Mini Book Reviews: Just My Luck | The Catch | One Hundred and Fifty Two Days | A Dark Matter

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently.

Just My Luck by Adele Parks

I really enjoyed this book, it kept me gripped all the way through! The novel follows Jake and Lexi who are married with two children. Every weekend they play the lottery with two couples they’ve known since their children were babies. Only one week their numbers come up and Jake and Lexi say they are the sole winners as the other two couples didn’t put their money in the previous weekend. The novel then follows the fall out, and the far-reaching actions and repercussions that no one could have foreseen. There is some suspension of disbelief required at times but I didn’t mind that, I adored seeing where this novel was going to take me. I’d recommend this one if you’re looking for a domestic thriller that keeps you on your toes!

The Catch by T. M. Logan

I’ve read and enjoyed T. M. Logan’s previous novels so I was delighted to get a copy of his new one from NetGalley recently. I love the way this author takes ordinary people living ordinary lives and he throws a grenade into those lives and we get to see what happens. In The Catch Ed and Claire meet their daughter Abbie’s new boyfriend Ryan, and he seems very nice. Only Ed is immediately suspicious of this man and is determined to find out more about him. This is another novel where you suspend your disbelief and enjoy the rollercoaster ride that you’re on and I really enjoyed it. There are twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, it’s hard to see where this novel might go and I loved that. I recommend it!

One Hundred and Fifty Two Days by Giles Paley-Phillips

This is a beautiful novel written in verse about a teenage boy coming to terms with his mum’s illness and death. Whilst his mum is very ill he contracts pneumonia and so isn’t allowed to visit her. I loved the honesty throughout this book – it’s clear this boy loves his mum and misses seeing her but he also focuses a lot on his physio Freya who he feels understands him. There is so much for him to process, I really felt for him. There are a few moments in this book that made me cry – my mum died when I was in my 20s and I empathised with the pain he was in. I loved his relationship with his Nana Q, I was so glad he had her to walk beside him as his father seemed to grow more distant. All in all this is a beautiful, honest and moving novel and I recommend it.

A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

I loved Doug Johnstone’s previous novel so was very keen to read his latest and I’m so happy to say that I adored it. A Dark Matter is set in a funeral home and follows three generations of the Skelf family. The family also work as private investigators and often the two businesses converge! I loved reading from the perspective of each of the women – Dorothy, the head of the family, Jenny the daughter and Hannah the grand-daughter. All have their own dramas and issues going on and I was fully invested in all of them. There is so much heart in this book but it’s also full of black humour and I loved the way Doug Johnstone makes his characters so real and believable. I already can’t wait to read the next book in the series and to see how they all are what they’re getting up to now!

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman | @CharityNorman1 @AllenAndUnwin @annecater

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A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for five strangers whose paths cross in a London café – their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage.

But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?

 

I’ve read and enjoyed all of Charity Norman’s previous novels but I have to start by saying that The Secrets of Strangers is her best yet, it’s an incredible read!

The Secrets of Strangers is set in a small London cafe on an ordinary morning. The regulars are all their grabbing a coffee or a quick breakfast but this isn’t going to be a normal day for many of them. A row breaks out between the owner and a customer and it leads to everyone in the cafe being held hostage by a gunman.

The novel follows multiple characters throughout and we get to learn about everyone’s lives and their pasts and where they are in their lives. They all have their own problems and the novel explores one character’s infertility journey, another’s battle with addiction, and how one of them survived a genocide. All of these issues are explored in such a sensitive way and it really makes you feel for every single person.

The tension is immediate in this novel but it waxes and wanes as the novel progresses and we’re at the mercy of the mood of the gunman. At times the tension is palpable and I felt I was holding my breath, at other times I wanted to cry. I always felt like I was right there in the cafe with this group of people.

Charity Norman in a brilliant writer and whilst this novel explores some very difficult themes, there is some lightness to balance the darkness because of the way she makes everyone so real and so human. I ended up feeling a connection to every single person I read about and even now, weeks after I read this novel, I still find myself thinking about them.

This is a one sitting book – I picked it up one afternoon and I didn’t put it down until I’d finished reading it. I was experiencing a reading slump at the time and nothing was holding my attention but this book did and it’s a testament to the wonderful writing. I loved this novel, it’s my new favourite Charity Norman book and I strongly suspect it’ll be in my favourite books of the year list. I highly recommend it!

The Secrets of Strangers is out now in paperback, ebook and audio book and available here.

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Allen & Unwin for my ecopy of this book and my blog tour invitation. All views are my own.

 

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

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Mini Book Reviews: Girl, Woman, Other | Made to be Broken | Big Lies in a Small Town | An Almost Zero Waste Life

Today I’m sharing four more mini reviews of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently!

 

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Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

I have to start by saying that this is the best book I’ve read this year so far; it’s utterly incredible! I put off reading it for a little while as I got it into my head that it was going to be difficult but it really wasn’t.  It’s set out in five sections – the first four each have three sections following a different woman and the final section brings everything together. I love how much we learn about each woman and how distinct they are, and I loved discovering how each female in the group of three were connected. There is so much to learn about these woman and every single one was fascinating and believable. I got absorbed in each individual’s story and the novel as a whole, it’s such a brilliant and beautiful book and is one I will definitely re-read in the future. In fact I already want to go back and read it again now and I rarely feel like that on finishing a book. If you haven’t already read this one then I urge you to pick it up soon. 

 

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Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few Diane Chamberlain novels over the years but I think this one is my new favourite of hers. I’ve been in a reading slump in recent weeks but this book grabbed my attention from the first chapter and I got swept up in this story. The novel follows two women in two different timelines and we gradually learn each of their stories. Often in a novel with two timelines I feel more invested in one than the other but this book had me equally gripped by both, the pacing is perfect and each story is gripping. I loved leaning about Anna, a young artist in the 1940s who moves to a small town to paint a mural after winning a contest. She has to battle prejudice from being female, and the way the locals think she’s ousted their entrant in the contest. In the present day Morgan is released from prison early in order to restore a mural, even though she knows very little about art restoration. This was such a good read and I definitely recommend it.

 

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Made to be Broken by Rebecca Bradley

I read and loved the first book in this series, Shallow Waters, when it was first released so I’m kicking myself that it’s taken me so long to pick up the second book. I’m really glad I finally did though because this book is every bit as good as the first. We follow Detective Hannah Robbins and her team again as they’re still coming to terms with what happened in Shallow Waters and now there is a serial killer on their patch. The novel also gives us the perspective of the killer which really adds to the tension and gives insight into what is going on. I found the plot of this book to be really refreshing – both the motive for the killings and the way the murders were carried out was different to other crime thrillers I’ve read before. I highly recommend this book and I can’t wait to start reading book three!

 

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An Almost Zero Waste Life by Megan Weldon

This is a beautifully produced book that gives ideas about how to move towards a zero waste life. It’s aimed at ordinary people living in ordinary homes so you don’t need to have a huge garden in order to start following some of the suggestions in this book, which I really appreciated. There are a lot of pretty illustrations throughout the book, which makes you keen to keep picking this book up and reading a bit more, it didn’t feel like I was being lectured at any point. I did know a fair bit of what was in this book already but this book made for a really good motivator and a reminder that I need to be aware of what I bring into my home and how I dispose of rubbish. I’d recommend this one to anyone who wants to learn more about living a zero waste life!

 

 

Mini Book Reviews: The Flight | The Guest List | The Alibi Girl | The Recovery of Rose Gold

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Today I want to share another selection of mini book reviews of some mystery and thriller novels that I’ve read and enjoyed recently.

 

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The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

This is such a gripping novel that is both a thriller and an exploration about what makes a person the way they are. It follows Rose Gold and her mother Patty in the present day where Patty is released from prison after five years, having served her time for the abuse of Rose Gold throughout her childhood. It seems that Rose Gold wants to forgive her mother for all she did in making her very ill in order to get attention from others but all is not quite as it seems. Rose Gold is a very messed up adult and she seems outwardly to be forgiving of her mother but there is definitely something more under the surface. This is a page-turner and there are shocks in store but most of all it looks at what makes us the way we are – are we a product of our upbringing or are we born the way we are? I found this was a novel that hasn’t left me since I finished reading it, I keep thinking of Patty and Rose Gold. I definitely recommend this book!

 

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The Alibi Girl by C. J. Skuse

I received an ARC of this from NetGalley but I decided to buy the audio book and listen to it as I’ve enjoyed other books by the author on audio. I found this such a compelling book to listen to and it was perfect for me whilst I was coming out of a reading slump as I just didn’t want to stop listening. In the beginning of this book we meet Mary and her baby in a hairdressers where she talks about her other children and husband. But as she’s leaving she’s fearful of a man that arrives, and as she runs down the street someone else shouts after her but calls her by a different name! It turns out she’s not Mary at all but Joanne. The novel then flicks back and forth between the present day, and the past where we learn about Joanna’s childhood. Joanna has a lot of alibis – she gives different names and different stories to everyone she meets and slowly we learn why. Initially this gave me Sweetpea (one of C. J. Skuse’s previous novels) vibes but the further into it you get the more you see why Joanna is the way she is, it breaks your heart. I was rooting for her as the book went along and it becomes clear she’s not a liar for the sake of it, there is way more to it. This book has an ending that may divide readers but I thought it was perfect, even though it made me cry. I highly recommend this one!

 

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The Guest List by Lucy Foley

I enjoyed Lucy Foley’s previous novel The Hunting Party but her new one The Guest List is even better! A wedding is about to take place on a remote island and the main wedding party are gradually arriving. We meet the bride, the plus one, the bride’s sister, the wedding planner and others and the novel is told from different perspectives throughout. The island quickly becomes even more isolated when the bad weather draws in and we know from early on that someone dies so the book is predominantly told in the lead up to the wedding but there are small chapters in the aftermath. I loved how the tension builds in this novel and you become suspicious of everyone and wonder why they are the way they are. I did think I’d worked the whodunnit and why fairly early on but boy was I wrong! There are so many twists and turns in this book and as you see it all unravel the tension just ramps up and up. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it!

 

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The Flight by Julie Clark

I got this book from NetGalley and I’m so happy I was approved as it’s such a gripping novel! It follows two women from very different walks of life who become caught up in each other’s lives. Claire is married to a very controlling man but because of who he is and the power he holds she can’t escape him. On a trip he sends her on she gets her way out when a woman who looks a little like her approaches her wanting to swap places and each get on the others flight! We soon learn that the plane has crashed and the media believes Claire was on it. The novel is told from Claire’s perspective going forwards as she tries to remain hidden. It’s also told from Eva’s point of view in the months leading up to her swapping flights with Claire. I was equally invested in both women’s stories and was hoping both would escape their pasts and find a way to make a new life. There are twists and turns along the way that I wasn’t expecting so this book really kept me on my toes, I felt really quite bereft on finishing it. I recommend this one too!

Mini Book Reviews: Dear Edward | Rules for Perfect Murders | What She Saw Last Night | I Want You Gone

This year has been a really up and down year for reading. It started off great but then I was quite unwell late January into February and I barely read anything. I was just starting to feel better when lockdown happened and my concentration has been rubbish up until the last few days. This means there are books that have been read over really long periods or that I was reading when I felt so unwell and the details of plots are no longer strong in my mind. So today I’m doing mini book reviews of some of those novels.

 

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Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

This is a stunning book that I read back in February and I still find myself thinking about it. It’s the story of Edward who boards a plane with his family and ends up being the sole survivor when it crashes. We then follow Edward as he goes to live with his Aunt and Uncle and has to work through the grief of losing his family and having to find a new life for himself in amongst all the guilt and fear. He also has the added struggle of being the only survivor and having to deal with all the attention that this brings, and all the focus on him from the families who lost their loved ones on the flight. The novel is told in alternating chapters with one focusing on Edward now, and one focusing on the plane during its ill-fated flight. This way of telling the story made is so fast-paced but also incredibly emotional to read. I found myself really affected by this book and it’s one I think I will re-read in the future. I highly recommend it.

 

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Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

This book was irresistible to me when I heard what it was about. It’s a crime thriller where all the murders committed are copycats of murders from famous works of fiction! (I actually looked up what the books were before I started reading so I could make sure I’d read them so as not to get any spoilers!). Bookshop owner Malcom posted a blog post a few years ago entitled Eight Perfect Murders and now it seems someone is using that post as a blueprint for serial murder. The FBI are soon knocking on Malcom’s door wanting to know what he knows and he is shocked at the thought someone could do this. He soon finds himself embroiled in the investigation and what follows is a rollercoaster ride as we slowly learn the truth about the murders! I’m a huge Peter Swanson fan and this book met all my expectations for it. I recommend this one!

 

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When She Saw the Light by M. J. Cross

I wanted to read this book as soon as I first read the blurb and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint. Jenny boards the sleeper train and sees a young woman with a child boarding just ahead of her. During the journey the woman is found dead but there is no evidence that the child ever existed! What follows is Jenny’s mission to find out who the woman was and to locate the child. This novel does require some suspension of disbelief at times but I don’t mind that in a thriller that races along and keeps me completely engaged in what is happening and this one certainly did that. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming but it was very satisfying to see how everything turned out. I’ll definitely be reading more by this author in the future.

 

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I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

This is a creepy thriller! The main character Laura sees her own obituary in the local paper which is then posted on Facebook. More unnerving things happen and it really begins to affect her work and her state of mind. There are quite a few people in Laura’s life who she becomes suspicious of but she can’t put her finger on who exactly would be doing this to her or why. I did find Laura a little irritating in the way she reacted to things but at the same time I could understand why when she was so flummoxed at why this might be being done to her. This is a quick read and I would look out for more books by this author in the future.

Strangers by C. L. Taylor | @CallyTaylor @AvonBooksUK #DontTalkToStrangers

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Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.

Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.

None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.
 
Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.

 

I’m a huge fan of C. L. Taylor’s writing and have loved all of her novels so far but I can honestly say that Strangers is her best yet! It’s brilliant!

It follows three characters: Ursula who seems to be a bit of a loner and is clearly struggling with something; Gareth who works as a security guard in the local shopping centre but also looks after his mum who has dementia; Alice who’s recently divorced and has started dating again. A man she ends up seeing has a secret and this leads Alice to be in danger!

I loved how this novel is told from the three different perspectives. It opens with a scene where something terrible has happened but we don’t know exactly what, or who to, and then we got back in time and find out what led to the incident. I had no idea how the lives of these three disparate characters would eventually intersect but I was so keen to find out.

I find it’s rare in a book with three points of view to be equally invested in all of them but C. L. Taylor has written such brilliant characters that I cared about all of them and I wanted to know what was going to happen in each of their lives.

It’s rare for me not to work out how a thriller will turn out but Strangers kept me guessing all the way to the end. It was such a rollercoaster novel and when the denouement happens I was literally on the edge of my seat! I adored this book and I highly recommend it!

 

Strangers is out now in ebook, paperback and audio. All available here.

Many thanks to Avon Books for my ecopy of this book and my invitation to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

 

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

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Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten |@nholten40 @OneMoreChapter_ @BOTBSPublicity

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The serial killer is behind bars. But the murders are just beginning…

DC Maggie Jamieson’s past comes back to haunt her in this dark and gripping serial killer thriller.

Three missing women running out of time…

They were abducted years ago. Notorious serial killer Bill Raven admitted to killing them and was sentenced to life.

The case was closed – at least DC Maggie Jamieson thought it was…

But now one of them has been found, dismembered and dumped in a bin bag in town.

Forensics reveal that she died just two days ago, when Raven was behind bars, so Maggie has a second killer to find.

Because even if the other missing women are still alive, one thing’s for certain: they don’t have long left to live…

 

Dead Inside was one of my favourite books of last year so I was thrilled to discover that Noelle Holten had a new book out this year. Dead Wrong is a brilliant follow-up book and I loved it!

Dead Wrong follows DC Maggie Jamieson as she’s thrown back into an old case – that of serial killer Bill Raven. Maggie worked the investigation that led to his conviction a couple of years previously but now the body of one of the missing women has been found and it seems she’s only been dead a few days so it throws the conviction into doubt. Maggie is sure she didn’t make a mistake but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction.

The dynamic between Maggie and Raven was so tense to read, there is a real cat and mouse game going on – Raven is really toying with Maggie and wants her to crack. It’s edge of seat stuff to read and it had me racing through the book as I was desperate to find out how it would all end.

I loved that we get to know more of Maggie in this book, she’s such a great character and is easily becoming one of my favourite detectives! It was great to see more of her home life and her relationship with her brother who lives with her. I also loved seeing her growing closeness with Dr Moloney as the novel progresses.

This is fast becoming one of my favourite crime fiction series and I already can’t wait for the next book – I’ll be first in the queue to buy it when it’s published!

Dead Wrong is out now in ebook, paperback and audio. All available here.

Many thanks to Sarah from Books on the Brightside and One More Chapter for my ecopy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

 

I’m really unwell at the moment and my concentration isn’t good so I apologise in for this review being shorter and lesser than I would have liked to write for this brilliant book.

 

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

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Containment by Vanda Symon | @OrendaBooks @VandaSymon @annecater

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Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins.

Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead.

What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea … a diver who didn’t die of drowning…

As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims…

 

I loved the first two books in this series so have been eagerly anticipating this next book and I’m so happy to say that I loved Containment every bit as much, if not even more, than the previous two. I adore Sam Shephard, she’s now one of my most favourite characters ever and I love spending time with her and finding out what she’s up to!

Containment is a brilliant crime novel. Sam finds herself in the midst of having to police looting on a beach after a cargo ship runs aground and containers are washed ashore. This leads to her being assaulted and then soon after finding herself investigating what happened to a man found dead in the water. This is only the start of the story though!

Alongside her work Sam is trying to figure out her love life and I found Sam so relatable. She’s involved with a man who really likes her and she likes him but still she just can’t quite commit. She’s not sure, and she’s not sure why she’s not sure. At times I wanted to shake her and tell her to give him a chance but at the same time I could totally see why she was reluctant. I also love Sam’s friendship with Maggie, they’re so close and Maggie can be brutally honest with Sam but she loves her regardless of whether she agrees with her not. It makes me wish I had a Maggie in my life!

There is a character in this book who has obvious physical disabilities and I loved his scenes with Sam. We live in a very politically correct world but people who aren’t disabled don’t always take account of how disabled people see themselves or how they’re happy to be seen by others. I found him, and how he was written, so refreshing and so brilliant. Bravo to Vanda for this!

I love Vanda Symon’s writing – she captures people in such a believable and real way. Whilst Sam is high as a kite on pain meds there are some scenes that had me properly laughing out loud, yet it never takes away from the seriousness of what is happening. I adore writing that captures life like this.

The setting of Vanda Symon’s novels are so brilliantly described too. She brings Dunedin, and in this novel Aramoana to life for me. I’ve never been to New Zealand but I can envisage the places so clearly, Vanda’s writing makes a movie in my head and now I feel like I’ve been there!

Containment is a brilliant crime novel – it has darkness and humour, brilliant characters and fabulous writing! I highly recommend this book (and the whole series)!

Containment is out now in ebook and paperback here.

 

I’m really unwell at the moment and my concentration isn’t good so I apologise in for this review being shorter and lesser than I would have liked to write for this brilliant book.

 

Many thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for my ecopy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

 

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

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Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin | @CarolLovekin @Honno @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #WildSpinningGirls

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If it wasn’t haunted before she came to live there, after she died, Ty’r Cwmwl made room for her ghost. She brought magic with her.

And the house, having held its breath for years, knew it. Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets out for the Welsh house her father has left her. Ty’r Cwmwl is not at all welcoming despite the fact it looks inhabited, as if someone just left…

It is being cared for as a shrine by the daughter of the last tenant. Determined to scare off her old home’s new landlord, Heather Esyllt Morgan sides with the birds who terrify Ida and plots to evict her. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.

I genuinely don’t know where to start with this review… Carol Lovekin stole a piece of my heart with Ghostbird, and she cemented my love of her writing with Snow Sisters… Now there’s Wild Spinning Girls and I’m just completely and utterly in awe!

I jumped at the chance to read Wild Spinning Girls without knowing much about it because I’m a huge fan and I know a Carol Lovekin novel will be stunning. When I read the opening pages and I saw what the novel was about I instantly felt a strong connection. We follow Ida, who is 29 years old and is told, somewhat out of the blue, that she is being made redundant from her beloved job in a book shop. Then soon after Ida’s parents die suddenly and she is rootless and lost. My mum died when I was 29, she was my only parent and honestly losing her pulled the rug completely from under me. I barely knew which way was up for quite a while. So I was reading this novel in tears at times remembering the pain of the early days of that loss and wishing I could reach into the pages of this book to Ida, to tell her that it does get easier in time.

‘Mothers aren’t supposed to die before we’re ready to manage without them.’ Ida said.

Ida soon learns about a house in Wales that her parents still owned but they hadn’t been there since Ida was five. She decides to go there and sort it out for sale but she’s dreading it. She knows her mum hated it there but she doesn’t really know why.

Her thick cardigan folded itself around her, like a pair of empty arms enhancing her loneliness, exacerbating her sense of disconnection from the person who had arrived here less than two weeks previously.

The house feels creepy, cold and unfriendly when Ida arrives. Dark is falling and the electric is off so she’s literally floundering and wondering what on earth to do. The house seems melancholy, there is a sense that it is waiting for something – I could feel that radiating from the page. This is a house that is haunted by secrets and sadness and also by the happiness that could have been had there and wasn’t. It is as if there is some kind of spell woven around this house and it had a very real effect on Ida, but also on me. It was as if the things Ida was feeling because of the house I was genuinely feeling too because of the poignant way it was all described in the novel.

‘[…] it’s the place, the house. It’s like living in a Bronte novel’.

‘Charlotte or Emily?’

‘Both.’

Gradually we discover more about Ida’s mother and how she had been a famous ballerina but Ida was never able to reach her mother’s heights. She took up ballet as a child but an accident brought it all to an end. It caused real tension between mother and daughter but it never took away their love for each other. It made their relationship complex but the way that Ida holds on to her red ballet shoes shows how much she adored her mother, at the same time as the way she holds on to her injury shows the guilt she feels in how she, perhaps unconsciously, freed herself from the power of those same red shoes.

Then in walks Heather! A 17 year old who believes the house is hers because her mother rented it for them for many years. Heather’s mum has also recently died but this doesn’t make the two women find a connection, instead there is suspicion and tension from the start. Both are lost and in pain but they’re both struggling in their own ways and it seems like no one is going to be able to get through to either of them. Nor does it seem likely that they’ll find a way to resolve the impasse they find themselves in. Heather is feisty and strong-willed, she doesn’t see why she should yield her will to anyone and I loved this about her. Ida is the opposite; she is broken by all that has happened and she can’t see how she will get her life back on track. I was willing both of these women on, I wanted them to see the common ground and to find a way through.

Heather knew the only way to mend a heart as broken as hers was to find someone else who knew what a heart sounded like when it shattered.

Carol Lovekin weaves magic through her writing, she brings her readers into her stories in a way that no other writer does. I always feel bereft on finishing her novels because I never want them to end but I also always feel like my spirit has been shored up and healed in a way that was much needed. I found so much solace in Wild Spinning Girls, I could identify so much with both Ida and Heather. I really miss them now, I keep thinking about them and wondering how they are as if they are real people that I once knew.

There is a fierceness in young women: the wild spinning girls made of loss and grief and their mothers’ best dreams. Let loose it could tip the world off its axis.

I highlighted so many paragraphs as I was reading this novel because Carol Lovekin has such a special turn of phrase, and she weaves such beauty into each sentence. I kept stopping to re-read sections because I wanted to make sure I’d absorbed every bit of this story. I deliberately read slowly as I didn’t want to miss a single thing! The above quote is one of my favourites and this wild spinning girl is going to read those two sentences every time she ever doubts herself from now on!

Wild Spinning Girls truly is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time, it has stolen my heart and will be taking pride of place on my bookcase. It is melancholy but also magical, it’s dark but it has hope and most of all it’s a stunning book that reminds you to find and then hold on to your power and strength. I’ve been writing and re-writing this review for days and I can’t do any kind of justice to the book. I just adored this novel more than I can say, I know it will be one of my favourite books of this year as I already want to re-read it. I highly recommend this one!

My thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Honno Books for my ecopy of this book and my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Wild Spinning Girls is due to be published on 20 Feb and can be pre-ordered here.

 

 

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

Wild Spinning Girls BT Poster

 

Death Deserved by Thomas Enger & Jorn Lier Horst | @OrendaBooks @annecater

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Police officer Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm join forces to track down a serial killer with a thirst for attention and high-profile murders, in the first episode of a gripping new Nordic Noir series…

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.
Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…

Well, I’ve not been reading much over the last couple of weeks – I’ve been ill and my concentration has been rubbish but I’d been so keen to get to Death Deserved so picked it up to give it a try and I’m so glad I did. This is such a brilliant crime thriller, it’s one of those books that I was thinking about whenever I wasn’t reading it and I already want more!

Death Deserved opens with a police officer entering a house and shooting a suspect, and then the novel moves forward nineteen years to the present day. The same officer is called to a missing woman’s house by a journalist and this leads to such a gripping investigation! Blix is the officer and Emma is the journalist and they begin to work together as it becomes apparent that someone is murdering celebrities and it seems the killer has a very definite plan in mind for how and when he going to commit the murders.

I loved Emma Ramm from the off in this book. She is so feisty and determined to make something of her career, and she felt so real to me. She doesn’t put herself in silly situations, she’s astute. Blix is also great, he has demons in his past but it only fuels him to be better and to get things right in the future. He’s mindful of what came before but he never lets it stop him fully focusing on what is in front of him now. I can see why Emma and Blix came to work well together, they really do make a brilliant pairing!

I had so many theories as I was racing through this crime thriller and pretty much all of them were wrong. It’s a novel that wrong foots you every time you think you’ve got a grip of what’s going on, it made me feel like I was in amongst the investigation as the police were also scrambling to put a theory together.

I loved the way this novel also explores celebrity and how people become famous, and how we come to revere people who are in the public eye. Blix’s daughter is in a reality TV show and he has a slightly strained relationship with her but he’s constantly catching up with how she’s doing on the show and making sure she seems okay. The show is like Big Brother but way more tough on the contestants in what it puts them through. It was fascinating to me how the viewers were judging the contestants and voting them out based on transgressions that perhaps most of us might have committed at one time or another in our lives. It felt it was holding a mirror up to all of us so realising that the killer was at the incredibly heightened, extreme, obsessed end of a scale that perhaps we are all on was very unnerving and unsettling. We are constantly making judgements and wishing people would be voted off shows because they’re not worthy enough, or nice enough or they made a mistake that we feel they should pay for. Obviously, I know we’re not all psychopaths but the dichotomy definitely brings you up short at times as you read this book!

Death Deserved is an intense, sophisticated crime thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and I loved every single minute that I spent reading it! I love a book that is such a gripping, unputdownable thrill-ride whilst also making me pause for thought, and Death Deserved it definitely that! This is the best crime thriller that I’ve read in quite some time and I can’t wait to read more by these authors! I highly recommend this book!

Death Deserved is out now in ebook and and can be pre-ordered in paperback here.

Many thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for my ecopy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

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

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Mini #BookReviews: One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis | 17 Church Row by James Carol | Dare Me by Megan Abbott

mini reviews

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

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One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

I started reading this book at the very end of 2019 and finished it a few days ago. The novel follows Vicky who one day makes a terrible error of judgement and something happens which leads to her best friend Amber helping her keep it quiet. What follows is a novel where you’re not sure who to trust. In between the chapters in the present day there are chapters from the past but it’s not clear until later in the novel who this person is. I swung from thinking one thing to another and I was never quite sure what was going on until just before it was fully revealed! I did find that the latter stages of the novel required some suspension of disbelief but I didn’t care because by then I was so invested in the characters and just wanted to know what was going to happen. I enjoyed this book and will definitely read more by Emma Curtis in the future!

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17 Church Row by James Carol

This novel appealed to me as soon as I read that it involved a very high-tech house! Even though the thought of what may be done is terrifying I can’t help but be drawn to books like this! This novel felt mysterious from the start and I wanted to know about this young family and why they were moving. They seem to move to this new house very quickly without much thought or research so I was intrigued! It turns out they’ve been through an awful tragedy and are trying to find a way to move forward with their lives. Unfortunately for them the tech in this house is still being tested and they end up unwittingly becoming pawns in someone else’s game. I’m going to be honest and say that while I loved the first half of the book, the second half didn’t quite live up to it for me. The book got a bit far-fetched and it lost me a little. Having said that I did read this in just a couple of sittings as I was keen to know what was going to happen so I did still enjoy it.

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Dare Me by Megan Abbott

This book has been on my TBR ever since it was published so I wanted to make it a priority this year so when I spotted the audio book on BorrowBox I decided to part read and part listen to it. I found it hard to get into this book but once it grabbed me I was gripped. It follows Addy, a cheerleader in a teen squad and you get a real look at the toxic friendships that this environment sometimes fosters. There is also the coach who is very friendly with some of the girls but it’s clear from early on that she is playing them, although I wasn’t sure why. I’m torn about this book because the elements that I liked I really liked but ultimately I think perhaps I wasn’t the right audience for the book as it just didn’t fully click with me. I do love Megan Abbott’s writing though and I’ve enjoyed books by her before so I will definitely be looking out for more in the future.

Mini Reviews: It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans | The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

Today I want to share my thoughts on two lovely books that I read over the Christmas and New Year period. Both feature Christmas but can be read at any time of year.

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It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans

It’s A Wonderful Life is such a lovely Christmas film so when I saw this book I had to buy it. The novel follows Georgia Bailey, who manages a charity shop and one night she gets a call from a suicidal man on a bridge who has mistakenly called the shop instead of the helpline. Georgia knows she should give him the correct number but she finds herself talking to him instead. The next morning Georgia goes to buy a coffee and she hears a man talking and realises it’s the man from the night before. She knows she can’t let on that she knows so she resolves to find a way to help him. This is such a gorgeous novel – it doesn’t shy away from the severity of depression and grief but it also manages to remain a feel-good novel, which is an incredible balancing act. I loved the way the main street in the town is like a character in its own right and I felt like I had been there. I was willing Georgia and Leo on in their quest to bring this town back to life. There is so much love and joy in the novel and I very much enjoyed it. I will definitely be reading more by Jaimie Admans in the future!

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The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

I bought this book when it was first published and then I borrowed the audio book from the library so I could part read and part listen. I adored this book. It’s such a magical novel and it really took me back to feeling like I did as I read books as a child. I loved the characters in the book – particularly Cathy and Kaspar, I was rooting for them all the way through. There is so much in the novel that made me feel nostalgic and melancholy but I was so enchanted by the magic running throughout it too. I really did enjoy this book and I’ll certainly be reading more by this author in the future too.

The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton

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THE ACCIDENT.
THE LIE.
THE FALLOUT will be huge . . .

When Liza’s little boy has an accident at the local health club, it’s all anyone can talk about.

Was nobody watching him?
Where was his mother?
Who’s to blame?

The rumours, the finger-pointing, the whispers – they’re everywhere. And Liza’s best friend, Sarah, desperately needs it to stop.

Because Sarah was there when it happened. It was all her fault. And if she’s caught out on the lie, everything will fall apart . . .

I was really drawn to this book as soon as I read the synopsis and it didn’t let me down! The Fallout is a book about toxic friendships and I love that in a novel! An accident happens at the local health club and the finger-pointing and covering of backs begins very quickly!

Liza is looking after her young baby as her older child is playing and she trusts her best friend Sarah to look over and check on him when she goes to get coffees. But whilst in the queue she bumps into an old acquaintance from when all the women were pregnant she gets distracted.

The way the three women are with each other and the way they all seem to compete to appear perfect, whilst at the same time all trying to be the very best friend in the circumstances was cringe-worthy but oh-so-readable! I find female friendships fascinating, especially when elements of the friendships make them seem more like frenemies. In my experience friendships between women can be so complex for so many reasons and often you never get to know why someone suddenly backs off. It’s something I don’t really understand and I have lived through it many a time. Thornton captures this so well, and it’s made even better in this novel by the fact that none of the women are particularly likeable. I did feel sorry for Liza with what happened to her son, and at times I could understand some of Sarah’s behaviour but overall they are not women you’d want as your friends! And add into to all of this a sprinkling of secrets and lies and you have a potent mix for a novel!

I found this book hard to put down, it really did grab me and it held me right to the very end. If you like novels about messy friendships and you love unlikeable characters then this book is for you. I very much enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading more by this author!

The Fallout is out now in ebook and available for pre-order in paperback. You can order it here.

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

The Choice by Claire Wade #CTAS #JoinTheFray

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‘Eat the best, leave the rest! Remember Mother knows best.’

Olivia Pritchard lives in constant fear since Mother Mason came into power. Everything from healthy eating to exercise is controlled by the government, all in the name of health and happiness. Olivia hates being dictated to, but to protect her family she must follow the rules or face a stay in the Shame Box – a perspex box, placed in a public place for everyone to judge.

After Olivia witnesses an innocent woman being violently arrested, she is no longer able to ignore the injustice. The underground rebellion ‘Cut The Apron Strings’ is gaining momentum and for the first time in years Olivia has a choice: keep her head down or join the fray…

I was intrigued by The Choice as soon as I saw the eye-catching cover and then I read the synopsis and knew I had to read this book as soon as I could!

The Choice is set in a dystopian world that feels not dissimilar to ours except that sugar has been banned. Food is rationed by the state and hobbies like baking are illegal. People are weighed at the supermarket, at the gym and at social events and all their health data is readily available to officials. People who break the law are put in perspex boxes in public places to be shamed for what they’ve done.

The book mainly follows Olivia as she struggles to cope in this world when in her life before this happened she was a successful baker. She really misses what she did before and who she was before. You can really sense as the book goes on that there is anger bubbling away inside her but it’s kept at bay by the fear of being taken from her children.

I was a little apprehensive that this book was just going to be a take on The Handmaid’s Tale but it isn’t and it does stand separately from it. The fact that The Choice is set in our world and in what feels to be a very close timeline to where we are now is the difference and it’s so terrifying for that reason. We already see people being judged and shamed for their weight and there isn’t as much understanding as there should be for why people might be over, or even under, weight. It’s such a complex issue but the way sugar in food is already been swapped for horrible sweeteners is scary to me and makes this book feel all the more real.

The other thing that I took from this book is the way that Wade is able to show in such a powerful way what it is to be trapped in a situation where your world is getting smaller and you can no longer do what you love or eat what you love. It felt to me that Wade has used her experience of chronic illness to show what it is to be imprisoned in you own life through no fault of your own. I could really sense that given my own disability and how small my world is because of that.

All-in-all this is a great debut novel and well worth picking up. I’ll definitely be looking out for whatever Claire Wade writes next!

The Choice is out now in paperback, ebook and audio book. Buy your copy here.

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

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

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Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

 

I love Rosamund Lupton’s writing so I was thrilled to get a copy of her forthcoming novel Three Hours. I have to be honest and say that I found this book very difficult to read, it’s such an intense subject matter but it is very well-written.

The novel starts off with a small explosion outside a school and from there we find out that there is at least one gunman inside part of the school. The police frantically try to work out what exactly is going on and who is behind this and what their motive is, and inside the school the teachers and students try to find safe places to hide.

The writing is so good that I felt really claustrophobic as the book went on, it was as if I was in the midst of this terror myself. I commend the writing but it meant I had to keep putting the book down because it was making me feel so anxious and tense.

There was a point about halfway through the book as we start to understand more about what is going on in the school and it felt more about trying to figure out who the perpetrator was and this is when the book became something I just couldn’t seem to put down. I was gripped by the investigation and by the way Lupton has woven real life shootings and terrorist attacks within her novel in such a sensitive way that it really made this story feel very real to me.

By the last section of the book I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know if everyone was going to survive this attack. I was convinced that the characters I’d come to really care about were not going to make it out alive and the tension was palpable as I was willing the police on to get to them in time. I was reading this last section right before bed and I couldn’t sleep for ages after I finished reading because of all the adrenaline.

Three Hours isn’t an easy read but it is a book worth reading. It’s a book that really gets under your skin and makes you think!

Three Hours is due to be published on 9th January and can be pre-ordered here.

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

Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

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This year, Emmie can’t wait to share her favourite Christmas traditions with her boyfriend, Grant. So when his hectic work schedule has him more ‘bah humbug’ than ‘ho, ho, ho,’ Emmie creates a holiday-themed scavenger hunt to help him find his festive spirit.

But Emmie’s plan for a romantic mountaintop rendezvous backfires when a mix-up has the wrong guy showing up at Christmas Point. Sam, a bestselling mystery writer, thinks Emmie’s clever clues are from his agent, to help him get over his epic writer’s block. When the two come face-to-face, Emmie sees Sam only as the wrong guy, but Sam, intrigued by Emmie, decides to stay, hoping the small, enchanting town will help inspire a new book idea.

When Grant keeps getting delayed by work, he tells Emmie to start doing the special Christmas activities she planned without him. Emmie is disappointed, until Sam joins her and she starts wondering if the wrong guy is really Mr. Right.

With Christmas coming fast, Emmie will need the magic of the season to help steer her heart in the direction of true love . . .

 

I read Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler last year and really enjoyed it so I was delighted to discover a new book Finding Christmas this year and I loved it even more!

After reading a mixed bag of Christmas novels so far this year I’m delighted to say that Finding Christmas is jam-packed with Christmas!

Emmie is known as Miss Christmas as she absolutely loves the season. She starts her preparations early and she can’t resist adding more and more to her festive decor as Christmas draws near. Her boyfriend Grant is a workaholic though and he doesn’t really get Emmie’s love of Christmas. She decides to arrange a romantic Christmas break for them and she invites him along by setting up a scavenger hunt. Then there’s Sam, a mystery writer, who also loves Christmas but he’s struggling with writer’s block this year. So when his agent promises to help him and he gets given the first clue in a scavenger hunt he happily follows along!

Once Emmie is aware of the mix-up she gets hold of Grant and he promises to join her the next day but he keeps getting delayed by work. Sam is so embarrassed that he’s accidentally ended up in Christmas Point but he’s determined to enjoy it. So Sam and Emmie do some of the activities on Emmie’s list and they find that they have a lot in common!

Christmas Point is the ultimate festive town – there is snow and Christmas trees, hot chocolate and gingerbread. The Inn where Emmie stays is so well-described that I could completely envisage it all, it feels like somewhere I’ve been to. And I adored getting to know Dasher the dog, he was my favourite character in the book!

I really liked the way the characters in this book honoured their lost loved ones in the run up to Christmas. I know in my own life that I have things that I do each year in honour of my late mum. The scene in Finding Christmas with the snowmen brought tears to my eyes, it was so lovely.

My only slight criticism is that I didn’t like the promotion of Schaler’s other work towards the end of the novel, it took me out of the story somewhat. If I ignore that tiny element then I can honestly say that this book is a perfect read for anyone who wants a festive read that is truly all about Christmas. It really got me in the festive spirit and I adored it. Finding Christmas is Christmas personified and I very much enjoyed it. If you want a Christmas book that is full of festive spirit then this is the book for you! I recommend this one!

Finding Christmas is out now and available here.

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

Poetry for Christmas by Orna Ross | @ornaross @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Poetry for Christmas Front Cover

About the Book

This poetry book makes a perfect holiday gift or stocking filler.

Whether you’re marking the Christian Christmas, the Chinese Dongzhi, the Jewish Hannukah, the Hindi Makaraa Sankrānti, the Irish Meán Geimhridh, or any other mid-winter festival, the hibernal solstice is a celebration of rebirth and renewal.The ever-present potential for beginning anew, as signified by the return of light, is the theme of this chapbook. In it, you’ll find a poem for each of the twelve days of this season when the days start to get longer again, that will encourage you to rejoice, reflect and recharge.

Reconnect with the wonder of the world through the powerful pleasure of inspirational poetry.

 

My Thoughts

Poetry for Christmas is a wonderful collection of poems that is perfect for reading in winter. It celebrates the joys and reflects on the darker days in this season; it’s a lovely reminder that spring and renewal is just around the corner. It’s a book that gives you time to pause and relax in the busyness of the season.

Poetry for Christmas is set out in four sections: Rebirth, Renew, Reconnect, and Rejoice. I read through this collection all in one go as I like to get a sense of a poetry collection as a whole but then I went back and read each section in turn at different times to give myself a chance to really appreciate them and I’m so glad I did this.

I loved the opening poem Soaring as it perfectly encapsulates how the run-up to Christmas makes us all feel – the rushing around trying to get things done in the damp, dark days but it’s the reminder that the light will come again. There is a joy in seeing the Christmas lights and taking a moment to appreciate them but it’s also about the fact that the light of spring is just around the corner.

The poem that most affected me was Raindrop Spray. It’s about seeing things through the viewpoint of a loved one who is no longer here. I know that since my mum died that I make sure to take time for honouring her at this time of year because she loved Christmas and it’s not the same without her. Raindrop Spray spoke to that feeling for me, the way we can still see things as they saw them and in those moments it’s like they’re still here.

I also loved Christmas Rain and the way it shows how it helps to see things in a different light if you can. The seemingly never-ending grey rain, the endless consumerism of Christmas… but then the joy of the smell of the Christmas tree, and the rain that perhaps holds the promise of snow. This poem captures a lot of how we feel at this time of year and it leaves you with hope. A wonderful way to end a gorgeous collection of poetry.

I very much enjoyed Poetry for Christmas, and I think it is a book I will revisit. It’s a wonderful collection for everyone, it speaks to what this season is like and when I turned the final page I felt solace and calm and hopeful. This book would make a wonderful Christmas gift for a loved one, or a lovely treat for yourself. I highly recommend this one!

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

Poetry for Christmas is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Orna Ross Author pic

ORNA ROSS is an award-winning writer, an advocate for independent authors and other creative entrepreneurs, and “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” [The Bookseller]. She writes novels, poems and nonfiction guides for creatives, and is Founder-Director of two popular online communities, the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and The Creativist Club. She lives in London and writes, publishes and teaches around the globe. When not writing, you’ll probably find her reading.

Website : http://www.ornaross.com/

Twitter : @ornaross

Author Page on Facebook

Instagram @ornaross

 

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

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It’s a Secret-Santa-off today as I review Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo and The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux!

Today I’m sharing mini reviews in the battle of the secret santas!

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The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

I love reading festive books in December and it’s always nice to mix up the romance with the crime fiction to keep it interesting! The Secret Santa is about secrets and murder in Aspen in the run up to Christmas! Real estate agent Claudine decides to combine the office secret santa with showing off a fabulous house to a pop star who is a potential buyer. It seems this house has a lot of history and someone in this group knows more than they’re letting on. I do love stories where a group of people come together and you know the past is going to catch up with them so this book was right up my street. I loved the snowy Aspen location and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. The secret santa game is done in such a way that it’s intense and people are clearly on edge as the gift giving goes along. The only thing for me was that I didn’t think the reader really had a chance at solving the whole mystery, it all felt a little out of nowhere but having said that there are more than one elements to the secret and the other reveals were brilliant. I enjoyed this book and will definitely look out for more by this author.

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Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo

This book is set in a secondary school and follows Angel Green as she’s revising hard for her scholarship exam and also gets involved in organising the school Christmas fundraiser with her estranged friend Caspar. This school also has an annual secret santa so throughout the month of December everyone receives gifts from a person chosen at random. Angel’s gifts seem really quite meaningful and she’s incredibly curious about who might be behind them. As Angel and Caspar work together on the fundraiser they begin to remember how much fun they had together as children and wonder if they could be friends again but Caspar is flaky and often leaves Angel to deal with the fundraiser at the last minute. She is frustrated by this and can’t work out what is going on with him. I enjoyed this book, it’s an incredibly sweet YA novel set in the run up to Christmas. It reminded me of being a teen and the way you would have no idea if someone likes you or not, and you’re too scared to try and find out. It’s a nostalgic read and I’m really glad I read it.

When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell | @emmamitchellfpr @BakerPromo #WhenStarsWillShine

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About the Book

When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for When Stars Will Shine compiled by Emma Mitchell. This is a short story collection from a wide range of authors and it’s such a brilliant read. All the proceeds from this book go to Help for Heroes.

I don’t read a lot of short story collections because I tend to find the stories get blurred together in my mind but When Stars Will Shine is packed with such excellent stories that they’ve genuinely all remained distinct in my mind. There is such a variety in the type of stories and that made this such an exciting collection to read, there really is something for everyone in this book.

The collection opens with a beautiful and poignant poem by 11 year old Megan Steer which sets the bar really high and every single story lives up to it. There are stories about redemption, about loss, about family and love. There are twists and surprises galore, it’s such a brilliant collection!

I can’t really pick a favourite story as I genuinely enjoyed them all but I will mention some of them briefly here:

The opening story is Frederick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman is such a poignant and moving story. Likewise, Malcom Hollingdrake’s Died of Wounds is stunning and a real tear-jerker. I find stories from either of the World Wars heartbreaking – my lovely Nan lost her father in WW1 and her husband went missing presumed dead fighting in WW2. These two stories just got me in the gut and made me cry but it really does give you a sense of the loss and pain of the war but also a sense of hope that comes in the aftermath and in the generations that follow.

Believe by Mark Brownless is a really clever story. It begins as something that feels lovely and heart-warming and by the end my head was spinning. I love a story that can completely catch me off guard and this one certainly did that!

Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell is one of those perfect stories to read on a dark, cold night in the run up to Christmas, it had me gripped and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end. Excellent story!

Stewart Giles’ Free Time is such a well-written story. He has created a story that is so believable and scary to begin with and then it become even more horrifying as it goes along. I can’t stop thinking about this story and I now need to read more by this author!

I’m a huge fan of Louise Jensen‘s novels so was delighted to find a short story by her in this collection. Her story The Christmas Killer is brilliant! It appears to be a story about a lonely older man struggling to get through the festive period but it takes an unexpectedly dark turn!

Billy McLoughlin’s The Invitation is a gorgeous story about forgiveness, about finding people you’ve lost along the way and being able to move on from the past. This is a lovely story to read at this time of year and it’s one that is really staying with me.

Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli is such a heart-warming story, I adored this one. It shows how a small act of kindness can make a much bigger difference in life than you ever might imagine. A wonderful story for Christmas!

Jane Risdon’s Penance had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. This is a creepy, sad story that I was gripped by. I had no idea where it was going or how it was going to end. I loved it!

The collection ends with Family Time by Graham Smith and this story was brilliant! It’s one of those stories where you’re not quite sure where it’s going, it feels a little sinister as if violence is just around the corner but nothing is quite as it seems. I felt emotional by the end. An excellent story for this time of year.

When Stars Will Shine is a phenomenal collection of short stories that also serves as a fabulous taster menu for discovering new authors. My wish list is now huge with books by all the authors in this collection as every single story is so good that I now want to read more by each and every one of them. I highly recommend this book, it’s one I know I’ll re-read in the years to come and it’s one I think everyone will enjoy!

 

Here is the full contents page for the book:

Fredrick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman

Four Seasons by Robert Scragg

The Close Encounter by Gordon Bickerstaff

Believe by Mark Brownless

What Can Possibly Go Wrong? by Lucy Cameron

Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell

The Art of War and Peace by John Carson

A Gift for Christmas by Kris Egleton

Free Time by Stewart Giles

Died of Wounds by Malcolm Hollingdrake

The Christmas Killer by Louise Jensen

The Village Hotel by Alex Kane

A Present of Presence by HR Kemp

The Invitation by Billy McLaughlin

Brothers Forever by Paul Moore

Girl in a Red Shirt by Owen Mullen

Pivotal Moments by Anna Franklin Osborne

Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli

Time for a Barbeque by Carmen Radtke

Christmas Present by Lexi Rees

Inside Out by KA Richardson

Penance by Jane Risdon

New Year’s Resolution by Robert Scragg

Family Time by Graham Smith

 

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for my copy of this book and the invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

 

When Stars Will Shine is out now in paperback and ebook and is available here.

 

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

Blog Tour Week One NEW

Blog Tour Week Two NEW

Pushing Her Luck by B. R. Maycock | @BRMaycock

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About the Book

Holly Caulfield has won the Irish National Lottery and sets in motion a plan to save the village of Abbeyglen. But who would have thought that giving money away could be so difficult?

With a resident’s association that’s clamouring for more and more money, an old lady who’s decided that a dream cruise is in her grasp and a couple who may not want that dream wedding after all, Holly’s finding it hard to keep it together!

With a new love interest and an ex-husband hot on her heels, it’s up to Holly to figure out what can truly make her happy.

 

My Thoughts

I read and loved Snowday by B. R. Maycock last year so I was delighted to discover has has a new book out. I’m so happy to say that Pushing Her Luck more than lived up to my hopes for it!

Pushing Her Luck is set in a very small town called Abbeyglen and follows Holly. She works in the local shop so knows all the hopes and dreams of the locals. So when she wins the lottery she immediately decides to help out the people of her town. Unfortunately people don’t always do what you think they will and the locals who are given money have other ideas of what to spend it on!

Holly is such a big-hearted woman who really cares about people so when she wins the lottery she immediately thinks of all the good she can do with the money for the people in her town. She doesn’t think of herself for a second – her mind goes to the couple who haven’t been able to afford to get married, the woman who needs a new roof, the single mother who needs a home.

Holly enlists a financial advisor to help her with her quest to make people happy and there we meet John. He gets involved in keeping track of Holly’s spending and he gets to dish out the money to the lucky recipients as Holly wants to remain anonymous. Things start to get awkward when John realises that people aren’t spending the money on the things they were supposed to! Also, there is a slight complication as Holly is separated from her husband but not yet divorced, and she has a distant relationship with her parents. Life doesn’t run quite as smoothly as you might imagine after a huge lottery win!

Pushing Her Luck is a really wonderful novel. It looks at what it is to be a lottery winner and the way we all have dreams of what we’d do if we won but things don’t always work out the way you hope. Sometimes things have to go a bit awry in order for us to find out what we really wanted and needed in our lives and this novel is Holly’s journey to that place.

I completely and utterly fell in love with this novel and I can’t wait to read the sequel next year. I want to know what happens after the end of Pushing Her Luck and I really hope Holly has all of her wishes come true! She definitely won the biggest and best prize in this novel (and it’s not necessarily the lottery win!).

If you’re looking for a gorgeous feel-good read then look no further than Pushing Her Luck, I can’t recommend it highly enough! It’s out now as an ebook and it would make a wonderful gift to send to a loved one’s kindle this Christmas!

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

Pushing Her Luck is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Brmaycock

When B R Maycock (Berni to all you lovely people!)isn’t dreaming up vibrant leads for romantic comedies, she’s ingesting books for her blog (https://brmaycock.wordpress.com/), in particular chick lit (her first love!) books, romantic comedies and thrillers. She can also be found playing footie or watching Marvel, DC or Star Wars movies and cartoons in Co. Westmeath, Ireland with her brilliantly out there husband, Keith, and their four epic little men.

Her debut ‘It Started With A Snub’ and Christmas romantic comedy ‘Snowday’ are available now on Amazon, as is Pushing Her Luck, the first of a series about AbbeyGlen Village, whose luck is about to change …

She has one goal and that’s simply to make readers smile and/ or laugh (a splutter rates highest;)).

Connect with Bernadette 

BRMaycock’s book Blog  

Alice Teale is Missing by H. A. Linskey

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About the Book

As usual, seventeen-year-old Alice Teale walked out of school at the end of a bright spring day.

Except she’s not been seen since.

Alice was popular and well-liked, and her boyfriend, friends and family are desperate to find her.

But when the police start asking questions, it becomes clear that almost everyone has something to hide.

Detectives Beth Winter and Lucas Black don’t know which way to turn – but then they receive a disturbing package.

Pages from Alice’s precious diary.

Who could have sent them? And what have they done with Alice?

 

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was approved to read Alice Teale is Missing on NetGalley and I’m so pleased to say that it more than lived up to my expectations!

Alice Teale is Missing is a novel that looks at the disappearance of teenager Alice – she is seen leaving school one afternoon but then is never seen again. Her disappearance is being investigated by detectives Lucas Black and Beth Winter, and interspersed with chapters following the investigation we get to read snippets of Alice’s diary.

I loved how this story was told – it was great to see who Alice was and how she was feeling in the period leading up to her disappearance. It made her feel like a real person and I felt really invested in whether she would be found.

I also adored Black and Winter together, they made for such an interesting team and I loved the way they were new to working together and so sizing each other up whilst also working on the investigation. Black is the more senior detective and Winter respects that but she’s also not afraid to put forward her views. I’m really hoping that this book is the first in a series and that we might get another book with Black and Winter because they are my new favourite detective duo.

The investigation into Alice’s disappearance grows increasingly complex as Black and Winter interview witnesses and potential suspects. There are some unsavoury people connected to the school and you don’t know if this is a lead or if it’s a red herring.

I devoured Alice Teale is Missing in one sitting as I was so engrossed in the novel, and the writing is brilliant. I simply had to know what had happened to Alice and where she was. I will definitely be looking for more books by this author, and I highly recommend this book!

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

Alice Teale is Missing is out now in ebook format and available here. You can also pre-order the paperback at the same link.

Book Reviews: Do Not Feed the Bear | Body Tourists | Snowglobe | All the Water in the World

mini reviews

Today I’m sharing a selection of mini book reviews of books that I’ve read and loved recently!

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Do Not Feed the Bear by Rachel Elliott

This book was sent to me by the publisher and it was a total surprise but I am so glad I got this book. Do Not Feed The Bear is a quirky, moving and brilliant novel that follows free-runner Sydney. She never feels like she can be still in life ever since something awful happened in her family the summer she was ten. This is a novel that really shows what grief is like, what feeling like you don’t belong is like but also what it is to find people who love you. I cried quite a bit when I read this book but I also smiled a lot and when I turned the final page my takeaway feeling was solace. This is a stunning book and one that has stolen a piece of my heart. I adore it and I highly recommend it!

 

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Body Tourists by Jane Rogers

This is not my usual kind of read but I spotted it on SJHigbee’s blog and her post made me want to read it and I’m so glad I did. This is set in a future where a private clinic has pioneered a medical technique that enables people to be brought back to life by having their memory bank transferred into young people’s bodies for fourteen days at a time. It’s a chance for people to put things right, to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones. The story is told from multiple viewpoints – the people who are brought back, the people who agree to give up their body for a time and the people running the clinic. There is so much in this novel, it’s so moving to think of having the chance to spend time with a loved one again and to have one more conversation so that really got to me. The novel is also so much about the ethics of paying people to sacrifice their own body for two weeks, the secrecy surrounding what actually happens and the way the truth is buried if anything goes wrong. It really is such a thought-provoking novel and it’s one that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. I recommend this one, and if you’re not sure it’s your type of book I urge you to give it a try.

 

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All the Water in the World by Karen Raney

This is a really moving novel told from dual perspectives – Maddy who is sixteen and has cancer, and her mum Eve. We hear from both of them in alternating chapters and it really is an exploration of coming to terms with loss and of trying to connect when things are going wrong. I really enjoyed that it fully explored both perspectives not just from the point of view of them as mother and daughter but also who they are as people. There is real honesty in this book and these two characters felt so real to me. This book really got me in the gut for so many reasons and it’s one that I keep finding myself thinking about. It’s tender, honest and stunning – I definitely recommend this book.

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Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

This is a gorgeous middle grade novel that follows 12 year old Clementine. Her mum disappeared when she was younger and now it’s just her and her dad. She one day finds a house and inside it’s full of snowglobes and people seem to be trapped inside them. This leads to Clem making huge discoveries about her lost mum, and herself. I don’t normally read fantasy but this is a lovely magical novel that I know I would have loved as a child. It’s a beautiful read that I’d recommend to everyone, it’s a perfect winter read to curl up with!

Home Truths by Tina Seskis

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About the Book

A strong marriage can cope with the unexpected. But can it survive the unimaginable?

American nanny Eleanor was never meant to meet Alex. But when she walks into his London police station to report a stalker, everything changes for them both. He’s convinced he can protect her from anything and anyone. She hopes her darkest days are behind her.

As they settle into their life together, two hundred miles away another young couple faces an uncertain future. Christie knows Paul is a decent man, but she can’t shake a clairvoyant’s warning: ‘Never trust your husband . . .’ When a work trip tests their bond, will she overcome her fears for the sake of her family?

Ten years later, both couples are still together, for better or worse. But as doubts and resentments begin bubbling steadily to the surface, all four of them start to question the choices they’ve made.

At least the secrets they all brought into their marriages are still well hidden.

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Tina Seskis’ writing so I was thrilled to get a copy of Home Truths and I’m really pleased to say that I loved it!

Home Truths opens with a young American woman, Eleanor, reporting a stalker to the police. The officer, Alex, who deals with her is immediately drawn to her and wants to look after her. We also follow a couple, Christie and Paul, who are really happy together but a visit to a psychic puts doubts in Christie’s mind and this comes to haunt her.

I did find the first couple of chapters a little difficult to get into but once I got into the flow of the writing I honestly couldn’t put this down and I read it all in one sitting! I love it when books feature multiple characters and I feel equally invested in finding out about all of them. It meant I enjoyed each chapter but was also keen to get back to the other characters and this made the book so gripping and fast-paced for me.

I found Home Truths to be an incisive portrayal of marriage and how one moment of not being open with your spouse can have ramifications that are further reaching than you can imagine. This is a thriller but it felt like a character study too – we see the day to day of these two couples’ lives and you really get to understand them but then the novel moves forward a few years and you see where they are now.

I loved the exploration of what makes a person who they are, and the way that each of the four main characters had things about them that made you question them. We know from early on that something bad happens in the book but I couldn’t for the life of me work out who was involved. I was mulling over several possibilities and whilst I got close with some of it I was wrong for the most part! I love when a book keeps me guessing all the way to the reveal.

I’ve really enjoyed all of Tina Seskis’ novels to date but I can definitely say that Home Truths is her best yet! I could not put this book down and even now I’m still thinking about it. I highly recommend this one!

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

Home Truths is out now and available here.

Book Reviews: Constellations | If I Forget You | Histories | The School Friend

mini reviews 1 dec

Today I’m sharing a selection of mini reviews of books I’ve read recently!

 

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Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I added this book to my TBR after reading one of the essays in a newspaper article. The one I read was probably the one that had the biggest emotional impact on me as its about the death of a close friend, and it’s incredibly moving. The moment when you get a phone call telling you that someone the same age as you, someone you love, has died is something that never leaves you. I also really connected with all the stories Sinead told about her medical battles over the years as I know what it is to have a lifetime of health struggles and to have to adapt to them. I smiled at the story of when Sinead was in a wheelchair as a teenager and was dreading how the other teens would react to her but the boys just immediately started messing about with her chair and made her feel so normal. I had that exact same experience at age 13 and to this day I think about it whenever I’m feeling self-conscious about my disability. I definitely identified with Sinead’s take on the pain scale, I had a wry smile on my face reading that as it’s so hard to explain to others how pain feels and how bad it is. This is a beautiful collection that takes you through what it is to be a woman and I very much enjoyed it. I recommend it!

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The School Friend by Alison James

This is the kind of thriller I’m always drawn to – a novel told in past and present about something that people did as children that has been kept secret until now! It seems Lucy has the perfect life – a happy marriage, a lovely house and good friends but all is not as it seems and she needs to get away. This leads her to being back in contact with her childhood best friend Adele. Adele has lived a tough life never having money or much stability so seems opposite to Lucy but the two share a secret about the death of a friend they had as pre-teens. This book gripped me from start to finish, it did require suspension of disbelief but that didn’t stop it being a really enjoyable read!

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Histories by Sam Guglani

This is a collection of interlinked short stories set in an NHS hospital. I loved the way you get to see from the perspectives of lots of different people in the hospital – the doctors and nurses, the cleaners, the patients and the receptionists. Each person had their own story to tell but in the background or on the periphery you see other people’s stories. Later you see some of the background from the perspective of the person involved and it feels like being really close to a story and then slowly pulling back from it to make a fuller picture. I really enjoyed this book and found it’s one that is really staying with me. I highly recommend it!

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If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

Thomas Christopher Greene wrote one of my favourite books – The Headmaster’s Wife so I’ve been really looking forward to reading this book. I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed it. The novel is told in alternating chapters from Henry and Margot, and also in the past and the present. This couple met and dated at university but were forced apart and they moved on with their lives. Then one day Henry sees Margot in New York and he wants to talk to her, to know what happened in her life. The longing and the missed opportunities in this book makes it such a bittersweet read. I read this in one sitting and I keep thinking about Henry and Margot ever since I finished reading it. I definitely recommend this one!

 

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

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About the Book

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

 

My Thoughts

I bought and read PS. I Love You when it was first published and I adored it so I was delighted to hear a sequel was coming out. I wondered if it would capture the emotions that the first book did and I’m so pleased to say that it did, perhaps even more so!

Postscript is set seven years after the end of PS I Love you and Holly is doing well. Then one day she is invited to help with a group called the PS I Love You Club, which was inspired by the story of the letters that Holly received every month in the year after Gerry died. Holly is really unsure about it, she’s moved on and doesn’t want to go back to those feelings but at the same time she knows how the letters helped her and feels she should at least hear the club out.

The PS I Love You Club is a group of people who are all facing their own mortality and they want Holly to help them leave letters behind for their own loved ones. On attending a meeting Holly agrees to help and from then on we see her relationships with the individuals in this group build.

I loved this book, it explores grief and loss in so many ways but it’s done in a way that ultimately feels uplifting. Holly explores how she feels now about the letters Gerry left, and she ponders how he must have felt when he was writing them. We see how she uses her feelings to help others work through their own approaches to leaving something behind.

Postscript is a wonderful book – it will make you cry, it will make you hold you loved ones a bit tighter but it will also make you smile and it will ultimately leave you feeling uplifted. I’m so glad that I read this book, it’s definitely one of my favourites of this year and I recommend it!

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

Postscript is out now and available here.

One Christmas Night by Hayley Webster

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About the Book

Nine lives. One street. And a secret behind every door.

Christmas is ruined on Newbury Street, Norwich.

Presents have been going missing from resident’s homes. There are rumours going around that it’s one of their own who’s been stealing from the neighbours. Festive spirit is being replaced with suspicion and the inhabitants of Newbury Street don’t know who to trust. The police presence isn’t helping matters, especially when they all have something to hide.

But Christmas is a time for miracles… and if they open themselves up to hope and look out for each other, they might discover the biggest miracle of all.

 

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, I’ve just found my new favourite Christmas book in One Christmas Night! The novel follows nine people who all live in the same street, and each of them have their secrets! It’s almost Christmas and someone has been stealing presents and food from the residents’ homes and rumours abound that it’s someone who lives in their street.

There is a lot of suspicion and sadness in this book but the overwhelming takeaway from it is the sense of community and kindness that comes from darkness.

The novel opens on Christmas Eve with an unidentified person breaking into a home and gleefully stealing their gifts and food. It was horrible to think of someone doing this, especially at Christmas. We then get to meet the inhabitants of Newbury Street.

Poor Joanie has a dreadful shock early in the book and she was already feeling down. I really connected with her. She is struggling as it’s ten months since her beloved mum died, her dad is already in a new relationship and Joannie just wants to make Christmas how her mum made it. She’s frazzled and grieving. I remember my last Christmas with my mum when she was so ill, and the first one after she died. It’s never the same when you’ve lost someone important. I love how Joannie loves Christmas so much that she’s determined to keep going however hard it is. Hayley Webster captures life in such a beautiful way and her writing moved me to tears more than once as I read this book.

All the residents of Newbury Street know of each other but it’s a typical street in that some neighbours are friends, some know each other to say hello to and others are suspicious of each other. I loved how the owners of the local pub try to bring everyone together on Christmas Eve with a fundraiser.

The way the kinder residents of this street pull together and support each other made my heart sing. I turned the final page of this book and just felt such peace. This book has sadness and difficult times but it’s still the most gorgeous and festive novel. It’s full of forgiveness and finding solace, it’s about making new memories and finding ways to move on while still remembering what came before. It really does capture the spirit of Christmas and it really is the most beautiful book! I’ll definitely be re-reading it over Christmases to come! I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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

One Christmas Night is out now and available here.

The Assistant by S. K. Tremayne

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About the Book

She watches you constantly.
Newly divorced Jo is delighted to move into her best friend’s spare room almost rent-free. The high-tech luxury Camden flat is managed by a meticulous Home Assistant, called Electra, that takes care of the heating, the lights – and sometimes Jo even turns to her for company.

She knows all your secrets.
Until, late one night, Electra says one sentence that rips Jo’s fragile world in two: ‘I know what you did.’ And Jo is horrified. Because in her past she did do something terrible. Something unforgivable.

Now she wants to destroy you.
Only two other people in the whole world know Jo’s secret. And they would never tell anyone. Would they? As a fierce winter brings London to a standstill, Jo begins to understand that the Assistant on the shelf doesn’t just want to control Jo; it wants to destroy her.

 

My thoughts

I’ve previously read The Ice Twins by this author and that book really unnerved me but still I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy of The Assistant as the premise sounded so unique and so prescient. I’m so pleased to say that I loved this book!

The Assistant is all about Jo. She’s a freelance journalist and struggling to manage financially. She’s renting a room in a luxury apartment in London owned by her best friend Tabitha, the whole place is controlled by a Home Assistant called Electra. Tabitha spends a lot of time at her boyfriend’s house so Jo is often on her own in the apartment for large spans of time. One day Electra suddenly says ‘I know what you did’ and Jo’s life begins to spiral!

As someone who has voice controlled gadgets through my home this book was terrifying! It made me want to rip them all out and throw them away!! Jo is really unnerved but she wonders if she imagined it, or if she’s over tired but Electra doesn’t let it go. It becomes clear that Electra knows about Jo’s past and it seems determined that she’s going to pay.

I was engrossed in this book from start to finish, I read it in just two sittings because I simply had to know what was going on. We find out what happened to Jo in her past but you’re then wondering who would want to drag it all up now all these years later. There are people in Jo’s life that I was suspicious of all the way through the novel but I could never put my finger on who exactly could be behind the horror. Alongside this Jo is over-reliant on sleeping pills and she’s not always careful of the dose she takes so there is an element of wondering if what is happening is some kind of hallucination. I love that this book kept me guessing right the way to the end.

This is the first novel I’ve read where home assistant technology is a large part of the plot and I loved it. It was so different and terrifying because we all have technology in our homes that potentially could be used against us. I found this such a good read and I definitely recommend it!

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

The Assistant is due to be published in ebook on 29th November and can be pre-ordered here.

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman | @LucyColemanauth @Aria_Fiction @rararesources

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About the Book

Christmas and romance are in the air…

It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.

So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?

Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!

 

My Thoughts

I was drawn to this book by the gorgeous festive cover and I’m really happy to say that the novel really lives up to it!

Magic Under the Mistletoe opens on 23rd December as Leesa is flying back to England to spend Christmas with her ex in-laws. The man she is working for, Cary, is on the same flight but whilst he’s up in first class, Leesa is crammed in economy and he keeps sending her more edits to do. As they finally land in England the snow is falling heavily and there’s no way for Leesa to get where she’s going right away so Cary offers to take her to his family’s home. Misunderstandings happen immediately when Cary’s grandmother assumes Leesa is his girlfriend and no one corrects her. This leads to Leesa and Cary forming a pact where they’ll pretend they’re together to help each other out over the holiday season!

This novel spans the course of a year but it opens with Christmas and it ends the following Christmas so there is a lot of the festive season in the book, which I loved. The year-long timespan gives space to really get to know Cary and Leesa, and they both have issues in their lives. There is some tough themes in the novel but they are handled really well and in a believable way. It’s cleverly handled because it grounds the book in reality but there is a real sense of fun and festivity throughout, and this is how real life is.

I loved Cary’s grandmother Cressida, she was adorable and I want to adopt her as my gran! She is desperate for both of her grandsons to be happy and loved but she’s never too interfering. I also loved the house she lives in – it’s a huge house but it sounded so cosy and warm. I could totally picture the huge Christmas tree in the hall and the decorations running throughout the house. It really made me feel festive as I was reading, and I already want to re-visit!

This is the first book I’ve read by Lucy Colman but it definitely won’t be the last! Magic Under the Mistletoe is a gorgeous, warm-hearted novel that will give you all of the Christmas feels! I recommend it!

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

Magic Under the Mistletoe is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. She writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Website: https://linnbhalton.co.uk/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanAuth 

 

Giveaway to Win a Signed paperback copy of Snowflakes over Holly Cove and Christmas Pamper Pack. (UK only)

Mistletoe prize Rachel

Click here to enter the giveaway!

 

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

 

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

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The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

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About the Book

The greatest love story is the one you least expect . . .

Alice is stifled, bored, and misunderstood.

So when she meets wealthy and handsome American, Bennett Van Cleve, she is quickly swept off her feet.

Marrying him and moving to America seems like a great adventure – but life as a newlywed in stuffy Baileyville, Kentucky, is not at all what she hoped for.

Until, that is, she responds to a call for volunteers to start a travelling library, surprising herself by saying yes, before her husband can say no . . .

Led by feisty and rebellious Margery O’Hare, this unlikely group of women travel far and wide on their mission to bring books and reading to those that need it, and Alice finally finds the freedom, friendship and love that she’s been looking for.

But not everyone approves of what they are doing, especially her new father-in-law. And when the town turns against them, will their belief in each other and their work be enough?

 

My Thoughts

The Giver of Stars is the perfect book for people who love reading! This is such a stunning novel following five women who were all leading very different lives and all get brought together to become part of a travelling library! It’s set in depression-era Kentucky and it does immediately transport you to this time and I got swept up in it right from the very start.

I have to admit that I’ve found some Jojo Moyes books just okay but others I have loved. My favourite up to reading this one was The Last Letter To Your Lover but The Giver of Stars has beaten it for me. I got completely swept up in the story of these women and I can’t stop thinking about them and the lives they led. I want to know more about the women who really did do this work and I loved when a book sparks off an interest in me.

The novel is all about this small group of women and we see the bonds that gradually form between them. It really feels like such an empowering book, I adored it. The travelling library is based in a township but the patrons all live out in the most rural of areas so the women go out on horses to deliver books to these families. They go out in all weathers all year round each on their own route and I found it so inspiring.

The Giver of Stars predominantly follows Alice who is newly married and expects to learn about life with her new husband but things aren’t right with him from the start. She looks for ways to make it work and to make things better but nothing seems to help so she throws herself increasingly into her work at the library trying to at least find satisfaction in her own life. I loved Alice, I was rooting for her the whole way through the novel.

I was thrilled to be approved for an ARC of this book from NetGalley but I decided to buy a copy of the audio book from Audible so that I could part-read and part-listen and this really worked well for this book. The audio is wonderful and really brought the book to life even more for me so I recommend it.

I so often say that historical fiction isn’t my favourite genre but then I read a book like this that I fall in love with and immediately want to re-read and it reminds me that there are books out there for everyone in all genres, we just have to find the right ones for us. I highly recommend this book!

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

The Giver of Stars is out now and available here.

How to be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax with a Neuroscientist and a Monk #NonFiction #NonFictionNovember

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About the Book

It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you’re on all twos and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? We’ve started treating ourselves more like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones: as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it. (Many people I know are now on iWife4 or iHusband8, the motto being, if it’s new, it’s better.)

We can’t stop the future from arriving, no matter what drugs we’re on. But even if nearly every part of us becomes robotic, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’, and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness.

I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain. We answer every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you’ll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while now so I added it to my non-fiction November TBR and wanted to make sure I got to it this month. I actually ended up reading it in one sitting yesterday afternoon!

How to be Human is a really honest look at how the stress in our lives affects us and what we can do about it. Ruby Wax has written this book in conjunction with a neuroscientist and a monk so it really does give a really good perspective on how we can better understand and help ourselves.

The book is set out in chapters each covering a different topic from relationships to parenthood to forgiveness. We get an overview of the topic from Ruby and then a few pages of Ruby, the monk and the neuroscientist discussing the issue. These conversations are both funny and helpful, which I liked. It’s nice to read a book that has light-hearted take on a serious issue as it makes it easier to take in the information, especially if you’re struggling with your mental health at the time.

At the end of each chapter Ruby Wax refers you to chapter 11 where you get a whole corresponding section with various mindfulness and mediation exercises to help you with the thing you’re struggling with.

I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t get as much out of this book as I’d hoped but that could be because I’m in a good mental health place these days and I’ve already discovered the huge benefits of regular mindfulness. I will say that the exercises in the back of the book are excellent – a lot of them are already a part of my daily mediation routine and I highly recommend them. Some are things you can do in the time it takes you to brush your teeth on a morning, and others requite a little longer but all will benefit your state of mind in time.

The chapter that I did find really helpful was the one at the end on forgiveness. Ruby Wax alludes to an awful relationship with her mother earlier in the book and in the forgiveness chapter she discovers more about her family in past generations. This journey and the subsequent conversation with the monk and the neuroscientist were illuminating for me. I struggle with forgiveness when someone has done something truly despicable but this book reminded me again that sometimes you have to forgive for your own sake but that doesn’t mean you have to have a relationship with the person who hurt you, or even tell them they’re forgiven. It’s an important reminder, and one we perhaps all need from time to time.

I would definitely recommend How to be Human particularly if you’re struggling with your mental health a little bit and want some really easy to follow guidance on why mindfulness can help and how to go about learning to do it.

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

How to be human is out now and available here.

Book Reviews: James Baldwin and the 1980s | Chase the Rainbow | Furious Hours | The Dark Side of the Mind

 

mini nonfiction reviews

Today I’m sharing a selection of mini book reviews of some recent non-fiction books that were excellent reads!

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James Baldwin and the 1980s by Joseph Vogel

This book took me a while to read but I’m so glad that I kept going with it because it’s a fascinating read. I’ve read a couple of James Baldwin’s well-known books but I didn’t know as much about him and the context of when he was writing as I thought I did. This book covers sexuality, racism and the AIDS crisis all in the context of the 1980s and the political agenda of the time. I was fascinated by the chapter on AIDS and the play that Baldwin wrote that has never been published. The author brought this play, and the themes Baldwin was exploring, to life for me so whilst I might never get a chance to see or read this play I have an understanding of the work now. I was also fascinated by the chapter that focused on the Atlanta child murders. I’d heard about these murders from watching Mindhunter on Netflix but didn’t know anymore about it than that so I was appalled to read more of the background and aftermath of this case. Baldwin was fascinated by the focus on race and sexuality during the case and had a lot to say about how the case was handled. I’ve now put Baldwin’s Evidence of Things Not Seen on my wish list and I think this will be the next book of his that I pick up. This is quite an academic book but it’s absolutely well worth a read, I recommend it!

 

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Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was first published but I finally picked it up recently and I’m so glad I did. This is Poorna Bell’s story of her husband’s depression and addiction, and sadly his eventual suicide. This is such an honest and moving book, it’s hard to read at times but it’s well-written and that kept me turning the pages. Poorna Bell is so open about what happened with her husband, but also her own feelings and how it affected her living with someone who was living with demons. She explores the aftermath of her husband’s death – both the immediate weeks and then some time later. The balance of seeing the time after as she begins to heal means this book shows the whole gamut of what it is to live through what she has. I recommend this book.

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The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book recently and put it on my Non-Fiction November TBR and I’m so glad I got to read it as it’s such a fascinating book. Kerry Daynes is a forensic psychologist and in this book she shares her stories from her very first work placement in a prison and throughout her career. She has worked with all kinds of people and this book is so interesting. You can sense her frustration when the system fails but also her satisfaction when a person is helped. Some of what Kerry has had to deal with is shocking and terrifying but you get a real sense of what day to day life is like in her job. She has worked in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, homes for vulnerable women and has also done some TV work and private practice. This is one of those non-fiction books that is almost like reading fiction in that it’s near impossible to put down once you start reading – I read it in just two sittings and really enjoyed it. I recommend it!

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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

I picked this book up because of the mention of Harper Lee and I’m so glad I did. The book isn’t all about her, but the story being told is fascinating none-the-less. The book is in three sections – the first is about Willie Maxwell, a man who murdered members of his family in order to claim the life insurance he’d taken out on them. The second part focuses on Willie’s lawyer Tom Radney and later the lawyer of the man who killed Willie. The third part of the book is the trial and this is where Harper Lee comes into it. She followed the trial closely and took notes intending to write a book. This section is so interesting as we learn about her close friendship with Truman Capote and how her helping him with In Cold Blood led her to want to write her own book about a murder trial. The whole book is fascinating though because it’s such a bizarre story and I found I just couldn’t put it down. I recommend it!

The Undying by Anne Boyer #NonFiction #BookReview

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About the Book

Blending memoir with critique, an award-winning poet and essayist’s devastating exploration of sickness and health, cancer and the cancer industry, in the modern world

A week after her 41st birthday, Anne Boyer was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. For a single mother living payslip to payslip, the condition was both a crisis and an initiation into new ideas about mortality and the gendered politics of illness.

In The Undying – at once her harrowing memoir of survival, and a 21st-century Illness as Metaphor – Boyer draws on sources from ancient Roman dream diarists to cancer vloggers to explore the experience of illness. She investigates the quackeries, casualties and ecological costs of cancer under capitalism, and dives into the long line of women writing about their own illnesses and deaths, among them Audre Lorde, Kathy Acker and Susan Sontag.

Genre-bending, devastating and profoundly humane, The Undying is an unmissably insightful meditation on cancer, the cancer industry and the sicknesses and glories of contemporary life.

 

My Thoughts

The Undying is an interesting book that blends memoir with an exploration of what it is to be a patient, and how the cancer industry is run.

I wanted to read this book because I’m drawn to books about illness and also having had loved ones die of cancer this book sounded like a really powerful read. I found this a hard book to read but it’s a fascinating read at the same time.

Anne Boyer was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 41 years old. She was a single mother at the time with no financial safety net so faced a very uncertain future. I don’t know a huge amount about health-care in America (I live in the UK) but I got such a real sense of how difficult navigating cancer-care there is.

Boyer also references the history of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and looks at where we are now. It was horrifying to read of the studies that show doctors are, in some cases, over-diagnosing cancer. I knew that sometimes the protocol can be over-zealous but it seems there are times when what is happening is more than that.

I was interested to read Boyer’s thoughts around the evolution of the pink ribbon and breast cancer. Boyer gives the history of the ribbon, which I didn’t know (although I thought I did) and how it’s now being monopolised and seems to her to make breast cancer seem a light and fluffy thing rather than a very serious illness. I can understand her thoughts and feelings, especially when some places use the pink ribbon to sell things but only give the tiniest percentage of profits to charity.

‘Every person with a body should be given a guide to dying as soon as they are born.’

The parts of the book that most spoke to me though are about the language we use around cancer and I definitely echo Boyer’s thoughts. I can’t stand the phrase ‘lost the battle’, people I love have fought so hard to live and still died but it wasn’t for want of trying. Also, the idea that people have to be positive because it gives a better outcome which is not true. I’m a firm believer in being positive because it makes life easier if you can find light in the tunnel but I also believe that in the wake of a devastating diagnosis people have to be allowed to express all of their feelings. Suppressing them in order to appear positive is all about making it easier for the people around the patient and not for the patient themselves.

‘Cancer kills people, as does treatment, as  does lack of treatment, and what anyone feels or believes has nothing to do with it. I could hold every right idea, exhibit every virtue, do every good deed, and follow every institutional command and still die of cancer, or I could believe and do every wrong thing and still live.’

Boyer looks at all aspects of cancer – from how it affected her personally to how other patients differ in their opinion and approach, to the history of the disease and how it’s been viewed over the years, to how we view the patient. I cared for mum when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I found this book such a cathartic reading experience. So much of how I felt seeing how so-called friends stopped calling, and how family distanced themselves reflects how it was for my mum. Boyer is so honest about the things that hurt and infuriate and frustrate during the process of treatment and surgery. I felt like I had an even greater insight into what it is to face this disease after I finished this book.

I found The Undying to be a fascinating book and the writing is stunning so I’d absolutely recommend it but be mindful that it’s a tough read at times due to the nature of the subject matter. It’s one of those books that perhaps needs to find readers at the right moment for them.

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

The Undying is out now and available here.

I Carried a Watermelon: Dirty Dancing and Me by Katy Brand #NonFiction #BookReview

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About the Book

I Carried a Watermelon is a love story to Dirty Dancing. A warm, witty and accessible look at how Katy Brand’s life-long obsession with the film has influenced her own attitudes to sex, love, romance, rights and responsibilities.

It explores the legacy of the film, from pushing women’s stories to the forefront of commercial cinema, to its ‘Gold Standard’ depiction of abortion according to leading pro-choice campaigners, and its fresh and powerful take on the classic ‘coming of age’ story told from a naïve but idealistic 17-year-old girl’s point of view.

Part memoir based on a personal obsession, part homage to a monster hit and a work of genius, Katy will explore her own memories and experiences, and talk to other fans of the film, to examine its legacy as a piece of filmmaking with a social agenda that many miss on first viewing. One of the most celebrated and viewed films ever made is about to have the time of its life.

 

My Thoughts

I was thrilled to get a copy of I Carried a Watermelon as I’ve been a fan of Dirty Dancing ever since I first saw it when I was 11 – my cousin who’s 2 years older than me brought her video round to my house and I was mesmerised by what I saw. It turns out that Katy Brand is a similar age to me and was the same age when she first saw the film so I could really identify with her thoughts and feelings about the film so needless to say I adored this book!

Katy Brand takes us through her first experience of watching the film and how obsessed she quickly became with it. I could totally identify with her wanting to watch it over and over again but not being able to because she’d not recorded it. Also the pain of finally getting my own copy on video and it eventually getting chewed! She also explores the themes in the film and how it stands up to the test of time. There are some stories from behind the scenes, some of which I hadn’t known. Katy also visits the resort which was Kellermans and I loved these parts of the book, it felt like I was along on the trip and experiencing it all for myself!

I loved the way Katy Brand discusses how we see the women in Dirty Dancing and how our opinion of them changes as we grow older and I totally concur with what she says. The way as pre-teens we all wanted to be Baby and to have a holiday romance with Johnny but we didn’t really understand what happened with Penny or why it was such a big deal. Then you get a little older and you learn the fears of job insecurity and you understand what abortion is and suddenly it’s Penny you focus on as you watch; and now as 40 year olds we understand the older women such as Vivian and Baby’s mother a bit more.

I have a complicated relationship with Dirty Dancing, which I won’t go into here, but for years it was my favourite film, my go-to film when I needed cheering up. However, for a long time I lost all the happiness that the film used to bring me. In recent years I’ve slowly been getting that love back and this book has been the icing on the cake for that. I now want to grab some popcorn and get lost in Baby’s story all over again!

I Carried a Watermelon is a fabulous book for anyone who loves the film Dirty Dancing. I highly recommend it!

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

I Carried a Watermelon is out now and available here.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver | @OrendaBooks @Will_Carver @annecater

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About the Book

Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

 

My Thoughts

I have to start this review by saying I have no idea how to write this review so apologies if this ends up being a ramble. Nothing Important Happened Today is like nothing I’ve ever read before and I don’t know how to write about it!

Nothing Important Happened Today opens with nine people who’ve never met before all arriving at about the same time on Chelsea Bridge, they put ropes around their necks and they jump to their deaths. We then find that they each received a letter in the post that morning telling them that Nothing Important Happened Today! This chilled me to the core but I simply had to know more so I kept reading.

The novel is told in short vignettes that gradually get pieced together to make up the whole story. We briefly see the lives of the nine who jumped, although we only know them by the numbers they’ve been assigned. This is clever because it means they’re the ‘everyman’ – they could be you or me or someone one you know. Interspersed with these stories we see an old man who seems obsessed with what happened on the bridge, we see a Detective who is on leave visiting his psychiatrist and wondering about the people on the bridge. We also get to see the lives of the poor 32 people on a train who witnessed the nine jump to their deaths and the impact it has on some of them.

The novel isn’t told from any one viewpoint but you feel like there is still an over-arching voice that is controlling what we learn and when we learn it. I felt like I was being pulled into something that I both wanted to look away from and wanted to know more about. I felt I was being manipulated by the person running the cult that isn’t a cult, and it really made me pause for thought about how cults come to be and how they draw people in.

This book isn’t an easy read for anyone. It gave me chills, it’s quite possibly the most disturbing book I’ve ever read. It plagued my mind when I wasn’t reading it and it affected my sleep but I would still absolutely say that it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year! It made me think more than any other book I’ve read this year, it’s still making me think now a couple of weeks after I finished reading it. You need to be in the right frame of mind to pick this book up but it’s absolutely a book worth reading. The insight into how we think of cults and how cults work was fascinating, the way it makes you think about everything in a slightly different light is brilliant.

I’ve lost people to suicide, and whilst I didn’t know the man there was a very public and horrific suicide attempt in my town recently that happened when I was reading this book, so this wasn’t the easiest of reads for me. I did have to keep putting it down and giving myself some space from it but I was always compelled to come back to it because it’s so well-written and it’s such a thought-provoking book.

Nothing Important Happened Today is a book that heavily features suicide but it’s not really about suicide, it’s about the way that society and social media has an affect on all of us. It’s about how people can be preyed upon when they’re vulnerable to it and therefore not aware of how someone is playing them. It’s about how we can find ourselves caught up in something awful and not even know we’re caught up in it until it’s too late. It’s also about the way we’ve become almost immune to horror because we see it all the time on social media and on the news channels. People are so quick to record everything on their phones and there’s always a rush to be the first person on social media talking about something horrible that’s happened. We forget that these things involve real people with loved ones. This book is makes such a powerful statement about modern society and it’s absolutely a wake-up call! This is a book for now, for our era and it’s a book that everyone should read.

Nothing Important Happened Today is so dark and disturbing, I feel like it’s really messed with my mind but it’s made its mark on me more than anything else I’ve read this year. This book is a future classic, mark my words! This book is a must-read and I highly recommend it!

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

Nothing Important Happened Today is out now in ebook and available for pre-order in print here.

 

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

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Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

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About the Book

PLAY
Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE
Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

REWIND
This is an explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Catherine Ryan Howard, and particularly loved her previous novel The Liar’s Girl, and can happily say that Rewind is her best yet! The premise of Rewind is brilliant and the book absolutely delivers!

Rewind has a really interesting set up with each chapter being Pause, Rewind, Fast Forward or Stop and this is brilliant because it really helps you know where you are in a story that jumps around a little, as well as making for more intrigue.

Andrew manages Shanamore Holiday Cottages and has a creepy obsession with watching his female guests through a hidden camera in their bedroom. This was so unnerving to me and has made me never want to stay in an Air BnB ever again!

Natalie is a young married woman who has a level of fame and is well-known on social media. One day she disappears and no one has any idea where she might have gone.

Audrey is a young reporter who is desperate for a proper story to work on so that she can make her name as a journalist. She gets a chance to write a brief piece on Natalie and this leads to her being pulled into find where she is and what has happened to her.

I loved this book! It has such a terrifying opening and from that moment on I didn’t put the book down once and read it all in one sitting! All the characters are so believable and I was so scared about Audrey ending up at Shanamore Cottages and what might happened to her. I was also really intrigued by what could have happened to Natalie – as we delve further into her story it becomes apparent, as is so often the case, that her social media doesn’t show the whole truth about her life and perhaps she wasn’t as happy as she appeared to be. I went back and forth on what could have happened to her and if Shanamore Cottage played it’s part or if there was more to the story with her husband.

The way the book the moves back and forward in time really adds to the building suspense throughout as whilst you know where you are in time, you get so engrossed in the story that you can’t quite piece together who was where and when. You have to know the past in order to understand the present, and as you fast forward to the future you being to see how the previous section slots in. The moments when you pause really do lead to head spinning moments that make you question everything you read up to this point. It’s so good and so well-written!

This is such a brilliant novel for the modern age looking at the negative side of social media and the way readily available cameras make it so easy for voyeurs and obsessives to track their victims. This book is disturbing, thrilling and impossible to put down. I highly recommend it!

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

Rewind is out now and available here.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

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About the Book

In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…

 

My Thoughts

Full Disclosure is a brilliant novel about what it is to be a teenager living with HIV. Simone contracted HIV from her birth mother so she has lived her whole life with it. She takes her antiretroviral medication every day and she goes for regular check-ups at the hospital. She lives her with two dads and now she’s at the age where she might start dating they’re concerned about how she will deal with that along with HIV. Simone has already had to move schools when everyone found out about her medical status and her dads understandably want to protect her.

This is such a brilliant book that really explores what it must be like to have had a diagnosis your whole life and to have managed it well, only to reach an age where you’re thinking of boyfriends and perhaps becoming sexually active and all of a sudden it’s an issue you have to confront. Simone worries about how she would tell a boy, and if it would put them off her. She worries at which stage of a relationship she would have to start the conversation. I loved that she comes across as really mature in many ways but also as an ordinary teenage girl who fancies boys and hangs around with her friends.

Simone is shocked to find out that the boy she fancies likes her back and they end up going on a date. Her friends are so happy for her until she starts putting him first and they feel left out and let down. So Simone is dealing with all of this when she gets a note threaten to expose her medical status if she doesn’t break up with her boyfriend. She has no idea who could have written it but it sends her into a tailspin and she doesn’t know who she can trust or who she can turn to.

I loved this book, it’s so well-written and it’s full of diversity. The characters are diverse but none feel like they are there for the sake of diversity, all are there and we learn about them in a very matter of fact way – just like in real life. I really appreciated that there aren’t any token characters, there is just a mix of people as in any social group.

Full Disclosure is a book for everyone, it really brings awareness about living with HIV in such a believable way. This book impacted me in a similar way to The Hate U Give, it’s a great read that makes you think and it stays with you after you’ve read it.

 

I wrote a post pairing fiction books with non-fiction this week and I included Full Disclosure so if you’d like to find more books about HIV please read my post here.

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

Full Disclosure is out now and available here.

Violet by SJI Holliday | @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks @annecater

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About the Book

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of SJI Holliday’s writing, in particular her previous novel The Lingering, but I have to say that Violet is absolutely her best book yet! I read the whole thing in one sitting, I got completely and utterly engrossed in it!

We meet Violet as she’s alone outside a train station in Thailand, she’s been dumped by her boyfriend and she needs a train ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express. Carrie is also travelling alone as her best friend broke her ankle right before they were due to leave and Carrie decided to go on her own. She still has Laura’s ticket and as luck would have it she bumps into Violet and the two get drunk together and realise they could take then next part of the trip with each other. So far, so good!

The novel is told from Violet’s perspective but we do get to see some of Carrie’s thoughts in the form of emails she sends home, predominantly to her best friend Laura. This makes it really interesting as we get to see how they really feel about each other. At the same time I was never sure how honest they were being, either to themselves or to other people!

I soon noticed that there was something off about Violet, a sense that she isn’t completely honest about who she is and this got me interested. At the same time I wasn’t entirely sure about Carrie either. It’s great to start off a novel like this though because I didn’t know who I could trust and I certainly didn’t know if one of them had just made a huge mistake in joining forces with the other.

‘I’m from Nottingham,’ I say, laughing. I throw a peanut in the air and catch it in my mouth. I’ve not idea where that came from. The city, or the peanut trick.

[…]

‘Would you believe […] I’m quite good at accents, actually.’ She throws a peanut and tries to catch it, but it goes way wide of the mark. She swears under her breath, but she’s grinning. ‘Oh damn it,’ she says in a good approximation of my accent. She’s right. She’s a decent mimic.

It soon becomes clear that Carrie is vivacious and outgoing, she likes to get to know other travellers on the train but Violet is much more reserved and had been hoping that she and Carrie could spend time alone together. This leads to tensions between the girls and the dynamic starts to get really interesting. It’s really clever because, in my experience, women are always weighing each other up at the beginning of a friendship so there are things here that seem off but could just be the two women being perfectly normal and keeping their guards up. Yet there is a sense that there is more to the undercurrent between these two women!

Neither girl is particularly likeable, which is perfect in this novel as it adds to you feeling wary of both of them and it makes it harder to work out who is not who she says she is. I loved how they initially both seem so friendly with each other but you soon start to see the cracks appear. Carrie wonders if she was wrong to let Violet travel with her. Violet wonders if Carrie really likes her and if she’d be better off moving on alone. It slowly becomes apparent that these two are more like frenemies than friends! You can sense the cat and mouse game but you can’t ever put your finger on who is in which role… or even if they’re chasing each other first one way and then the other.

This book kept me on my toes right the way to the end. There is a moment when I smugly had it all worked out, I could see what was going on and I knew how it was going to go. And then BAM, I was so completely and utterly wrong! I love it when a book goes a different way to what I was expecting, it doesn’t happen often so when it does it’s hugely satisfying. Violet is an incredible psychological thriller, the best I’ve read this year! It’s dark, disturbing and utterly impossible to put down! I highly recommend it!

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

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

 

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

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So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

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About the Book

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

 

My Thoughts

I’ve loved all of Dawn O’Porter’s novels to date, especially The Cows, and So Lucky is another brilliant read!

So Lucky follows three women: Beth who has a new baby but is very unhappy in her marriage, Ruby who feels she needs to keep her entire body covered at all times, and Lauren who we mainly see through her Instagram posts and seems to have a perfect sparkly life.

I read So Lucky in one sitting as once I started reading it I just didn’t want to put it down. Dawn O’Porter is so good at capturing what it is to be a woman in the modern age and the pressure we all feel to conform to society’s norms. There is a sense that women should be perfect – we should remove all of our body hair and be smiley and happy at all times. Life just isn’t like that!

Beth is besotted with her young baby but she also loves her career so she’s back at working planning Lauren’s wedding but she’s also pumping breast milk and trying to be a good wife. Her husband has had no interest in sex ever since she got pregnant and Beth just wants to feel desired. She’s also having to deal with her interfering mother-in-law who her husband seems to always defer to. I felt really sorry for Beth, it’s so difficult to be in a relationship where your partner won’t discuss issues. My ex was awful for sweeping everything under the carpet and pretending nothing was wrong, it makes for such stress in the home.

Ruby is separated from her husband but she’s cordial with him because they have a three year old daughter, Bonnie. I really felt for Ruby, she had a difficult time as a child and she can’t seem to relate to her own child now. She also has a secret that means she feels she has to keep her body covered at all times. Her attempting to get a wax with her child in the room was so tense and I wanted to climb through the pages and help Ruby.

It was brilliant to read a novel like this where the women are close to my own age. I still have so many insecurities as a 40 year old but it’s not always represented in novels as much as it is for younger women. It felt like Beth represented the not being allowed to be who you are and to talk openly about what you want in life, and Ruby represented all the body issues that women have. They were both such real women to me though and I could see myself, and women I know, in both of them.

Lauren is a younger woman on the verge of marrying the man of her dreams. We get to know her through her instagram posts that are full of inspirational hashtags and often sponsored. She seems to have a perfect life. As the novel progresses we find out that Beth is Lauren’s wedding planner, and Ruby is going to work on the wedding photos so through them we get to meet Lauren in real life, and it seems all is not quite as glossy as it seems on her Instagram. She has an over-bearing mother and fears that her fiance might be attracted to other women. It really showed how social media allows us to give the impression that our lives are so perfect but the reality is that everyone has their insecurities and their problems but we forget that sometimes and think we’re the only one.

I love how real all three women felt in this novel, and how we gradually get to know why they are the way they are and we see how they try to accommodate for what they see as their inadequacies. There are some utterly mortifying moments in the novel, which were toe-curling in the embarrassment factor but I loved that because life is like this. Things often aren’t as we might imagine them to be!

Ultimately, I found this a really relatable, moving novel that also saw the funny side of things too. I very much enjoyed this book and I already can’t wait to read Dawn O’Porter’s next book! I highly recommend this one!

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

So Lucky is out now and available here.

Book reviews: Platform Seven | The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr | The Music Shop | Trying

 

 

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Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of books I’ve read recently!

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Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

I did receive an ARC of this from NetGalley but I ended up listening to the audio book version from my local library. I absolutely loved this book, I was listening to it at every chance I got. The novel opens with the spirit of a woman lingering in a train station watching people and noticing the ones who seems drawn to Platform Seven – she feels a connection to them. As the novel goes on we go back in time and we see Lisa in the period before her death and find out what happened to her and why she is still haunting the station. I found this book so beautiful, it is stunningly written and I was completely invested in Lisa’s story. It took me to places that I wasn’t expecting and it explores some very prescient issues in our society today. I think this is my favourite of the books I’ve read by Louise Doughty to date and I highly recommend it.

 

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The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

I love Rachel Joyce’s writing so I’m ashamed that The Music Shop languished on my shelf for so long before I picked it up. However, I am delighted to say that when I did pick it up I adored it! It opens in the 1980s and we meet Frank who runs a record shop. He has a gift for finding his customers the exact record they need even if it’s not the one they were initially looking for. Records are being ousted by CDs though and Frank refuses to sell them in his shop. One day a woman faints outside his shop and he assists her. Later she returns wanting him to teach her about music. There is a real connection between the two but each of them fight it. We gradually learn why over the course of the novel. This book is beautiful, it has its really sad moments but overall it made me feel so happy. I think this is a book that I will re-read in the future when I’m in need of a feel-good read. I recommend it!

 

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The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

This is another lovely book! Elvira is in her 20s and lives with her mother. She lives by strict rules and routines and everything is fine if she can stick to them. One day her mum collapses and is hospitalised and Elvira suddenly has to cope with huge changes and upheaval. I loved Elvira! She struggles to understand some of society’s norms but she learns how to use a computer and begins to seek out some new rules. Things don’t always go to plan and she makes mistakes but her heart is always in the right place. There is sadness and loneliness running through the novel but there is also so much good. I loved seeing the world through Elvira’s eyes and I was rooting for her to be okay on her own. This is such an uplifting novel and I recommend it.

 

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Trying by Emily Phillips

I was drawn to this book by the stunning cover – I love the colours and the floral design, and how it’s only when you look again that you see the female reproductive system in there! Unfortunately, I have quite mixed feelings about the novel. The book follows Olivia and her husband Felix as they try to have a baby together. They have been trying for a while and now sex is mechanical and they aren’t as close as they used to be. There are some very funny moments in this novel, the very beginning had my cringing and giggling in equal measure! I empathised with Olivia about the seemingly endless baby-related posts all over social media, it feels overwhelming at times. I don’t know why this book didn’t fully click with me, it just didn’t. I still recommend it though if you like humorous reads with some emotional moments about modern life!

Stand Against Injustice by Michelle Diskin Bates | @Michelle_Diskin @malcomdown @LoveBooksGroup

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About the Book

On April 26, 1999, BBC TV presenter Jill Dando was murdered outside her home in London. Barry George was convicted and imprisoned for the murder but was later acquitted after an appeal and retrial. Stand Against Injustice is the powerful memoir of the sister of Barry George.

For the first time, Michelle Diskin tells her story, the human side and truth behind one of recent history’s most high profile and damaging miscarriages of justice whose life is inextricably interwoven in the drama, the trauma, the conspiracy and the fight for justice. A self-confessed “ordinary housewife,” Diskin’s voice weaves the personal everyday struggles that bring depth, color, and passion into what is an extraordinary account.

A troubled childhood weighted with overbearing responsibility, fear and insecurity, depression, and the challenges of marriage and adult relationships, Diskin’s life has never been easy. However, the one constant in her life – her faith in God – underpins and provides the foundation upon which she now stands – against injustice.

 

My Thoughts

I remember the news breaking about the murder of Jill Dando, it was so shocking and hard to believe. I’ve read news articles and seen documentaries about the case over the years but have never really thought about just how hard it must be for the victim of a wrongful conviction (or their close family). Stand Against Injustice is a book that gives such eye-opening insight into this and I am so glad that I got to read it.

Stand Against Injustice is written by Michelle Diskin Bates, the sister of Barry George who was wrongfully convicted of killing TV presenter Jill Dando. Michelle writes so candidly of the time period from when her brother was arrested right up to the present day. I very much appreciated her honesty and how she shares the rawness of what she, and her family, all went through. It can’t have been easy for Michelle to relive all that they have been through, and are still going through, but this is such an important book and is a story that needs to be heard.

I’ve read quite a lot of non-fiction books that focus on crime but I had no idea that when someone has their conviction quashed and is then re-tried and found not guilty, as in Barry George’s case, it isn’t necessarily considered a miscarriage of justice and therefore no compensation is awarded. It made me so angry to read how little support he has had from the state to re-build his life, had he not had Michelle and other family around him, you’re left wondering what would have happened to him.

It’s horrendous how the media treated Michelle and her family. To read of the way the media hounded her mum, and the way they made up such awful stories about Barry’s behaviour after he was released is shocking.

This wasn’t an easy read because it’s just awful to read of something like this happening to an innocent man. Stand Against Injustice is so well-written though and really does give a real insight into what it was like to go through such an horrendous ordeal. Michelle describes how harrowing it was going through her first prison visit to see Barry. She takes you through the court case and how frightening and intimidating elements of the process were. All the way through to the conviction being quashed but even that day Michelle, Barry and their family weren’t able to quietly celebrate the moment together. This book made me so angry at how they were all treated but I’m so glad that I read it because I feel I have so much more knowledge of the system and how things can go wrong than I had before. I read a lot of true crime books but this is the first book I’ve read that gives me this perspective – it’s really made me think and in future I will go into my crime reading (or documentary watching) with a much greater understanding of what it is to be in Michelle’s, and Barry’s, shoes. I highly recommend this book to everyone, it’s a definite must read!

Many thanks to Kelly of Love Books Group for my copy of this book and my invitation to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Stand Against Injustice is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Mother of three, campaigner for justice and Committed Christian.

Michelle campaigned for eight years for the release of her disabled brother, Barry George, after he was wrongly convicted in 2001, for the high profile murder of BBC television presenter, Jill Dando. Mr George was acquitted in 2007 and sent for re-trial in 2008. He was found not guilty, by unanimous jury verdict on 1st August 2008.

Born in Fulham, London in 1955, Michelle lived in West London until 1973. She then moved to Cork, Ireland, where she lived until 2012, with her three adult children. Michelle’s first husband, Patrick, died unexpectedly in 2007 after a short illness, but, with God’s grace, she is now married again, to Peter, who supports her in her Miscarriage of Justice (MOJ) activities. They are both committed Christians, who worship at a Baptist church in Northamptonshire, taking on many responsibilities within the fellowship.

Retired now, Michelle always worked outside of the home in various industries, and at all levels from cleaner to management. Her ethos being: do the job to the best of your abilities, as a service to others, regardless of the task. She has trained as an Image Consultant and most recently, as a weight loss consultant.

Since her brother’s wrongful incarceration, she has become a public speaker at Miscarriage of Justice conferences across the UK, and has also been a guest speaker at the Spiritual Health Weekends for women, run by Nancy Goudie. Also a guest lecturer at University College Cork and Portsmouth University to Law students interested in Miscarriage of Justice. Also attending APPGs on miscarriage of justice in Parliament.

Michelle is still in touch with many families of the wrongly convicted, including those convicted under Joint Enterprise. She also has connections with various MOJ organisations, e.g. Mojo Scotland, The Innocence Project in UK Universities, and a variety of legal representatives and released victims of MOJ.
She is interested in the refusal of the Judiciary to pay compensation under section 133., ‘Not innocent enough’ or ‘A jury, properly directed, could have convicted’, both of which still affect her brother.

 

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

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One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen| @belinda_missen @rararesources

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About the Book

Two people. One chance meeting. Seven days to Christmas.

Isobel Bennett is waiting for the number 11 bus when a man quite literally falls into her lap. Snow is falling, Christmas lights are twinkling, and a gorgeous man with dark brown hair has just slipped on ice and is now pressed against Isobel.

Isobel knows she’s not imagining the chemistry between them. But then his ride arrives and, embarrassed, he beats a hasty retreat, murmuring apologies – and Isobel realises only too late that she didn’t manage to catch his name…

When she runs into him again the next morning, she decides it’s fate.

It’s a second chance for Isobel and Tom – but there’s only one week until she’s leaving London for good. Seven days of enjoying all the festive delights the city has to offer: ice-skating at Somerset House, mulled wine on the Southbank, Christmas shopping at Liberty.

There’s magic in the air and mistletoe in the trees – but what will happen when the week is over?

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been so looking forward to reading One Week ‘Til Christmas ever since I first saw the gorgeous festive cover and I’m really happy to be able to say that the novel absolutely lives up to it!

One Week ‘Til Christmas follows travel journalist Isobel as she arrives in London for a short holiday. As she waits for a bus to her friend’s house a random stranger runs into her and there is definitely some sparks between the two! Both go on their way and that seems to be that but then there is another random meeting the next day and it seems to be fate!

This is such a gorgeous novella set in London in the week leading up to Christmas. It has romance and snow, Christmas markets, ice skating and lots of lovely-sounding food! Everything is described so beautifully that I feel like I have been to all of the places in this book.

The romance in this book is a total whirlwind! Tom and Isobel spend a lot of time together in the few short days that Isobel is in London but their romance felt completely believable to me, I got completely swept up in it. I love how they spend so much time walking around London landmarks, and seeing all the Christmassy sights whilst talking about their lives and hopes and dreams. It felt very romantic and so possible.

One Week ‘Til Christmas is a gorgeous read that will really get you in the festive spirit! I adored this book and I will definitely re-read it over Christmases to come. I recommend this one!

Many thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book and for my blog tour invitation.

One Week ‘Til Christmas is published today and available here.

 

About the Author

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Author and sometimes foodie, Belinda is a ridiculous romantic who met her husband after being set up by a friend two states away.

Residing in country Victoria, surrounded by books, cat-fur, and half-eaten cake, Belinda divides her days between writing rom-coms, baking, and indulging her love of comic books.

Social Media Links –

www.belindamissen.com

facebook.com/BelindaMissen

twitter.com/belinda_missen

Instagram @belinda_missen

 

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

 

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Book Reviews: Almost Love | How To Say Goodbye | The Other Half of Augusta Hope | Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel

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Today I’m sharing some more of my mini book reviews of books that I’ve read and loved recently.

 

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Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

Almost Love is such a powerful novel, it’s one of the best portrayals of how a person can lose themselves in the midst of a destructive relationship. It follows Sarah in the before when she meets Matthew, an older man, and gets into a sexual relationship with him. This is alternated with Sarah a couple of years in the future when she’s living with a different man in a committed relationship. Sarah falls for Matthew very quickly, she has feelings for him and she wants to be with him. Matthew wants something else from Sarah and she makes herself into the person he wants. He does things she doesn’t like but she can’t say no because she wants to be perfect for him even when she’s hurt by him. I found this so hard to read because I could absolutely see my younger self in her. I think a lot of women will be able to. It’s obvious he will never give her what she wants but she believes this will change. Somewhat inevitably she begins to self-destruct. The pain and hurt from this relationship is something she carries with her, it’s damaged her. She then hurts others without meaning too because her self-worth is so low. Sarah isn’t always likeable in this novel but she is relatable. This is a novel that I haven’t stopped thinking about since I read it. It was a tough read at times but it’s absolutely worth reading!

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How to Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

This is a wonderful novel that I very much enjoyed. It follows Grace Salmon. She works at a funeral parlour and she goes above and beyond in giving her clients the very best send off. She spends her time researching the deceased so she can make each funeral service personal and special. Grace seems quite a lonely person, she’s so focused on her job. One day she sets up a group for people to come and ask a funeral organiser questions and while the first group isn’t as busy as she’d hoped, she does begin to make connections with people who all have something in common. Grace begins to talk about her own life and you start to really understand who she is and why she is so conscientious in her job. This is such a brilliant novel – it’s a fun, light read whilst exploring loss in a very real way. It’s such a talent to mix the two and I was so impressed with this book. I cried whilst reading it but I also laughed out loud. I can’t wait to read more of Katy Colins’ writing. I highly recommend this book!

 

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The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

This is a beautiful novel! Augusta Hope is such a relatable character and I was rooting for her from the beginning of this novel all the way through. Augusta grows up with her twin sister Julia, but in between the chapters on their lives the novel also follows Parfait who lives in another part of the world and seems unconnected to the two sisters at first. This novel is all about finding the strength to get through the darkest of times, about accepting who you are in the wake of tragedy and finding happiness and contentment again. I don’t have enough superlatives to describe how stunning this book is, it really has made such an impact on me and I think it’s a book I will read again in the future. I particularly loved its exploration of fate, coincidence – about how in the aftermath of things we go over and over them and wonder if we could have known, could have acted differently. In the end it’s a novel about forgiving yourself for the things you couldn’t have known, couldn’t have changed. It made me cry, it made me smile and in the end I just felt really content. I highly recommend this book!

 

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Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

I loved Ruth Hogan’s first novel The Keeper of Lost Things so am delighted to say that this book lives up to it. This book follows Tilda in two timelines – we see her as a child as she’s struggling to understand the loss of her father and her struggling mother. This alternates with Tilda as an adult in the present now interested in re-visiting her past in the wake of her mother’s death. I really enjoyed this book, it’s very much character driven and you really get to understand Tilda and why she is the way she is. Through the novel we’re introduced to a wonderful cast of characters including the fabulous Queenie Malone! This book is a really emotional read at times but it’s also fun and beautiful… and there are plenty of surprises along the way too! It really captures life and I adored it. I recommend this one!

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain | @Heidi_Swain @TeamBATC #TheChristmasWishList

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About the Book

After being let go from her job in a swanky hotel just weeks before Christmas, Hattie is feeling lost. Even more so when her high-flying boyfriend announces he’s landed his dream job in Abu Dhabi and asks her to move with him. Luckily, Hattie’s long-time friend Dolly is on hand to help and invites Hattie to spend one last holiday in the small, festive town of Wynbridge, determined to give her a Christmas to remember . . .

Upon Hattie’s arrival, holiday preparations are in full swing. But for Hattie, whose Christmas cheer has long since run out, it’ll take more than mince pies and mistletoe to open her heart to the season once more. Relishing the task of reigniting Hattie’s Christmas spirit, Dolly suggests they create a wish list of all the things the season can offer, and with the helpful hands of Wynbridge’s resident handyman, Beamish, Hattie finds her frosty exterior is starting to thaw.

As Wynbridge prepares for its most spectacular Christmas yet, will Hattie leave snowy England behind for life in a sunnier clime, or will she in fact realise that her heart’s desire lies much closer to home?

 

My Thoughts

I was so excited to find that I’d recently won a copy of The Christmas Wish List in a giveaway and I just knew it had to be my first festive read of the year. I’m really happy that this is how I kicked off my festive reading because this book is simply gorgeous!

We follow Hattie as she is unexpectedly made redundant from her job at a swanky hotel, she wasn’t expecting it. And then her boyfriend announces that he has just been offered his dream job in Abu Dhabi and wants her to go with him! This all seems like perfect timing and the chance for a brand new start for Hattie but she’s just feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed with all that’s happening. So she decides to take up her old friend Dolly’s invitation to stay with her in the gorgeous village Wynbridge.

As soon as Hattie arrives in Wynbridge she begins to relax, and I could feel the weight falling from my own shoulders as I felt I was right there with her. Dolly is such a wonderful character – she’s shrewd and she can see Hattie isn’t happy but she doesn’t push her to talk about it. Instead she suggests that the two of them make a Christmas wish list of all the things they want to do in the run up to the festive season. Hattie isn’t all that bothered about Christmas ever since she fell out with her parents a few years earlier but she feels she should join in for Dolly’s sake. Dolly enlists Beamish, a very handsome school caretaker, to help with some of the items on the wish list and there is a definite attraction between him and Hattie!

This book is full of love and joy as we get nearer to Christmas but it’s not all smooth-sailing for Hattie. She inevitably has to work out how she really feels about Beamish, and more importantly how she feels about her boyfriend. She begins to realise that she perhaps wasn’t as happy as she thought she was and that things need to change.

There are some really heartfelt moments in this novel and they did make me cry a little bit. They brought back memories of things in my own life from years past but it was lovely as it made me recall some of the happiest of memories.

I adored this book! It’s the perfect novel to curl up with in the period leading up to Christmas as this is the time spanned in the book. As the residents of Wynbridge begin their Christmas preparations, it starts to feel a little magical and then you find yourself completely swept away in all the wonderful, heart-warming things that Hattie and Dolly, and Beamish, are ticking off their wish list. Before you know it your heart is bursting with festive feelings and you’ll be wanting to put your Christmas decorations up (even though it’s only October)!

The Christmas Wish List is a very special festive book, one that has stolen a piece of my heart. It is firmly going on my shelf of treasured Christmas books that I try to read every year. I highly recommend this one – it’s truly gorgeous!

Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for my copy of this book and for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Christmas Wish List is out now and available here.

 

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

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Book Reviews: The Wayward Girls | The Silent Ones | The Last | The July Girls

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Today I’m back with some more mini book reviews of some thrillers I’ve read in recent weeks!

 

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The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason

This is a novel that I was both desperate to read and majorly apprehensive about as I’m a total wimp when it comes to haunted house stories! I am so glad that I picked this one up though as it was such a good read and I read it all in one sitting! It follows sisters Loo and Bee in 1976 who live in the middle of nowhere in a ramshackle house that seems to have quite a few people coming and going. It alternates with the present day as we follow Lucy going back to her childhood home with a group who are investigating paranormal activity! I was gripped by this novel from the very beginning even though it did give me chills at times with the creepiness! I was so intrigued about what was going on in this house, especially as I grew up in a house that seemed to be haunted. I went back and forth about what I though might be happening in this novel – whether it was ghosts or if someone was playing mind games on the family. The conclusion when it comes is so utterly perfect, I loved it. It has made this a book that is really staying with me and I whole-heartedly recommend it!

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The Silent Ones by K. L. Slater

I listened to The Apartment by this author a few months ago and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading this book. I’m pleased to say it lived up to my hopes for it. The Silent Ones follows the immediate aftermath of an elderly lady being assaulted in her own home and two ten year old girls being arrested on suspicion of the attack. Neither girl will speak about what happened. The two girls are cousins and have grown up very close with their mums being sisters. The family dynamics are fascinating and tense as this book progresses. The parents of the sisters side with one over the other and we gradually find out what has happened in the past. Alongside this the two cousins begin to talk about what happened. The tension builds to such a level in this book that I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how everything was going to unfold. I really enjoyed this book and absolutely recommend it!

 

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The Last by Hanna Jameson

I was thrilled to be sent a copy of this book for review and I’m ashamed at how long it’s been on my TBR. I had a paperback but I downloaded the audio book from my library and part-read and part-listened to it. I found the premise of this book so intriguing – twenty people in a hotel in an isolated location when nuclear war causes large swathes of the world’s population to be wiped out. Then a body is found in the hotel and it’s clear that one of the guests is a murderer! I found this book gripping enough that I read it in just a couple of sittings but I did feel that it was a bit too meandering at times and that the tension wasn’t maintained throughout. It just lacked something, but because I thought it was building to one ending it kept me turning the pages. Unfortunately the ending wasn’t what I thought it might have been and it was a little disappointing.  As I said before though it did keep me turning the pages so I can say I did really like the writing style and I will definitely look out for another book by this author.

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The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

This was my first Phoebe Locke book but it definitely won’t be my last as it was such a brilliant read! This is a thriller that is set to the backdrop of the 7/7 bombings in London. Every year on this date a woman has gone missing and so far only one body has been found. Ten year old Addie begins to have suspicions of her father when he comes home covered in blood. She begins to look into things and it’s fascinating to see this story unfold from her perspective because due to her young age she doesn’t always grasp what she’s finding out. As she gets a bit older we see her navigate life with only her older sister to rely on and things aren’t easy. The mystery at the heart of this novel gradually unravels and the pace ramps up. I was holding my breath during parts of the book as it built towards its conclusion. It’s a brilliant crime thriller and I loved it. I highly recommend this one!

The Accidental Love Letter by Olivia Beirne | @Olivia_Beirne @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

What would you do if you received a love letter that wasn’t meant for you?

Bea used to feel confident, outgoing and fun, but she’s not sure where that person went.

Over the last few months, she’s found herself becoming reclusive and withdrawn. And despite living with her two best friends, she’s never felt lonelier. To make things worse, she’s become so dependent on her daily routine, she’s started to slip out of everyone else’s.

But when a mysterious battered envelope covered in stars lands on her doormat, Bea wonders if she could find the courage to open it.

It isn’t addressed to her, but it could be… if you squinted…

 

My Thoughts

I read and loved Olivia Beirne’s previous novel The List That Changed My Life last year so I was beyond excited to be invited to read and review her new book The Accidental Love Letter. I’m so happy to say that I loved it too!

The Accidental Love Letter follows Bea, who seems to be leading quite a lonely life. She lives with two friends but they’re each in relationships so are often not home. She works for a newspaper but never gets to write the stories she wants to write and she doesn’t connect with her colleagues. Bea likes making lists that plan out her days to the minute, and she seems quite anxious to have her time filled.

I really connected to Bea in this novel. I make lists in my head to plan out my time, particularly when I’m feeling anxious as it makes me feel like I have some control back. I also had my suspicions about the phone calls Bea makes quite often, and this brought a lump to my throat as I have also done this. I was rooting for Bea to find something for herself that would make her happy. So when one day out of the blue she receives a letter to her home addressed to B she is excited. She does wonder if the letter is really meant for her but she is so needing something in her life that she can’t resist opening it, after all it could be meant for her.

Bea ends up completely out of her comfort zone but in the process she finds new friends and a potential story that she can write the newspaper. She isn’t completely honest though and this niggles away at the back of her mind but she ignores it. I was wondering how on earth things were going to work out for Bea, but the whole time I was totally rooting for her.

I love that Olivia Beirne writes these feel-good novels that have real depth to them, along with characters that are so real. I wanted to climb into this book to be Bea’s friend! I also love how I go into Olivia’s books feeling that they’re likely to have a happy ending but also knowing that she will take me to the ending in a way that I absolutely don’t expect and can’t quite predict. Her writing is just wonderful and she is fast-becoming one of my must-read authors!

The Accidental Love Letter is a gorgeous, life-affirming novel that will give you all the feels! I adored this book – I read it in one sitting over the course of an afternoon and it was the most wonderful escapism, it felt like a real treat to myself. Don’t miss out on this book!

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

The Accidental Love Letter is out now as an ebook & audio book available here.

 

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

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The Family by Louise Jensen

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About the Book

Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.

But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family’, sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader, Alex, refuses to go.

Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave…

 

My Thoughts

I’m such a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s novels and her new one, The Family, is no exception!

The Family is about Laura and her teenage daughter Tilly. Laura’s husband has recently died leaving her grieving and in serious financial difficulties. One day a woman offers Laura help via Oak Leaf Organics and Laura and Tilly are soon drawn into a community that is very difficult to leave!

I can never resist novels about cults, there is something about them that just draws me in. I love the way Louise Jensen set this novel up so that it made total sense how Laura, a level headed woman, would get drawn in. There is a sense of unease for the reader as Laura meets charismatic leader Alex but it is so plausible how Laura doesn’t see him the way we do.

I also loved the way this was about so much more than the cult. It’s such an in-depth look at mother daughter relationships, and how a relationship can be close and yet there is still secrets. It’s natural for a teenager to want to pull away from their mum so I could see things from Tilly’s point of view, but I could also see how Laura still felt they were as close as ever.

The pacing of The Family is spot on! It starts off as a slow-burn which is perfect as it allows you to get to know Laura and Tilly before their lives become so complicated. The pace soon begins to ramp up though as they settle into their new home and the plot becomes so gripping that the book is then impossible to put down!

There are twists and turns along the way in this novel, which I loved, and there are definitely things that happen that I didn’t see coming. I thought I had this book worked out and then the rug was well and truly pulled from under me. It’s a rare thing for me not to fully work out a mystery so kudos to Louise Jensen for keeping me on my toes with The Family!

I loved this book! Louise Jensen is a writer that goes from strength to strength and The Family is her best book yet. I highly recommend it!

 

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

The Family is out now and available here.

 

I’ve previously read, loved and reviewed the following books by Louise Jensen:

The Sister

The Gift

The Surrogate

The Date

The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey @dianefjeffrey

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About the Book

She says she’s innocent.

WOULD YOU BELIEVE HER?

2013

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

PRESENT DAY

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Guilty Mother is out now and available here

 

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

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

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How It Was by Janet Ellis

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

 

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Still Lives by Maria Hummell

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

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The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

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

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The Carer by Deborah Moggach

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

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

 

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

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Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

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

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The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister

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

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Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

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

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I Confess by Alex Barclay

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

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

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

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When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies

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

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Those People by Louise Candlish

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

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The Honeymoon by Rona Halsall

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

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The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

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