Stacking the Shelves with a new #bookhaul (14 July 2018)!

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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 a Stacking the Shelves last week so this book haul is from the last fortnight. I’ve had a tough couple of weeks with various things happening so I did treat myself to quite a few new books…

 

The first four in my post today are books that I’d had on my wish list for ages and decided to treat myself to them last week. They all arrived together and I’m really looking forward to reading them soon.

 

I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around by Ann Garvin

The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley

Hugo and Rose by Bridget Foley

Wrecked by Maria Padian

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

I was sent an ARC of this book last week and I read the whole novel in one sitting earlier this week. Once I picked it up I literally couldn’t put it down, I simply had to know what was going on! I’m part way through writing a review so hopefully I’ll get that posted in the next week.

The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney

This book arrived this week and was a total surprise. It says on the blurb that it will appeal to people who loved The Easy Way Out (you can read my review of this here if you’d like to) which I did really love so I’m definitely adding this one to my TBR.

How to Remember by J. M. Monroe

I was offered the chance to receive an ARC of this book and I immediately said yes as I am always drawn to books that explore grief and complicated family relationships. I’m really looking forward to getting to this book.

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Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing

I treated myself to this graphic memoir from @eyeandlightning books over the weekend. I hadn’t heard of this indie publisher before but they had a great offer on at the weekend and I saw this memoir and I knew I had to get my hands on it. It arrived yesterday and it’s beautiful, I can’t wait to read it.

My husband took me out for coffee this week and I spotted a bookshop so we had to go in! I’m working on my standing again at the moment and I managed to stand up with my crutch to look at the books in one section of the shop. I felt like deserved a reward to I treated myself to these three books…

Blame by Jeff Abbott

This book was a (sort of) cover buy as I’d never heard of it before but the cover is so striking that I noticed it immediately. Once I read the blurb I knew I had to get it. I’m really enjoying twisty thrillers at the moment so I expect I’ll be reading this one soon.

The Lost by Mari Hannah

I love Mari Hannah’s writing so I’ve been meaning to grab a copy of this book for a while now. It seemed the perfect time to buy it this week so I’m keen to read it as soon as possible.

The Day She Disappeared by Christobel Kent

This has also been on my wish list ever since it first came out so I was thrilled when I spotted it on the shelves.

 

No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister

This was a kindle pre-order from a while ago and it appeared on my kindle last week and I’m so keen to read it soon. I might pick it up as soon as I’ve read the couple of review books that I have on the go at the moment.

Into the Black by Rowland White

I’ve always been obsessed with space travel so when I spotted this book about the space shuttle Columbia in the kindle sale I snapped it up. It’s quite a long book so I might start it soon and dip in and out of it.

The Accusation by Zosia Wand

I love Zosia Wand’s previous novel Trust Me (you can read my review of Trust Me here if you’d like to) so when I saw she had a new book out I couldn’t one-click fast enough! I don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I’ve yet to read anything by Celeste Ng (although I do have her previous book on my TBR) but I feel sure she’s an author I’ll love. I grabbed this book in a kindle deal earlier this week and I’m so keen to read this. I think I might make this the first book I read by this author.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

This book passed me by when it was on the Man Booker International long list but I’ve recently seen a review of it that made me really want to read it so I decided to treat myself.

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

I requested this on NetGalley as I was really intrigued by the blurb so I was thrilled when I was approved to read it. The novel’s not due out until next year so I might try and hold off reading it for a little while yet. I am really keen to read it though!

 

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

I treated myself to the audio book of this as I was having a really bad day and wanted a book that would pick me up a bit. This book was perfect and I utterly adored it. I think the author is a similar age to me as she read so many of the same books as me in childhood so it was a real trip down memory lane.

Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags by Tim Marshall

I bought this on a whim when it was an Audible deal of the day last week. I’ve read other books by Tim Marshall and found him really informative but easy to follow so I was keen to read more by him. This one sounds fascinating and I’m hoping to listen to it soon.

 


 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

 

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This Week in Books (11 July 2018)! #TWiB

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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

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

This is one of those books that I was certain I’d already read but when I saw the advert for the new TV adaptation it wasn’t familiar to me at all. So I looked it up on my Goodreads and alas I haven’t read it! I’m reading it now though and am hooked! As soon as I’ve finished the novel I’ll be watching the TV series and hoping it lives up to the book.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

I’ve had this on my TBR for a while and after finishing The Hate U Give this week I wanted to pick up some non-fiction about race and this one caught my eye.

F*** You Very Much by Danny Wallace

If I’m to be honest I’ve only read one chapter of this since last week but I am planning to finish it so I’m adding it to my current reading again this week. The idea of this book is really good but the execution isn’t just hitting the mark for me.

 

Then

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

I picked this book up yesterday mid-afternoon and I read it in one sitting, I just couldn’t put it down. It’s the best book I’ve read by this author and I recommend it. I hope to get a review written for it very soon.

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

I treated myself to the audio book of this a couple of days ago and I’ve loved listening to it. Lucy must be a similar age to me because we have so many books in common from childhood; it made this a lovely read down memory lane. I think this will be a book I go back to when I need some comfort listening. The only thing now is that I want to get copies of all the childhood books I loved and no longer own!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I finally picked this book up over the weekend and I can honestly say that it’s a book that deserves every single plaudit that it’s received. It’s a brilliant novel and one that will really stay with me.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

I listened to the audio book of this as my obsession for all things de-cluttering continues. It was an okay book but it didn’t give me any great insights or advice so it I don’t think it’s a book that will stick in my head. I’d recommend it if you’re new to reading about de-cluttering though.

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward

I loved this book! It was so great to be back with DC Connie Childs again and to work through another crime mystery with her. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read more of my thoughts here if you’d like to.

 

Next

An Unwelcome Guest by Shari Lapena

I didn’t manage to get to this book this week as I planned but it’s definitely going to be the very next book I start. I’m so looking forward to this, it sounds brilliant!

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

I was sent a copy of this book to review recently and I’m so keen to read it so I’m going to add it to my pile of books for the coming week.

#BookReview: A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward @sarahward1 @FaberBooks #APatientFury

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About the Book

When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.

Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.

But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.

What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career.

 

My Thoughts

I read and loved the first book in the DC Connie Childs series when it was first published and knew it would be a series I continued with. A Patient Fury is the third book in the series and I found it near impossible to put down once I started reading.

A Patient Fury begins a few months after the events of A Deadly Thaw with Connie back at work and a sense of the team being a little disjointed as the dust settles. I have read all three books in the series and would recommend doing the same but A Patient Fury could be read as a standalone as the main story is self-contained within the novel. In this book the team are called to a suspicious house fire where three people, Peter Winson, his wife Francesca and young son Charlie have died. The novel is predominantly told from Connie’s perspective but we do also get chapters from Julia, the adult daughter of the Peter. It also covers the present day and there are a few chapters from the past set around a mysterious disappearance.

I love Sarah Ward’s writing. I suspected who was behind the fire very early on but then there are twists and turns throughout the novel and I kept questioning myself. I felt like I was along with Connie as she doubted the working assumptions in the investigation that were made by the rest of the team. The main suspect in the story where the police are concerned made for an interesting story, but it was Connie’s suspicion that I was believing in. She isn’t convinced that it’s a murder suicide and thinks that someone else is involved but it’s proving it that is the problem. I was willing her on not to give up it because I was sure she was on to something but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it either. I loved the way I felt so involved in the novel, it’s a brilliant writer that can do that to this degree.

I really enjoyed seeing the development of Connie’s character in A Patient Fury, and to see how what she’s been through has affected her. It really does enhance the reading of the novel to know her back story and to be rooting for her. She’s a flawed character but she is so fiercely determined that you can’t help but be on her side.

The title of this novel is so perfect and fitting; the way the secrets and lies are uncovered as the plot moves along and we see how people are reacting in the present day – the undercurrent of bitterness and anger which all builds and builds somewhat patiently to fury.

A Patient Fury has quite a few red herrings, and just when you think you have the case solved, there is a reveal that has you questioning yet again in the most brilliant way. Each twist in this book is believable, and  the novel just builds and builds to the brilliantly chilling ending. I finished reading this book a week ago and I still keep thinking about it. I highly recommend this novel (and the series as a whole!).

My thanks to Emma Welton of damppebbles tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

A Patient Fury is out now and available in paperback and ebook from here.

 

About the Author

Sarah Ward

Sarah Ward is the author of three DC Childs novels, In Bitter Chill, A Deadly Thaw and A Patient Fury set in the Derbyshire Peak District where she lives. The fourth in the series, The Shrouded Path, is out in September. On her website, Crimepieces (www.crimepieces.com), she reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world. She is a judge for the Petrona Award for Scandinavian translated crime novels. Sarah was a 2015 Amazon Rising Star and A Patient Fury was The Observer’s Thriller of the Month in 2017.

Find Sarah on the following links:

Twitter:https://twitter.com/sarahrward1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarahWardCrime/

Sign up to Sarah’s newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bHNGHX

 

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

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This Week in Books (4 July 2018)! #TWiB

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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

 

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward

I was planning to finish this last night but the England match took over and I didn’t get chance to do any reading! I am gripped though so will definitely be finishing this today. It’s such a great read. My review will be on my blog on Sunday as part of the tour but I can already say that I’ll be recommending it!

F*** You Very Much by Danny Wallace

I’ve read a few more chapters of this in the last few days but I’m finding it a bit hit and miss. I will be finishing it but it’ll be a book I keep reading bits of in between other books.

 

Then 

Brave by Rose McGowan

I listened to the audio book of this and I’m sad to say that it wasn’t for me. I thought I would find it an empowering listen but it just felt too self-indulgent and uncomfortable to listen as a result.

A Life of Crime: Memoirs of a High Court Judge by Harry Ogdall

This is another audio book that I picked on a whim and I very much enjoyed this one. It was fascinating to listen to and I really recommend it.

Best Day Every by Kaira Rouda

Yet another audio book and I’m sorry to say that I was a bit disappointed with this one. I found it quite slow-going and it was a bit too predictable for me. I did like the writing style though so I will be looking out for more books by this author in the future.

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

This was also an audio book and I very much enjoyed this one. It’s such a lovely, heart-warming novel and it found me at the perfect time. I’m now going to make sure I read the author’s previous novels soon.

The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

This was the first book that I read via Pigeonhole and I really enjoyed the experience of reading a few chapters each day. This book worked perfectly in that format and I enjoyed reading it.

Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan

I really enjoyed reading this thriller, it was fast-paced and when I wasn’t reading it I wanted to get back to it to find out what was happening. I’m in the middle of trying to write a review on it so hopefully I’ll be able to get that posted on here soon.

 

Next

Do No Harm by Lucy V. Hay

I’m on the blog tour for this novel later this month and as I’m keen to read it asap I figured I would make it one of my next reads.

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

I love Shari Lapena’s novels so am thrilled to have an ARC of this one to read. It’s been calling to me from my TBR since it arrived a couple of weeks ago so I think I’m going to start it in the next few days.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This is one of my planned #20BooksofSummer so I think I’ll be picking this up as soon as I finish my current read. I’m really looking forward to this one.

 


 

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 #bookhaul (30 Jun)!

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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!

My TBR has increased again this week… I do need to get back on track with reducing my TBR but for now YAY for fab new books! 🙂

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

I’ve seen this book on social media and have been intrigued by it so when I spotted it as a read now on NetGalley I snapped it up. I’m really hooked on thrillers at the moment so I plan to read this one very soon.

The Golden Child by Wendy James

This is another book that I spotted as read now on NetGalley and it sounded like a really prescient novel so I couldn’t resist downloading it as well.

I Did It For Us by Alison Bruce

I’ve kept seeing this book around and the cover really intrigues me so I grabbed this one on NetGalley too.

Only Ever You by Rebecca Drake

I bought this book online this week as it’s been on my wish list for ages and I thought I deserved a treat. The premise of this book sounds so good and I hope to squeeze it in between review books soon.

Where The Missing Go by Emma Rowley

This book has been reviewed on some of my favourite blogs recently and every time I see it I want to read it so I decided to buy it on Kindle this week. It’s already calling to me so I don’t think it’ll be long before I read it.

My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay

I loved Sanjida Kay’s first novel so when I saw this book on Amazon I immediately one-clicked! I don’t know when I’ll get to this one but hopefully it’ll be before too long.

Home Fires by Kamila Shamsie

Home Fires has been on my radar for so long but I hadn’t got around to buying a copy so when I spotted it in a daily deal this week I grabbed it. I feel like I’ll need to be in just the right mood to read this one but I’m definitely looking forward to getting to it.

Believe Me by JP Delaney

I read and reviewed JP Delaney’s first book The Girl Before (you can read my review of that here if you’d like to) when it came out and so when I spotted a new book I couldn’t resist downloading it from NetGalley. I’m really intrigued by the blurb for this book, it sounds very fast-paced so I expect to read this soon.

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

I received a copy of this gorgeous book in the post yesterday and I was thrilled as I’ve been so keen to get my hands on this novel. It sounds wonderful and I plan on reading it whilst sitting out in the garden in this lovely weather we’re having at the moment.

 


 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

 

 

This Week in Books (27 June 2018)! #TWiB

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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 Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

I just started reading this last night and am only four chapters in so far but it’s got me very intrigued and I’m looking forward to reading more soon.

Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allen

This is the main book that I’m reading at the moment as it’s got me gripped. I only started this yesterday too but I just don’t want to put it down.

F*** You Very Much by Danny Wallace

I haven’t read any more of this book over the last week but I definitely plan on making it more of a priority in the coming week.

 

Then 

Girl Up by Laura Bates

I’m way older than the target age for this book and yet I still got so much more out of it than I was expecting. I wish this book had existed when I was a teenager and it’s definitely a book that I’ll be recommending for teenagers from now on.

The Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah M. Lynn

This book was so wonderful, I adored it! It was different to anything I’ve read recently and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m saving my review for the blog tour in July but I can say now that I highly recommend it.

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

I read this book in just a couple of sittings and I loved it. It was one of those books that pulls you in and keeps you gripped all the way to the end.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

This was such a great thriller and I very much enjoyed it. I read most of it in one sitting because it was so fast-paced that there just wasn’t a moment where I felt I could put it down as I just wanted to know what was going to happen next.

 

Next

Toxic by Nicci Cloke

I’ve had this on my TBR for a few weeks now and the stunning summery cover is really making me want to pick this up during this heatwave. It sounds like a good YA thriller too so I’m sure I’ll fly through this one!

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell’s writing so I was thrilled to get approved to read this on NetGalley recently and I don’t think I can wait any longer to start reading it.

Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

This is a bit of a change from the crime fiction and thrillers I’ve been reading recently and I’m just in the mood to add this one to my currently reading. I love novels that explore the idea of fate and whether we’re destined to meet certain people in our lives.

 


 

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 Break by Marian Keyes @MichaelJBooks @MarianKeyes #TheBreak

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About the Book

Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her. He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in South East Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it. Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . . However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge. For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman? Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then so is she . . .

 

My Thoughts

I love Marian Keyes – she’s always my go to author when I need a book that I know I’m going to get completely engrossed in. I’m so happy to say that The Break lived up to my hopes for it.

I’ll admit that it took me a couple of attempts to get into this book. The first time I picked it up I just wasn’t feeling it and I ended up putting it down. However, I picked it up again a few weeks later and found myself completely swept away by the story and the characters. I ended up really, really loving this novel and am so glad that I gave it another chance.

Marian Keyes is so good at exploring what makes people tick, and for always writing well-rounded, believable characters. I love the way I started off thinking Hugh was completely selfish and that Amy should have just told him that if he wanted to go then he should go and not come back. Over the course of the novel though we get to see more of Amy’s back story, and also come to see how the death of Hugh’s father has impacted him and it comes to feel really balanced. These two characters felt very real to me and I was curious to see whether their marriage would survive everything that had happened, not just while they were on a break but all of the things they’d faced in the years since they first got together.

Amy is feisty, and the part of her that feels downtrodden at times gets through because of her rise-above attitude. I felt that I could identify with a lot of her traits and was willing her on throughout the novel to grasp what made her happy. As the novel progressed I came to understand Hugh too, I don’t condone his running away and having a break from his marriage but I know how intense grief can make you feel the need to completely re-evaluate your life, and to explore what happiness is and whether the life you’re living is the best life you could have.

The issues of separation, and grief are dealt with so sensitively but also with the characteristic humour that you expect from Marian Keyes. She captures the reality of life so brilliantly. The Break was an emotional read at times, and I did shed a few tears but ultimately it’s a wonderful exploration of relationships in all their forms and I adored it! I highly recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Break is out now

 

About the Author

Marian Keyes’ international bestselling novels include Rachel’s Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There?, This Charming Man, The Brightest Star in the Sky, The Mystery of Mercy Close and The Woman Who Stole My Life. Two collections of her journalism, Under the Duvet and Further Under the Duvet, are also available from Penguin. Marian lives in Dublin with her husband

Stacking the Shelves with my latest #bookhaul (23 June 2018)!

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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’ve acquired some new books in the last couple of weeks so I decided to join in with Stacking the Shelves today to share my book haul!

 

I’m really trying to reduce my TBR this year but I couldn’t resist buying a few books this week so here is my latest book haul…

 

 

 

The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler

This is one of those books that I stumbled across when browsing online and it sounded so interesting that I immediately ordered it. I hope to read this one soon.

Your Closest Friend by Karen Perry

I’ve read and enjoyed Karen Perry’s books in the past so when I spotted this new one at the bargain price of 99p for Kindle I immediately downloaded it.

 

 

Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson

I’ve seen some wonderful reviews of this book on some of my favourite blogs recently and I’ve been meaning to see if it was available on NetGalley but on Thursday this week I noticed it was release day so I treated myself to a copy. This sounds like it could be a really emotional read but it’s definitely one I want to read very soon.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

I’ve heard so much about this book and always been intrigued but somehow haven’t bought a copy. So when one day this week I spotted it on the kindle daily deal I snapped it up. I don’t know when I’ll get to read this but hopefully it won’t wait too long.

 

The Chosen One by Howard Linskey

I’ve read some great reviews of this book and saw the author tweet that the book is 99p on kindle at the moment so I immediately downloaded a copy. I think this is part of a series and I can’t remember where I’m up to but I hope to read this one soon anyway.

Nutmeg by Maria Goodin

I was sent a review copy of this book just yesterday and it’s such a beautiful looking book that I can’t wait to start reading. It sounds like a moving and magical novel so I’m keen to start it.

 


 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

#BookReview: Friend Request by Laura Marshall @laurajm8 @LittleBrownUK

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

About the Book

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

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

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

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

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

 

My Thoughts

As soon as read the premise for Friend Request I knew it was one I had to get my hands on as soon as possible. It sounded so creepy and intriguing, and I’m pleased to say that I very much enjoyed reading it.

This is very a prescient novel with the way social media plays such a huge part in our lives now and it’s so easy to see a new friend request and because we recognise the name and profile photo we believe it’s who we’re told it is because how would we know otherwise? Louise gets a shock when she gets a friend request from an old school friend, who has been missing for twenty five years but she feels compelled to accept it and to find out what is going on. This really unnerved me because a few years ago I got a friend request from a boy I’d known at school, the photo was of him as a teenager and the name was correct… except I knew it couldn’t be genuine because my mum still lived in the town I’d grown up in and she knew he’d been tragically killed in an accident soon after we left school. It was very creepy. Obviously I reported the profile and it was eventually removed but it did make me wonder how many people, perhaps people who no longer had connections to our home town, would have been taken in by the profile. So it felt totally believable to me that Louise would want to know more about her old friend.

Friend Request is told in a dual timeline: one strand is the present day where Louise is increasingly unsettled by strange happenings and also dealing with messages supposedly from Maria. The other strand is back in 1989 and leads up to what happened to Maria’s disappearance. I loved how the picture of events was gradually built up and found this novel near impossible to put down as the tension ramped up.

A school reunion is organised and Louise feels compelled to attend, and this is the part of the novel where we also get the leaving party from 1989 so all the main people in the novel are at these parties across the years and I loved how it was all played out. It gave a sense of past and present being overlapped and you get a real sense of who these people were as teenagers and how quickly people can revert to those personality traits in stressful situations. By this point I didn’t trust anyone, and I wasn’t even sure Louise was telling the whole truth so I was on the edge of my seat reading it.

I read this book as I was trying to get out of a bit of a reading slump and it definitely got me out of it because I just didn’t want to put this book down until I knew what was going on. I read in two sittings and immediately recommended it to a friend who was looking for an unputdownable novel.

I recommend Friend Request, it’s a fast-paced novel that will keep you questioning who you can trust right through to the end!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Friend Request is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Laura Marshall grew up in Wiltshire and studied English at the University of Sussex.

In 2015 she decided it was time to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition to write a novel, and enrolled on the Curtis Brown Creative three month novel writing course.

Her first novel, Friend Request, was runner-up in the Bath Novel Award 2016 and shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2016. Friend Request was published by Little, Brown in the UK in 2017 and became a number one Kindle bestseller.

Laura lives in Kent with her husband and two children.

#BookReview: Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh @SSCav @OrionBooks @Orion_Crime #ThatBookThatHook

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About the Book

THE SERIAL KILLER ISN’T ON TRIAL.

HE’S ON THE JURY…

‘To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?’

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one.

This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.

But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.

Kane knows time is running out – he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

 

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist clicking to request Thirteen on NetGalley recently when the publisher offered it for just thirteen hours, and I was thrilled when I was approved. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages! I defy anyone not to be drawn to a book with the tagline this book has!

Eddie Flynn is called in to be second chair on a murder case. The accused is Hollywood movie star Robert Solomon, and the victims are his wife, also a huge star, and his security guard. There is so much more going on in this novel though when we find out there is a serial killer involved and he is on the jury!

This is such a fantastic premise for a novel and the idea that the killer is on the jury is so different and I couldn’t wait to start reading this book.

This is the first book I’ve read by Steve Cavanagh and I didn’t realise when I downloaded it that it was part of a series. It works fine as a standalone though, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. The book was so good though that I’ve already bought the previous books and I can’t wait to read them all!

Thirteen is such a fast-paced and engrossing novel; it’s one of those books that made me begrudge real life interfering with my reading time! The book alternates between the defence lawyer Eddie Flynn and the serial killer Joshua Kane, which is brilliant and really makes the tension ratchet up at quite a pace. It was fascinating to see the cat and mouse game play out as we see things through each of their perspectives and wonder who will come out on top. The end when it came was so good and so satisfying, it’s definitely a book that will stay with me!

I feel sure that Thirteen will be in my top books of 2018, it’s so different from anything else I’ve read in this genre and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Thirteen is out now in ebook and paperback available here.

 

About the Author

Steve Cavanagh is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author and lawyer. He is also one half of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. His latest novel, Thirteen, is out in ebook now and paperback in June.

This Week in Books (20 June 2018!)! #TWiB

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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 

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

This book is so good!I requested it on NetGalley after seeing a lot of bloggers raving about it and it is more than living up to its hype so far!

F*** You Very Much by Danny Wallace

I’m still dipping in and out of this one and really enjoying it now. It’s amusing in places and shocking in others but altogether a good read.

The AfterLife of Walter Augustus by Hannah M. Lynn

This book is fab, I’m really enjoying it. It’s making me think about the idea of the afterlife and how it all works, and I love the characters.

Girl Up by Laura Bates

I’m reading this one as and when I’m in the mood to come back to it but I’m still finding it interesting. I wish it existed when I was a teenager.

 

Then 

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

This novel was brilliant, I devoured it! I already can’t wait to get started on the next book in the series, A Patient Fury, and expect to pick that up in the next couple of weeks.

The Lido by Libby Page

I found this to be such a gorgeous and moving read, it stole a piece of my heart! I’m still trying to compose my thoughts into a review but hopefully I’ll get something written and posted very soon.

The Date by Louise Jensen

I loved this book! It was gripping and unsettling and I literally read it in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down. I posted my review of this yesterday so you can read more of what I thought here if you’d like to.

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

This book was different to what I was expecting it to be but I did really like the writing style. I’m hoping to get my review finished and posted by next week.

 

Next

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

I treated myself to the hardback of this in the week it was released so I’m really keen to read it. I love Sharon Bolton’s writing so I’m sure I’m going to love this book!

Let me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

My husband bought me the hardback of this for Easter and I’m so keen to read it. It’s one of my #20BooksOfSummer so I’m hoping to can get to read it this week.

In Bloom by C. J. Skuse

Sweet Pea was one of my favourite books of last year so I was thrilled to hear that a sequel was coming out soon. I was so excited when I got approved to read it on NetGalley and I simply can’t wait any longer to read it!

 


 

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 Date by Louise Jensen @Fab_Fiction @Bookouture

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About the Book

One night can change everything.

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her…

 

My thoughts

I’m a massive fan of Louise Jensen’s writing and always eagerly anticipate a new novel from her. I have to say that The Date is her best yet, I literally didn’t put it down once from start to finish!

The premise for The Date is utterly terrifying! Ali has been out on a date with a man she met on a dating site and the next morning she wakes up with her head bleeding, very little memory of what happened the previous night and when she looks in the mirror she no longer recognises her own face!

I had heard of face blindness before but rather ignorantly thought it was a condition where people found it difficult to remember faces of people they knew. I had no idea that it could be as serious as in Ali’s situation where she literally doesn’t recognise anyone – not herself, not her loved ones and not even actors in her favourite TV show. It sent chills down my spine to think of it and from this point on I couldn’t help but imagine how Ali must feel, and her fear got under my skin. I can’t remember the last time a novel made me as on edge as this one did!

Ali carries guilt from things that have happened in the past and this impedes her in making good decisions at times. I felt a real connection to her as the past was revealed – there is one part that actually made me cry. I had such empathy for her in that moment and it meant that I was rooting for her all the more as the novel went on.

As the book progresses we get the sense that something really terrible has happened and that Ali could be in danger but, like Ali, I found it difficult to piece it all together. I got swept along in her reasoning and felt like she was probably on the right track at times but then something else would happen and I would doubt myself again. I only partly worked out how it would end but mostly it shocked me, I wasn’t expecting it. The last page of this book gave me goosebumps and I felt glad I wasn’t home alone!

The Date is gripping, unnerving and an unputdownable read! I literally read it in one sitting as I just couldn’t put the book down until I knew how it was going to end!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Date is due to be published in ebook on 21st June and is available here.

 

About the Author

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Louise Jensen is the Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate.

To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List.

Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

#BookReview: Knowing the Score by Judy Murray @EmmaFinnigan #KnowingTheScore

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About the Book

What happens when you find you have exceptional children?
Do you panic? Put your head in the sand? Or risk everything and jump in head first?

As mother to tennis champions Jamie and Andy Murray, Scottish National Coach, coach of the Fed Cup, and general all-round can-do woman of wonder, Judy Murray is the ultimate role model for believing in yourself and reaching out to ambition. As a parent, coach, leader, she is an inspiration who has revolutionised British tennis.

From the soggy community courts of Dunblane to the white heat of Centre Court at Wimbledon, Judy Murray’s extraordinary memoir charts the challenges she has faced, from desperate finances and growing pains to entrenched sexism.

We all need a story of ‘yes we can’ to make us believe great things are possible. This is that story.

 

My Thoughts

I was thrilled to be sent a copy of Knowing the Score as I’m a big tennis fan.

It’s always been apparent to me that the Murrays are a close family and that Judy is her sons’ greatest supporter. It’s seemed unfair to me over the years how she is perceived in the media as being pushy but until I read this book I had no idea how awfully she had been treated or how difficult it has been for her at times.

Murray has faced the sexism of being in a mainly male-dominated arena and has pushed through to succeed. She has made sure all the way through her career that she promotes other women and encourages girls to take up sport. I loved this aspect of the book, the way she carried on reaching for her goals even when she felt intimidated and when another door had been firmly slammed in her face. I wish it was more well known how much she has done for the tennis world, especially in how passionately she has worked at bringing more young girls into the sport. It was fascinating to learn about her own career as a tennis player, and to find out about the positions she’s held in the tennis world since then. She really is an incredible woman.

You get to see Judy Murray as a fully rounded person in this book. She openly shares the terror she felt on the day of the shootings in Dunblane, the emotions are tangible even all these years later. You get to see the love and pride she has for her two sons, and how she literally spent every penny she had, and then some, in order to help them strive for the goals they were setting themselves in the tennis world. Far from being a pushy mum, she has just always wanted to encourage them in the things they are passionate about. I also really enjoyed reading how she felt about being on Strictly and how much fun she had on that show.

I’m thrilled that Judy Murray has been able to share her story in her own words. She is an incredible woman who has fought for her two sons to have the careers that they wanted, alongside her own career as a brilliant tennis coach and mentor. She has made a point of bringing young coaches and players up with her; she has encouraged and inspired so many people within the industry.

I knew I was going to enjoy this book before I even started reading it but I wasn’t expecting to get so completely absorbed in it. This is a book that I will be keeping hold of as I’m sure I’ll want to re-read it in the future.

Knowing the Score is a must-read for all tennis fans, but for everyone else as well. If you love books about people who push to succeed, who empower and inspire others then this is the book for you. This is an inspirational, fascinating and very enjoyable read – I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

Knowing the Score by Judy Murray with Alexandra Helmsley is out now and available here.

 

Stacking the Shelves (16 June 2018)! #BookHaul

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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’ve acquired some new books in the last couple of weeks so I decided to join in with Stacking the Shelves today to share my book haul!

 

F*** You Very Much by Danny Wallace

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it so I bought it on kindle last week and am already reading it. Initially it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped it was going to be but it’s definitely living up to my hopes now I’m a bit further into it.

The Listener by Rachel Basch

I bought this after it was recommended to me this week and I’m really looking forward to getting to it.

How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt

This book has been on my wishlist for ages and I finally bought a copy this week. Ive heard really interesting things about this book so I’m curious to read it.

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlow

I saw a fab review of this book on Ali – The Dragon Slayer‘s blog a little while ago and the book has been swirling around in my head ever since so I finally decided to download a copy for my kindle. I hope to read it soon.

The After Wife by Cass Hunter

I saw a few people tweeting about this book on release day on Thursday and when I looked the book up I was so intrigued that I had to buy it.

To The Bridge: A True Story of Motherhood and Murder by Nancy Rommelmann

This was my Prime choice for June – I spotted it on a recommendations email from Amazon and decided to make it my pick for the month. I’m not sure when I’ll get to read this but hopefully soon.

 

The Reading Room by Fenella Gentleman

This book has been on my radar for a few weeks so I was thrilled when a blogging friend sent me her copy. I am really looking forward to getting lost in this novel very soon.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

I have seen this book all over social media and have been so keen to get my hands on a copy. I was super excited when my NetGalley request got approved this week and I can’t wait to get started on this one.

In Bloom by C. J. Skuse

I read and loved Sweet pea when it came out so I actually squealed when I got approved on NetGalley to read the follow up novel! I will definitely read this one very soon, it’s already calling to me from my TBR mountain!

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward

I’m going to be reading this book very soon as I’m on the blog tour for the paperback release next month.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

I’ve heard about this book on some of my favourite blogs in the last couple of weeks so I couldn’t resist requesting it on NetGalley. I’m so happy to have been approved and this is another book that I plan to read very soon.

You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks

This is another book that I kept seeing on twitter so I requested it on NetGalley. It sounds like a fascinating novel and I’m eager to read it soon.

 


 

Did you get any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

This Week in Books (13 June 2018)! #TWiB

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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 Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah M. Lynn

I’m really enjoying this book, it’s such a refreshingly different read and is one I love getting back to.

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

I’ve had this on my TBR for a while now and finally picked it up yesterday. It’s not quite what I was expecting but I love the writing so it’s keeping me hooked.

F**k You Very Much by Danny Wallace

I bought this just the other day and started reading it right away. I’m not enjoying it quite as much as I hoped I would but it is interesting to read more about how rudeness spreads, it does make you think.

Girl Up by Laura Bates

I’ve been reading this on and off for the last couple of weeks and am enjoying it. It’s a book that I would recommend for teenagers, and parents of teenagers. I wish it had existed when I was young.

 

Then 

The Fear by C. L. Taylor

I devoured this book in one sitting this week, it was such a thrilling read. I’ve already reviewed it so you can find out more about what I thought here.

Our House by Louise Candlish

This was one of my picks for #20BooksOfSummer and I really enjoyed reading it. I’m a big fan of Louise Candlish’s writing anyway and this book was a great read.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Abedayo

I’ve had this book on my TBR since it was published and I’ve held off reading it because I thought it might be a difficult read for me. I’m so glad that I finally picked it up though as I adored the writing and found it quite a cathartic read.

 

Next

The Lido by Libby Page

This is my next pick from my #20BooksOfSummer TBR and I am so looking forward to reading this one. I have a feeling it’s going to be a book that I adore!

The Date by Louise Jensen

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this from NetGalley so I’m really keen to read it as I’ve loved all of Louise Jensen’s books so far and this one sounds excellent!

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

I’m on the blog tour for the third book in this series next month and have just realised that I haven’t read the second book yet. I do like to read books in order where I can so I’m squeezing this book in this week. I very much enjoyed the first book so I’m looking forward to read this one!

 


 

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

 

#BookReview: The Fear by C. L. Taylor @callytaylor @AvonBooksUK #TheFear

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About the Book

Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…

When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

My Thoughts

I am a huge fan of C. L Taylor’s novels; they’ve all been such brilliant reads but I have to start this review by saying The Fear is her best yet!

The Fear is the story of Lou who was groomed and kidnapped by a paedophile when she was 14 years old. It’s now 18 years later and Lou is still affected what happened to her; this is brought to the fore when she was to move back to her hometown to clear out the home of her late father. Lou finds out that Mike is now preying on another young teenage girl and she feels she must do something about it.

The Fear is a very prescient novel as it looks at young girls being groomed by a predatory man, and really makes you think about the fine line between protecting yourself and taking revenge. I loved the way this book made me think as well as being such a gripping thriller.

I picked this book up after having a few days where nothing was holding my attention and I felt I was heading for another reading slump but The Fear grabbed me from page one and I literally didn’t put it down until I’d finished it! There is a real undertone of menace in this book, it always felt like something awful was going to happen and it was tense waiting to see what that thing might be.

I found Lou to be a really intriguing character, and I hoped she would find some peace by the end of the novel. I know personally how the damage from your teenage years can be something that holds you back in some aspects of life until you’ve dealt with it. She is quite clearly damaged and this holds her back from forming relationships – both platonically and romantically. It was also interesting to see Mike’s wife’s perspective as the novel went along. I found her deeply unsympathetic and unlikeable for the attitude she held but I came to understand her thought process, and to see her grow too. By the end of the novel I felt like I’d come to know her and I had much more sympathy for her.

Some of the reveals in this book were things I’d guessed and others had me gobsmacked! I loved the way there were two parts to the ending of the novel: the first was satisfying and the second was a real shock! The novel is tied up perfectly though. It takes a great novel for me not to work out how it’s all going to end so it’s high praise for The Fear that it had me stunned as I read the final pages!

I highly recommend The Fear; it’s fast-paced, full of tension and it will keep you hooked until after you’ve turned the final page!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Fear is out now and available here.

About the Author

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C.L. Taylor is the Sunday Times bestselling author of five gripping stand-alone psychological thrillers: THE ACCIDENT, THE LIE, THE MISSING, THE ESCAPE and THE FEAR. Her books have sold in excess of a million copies, been number one on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play and have been translated into over 20 languages. THE ESCAPE won the Dead Good Books ‘Hidden Depths’ award for the Most Unreliable Narrator.

Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014.

She started writing short stories in 2005 and was published widely in literary and women’s magazines. She also won several short story competitions. In 2009 and 2011 her romantic comedy novels (as Cally Taylor) were published by Orion and translated into fourteen languages. HEAVEN CAN WAIT was a bestseller in Hungary and China and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a feature film by JumpStart Productions. Whilst on maternity leave with her son Cally had an idea for a psychological thriller and turned to crime. She has also written a Young Adult thriller, THE TREATMENT, published by HarperCollins HQ.

C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son.

(Author bio taken from: cltaylorauthor.com)

Author Kate Vane shares her thoughts on memory in today’s post! #BrandNewFriend @k8vane

 

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Kate Vane, author of Brand New Friend, to my blog. Kate is sharing a fascinating post about memory and how easily things can become mixed up in our heads.

 

Messing with my memories

One of the genres I love to read, but would hate to write, is historical fiction. I love the way that the best authors make the world of the past come alive, saving me the trouble of doing all the reading and research and weighing up the merits of the various sources.

However, I thought I would have no difficulty in setting the flashbacks in Brand New Friend in eighties Leeds. After all, I was there. But drawing on your memories is not as straightforward as it first seems. 

We mix things up. Each time we retrieve a memory, we potentially corrupt it, throwing in new details, erasing others, while being convinced by the veracity of what we recall. I found this when I came to fact-check my own head. A song that I thought was part of the soundtrack of my student days in Leeds was actually released a couple of years later. Conversely, I had forgotten that pound coins came out a couple of years earlier. 

I had one scene where two of my characters each go to the bar with their own pound note. When I checked, both notes and coins were in circulation at that time so I decided not to change it. I thought it was a nice image – and it showed the characters didn’t want to be stuck with each other after they had bought their drinks! 

Facts can be verified but it’s more tricky to regain the mindset of 30 years ago. What was it like when we didn’t have mobile phones? Most of us didn’t even have landlines in our student houses. You went to a pay phone if you had to call someone. Your friends lived close by so you mostly just went round to see them, and probably stayed for the afternoon or the evening. Money was scarce but time seemed limitless.

If you arranged to meet someone in a pub and they didn’t turn up, you just went home. You didn’t have that exhausting process where people send you texts every five minutes to make minor refinements to the arrangement (or even more absurdly, to tell you that they are progressing towards your agreed rendezvous exactly as planned). 

You only owned a few albums and played them to death, because they were relatively expensive, and you taped them and swapped tapes with people. If you really liked someone you made a compilation. If you knocked out the small squares on the top of the cassette it stopped you recording over it, but if you changed your mind, you could put tape over the holes. 

Although the characters and the story are fictional, I did draw on certain locations. For example the shared house where Paolo lives has the same layout as one of the houses I lived in. Like the characters in the book we spent a lot of time in the living room listening to music, and some of our friends were musicians and used to bring their instruments round and play. 

Now, when I try to picture how we were back then, the room seems really crowded. There are the people who were actually there, whose features have faded over time, and there are figures of characters from the story, who are newer and therefore more vivid. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two. 

Beware of drawing on your memories because, like one of those home tapes, you are in danger of overwriting them!

 

About Brand New Friend

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane

Friend. Liar. Killer?

BBC foreign correspondent Paolo Bennett is exiled to a London desk – and the Breakfast sofa – when he gets a call from Mark, a friend from university in eighties Leeds. Paolo knew Mark as a dedicated animal rights activist but now a news blog has exposed him as an undercover police officer. Then Mark’s former police handler is murdered.

Paolo was never a committed campaigner. He was more interested in women, bands and dreaming of a life abroad. Now he wonders if Mark’s exposure and his handler’s murder might be linked to an unexplained death on campus back when they were friends. What did he miss?

Paolo wants the truth – and the story. He chases up new leads and old friends. From benefit gigs and peace protests, to Whatsapp groups and mocktail bars, the world has changed, but Mark still seems the same. 

Is Mark the spy who never went back – who liked his undercover life better than his own? Or is he lying now? Is Paolo’s friend a murderer?

Buy from Amazon: https://mybook.to/brandnewfriend

 

 

About Kate Vane

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Kate Vane writes (mostly) crime fiction. Brand New Friend is her fourth novel.

She has written for BBC drama Doctors and has had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.

She lived in Leeds for a number of years where she worked as a probation officer. She now lives on the Devon coast.

You can find Kate at the links below:

Website: https://katevane.com

Twitter: @k8vane

Facebook: /k8vane

 

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

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Stacking the Shelves with my May Book Haul!

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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!

It’s been a while since I joined in with Stacking the Shelves; it’s partly because I’ve not been blogging regularly for the last few months but also because I’m not buying so many books at the moment (although I did acquire rather a lot of books in May, hence this haul!).

So, here are all the books that I got in May…

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

I’ve read really mixed reviews of this book but it still sounds really appealing to me so I decided to buy a copy.

Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson

I really like David Jackson’s previous novels and this new crime thriller sounds brilliant so I couldn’t resist buying this. I hope to read this soon as it’s a kindle book and I can fit it in around the print books that I’m reading for my 20 Books of Summer challenge.

The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh

I didn’t think this was my kind of read but I kept hearing great things about it so I bought it and read it straight away; I honestly couldn’t put it down and really enjoyed it.

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

I couldn’t resist treating myself to this hardback as I love Sharon Bolton’s writing and have been waiting for this book to be released.

Big Bones by Laura Dockrill

I’ve seen quite a bit of hype around this book and I had to get a copy to see what the fuss is all about. It does sound like a lovely YA novel with a body positive message.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I’ve been interested in reading this for a while but have read mixed reviews about it so couldn’t decide. It ended up in a kindle deal recently so it seemed a good time to buy it!

Only Fools and Stories by David Jason

I love David Jason – especially his roles as Del Boy and Inspector Frost so I bought this book as soon as I saw it. I think it’ll be a nice book to curl up with one evening and I’m looking forward to it.

Left and Leaving by Jo Verity

I’ve been sorting through my huge wish list recently and when I re-read the blurb for this book it sounded really good so I bought it on kindle.

You, Me and Everything by Catherine Isaac

I just bought this the other day because it was on offer for kindle at 99p and I decided to give it a go as I’ve seen lots of good reviews of it.

The Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart

This was a bargain buy that I was really happy to spot as I was sorting through my wish list and discovered it was the kindle daily deal on that very day so I snapped it up! I think this will be a lovely book to dip in and out of, and if I enjoy it I will buy a physical copy.

The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper

I saw the author tweet that it was her ebook publication day this week so I went straight to Amazon and one-clicked as it sounds like a really intriguing premise. I hope to get to this one over the summer as it sounds like a good, summer read.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The premise of this book grabbed me as soon as I read the blurb so I had to get a copy. This is another ebook purchase so I’m hoping to read it in between my planned print summer reads in the coming weeks.

Fatal Weekend by Tom Rubython

I was a huge fan of Ayrton Senna and so after watching some documentaries about him on the anniversary of his death earlier in May I decided to look and see if there were any new biographies of him. I found this one so bought it and read it straight away. It was a decent read but not the best biography of Senna.

The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregor

I got Reservoir 13 for my birthday earlier this year and whilst I haven’t read it yet I still couldn’t resist buying this book as I do love Jon McGregor’s writing. I hope to get to both books before too much longer.

Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

This is a review book that I got from NetGalley, I think it’s due out later this month so I plan on reading it soon. It sounds like a lovely, comfort read and I feel sure I’ll enjoy it.

The Date by Louise Jensen

This is another NetGalley book also due out later this month. I love Louise Jensen’s writing so I couldn’t resist downloading this one. I’ll definitely be getting to this very, very soon!

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I first heard about it earlier this year so I was thrilled when my wish was granted on NetGalley recently. I actually read it as soon as I downloaded it and thought it was brilliant. I’ll be posting my review soon.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell’s writing so this was another book that I requested on NetGalley as soon as I heard about it. It sounds like a great read so I’m eager to get to it soon. I think it’s due out in July so not too long to wait.

Snap by Belinda Bauer

I was thrilled when I was sent a copy of this in the post. I read the novel in one sitting earlier this week and I loved every minute that I spent reading it. I’m hoping to finish and post my review in the next week or so but I can say that I highly recommend Snap!

Toxic by Nicci Cloke

I adore the cover of this book and when I read the blurb I was very keen to get my hands on a copy as soon as possible. I was so happy when NetGalley approved my request! I’ll be reading this a little bit nearer publication date as it’s not due out until the end of July.

Falling Short by Lex Coulton

This book arrived as a total surprise recently and it sounds like a really good read so I’m adding it to my TBR. Hopefully I’ll get to it soon!


Did you get any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own stacking the shelves post in the comments! 🙂

My TBR for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge!

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I’ve decided, at the last minute, that I’m going to take part in the 20 books of summer challenge again set up by Cathy at 746 Books. Last year I did read 20 books over the summer but most of them weren’t books on my planned TBR and, due to life getting in the way, I don’t think I reviewed any of them.

This year I’ve chosen twenty physical books off my TBR that I definitely want to read soon. I do read a lot of ebooks and some audio books but it’s the physical books that are taking over my house so I’m going to try and only count physical books for this challenge!

So, without further ado here are my 20 books of summer…

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

This is a non-fiction book that feels like it’s going to be a heavy read; it’s also quite a long book but I do really want to get to this soon as I’ve seen really good reviews of it.

How To Be Human by Ruby Wax

I was sent this for review and it’s a book that was already on my radar as a book I must read so I definitely want to get to this. It sounds like a fascinating look at what makes us human!

Not That Kind of Love by Clare Wise and Greg Wise

I won an advance copy of this book last year and I really wanted to read it… but somehow it’s still on my TBR! It jumped out at me when I was sorting through my books recently so I’m hoping to get to it in the coming weeks.

Our House by Louise Candlish

I also won a signed copy of this a little while ago and as I’m a huge fan of Louise Candlish I want to read it very, very soon! It sounds like a really fast-paced, thrilling read so I’m looking forward to it.

Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

This book has been on my TBR for ages and I’ve been really keen to read it but somehow haven’t picked it up yet. I’m hoping this summer will be the time!

The Second Sister by Claire Kendall

I treated myself to this last year and it’s another book that I wanted to read asap… I’m sure I’ll get to it this summer though now I’ve put it on my TBR.

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

My husband bought me this book as an Easter gift and I so badly want to read it so I’m going to make time for it in the coming weeks.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This is a review book that I was sent recently and I can’t wait to read it. It feels like it could be a book to read in summer so I’m adding it to this TBR.

Tell Me Lies by Rebecca Muddiman

I realise that I’m beginning to sound like a broken record but this is another book that I’ve had on my TBR for ages. I don’t know why I keep doing this when it’s books that I really want to read.

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave

This is a recent acquisition but it’s one that I want to get to while I’m still excited to read it so that it doesn’t end up languishing on the TBR mountain!

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

My husband bought me this book to cheer me up after an appointment and it feels like it’ll be perfect to read over the summer. I do love Zadie Smith’s writing to this should be a treat.

Sister Golden Hair by Darcey Steinke

I read a review of this book a few weeks ago and immediately ordered a copy of the book. This is definitely a book to read in the warm, summer months and I can’t wait!

The Lido by Libby Page

I was sent a copy of this book for review and it simply has to be in my summer TBR as I’m keen to read it as soon as I can. It sounds like a gorgeous read and one that I will love.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

I was sent a surprise copy of this from the publisher and I kept it because it has a stunning cover and it sounds like a real me read. I’m hoping I get to this one soon as I’ve heard good things about it.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

I love Rachel Joyce’s writing so much (especially Harold Fry) so I don’t know why I haven’t read this one yet (I think it’s possibly that need to always have a book left to read by a favourite author!). I’m sure I’m going to love this book!

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

I received a copy of this in the post recently and it was a lovely surprise. I adored Ruth Hogan’s previous novel and so am really looking forward to reading this book.

You, Me and Everything by Jill Mansell

This is yet another novel that has been on my bookcase for ages. I’ve kept putting this one off because I think it might be a book that makes me cry but now it’s calling to me so it’s going on my summer TBR.

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

I’ve had this book a while and I’ve not stopped being keen to read it and yet I haven’t got to it yet. I will make time to sit down with this over the summer.

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

I found this book on my bookcase during my recent sort out and I can’t think where it came from. I don’t remember buying it but when I read the blurb it sounded like a prescient book and one I felt I must read soon.

An Account of the Great Auk According to One Who Saw It by Jessie Greengrass

This is a short story collection that I’ve had for a while now and it really jumped out at me when I was sorting my bookcases so I’m determined to get to it this summer.

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So that’s my 20 books! I’m really excited to get to all of them so I have high hopes for actually completing this challenge this year! I feel like I’ve picked a good selection with a mix of crime & thriller, non-fiction, young adult, general fiction and a short story collection so hopefully I’ll get to read them all over the next few months!

Have you read any of these books? Are there any that you recommend I get to soon? What are you planning on reading over the coming months? Here’s to a summer filled with good books!

#BookReview: Let Me Be Like Water by S. K. Perry @_sarah_perry @melvillehouse

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About the Book

Holly moved to Brighton to escape her grief over the death of her boyfriend, Sam. But now she is here, sitting on a bench, listening to the sea sway… what is supposed to happen next?

The solitude she had so craved leaves her feeling wrecked. Stranded. But after she meets Frank, the tide begins to shift. Frank, a retired magician who has experienced his own loss but manages to be there for everyone else. Gradually, as he introduces Holly to a circle of new friends, young and old, all with their own stories of love and grief to share, she begins to learn to live again.

 

My Thoughts

This book… oh, this book! I’m going to say right now that my words in this review can’t do justice to this book but I’ll do my very best…

Let Me Be Like Water is a beautiful and moving novel about a young woman, Holly, who moves to Brighton after her boyfriend’s death. She is clearly struggling and lost but then she meets Frank, an older man who is full of magic; he takes Holly under his wing and introduces her into his circle of friends.

I love the way the novel is told in vignettes and they alternate between the present and the past. In one moment we’re seeing Holly’s memories of her life with Sam, and then we see how she is now and what is happening in her life.

The parts of this book about Holly’s relationship with Sam leading up to what happened were heartbreakingly moving. How one moment we get to see their sheer joy and happiness, and another we see Holly’s utter heartbreak and pain. It reminded me of After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell in the way a single sentence has the power to take your breath away, or to make you stop reading for a minute because you can’t see through your tears. In my experience it’s rare to find a novel that really shows how grief is in all it’s visceral rawness, and without it ever being mawkish but Let Me Be Like Water really does get it.

‘What I want to know, Sam, is will I ever run out of things I wish I could tell you? Things that sit in my fingertips that you’ll never get to read there. What about the things you know would make me laugh? Are they really just gone?’

I really appreciated how this book follows the seasons, starting in Autumn, and takes the reader through the journey of grief: from those initial weeks when you can barely function to the point when you start to feel human again but are missing your loved one so much that it hurts. There is such delicacy in the way this novel is written, and such power in that delicacy.

‘I’m starting to miss you in a new way that feels like I’m being ripped into little pieces and hurled hard in your direction, only for the wind to pick up all the bits of me and fling them the opposite way.’

The sea is a character in its own right in this novel; the ebb and flow of the tides, the fierceness and the calm, mimics grief in many ways. Holly is drawn to the sea as she tries to work through her pain, and attempts to find a way to live without Sam. Sometimes she wants to curl up inside the sea, other times she throws stones and shouts but the sea is that permanent thing that is always there. A bit like grief: you learn to live without someone but you never stop missing them.

There is a real warmth and heart in this book too. Each of the people that Holly gets to know in Brighton is wonderful, they’re all unique and each of them helps to hold Holly up, as she helps them too. This side of the novel really felt so soothing and healing; to see that Holly was grieving but still accepted and loved by her new friends was wonderful. I especially adored Frank. I loved his magic tricks, but also how his very being seemed magical. He had had his share of pain in life and managed to channel it into reaching out to others who need someone.

‘I often see people sitting in their cars just watching the water,’ Frank said. ‘It makes me want to climb in there with them. I’m sure most of them are fine, but I always wonder if they’re sitting there because they’ve got no one to be outside with. I don’t think people should be alone by the sea’.

There is so much of life in this book. We see honest explorations of relationships, and of the things that make each of us human, each of the characters’ pain and insecurities. There are amusing moments, alongside the sadness, and we see the full spectrum of life in all it’s idiosyncrasies. Perry really does capture how life is in this novel. Let Me Be Like Water leaves the reader with some hope but it doesn’t magically fix everyone’s problems, and I adored it even more for that.

This novel broke my heart, but it also gave me joy: It’s a very poignant novel, and it was cathartic to read. It is so beautifully written that I read it all in one go, even as I had tears streaming down my face. The writing is poetic and stunning; I really don’t have the words to explain how much I adored this novel. This is my favourite book of the year so far and, to be honest, I don’t think anything will knock it from the top spot. Let Me Be Like Water has taken a piece of my heart; it is absolutely a five star read for me and I simply don’t have enough superlatives to describe it! Just go buy it and read it, you honestly won’t regret it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

Let Me Be Like Water is out now and available in hardback and ebook here!

 

About the Author

SK Perry © Naomi Woddis copy

S. K. Perry is a fiction writer and poet from Croydon.  In 2013 she was long-listed for London’s Young Poet Laureate and was Cityread Young Writer in Residence in Soho in 2014. Her writing has taken her all around the world leading creative writing workshops that develop emotional literacy, and explore mental health, memory, and healing from violence. She qualified on the Spoken Word Education Programme in 2015 with a distinction in the Goldsmiths Writer/Teacher MA, and is involved in mentoring young poets’ collectives in Hackney, Glasgow, and Tegucigalpa. She lives in London

Her first novel, Let Me Be Like Water, was shortlisted for the Mslexia Award and will be published by Melville House.

(Author bio taken from here)

 

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#BookReview: Tubing by K. A. McKeagney @RedDoorBooks @kamckeagney

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About the Book

Polly, 28, lives in London with her ‘perfect-on-paper’ boyfriend. She works a dead end job on a free London paper… life as she knows it is dull. But her banal existence is turned upside down late one drunken night on her way home, after a chance encounter with a man on a packed tube train. The chemistry between them is electric and on impulse, they kiss, giving in to their carnal desires. But it’s over in an instant, and Polly is left shell-shocked as he walks away without even telling her his name.

Now obsessed with this beautiful stranger, Polly begins a frantic online search, and finally discovers more about tubing , an underground phenomenon in which total strangers set up illicit, silent, sexual meetings on busy commuter tube trains. In the process, she manages to track him down and he slowly lures her into his murky world, setting up encounters with different men via Twitter.

At first she thinks she can keep it separate from the rest of her life, but things soon spiral out of control.

By chance she spots him on a packed tube train with a young, pretty blonde. Seething with jealousy, she watches them together. But something isn’t right and a horrific turn of events make Polly realise not only how foolish she has been, but how much danger she is in…

Can she get out before it’s too late?

 

My Thoughts

Tubing is about Polly, who one night has a random and unplanned sexual encounter with a stranger on a tube and this leads her into an initially thrilling but ultimately dark world. This is a thriller but it’s different to anything else I’ve read.

Polly is already a damaged soul and the world she gets into initially forms an escape for her. She is in a settled relationship but feels stifled by her partner and his close relationship with his sister, and she can’t seem to find the thing that would make her feel whole. She has a decent job but begins to let things slide as she becomes quite obsessed with finding the man she encountered on the tube. Polly does make some silly decisions and she was hard to like a lot of the time but there was something intriguing about her, and about why she becomes so fascinated by the world of tubing that made it impossible to not read on.

As Polly’s fixation with the man from the tube grows she finds herself in an increasingly scary situation. One day she witnesses something that is terrifying and soon finds herself spiralling into paranoia and anxiety. The book really ramps up the tension from this point on as you feel really unsure how much of her how she feels is just paranoia, or whether she really is in danger or if it’s even a mix of the two.

For the first half of this book I felt it was more focused on the erotic aspects and I was wondering if this is a book that I would classify as a thriller but the second half of the book was so fast-paced, intense and disturbing that it most definitely is a thriller. It got to a point where I just couldn’t put this book down as I just had to know how it was all going to end. The denouement of this novel was not what I was expecting, which I really appreciated. I do love it when a thriller surprises me!

Tubing is a book I’d recommend to anyone who is looking to read a dark, disturbing thriller with a sexy side to it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

Tubing is out now and available here!

 

About the Author

K.A. McKeagney studied psychology in Bristol before completing a Masters degree in creative writing at Brunel. She won the Curtis Brown prize for her dissertation, which formed the basis of her first novel Tubing. She has worked in London as a health editor writing consumer information as well as for medical journals. Her writing has been commended by the British Medical Association (BMA) patient information awards.

She is currently working on her second novel.

 


 

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#BookReview: The Million Dollar Duchesses by Julie Ferry @JulieFerryBooks #MillionDollarDuchesses

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About the Book

On 6th November 1895, the beautiful and brilliant heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt was wedded to the near-insolvent Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough in a dazzling yet miserable match – it glittered above all others for high society’s marriage brokers who, in this single year, forged a series of spectacular, and lucrative, transatlantic unions.

The bankrupt and ailing British aristocracy was suddenly injected with all the wealth and glamour of America’s newest dynasties. Millions of dollars changed hands as fame, money, power and privilege were all at play.

 

My Thoughts

I hadn’t heard of The Million Dollar Duchesses before I was invited to take part in the blog tour but as soon as I read the synopsis I just knew this was going to be a book I enjoyed and I’m so pleased to say that I was right.

The Million Dollar Duchesses is such a wonderful and interesting look at the transatlantic marriage market in the late 1800s. It looks at how rich young American women, whose family wanted to be part of New York high society, were moulded to be wives for British aristocrats who had land and status but needed money to keep their family estates running. It also looks at the enterprising women who made a business out of teaching these young women and making sure they were introduced to the right people.

The level of research that the families of the American debutantes did about British aristocracy was staggering. It was all so carefully calculated to make sure their daughters made the best match in order to assure the family status. ‘… if she decreed it, the Vanderbilt millions would purchase a duke for their daughter. That was the least they could do’. This despite the knowledge that her daughter was already in love with an untitled man and wished to be married to him.

I loved reading about the parties and the fashions, although the amount of money spent was eye-watering at times! The detailed planning that went into organising an occasion was unfathomable to me but it was fabulous to read about. It was lovely to see some photos in the book too to really get a sense of the people and the locations.

I found it really interesting to read all the references to Edith Wharton’s novels and how she was inspired by some of the women written about in The Million Dollar Duchesses.  I’m now keen to re-read some of her novels to see how much she borrowed from the real women featured in this book.

The Million Dollar Duchesses is an utterly fascinating look at the upper echelons of American society in the latter part of the 19th century. I enjoyed every minute that I spent reading this book and I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of the book from the author via Anne Cater of Random Things Tours. All thoughts are my own.

The Million Dollar Duchesses is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Julie Ferry Author Picture

Julie Ferry is the author of The Million Dollar Duchesses, a non-fiction book following he American heiresses that   into the aristocracy in 1895. She graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in English Literature and then upped sticks and moved to a tiny island between Japan and South Korea to teach English, where she quickly got used to being followed around the supermarket by her students. It was in Japan that she got her first byline and was quickly hooked. She was a freelance journalist writing for The Guardian and most of her favourite publications but always harboured dreams of seeing her name on the front of a book. Now, she’s managing to combine her love of writing and an obsession with interesting and largely unknown women from history, with the school run in Bristol, where she lives with her husband and two children.

 

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#BookReview: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson @OrendaBooks @JoGustawsson

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About the Book

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.
London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?
Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

 

My Thoughts

 

I read Johana Gustawsson’s first novel Block 46 last year and it was an incredible read (you can read my review here); it made my top books of 2017and even now, months later, I still think about the novel! So when I was invited to read Keeper I jumped at the chance and I’m really pleased to say that it’s a brilliant follow-up!

Keeper is told in dual timelines: one during the time of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel and the other in the present day where another serial killer appears to be back even though the police believed the killer was serving his sentence in Broadmoor. This novel features profiler Emily Roy and crime writer Alexis Castells again and it was so good to be back with them and seeing how they were after the last time they worked together.

I really liked seeing more of the relationship between Emily and Alexis. This case is closer to home because it turns out to have a connection to Alexis’ personal life, which puts her on a slightly different path in the investigation. Emily is very single-minded and once she’s on the track of something she very much focuses and it feels like she can’t let emotions come into it. It’s very apparent that Emily and Alexis do look out for each other though and I’m already really keen for the next book to be out so that I can be back with them both.

I loved in Block 46 how there was a connection between the two timelines, and Keeper is the same but again it had me beat! I thought I was on to something with connecting the dots and I was close but ultimately wrong. The ending had me stunned when the reveal came… this is one of those very rare books where the twist was genuinely something I didn’t see coming!

I have to mention the translator in this review. Maxim Jakubowski has translated this so well that it genuinely felt like I was reading a novel that had been written in english.

Johana Gustawsson is such a brilliant writer; there were moments in this book that turned my stomach as the writing was so evocative that it gave me a visceral reaction. I could sense the murky fog of whitechapel around me; I could smell the squalor of the living conditions and the rotting flesh. It’s not often that I feel so completely immersed in a novel but Gustawsson’s writing really gets under my skin. She takes her readers to the darkest sides of humanity and does it in such a way that you can’t look away even when it’s so dark and disturbing. Yet alongside this her writing is beautiful and so you simply can’t stop reading, even during the darkest parts.

Keeper is a deeply disturbing and unflinching novel that will leave you feeling very unnerved but it’s an utterly brilliant read and I can’t recommend it highly enough! I’m now eagerly anticipating whatever Johana Gustawsson writes next!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

Keeper is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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

 

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#BookReview: The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S. Moore @LizzyMoore19 #RedDoorBooks #TMOTMF

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About the Book

Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another. The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger’s who likes to stick to his schedules and routines. The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism. They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together. Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional. It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.

 

My Thoughts

Well, I went into reading this book expecting it to be a fairly straightforward novel about a murder in a block of flats but I was wrong. The Man on the Middle Floor is so much more than that; it’s very hard to categorise the book but it is definitely a page turner!

Nick lives alone on the middle floor. He has Asperger’s Syndrome and is trying to maintain an independent life, he’s always looking for ways to add things to his routine without it becoming overwhelming. Tam lives on the ground floor and has recently lost his job in the police force so is struggling to find his place in the world. Karen lives on the top floor. She is a woman who is so engrossed in her research work on autism that she filters out everything else around her, including her own children. The lives of of the three people become intertwined as the novel goes on and it took a much more macabre turn than I was expecting!

Whilst this book is about a murder, it is also just as much about people and how we all have our ways of dealing with what life has thrown at us. There is a real feeling that Elizabeth Moore feels passionately about autism and that this was the catalyst for the novel. She deftly explores what makes us ‘normal’ and how easily people can become derailed from the acceptable norms of behaviour in society. We get to see the murder and what led to it happening but we also see how people turn to each other for comfort when it’s not how they’ve previously behaved. The focus seemed to centre on Nick as I was reading but it’s actually Karen that has stayed in my head more since I finished reading. She seemed to be so cold to her own children and in the way she sacrificed everything and everyone for her career but then couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I can’t condone her behaviour but at the same time part of me wonders how she is now (even though I know she’s not real).

Nick is the character that stands out the most whilst reading this novel though and the plot centres around him, the man on the middle floor. I don’t know a huge amount about autism, although I have read books about it in the past, but it seemed clear to me that Nick had a lot of problems in his life and that these contributed a lot to his obsessive behaviour rather than it seeming that all of his actions were just down to his autism. I could see where his need for order and calm came from, and had an understanding of that as someone who has had mental health issues in the past.

I really liked the way the book isn’t just about a character with autism and that is focused on three very different people who just happened to live in the same building but perhaps had more in common than they would realise. Karen has all but abandoned her children for her career, something which society still frowns upon and finds hard to accept. Tam is a man who is a bit lost and who seems to be looking for companionship and perhaps a family, which can often be portrayed as something that stereotypically more woman want than men. And Nick just wants order and calm, and to be allowed to just be without outside intrusion which is again something that others can find hard to understand. This novel really shows how we all have our problems and that whatever it is that makes one person’s life difficult may not actually be that dissimilar to what someone else experiences, albeit perhaps in a different way.

From the opening chapter of this novel I really wasn’t sure what I was reading but The Man on the Middle Floor certainly had me hooked from start to finish and I read it in just two sittings!  The novel really does hold a mirror up to the reader’s perceptions and leaves you really thinking about how we determine what normal is. If you like novels that are a bit different, that make you think and defy genre then this is the book for you; I certainly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

The Man on the Middle Floor is out now and available in ebook and paperback from here!

 

About the Author

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Elizabeth S. Moore has worked as a journalist since she won the Decanter Young Wine Writer of the Year at seventeen. She has written columns and articles on restaurants, politics, South Africa and all things foodie. She comes from a family that has given her a lot of writing material and is currently finishing her second book, having written the first after completing the Faber Write a Novel course and being approached by fourteen agents after reading an excerpt of her novel to industry professionals. Elizabeth lives in London with her South African husband and has three daughters and a son as well as two lazy Labradors.

(Bio taken from: ElizabethMoore.com)

 

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#BookReview: Wheelchairs, Perjury & The London Marathon by Tim Marshall @AuthorightUKPR ‏@Authoright

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About the Book

The top wheelchair athletes of today enjoy the same high-profile exposure and admiration as their able-bodied counterparts. This has come about partly through wheelchair participation in mass fun-running events such as the Great North Run.

Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London Marathon charts disability sports pioneer Tim Marshall MBE’s journey from the rock-climbing accident which left him paralysed, to becoming a trailblazer for wheelchair racing.

The fun-runs of the 1980s enabled wheelchair road-racing to flourish, and Marshall took part in marathons and half-marathons where wheelchairs were welcome to compete. This did not, however, include The London Marathon, from which wheelchairs were banned for the first two years. This is the story of how this prohibition was overturned, told from the competitor’s point of view. Tim and many others campaigned for the inclusion of wheelchairs in The London Marathon in the face of huge opposition from the organisers.

Finally, in 1983 the efforts of sportsmen and women, the press, the Greater London Council and members of parliament resulted in a breakthrough just ten days before the 1983 marathon, which at last agreed to wheelchair participation.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London Marathon for the blog tour as it’s a subject that is really close to my heart. I’m partially paralysed from a spinal cord injury in my neck and whilst the nature of my injury means I can’t self-propel in a wheelchair I’m always inspired by people who have pushed society to accept wheelchair users.

Tim Marshall suffered a spinal cord injury whilst rock climbing as a young man but he never lost his passion for life and taking part in sport. After his initial recovery period he undertook a research trip in America to look at how sports for wheelchair users was being approached and this led him to attempt to set up more opportunities for wheelchair users in the UK. This ultimately led to him pushing for there to be a wheelchair race within the London Marathon. The opposition that he faced is utterly staggering, I had to put the book down at a couple of points just in sheer shock at some of the responses he got from the event organisers.

Even though Marshall’s fight for a wheelchair race within the London Marathon is over thirty years ago now it was still shocking to read that one of the reasons for refusing him entry is because they didn’t want it to turn into a ‘multi-purpose jamboree’! I was gobsmacked reading this because the London Marathon allows fun runners in all their glorious outfits and yet it was the thought of serious athletes who happened to be wheelchair-bound that would throw the race into some kind of disrepute. I’m still reeling from this now. The organisers continued to give Marshall different reasons as to why wheelchair racers couldn’t be included each time he contacted them; all of them utterly unfounded.

The book also covers things like how wheelchair athletes came to have the more sporty wheelchairs that we’re used to seeing today as initially they were racing in their ordinary, every day chairs which were not dissimilar to the self-propelled wheelchairs you see people using today (although a lot heavier than we have now). I’d never really thoughts about how hard it would be to race in a chair like that with the wheels being straight and the high chance of your hand getting caught between your wheel and the wheel of the chair alongside you, or the lack of support for your body. I found it so interesting to read how sporting wheelchairs came to be and how the adaptations slowly came to be accepted by the racing associations.

Marshall’s passion to gain parity for disabled athletes and his determination to tell his story in the most accurate way possible really comes through in this book. I enjoyed the level of detail in the sharing of what remained of his correspondence with people relevant to his struggle, and to see how wheelchair racers were eventually accepted as part of the London Marathon.

I am so grateful for people like Tim Marshall because it is through them that society begins to shift its standpoint on how it views disabled people. Seeing the response in recent years to the paralympics, for example, and how nations have got behind their disabled athletes has been incredible. I will be watching the London Marathon this year with renewed appreciation of just how much perseverance it took to get wheelchair athletes racing alongside everyone else.

Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London Marathon is such an interesting read. It encompasses how Marshall discovered wheelchair sport, then onto how he, along with others, fought, and won, the right to race in the London Marathon. This is a fascinating, inspiring and important book. I really enjoyed reading it and it’s one I definitely recommend.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London Marathon is out now in paperback and ebook from here!

About the Author

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Tim Marshall was born in 1946 and gained an M.Sc in Statistics from the London School of Economics, working at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris before taking up a position at Birmingham University. His lectureship in the Medical School followed by his appointment as Associate Professor in Epidemiology and Public Health ended with his retirement in 2006. He has enjoyed a lifelong love of sport including wheelchair racing, skiing and sailing.

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#BookReview: Her Mother’s Daughter by Alice Fitzgerald @AliceFitzWrites @AllenAndUnwinUK

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About the Book

1980: Josephine flees her home in Ireland, hoping never to return. She starts a new, exciting life in London, but as much as she tries, she can’t quite leave the trauma of her childhood behind.

Seventeen years and two children later, Josephine gets a call from her sister to tell her that their mother is dying and wants to see her – a summons she can’t refuse.

1997: Ten-year-old Clare is counting down to the summer holidays, when she is going to meet her grandparents in Ireland for the first time. She hopes this trip will put an end to her mum’s dark moods – and drinking.

But family secrets can’t stay buried forever and following revelations in Ireland, everything starts to unravel. Have Josephine and her daughter passed the point of no return?

My Thoughts

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Her Mother’s Daughter as I  very much enjoyed reading this novel.

Her Mother’s Daughter opens in 1997 with ten year old Clare excitedly awaiting going to visit her mum’s family in Ireland. She crosses off the days on her calendar as each day passes and is increasingly curious about meeting her grandparents. The timeline then goes back to 1980 and focuses on Josephine, Clare’s mum, as she leaves Ireland and her family behind. She moves away out of desperation to escape something and to try and create a better life for herself. Through the two timelines we get to see what has made Josephine the way she is, and also the impact it has on her daughter.

I’m often drawn to novels about mother and daughter relationships and always find them emotional so I was expecting this to be a novel that I would get engrossed in and would enjoy reading but I didn’t expect it have such a big impact on me. Alice Fitzgerald really shows the way that the things we do or say around children, or things that were done or said around ourselves as children, can cause such damage without us really being aware.  Clare is such a sweet girl but the way she takes on board her mother’s obsession with food and repeats the things she says without really fully understanding what her mother meant was shocking to me. It made me want to weep for her when each time she got to eat treat food she was constantly thinking of her hips and whether her thighs were chubby. There is also occasional use of a particular swear word that was really jolting because it’s the way Fitzgerald uses the word in the novel that made it so shocking and so sad at the same time. Out of the mouths of babes as they say.

The thing really broke my heart in this novel was the way that Clare so badly wants to make her mum happy, and Josephine so badly wants her daughter to love and adore her and yet they miss the mark somehow. Josephine is so damaged by her own childhood that she feels the need to be perfect and yet can’t seem to attain it, it’s always out of her reach and she can’t let herself settle for good enough. She also wants to compensate by helping her daughter be perfect but Clare is a child and children can’t be moulded to that degree – and in trying to make her perfect it has potential cause more harm. Clare actually becomes the mother to Josephine, and is also constantly moderating her behaviour to try and prevent her mum losing her temper or getting upset. It’s so sad to see a child so young already having to live on such a knife edge.

Josephine was hard to like when reading things from Clare’s viewpoint but as Josephine’s background and the reason for the pain she carries is revealed it felt impossible not to have sympathy for her. It doesn’t excuse how she treated her children but I still had compassion for her. The writing in this book really conveys the way that people can harm their children without realising purely because they are so damaged themselves, yet Fitzgerald also gives a real sense of hope that the chain can be broken. I very much appreciated this because it’s all too easy for us to blame who we are on who brought us up but we can break free of that and we don’t have to keep making the mistakes that were made by others before us.

Her Mother’s Daughter is beautifully written; it really draws you in and keeps you engrossed all the way through. I actually read it in one sitting because I just got so absorbed in it. It’s a heartbreaking novel but it does leave you with a real feeling of hope. I definitely recommend this book!

Many thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of the book and inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author

Alice Fitzgerald

Alice Fitzgerald has worked as a journalist for six years. She has been published in literary journals, online at Refinery29 and Hello Giggles and in magazines including Hello!. Her Mother’s Daughter is her debut novel. Born in London to Irish parents, she now lives in Madrid.

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#BookReview: The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse @d_whitehouse @EmmaFinnigan @PicadorBooks

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About the Book

When the black box flight recorder of a plane that went missing 30 years ago is found at the bottom of the sea, a young man named Dove begins to remember a past that isn’t his. The memories belong to a rare flower hunter in 1980s New York, whose search led him around the world and ended in tragedy.

Restless and lonely in present-day London, Dove is quickly consumed by the memories, which might just hold the key to the mystery of his own identity and what happened to the passengers on that doomed flight, The Long Forgotten.

 

My Thoughts

I’m going to start my review by saying how beautiful the cover of The Long Forgotten is, it really is gorgeous. Initially I saw the flowers and was drawn to looking at it some more and then I noticed the white whale that comes to play a small but also huge part in the story. It feels like a work of art and the more you look at it the more you notice, and it all connects so beautifully with the novel you’re about to read.

This novel itself is incredible! I picked it up early in the evening and I read from start to finish without taking a break because I simply couldn’t tear myself away from it. Everything about this book is incredible – the writing, the plot, the characters and it’s one that I know will stay with me.

The Long Forgotten is a novel about memories but it is also a quirky, mystery novel that will have you completely and utterly engrossed. The novel is told in two time strands. In one there is Dove who is a lonely man who one day starts remembering things that he knows never happened to him. This leads him to try and find out where these memories are from. In the other there is Peter who also seems lonely until one day he finds a love letter in a botany book at the library and it leads him on a quest to travel and find the flowers mentioned.

The Long Forgotten found me at just the right time. I’ve been having a big clear out in my home and have been pondering whether if I get rid of certain items I might end up forgetting the memories attached to them. So a novel all about memories and how we remember, how things become fixed in our memory really captured my imagination. This book explores the fallibility of memory too. When Dove firsts experiences the strange memories he seems to just know that they’re not his memories, but how? It’s as if somewhere in us we know when something is not our memory but at the same time are so prone to forgetting events from our own lives. Where do the lost memories go? Is someone else remembering them, or their own version of them? It felt at times that even though the plane crash that this book is hinged on was real within the novel that it was also a metaphor for how memories can just disappear and seemingly be gone forever.

I knew I would love the story around memory as soon as I read the synopsis for this book but I didn’t expect to love the exploration around the flowers and plants as much as I did. It was fascinating to read about these extremely rare plants, most of which I’d never heard of before, and to be with Peter on his journey to locate them all and to see them in the flesh. His story had echoes of Dove’s where Peter’s friend Hens, who encourages him to go find the plants, ends up stealing stories from him in order to attract women. This left me wondering about how some people do steal stories from others in order to make themselves seem more interesting, but how sometimes things we think about can become blurred in our own minds to the point that it’s possible to not immediately remember that a story isn’t yours, that it actually happened to someone else. I’ve been on the receiving end of someone telling a story of mine to me and genuinely thinking it was theirs and it was such a weird situation. I definitely felt an echo of this within The Long Forgotten.

This novel is full of strange connections and unexpected coincidences, which make it very quirky, yet it always felt believable. At times it was almost surreal in how the dots joined together but there was such heart throughout the novel that it was wonderful to turn the final page and see how it was all so skilfully woven together (even though getting to the end of the book did leave me feeling bereft at finishing it).

The Long Forgotten is a very quirky, incredibly moving and stunningly beautiful novel that will linger in your memory long after you’ve finished reading it. I know it’s one I won’t forget and even though it’s only March I feel absolutely certain that this will be in my top books of 2018! I urge you to go buy a copy and read it right away, you absolutely won’t regret it!

My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, Emma Finnigan and Picador for sending me a copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

The Long Forgotten is out now and available in hardback and ebook from here.

 

About the Author

David Whitehouse Author Picture

I have written three novels. The first, BED, was published in 2011 by Canongate in the UK and Scribner in the US.  It won The Betty Trask Prize 2012. The movie rights were optioned by Duck Soup and Film 4.

The second, MOBILE LIBRARY, was published in January 2015 by Picador in the UK and Scribner in the US. It won the Jerwood Fiction Prize 2015 and the TV rights were optioned by Duck Soup and Channel 4.

The third, THE LONG FORGOTTEN, will be published by Picador in March 2018.

I currently have a number of TV projects in development.

I have written for lots of newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, Esquire, The Times, The Observer Magazine, Sunday Times Style and many more. I’ve won awards for journalism from The Times, The Evening Standard, the PPA and the PTC. I am the Editor-at-Large of ShortList magazine.

(Bio taken from: DavidWhitehouse.com)

 

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#BookReview: The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon @HannahMMcKinnon #TheNeighbors

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About the Book

 

Abby looks forward to meeting the family who just moved in next door—until she realizes they’re the one couple who could expose her deepest secrets.

After a night of fun back in 1992, Abby is responsible for a car crash that kills her beloved brother. It’s a mistake she can never forgive, so she pushes away Liam, the man she loves most, knowing that he would eventually hate her for what she’s done, the same way she hates herself.

Twenty years later, Abby’s husband, Nate, is also living with a deep sense of guilt. He was the driver who first came upon the scene of Abby’s accident, the man who pulled her to safety before the car erupted in flames—the man who could not save her brother in time. It’s this guilt, this regret, that binds them together. They understand each other. Or so Nate believes.

In a strange twist of fate, Liam moves into the neighborhood with his own family, releasing a flood of memories that Abby has been trying to keep buried all these years. Abby and Liam, in a complicit agreement, pretend never to have met, yet cannot resist the pull of the past—nor the repercussions of the terrible secrets they’ve both been carrying…

 

My Thoughts

The Neighbors is a novel about how the past and your secrets always catch up with you. A couple, Liam and Nancy, with a teenage son move in next to Nate and Abby and it turns out that there is a link between Abby and Liam with unresolved issues from the past. I love books that look at relationships and secrets and this book was so readable, I didn’t want to put it down from the moment I first started reading it. Some of the things in Abby’s past are clear from the start but there are other things bubbling around that I simply had to keep reading in order to find out what else there was to know. It becomes clear that other people in Abby’s life have their own secrets and it seems that at some point all will converge.

This is one of those books where I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for the main character Abby because of what happened when she was younger, even when I couldn’t condone some of her actions later in the novel. It felt like the accident when she was younger had completely undone her, it had made her into a different person and someone she couldn’t even recognise anymore. It felt like even in the present day that she’d never fully come to terms with what happened, or really figured out who she was without her brother. There were elements of this that I could empathise with – I think losing someone close who is pretty much the same age as you when you’re young does change you, it certainly did me when my best friend died when we were 20. I always felt like I lost a part of me when she died and I’ve never been able to put myself back together how I was before and I could see that it was the same for Abby.

The novel has multiple narrators and goes back and forth in time so the picture of each character is gradually built up. I felt quite unsure as to how I felt about the other characters – they all seemed to have their flaws  and I kept going from liking them to disliking them and back again but I enjoyed being kept on my toes. Everyone in this novel did feel like a real person though; the flaws and the secrets and the way they all behaved felt very believable and while I didn’t always like how they acted, it did feel so human and real.

I very much enjoyed how this novel also explores guilt, and the way different people deal with the bad things they believe they’ve done. There is a definite sliding scale of how each of us feel guilt and it was interesting how this book looks at Abby and how she has such terrible guilt for her brother that is all-consuming but it doesn’t stop her consciously making decisions later on that have the potential to really hurt people emotionally. There is also the unspoken agreement that comes to pass between Abby and Liam not to let on to their respective spouses that they already know each other when they are seemingly introduced for the first time. I was interested to see how that played out in the subsequent chapters to see how each of them felt about the lie by omission.

There was a sense running through this book of fate and destiny – that there are people we’re destined to meet, and a course that we may well be on regardless of what we do to change things. Abby could have behaved differently than she did in the present day but it felt like she still had one foot firmly in the past and fate was pushing her towards the way her life might have been if the accident hadn’t happened. I always find the idea of fate fascinating, I’m never sure whether I believe in it or not but sometimes life takes you on a path with a series of events that makes you wonder occasionally.

There are elements of this book that I saw coming and others that caught me completely off-guard, which was great. I like a book that makes me start to feel comfortable and then pulls the rug out from under me and The Neighbors definitely did that.

The Neighbors is a domestic suspense novel that is very gripping, full of tension and a whole rollercoaster of emotions; I definitely recommend it!

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Neighbors is out now!

 

About the Author

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I was born in 1971 in Manchester, UK to British & Swiss parents. A year later they moved my older sister and I to Switzerland. Rather unsurprisingly I love mountains, chocolate and cheese… or mountains of chocolate and cheese, and my sister, of course.

After finishing commercial studies in Geneva, I worked as a PA for DuPont. A year later I moved to Neuchâtel and became the Purchasing Manager for an ultra-cool company that made motors for industrial and space applications.  Finding myself lacking in theoretical knowledge, I returned to university, studying part-time for a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. And then a friend of a friend introduced me to another friend who’d started up an IT recruitment business. Over the next fifteen years I rose through the ranks to become CEO.

Things outside of work were hardly boring. A chance encounter back in the dark ages of the Internet in 1999 led me down the aisle with Rob, my Canadian rock, five months later. Actually it was exactly ten weeks after we met face-to-face at the Saint John airport in New Brunswick, Canada – and we’re still married. True story. Our first son was born in 2003, followed by identical twin boys just sixteen months later, so I’m heavily outnumbered. In 2010 we all moved to Oakville in Ontario, Canada.

Maybe it was the failed attempt at a start-up company, or the fact I suddenly found myself in my forties, but one morning I decided to follow my oldest passion, started writing, and never wanted to look back. I write fiction for adults and dabble a little in kid-lit. Sometimes I think I’ll never have enough time to get all of the ideas out of my head and on paper. I also have a soft spot for short stories and mud runs. I love mud runs… hey, wait… that’s another story I could write…!

(Author Bio and Photo taken from: HannahMaryMcKinnon.com)

#BookReview: We Were The Salt Of The Sea by Roxanne Bouchard @RBouchard72 @OrendaBooks @givemeawave #saltofthesea

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About the Book

As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation. On Quebec’s outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It’s enough to make DS Morales reach straight for a large whisky…

My Thoughts

I’m going to be honest here and say that it was the stunning cover that first drew me to We Were The Salt of The Sea and after reading the blurb I knew I had to get my hands on the book as soon as I possibly could. I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to take part in the blog tour and I’m very happy to say that the novel more than lives up to the cover design.

This is a novel that straddles genres and that made it such a refreshing and gripping read for me. It’s in large part a crime novel; a woman, Marie Garant, is found dead in the ocean and the new detective Morales is pulled in to investigate. It’s also a mystery novel with an outsider, Catherine Day, turning up looking for her birth mother and trying to find herself in the process. It can even be described as a love letter to the sea, it’s clear that the author has a love of the ocean herself and it comes through so beautifully in her writing. I swear I could smell the ocean and the fishing boats as I was reading, I could hear the sea waxing and waning throughout the novel – the sea is as much a character in this novel as the people are.

You go to sea because it’s the only door that opens when you knock, because it keeps you awake at night. Every time you step ashore and into the crowd, you feel how different you are. You feel like a stranger. You go to sea because you’re a drifter among others and you only feel at home in the silence of the wind.

There is a real insular feel to Gaspé, the locals pull together and seem bemused by the outsiders that come to make a home there. There are some real characters in the village and I loved how they spoke. There are two people in particular that have a quirk of speech – one says the same word every time he speaks and the other uses a sentence whenever he is wound up about something. This brought the book to life because this is how real people speak, we all have our little quirks in our speech and it’s one of the things that makes getting to know new people so fascinating. I loved the way that I was new to this place and these people just as detective Morales was so I felt I was there with him trying to figure out how to get through the barriers to the real people. It felt like it was hard work for Morales at times but I was willing him to persevere because it seemed to me like he would find a way to be accepted given time.

It did feel like some of the characters in this book, particularly the women, were eluding me. We hear various people’s stories about Marie but everyone seems to remember her differently, and Catherine is enigmatic from the start. We know why she is in Gaspé but we never really get to know her; her and Marie are the essence of the story but they are impossible to grasp. I didn’t fully get a handle on who they really were but it was clearly how it was meant to be and it’s as if these two strong women were born of the sea and were always destined to go back there. Maybe they were part of the sea in some ways and as such were not meant to be really truly known, perhaps just like the salt of the sea itself.

Cyrille said that all truths were ever-flowing and elusive. Those who went to sea knew that anything atop the waves was forever breaking up and reforming. Differently. He said that the wind, the current and the ocean swell were insatiable; that you could never be too careful, even on a glassy sea. What was true in the here and now would make a liar of you not ten minutes later. He said the only reason we exist was the every-shifting lie that is life.

I didn’t expect this book to move me as much as it did. Novels that have mothers and daughters always get me but there was more than that in this book that brought a lump to my throat. I came to adore Cyrille and found his wisdom and his courage in facing what had to be faced really moving. I find that I’m still thinking of the novel and the people days after finishing it and even though I know these were characters in a book and not real people I can’t help hoping that Cyrille and Catherine both found peace in their very different ways after the end of the story.

This didn’t ever feel like a novel in translation for me, the story just flowed and was never jarring so I have to mention how wonderfully David Warriner has translated this book into English. I marked so many paragraphs that stood out to me as utterly beautiful and I know I’ll want to go back and read them from time to time.

I very much enjoyed We Were The Salt of the Sea; it is mysterious and lyrical and utterly stunning. I can’t wait to read more by Roxanne Bouchard. I highly, highly recommend We Were The Salt of The Sea.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for sending me a copy of the book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

We Were The Salt of the Sea is out now in ebook and is due to be released in paperback on 30th March!

About the Author

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Roxanne Bouchard reads a lot, but she laughs even more. Her first novel, Whisky et Paraboles, garnered an array of prestigious awards in Quebec and caught the attention of British researcher, Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani, of the University of Westminster, who saw for herself how Roxanne weaves poetry and geography together to delve into her characters’ intimate worlds.

About the Translator

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David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.

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#BookReview: All Her Starry Fates by Lady Grey @starryfates #starryfates

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About the Book

In all her starry fates, grey explores how the otherworldly relates to the everyday— with poems about love, loss, memory, inheritance, and belonging.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve always enjoyed reading poetry but have got out of the habit of picking up poetry collections in more recent years so I was thrilled when Anne Cater of Random Things Tours offered me the chance to read and review All Her Starry Fates for the blog tour.

I was expecting to enjoy reading this collection, and I really, really did,  but I wasn’t expecting it to speak to me in the way it did. I found part one of the collection really connected with me and I found I had to stop and really think about each poem before I moved on to the next one. There is one poem in particular that I haven’t stopped thinking about: ‘was i too hard on myself / or / not heart enough / – question’. I love the play on the sound of hard and heart and how they seem similar, but also how it makes you think about how hard you are on yourself and whether there was any heart there. There is a real theme of isolation and loneliness, and of trying to find the courage to seek your place in the world and it seemed to reflect so many of my own emotions at the time I was reading. It brought me a lot of solace.

I really enjoyed how for the most part the poems were free flowing without a set structure. Most of the poems don’t have a title at the top of the page but a lot of them do seem to have a short title, which also becomes a small conclusion, at the end of a poem. Some of the later poems do have titles at the top of the page, which made it feel like the characters throughout the poems were showing themselves more, were becoming more confident and I loved that.

Parts one and two seem to be more an exploration of feelings whereas the poems in the third part seem to be telling more of a story which encapsulate the emotion from the earlier poems. It felt to me like the people expressing their thoughts in the early poems could be the people whose stories where being told in the later poems. The following two parts are a mix of story and emotion, which brings the whole collection together. There is a real cohesion through the parts of this poetry collection: it feels like the collection as a whole is a musing on the things in between that matter to us and about finding where we belong. The themes of finding a place where you fit definitely runs throughout. There were poems that felt they were about a lover, others about a child; some were musings on life in general – the happy and the sad. All seem to be about being who you are: finding the courage to be yourself and not letting others bring you down or affect you.

All Her Starry Fates is a poetry collection that I would recommend to everyone as it’s very accessible but also has a real depth to it that can be enjoyed on many levels. I adored this collection and am so pleased that I had the chance to read it; it’s a book that will really stay with me and I know I will return again and again to these beautiful poems. I highly, highly recommend this collection.

 

All Her Starry Fates is out now in ebook and print and available here.

This blog tour was organised by Anne Cater at Random Things Tours. I received a free copy of the ebook. All thoughts are my own.

 


 

 

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My Weekly Wrap-Up (4 Feb)!

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This week started off okay but has been a bit rubbish latterly. It’s affected my reading and so far I haven’t read a single thing in February – not even a chapter of a book let alone an entire book. I did finish a couple of books before January ended so have read those this week but it’s not been a good week. I’m hoping my concentration returns very soon so that I can get back to my reading.

My MacBook has had another wobble, which has made blogging quite difficult. I’m so glad that I do prepare some posts in advance so that I can edit them on my phone but it makes it hard to keep up with reading blogs and commenting. We think the issue with my MacBook is something to do with a recent software update so it’s trial and error at the moment trying to find a workaround until a patch is released.

 

This week I’ve finished reading two books:

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This book was a surprise birthday present from my husband and I adored it. It grabbed me from the first page and I didn’t put this book down from that moment on until I finished it. It’s such an interesting insight into astronaut training at NASA and I think it may well be a book that I re-read at some point.

Winter by Ali Smith

This took me a while to read because my copy was very tightly bound, making it hard for me to hold, but it was actually nice in a way to be forced to read slowly and to savour it because it’s a brilliant novel. I love Ali Smith’s writing and I think this might be my new favourite by her!

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

My Weekly Wrap-Up Post

My WWW Wednesday Post

My January Wrap-Up Post

My Birthday Book Haul

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

I’ve been intending to start re-reading this series for a little while now but learning of the death of Sue Grafton in December really made me think I needed to make an effort to pick the books up again. I do love Kinsey Millhone, she’s a great character and I’m really enjoying being back in her world.

The Note by Zoe Folbigg

I read the first couple of chapters of this book before I hit my slump and was enjoying it so I’m looking forward to getting back into it.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

This book is really good and I’m so intrigued about where it’s going to go so I’m very keen to pick this back up. I don’t want my mood to affect my reading enjoyment though so I’ve been waiting until my head was in the right place again.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’ve not read anymore of this since last week but I hope to get back to this one very soon as non-fiction is often the thing that gets me back reading after a slump.

 


 

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

 

 

 

My Lovely Birthday Book Haul!

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

It was my birthday last weekend so today I’m sharing my birthday book haul! I was very spoilt for my birthday with lots of lovely gifts including some fabulous new books! My husband collects records in the same way I collect books so we understand each other and he never minds giving me books as gifts. I feel incredibly lucky!

 

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The gorgeous hardback of Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon! I did put this on my wish list as I read a proof copy and loved it so much that I knew I had to have a finished hardback as well.

 

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Spaceman by Mike Massimino

I’ve already read this book – I started it as soon as I finished opening my presents and I loved it so much. It’s such a good book, especially if you love the space shuttle and want to know more about how astronauts train.

 

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Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

I love Jenny Colgan’s books so I was super happy to open this gift. I’m excited to escape into this book soon.

 

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The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while but hadn’t actually seen it in real life until I opened my gift – it’s such a gorgeous naked hardback. I’m really looking forward to reading this short story collection!

 

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Relish by Prue Leith

I love Great British Bake Off and had seen Prue Leith interviewed on TV a couple of times while that was on and it seems like she has had a fascinating life. This book was such a surprise but I’m really keen to read it (it’s a doorstop of a book though so it might take me a little while!).

 

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The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim

This book is so gorgeous and it’s one I’m really intrigued to read soon. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 18 months or so working on health stuff and that includes regular mindfulness and mediation so this book seems like it will be a perfect read for me.

 

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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie, Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie, N or M? by Agatha Christie, By The Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie, and Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

I’ve been enjoying re-reading some Agatha Christie books in recent years but I somehow never read the Tommy and Tuppence series so I’m looking forward to reading this set of books.

 

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Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore

This poetry collection sounds like it will be an emotional read but it’s a book I definitely want to read when I’m in the right frame of mind for it. I was excited to get a copy of it for my birthday.

 

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Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

I’ve been so keen to get hold of this book and almost bought it on ebook recently so I’m glad I didn’t because the hardback is stunning. I love Jon McGregor’s writing so this book will be a real treat to read.

 

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The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood

This hardback is another book that is so lovely and my photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful book with glossy photos and I’ve enjoyed looking through it. I’m excited to read it soon.

 

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I also got a Nirvana record, a gorgeous dressing gown, some lovely new toiletries, a bag, money and book vouchers! So I was very spoilt… 🙂

 


 

So that’s my most recent book haul! Have you got any new books this week? If you join in with Stacking the Shelves or if you’ve done a book haul on your blog this week please feel free to leave your link below.

 

My January Wrap-Up post!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

January has been a strange old month. I always struggle with January as it comes filled with a lot of sad memories for me.

It was my birthday though, which I find tough but my husband made it really lovely for me. He cooked a lush meal in the evening and we shared a bottle of wine while I opened the pile of presents that he gave me. I got some fab new books so will be doing a book haul very soon!

I read a lot of fabulous books in January so my reading year is off to a great start! I can’t pick a favourite from the books that I read, they were all very enjoyable reads.

I didn’t manage to review as many books in January as I’d hoped to as I had a wobbly MacBook but I did get a few blog posts up and now my MacBook appears to be fixed I’m hoping to catch up on my reviews very soon.

 

Here are the 19 books I read this month:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I hadn’t read this in many years and couldn’t remember whodunnit so it was great to read this again with fresh eyes in a new edition. I really enjoyed this mystery and it got my reading year of to a brilliant start!

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

This was a really good crime thriller novel. It was ideal to read around the festive period but it could be read at another time of year if you’re keen to get to it.

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor

This was an ARC so I will be reviewing it soon. I found it really made me think about the nature of forgiveness and gave me a lot to ponder on.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

I’d had this ARC on my TBR for a while but when I finally read it I enjoyed it. It was an interesting novel about family dynamics and how and why people disappear.

South and West by Joan Didion

I read Blue Nights last year and found it to be a really honest memoir about the loss of her daughter so I was keen to pick this travel memoir up. I find that I get utterly engrossed in her writing and I adore it.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

I got completely lost in this novel, it was such a prescient book and one that I’m still thinking about. I have already reviewed this one so you can read my thoughts here.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

I read this novel in just two sittings (and the only reason that it wasn’t one sitting was because it was late at night and I needed sleep), it had me hooked right to the very end!

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This was an audiobook and once I got into it I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a must read for fans of Orange is the New Black.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time and was hesitant to pick this up as I’d seen mixed reviews. I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long though as I really did enjoy this quirky and interesting novel.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This book was so good! It grabbed me from the start and had me engrossed into it right to the very end.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

I got this book for Christmas and was so pleased as I’d been keen to read it. I read it in one sitting and it was such an interesting book – both funny and heartbreaking at the same time. It was certainly eye-opening!

In The Days Of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I’ve kept hearing about this book and when it won the Costa biography award I had to pick it up. I got the audiobook and found it really engrossing listening to this true story.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

This book was just incredible. I read it on a weekend when I badly needed solace and this book gave me that and so much more as well. I’m still struggling to finish my review because I loved it so much. This is definitely a new favourite and I already want to re-read it!

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I listened to this book on audio and really enjoyed it. I’ve already reviewed this book so you can find out more of my thoughts here.

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book on release day and read it in one go. It’s a heartbreaking read but it’s such an honest and open memoir.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This is another book that I’ve loved this year. It was so refreshing to read a book that is told in two timelines going in different directions and I very much enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

The Break by Marian Keyes

I struggled to get into this the first time I picked it up but I gave it another chance at the weekend and I’m so glad I did because I loved it.

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This was a book that I got for my birthday at the weekend and after looking through all of my birthday books this was the one that called me to me the most. I read it in two sittings and I loved every minute of reading this book.

Winter by Ali Smith

This book took me a little while to read as I was struggling to physically hold the hardback but the novel itself was brilliant. This is another book that I feel sure will be in my favourites list at the end of this year!

 

January Blog Posts & Reviews:

My favourite novels that I read in 2017

My Favourite non-fiction books that I read in 2017

My 2017 reading reflections and plans for 2018, and the state of my TBR

My reading bingo results for 2017

Review of An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

My Christmas book haul

My January book haul

An additional January book haul (oops!)

Review of Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

 

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The state of my TBR:

I made the decision to work on my TBR more seriously this year; to try and read more of the books I already own rather than accumulating a lot more. I started the year with 2756 (this is books that I own)! Over the month it’s held steady-ish as I’ve been good at resisting buying too many books and I’ve also been better at DNFing books that I’m not enjoying. I had a little clear out too and got rid of a few books. Then at the end of the month it was my birthday and I got some books and also some book vouchers so my TBR has gone up again. I’m really pleased with myself overall that my current TBR is now 2752, which is four books less than it was on the first day of the year!

 


 

How was your January? 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. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (31 Jan)! What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

 

What I’m reading now:

The Note by Zoe Folbigg

I have an ARC of this which I got after seeing the author interviewed on TV around the time the book was released so I’m happy to finally be reading this one. It’s an easy read and I’m really enjoying it so far.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

I picked this book up yesterday and am hooked! I didn’t know much about this book going into it and have no idea where it’s going to go. It’s got me guessing though and I’m keen to read more!

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’m still dipping in and out of this book and finding lots to motivate me.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This was a birthday present from my husband and I started reading it the minute I finished opening my presents (a birthday book haul post will be up soon!). It was such a brilliant read, I loved every minute of reading it.

Winter by Ali Smith

I’ve been reading this for a while as I was struggling with physically holding the book but yesterday I managed to read the second half of the book in one go and I adored it. This is a brilliant book and I’m already looking forward to the next in the quartet!

The Break by Marian Keyes

I couldn’t get into this the first time I started it but wanted to give it another go as I do love Marian Keyes writing. I picked it up at the weekend and ended up reading it in two sittings and I very much enjoyed it. I’ll hopefully get my review of this posted soon.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This book was so good! I love the way it was told with the two main characters timelines moving in opposite directions, and it kept me on my toes all the way through. I’m still trying to write my review but hopefully I’ll get it finished soon, I recommend this though.

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book last Thursday and read it the same day. It’s a very open and honest and heartbreaking memoir.

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I read and reviewed this one last week so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to know more. I enjoyed this book.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Waco by David Thibodeau

I put this in my planned reading a couple of weeks ago and didn’t manage to start it so I’m going to aim to get to it in the coming week.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

I really want to read this book as I’ve heard so many great things so it’s on my next-to-read pile and I definitely want to get to it this week.

The Reunion by Samantha Hayes

I downloaded an ARC of this from NetGalley recently and have been keen to read it as soon as possible. It’s due out in February (I think!) so now seems a good time to pick it up!

 

 

 


 

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

My Weekly Wrap-Up (28 Jan)!

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This week has been a mixed week really. It was the anniversary of my mum’s death earlier in the week, which hit me harder this year than in previous years. It’s strange how grief can still catch you offguard even after the passing of time.

In happier news my husband took me out for coffee and cake mid-week – it was the first time I’ve left the house since before Christmas (apart from a couple of hospital appointments) so it was really lovely.

It’s my birthday this weekend. I won’t be opening my presents until later on today but there are a few book-shaped parcels so I’m thinking I might have another book haul soon!

 

This week I’ve finished reading four books:

This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan

I finished this book yesterday and it was so good! I read an ARC so I hope to get my review written and posted very soon but in the meantime I definitely recommend this book!

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this last week and read it the same day. It’s a very moving and honest memoir; a book that will stay with me.

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I listened to the audio book of this and really enjoyed it. I got completely swept up in Marianne’s story. I reviewed this book yesterday so you can read more of my thoughts here if you’d like to.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I read this book last weekend and I still don’t have the words. It was so stunningly beautiful and I already want to read it again. This is my new favourite book and I highly, highly recommend it!

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

My Weekly Wrap-Up post

WWW Wednesday post

Stacking the Shelves post

Review of Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

The Break by Marian Keyes

I picked this up yesterday afternoon and am really enjoying it. I wasn’t sure about the premise at first but Marian Keyes’ writing is so lovely that I got completely hooked and am now loving it!

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’ve read a couple more chapters of this book this week and am now really in the mood to find some de-cluttering to do. I don’t agree with all of Marie Kondo’s ideas but I still enjoy her books.

Winter by Ali Smith

I was finally able to pick this up again this week and managed to read another chunk of it. I had hoped to finish it yesterday but alas my hands let me down and I couldn’t read a print book. Hopefully I’ll get to read to the end very soon because it really is a brilliant read.

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The State of the TBR:

Well, if you saw my Stacking the Shelves post yesterday you will know that I’ve added seven books to my TBR this week. I was good though and have already read one of my new books so only six are being added to the TBR. I’m feeling really pleased with myself though because I also got rid of 24 books over the past week, which means my TBR has actually decreased by seventeen to 2737!

 

 

 


 

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

#BookReview: Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald @LindaMac1 #blogtour

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About the Book

When Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in the kitchen, insecurities resurface from a time when she was bullied at school. Jealousy rears its head and her marriage begins to fall apart. Desperate for a solution, she finds herself trying to track down her first schoolgirl crush: Edward Harvey. Even thinking his name made her tingle with half-remembered childlike giddiness. Edward Harvey, the only one from Brocklebank to whom she might write if she found him.

 

My Thoughts

I really enjoy listening to audio books, it means I can still read when my body doesn’t allow me to hold a print book or my kindle, so when Anne Cater from Random Things Tours offered me the chance to listen and review Meeting Lydia I jumped at it! I was drawn to the gorgeous cover and was intrigued by the premise of the book.

Meeting Lydia is about a woman in her mid forties, who is sent into a tailspin when she finds her husband talking to a younger, attractive woman. This coincides with Marianne suspecting she may be starting the menopause, and with her daughter about to go off to university so she begins to feel that she is unravelling.

I’ll be honest and say that I did find it a little difficult to get into this book as I couldn’t initially place the timeline, possibly because I was listening to an audiobook and couldn’t easily flick back the pages to figure it out. Once it dawned on me that this is set in the early 2000s I was fine from there on in. Marianne, encouraged by her daughter, decides to join Friends Reunited so see if anyone from school is on there. She becomes quite fixated on finding Edward, a boy she didn’t know well at school but that she had felt an affinity with. When she finds him they begin an online friendship reminiscing about school days and slowly building up a picture of their lives now. I loved the book as it got further into this relationship because it felt like I was in Marianne’s head and could really understand her better. She seemed to fantasise about what she would say to Edward and things became a little blurry as to what she had actually emailed to him and what she had only thought about saying to him. She almost has a fantasy life in her mind and I could really understand how this gave her escapism from her own mundane life.

The novel explores how Marianne feels about her school days. She was bullied at school but never spoke about it to anyone, and yet now she is going through a confidence crisis it seems like how she felt as a child is now haunting her. All the insecurities that came from not feeling good enough as a child are an echo of how she feels now as she reaches mid-life. This really connected with me, it’s easy to dismiss what happens when we’re children but sometimes the things that we couldn’t talk about then can re-emerge at vulnerable points in our adult lives.

Marianne wasn’t easy to like in the beginning of this book, she seemed quite unable to express her feelings to her husband and yet somehow holds this against him. There is also the way she is a bit hypocritical in being annoyed about his friendship with a woman and yet she has stared an online flirtation with a man. I feel like the book really did explore her thoughts and feelings as it went on and I grew to really have sympathy and a much better understanding of her. As I got further into the book I began to wonder if Edward really existed in the present day or if the whole thing was just a fantasy that she needed to escape the way she felt her life becoming undone. I think there is an element of this being left to the reader’s interpretation and I really liked that. I think we’ve all wondered about people from school and in the days before Facebook it was much harder to reconnect and to find out what had happened to old friends so you could only wonder what became of them.

I ended up really rooting for Marianne, and for her to open up to her husband and for them to try and fix their marriage. I believed Johnny when he said he wasn’t having an affair, it really did feel like Marianne’s insecurities about her changing body and her feeling older had built things up to be more than they were. I can sympathise but always believed that an honest conversation with her husband would go a long way to her finding happiness with him again.

I really enjoyed this audio book and have to mention the narrator, Harriet Carmichael, who really enhanced the experience of listening to this book – she really brings Marianne to life in a way that feels exactly right.

Meeting Lydia is a really interesting exploration of what it is to reach middle age and to wonder what might have been, to wonder if what you have is all there is; it’s a book about the insecurities that can hit at various points in life but especially as you begin to see yourself getting that bit older. Linda MacDonald writes with sensitivity and a delicate hand, yet is unafraid to tackle the issues of middle age. I recommend this audio book!

I received a copy of this book from Audible via Anne Cater at Random Things Tours. All views are my own.

Meeting Lydia is out now as an audio book, ebook and paperback!

 

About the Author

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Linda MacDonald

Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught in a secondary school in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write and paint. In 1990 she returned to teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’. She has now given up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Her four published novels Meeting Lydia, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternativeand The Man in the Needlecord Jacket can each be read independently but are also a series. A fifth part is at the embryonic stage.

 

About the Narrator

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Harriet Carmichael

I’ve always loved doing voices.  I grew up with Radio 4 being on constantly in the background. Somehow the voices and accents broadcast over the years soaked in. And now I do voices. Or if you ask my agent, I’m a “voice artist”.

For the last seven years I’ve spent most of my days in front of a microphone: as myself; as seven-year-old boys; talking baboons; angsty teenagers (usually American); androgynous talking cats; Glaswegian Grannies; the cast of The Archers

After university I trained at The Oxford School of Drama and then acted mainly with touring theatre companies – some brilliant, some not so… I had a lot of fun, but once I started doing voiceovers in warm studios with good coffee, being on the road lost some of its appeal.

And the voice can do much more than people think. Tone, timing, pitch and accent can all vary depending on the job. From commercials and corporates to cartoons, computer games and audiobooks, it’s a brilliant job and, really, I owe it all to Radio 4.

 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour at these stops:

Meeting Lydia Blog Tour Poster

An accidental #bookhaul… Stacking the Shelves (27 Jan)!

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

 

Today on my blog I’m stacking the shelves with all the books I’ve bought this week. I did buy more than I intended to but it was a tough week and my willpower was weak. In fairness, as you’ll see tomorrow in my weekly wrap-up, I have got rid of a few books from my TBR so it’s not too bad!

 

Here are the books that I’ve bought this week:

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Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I first heard about it and I finally decided to just buy it this week. This definitely won’t be on my TBR for very long as I’m keen to read it.

Synopsis:

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’.

Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised by this clear hunger for open discussion, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings.

 

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I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book on Thursday and have already read it. It’s an incredibly moving and honest memoir.

Synopsis:

On 12th February 1993, Denise Fergus’ life changed forever. As she was running errands at New Strand Shopping Centre, she let go of her two-year-old son’s hand for a few seconds to take out her purse. Denise never saw her son again.

For the first time since that moment 25 years ago, Denise tells her extraordinary story in this heart-wrenching book, an unflinching account of that terrible day. What if she had never taken James shopping? What if she had turned right coming out of the butcher’s, instead of left? Denise’s initial hope after seeing her son on CCTV with other children quickly turned to devastation when, two days later, James’ body was found.

His death reverberated around the world and his killers became the youngest ever convicted murderers in UK legal history. Four minutes is all it took for them to lead James away from his mother to his death. Denise took up a tortuous legal battle for James, and it was her astonishing strength and love for her son that ultimately helped to change the way the law treats victims of crime.

 

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Random Acts of Kindness Part 1 by Victoria Walters

I downloaded this ebook when it was free this week. I don’t normally buy books when they’re released in parts, I tend to wait until they’re published as a complete novel but I love the sound of this, and I’m a fan of the author, so I decided to get it. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Synopsis:

Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart. Abbie has fled London and the humiliation of not being able to make rent after being made redundant. Louise, seriously unlucky in love, has thrown herself into her career at the local hospital. And Eszter, who has travelled from Hungary with her daughter, Zoe, hopes to reach out to the mother-in-law she never met while her husband was still alive…

 

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Close to Home by Cara Hunter

I’ve read some good reviews of this book and so have been thinking of buying it for a while. This week I spotted it was 99p on Kindle so decided to download it. I’m hoping to read this soon as I think the second book in the series is due out this year.

Synopsis:

Someone took Daisy Mason. Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying. DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew. That means someone is lying. And that Daisy’s time is running out…

 

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Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

I saw Simon from SavidgeReads on YouTube talking about this book in a couple of his recent videos and he sold me on it. I like the sound of the synopsis and hearing a rave review made me want to read it. This is also 99p on Kindle at the moment!

Synopsis:

Should you ever go back?

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

 

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Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French

This is another book that is on sale for 99p on Kindle and it was a must buy for me because somehow I own Monday and Wednesday but not Tuesday so if I’m going to start the series this year, as I intend to, I’m going to need Tuesday!

Synopsis:

A London social worker makes a routine home visit only to discover her client serving afternoon tea to a naked, decomposing corpse. With no clues as to the dead man’s identity, Chief Inspector Karlsson again calls upon Frieda for help. She discovers that the body belongs to Robert Poole, con man extraordinaire. But Frieda can’t shake the feeling that the past isn’t done with her yet. Did someone kill Poole to embroil her in the investigation? And if so, is Frieda herself the next victim?

 

Giveaway win:

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I also won a giveaway of an ebook copy of Prosecco Christmas by Sylvia Ashby, which I’m looking forward to reading. It’s part 3 in a series and I have the first two books on my TBR so I’m hoping to get to read those soon so that I can then read this one before too long.

Synopsis:

Family is where life begins.
And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and stepdad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.
She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned for New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?

 


 

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

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

WWW Wednesdays (24 Jan)! What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

 

What I’m reading now:

This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan

I picked this up the other day and I’m really enjoying it. I love how it’s told in a non-linear fashion so that a picture of what is going on is gradually being built up. It’s a book that I keep thinking about when I’m not reading it, which is always the sign of a good read.

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

This is my audio book for this week and I’m enjoying it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book when I accepted it for review but it’s got me wanting to listen to more whenever I can. I’ll be reviewing this on Saturday so look out for my thoughts then if you want to know more.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’m still reading a chapter of this here and there and enjoying it. I don’t agree with all Marie Kondo’s ideas but all books on de-cluttering get me in the right mindset to have a sort out, which I love.

Winter by Ali Smith

I managed to read a bit more of this book this week and am still finding it such an incredible novel. I just wish the hardcover wasn’t as tightly bound as it is because it means I just can’t hold it to read for more than a few minutes at a time.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I read this over the weekend and I just completely and utterly adored it. It’s a stunning book and I already want to pick it up and read it again! I’m in the middle of writing my review so I hope to get that posted soon.

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This book was eye-opening! I found it so readable, and I read it in just two sittings, but it was heartbreaking at times. It’s a real insight into the NHS and I highly recommend it to everyone.

In These Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I listened to this on audio book and got completely engrossed in it. It’s such an honest and moving memoir, one that feels like it will stay with me for a long time to come.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

I really loved this book, it was so good. I’m struggling to review it because I enjoyed it so much but I definitely recommend it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Confession by Jo Spain

I won a copy of this book a while ago and have been so keen to read it, especially after seeing the rave reviews it’s getting, so I’m going to try and pick it up this week.

The Break by Marian Keyes

This is a review book that I’ve had for a little while but have been keen to read it. I did start it once before but it was the wrong time so I put it to one side and now I feel like I’m just in the right mood to read a Marian Keyes so I’m putting this on my TBR for the coming week.

A Book of Untruths by Miranda Doyle

This is another review book that I’ve had for a little while now and it was calling to me when I was looking for my next read so I’m going to try and start this over the next week or so.

 


 

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

My Weekly Wrap-Up (21 Jan)!

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

This coming week is a tough one for me… it’s the anniversary of my mum’s death and also my birthday. I’ve struggled with this week ever since my mum died, as the two dates became so linked together in the year she died that I’ve never quite been able to separate them ever since.  I always feel melancholy until my birthday is over and then the mood lifts again. It’s hard to distract myself when feeling like this but I always do my best to escape into books.

In better news, I had a really helpful first appointment at the hospital with a new consultant. It was refreshing to be listened to and taken seriously, now it’s just the long wait for the results.

Annoyingly, a couple of days ago I opened my MacBook to write some reviews and it was not working at all. My husband has got it working again now but neither of us trust it to keep working as it’s still behaving oddly. Urgh! I can only blog on my MacBook as my dictation software doesn’t work with anything else so if I end up not being around so much in the near future it’s because it’s bit the dust. Hopefully it will keep working for the foreseeable though.

 

 

This week I’ve finished reading four books:

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This book was one of my Christmas presents and I’ve been so keen to read it. I picked it up the other day and it was brilliant, even better than I expected. There is a real mix of humour and heartbreak, and it felt like it really represented what it must be like to work as a junior doctor in the NHS. I highly recommend this book.

In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I’ve had this book on my audio book TBR for a while and somehow hadn’t listened to it. I then saw a few reviews of it after it won the biography category in the Costa Book Awards so immediately started listening. This is such an open and honest memoir, it’s a book that I feel will stay with me.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This is a review book that I’ve had for a little while now but I finally got to read it this week and I loved it. It had me hooked from start to finish and it feels like a book that will really stay with me. I’m struggling to write my review because I loved the book so much. Hopefully I’ll manage to get my words together very soon though.

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This was my other audio book from this week and I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure of it to start with but once I got into it I found it interesting. I recommend it for fans of Orange is the New Black.

 

This week I’ve blogged three times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves with my latest book haul

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I started reading this book last night and I’ve already had a little cry over it. It’s just so believable and so beautifully written; it feels like this might become a new favourite book. I will be reviewing this once I’ve read it but I can already recommend it.

This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan

This book is so good. I love the way it’s told in a non-linear way and so the story is slowly unfolding, it’s got me engrossed and it’s a book I really look forward to picked it up and reading a bit more.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I haven’t read much more of this book this week as I just haven’t been in the mood for it. I hope to get back to it in the coming week though as I am enjoying it.

Winter by Ali Smith

I’m still very much enjoying this book but I’m struggling to read it because my copy is really tightly bound so it’s impossible for me to hold when I’m not doing so well. I will get properly back to this as soon as the strength in my hands improves again.

Rest in Power by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

I’ve read a couple more chapters of this book this week and I’m finding it such a heartbreaking read. I may put this to one side for the next week and pick it back up once I’m feeling on more of an even keel.

 

the-state-of-my-2

The State of the TBR:

Well, I’m really happy to report that three weeks into 2018 my TBR is holding steady at 2753 owned books, which is the same as it was last week! I have looked at books but have resisted buying any. I did get a couple of books from NetGalley but because of the books I’ve read this week my TBR has remained at the same number! I really want to reduce my TBR over this year but to not be increasing it is still something of an achievement for me! You can see my latest book haul here.

 

 


 

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