’ll be reviewing this soon for the blog tour but in the meantime I definitely recommend it.

Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

I’ve had this on audio for a while and seeing the adverts for the new documentary on Sky I decided to listen to it. I found it an interesting book and it definitely gave more insight than I got from listening to Serial. I now need to watch the new documentary asap!

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

This book is incredible! I read the whole book in one afternoon as it just pulled me into the story right away and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a beautiful book and I know it’s going to be going onto my favourites shelf! I’m on the blog tour for this so will be reviewing soon for that.

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

I loved this book, it’s my new favourite by Cally Taylor! It’s so gripping and tense and I couldn’t put it down! I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find my review here if you’d like to know more.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

I finally made time to finish this book this week and I’m so glad that I went back to it.

 

Next

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

I was sent an ARC of this and it’s calling to me from my TBR so I think I may well pick it up this week, I’m really looking forward to it. Orenda Books can do no wrong in my eyes so I’m sure this will be a great read!

Mindhunter by John Douglas

I’ve had this on my TBR for a few months now and as I’ve finished The Innocent Man I think this might well be my next non-fiction read.

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while so I might make this the week I get to it!

The Murder of Harriet Monkton by Elizabeth Haynes

I bought this when it was published last year and have been so keen to read it. Elizabeth Haynes is an auto-buy author for me as I’ve loved all of her books so I’m really keen to read this one soon.


 

 

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

55 by James Delargy | @JDelargyAuthor @simonschusteruk @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.

All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.

He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.

Heath is a serial killer.

As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.

Gabriel is the serial killer.

Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?

 

My Thoughts

55 is a novel about a quiet town in the middle of nowhere in Australia that has not one but two men turn up at the small police station on the same day each claiming that the other one kidnapped and planned to murder him, and that they would have been victim number 55! Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins has a huge job on his hands as he listens to each story and tries to work out what on earth is going on!

Gabriel walks into the station first and he’s believed to be the victim he says he is and dealt with accordingly as his statement is taken. A short while later Heath turns up at the same police station and tells an almost identical story, and this leaves the police with a serious problem on their hands. Who is the killer and who is the victim? Or are they both killers? Or could they possibly both be victims?

Chandler is really frustrated when a more senior police officer arrives to take charge of the case. We soon find out that Chandler and Mitch used to be really close when they were younger but their friendship ended badly. This novel is told in two timelines – the present day and a few years earlier when Chandler and Mitch were helping search for a man missing in the wilderness. This was a great way to tell the story as we get to find out how close they were and how things went wrong alongside where they are now. It also felt at times like things in their friendship were mirroring elements of the story in the present day which had my brain ticking over even faster trying to see if there were any connections.

I really liked Chandler and never stopped wanting things to work out for him throughout the novel. It felt like he was always trying to do the right thing and to be fair with his staff and his family but was torn in so many directions. I think his story had me almost as tense as the main one about Gabriel and Heath because I so wanted him to be okay.

I spent the whole novel swapping and changing my mind about who I thought the guilty man was. The reveal about whodunnit is shocking – the mystery twists and turns at great pace throughout the novel but when we find out it’s almost like slow-motion as your brain takes in what happened! I’d worked out a small element of the story but nowhere near enough to fit it all together. The final pages of this novel were gobsmacking! This book has one of the best endings to a thriller that I’ve read in a really long time, it’s one of those endings that made me sit in silence for a few minutes after I put the book down trying to process it. And even now, weeks later, I still keep thinking about it!

I was drawn to this book as soon as I read the blurb, it was irresistible to me. I’m so happy to say that this novel totally lives up to the blurb and is such a unique take on a serial killer thriller novel! This is a perfect book for readers who think they can always work out whodunnit as this one will keep you guessing until all is revealed! I don’t think I’ll ever forget this book and I’m sure it will be on my best books of the year list – I highly recommend it! It’s fast-paced, addictive and utterly brilliant!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for my invitation to take part on this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

55 is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

James Delargy Author Photo

 

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland but lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives.

He incorporates this diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. He would like to complete a round-the-world series of novels (if only for the chance to indulge in more on-the-ground research).

His debut thriller, 55, will be published in June 2019 by Simon & Schuster and 17 other international publishers.

 

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

55 Blog Tour Poster

Audio Book Review: Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick (narrated by Colleen MacMahon) | @ClarePedrick @matadorbooks @audibleuk @rararesources

Chickens Eat Pasta audiobook cover

About the Book

Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love.

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy.

“Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.”

Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does.

Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.

 

My Thoughts

Chickens Eat Pasta is the memoir of Clare Pedrick detailing her life as she came out of a relationship break up and on something of a whim bought a run-down house in Italy. She fell in love with the place after seeing a video of chickens eating pasta in a hall in Italy and she immediately makes plans to go there!

I was drawn to this audio book as soon as I saw the gorgeous cover, and once I read the blurb I started listening immediately! This is a gorgeous book that really draws you in to Clare’s story from the very start. I could see how she decided to move to Umbria without a huge amount of thought and planning – it can feel irresistible to make changes after life has turned out different than you expected.

You know from the blurb that things work out for Clare in Italy but whilst I was listening I was so caught up in her life as it was being recounted that I felt I didn’t know how her story would end. I was enthralled by her relationships with the locals, and her romantic interest. There are also some mouth-watering descriptions of food throughout this book that made me want to seek out some recipes!

The narrator of this audio book is Colleen MacMahon and she does a wonderful job. The brilliant writing by Clare combined with the excellent narration by Colleen really give this memoir life. All the characters, and the description of the place were so vivid and I adored it. As a side note I discovered on twitter that Colleen also painted the stunning picture that is the cover image on this book!

If you don’t often read non-fiction, this would be a perfect place to start because it reads with the ease of fiction and you do get completely absorbed in the Clare’s story.

Chickens Eat Pasta made me feel like I was right there with Clare in Umbria, it gave me such a vivid and evocative depiction of the place and the people. I loved listening to this book and I miss it now I’ve finished it. I can’t travel anymore but listening to this book gave me some wonderful escapism and I adored it. I definitely recommend this book.

Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invitation and my audio copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Chickens Eat Pasta is available as an audiobook from here.

 

About the Author

Chickens Eat Pasta Author Photo

Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.​

You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book Page, her own Facebook page and on Twitter.

Read her blog about life in Umbria here

 

Giveaway to Win an audiobook copy of Chickens Eat Pasta (Open Internationally)

  • Winner gets to pick between audible and ibooks audio code

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494211/?

 

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

Chickens Eat Pasta Full Tour

Book Review: Sleep by C. L. Taylor | @CallyTaylor @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K #sleep

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About the Book

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

 

My Thoughts

Anna was involved in a fatal road accident, she was the driver and ever since then she is struggling to sleep. She has nightmares, and is struggling to get back to any kind of normal. She decides that she needs a fresh start and takes a job at a hotel on a remote Scottish Island. The novel then becomes something of a locked room mystery as seven guests check in and they are all at the mercy of the weather and somewhat trapped there. Anna is convinced that one of guests wants to harm her but she doesn’t know which one!

The seven guests that arrive on the island soon after Anna began working at the hotel all have their own secrets and all appear shifty at one time or another. I had my suspicions early on but I was completely wrong (which I loved, it’s great to be surprised in a thriller). I really enjoyed seeing the back stories of the characters unfold alongside the tension and drama of the storyline ramp up. It’s definitely a book that has you on the edge of your seat!

Anna is a sympathetic character, it’s hard not to feel for her after everything that she’s been through. I didn’t feel that she was always a reliable narrator though as there is that fine line between paranoia and someone actually being out to get you and I wasn’t sure of her thought processes. I was always on her side though and was hoping she’d come through this and find happiness again.

This novel keeps coming back tot he issue of guilt. Anna is burdened with guilt even though the accident wasn’t her fault, she knows she should have been more aware and it’s haunting her. Then there are the people who feel like they’re doing the right thing but they’re not and should feel guilty. And then there are the people who have done us a perceived wrong and we think they should be consumed with guilt but they appear not all that affected. I think most people fall on a scale of guilt for things they’ve done – whether it’s things they meant to do or not. Sleep really makes you think about guilt and it’s handled so brilliantly!

I loved that this novel had layers to it and every time I found out a new bit of information I was re-thinking what I’d previously thought. There is one central story that the novel focuses on but you get to see how that leads to other things happening, there are consequences that are unexpected when people are trapped together and they all have their burdens. The end of this novel was gobsmacking and left me reeling but it was the perfect ending.

Sleep is absolutely brilliant, I just couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. I’ve loved all of C. L. Taylor’s books so far but I have to say that this is her best one yet, I highly recommend it! It’s tense, gripping and so hard to put down!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and the invitation to be on the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Sleep is out now and available here.

 

Links to my reviews of C. L. Taylor’s previous novels:

The Escape

The Missing

The Fear

 

About the Author

Cally Taylor is an award-winning English author of romantic comedies published by Orion Publishing Group, and more recently, a Sunday Times Bestselling author. As C.L. Taylor, she publishes psychological thrillers through HarperCollins.

 

 

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

Sleep_BlogTourP1

Book Review: Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #CallMeStarGirl

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About the Book

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

 

My Thoughts

I’m a massive fan of Louise Beech’s writing so I was thrilled beyond words to read Call Me Star Girl for this tour.

Call Me Star Girl is the story of Stella who is about to do her last ever late night radio show and she wants her listeners to share their secrets so that she can share hers. We get her story told in two timelines – the time around the murder and the present day. Stella was left by her mother as a young teenager and it’s something that she’s struggled with all of her life since then. Her mother Elizabeth is the other narrator of this book – it’s told alternately between them so we gradually get to fill in the back story of Stella’s life and to see what made her who she is.

Stella is in a fairly new relationship with Tom and she is very insecure about it. She’s convinced that one day he’ll realise that she’s boring and she’ll be left alone again. I felt so sorry for her as I learnt this about her. She clearly just wants to feel happy and secure with someone and will do anything to try and have that. Her relationship with Tom escalates and I worried about how it was all going to work out for Stella.

Stella works on a late night radio show and always feels okay about walking home alone. But then one night a book is left for her in reception with an intriguing note that doesn’t make sense to her, and later she finds that that same night a young woman was murdered in an alley nearby.

This novel is haunting! From the very beginning there is an uneasiness that settles around you as you read and yet you just can’t put the book down. This is Louise’s first crime thriller and she brings to it her incredible way of writing characters that are so real and believable. No one writes characters like her.

I felt really unsettled as Stella’s last show progresses. It’s clear that Stella is feeling on edge about being in the studio alone and she’s never felt that before. The murder is playing on her mind, it having happened so close to where she works and it feels like an element of paranoia is working its way into her thoughts. The writing is so evocative – I felt like it was me in that studio, I could feel the darkness encroaching and felt as if someone were right there waiting to attack.

Louise always works in an element of coincidence that often seems incidental but causes a huge shift for the characters it affects. In this novel there is more than one coincidence and the way these are threaded through the novel and how the strands interweave and separate again is so incredibly done. Throughout this novel there are stars – Stella is the first and her mother’s perfume in the bottle with the beautiful star top is the second and also a lot of of this novel is set at night and Stella likes to open a window to let the cold in. It is so emotive then that at its heart this is a novel about fate (things being set in the stars). As you get further into the novel it seems like Stella is on a collision course with fate – the way her mother abandoned her and came back and then Tom comes into her life and it seems like things might get better. Fate has her plan and things often happen outside of us, outside of our control but it’s like it was destined for certain things to converge.

The thing I love most about Louise’s writing is the way she always makes me feel such strong emotions as I read. I wondered whether it would be the same with Call Me Star Girl, which being a thriller doesn’t seem like it would but it absolutely does! I cried, I felt uneasy and tense; I also laughed at the idea of news being reheated (and as an avid listener of late night radio I shall forever think of the repeat news bulletins as reheated!).  Oh, and it made me so happy to find Bob Fracklehurst in this book! I just fell in love with this novel, and with Stella.

Call Me Star Girl is my top book of the year so far, it deserves all of the stars! It’s stunningly beautiful at the same time as being satisfyingly dark and gripping; it’s impossible to put down (and I really do mean impossible because even though it’s a couple of weeks since I read it, I still keep thinking about it). It’s stolen a piece of me. I can’t do it justice in this review but please just go read it for yourselves, I promise that you won’t regret it!

Many thanks to Anne at Orenda Books for my copy of this book and the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Call Me Star Girl is out now in ebook and is available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

I’ve previously reviewed these books by Louise Beech:

How to be Brave

Maria in the Moon

The Lion Tamer Who Lost

 

About the Author

Louise Beech Author Photo.jpeg

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a GuardianReaders’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

 

You can follow the rest of the tour at the following stops:

call me star girl blog poster 2019

That Was The Month That Was… March 2019!

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March is the month that disappeared! I haven’t been up to much as my health’s not great at the moment and yet the days have flown by.  I have been doing lots of reading – mainly audio books as my eyes are still not great – but some print books too. I’m trying to spend less time looking at screens so apologies if I haven’t commented on your posts or shared things as often recently. I hope to get back to it soon.

 

Here are the 23 that books I read in March:

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

I’d had this book on my NetGalley shelf for almost a year but I finally picked it up in March and I loved it so I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I will review it soon but in the meantime I definitely recommend it!

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie

I loved this crime novel, it has such a good sense of place and great characters. I’ve already reviewed this one so click the title above if you’d like to know more.

Don’t You Cry by Cass Green

I listened to this on audio and it was an okay listen. I enjoyed it while I was listening but it’s not a book that’s really stayed with me.

Past Life by Dominic Nolan

This book is so good! It has so much depth to it and kept me hooked all the way through. I’ve reviewed this one so click the title to find out more of what I thought.

Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross

This book is so hard to define but it was impossible to put down! I really enjoyed it. My review is already up so click the title to learn more.

Entanglement by Katy Mahmood

I had this book on my NG but I also got the audio book so part read and part listened to it. I very much enjoyed this one and hope to get my review finished and posted soon.

The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath

This book is so good! It grabbed me from the first page and had me gripped right to the very end. I’ll be reviewing this one soon too!

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

This is another really good read! I think I read this in one sitting pretty much and love how even though I thought I had it all sussed there was more to come! My review is posted so please click the title if you want to know more.

Hold My Hand by M. J. Ross

I downloaded this on audio after reading Meggy’s great review of the second book in the series. I loved this and already have the next book on my phone to listen to soon!

Not Fade Away by John Gribbin

This was a really enjoyable book looking at the music of Buddy Holly.

Goodnight Malaysian 370 by Ewan Wilson

I got this one on my Kindle Unlimited free trial and it was an interesting read but there was nothing in it that I hadn’t already read from articles online.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

I’ve had a copy of this on my NG shelf for way too long so when I spotted the audio book on my Scribd trial I decided to listen to it while reading. I adored the writing in this novel and will definitely be looking to read more Jesmyn Ward in the future.

The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

This book was brilliant! I finished it a couple of weeks ago but it’s still going round in my head. I will be reviewing it once I get my thoughts together but in the meantime I recommend it!

White Lies by Lucy Dawson

I listened to this on Audible and really enjoyed it. It was gripping and I was keen to find out who was telling the lies!

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I listened to this one on Scribd too. It’s a book I’ve wanted to read for ages and I enjoyed it but it’s not the best book by the author.

It Happens All The Time by Amy Hatvany

This was also a Scribd listen and I was engrossed all the way through this book. It’s a great read and it really makes you think as you listen to both sides in the aftermath of a sexual assault.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

This book is incredible and I feel sure it will be in my top books of the year. I was utterly absorbed in the story and I feel sad to have finished it. I highly recommend it and if you want to know more click the title for my review.

C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

I’m slowly re-reading all of this series so when I found this one on Scribd I decided to listen to it. It’s not my favourite in the series but I enjoy all of the books. Kinsey Millhone is great!

The Point Of Poetry by Joe Nutt

This book gave me some of my confidence back for reading poetry and got me to see poems I already knew in a new light. I recommend this book to everyone! Click the title to read my full thoughts.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book is stunning! I loved every single second that I spent reading it and I’m sad to have finished it. This is also a contender for my top books of the year!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I’ve wanted to read this one for a while so when I saw it on Scribd I decided to listen to it. It’s a brilliant book and I now want to get a physical copy to have on my bookcase.

Milkman by Anna Burns

I had the book of this but decided to listen to the audio while also reading it and I completely and utterly adored it. I feel like my thoughts on this book will keep developing for a while but I 100% recommend it!

55 by James DeLargy

I finished this book yesterday and I’m still thinking about that ending! This is such a good read, it’ll be one that stays with me!

 

March Blog Posts & Reviews:

That Was The Month That Was… February

Stacking the Shelves on 2 Mar

Mini Book Reviews of The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal, Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce, Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield and Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey

Review of The Bridal Party by J. G. Murray

This Week in Books 6 Mar

Review of Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis Goff

Stacking the Shelves 9 Mar

Review of Are You The F**king Doctor? by Dr. Liam Farrell

Review of Past Life by Dominic Nolan

Review of Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie

This Week in Books 13 Mar

Review of Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross

Stacking the Shelves 16 Mar

This Week in Books 20 Mar

Review of Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Stacking the Shelves 23 Mar

Review of The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

This Week in Books 27 Mar

Review The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

Stacking the Shelves 30 Mar

 

The state of my TBR:

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So I said in my February TBR update that my plan to reduce my TBR had gone somewhat awry. Well, in March it’s done waaay beyond that! Ooops! My plan was to reduce my TBR each month so that by the end of the year it would have 200 fewer books on it. At the end of February it was at 2482 and now it’s at 2500. That doesn’t seem too bad but it should be at 2387 if I was sticking to my plan. Ah well, I can’t really complain about having lots of lovely books to read. 🙂

 

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

New Book Haul! (Stacking the Shelves 30 March 2019)

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

 

Books I Borrowed This Week

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I borrowed this audio book from Scribd as part of my free trial and I adored it. It’s such a brilliant book and I’ve now added it to my wish list to remind me that I must get hold of a print copy for my bookcase.

Milkman by Anna Burns

I do already own this in print but I’d heard it was a good book to listen to so I borrowed it from Scribd and am very much enjoying it. I think this could be a five star read!

 

ARCS I Was Sent This Week

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The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

It was a brilliant surprise last Saturday to received a leaflet with a bracelet about the magpie choosing me. Then in the week a copy of The July Girls arrived! This book sounds like my kind of read so I can’t wait to get to it!

The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason

I read a sample of this a little while ago and have been keen to read more ever since so I was delighted to be sent an auto-approval link for NetGalley yesterday!

Those People by Louise Candlish

I love Louise Candlish’s writing so I immediately requested this one when I spotted it on NetGalley! I know I’ll enjoy this book.

As Long As We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Chaney

I saw this in the Read Now section of NetGalley this week and it sounds so gripping and fast-paced that I couldn’t resist downloading it!

What Dementia Teaches Us About Love by Nicci Gerrard

I downloaded this one from NG too. I know what it is to care for a loved one who is losing themselves so am very interested in this book. I need to be in the right frame of mind to read this but hopefully I can read it soon.

I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

I downloaded this one from NG on a whim as the blurb just grabbed me! I don’t think I’ll be long getting to this one as I’m must in the mood for fast-paced thrillers.

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

I didn’t realise how many books I’d got from NG this week until I started writing this post! This was another one I downloaded on a whim… this time because I love the title!

Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou

I’m going to be on the blog tour for this book in a few weeks time so will definitely be reading this NG book soon.

The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond

I’m also on the blog tour for this one and am really keen to read it as soon as I can.

 

 


 

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

Book Review: The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt |@joenutt_author @unbounders @annecater #randomthingstours

The Point of Poetry Cover

About the Book

What’s the point of poetry? It s a question asked in classrooms all over the world, but it rarely receives a satisfactory answer. Which is why so many people, who read all kinds of books, never read poetry after leaving school. Exploring twenty-two works from poets as varied as William Blake, Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove and Hollie McNish, this book makes the case for what poetry has to offer us, what it can tell us about the things that matter in life.

Each poem is discussed with humour and refreshing clarity, using a mixture of anecdote and literary criticism that has been honed over a lifetime of teaching. Poetry can enrich our lives, if we’ll let it. The Point of Poetry is the perfect companion for anyone looking to discover how.

 

My Thoughts

I have a few favourite few poems from over the years but I aren’t much of a reader of poetry generally, I’ve always found it really intimidating. I did discover some love for poetry when I did an A-Level in English Lit as a mature student and was tasked with analysing Philip Larkin’s Mr Bleaney.  I loved reading and re-reading this poem, and went on to read everything Larkin had written. I still find other poets intimidating though. The Point of Poetry is a wonderful book that has opened my eyes to the joy of poems.

Joe Nutt opens this book with an introduction that immediately made me feel at ease and in safe hands. He takes away the fear of poetry very quickly. Each chapter looks at a different poem and Nutt takes us through the poem giving some background, relating it to present day and making you eager to actually read the poem for yourself and see what you can discover in it. I loved that the poem discussed is placed at the end of each chapter as by the time I got to it I was excited to read it, whether it was a poem I already knew or one I’d never heard of before.

I also really appreciate that Nutt didn’t just pick well-known poems, although there are some in the book, but also that he didn’t just pick poems that he loves. There are poems such as Vicki Feaver’s The Gun which he has issues with but still felt it warranted being read and explored in this book. The selection really made me think about my own reactions to the poems individually and as a whole as I got further into this book, and left me mulling over my thoughts long after I’d finished reading.

I think the chapter that grabbed me the most was the one about Holly McNish. I’d heard of her before but had never read (or watched her perform) her poetry before. I was fascinated by her poem Famous For What? and am definitely going to buy one or two of her collections very soon. I also very much enjoyed the chapter on Rita Dove’s The Bistro Styx, and the comparisons with Philip Larkin’s Church Going so I will be seeking out more of her work too.

I also want to mention the chapter on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I had to study this poem in my second year at secondary school and I hated it! I loved English, it was my favourite subject and I loved reading but the way the teacher taught us that poem made it feel never-ending and unbearable. I’ve loathed it ever since because it always takes me back to those lessons. However, Nutt’s exploration of this poem has made me see it in a different light – I’ve since sought out my copy and re-reading it now as a 40 year old I found so much more in it and I’m so glad that I had my eyes opened to it.

I’ve always been much more drawn to poems that make me feel something. Often poems that make me cry are the ones that stay with me. I feel like this book has reminded me that different poems bring out different emotions and that I should be more open-minded and actually have more faith in my own abilities to find things in poems from now on.

I do have to quickly mention how beautiful this book is. It’s a gorgeous hardback and the endpapers have a lovely illustration of keys on them (which immediately made me feel that perhaps this book could unlock the world of poetry for me, and it did just that!).

I absolutely loved this book! I feel that it’s given me back the confidence to start picking up more poetry collections again and to spend time reading poems out loud and taking time to really think about them. Not only that, it’s made me excited to read poetry again!  I’m so glad I read The Point of Poetry and I whole-heartedly recommend it!

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

The Point of Poetry is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Joe Nutt Author Picture

Joe Nutt’s nineteen years teaching experience in the UK unusually ranged from the highly selective, private sector to challenging, inner city state schools. In 2000, he was seconded to work on a Department for Education project from his English teaching post at the City of London School and quickly established a new, commercial career but continued to write for English Literature students. He has written books on Shakespeare, John Donne and most recently a Guidebook to Paradise Lost arguably the most difficult poem in the English canon, for one of the world’s leading academic publishers. He publishes educational research internationally and is a national, and international conference speaker. He is now one of the leading educationalists in the UK and writes a fortnightly column for the Times Educational Supplement.

 

 

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

FINAL Point of Poetry Blog Tour Poster

 

 

This Week in Books (27 Mar 2019)!

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages so when I spotted the audio book on Scribd I decided to listen to it. I’m very much enjoying this one.

TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover Up and the Conspiracy by Jack Cashill

I’m trying to make sure that I read some of the older books on my TBR and this is the one that was picked for this week. I don’t really know what to make of it but it’s interesting.

55 by James Delargy

This book is so good, I’m utterly intrigued by the two men and have absolutely no idea who is telling the truth and how this novel might end. I would have read it in one sitting if it wasn’t for my eye problems.

 

Then

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book was brilliant! I’m not sure how to find the words to write a review but I can say that I completely and utterly adored it.

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

This was such a good book and has got me wanting to read poetry again. I’ve got a review of this on here today so you can read my full thoughts there if you’d like to know more.

C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

I’m slowly re-reading all of this series before getting to the last book, which I’ve not read yet. I found this on Scribd so it was great to enjoy the book in a different format.

It Happens All The Time by Amy Hatvany

This is another book that I’ve been so keen to read so I couldn’t resist it when I spotted it on my Scribd audio book free trial. I thought this book was so good and really made me think. I recommend it.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

This book was brilliant, I loved it and feel sure that it will be one of my favourite books of the year! I’ve already reviewed this so you can find my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I listened to this book on Scribd too and enjoyed it. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations but it was a good read and I’m glad I read it.

White Lies by Lucy Dawson

This was a recent Audible purchase and it was a fast-paced listen that kept me gripped all the way through.

 

Next

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

This book has been calling to me from my TBR and so it’s definitely next up in my reading plans.

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

I’m on the blog tour for this book next month so I’m keen to start reading it this week to give me time to read it. My eyes are really slowing down my reading of physical and ebooks these days.

Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

I just received a copy of this last week but I’m so keen to read it, hopefully I’ll be able to make a start on it in the coming days.

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

I’ve been so excited to read this book by the lovely Kim and hope to be able to get to it in the week ahead.

 


 

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

Book Review: The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby | @novelcarolyn @noexitpress @annecater #randomthingstours

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About the Book

Cora was born in a prison. But is this where she belongs?

Birmingham, 1885.

Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.

Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood.

Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?

 

My Thoughts

The Conviction of Cora Burns follows Cora in late 1800s Birmingham as she tries to find her place in the world. She’s just been let out of prison and has been offered a position as a housemaid in the home of Thomas Jerwood but she is haunted by memories of her past, and is desperately seeking answers.

Cora is born in prison, then raised in the workhouse. She has a forceful personality and struggles to reign herself in. While at the workhouse Alice Salt comes into her life and this friendship greatly impacts Cora. Later the girls become separated and something happens that leads to Cora being imprisoned.  The novel begins with Cora being released but then goes back and forth in time between then and a few years earlier when she was a child. Interspersed with those chapters are journal entries from Jerwood about his scientific studies, and occasional reports from a doctor who is using hypnosis to try and get a mute woman to speak again.

This novel was set in the late 1800s and this comes through so vividly. The sense of time and place was so richly drawn, I could envisage the streets and the prison, the homes of the wealthy and the slums. It’s all so beautifully described and woven through the rest of the plot.

This is very much a novel looking at nature versus nurture and I found this fascinating.  I really enjoyed the scientific excerpts throughout this novel. I did a sociology module at college years ago and read about Lombroso’s work on how to identify criminals  by their facial features so it was interesting to see this being referred to in this novel. I often wonder about how people come to do evil things – are they born that way or made that way? Looking at this through Cora’s life was brilliant because she’s such an interesting character and while she has done awful things, and she’s not always likeable, there is something about her that made me want her to find answers and to get her life together. I couldn’t help but have sympathy for her, even though I couldn’t condone all of her actions.

I don’t read many historical novels as I always think I don’t enjoy them but this book was an incredible read! I was engrossed from the opening chapter and I got completely lost in the novel. I loved the way it was written in two timelines and with scientific documents interspersed – I was engrossed in every aspect of the story and I just couldn’t stop reading once I started! I adored this book and keep finding myself thinking about it ever since I finished reading it. I feel sure that this will be one of my favourite books of the year so I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to No Exit Press for my copy of this book and to Anne of Random Things Tours for the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Conviction of Cora Burns is out now and available here.

About the Author

Originally from Sunderland, Carolyn Kirby studied history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford before working in social housing and then as a teacher of English as a foreign language.

Her debut novel, The Conviction of Cora Burns, (previously titled Half of You) was begun in 2013 on a writing course at Faber Academy in London. The novel has achieved success in several competitions including as finalist in the 2017 Mslexia Novel Competition and as winner of the inaugural Bluepencilagency Award.

Carolyn has two grown-up daughters and lives with her husband in rural Oxfordshire.

 

 

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

CURRENT Cora Burns BT Poster

Stacking the Shelves with a Book Haul (23 Mar 2019)!

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

 

Books I Bought This Week

In Pieces by Sally Field

I already have a copy of this book but when I saw the audio book on the daily deal on Audible this week I snapped it up. Audio books are my main way of reading just now with my eyes being such a pain so I’m glad to have this version of the book.

The Sunday Lunch Club by Juliet Ashton

I got this book on a daily deal on Audible this week too. I haven’t read anything by this author before but I love the sound of this book so am looking forward to listening to this.

 

Books I Borrowed This Week

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so when I got a free trial of Scribd I immediately downloaded this book to listen to. I actually finished listening to it yesterday and I enjoyed it but it didn’t quite live up to my hopes for it.

It Happens All The Time by Amy Hatvany

I’ve also wanted to read this book for ages so downloaded this on Scribd and am listening to it now. It’s such a good read, really interesting.

 

ARCS I Was Sent This Week

Something To Live For by Richard Roper

I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book this week as it’s one I’ve been keen to read.

Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

I’m going to be on the blog tour for this book next month so am delighted to have my copy of it arrive this week. I think I’ll start this one soon (eyes permitting) as I’ve been really looking forward to reading it.


 

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

Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward | @_Annie_Ward @QuercusBooks #BeautifulBad

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About the Book

Maddie and Ian’s romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

 

My Thoughts

Beautiful Bad is the story of Maddie, a woman who met her husband when they both worked overseas and now they’re living in middle America with their young son Charlie. After an accident while camping Maddie seeks therapy and starts to explore her concerns about her husband. Slowly she reveals the story of their marriage.

This novel opens with a bang as a 911 call leads to detectives entering a house and finding blood and what looks like the aftermath of a struggle! The book then goes back and forth in time as we find out more about Maddie, Ian and Maddie’s best friend Jo; alongside short chapters showing what’s happening in the house as the police investigate.

From the moment I started reading this novel I just couldn’t put it down until I found out how it was all going to end. It grabs you from the beginning and the way it’s written moving back and forth in time means it’s near impossible to stop reading!

I didn’t really like any of the characters in this novel, they all have things about them that made me wonder if they had secrets or were as they appeared to be. I loved that about the novel though, it’s fascinating to read about people I don’t really like as I get an insight into what makes other people tick!

Beautiful Bad opens with a shocking scene and gradually fills in the back story until we’re back in the house and we find out what happened. I loved the reveals as they came, each one left me stunned and re-thinking what I’d previously thought was going on. Ultimately, I did have an idea how it might end and I was right… sort of! I say that because there was more to the reveal than I was ever expecting, and then the final chapter of the novel had me reeling, I didn’t see that part coming at all. I love when a book has shocks in store and this book definitely kept me on my toes! I highly recommend Beautiful Bad!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and for the invitation to be part of the social media splash. All thoughts are my own.

Beautiful Bad is out today and available here!

 

About the Author

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Annie Ward has a BA in English Lit from UCLA and a MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. Her first short screenplay, Strange Habit, starred Adam Scott and won awards at Aspen and Sundance Film Festivals. Ward lives in Kansas with her two sons and husband, who she met in the Balkans.

 

 

You can find the rest of this social media tour at the following blogs and instagram pages below:

Beautiful Bad social media tour poster

 

This Week in Books (20 Mar 2019)! What are you reading?

Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it so I was thrilled when I discovered it on audio during my current free trial of Scribd! I’m very much enjoying this and am intrigued to find out where it’s going.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

I’ve only read a couple of chapters of this so far as my eyes are struggling again but I loved what I’ve read and can’t wait to read more.

White Lies by Lucy Dawson

This is another audio book that I’m mid-way through and I’m enjoying it. There are lots of lies happening and now I’m keen to find out what the truth of the matter is!

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

This is my current kindle book so I’m reading it with the font huge to try and help my eyes. I’ve only managed one chapter this week but I’m back engrossed in this book and am keen to read more.

 

Then

The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

I knew I was going to love this book but it was even more brilliant than I was expecting it. My mind is spinning at the moment as I only finished it shortly before putting this post together but I definitely recommend it. I hope to review this one soon… once I get my thoughts in order.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

I’ve shamefully had this on my NG shelf for almost a year unread but when I spotted the audio book on Scribd I decided to half listen and half read. I really enjoyed this novel, it’s one that is staying in my mind. This was my first book by this author but it definitely won’t be the last.

Goodnight Malaysian 370: The Truth Behind The Loss of Flight MH370 by Ewan Wilson

This was an interesting read that I got as part of my free trial of kindle unlimited.

 

Next

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

I’m really keen to read this book, it sounds like it might be just the thing to give me some of my confidence back to read more poetry.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book has been calling to me ever since it arrived a week or so ago and I just can’t wait any longer to read it. Eyes permitting it’s top of my list for the coming days!

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

I’ve been so eager to read this one too so it’s a definite for this week!

Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick

This is an audio book that I’ve been sent to listen to for a forthcoming blog tour so I think now will be the perfect time.


 

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

Stacking the Shelves with a New Book Haul (16 Mar 2019)!

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

 

Books I Bought This week

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

I’ve been wanting to read this book for absolutely ages so I finally treated myself to it with part of my birthday book voucher. I started reading it yesterday and it’s really hard going in places but it’s so well written. It’s a non-fiction book about the murder of the author’s mother.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

This has also been on my wish list ever since it was published so when I spotted it on kindle for 99p yesterday I snapped it up. I think this is a book I’ll want to own in physical format but I like having it on kindle too.

The Case of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

This is another book that I’ve been intrigued by for a while and finally bought it this week. I’ll need to be in the right frame of mind to read this one but I hope to get to it soon.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I haven’t read any Diane Chamberlain for absolutely ages but this new one really appeals to me so I grabbed a copy. I don’t think I’ll be long getting to this one.

Operation Lighthouse by Luke Hart and Ryan Hart

I can’t remember where I read an excellent review of this book fairly recently but the title stuck in my head and when I saw it on the kindle daily deal yesterday I snapped it up.

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

This is a recent audio book purchase from Audible. It was on a daily deal as I already have the second and third in the series on my TBR it seemed perfect timing to grab the first one. I can’t wait to get started on this series!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

This was another Audible daily deal purchase. I’ve enjoyed other Kate Morton books on audio so I’m really looking forward to this one.

 

Books I Borrowed This Week

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Hold My Hand by M. J. Ford

I borrowed the audio book of this from my audio book subscription service after reading Meggy’s fab review of the second book in the series. I’ve already listened to this whole book and I loved it so I plan on borrowing the second book very soon!

 

ARCS I Received This Week

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

I was so excited to open a package yesterday and find The Ringmaster inside! I read and reviewed the first book in this series last year and it was brilliant. I can’t wait to read this next installment!

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book also arrived yesterday and I squealed when I saw it! I’m a massive fan of Louise Beech’s writing and have been eagerly anticipating this book. I’ll be reading this one very, very soon!

 


 

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

Book Review: Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross | @dfr10 @orendabooks #HeadyHeights

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About the Book

Welcome to the Heady Heights

It’s the year punk rock was born, Concorde entered commercial service and a tiny Romanian gymnast changed the sport forever.

Archie Blunt is a man with big ideas. He just needs a break for them to be realised. In a bizarre brush with the light-entertainment business, Archie unwittingly saves the life of the UK’s top showbiz star, Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks’, and now dreams of hitting the big-time as a Popular Music Impresario. Seizing the initiative, he creates a new singing group with five unruly working-class kids from Glasgow’s East End. Together, they make the finals of a televised Saturday-night talent show, and before they know it, fame and fortune beckon for Archie and The High Five. But there’s a complication; a trail of irate Glaswegian bookies, corrupt politicians and a determined Scottish WPC known as The Tank are all on his tail…

 

My Thoughts

I’ll be honest in starting this review and say that I don’t really know where to start with describing Welcome to the Heady Heights as it was so unlike anything I’ve read before but I can say that I absolutely loved it!

The novel follows Archie Blunt as he seems to go from one lot of trouble to another. He’s trying to look after his dad but he loses his job as a bus conductor and gets on the wrong side of people that he really shouldn’t have annoyed. The only thing that keeps him from being in serious trouble with some people is that he knows where the metaphorical bodies are buried. He’s not always the most likeable character and yet you can’t help rooting for him to succeed in life.

Archie finds a new job and discovers he’s to be a driver to Hank ‘Heady’ Hendricks. This leads to him unwittingly saving his life and finding himself in the position of being able to ask a favour. This then leads to Archie trying to put a band together to perform on Heady’s TV talent show and chaos ensues! I loved the process of Archie finding the members of his band and trying his struggle to get them to behave. The group trying to chose a name was so funny, it had me properly laughing to myself as I was reading it!

Glasgow is like a character in its own right throughout this novel. I’ve never been there but I could visualise it all so clearly and now feel like I know it so well. The use of Scottish dialect throughout the novel is also brilliant. I found myself reading the whole novel (not just speech) in a Scottish accent.

Welcome to the Heady Heights really does capture a point in time – when life was hard, people were struggling and women were still second-class citizens. The beauty in the novel is how it shows all sides of life. I felt so sorry for Barbara, the WPC, who is treated like a scivvy by her male colleagues, even the ones of similar rank but she is determined that she will achieve things within her career. No one makes it easy for her but she keeps going.

I loved how this book was set in the 70s and yet it felt like it was also gently mocking the modern era of reality TV and how it’s ended up being so fake and staged. It also made for uncomfortable reading at times as we see a group of men who all have their seedy secrets, some of those secrets being very disturbing and way worse than just seedy. These men aren’t named but the descriptions of the ones who aren’t main players in the novel are definitely recognisable. This is so much more of a commentary on how society has ended up where it is now than I was expecting but it made for such a fascinating read.

This is a novel that feels impossible to define but it’s utterly brilliant. It’s gritty and disturbing, it’s funny and poignant and just so readable! I found this hard to put down because I just couldn’t see how it was all going to turn out for Archie and I was desperate to find out! This is definitely an author I want to read more of and I’ve already bought a couple of his other books and I can’t wait to read them! I highly recommend Welcome to the Heady Heights!

Many thanks to Orenda Books for my copy of this book and the invitation to be on this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Welcome to the Heady Heights is due to be published on 21 March and available to pre-order here.

 

About the Author

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David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas and The Man Who Loved Islands. David lives in Ayrshire.

 

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

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This Week in Books (13 Mar 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

I’ve been wanting to read this for absolutely ages and I finally started it last night. I’m already gripped and can’t wait to read more!

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

I started reading this after watching the Netflix series based on it but then I found I just wasn’t in the mood for it so put it to one side. I do want to finish it though so I’ve picked it back up in the last couple of days.

Goodnight Malaysian 370: The Truth Behind The Loss of Flight MH370 by Ewan Wilson

I got this on my Kindle Unlimited trial and it’s an interesting read so far.

 

Then

Not Fade Away: The Life and Music of Buddy Holly by John Gribbin

I finished reading this book yesterday and it was such a good read. It’s a short book but covers Buddy Holly’s career – I very much enjoyed it.

Hold My Hand by M.J. Ford

This has predominantly been a week of audio books due to headaches and sore eyes (although my head is better than it was). I picked this one after reading Meggy at Chocenwaffles fabulous review of the second book in the series. I have the second book lined up and plan on reading it soon as I loved this first book!

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

I was sent an ARC of this but I bought the audio book so I could listen to it and I very much enjoyed it. This is one of those really addictive books that it’s impossible to put down. I’ll be reviewing this for the blog tour later this month but in the meantime I recommend it.

The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath

I really enjoyed the author’s previous novel but this one was even better. I was gripped from start to finish! I will try and review this book really soon.

Entanglement by Katy Mahmood

I had a copy of this from NetGalley but due to my eyes I sought out the audio book on my subscription service. I really enjoyed listening to this, it was am engrossing read that made me think. I loved it!

Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross

This was such a different read to what I normally read but it was so good! I found it hard to put down. My review is up today so you can check that out if you want to know more!

Past Life by Dominic Nolan

This book was utterly brilliant, I loved it. I’ve already reviewed it so you can see my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

 

Next

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

I didn’t manage to start this over the weekend as I hoped but it’s top of my list for the next couple of days.

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

This book has been calling to me ever since I was sent a copy and I think this week is going to be the week. I can’t wait!

On My Life by Angela Clarke

I love Angela Clarke’s writing so am really keen to read this standalone. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to it this week!

 


 

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