WWW Wednesday (24 May) What are you reading today?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

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

What I’m reading now:

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I picked this book up at the weekend but when I went to mark it as ‘currently reading’ on Goodreads I noticed a reviewer I trust mention that the book contains huge spoilers for the film The Usual Suspects, which I’d never seen. So I put the book down for a couple of days until I had a chance to watch the film (which I loved and am kicking myself for not having watched it before now). I picked the book up again last night and am really enjoying it.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I pre-ordered this book ages ago so it arrived on my kindle on release day but I’ve been keeping it to read when I could sit and read it in big chunks. I’ve read about a third of this now and am really enjoying it, it’s swirling around in my mind during the time when I’m not reading it and that’s always the sign of a compelling book!

Eleanor by Jason Gurley

This is my latest pick from my pre-2017 TBR and I’m enjoying it. It’s not what I thought it was going to be but it’s holding my attention so I’m keeping on with it.

How to Survive a Plague by David France

I’ve not managed to read any more of this book this week but I hope to read a chunk of it over the weekend. I just feel like it’s a book that I need to read when I can really take it all in so I like to wait until the right time to pick it up.

What I recently finished reading:

Making Space by Sarah Tierney

I read this in two sittings earlier this week and I really enjoyed it. I’m on the blog tour for the book tomorrow and will be sharing my review so look out for that.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I loved this book so much, I feel quite bereft at having finished it. I was sent this for review so I’ll be reviewing this book soon but in the meantime I highly recommend you buying a copy of this, you won’t regret it.

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

I found this to be such a gripping read, it has an increasing sense of malices the book goes on and I didn’t want to put it down. I’ve already reviewed this book on my blog so you can read that here if you’d like to.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I adored this book, it’s such a beautiful and moving novel. I reviewed this on my blog last week so you can read my review here if you’d like to know more about my thoughts on it.

Becky by Darren Galsworthy

This is such a moving memoir by the father of Becky Watts, the teenager who was murdered by her step-brother a couple of years ago. It’s such an open and honest book, it’s heartbreaking to read.

What I plan on reading next:

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

I was contacted by the publicist for this book to ask if I’d like to read it for the blog tour and I immediately said yes as I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of Amanda’s previous novels. I’m really looking forward to starting this book in the next couple of days.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

I was sent a copy of this book to review a few weeks ago and am really keen to start reading it soon. I’m aiming to get to it over the weekend.

 

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

#BookReview: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo @HQstories @JillSantopolo

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About the Book

Two people. One choice. What if?

Every love story has a beginning…

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet in New York on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. As the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

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

And as Lucy is faced with a devastating choice, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny or chance.

…what if this is how their story ends?

My Thoughts

The cover of The Light We Lost caught my eye first, and then when I read the synopsis I knew I had to get hold of this book. I was so happy when NetGalley approved me to read it.

The Light We Lost begins with two people, Lucy and Gabe, who meet on 11th September 2001 in New York. They experience that day together just a few miles away from where the twin towers fell, and the instant attraction they had to one another was heightened by being so close to such an horrific event. The book is then told from the viewpoint of Lucy, in short chapters as she looks over her relationship with Gabe, and all the things that have happened in their lives since that day.

‘The air was clear, the sky was blue – and everything had changed. We just didn’t know it yet’.

There is a real sense running through this book of fate and destiny. Lucy and Gabe do get together after a false start and everything in their relationship is passionate, every emotion is heightened and they fall so hard for each other. There was a sense of everything being on fast forward and it made me wonder about the nature of how we meet our partners. The idea that meeting on such a tragic and distressing day could give a real sense of needing to live in the now, of not being able to wait and see.  Everyone remembers where they were on 9/11 so clearly, it’s seared into all of our memories so it’s entirely possible to see the affect it would have on two young people who met on that day, who saw it from their rooftop.

‘There is an element of peace in believing that we’re only players on a stage, acting out stories directed by someone else.’

There was such a sense of yearning running through this book and from very early on it gave me the feeling that something awful was going to happen. The way it is told, with Lucy going back and forth in time in the way she tells her story, gives the feeling that something has already happened and we, the reader, just don’t know what it is yet. This book made me feel so many emotions – it made me feel hopeful and happy, it reminded me of that awful day in 2001, it made me cry, and it made me want to reach out through the pages to give Lucy and Gabe some advice, to make them see what is important in life.

There is so much love between Gabe and Lucy but it’s often so raw, and intense it’s still complicated and messy and not always how they want it to be. The novel explores how we have different relationships with different partners over the years, and there is a real sense of how it must be if you feel that you met the right person for you at the wrong time in your life.

This book is beautifully written, and it’s gorgeous to read. It’s one of those books that you want to read slowly and savour but at the same time you don’t want to be pulled out of this world. I felt such a connection to this novel, and I feel really quite bereft now I’ve finished reading it. I think this is a story that will stay with me, and this is one of those rare books that I’m sure I will re-read in the future.

The Light We Lost is out now!

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

About the Author

jill santopolo credit to charles grantham

Photo Credit: Charles Grantham

Jill Santopolo received a BA in English literature from Columbia University and an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s the author of three successful children’s and young-adult series and works as the editorial director of Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers group. An adjunct professor in The New School’s MFA program, Jill travels the world to speak about writing and storytelling. She lives in New York City.

(Bio taken from: penguinrandomhouse.com)

#BookReview: How To Be Brave by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks

How to be brave louise beech

About the Book

All the stories died that morning … until we found the one we’d always known.

When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love … and what it really means to be brave.

My Thoughts

This book has been on my TBR for a little while now; it was one of those books that I strongly felt had to be read at the right moment for me. I was so right and I’m really glad that I waited until now to read it. As a lot of you know, I’m going through a lot of medical things and this book brought such a sense of solace to me.

This is such a beautiful novel that explores the relationship between mother and daughter, who are struggling to come to terms with the daughter Rose’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Rose’s father is deployed overseas and isn’t allowed to come home to support them so the two are left on this journey to come to terms with their new normal. An old journal of Natalie’s late Grandfather is found by Rose and this becomes the glue that holds the two together. Natalie promises to share her Grandfather’s story with Rose during the times when Rose is having her injections.

I hadn’t expected this novel to immerse me in the worlds of these characters quite so much. I felt the love and the fear and the angst in Natalie and Rose’s relationship. I felt such sadness at how detached they were becoming from each other whilst both still longing for the old connection before everything changed. I felt the pain Natalie was going through at having to keep her daughter well by putting her through the thumb pricks and injections, that Rose was constantly fighting against. It must be awful to know that you have to do it to keep your child alive but to not have any way to make a 9 year old comprehend that her life depends on this being done. I also felt for Rose – she is such a strong-willed girl, who loves books and learning; I was willing her on to find a way to cope with the diabetes.

Alongside this is the story of Natalie’s Grandfather – the writing is incredible because I really did feel like I was in that lifeboat with those men. I could smell the decay, I could feel the horrible dry skin and the swollen, dehydrated mouths as if it were me going through it. It’s inspired writing how his battle for survival mirrored Rose’s with the thirst and the longing for the things you can’t have, and mostly with the coming to terms with what life has thrown at you. The stories are woven together so beautifully, they occasionally intermingle in a magical, and yet somehow always believable, way.

This novel is stunningly beautiful, it’s devastatingly moving at times but will leave you feeling stronger and braver by the end. I recommend this book to everyone – it’s a must-read; it really is one of the best books I’ve read this year and it’s one that I want to re-read in the future.

How to be Brave is published by Orenda Books and is out now.

About the Author

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Louise has always been haunted by the sea, even before she knew the full story of her grandfather, the man who in part inspired novel How to be Brave. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from her bedroom window she can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired book, The Mountain in my Shoe.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism, and a one year column called Wholly Matrimony about modern marriage.

Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was released in 2015 and got to No 4 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart, and was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015. This novel came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story.

Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in 2016 and was inspired by her time with children in care. It explores what family truly means, and how far we will go for those we love. It longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.

Maria in the Moon will be released in 2017.

(Bio taken from Louise Beech’s website)

Crime series or Standalone novel? A guest post by Chris Curran #HerTurntoCry

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Chris Curran (author of Mindsight and brand new novel, Her Turn to Cry) to my blog! Chris has written this brilliant post for me all about crime series versus standalone, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!

 

When I first started writing crime the received wisdom from publishing professionals was that readers wanted series detectives. So that was what agents and editors were looking for. But as someone who preferred Ruth Rendell’s psychological suspense novels (often written as Barbara Vine) to her Inspector Wexford series and whose favourite Christie was the sinister standalone, Endless Night, it was this kind of book I wanted to write.

Although it was before the Gone Girl phenomenon, Gillian Flynn had already written her first brilliant psychological thriller, Sharp Objects, which went on to win two CWA daggers.  Other wonderful writers of standalone crime, like Laura Wilson, were also having success so I knew there must be a market. In the event I had just completed my first novel, Mindsight, when psychological crime, domestic noir, grip-lit or whatever you choose to call it, became big news.

Crime series are still attracting hordes of readers of course and I love many of them myself. There’s something enormously satisfying about following a detective, professional or amateur, through a series of books. In effect you get two stories for the price of one: the immediate crime the sleuth is tasked with solving and the ongoing saga of their own, usually complex and often troubled, life.

Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brody, CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake, Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway and Sarah Hilary’s DI Marnie Rome all have fascinating back stories and personal lives that become more intriguing with each book. Who doesn’t want to know everything about Jackson Brody’s lost sister or to follow each new twist in Ruth Galloway’s on-off relationship with DCI Harry Nelson?

And then there are the side-kicks and the detective’s family and friends who often have their own enthralling and messy storylines. Marnie Rome’s sergeant, Noah Jakes, Shardlake’s assistant, Barak, and Ruth Galloway’s druid friend, Cathbad, as well as her gorgeous daughter, Kate.  In fact several of these characters seem complicated and vivid enough to head their own series.

Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels are interesting because they straddle the divide between series and standalone as a different detective takes centre stage with each new novel. It’s a clever ploy although, like many readers, I’m still dying to know the rest of Rob Ryan’s story, which was left tantalizingly open-ended in the first novel.

So what are the virtues of the standalone? One advantage is that readers can come to each book in any order with no previous knowledge required. This means that the author doesn’t have to hold up the narrative to reveal details of the ongoing saga. And, although one of the delights of the series is following the development of recurring characters, there is a danger that these can become so enthralling that they overwhelm the criminal case featured in this particular book. Alternatively the author may withhold too much and alienate readers by refusing ever to satisfy their curiosity.

In contrast all readers of a standalone start the book knowing nothing about any of the characters. No pattern has been established in previous novels so anything could happen. Since we are not looking at events through the perceptions of a trustworthy and familiar detective it can feel as if a safety net has been removed, which adds a delicious sense of menace. Anyone could die and anyone, including the narrator, could be deceiving us. Could even be the murderer.

There is a heightened intensity to many standalones because the characters are usually ordinary people intimately involved with the crime and are often blundering around feeling terrified and helpless. Or of course they might be hiding a guilty secret or even turn out to be a manipulative psychopath.

The standalone writer is not restricted by an established location or set of procedures and is at liberty to travel in time and space both between books and within a novel. My first book, Mindsight, was set in contemporary Hastings on the south coast of England, whereas my second, Her Turn To Cry,  moves from the variety theatres of the 1950s to the heart of swinging 60s London.

In fact writers of standalones do tend to follow certain themes in their work. Flynn is obsessed with dysfunctional families and manipulative women, Cathi Unsworth explores popular music culture, and the dark underbelly the 20th century, whilst Megan Abbott’s compelling and unsettling novels often deal with hyper-competitive teenage girls.

For the reader it’s a matter of choose your poison or, like me, have it both ways. Nor must it be either/or for the writer. Like Ruth Rendell and Agatha Christie, Laura Wilson began a detective series with Stratton’s War. And I have a police character in mind for my own next book – so who knows.

About Her Turn to Cry

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London, 1965. Top model Joycie Todd lives a glittering life with photographer Marcus Blake. But her childhood tells a different story…

When she was eleven, Joycie’s mother disappeared. Run away with another man, so everyone says. But Joycie can’t forget the thumps she heard in the night, or the bloodstained rug hidden under the bed. A rug that was gone the next day.

Twelve years later, Joycie has left her past behind. But when an old friend dies, Joycie is left a letter beseeching her to find out the truth. Unable to keep the door locked any longer, Joycie sets out to discover why her mother left her – if she ever really did.

As she travels to the shabby seaside towns of her childhood, Joycie soon finds that it’s not just her mother who vanished all those years ago. Joycie knows the disappearances are connected, she just doesn’t know how. But there’s someone out there who does – and they will do anything to keep it buried.

Her Turn to Cry is out now in ebook and is due to be published in print on 8th September 2016 in the UK. Available from Amazon

About the author

Chris Curran

I was born in London but now live in St Leonards-on-Sea near Hastings, on the south coast of England, in a house groaning with books. I left school at sixteen to work in the local library – my dream job then and now – and spent an idyllic few months reading my way around the shelves. Reluctantly returning to full-time education I gained my degree from Sussex University. Since then I have worked as an actress, script writer, copy editor and teacher, all the time looking forward to the day when I would see my own books gracing those library shelves.

 

 

You can find Chris on her blog: chriscurranauthor.com

Twitter: @Christi_Curran

Facebook: Chris Curran

 


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I’m linking this post up to Talk of the Town, please check out the other posts on there and share your own. #TalkoftheTown

 

Review: Christmas at Cranberry Cottage by Talli Roland

 

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I’m a huge Talli Roland fan, I’ve read all of her novels and novellas and loved them so when I spotted she had another Christmas novella out I couldn’t resist buying it immediately! I have to say that this is more of a short story than a novella – I read it in under ten minutes but it is still a lovely, festive read.

Jess is a high-flying photographer who is currently working in New York but is looking forward to getting back to her childhood home in the UK to spend Christmas with her Gran. A phone call from her Gran with news that Cranberry Cottage is going to be demolished as part of a new high-speed rail line causes to Jess drop everything to return home to try and save it.

I loved this story but I can’t help but wish it had been longer – I think it could have made a perfect novella or even full-length novel. There are glimpses of characters that I wanted to know more about. There is a love interest that held such potential and I enjoyed what there was of the chemistry between Tom and Jess but I would have loved to hear more about the past and to see how their story might have developed further. I adored Jess’ relationship with her Gran, I just wish we could have heard more about the two of them and this gorgeous cottage.

The cover of this short story is so festive and the combined with the description of the decorations inside the cottage just made me want to go there! The descriptions of the kitsch decorations that were years old and often falling apart reminded me so much of my Nan’s home and all of her wonderful Christmas ornaments.

This short story is absolutely worth buying and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a very quick, Christmassy read. I so badly want to rate it higher because I did enjoy it but I was left wanting so to know so much more. I rate this 3.5 out of 5.

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage is out now and is available as an ebook from Amazon.

Review: Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies

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I loved this novella, it was just the kind of gentle and heart-warming book that I want to be reading at this time of year.

Freya Sherborne runs her family mistletoe business from her childhood home, but this year is her first Christmas running it alone after the death of her beloved father. The debts are mounting up and Freya knows she’s going to have to sell up very soon.

The novella is set out as a countdown to Christmas, starting 29 days before. I loved how it was set so close to Christmas and had the build-up, it meant it really was a proper festive read and that is my favourite kind of Christmas book!

I was intrigued by Amos Fry all through this novella, he’s a great character though. He was like a cross between Mary Poppins and Father Christmas and I loved how he seemed to be magically nudging things in the right direction for Freya to find happiness again.

I loved the symbolism of the white feathers that kept appearing throughout the novella, especially the one that appeared near the robin. This novella had a lot of symbols running through it, even the mistletoe itself and it was added an extra layer to the Christmas novel that I really appreciated. Christmas is forever changed when you lose a loved one but the symbols that are around can really offer comfort. I love how Freya and her father had bought a new tree ornament every year, and that Freya decided to continue with that after losing him. The tree ornament that she was helped to find for this year was so perfect, I wanted it to be from a real shop so that I could buy one!

This is the first book I’ve read by Emma Davies but it won’t be the last, it was wonderful. I’ve already bought Letting in Light and have it waiting for me on my TBR!

I rate this novella 9 out of 10.

I received this book from Lawsome Books via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Merry Mistletoe is out now and available from Amazon.

Bookouture Christmas Giveaway Winners Announcement!

BC BOOKS BANNER (MINE) copy

I ran an ebook giveaway every day from 22nd – 26th October as part of Bookouture’s Christmas week on twitter.

I’m pleased to announce all of the winners:

bella's christmas bake offBella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson was won by Lindsay Hill

One Wish in ManhattanOne Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot was won by Sarah Hardy

Lilac CottageChristmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin was won by ReadingAwaytheDays

Christmas wishes and mistletoe kissesChristmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale was won by Leigh Newton

snowflakes at silver coveSnowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin was also won by Leigh Newton

Congratulations to you all! Hope you enjoy reading your lovely new ebooks!

Review: The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James

Broken Heart Book Club

I love books about book clubs so I couldn’t resist the chance to read The Broken Hearts Book Club!

Lucy grew up in the idyllic Luna Bay but something happened eight years ago which caused her to run away and she has never been back. She has managed to avoid all reasons to return but when her beloved Nana dies Lucy finally returns to her childhood home for the funeral. It is her intention to make this a quick visit but when her Nana’s Will is read and Lucy finds out she has been left her gorgeous Rose Cottage and her broken hearts book club, Lucy feels compelled to stick around for a while. After meeting the lovely, and very attractive new pub owner, Jake, Lucy suddenly finds even more reasons to stay in Luna Bay!

There is a mystery that runs through this book about why Lucy ran away all those years ago. Lucy refers to it many times but can never bring herself to tell anyone what she did. I’ll be honest there were a few times when I wanted to grab Lucy and just make her open up about it but it was true to her character that she was forever skirting around it – this is the girl who ran away for eight years rather than stay and face it after all. I felt sorry for her especially as some of the people in Luna Bay who were there eight years ago still made Lucy feel bad, even after so much time had passed.

Lucy is such a lovely character, her heart is in the right place and she just wants to make things right with those she’s done wrong by, and she wants to help make better the lives of the broken hearted in the book club. I love how she can’t always control her impulse to sing if she reads, or hears someone say a song lyric. I burst out laughing reading the very first page with the Joni Mitchell song incident! It’s the sort of thing that could happen to any of us and that’s what makes her so endearing.

I loved the setting of the book too; Luna Bay just felt like a real place and I’d really like to go there! I could picture the cottage, the pub, the cafe and the gorgeous sea front as I was reading.

I adored the book club! I love the idea of a book club for broken-hearted people especially the way it was for people who had suffered any kind of loss, all the members supported each other and no loss was made to feel less than any other. I enjoyed reading about the books they were reading too and hearing their thoughts on them. I’ve already read all of the book club reads apart from The Rosie Project and they’ve convinced me to give it a try!

The Broken Hearts Book Club is perfect for these colder, darker nights – it’s like a big warm comfort blanket in book form! It’s a feel-good read with a bit of depth to it. I rate this book 9 out of 10 and highly recommend it. This was the first book I’ve read by Lynsey James and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve already bought her debut novel Just the Way You Are and hope to read it very soon.

The Broken Hearts Book Club is published today and available on Amazon now!

I received this book from Carina UK via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.