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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

Sarah Ward

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

Find Sarah on the following links:

Twitter:https://twitter.com/sarahrward1

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

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

 

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#BookReview: The Break by Marian Keyes @MichaelJBooks @MarianKeyes #TheBreak

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About the Book

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Break is out now

 

About the Author

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

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

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

About the Book

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

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

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friend Request is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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

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

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

Laura lives in Kent with her husband and two children.

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

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About the Book

THE SERIAL KILLER ISN’T ON TRIAL.

HE’S ON THE JURY…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thirteen is out now in ebook and paperback available here.

 

About the Author

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

#BookReview: The Date by Louise Jensen @Fab_Fiction @Bookouture

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About the Book

One night can change everything.

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

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

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

 

My thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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About the Book

Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fear is out now and available here.

About the Author

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

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

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

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

(Author bio taken from: cltaylorauthor.com)

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

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About the Book

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

SK Perry © Naomi Woddis copy

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

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

(Author bio taken from here)

 

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

Can she get out before it’s too late?

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tubing is out now and available here!

 

About the Author

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

She is currently working on her second novel.

 


 

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

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About the Book

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Million Dollar Duchesses is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Julie Ferry Author Picture

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

 

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#BookReview: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson @OrendaBooks @JoGustawsson

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About the Book

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

 

My Thoughts

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeper is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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

 

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

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About the Book

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

(Bio taken from: ElizabethMoore.com)

 

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

Alice Fitzgerald

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

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

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About the Book

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

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

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

I currently have a number of TV projects in development.

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

(Bio taken from: DavidWhitehouse.com)

 

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

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About the Book

 

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Neighbors is out now!

 

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About the Book

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

About the Translator

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

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

We Were The Salt of the Sea BT Banner

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

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About the Book

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 


 

 

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

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

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About the Book

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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Linda MacDonald

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

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

 

About the Narrator

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Harriet Carmichael

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

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

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

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

 

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

Meeting Lydia Blog Tour Poster

Mini #bookreviews: #CrimeFiction featuring Anything You Do Say, The Good Daughter, Then She Was Gone & Lily Alone!

Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of books that I’ve read and enjoyed over recent weeks!

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Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This novel is brilliant! The premise had me so keen to read it as soon as I possibly could – the idea of a sliding doors type story always appeals to me and this one is the best I have read! The idea of walking home from a club on a dark night and becoming aware that someone is following you, becoming increasingly fearful that the man is going to attack you and you lash out in sheer terror. Then you have to make the decision to either dial 999 and get help, or to run away and say nothing. This is such a clever novel, it really explores the realities of what might happen in each of the two scenarios in such a believable way. It also looks at the impact of guilt and how punishment can come in many forms, and that maybe there is no getting away with it. I loved this book – I finished reading it weeks ago and I still find myself thinking about it. I’ve even bought a couple of copies as Christmas presents as I know people who will enjoy this book every bit as much as I did. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

 

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

I’ve been a fan of Lisa Jewell ever since reading Ralph’s Party when it was first published and I love how her novels have become darker over the years. This book is my new favourite by her – I literally couldn’t put it down once I started it and read it in one sitting! The premise is that Laurel’s teenage daughter disappeared ten years ago and has never been found. Laurel is trying to make a life for herself and one day meets a new man and his young daughter Poppy. Laurel sees a lot of her missing daughter in the young Poppy and it stirs up her pain and her anguish at what might have happened to her own daughter. This is a book that was pretty much impossible to work out how it was going to end, and yet when the denouement came it felt believable and true to the story. This is a novel that has stayed with me since I finished it and it’s one I highly recommend!

 

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

I’m going to admit something here, something that I can’t quite believe to be true myself but this was my first ever Karin Slaughter novel! After reading it I can honestly say that it absolutely won’t be my last – in fact I’ve already bought a couple of her books and am really looking forward to reading them. This novel pulled me in from the very first chapter and it had me hooked right through to the very end. It’s a book that begins with a crime that happened years previously but now another crime has happened in the present day and it pulls back the people who were affected by the first. This is a crime thriller but it’s also an exploration of family dynamics and how people react in awful circumstances. It’s a novel that has stayed with me in the weeks since I read it and I recommend it.

 

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

I was drawn to this novel as soon as I read the synopsis – the idea of a young child being found home alone and there being no sign of where her mother had gone sounded like such an intriguing plot. I’m happy to say that this book lived up to expectations! I’ll be honest and say that I was expecting this to be more of a thriller or crime novel but it’s more of a family drama but that didn’t stop me getting completely engrossed in the book.  I was rooting for Lily to be found and to be safe, and also for her mother to be found safe and well. This is a really engrossing novel and one I recommend.

 


 

 

These books were received from publishers via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

All four of the above books are out now!

 

A selection of mini #bookreviews of some fabulous fiction that I’ve read recently!

 

FICTION MINI REVIEW PICS

Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews! As I said in my post yesterday I really want to be caught up on my reviews as much as I can be before the end of the year so I hope no one minds reading shorter reviews of the books I’ve loved in recent weeks.

 

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All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

This novel is such an incredible read, it’s one of those books that really got under my skin  and I still find myself thinking about Beth. I loved the idea of the novel – we know from the start that Beth is in prison and she’s working with a therapist to find good things in her life that she can focus on. The novel is told via the stories Beth is writing down. I knew I was going to like this novel but I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. The novel slowly shows how Beth’s life has been, and we gradually begin to fit it all together and to really understand how she has been let down. I began to get a sense of why Beth might be in prison but I was hoping I was wrong. This book broke my heart, I actually shed tears as I was reading and I just wanted to reach into the page and make things be different than they were. This is a book that will stay with me, and one I’d like to re-read again in the future. I highly recommend this book, it’s stunning!

 

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This book is brilliant; I finished reading it a couple of months ago and still find it coming to mind even now. This on face value is a dystopian novel set in a London that is badly flooded and local people are having to flee to safety. The main character is heavily pregnant and resists leaving but is eventually forced to. What follows is her journey as she tries to survive in a rapidly changing landscape but it felt to me that it was really more about motherhood and all the changes and anxieties that this stage in life brings. At times the rising water seems to mirror the anxiety around her new baby and how they were going to get through. This is a short book but it really is worth reading it slowly and making time to take in all the layers within the story. I highly recommend this book.

 

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

The premise of this book drew me to it – the question posed is What would you do if your closest friend tried to steal your life? The story follows the main character, a writer, who meets a fan at a signing and the fan increasingly encroaches on her life. The novel is written in such a way that at times you feel like you’re reading a true story, and then you realise it’s a work of fiction. There are so many layers and much to muse on as you read. This book took me quite a while to read because I kept putting it down to mull over what I’d been reading. It’s a brilliant novel though and I absolutely recommend it!

 

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I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

I’ve been a fan of the characters in this series of books from the very beginning and am happy to say that this book is really good. I pretty much read it in one sitting and loved being back in the world of Angela, and Jenny. This novel sees Angela being stressed about what is happening at the magazine she works for but there is still plenty of very funny antics and hilarious moments throughout the book. This is a lovely end to this series and it’s made me want to go back to the beginning and start them all over again. I recommend this one, especially if you’ve read the other books.

 

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31 Days of Wonder by Tom Winter

 

This book was such a delightful surprise of a novel for me. From the synopsis, and my assumptions based on the cover, I was expecting this to be a straightforward boy meets girl novel, but I was wrong. 31 Days of Wonder is a quirky look at two characters, Alice and Ben, who meet briefly in a park at the start of the novel and then spend the rest of the book discovering more about themselves as they search for what is missing. Ben actively tries to find the Alice who he imagines to be the perfect woman for him. Alice is unhappy with her weight and her job and has no idea that the man in the park thought she was beautiful. The novel spans the 31 days as Alice and Ben move towards finding the thing they need to be fulfilled and happy. I loved the way it was more about how one moment can change the course of your life for the better in ways you don’t expect. I thought this book was going to be a bit predictable but it really wasn’t – it was lovely and surprising and I really enjoyed it.

 


 

I received all of these books from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

All five of these books are out now!

Mini Reviews: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen, After I’ve Gone by Linda Green, Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath & In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

 

This week I’m sharing some mini reviews on my blog in order to catch up before Christmas! I’ve not been able to write many full reviews in recent weeks due to my energy and strength being used on Christmas preparations but I hope these mini reviews will still give you a flavour of the books.

 

 

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The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

I’m such a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s writing so grabbed a copy of The Surrogate as soon as I saw it. I didn’t need to even read the synopsis because I knew it would be good… and it was so very, very good! I think this may be my new favourite of her novels and it’s a book that has really stayed with me. Kat and Nick had been trying for a baby for a long while and eventually turned to look at adoption. When this didn’t work out it leaves Kat devastated so when an old friend turns up and offers to be a surrogate Kat shrugs off her concerns regarding how they fell out years ago and agrees. This book has so many twists and turns, and actually had me gasp in surprise at one of them, that I honestly couldn’t predict how it would all turn out. The denouement when it comes is shocking and chilling and so utterly perfect. This is definitely a thriller not to be missed!

 

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After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

This is such a refreshing take on a thriller and I devoured it! Jess checks her Facebook on an ordinary January day and discovers that the updates are all from 18 months into the future and her friends and family are mourning her death. This grabbed me from the off as I can’t recall another novel told in this way. Jess initially thinks it’s a joke and then begins to question her own sanity. It leads her to make decisions in order to try and get some of the same outcomes she’s reading about but without it leading to her death. Things get really tough for Jess when she realises how she dies and it becomes apparent that she may not be able to get away. There are elements to this book that I wasn’t expecting and the controlling relationship was one of them. It is so well done though and really shows how easy it is for ordinary, intelligent people to become trapped in an awful situation. I was rooting for Jess all the way through this novel and hoping she could re-write her future just enough to get the good and then to escape. This is a really good thriller and one I recommend.

 

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Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath

This is a novel that really got under my skin. Cat Lupo suffered psychosis around her first pregnancy so when a devastating secret about her husband is revealed, it gradually leads to people close to her questioning her state of mind. I loved this novel. It was interesting to be unsure whether Cat was ill again or whether she was right to be so paranoid about what was going on with this child that has turned up in their lives. The tension in this book really did reach that point where I was literally on the edge of my seat reading as fast as I could because I simply had to know how things were going to turn out. If you’ve not already read this, I highly recommend it. I’m already eagerly anticipating what Mel McGrath writes next!

 

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In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

The premise of this book drew me to it as soon as I read it – the idea of meeting someone on a bridge late at night and then two weeks later receiving an unexpected gift just grabbed me right away! I’m pleased to say that the book didn’t disappoint. The cottage in the wood is such a creepy location and it’s something in books that sets my nerves on edge so this book had me in it’s clutches. The novel didn’t end up being as scary as I was thinking it might be but it definitely had me feeling a bit jumpy in places. I also loved that while I thought I had it all worked out there was a twist that blindsided me, which was great! This is a book that’s definitely worth checking out on these cold winter nights.

 

 


 

 

I received copies of the above books from the publishers via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

All four of these fab thrillers are out now!

#BookReview: All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker @WhittyAuthor @BonnierZaffre

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About the Book

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.

Then Summer goes missing. Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.

But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

 

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I received a copy of All the Wicked Girls as it sounded like such a great read; the book ended up being so much more than I even expected and even though I read it a few weeks ago now I still have it swirling around in my head.

All the Wicked Girls is set in the town of Grace, Alabama where a teenage girl, Summer, has gone missing. There is already cloud hanging over this town as a few years previously a series of murders were committed and her twin sister Raine is convinced that Summer’s disappearance is connected. She begins a search for her sister and it leads to many a secret being uncovered.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Raine in the early part of the book as she seemed quite abrasive at times, but I soon found myself really intrigued by her and wanting to know how she became who she was; in time I was rooting for her and wanting her be okay. As the novel goes on I was absolutely behind her and wanting her to get the answers she needed and to find the inner strength to make something of her life; I wanted her to escape Grace. Some of the other characters in this book really got to me too, like Purv and Noah, and I keep finding myself thinking about them and wondering if they were okay after the book ended. It’s not often that characters stay with me as if they were real people but this book made these characters feel so real to me that I almost can’t believe that they weren’t.

I wasn’t expecting the town of Grace to get under my skin as much as it did. This is a book where the location is a character in its own right; it feels like such a claustrophobic town where everyone knows your business. The weather is similar, the literal dark cloud hanging over this town is so oppressive, it mirrors the growing tension within. The heavy atmosphere was palpable as it was reading, it really did feel like the walls were closing in on me. I honestly can’t express well enough just how much this book draws you right into the heart of it.

The tension builds and builds as the novel progresses. I found that the the opening chapter sets up the mystery really well and then the story progression felt quite slow for a little while but the tension is slowly building right from the start and it does reach that point where you just can’t put the book down; you simply have to find out what has happened to Summer, and what will happen with the other people in this book that you’ve come to know and care about. You do get answers in the novel but there is so much more to this book than a build to a big reveal, because you question the morality of people in this book so much; you wonder about people’s motives and by the end you have people you feel desperately sorry for and others who you feel have somehow got away with something, albeit in side stories to the main plot. This book will make you feel all of the feelings and it will make you think and question and wonder. It’s a great mystery novel but it’s also so much more than that. The characters, the atmosphere, the sense of place – all of it together make this one of the best novels I’ve read this year.

All the Wicked Girls will slowly get under your skin, it will creep up on you until you feel like you are in this town with these people and once it does it won’t let you go. It’s such a brilliantly, atmospheric thriller of a book and is one that I’m sure will stay with me for a very long time to come. This book has got to me so much that I already want to re-read it (and I’m not someone who re-reads very often these days). It will definitely be on my top books of 2017 list and I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. If you haven’t already read it, go buy a copy asap as you won’t regret it!

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

All the Wicked Girls is out now!

 

About the Author

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Chris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.

#BookReview: A Ragbag of Riches by James Chilton @AuthorightUKPR @gilbster1000 @Authoright

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About the Book

This collection of quips and quotes creates abook for the bower, the bedside, the bath and for browsing; a book at arm’s length from the deck chair, for the tedium of travel but above all for pleasure.

It is a haphazard collection: the Ragbag covering the rougher, even vulgar (but nevertheless witty) entries of graffiti, newspaper headlines and bumper stickers, the Riches being the poetry, prayers and prose of fine minds that inspire by their beauty, sincerity and sublime use of words. At the lower end, I love the astringency and ability of the authors to poke fun with the sharpness of a red-hot needle. At the top end, silver words and profound wisdom sometimes lead me to tears.

So I invite you to wallow or skip lightly. I hope there is something in this salmagundi to make you smile or catch the affections of your heart; to mingle quiet music with amiable irreverence.

 

My Thoughts

James Chilton has spent many years noting down his favourite quotations and snippets that have caught his attention and has now compiled them into A Ragbag of Riches. This immediately had me excited to read this book because for many years I used to write down all of my favourite quotes in notebooks and even though the notebooks are now long since lost I still retain a memory for my favourite quotes. I also can never resist a book like this one where someone has managed to keep hold of their notebooks over the years.

A Ragbag of Riches is set out in chapters covering all sorts of topics from the human condition to bumper stickers to food and drink plus many more subjects. I initially started reading this intending to read it in the order it was set out in but I found myself drawn to different subjects on different days so I read it in a bit more of a random way but it works really well like this, and I feel like it made the book hold more meaning to me because what I was reading was especially inspiring or funny or fascinating to because it was what I was in the mood to be reading on a particular day. I read the whole book over the course of a couple of weeks and very much enjoyed dipping in and out of it.

There is a great mix of poignant quotes along with amusing ones and everything in between, and features a diverse mix of people from poets to politicians, artists to scholars. The book also has great illustrations by Kathryn Lamb, which I enjoyed seeing throughout as I was reading.

On a personal note I did love reading the various comical village names in the Miscellaneous chapter. I giggled when I saw Wetwang, Yorkshire as I used to live near there and it wasn’t a place name that I ever thought anything of until I saw it through the eyes of people not from Yorkshire and it now amuses me every time I hear it!

I also loved the quote from an anonymous six-year old about what Grandmothers mean to us. It brought a lump to my throat and made me think of my lovely nan, who I still miss many years after she died. I won’t type it out here but it’s such a beautiful quote and one to look out for if you get a copy of this book.

I enjoyed the quotes about libraries and reading in this book too. One of my favourites was from EL Doctorow, which so simply and succinctly sums up why I love reading a mix of fiction and non-fiction – it gives such a broad scope to better understand people and history and the world we live in:

‘The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like’.

I stuck post-it notes on so many pages in my copy of A Ragbag of Riches and feel that my life and thoughts have been enriched in lots of ways through reading it. It is such a wonderful book and is one that I will keep hold of and go back to many times in the future, I’m sure. I highly recommend this one to all of you because there is no doubt that there is something for everyone in here. It would also make a brilliant Christmas gift for so many people so it’s worth checking out if you’re still in the midst of Christmas shopping!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A Ragbag of Riches is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

A grandfather of nine and a father of four, James Chilton lives with his wife and two labradors in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. He holds diplomas in Architectural History from Oxford University, in Design and in Plantsmanship from The English Gardening School and a certificate in the Decorative Arts from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Perennially busy, James draws, sculpts, designs gardens and jewelry and is a member of Bart’s Choir. He also a member of the International Dendrology Society and has lectured at the Royal Geographical Society and in Oxford. His first book, The Last Blue Mountain, was published in 2015.

 

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

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#BookReview: Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill @melissahillbks @HQstories

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About the Book

A mother always knows best. Doesn’t she?

What if your choice for your child could harm someone else’s?

Every mother faces impossible choices. Vaccination is one of the hardest. For single mum Kate O’Hara, there was no decision to make. Her daughter Rosie is one of a small percentage of Irish children who can’t be vaccinated against measles. All Kate can do is hope that her little girl is safe.

For mummy blogger Madeleine Cooper, it was a leap of faith she wasn’t prepared to take when she and her husband declined controversial measles jabs for their daughter Clara. All she can do is pray that it’s the right decision.

But when classmates Clara and Rosie both become sick will Kate pay for Madeleine’s choice?

My Thoughts

I love Melissa Hill’s novels – one of my favourite Christmas books is A Gift to Remember, it never fails to make me smile. So, when I saw Melissa Hill had a new novel due out I immediately requested a copy on NetGalley.

Keep You Safe is different from the feel-good reads that I’ve previously read but it absolutely lives up to those previous books. This novel explores the issue of childhood vaccinations and the potential repercussions when you choose not to have your child immunised. This is an issue that affects so many people and everyone has an opinion so I was fascinated to read a novel that explores this.

There are two sides to every story and Melissa Hill really captures this very well. Kate is a single mum to Rosie and she and her late husband were unable to give Rosie the MMR due to severe allergies. Kate is easy to like and I felt sorry for her throughout this novel. Madeleine and her husband chose not to give their children the MMR because of their beliefs about the vaccination. So when Rosie and Clara both become ill around the same time it sets in play a chain of events that unravel these two families.

I found this to be such an engaging and engrossing novel. It’s one of those books that I couldn’t stop thinking about in the times when I wasn’t reading it. Everyone in my family has had all the vaccines that were available to them and, while I don’t have children myself, I feel I would have done the same . I couldn’t help myself feeling like Madeleine and her husband were being quite selfish and ignorant in not vaccinating their children but I came to be much more understanding as the novel went on. Melissa Hill does a great job at showing both sides of the argument. I know someone who was vaccinated against a different disease many years ago and he was very badly damaged by it so it gave me some sympathy for the characters, even though the MMR is a different issue.

I actually read this book a while ago now and am only just finishing my review now but I can honestly say that this is a novel that has really stayed with me. I’ve recommended it to a few people too because it’s such a good read. It’s always great to find a book that is easy to read whilst also making you think and having a depth to it that makes it stay in your mind long after you finished reading. If you haven’t already read Keep You Safe I highly recommend you grab a copy and read it soon!

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

About the Author

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Melissa Hill lives in County Wicklow with her husband and daughter.

A USA Today and international No 1 bestseller, she is the author of 15 novels.  A TV adaptation of A GIFT TO REMEMBER will be released as Hallmark Christmas movie in 2017 and SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY’S is currently in development with a major Hollywood studio.

Melissa’s books have been translated into 25 different languages including Bulgarian, German, Czech, Finnish, Latvian, Serbian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Brazilian, Thai and Chinese and have hit bestseller lists in multiple countries. The Italian edition of SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY’S, ‘Un Regalo da Tiffany’ spent eight weeks at No 1 in Italy, selling over 600,000 copies, making it one of the bestselling 2011 Italian books overall.

Her writing combines all the warmth and humour of contemporary women’s fiction with plots that keep readers guessing from page to page.

(Author bio and photo taken from: curtisbrown.com)

#BookReview: Yesterday by Felicia Yap @FeliciaMYap @Wildfirebks

Yesterday by Felicia Yap

About the Book

A brilliant high-concept thriller – a debut with all the intrigue of Gone Girl and the drama of Before I Go To Sleep just how do you solve a murder when you can only remember yesterday?

There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

 

My Thoughts

After seeing this book around on social media for a few weeks I just couldn’t resist requesting it on NetGalley and I was thrilled when I was approved. I actually read this quite a few weeks ago now but due to ill health I haven’t managed to finish my review until now, but I can say that this is a book that has stayed with me which is the sign of a great read!

I’m fascinated by books about memory and I do love an unreliable narrator so this book really appealed to me and I’m so pleased to say that it absolutely lived up to the appeal. The novel is unsettling from the start because it’s set in our world in the present day but everyone is either a mono (with a memory span of only the last 24 hours) or a duo (who can remember the previous 48 hours). This means that everyone has to keep a meticulous record of their lives in order to recollect anything beyond the time span on their memory. Obviously the duos have an advantage as they can remember things for longer so marriage between monos and duos is very much frowned upon. Claire is a mono, and her husband Mark is a duo. As far as Claire is concerned they have been happily married for a number of years but the only sadness is that they can’t have a child.

Claire is shocked one day when the police turn up at her door to tell her that her husband’s mistress has been found dead near their home and they think her husband killed her. The novel builds with such pace and tension from this point on as we see how Claire begins to try and put together any memories she can find about their past and if there is any hint that her husband has been cheating on her. She only has her diary to rely on for memories and this really ramps up the tension in the novel.

The novel then follows four perspectives – Claire, Mark, the mistress and the police detective – and all four have secrets. Some are dark secrets, and some are things that you can understand and have some sympathy for link in the case of the person who is trying hard to hold on to their career. Everyone in this novel is relying on their diaries and that makes this novel fascinating and makes for a book whereby all of the characters are unreliable (and I do love unreliable narraters!). The unfolding of all the secrets and lies makes for a very tense and thrill-filled novel and I found this very hard to put down!

I did find it a slightly difficult to get into at first as this is a novel set in the present day but obviously monos and duos don’t exist so it was a bit strange. I very quickly got into the story being told though and this aspect became something that fascinated me and I really enjoyed this novel.

This is a really different thriller to anything that I’ve read in a long while and I found it so refreshing. It has twists and turns along the way and some of the reveals I managed to work out and others just blindsided me, which I loved. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a sophisticated and different take on the thriller genre! I loved this book and it’s one that has really stayed with me.

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

Yesterday is out now!

 

About the Author

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Felicia Yap grew up in Kuala Lumpur. She read biochemistry at Imperial College London, followed by a doctorate in history (and a half-blue in competitive ballroom dancing) at Cambridge University. She has written for The Economist and the Business Times. She has also been a radioactive-cell biologist, a war historian, a Cambridge lecturer, a technology journalist, a theatre critic, a flea-market trader and a catwalk model.

Felicia lives in London and is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy’s novel-writing programme. She has just finished her debut novel, Yesterday, a high-concept thriller.

(Author bio and photo taken from: curtis brown.com)

#BookReview: Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand @HodderBooks @rioferdy5

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About the Book

‘When Rebecca died, the idea that one day I might begin to feel better would have struck me as laughable … I know how persuasive this kind of permanence thinking can be.

I know too that anyone locked in its grip will laugh if I promise them that their pain will one day ease. It will. Of course it will. But I know better than to expect anyone to believe me.’

In 2015, former England football star Rio Ferdinand suddenly and tragically lost his wife and soulmate Rebecca, aged 34, to cancer. It was a profound shock and Rio found himself struggling to cope not just with the pain of his grief, but also with his new role as both mum and dad to their three young children.

Rio’s BBC1 documentary, Being Mum and Dad, touched everyone who watched it and won huge praise for the honesty and bravery he showed in talking about his emotions and experiences. His book now shares the story of meeting, marrying and losing Rebecca, his own and the family’s grief – as well as the advice and support that get him through each day as they strive to piece themselves back together. Thinking Out Loud is written in the hope that he can inspire others struggling with loss and grief to find the help they need through this most difficult of times.

This book has been written by Rio Ferdinand with help from Decca Aitkenhead.

My Thoughts

A couple of years ago I wrote a list for Riffle of books that helped me through the grief I felt after my mum died (which you can find here if you’d like to read it). The loss of my mum changed me in so many ways and I find that I’m still drawn to books where other people have worked through their own grief. Thinking Out Loud is a book that I’ve been interested in ever since I first heard about it and I finally picked up a copy last week. If I were to re-write my list, Thinking Out Loud would definitely be on it.

Thinking Out Loud is such an incredibly open and honest account of Rio Ferdinand’s grief after losing his wife Rebecca. After her death he suddenly found himself in sole charge of their three children and had to not only work out how to run a household but, more importantly,  he had to figure out how best to help his three young children through their grief and he is so open about how he struggled to know what to do. Each of his children outwardly reacted differently and Rio is very candid in sharing how he just didn’t know how he could help them whilst desperately wanting to help them through it.

Rio is very honest in this book and fully admits that he was in denial about his wife’s illness, that he buried his head in the sand and he explores why he did that. He also shares how some of the things that happened were seemingly lost from his memory, that he genuinely couldn’t remember how things had happened. I can understand that – it’s like your brain just can’t cope with the horror of what is happening and it seems to shut down.

In the book we get to hear a bit about Rio’s childhood, and then how he met Rebecca along with the story of their relationship. Rio wasn’t brought up in an environment where feelings were spoken about and then he became a professional footballer at a young age and his mindset became very focused on how to win, how to move on from failure without dwelling on it. He is very candid in the book and on looking back he sees that he perhaps wasn’t always the easiest person to live with and how he wishes he had listened to Rebecca more. Guilt is something that Rio keeps coming back to as the book goes on and I could really identify with that. I think it’s really common to feel guilt when a loved one dies, we always feel like we could have done more or been better. I appreciate when someone is so honest about it, like Rio is in this book, as it will help others to understand their own feelings.

As Rio was making his documentary for the BBC, Being Mum and Dad, he got to speak with other widowers and some of their stories are featured in this book. It was heartbreaking to read those stories and to see how much their wives still meant to them but it was also lovely to read of the men who had eventually gone on to find new relationships.

Rio acknowledges at the start of this book that he realises that some people will want to read his whole story but others will just want, or need, the advice that he has to give so he tells readers they can skip to a later chapter where it’s more about what he’s learnt, which I think is brilliant. These later chapters have such great wisdom in them about things that might help, and all the advice is spot on. I used to take a notebook to my mum’s oncology appointments but having a friend there who could do all the listening and the note-taking would have made things so much easier. I also completely agree that however hard it is for you, it’s really important to let your loved one speak of their wishes as they come towards the end of their life. I know that listening to my mum talk of what she wanted at her funeral broke my heart but after she died I was so glad that I could do that one last thing for her exactly as she’d wanted it. Rio is right – as difficult as it is – we all need to learn to be better at talking about death.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, and especially to people who are looking after a terminally ill loved one and people who are grieving. I cried a lot when I was reading this book but by the end the tears were healing tears. This is one of those books that will really stay with me, and one I will re-read.

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

Thinking Out Loud is out now!

 

About the Author

Rio Ferdinand is a former England footballer who also played football for Manchester United during Sir Alex Ferguson’s time as manager. Rio played 81 times for England and in 3 World Cups, and is one of the most decorated footballers of all time.

He had his first son with Rebecca in 2006 and they married in 2009, going on to have two more children before her death in May 2015 from cancer.

Rio is now a TV football pundit for BT Sport and as well as his BBC documentary on bereavement, Being Mum and Dad, has made a short Heads Together charity film with Prince Harry on mental health. He is also working alongside Child Bereavement and Jigsaw.

(Bio taken from: Hodder.co.uk)

#BookReview | Aches and Gains: A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming your Pain by Paul J. Christo @BullPub

Aches and Gains by Paul Christo

About the Book

Pain is often treatable but doctors, medical professionals, and patients don’t understand the intricacies of chronic pain. Millions who suffer from pain become hopeless. With Aches and Gains, Dr. Paul Christo, a Johns Hopkins physician and leading pain specialist sheds new light on what it means to live with and overcome chronic pain. Dr. Christo shares celebrity interviews, including Naomi Judd, Lisa Swayze, Montel Williams, Ally Hilfiger, and Clay Walker, from his Sirius XM radio show Aches and Gains®, and stories from patients who have found a way to overcome the pain that once controlled their lives. Offering traditional, integrative, and innovative methods of easing pain, the book is a life-changing tool for anyone associated with pain including pain sufferers themselves, doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and caregivers. Features a foreword by renowned talk show host Montel Williams.

 

My Thoughts

I hadn’t heard of this book before I spotted it on NetGalley but I was immediately intrigued by it and so requested it. I suffer from severe chronic pain due to a spinal cord injury and have spent the last couple of years working with my medical team to manage my pain in a better way so Aches and Gains was a book that appealed to me.

Aches and Gains covers a broad spectrum of conditions that cause pain, and how to treat them so some of it was not relevant to me but all of the book was still interesting as it’s helpful to learn how various kinds of pain can be helped by certain treatments. I was pleased to find a mention of my condition in this book with an overview and suggestions of how to manage the particular type of pain that I suffer from. I’ve done a lot of research into the neuropathic pain I suffer from, and have had help from various specialists and can honestly say that most of what I learnt is reinforced in this book. It’s important to consider a holistic approach to managing pain – to look at how stress and how the mind can affect how the body reacts to pain, as well as looking at the most up-to-date medical interventions that may help too. The book is written in an easy-to-follow way, and it’s a book that can be read cover-to-cover or you can use it as a reference guide for specific painful medical conditions.

Aches and Gains feels like reassurance in book form. The easy style of writing that makes it easy to get your head around, even when struggling with pain. The celebrity interviews that are interspersed at relevant points throughout the book are interesting too because it’s always helpful to read about the experience of someone who has been through something similar to you.

This is definitely a book that I will be keeping hold of and will re-read the parts relevant to my health before my next pain clinic appointment so I can discuss some of the treatment possibilities.

Aches and Gains is a book that gives hope that there might still be an unexplored avenue that could help with the pain you might be in, and that is worth such a lot. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is suffering from chronic pain, or to anyone who cares for someone who is suffering with pain. Not all of the book will be directly relevant to you but it’s an easy-to-use guide to a whole range of conditions and it seemed to me that there would be something useful to anyone who picks the book up.

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

Aches and Gains is out now!

About the Author

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Dr. Christo specializes in treating patients with persistent pain in the spine, cancer pain, neuropathic pain (reflex sympathetic dystrophy or complex regional pain syndrome), shingles pain (post herpetic neuralgia), post surgical pain, and thoracic outlet syndrome. Further, Dr. Christo is experienced in performing implantations of pain pumps and spinal cord stimulators for the treatment of unrelenting pain. He also has expertise in clinical anesthesia, epidural placement, and spinal anesthesia.

His current areas of research interest include the use of botulinum toxin for thoracic outlet syndrome, pain in older adults, the mechanisms of spinal cord stimulation, and the application of online educational modules for pain education.

Dr. Christo is the host of Aches and Gains, the first nationally syndicated radio show on overcoming pain that airs weekly on Sirius XM Radio. He has appeared on radio/television/and in print:  XM Satellite Radio with Dr. Mehmet Oz, Lifetime TV’s–The Balancing Act, Dr. Timothy Johnson–Good Morning America Health, Retirement Living Television, and NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show and Talk of the Nation, as well as U.S. News and World Report, Washington Post, and the Baltimore Sun.

(Bio and photo taken from: practicalpainmanagement.com)

#BookReview: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #snare

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Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of Snare as part of the blog tour!

 

About the Book

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonja is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world.

Things become even more complicated when Sonja embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

 

My Thoughts 

I’m going to be completely honest here and say that I wanted to read Snare from the moment I first saw the cover! This cover is one of the most original and memorable book covers that I’ve seen in a long while and I love how it so perfectly encapsulates what the book is about. I then read the synopsis a little later on and I knew I had to get my hands on this book!

Snare gets off to such an intense start when we follow Sonja as she works out which passenger she can use to help cover her tracks as she attempts to smuggle cocaine through the airport. This grabbed me and from then on I honestly could not put this book down as I simply had to know what was going to happen.

Sonja is a single mother who in trying to do what is best for her son has found herself ensnared in a drug running organisation and she can’t find a way out of it. As the novel goes on you begin to get more of a sense of the trap that has ensnared Sonja and you realise that all is not black and white, this novel has definitely has shades of grey where you find yourself wanting Sonja to be okay whilst at the same time being horrified at what she’s doing. As with the cover, people can seem that they are innocent but look a little deeper and they could be committing serious criminal acts.

Snare is told from multiple perspectives – Sonja; her lover Alga; and Bragi, who works in security at the airport. The chapters are very short and this really heightens the intensity of the novel as it reaches a point where I could barely breathe for the tension, it really is palpable and radiates from the page, and I just had to know what was coming next!

I loved the way that we initially see Sonja as a composed, almost calculating, woman as she goes through the airport but then we see the chapters where she’s at home with her son or dealing with her neighbour and that’s when I began to understand her character more. The layers are built up as the book goes along and it makes for such a fascinating and unputdownable thriller. I was a step ahead of Sonja in seeing the way the net would begin to tighten but that just heightened the tension for me as I was hoping that I was wrong.

Everyone in this book has their reasons for doing what they do – some it’s because they’re trapped, some because they’re selfish and monstrous, and others because ultimately the ends justify the means. I had real sympathy for Sonja as the book went on, and I also could understand why Bragi does as he did. It made the book really interesting to see how the dots begin to join up and to learn who was trapped and who was pulling the strings.

I’m so excited to find out what this is the first book in a trilogy as while Snare has an ending of sorts which satisfied me, it also leaves plenty to have you desperately wanting to read the next book as soon as it’s available!

Snare is such a sophisticated, high stakes thriller with real heart; it’s dark, gripping and incredibly intense! It’s a refreshing and different crime thriller and certainly one you won’t want to miss, it had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t put it down – I highly recommend it!

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

Snare is out now!

 

About the Author

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Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

 

 

 

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#BookReview: How to be Champion by @SarahMillican75! @TrapezeBooks @OrionBooks

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About the Book

Part autobiography, part self help, part confession, part celebration of being a common-or-garden woman, part collection of synonyms for nunny, Sarah Millican’s debut book delves into her super normal life with daft stories, funny tales and proper advice on how to get past life’s blips – like being good at school but not good at friends, the excitement of IBS and how to blossom post divorce.

If you’ve ever worn glasses at the age of six, worn an off-the-shoulder gown with no confidence, been contacted by an old school bully, lived in your childhood bedroom in your thirties, been gloriously dumped in a Frankie and Benny’s, cried so much you felt great, been for a romantic walk with a dog, worn leggings two days in a row even though they smelt of wee from a distance, then this is Your Book. If you haven’t done those things but wish you had, This Is Your Book. If you just want to laugh on a train/sofa/toilet or under your desk at work, This Is Your Book.

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Sarah Millican so when I heard she had a memoir coming out I was super excited. It was lovely to get an ARC to read ahead of publication and I’m so happy to say that this book was even better than I was expecting!

How to be Champion is part-memoir and part self-help book, and it’s just everything you’d want it to be. Sarah’s brilliant humour shines through in this book and so does her honesty and warmth.

I really loved reading this book. Sarah Millican is very open about her life and she shares personal stories alongside some advice on how to deal with similar situations that may crop up in your own life. It’s one of those books where you feel like the author is telling her story directly to you – you could be sat down with a cuppa having a chat.

This book covers everything from bad haircuts and clothing to periods to relationships and breakups. It felt like a really honest and open book that every woman will be able to relate to – I know it made me feel better about some of my own insecurities. It also made me laugh a lot as it reminded me of so many things that have happened in my own life. There are parts of this book that were moving too so it has such a great balance of how life really is. You know you’re reading a good book when it makes you feel all the feelings and this book definitely did that!

One of my favourite parts of the book was Sarah’s list of the men she’s loved in her life – Phillip Schofield is second on the list and it’s very amusing to find that the last man she fell in love with is not her husband! I could understand why the man who won her heart most recently did so though because he’s very cute (read the book to find out more!).

This is one of those books that I found I could really identify with at times; it made me laugh, it made me nod my head in agreement and it as I turned the last page I felt really uplifted. How to be Champion is a book I will hold on to and re-read but I’ll also be buying copies for my good friends.

This book is better than champion, and it will make you feel better than champion when you read it. I highly recommend it to everyone!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

How to be Champion is out now!

 

About the Author

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Sarah Jane Millican is an English comedian. Millican won the if.comedy award for Best Newcomer at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

#BookReview |Sofa, So Good: Me Life Story by @ScarlettMoffatt @BlinkPublishing @FrancescaPear

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About the Book

One girl’s meteoric rise from sofa to TV stardom! From beloved Gogglebox breakout star, to winner of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, achieving her dream of presenting with Ant and Dec on Saturday Night Takeaway and filling Davina’s shoes in the new series of Streetmate, Scarlett is quickly fast-tracking to national treasure status. In what will quite surely be the funniest book of the year, laugh along with Scarlett as she describes her journey from ballroom dancing diva, to adventures with her survivalist Dad, working at ASDA and life as a student. But along with the highs there have been tough times, including bullying during her teenage years. With her typical tenacity and trademark wit, Scarlett pulls through it all. This is our favorite Northerner as we have never heard her before, telling it like it is on EVERYTHING she’s experienced so far. Warm, funny and honest, this is the amazing story that resulted in Scarlett becoming our favorite TV star: sofa, so good!

My Thoughts

I’m going to start this review by saying that I’m a fan of Scarlett Moffatt. We love Gogglebox in our house so I’ve watched her on there and I really enjoyed watching I’m a Celebrity last year when Scarlett was on it. I was thrilled to be offered a copy of her book for review and I’m so happy to say that it was such good fun to read and I adored it!

Scarlett tells her story in chronological order so first we get to learn more about her childhood and it goes all the way through to her job on Saturday Night Takeaway. I was interested to read about how Scarlett was a ballroom dancer in her childhood and to find out all about what that entailed. She had a tough time at school after an accident damaged her front teeth and this began a spate of bullying that really knocked her confidence. I commend Scarlett for speaking out about the bullies, and for not letting them dull her shine, even now as an adult, as it’s good for younger people to hear these stories and to see someone they admire reinforcing that it’s okay to ask for help.

For fans of Gogglebox Scarlett gives some really fun and interesting info about how the filming process works, which I loved finding out about as it was a bit different to how I’d expected it to be.

The thing that really comes through in this book is Scarlett’s love and care for her family. She shares funny stories and poignant moments about them all but the love just radiates from the page. Scarlett seems so down to earth and her family are her priority in life, and she is theirs, and it was so refreshing to read.

At the end of each chapter Scarlett shares a quote that she loves that relates to what she has just written about and I loved those bits. I used to obsessively write down my favourite quotes when I was younger and it was fun to see someone else who loves them too. Scarlett also begins each chapter with three fun facts, which are all quite random but very entertaining and interesting!

I have seen comments questioning whether someone as young as Scarlett has lived enough of life to be writing an autobiography, and I can understand that but I can honestly say that while Scarlett Moffatt is only 27 she has had such a busy life already so there were plenty of stories for her to share that filled her autobiography!

This book has moments that will move you but it has so much that will make you giggle. Scarlett is really open and honest as she tells her story and I really appreciated that. I felt like she was sitting down to have a natter about things that have happened in her life; there is a really warm, chatty style to this book but at the same time it is well-written. Scarlett has been through tough times in her life but her close bond with her family has got her through the difficulties. I love that she used the hard times to really push herself to achieve things in life. She comes across as a very humble, down to earth young woman with a real drive to succeed and a determination to enjoy life.

I read this in one sitting as I was enjoying it so much that I just didn’t want to put it down. I highly recommend this book, it’s such an honest, funny and all-round lovely memoir!

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

Sofa, So Good: Me Life Story is out now!

 

#BookReview: Trust Me by @ZosiaWand ‏@HoZ_Books #blogtour


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About the Book

Who can you trust if you can’t trust yourself?

Twenty-seven-year-old Lizzie has a great relationship with her teenage stepson, Sam, even though they could pass for brother and sister.

When Sam becomes sullen and withdrawn, Lizzie starts to suspect that something sinister is going on at school. But no one believes her and then suspicion falls on Lizzie herself…

Trust Me is an absorbing, suspenseful and thought-provoking thriller tat asks if you can ever really trust anybody, including yourself.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when the publicist for this book contacted me to ask if I’d like a copy to review as it sounded like such an interesting book, and also it’s set in a part of the country I know well so that caught my attention too! I’m so pleased to say that this book lived up to all of my expectations and was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down!

Trust Me is Lizzie’s story; she’s a 27 year old woman who has moved to Cumbria for a job and ends up staying when she gets into a relationship with an older man. He has two teenage children, who end up moving in with them a short notice without Lizzie ever having met them before. The novel starts a while later when Sam, who is 17, is still living with them. He and Lizzie have always had a good relationship but Sam’s behaviour begins to change and only Lizzie really notices how much he’s changed.

I found this book really engrossing from the start because I had the sense early on that something was a little off about Lizzie’s relationship with Sam. She is only ten years older than him, so closer in age to him than his father who she is in a relationship with. Lizzie wants to look out for Sam and she wants to feel like they’re friends but as a result of this she occasionally behaves in ways that made me want to grab her and pull her out of the situation – she definitely has wobbly judgement at times.  Lizzie does seem to side with Sam over her partner on occasion and I found that a little odd but at the same time I can see how she just wanted to keep the peace in her home, and also to let Sam know he was welcome there. It did feel sometimes like she was trying to gain the attention of Sam but then mostly she was so kind and wanting to help him that I figured she was just naive.

From the blurb I did wonder if this book might end up being a little predictable in the way the relationships would go but it wasn’t at all. I really enjoyed how this book slowly unfolded and the way it made me think as I was reading.  The lines are blurry in a few of the relationships in this book and that was my favourite aspect of reading it. In the age we live in now with blended families it’s common for people to live with their partner and children from an earlier marriage and that makes this book very prescient. I can see how it could be hard to know how to deal with someone else’s children when you’re not trying to replace their mother, you’re too young to be their step-mother and too old to be their sister. Lizzie just wants a happy home for all the family.

Lizzie is quite naive in other aspects of her life too. She meets a new friend and immediately has too much to drink, even though she doesn’t like alcohol or being drunk, and she confides way too much when it’s someone she’s only just met. The woman seems to be looking to make a friend and Lizzie, who spends most of her time with her husband and his friends who are all a lot older than her or with Sam, is over the moon to have a friend closer to her own age. I was suspicious of this new friendship quite early on but couldn’t put my finger on why – I swung from thinking it was about showing how silly Lizzie was to behave in the way she was with Sam, to thinking the new friend was not to be trusted. I’m naturally quite a wary person so this book had my suspicion levels up high!

I also have to mention that the writing in this book is beautiful, it just flows so wonderfully. The way the Lake District is written about is excellent too, you get a real sense of the setting and it feels like a place you have been to and know. It’s not often that a novel really captures the essence of a place and I very much appreciated that in this book.

This book really explores the boundaries that society thinks we should have and also our own personal belief about what our boundaries should be and I found that fascinating. It’s so easy to see how one person thinks they are genuinely just being warm and friendly and another person can believe that you are flirting with them and wanting more from the relationship you have.

Trust Me is a family drama with a psychological thriller element and it felt really refreshingly different to anything I’ve read in this genre for a while. I enjoyed it so much! I was hooked from start to finish and actually read it in one sitting, staying up way past my bedtime, because I simply had to know how it was all going to turn out in the end! I highly recommend this book and I’m already eagerly anticipating whatever Zosia Wand writes next!

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

Trust Me is out now!

 

About the Author

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Zosia Wand is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. This is her first novel.




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#BookReview: Snow Sisters by @CarolLovekin @Honno #BlogTour

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About the Book

Two sisters, their grandmother’s old house and Angharad… the girl who cannot leave.

Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her more pragmatic sister of the visitations until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an unseasonal April snowstorm.

Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her…

Two parallel coming of age stories – one tragic, the other holding out the hope of salvation.

 

My Thoughts

I read Carol Lovekin’s novel Ghostbird last year and it now has a very special place in my heart. It was my favourite book of 2016 and is now my go-to book when I’m in need of solace so you can probably imagine just how much I’ve been looking forward to Snow Sisters. I was thrilled beyond words when I was invited to read an advance copy for the blog tour and I’m so happy to say that it exceeded all my (very high) expectations!

Snow Sisters is the story of Verity and Meredith Pryce. Verity is the elder sister and seems to be more grounded and more sure of how her future might look whereas Meredith is much more whimsical. She can’t seem to see a future beyond where she is now at her beloved Gull House surrounded by magic and fae.  Slowly Meredith realises she is being visited by the ghost of Angharad, a girl who lived in the house a hundred years ago.

This novel is so breathtakingly beautiful. Carol Lovekin has such a wonderful way of writing that draws you right in and makes you feel like you’re right inside the story she is weaving. From the very beginning of this book it felt like magic had been cast on me and I was living this life with these girls. The novel is very ethereal and otherworldly at times with the presence of Angharad and the sense of magic around Gull House, and at it’s heart it’s also a gorgeous and moving story about the bond between two sisters.

She was made from air and impulse and she hung a fishing net outside her bedroom window to catch falling stars.

This is very much a novel about spirited women and girls who are trying to find their way in life, and also the ways in which so many women can find themselves sidelined in their own lives and made invisible like a ghostly presence. I loved that we saw flashes of spirit in Angharad in 1879 but then heartbreakingly life beats her down to a point where she can no longer find a way back, but those earlier moments of spirit really made me think of Meredith, and Allegra to a degree. Allegra is very single-minded and when she decides on a path in life she follows it at all cost regardless of the people around her. She is a mass of contradictions – she mocks Verity’s growing interest in feminism and yet will have a go at her because she is too passive in life. Meredith seemed like such an emotionally fragile girl in the early part of this book and it seemed that when Angharad first appeared to her that her spirit might overtake Meredith and overshadow her completely as Meredith seems to retreat into herself and begins to fade away. In the end it felt like the two girls, one hundred years apart, seemed somehow destined to come together, to converge, to try and make things right.

She leaned on her handlebars afraid she might cry. It isn’t that children don’t understand adult feelings or motives. They understand them only too well. It’s because children don’t have the words their powerless. I want my mother to be superior to us, the way mothers are supposed to be.

This novel is also very much about mothers and daughters and the relationships that run through the generations. Angharad’s mother seemed to believe what her daughter told her in the words she couldn’t say and yet she was unable to stop what would happen to her. She was a prisoner of her time, of her situation and of the men around her. Allegra Pryce appears to be really cold-hearted towards her oldest daughter, perhaps because she reminds her so much of the girls’ father who left her, but as the novel went on I found myself more intrigued by her. I think she was a damaged soul who just couldn’t find the solace that others could, she was a lost spirit herself and seemed to always be looking for a home, just like the ghost of Angharad. It felt like Allegra had spent her adult like searching for a man who could give her the love and adoration her father had given her up until his death, as once he died she just floundered and has been floundering ever since. Even as an adult she seeks to blame her mother for leaving her, and the anger seems too much for her to cope with but she’s like a small child looking for someone to notice her, to notice her pain. I just wanted her to step up and not hurt her children irreparably due to her being so blindsided by her own needs but I could understand that she was possibly just too broken.

Whilst I felt sympathy for Allegra, I couldn’t help but be angry at the way her inability to deal with her emotions wrought damage on her daughters, and her selfish nature hurt them both very badly. I adored the relationship Verity and Meredith had with their Grandmother though – she was more a mum to them and was the person who did the nurturing they both needed. All the magic that is woven around the garden at Gull House also felt like it was literally there but was also a metaphor of love and security that Nain had invested in the girls. It reminded me of how safe I always felt with my lovely Nan.

The bond between Verity and Meredith was wonderful to read. I loved the way that Verity was more grounded in reality but was happy to being the person her sister needed her to be. She allowed herself to be open to the idea of Angharad because her sister was so adamant that she was real and needed their help. It was also lovely to see how Meredith loved her sister just as much and while knew that she was her mother’s favourite she never once used that against Verity. These two girls have such a strong bond and it felt like they would get through anything together. It gave me such a sense of hope that things might just work out okay in the end, in the future long after this novel has ended. This quote brought such a lump to my throat because it says everything you need to know about Verity’s love for Meredith:

My sister never doubted the presence of magic and when she was five years old she told me she could grow flowers from her fingertips. Her solemn conviction was such, I half believed her.

This is a novel that almost defies genre – it’s part mystery, part ghost story and part family drama; it’s a novel about people trying to find their place in the world and it’s magical and lyrical and heartbreakingly beautiful. Snow Sisters is a novel to savour; it’s a story to really take your time with and to give yourself the chance to really appreciate what an incredible story it is. I turned the final page of this novel feeling like my life had been enriched in so many ways.

Snow Sisters is a stunningly beautiful novel that will weave it’s magic around you and it will hold you in its spell until long after you’ve finished reading it. I don’t think this book is going to let me go for a very long time, and I really don’t want it too. I want to stay held in the magic of that special garden in Gull House. I know that this will be a novel, like Ghostbird, that I return to time and time again and I can already say for certain that Snow Sisters will be on my top books of the year list! Go buy a copy right now, I promise you won’t regret it.

I received a copy of Snow Sisters from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Snow Sisters is out now!

 

About the Author

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My name is Carol Lovekin. I’m a writer of stories, a feminist & a flâneuse. I’m published by Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press. My first novel, Ghostbird was published in March 2016. It was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2016 and in the same year was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize.

Snow Sisters, my second novel, was published on 21 September 2017. It has been chosen by the Welsh Books Council as their October Book of the Month (for independent shops.)

My stories concern the nature of magic and how it threads through the fabric of our lives. I explore possibilities: the fine line between the everyday and the world of enchantment. They are also firmly rooted in reality. I write about family relationships: how people, women in particular, respond to loss and how they survive. My books are set in Wales, where I’ve lived for decades: a place whose legends and landscapes inform my writing.

I write because I can’t tap-dance on a tightrope. Or juggle. And because I’d like to leave something attached to whatever exists after I’m gone. And where publishing is concerned, I’m the living proof that it’s never too late. If you have written a story you feel passionate about, one you believe in, persevere and don’t give up.

 

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#BookReview: One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

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About the Book

November 13, 2015. It was a Paris night that began like so many others—until a series of terrorist attacks brought darkness to the City of Light. Stirred by the tragic events at the Bataclan music club, One Night in November locks into the hearts and minds of all those whose paths crossed that fateful fall evening…

A rebellious teenage girl in the throes of a crush. A middle-aged man eager to chase away his buddy’s blues. A young gay student rejected by his father, but discovering himself. Two new parents in need of a date night. They went out seeking love, laughter, and music—and then the world fell down around them.

Using intersecting narratives, award-winning author Amélie Antoine choreographs the shocking attack and its aftermath, from grief and devastation to hope and healing.

 

My Thoughts

I requested this book from NetGalley when I saw in on there because I’m really drawn to books about trauma at the moment, as I work through the remaining aspects of my own PTSD. I find it helps me to read how others have found ways to live with it, to recover from it or just how they’ve coped.

One Night in November is a work of fiction that looks at characters that became caught up in the terrorist attack at the Bataclan in Paris in 2015. Amelie Antoine takes a real cross-section of people from all walks of life and, as such, makes this such a believable and heartbreaking read.

The book really drew me in quickly. Knowing what happened that night in Paris at the Bataclan meant there was a real sense of apprehension reading about these people – so much so that when I started reading I had completely blanked on the fact that this book is a work of fiction and I believed I was reading true accounts. It became clear in the second section that this is a novel and I found it very unsettling. This is a very difficult book to read, especially with the attack being so recent, and I had to put the book down quite a few times to gather myself. The descriptions are graphic at times, and very believable and this made me really uncomfortable because it felt so real. I wasn’t sure when I finished reading if this was a book I would be able to review.

To be fair to the author though her writing is engaging and she does hook you in very quickly. Her exploration of how fear affects different people and how we might behave in such an extreme situation is well done. I’ve had people say to me about my experiences that led to my PTSD that they wouldn’t have coped as well as I did but the fact is that none of us know how we’ll cope until we’re in it. We might think we’ll be brave and actually we freeze, or we might think we’d never cope and we find reserves we never knew we had. I do think the author captured this quite well. There is a sense of how people begin to make sense of what they’ve survived in the aftermath too and, for the most part, I found this interesting. She looks at survivor guilt; at the way some people feel a sense of how short life is and go on to live at million miles an hour; at the way some people just can’t seem to function, can’t seem to cope with what normality is anymore. I appreciated her looking at this in the way she did.

This is a very powerful and incredibly moving book and ultimately, I did really appreciate the author’s beautiful and engaging writing style and will look out for more of her books in the future.

One Night in November is out now.

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

 

About the Author

Amélie Antoine’s bestselling debut novel, Interference, was an immediate success when it was released in France, winning the first Prix Amazon de l’auto-édition (Amazon France Self-Publishing Prize) for best self-published e-book. In 2011, she published her memoir, Combien de temps. One Night in November, written as “a call to remember,” is her second novel. Antoine lives in northern France with her husband and two children. Maren Baudet-Lackner grew up in New Mexico. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, a master’s in French literature from the Sorbonne, and a master of philosophy degree in the same subject from Yale, she moved to Paris, where she lives with her husband and children. She has translated several works from the French, including the novel It’s Never Too Late by Chris Costantini and the nineteenth-century memoir The Chronicles of the Forest of Sauvagnac by the Count of Saint-Aulaire.

#BookReview: He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly @HodderBooks

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About the Book

Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…

 

My Thoughts

I first read Erin Kelly when I read the Broadchurch novel and I was hooked on her writing style so when I saw He Said/She Said was due out I knew I had to get my hands on it. I actually read this book earlier in the year but due to ill health am only reviewing it now, and I can honestly say that this book has really stayed with me in the intervening months – always the sign of a great novel!

He Said/She Said is a novel that hinges around Laura who witnesses a horrible attack during an eclipse, and her life is forever changed by that moment.

I loved the way this novel was set during an eclipse because we’ve all heard about how behaviour can change as the sun disappears. It’s so peculiar to know it’s daytime and yet there is no sun, the air cools down as the darkness grows, and then just as quickly it’s all over and the sun is back. The way Erin Kelly chose to use this as the moment Laura witness the assault is just brilliant because Laura would already have felt unsettled by the eclipse and then to see what she did would have been horrifying to her. It works so well to see how darkness descends so shockingly both literally and metaphorically in this novel.

He Said/She Said does move around in time – we get the build up to the assault and immediate aftermath in one strand and then in other chapters we’re in the present day and seeing the stress and anxiety that Laura and Kitt are living with. I thought the build up to the assault would be the part of the book that propelled it forward but I found that I was much more fascinated by how Laura dealt with it afterwards. She never feels safe, she seems quite paranoid but as you learn about what has happened you wonder if it’s that or if she really has reason to be frightened. I am always drawn to books that explore anxiety and trauma, having suffered from PTSD myself, and this book was so well done. I had to put it down a few times just to breathe because it really does show what it’s like when you’re reaching breaking point and you don’t know if you can trust your own reactions and perceptions anymore.

This novel also looks at a person’s perception of an event and the way in which we can convince ourselves that something must be true. There is a moment in this book where a lie is told, the teller of which believes it’s a tiny little lie but the repercussions are huge. The tension really builds from this point onwards and this is where the novel really becomes near impossible to put down.

This novel does have brilliant twists and turns, but it also has so much more than that. It’s a great exploration of how we deal with witnessing a traumatic event, and I loved it for that. He Said/She Said is a slow burn novel but it does continually build and build, and the tension really does reach edge-of-your-seat stuff! This is a novel that really gets under your skin and it’s one you won’t forget!

He Said/She Said is out now and I highly recommend it!

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

 

About the Author

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Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. She read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998.

She has written for newspapers including the The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan.

#BookReview: Lost in the Lake by A.J. Waines @AJWaines ‏

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for A.J. Waines new novel, Lost in the Lake!

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About the Book

She came at first for answers…now she’s back for you

Amateur viola player Rosie Chandler is the sole survivor of a crash which sends members of a string quartet plunging into a lake. Convinced the ‘accident’ was deliberate, but unable to recall what happened, she is determined to recover her lost memories and seeks out clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.

But Rosie is hiding something…

Sam is immediately drawn to the tragic Rosie and as she helps her piece the fragments together, the police find disturbing new evidence which raises further questions. Why is Rosie so desperate to recover her worthless viola? And what happened to the violin lost in the crash, worth over £2m?

When Rosie insists they return to the lake to relive the fatal incident, the truth about Rosie finally creeps up on Sam – but by now, she’s seriously out of her depth…

A stand alone novel (and the second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series), Lost in the Lake is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Psychological Thriller that will leave you glancing over your shoulder.

My Thoughts

I was drawn to Lost in the Lake from the moment I saw the atmospheric cover and I’m happy to say the novel itself more than lives up to it!

Lost in the Lake is the second in the Dr Samantha Willerby series but can be read as a standalone, which is how I read it. Sam is a fascinating character – she clearly cares about her work and her patients but struggles to balance this with keeping the right distance. Rosie is a woman who had a very traumatic childhood and has recently been in an accident and has come to Sam wanting help to recover lost memories of the crash. What builds from here is an edge of your seat, very fast-paced novel!

Sam is still coming to terms with the loss of one of her previous patients in difficult circumstances and is also trying hard to build a relationship with her sister, who is recovering from mental health issues. I felt for Sam throughout this book – she’s clearly a a bit lost in her personal life and seemed very lonely. She has good friends but they all seem to be moving on with their lives while she’s stil trying to figure out what she even wants. She feels for Rosie and wants to help her but it’s quickly clear to the reader that all might not be as it seems with Rosie.

I loved the way that as this novel builds there is a sense of Sam becoming undone as Rosie’s manipulative side begins to show itself. I found it fascinating how Sam starts to worry about her own state of mind and you really get a sense of how fine a line it can be between good mental health and mental illness. It made me feel really on edge and yet compelled to keep reading as I wasn’t sure how this was all going to end for Sam.

The work Sam does with Rosie to try and help recover her memories was really interesting. I’m always intrigued by books that cover topics like this, having suffered with PTSD myself, and Lost in the Lake was particularly fascinating in the way it makes you think about memory and the way we remember things – Rosie had a traumatic childhood and she feels abandoned but you get the sense that perhaps she wasn’t left behind in the way she thought she was, yet it has already become enmeshed in her and made her the person she is now. It leaves you wondering about whether there was a possibility that if Rosie had had the right support when she was younger if she might have turned out differently as an adult.

I also loved the central mystery in the book about what caused the crash and what the past might have to do with it. Knowing about Rosie’s past, and seeing her manipulative side from the very beginning of the book, I was immediately distrustful of her story of what she claims to remember about the accident but I couldn’t foresee how it was all going to turn out. It had me racing through the book keen to find out, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Lost in the Lake was my first A.J. Waines read but it absolutely won’t be my last! I’ve already bought her previous novels and will be reading them very soon. I highly recommend this one!

Lost in the Lake is out now!

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. Visit her website, blog, on Twitter, Facebook or sign up for her Newsletter.

 

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#BookReview: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #BlogTour

 

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech!

About the Book

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Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’ Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

My Thoughts

I read Louise Beech’s first novel, How to be Brave, last year and it was my top book of the year. I still find myself thinking about the characters and the story. So you can imagine how much I’ve been anticipating Maria in the Moon and I’m so happy to say that this completely exceeded my high expectations!

Maria in the Moon is so beautiful and incredibly moving. There are two strands to Maria in the Moon – the book is predominantly set in the aftermath of the horrendous floods that hit Hull in 2007 and focuses on Catherine. On being interviewed for the Flood Crisis helpline Catherine realises that she can’t remember a single thing from the year she was nine. This sets her mind in a spin as she begins to think back over points in her childhood to try and remember anything from that year. Catherine has had a difficult life – her father died when she was young, as did her Nanny Eve and she doesn’t have an easy relationship with her Mother which makes it all the more difficult for her to find out about her past.

I adored this novel; it is simply stunning and so powerful! I found I could really identify with Catherine. There are parts of her story that were really hard for me to read, coming a bit too close to my own experiences, but the writing is so beautiful that I had to keep reading through my tears. I was willing Catherine to remember what happened and for her to be able to come to terms with all aspects of her childhood. As Catherine begins to have strange fleeting flashes of what she thinks might be her memories there is a sense that you know what it coming before she does and the tension that builds in the novel from there is palpable.

‘When you’re nine,’ he’d insisted. When you’re nine. He died when I was eight.’

I sympathised such a lot with Catherine over the losses she’d experienced in her life. It’s such a difficult thing to not only to lose a parent but to lose how your life may have been if they had lived longer. The death of a parent changes how people see you, and how you see them, and it breaks some things in a way that they can’t be mended. Sometimes you get lucky and find a new normal with people and sometimes you just lose. I was willing Catherine on to find a new normal with the people left in her life to the point that I wanted to reach through the pages and tell the people around her to listen to her more. Louise Beech captured this so well, with such compassion and empathy in Maria in the Moon.

‘The image made my throat ache. He was perhaps the age my father would have been if he’d lived; I felt a pang of affection.

The part of the novel that focuses on the floods was so vivid and realistic. I lived in Hull during the floods that this novel centres around and whilst my home wasn’t affected, quite a few friends of mine were badly flooded. It was an horrendous time for people and Hull seemed to get forgotten about during that time and the city was left to fend for itself. Louise captures this so incredibly well, there were moments reading this that just took me right back there. All the skips in the street, all the ruined furniture, the people not knowing what to say to each other – it was heartbreaking. It genuinely feels that for anyone who hasn’t seen the devastation of flooding with their own eyes will really have a sense of how it feels after reading this book.

I have to just mention that I loved the references to places in Hull that I remember going to back in the day – the Christmas night out in Sharkeys in the novel brought back some fond memories for me. It’s so nostalgic reading a novel that is set in a time and place you have lived, and it gave me that weird sense of maybe having passed Catherine around there somewhere. Maybe in another time.

‘Without strong foundations, no external beauty can survive. Paint can only hide so much before the memories crawl out of the woodwork.’

Louise Beech has such an incredible way with words – she constructs sentences that really get you in your gut. There were many moments when I was reading this novel that I had to stop and take a breath but then I was compelled to get back to it. I loved the way Louise weaved the grief Catherine feels for her father in with the loss she feels about her home being so damaged in the floods. There is a part where she talks about her dad’s coat being like a cape to keep her safe but someone got rid of it after he died, and how she looked for that safe feeling but could never find it. It’s how she feels now about her water-logged home – that sense of her home being the cape that her dad allowed her to buy, to keep her safe, and now it’s broken and she can’t live there for a while. She doesn’t know if she will ever feel safe, and it’s clear she’s displaced and lost and grief-stricken all over again. We bought our house with the inheritance from my mum and because of that our home has taken on so much more meaning, so I really felt for Catherine.

Forgiveness and acceptance play such a big role in this novel – the issues are very sensitively dealt with and you can see all of the ways we all try to make sense of the things that have happened to us. For Catherine there was the way she had to deal with her childhood and the way she had to deal with her present and while they seem very different they are actually very similar. She chose to try and fix the brokenness by volunteering for the flood crisis helpline and actually this becomes the thing that breaks her down but leads to a sense of possibility.

This is a novel that is still lingering in my mind days after I finished reading it – it’s one that I actually don’t think will ever leave me and to be honest I don’t want it to. This is one of those very rare and very special novels that will make you feel all of the feelings, it will take hold of you and it won’t let you go. It’s an absolutely stunning novel and I highly, highly recommend Maria in the Moon!

Maria in the Moon is out now!

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

About the Author

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

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

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

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

Maria in the Moon is out now.

(Bio taken from: LouiseBeech.co.uk)

 

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#BookReview: The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin @emmdib ‏@HoZ_Books ‏#blogtour

 

 

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin and am sharing my review!

 

About the Book

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When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practise regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home.

It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realizes too late that she might become lost forever…

 

My Thoughts

I can never resist books about cults, there is something about them that intrigues me and terrifies me in equal measure so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review The Room by the Lake. I had high hopes for this novel from the moment I first saw the stunning cover and I’m so happy to say that it didn’t disappoint!

Caitlin lost her mum to cancer a year ago and has struggled to come to terms with the complicated relationship they had had due to her mother’s schizophrenia. She’s also now struggling with her dad’s alcoholism and just feels like she has nowhere to turn. One night it comes to a head with her dad and she finds herself running away, getting on a plane and being in New York. I know that summarising this it may seem a bit far-fetched but in reading you really do feel for Caitlin. I remember when my mum died of cancer and I was just so lost. I didn’t want to be where I was and I had nowhere else to go. I was lucky in that fate seemed to intervene in a good way in my life and I met my husband later that year and life began to get better. Reading this novel made me blood run cold at times because I wanted to run away in those initial months and it’s scary to think how easily vulnerable young people can get manipulated by monstrous people who seem kind.
I knew from the synopsis of this book that life was going to take a scary turn for Caitlin but when she meets Josh at a party I couldn’t help but hope he would be a force for good in her life. I wanted him to help her. Instead Caitlin is manipulated and taken to a house in the middle of nowhere, which on face value seems like a beautiful location to relax and recover from what she has been through. The place where Caitlin ends up is a cult but as with all cults she had no idea what was happening and very soon she finds that this lifestyle works for her. Until things begin to take a darker turn.

The people at the house Caitlin is taken to all seem very enmeshed in the running of things. They’re polite but distant to Caitlin at first but soon things begin to close in on her. The way the group eat and exercise seems to Caitlin as like a boot camp that may help her but it’s really a means of control. Something is a bit off about this place and it’s only when Caitlin begins therapy that the sinister atmosphere really begins to ramp up. It’s scary how quickly people can gain control over others by starting with small things and preying on our fears.

I thought The Room by the Lake was really cleverly done in the way that it is about a cult, which is fascinating, but it felt to me that it was more about Caitlin’s fear of her mother’s mental illness, and even more so her deepest darkest fear that the same thing could happen to her. I know from personal experience how terrifying it is when you think you’re losing your grip on reality so to have grown up with a parent who had a mental illness must heighten that to another level. The cult played on her fears and heightens them in such a cruel way. I honestly felt that Caitlin was healthy prior to ending up in the cult, she was grieving for her mum and she was so lonely. She just needed a good friend who she could trust who would make time to support her and to let her talk about her fears, and this is how she was pulled  into the cult. These people were the only people that she felt would listen to her. There are moments in the early part of the novel that could possibly be interpreted as the beginnings of Caitlin being mentally unwell but I felt it was grief. I think when grief is complex it is harder to work through and it seemed to me that Caitlin was just utterly mired in darkness – she’d hit her limit of what she could cope with and couldn’t take anymore. I could identify with how lost she felt, and how alone, and scarily for me I can see why she got caught up in the cult. This book gave me chills at times as I could see some of my younger self in Caitlin. 

I did begin to feel really unnerved by the various methods the cult used to exert control over Caitlin, it made me wonder if she would ever recover or if this might, ironically, end up being the thing that triggered mental illness in her. I keep finding myself wondering about her ever since I finished reading the book, she feels like a real person to me even though I know this is a work of fiction. Emma Dibdin’s writing really does get under your skin (in the best possible way!).

This is a novel that builds and builds all the way through. I read this in two sittings (and that’s only because I started reading late at night and I had to get some sleep but I picked it back up again in the morning!) as the writing just drew me in from the first page and it held me to the very end and beyond.

The Room by the Lake is a fascinating, intense psychological suspense novel that I highly recommend. It’s one of those books that really gets under your skin and haunts your thoughts. This will be a book that stays with me for a long time to come, I’m so glad I had the chance to read it and I’m already eagerly antipating whatever Emma Dibdin writes next!

The Room by the Lake is out now in Hardback, Audio and eBook.

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

About the Author

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Emma Dibdin is a journalist who writes about television and the arts.  She has been an editor at Hearst for four years, and her work has appeared in EsquireMarie ClaireHarper’s BazaarCosmopolitanTotal Film, and Indiewire.  Born and raised in Oxford, she currently lives in New York City.

(Bio taken from unitedagents.co.uk)

 

 

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#BookReview: The Way Back to Us by @kaylangdale @HodderFiction @JazminaMarsh

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Kay Langdale’s brand new novel, The Way Back to Us!

 

About the Book

Cover Since their youngest son, Teddy, was diagnosed with a life-defining illness, Anna has been fighting: against the friends who don’t know how to help; against the team assigned to Teddy’s care who constantly watch over Anna’s parenting; and against the impulse to put Teddy above all else – including his older brother, the watchful, sensitive Isaac.

And now Anna can’t seem to stop fighting against her husband, the one person who should be able to understand, but who somehow manages to carry on when Anna feels like she is suffocating under the weight of all the things that Teddy will never be able to do.

As Anna helplessly pushes Tom away, he can’t help but feel the absence of the simple familiarity that should come so easily, and must face the question: is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage, or leave?

 

My Thoughts

I’m going to start by saying that I’m a huge fan of Kay Langdale’s novels – the first one I ever read was Her Giant Octopus Moment and I adored it. I can say, with absolute honesty, that The Way Back to Us is her best yet! I read this in one sitting, I just didn’t want to put it down for a minute.

The Way Back to Us is a novel about a family of four who are still coming to terms with the fact that the youngest child, Teddy, has SMA – a rare genetic disorder that has changed all of their lives.

Anna, Teddy’s mum, gave up her career the very second Teddy got his diagnosis. There is a moment where she shares how she felt at that time and I felt so emotional as I was reading it. I don’t have children but I have lived through that horrendous life-defining moment where you know your world has moved on its axis and your life is forever changed. Anna becomes fiercely protective over Teddy – she’s become obsessive about cleaning and keeping him safe from germs but she’s utterly devoted to him and fights so hard for his right to attend a normal school. I could totally identify with her desire to stop germs coming into the house – I was the same when I was a carer to my mum as she went through chemo as part of the palliative care. It’s partly a need to protect your loved one but it’s also a way of having some control over the desperate circumstances you find yourself in. I felt such empathy for Anna, I wanted to reach through the pages and hug her.

Tom is Teddy’s dad and he is now the sole bread winner for the family and so is very focused on his work. When he gets home he rushes to his children to greet them but Anna is often distant with him and he doesn’t understand why. As a reader you have an all-seeing eye and can spot what is happening but these characters are mired in the situation and can’t see the wood for the trees. Tom clearly loves his children, and his wife, but when Anna seems to always be snapping at him to be careful with Teddy it’s easy to see why a work colleague starts to catch Tom’s eye. The situation they’re in is not an excuse to think about cheating but it’s so apparent that Tom loves his family – he just feels redundant as Anna is so focused on what needs to be done, and Tom is focused on work that there never seems to be time for them to sit and just talk about how they feel.

Isaac is Teddy’s older brother and he is such a wonderful child. Kay Langdale has the writing so spot on in that Isaac always comes across as a child but he is so perceptive, he can’t always understand what is going on with his parents but he picks up on the mood and the atmosphere. He is so caring towards his mum, he is really tuned in to her feelings and wants to do anything he can to help her. He tries to soothe her at times by trying to look on the bright side, and he takes care of himself to take some of the responsibility off her shoulders. The thing I loved most about Isaac though was his relationship with Teddy. He is so careful not to hurt him but at the same time is determined to help him try to do normal, fun things. There is a moment when Isaac tries to help Teddy learn to hop, which is impossible as Teddy can’t even stand unaided, but the amount of pure love and joy in both boys in that moment radiates from the page. I adored that moment and it makes me smile every time I think of it.

The novel is set in the present but we get the back story as the characters, particularly Anna, mulls over how she got here. As we learn about how Teddy was diagnosed  the language Anna uses in her own thoughts is so telling – there is a moment when the doctor explains how her genes and Tom’s led to Teddy having SMA and Anna ponders about other men she had relationships with and how their genes might have mixed differently but then she thinks of Tom ‘who carried it undetected towards me’. She doesn’t really blame Tom but it’s an undercurrent, a thing that can’t be said in their marriage – it shows her anger and her sadness that this has happened to them, to their child.

The clever way the story is built on in each chapter, with more layers and depth as we see other points of view ,is brilliant. Kay Langdale deftly shows how each person feels and what they think but how they often just can’t say it because their own pain holds them back, and they fear making things worse. It feels so real as you read this novel – the missed chances between Anna and Tom took my breath away at times, I was willing them to find a way to really communicate with each other. My heart broke when Tom tried to recreate old times with Anna  by fantasising on what they could spend his bonus on, he was trying so hard and I loved him for it, but Anna’s first words are how they could use the money to help Teddy, which is totally understandable, but it broke the spell of the moment. My heart was breaking for them both at this point.

I won’t give any spoilers but there is an incident with a kite in this novel and it’s in the aftermath of that where we really come to understand why each member of the family is the way they are. The mix of sheer joy from one, sheer terror from another, the misplaced fear and the worry from the other two is palpable. We learn so much in this part of the novel and it’s the point when it felt like make or break for this family and I was really hoping they would find a way to move toward each other again once the pain and anger subsided.

The Way Back to Us is at its heart a novel about how people cope when life throws a massive curveball at them. It’s a look at relationships – between a married couple, between parents and their children, and between siblings – that is so raw and honest that at times you need to pause and take a breath. The plot of this novel is very moving but it’s more a look at the characters, and they are such well thought out characters. The way Kay Langdale makes you feel sympathy for everyone in this family is so cleverly done – it would be easy to make Anna the good guy and Tom the bad guy in the marriage but that never happens. Instead, through the layering of the perspectives we just see the reality of their lives in its raw and honest state. There is heartbreak in this novel, and honestly I shed quite a few tears whilst reading, but there is beauty and joy too.

This novel is incredible and so beautifully written. I can’t stop thinking about these characters – they feel like real people to me. This is such an emotional novel – at times it’s heartbreaking but it really is such a stunning read. Kay Langdale is a master of crafting novels that feel so true and real, she really gets under the skin of her characters and makes them feel like people you know – I’m sure that these characters will have a hold on me for a long while to come. This is absolutely Kay Langdale’s best work to date and I am certain that The Way Back to Us will be one of my top books of this year – I’ll be recommending it to everyone! Go buy a copy now, you won’t regret it!

The Way Back to Us is out now.

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

 

I was very lucky that I got to interview Kay Langdale when her previous novel, The Comfort of Others, was published so you can read more about her here if you’d like to.

 

About the Author

Kay Langdale © John Cairns

Kay Langdale was born in Coventry, England.

From a young age she loved to read and to write.

She attended Bedford College, London University, graduating with a first class degree in English Literature and then went to Oxford University where she completed a doctorate on Samuel Beckett’s prose fiction. She briefly taught twentieth century literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford before beginning work as an account handler and copywriter at a brand consultancy.

She is married to a South African entrepreneur, with whom she has four children who are now mostly grown. Kay divides her time between their homes in Oxfordshire and Devon.

Now writing her eighth novel, Kay also works as an editor for the charity The Children’s Radio Foundation which trains young broadcasters in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

When not writing Kay enjoys running, ballet barre, yoga, swimming, coastal walking, learning Italian, cooking and reading. Always reading.

(Bio taken from: KayLangdale.com)

 

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#BookReview: Her Deadly Secret- @Christi_Curran #WhatsHerSecret? @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Christ Curran’s brand new novel, Her Deadly Secret!

About the Book

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

A FAMILY BUILT ON LIES…
A dark and twisty psychological thriller, in which a young girl is abducted and her family is confronted with a horror from deep in their past.
A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.
Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.
Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.
This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…

 

My Thoughts

I read and enjoyed Chris Curran’s previous novels so I was thrilled when I was invited to be a part of the blog tour for her new book, Her Deadly Secret. I was expecting great things and I’m so happy to say that it lived up to my expectations!

Her Deadly Secret is told from the viewpoint of two families. Joe and Hannah have just found out that their missing teenage daughter Lily has been murdered and are trying to find a way to cope whilst also being under the police spotlight. Rosie is happily married to Oliver but she still struggles to copy with the loss of her older sister many years ago. From the beginning I was suspecting a link between these two families but as the revelations start coming I was stunned!

I was very quickly invested in these characters, especially Joe, who is trying so hard to hold everything together as his wife falls apart. I also felt for Rosie as she dealt with the minefield of her father being back in her life after many years, and her mother’s acceptance of him. As much as I liked these two characters and generally was on their side, this novel does get so twisty that there were moment when I questioned my judgement of them.

This is a novel filled with secrets and lies, and eventually the house of cards starts to collapse as the truth begins to come out. I loved how some people were outright lying in their own selfish interests to cover their tracks but others were keeping secrets in order to try and protect others from the hurt of what they had believed at the time. This novel really does show the harm that can be done when people keep quiet in order to try to prevent loved ones from being hurt, even if it’s done with the best of intentions.

I raced through this novel in one sitting as it just grabbed me from the first chapter and kept me gripped, and needing answers right to the very last chapter! I thought I had it all figured out on more than one occasion but I have to admit that the final piece of the puzzle was just out of my grasp, which I loved as it’s nice to have a shock that you didn’t see coming in a thriller!

Her Deadly Secret is engrossing, twisty and when you think you’ve got it all figured out the rug will be pulled from under you all over again! I definitely recommend this novel!

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

 

About the Author

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Chris Curran lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex. Her first two psychological thrillers, Mindsight and Her Turn To Cry, were both Amazon bestsellers. She also writes short stories one of which was recently shortlisted for the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham award. Her latest novel, Her Deadly Secret, is published as an ebook on July 21 st 2017 and a paperback in August.

 

 

 

 

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

BLOG TOUR- Her Deadly Secret (1)

#BookReview: The Other Twin by L. V. Hay @OrendaBooks @LucyVHayAuthor #TheOtherTwin

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About the Book

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well-heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth.

My Thoughts

I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Other Twin for weeks now and I’m so pleased that when I finally got to read it that it exceeded my expectations!

This is a psychological thriller but it is also so much more than that. It has twists and turns running throughout the book that will keep you on your toes until the very end when all is revealed, but it also is a very prescient look at very relevant issues in society at this moment. There is a lot about grief, about mental health and about the struggles facing the LGBTQ+ community. It’s also a look at the way we live our lives versus the way we present ourselves online – the novel takes India’s blog, and to a lesser extent the comments she receives on her posts, and shows how she was trying to explain her life to others while still concealing the reality and depth of what she was going through. I think so many people will relate to this in a variety of ways.

The novel is told predominantly from Poppy’s viewpoint but we also get a few chapters interspersed that are obviously important to the plot but we don’t know who the people are in the early part of the novel. This really helps to build tension and such a sense of uneasiness as you wonder how this will fit in to what happened to India. I was guessing for most of the book and whilst I did work it out before the reveal, I was still so on edge because by that point I was anxious that something really awful might be about to happen.

I didn’t really like any characters in this book (not that this matters at all because the story is so good) as most people seem to be focused on their own lives and there wasn’t a lot of warmth in any of them. Having said that, I did find Poppy’s grief and concern for what might have led up to her sister’s death palpable at times. It does lead her to make some strange, and sometimes downright stupid decisions that could potentially put her in danger, as she digs deeper into her sister’s life but I found her actions believable because of her grief and shock and that desperate need to know. I really felt for her because being estranged from a family member who then dies before any kind of reconciliation can happen must be so hard to come to terms with. Poppy did grow on me as the novel progressed and as she began to see what had been happening in the lives of the people around her, and as the tension really begins to ramp up, I was on the edge of my seat hoping that she would get through this unscathed.

I thought it was great that this book is set within a place that is generally known to be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community but that it also really explores what it is to have a family that doesn’t accept who you are. It must cause such a pain and conflict within to not be allowed to be who you are with the people who are supposed to love and accept you. The repercussions of this within the novel are enormous and it made me so angry  and so sad. I do love when a novel makes me feel such strong emotions for the characters and The Other Twin certainly does that.

I also love the title of this novel. When I read the synopsis for this book and saw that two of the characters are twins I assumed that the novel would predominantly be about them, and much of the novel does pivot on the these two and the way they see things and the way they behave but there seems to be so much else to this title. By the end of the novel it had me wondering if the title was also actually a play on the way people have two sides to them, which also ties into the idea of our real self and the self that we feel we have to, or are able to, present to the world. The cover design also played into this for me as when you wipe away steam on glass you may see the person standing on the other side or you may see a reflection of yourself.

This is a dark, disturbing and twisty suspense thriller, which also explores real and current issues in our society in a very honest, intelligent way. It grabbed me from the opening chapter and I’m not sure that it’s really let me go even now, days after I finished reading it. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut because it’s such an accomplished novel. I highly recommend The Other Twin! Already I can’t wait to see what Lucy V Hay writes next – I know I’ll be first in line to buy it though!

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

About the Author

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Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama Screenplays. She lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

 

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

Other twin blog tour poster new

 

#BookReview: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf @hgudenkauf @HQstories #blogtour

 

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf and am sharing my review!

About the Book

‘I’m going to die tonight. But I won’t go quietly.’

Amelia Winn has a lot of regrets. She regrets the first drink after she lost her hearing. She regrets destroying her family as she spiralled into depression. Mostly, she regrets not calling Gwen Locke back.

Because now Gwen is dead. And as Amelia begins to unearth the terrible secrets that led to Gwen’s naked body being dumped in the freezing water, she realises that she might be next.

But how do you catch a killer when you can’t hear him coming?

 

My Thoughts

I’ve read and enjoyed Heather Gudenkauf’s novels in the past so I was looking forward to reading Not A Sound and I’m so happy to say that it lived up to my expectations.

Amelia Winn is a really interesting character and I got really engrossed in her journey throughout the book. Her life was torn apart when she was injured in a hit and run accident that left her profoundly deaf. This caused her life to spiral into depression and a problem with alcohol as she tried to cope, which led to her marriage breaking down. I had such sympathy for Amelia and was very invested in this novel and wanting her to be okay.

Amelia has dealt with what happened to her by cutting herself off from her old life, she no longer speaks to her old friends and spends most of her time alone with her hearing dog Stitch. They enjoy going paddle boarding together but one day this turns into a nightmare when Amelia discovers the body of an old friend of hers in the water. This sets in motion a train of events that will put Amelia’s life and sanity on the line all over again.

I liked that Amelia responds to what happened to her friend by immediately wanting to find out what happened to her. It gives Amelia a focus that is much needed in her life and whilst it comes from sad circumstances it does give Amelia a new direction.

This novel had me on the edge of my seat at times as Amelia begins to dig deeper into who might have killed Gwen. The fact that she is deaf really heightened the emotion in this book because I felt like I could hear things that she couldn’t, even though I was just reading words on a page – this is how invested I became in her story! It really does give such an insight into how life is for someone who is deaf – the difficulty Amelia has with phone calls for example and whilst her phone transcribes speech into text you can’t get the subtleties of meaning from a written translation of speech. There are times when Amelia doesn’t know if someone is being sarcastic, or sad or angry and it added to the story to be put in the shoes of someone who experiences the world differently to me. I’m disabled and know what it is to be paralysed and to have part of my body no longer feel like it is a part of me so I felt like I had some understanding of Amelia’s struggles, but even so I have no idea what it must be like to be unable to hear and I felt like this novel really gave me an insight.

This is a lighter thriller but still absolutely a novel that will keep you hooked all the way through to the end. I read it in just two sittings as I simply had to know how it was going to end. On more than one occasion I was sure that I had it all worked out but I never managed to completely put it all together and I like that it kept me guessing.

I loved Amelia and Stitch and really believe that there is potential for this novel to be turned into a series – I would be first in queue to buy the next novel if that happened!

This is Heather Gudenkauf’s best novel to date and I highly recommend it!

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

 

 

About the Author

Heather Gudenkauf

Heather Gudenkauf is the Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden and Not A Sound.

Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing loss (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.

Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.

Heather lives in Iowa with her family and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading and hiking. She is currently working on her next novel.

(Bio taken from: www.heathergudenkauf.com)

 

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

NOT A SOUND blog tour graphic

#BookReview: Last Seen by @lucyclarkebooks + guest post about beach hutting! @HarperCollinsUK

Today I’m very excited to be on the blog tour for Lucy Clarke’s brilliant new novel, Last Seen! I’m sharing my review with you later in this post but first a wonderful guest post, with some gorgeous photos, from Lucy herself!

 

LUCY CLARKE ON BEACH HUTTING

Lucy Clarke has grown up spending her summers in a beach hut. The stretch of beach where her family hut stands became the inspiration behind the setting in LAST SEEN. Here she shares some insights and photos about beach hut life.

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The setting for LAST SEEN was closely inspired by the summers I’ve spent in a beach hut. Our family have owned a hut since I was eight years old, and the friends I made during those first few summers are still – twenty-five years on – some of my closest friends. We grew up crashing through waves on body boards, or playing cards huddled in someone’s hut as the rain lashed down. I actually met my husband at the beach; his family owned the hut next door and I used to moon around on the shoreline watching him windsurf!

Now that many of us have children of our own, a new generation of little sandy-toed urchins are being introduced to the beach. Sharing a hut with our 2.5 year-old and a 9 month-old, has its own challenges (breakfast at 5am, anyone?), but their sheer excitement about a day spent at the beach is hard to beat.

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LAST SEEN is peppered with real details and observations from my own experiences of hut life – like crabbing from the jetty when I was a child, or digging a sand hole for my bump when I was pregnant. Although most of my beach hut memories are happy ones, like in any close-knit community there can also be conflicts and secrets and tragedies. In LAST SEEN I wanted to juxtapose the beautiful, remote setting of the sandbank with the darker threads that weave between Sarah and Isla’s friendship. (Thankfully though, all the events in the novel are entirely fictional!)

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I wrote much of the novel from our beach hut. It’s my very favourite place to write as I work so much better when I’m off-grid (I leave my laptop behind, turn off my phone, and write by hand). Sunny days are incredible, of course, but blustery, rainy ones hold a certain allure when the beach empties and the only sounds are rumbling waves or a whistling kettle.

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We spend much of our winters travelling, but come summer, there’s nowhere we’d rather be than in the beach hut. Like Sarah remarks in LAST SEEN, ‘What brings us back here, summer after summer, is that the beach hut unites our family . . . we step out of the rush of our normal lives and live outside-in, letting the rhythms of the weather and tides rule our days.’

 

 

About the Book

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing ever since I first read The Sea Sisters so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review her new novel, Last Seen for the blog tour! I have to say that Last Seen absolutely lived up to all of my expectations and I loved reading it!

Last Seen is predominantly a look at female friendship and how one decision can unwittingly set a relationship on a different course, one that you really don’t want to end up on. Sarah and Isla have been friends since they were younger, and Sarah has supported Isla through some of the hardest moments of her life. But then Isla decides to go travelling and what happens back home changes everything in a seemingly subtle way but as they appear to move on that one thing looms large throughout the book.

The reason I fell in love with The Sea Sisters was because of the way Lucy Clarke writes the relationship between women and Last Seen made me emotional for these two friends in the same way. Neither one of these women is perfect and neither is always likeable but they always felt like real people to me. I could see their flaws, and their issues and I liked them all the more for it. The detail is wonderful too – I smiled to myself when Sarah describes how someone from her past smelt of Dewberry shampoo. I must be a similar age to Sarah because I remember Dewberry so very well!

Sarah and Isla end up pregnant at the same time when they’re both still young and they look forward to bringing their boys up together. Sadly, things don’t work out like that when one summer, the year they turn ten, the boys go missing at sea and only one is found alive. This sets in motion a chain of revelations, guilt and jealousy that will affect these people forever.

This book so twisty, I genuinely couldn’t work out what was going to happen in the end. I had many suspicions as I was reading but all turned out to be wrong. It’s very rare for me to not be able to work out the ending of a thriller but this one got me and I loved it all the more for that. The end when it comes makes perfect sense and it sends you reeling but it’s so good!

This book is beautiful and twisty and utterly engrossing! I couldn’t put it down – I literally read it in one sitting. I highly recommend that you grab a copy of Last Seen for your summer reading, you definitely won’t regret it!

I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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Novelist, traveller, and fresh air enthusiast, Lucy Clarke is the author of four novels.

Lucy graduated from university with a first class degree in English Literature, but it wasn’t until she was on a six month road trip across the US and Canada, that she decided she’d love to be a novelist.

Many twists and turns later, Lucy’s debut novel, The Sea Sisters, was published (HarperCollins, 2013). It was a Richard & Judy Book Club choice, and has been published in over ten countries.

Since then she has released three more novels, A Single Breath (HarperCollins, 2014), The Blue (HarperCollins, 2015), and most recently Last Seen (HarperCollins, 2017).

Lucy is married to a professional windsurfer, and together with their young children they spend their winters travelling, and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.

(Bio taken from Lucy Clarke’s website)

 

You can follow the rest of the Last Seen blog tour at the following blogs:

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#BookReview: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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About the Book

Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the bad boy, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the jock, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident.

On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was approved to read this book from NetGalley as it has such an intriguing premise. I loved the movie The Breakfast Club so for it to have comparisons to that gave me high hopes!

The opening chapters of this novel are really intense, they grabbed me immediately and had me wondering what was going to happen next. The novel is then told from each of the perspectives of the four students who survived detention – we gradually get to see what their lives are like and it seems that they all have a potential motive for killing their classmate.

I really enjoyed how the teenagers changed as the novel progressed; it was also nice to see how, even though they all hung around in different groups before Simon’s death, they began to look out for one another in the aftermath. It made it really interesting as a reader too because as you get to know more about their pasts, you grow to like them more and it adds to the suspense that you don’t know for sure who you can trust. I did have my suspicions early on about what had happened in detention, and I was right, but there was more to the story than I had figured out so there were still shocks in store as the novel moves on. I would say that while this book does have the element of suspense there is much more to it than that. It’s more about the people left behind who suspicion falls on and we get to see how they cope with being under such scrutiny.

I have to be honest though and say that I did struggle to follow this novel because the voices of the main characters were not distinct enough from each other. I kept having to flick back because I couldn’t remember whose chapter I was currently reading and it made this novel a slower read for me than it might have been. It’s a small criticism but it would be remiss of me not to mention it because it did affect my enjoyment of the novel to a degree. That said, I would still recommend this novel because aside from this issue everything else is great and very enjoyable.

I’m a lot older than the target audience for this book but I have to say that, in terms of plot, it was one of the best YA books I’ve read in a long while so there are definite positives to this novel and I will be looking out for whatever Karen McManus writes next.

One of Us is Lying is out now!

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

About the Author

Karen McManus

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. Her debut young adult novel, ONE OF US IS LYING, will be released from Delacorte Press/Random House on May 30, 2017. It will also be published internationally in 18 territories including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia.

(Author Bio and Photo taken from Goodreads)

#BookReview: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell @Sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks

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About the Book

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops … Or does it?

My Thoughts

This book has such a stunning cover and from the moment I first saw it on twitter I was desperate to get my hands on a copy. I’m thrilled to say that the book is just as stunning looking in real life and, more importantly, the novel inside that cover is even better!

This is a fascinating and tense novel about two women – one a successful writer who is married with two young children, and the other is a younger woman who is unsure about her life and what she wants, although writing really appeals to her. Initially it seems that Bo sees something in Alice’s writing and wants to encourage her but when she meets her she feels such a connection to her. Alice just wants to be accepted onto a writing course and when she is, she’s thrilled. There she meets Bo, the course leader, and they fall into what seems a really natural and easy friendship.

The novel initially has alternate chapters about Alice and then Bo, but then we get a whole section on one woman and then we see a similar timeline from the other woman. This is really well done because you come to think you know who the innocent party is but then you read another bit and you’re really not sure; it really builds the suspense at a hefty pace. As Alice and Bo each narrate their own section of this novel it becomes clear that one of them has to be an unreliable narrater because they can’t both be telling the truth, although this did lead me at one point to consider whether a third party had done some meddling and inflamed the situation so it really does have you wondering. Both women have had difficult times in their pasts and they each have traits that might lead them to become unhealthily attached to someone so it was impossible to work for a long time who was likely to be the most obsessive one. I did have more sympathy for one woman over the other for most of the novel but that did waiver at points because Sarah Stovell is a master manipulator of a writer and had me second-guessing myself more than once as I was reading!

There is a lot in this novel about mothers – both Alice and Bo seem to have had a complex relationship with each of their mothers and it seems to have shaped who they are now. It made me wonder if they were looking for mother or child substitutes in their lives but it was so much more complicated than that! The novel does explore whether the things that happen in people’s younger years can affect them when they’re adults, and whether a tough time in childhood can ever be an excuse for who people become as adults.

Exquisite is a claustrophobic, tense and thrilling novel that will grab you on the first page and won’t let you go until long after you’ve read the last page. I was literally sitting stock still with the book in my hands for a good few minutes when I read the ending, and I’m still thinking about it now and mulling it over! I love when a book leaves me feeling like this!

This is one of those novels that is impossible to put down, I honestly read it in one sitting because there just wasn’t a moment where I could stop reading – I simply had to know how this book was going to end! I highly recommend you go buy a copy of Exquisite right away, you won’t regret it!

Exquisite is out now!

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

About the Author

sarah stovell

 

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

(Bio & Author pic taken from: Orenda Books)

#BookReview: The Things We Thought We Knew by @MahsudaSnaith @ThomasssHill @doubledayuk

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About the Book

Ravine and Marianne were best friends. They practised handstands together, raced slugs and went into the woods to play.

But now everything has changed.

Ten years later, Ravine lies in a bed plagued by chronic pain syndrome. And her best friend Marianne is gone.

How did their last adventure go so wrong? Who is to blame? And where is Marianne?

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of The Things We Thought We Knew for a little while now so I was thrilled when the publisher offered me an ARC to review recently. I’m so happy to say that this book was even more incredible than I was hoping it would be and I loved every minute that I was reading it.

I initially wanted to read The Things We Thought We Knew because I was fascinated to read a novel where the main character suffers from chronic pain, as it’s not something that is often found in novels. Mahsuda Snaith examines, in such a sensitive way, the complexities of pain – the way that pain can be physical and very real, and yet have roots to it that are emotional. I suffer with severe pain due to my spinal cord injury so am really drawn to books that explore pain in any way. In this book the character does recover early in the story but it’s the exploration of the reasons for her pain that moved me deeply. It takes a gentle hand to explore this without patronising people, like me, whose pain is unlikely to ever be better, and I really admire that in this book. Ravine ends up pretending about her physical pain but because I could see the other pain she was in I genuinely always felt sympathy for her – the physical pain that was real at one stage in her life became the only way she could block out the pain of her friend being gone.

‘There isn’t a constellation for pain, but if there were it would sweep over half the sky and be connected by a hundred stars.’

I was immediately drawn into the intrigue as to where Ravine’s best friend Marianne had gone. The novel opens in the present day and Marianne and her family have been gone from next door for a long time. Yet Ravine is in a state of limbo wondering where her best friend has gone. The picture of the childhood friendship of these two girls is gradually built up and I very much enjoyed reading this part of the book. It’s heartbreaking knowing that something pulled the two girls apart – the mystery of this had me hooked but it was more the way Ravine wrote about Marianne, a friend she clearly adored. These two girls had such a bond and Ravine lost herself when Marianne went away, and this affected me so deeply. This quote actually made me cry, it’s so poignant:

‘Even as a child I knew my life was rooted in yours. How am I meant to carry on when the roots have been pulled out?’

This is a coming-of-age novel about finding your place in the world, and about coming to an understanding of why people are the way they are. I really enjoyed reading about Ravine’s childhood as an asian girl growing up on a council estate in Leicester. The way it’s a multi-cultural city and yet a child can still stand out as being different because of the way her family express their beliefs, for Ravine it’s the way her mother dresses, and the way she has her dress. Ravine compares herself in childhood to her best friend Marianne, whose family is also asian but they dress in jeans and t-shirts and so fit in better. There are many memorable characters who live near Ravine, who are all so richly-drawn and memorable – even the ones we only hear about, such as the old lady across the landing from Ravine’s family. There is a real sense that everyone has their own problems to deal with and gradually through the book we get to see this. Ravine as a child, and then as a teenager stuck in her bedroom, doesn’t get to see the subtitles of why people are the way they are but we, the reader, really see the pain in what some people have to live through.

Ultimately though, this is a novel about memories; it’s a look at how we can, through no fault of our own, remember things differently than they were; it’s a look at how sometimes we choose to delude ourselves because the truth is just too painful to bear. It’s a novel about how we  protect ourselves from the most painful parts of life, it’s about how we survive when the worst thing we can imagine happens. It’s also a look at whether redemption ever comes, whether someone should suffer for what they’re perceived to have done or whether the pain they feel inside is enough punishment. Ravine’s pain is very, very real – some of it is physical and some of it emotional but all of it is real and she has spent a more than half of her life hurting. I was rooting for Ravine all the way through this novel, and she’s someone I absolutely won’t forget any time soon.

‘Memories pretend to leave you but they’re always there. Always ready to catch you off guard, to remind you that life is never as simple as what you happen to be dealing with at the time.

There is always the past, waiting to pounce.’

This novel is stunningly beautiful for so many reasons – the gorgeous writing and the wonderful turns of phrase, the brilliant and complex characters, and for the most heartbreaking descriptions of pain, in all its forms, that I’ve read in a long time. Very occasionally, if you’re really lucky, a book will come into your life at exactly the right moment and it will break your heart but then it will mend it again and make you feel so much better; this is that book for me. I am sure that this novel will be in my top books for this year, it’s definitely one I will remember and think about for a long time to come.

The Things We Thought We Knew is out now and I highly recommend you grab a copy as soon as you can!

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

mahsuda snaith

Mahsuda Snaith was born in Luton and brought up on a Leicester council estate.  She is a writer of novels, short stories and plays, and is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014, Bristol Short Story Prize 2014 as well as a finalist for the Mslexia Novel Competition 2013.  Mahsuda leads creative writing workshops at De Montfort University, has performed her work at literary festivals and has been anthologised by The Asian Writer, Words with Jam and Closure: Contemporary Black British Stories.

Mahsuda’s first novel is The Things We Thought We Knew. It will be published by Transworld in 2017 in the UK.

(Bio taken from: http://www.watsonlittle.com/client/mahsuda-snaith. Author photo taken from twitter.)

 

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

The Things We Thought We Knew Tour Poster

 

#BookReview: I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke @CJ_Cooke_Author @HarperCollinsUK

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About the Book

Komméno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

My Thoughts

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When CJ Cooke offered a few copies of I Know My Name to bloggers on twitter I immediately asked if I could have one as the book sounded so good. It didn’t click with me until later that CJ Cooke wrote one of my favourite ever books, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, so when I found that my copy of I know My Name was signed I actually squealed with delight and was even more thrilled.

I’m so happy to say that I Know My Name doesn’t disappoint, I would go so far as to say that it’s the best psychological thriller that I’ve read this year. It had me on the edge of my seat at times and it really got under my skin.

I Know My Name is told in two strands. One is on a remote Greek island where a woman is washed ashore, she doesn’t know her name or where she came from or how she got to be there but she is lucky to be rescued by a group of writers that are staying on the island. The second strand is set in London where a man is called to come home from work by a neighbour as it seems his wife has gone missing leaving their two very young children behind.

This novel is thrilling, it’s unnerving and it gives you so much to consider as to what might have happened. But it’s so much more than that too. It’s a novel about how much you really know about a person, it’s about how much pain and damage people can hide from their loved ones and it’s about how easy it is to not see what is happening in your own home right in front of you.

I loved this book because it truly is a psychological thriller, it looks at a terrifying scenario of memory loss, of a creepy neglected island but also a look at how the mind works. The things people will do to survive, the things people sometimes have to do to survive.

I read this book in two sittings, the only reason I didn’t finish it in one is because I started reading late at night and fatigue overcame me. I immediately picked it up again the following morning and didn’t stop reading until I turned the last page. It’s now a few days since I read this book and I still find myself thinking about it, it really has made such a lasting impact on me and I know I won’t forget this story any time soon.

This is truly an outstanding psychological thriller that will unnerve you, it will give you the creeps and it will deeply unsettle you as it all begins to come together. It will grab you and it won’t let you go, even when you’ve finished reading it.

This is an incredible novel and I highly, highly recommend it. I feel certain that this book will be in my top books of this year!

I Know My Name is due to be published in paperback on 15th June.

I was sent a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

CJ Cooke twitter

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queens University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health.
I KNOW MY NAME is C.J. Cooke’s first psychological drama and was inspired by her creative work in mental health. It is being published in several other languages and a TV adaptation is in development.

C.J. Cooke lives by the sea with her family.

#BookReview: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by @GailHoneyman ‏@HarperCollinsUK

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About the book

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

My thoughts

I was really happy when the publicist for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine contacted me to ask if I’d like a review copy as I’d seen the book mentioned quite a lot on social media and was really keen to read it.

Eleanor Oliphant is a brilliant character. She is very stuck in her ways, and at first, seems quite abrasive. She is in her thirties but dresses and behaves like someone much older. Very soon it starts to become apparent that Eleanor has had a very difficult childhood and is just trying to cope with life as best she can. I felt like she was very enmeshed in how her mother had treated her when she was young and that she is talking in her mother’s voice and has adopted all her mother’s beliefs and attitudes to people and life. It broke my heart to see how much Eleanor, whilst maintaining that she was completely fine, was drinking vodka to get through the weekends on her own and the loneliness just emanated from her. I very quickly realised that Eleanor actually wasn’t okay and that she longs to have the same things that everyone else wants.

‘I have always taken great pride in managing life alone. I’m a sole survivor – I’m Eleanor Oliphant. I don’t need anyone else – there’s no big hole in my life, no missing part of my own particular puzzle. I’m a self-contained entity. That’s what I’ve always told myself at any rate’.

Eleanor’s loneliness really comes through when she goes to see a local band with one of her colleagues from work, and she immediately realises that the lead singer of this band is the man for her. Her attempts to get to know more about him make her seem very obsessive but I really believed that she just has never had anyone to learn from when it comes to meeting a potential partner. Eleanor has never even had a friend, she grew up in care and no one has ever shown her true kindness so how could she know how to approach making a friend or forming a relationship.

Eleanor does have such resilience in life though and I really admired how she didn’t let what people said about her get to her. She sometimes overhears colleagues laughing at her but she just takes it in her stride. It’s sad that she doesn’t seem to know that it doesn’t have to be that way, but also I really respect how she could just let things go. Eleanor’s thought processes as she finds her way through life are very amusing at times.

If I’m ever unsure as to the correct course of action, I’ll think, ‘What would a ferret do?’ or, ‘How would a salamander respond to this situation?’ Invariably, I find the right answer.

I loved seeing how Eleanor began to find her way in the world as she finds herself in a situation with another colleague, Raymond, when they end up helping an elderly man who falls in the street in front of them. Raymond is such a lovely man and seemed to see through Eleanor’s abrasiveness and he takes her under his wing. It was wonderful to see Eleanor beginning to understand how friendship works, and she starts to blossom. Eleanor’s manner in replying to a message from Raymond about going out for lunch shows how she is finding her way in this new situation of having a friend.

‘That would be fine. Thank you’. Daringly, I didn’t put my name, because I realised he’d know it was from me.

 

The book then moves on to the bad days where we start to find out what happened in Eleanor’s past to make her how she is. This section of the book was really hard to read because I’d formed such a soft spot for her so to find out what she had lived through was heartbreaking. Her problem with alcohol is also much more apparent as a real problem, and seeing the level of desperation and distress in Eleanor made me want to reach through the pages to try and help her.

Eleanor is a truly memorable character, she’s not someone I’ll forget in a hurry. This is a brilliant novel, I savoured every minute of reading it and it’s one I will keep and re-read in the future. I actually feel genuinely quite bereft at having to leave Eleanor behind now I’ve finished the book.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a tender and moving look at loneliness, at how it is to be given a chance and what it is to find a friend having had a lifetime of just getting through the days. A beautiful novel that I highly recommend.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is out now!

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

gail honeyman

Gail Honeyman wrote her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, while working a full time job, and it was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress. She has also been awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2014, and was longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Gail lives in Glasgow.

(Author photo and bio taken from Goodreads)

#BookReview: Making Space by @SarahTierney @sandstonepress #MakingSpace

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About the Book

Why do we hold onto things we don’t need? And let go of the things we do? Miriam is twenty-nine: temping, living with a flatmate who is no longer a friend, and still trying to find her place in life. She falls in love with Erik after he employs her to clear out his paper-packed home. They are worlds apart: he is forty-five, a successful photographer and artist and an obsessive hoarder still haunted by the end of his marriage. Miriam has an unsuccessful love life and has just got rid of most of her belongings. Somehow, they must find a way to reach each other.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was offered a copy of Making Space to review because it sounded like exactly my type of book. Regular readers of my blog will know I love books, both fiction and non-fiction, about dealing with clutter so you can imagine how excited I was about reading this novel!

Making Space is about Miriam and Erik. Miriam is in her late twenties, single and still flat-sharing with her friend from uni. Erik is in his forties and struggles to deal with all the stuff he’s collected to use in his art. His daughter wants to move in with him so he urgently needs to at least clear out a bedroom for her. Miriam is sent to help re-organise Erik’s papers as part of her new office job, and the relationship that builds between these characters is fascinating to read. Both have issues that on the surface seem not at all alike but as we get to know more about these two people it becomes apparent that they have more in common than we see at first.

Erik sees himself as a collector, which is interesting because seeing his house through Miriam’s eyes we know very quickly that he is a hoarder, that he cannot bear to let things go. Once I knew this about him I was intrigued – I wanted to know if he genuinely felt he was collecting things or if he knew he had a problem but just didn’t want to face up to it. It made me feel claustrophobic as Miriam explores Erik’s home for the first time – all those books, magazines and cuttings stacked up everywhere with barely any room to walk through. It also made me remember how I have been in the past. I grew up with a family member who collected newspapers and books – it was confined to one room and as a child it felt like a treasure trove but as an adult it was stifling. My own ‘collecting tendencies’ have been a bit much in the past but as I always spread my books through the house, and so it never seemed so bad.

‘The answer wasn’t rational, I knew that. He collected because he had to. It was a compulsion not a choice.’

Miriam seems to be the polar opposite of Erik – she is renting a tiny flat with a friend and has ended up with the smallest room and yet her friend still manages to make her feel like she’s a guest in her own home. Miriam decides on a whim to pack up nearly all of her belongings and take them to the charity shop with barely a backwards glance. Her reason was that she felt like it.

‘I didn’t want what they stood for anymore […]. I was just sick of it. I was sick of myself’.

There is a real poignancy running throughout this novel and I loved that. I soon came to feel that Erik’s hoarding was likely a reaction to what his childhood had been like, and that made me understand him more. Later we find out that it’s more complex than that and that just adds to the depth of his character. Then there are moments when Miriam has so few clothes left that she’s having to put the washing machine on most days, and when her flatmate comments about the electric bill Miriam laughingly retorts to her that ‘You have a boyfriend. I have my washing’ before realising how tragic that sounds. Miriam is lonely, she is trying to get by in life unable to find the thing that will make her happy. Miriam and Erik are each protecting themselves by either having too much stuff around them, or too little – it feels like comfort and safety but in reality it’s dragging you down when you’re either imprisoned by your belongings or untethered by your lack of things. They both need to find some middle ground.

The further you get into this book the more the title begins to gain meaning. Miriam is making space in her room but actually it’s more about her trying to find herself and her place in the world. Clearing out all of her belongings leads her to things that she might otherwise have not done but it also makes her feel cast adrift and a bit lost for a while. Erik needs to make space in his home for his daughter but his problem is more to do with him needing space in his head. Miriam’s need to get back a postcard that her father had sent her when she was little, and what she does with it towards the end of the book was so moving to me. Her realisation about her need for space, but also her need to let people into her life makes for a really fascinating read. As space is made, or in some cases un-made, by each of these characters, the more they become able to allow people and opportunities into their lives.

This is such a beautiful novel about how we can’t help but bring the pain of our past into the present. It’s about finding your place in the world in whatever way you can. It’s about learning to be okay with who you are. It’s about letting go of the endings and making space for new beginnings.

When I was offered this book I knew I was going to enjoy it, but I didn’t realise just how moving the book would be, and how much it would come to hold a place in my heart. I loved every minute that I spent reading Making Space and it’s one of my favourite books of this year so far.

I highly recommend making space on your bookcase for Making Space. It’s out now and the ebook is currently on offer this week for just £1, which is an absolute bargain for such a wonderful novel.

I was sent a copy of this book by Sandstone Press in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

sarah tierney

Sarah Tierney is a graduate of the MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University, and her short story, ‘Five Miles Out’, was made into a short film by the acclaimed director Andrew Haigh. Sarah has worked as a journalist, editor and copywriter. She lives in Derbyshire with her husband and daughter.

(Author bio and photo taken from: SandstonePress.com)

 

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

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#BookReview: The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis @MichaelJBooks @tinaseskis ‏

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

About the Book

There’s trouble in paradise. . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

My Thoughts

I read and enjoyed Tina Seskis’ first novel a little while ago and loved it so when I heard she had a new book coming out I was keen to read it. I was thrilled when NetGalley approved my request recently.

Jemma and Jamie are on their honeymoon on a beautiful and exclusive island resort in the Maldives. One morning Jemma wakes up to find her new husband is missing and from there the novel slowly builds as we find out what led up to him disappearing and what actually happened to him.

The novel is told in alternating chapters of past and present, and this worked really well as I found myself engrossed in both parts of the story and wanting to see how the timeline would converge and where it was all leading. It’s also told in four parts, and I have to say that at the end of the first part my head was spinning and I simply had to read on as fast as I possibly could.

The atmosphere on this beautiful island becomes increasingly stifling as Jemma feels that everyone, staff and other guests alike, are suspecting her of harming her husband. Even the couple she had become friends with start being a bit more distant with her. She is unsure how to behave and worries about how people who see her around the island are perceiving her. The paranoia she feels grows and grows – it emanates off the page to the point it was making me nervous about what was going to happen next.

As the book went on I became more and more unnerved by the whole situation. I’m scared of open water as it is so the idea of being on a small island resort isn’t my idea of fun, but there is an underlying sense of malice in this book that you can never quite put your finger on why. It gave me that feeling you have when you’re seriously sleep-deprived and everything has that slightly unreal feeling to it. This isn’t a scary book but there is a real creepiness to it and it gets under your skin – the feeling doesn’t let up until well after you’ve finished reading. The writing in this book is brilliant in the way it really evokes these feelings in the reader, almost mimicking some of what Jemma is feeling.

I suspected just about everyone in this book of having had something to do with Jamie’s disappearance. During the times when I wasn’t reading, my mind was constantly pondering on various scenarios that could have happened. Tina Seskis throws in so many brilliant red herrings and twists that it’s impossible to know how it will all turn out. One of my suspicions did prove to be partially correct but I defy anyone to work out what exactly happened on this island!

This is a slow-burn thriller that builds the tension and the claustrophobic atmosphere to such a degree that it feels like you’re enmeshed in the situation yourself. It’s dark and twisty, gripping and impossible to put down! I highly recommend The Honeymoon.

The Honeymoon is due to be published on 1st June and can be pre-ordered now.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Michael Joseph via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

tina seskis

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, before going off to study in the beautiful city of Bath and then moving to London, where she has lived on and off ever since.

Tina’s first novel One Step Too Far was released in 2013, and has since been published in 17 languages in over 60 countries. Her latest novel, The Honeymoon, will finally be released on 1st June 2017.

Tina lives in North London with her husband and son.

(Author photo and bio taken from: Goodreads)