The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey @dianefjeffrey

51FIhIPdSpL

About the Book

She says she’s innocent.

WOULD YOU BELIEVE HER?

2013

Melissa Slade had it all: beauty, money, a successful husband and beautiful twin babies. But, in the blink of an eye, her perfect life became a nightmare – when she found herself on trial for the murder of her little girls.

PRESENT DAY

Jonathan Hunt covered the original Slade Babies’ case for the local newspaper. Now that new evidence has come to light, Jon’s boss wants him back on the story to uncover the truth.

With Melissa’s appeal date looming, time is running out. And, as Jon gets drawn deeper into a case he’d wanted to forget, he starts to question Melissa’s guilt.

Is Melissa manipulating Jon or telling him the truth? Is she a murderer, or the victim of a miscarriage of justice?

And if Melissa Slade is innocent, what really happened to Ellie and Amber Slade?

 

My Thoughts

I wanted to read The Guilty Mother as soon as I saw the cover, it really caught my eye and I’m really pleased to say that the novel more than lives up to it.

Melissa is in prison for killing her twin daughters and her appeal is about to be heard. Her first husband Simon, with whom she has a teenage son Calum is convinced she is innocent and is fighting for justice. Melissa’s second husband, the father of her twins, isn’t so convinced. Jonathan works for the local newspaper and along with Kelly, a young woman who is still learning in the journalism world, is tasked with looking into Melissa’s case.

I very much enjoyed this novel, it had me gripped from start to finish. I found reading about Melissa’s experience as a new mother to twins really believable. I can only imagine how exhausting it must be and how different it must have been to when she had her son years previously. Michael is very unsympathetic to Melissa, he misses the high achieving wife that Melissa was before and seems to make no allowances for how much life has changed since they decided to start a family together. This set up is so good in a novel though because it made me suspicious of Michael because it seems he would rather have his old wife back than have to deal with how she is now. It also made me wonder whether Melissa could have harmed her babies due to how fatigued and unsupported she was in the midst of her low mood and struggle.

It was great to have the journalist’s perspective too as we get to take a step back from being inside Melissa’s life and see it from an outsider’s point of view. Jonathan has had real sadness in his own life and as a father to two boys he can’t see how anyone would harm their own children. I enjoyed learning more about him and seeing how he tried to separate his own life experiences from Melissa’s. In Jonathan’s office is a new team member to the newspaper, Kelly, and she ends up being Jonathan’s side-kick. I loved Kelly, she’s clearly a bit green but in some ways that allows her to see things that Jonathan doesn’t see and she brings so much to his story (and to the novel).

Diane Jeffrey is an excellent writer – she explores Melissa’s story with such sensitivity whilst also keeping the novel thrilling so that you find yourself reading at every possible opportunity in order to find out what the truth was. There are twists and turns along the way and things I didn’t see coming… and the ending is brilliant!

The Guilty Mother is a novel that keeps you on your toes all the way through! I kept changing my mind about whether Melissa was guilty, and also changing my mind about who else might have done it. The story is so engrossing and impossible to put down! This is the first novel that I’ve read by Diane Jeffrey but it absolutely won’t be the last, I’m intending to buy everything she’s ever written now! I highly recommend this book!

The Guilty Mother is out now and available here

 

Advertisements

#BookReviews: The Carer | How It Was | Still Lives | The Water Cure

mini book reviews.png

Here are some more reviews of books that I’ve read recently:

45901019

How It Was by Janet Ellis

I read and really enjoyed Janet Ellis’ debut novel The Butcher’s Hook so I was very keen to read her new book. It’s different to her first book but I still very much enjoyed it. It follows Marian, who is sitting in hospital next to her dying husband. She reads him old cards that she’s found and slowly falls into recollections of their lives together. The novel meanders and it can be a little hard to follow at times as you try to work out what point you are at in Marian’s life but I realised that I had to let myself just go where it was taking me and it became easier to follow the timeline then. Marion has had such heartbreak in her life, and the way she had to hide her intense grief for someone earlier in her life was stunningly written. I felt like I was right there with Marion and could feel all of her emotions. Later as she has to deal with her teenage daughter and all the complex emotions that this entails again gave me such empathy for her. She’s a flawed person but it’s impossible not to feel for her. I enjoyed this book but it’s only now that a little time has passed and I find myself still thinking about it that I can see just how good a book it is. I definitely recommend this one!

 

img_3399.jpg

Still Lives by Maria Hummell

This is a novel that I really wanted to read and yet didn’t pick up for ages after I got it. I think maybe on some level I knew I had to be in the exact right mood for it, and I’m so glad I waited because when I finally picked it up I read it in just two sittings! It follows Maggie who works for an art gallery and is working on the opening of a huge show of work by the new girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend. Kim Lord, the artist, has created a series of pictures where she has controversially painted her own image into the infamous murder scenes of women like Nicole Brown Simpson. Kim disappears on opening night and this leads to people analysing her paintings looking for a deeper message about where she might be. Maggie who already carries a lot of pain and regret becomes further melancholy and reflective about what might have happened. I adored this book – the message running through it about how murdered women are fetishised by the media is really well done and really makes you think. There is so much in this book alongside the mystery element and I really enjoyed it. I already want to read this book again so I definitely recommend it!

39335566.jpg

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

This novel follows three sisters who are brought up in an abusive, claustrophobic situation on an isolated island. We hear from each of them as well as their joint voice as they describe their world. It’s clearly a really difficult life but it’s never really explained where they are or why they’re there. I wasn’t sure if this was a dystopian novel or a post-apocalyptic one, or if the whole thing was a metaphor. It’s a feminist novel but it felt quite surface level to me and I was always kept at quite a distance so couldn’t connect with the characters. I have to say though that the writing is beautiful and it is this that kept me reading to the end. Overall I’m still not really sure what I think about this novel but I did enjoy the writing enough to want to read more by the author.

43307715._SY475_

The Carer by Deborah Moggach

I’m a big fan of this author’s novels so was thrilled to finally get a copy of The Carer and I’m really happy to say that I loved it. It follows two adult children – Phoebe and Robert – as they deal with their father James’ growing care needs and his relationship with his new carer Mandy. Phoebe seems to bear the brunt of organising their dad’s care and she resents how little Robert does. Robert feels very put upon in life generally and wishes the world would leave him alone so he can write his novel in peace. Mandy is jolly and fun and brings out a lighter side of James which increasingly concerns Phoebe and Robert but they can’t openly complain because this is what Mandy is there for. The family dynamics explored in this novel are so spot on for how life is that I kept smiling, or nodding my head as I recognised people in my own life in the characters at various points in the novel. This is such an engaging read that I keep thinking about ever since I finished reading. I will definitely re-read this book in the future. The Carer is a novel that I’m sure will resonate with a lot of people and I whole-heartedly recommend it!

WWW Wednesdays (16 Oct 19)! 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: 

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

I have an eARC of this book but when I spotted the audio book on Scribd I decided to part-listen and part-read it and I’m really enjoying it. I’m about 15% into the book and it’s intriguing and different so I’m keen to listen to more of it soon.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

This is an audio book I downloaded from my local library and I’m very much enjoying this one. It’s so interesting how the brain works and the way neurological illness or damage to the brain can change how people experience music.

Innocent or Guilty? by A. M. Taylor

I haven’t read much more of this book this week as it’s on my kindle and my kindle is playing up at the moment. I was really enjoying the book though and hope to be able to read more of this soon.

The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers

I finally picked this one back up this week and I’m really engrossed in it. I read a huge chunk of it in one sitting so hopefully I’ll be finishing this book soon.

 

What I recently finished reading:

You Are What You Read by Jodie Jackson

I’d been really looking forward to this book which looks at how what we read in the media affects us but unfortunately it wasn’t really for me. The book feels disjointed and not in-depth enough for me but I’d still recommend it as an introduction to people wanting to start learning more about how the way news is reported affects the way we think about things.

I Confess by Alex Barclay

I enjoyed this thriller, it’s one of those super-fast novels that you can find escapism in for a few hours. I reviewed this yesterday so you can find my full thoughts here.

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

I made time to focus on this novel this week and I loved it! The main character is not always likeable but there are moments in this book that really chimed with the younger me, which meant I couldn’t help but find connection in this novel. I do plan on reviewing this once I’ve got my thoughts together.

Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

I was really looking forward to reading this book and it ended up being an okay read. I really enjoyed the first half but it fell away a bit in the second half. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find my thoughts here if you want to know more.

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple by Jeff Guin

I finished listening to this audiobook a few days ago and it was such a good book. It’s so well researched and written and I found it fascinating. All I knew before about this cult was how it ended so it was really interesting, and scary, how it came to be formed. I recommend this one.

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon

This book is stunning and one that I keep thinking about since finishing it a week ago. It is about a junior doctor starting work in a hospital and it was eye-opening! This book is so beautifully written and is so honest, it made me cry more than once. It made me reflect on things. I’d like to write a full review if I can ever get my thoughts together but in the meantime I highly recommend this to everyone.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

I’ve had the ebook of this on my kindle for a couple of years now so when I spotted it available on audio from the library I immediately downloaded it. This will definitely be my next nonfiction book!

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

This is another instance where I have the ebook but have borrowed the audio from the library. I enjoyed this author’s writing so I’m looking forward to starting this one.

The Accidental Love Letter by Olivia Beirne

I didn’t manage to get to this one over the last week so it’s top of my list to read this week. I’m really keen to get to this one!

The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain

I was delighted to win a copy of this book in a giveaway recently and then I won a spot on the blog tour, which is exciting! So I hope to have time to start reading this one this week, it sounds like wonderful and festive escapism!

 

 

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

#BookReviews: Forget Me Not | The Evidence Against You | Through the Wall | I Confess

 

bookreviews.png

Here are some more mini reviews of books I’ve been reading recently! This post is a bit of a mixed bag with two books that I loved and two that I thought were okay.

43239333

Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

I have to be honest here and say that this book became a must read for me entirely based on this brilliant cover! As soon as I saw it I had to grab a copy and read it right away. I’m so pleased to say that the novel lives up to the great cover and I very much enjoyed this crime thriller. It follows the discovery of the body of a young woman who has been murdered. The novel is told from the viewpoints of Elizabeth, who found the dead woman, and Rachel, the murdered woman’s best friend. Both woman have a lot in their own lives and so when the murder happens their nerves are brought to breaking point. I loved both strands of the novel and was keen to see how it was all going to turn out. I was thrilled that I was kept guessing until the reveal happened as it’s not very often that I can’t put the pieces together in a crime novel. I did have my suspicions and I was close but I didn’t get it figured out. Huge kudos to Claire Allan for keeping me on my toes! I loved this book, it’s Claire’s best thriller to date and I highly recommend it!

39940912._SY475_.jpg

The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister

I’ve read all of Gillian McAllister’s novels as they’ve been published and she has gone from strength to strength, she is now one of my auto-buy authors! This novel follows Izzy whose father has been in prison for murdering her mother and now he’s about to be released, and is claiming that he’s innocent! I loved Izzy, she’s such a believable and real character and I was rooting for her the whole way through this book. The loss of her mum when she was a teenager has really affected her life and she’s never really being able to escape from the tragedy. She’s even living her mum’s life in re-opening the restaurant that her mother owned. I loved seeing Izzy’s tentative steps towards having a relationship with her dad and was really hoping he was being honest with her. I was gripped the whole way through the book and I kept changing my mind about whether I thought her dad was being truthful or not. There were surprises in store in this book, which was great! I keep thinking of Izzy and wondering how she’s doing now. I highly recommend this book!

44553365._SY475_.jpg

Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

I was eagerly anticipating this novel but now I’ve read it I’m still not absolutely sure what I thought of it. It follows two women – Lexie who lives with her boyfriend Tom, and Harriet who lives on her own. They live next door to each other in an apartment block and they share a wall. I loved the early part of this book as we learn more about each of these women and see what they think of each other based on what they’ve heard through the wall. Each seems to think the other has a happier life, which I thought was really interesting to read about. As the novel went on though it required more and more suspension of disbelief and I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I had been. I was expecting it to go in a particular direction and when it didn’t I felt deflated. Perhaps this is much more a reflection on me than the book though. I’d still recommend it if you like novels about obsession!

46410052._SY475_

I Confess by Alex Barclay

This book is about a couple who’ve bought and renovated an old convent and have now invited old school friends to stay to celebrate one of their birthdays. The house is in a remote location and it’s a dark, stormy night so it feels like these friends are somewhat marooned in this house so when a body is found it’s terrifying to know they are all stuck there with a murderer. This is a fast-paced thriller that is full of secrets and lies and then all of the reveals and fallout. There aren’t many likeable characters in the novel and the only person that was likeable didn’t feel fleshed out enough for me, which was a little disappointing. I Confess does require a suspension of disbelief but that makes this more enjoyable as even though it’s a murder thriller it feels like escapism. This isn’t my favourite book in the genre but having said that I did read it in one sitting so it definitely held my attention all the way through.

#BookReviews: Dirty Little Secrets | Never Have I Ever | Call Me A Liar | Our Kind of Cruelty

book reviews

Here are a new selection of my thoughts on four more of the books that I’ve read in recent months!

38120306

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

This book was brilliant! I picked it up one afternoon and I literally didn’t stop reading until I’d turned the final page! It follows seven residents in a gated community in the aftermath of one of the neighbours being found dead. The neighbours seem like they’d be close-knit and yet Olive had been dead for three months before anyone realised! The novel follows each of these characters as we get to know their back stories and how well they know each other. They all have their own secrets and things they don’t want to come out but the investigation into the murder means everything has to come out into the open. This novel kept me on my toes all the way through. I couldn’t make my mind up who was most likely to have harmed Olive and what I eventually settled on was completely wrong! The end when it comes is shocking and deeply unsettling but it’s also such a satisfying end to the book. I loved this one and I’m now so keen to read more by Jo Spain! I definitely recommend this book!

45029196

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

I was really looking forward to reading this book and it was such a satisfying read. It follows Amy Whey who seems to have the perfect life, and she seems to be quite a perfect person. She lets her friend Charlotte host a book club in her house and one night a new neighbour, Roux, turns up and really shakes this group up by suggesting they play never have I ever and work back to revealing the worst thing they’ve ever done. Amy is immediately nervous and it’s apparent that she has skeletons in her closet. The novel then becomes a cat and mouse game as Amy and Roux try to outwit each other. I’m going to be honest here and say that while I was really drawn in by the opening to this book I did struggle with picking it back up whenever I’d put it down. Having said that there is a point about halfway through where it grabbed me and I read from there to the end in one sitting. It’s a clever thriller and something a bit different so I recommend it.

44798604

Call Me A Liar by Colette McBeth

I really enjoy Colette McBeth’s writing so was thrilled to pick up her latest thriller. This book follows a group of work colleagues who are sent on a retreat. It soon becomes clear that this group all have secrets to hide and the pressure of being together in this enforced setting is going to cause cracks to show in people’s facades. We get to hear from each of the characters and this makes for a really gripping read as we begin to see how each of them think. This is such a tense read and you’re never quite sure of who to trust or what it might be that is really going on. It reached a point where I felt like I was trapped in this nightmare retreat with these people and unable to see a way back to the life I had before and I loved that about it.  This is such a twisty read and one that is really hard to put down once you’ve started reading.

IMG_1899

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This book is such a gripping read that I read in one sitting! It follows Mike who is in love with Verity. They had a very intense relationship and loved playing a game called Crave on nights out. Crave involved Verity getting into a situation with a random man and when she gives the signal Mike swoops in and rescues her. So now that Verity has broken up with Mike and is moving on with her life he is certain that this is just an escalation of Crave and is determined to win her back. This look at obsession is so compelling and disturbing. It was fascinating being in Mike’s head and seeing how he sees things, and sometime I felt like I was on his side but there were moments when I thought of Verity and was shocked at myself that I hadn’t considered her feelings. This book is such an incredible look at control in relationships and how what one person sees as blurred lines another sees as terrifying. This book is one I still think about now and it’s weeks since I read it. It’s one I already want to read again and I definitely recommend it.

#BookReviews: When I Lost You | Those People | The Honeymoon | The Dangerous Kind

mini reviews oct.png

Here is another selection of reviews of books that I read and enjoyed over the summer this year! I’m slowly catching up on reviewing all of the books that I read now!

cover163831-medium

When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies

This is a novel that I was so keen to read and I’m really pleased to say that it lived up to my expectations. This is a novel that centres around an infant’s death, and the pathologist who believes the baby was murdered by one of her parents then begins receiving threatening letters. The novel is told in two timelines and looks at two teenagers who are in the care system, and in the present is the case looking at the murdered baby. I found this one of those novels that I just couldn’t put down, it had me hooked all the way through. I had my suspicions at various points in the novel but it was only a little while before the reveal that I finally put everything together. This novel is a mix of police procedural and thriller and it’s such a gripping and engaging read. I’m really happy to see that this is actually going to be the first book in the series as I loved the detectives and I can’t wait to read more!

cover161560-medium

Those People by Louise Candlish

I love Louise Candlish’s writing so this book was a real treat! You know from the start that something bad has happened on this street but you don’t know exactly what or who to. The novel then follows interviews and the perspectives from each of the neighbours and you gradually learn what has led to the awful incident that has happened. I loved this book! It takes place on a lovely, quiet street where everyone is friendly and considerate of each other. Then a new couple move in and they are selfish and seem determined to do what they want when they want no matter what. I loved how this novel made me really dislike the new couple at first (don’t we all live in fear of nightmare neighbours moving in next door?!) but as the novel went on I did feel there were times when the antagonising behaviour came from all sides and people were escalating things without realising what they were doing. This is a novel that kept me guessing and it definitely had shocks in store. I read this novel in one sitting as I just didn’t want to put it down until I knew how it was all going to turn out. I definitely recommend this one!

44419258

The Honeymoon by Rona Halsall

I’ll be honest here and say that the stunning cover is what initially drew me to this book! I’m happy to say that the contents did live up to it though. The Honeymoon follows Chloe as she sets off on her honeymoon with her new husband Dan. She finds out at the airport that they’re not going where she thought they were going which makes her anxious but she trusts her husband so off they go! We then find out that Chloe has only known Dan a very short time and perhaps doesn’t know him as well as she thought she did! I loved this as a set up for a novel and was intrigued about Dan from the start. Poor Chloe has no idea what awaits her on this honeymoon and she soon finds herself in a nightmare situation. I was rooting for her to find a way to get through things because I really liked her. Me and my husband pretty much moved in together as soon as we met so I know what it’s like to fall in love and move at lightning speed in a relationship so I was totally with Chloe even when I was anxious about some of the decisions she made. This was a fun, gripping and very fast-paced novel, and I’ll definitely be looking out for Rona Halsall’s other books in the future!

31930640

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

I had to get my hands on a copy of this novel as soon as I first heard about it as the premise is so intriguing to me. The novel is about whether it’s possible to foresee whether someone would go on to commit violent crimes by looking at convicted criminals’ pasts, and that is so fascinating! The book sees the host of a podcast looking into this when one day a woman comes into the office begging for help to find her missing friend. The book then goes back and forth in time, and explores really difficult issues such as grooming and sexual exploitation. It’s such a well written book that keeps you reading even when you might want to look away. I found this book near impossible to put down as it was just so engaging and thought-provoking. I definitely want to read more by this author and I absolutely recommend this book!

WWW Wednesdays (9 Oct 2019)! 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: 

Innocent or Guilty by A. M. Taylor

I’ve only just started reading this book but it definitely grabbed my attention from the opening chapter and I feel like this will be a book that’s hard to put down. I’m already looking forward to getting back to it.

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon

I only just realised that this book was out yesterday so I immediately bought a copy and started reading right away. This is such an eye-opening and stunning book, I keep stopping and thinking about what I’ve just read after each chapter. This is a book that everyone should read.

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

I’ve read quite a bit more of this book over the last few days and may well have finished it by the time this post goes live. It’s a brilliant novel, one that really resonates with me. I think a lot of people would connect with this book so I recommend it.

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple by Jeff Guin

I’m still listening to the audio of this and am still utterly fascinated. I only have a few hours of the book left so I should definitely finish this over the coming week.

What I recently finished reading:

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

I read this book in one sitting yesterday afternoon and I adored it! Both the story and the writing are stunning! It’s another reminder to me that when I say I don’t generally like historical fiction that actually when I find the right fit of the genre for me that I do love it! I will review this one when I’ve got my thoughts together but in the meantime I definitely recommend it.

The Family by Louise Jensen

This is another novel that I pretty much read in one sitting! I love Louise Jensen’s writing so a new book from her is always a real treat. This was such a great look at the relationship between a mother and daughter as they get drawn into a cult. I recommend this one.

Fiona and the Whale by Hannah Lynn

I adored this novel – it’s a quirky book that both moved me and had me laughing out loud. I actually reviewed this one yesterday so you can find my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister

I’ve been so looking forward to this book and whilst I had an eARC I downloaded the audio from my library to listen to. I very much enjoyed this one. Gillian McAllister is fast becoming one of my favourite authors!

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

I’ve had this book on my TBR for way too long and now I’m really kicking myself because when I finally picked it up this week I completely and utterly fell in love with it. It really is a beautiful book about community and also a love letter to music. If you haven’t read this yet then I urge you to pick up a copy!

The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

I also had an eARC of this book but downloaded the audio from Scribd.  I really enjoyed listening to this book and can definitely recommend the audio version. This is one of those novel that gets you so engrossed that you feel bereft at finishing it. I recommend this book.

(If you join  (If you join Scribd through my link you’ll get the first two months free and I will get a month free).

What I plan on reading next:

The Accidental Love Letter by Olivia Beirne

I loved Olivia Beirne’s previous novel, The List That Changed My Life, so jumped at the chance to read and review her new book. I am so looking forward to this book and hope to get to it this week.

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

I’m really intrigued by this book, it sounds ghostly and perfect for this time of year as the nights draw in so I’m keen to start this one soon.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I’ve had an eARC of this book for a few months now and have been waiting to be in the right mood to read it. It feels like a book to pick up after the Joanna Cannon book I’m currently reading so I hope to get to this one in the coming days.

The Last by Hanna Jameson

This was on my must read list for this week and I didn’t manage to get to it but I’m still in the mood to read it so I’m planning on getting to it in the week ahead!

 

 

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

#BookReview: Fiona and the Whale by Hannah Lynn | @HMLynnauthor @rararesources

48213130._SY475_

About the Book 

With her personal life on the rocks, it’s going to take a whale sized miracle to keep her afloat.

 Event planner Fiona Reeves did not have her husband’s sudden departure on her schedule. However, she’s certain that it’s only a hiccup and he’ll be back in no time, begging for forgiveness. Fortunately there’s a distraction of mammoth proportions swimming in the River Thames. 

 Absorbed by the story of Martha the sperm whale, Fiona attempts to carry on life as usual as she awaits her husband’s return. However, nothing can prepare her for the dramatic turn of events that throws her life into ever greater turmoil. The road ahead has many paths and for Fiona it’s time to sink or swim.

 Fiona and the Whale is a poignant and often hilarious contemporary fiction novel. If you enjoy topical tales, second chances and a little bit of romance, you’ll love this new book from the Kindle Storyteller Award Winner, Hannah Lynn.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve previously read one of Hannah Lynn’s other novels (The Afterlife of Walter Augustus) and adored it so I was delighted to get the chance to read her newest book Fiona and the Whale.

Fiona and the Whale is about a 40-something woman whose husband leaves her on the very day they wave their only son off to University. Fiona is convinced it’s all just a blip and that her husband will be back. In the days following she is struggling to fill her days and leaves the TV on 24/7, which is where she hears about a sperm whale that has got stranded in the Thames. Fiona becomes fixated on Martha the whale’s plight and this leads to many new paths opening up that Fiona couldn’t even have imagined beforehand!

I loved this book – from the opening pages I just knew this was going to be a ‘me’ book and it absolutely was! Fiona is a great character, she is so believable from the start and although some of the things she did annoyed me it never stopped me rooting for her because she was so real.

The plight of Martha was heart-breaking to read about but I really appreciated how Hannah Lynn used the story of the whale to highlight the issues of what we’re doing to our oceans and our planet with our use of plastics. This novel really made me pause for thought on more than one occasion but Lynn manages to really make a powerful point without it ever feeling like you’re being preached to. She kept me in the story and on Fiona’s side the entire time, which is a real skill when you’re showing the reality of these issues. I will think of Martha the whale next time I pick something up that’s wrapped in plastic when it doesn’t need to be and I’m sure this will help me to make better choices where I can.

I also loved the issues with food waste was tackled too. I’ve been guilty of going by use-by dates even on things like vegetables in the past because I didn’t trust my own judgement to know when things were past using. Now I know better and I do better. I could totally understand Fiona’s attitude to The Dumpster Dive cafe at first, although I’d have been a little more tactful! I loved how she learnt about what leads to food being thrown away by supermarkets, and as a result I learnt some things I didn’t know either.

Along with the issues being tackled in the novel we see how Fiona deals with her husband leaving her, and how she gradually becomes more reliant on herself and starts to find happiness on her own terms. It doesn’t happen overnight but you see her slowly starting to shine again. I adored her tenacity and spirit as she began fighting for what she believed in instead of being stuck in what she had lost. I also really enjoyed her relationship with her best friend and the way they are with each other. It was so refreshing to see such a real and honest portrayal of female friendship with the ups and downs that can come with one person making big life changes out of the blue.

Fiona and the Whale is a gorgeous quirky novel, one that really feels like it’s grounded in reality but with that little bit of Hannah Lynn magic sprinkled through it. I was really moved by some of the turns this story took, and also genuinely laughing out loud at other parts of it. I completely and utterly loved this book and I highly recommend it!

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

Fiona and the Whale is out now and available here.

 

About the author

Fiona and the Wale Hannah Lynn

Hannah Lynn is an award-winning novelist. Publishing her first book, Amendments – a dark, dystopian speculative fiction novel, in 2015, she has since gone on to write The Afterlife of Walter Augustus, a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist – which won the 2018 Kindle Storyteller Award and the Gold Medal for Best Adult Fiction ebook at this year’s IPPY Awards – and the delightfully funny and poignant Peas and Carrots series.

While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character driven stories and wonderfully vivid description.

She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a reimaging of a classic Greek myth.

Born in 1984, Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.

For up-to-date news and access to exclusive promotions follow her on

Facebook: HannahLynnAuthor

Twitter @HMLynnauthor

Goodreads: Hannah_M_Lynn

Bookbub: hannah-lynn

 

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

Fiona and the Whale Full Tour Banner

#BookReviews: Then She Vanishes | Miracle Creek | Clear My Name | The Poison Garden

mini reviews

Here is another selection of reviews of the books I’ve been reading over the summer!

44428372

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

I’m such a big fan of Claire Douglas’ novels and so was really looking forward to this one – I can honestly say that it’s her best yet! Heather and Jess were best friends as teenagers until the night Heather’s sister Flora disappeared. Now Jess is accused of murder and Heather has come back to find out what has happened. This book has such great and believable characters, plus a plot that has you reading just one more chapter (and then one more and one more) until you turn the final page. It’s such an in-depth book that you want to know more about the characters but the storyline is so twisty that you find you can’t stop reading until you know how it’s all going to turn out. I loved this book and keep finding myself thinking about it and wondering how the characters are now. I definitely recommend this one!

 

40121959

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

This is a book that I picked up on a whim and I’m so glad I did as it’s such an excellent novel. This is a book that hinges around an horrific incident at the Miracle Submarine (a pressurised chamber that allegedly helps treat autism and infertility). It’s partly a courtroom drama but it’s also a character study following multiple people in the lead up to and fallout from the accident. You really get into the mindset of everyone and why they have done the things they did, and how they feel in the aftermath. I found this such an engrossing novel – one that I wanted to read slowly… but also quickly to know what happened. The writing it stunning and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future! This is a book that has really stayed with me and I think it’s one that I will re-read.

 

42980326

Clear My Name by Paula Daly

I’m such a fan of Paula Daly and have loved all her books to date and this new one is no exception! The novel follows Tess who works for Innocence UK as she looks into the possible wrongful conviction of Carrie – a woman convicted of killing her husband’s mistress. Carrie says she didn’t do it and Tess is determined to find the truth. This book really tense at times and is a definite page turner! I went back and forth over whether I thought Carrie was innocent, and I was suspicious of other people who perhaps had a motive for murder but I was never sure. This is a thought-provoking novel and one that you’ll be thinking about long after you’ve turned the last page! Clear My Name is a novel that kept me on my toes and I very much enjoyed it!

35478256._SY475_

The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

Alex Marwood is another of my favourite authors so this book was one of my most anticipated for this year. I was thrilled when I finally got hold of a copy and am happy to say that it lived up to all my expectations! The way this book opens is so disturbing and visceral but it really sets up the story that is to follow in such a way that you don’t want to stop reading. The novel follows multiple characters and goes back and forth in time gradually building up a picture of what led to the novel’s opening but also what happened afterwards. It’s a slower-paced thriller which works perfectly as you find that you want to get to know these characters and how they became who they are. Alex Marwood’s novels always unsettle me and leave me pondering on things and this book is no different, I love how she keeps me enthralled even when I want to look the other way. Her writing is so dark and brilliant, I love it! I highly recommend this book!

#BookReviews: Lake Child | Stop At Nothing | The Escape Room | The Family Upstairs

book reviews oct.png

 

Today I’m sharing some more reviews of books that I’ve read and loved in recent weeks!

36515522._SY475_

Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown

I love the author’s writing so have been really keen to read Lake Child and I’m so happy to say that it more than lived up to expectations! This novel follows Eva who wakes up to find she is locked in the attic room of her parents house. She doesn’t know what happened or how but she’s on edge. She starts to have memories but she can’t quite figure things out and her parents are being evasive. Gradually secrets and lies are brought to the fore and the speed of this novel begins to ramp up. The writing in this book is stunning – I felt like I was right there with Eva in this house in the snow and icy cold. I could envisage everything that was being described and got completely swept away in this novel. I read this book in one sitting as I just didn’t want to put the book down. It’s a perfect read for the colder weather and I highly recommend it!

34727539

Stop at Nothing by Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen is such a great writer and I always look forward to a new novel from her. Stop At Nothing was a really compelling read and I was completely entralled in this story. Tess is a protective mother who tries to do her best by her children so when her teenage daughter Emma is attacked one night in the street she is horrifed. Emma is understandably frightened and Tess becomes increasingly desperate to find the man who did this. This leads to Tess’ growing obsession with finding the man. She’s also dealing keeping an eye on her elderly parents so has a lot of stress weighing her down. I felt quite sorry for Tess as you can see she just wants to fix things but she does go beyond what a rational thinking person would perhaps do. I got so engrossed in this book and read it every spare minute I had as I just needed to know how it was all going to end! I recommend this one!

41150380

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

This book is such a brilliant read, one that is hard to put down. It follows two timelines – one where we meet a group of ruthlessly ambitious investment bankers who are brought to an ‘escape room’ on a team building exercise that turns out to be way more than they could have ever thought. We also go back in time and follow a new member of their team as she tries to find her place and settle in. Seeing the characters through her eyes as she gets to know them, and then later seeing them in the elevator is so good. We really get to know who these people are and how they are who they are. I did find this book waned a little after the opening chapters but it did pick back up again, and the second half of the book was impossible to put down. I was desperate to know how it was all going to end! This is such a fun read and I recommend it.

42448022

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is one of my favourite authors so a new novel by her is always such a treat. This book follows Libby who receives a letter and hopes it’s going to tell her more about her birth parents but instead she finds out that she’s inherited a house in Chelsea! It turns out that around the time Libby was born three people were found dead in the house! This sets Libby on a part to discover more about the past. The novel is told in multiple perspectives so we get to slowly fill in the blanks of the story as it builds towards its final conclusion! There are a lot of unlikeable characters in this book, which I loved. I really felt for Libby as she tried to find out her history and to make connections, but was also on the edge of my seat as I began to piece things together from the other timelines and knew things that Libby as yet did not know. This was such a good read, I loved it and definitely recommend it!

 

 

 

#BookReviews: The Wave | The First Time Lauren Pailing Died | I Spy | The Most Difficult Thing

MINI REVIEWS

I’m back with some more mini book reviews today as I continue in my attempts to catch up on reviewing the books that I’ve read over the summer months!

 

45784620

The Wave by Virginia Moffatt

I was really drawn to the premise of this book – the idea of a tsunami heading towards the Cornish coast leaving the people there with no real chance of escaping it is chilling but also an intriguing set up for a novel. I found this book really hard to put down. I really liked most of the characters and there were some really moving moments within the story. I did find it a little jarring at times though as I didn’t believe that people who have chosen to spend their final hours on the beach enjoying their last moments of life would then end up debating politics. It seems to me that in that situation people would be more likely to be either in quiet reflection or bonding with others as they talked about their lives – their happiest moments and their regrets. As I said before though I still found this a compelling book that I didn’t want to put down and even though we know how the story is going to end for these characters, I still spent the whole book hoping it would be different for them. I’ll definitely look out for more from this author in the future.

43239327._SY475_

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

This is such a fascinating novel that follows Lauren Pailing through multiple alternate lives. Each time she dies a new life begins for the people that loved her. So the further into the book you get the more strands of each version of Lauren’s life are being followed. It may sound complicated but it was actually really easy to follow each life as it quickly becomes clear where you are in each particular strand. In each of Lauren’s lives a man has disappeared and she is convinced that she needs to find him. In time versions of Lauren begin to have memories of a life she didn’t live but another version of her did and this is where the novel got really interesting for me, I loved the way the author explored how other versions of us might still be a part of us on some level. The novel explores themes of relationships, grief and parenting in such a sensitive way. This is such a stunning novel and one that has really stayed with me since I read it. I’m already excited to read whatever Alyson Rudd writes next!

 

cover157754-medium

The Most Difficult Thing by Charlotte Philby

This is such a good novel full of intrigue and suspense! It’s part spy novel, part thriller and part family drama and this made for such a great read.  On the surface Anna is successful in her career at a magazine, she’s happily married and adores her three-year old twins but all is not quite as it seems. Her life is on the verge of unravelling and slowly we get to see who she really is but also who the people around her really are. It becomes something of a cat and mouse but you’re not always sure who the good guys are. I found this such a compelling read that was hard to put down. The ending was so brilliant and perfect in my opinion but I also feel it might divide readers! I recommend it!

44588412

I Spy by Claire Kendal

This is another really good spy novel that I enjoyed over the summer. Holly has always wanted to be a spy but when she gets the interview she fails and has to reassess what she’s going to do with her life. Then one day she has a random encounter with a woman and child that sends Holly’s thoughts spiralling. The novel goes back and forth in time and you gradually get to understand who Holly is and what this woman has to do with her life. This is a book that takes genuinely unexpected turns at times and it kept me gripped from start to finish. I’m a fan of Claire Kendal’s previous novels but this one is now my favourite of hers. It’s such a great read and I recommend it!

 

 

WWW Wednesdays (2 Oct 2019)! 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: 

Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

I started this one yesterday evening and am loving it! It’s such a good read with believable characters and a great plot!

Fiona and the Whale by Hannah Lynn

I’ve only read the first chapter of this one so far but I can tell I’m going to love it. I previously read another of Hannah’s books (The Afterlife of Walter Augustus) and it became a favourite so I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

I’m still really enjoying this book but it’s definitely a book to be read slowly. It’s such a moving book and one that I think a lot of people will see elements of their younger selves in.

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple by Jeff Guin

I’m still finding this audiobook fascinating. I knew about this cult and how things ended for the people but I had no idea about how it was set up and how he got people to join. It’s so interesting and also utterly chilling.

The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers

I’ve read a couple more chapters of this book this week and it’s such an interesting book. I know quite a bit about the account of how 9/11 was handled but it’s still eye-opening in parts to see how different the people in positions of power told the story of how and when decisions were (or weren’t) taken.

What I recently finished reading:

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

I read this entire book in one sitting this week as once I started it I just didn’t want to put it down. I very much enjoyed this and will be sharing a review once I’ve got my thoughts together.

The Carer by Deborah Moggach

I had an eARC of this one but decided to buy the audio book in a recent Audible sale. It was a brilliant novel to get absorbed in and I loved it even more than I thought I would. I recommend it!

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

I’ve been reading this book on and off for a week now and whilst I did enjoy it, it didn’t keep me gripped as much as I’d hoped. I’m not sure if I read it at the wrong time or if the book just wasn’t for me. I’d still recommend it if you like the sound of it though.

Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

When I Lost You by Merrilyn Davies

This is another book where I had an ebook but decided to get the audio so I could part-listen and part-read. I read this in one sitting too as it’s another book that had me engrossed all the way through.

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

I also read this book whilst listening along to the audiobook and I think I enjoyed it more for reading it like this. I’m not sure how I feel about this book yet, it feels like a book that I need to digest before trying to write my thoughts down.

How to Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

This is such a gorgeous book. It’s a combination of a really lovely story and an exploration of grief that is so real and yet never maudlin. I adored this one and I already want to read it all over again!

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Family by Louise Jensen

I’m a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s writing so am super excited to read her brand new thriller so am planning on picking it up this week at some point.

The Last by Hanna Jameson

I’m really embarrassed to have had this print ARC for as long as I have without reading it so whilst I’m trying to catch up with my review backlog I’d like to try and read this one this week.

Innocent or Guilty by A. M. Taylor

I got this book on NetGalley recently and have been so looking forward to reading it so am hoping to have chance to start it in the coming days.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

This is another ARC that somehow got lost on my bookcase and I forgot all about it, which I’m mortified about. I’m definitely going to be reading this one soon as I love Rachel Joyce’s writing and this feels like it’ll be a real treat!

 

 

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

Fiction #BookReviews: If Only I Could Tell You | Matilda | Daisy Jones and the Six | The Flatshare

MINI REVIEWS SUNDAY.png

Today I’m sharing a few more reviews of books that I’ve read and loved over the summer months!

40950983

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley but after reading reviews of the book I decided I wanted to listen to the audio book as I read so I bought the audio. This is such a brilliant novel and I loved it! It’s the story of a band called The Six in the 1970s and all the ups and downs that comes with making it big. Things become even more complicated for the band when Daisy Jones joins them. The dynamics between the band members is fascinating and it all felt so real! I loved how the book is told in snippets from interviews, which meant that we see each person’s view point and how memories differ from each perspective. Some people want to be seen in the best light, to be the hero and this shows through. Others play down the part they played, seemingly wanting to be a little more distant. This book was so good that by the end it felt like I’d read about a real band and I wanted to look up their music and to listen to it! It’s the mark of a great novel when you completely forget that this isn’t a true story. I highly recommend this book, I am sure it will be in my favourite books of the year list!

43315814._SY475_

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

This is another wonderful novel that I very much enjoyed. The story is told from the viewpoints of both Tiffy and Leon – they flat share but they’ve never met! This premise sold me on the book and I’m so pleased to say that the novel lived up to that premise. I love how these two people communicated through a chain of post it notes, and how they gradually came to know each other so well before they ever met. There is more depth to this novel than I was expecting, and some difficult issues are dealt with. It made it all feel more real to me though and I appreciated that. This is such a gorgeous novel and it’s another one that I highly recommend.

40622294._SY475_

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

I was eagerly anticipating this novel as I adored the author’s debut and I’m so happy to say that this was everything I hoped it would be. It’s the story of Audrey and her two adult daughters. Something happened when the two sisters were on the cusp of being teenagers and it’s completely pulled the family apart. Jess can’t forgive Lily and as a result won’t let her daughter see Lily’s daughter, and Audrey never gets to have all of her family together in one place. As the secrets of the past are slowly revealed I was just so sad that this family had allowed the inability to speak openly at the time had caused such a long rift. I can understand it though because when you fall out with a family member, the longer it goes on the harder it is to ever get things back. I thought this was such a beautiful novel and it did make me cry – they were cathartic tears though and ultimately this book gave me hope. I adored it and recommend it!

 

1954077

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I was a little too old for this book when it first came out but I had loved other Roald Dahl books as I was growing up (Danny the Champion of the World was my favourite back then!). So when my baby brother was old enough to have this read to him, there was no way anyone else was getting the chance but me (this was almost 30 years ago now)! I’m so glad I made time to re-read it recently as I loved it as much as I ever did. Matilda is such a brilliant character, one you root for all the way through the book. I remember getting absorbed in my very own copy of Oliver Twist when I was 9 and while I was nowhere near as precocious as Matilda I could identify with the way adults didn’t believe I could read at that level on my own. I loved the humour in this book, Roald Dahl had such a talent for capturing children’s imaginations but also making his books fun for adults to (re-)read too. I adore this book and now want to re-read my whole Roald Dahl collection!

 

 

Thriller #BookReviews: It Ends With You | As Long As We Both Shall Live | Twisted | The Confessions of Frannie Langton

MINI REVIEWS 6.png

Today I’m sharing four more mini reviews of some thrillers that I’ve recently read!

 

39903491

It Ends With You by S. K. Wright

I had an ARC of this from NetGalley and I’m ashamed that it languished on my shelf for as long as it did, especially as that now I’ve read it I can say it was such a brilliant read! This is a thriller following the murder of a teenager named Eva. She was a popular girl and it seems like the mostly likely suspect is her boyfriend Luke. The novel follows six characters as we look at what led up to the murder. The narrative is woven in such a way that your belief in who is innocent and who might be guilty keeps changing, it seems like more than one person had a motive. This is such a clever and engaging thriller that I devoured in one sitting! I highly recommend it and I can’t wait to see what S. K. Wright writes next!

 

cover161317-medium

As Long As We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Chaney

This is a thriller that really grabbed me in the opening chapters! It follows Matt whose first wife was died in suspicious circumstances of which Matt was cleared. Now in the present day he’s married to his second wife but she has a fall from a cliff on holiday and now a detective is on Matt’s tail. There were elements of this novel that I really enjoyed but ultimately it wasn’t very believable and the characters just weren’t fleshed out enough for me. I don’t mind unlikeable characters but they have to be real to me and they just weren’t. I did enjoy how twisty and fast-paced this novel was though so if you’re looking for a speedy thriller this might be the one for you.

 

40735214

Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

This is a novel where the title says it all, it is so twisted! This is a novel where you can’t trust anyone or anything and everything you think is true really might not be as you think it is. I sped through this book because I simply had to know what was going on and how it was all going to turn out. You really should go into this book without knowing anything much about it so I’m keeping this very short and vague but trust me this is such a brilliant and fun rollercoaster of a thriller and I highly recommend it!

 

40723753

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

This is a really interesting novel that has strong themes around how voices are silenced, and also how women are treated in this time period. I found some parts of the book were so good that I just couldn’t put the book down but other parts were much slower that meant I needed to stop and take a break from it. I’ve found that whilst I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I’d hoped I would when I read it it, I keep finding myself thinking of Frannie in the weeks since I finished reading. This is a book that took a little time to make a mark on me but ultimately it has done so. It’s a really good historical fiction read and I can see why so many people love it.

 

Fiction Mini Reviews: Louis and Louise, Something To Tell You, The BookShop of the Broken Hearted, and Ghost Wall!

MINI REVIEWS 5

Today I’m sharing yet more mini reviews of books I’ve read over the summer months.

39331412

Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen

This is such an incredible book and I loved every single minute that I spent reading it. In the book a baby is born to a couple but in one chapter the baby is a boy – Louis, and in the other chapter the baby is a girl – Louise. We then see each of their lives alternating through the novel and it’s fascinating to see how similar their lives would have been a times, and how vastly different at other times. There is one chapter part-way through the novel where the male and female versions of this person merge and it is so incredibly moving. I loved the exploration of what it is to be female or male, the different things that are expected and the different way men and women see and feel things. I also adored the idea of fate that runs through the novel, the way that some things are perhaps pre-ordained for us no matter our gender or sexuality. I adored this book, and even though it’s now weeks since I read it I still find myself thinking about. I think this will be one of my books of the year so I highly recommend it!

 

42181331._SY475_

Something To Tell You by Lucy Diamond

I do love Lucy Diamond novels and this one was such a gorgeous read! Frankie’s mum recently died and she left behind a letter for her daughter. On reading it Frankie discovers the truth about her birth and who her father is. She decides to go and see him and walks right into the middle of a Mortimer family gathering. From there we follow Frankie as she tries to make a connection with her father and other family members. We also hear from other Mortimers and see how their lives are and how they feel about Frankie. Things aren’t always plain-sailing and there are some real heart-rending moments in this book but on the whole it’s a feel-good read and I very much enjoyed it!

cover161901-medium

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

This is a beautiful, slow-burn novel following Tom Hope. His wife Trudy has left him taking her son Peter with her. Peter isn’t Tom’s biological son but he’s raised him and he thinks of him as his own and so is devastated to lose him. Meanwhile there’s a newcomer to the town, Hannah and she is opening a book shop. The locals are intrigued, and Tom can’t resist stopping by. He and Hannah form a bond and slowly we learn each of their histories and what has made them the way they are. Hannah’s story is incredibly moving, I wasn’t expecting it but it really did make me feel emotional. This is one of those books that slowly gets under your skin, and after you finish reading it you’ll find you can’t stop thinking abouit. I really did love this one!

cover139875-medium

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

This is a stunning novella, and one that I still keep thinking about. It follows Silvie who is staying at an Iron Age reconstruction in the middle of nowhere with her mum and anthropologist father. There are moments where we see what happened to an iron age girl that are visceral and heart-breaking. We then see that whilst Silvie doesn’t face the same savage life as that girl, the pain and lack of understanding that teenagers go through perhaps is such as it ever was. The writing in this book is beautiful, there is so much said in so few words. It’s a book that still goes through my mind and it’s weeks since I read it. I think it’s a book that I will re-read in the future. I recommend it!

Mystery & Thriller Mini Reviews: The Wych Elm, The Hiding Game, The Holiday, and Take It Back!

MINI REVIEWS 25 SEP.png

On my blog today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of some mystery and thriller books that I’ve read and enjoyed over the past few months!

40958489

The Wych Elm by Tana French

I’m a huge fan of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series so I was intrigued to read this standalone novel. I did have an ARC of this but due to not being well I bought the audio book, and I highly recommend it. The narrator of the audio is so perfect for the book! The Wych Elm is one of those books that grabs you from the beginning and then gradually weaves its spell around you! Toby is brutally attacked in his home and whilst recovering goes to stay at his family’s ancestral home with his Uncle Hugo, who has a brain tumour and needs some help around the house. One day a skull is discovered inside a tree in the garden and this leads to secrets and lies being revealed, cover-ups attempted and a family left reeling by what they discover. I loved this book and already want to re-read it. I highly recommend this one!

46348818._SY475_.jpg

The Hiding Game by Louise Phillips

This is an intriguing and interesting thriller that follows Heather, a defence attorney, as she goes back to her home town to defend a teenage nanny who is accused of causing the death of the baby in her charge. I enjoyed following Heather and learning more about her life – her mother was murdered when she was a child and she’s never really been able to move on from it. I did struggle with the novel a little though as there are a lot of characters and it was difficult to keep them separate from each other at times. For the most part this book did have me gripped though and I was definitely keen to find out whodunnit in both the timelines. I love that it kept me guessing right to the end!

 

41973359

The Holiday by T. M. Logan

I do love a thriller novel that involves groups of old friends going away together and seeing how things unfold in that situation so the premise of The Holiday ticked all my boxes and I’m really happy to say that it lived up to all my expectations! Kate and her family are on holiday in a beautiful holiday home with three of her oldest friends and their husbands and children. Early on the holiday she discovers some texts on her husband’s phone that make her doubt his honesty and from there on the novel grips you as you wonder if he could be cheating with one of the other women in the villa. It turns out there are more secrets amongst this group of friends, which makes this such a fast-paced, gripping page-turner. I didn’t see where this was going so I loved being surprised by how it all turns out. I definitely recommend this book!

 

43532531

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

This is a legal thriller that is very prescient for our times. Jodie is a sixteen year old girl with neurofibromatosis and she claims to have been sexually assaulted by four muslim boys. This is written in such a way that when you read Jodie’s story you absolutely believe her but then when you read the perspectives of the four boys you believe them. The novel follows the legal case but also the way the community deals with the accusations. This book certainly makes you think and would make a good book club read as it brings up lots of issues that would make for interesting discussions. It didn’t quite hit the mark for me, it just felt like something didn’t quite sit right with me and I can’t even put my finger on what that was. I did enjoy it though and I would recommend it. I’m looking forward to reading whatever Kia Abdullah writes next.

WWW Wednesdays (25 Sep 2019)! 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:

How To Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

I was delighted to get an ARC of this book from NetGalley a little while ago as I’d read an interview with Katy and knew I had to get my hands on this book. I started reading it yesterday and I’m really loving it so far. I love the main character and how hard she works to give people the best possible send off. I’m really looking forward to getting back to this one.

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

I’ve had this book on my TBR for ages and somehow haven’t managed to get to it. I finally picked it up a couple of days ago and am loving it! I’m trying to read it slowly because I want to take it all in – it’s quite eye-opening how much I can relate to this book when I think back over past relationships, particularly from when I was younger. I can see why so many people have raved about this book.

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple by Jeff Guinn

I’ve wanted to read this book for a really long time so when I realised I had a spare Audible credit this week I decided to buy it and I started listening right away. It’s a long audio book so it’ll take me a little while to read it but I’m finding it fascinating. I’m so glad I finally picked this one up!

The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 by Anthony Summers

I’ve been reading this book on and off for a couple of months now but I’m really in the mood for non-fiction at the moment so am going to try and focus on this book over the coming week or so.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown

I love Isabel Ashdown’s novels so have been eagerly anticipating this new book. I picked it up yesterday and read it in one sitting! I really did love this book and will be posting a full review as soon as I can. In the meantime I highly recommend it!

Minimalism: Live A Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Milburn

As some of you will know I’m obsessed with de-cluttering books and while I now seem to have my clutter under control (see my post on how the KonMari method changed my life) I can’t resist books on the subject. So I was really looking forward to reading this book but I have to be honest and say it was such a disappointment. It was all about health and relationships, with a huge amount of repetition about the writer’s own life. I did finish the book but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for a book about minimalism itself.

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

I read PS I Love You when it was first published so have been eagerly anticipating this sequel ever since it was announced. I have to say that I loved this book, it was everything I hoped for and more. It made me smile, it made me sob and I adored it. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

The Honeymoon by Rona Halsall

I had an ARC of this book but when I spotted it on Scribd I decided to listen to the book. I’m really glad I did as the audio was an enjoyable listen.

Chase Your Shadow: The Trials of Oscar Pistorius by John Carlin

I finally picked this book back up this week and finished reading it. I was shocked when marking as read on GoodReads to discover that I initially began reading it in November last year! I’m not sure why I put it down because it was such an interesting book following the trial of Oscar Pistorius but also looking at his childhood and his disability. There is also a wider look at how the law works in South Africa, which I found fascinating. I would recommend this book and am so glad I finally read it.

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

This is a beautiful slow novel that I really enjoyed. I’ve already written a mini review of this which will appear on my blog this week.

I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice

I’ve wanted to read this book ever since last year when I read the book Ruth’s husband Simon wrote. This is Ruth’s story as she explores her emotions around her husband’s Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis and how it changed their lives. She takes up swimming with a group of women in similar circumstances and this helps her to cope. I didn’t connect with this book as much as I hoped to but I did enjoyed it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

As I continue to try and catch up on my review books before the end of the year The Dangerous Kind is going to be my next read. I’m really looking forward to reading this book and think it will be one I devour!

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

This is another review book that I’m been keen to get to. I think this will be a slower read and I’m looking forward to that.

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

I’ve been so excited to get to this book and now I’m focusing predominantly on review books I’m going to make this book a priority for the coming days. I can’t wait to start it!

 

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

Non-Fiction Mini Reviews: Forgiveness is Really Strange, Hard Pushed, Ask Me His Name, How To Treat People, and What Dementia Teaches Us About Love!

MINI REVIEWS 24 SEP.png

Today I’m continuing with my series of mini reviews and am sharing my thoughts on a selection of non-fiction books that I’ve read over the summer.

 

31702463

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor and Marina Cantacuzino (Illustrated by Sophie Standing)

This is a short graphic non-fiction book that is such an incredible read. I’ve read it twice now and each time it has given me something that I needed from it. It explores the idea of forgiveness in a way I haven’t seen before – I think the short paragraphs and the beautiful illustrations really made me think and ponder. It left me with a sense that forgiving yourself is just as important as forgiving others. I recommend this book to everyone but in particular for people who have experience trauma at the hands of another and needs an easy to grasp book that can help with understanding the nature of forgiveness.

 

43310767

Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard

This is a book by a midwife about being a midwife in an NHS hospital and it was such an interesting and insightful read. You get such a real sense of how it is to work in hospitals, how much is expected and how short-staffed they are. What I loved about this book is the way Leah Hazard really made me feel like I was seeing her work life through her eyes. Midwives are often present for a part of someone’s story but never get to see how it turned out, and so some of the stories in this book don’t have a patient’s full story. I thought this might be frustrating but it wasn’t, I was just so in the moment with the midwife. This is a really good read and I recommend it.

40890924._SY475_

Ask Me His Name by Elle Wright

This book is incredibly moving. Elle Wright has written so openly and honestly about her experience of being pregnant and then giving birth to her beautiful baby boy, Teddy, who only lived for three days. Initially I wasn’t sure this book was for me as the writing style was very chatty but once I got into the first chapter I was engrossed in Elle’s story. I can’t even imagine what it is to go through what she has. I’ve experienced miscarriage and knowing I won’t ever have a child but that is incomparable to what Elle and her husband have been through. I loved how honest she is about how she felt along the way and also how she gives such straightforward advice on what to say if someone you love is going through the loss of a baby. I also love the way she honours Teddy and continues to encourage others to speak to her about him. I have such admiration for her. This is such a moving book to read but I’m glad I read it and I recommend it.

 

44904234._SY475_

How To Treat People by Molly Case

This book is different to what I was expecting – it’s part memoir and part science. Molly Case talks about her own life, and her work life as a nurse but interspersed with those chapters are more scientific chapters about particular medical issues or the history of a condition. I have to be honest and say that while I appreciated this book it just wasn’t fully for me. I do recommend it though because it is well written and very interesting.

cover161815-medium

What Dementia Teaches Us About Love by Nicci Gerrard

This book is such a stunning and heart-breaking read but one that everyone should pick up and read. Nicci Gerrard takes us through the stages of her father’s dementia – from the early stages right through to death. She is so honest about his symptoms and how it affected her and the rest of their family. We need to talk about about these things and this book is such a brilliant opening to starting this discussion with your own family.  I lost my mum to cancer but part of that was a brain tumour that caused her to lose who she was and who I was so I have some sense of what it must be like to have a loved one with dementia. It’s so hard to lose someone in slow motion. I remember as a child my mum had an elderly aunt who had dementia and how distressed she found it every time she visited. This was in a time when no one really talked about it and that just always makes it worse when you can’t talk and don’t know anyone else who’s experienced it. This is why we need books like this. There are facts and figures about dementia throughout the book, as well as stories from other sufferers and their families. It’s all woven together in such a way that even though it’s harrowing to think about you just don’t want to put the book down. I highly recommend this one.

Thriller Mini Reviews: Do Not Disturb, On My Life, I Know You Know, and A Nearly Normal Family!

MINI REVIEWS 23 SEP

As I said in my mini reviews blog post yesterday I’m on a mission to catch up with reviewing all of the ARCS I’ve read over the summer so here are four more!

38470246._SY475_

Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas

I’ve read a couple of Claire Douglas books this year and I really do love her writing. Do Not Disturb follows a family who have bought a run down guest house in Wales and decide to do it up and re-open. The locals aren’t happy and there is a sense that something bad happened in the house years before. The tension is there from the very start of this novel as the opening scene is shocking and then we go back a few weeks to find out what led up to it. In amongst all the stress of renovating Kirsty’s estranged cousin turns up with her daughter and it’s clear from the off that something has happened and that once they were close but not anymore. Whilst this isn’t my favourite novel by the author, it was still such an engrossing and fast-paced read that I just didn’t want to put down!

 

42122665

On My Life by Angela Clarke

This book was so intense and such a brilliant read! Jenna has a perfect life with her fiance but then one day she finds his teenage daughter murdered in their home and her life begins to unravel. The evidence is pointing at Jenna and she can’t explain her way out of it. The scenes when she is being taken for questioning and her seeing her jail cell for the first time were so visceral, I felt like I was right there with her. The writing really does bring you into the prison along with Jenna and it’s intense. This is such a good book though as we see how Jenna copes, alongside her fight to clear her name. I definitely recommend this book, it’s so good!

 

36461454

I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan

I Know You Know follows Cody Swift who is making a podcast looking to find out the truth behind the murders of his two best friends when they were ten years old. A man was convicted of the crime but he has died in prison and Cody is not convinced the police had the right man. We get to read the podcast transcripts but also we follow the parents of the two boys who were killed. I’ll be honest and say that I struggled a little with this book as I was reading it so I bought the audio book to listen while I was reading and that made it a much better experience for me. It’s an emotional book at times and it has its twists and turns. I do love Gilly Macmillan’s writing and I’m looking forward to reading whatever she publishes next.

44451110

A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

The premise of this novel intrigued me right away – the idea of there being a murder and then following the daughter who’s accused, her father and then her mother sounded so good. I did enjoy this book but all the way through I felt like I was being kept at a distance and couldn’t quite connect to it as much as I wanted to. That said, it is an engrossing story that makes you want to keep turning the pages to find out what happened.

Mini Reviews of Thrillers: The Child Finder, Whistle in the Dark, I Did It For Us, and The Au Pair!

MINI REVIEWS 22 SEP.png

I’ve been reading so much recently and have been focusing mainly on review books as I want to catch up as much as I can before the end of the year. I haven’t felt much like writing reviews though so as a result I now have a backlog of 45 (yes forty-five! Eeek!) reviews to write up. So I’ve decided to do a series of mini reviews otherwise I might never get these reviews posted!

34928646._SY475_

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

This is such an engrossing and atmospheric read. It follows Naomi, who is a child finder – she is called in when the police have got nowhere in their search and she takes up the reins. She’s trying to find a child called Madison and is sure she is alive, and as the search goes on Naomi feels an increasing connection to the missing girl. This book was on my TBR for way longer than it should have been but once I finally picked it up I couldn’t put it down. It’s such a brilliant novel and one I won’t forget!

36375049._SY475_

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

This is one of those books where I expected it to be one thing and it actually was different to what I thought I was going to get, but this was absolutely not a bad thing. I very much appreciated this book and I got so much more out of it than I was expecting. Jen’s teenage daughter went missing, and was found alive but she refuses to talk about where she’s been or what happened to her. This is so much more about how it feels to be clamouring around in the dark trying to understand what is going on in your teenager’s head. Lana has depression and she isn’t able to communicate how she feels with her mum. I suffered a lot when I was in my teens so could see things from Lana’s point of view, but it was really emotional for me to see it from Jen’s perspective and to have more of an insight into how frightening and heartbreaking it must be to see your child suffering in this way. This book was such a brilliant read and one that will stay with me.

35399815

I Did It For Us by Alison Bruce

I had an ARC of this book from NetGalley but I decided to buy the audio book to listen to. I really enjoyed this on audio and found it so hard to put down, I was listening every chance I had. It follows Emily whose life has fallen apart after she accused her husband’s best friend of rape. She moves away to start a new life but finds it hard to settle in her apartment. Then one day a family move in and she befriends the single mum, Joanne. She then begins to worry about Joanne’s new boyfriend and whether he is all he appears to be. Emily is an unreliable narrator and I could never completely trust what she was thinking, she seems quite paranoid at times. This kept me on my toes though and whilst I worked out some of the reveal before it happened, there were still shocks in store!

47595325._SY475_

The Au Pair by Emma Rous

This was another engrossing read! Seraphine and her twin brother Danny were only a few hours old when their mother died by suicide. Now in the present day the twins’ father has died and when Seraphine is going through his things she finds a photo of her mother with one baby. This sends her on a quest to find out which of them was the baby in the photo and what happened back then. This novel is told in alternate narratives with the other perspective being the nanny Laura who worked for the Mayes’ family before the twins were born. I did find this a compelling read and was fascinated by the story and what could possibly have happened. The ending when it comes is shocking but more than that it’s incredibly moving. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing what Emma Rous writes next!

My 20 Books of Summer Wrap-Up!

my-post

The 20 Books of Summer reading challenge has now ended and I’m so happy to say that, for the first time ever, I read all of the books on my planned TBR! Woo Hoo! I’ve always managed to read at least 20 books over the summer but I have never, ever managed to stick to my planned list. I picked 20 physical books this time so it was an even bigger challenge for me so I really am proud of myself for completing it. I didn’t get around to reviewing the books I read but I do intend to review at least some of them soon.

Before I go any further, a huge thank you to Cathy at 746 Books for running this challenge. I really do love taking part each year.

Here are the books I read over the summer (in the order I read them).

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

Still Lives by Maria Hummell

Take Me In by Sabine Durrant

Inhuman Resources by Pierre LeMaitre

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

The Word for Woman is Wilderness by Abi Andrews

Histories by Sam Guglani

We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt

A Keeper by Graham Norton

Nevermoor #1: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

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

 

I have to say that I enjoyed every single book that was on my summer TBR, which is really something! I think if I was pushed to pick my favourites I would have to say that my favourite two novels were The Goldfinch and The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, and my two favourite non-fiction books were After the Eclipse and Take Courage. It was bittersweet reading A Question of Trust with it being the final book by Penny Vincenzi but I enjoyed it so much that I now want to make time to re-read some of her other novels.

The page count for my 20 books came to 7597, which is no surprise really considering how long The Goldfinch is and A Question of Trust is pretty huge too!

The fact that this year I made time to read my planned summer TBR as well as the other books that I needed to read (books for review and blog tour books) meant I was successful at completing this TBR. I’ve never done well with TBRs – I’m one of those people that absolutely loves planning what I’m going to read, and then the minute the challenge starts I want to read everything but what’s on my list! This time I planned it better and I feel so satisfied at getting to books that had been on my TBR bookcase for quite a while. I had a couple of books on my list that I’ve put off because they felt like they might be more difficult reads (like The Word for Woman is Wilderness for example) but I found I enjoyed them so much. It reminded me that I perhaps need to make a seasonal TBR to remind me of the books that I want to read but am intimidated by.

This year’s 20 Books of Summer has been absolutely wonderful and I already can’t wait for the next one! How did your summer reading go? Did you take part in the challenge? I hope you read some amazing books. 🙂

IMG_3400

 

Review: Reunion by R. V. Biggs | @RVBiggs @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Reunion Cover Picture

About the Book

One random, violent act is enough to change Sarah Macintyre’s life forever.

Left unsettled, and yearning for a new beginning, Sarah is unsure of what to do with her life. But one day she discovers an anonymous letter hidden amidst a pile of unopened mail.

The note, however, contains nothing more than a confusing riddle.

Intrigued and excited, Sarah’s hunger for a new life compels her to search for the author to understand the puzzle and solve the mystery.

Embarking on a journey that will shape the rest of her life and that of her family, Sarah uncovers a past of which she had no knowledge, a present she must find a path through, and a future filled with intense grief and utmost joy.

 

My Thoughts

Earlier this year I read and fell in love with Song of the Robin, the first book in the Sarah McIntyre series, so I was delighted to be offered the chance to read the follow up book. Song of the Robin is one of those really special books that has made its mark on me and I’m so happy to say that I also completely and utterly adored Reunion!

Reunion picks up right after the end of Song of the Robin. Sarah is still struggling with the assault that happened in the previous book, she feels fear about it but she’s also still having strange symptoms. She feels anxious and worried but can’t seem to express to her loved ones what exactly is happening to her. Then one day she receives a strange letter in the post and this leads to Sarah uncovering some secrets and some answers!

I loved this novel, I was under its spell from the opening page until after I turned the final page. Sarah is such a great character and I constantly root for her to be well and to be happy again. I had such a connection to Song of the Robin because of the way grief is explored, it really struck a chord with me, and whilst Reunion moves on from that story the way lost loved ones are spoke of in this book was so wonderful.

This novel follows Sarah and her family for the most part but it also has short chapters from a time in the 1700s as we follow a young woman trying to survive and avenge the trauma that has been inflicted on her family. It’s not clear initially what this has to do with the main plot but it soon begins to come clear and I loved the way we get to put it all together. The atmosphere in this book is wonderful, there is such a sense of time and place, and the people are all so real and believable.

I loved seeing more of Sarah’s friendship with Rachel, they are two women who clearly have such a strong bond. Their relationship is so true to life – the way that sometimes you can’t even tell the people closest to you how you’re feeling and they can sense you holding back but you can’t break through the walls. You get to see more of Rachel in this book and to understand why she is the way she is. I wasn’t expecting the cause of her pain to be what it was but it was so believable and my heart broke for her.

There is loss and pain in this book, things that moved me to tears at times but the overriding feel is one of healing – both physically and emotionally, but it’s also about the act of healing and this is so beautiful.

I love the way the author explores fate and destiny in this book, I’m really drawn to stories about these things. I never used to believe in fate but in my own life, a few years ago, over the course of five months the very worst thing happened to me and then the very best thing happened to me. So many people have said that perhaps it was my late mum who made sure my husband arrived in my life when he did and I take so much comfort from the thought of that. Reunion looks at how the past continues to run through us and it explores how those we’ve lost are never really gone.

There is a mystery running through this book that had me utterly fascinated. I was trying to figure out what was going on along with Sarah and her family, and was utterly gripped by the way the story unfolds in this book. It’s such a great story, and told so brilliantly.

I don’t want to say too much more because future readers should read this book as I did, without knowing too much about it going into it so you get to experience the stunning journey these characters go on for yourself.

I don’t really have the words to describe how much I loved this book (and the previous one). It’s one of those times where I connected with it so much and it now means such a lot to me and I just can’t do it any kind of justice. The first book in the series made my top books of 2019 so far list back at the end of June and I can say for sure that Reunion will be on my favourite books list at the end of the year! Song of the Robin was cathartic and comforting for me, and Reunion was incredibly moving and healing. R. V. Biggs writes such stunning and special novels – I can’t wait to read whatever he publishes next. I highly recommend this series of books, they really are so different and so beautiful.

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

Reunion is out now and available here.

I’ve previously reviewed the first book in this series, Song of the Robinhere.

 

About the Author

R V Biggs Author Photo

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

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

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

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

Twitter @RVBiggs

 

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

Reunion BT Poster

Review: Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson | @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks @annecater

IMG_0030

About the Book

Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

 

My Thoughts

Blood Song is the third novel in the Roy and Castells series (the first is Block 46 and the second is Keeper) and I have to say that this is a crime/noir series that goes from strength to strength. I still find myself thinking about the first book, and now we have the third one and it is every bit as good (if not even better if that’s possible!).

Blood Song is told in two timelines: it’s predominantly set in the present where a wealthy family has been brutally murdered but we also follow a timeline in 1938 Spain where a family are taken by force during the civil war, and this leads to horrendous trauma that has repercussions down the years.

This is such a compelling and engrossing novel and I keep thinking about it. The scenes set in 1938 Spain are so real, they have left their mark on me to the point that I feel the want to learn more about what happened during the civil war. I love when I read a novel and it leads me to want to learn more detail about something and Blood Song has definitely done that. Johana Gustawsson has taken real historical events in all three novels in this series and has fictionalised them whilst leaving in the important details to give readers a very real sense of a harrowing time in history.

The brutal murder of the family of Emily Roy’s team member Aliénor was harrowing to read about. I was really disturbed by one of the murders in particular, it was all too real but never gratuitous. The detail is necessary and that becomes apparent as the novel progresses. I loved learning so much more about Aliénor in Blood Song. I feel like the previous two novels have given readers so much more understanding of Emily Roy and Alexis Castells, and as Aliénor has become an increasingly important part of the team it was great to know more about her. It was awful to learn about her in such sad circumstances but it’s given me so much more of a sense of who she is and now I just want to protect her from anything that might happen in future novels!

I loved the way the bond between Roy and Castells is strengthened in Blood Song, and the way they work together to support Aliénor and to find out who is responsible for the murder of her family.  It’s so empowering to see three strong women – who each have their flaws and difficulties but use them to solve crime, to gain insight into other people – shine through in these novels. These women are some of my favourite characters in crime/noir fiction now, and this series is right up there with my most favourite ever crime/noir series.

Blood Song is a dark, harrowing and shocking novel but also one that you just can’t (don’t want to and shouldn’t) look away from. The writing is so good, as is the brilliant translation by David Warriner. You get a real sense of the location and the languages in this novel even though it’s entirely translated into English, which is no mean feat. I loved Blood Song and I already can’t wait for the next book in the series!

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

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

 

About the Author

Johana Gustawsson

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, including Block 46, Keeper and, soon to be published, Blood Song, has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons.

 

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

FINAL BloodSongBT

Review: Truth Hurts by Rebecca Reid | @RebeccaCNReid @TransworldBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Truth Hurts Cover Image

About the Book

Poppy has a secret. 
Drew has nothing to hide.

Theirs was a whirlwind romance.

And when Drew, caught up in the moment, suggests that he and Poppy don’t tell each other anything about their past lives, that they live only for the here and now, for the future they are building together, Poppy jumps at the chance for a fresh start.

But it doesn’t take long for Poppy to see that this is a two-way deal. Drew is hiding something from her. And Poppy suddenly has no idea who the man she has married really is, or what he might be capable of.

Poppy has a secret. 
Drew has nothing to hide. 
Drew is lying.
Which is more dangerous, a secret or a lie?

 

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, I loved loved loved Rebecca Reid’s previous novel Perfect Liars but Truth Hurts is even better! I literally didn’t put this book down once I started reading it – it was just impossible to!

Truth Hurts follows Poppy who is sacked from her job as an au pair late at night and she ends up in a bar wondering what on earth she’s going to do next. She gets talking to Drew and they have such a great connection and end up going home together. Drew is a mysterious and handsome man and Poppy can’t believe how lucky she is to have met him. Their romance is a whirlwind and within a month they decide to get married. Drew then suggests that they make this the beginning and that they never talk about anything in their lives prior to when they met. Poppy has a secret that she can never tell and so she agrees.

I was on edge from the moment Poppy met Drew because he seemed too good to be true but at the same time I know what it is to meet Mr Right and to fall in love very quickly so I got swept up in their story. Alarm bells did ring when he surprises Poppy with a home he’s bought for them but I could absolutely see why Poppy didn’t hear those alarm bells.

I love the idea of a romantic relationship where one partner has a secret and the other is lying and yet they have agreed never to discuss the past. It’s such a great idea for a thriller and it made this book so different to other thrillers that I’ve read before. I tried to imagine agreeing to something like this and I just can’t but at the same time I absolutely believed in Poppy and why she agreed to it.

The house that Drew buys for them to live in was the third character in this novel (and in their marriage!) and I loved this element. I could really envisage this house and could feel all the creepy things that Poppy could sense. It’s not a haunted house story but the house is definitely metaphorically haunted by what happened there before Poppy and Drew moved in. It’s a creaky old house – it’s draughty, dark and dingy and for Poppy who is home alone a lot it begins to play on her mind that there is something sinister about it.

The truths in this book were shocking when they were revealed, I genuinely didn’t guess the secret or the lie. It’s so rare for a novel to keep me guessing until all is revealed so kudos to this one for that! I love how we get little bits of the past throughout the novel, which just heightens the tension and teases the possibilities of what might have happened.

Truth Hurts is a novel that had me literally on the edge of my seat and I just had to keep reading one more chapter (and one more until I was turning the final page very late at night!). I absolutely loved this book – it’s a real page turner and genuinely thrilling! Rebecca Reid is right up there now with my favourite thriller authors and I already can’t wait to read whatever she writes next! I highly recommend this one, it’s brilliant!

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

Truth Hurts is out now in ebook and is due to be published in paperback on 23 January 2020 and is available here.

 

About the Author

Rebecca Reid Author Pic

Rebecca is a freelance journalist. She is a columnist for the Telegraph Women’s section, works for Metro Online and has written for Marie Claire, the Guardian, the Saturday Telegraph, the Independent, Stylist, Glamour, the iPaper, the Guardian, Indy100, LOOK and the New Statesmen amongst others.

Rebecca is a regular contributor to Sky News and ITV’s This Morning as well as appearing on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, LBC, BBC News 24 and the BBC World Service to discuss her work.

She graduated from Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing MA in 2015 and Perfect Liars is her debut novel.

Rebecca lives in North London with her husband.

 

 

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

Truth Hurts BT Poster

Review: Shelf Life by Livia Franchini | @LivFranchini @DoubledayUK @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Shelf Life Cover

About the Book

Ruth is thirty years old. She works as a nurse in a care home and her fiancé has just broken up with her. The only thing she has left of him is their shopping list for the upcoming week.

And so she uses that list to tell her story. Starting with six eggs, and working through spaghetti and strawberries, and apples and tea bags, Ruth discovers that her identity has been crafted from the people she serves; her patients, her friends, and, most of all, her partner of ten years. Without him, she needs to find out – with conditioner and single cream and a lot of sugar – who she is when she stands alone.

 

My Thoughts

Shelf Life is a fascinating novel that follows Ruth who is coming to terms with her fiance breaking up with her. She finds a shopping list that is the only thing left of him in their home and the novel then is told in chapters headed by each item on the list.

I loved this book. I found it was quite a meandering novel and it begged to be read slowly. I’m naturally a fast reader but I really enjoyed the fact that this book made me slow down, it made me want to take it all in and to take time to ponder what I had read.

Ruth is blindsided by her fiance deciding to end their long term relationship. She is mid-way through washing up when Neil announces that it’s over. I really felt for Ruth, I know what it’s like to have to re-evaluate life after a break up as it happened to me at the same age. It’s like a rug has been pulled from under you and suddenly you’re not sure who you are anymore, or how you relate to other people in your life.

Shelf Life is predominantly told from Ruth’s perspective but we get the occasional chapter from Neil. It’s interesting to see how Ruth feels about herself and her life, and how she related herself to Neil. Neil’s chapters are increasingly uncomfortable to read though as you get a slow realisation that he’s not the man Ruth thought he was. He inserts himself into women’s lives and seems to become the man they think they need.

There is also an occasional chapter from Alanna. This is a girl that Ruth was at school with, and later at nursing college. They then end up working together at the same care home. I found Alanna a character that I couldn’t quite work out. I got the feeling that she had been quite antagonistic through school, perhaps being part of the popular gang that Ruth was on the outside of. She seems to care about Ruth now they’re adults but I was on edge reading her perspective as I felt sure she was setting Ruth up for something. As time went on I came to quite like her but I never one hundred per cent felt sure of her. I loved this aspect of the novel though because that’s how it is in life, you can never be sure of another person’s motives even if you have known them a long time and especially if they’ve always just been on the edge of your life.

Shelf Life really captures life, and it does it in all its glory – there is humour and heartbreak all mixed in together. There are some moments in this novel that made me cringe because the descriptions are so real, and we’ve all been there, but that’s the beauty of this novel. It takes a great writer to really capture how life is and Livia Franchini is an incredible writer!

Shelf Life is a novel that I very much enjoyed as I was reading it and I’ve found that my love for it has grown even more since I finished it. I find myself thinking about it, and about Ruth, and relating it to my own life and it just won’t let go of me. It really is a novel that has so much depth and so many layers to it, some that only become apparent when you give yourself the space to ponder on it. I adored this book and I highly recommend it!

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

Shelf Life is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Livia Franchini Author Picture

 

Livia Franchini is a writer and translator from Tuscany, Italy, whose work has been published in numerous publications and anthologies. She has translated Michael Donaghy, Sam Riviere and James Tiptree Jr. among many others. In 2018, she was one of the inaugural writers-in-residence for the Connecting Emerging Literary Artist project, funded by Creative Europe. She lives in London, where she is completing a PhD in experimental women’s writing at Goldsmiths.

 

 

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

Shelf Life BT Poster

Review: Meditation for Children by Shelley Wilson | @ShelleyWilson72 @BHCPressBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Meditation For Children Cover

About the Book

Author and meditation tutor Shelley Wilson takes you on a magical journey to a calm and happy place that you and your child will love.

Children of all ages can learn and enjoy the benefits of meditation.

Designed to help access creative abilities through relaxation and imagination, these stories help develop the necessary tools needed at a young age for lifelong healthy habits of managing stress and anxiety while also improving learning skills.

Meditation for Children is a simple way to introduce children to mindfulness through guided visualization. Includes a handy reference guide and instructions.

 

My Thoughts

Meditation for Children is a wonderful book that parents can share with their children to help them relax and come to enjoy meditation as part of their everyday lives.

I don’t have children but I am someone who very much enjoys mindfulness and mediation so I was fascinated to read this book.

I very much enjoyed reading Meditation for Children, it’s a lovely book and I loved the way Shelley Wilson has made it a wonderful story book that can be enjoyed as such but has left space to imagine and to take some breaths to relax and to slow down. I can absolutely see how this is the perfect way to introduce a younger child to the idea of meditating, which as they grow can be such a great tool to help them cope with the stresses that go with growing up, going through school etc.

The book opens with a how to guide that explains how meditation can be helpful and also suggests ways to use the book and how to incorporate meditating into your and your child’s lives. There are then ten very short stories (that each take under 5 minutes to read aloud) that are fabulous and really help you visualise the world being described. Each story is accompanied with gorgeous illustrations that are vivid and bright and really give a sense of the world you’re about to travel in to. They all follow a similar idea of closing your eyes, slowly breathing in and out and then imagining the story that is being read to you. This is great as it will help a child know that this is a special story and as they grow older they will understand how to use the tools that meditation gives us – being able to relax and unwind.

I very much enjoyed this book and love how it makes coming to meditation easy for children but it’s clearly been properly researched and will definitely create a helpful skill that a child can use throughout their life. I can see echoes of how I was taught to meditate as an adult, and how I use it in my life now so it’s absolutely going to be a fantastic resource for children and their parents. Meditation for Children is a book that I wish I had when I was a child. Knowing how much meditation helps me in my every day life now I feel sure it would have been just as beneficial when I was younger. I highly recommend this book if you have young children in your life, it really is an invaluable book for helping your child to relax and find inner calm.

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

Meditation for Children is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Shelley Wilson Author Picture

 

Shelley Wilson is an award-winning motivational blogger, speaker, meditation tutor, Reiki master, and author. Her multi-award winning motivational and personal development blog has received several awards and has been named a Top 10 UK Personal Development Blog. She resides in Solihull, West Midlands, UK, where she lives with her three teenagers.

 

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

FINAL FINAL Meditation for Children BT Poster

Review: Head Shot Victoria Nixon | @VictoriaNixon_ @annecater @Unbounders #RandomThingsTours

51VWJQOzfrL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_

About the Book

A girl from a Yorkshire mining town is barely thirteen when her father kills himself – her brother finds him dying. At sixteen she’s spotted by a rock star and becomes an international Vogue model. Seven years later her brother kills himself in her New York apartment and her mother dies too. With no family left, her life is now one of extreme choices. Fifty years later, Victoria confronts her past and takes her readers on an unflinching voyage through her experiences as a model and beyond. Speaking frankly about loss, love, friendship and ambition, Head Shot is a book of inspiration and purpose. Packed with astonishing images by the photographers Victoria worked with, and the defiant fashions she wore throughout her career, it also bears witness to a time of unparalleled cultural energy and invention; it’s a story in which bags and shoes can, and do, sit right next to life and death.

 

My Thoughts

Head Shot is an incredible memoir; Victoria Nixon so honestly and openly looks back on her life and career. I finished reading this book a few days ago now and am still trying to find the words for this review.

My main reason for wanting to read this book was because the Victoria Nixon lost her mum at a similar age that I was when I lost my mum and I find myself drawn to books where people explore how they cope with losing their mother whilst in their 20s. The book that I got gave me what I was expecting but so much more besides.

Victoria Nixon takes us through how she came to be a model, you get to hear of the photographers she has worked with and other models she has got to know. I loved hearing about the stars of the day that she came into contact with – such as Brian Eno! There is no name-dropping in this book, all the stories Victoria shares feel a real part of her life story and so come up in an organic way. She never seemed to be affected by the showbiz life but seemed to just be enjoying her life and working hard to be a success.

It was heartbreaking to read of her father’s death when she was only a young teenager. I can’t imagine the pain of that and how it affects a person. Victoria shares her emotions and how it led to her life becoming what it did. I very much appreciated how sensitively and honestly she looks back at her father’s death, you can see how much she loved him. Sadly for Victoria she also lost her brother to suicide when she was in her 20s. This was an incredibly moving part of the book to read. The struggles Nick had had and the way his family had tried so hard to help him were very moving to read about. Victoria doesn’t shy away from discussing mental health in her book, she clearly cares very deeply about the subject.

The loss of her mother also when she was in her 20s was a shock for her and it changed how she felt about her life. I can really identify with this. I think when you’re very close to a parent and you lose them when you’re at a stage in life of being independent but also knowing that you can always go home if you need to, it’s very hard. I have such admiration for how Victoria dealt with her grief, and how she coped with all the pain life has thrown at her. She doesn’t dwell, she reflects on things but she always knew she had to pick herself up and keep going. I found her such an inspiring person to read about.

I very much enjoyed learning about the modelling industry in the 60s and 70s. I’m not really into fashion but it was fascinating to read about what it was like to be a model, and to hear about the not-so-glamourous side of things. Nixon is clearly a very driven and determined woman and she continued to push through during the difficult times. There are lighter moments throughout the book too, moments that will make you giggle and some stories that might make you raise an eyebrow.

There are photos throughout this book and I loved seeing them. They relate to stories Nixon has shared and it really brought the book to life. I love hearing the back story to an image and so this was a joy to have in this book.

Head Shot is such an incredible memoir! It’s a stunning and candid look back at a life that will leave you feeling inspired. Victoria Nixon’s passion and determination shines through and I’m so glad I got to read about her life. I loved this book so much, it’s one of the best memoirs I’ve read! I very highly recommend this!

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

Head Shot is out now in hardback and available here. The ebook is due for release on 15 August and can be pre-ordered at the same link.

 

About the Author

Victoria-Nixon-Author-pic

Victoria Nixon was eighteen when she was discovered by Helmut Newton, who photographed her for Vogue . This launched her international modelling career, which led to her being named the Daily Mail ’s ‘Face of 1968’.

After modelling, she went on to become an award-winning advertising copywriter, television producer and magazine editor. In the 1990s she opened the first deli in the UK to ban plastic packaging, and in 2002 her first book, ‘Supermodels’ Beauty Secrets‘ , was published, followed by ‘Supermodels’ Diet Secrets‘ in 2004. She is cofounder and managing director of a company which designs and manufactures humanitarian aid products used worldwide

Links-http://www.victorianixon.com/

Twitter @VictoriaNixon_

 

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

Head Shot BT Poster (1)

Review: Gone by Leona Deakin | @LeonaDeakin1 @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Outlook-refs2ytu

About the Book

Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?

 

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist this book when I read the blurb, it sounded so intriguing and I’m so glad I picked it up! Gone is a novel about four strangers who have all disappeared after receiving a card asking them if they dare to play. Psychologist Dr Augusta Bloom and ex detective Marcus Jameson are tasked with looking into one of the missing people and find that things are more serious and involved than they ever could have imagined!

Gone is such a good psychological thriller and is something a bit different. I loved following Augusta and getting her psychological insights into what might be going on. I was also really intrigued as we meet some of the families of the missing people. I couldn’t work out what they could possibly have in common so felt like I was tailing the investigation and trying to figure it all out.

I loved how prescient this novel is with the way it looks at how the game these strangers were invited to play might have been set up. It explores the idea of how people can use quizzes on social media that people fill in to find out what cartoon character they’d be (for example) can be put together with other easily discovered info on the same sites to see who would be a perfect target for this game. I’ve always been really suspicious of quizzes on FB and this book proves I’m right to be! I’m definitely not going near them now!

I loved the exploration of who the type of person behind the game might be, and also who the people who were invited to play the game were underneath. I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and this book is so much about what makes a person tick, what makes someone do the things they do. It was brilliant to see psychological ideas applied to the missing people and then as the book went on to wonder about those traits in other characters. It made for such a good read!

It turns out that nothing is quite as it seems in this novel and there is so much more underneath the surface than you see at first. I found it quite a slow-burn to begin with but this was perfect because it allowed me to be curious about what was going on before I was pulled right in to a novel that becomes an unputdownable rollercoaster of a read!

This was such a fascinating psychological thriller and I very much enjoyed it! I’m already looking forward to reading more from Leona Deakin (and also hoping we might get more about Dr Augusta Bloom in the future…!). I recommend this one!

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

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

 

 

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

Gone BT Poster

WWW Wednesdays (31 Jul 2019)! 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:

Gone by Leona Deakin

I was delighted to receive an ARC of this book as it sounded so intriguing and I’m happy to say that I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s about people who have gone missing after receiving birthday cards with a code to enter a game!

The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers 

I bought this book a few days ago and immediately started reading it after rating another book by this author earlier this week. It’s a detailed account of 9/11 and whilst hard to read in places it’s really interesting to have insight into the wider picture of what led up to it and how the security services investigated it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd

I just finished reading this last night and it was such a good book. I found it really fascinating to learn what is involved for a forensic pathologist. I also appreciated the author’s honesty about how the work has affected him.

Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland

I also finished listening to this audio book yesterday and really enjoyed this one. It was different to what I was expecting but so engaging and hard to put down. I’ll be reviewing this one soon for the blog tour.

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

This was such a fun thriller read! I was gripped from start to finish so recommend it!

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

I read this book in one sitting and very much enjoyed it. I do love Shari Lapena’s writing, she never lets me down! I’ll be reviewing this one for the blog tour in a few days time so please look out for that post if you want to know more.

The Back Road by Rachel Abbott

I’ve had a few of this author’s books on my TBR for ages so after enjoying the first book in this series late last year I was keen to get to the next one. This book was even better and I can’t wait to carry on with the series!

Looking for Madeleine by Anthony Summers

I bought this book after watching the recent Netflix series about the case. I ended up listening to the audio book from my library and found it such an interesting book. It gave me a different perspective to the case than I previously had.

A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

I had an ARC of this but listened to the audio book instead. I enjoyed this one but felt a little too distanced from the characters so didn’t feel as invested as I might have done. It was an interesting story though and I did find it really hard to put down.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

I really enjoyed this one and am so glad that I finally got to read it as part of 20 Books of Summer.

 

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

I was thrilled to receive an ARC of this a while ago and have put it on my 20 Books of Summer list so really want to get to this one in the coming week if I can.

The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason

This is another ARC that feels like it should be read over the summer so I’d like to get to this one this week too.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

I’ve been so keen to read this one so am hoping I get a chance to start it this week.

Those People by Louise Candlish

I love this author’s writing so am also hoping to get to this one too!

 

 


 

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

Review: The Closer I Get by Paul Burston | @OrendaBooks @PaulBurston @annecater

43080856._SY475_

About the Book

Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

 

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, this book! I knew I was going to love The Closer I Get as soon as I read the blurb but it was even better than I was expecting it to be!

Tom Hunter is a successful author but he’s struggling with the mounting pressure of writing his next novel in large part due to the stress of a woman who just won’t leave him alone. Evie is a huge fan of Tom’s work, she got to meet him once at a book signing and felt they had a real connection. It’s a thrill when he follows her back on social media and she believes this means something. Evie doesn’t have an easy life, she’s back living with her dad who isn’t well so when she’s hit with a restraining order her life begins to unravel.

This book is brilliant! It’s such a prescient novel – definitely one for our times! Most of us use social media and we’re used to people following us on these networks and often we follow people back but we don’t pay a whole lot of attention to who any of these people are. We assume they’re just like us. I mainly use twitter to share posts but I also use it to chat to friends and connect with people. I even met my husband on twitter so it is possible to make genuine mutual connections on there.

However, I also know what it is to have a stalker and it is utterly terrifying. My experience was pre-social media so it’s different to what happens in this book but the feeling of having someone turn up everywhere you go, someone who sits outside your house is so frightening. The feeling that you might be being watched never fully leaves you even when the situation is completely over. This has made me much more wary of social media, and forming friendships, even though I’ve used it for over ten years now.  Paul Burston has shared his experiences of being stalked in an article in The Guardian recently and how this inspired him to write this novel, I recommend reading that when you have a few minutes to spare.

Anyway, back to The Closer I get... This novel is told in alternating chapters from Tom and Evie and I loved that. It meant that I would read one chapter and think one thing and then read the other person’s perspective and could see their side too. The novel blurs the lines somewhat so that although Evie is clearly stalking Tom, the background to this leaves you with much to question and think about. This isn’t always a black and white story, it really shows the shades of grey.  It was fascinating, and unnerving, to be in Evie’s mind and to see how she viewed things along the way.

We also get to meet Tom’s best friend Emma, and their relationship was also fascinating to read about. Emma seems devoted to Tom, she is always there for him and it seemed that she might be in love with him. It is just friendship to Tom though but as the novel progresses it becomes apparent that he takes advantage of her good nature more than is fair. These parts of the book make Tom a much more rounded character but a whole lot less likeable!

I have to say that neither Tom nor Evie are particularly likeable in this novel but there are moments in each of their stories where you feel absolute sympathy for them, and moments where you question what it is you previously thought. It’s such a compelling novel with so many fascinating elements to it, this really is an incredible read!

The Closer I Get has tension right from the start, and it gets more and more tense as you read each chapter. You know it’s building to something but I defy you to predict what’s coming because every time I thought I had it worked out the rug was pulled from under me yet again! By the final pages of this novel I was literally on the edge of my seat. The denouement when it comes is shocking, and one I won’t ever forget!

The Closer I Get is such a clever thriller; it’s a true psychological thriller and it really makes you think. It’s a novel that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it. I already can’t wait to read more by Paul Burston, I’ll definitely be first in line to buy whatever he writes next!

PS. I will add a quick warning here – don’t start this book late at night if you have to be up early the next day because once you start reading you won’t be able to put this down until you’ve turned the final page! It’s a real sleep stealer (but totally worth it!)!

Many thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my digital copy of this book and the invitation to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

The Closer I Get is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Paul Burston Author Photo

Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel ‘The Black Path’, was longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2016 and was a bestseller at WH Smith. His first novel, ‘Shameless’, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, ‘Lovers & Losers’ was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, ‘The Gay Divorcee’, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including The GuardianThe IndependentTime OutThe Times and The Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing.

 

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

closer I get blog poster 2019

WWW Wednesdays (24 Jul 2019)! 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:

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

This is the eighth book from my 20 Books of Summer choices and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve had this book on my TBR for about three years so am glad to get to it and am so happy that it’s living up to my hopes for it.

Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd

I treated myself to a copy of this last week as I keep seeing great reviews for it and am fascinated by it. It’s a really interesting book.

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey

This book is so good! I was gripped by it from the opening pages and it’s a book I read in just two sittings. I’ll be reviewing this one very soon,

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

This is another great read, one that I also read in two sittings (and only because I started it late at night and had to sleep!). I’m reviewing this one tomorrow for the blog tour so please look out for my post.

Looker by Laura Sims

This is such a brilliant novel about a woman’s obsession with her neighbour. I really did love this one. My full review is here if you’d like to know more.

The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond

I really enjoyed this book, it was a perfect thriller for the summer and I recommend it. My review is already posted so you can find my thoughts here if you want to know more.

A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi

This was the seventh book from my TBR for the 20 Books of Summer and I adored it. I love getting completely lost in a Penny Vincenzi novel and am sad this is the last one. I now want to make time to re-read all her other books!

 

What I plan on reading next:

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

I’ve been so eagerly anticipating reading this novel as I love Shari Lapena’s writing so I plan on getting to this on in the coming days!

Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland

I’m on the blog tour for the audio book of this one and I’m keen to read it soon so hopefully I can get to it this week.

What You Did by Claire McGowan

I’ve seen some fab reviews of this book so when I found it was in the Kindle First selection for this month I grabbed it and really want to read it soon!

Stop At Nothing by Tammy Cohen

I’ve got an ARC of this book on my Kindle and I’m so keen to read it. Fingers crossed I get to it in the next few days!

 


 

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

Review: Looker by Laura Sims | @ljsims50 @annecater #RandomThingsTours

42094400._SY475_

About the Book

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn’t have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan’s old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn’t even like.

The Actress lives a few doors down. She’s famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She’s got children – a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night.

There’s no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasizing about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?

 

My Thoughts

Looker is an incisive portrayal of a woman who becomes fixated on an actress who lives across the street from her. She sees in her everything she needs to make herself happy and she wants to be closer to that life!

I loved this book from the very beginning. I really enjoy books where we’re in the protagonist’s head for the duration of the novel. The Professor was successful at work, she was married to a man she loved and they were trying for a baby. She was on the cusp of having everything she wanted but then she miscarries and her fertility journey becomes fraught and heartbreaking. She closes herself off and then her husband leaves her. The book begins at this point but we get bits of her back story as we start to fill in the pieces to really get who this person is.

She obsesses over the actress. She watches her, she watches her home and she sometimes drifts off into fantasies about what might happen if she met her or her husband. The actress leaves unwanted things outside her house and the Professor squirrels these things away into the empty spare room of her apartment.

I began to feel that perhaps the Professor’s obsession with filling up her spare room was really her trying to fill her very empty life, and perhaps her empty uterus. She clearly has psychological problems, and really who wouldn’t after all the pain and heartbreak she has endured. The obsession with the actress is taking things to another level though and yet I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She’s clearly lonely and has fixated on the actress as she believes she has a perfect, happy life. The Professor isn’t a particularly likeable character but she’s sympathetic at the same time. I very much appreciated that Laura Sims doesn’t go down a predictable route of the bitter woman who can’t get pregnant, instead it’s an incredible exploration of what happens when everything you wanted is slowly stripped from you and you’re left with no one and nothing left to lose.

Looker is a novel that creeps up on you. I was enthralled from the start but I gradually felt more and more uneasy about how the protagonist was behaving to the point that I was completely on edge because you just know something is going to happen. You can’t work out what or when or where but you know it’s coming. I thought when I picked up this book that it was going to go a particular way and I was so glad that it didn’t, instead Laura Sims keeps you wondering and that makes it so much more unnerving than if the Professor behaved in the way you believed she would!

This isn’t a full-on fast-paced psychological thriller and yet it’s a book that’s to be devoured in one sitting. It’s a psychological study of a character and the thriller element is knowing that she may only have developed her obsessive nature because of what she’s been through, and that means she could easily be you or someone you know!

I have to mention how perfect the title of this book is. It obviously refers to the protagonist and her obsessive watching of the actress, but the more of the novel I read the most I began to get a sense that I was the looker, that I was also intruding into the professor’s life and wanting to know more and more about her. It’s an uncomfortable realisation to suddenly feel for a moment that you might just understand the obsession, the wanting and needing to know about someone else’s life!

Looker is a brilliant, incisive and disturbing psychological novel and I loved it! I couldn’t put it down, and even now I’ve finished reading I keep thinking about it. I already want to go back and read it all again. I highly recommend this one!

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

Looker is out now in ebook and available here. It’s due to be published in paperback on 25th July and can be pre-ordered at the same link.

 

About the Author

Laura Sims Author Picture

Laura Sims is the author of four books of poetry, and LOOKER is her debut novel. She lives in Brooklyn.

 

 

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

Looker BT Poster

Review: The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond | @drummondella1 @HeraBooks @BOTBSPublicity

46293588

About the Book

One hot summer, Dee disappeared. Now she’s back…but she’s not the girl you knew.

Sera and Dee were the best of friends.

Until the day that Dee and her brother Leo vanished from Sera’s life, during a long hot summer fifteen years ago.

Now Sera is an adult, with her own child, five-year-old Katie, and has returned to her childhood home after her husband’s death.

While she grieves, the past haunts Sera at every turn … and then Dee and Leo return to their small Hampshire village, along with Dee’s young daughter.

But Dee is silent and haunted by her demons; no longer the fun-loving girl that Sera loved. And when Sera uncovers the shocking secret that Dee is hiding, it’s clear that the girl she knew is long gone – and that the adult she has grown into might put all of them in danger…

 

My Thoughts

I have to start by saying that I loved Ella Drummond’s previous novel My Last Lie and The Darkest Summer is even better! I could not put it down!

The Darkest Summer follows Sera as she’s trying to rebuild her life after her husband’s death. She’s living with her mother and five-year-old daughter in her childhood home and can’t help but think back to years gone by and her best friend Dee whose family disappeared suddenly one summer day. Then one day she thinks she spots Dee’s brother in the street and her life is about to be turned upside down all over again.

I was gripped from the very start of this book and I just didn’t want to put it down for a second. It’s one of those books where you say just one more chapter, then one more, and one more and before you know it you’re turning the last page and it’s way past your bedtime!

The Darkest Summer is mainly set in the present day but it also flashes back to fifteen years ago in the lead up to when Dee and her family disappear. We also get a few chapters from the early 1980s following Sera’s mum, Mimi. I loved this way of telling the story as I was equally invested in all three timelines and this kept me flying through the pages as I wanted to know how the past fitted with the present and where Dee’s family had gone, and why they left without trace!

I love books that explore female friendship, it’s endlessly fascinating for me to read books like this. I really enjoyed seeing Dee and Sera as girls on the cusp of being teenagers where they still loved running wild and swimming in the lake, but were also becoming aware of their own bodies and the power they might possess. It was really interesting to see how they related to each other on meeting up again years later, and how different it can be to how you imagined it might. It was the same seeing Sera’s mum when she was a young adult finding her feet in London and trying to make it as an actress. Her friendship back then gave her an unbreakable bond to someone because of what happened but still life pulled them apart, and yet not quite! The women were so believable in this book and I keep thinking of them all, especially Sera, and wondering how she is.

I loved the setting of this book, and the way the heat of the summer emanated from the pages. I could envision it all so clearly as if I’d been there. Ella Drummond really is a great writer who writes such beautiful, evocative paragraphs. She brings her books to life and it makes them so memorable.

I was curious by what might have happened to Dee and her family, and was shocked when we finally find out. I had worked out elements of it but I couldn’t put it all together to figure it out fully. I was also intrigued by what Mimi’s story from years earlier had to do with the present day and didn’t figure that out either. I love when a novel keeps me guessing, it’s a rare thing for a book to do that but this one did!

The Darkest Summer is the perfect summer thriller read! It’s gripping, mysterious and it will keep you up way past your bedtime! I loved it and highly recommend it!

Many thanks to the Hera Books for my copy of this book and to Sarah of Books on the Bright Side Publicity for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Darkest Summer is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

51eAYEJhOCL._UX250_

Ella Drummond recently signed a two-book deal with Hera Books. Her first psychological thriller, My Last Lie will be published in February 2019 and is available for pre-order now.
She lives with her husband on the island of Jersey and you can follow her on Twitter @drummondella1 and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllaDrummondWrites/

 

 

 

 

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

BLOG TOUR (1)

Review: The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds | @AmandaReynoldsJ @Wildfirebks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

44075151

About the Book

Every marriage has its problems.
But would Julia Blake really have just walked out of hers, leaving no trace?

Max Blake knows more about his wife’s disappearance than he’s letting on.
That’s what the police think anyway. But with no body, the case is growing cold…

One young journalist thinks she can find out the truth.
But the more time she spends with Max at the couple’s remote estate, the higher the risk to her own safety. And whatever happened to Julia Blake may be her fate next…

 

My Thoughts

The Hidden Wife is such a good book! Seren is a junior reporter for a local newspaper and she’s just been given her first big story. She’s been tasked to interview famous novelist Max Blake, who’s wife Julia has been missing for months. So far he’s refused all interview requests by the media so this is a big deal for Seren and could make her career!

I was intrigued from the very beginning of this book as it opens just a few hours after Julia has been reported missing and we don’t know what’s happened to her. The novel then moves forward a few months and Seren is given the assignment to interview Julia’s husband Max. Max is a famous author and has so far resisted talking about Julia in the media so Seren is thrilled, and a little apprehensive, to be given such a job! There is something of a connection between Max and Seren as she knows what it’s like to lose a loved one and not have all the answers. I was curious as to whether Max knew this and would play on it for his own advantage as he seemed a very clever man.

The Hidden Wife kept me on my toes throughout. There are moments where I thought I had the mystery cracked but then something else would happen and I would be questioning everything all over again. The novel is a slow-burn to begin with. You really get to know Seren, which I loved as it meant I was with her all the way as she gradually starts to try to learn more about Max. There is a point in the novel though where it becomes utterly compelling and from there on I just couldn’t put it down!

The further I got into this novel the more it became apparent how everyone has a face they wear for others. It’s easy to think Max is slick and clearly hiding something but we don’t know for sure that he harmed his wife, we just presume he has. Seren has some real sadness in her life and she seems to keep people at something of a distance, even the people she’s closer to. Even the housekeeper seems besotted with Max and suspicious, even a little antagonistic towards Seren but there is more to her and I enjoyed finding out what was behind her facade.

I got Rebecca vibes from some elements of this book – the missing wife Julia, who we only really see through her husband’s, and occasionally the housekeeper’s, eyes. The somewhat naive junior reporter Seren who feels a little anxious around Max but is drawn to him at the same time. And Max, the enigmatic husband – did he harm his wife? Does he know where she is? I loved that there was a sense of Rebecca in the novel whilst at the same time it is absolutely its own story.

I very much enjoyed The Hidden Wife and have found since I finished reading it that I keep thinking about it. I definitely recommend putting it on your summer holiday reading plans if you like gripping, thrilling and hard to put down novels!

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

The Hidden Wife is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Amanda Reynolds Author Pic

Photo credit: David Churchill Photography

Amanda Reynolds lives in the Cotswolds with her family where she writes full-time. Her debut novel, Close To Me, is a #1 e-book best- seller. The Hidden Wife is her third book.

Follow Amanda on Twitter: @AmandaReynoldsJ

amandareynoldsauthor.com

 

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

FINAL Hidden Wife BT Poster

My New Book Haul (Stacking the Shelves 20 Jul 2019)!

new sts.png

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

 

Purchased Books / eBooks

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

I’ve had a reservation for this one at the library for ages and I really want to read it so decided to buy the kindle version when it was on a daily deal this week. I can’t wait to get to this!

Till The Cows Come Home by Sara Cox

I bought this one on a whim as I really like Sara Cox and think this will be a fun and interesting read!

Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd

I’ve wanted to read this one for a while too so decided to treat myself. I’ve already started reading this and it’s fascinating!

Her Closest Friend by Clare Boyd

I thought I’d already bought this one but I hadn’t so I’ve put that right now and hope to get to this soon.

 

Borrowed AudioBooks

The Spider and The Fly by Claudia Rowe

This was a really interesting read about a reporter’s fascination with a serial killer and her exploration of why she became so fascinated by him.

The Stranger on the Bridge by Jonny Benjamin

This was a really moving book about a man’s battle with mental illness and his relationship with the man that stopped and saved him the day he was planning to jump off a bridge.

Pain-Free Life: My Journey to Wellness by Andrea Hayes

This was such a good book and I’m so glad I listened to it. It reinforced for me the strength I’ve had to get to where I am in my battle to control my pain levels. I recommend this book.

A Better Me by Gary Barlow

I downloaded this from the library after seeing it recommended in an online book group. It was really interesting and I’m glad I got to read it.

 

ARCs

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

I am excited beyond words to have a copy of this book! I loved The Cows and have been so eagerly anticipating this new book. It definitely won’t be on my TBR for very long!

The Most Difficult Thing by Charlotte Philby

This is another book that I’ve been interested in for a while so I was delighted to get a copy on NetGalley, I’m really looking forward to reading it!

The Silent Ones by K. L. Slater

I downloaded this one from NG too as I saw the blurb on FB and knew I simply had to read it!

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

I got this book for a blog tour later in the year so I won’t be reading it quite yet but I am looking forward to reading it as we get into autumn!

 

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

WWW Wednesdays (17 Jul 2019)!

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:

The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond

This book is so good! I really enjoyed Ella Drummond’s first novel and this one is even better, it gripped me from the first chapter and I’m keen to read more asap!

A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi

This is one of my 20 Books of Summer picks and I’m thoroughly enjoying this one. I’m trying to savour is because it but it’s hard not to keep reading when I pick it up. I recommend this one!

Gary Speed: Unspoken by John Richardson

I bought this one recently and started reading it straight away. It’s not really the book I thought it was going to be but I do want to finish it. I was hoping for more of a biography but really it’s more his friends sharing memories of him.

What I recently finished reading:

A Simple Favour by Darcey Bell

I’ve had this on my TBR mountain for about a year so when I spotted the audio book on BorrowBox (my local library’s audio book service) I decided to download it and listen. The novel wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be but listening to it on audio kept me engaged when I might have put the ebook down.

A Better Me by Gary Barlow

I also downloaded the audio book of this on a whim from BorrowBox after seeing a recommendation in a book group on FB. I actually enjoyed this more than I was expecting and I’m glad I listened to it.

Pain-Free Life: My Journey to Wellness by Andrea Hayes

This is another audiobook from BorrowBox and the title just caught my eye. I’ve worked really hard on finding ways of treating and coping with my severe neuropathic pain so am interested to read the stories of other people who’ve been through similar. Andrea’s story is so similar to mine in many ways so I found this book really life-affirming and recommend it.

The Spider and the Fly: A Reporter, A Serial Killer and the Meaning of Murder by Claudia Rowe

This is a book I’ve wanted to read for ages but have only seen quite expensive secondhand copies that are in not great condition so I was really pleased to spot the audio book on BorrowBox. I found this an interesting book about a reporter’s obsession with a serial killer, and her exploration of her own obsession.

The Stranger on the Bridge: My Journey from Despair to Hope by Jonny Benjamin

I finally got to read this book which I’ve been wanting to read since it first came out as I’d seen interviews with the author on TV.  This was a really moving book about the author’s struggle with mental illness.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

I finally read this book having had an ARC on my TBR for over a year. I’m not sure how I missed reading it before now but I’m glad to have read it. I very much enjoyed this thriller and have already reviewed it. You can find my thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin

I was really keen to listen to this book but I found myself disappointed with it as it just wasn’t the book it’s made out to be. It’s more about the author moving to L.A. and her obsession with Joan Didion’s work than it is about America’s obsession with young women who have been murdered.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

This book has been on my wish list for a while so when I spotted it on BorrowBox I decided to request it. I now have the book on my phone so it will be my next audio book.

Looker by Laura Sims

I hoped to read this one over the last week but I could only manage audio books so had to put this one on hold. I’m still keen to read it so fingers crossed for the coming week.

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston

I’ve been desperate to read this book so again I’m hoping I’ll be able to read print this week so that I can get to this one.


 

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

Mini Reviews: Watching You, Nobody’s Wife, The Night Olivia Fell, and The Flower Girls!

MINIS.png

 

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini book reviews as I try to catch up. I LOVED all four of these books so wanted to make sure I shared my thoughts here.

 

36478626

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

This book is such a brilliant psychological thriller. From the title you can guess that someone is being watched but what is so good about this book is the way that lots of people are being watched, or feel like they are, and sometimes it’s by people who are unaware that they shouldn’t be so invasively tracking someone’s movements and other times it’s by people who have more sinister motives. The novel opens with a body having been found and there appears to be an important piece of evidence left at the scene. We then get a picture gradually built up of who the victim is but also who might have wanted to hurt this person. The novel follows quite a few characters and figuring out how they might connect to each other, if at all and in what possible way, was brilliant! I really did enjoy this book and I already can’t wait to read Lisa jewell’s next novel!

 

cover146847-medium

The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

I read this novel quite a while ago now so I’m embarrassed that I’ve somehow managed not to review it before now. I will say that despite the gap the novel is still really quite fresh in my mind so it shows it’s a book that really gets under your skin! This is about two sisters who murdered a young child when they were also young children. One of them was old enough to face trial and the other wasn’t. They’re now adults and Laurel is out of prison and trying to build a new life under her new identity. This all comes unstuck when she goes on holiday with her partner and a child goes missing from the hotel. This is such a brilliant novel that explores lots of angles to a case like this in a sensitive and thought-provoking way. I flew through the book because I was desperate to know what was going to happen in the end. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t already read it.

 

42323089

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

This is another book that I’m mortified to realise I haven’t reviewed yet, especially when I loved the novel so much. This is an incredible novel that is a great thriller but more than that it’s a brilliant exploration of the relationship between mothers and daughters. Abi is a single mum to Olivia, and one morning she’s woken to a phone call telling her that her daughter has been in an accident and is badly hurt. It turns out that Olivia had secrets from her mum and Abi is devastated that her daughter hadn’t felt she could confide in her. We also get Olivia’s story and gradually build up to the night she fell, and what actually happened to her. This is another book that I just didn’t want to put down, it  is a real page turner and I wanted to know how things were going to turn out. More than that I felt so emotionally invested in Abi and Olivia’s stories. It really reminded me of being a teenager and even though I was incredibly close to my mum there is always going to be a point when a teen begins to pull away and wants to keep some things private. This is a book that is really staying with me, and I can’t wait to read more by the author.

 

43540746

Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson

This is another novel that I got utterly emotionally invested in very quickly. Initially the opening chapter made me think this was going to have thriller elements but it hasn’t really, it’s much more an exploration of the relationship between two sisters and their relationships with their respective partners. The characters in this book aren’t particularly likeable but they are all so real, and I could see bits of me and bits of people I’ve known in them. It’s easy to judge matters of the heart when they don’t affect you but this novel by showing the perspectives of all four characters really does show that nothing is black and white and it’d be so easy for us all to make a decision that has consequences we never could have foreseen. I only read this fairly recently but it’s really lodged itself in my heart, I keep thinking of the characters and wondering what’s happening in their lives since the final page. I definitely recommend this one!

 

 

A New Book Haul (Stacking the Shelves 13 Jul 2019)!

new sts.png

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

 

Purchased Books / eBooks

 

The Gifts of the Body by Rebecca Brown

I’ve wanted to read this book for a while and decided to buy it this week. It’s a collection of linked short stories about care workers during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

What You Did by Claire McGowan

I feel that getting this book was serendipity as I wasn’t able to sign up to the blog tour when it was offered to me but I made a note of the title to pre-order it and when I went to do that I saw it was on the Kindle First book selection for July. So I got a copy ahead of publication and I can’t wait to read it!

Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain by Sarah Vallance

This is my other Kindle First pick for July as it sounds like a fascinating memoir about one woman’s experience of traumatic brain injury.

 

Borrowed AudioBooks

35180951

Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin 

I borrowed this audio book from Scribd and while I found it quite interesting it just isn’t the book that its set up to be so it was disappointing. It’s much more about the author and her time in LA and her obsession with Joan Didion than it is about society’s obsession with murdered young women.

 

ARCs

I got a lovely surprise package from Orenda Books this week that contained the first four books mentioned below.

 

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson

I love this author’s writing and have very much enjoyed the first two books of hers that I’ve read so I’m thrilled to have a copy of this one.

Cage by Lilja Sigurdottir

I’m so keen to read this next book in the series so it was wonderful to get a surprise copy in the post!

 

In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone

I haven’t read anything by this author before (although I do have two of his other novels on my TBR) but this book sounds brilliant so I’m very happy to have it.

Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen

This is a new-to-me author who I’ve heard such good things about so I’m really looking forward to reading this book.

 

The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey

I was offered a copy of this by the author and I jumped at the chance to read it as it sounds like my kind of book. I hope to read this one very soon.

Maigret’s Childhood Friend by Georges Simenon

This was another surprise book that arrived in the post this week. I’ve not read any Maigret novels before but I’m happy to have the chance to read this one.

 


 

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

 

WWW Wednesdays (10 Jul 2019)! 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:

Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

I just started reading this late last night but it’s such a gripping read. The opening is really different to anything I’ve read before and it just had me wanting to read more and more.

The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds

This is another really gripping read. I’m very intrigued about where the wife in the title might be and what could have happened to her.

Wrecking Crew: Demolishing the Case Against Steven Avery by John Ferak

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week as I wasn’t in much of a non-fiction mood but I’ll definitely get back to it soon.

 

What I recently finished reading:

How To Walk Away by Katherine Center

I’ve had this on my Kindle for a while now so when I spotted it on BorrowBox I decided to download the audio and listen to it instead. I really enjoyed this one and found it really uplifting.

The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes

I part-read and part-listened to this one and absolutely loved it! I love Elizabeth Haynes’ writing anyway and this book lived up to all her others that I’ve read. I found it fascinating how she blended fact with some fiction in such a brilliant way. I recommend this one!

The Last Stage by Louise Voss

I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find my full review here if you’d like to know more. I can say that I loved this book though and recommend it!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

This was one of my 20 Books of Summer picks and I’m so happy that I finally got to this. I very much enjoyed it, it was such an interesting novel that got me really invested in all of the characters. I’m now looking forward to reading The Reservoir Tapes soon.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This was another of my 20 Books of Summer and I’m so happy I read this. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Conversations with Friends as it just didn’t quite feel believable to me but I did like Sally Rooney’s writing so decided to try this one. I loved this book, it really reminded me of being the age of the characters and how miscommunications so easily happen in intimate relationships.

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

I’ve had this one on my TBR for way too long so when I spotted the audio book on my subscription service I decided to listen to it. I did enjoy this one but I think it would have worked better if I’d actually read it. I might come back and re-read the print version of this in the future.

The Wave by Virginia Moffatt

I really enjoyed this novel! It didn’t have as much depth as I might have liked but I loved the premise and I really enjoyed getting to know all of the characters and seeing how they dealt with what was going to happen.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond

I really enjoyed Ella Drummond’s first novel (my review is here) so I was delighted to be offered a spot on the blog tour for her next book. I’m planning to read this one this coming week and I can’t wait!

Looker by Laura Sims

I’ve been so keen to read this book so now I own a copy I don’t want to wait any longer to start reading it!

A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi

This is another of my 20 Books of Summer and I’m in the mood for getting lost in a longer book so I think this fits the bill. I love Penny Vincenzi’s writing so I know I’m going to love this one.

Inhuman Resources by Pierre LeMaitre

I’ve been wanting to read this one for absolutely ages and I put it on my 20 Books of Summer so I didn’t forget I had it and I think the time has come to pick it up! I hope to get to this one this week too. 🙂

 


 

I’m a paid member of Scribd (as mentioned above) and they have given me a code that will allow you to sign up and get two months free (and I would get one month free). If you’d like to try them out here is the link. I love Scribd and highly recommend them.

 


 

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

Review: The Last Stage by Louise Voss | @LouiseVoss1 @OrendaBooks @annecater

41DixzycNXL

About the Book

A violent and horrific incident forces a young woman to go into hiding, at the peak of her career as lead singer of an indie pop band. Years later, strange things start to happen and it becomes clear that some know who she is…

At the peak of her career as lead singer of a legendary 1980s indie band, Meredith Vincent was driven off the international stage by a horrific incident. Now living a quiet existence in a cottage on the grounds of an old stately home, she has put her past behind her and come to terms with her new life.

When a body is found in the manicured gardens of her home, and a series of inexplicable and unsettling events begins to occur, it becomes clear that someone is watching, someone who knows who she is … Someone who wants vengeance.

And this is only the beginning…

 

My Thoughts

The Last Stage follows Meredith. In the late 1980s she was a hugely successful indie star but something happened which led to her quitting her band at the height of their fame and she made sure to become unrecognisable by starting a new life working at a stately home. One night someone she works with goes missing in strange circumstances and Meredith starts to fear that the past is coming back to get her.

I’m a huge fan of Louise Voss (and have been ever since I bought her first novel To Be Someone, which is still one of my favourite and most read books!) and I’m so happy to say that this book more than lived up to my high expectations. The prologue is so creepy that it gave me chills and I knew then I was going to be hooked all the way through this book (and I was right!). The idea of waking up in the middle of the night to hear footsteps on the stairs and then your bedroom door handle starting to turn is terrifying!

The Last Stage is set in the present but we get chapters from the past from when a 17 year old Meredith goes off to Greenham Common and meets a girl there. I felt equally invested in both timelines and I was desperate to know how the past and present fit together to explain why Meredith was so scared by the thought of things from the past catching up with her.

Louise Voss has created such an interesting and intriguing protagonist in Meredith and I wanted to know more about her from the start. She does make some bad decisions in this book and at times I wanted to reach into the pages and make her do things differently but I could see why she chose to keep quiet about the unnerving things that were happening to her and around her. I think fear affects people in all kinds of ways and while some people would immediately beg for help and support, other people almost shut it down and believe that if they don’t acknowledge it out loud then it can’t possibly be really happening. I really felt for Meredith and was rooting for her to be okay.

I love the title of this book and how over the course of the novel you sense a different meaning in it. I initially thought it was about the last stage Meredith might have performed on as a rock star before she quit, then I thought it might be the last stage of her life but then I wondered if it might not be about Meredith but rather a reference to the last stage of a campaign to ruin her life.  Or maybe it’s more to do with the way Meredith has to confront her fears from her past (last as in previous stage) before she can move on. I love when a title gives me lots of possibilities to ponder over!

This book kept me guessing right to the end! I didn’t trust anyone in this novel, they all seemed like they might have something to hide and this made for such a thrilling read. The tension in The Last Stage is there from the start and it slowly builds and builds until you’re literally on the edge of your seat. I even found myself holding my breath during the more tense moments! I loved this novel so much, it was a perfect psychological thriller and one that I’ll be thinking about for a while. It’s tense, thrilling and will keep you up way past your bedtime (and by this point you’ll be nervously wondering if you can hear footsteps on the stairs and if the bedroom door handle is moving!!). An utterly brilliant read!

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

The Last Stage is out now in ebook and is available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

About the Author

Louise Voss Author Picture

 

Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise Voss has had 13 novels published – seven solo and six co-written with Mark Edwards: a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction – and sold over 350,000 books. Her most recent book, The Old You, was a number-one bestseller in ebook. Louise has an MA (Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at http://www.thewritingcoach.co.uk. She lives in Salisbury and is a proud member of two female crime-writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

 

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

last stage blog poster 2019

Best Books of 2019… So Far!

Best Books of 2019 So far!

By the end of June this year I’d already read 162 books so I thought it might be nice to write a post about my favourite books that I’ve read this year so far. Some were published this year and some were published a while ago but all are books that I’ve read and loved between 1st January and 30th June this year!

These books are in no particular order, I loved them all!

So without further ado…

 

senseless cover

Senseless by Anna Lickley

This book had to be on my list because it has such an honest portrayal of what it is to have a disability. I could identify with a lot in this novel and it’s so rare to see myself represented in a novel in this way so I feel a real connection to this book. It’s a really good novel all-round and I recommend it. My review is here if you’d like to know more.

44569061

Song of the Robin by R.V. Biggs

This is a book I almost didn’t pick up but I am so glad I did because it’s such a brilliant novel. There is a real mystery running through the book, which had me enthralled. I also really connected with the exploration of grief. My full review is here.

The Space FRONT COVER

The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

This is quite a recent read but I keep finding myself thinking about it so I had to include it in this post. This is a novel that rewards the reader taking their time with it and once you’re invested it will have you hooked all the way to the end. I loved the way it captured how life is, how grief is and how time feels during pivotal moments in life. My review is here.

40898147

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

I read this book very early on this year and it has really stayed with me. It’s a book that really looks at what it’s like to live in a small community and what happens when idle gossip fuels a rumour. I loved this book. My review is here.

42166500

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

This novel is such a brilliant look at domestic violence from so many angles and I found it really got under my skin. It’s such a great debut and I can’t wait for the second book in the series to be out! My review is here.

43805454

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

I was so excited to read this book and it completely and utterly lived up to my expectations. It’s a gorgeous feel-good novel! My review is here.

IMG_3233

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

This book is beautiful – it’s funny and moving and just such a heart-warming novel to read. It’s definitely a book that I want to re-read at some point. Here is my review.

IMG_3388

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This is a recent read but Donna Tartt is one of my favourite authors and I loved The Goldfinch so much that it had to make my list. I haven’t managed to review this one yet but I hope to soon. In the meantime, I highly recommend it!

IMG_3208

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

I found this book so gripping and moving, it had me under its spell from start to finish (and beyond because I still think of it now) so I had to have this one in my list! My review is here.

40136896

Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This book is incredible! It was such an incise look at how modern life is, at our obsessions with social media and appearing like we have the most perfect lives. It is shocking and moving, and I still can’t stop thinking about this novel! My full review is here.

IMG_2411

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

This is such a brilliant thriller novel. It’s a prescient novel but also such a stunning read. My review is here.

44025077

Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

I adored this book! It’s a look at what happens when someone is told they have three months to live but it’s such a life-affirming, uplifting read in spite of what has happened. It’s wonderful and I recommend it! My review is here.

44132841

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

This novel is the most stunning and accurate portrayal I have ever read about what it is to be a sibling. I found it breathtaking at times and I know this is a book I will be thinking about for a long time to come. My review is here.

IMG_2744

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I got this book for Christmas and it was the very first book I read in 2019, and what a way to start a new year! This is such a stunning novel and it felt like such a treat to read it. I’m sad I didn’t manage to review it but I highly recommend it all the same!

40602328

The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner

I listened to this book on audio and I just got lost in it. It’s such a beautifully written novel about the aftermath of the war on four characters, and I just loved it. I want everyone to read this book! My review is here.

the perfect betrayal (pb)

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

I only read this psychological thriller very recently but it couldn’t not be on my list of best books. This is one of the best books in this genre that I’ve ever read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. My review is here.

40493757

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

I started reading this book one afternoon and I literally didn’t look up from the page until I finished reading. This is an incredible and stunning novel, one that will stay with me. My review is here.

Van Apfel Girls Cover

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

I read this book out in the garden over a couple of lovely sunny afternoons and I just got lost in its pages. There is a dreamlike quality to this novel and I still feel slightly under its spell now! My review is here.

40950983

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I part-read and part-listened to this book and I loved every single second of it. It’s one of my all-time favourite audio books and I highly recommend it. I haven’t managed to post a review yet but I plan on doing so soon.

IMG_3386

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

This was one of my picks for my 20 Books of Summer and I completely and utterly feel in love with this novel. It’s such a gorgeous novel that is both laugh out loud funny, and heartbreakingly moving. I adored it and hope to review it soon.

Call Me Star Girl Cover

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book is amazing. I still don’t feel like I can do justice to it, I still feel like it’s got a hold on me that I can’t explain. My review is here and I just urge you to please go read this book if you haven’t already!

 

 

What are your favourite books of 2019 so far? I’d love to know!