WWW Wednesdays (4 Nov 20)! What are you reading?

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!

Current Reads

I’m still in the midst of the horrible reading slump but am continuing to keep trying to read. These are the three books that I find myself in the middle of this week!

Let’s Do It by Jasper Rees

I was thrilled to get the audiobook of this from NetGalley recently and am very much enjoying listening to it. I was a huge fan of Victoria Wood so it’s lovely to learn more about her life.

If Every Day Was Christmas by Donna Ashcroft

I’ve only just started this one but I’m really enjoying it so far. I do love a good Christmas read!

Vulgar Favours by Maureen Orth

I haven’t read much more of this one this week but I hope to get back to it soon.

Recent Reads

The Clause in Christmas by Rachael Bloome

I managed to finish reading a book this week, the first in a few weeks now, and I did enjoy it. It’s a really sweet festive romance all set in December so it’s one to read if you want to start feeling Christmassy!

What I Might Read Next

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

I don’t really know what I’ll read next but I’m enjoying watching the book series Between the Covers on BBC2 and this was their featured book last week. It reminded me all over again how much I wanted to read this so I think I might try and pick this up next.

#BookReview: Once Again by Catherine Wallace Hope | @catwallacehope @RandomTTours

About the Book

What if you had one chance to save someone you lost?

Isolated in the aftermath of tragedy, Erin Fullarton has felt barely alive since the loss of her young daughter, Korrie. She tries to mark the milestones her therapist suggests–like today, the 500th day without Korri–but moving through grief is like swimming against a dark current.

Her estranged husband, Zac, a brilliant astrophysicist, seems to be coping better. Lost in his work, he’s perfecting his model of a stunning cosmological phenomenon, one he predicts will occur today–an event so rare, it keeps him from being able to acknowledge Erin’s coinciding milestone.

But when Erin receives a phone call from her daughter’s school, the same call she received five hundred days earlier when Korrie was still alive, Erin realizes something is happening. Or happening again. Struggling to understand the sudden shifts in time, she pieces together that the phenomenon Zac is tracking may have presented her with the gift of a lifetime: the chance to save her daughter.

Unable to reach Zac or convince the authorities of what is happening, Erin is forced to find the answer on her own, Erin must battle to keep the past from repeating–or risk losing her daughter for good.

My Thoughts

I have to start this review by saying that this book is incredible and even though I read it in the midst of a reading slump I could not put it down! I finished reading this a couple of weeks ago now and I still keep thinking about it.

Once Again is the story of Erin whose 6 year old daughter died eighteen months ago. She is mired in grief and cannot come to terms with what happened. Erin had been happily married to her husband Zac and life was pretty good but now they’re so far apart and neither can see a way back. On the 500th day since Korrie died Zac, an astrophysicist, is working on a momentous project and it has far reaching implications.

On this horrible anniversary Erin receives a call from Korrie’s school asking her to come and collect her daughter, a call she should have taken on the day her daughter went missing but she didn’t. Now Erin realises that time is shifting and she needs to get hold of Zac to figure out what is going on.

I adored this book. It really captures what it is to be lost in grief and unable to see a way through it. Erin is really struggling and this is so believable and so beautifully written. As the novel unfolds we see what happened in the past the day Korrie disappeared, and why Erin missed a phone call that might have saved her daughter. We also see what seems to be time shifts in the present as Erin finds herself falling back to that fateful day. It’s not clear straight away if something is actually happening to Erin or if her mind is playing tricks on her. I was completely rooting for Erin and wanted her to be able to go back and to get to the school in time to save her daughter.

I had no idea how this novel was going to unfold or how it might end. I had my suspicions and I was completely wrong. I love that this novel kept me on my toes when it came to the action but that it held me under its spell when it came to the emotional impact.

Once Again is truly an incredible read. I read it in two sittings and ever since I finished reading it I keep finding myself thinking of Erin and wondering what is happening in her life now. It’s such a poignant novel but also action packed and fast-paced as we see Erin’s race against time, and the odds, to stop the past repeating itself. There really aren’t enough superlatives to describe how brilliant this novel is! I highly recommend it and I strongly urge you all to read it. It is for sure one of my favourite books of this year and I already want to go back and read it all again!

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

Come Again is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (28 Oct 20)! What are you reading this week?

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!

Current Reads

The Clause in Christmas by Rachael Bloome

I started reading this last night and am enjoying it. It’s a cute festive romance read and I’m keen to read more.

Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth

I’ve read a few more chapters of this since last week and am finding it fascinating. I just wish my concentration was better and my reading slump would go so I could read more of it.

Recent Reads

I haven’t finished reading anything this week as my slump is continuing.

What I Might Read Next

I don’t know what I’ll read next, I just hope I find something that holds my attention. I think Christmas reads are going to be the way to go so I’ll see what I have and which catch my attention.

WWW Wednesdays (21 Oct 20)! What are you reading?

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!

Current Reads

I’m still in my reading slump so I’m not really reading much of anything. We watched the Netflix series based on Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace over the weekend so I thought I’d pick the book up now. I hope I can get into it. I’m still reading If I Can’t Have You from last week. I’m enjoying it but just aren’t very motivated to read in general at the moment.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

Recent Reads

This is a blog tour book for next week so given how slow my reading is at the moment I thought I better start it right away. I ended up getting gripped and read it in two sittings. It’s such a different and stunning read and I really enjoyed it. I recommend it! I hoped this might break my reading slump if it hasn’t. At least I know if I find the exact right book for my mood I can still concentrate to read.

Once Again by Catherine Wallace Hope

What I Might Read Next

I don’t know what I’ll read next, I’m going to see whatever grabs my attention in the coming days. I’m thinking I might start on some festive reads as they tend to be more cosy and easy to get into.

WWW Wednesdays (14 Oct 20)! What are you reading?

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!

Current Reads

My reading slump is continuing and seems to be getting worse so I’ve not read much more of Just Eat It since last week but I hope to get back to it soon. I treated myself to If I Can’t Have You as it’s a book I’ve been keen to read. I’m enjoying it but I’m still only reading it a few pages at a time.

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

Just Eat It by Laura Thomas

Recent Reads

I’ve only managed to finish one book since last week and at least I can say it was a brilliant read. The New Jim Crow is a fascinating and eye-opening read, it’s one I highly recommend.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

What I Might Read Next

I’m not sure what I might read next. My reading slump is worse than it was and I just don’t seem to be reading much of anything. I did treat myself to some new books over the last couple of days though in the hope that one of them might capture my interest. Watch this space (and please cross your fingers that one of them gets my reading mojo back)!

Gravity Well by Marc Rahe | @RandomTTours @RescuePress #GravityWell

About the Book

In Gravity Well, Marc Rahe’s incisive third collection, the poems beckon readers through an ever-shifting series of landscapes, drawing our gaze across a dynamic tableau—an octopus wearing a sweater, a white sky over the bridge we’re standing on, flowers pressed into a forgotten book—as a means of revealing the most particular thrills and anxieties of the human condition. Unafraid and unwavering, careful and concerned, Gravity Well propels its reader through the imagined apertures of the universe one striking image at a time, leaving us ocularly magnified in a world now seen anew. A singular voice in American poetry, Rahe deftly centers the body in relation to ailments such as love, decay, aging, friendship, and grief. His powerful, meditative plea is resounding: “Earth, turn me.”


My Thoughts

Gravity Well is a stunning poetry collection that flows through so many themes and emotions.

It opens with poems in the section entitled Waxing Crescent Waxing Gibbous and later follows the section Waning Gibbous Waning Crescent. I love the way there is light in the dark and dark in the light, it really gave me an insight into what the poems I was about to read may be.

There were quite a few poems that really stood out to me, and it felt like I had a connection to them. Previous Lives is one poem that I’ve already re-read quite a few times and each time I see something else in it. The references to the squares on a calendar alongside random memories and the title itself. It made me think of the day my beloved nan died and how it was her calendar that finally made what had happened sink in.

Birthday is another poem that really connected with me – I have a spinal cord injury so the line about numbness ‘Downriver from the forest in my neck’ took my breath away. And the way Rahe writes of trying to be helpful but ‘To look for change in my pockets meant having to look’ is a line that gave me a wry smile in recognition of that feeling.

A line that I just found stunning comes in the wonderful poem Fable of the Cephalopod, which is a description of a cough using octopus imagery: ‘I hear it barking up the wrong bronchial tree’.

One of my favourite poems in the whole collection is Stellar, which is a reflection of happy times. The lines ‘Uncanny when it’s raining and it’s sunny at the same time. / As if being in someone’s presence and feeling the presence of their ghost.’ Rahe captures that feeling so beautifully and it brought a lump to my throat as I read it.

I found Gravity Well to be a beautiful poetry collection that really rewards the reader who takes their time and re-reads it. I’ll be honest and say that on first reading I found some of the poems were beyond my understanding but on further re-reading they began to speak to me. Now this is a collection that I know I will come back to time and again as it feels it will keep giving more to me every time. I highly recommend this one!

Gravity Well is out now in paperback and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (7 Oct 20)! What are you reading this week!

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!

Current Reads

I’m still feeling really lacklustre with reading but I have found these two non-fiction books that are holding my attention. The New Jim Crow is an audiobook that I’ve borrowed from BorrowBox and I’m finding it so eye-opening. Just Eat it is about intuitive eating – it caught my attention recently given that I’m in the middle of trying to eat in a much more healthy way. It’s interesting so far and I’m keen to read more.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Just Eat It by Laura Thomas

Recent Reads

I haven’t read much at all this week. Gravity Well is a short poetry collection which I enjoyed. I’m on the blog tour for it today if you’d like to read my thoughts on it. House of Correction was a gripping audiobook that I really enjoyed. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World was ultimately a life-affirming read and I’m glad I picked it up.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

Gravity Well by Marc Rahe

House of Correction by Nicci French

What I Might Read Next

To be honest I have no idea what I might read next so I’m not even going to pretend about what I might pick up. I hope I pick up something that gets my reading mojo back in full swing. If you have any recommendations I’d appreciate them. 🙂

What are you reading this week? I’d love to know! 🙂

That Was The Month That Was… September 2020!

I can’t believe it’s already October! Time has been so strange this year as it’s been both very slow and yet has flown by.

My reading mojo is still not really there. I have read quite a few books this month but a lot of them were either books that I’d part read the month before or they were audio books. I enjoy books when I’m reading but I don’t feel inclined to pick books up, even when it’s something I’ve started and was enjoying.

My blogging mojo is flagging a bit too at the moment. I’m struggling with typing and it’s harder to use my dictation software with the new WordPress so that’s not helping. I must apologise for not replying to all of your lovely comments in anything like a timely manner. Also, for not commenting on your blogs. I hope I can get back into the groove of it very soon.

September was a good month in other ways though. My healthy eating is going well and I’m definitely forming much better habits. I’m even eating breakfast every day (for the first time in my adult life!). Over the last few weeks I’ve lost over a stone and given that I can’t really exercise due to the nature of my disability I’m feeling quite proud of myself.

My husband is now off furlough and is working from home for the time being. It’s meant we’ve finally found a proper purpose for our spare room and it’s looking really good as an office. Today the picture frames we ordered arrived so we’ll finally be able to frame our music posters from various Isle of Wight festivals we’ve been to and when we saw Kate Bush. It’s only taken us 6 or 7 years to get around to this but better late than never!

The Books I Read

My September Blog Posts

That Was The Month That Was… August 2020!

WWW Wednesdays (2 Sep)

My 20 Books of Summer Wrap-Up

Book Haul (5 Sep)

WWW Wednesdays (9 Sep)

Mini Book Reviews of Three by D. A Mishani, Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough, The Storm by Amanda Jennings, and Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

WWW Wednesdays (16 Sep)

Review of A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble

WWW Wednesdays (23 Sep)

Review of In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Review of The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

WWW Wednesdays (30 Sep)

How was September for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that the month has been okay. What was your favourite book from September? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 

WWW Wednesdays (30 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

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!

Current Reads

I’m just reading one book this week and it’s an audio book. I’ve only just started listening to it but I’m enjoying it so far!

House of Correction by Nicci French

Recent Reads

I’ve finished five books this week and enjoyed all of them. Two of them were shorter reads and two were audiobooks so it meant I got more books read than I might have done. I’m still not feeling much like picking up print or kindle books but when I do pick books up I enjoy them. I hope this mood passes soon.

Older and Wider by Jenny Eclair

The Power in You by Henry Fraser

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Takes from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Summer by Ali Smith

What I Might Read Next

These are two of the oldest books on my NetGalley shelf and I’m still really keen to read them both so hopefully I can read them this week.

The Hidden Girls by Rebecca Whitney

The Sight of You by Holly Miller

WWW Wednesdays (23 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

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!

Current Reads

I’m still struggling to pick up books so I’m sticking to one Kindle book and one audio book and this seems to be working for me at the moment. The Stolen Sisters is really good and I’m intrigued to see where this book is going. I’ve only just started listening to Summer but am enjoying it so far and am looking forward to listening to more.

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Summer by Ali Smith

Recent Reads

Four of the books I finished this week were audiobooks and this is definitely the way for me to read just now. I enjoyed all five of these books and would recommend them. My review of In Black and White will be posted on my blog on Friday so please look out for it then.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

What I Might Read Next

I’m still reading by whim just now but would like to read through some of my NetGalley books this week so these are the three that are jumping out to me the most at the moment. I’ve also Tales from the Cafe on audio so will be able to listen to that one as I read.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The Split by Sharon Bolton

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to chat about your current read in the comments. If you’ve posted a WWW Wednesdays post please feel free to share your link before and I’ll read your post. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (16 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

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!

Current Reads

I’m still struggling with my reading so am sticking to one ebook and one audiobook at a time. I’m really enjoying both of these books and am hoping they might break me out of this slump I’m in.

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Recent Reads

I found Liar to be such an intriguing book and really enjoyed it. It was a book that made me think, I recommend it. Fallen Angel wasn’t a great read, it was predictable and full of stereotypical characters so didn’t really help with my reading slump. Dead to Her was an okay read – I’ve already reviewed it so you can find my full thoughts here.

The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

What I Might Read Next

I’m still reading by whim and hoping to find a way through this reading slump. These three books are the one that most appeal to me at the moment so I hope I can read them in the coming days.

Summer by Ali Smith

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to chat about your current read in the comments. If you’ve posted a WWW Wednesdays post please feel free to share your link before and I’ll read your post. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Three | The Storm | Here Is The Beehive | Dead To Her

Today I’m sharing a selection of mini reviews for books that I’ve recently read.

Three by D. A. Mishani

I requested this audio book on whim from NetGalley as I was intrigued by the premise and I’m so glad I got to read this book. It follows three women – each of them initially seem unconnected but we soon find out that they have all have an encounter with the same man. Orna is a newly divorced single mother looking for a relationship, Emilia from Lativia who is looking to belong and to be more grounded and settled in her life, and Ella a mother of three who is returning to University now her three children are a bit older. The man is Gil and he’s not entirely honest when he tells us his story! The novel is told in three parts and each one twists what we thought we knew, it’s so brilliantly done. Three is brilliantly translated from the Israeli by Jessica Cohen. It’s such a compelling story, one I was gripped by from the very first few pages and I was spellbound by it. I didn’t expect it be what it was and I loved that it surprised me. The narration by Lucy Pearson was also excellent, I felt she really made the women’s voices distinct from each other and found the perfect tone for this book. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author and I definitely want to read more. I highly recommend this one!

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

This novel follows Hannah who appears to have a perfect marriage to Nathan. They have a teenage son and a lovely house in Cornwall. All is not as it seems though. Nathan is very controlling and Hannah has no freedom at all. She seems to view this as penance for something though and over the course of the novel we learn more about her. The story is told in the present day and in the past when Hannah was a teenager and we gradually find out more about how she got to where she is and why she stays with Nathan. I loved this book. It’s atmospheric, it’s tense and it’s very hard to put down. I read it in two sittings as I simply had to know what had happened to make Hannah the way she is and how the past had led up to the now. This is one of those slow burn novels that hits you right in the feels. I loved this one and I definitely recommend it!

Here is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan

This is a novel in verse about Ana. She is married and has been having an affair with Connor for three years. Connor is also married and when he tragically dies Ana is faced with Connor’s wife due to her work as a solicitor. This is a novel that explores the complexities of having an affair and the toll it takes on everyone’s life, but more so the heartbreak of losing the person you love but you not being able to openly grieve because he was never yours. This is a beautifully written book but I found it difficult to connect with. I think reading about grief at the moment is hard and this book captures Ana’s feelings so well that at times I had to look away. This is my issue though and not at all an issue with the book. This is one I would like to re-read at another time because I’m sure it’s one I’ll love. The writing is stunning and I would absolutely recommend it if you feel you’re in the right headspace to read it.

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

This novels follows a wealthy group of friends in Savannah. Marcie was the youngest, newest wife when she married Jason but now their friend (and Jason’s boss) William has arrived home from Europe with a very young and very beautiful wife, which immediately unsettles the group. The writing in this book is so good, I felt the heat and the claustrophobia and the tension radiate off the page and this is what kept me reading. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the storyline as much as I normally do with Sarah Pinborough’s novels, it just felt like there wasn’t as much depth to it. The characters are quite similar to each other and all have similar horrible agendas, I wanted to understand more about them. There was enough in the writing to keep me reading to the end though and it was a fun read. I think maybe it was me that was the issue rather than the book.

All of these books are from NetGalley and all opinions are entirely my own.

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (12 Sep 20)!

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

Purchased eBooks

Natives by Akala

This book has been on my radar for a little while now and I finally bought it this week. I’m keen to read this one as soon as my concentration levels are back up to speed.

From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers – race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today. Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain’s racialised empire. Natives is the searing modern polemic and Sunday Timesbestseller from the BAFTA and MOBO award-winning musician and political commentator, Akala.

Review Books

Tinsel by Sibeal Pounder

This is a middle grade book that I requested from NetGalley on a whim because it sounds like such a wonderful read. I can’t wait to read this one a little nearer to Christmas!

How did the world come to believe Santa Claus is a man? It’s all just a big misunderstanding! This tale of friendship, sleigh rides and two formidable girls is THE Christmas book of the year – a gloriously funny, festive adventure that will delight even the biggest Grinch. Join Blanche Claus and her best friend Rinki for a funny festive sleigh ride you’ll never forget! From Sibéal Pounder, bestselling author of the Witch Wars and Bad Mermaids series, this tale of friendship and mince-pie feasts is the perfect book to curl up with this winter. Funny, feminist and with a huge heart. 

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (9 Sep 20)! What are you reading at the moment?

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!

Current Reads

I’m trying out reading one book at a time at the moment. I like being in the middle of lots of books but my brain just isn’t up for that right now so I’m hoping reading one at once will help. It feels very strange!

Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough

Recent Reads

I really focused my mind on finishing off the numerous books that I’ve had part-read for a while now so I managed to do that. My husband is now no longer on furlough and is working from home so I’m listening to more audiobooks during the day, which is helping me read more. I’m still struggling to read ebooks but am enjoying listening to books.

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Watch Over You by M. J. Ford

Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Spring by Ali Smith

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

What I Might Read Next

I don’t know what I’ll read next as I’m still reading by whim but I know that audiobooks are better for me at the moment so I’ve picked three audiobooks this week that are catching my eye the most, and then one ebook (The Turn of the Key) that I can read at night.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (5 Sep 20)!

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

Purchased eBooks

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

I have wanted to read this book ever since I first heard about it months ago so when I spotted it in a Kindle deal this week I snapped it up! I’m originally from Yorkshire so I’m really keen to read this one very soon!

July, 1962 Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become? The fastest milk bottle-delivery girl in East Yorkshire, Evie is tall as a tree and hot as the desert sand. She dreams of an independent life lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). The two posters of Adam Faith on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’) offer wise counsel about a future beyond rural East Yorkshire. Her role models are Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen. But, before she can decide on a career, she must first deal with the malign presence of her future step-mother, the manipulative and money-grubbing Christine. If Evie can rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save the farmhouse from being sold off then maybe she can move on with her own life and finally work out exactly who it is she is meant to be.  

I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Braithwaite

I’ve seen some good reviews of this one recently so when I spotted in a Kindle daily deal this week I grabbed it. It sounds like it will be an interesting read so I hope to get to it soon.

When Candice fell pregnant and stepped into the motherhood playing field, she found her experience bore little resemblance to the glossy magazine experience in Great Britain today. Leafing through the piles of prenatal paraphernalia, she found herself wondering: “Where are all the black mothers?”. Candice started blogging about motherhood in 2016 after making the simple but powerful observation that the way motherhood is portrayed in the British media is wholly unrepresentative of our society at large. The author writes with humour, but with straight-talk about facing hurdles such as white privilege, racial micro-aggression and unconscious bias at every point. 

Review Books

Gravity Well by Mark Rahe

I was sent this one to review for the blog tour next month and I’m really looking forward to it. I enjoy poetry so I think I’m going to really like this collection.

In GRAVITY WELL, Marc Rahe’s incisive third collection, the poems beckon readers through an ever-shifting series of landscapes, drawing our gaze across a dynamic tableau–an octopus wearing a sweater, a white sky over the bridge we’re standing on, flowers pressed into a forgotten book–as a means of revealing the most particular thrills and anxieties of the human condition.  Unafraid and unwavering, careful and concerned, GRAVITY WELL propels its reader through the imagined apertures of the universe one striking image at a time, leaving us ocularly magnified in a world now seen anew. A singular voice in American poetry, Rahe deftly centers the body in relation to ailments such as love, decay, aging, friendship, and grief. His powerful, meditative plea is resounding: “Earth, turn me.”

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

I Thought You Knew by Penny Hancock

This book caught my eye when I was browsing the Borrowbox app this week so I decided to request it. It ended up being available sooner than I was expecting but I hope to get to it in the next few weeks.

Who do you know better? Your oldest friend? Or your child? 
And who should you believe when one accuses the other of an abhorrent crime? Jules and Holly have been best friends since university. They tell each other everything, trading revelations and confessions, and sharing both the big moments and the small details of their lives: Holly is the only person who knows about Jules’s affair; Jules was there for Holly when her husband died. And their two children – just three years apart – have grown up together. So when Jules’s daughter Saffie makes a serious allegation against Holly’s son Saul, neither woman is prepared for the devastating impact this will have on their friendship or their families. Especially as Holly, in spite of her principles, refuses to believe her son is guilty.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

My 20 Books of Summer Wrap-Up!

I can’t believe the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge (run by Cathy at 746 Books) is over already! This summer seems to have flown by even though I’ve spent the entirety of it in my home.

So I set myself a very rigid list of 20 physical books that I wanted to read this summer. (The rules for this challenge are very flexible but I wanted to make myself read a particular set of books). Unfortunately my disability flared up and I’m back to struggling to hold physical books so my 20 books of summer plan stalled a few weeks ago now. I did manage to read 12 of the books on my list before then (and I’m halfway through a 13th) and I’m really happy with what I managed to read. Also, one of the 12 that I read was the humongous Ducks, Newburyport (which at over a thousand pages could count as three novels!).

I did also read a lot of books on my Kindle and I listened to quite a few audiobooks so I did plenty of reading over the summer, I just didn’t manage to read what I planned on.

Here are the books that I managed to read this summer (from my original list).

I enjoyed all twelve of the books that I read but I think my favourite has to be Ducks, Newburyport. Once I got to grips with the way it’s written I just wanted to devour it, it really is an incredible novel and one I keep finding myself thinking about.

Did you take part in the 20 Books of Summer challenge? How did you get on? I hope you enjoyed all that you read over the summer, and here’s to an autumn full of fabulous books! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (2 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

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!

Current Reads

These are the four books that I’m currently reading. All of them are excellent but I’m really intrigued by The Upstairs Room at the moment so that is my main read.

Spring by Ali Smith

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

Here Is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Recent Reads

I really enjoyed all four of these books this week. I think Three was my favourite as it just went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting and completely shocked me. I also loved Long Bright River, I’m so pleased I finally got to read it.

Three by D. A. Mishani

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

What I Might Read Next

I’m still not reading as much as I normally do, I just don’t feel motivated to pick a book up. Once I’m reading I do enjoy it though so I’m hoping this feeling passes soon. The books that most appeal to me at the moment are these four so hopefully I’ll get to read them this week. 🙂

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

That Was The Month That Was… August 2020!

I really can’t get my head around the fact that it is September already, where has this year gone?! There have been weeks and months (particularly at the start of lockdown) that dragged by and yet the year itself has flown by.

August was spent much the same as July really. We watched the rest of the football season, we binge watched some more series (the new Dirty John about Betty Broderick on Netflix and The Looming Tower which has been on our SkyQ box since it aired early last year.

I did finally take my first trip out into the world for the first time in almost six months last week. My husband took me for a short drive around where we live. It still feels scary to me to be out and about after six months of shielding but it was good to make that first step into the outside world.

I’m struggling with my reading again at the moment. I’m enjoying what I’m reading and I want to be reading but I keep finding other things to do instead. I’m just going with it for now and reading by whim and hoping to avoid another reading slump.

I read 18 books in August, which is less than I had been reading but is still a lot of books.

The Books I read

My August Blog Posts

Book Haul (1 Aug)

July Wrap-Up

WWW Wednesdays (5 Aug)

Review: The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

Book Haul (8 Aug)

Review: The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke

Audiobook Review: All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

WWW Wednesdays (12 Aug)

Audiobook Review: Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

Review: Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Book Haul (15 Aug)

Mini Book Reviews: The Holdout by Graham Moore, The Night Swim by Megan Goldin, The New Girl by Harriet Walker, & Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

WWW Wednesdays (19 Aug)

Book Haul (22 Aug)

Review: Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

WWW Wednesdays (26 Aug)

Book Haul (29 Aug)

How was August for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that the month has been okay. What was your favourite book from August? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (29 Aug 20)!

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

Purchased eBooks

A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts

I read a review of this one a few days ago and loved the sound of it so much that I immediately bought it on Kindle. I think this one will really resonate with me and I can’t wait to read it!

At the moment her mother died, Olivia Potts was baking a cake, badly. She was trying to impress the man who would later become her husband. Afterwards, grief pushed Olivia into the kitchen. She came home from her job as a criminal barrister miserable and tired, and baked soda bread, pizza, and chocolate banana cake. Her cakes sank and her custard curdled. But she found comfort in jams and solace in pies, and what began as a distraction from grief became a way of building a life outside grief, a way of surviving, and making sense of her life without her mum. And so she concocted a plan: she would begin a newer, happier life, filled with fewer magistrates and more macaroons. She left the bar and enrolled on the Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, plunging headfirst into the eccentric world of patisserie, with all its challenges, frustrations and culinary rewards – and a mind-boggling array of knives to boot. Interspersed with recipes ranging from passionfruit pavlova to her mother’s shepherd’s pie, this is a heart-breaking, hilarious, life-affirming memoir about dealing with grief, falling in love and learning how to bake a really, really good cake.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

I spotted this book in the Kindle sale this week and immediately hit the 1-click button. I read and loved In Five Years earlier this year and now I want to read everything this author has written.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends with in her utterly captivating novel, THE DINNER LIST, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You. When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

The Power in You by Henry Fraser

I was immediately drawn to this book when I spotted it as I follow Henry Fraser on twitter and I love his attitude to life. I’m partially paralysed and so much of what he says strikes a chord with me so I’m looking forward to reading this book.

Mouth artist, motivational speaker and author of the inspirational memoir The Little Big Things, Henry Fraser, explores the transformative power of acceptance in this motivational guide. If The Little Big Things was about Henry’s past, The Power in You is about his present and his future. And through understanding his daily experience, Henry teaches us all how best we can live. This book is about right now, and it’s about tomorrow. It’s about recognising progress, it’s about accepting our past to become free of it, it’s about living in the now to avoid anxiety. It’s future focused on the positive. Henry discusses acceptance, how to adapt and deal with our pasts, how to forgive ourselves, and how to forgive others. He will remind us to live in the present and just how empowering that can be, how to work through self-doubt, how to become aware of our progress, and how everything you need in life comes from within you. The power is in you.

To Love and Let Go by Rachel Brathen

I bought this book on a whim when I was browsing the Kindle sale as it sounded like such an emotional buy ultimately positive read. I’m keen to get to this one.

While on her way to teach a yoga retreat in March 2014, Rachel Brathen collapses at an airport, brought to her knees by excruciating stomach pains. She is rushed to the hospital on the tiny island of Bonaire, and hours later forced to undergo surgery. When she wakes up from anesthesia, her boyfriend is weeping at her bedside. While Rachel was struck down with seemingly mysterious pain, her best friend, Andrea, sustained fatal injuries as a result of a car accident. Rachel and Andrea had a magical friendship. Though they looked nothing alike—one girl tall, blond, and Swedish, the other short, brunette, and Colombian—everyone called them gemelas: twins. Over the three years following Andrea’s death, at what might appear from the outside to be the happiest time—with her engagement to the man she loves and a blossoming career that takes her all over the world—Rachel faces a series of trials that have the potential to define her life. Unresolved grief and trauma from her childhood make the weight of her sadness unbearable. At each turn, she is confronted again and again with a choice: Will she lose it all, succumb to grief, and grasp for control that’s beyond her reach? Or can she move through the loss and let go? When Rachel and her husband conceive a child, pregnancy becomes a time to heal and an opportunity to be reborn herself. As she recounts this transformative period, Rachel shares her hard-won wisdom about life and death, love and fear, what it means to be a mother and a daughter, and how to become someone who walks through the fire of adversity with the never-ending practice of loving hard and letting go.

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes by Jessica Redland

I read some lovely reviews of this book recently so when the author let me know it was free on Amazon I couldn’t resist downloading it. I’m saving this one to read nearer Christmas and I already can’t wait!

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is a cosy heartwarming tale of friendship, family, putting the past behind, and embracing the future.  It’s Christmas in Whitsborough Bay. With fairy lights connecting the shops and cafés on either side of the cobbles, Castle Street seems magical. And in such a magical place, surely Christmas wishes can come true.  Carly Travis, owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, has two Christmas wishes this year. Her first is for her younger sister, Bethany, to focus on the positives in her life, including her Christmas wedding, instead of writing herself off as a failure. Bethany’s attempts at cake-decorating aren’t going to win any awards, but she’s certainly great with customers. Carly’s second wish is for her best friend, Liam, to come home for Christmas.  When Liam calls to say he’s been granted leave from the army, Carly makes a third Christmas wish. It’s the one she’s made every year since she was a teenager and, if she’s really brave, could this be the year when it finally comes true?  With Liam coming home, the shop having its best year yet, and a wedding to look forward to, it’s shaping up to be the best Christmas ever for Carly. But for Bethany, things are starting to unravel …

Review Books

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

I keep seeing this book on social media and was so intrigued by it that I went straight to NetGalley and downloaded it. I hope to read this one soon.

Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.  The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland–a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic–and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien–a women’s world. What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus’s consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the “male plague;” intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal–the loss of husbands and sons–to the political–the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.

Purchased AudioBooks

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

I bought this book on an Audible daily deal this week. It was an impulse buy as I’ve really enjoyed previous novels by this author on audio. I think this will be another lovely read (listen).

Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change. Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks. But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (26 Aug 20)! What are you reading this week?

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!

Current Reads

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams

I started reading this book yesterday and I’m just gobsmacked at this real life story. It’s written by Rachel who became friends with Anna and was completely taken advantage of. I’m only a couple of chapters in so I don’t know much about the story as yet but just the opening chapter had me stunned at the situation Rachel ended up in. I can’t wait to read more.

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

I bought this book earlier this year and have been so keen to read it. I finally picked it up yesterday and I’m so intrigued. A woman has been found murdered in her bed and her severely disabled teenage daughter is missing. Their neighbour’s daughter Cara found Meg’s body and now we’re following her perspective and that of a disgraced journalist Jon. I’m so keen to so where this book is going (I have my suspicions and have avoided all reviews so as not to get spoiled on what happens) and can’t wait to read more!

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I’m still really enjoying this one. It’s a book where the author is relating her life story through the medium of books she has loved over the years. It’s a wonderful read, one that feels very nostalgic and sooting. I’m deliberately reading this one slowly as it feels like such a relaxing treat to pick it up.

Recent Reads

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

I keep hearing about this book so when I was looking for some easy, escapist reading at the weekend I picked it up. I read the whole thing in one sitting and really enjoyed it. It was exactly what I needed at the time. It follows Pippa, a studious teenager who for a school assignment decides to look into a murder that happened in her community five years ago. A teenage girl was murdered and her boyfriend was prime suspect but when he died by suicide the police closed the case. The novel does require some suspension of disbelief but it’s still such a good read.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

I listened to the audiobook of this over a few days and I very much enjoyed it. It’s a fictionalised version of Hillary Clinton’s life and it imagines what might have happened had she not married Bill. I did find some of the book a bit icky (the sex scenes…) but for the most part I loved this book. It was easy to see how much of this novel could have happened were some decisions made differently. I recommend it!

No Win Race by Derek A. Bardowell

This is an excellent novel about the author’s own experiences of racism along with a wider look at society through the lens of sport. He raises some really important points about what it is to be British and black, and how society never quite sees him as fully British. He looks at various sports (boxing, basketball, Formula 1 and football) and how black sports men and women are treated. I’m still thinking about this book but once I’ve got my thoughts together I will write a review.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

I really enjoyed this novel! It follows Julia (an editor) as she meets Grant (a mathematician and author) with a view to re-publishing his short story collection. The novel features all the stories in this collection and a discussion between Julia and Grant about them. I loved the stories, they’re all set in the 1930s and are very Christie-esque. There are layers of mystery in this novel and lots of shocks in store. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

What I Might Read Next

I’ve been in a strange mood this week, I’ve still been reading and I’ve still been enjoying reading but I’m not drawn to picking up books as much as I want to. I’m hoping I’m not heading for another reading slump. In an attempt to ward it off I’m reading entirely by whim at the moment and the three books below are the ones that are really calling to me. I hope to read them in the coming days! 🙂

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Tilly and the Lost Fairytales by Anna James

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

About the Book

There are rules for murder mysteries. There must be a victim. A suspect. A detective. The rest is just shuffling the sequence. Expanding the permutations. Grant McAllister, a professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out – calculating the different orders and possibilities of a mystery into seven perfect detective stories he quietly published. But that was thirty years ago. Now Grant lives in seclusion on a remote Mediterranean island, counting the rest of his days.

Until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor knocks on his door. Julia wishes to republish his book, and together they must revisit those old stories: an author hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But there are things in the stories that don’t add up. Inconsistencies left by Grant that a sharp-eyed editor begins to suspect are more than mistakes. They may be clues, and Julia finds herself with a mystery of her own to solve.

My Thoughts

This is a book that I have been much anticipating and I’m so pleased to say that it absolutely lived up to my expectations!

Eight Detectives is different to anything I’ve read before. It follows Julia Hart, an editor for an independent publisher, who is staying with author Grant McAllister, a maths professor who many years ago wrote a short story collection to show how all murder mysteries are based on mathematic equations.

The novel was discombobulating in the beginning as you find yourself reading the first story in Grant’s collection. I was expecting to meet Julia first but I was delighted to be wrong-footed. The first story is engaging and intriguing, and a bit creepy – which sets the reader up for a brilliant novel. After each short story Julia and Grant discuss them and what she has noticed about them.

The short stories are very Agatha Christie-esque and all are set in the 1930s so if you like those then I think you’ll love this novel. The whole novel is a mystery and it all interconnects; it really is very clever and engaging. Julia Hart is a brilliant character, I loved following her in this book!

There is so much in this novel that I can’t write about as it’s definitely a book that works best by throwing yourself into it knowing very little. It really is such a clever, intriguing and ultimately very satisfying read. I highly recommend it!

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

Eight Detectives is out now and available here.

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (22 Aug 20)!

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

Purchased Books

All the Rage by Paul Magrs

I actually bought this book a few weeks ago (after reading a fabulous review on Liz’s blog) but put it straight onto my bookcase and forgot all about mentioning it in my book haul post. I’m struggling to hold physical books at the moment but as soon as my hands feel stronger I will be picking this one up!

It’s 1981, and the nation is going Eurovision-crazy. A young band, Things Fall Apart, are British hopefuls with their catchy hit, Let’s Be Famous. Europe is unimpressed. But the band won’t let go of their dream, and they persevere to become one of the most famous boy-girl pop acts of the eighties. And during their glory days they sample the cultural highlights of the decade. Living and working together constantly it’s little wonder that love soon blossoms in the band; nor that the cracks between them eventually begin to show. From their innocent early days to their ugly last fight, this is the story of a pop group – warts and all. Hugely funny and immensely readable, All The Rage is a fantastic novel encompassing the best (and the worst) of the decade that taste forgot. Amidst the sequinned boob tubes and spangly jump suits is a touching story about dreams, disappointments, and the highs and lows of fame.

Review Books

Three by D. A. Mishani

I requested this book from NetGalley as soon as they started having audiobooks on there. I’d never heard of it before but the premise really intrigued me. I think this will be my next audio book (once I’ve finished Rodham!).

An abandoned woman searching for love, a deeply religious immigrant caretaker, a disillusioned researcher trapped in her marriage. Three women whose lives seem as far apart as possible, united by a common secret. When Orna meets Gil on an online dating site, their lackluster affair seems like nothing more than a way to stave off the pain of her recent divorce. But soon it becomes clear that Gil may not be exactly who he claims to be. And Orna’s own lies may be weaving an unexpected trap for her. Set against the turbulent backdrop of the gritty Holon neighborhood in Tel Aviv, this enigmatic and intelligent novel is in fact an intricate puzzle. Mishani’s first standalone book explores Israel’s forgotten margins, unearthing complicated layers, conflicts, and prejudices. At turns shocking, deceptive, and subversive, Three is a slow burning psychological thriller from one of Israel’s most beloved writers. 

Purchased AudioBooks

Audible had a recent 2 for 1 sale on their website and the following books were all on my wish list so I snapped them up!

Happiness by Aminatta Forna

London. A fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. The distraction causes two pedestrians to collide–Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist there to deliver a keynote speech. From this chance encounter, Aminatta Forna’s unerring powers of observation show how in the midst of the rush of a great city lie numerous moments of connection. Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma, as he has done many times before; and to contact the daughter of friends, his “niece” who hasn’t called home in a while. Ama has been swept up in an immigration crackdown, and now her young son Tano is missing. When, by chance, Attila runs into Jean again, she mobilizes the network of rubbish men she uses as volunteer fox spotters. Security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens–mainly West African immigrants who work the myriad streets of London–come together to help. As the search for Tano continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds. Meanwhile a consulting case causes Attila to question the impact of his own ideas on trauma, the values of the society he finds himself in, and a grief of his own. In this delicate tale of love and loss, of cruelty and kindness, Forna asks us to consider the interconnectedness of lives, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures, and the true nature of happiness. 

James Baldwin: A Biography by David Leeming

James Baldwin was one of the great writers of the last century. In works that have become part of the American canon—Go Tell It on a Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, Another Country, The Fire Next Time, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen—he explored issues of race and racism in America, class distinction, and sexual difference. A gay, African American writer who was born in Harlem, he found the freedom to express himself living in exile in Paris. When he returned to America to cover the Civil Rights movement, he became an activist and controversial spokesman for the movement, writing books that became bestsellers and made him a celebrity, landing him on the cover of Time. In this biography, which Library Journal called “indispensable,” David Leeming creates an intimate portrait of a complex, troubled, driven, and brilliant man. He plumbs every aspect of Baldwin’s life: his relationships with the unknown and the famous, including painter Beauford Delaney, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry, Marlon Brando, Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, and childhood friend Richard Avedon; his expatriate years in France and Turkey; his gift for compassion and love; the public pressures that overwhelmed his quest for happiness, and his passionate battle for black identity, racial justice, and to “end the racial nightmare and achieve our country.”

Friday on My Mind by Nicci French

I haven’t started Nicci French’s Frieda Klein series yet but have most of them on my TBR so couldn’t resist grabbing another two. I plan on starting this series soon, I feel sure I’m going to love it!

When a bloated corpse is found floating in the River Thames the police can at least sure that identifying the victim will be straightforward. Around the dead man’s wrist is a hospital band. On it are the words Dr F. Klein. But psychotherapist Frieda Klein is very much alive. And, after evidence linking her to the murder is discovered, she becomes the prime suspect. Unable to convince the police of her innocence, Frieda is forced to make a bold decision in order to piece together the terrible truth before it’s too late either for her or for those she loves.

The Day of the Dead by Nicci French

At long last, a final reckoning is coming for Frieda Klein… On a north London high street, a runaway vehicle crashes to a halt. The man in the driving seat was murdered a week earlier. On Hampstead Heath, a bonfire blazes: in the flames lies the next victim. As autumn leaves fall, a serial killer runs amok in the capital, playing games with the police. The death toll is rising fast, and the investigation is floundering. But this is no ordinary killer, and every new victim is intended as a message to just one woman. Because psychologist Frieda Klein is in hiding. And someone is coming to find her . . . After seven stunning novels, Frieda Klein’s duel with her dark nemesis finally comes to a climax – and only one can make it out alive.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (19 Aug 20)! What are you reading this week?

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!

Current Reads

No Win Race by Derek A. Bardowell

I bought the ebook of this one forgetting that I had a pending request on NetGalley for the audio book. So now I’m part listening and part reading this and it’s such an eye-opening book about race. The author is a black British man who grew up in London and was a huge sports fan. He documents his experiences of racism along with that in wider society and mainly through the eye of sports. His Jamaican father followed cricket and boxing and at the point I’m up to Derek is very into basketball. It’s shocking to see the racism documented in this book, and how insidious it is. The author is a bit older than me so the book is building on my very vague knowledge of the time. I recommend this one.

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

This is such a lovely book where the author is looking back on the books she has enjoyed and been influenced by in her life. I’m still at the part about her childhood but her descriptions of trips to the library and the books she was reading are so similar to my own childhood that this feels so nostalgic and joyous so far. I’m trying to read this one slowly so I can enjoy it for the longest possible time. It’s really wonderful though and I highly recommend it.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

I only started this one last night but I’m fascinated by it. I requested it from NetGalley based on the premise but when I started reading I had forgotten the detail of what the book was about so it’s been brilliant finding my way through. It’s basically a novel about Grant who wrote a murder mystery short story collection years earlier and it’s been rediscovered by a small publishing house. Their editor Julia is now with Grant and they’re reading each story in turn and discussing it. We get each of the stories and their thoughts about them, plus Grant’s theories about murder mysteries. It’s such a good book and I think all murder mystery/crime fiction fans will love it.

Recent Reads

The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams

I listened to this on audio from NetGalley and sadly I didn’t really like it. It started off well and I liked the main character Penny. She has had a difficult time of it, her mum died when she was young and then she herself had cancer. Life is good now though and she’s looking for love. She meets Francesco and they quickly fall for each other. So far so good! However Penny then has to go away and this novel veers into tropes I hate where suddenly she doesn’t communicate properly with people and it leads to all kinds of dramas that could have so easily been avoided. I felt really let down by how much Penny changed from being so open and honest and I just didn’t enjoy the second half of the book much at all. The narrator, Carrie Hope Fletcher, was very good though. Her voice really suited the story and I would listen to more books narrated by her in the future.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is a novel told in verse and it follows two teenage girls who find out their father has been killed in a plane crash off New York. Camino lives in the Dominican Republic with her aunt and had been excitedly awaiting her father’s arrival for the summer. Yahaira lives in New York with her mother and had let her dad leave without a word. Over the novel the girls learn the secrets of this man and that they are half-sisters. I really enjoyed this book. I found the spare writing really suited the narrative. The descriptions of grief were visceral at times, and the shock of each girl realising the other exists felt so believable. I recommend this one.

The Holdout by Graham Moore

This was the last book on my NetGalley shelf from before 2020 so I wanted to get to it and I’m so pleased that I finally picked it up. It follows Maya who served on a jury ten years ago. It was a murder case and Bobby Nock, a black man, was accused of murdering his white student Jessica. Maya was responsible for persuading the rest of the jury to vote not guilty. Now it’s ten years later and the past is catching up with Maya. A TV show is being made about the case and the jury are all reuniting to film their thoughts now. This novel had so much more to it than I was expecting and I was gripped all the way through. I’ve already reviewed this one here if you’d like to know more – I highly recommend it!

Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

This is a lovely novel, perfect for some summer escapism. It follows Wanda who has always wanted to travel the world but things keep conspiring to keep her in the Welsh town where she grew up. Her sister is pregnant and on her own, and their mum has just had an accident. Now Wanda has to face up to the past when she bumps into her ex-best friend Annie in the town. I loved this book, it’s such a feel-good read and is one I recommend. I’ve reviewed it here if you’d like to know more.

What I Might Read Next

I have so many books that I want to read but I’m often struggling to settle to read anything at the moment but these four books are the ones that most appeal to me as I’m writing this. The first is a library book and one I’ve wanted to read for a long time. The second is an Audible book I treated myself to very recently. The third is a kindle book I bought not long ago and is a collection of essays, which I’m keen to get to. The last one is a NetGalley book that I’m so intrigued by!

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

True Story by Kate Reed Petty

Mini Book Reviews: The Night Swim | The Holdout | The New Girl | Where We Belong

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

I previously read The Escape Room and enjoyed it so was keen to read the author’s new novel. This one follows Rachel who makes a true crime podcast, and her new season is following a rape trial in the town of Neapolis. We see Rachel’s investigation and also snippets of her podcast, which I enjoyed. Alongside this Rachel is getting letters from a young woman called Hannah, who wants Rachel to investigate the murder of her older sister 25 years ago. This book was one I enjoyed but I did find that the first half was more engrossing and intriguing to me. I saw where the book was going from halfway and I was so hoping for a twist and there wasn’t one. I would still recommend this one because it did keep me reading. I enjoyed following Hannah’s story and I would love to read more featuring Rachel and her podcast!

The Holdout by Graham Moore

This was the last book that I had on my NetGalley shelf from before this year and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner! This book was so much more than I thought it was going to be (and I already had thought it was going to be good)! The novel mainly follows Maya Searle, a lawyer in Los Angeles. Ten years ago she served on a jury and was responsible for persuading her eleven fellow jurors to return a verdict of Not Guilty in the trial where Bobby Nock stood accused of murdering his student. Now the past is back to haunt Maya when one of the jurors finds her and asks her to come to a reunion for a TV show. I loved that the main narrative is Maya’s but throughout the novel we hear from other members of the jury and find out their perspectives on the trial. There is a lot of discussion about race and the unconscious, and sometimes very overt, opinions we form on others. This was such a gripping book, one of those that is very hard to put down. I highly recommend it!

The New Girl by Harriet Walker

This novel follows Margot who is a fashion editor at a top magazine and is looking for someone to take over her job while she goes on maternity leave. Maggie gets the job and very early on it’s apparent that there is an envy, that quickly grows into jealousy and mistrust between them. We also learn about Margot’s friendship with Winnie, who she’s known since school. From the opening of the novel we know that someone dies so I was intrigued to know who died and if someone committed murder. This was an enjoyable novel but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought this book was meant to be a dark thriller but it wasn’t. It’s domestic fiction with a darkish side. I found it a slow read for the most part but it did become much more fast-paced for the last third and this part of the book did lift the book for me. I recommend this one if you like domestic dramas!

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

This novel follows Cate and her son at a very unhappy time in their lives. They’re having to move from their home after the death of Cate’s husband Richard due to financial difficulties, and they’re moving to his family home – a place they’ve never been before. When they arrive it’s to a cold welcome and Cate feels so isolated and worried. Over the novel we learn more about the past and what happened in Richard’s life and how it was for him living in this great house. We begin to see Cate find her strength and her son begins to come into his own too. I loved seeing these two characters come to terms with everything that had happened and to see their growth. This is such a beautiful novel, my first by Anstey Harris but I definitely want to read more of her work now. I highly recommend this one!

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (15 Aug 20)

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

Review Books

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

Dawn O’Porter has been thinking about life. In lockdown. Mostly from a cupboard. From reflections on grief and identity, bad hair and parenting, sleep and spirituality, to the things we can control and the things we cannot, Dawn’s daily diaries track the journey – for a hilarious, heartbreaking and highly entertaining glimpse into the new normal. LIFE IN PIECES is a book for anyone who’s been thrown into a life they didn’t plan, or who just wants to stick it to 2020. When it looks like everything’s falling apart, we’ll piece it back together.

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

‘Reading has saved my life, again and again, and has held my hand through every difficult time’ For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books kept her afloat. Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help. Dear Reader is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another.

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Alexandra is 25, mixed-race and from Essex. As a trainee criminal barrister, she finds herself navigating a world and a set of rules designed by a privileged few. This is her story. We follow Alexandra through a criminal justice system still divided by race and class. We hear about the life-changing events that motivated her to practice criminal law, beginning with the murder of a close family friend and her own experiences of knife crime. She shows us how it feels to defend someone who hates the colour of your skin or someone you suspect is guilty, and the heart-breaking cases of youth justice she has worked on. We see what it’s like for the teenagers coerced into county line drug deals and the damage that can be caused when we criminalise teenagers. Her story is unique in a profession still dominated by a privileged section of society with little first-hand experience of the devastating impact of violent crime.

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

“Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.” As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them. In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community–and all of us–to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams

The year is 1871. In Ashwell, Massachusetts, at the farm of Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline, a mysterious flock of red birds descends. Samuel, whose fame as a philosopher has waned in recent years, takes the birds’ appearance as an omen that the time is ripe for his newest venture. He will start a school for young women, guiding their intellectual development as he has so carefully guided his daughter’s. Despite Caroline’s misgivings, Samuel’s vision–revolutionary, as always; noble, as always; full of holes, as always–takes shape. It’s not long before the students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms. Rashes, fits, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings. In desperation, the school turns to the ministering of a sinister physician–based on a real historic treatment–just as Caroline’s body, too, begins its betrayal. As the girls’ conditions worsens, long-buried secrets emerge, and Caroline must confront the all-male, all-knowing authorities around her, the ones who insist the voices of the sufferers are unreliable. In order to save herself, Caroline may have to destroy everything she’s ever known.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (12 Aug 20)! What are you reading this week?

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!

Current Reads

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

I started reading this one last night and I’m very much enjoying it. It follows two girls: Camino in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira in New York. On the same day they both get news that their father has died in a plane crash and whilst trying to come to terms with this tragedy they learn their father is the same man. They now have to work out how to deal with discovering they have a sister living in another part of the world. I’m only a little way into this one but the writing is beautiful and I’m engrossed.

Under A Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

This is my current audio book and I’m really enjoying it. It follows Wanda who has always wanted to travel but life keeps having other plans for her. She was due to leave her family in Wales when she was young but then her father died. Now it’s years later and she’s packing up to leave when her mum has an accident and her sister announces she’s pregnant. Wanda seems destined to have to stay and run the family’s rundown campsite for the summer and to face up to some ghosts from the past. I’m loving this audiobook so far and can’t wait to listen to more!

The Holdout by Graham Moore

This is now the last book that I have on my NetGalley shelf that I got before 2020 so I wanted to get to it this week. I’m now kicking myself for not picking it up sooner because I’m loving it so far. It follows Maya who is a successful lawyer but ten years ago she did jury duty and helped sway the jury to a not guilty verdict. Now the jury is meeting up again for a TV show as one member thinks he’s uncovered evidence that will change everything! I avoided knowing anymore than this about the book and I’m glad I did because I thought I knew what this was going to be and it’s turned out more is going on than I predicted! I love when a novel surprises me!

Keep Her Quiet by Emma Curtis

I’m reading this book on Pigeonhole but I’m way behind and all of the parts are now available. It’s taking me a while as I’m struggling to read on my phone screen at the moment. I am liking the novel so far though. You do have to suspend disbelief but it’s one I’m happy to do that with. It moves from past to present and focuses on a teenager who was kidnapped from the hospital soon after her birth sixteen years ago. I hope to be able to read more of this soon, I might buy it on kindle so that it’s easier on my eyes to read.

Recent Reads

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

I read and quite enjoyed The Escape Room by this author and was keen to try another novel by her. The Night Swim started off so well – it’s gripping and fast-paced and there is a mystery there so I thought I was going to love it. However, the pace slows down and I did find it a bit predictable, I was hoping for a shock at the end but it all unfolded as I had suspected it would. This is more a mystery novel than a thriller but having said that it did keep me engrossed and I did enjoy it so I would recommend it.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

This was such a great novel and I really enjoyed it. It follows Emira, a 20-something black woman who works as a babysitter for a white family. One night she is looking after Briar and a security guard starts asking questions believing Emira has kidnapped the child. What follows is alternating chapters of Emira, and Alix (Briar’s mother) as we see their lives. Emira needs to find a job with health insurance, but Alix is focused on Emira’s life and wanting to know more about her. She seems fascinated by Emira and the fact that she’s black. There is so much to this novel and I loved it. I recommend it.

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

This is the book I’ve mainly been reading for much of the last couple of weeks and I’ve loved every minute of it. It took me a few pages to get to grips with the way it’s written and then after that I just didn’t want to put it down. I love the random way the protagonist thinks and at times it felt like my own thoughts were being reflected back at me from the pages. The end when it comes is sheer perfection! This is an incredible novel and one I won’t ever forget. I highly, highly recommend it!

What I Might Read Next

I’m still mood reading for the most part but also trying to read my way through my NetGalley shelf. The first three books on my list for this week are NetGalley books and ones that I’m keen to get to very soon. The fourth is a library book and is one that I’ve been wanting to read for a while so I plan on starting that one next.

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (8 Aug 20)!

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

Purchased eBooks

The Other Girl by C. D. Major

I’ve been so keen to get my hands on this book so when I discovered it was part of the Amazon Prime First Reads this month I immediately downloaded it on my Kindle. I can’t wait to read this one!

They thought she was insane. But what if she was telling the truth? 1942, New Zealand. Edith’s been locked away for a long time. She was just five years old when she was sent to Seacliff Lunatic Asylum. Fifteen years later, she has few memories of her life before the asylum, but longs for one beyond it. When she survives a devastating fire that destroys her ward, Edith is questioned by the police and a young doctor, Declan Harris. Intrigued by his beautiful patient, Declan begins to doubt the official reasons for her incarceration. Is she truly mad—or could the impossible stories she told as a child actually be true? Time is running out. With Edie awaiting a new and permanent treatment, soon there will be little of her left to save. Meanwhile intrigue has tipped into obsession—Declan needs to uncover the truth, but in doing so he will risk losing everything. As he sets out to save her mind, will he lose his own?

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now so I bought it this week and I’m really keen to pick it up. It might even be my next read!

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people… In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

I Love the Bones of You by Christopher Eccleston

This is another book that I’ve wanted to read ever since it was first published so when I spotted it on a Kindle deal for 99p this week I bought it right away. I think this will be an interesting and emotional memoir, and it’s one I hope to get to soon.

Drawing on his memories, Chris will describe a vivid life of growing up in a Salford, working-class household in the 1970s with his siblings, a loving mother, and the totemic figure of his hardworking, serious-minded and socialist father – Ronnie. How his life changed from a potential future as ‘factory fodder’ in his native Northwest, to a deep-rooted desire to perform on stage, and what developed into a burgeoning acting career – from his stunning film debut Let Him Have It; to the BBC’s landmark drama miniseries Our Friends in the North; his remarkable relaunch of the iconic Doctor Who franchise; and many more BAFTA-nominated roles over the past three decades such as starring in the current production of Macbeth for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford; and, playing the role of the grandfather in the BBC1 hit drama series The A Word.
Along this path of fame and fortune also lay a man still bonded to his home city of Salford, his politics, his family, and especially his beloved parents. Chris will discuss openly the loss of his father and his family’s struggle to cope with his condition over the past decade of his life as they watched his health deteriorate. A journey thousands of British families travel on each year. A heart-rending, honest and often touching memoir of a man embedded in his roots and mourning the loss of the father who nurtured those roots. 

Lost You by Haylen Beck

I bought this Kindle book on a total whim as the cover caught my eye and I liked the sound of the premise. I hope it’s as good as it sounds!

YOU’RE LOOKING FOR YOUR SON. BUT SHE FOUND HIM FIRST Libby would do anything for her three-year-old son Ethan. And after a traumatic year, a holiday seems the perfect antidote for them both. Their hotel is peaceful, safe and friendly, yet Libby can’t help feeling that someone is watching her. Watching Ethan. Because, for years, Libby has lived with a secret. Just when Libby is starting to relax, Ethan steps into an elevator on his own, and the doors close before Libby can stop them. Moments later, Ethan is gone. Libby thought she had been through the worst, but her nightmare is only just beginning. And in a desperate hunt for her son, it becomes clear she’s not the only one looking for him…

Review Books

Homecoming by Luan Goldie

I read and loved Luan Goldie’s previous novel so when I spotted her forthcoming book on NetGalley I had to request it. I was delighted to be approved to read it this week and will definitely be reading this very soon!

For years Yvonne has tried to keep her demons buried and focus on moving forward. But her guilt is always with her and weighs heavily on her heart. Kiama has had to grow up without a mother, and while there is so much he remembers about her, there is still plenty he doesn’t know. And there’s only one person who can fill in the gaps. Lewis wants nothing more than to keep Kiama, his son, safe, but the thought of Kiama dredging up the past worries Lewis deeply. And Lewis doesn’t know if he’s ready to let the only woman he’s ever loved back into his life. When Kiama seeks Yvonne out and asks her to come with him to Kenya, the place that holds the answers to his questions, she knows she can’t refuse. And this one act sets in motion an unravelling of the past that no one is ready for.

Purchased AudioBooks

I’ve had an Audible membership for years and years now and have been paying monthly for one book but I realised that it was much better value to pay for a year’s membership upfront and get 24 credits to spend. It meant I had to use up the six credits I already had or I would have lost them so I decide to buy the following six books from my wish list. I can’t wait to listen to all of these!

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donohue

Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney. In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Lifemagazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced. In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton. But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.

Pain and Prejudice by Gabrielle Jackson

‘Women are in pain, all through their bodies; they’re in pain with their periods, and while having sex; they have pelvic pain, migraine, headaches, joint aches, painful bladders, irritable bowels, sore lower backs, muscle pain, vulval pain, vaginal pain, jaw pain, muscle aches. And many are so, so tired … But women’s pain is all too often dismissed, their illnesses misdiagnosed or ignored. In medicine, man is the default human being. Any deviation is atypical, abnormal, deficient.’ Fourteen years after being diagnosed with endometriosis, Gabrielle Jackson couldn’t believe how little had changed in the treatment and knowledge of the disease. In 2015, her personal story kick-started a worldwide investigation into the disease by The Guardian; thousands of women got in touch to tell their own stories and many more read and shared the material. What began as one issue led Jackson to explore how women – historically and through to the present day – are under-served by the systems that should keep them happy, healthy and informed about their bodies. Pain and Prejudice is a vital testament to how social taboos and medical ignorance keep women sick and in anguish. The stark reality is that women’s pain is not taken as seriously as men’s. Women are more likely to be disbelieved and denied treatment than men, even though women are far more likely to be suffering from chronic pain.

The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness–how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people–sane, normal, well-adjusted members of society–went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.  But, as Cahalan’s explosive new research shows, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?

Me by Elton John

In his only official autobiography, music icon Elton John writes about his extraordinary life, which is also the subject of the film Rocketman. Christened Reginald Dwight, he was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the London suburb of Pinner and dreamed of becoming a pop star. By the age of twenty-three, he was on his first tour of America, facing an astonished audience in his tight silver hotpants, bare legs and a T-shirt with ROCK AND ROLL emblazoned across it in sequins. Elton John had arrived and the music world would never be the same again. His life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his LA swimming pool to disco-dancing with the Queen; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation. All the while, Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade. In Me Elton also writes about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father.

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

This is the next non-fiction book I plan on reading, it’s one I’ve heard a lot about and I think it’ll be a good one to read alongside the others I’ve either already read or got on my TBR stack.

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

#BookReview: The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

About the Book

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.

My Thoughts

The Summer of Madness is a lovely short story that follows Kurt who has been dumped by his girlfriend and he wants to try and win her back. Kurt sets himself up at the local station and starts reading a section of Wuthering Heights out loud. He’s going to come back every day until he’s finished the novel in the hopes that his ex girlfriend will find out about it and come to see him.

Kurt’s reading begins to attract small crowds – some people stop for a few minutes as they’re passing by and others end up coming to listen day after day. I enjoyed seeing these other characters too and even in such a short story there was enough about them to make me curious and to want to see what might happen to them as a result of the reading.

It was interesting that Kurt’s girlfriend broke up with him and now he’s making a grand gesture to win her back. It is touched on in the story that this isn’t the kind of thing that we always think of as grandly romantic anymore, that this is Kurt’s summer of madness in the way he thinks this can win her back. I really liked that the story briefly discusses this.

We learn more about why Kurt’s girlfriend broke up with him and so I was curious as to whether this story would have a happy ending where she came back. I wasn’t sure that she would but then I wasn’t sure how the story would end if she didn’t. I love that this story genuinely kept me on my toes until the end.

The Summer of Madness is such a lovely summer read and perfect for picking up in your lunch break. It was a story that kept me turning the pages as I wanted to know how things were going to go for Kurt. I very much enjoyed this gorgeous short story and I definitely recommend it!

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

The Summer of Madness is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (5 Aug 20)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

So, I finally started reading this mammoth book! I have a hardback edition but I’ve also got the ebook from the library as it’s too much for me to hold the hardback for long. I’m actually really enjoying this book, it’s such an interesting read. The lack of full-stops is something I got used to really easily and it’s never bothered me to stop reading at any point on a page, I don’t need chapters, so this is really enjoyable. I find it works best if I read in chunks rather than a few pages here and there, and I do need to take the odd break from it but I love coming back to it. I’m currently on page 306 of 1030!

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I’m really enjoying this book. It follows Emira, a young black woman who babysits for a white couple. One night they ask her to take their child to the store and while there she is accused of kidnapping the child. It also follows Alix, the mother of the child, and she is a busy and successful woman who is very media savvy and aware of optics. It’s eye-opening to read Emira’s point of view and to see just how many micro-aggressions she has to deal with every single day. There is such a contrast with Alix’s life and how she suddenly finds herself wanting to get to know Emira better. I can’t wait to read more of this one.

Recent Reads

The New Girl by Harriet Walker

This novel follows two women: Margot who is a fashion editor at a high end magazine, she’s also pregnant and will be going on maternity leave soon; and Maggie, the woman who is brought in to replace her. Margot finds out that her best friend Winnie has suffered a stillbirth on the day she hires Maggie and it sends he into a spiral. She doesn’t handle any of it very well. I found this novel very slow over the first half but then something happens mid-way through and we get a different perspective and from then on I was gripped. This is more a domestic drama than a thriller so I was a bit disappointed that I thought I was getting something different. I did enjoy the second half though.

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke

This novel is stunning! It follows the journey of a song and the impact it has on people. First we meet Arie and Diana who are very much in love. Diana finds it hard to communicate her emotions in words so she starts composes a song for Arie. Soon after something happens to Diana and a man picks up her composition and takes it home. The song reaches as far as Australia, Canada and Edinburgh and it has such an effect of all of those who hear it. I love how the song threads all the way through the novel, it’s such a beautiful book. I’ll be reviewing this one on 10th August for the blog tour so look out for my thoughts then. In the meantime I highly recommend it!

All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

This is the sequel to The Ice Cream Girls and I really enjoyed it. It follows lots of characters but the core story is about the daughter of one of the Ice Cream Girls and the younger brother of the other. This goes back and forth in time through multiple perspectives as we explore how the next generation views what the previous was accused, and in one case, convicted of. It is a little confusing to follow on audio book at times as it jumps around in time and through characters so frequently so it’s one to listen to in big chunks. I really enjoyed this one and recommend it.

The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

This is such a lovely short story and I really enjoyed it. It follows Kurt as he embarks on a plan to win his ex-girlfriend back. She has dumped him because he was selfish and so now he’s decided to stand at the station every day reading his way through her favourite novel Wuthering Heights in the hope she’ll see him there. It’s a sweet story and perfect for reading during your lunch break. I’ll be reviewing this one soon but I recommend it in the meantime!

What I Might Read Next

I don’t know what I might read next but the books that are catching my attention right now are these four. The first three are books I got from NetGalley and the fourth is a library book on the BorrowBox app that is next on my anti-racism reading list.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

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. 🙂

That Was The Month That Was… July 2020!

July seems to have flown by, I can’t believe it’s already August! July was mainly spent watching a lot of football and reading loads of great books. We also finally watched the last season of Orange is the New Black.

The Government says shielding is now over but given that I haven’t left the house in five months I’m not planning on rushing things. I hope to be able to at least go for a short drive with my husband before too much longer.

I had another amazing reading month and finished a lot of books. It helps that my new headphones mean I can listen to audio books again. My 20 Books of Summer has stalled though as I’m struggling to hold physical books for any length of time. I think I only read one of my planned TBR in July and started another. Hopefully I’ll be able to complete my challenge to read 20 physical books.

I read 29 books (mainly ebooks and audiobooks) in July and that came to a total of 10,588 pages. I’m really pleased with how much I read, and how many amazing books I got to in July. I hope August is as good!

The Books I read

My July Blog Posts

My Mid-Year Reading Stats!

Book Haul

My Favourite Books of the Year So Far!

Review of The Greatest of Enemies by B. R. Maycock

Book Haul

Mini Book Reviews of My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish, One Step Behind by Lauren North, and Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

Audiobook Review of Come Again by Robert Webb

Review of Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Book Haul

Mini Book Reviews of Finders, Keepers by Sabine Durrant, Mine by Clare Empson, Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent, and Innocent or Guilty by A. M. Taylor

Audiobook Review of Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

Audiobook Review of The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Book Haul

Mini Book Reviews of How To Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi, The Search Party by Simon Lelic, The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton, and How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

Review of The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

Book Haul

How was July for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that July has been okay. What was your favourite book from July? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (1 Aug 2020)!

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

Purchased eBooks

Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay

I’ve had my eye on this book for a little while now and decided to buy it this week. I’m keen to get to this one soon.

From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay’s journey in Red Dust Road is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. In a book remarkable for its warmth and candour, she discovers that inheritance is about much more than genes: that we are shaped by songs as much as by cells, and that what triumphs, ultimately, is love…

Just Before I Died by S. K. Tremayne

I’ve read most of S. K. Tremayne’s novels to date but somehow missed this one being published. I spotted it on Kindle for 99p this week and so snapped it up!

Why did you do that to me Mummy, don’t you love me? Kath lives with her husband Adam and daughter Lyla in a desolate stone longhouse deep in Dartmoor National Park. She likes her life the moors are beautiful, if bleak and she counts herself as happy, even if they struggle with money, and work, and her daughter’s shyness. But one day Kath wakes up from a coma, with a vague memory of a near-fatal car accident. She hugs her daughter close, likewise her husband Adam. But there’s something wrong. Adam seems furious with her and Lyla is acting evermore strangely. They should be delighted to see her alive, snatched from certain death. But they won’t meet her gaze. Then Kath learns that the car crash wasn’t an accident, and her whole life collapses into a world of panic, and danger.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

I downloaded this one on a whim when I spotted it on a daily deal this week!

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams. Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same. Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to.

Review Books

The Searcher by Tana French

I love Tana French’s writing so was beyond thrilled when I got sent a NetGalley widget for her forthcoming new novel this week. I’m so happy to have a copy of this one and can’t wait to read it!

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever. Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch. Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door. 

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

I also love Louise Jensen’s writing so when I heard she had a new one coming out and it was on NetGalley I immediately requested it. I’m so pleased to have this one on my kindle and plan on reading it soon.

Three little girls missing. One family torn apart… Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe. Twenty years ago these three sisters were taken. What came after they disappeared was far worse. It should have brought them together, but how can a family ever recover? Especially when not everyone is telling the truth . . . 

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

I requested this one on a whim when I spotted it on NetGalley. I love reading novels in verse, and I’m trying to read more diversely too so this one just jumped out at me. I’ll definitely read this one soon.

The story that I thought was my life didn’t start on the day I was born . Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.  The story that I think will be my life starts today. Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

I love A Keeper when I read it last year so am delighted to have a copy of his latest novel on my Kindle. This one sounds really good so I’m keen to get to it.

It is 1987 and a small Irish community is preparing for the wedding of two of its young inhabitants. They’re barely adults, not so long out of school and still part of the same set of friends they’ve grown up with. As the friends head home from the beach that last night before the wedding, there is a car accident. Three survive the crash but three are killed. And the reverberations are felt throughout the small town. Connor, the young driver of the car, lives. But staying among the angry and the mourning is almost as hard as living with the shame, and so he leaves the only place he knows for another life. Travelling first to Liverpool, then London, by the noughties he has made a home – of sorts – for himself in New York. The city provides shelter and possibility for the displaced, somewhere Connor can forget his past and forge a new life. But the secrets, the unspoken longings and regrets that have come to haunt those left behind will not be silenced. And before long, Connor will have to meet his past. 

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

I read and enjoyed the author’s previous novel The Escape Room but have heard this new one is even better. The premise sounds like my kind of read so I can’t wait to pick this up, I may even make it my next read!

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help. The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

The author offered me a copy of this short story and the premise sounded really good so I accepted. I’ve already read this one and really enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.

Pigeonhole App

Keep Her Quiet by Emma Curtis

I got this book on Pigeonhole and am already a couple of days behind in joining in on the read. I plan on starting this today though and can’t wait!

Jenny has just given birth to the baby she’s always wanted. She’s never been this happy. Her husband, Leo, knows this baby girl can’t be his. He’s never felt so betrayed. The same night, a vulnerable young woman, Hannah, wakes to find her newborn lifeless beside her. She’s crazed with grief. When chance throws Hannah into Leo’s path, they make a plan that will have shattering consequences for all of them. Years later, a sixteen-year-old girl reads an article in a newspaper, and embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about herself. But what she learns will put everything she has ever known – and her own life – in grave danger. Because some people will go to desperate lengths to protect the secrets their lives are built on . . .

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (29 Jul 20)! What are you reading?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I just started reading this last night so have only read the first couple of chapters so far but I can’t wait to read more. It follows Emira, a young black woman who babysits for a white couple. One night they ask her to take their child to the store and while there she is accused of kidnapping the child. It also follows Alix, the mother of the child, and she is a busy and successful woman who is very media savvy and aware of optics. I’m really keen to read more about these two women and to see where this novel is going.

The New Girl by Harriet Walker

This novel follows two women: Margot who is a fashion editor at a high end magazine, she’s also pregnant and will be going on maternity leave soon; and Maggie, the woman who is brought in to replace her. Margot finds out that her best friend Winnie has suffered a stillbirth on the day she hires Maggie and it sends he into a spiral. She doesn’t handle any of it very well. I’m only a few chapters into this one but I’m intrigued to see where it’s going. We know from the prologue that a woman dies but we don’t know who! It seems both Margot and Maggie are driven and it feels like there is already jealousy and competitiveness between them. I’m looking forward to reading more.

All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year as I loved The Ice Cream Girls. I’m really enjoying this one. It follows lots of characters but the core story is about the daughter of one of the Ice Cream Girls and the younger brother of the other. This goes back and forth in time through multiple perspectives as we explore how the next generation views what the previous was accused, and in one case, convicted of. It is a little confusing to follow on audio book at times as it jumps around in time and through characters so frequently so it’s one to listen to in big chunks. I’m really enjoying this one though and am keen to see how it’s all going to end!

Recent Reads

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

This is a stunning novel and one I won’t forget. This one follows Anna and Adam, a couple who fall in love on holiday and decide to stay together afterwards. We know from the very start that something has gone wrong but we don’t know what. I adored reading about the holiday romance, it was so lovely and believable. Even when they begin to have problems once back to reality the love was still there. I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find my full review here if you’d like to know more.

Small Island by Andrea Levy

I read this book many years ago at University but I’ve been wanting to listen to the audio book as Andrea Levy narrates it and I finally got to it over the last week. I really enjoyed the audio, it’s brilliantly done. The novel follows Hortense as she arrives in the UK from Jamaica to join her new husband. We also meet Queenie, Gilbert’s landlady. The novel really puts you into the mindset of what it was to come to this country as a black person in the 40s, and how the English viewed even war heroes like Gilbert as second-class citizens. I very much enjoyed this novel and I recommend it.

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

This novel follows a police detective Iona as she starts investigating the disappearance of a married man. I’m only a couple of chapters into this one but we’ve met the group of mothers, one of whom is married to the missing man. There seems to be a class divide in the mothers’ group, and they almost seem like frenemies at first but there is way more to these women than we see at first. I really enjoyed this book. I had to suspend disbelief at times but I didn’t mind as I was so engrossed in the book I just wanted to know what was going to happen! I’ve already reviewed this one here.

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

This is one of my 20 Books of Summer and I’m so pleased to have read it. It follows Cate and her son Leo as having found themselves homeless they have to go to her late husband’s family home, the Hatters Museum, for the summer. There they meet the formidable Araminta and have to find their feet in this new world they’ve found themselves in. There are secrets and lies that begin to come to the fore and Cate finds that she’s not the only person hiding things. I loved the characters in this novel, and seeing how they all found their way with each other. It’s such an engrossing and beautiful novel, I recommend it!

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

This is about a family who are split apart when two of them have to go into witness protection. Lauren and her daughter Zara are trying to figure out their new lives and who they have to be now. Lauren’s husband Aidan is trying to figure out how he can help them be safe. This novel is so tense, every time anyone does anything that might potentially put them at risk I find myself holding my breath. I really enjoyed this one and have already reviewed it here.

What I Might Read Next

I’m still mood reading whilst also trying to focus on the books on my NetGalley shelf so these books are the ones that I think I’ll be reading next. The first three are NetGalley books. I’ve been wanting to read Ducks, Newburyport for ages and have had a copy since my birthday earlier this year. I feel like I’m ready to face picking up such a long read so we’ll see how I get on!

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake

True Story by Kate Reed Petty

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

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 Book Reviews: How To Be An AntiRacist |The Search Party | The Mothers | How To Disappear

How To Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. It’s a non-fiction book that is about how it’s not enough to just be not racist, we have to actively be anti-racist. The author examines his own thoughts and emotions on the subject and provokes the reader to think about their own ideas. Each chapter is on a different subject and opens with a brief description of the main terms used. I really liked how the book is set out and it meant I could read a chapter and then put the book down and take time to digest what I’d read before moving on to the next chapter. This is a US book but I still found it really enlightening as a British person living in the UK. It made me feel so much more empowered to be more pro-active as an anti-racist, and to speak out more when I see racist behaviour. I recommend this one and now I’m keen to start reading the author’s previous book Stamped From The Beginning.

The Search Party by Simon Lelic

I’ve read most of the author’s previous novels and enjoyed them but this one is his best yet! It follows a group of friends who decide to form a search party to go looking for their friend Sadie. The police are involved but this group feels that the police are not doing enough and are looking in the wrong place. We meet this group after the search and we hear their stories via the police interviews, which takes us back in time to before and during the search. I love how the picture of what happened is slowly built up and there are moments in this novel that are so tense I was holding my breath. There are red herrings along the way, which were also great as it threw me completely off the scent but it does all make sense at the end. We also find out that this group of friends don’t all like each other very much and they all have their reasons for wanting to find Sadie! We also get the perspective of the detective and he has his own past ties to this small town and this adds even more intrigue to the novel. I recommend this one!

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

This book was the oldest one on my NetGalley shelf and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner because it was such a gripping read. It follows a police officer investigating a missing man. We then follow a group of five mothers and we learn about how they became friends and how they are with each other. The missing man is the husband of one of these women and it seems there is more to the story than we initially find out. I really enjoyed how it went back and forth in time as we get to know the women and their back stories. At first it seems like they’re frenemies but there is a bond between them. I love stories about female friendship and this was another good one, and it went in a different direction than I was expecting so I loved that aspect. There are moments in the novel where I had to suspend my disbelief but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all as I was fully invested in the wider story. I recommend this one!

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

I love this author’s novels so have been eagerly anticipating this new one and it didn’t disappoint. This book follows teenager Zara who witnesses a crime and the repercussions mean her and her mum Lauren have to go into witness protection for their own safety. Lauren’s husband Aidan doesn’t go with them as he needs to stay near his own daughter Poppy. The first part of this book is so fast-paced and I couldn’t read it quick enough. Then the tension starts to build and I had to keep putting the book down, I was so anxious about the rules that kept being broken and what the consequences might be. And yet the book kept pulling me back because I just needed to know! This is a rollercoaster ride of a book and it definitely keeps you on your toes. I really enjoyed this one and I recommend it!

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (25 Jul 20)!

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

Purchased eBooks

Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch

I’ve seen this book around in recent weeks and thought it sounded really interesting so when I spotted it in the Kindle Daily Deals earlier this week I bought it. I hope to get to this one soon.

Afua Hirsch is British. Her parents are British. She was raised, educated and socialised in Britain. Her partner, daughter, sister and the vast majority of her friends are British. So why is her identity and sense of belonging a subject of debate? The reason is simply because of the colour of her skin. Blending history, memoir and individual experiences, Afua Hirsch reveals the identity crisis at the heart of Britain today. Far from affecting only minority people, Britain is a nation in denial about its past and its present. We believe we are the nation of abolition, but forget we are the nation of slavery. We sit proudly at the apex of the Commonwealth, but we flinch from the legacy of the Empire. We are convinced that fairness is one of our values, but that immigration is one of our problems. Brit(ish) is the story of how and why this came to be, and an urgent call for change.

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

This is another book that I got from the Kindle Daily Deals this week. It’s one I’ve read really good reviews of and am keen to read soon.

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins—aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony—and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family? What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

I keep hearing great things about Samantha Irby’s writing but didn’t know which book to start with so when this book popped up in the Kindle Daily Deals I immediately bought it. I’m just in the mood to read an essay collection so I may pick this up very soon.

A new essay collection from Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America. Irby is turning forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and is courted by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife and two step-children in a small white, Republican town in Michigan where she now hosts book clubs. This is the bourgeois life of dreams. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “skinny, luminous peoples” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” and hides Entenmann’s cookies under her bed and unopened bills under her pillow.

The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Dare

This is another book that I keep hearing about and it sounds like such an interesting novel that I couldn’t resist buying it.

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. As the only daughter of a broke father, she is a valuable commodity. Removed from school and sold as a third wife to an old man, Adunni’s life amounts to this: four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens and a new TV. When unspeakable tragedy swiftly strikes in her new home, she is secretly sold as a domestic servant to a household in the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where no one will talk about the strange disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. No one but Adunni… As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless servant, fourteen-year-old Adunni is repeatedly told that she is nothing. But Adunni won’t be silenced. She is determined to find her voice – in a whisper, in song, in broken English – until she can speak for herself, for the girls like Rebecca who came before, and for all the girls who will follow.

Review Books

The Thursday Murder Club By Richard Osman

This is one of my most anticipated reads of this year so I was thrilled to be approved to read it from NetGalley. I don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long at all!

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings. But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case. The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

This is another of my most anticipated reads for 2020 so when I spotted the audio book on NetGalley I hit that request button right away. I was delighted to be approved to read this one yesterday and it will definitely be the next book I listen to!

Verity is telling lies… And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder. Serena has been lying for years. . . And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable… Poppy’s lies have come back to haunt her . . . So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves? Everyone lies. But whose lies are going to end in tragedy? 

The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams

This is another audio book that I got from NetGalley this week. I’ve heard good things about this book and it sounds like a fun summer listen. I’m looking forward to getting to it.

She’s single. But it can still be complicated… Penny Bridge has always been unlucky in love. So she can’t believe it when she meets a remarkable new man. Followed by another. And then another… And all of them want to date her. Penny has to choose between three. But are any of them The One?

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

I requested this audiobook on the BorrowBox app a few weeks ago so have been eagerly awaiting my turn to listen to it. It finally downloaded this week so I’m keen to get to it. I think I’ll listen to the new Dorothy Koomson novel first and then this one.

KENSINGTON AVE, PHILADELPHIA: THE FIRST PLACE YOU GO FOR DRUGS OR SEX. THE LAST PLACE YOU WANT TO LOOK FOR YOUR SISTER. Mickey Fitzpatrick has been patrolling the 24th District for years. She knows most of the working women by name. She knows what desperation looks like and what people will do when they need a fix. She’s become used to finding overdose victims: their numbers are growing every year. But every time she sees someone sprawled out, slumped over, cold to the touch, she has to pray it’s not her sister, Kacey. When the bodies of murdered sex workers start turning up on the Ave, the Chief of Police is keen to bury the news. They’re not the kind of victims that generate a whole lot of press anyway. But Mickey is obsessed, dangerously so, with finding the perpetrator – before Kacey becomes the next victim.

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (22 Jul 20)! What are you reading?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

This novel follows a police detective Iona as she starts investigating the disappearance of a married man. I’m only a couple of chapters into this one but we’ve met the group of mothers, one of whom is married to the missing man. There seems to be a class divide in the mothers’ group, and they almost seem like frenemies at the moment. I’m keen to find out what’s going on and also to see how the prologue, where someone seems to be about to smother a baby, fits into the whole story. This is definitely intriguing and I want to know more!

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

This is about a family who are split apart when two of them have to go into witness protection. Lauren and her daughter Zara are trying to figure out their new lives and who they have to be now. Lauren’s husband Aidan is trying to figure out how he can help them be safe. This novel is so tense, every time anyone does anything that might potentially put them at risk I find myself holding my breath. It’s really good and I can’t wait to find out what happens and if everyone will be okay!

Small Island by Andrea Levy

I read this book many years ago and remember enjoying it. I’ve heard people talking about it again recently and decided to buy the audio book so I could listen to it. Andrea Levy narrates the book and it’s excellent hearing her voice her own characters. I’m very much enjoying this one and recommend the audio book.

Recent Reads

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

I’ve had this book on my TBR for three years but I finally picked it up this week and I read it in one sitting. It’s one of the most powerful and eye-opening book on race that I’ve read to date. There is a lot of focus on Serena Williams, as well as the micro-aggressions that are so appalling and shocking. It’s a brilliant book and I recommend it to everyone.

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

I listened to the audio book of this from NetGalley and I really enjoyed it. It follows three women in their 40s: Eleanor, Nancy and Mary. The novel opens with Eleanor learning that Nancy has been murdered. It then is told in three parts: first Eleanor in the present, then Nancy in the past leading up to her murder, and finally it concludes with Mary. I loved the exploration of female friendship and all the complexities that come with being a group of three. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find my thoughts here.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

This is another audio book that I listened to on the NetGalley app. I really enjoyed this one too. It follows Leena who is given two months off work and she ends up swapping homes with her beloved Grandma Eileen. The novel alternates between them and I really loved getting to know their back story and seeing what was going to happen to them in their new lives. It’s a really heartwarming book and lovely escapism. I’ll be reviewing this soon but in the meantime I recommend it!

I Am Not Your Negro by James Baldwin

I recently watched the documentary film of the same name and found it such an emotional and interesting watch so decided to read the book soon afterwards. Raoul Peck sought permission from the Baldwin estate to look at the 30 pages of notes James Baldwin had made on a book he intended to write called Remember This House about the murders of Medgar Evans, Malcom X and Martin Luther King. He then took these notes and fleshed them out to make the documentary and accompanying book I Am Not Your Negro. It’s really well done and I’m so glad I read this one. I recommend it.

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

I couldn’t resist reading this one very soon after I was approved to read it from NetGalley as I love Sarah Moss’ writing. Summerwater is set all in one day on a Scottish cabin park. It follows twelve characters, and each has their own chapter so you really get to know them. You can sense that it’s all building towards something and this makes this slow-burn character novel impossible to put down. I read it all in one sitting and I highly recommend it.

Mine by Clare Empson

I loved Clare Empson’s previous novel Him so was really keen to read her new one and I loved it. It follows Luke in the present day as he meets his birth mother Alice for the first time and gets to know her. Then in alternating chapters it follows Alice back in the 70s as she falls in love for the first time with the lead singer of a band. This is an emotional and absorbing read and I adored it. I’ve reviewed it here.

Innocent or Guilty by A. M. Taylor

This is the oldest book on my NetGalley shelf so in my attempt to catch up I wanted to read it and I’m so pleased I finally go to it as it was a good read. It follows Olivia as she gets involved with a true crime podcast in an attempt to clear her twin brother Ethan. He’s in prison for the murder of Tyler Washington a decade earlier when they were all 18. I loved the podcast element of this novel and the short transcripts that feature throughout the novel. I did predict some of it but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. I’ve already reviewed this book here.

Come Again by Robert Webb

This is another audiobook that I got from NetGalley and I enjoyed it. It follows Kate who is grieving after the sudden death of her husband Luke. It’s told in three parts: the first in the present day where Kate is mired in grief; the second where Kate wakes up back in the 1990s where she is about to meet Luke for the first time; and the third where Kate is back in the present and in the midst of a car chase! Olivia Colman narrates this audiobook and she really adds to the novel, I really recommend the audio. I reviewed this book here.

What I Might Read Next

I’m still working on catching up with some of my NetGalley books at the moment so in the coming days I’m likely to be reading more of them. I’m reading by whim just now but these four are the ones that appeal to me the most as I’m writing this post!

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

The Split by Sharon Bolton

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

Watch Over You by M. J. Ford

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. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (18 Jul 20)!

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

Purchased eBooks

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

I read and enjoyed An American Marriage last year so when I spotted this book by the author on Kindle this week I decided to treat myself. It sounds like such a good read and I’m looking forward to getting to it.

With the opening line of Silver Sparrow, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” author Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and two teenage girls caught in the middle.  Set in a middle-class neighbourhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families—the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters ”the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle ”she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another’s lives.

Review Books

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

I was delighted to be approved to read this one on NetGalley this week as I’ve been keen to read it. I actually picked it up yesterday and read it all in one sitting. It’s such a brilliant novella! I’ll be reviewing it soon but in the meantime I highly recommend it.

On the longest day of the summer, twelve people sit cooped up with their families in a faded Scottish cabin park. The endless rain leaves them with little to do but watch the other residents. A woman goes running up the Ben as if fleeing; a retired couple reminisce about neighbours long since moved on; a teenage boy braves the dark waters of the loch in his red kayak. Each person is wrapped in their own cares but increasingly alert to the makeshift community around them. One particular family, a mother and daughter without the right clothes or the right manners, starts to draw the attention of the others. Tensions rise and all watch on, unaware of the tragedy that lies ahead as night finally falls.

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

I requested this one from NetGalley on a whim as I can’t resist books about music. This sounds like such a good read and I can’t wait to get to it.

It’s the early days of the new millennium, and Laura has arrived in New York City’s East Village in the hopes of recording her first album. A songwriter with a one-of-a-kind talent, she’s just beginning to book gigs with her beautiful best friend when she falls hard for a troubled but magnetic musician whose star is on the rise. Their time together is stormy and short-lived – but will reverberate for the rest of Laura’s life. Fifteen years later, Laura’s teenage daughter is asking questions about her father, questions Laura does not want to answer. Laura has built a stable life in Brooklyn that bears little resemblance to the one she envisioned all those years ago, and she’s taken pains to close the door on what was and what might have been. When her best friend – now a famous musician – comes to town, opportunity knocks for Laura for a second time. Has growing older changed who she is and what she most wants? After all the sacrifices and compromises she’s made along the way, how much is she still that girl from Ohio, with big talent and big dreams?

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

I read and loved Araminta Hall’s previous novel Our Kind of Cruelty so when I spotted her new book on the Listen Now section of NetGalley I couldn’t download it fast enough. I think this will be my next audiobook listen once I’ve finished my current one.

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, a loving husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous and wealthy, with adoring friends and family—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, maybe even themselves. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question: who killed Nancy?

All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle

I’ve read some great reviews of this one so requested it on NetGalley. I’m so pleased to be approved to read this one and plan on reading it soon.

Life is waiting to happen to Hubert Bird. But first he has to open his front door and let it in. In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment. But Hubert Bird is lying. The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul. Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on. Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out. Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . . Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows will he ever get to live the life he’s pretended to have for so long?

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke

I was offered the chance to read and review this book for the blog tour and I immediately said yes! This is another book that centres around a song and I love the sound of it.

This is the story of a love song . . . And like any good love song, it has two parts. In Australia, Arie Johnson waits impatiently for classical pianist Diana Clare to return from a world tour, hopeful that after seven years together she’ll finally agree to marry him. On her travels, Diana composes a song for Arie. It’s the perfect way to express her love, knowing they’ll spend their lives together . . . Won’t they? Then late one night, her love song is overheard, and begins its own journey across the world. In Scotland, Evie Greenlees is drifting. It’s been years since she left Australia with a backpack, a one-way ticket and a dream of becoming a poet. Now she spends her days making coffee and her nights serving beer. And she’s not even sure whether the guy she lives with is really her boyfriend or just a flatmate. Then one day she hears an exquisite love song. One that will connect her to a man with a broken heart . . .

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

I read and loved The Flatshare by this author last year so have been keen to read her new one. I was lucky to get this audiobook from NetGalley this week and I’m already listening to it. It’s such a lovely book and Alison Steadman and Daisy Edgar-Jones are perfect narraters. I’m very much enjoying this one!

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

Under A Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

This is another audiobook that I got from NetGalley this week (I’m so excited about audiobooks now being on there for review!). I downloaded this one on a whim as it sounds like such a lovely read for the summer. I’m looking forward to this one.

One summer to change her life… Wanda Williams has always dreamed of leaving her wellies behind her and travelling the world! Yet every time she comes close to following her heart, life always seems to get in the way. So, when her mother ends up in hospital and her sister finds out she’s pregnant with twins, Wanda knows that only she can save the crumbling campsite at the family farm. Together with her friends in the village, she sets about sprucing up the site, mowing the fields, replanting the allotment and baking homemade goodies for the campers. But when a long-lost face from her past turns up, Wanda’s world is turned upside-down. And under a starry sky, anything can happen…

Come Again by Robert Webb

I was thrilled to spot this audiobook on NetGalley as I’ve been so keen to read it. I’ve actually already read and reviewed this one so you can find my full thoughts here.

Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart. One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this was the day she first met Luke. But he is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same…

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (15 Jul 20)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

Come Again by Robert Webb

I was thrilled to find that NetGalley have launched audiobooks this week and I immediately downloaded this one. I started listening to it straight away and am already halfway through it. Olivia Colman is narrating it and she is perfect for this book! The novel follows Kate whose husband has recently died and she’s not coping. Then one day she wakes up and finds herself in her 18 year old body and realises she can find Luke again and maybe this time she can save him. I’m really enjoying it and am intrigued to see where it’s going.

Innocent or Guilty? by A. M. Taylor (This also seems to be known as The Killer You Know)

This is the oldest book on my NetGalley shelf so I attempt to catch up I wanted to get to it. I did start reading this early into lockdown and just couldn’t get into it. I’m so glad I came back to it and started it again this week though as I’m totally gripped. It follows Olivia whose twin brother is in prison for murdering a boy at their school. She is persuaded to allow a true crime podcast to investigate what happened and as she is sure her brother is innocent she thinks they will help get him a re-trial. At the moment I have my suspicions about who the guilty party is but I have no idea how its all going to play out. I can’t wait to read more!

Recent Reads

How to Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

I’ve been reading this one all week and am glad I read it slowly so I could take in what was being said. I found this a good introduction to why it’s important to be an antiracist and why being not racist is not enough. I appreciated how the author reflects on his own racist ideas as this made the book feel very inclusive in the way it’s asking us to all look at ourselves to see how we can do better. I need to mull the book over a little more but I will review it soon.

The Search Party by Simon Lelic

I think this is my new favourite book by this author! It follows a group of friends who form a search party to look for their missing friend Sadie. Things aren’t quite as they seem though and there are quite a few secrets within this group and everyone has their own reason for wanting Sadie to be found. I enjoyed how the detective has his own tragic ties to the town and how that played into his thoughts on what might have happened. I recommend this one!

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

This is another gripping thriller that I devoured in one sitting! It follows two couples and the power dynamics in their relationships. It looks a lot at the obsession over money and how it is when others have more than you. There is more than one reveal in this novel as it goes along and my head was spinning by the end. I loved it though. I’ve already reviewed this one here if you’d like to know more.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

I’ve had a copy of this book since it was published but decide to borrow the audio book from the library and I’m glad I did. It works so well on audio. It follows a very privileged white woman in New York who decides to take a year out of her life and sleep it away using various medications prescribed by an unscrupulous psychiatrist. She treats her best friend appallingly and is so self-obsessed. And yet I couldn’t help but be fascinated and to care what would happen to her in the end. I loved this book and now want to read everything this author has ever written!

Finders, Keepers by Sabine Durrant

This is another book that I read in one sitting over the course of an afternoon and I loved it. It’s a novel about obsessive behaviours and it’s so good. It follows Verity who has her neighbour Ailsa living with her and we gradually learn about how they became friends and what happened to Ailsa’s husband. There is so much more to the story and I was engrossed in this one. I recommend it!

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

This novel follows Astrid, a recovering alcoholic who is back living with her mum. She starts attending AA meetings and there she meets two women – one who she forms a bond with and one who she’s immediately suspicious about. Astrid has a secret but fears someone has found out as she feels like she’s being followed and watched. I enjoyed this one! I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it more than lived up to my expectations. It follows Vanessa in the past when she as 15 and in the present day. She had what she thinks as a relationship with her teacher whilst at school but it’s clear that he was actually grooming her. In the present Vanessa is forced to confront her memories of that relationship and to face that fact that maybe she, like other girls at the school, was also abused. I recommend that everyone reads this book, it’s stunning! It’s not always easy to read but it’s so powerful and so well-written. I’ve reviewed this one already so you can find my thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

This was another great read from the last week (although I had read most of it the week before)! I love Lisa Jewell’s writing and this book is every bit as good as her previous novels. It follows three people: Saffyre, a troubled teenager who goes missing; Kate whose family has moved into a flat in a new area and she’s paranoid about her husband and suspicious of the man across the road; Owen who is that man, and he is a little odd which makes people target him. Saffyre goes missing outside Owen’s house. I loved how this book gives insight into why people think the way they do and how it shows the complexity of people. I really enjoyed this book!

What I Might Read Next

I’m trying to catch up with some of my NetGalley books at the moment so the first three books that I’d like to read this week are all from my NG shelf. The fourth book is the next book that I want to read from my 20 Books of Summer TBR as I’m aware it’s nearly the halfway point of the challenge and I need to not lose momentum now!

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

Mine by Clare Empson

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

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 Book Reviews: My Dark Vanessa | The Other Passenger | One Step Behind | Who Did You Tell?

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it absolutely lived up to my hopes for it! It follows Vanessa both in the present day and in the past when she had a relationship with her teacher Jacob Straynewhile she was still a student. Vanessa hears that a woman who went to the same school has accused Strayne of grooming and abusing her and she wants Vanessa to also come forward. She is stunned because she believes her and Strayne were in a loving relationship. As the novel progresses it’s very uncomfortable to read how Strayne clearly groomed Vanessa, and to see how she viewed it as a mutual attraction. It’s also hard to read how she has remained friends with him in all the years since. Over the course of the book Vanessa is forced to confront what happened between her and Strayne and it’s devastating. This book is so stunningly written and it never shies away from the reality of what happened to Vanessa. This is a book that will really stay with me and I highly recommend it.

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

I love Louise Candlish’s writing so have been looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint! The novel follows Jamie and his wife Claire, and a younger couple they become friends with, Kit and Melia. Claire and Jamie live in a big posh house that Claire inherited but Kit is obsessed with money and status. The novel opens with Jamie being questioned as Kit has disappeared and it seems he was the last person to see him. The timeline then goes back and forth between the present day and the year previous when the two men first met and became friends. This novel is increasingly dark and twisted and I loved that! Everyone in this book seems to be obsessed with status and where they are in relation to others which makes them so unlikeable and yet fascinating at the same time. Nothing is quite as it seems with this one, it keeps you guessing! I recommend it!

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel The Perfect Betrayal so I was excited to read her new one. This book follows two women – Jenna and Sophie. Jenna is a busy A&E doctor and mum of two. She seems to have a perfect life but now someone is stalking her. She is increasingly anxious about the stalker and tries to find out more about them. Then one day he arrives in A&E after a serious accident and she is the doctor in charge. She has to decide if she’s treat him like any other patient or take matters into her own hands. Sophie is feeling increasingly trapped in her relationship. She loves the apartment they share but her boyfriend is tracking her movements and wanting her to account for where she has been every minute of the day. I was curious if the two women’s lives would interconnect and what would happen with Jenna’s stalker. I was gripped by this one and found it a fast-paced read. The first half is quite a slow-build and then the book starts accelerating – I really liked this pacing, it made me feel like I was trapped in this situation with Jenna. I recommend this one!

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara