WWW Wednesdays (1 Dec ’21)! What are you reading?

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

Current Reads

My latest festive read is The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict and I’m really enjoying this one. It’s set in an old house and a family who don’t get on are competing with each other to inherit the house.

I’ve also started my annual re-read of The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater. I very much enjoy reading each day of this book every year, Nigel Slater really captures the build up to the festive season so beautifully.

I’m also reading Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson, which is the oldest book on my NetGalley shelf. It’s set around a wool shop as the adult children of the late owner have to decide what to do with it. I’m enjoying this one and keen to see where it goes.

Recent Reads

I bought What My Husband Did by Kerry Wilkinson in a recent Kindle sale and I enjoyed it. I found the first half gripping and hard to put down but the reveals were a little disappointing as the book went on.

I really enjoyed Somebody to Love by Matt Richards, a biography of Freddie Mercury which also follows how HIV spread around the world.

I also listened to How to be a Rock Star by Shaun Ryder this week and I really enjoyed listening to him tell his stories. The book itself wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped though as a lot of the stories I’d already read in his memoir and it does get repetitive as various sections overlap with previous chapters. I’d still recommend it if you’re a fan of his though.

I read Little Bandaged Days by Kyra Wilder too this week. This was a disturbing read about a woman with undiagnosed post-natal psychosis. It was a book I wanted to keep reading but at times had to put down just so I could breathe. It was very well written and I recommend it.

My Christmas book last week was The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans and I adored it. It’s my favourite festive read of the season so far! My review is here.

I’m not sure what I’ll read in the coming week as I’m back to mood reading rather than planning ahead. At the moment the books that have caught my eye are Stay Another Day by Juno Dawson, which is a new Christmas book that sounds great; The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain, which I have on audio and think will be a festive, heartwarming listen; and a thriller When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole that I bought right at the beginning of the year and am still really keen to read it.

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to know 🙂

Mini Christmas Book Reviews!

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

Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

This is a lovely Christmas read that follows Flora in the aftermath of losing her job and deciding to buy a van and start a travelling Christmas shop. She loves Christmas and is determined to surround herself with the joys of the season. I loved Flora and really enjoyed seeing her move to Lapland and how she got on at her first Christmas market. The way she meets Connor, who runs the site, was amusing and I loved seeing how they got to know each other better. Flora meets some great characters throughout the novel and I felt like I was right there along with her. This is such a sweet Christmas novel and I recommend it.

Eight Days of Christmas by Starla DeKruyf

Eight Days of Christmas follows Isabella as she’s making her way to her family home for the first time in years as her sister is getting married at Christmas. Her sister is marrying the brother of Isabella’s ex so she has a lot on her mind. Their family love Christmas and make a huge deal out of it every year so are thrilled that Isabella is coming home. Unfortunately this book just wasn’t for me. The relationship will they won’t they situation just didn’t feel believable to me, it felt very forced. I also found the big reveal of why Isabella hadn’t been home for so long was just so ridiculous and silly that the book lost me at this point. I did read to the end but sadly I didn’t love this one.

The Best Christmas Ever by Karen King

I’ve become quite the fan of Karen King’s Christmas novels so I was excited to read her latest one recently and I’m so happy to say that I really enjoyed it. The Best Christmas Ever follows Lexi who adores Christmas but this year she finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her so she dumps him and heads home to her family. I adored Lexi’s family, especially her Grandma Mabe! Lexi is upset to find the local council want to chop down the village Christmas tree and throws herself into saving the tree. In the process she meets some of the locals and I loved the bond she makes with people. This is a really cute, heartwarming Christmas novel that is full of festive joy. I definitely recommend this one!

The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans

A year or two ago I read my first Jaimie Admans’ novel and I adored it so I’ve been eagerly anticipating this new Christmas novel by her and I’m so happy to say that I completely and utterly adored it! This book follows Sasha who has flown to help out her dad at a Lapland resort that is not doing so well. When she gets there she meets Taavi and some reindeers called Rudolph. Sasha wants to help her dad and so when she finds a sack of letters to Santa she decides to reply and spread some festive cheer (and maybe some magic!). I loved this book so much – it’s full of all things heartwarmingly festive from start to finish, which is exactly what I’ve been looking for in my Christmas reads this year. I highly recommend this one, it’s a perfect Christmas read!

WWW Wednesdays (24 Nov ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

The only book I’m currently reading is The Best Christmas Ever by Karen King! I’m only a few chapters in but so far it feels festive and like it could be a really lovely read.

Recent Reads

I had an ebook of S**ged, Married, Annoyed by Rosie and Chris Ramsey but then I spotted the audio was available on my local library app so I decided to listen to it. It was an easy listen and fun escapism.

I also read Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult and loved it! I think this is her best book in a while and I very much enjoyed it. I will be writing a review as soon as I get my thoughts together but I definitely recommend it in the meantime.

I picked up Eight Days of Christmas by Stayla DeKruyf from my NetGalley shelf this week but sadly I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I hoped I would.

I also read We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates, which was one of the books that had been on my TBR the longest and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner as I really enjoyed this one.

The other Christmas book I read last week was Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin, a really sweet Christmas read.

I also finished reading Woke Up This Morning by Michael Imperioli last week and I’m sad to have got to the end of this one. I now want to listen to the podcast that led to this book (and also to watch The Sopranos all over again!).

This week I really want to listen to the audio book of How to be a Rockstar by Shaun Ryder.

My next Christmas read will be The Postbox at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans and I can’t wait to get to this one.

I also recently bought The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz and I’d really like to read it soon.

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to know 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Survive the Night | The Impossible Truths of Love | We Are Not Like Them | My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me

Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of recent NetGalley books that I’ve read and enjoyed.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

I can never resist a new Riley Sager book and have been eagerly anticipating this one. I picked it up and read it all in one day as it was written in such a way that I just didn’t want to put it down. We’re following Charlie who is really struggling after her best friend was murdered and now she’s leaving Uni. She finds Josh on the ride share board at school and says goodbye to her boyfriend. We find out that Charlie has had a tough life and when things are really bad she sees movies in her head overlaying what is really happening. The first half of this novel was gripping, I was unnerved with suspicions (and to be honest hopes) of where the novel might go as Charlie becomes increasingly unnerved by Josh. Unfortunately, the novel instead went in a much more predictable direction and ultimately left me feeling a bit disappointed. Having said that, I couldn’t put the book down so it was clearly gripping and it was enjoyable enough for the most part.

The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman

This novel is told in two timelines: the present day follows Nell as she’s left reeling following a deathbed confession by her father; and it follows Annie 35 years earlier as we see her starting her family and making decisions that will have consequences down the line. I love Hannah Beckerman’s writing and this book is beautiful. I really felt for Nell to have to deal with what her dad said and then not be able to talk to anyone about it as her mum has dementia and now her dad is gone, and to know she might never be able to find out what he meant. The fraught relationship that Nell has with her two older sisters felt really realistic and I ended up feeling for all of them. The two timelines move forwards and you’re left wondering how they’ll converge and what happened in the past. It wasn’t something I saw coming but it felt completely believable and was heartbreaking. I definitely recommend this book!

We Are Not Like Them by Christina Pride & Jo Piazza

Riley and Jen have been friends for many years and now they’re excited to be back living in the same city again. Jen is white and Riley is black but this has never been something they’ve thought about. But now Jen’s white police officer husband has been involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and suddenly they have to confront what this means for their friendship. I found this book quite hard to get into but once it clicked I found it really hard to put down. There are so many issues covered within this story and it really felt believable and realistic. I was much more on Riley’s side and felt that Jen was at times wilfully being ignorant of why her friend felt the way she did, but then we’d be back with Jen and I could see why she was torn. This is such a prescient novel that really makes you think and it’s one that I would recommend to everyone.

My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me by Helen Naylor

This book is heartbreaking. Helen has grown up with a mother who is often cold and cruel, who is always ill and needs rest every afternoon so Helen as a child had to learn to play in complete silence. She doesn’t know any different than how her own home life is and accepts this as being how it is for everyone but it does start to affect her own mental health. Helen really shows how complex her relationship to her mother is, that she loved her mother but also feared being trapped into looking after her for ever. There is a real exploration of how complicated the aspect of looking back on her mother’s life was for Helen and it’s these parts towards the end of the book that really struck a chord with me. This is the point when it felt the reader was really let in to how everything has affected Helen. Helen’s mother behaved monstrously, not just to Helen but to others as well, and it’s uncomfortable to think about whether this woman was a monster or whether she was mentally unwell. I think this contradiction is something Helen must waiver on too as the title says Munchausen’s but in the book her mother is referred to as a narcissist. It is always so difficult to confront who a parent really was, and I definitely felt for Helen as she grappled with this throughout the book. This book isn’t always easy to read but it’s a book that I would recommend.

WWW Wednesdays (17 Nov ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

I’ve been sorting out my Kindle and audiobooks recently and The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney caught my eye as I was doing that so it’s my current listen. It’s more intriguing than I thought it was going to be and I’m enjoying it so far.

My current festive read is the lovely Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin.

I’m also still reading Woke Up This Morning by Michael Imperioli but I’m not far off finishing it now. I’m going to miss this one once I’m done as I’ve really enjoyed dipping in and out of this book in recent weeks.

Recent Reads

I just finished reading My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me by Helen Naylor last night. I found this book hard to read at times because of the subject matter but it was a fascinating exploration of living with a narcissistic mother and dealing with all the repercussions of her behaviour.

I’m trying to get to some of the older books on my TBR at the moment as well as new releases so this week I listened to the audiobook of Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott, which I’ve owned since 2014. I really enjoyed this one. I’m struggling with a bad back at the moment and this was perfect escapism.

I also read Survive the Night by Riley Sager from my NetGalley shelf and I enjoyed it. I thought the first half was better than the second but it did keep me hooked all the way through.

I finished reading The Twelve Wishes of Christmas by Ruby Basu and loved it. You can read my review here.

I also finished listening to Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama and enjoyed it. I also have The Audacity of Hope on my Audible and a hardback copy of his memoir so hope to read more by him soon.

I really enjoyed reading The Little Christmas Tree House by Tracy Rees last week too, it was a lovely festive read. My review is here.

As I’ve been sorting through my Kindle books I’ve been taking note of the books I’ve owned the longest and it seems We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates has been on my Goodreads since I first set up my account (in early 2010!) but I know I’ve owned it longer than that. So I’d really like to finally start reading it this week!

I also hope to read The Best Christmas Ever by Karen King which is the next Christmas book on my NetGalley shelf.

I’d also like to get back to the Frieda Klein series so I have Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French on this week’s TBR!

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to know 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (3 Nov ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

I’ve been slowly reading my way through some of my older Christmas books and while Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry hasn’t been on my kindle all that long I couldn’t resist picking it up this week. I’m really enjoying this one and am so glad I made this my next read.

I’m not taking part in Non-Fiction November properly this year as I’m still in a place where I need to mood read and that often leads me to pick up lighter fiction. I was drawn to the audio book of The Romanovs: 1613 – 1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore yesterday though so I’ve started listening to this one. I don’t know very much about the Romanovs and so have been engrossed in this boook.

I’m also still dipping in and out of Woke Up This Morning by Michael Imperioli and enjoying it. It’s making me want to re-watch The Sopranos (and I only watched it for the first time earlier this year!).

Recent Reads

I seem to have read a lot of books this week and I’m not sure how that happened but I’m happy that it did.

The most recent book I finished was The Visitor by Zoe Miller. I picked this one as it seemed to be a thriller set near Christmas and it was an okay read – I enjoyed the first part more than the rest.

Before that I finally read Therese Raquin by Emile Zola, which had been on my TBR for quite some time. I very much enjoyed this one and am so glad that I’ve finally read it (although I’m kicking myself now for not picking it up sooner).

I also read and loved The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman. I adored the author’s previous two novels so had very high hopes for this one and it absolutely lived up to them.

I had a hardback and audiobook copy of Look What You Made Me Do by Helene Walmsley-Johnson so I part read and part listened to this one. It was a tough read because of the subject matter (it’s a memoir about coercive control) but I’m glad I read it.

Another festive read this week was Baby It’s Cold Outside by Emily Bell and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t as much about Christmas as I’d thought it would be but it was a gorgeous and cosy winter read. I recommend it!

I’ve had a paperback of Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman on my TBR for years but the text is so small I can’t read it so when I spotted the audio was available as part of the new Audible lending library I grabbed it. This book was published in 1985 but so much of it is just as relevant to us today and I highly recommend it. It’s made me want to re-read Brave New World so that might be a book I pick up in the new year!

I also finished reading A Bookshop Christmas by Rachel Burton. I enjoyed this one but was a little disappointed that whilst it’s set at Christmas there isn’t much Christmas in it. I did enjoy the story though and I loved that it was set in York.

What I Might Read Next

I’m very much a mood reader at the moment but the two books that are catching my attention from my TBR at the moment are The Perfect Christmas Gift by Katie Ginger and My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me by Helen Naylor so I hope to read both of these in the coming days.

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to know 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (27 Oct ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

I started reading A Bookshop Christmas by Rachel Burton from my NetGalley shelf this week and I’m really enjoying it. I didn’t realise it was set in York so I’m loving references to places that I know well from my younger years.

I’m also still reading Woke Up This Morning by Michael Imperioli. I’m finding this book is great to dip in and out of so I’m going to carry on reading it like this in between other books. I’m very much enjoying it though and I definitely recommend it to fans of The Sopranos.

Recent Reads

It’s been a great week of reading for me this week with my finish six books! I’ve been busy so have listened to a few audio books and then have enjoyed sitting down for a rest to read a print or kindle book later in the day.

I read Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton in just two sittings this week and I really enjoyed it. I always say I’m not a fan of historical fiction but then occasionally I stumble across a book like this and am reminded that there are historical fiction books for me and this is definitely one of them.

I also finished We Are Not Like Them by Christina Pride & Jo Piazza, which I’ve been reading for the past week and a half. I struggled to connect with the characters in the beginning but once I got into the novel it was hard to put down. It’s a thought-provoking book and I’m glad I read it.

I’ve had Not That Kind of Love by Clare & Greg Wise for a really long time so when I spotted it as I was sorting my books out this week I decided to read it next. This is an incredibly moving memoir of Clare’s illness and Greg’s story of his love for his sister and how he became her carer. This is a beautiful book and one that will really stay with me.

Another book that I’ve had on my bookcase for quite a while is Wally Funk’s Race for Space by Sue Nelson so when I picked it up this week and read it all in one sitting I was kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. Wally Funk is an incredible woman who has lived such a fascinating life. I know she finally made it to space very recently, which is amazing. I highly recommend this book.

I listened to It’s a Love Story by Shirlie & Martin Kemp on audio book and loved it. This is such a lovely book about their relationship and I just adored it!

I also finished reading Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris and am so glad I finally picked up this author’s debut novel as I’ve enjoyed her later books. This one was really good and kept my turning the pages!

What I Might Read Next

I’ve realised that my NetGalley shelf is growing again so need to focus on reading some of those books this week so these are the three that I’ve picked: Baby It’s Cold Outside by Emily Bell, which will be my next Christmas read. I also hope to read The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman as I’ve loved her previous two novels and have been eagerly anticipating this one. I also want to pick up Survive the Night by Riley Sager as I didn’t manage to get to it this week so I really hope to get a chance to read it in the coming days.

WWW Wednesdays (13 Oct ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

This week I started reading the Frieda Klein series and loved Blue Monday so much that I immediately picked up the next book: Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French! I don’t think I’ve read a series back to back since I was a child but it’s really nice to get absorbed in a series, especially one where all the books are already published so no having to wait for the next one!

My husband and I were very late getting to The Sopranos and only watched it for the first time this year! Better late than never though as we both absolutely loved it. So when I spotted Woke Up This Morning: The Definitive History of the Sopranos by Michael Imperioli on NetGalley I immediately requested and it as soon as I was approved I started reading it. It’s based on a podcast and I’m definitely going to check that out once I’ve read the book.

Recent Reads

As I said above I picked up Blue Monday by Nicci French this week and loved it. Freida Klein is such an interesting character and I can’t wait to find out more about her.

I also listened to Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam on audio book this week and found it gripping! I’d heard good things about this one and it lived up to the hype. I’ve now heard that Netflix are adapting this book so I’m really keen to see what they do with it as I think it would make a great film.

I bought and read People Like Them by Samira Sedira this week and found it such a chilling but also brilliant novel. It’s based on a real life murder, which I don’t remember hearing about, but knowing how close to true it is made it really hard to read at times. The writing is great though and I would read more by this author if any of her other work gets translated.

I bought Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner with an Audible credit and listened to it straight away. I connected so much with this book – a memoir about the author’s mother’s diagnosis and death from cancer. She really captures what the loss is like and the ways it affects a person. This is a book that will stay with me and I think is going to be one of my favourite non-fiction reads of the year.

What I Might Read Next

If I enjoyed Tuesday as much I enjoyed Monday then I plan on reading Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French over the next week.

Both Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson and My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me by Helen Naylor are from my NetGalley shelf and are really appealing to me at the moment so I hope to read them in the coming days.

Mini Reviews: The Fell | The Man Who Died Twice | Orphans of the Storm | Freckles

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read and enjoyed during my blogging break. I got all four of these books from NetGalley and I loved all of them.

The Fell by Sarah Moss

I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few of Sarah Moss’s previous novels but I think this one is my new favourite. The Fell follows Kate who is having to self-isolate with her teenage son due to having had contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid. She is really struggling with being trapped indoors and convinces herself that a walk on the moor won’t hurt anyone and no one will ever know she’s done it. We also follow her neighbour Alice, who has cancer and has had to shield throughout the pandemic. Alice sees Kate leave but doesn’t stop her so when Kate’s son tells Alice Kate is missing she immediately fears the worst and they call the police. This novel explores so many points of view regarding the pandemic, the restrictions and human nature in the face of all that has happened in the last year and a half. Moss makes you understand all the different views and to have some understanding of why people have struggled in different ways with different aspects of the pandemic. This is a short novel but it’s one that took me a few days to read as I wanted to really digest what I was reading. I really loved this novel and I highly recommend it.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

This is the second book in the Thursday Murder Club series and while I didn’t love it quite as much as the first I did still very much enjoy it and I definitely enjoyed catching up with all the characters again. This book begins with Elizabeth receiving a letter from an old colleague who wants to see her because he needs her help. He’s got himself into a situation involving a diamond robbery! Needless to say people start being murdered and the murder club start investigating again. I do love the characters in this novel and finding out more about them was my favourite aspect to the story. This is such a fun series and I will definitely be looking out for a third book!

Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie

I requested this novel from NetGalley as soon as I heard about it as I can’t resist stories about the Titanic. This novel follows a young Marcella in France in 1911. She meets a man and marries him after a whirlwind romance against the advice of her family. They go on to have two children but the marriage is not a happy one and Marcella seeks advice about filing for divorce. We also meet Margaret, a New York socialite who has managed to get tickets for the maiden voyage of the Titanic. This is a wonderful novel that had me turning the pages late into the night and I very much enjoyed it. It was tense knowing that it’s building to some of the characters ending up on the Titanic but not knowing what their fate will be. I loved Marcella, I was rooting for her all the way through the book. I loved this novel and was really shocked to learn how much of it is based on real people and a true story – not just the Titanic part! It was fascinating to read what is known and how Imrie created a fictional story based on the little that was known of these people. I definitely recommend this one!

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

I’m a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern so I’m always excited to learn of a new novel from her. Freckles felt different from her previous novels but I still really enjoyed it. Allegra Bird, known as Freckles, is quite a sad and lonely young woman. She wanted to join the police but was rejected so now she’s a traffic warden. One day someone tells her that everyone is the product of the five people closest to them and this sends her on a journey to surround herself with five strong people. I felt quite an affinity with Freckles, she is lost and searching for a connection and meaning in her life. Her mother abandoned her and her father is an eccentric man who did his best but Freckles has always felt absence in her life. I was rooting for her to find what she needed to feel complete and happy. I did find this novel a little hard to get into but once I got there I just didn’t want to put it down. I adored Freckles and I still keep thinking of her and wondering what she’s up to now. I recommend this one!

Mini Book Reviews: Safe at Home | All For You | Next of Kin | The Heights | A Slow Fire Burning

I’ve not read a huge amount of books whilst on my blogging break but I have read a few and they’ve been so good. Today I’m sharing some mini reviews of recent NetGalley reads and I highly recommend all five of these books!

Safe at Home by Lauren North

I loved Lauren North’s first novel so am always keen to read anything new by her and I’m so pleased to say that I enjoyed this one. Safe at Home follows Anna who is a very anxious mother. One evening she leaves her eleven year old daughter home alone for a short period but she gets held up. When she gets back her daughter has unexplained bruising but won’t talk about it. The next day a businessman is reported missing. I found this novel to be very gripping. I was immediately curious about why Anna was so anxious and over-protective and wanted to know what could have happened to her daughter. Throughout the novel we see snippets of the local mums’ whatsapp group, which I loved as we see the way they appear nice and supportive and then the way they talk behind other mums’ backs. The gradual reveals of what has happened were really good and this novel definitely kept me on my toes. I didn’t see the ending coming and I love that it shocked me. I recommend this one!

All For You by Louise Jensen

I’ve read and enjoyed all of Louise Jensen’s previous novels and this one was just as good. It follows three members of a family: Lucy the mum, Aidan the dad and Connor their teenage son. In this novel all three of them have their secrets so when threatening messages begin appearing each of them believes these messages are aimed at them. Then one day two of Connor’s best friends go missing and the worry is that Connor might be next. I loved how this novel kept me on my toes. I had my suspicions throughout the novel and some of them proved correct but most were completely wrong as I just didn’t see the bigger picture of what was going on. I sped through this novel and didn’t want to put it down so I definitely recommend it!

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

Next of Kin is a brilliant novel but it’s not always easy to read. It follows Leila who one day is asked to take her very young nephew to nursery on her way to work. She agrees but later in the day when the baby’s father rings her to ask why his son isn’t at nursery Leila realises her mistake and races to her car. There are distressing scenes in this book but the story is really well written and the issues are sensitively handled. The novel follows the aftermath of Leila’s discovery and the guilt of various members of the family. I love how it explored the ramifications for Leila and her sister’s relationship. This is the third book I’ve read by Kia Abdullah and her writing just keeps getting better and better – I already can’t wait to read whatever she writes next.

The Heights by Louise Candlish

The Heights follows Ellen a couple of years previously as she tries to deal with her teenage son making a new friend at school who seems to be a really bad influence. She tries her hardest to split them up but never manages it. The novel also follows her in the present as one day whilst at work she sees Kieron, he son’s friend, but it can’t really be him because she knows he’s dead! The novel then goes back and forth in time as we learn what happened with her son and Kieron and what revenge Ellen exacted to get him out of her son’s life. I was completely engrossed in this novel and read it in one sitting – it’s absolutely my favourite of all of Louise Candlish’s novels to date and I highly recommend it!

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

I listened to the audio book of this, which is narrated brilliantly by Rosamund Pike. The novel follows three women: Laura who is hot-headed and often judged for it; Miriam who sees Laura fleeing the scene of a murder but who knows you can’t always believe everything you see; and Carla who is reeling the shock from finding out that her nephew has been murdered. These three women are all fascinating and I loved getting to know more about all of them and seeing the layers of what makes them who they are slowly getting peeled back. They all have damage and they all have issues but they’re all so interesting to get to know. I wanted to know who the murderer was and why but it was almost secondary to getting to know the women. I very much enjoyed this novel and I recommend it!

WWW Wednesdays (18 Aug ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie

I just got approved to read this book from NetGalley yesterday and I couldn’t resist picking it up straight away. It’s a novel about the Titanic and it sounds really engrossing and interesting.

Recent Reads

I’ve not been reading much recently, hence why I haven’t posted a WWW for a couple of weeks but these are the five books I’ve finished since my last post.

All For You by Louise Jensen

This was another really good, fast-paced and gripping thriller by Louise Jensen. It captured my attention at a time when I’ve been struggling to read.

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

I did struggle to get into this novel but once I did I found it hard to put down. It follows Freckles as she tries to navigate her way through life and to work out which people are the most important and influential to her.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

I really enjoyed this sequel to The Thursday Murder Club, it was gripping and fun as well as being an intriguing mystery.

The Long Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper

I bought this ebook a while ago and picked it up recently and I was engrossed from start to finish. It follows the mystery of a suburban housewife who suddenly disappears one day.

The Sleeping Beauties by Suzanne O’Sullivan

This is a fascinating non-fiction book looking at mysterious illnesses around the world that all seem to have something in common. It explores the different terminology around what is now called Functional Neurological Disorder and it’s very interesting and thought-provoking.

What I Might Read Next

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride

I’m still not reading very much at the moment but these two books are the next ones on my NetGalley shelf so I’m hoping to get to them over the coming week.

That Was The Month That Was… July 2021

I can’t believe I’m writing my July wrap-up already, I really don’t know where this year is going! July has been a good month for me. I’m double vaccinated now so have been making attempts to get back to some kind of normality.

My husband and I have been shopping a few times and have finally bought some much-needed new clothes. We hadn’t bought anything since our weight loss so all of our clothes were hanging off us. It still feels so bizarre to me to be buying and wearing clothes in a UK14 when eleven months ago I was five and a half stone heavier and five dress sizes bigger! It also felt very strange to go in shops for the first time in a year and half but once I got over the initial anxiety it was just so nice to be doing something normal again.

My reading time has been somewhat hampered by the Euros and now the Olympics but I don’t mind because I’ve been really enjoying all the sport. Also we finished watching The Sopranos early in the month and I still feel lost now that we’ve seen it all. It was brilliant though – it might even be my new favourite TV series of all time!

Here are the books I read in July…

The Miracle Pill by Peter Walker

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler

Stronger by Poorna Bell

The Other Wife by Claire McGowan

Safe at Home by Lauren North

Hope Close by Tina Seskis

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Death on Ocean Boulevard by Caitlin Rother

The Island Home by Libby Page

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson

The Heights by Louise Candlish

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon

Justice for Helen by Marie McCourt

How to Save a Life by Liz Fenton

Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig

How was July for you? I hope it was a good month and that you’re keeping well. What was your favourite book read in July? I’d love to know! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (28 Jul ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

I’ve only read the first couple of chapters of this one so far but I’m enjoying it. I loved the first book in the series so I have high hopes for this!

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

I love Cecelia Ahern’s writing so have been really keen to get to this one and I’m really enjoying it. It feels different to some of her other novels but it’s very good and I can’t wait to read more.

Intimations by Zadie Smith

This is an essay collection written during the early days of the pandemic. I love Zadie Smith’s writing so I’m enjoying that aspect but the actual content isn’t engaging me as much as I hoped it would. I’m still keen to read more though.

Recent Reads

Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig

This is a brilliant book all about Rebekah’s life as a disabled person and I found it so relatable. The things that she has experienced and the ignorance some people show towards her is both eye-opening and so similar to my own experiences of being a wheelchair user. I would recommend this book to everyone, it’s such a good read.

How to Save a Life by Liz Fenton

I got the ebook of this one on Kindle Unlimited and it came with the audio version so I listened to it. It was an okay read but it’s not one that’ll stay with me. It follows a man who bumps into his ex girlfriend and they agree to go on a date but on that date she dies. The novel is then him stuck in groundhog day as he keeps waking up on the same day and trying to save her life.

Justice for Helen by Marie Mccourt

This is a non-fiction book that Marie wrote about her daughter Helen. Helen was murdered in 1986 and her killer was convicted but to this day has refused to say where her body is. Marie has successfully campaigned for Helen’s Law whereby at parole hearings it must be taken into account how much the killer has complied with authorities. Sadly the bill was passed after Helen’s killer was released. Marie has written such a moving account of her daughter’s life, and of the years she has had without her. It’s a book that will really stay with me and I absolutely recommend it.

Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon

I listened to this on audio and loved it. I will admit that the first chapter didn’t grab me and I wasn’t sure it was going to be for me but then a moment came where I just fell in love with it and I couldn’t stop listening. This follows a man in the aftermath of his wife’s death – it’s a novel about grief and loss but also about love and about how you learn to live after the worst has happened.

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

I’ve already reviewed this book so you can find my thoughts here.

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

This was another really good read! This is a novel that is hard to read at times due to the subject matter but it’s a great read and so I would recommend it. It follows two sisters in the aftermath of a tragedy where a young child dies due to one sister forgetting he was in her car. The court case that follows threatens to tear the sisters apart. The exploration of all the different emotions and actions in this case is handled really well and I did enjoy this one (if enjoy is the right word).

What I Might Read Next

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride

I got both of these books from NetGalley a few days ago and I’m really keen to start them so I’ll hopefully be picking them up once I’ve finished my current reads.

Mini Book Reviews: The Island Home | Yours Cheerfully | All My Mothers | Unwell Women

The Island Home by Libby Page

I love Libby Page’s writing and this book was every bit as lovely as her previous novels! The Island Home follows two characters in alternating chapters – Lorna who left the island of Kip under a cloud when she was a teenager and has never been back; and Alice who is Lorna’s sister-in-law but the two women have never met. The two women have daughters the same age who have been chatting online and now Lorna is going back to Kip. This is a gorgeous novels that really explores family dynamics, female friendship and found family in an honest and believable way. Kip has a wonderful community and all the characters in this novel felt like real people and I now want to go there and meet them! This book has it’s darker moments but on the whole it’s a feel-good novel that really pulls at your heartstrings. I loved it and definitely recommend it!

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

This is the sequel to Dear Mrs Bird so we’re back with Emmie at Women’s Friend magazine in the months following the end of the previous novel. I loved this book, it was just as lovely as the first one and I got completely swept up in it. This time Emmie gets involved with a campaign to encourage more women into war work and I loved it. We see the strength of the women but also their vulnerabilities and how much harder life is made for them by bosses who think they should be the same as men and yet also keep their home and raise their children but with no support from anyone. I was glad Bunty was back in this novel as I adore her friendship with Emmie. This is such a lovely read and I recommend it!

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen

This novel is simply stunning! I loved Joanna Glen’s previous novel and this one is every bit as good, if not even better! All My Mothers follows Eva (sounds like ever not evil!) from being a young child and realising that there are gaps in her childhood photos and memories and she wants to know why. We see the lovely friend she makes on her first day of school and the way that girl’s family take Eva under their wing. I adored the book with the rainbow mothers and how this comes up time and again throughout the novel as Eva tries to work out who she is and where she comes from. It’s a novel about found family and how you can find real love and a real bond with people who aren’t blood relations, and that this is just as good. I was moved to tears more than once as I read this novel but I was completely swept away in Eva’s story and I just couldn’t put it down – I read it all in one sitting. I already want to go back and read it again! I highly recommend this one!

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

This is an incredibly powerful non-fiction book looking at the history of how women have been treated in western medicine over the centuries – it covers ancient Greece and medieval times right up to the present day. It’s such a fascinating book but also anger-inducing at the way women have suffered – and still suffer – due to the lack of research and understanding into female diseases and illnesses. I’m someone who has dealt with more than my fair share of doctors who have been very dismissive of me only for it to later turn out that they made a huge mistake that has cost me dearly in terms of health. This book really highlights how entrenched medicine has always been in maintaining something of a status quo but it also gives hope seeing the rise of female doctors, and male doctors who want to understand and further others’ understanding of female diseases. It’s a shocking read and one that will make you angry but it’s very comprehensive and well written and I definitely recommend it.

WWW Wednesdays (21 July ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

I’ve read the first five chapters of this one so far and I can’t wait to read more. It’s a fascinating look at the history of how women have been treated by medical professionals over the years.

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

I started this book yesterday and I am gripped. It follows the awful story of a young child dying in a hot car having been forgotten about. The novel then follows the child’s parents and his mother’s sister, who left the child as we find out what happened. I feel like there are going to be twists and turns in this novel and I’m intrigued to see where it’s going.

Recent Reads

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen

This book is beautiful, I adored it! It follows Eva who lives with her parents who are quite cold and she never feels like she fits with them. Over the years she enjoys other people’s families and sees what she has missed out on. Ultimately this is a novel about found family and how that can bring you so much, and be just as important as the family you start out with. I loved this novel and I highly recommend it.

The Heights by Louise Candlish

Wow, this book is so good. I was gripped from start to finish and definitely think this is Candlish’s best book to date! This book follows a mother who becomes fixated on the boy who she knows is a bad influence on her son but things get out of control. I couldn’t put this book down, and now I’ve finished it I keep thinking about it!

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

This was one of my most anticipated reads for this year and I’m really happy to say that it didn’t disappoint! It follows three women in the aftermath of a murder and it’s so gripping!

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

I very much enjoyed this audiobook. It is the sequel to Dear Mrs Bird and it was lovely to be back with Emmie and seeing how her life is going. This is a book looking at women’s issues during the war and it manages to both highlight how difficult it was while at the same time being a feel-good read. I loved this and I recommend it.

The Island Home by Libby Page

This is a lovely read and I very much enjoyed it. I loved reading about the characters and the island of Kip, it’s such a feel-good read. I recommend this one.

What I Might Read Next

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

These are the next two books to be read from my NetGalley shelf and while they’re not published until September I’m so keen to get to them so will hopefully get to read them this week.

What are you at the moment? Have you read any good books recently? I’d love to know 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Fragile | Rock Paper Scissors | The Couple at No. 9 | 56 Days

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

I listened to this book on audio from NetGalley and I found it really engrossing. It follows Nell who has had a difficult childhood. She ended up in foster care but her foster mum was quite neglectful and left her and Joe to pretty much look after a younger child, Rosie, on their own. One day something terrible happens and Nell and Joe end up running away to London. Time has moved on a little when we first meet Nell and she is trying to find Joe but also to find somewhere to live and she ends up becoming a house keeper for Dr Wilder. This novel has an insidious sense of foreboding running through it – both in the present and as we slowly learn about the past – and I really enjoyed that element. This felt quite an intense book, I felt really invested in Nell’s story and finding out about her but at the same time it felt quite claustrophobic. I listened to this book in just two sittings though because I just wanted to know what was going to happen and how it was all going to end!

This book is out now!

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

I loved this book! Rock Paper Scissors follows Adam and Amelia in alternating chapters as they go on a mini break for their tenth wedding anniversary. Also interspersed throughout the novel are also letters to Adam from his wife. The couple are clearly not the happiest of couples and when they arrive at their destination it’s clear this is not the cosy escape and chance to reignite their love that each might have hoped. They’re staying in a converted church in the middle of nowhere, it’s snowing and isolated and a bit creepy. It’s clear from the start that something isn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on what was going on. I had so many things running through my head about what might be happening and I was wrong every single time, which I loved! This book had me hooked from start to finish and I read it all in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down! This is Alice Feeney at her best and I very much enjoyed this one. If you loved Sometimes I Lie then you’ll adore this!

This book is due to be published on 19th August.

The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas

The premise of this novel gave me chills – Tom and Saffron, who is pregnant with their first baby, have moved into their dream home which she has inherited from her Grandmother. They’re in the middle of a renovation project when their builders find two skeletons buried in the back garden! Police begin investigating and it seems there might be a connection to Saffy’s grandma Rose. We also get chapters set in the past when Rose first moved to the cottage and slowly the two timelines build up a picture of all the people who have lived in this house and how any of them might be connected to the present day discovery. I found this novel really gripping, I loved both timelines and I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen. This novel kept me on my toes and I really enjoyed it!

This book is due to be published on 19th August.

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

This book is brilliant! It follows Ciara and Oliver who randomly meet one day and seem to click straight away. But then lockdown is announced and they decide to move in together for this period of time so that they can keep seeing each other. This is 56 days ago. In the present day we follow the police as a body has been found in an apartment and it’s the place this new couple were living! I was gripped from the very first pages of this novel and I devoured it as I just didn’t want to put it down. This is a novel that seems like it’s going one way and then the rug is pulled out from under you and I loved that. I was stunned by some of the reveals that come along and it had me unnerved that I hadn’t seen certain things coming. This is my favourite thriller of the year so far and I highly recommend it!

This book is due to be published on 19th August.

I received all four of these books from the publishers via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

WWW Wednesdays (14 Jul ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

The Island Home by Libby Page

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

Recent Reads

Death on Ocean Boulevard by Caitlin Rother

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

What I Might Read Next

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen

The Heights by Louise Candlish

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

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

My 2021 Reading Stats (so far)!

I can’t believe that we’re halfway through 2021 already, I really don’t know where the time has gone. I always love looking at my reading spreadsheets at this point in the year to see how my reading looks like so far.

I set my reading goal at 100 books for this year and I’ve already completed my Goodreads challenge. I set my goal to less than normal as I was hoping to focus on reading some bigger books this year but so far that hasn’t really happened. I’m happy to have finished 116 books already though and am looking forward to reading lots more books over the second half of the year.

The longest book that I’ve read so far this year is The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker – my edition had 640 pages. The shortest book I’ve read was one I grabbed on a whim while I have a free trial of Kindle Unlimited – Suzy Lamplugh: Missing by Netta Newbound which had 49 pages. The average page count of books I’ve read this year is 344, which I’m very happy with.

This is the breakdown of genres that I’ve read this year. I’m fairly happy with the spread of what I’m reading although I’m a little disappointed that the nonfiction reads amount to a combined total of just 19.1% as I usually read more. I think it’s down to life being stressful and my anxiety levels being high and so I’ve sought out escapism in thrillers and general fiction. I hope as life begins to feel more normal that my reading tastes will start to go back to how they used to be and I might get more nonfiction read then.

As is definitely the norm for me I’ve read far more female authors than male this year. I’ve never consciously picked more books by female authors it’s just how my reading naturally seems to fall and I’m happy with this.

This chart shows the format of books that I’ve been reading this year. I’m surprised that the audiobook percentage is so low but I think this is because my husband only went back to work (after being on furlough) a month or so ago so up until then I didn’t have as much chance to listen to books. I have still been buying audiobooks though so I have lots to look forward to listening to over the rest of the year. My ebook reading percentage is very high but I’ve been reading my way through my NetGalley books and also due to my new eye problem I struggle to read print books now and need to be able to adjust the size of font. I think going forward my reading will be pretty much all ebooks and audiobooks, with the occasional print book in the mix as I do still have print books on my bookcase that I’d like to read if I can.

This chart shows where I acquired the books that I’ve been reading in 2021. This breakdown is about what I expected it to be as I’ve really been focusing on reading NetGalley books this year as I try to catch up on ARCs. A lot of my review copies were acquired last year so it’s been good to finally get those read and reviewed.

This chart shows where I’ve been getting my books from in 2021. I always like to look at this chart in my spreadsheet as it shows that while I am lucky to receive and read ARCs I do still buy the vast majority of my books. I always want to support authors and publishers so I’m really pleased with how my acquisitions breakdown.

So that’s my 2021 reading so far in statistics!

How is your reading going this year? I hope you’re reading lots of lovely books. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (7 Jul ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

Death on Ocean Boulevard by Caitlin Rother

This is a true crime book about the death of Rebecca who was found dead in an apparent suicide but the way her body was found makes it seem very implausible that she did this to herself. The crime scene was compromised early on due to it initially being called in as a suicide. I don’t remember this case at the time so I know nothing about what happens but it’s devastating to read about what happened.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

I’m about a quarter of the way into this one and so far this is Alice Feeney at her best! The novel so far follows a married couple who are having a weekend away in the middle of nowhere to try and get their marriage back on track. We follow each of their points of view in alternating chapters interspersed with a letter from the wife to her husband that she has written on each of their anniversaries. There is a real sense of unease from the start with this novel and I feel quite on edge reading it – I can’t wait to read more though and to see where this novel is going!

Recent Reads

Safe at Home by Lauren North

This is such a gripping read following an anxious woman who feels the need to keep her children close. One night she trusts one of her eleven year old daughters to stay home alone for twenty minutes but she gets delayed and when she gets home it’s clear something has happened but her daughter won’t talk about it. I really enjoyed this novel, it kept me guessing all the way through.

Hope Close by Tina Seskis

I got this one on audio from Kindle Unlimited and I enjoyed listening to it. It follows a handful of residents on Hope Close, all with their secrets to hide and it follows them as things begin to resurface and cause issues in the present.

The Other Wife by Claire McGowan

I also listened to this one on Kindle Unlimited and it was an okay book. It follows three women who all seem separate from one another but it seems certain that their paths will cross at some point. There are twists in store and some of them caught me off guard but it was just an okay read for me.

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler

This was a fun read following a group of people who all survived the same plane crash and are now bound together as being part of the media-dubbed ‘lucky eight’. There are secrets and lies amongst this group and so when one of them is found dead – presumed murdered – the pressure mounts. I enjoyed this one, it kept me gripped all the way through.

Stronger by Poorna Bell

I love Poorna Bell’s writing so was keen to get to this one. I borrowed the audiobook from the library and I listened to it over two days. This is the author’s story of how she found sport after her husband’s sudden death. She got into weight lifting and the book is all about how sport can help in all aspects of life – physical and mental – and I found it fascinating. I can’t exercise in any meaningful way because of my disability but I am working on losing weight to improve my health and I know the difference it makes when your body starts to feel stronger and healthier.

The Miracle Pill by Peter Walker

This is another fascinating audiobook about how our sedentary lives are damaging our health in so many ways. It’s full of science and anecdotal evidence along with the author’s own experiences and I found it to be so interesting. I would recommend this to everyone and I’m planning on buying a kindle copy so I can read it and highlight relevant sections.

What I Might Read Next

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

The Pact by Sharon Bolton

As usual I don’t know what I’ll read this week but the above three are the ones that are calling to me the most right now!

My Favourite NonFiction of 2021 So Far!

Yesterday I shared my favourite novels that I’ve read this year so far and today it’s the turn of nonfiction books. I’ve not read as much nonfiction this year as I normally do but the books I have read have been excellent, and these eight books are the best of the best.

Best nonfiction read in 2021 so far!

How to be Broken by Dr Emma Kavanagh

This Party’s Dead by Erica Buist

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

Super Sick by Allison Alexander

Invisible Women by Caroline Cried Perez

Really Saying Something by Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward

Hungry by Grace Dent

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

What’s your favourite nonfiction read of this year so far? I’d love to know! 🙂

My Favourite Novels of 2021 so far!

I can’t believe we’re halfway through 2021 already! This means that it’s time to pick my favourite books that I’ve read this year so far though, and while making this list is hard I do love putting this post together and showcasing my favourite books.

Today I’m sharing my favourite novels that I’ve read this year and tomorrow I will share my favourite nonfiction books.

The books I’ve chosen are all books that have made a difference to my life in some way this year and I’m so grateful to have found so many wonderful books. My list is in no particular order as it was impossible to pick a favourite, all 21 of these books are well worth a read. 🙂

Here are my favourite novels of 2021 so far…

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

Mountain Road, Late at Night by Alan Rossi

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle

Truth by Told by Kia Abdullah

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Outsiders by James Corbett

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

What are your favourite novels of the year so far? I’d love to know! 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Both of You | The First Day of Spring | The Murder of Graham Catton | Passenger List

Today I’m sharing some more of my mini reviews of books that I’ve enjoyed recently. All four of these books are from NetGalley but are out now!

Both of You by Adele Parks

Both of You is the story of Leigh who is happily married with two step-children but one day she disappears. Her husband is slow to report her missing as she works away during the week so he wasn’t sure when exactly she disappeared. We follow him, and the detective who is working on the case. Then soon after another woman is reported missing by her husband and it’s in similar circumstances and this is when the tension begins to ramp up. I found this book really fast-paced and while I spotted whodunnit early on my enjoyment was not marred by this as I was so invested in the why and the how. There are quite a few suspects and suspicious happenings throughout the book which does put you off the scent somewhat, which I liked. I read this book in just a day as I didn’t want to put it down, I needed to know if my suspicions were correct and to see how it would end. I would say that the ending is very abrupt and you are left reeling a little bit by that but the more the book sits with you the more it makes sense for it to end the way it does. I recommend this one for your summer reading plans!

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

I really enjoyed The First Day of Spring – I listened to the audiobook and I read it every single chance I had as I just wanted to know how this novel was going to go. The story follows Chrissie who seems quite neglected and has a difficult home life – her mother is very cold and her father is often absent. One day she kills a younger child and does all she can to avoid being caught. This novel is so delicately written that you can’t help but have sympathy and compassion for Chrissie, even when you know what she’s done. It’s actually heartbreaking when you hear her thoughts of what death means and it’s awful when you realise how little she understands. The novel also follows Chrissie as an adult when she has a young child of her own and is struggling to know how to nurture a child when she was never nurtured. I found this such a moving novel, which is rare in crime fiction. It really got to me and I keep finding myself thinking about it. It’s definitely a novel that makes you pause and think, whilst also being such a gripping and engaging thriller. I recommend this one!

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

I can’t help but be drawn to novels featuring a crime podcast so this one seemed like it was for me. The novel follows Hannah whose husband was murdered in the family home a decade before. Hannah can’t remember all the details of what happened but a man named Mike was convicted of the crime. Now a true crime podcast is going over the case and looking at potential new evidence. Hannah works at a psychiatric clinic and has had her own mental health battles so this is a very stressful time for her. She felt like quite an unreliable narrator to me and I was never sure whether I could believe what she was portraying. This novel does requite some suspension of disbelief but it didn’t stop my enjoyment nor did it stop me reading at every opportunity as I wanted to know whodunnit and why. There wasn’t as much of the actual podcast in this novel as I’d hoped there would be – we hear about it second hand as Hannah and her family talk about it whereas I’d been expecting some transcripts. I enjoyed this novel all the same though and will definitely read more by this author in the future.

Passenger List by John Dryden

I seem to be reading a lot of books recently about bad things that happen involving planes but I’m finding them all quite addictive. Passenger List follows Kaitlin as she tries to find out what happened to the flight that went missing with her twin brother on board. She doesn’t believe the official explanation and is determined to get to the truth. This novel does require a lot of suspension of disbelief but if you can do that then it is a very fast paced page turner and one that will keep you guessing all the way to the end. There are lots dark alleys and red herrings in the novel alongside quite a few shady characters but all this serves to keep you on your toes, and I quite liked not knowing who to trust and not knowing if Kaitlin was making good decisions or not. This would make a great holiday read!

That Was The Month That Was… June 2021!

June has really flown by! My husband is back at work and we’re back in a normal routine again now. I’ve had my second vaccine (well, I will have had it when this post goes live) so it’s good to finally be fully vaccinated. I’m hoping to start getting out and about a bit more from now on.

We did go to the opticians in June as we were overdue for eye tests. My vision has been getting worse so I was expecting to need new varifocals but actually my vision hasn’t changed much, the problem is my eye. The optician thinks it’s linked to the damage in my spinal cord, which sadly means nothing much can be done. He has given me some eye exercises to do so I’m working on those in the hope it will help strengthen the muscles in my eye. I’ve also got reading glasses for when I’m spending longer periods reading. It all means that I’m struggling to read print books and this isn’t going to change so I have to accept more reading on Kindle (where I can make the font bigger) and listening to audio books from now on. I’m struggling with reading on a computer screen so I can only apologise for being so slow to read and reply to comments. I do always appreciate comments on my posts and feel awful that I can’t reply very quickly or to comment on your blogs as much as I would dearly like to.

I didn’t read as much in June as I’d planned to but we’ve been watching a lot of the Euros and also squeezing in episodes of The Sopranos where we can. We’re now only a few episodes from the end and part of me is keen to see how it ends and the other part of me doesn’t want it to end because it’s been so good.

Here are the books I read in June…

The Outsiders by James Corbett

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

Super Sick by Allison Alexander

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

Suzy Lamplugh: Missing by Netta Newbound

Claudia Lawrence: Missing by Netta Newbound

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

Passenger List by John Dryden

Both of You by Adele Parks

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

How was June for you? I hope it was a good month and that you’re keeping well. What was your favourite book read in June? I’d love to know! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (30 Jun ’21)! What are you reading?

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

Current Reads

The Island Home by Libby Page

I wanted to save this book to read this week as when this post goes live I’ll have had my second vaccine (and hopefully I won’t be feeling as ill as with the first) and know that Libby Page writes such engaging, comforting books. I’ve only read the first couple of chapters so far but I know I’m going to love this one.

The Miracle Pill by Peter Walker

I bought this audio book on a whim in the recent Audible sale and I’m so glad I did. This is a really interesting book about how we got so sedentary and how we can change. There is so much information about how the smallest changes can have a huge impact on our bodies and I’m finding it so motivating as I continue on my weight loss journey.

Recent Reads

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker-Burks

I bought a copy of this on Kindle in the end as I was struggling to read the print book and I’m so glad I did. This book is so moving but such an incredible read. Ruth is an amazing woman, the way she reached out to men who were dying from AIDS and ostracised from their families as a result is incredible. She acknowledged her fear but she pushed through because her compassion won through. This is a book everyone should read.

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

I devoured this thriller in one sitting, I honestly just didn’t want to put it down for a minute! It’s a lockdown novel focusing on a couple who have been on a handful of dates at the beginning of Coronavirus restrictions and they decide to move in together so they can still see each other in lockdown. The novel opens with a body being found and then goes back and forth in time as we learn who is dead, what happened and how the couple are connected. It’s such a gripping book, I loved it!

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

I read most of this novel in one sitting too as it was just so gripping and I wanted to know what happened! It follows a young mum as she struggles in her relationship with her boyfriend, and is captivated by a new friend at college. We also follow her mum in the aftermath of her daughter’s disappearance. This book had me so enthralled, I was annoyed when real life pulled me away from the story. I recommend this one too!

Both of You by Adele Parks

This is another great read from this week. It’s a novel about a woman that goes missing, and her husband as he tries to work out what happened. We also get the perspective of the police. The case becomes even more intense when another woman goes missing and her husband seems a little off. I really enjoyed this book, it kept me on my toes all the way through. I had to suspend disbelief at times, and I did work out what was going on quite early but none of that stopped me enjoying the novel.

Passenger List by John Dryden

This novel follows Kaitlin as she desperately hunts for the truth when the plane her twin brother was travelling on goes missing. She doesn’t believe the official story and is determined to find out what happened to her brother and the other passengers. This novel was different to what I was expecting and it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief but it was a quick, fun read.

What I Might Read Next

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

These are the next three books on my NetGalley shelf so I hope to get to them this week. I don’t know how much reading I’ll get done, it depends how I feel post vaccine but hopefully I’ll be fine this time and can keep reading!

Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen | @OrendaBooks @KtAllenWriting

About the Book

Armed with one broken heart and a (borrowed) sausage dog, Rachel is on a mission to find out why her baby was born sleeping.

Because Everything Happens for a Reason…

Doesn’t it?

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.

When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she’s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.

Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…

Both a heart-wrenching portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life-affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.

My Thoughts

Everything Happens for a Reason follows Rachel as she tries to make sense of the loss of her baby. The novel takes the form of emails that she writes to an initially unnamed person. This was sparked by someone saying to her that everything happens for a reason and Rachel fixates on wanting to know what the reason was. She remembers that on the day she found out she was pregnant that she saved a man who was about to jump in front of a train and she decides to find him and see if he is the reason.

I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it but I will admit that I was apprehensive about the subject matter – baby loss is not an easy subject to read about but this book is so beautifully written. Katie Allen writes with such honesty and sensitivity, she deftly balances humour and heartbreak. I’m so glad I picked this book up.

Rachel’s baby was stillborn and she is now understandably lost. She is on maternity leave but she has no baby. Her decision to search for the man whose life she saved gives her some purpose and fills her time. In the process of finding him she meets some other people who become so important in her life and I loved seeing their relationship build, it really was so lovely to read. I also enjoyed reading about the time Rachel spends with Ben, the man from the train, as she goes on his regular dog walks with him.

Nothing fully fills Rachel’s days as all she wants is her baby. She and her husband aren’t able to connect and communicate how they’re feeling to each other. There are times when it’s so apparent how much they still love each other but they can’t seem to find a way to show it. I can’t even imagine the pain of losing a baby, I have suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks and I know that is in no way the same thing although it was incredible painful as it turned out to be my only ever chance of being a mum. I know how it feels to lose loved ones and how it rips your life apart and you are never the same afterwards. Katie Allen captures the feeling of being lost, of being unable to communicate your pain and grief to others, and of feeling so alone in such a heartrending way. I felt heartbroken for Rachel as I read her story.

There are lighter moments throughout this novel which balance Rachel’s pain. I loved reading about the dogs she gets to know through Ben’s work – they all felt so real to me and now I want a pet dog! Also the bonds that form between some of the people Rachel meets are really lovely – Lola and her fabulous daughter. The friendships are gorgeous and life-affirming.

I was curious how this novel would end and was hoping Rachel would find some peace and happiness again that would be long-lasting. I loved the way she found reasons to live and ways to enjoy life, even when she wasn’t looking to find this. Healing can take many forms and often comes from the things we least expect it to.

Everything Happens for a Reason is such a beautiful and moving novel, one that really resonated with me. I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.About the Author

About the Author

Everything Happens for a Reason is Katie’s first novel. She used to be a journalist and columnist at the Guardian and Observer, and started her career as a Reuters correspondent in Berlin and London. The events in Everything Happens for a Reason are fiction, but the premise is loosely autobiographical. Katie’s son, Finn, was stillborn in 2010, and her character’s experience of grief and being on maternity leave without a baby is based on her own. And yes, someone did say to her ‘Everything happens for a reason’.

Katie grew up in Warwickshire and now lives in South London with her husband, children, dog, cat and stick insects. When she’s not writing or walking children and dogs, Katie loves baking, playing the piano, reading news and wishing she had written other people’s brilliant novels.

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

WWW Wednesdays (23 Jun ’21!)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Passenger List by John Dryden

I started this book yesterday and it’s such a fast-paced, gripping read that I don’t think I’ll be long finishing it. It follows a young woman whose brother was one of the passengers on a plane that went missing. She is seeking the truth about what happened to him and the flight.

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

I haven’t managed to read anymore of this book this week due to my eye issues but I’ve now bought a kindle copy so I’m definitely going to be reading a lot more of it this week.

Recent Reads

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

I listened to the audiobook of this one on Audible and I really enjoyed it. It’s the story of a woman who is writing a book about Opal and Nev, whilst also wanting to find out more about what happened the night her father was killed. It’s a very engaging read that really draws you in and I was listening every chance I had as I wanted to find out how it would all end.

Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

This is Tayari Jones’ debut novel and it’s so good. It’s a novel told from the perspectives of three black children in Atlanta in the 1970s during the time when young black people were disappearing and being murdered but the authorities were not doing as much as they should have been to investigate and find the killer. I knew about about the real life murders but this novel told from the point of view of children was heartbreaking and devastating. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a very long time to come.

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

This is a moving novel about Rachel whose baby was born sleeping and now she’s on maternity leave and trying to find a way to understand what happened to her son. She decides to track down a man whose life she saved on the day she found out she was pregnant. I really enjoyed this novel – it explores grief in such a powerful way but the story is balanced with some lighter moments. I’ll be reviewing this one tomorrow but in the meantime I recommend it!

What I Might Read Next

Both of You by Adele Parks

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

The Island Home by Libby Page

All three of these books are the next books on my NetGalley shelf so I hope to read them this week. I’ve accidentally requested a few new books recently so I want to focus on these books again so I can catch up again and get my reviews posted in a reasonable time frame.

Super Sick: Making Peace with Chronic Illness by Allison Alexander | @allisonexander

About the Book

Superheroes aren’t sick. 

They certainly don’t have chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, or diarrhea. After all, spandex suits and sudden bowel movements don’t mix. Do they? 

With raw sincerity and tongue-in-cheek humour, Alexander holds nothing back while discussing how to navigate doctors, dating, sex, friendships, faith, and embarrassing symptoms. Part memoir, part research, part pop culture analysis, Super Sick offers a friendly hand to anyone with chronic illness, a reminder that they aren’t alone and have much to offer the world.

With a new foreword, updated information, and bonus materials, this is a must-read for anyone who has—or knows someone who has—a chronic illness.

My Thoughts

Super Sick is a non-fiction book by chronic illness sufferer Allison Alexander. As soon as I heard about this book I knew I had to read it as I love the idea of a book about chronic illness being told through the lens of superheroes. I’m so glad I read this book because it really is excellent.

Each chapter starts with the story of a different hero and then that leads Allison to relate this to her own experiences of chronic illness. There is a real honesty in this book, Allison doesn’t hold back on what her life is like at times and how her illness affects her, but there is also a lot of humour and positivity. The balance is incredibly well done.

I suffer from chronic illness and pain, and I’m disabled so I was intrigued by this book and I found myself nodding my head in solidarity with Allison for some of her horrible experiences that I have also been through. I also found myself smiling wryly, also in solidarity, for the humour you have to find in the awkward experiences and also in the dealing with people who say the most inappropriate things. Like Allison, I have had to smile sweetly of often when someone suggests a new miracle cure (like they think I haven’t tried everything there is to try).

I love the way Allison explores the different issues that come up when a person is chronically ill. From the relief of diagnosis but then the comedown when you realise you can’t be easily fixed (if at all) and then have to find a way to live with what’s happened. In one chapter she looks at the three types of suffering as seen in buddhism and this was fascinating, it really spoke to how I am and made me think. She also explores the way women are so often dismissed when it comes to pain, and how we’re often expected to put up with more – this is also my experience. There is so much relief that comes when someone believes you but so much distress when you’re not taken seriously.

I highlighted quite a few passages as I was reading this book but my favourite is this one:

‘Suffering people can find meaning in life just the same. We lose again and again. And again. Forever. But we still choose to fight. If I consider myself this way, I am a superhero instead of a character relegated to the sidelines, even if I don’t feel very mighty.’

This is a brilliant book if you have a chronic illness yourself or if you have someone in your life who has. It’s also an excellent, informative book for everyone to read – it’s accessible and easy to read and it really gives a great insight into what it is like to live with a chronic illness. I highly recommend this book!

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech | @OrendaBooks @LouiseWriter @RandomTTours

About the Book

When the mother of an autistic young man hires a call girl to make him happy, three lives collide in unexpected and moving ways … changing everything. A devastatingly beautiful, rich and thought-provoking novel that will warm your heart.

Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely. Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy … she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.

Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.

When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.

A topical and moving drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family … to survive … This Is How We Are Human is a searching, rich and thought-provoking novel with a emotional core that will warm and break your heart.

My Thoughts

This is How We Are Human was one of my most highly anticipated books of this year and I’m so happy to say that I completely and utterly adored it!

Sebastian is twenty years, six months and two days old, he’s autistic and he just wants to meet a woman and have sex. His mum Veronica is struggling with how best to support him, she just wants him to be happy and accepted. Violetta is an escort who is only doing this work to pay for her nursing degree and her father’s care.

This book is incredible! Louise Beech has this wonderful ability to put the reader in everyone’s shoes and to allow you to see a situation from all sides – we get to really understand and care about all three of these characters and to want them all to be happy. There is such sensitivity and beauty in this novel and Louise has taken such a delicate subject matter and handled it so deftly.

I really felt for all three characters. I could see how difficult it was for Sebastian, it broke my heart at times reading about his advances towards women and the reactions he got. I could see how great a mum Veronica is and how she just desperately wants to do the right thing for her son. She wants him to meet a nice girl and to be happy in his life but she knows that in the short term at least a sex worker might be the answer. She agonises over the morality of what she’s considering and then one day the answer seems to be right in front of her. Violetta is the character I most felt for, she is in a job that she doesn’t enjoy but she sees it as a means to an end. There is only her and she needs her dad to be properly looked after and his care is specialist and expensive. My heart was in my mouth at times reading about the situations she had to go through when at work and I just felt so sad for her.

This is a very thought-provoking novel, it explores so well the issues around different people’s needs and how best to meet those needs. There is also so much love and care and compassion running right through this novel, it’s such a moving story but it’s also funny and real and gives you hope.

The storytelling in this book is so beautiful and delicate. I loved seeing Violetta and Sebastian’s connection and how they built a friendship, I adored how Violetta did her best to show the real her and to not let this just be a transaction.

This Is How We Are Human is one of the most stunning books I’ve ever read – very real and heartbreaking at times but it’s funny and heartwarming and more than anything it is full of love. It’s such a beautiful novel that really does explore how we are human. I miss Sebastian, Veronica and Violetta so much, I keep thinking about them and wondering how they are. They are so real to me and I already want to go back and revisit their story all over again! This will, without doubt, be in my top books of 2021 and I highly, highly recommend it!

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

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

WWW Wednesdays (16 Jun ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

Everything Happens for a Reason by Katie Allen

This is a moving novel about a woman trying to come to terms with, and understand the reasons for, the stillbirth of her son. She is trying desperately to find the reason why it happened and decides to try and find the man whose life she saved the day she found out she was pregnant. I’m really enjoying this one so far and am keen to read more of it very soon.

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

This book is just incredible and if it weren’t for my eye problems I think I would have read it in one sitting. As it is I can only manage a few pages at a time so I’m thinking of buying a kindle copy so that I can just read it all now, I really want to get to know Ruth’s story of her time caring for men with AIDS in a time when there was very little care from anyone else in her community.

Recent Reads

Super Sick by Allison Alexander

I really enjoyed this non-fiction book which explores Allison’s experiences of chronic illness and pain through the lens of superheroes. I loved the way she wrote this book and it added a different dynamic to her story. I could identify with a lot of what is in this book being disabled and a chronic pain sufferer myself. I will be reviewing this one as soon as I’ve got my thoughts in order but in the meantime I recommend it.

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

I got approved for the audiobook of this from NetGalley this week and I immediately started listening to it. It’s a novel told in two timelines about a young girl who murdered a younger child. Her story is heartbreaking and you can’t help but feel for her with the life she has led. This is such a good read and one I’ll be thinking of for a while to come.

This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a really long time. It’s the story of Sebastian, an autistic young man who just wants to have sex; his lovely mum; and Violetta who works as an escort in order to be able to pay for specialist care for her father. Louise is such an incredible writer and I can’t put into words how amazing this book is. I will be reviewing it later this week once I’ve got my thoughts together but I definitely recommend it!

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

Oh my goodness, this book is brilliant! It’s the best crime fiction book I’ve read in ages and I keep finding myself thinking about it. It follows a woman who is writing a book about a missing young woman, and her email correspondence with Joseph Knox. We also get to read all the chapters of her book along side her and Joseph’s chats about it. This is a book that keeps you on your toes all the way to the end – it’s creepy and gripping and it’s just a rollercoaster ride. I recommend this one!

What I Might Read Next

Passenger List by John Dryden

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

I don’t know what I’ll read this week but Passenger List is the next book on my NetGalley shelf so I hope to get to this one. The other two are books that I treated myself to this week and am very keen to read so I really want to try and make time to read them.

WWW Wednesdays (9 Jun ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

This is such an intriguing book, I’m so keen to keep reading to see where it goes next!

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

This is an incredible memoir and Ruth is such an amazing woman. I hope to read more of it this week.

Recent Reads

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri

I borrowed the audio book of this from the library and I found it such a fascinating book from which I learnt a lot that I didn’t know. I’d quite like to buy a kindle copy of this one so that I can read it again in the future.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

This is a stunning book – it’s both very moving and very funny, it captures what it’s like to live with a mental illness so well. I recommend it.

What I Might Read Next

Passenger List by John Dryden

This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

As is now the norm for me I’m planning on reading the next book on my NetGalley shelf which is Passenger List. I also would like to read This is How We Are Human as it’s for a forthcoming blog tour and I just know I’m going to adore it. The final book is off my own TBR and is one that I’m keen to read while I’m in the middle of a post-lockdown clear out in my home.

One Last Time by Helga Flatland | @OrendaBooks

About the Book

Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her – and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia – it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heartwarming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

With all of Helga Flatland’s trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all – and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an exquisite, enchantingly beautiful novel that us to treasure and rethink … everything.

My Thoughts

Two years ago I read and reviewed A Modern Family by Helga Flatland and found a writer whose words resonated with me in such a powerful way. I knew I had to read anything of hers that I could so as soon as I heard about her new book One Last Time I immediately signed up for the blog tour and have been eagerly anticipating getting lost in Flatland’s writing all over again.

One Last Time is about three generations of women in a family told from the perspective of two of them. Anne is the matriarch who has struggled in her own life after her husband’s stroke at a young age. She wasn’t a perfect mother and her daughter Sigrid seems unable to move on from the perceived slights in her childhood. Mia is Sigrid’s daughter and while we don’t hear from her directly we see a lot of her in the novel. One Last Time opens with Anne being diagnosed with cancer and the fallout from that.

I adore the way Flatland captures the reality of family dynamics and the way she explores the fragility of memories. It’s heartbreaking at times how Sigrid reminds her mother of something not done in her childhood but then we see Anne’s viewpoint later on and realise what Sigrid doesn’t. We see behaviours echoing through the generations as Mia mirrors both Anne and Sigrid but neither sees themselves in her actions.

I did wonder if this book might be too hard for me to read as I lost my own mum to cancer a few years ago but actually Flatland has this remarkable ability to write about such a devastating topic but find a balance between the light and dark.

I found it hard to connect with Sigrid at times, she seems very detached and aloof but there are moments when you see her pain and heartbreak and your heart breaks with her. She clearly loves her mother but she wants an apology for her childhood, and yet she can’t articulate this. I remember the immediate aftermath of my mum’s terminal diagnosis and I had so much I wanted to say but it all got stuck in my throat and it was choking me. It seems like Sigrid feels a lot of that through the novel.

It was fascinating seeing Anne through Sigrid’s eyes and then hearing Anne’s perspectives but also seeing what Sigrid is like as a mother. It captures the reality of life so movingly – the way we can only see things from our own point of view and it’s near impossible to really get a sense of how it was for someone else, how hard it might have been for them. I found this aspect of the novel so poignant, and so relatable.

This is a novel that made me cry quite a few times. Flatland has captured so beautifully how women in a family relate to each other and what it is like to have the bottom fall out of your world when you learn you mother is dying. The novel is never depressing, never overwhelming – it’s just a beautiful, tender exploration of the grief that comes with approaching loss. I have to commend the translator Rosie Hedger too as this book never feels like a work in translation, it’s incredible!

One Last Time is my favourite novel of 2021 so far, I know it will be a novel that stays with me for a very long time to come. I highly recommend it!

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

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

WWW Wednesdays (2 Jun ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

I’ve only just started reading this book and I’m only a few pages into it so I can’t say much about it as yet except that I’m loving it.

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

This is the book I’ve been most anticipating from my 20 Books of Summer TBR and I’m so glad to finally be reading this one. It’s very moving but Ruth’s story is incredible, I’m keen to read more of this one as soon as I can.

Recent Reads

The Outsiders by James Corbett

This novel is brilliant. I just finished it yesterday and I’m sad that it’s over. It follows a man from 1981 to the present day and it covers real events which are woven through this character’s life. I’ll be reviewing this one soon once I’ve got my thoughts together.

This Lovely City by Louise Hare

I listened to the audio book of this one and I really enjoyed it. It is told from two perspectives and follows these characters in 1950s London. Lawrie arrived from Jamaica on Empire Windrush and is making a life for himself in London but one day he finds a dead baby and is immediately under suspicion. This is such an engaging novel and one that I didn’t want to stop listening to.

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

I enjoyed this novel about a woman whose husband is murdered in their family home and now ten years on the case is in the spotlight again due to a podcast about the murder. This novel does require suspension of disbelief but it’s still such a gripping page turner, it’s a fun read.

What I Might Read Next

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

The Island Home by Libby Page

The above three books are the next ones to be published from my NetGalley shelf so I hope to get to them in the coming week.

20 Books of Summer 2021!

I always look forward to joining in with Cathy at 746 Books reading challenge every summer. It’s such an easy going and fun challenge to read either 10, 15 or 20 books over the summer months.

I’ve been trying to decide on my 20 books of summer reading plans for a couple of weeks now and I think I’ve finally made my choices (although there are actually 21 books on my list as I couldn’t narrow it down any further! Plus it’s giving me options if I want to swap one for another). As has become the norm for me now I’m planning to read 20 print books over the summer, which is a real challenge for me and I’m looking forward to reading some more books from my bookshelves.

Here are my 20 books of summer:

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

Just Ignore Him by Alan Davies

Look What You Made Me Do by Helene Walsmley-Johnson

Not That Kind of Love by Clare and Greg Wise

Driven by Rosemary Smith

No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

XX by Angela Chadwick

The Time it Takes to Fall by Margaret Lazarus Dean

The Betrayals by Maureen Lindley

How to be Safe by Tom McAllister

The Red Word by Sarah Henstra

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

The Light Between Us by Katie Khan

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester

So there we have it… my 21 books of summer! I hope to read all of them but I struggle with reading physical books so I’ll just enjoy what I can read. I’ll still be reading other books on my Kindle and audio books so I can always switch my plans to those books if I need to.

What are you planning to read over the summer? I’d love to know what your reading plans are. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Falling | Malibu Rising | Black Buck | The Killing Kind

Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of books that I’ve read and loved recently. I got all four of these books via NetGalley and all of them were excellent reads.

Falling by T. J. Newman

This book was one of my most anticipated books of 2021 and so when my wish got granted on NetGalley on Friday I knew this had to be my next read, and it more than lived up to my expectations for it. Falling is your worst nightmare – a pilot is in mid-air when he finds out his family have been held hostage and he has to choose between his family’s lives and the lives of all 149 people on his airline! The novel gets going immediately and the pace doesn’t let up for a second all the way through! I literally didn’t put this book down once I started reading – the way it’s told from multiple perspectives meant I was always desperate to know what was happening to everyone else and so it was a case of just one more chapter, and one more etc until I turned the final page! I had some suspicions about the perpetrators of this crime but I didn’t work it all out and I love that it kept surprising me throughout. There are moments where you have to suspend disbelief but I didn’t mind that at all because by then I was so invested in the plot and I was fully onboard (no pun intended) for wherever this story was taking me! I highly recommend this one!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I loved Daisy Jones and The Six was have been very keen to get my hands on this new book and I’m so happy to say that I also loved this one! Malibu Rising follows the Riva family over many years. In the first part we get to meet June and Mick and see how they fell in love an started a family, and in alternating chapters we see the four children as adults as they live their lives. During this part I was much more interested in learning more about June than anyone else, I wanted to know what happened to her. By the second half of the book as we catch up to the present in these character’s lives I was fully invested in this whole family. The dynamics between them was really interesting and I could identify with how each sibling views the others differently from how they view themselves, which makes for interesting interactions between them even as close as they are to each other. I mostly felt for Nina – she’s the eldest and has had to sacrifice so much for this family and she does it without ever begrudging it. The build up to the Riva annual party really ramps up in the second part of the novel and I was really tense wondering what was going to happen. I very much enjoyed all the different snippets we get as we hear from various people at the party. It builds a great picture of what is going on. The end of the book was a surprise but I loved it, it was the most perfect way to end this novel. I recommend adding this one to your summer reading piles!

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

This is a standalone novel by Jane Casey and I’m so glad I picked it up. This book follows Ingrid, a barrister, who feels that she’s been stalked and she suspects the man behind it might be a man who’s case she defended a couple of years earlier. The novel moves back and forth in time so we find out more about this man, and also where Ingrid is now and what happened when he came looking for her before. It’s a real cat and mouse novel where you’re not sure who you can trust, there are even moments when you doubt Ingrid is telling the whole truth and I loved being kept on my toes. I found John Webster, the man Ingrid believes is stalking her fascinating. He is creepy and yet at the same time very earnest so it’s hard to weigh up what the story is with him. I did began to have my suspicions about what might be happening and I was right but even then there were twists in store. This was such a good read, I definitely recommend it. Now I really need to make time to start on Jane Casey’s series as I have quite a few of those books on my TBR and still haven’t ever picked the first one up!

Black Buck by Mateo by Askaripour

This novel is brilliant! It’s not my usual type of read as I’m not a big fan of satire but I am so glad I read this book, it’s so good! Darren is a young black man who lives with his mom and he works in Starbucks. He hates coffee but he’s good at his job. Then one day he’s offered a position at a big start up company and he can’t resist finding out more. The novel explores the issues around race in America and it was uncomfortable to read at times. Some of the things done to Buck, as he gets nicknamed because of his previous job, are truly awful but he keeps on sucking it up and showing it up determined to be the best and to make some serious money. The novel is set out like a manual for black people that white people are encouraged to also read, this is Buck telling you his story. There are moments that seemed unreal, and moments of real darkness balanced with some very funny scenes – it’s such a compelling novel and I found it really hard to put down. It’s a book that I’d like to re-read in the future, it’s one that’s really staying fresh in my mind. I highly recommend this one!

WWW Wednesdays (26 May ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

I just started reading this one yesterday but I’m already hooked and am really keen to see where this is going.

This Lovely City by Louise Hare

I haven’t had much chance for audio book listening this week so I’m not much further into this one. My husband is back at work next week though so I’ll be back to listening to books throughout the day so I hope to finish this one then.

Recent Reads

Broken by R. V. Biggs

I reviewed this book yesterday so you can find my full thoughts by clicking the title above. I very much enjoyed this one though and I recommend all three books in the series!

Falling by T. J. Newman

This is a very fast paced book following a plane hijacking and I couldn’t put this down. I ended up going to be very late as I simply had to know how it was going to end.

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

This is a standalone book and I devoured it. It follows a barrister who believes a man she once defended is stalking her and wants her dead. The cat and mouse element of this novel is so tense and I found it very hard to put down.

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

This is a beautiful novel following three generations of a family when matriarch is diagnosed with terminal cancer. It’s such a moving novel but never depressing. This is my favourite book of the year so far – I’ll be reviewing it in June for the blog tour.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I very much enjoyed this novel. It follows the Riva family over the years in the build up to a big star-studded party that Nina hosts every year. I loved reading about the dynamics in this family and seeing how they all dealt with things that happened. I recommend this one.

What I Might Read Next

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

The Outsiders by James Corbett

I’m still focusing on reading review books and this week I got approved for a couple more NetGalley books which are due to be published imminently so those are the first two on my reading plan for this week. The Outsiders was in my plans for last week but I didn’t quite get to it so I definitely want to pick this one up in the coming days.

Broken by R.V. Biggs

About the Book

Scarred by a tragic past, eleven year old Jamie Walker chooses not to speak.

Consumed with jealous rage, Jimmy Gillespie is driven to violence.

And John Macintyre awakens from a vivid nightmare convinced he is going to kill.

Living high upon the Scottish hills, John and Sarah Macintyre enjoy a serene life until a televised news bulletin sends them on a desperate search for a missing child.

After finding the child and returning him safely to his parents, the Macintyres are approached by the local press, attracting both unexpected and unwanted attention.

But the aftermath of the media coverage changes the course of their lives forever, and events are set in motion that are joyful, heart breaking – and terrifying.

My Thoughts

I read and adored the first two books in this series (Song of the Robin and Reunion) and always hoped there would be a third novel so I was thrilled to discover book three – Broken and I’m so happy to say that I loved this one too.

Broken starts a while after Reunion ended and you get to catch up with Sarah, John and Claire. They are living in Scotland now and are making a life for themselves there after all the shocks and discoveries in the previous novel. I was so pleased to see this family settled and happy but life soon has plans for them.

Early in Broken a local child goes missing – a boy from Claire’s class at school. Claire senses where he might be and the family go looking for him. This leads to a lot of media attention, which inevitably brings bad news to the family’s door. A man who believes he has a claim on the family home turns up and he’s determined to take what he thinks is rightfully his!

Alongside this the Mcintyres are given the opportunity to help two traumatised children who need help and a loving home. Joseph and Jamie are great characters and I loved reading about them and how they began to settle in. It was especially interesting to read about Jamie and how Claire seemed to have an instant connection with him. I found this so intriguing and wondered if Jamie perhaps had some kind of gift himself that she could sense.

There is a lot more exploration of fate and destiny in this novel, as with the previous books, but this time we, along with John, Sarah and Claire themselves, learn more about how they tap into each other’s spiritual powers and connections and how these can be used. I found all of this fascinating and loved reading these parts of the novel. I think we all have a deeper connection with the people closest to us but John and Sarah have an even deeper connection that allows them to sense each other’s auras and to tap into this to know what is going on.

I’m always drawn to books that look at fate and destiny as it’s something I never really thought about or believed in but then the way I met my husband so soon after losing my mum has led so many people to say to me that they believe she sent him to me. It’s a lovely way to think and I do find it a comforting thought.

Broken felt a much faster paced novel than the previous two and has thriller elements alongside spirituality but it’s very much grounded in the real world in the present day. It still has a main focus of the Macintyre family and the way they are learning to live with their gifts and abilities. I read most of the book in one sitting as it’s such a page turner and I so badly wanted to know if the Mcintyres were all going to be okay in the end.

As always with R. V. Biggs’ writing, I felt such a strong connection to these characters and I feel sad to have finished the book and to have left them behind. I keep thinking of them and wondering how they are, which is always a sign of how much I connected to a book.

I think Broken could be read as a standalone but to get the most out of this beautiful, moving story you need to start with Song of the Robin. The series as a whole explores grief and loss, healing and recovery, and the way you can find a way through the darkest of times. There is magic running through the three novels that gave me such solace and I am so grateful to have discovered them and had the chance to read them. I adore these books! Broken is a brilliant addition to a stunning series and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

About the Author

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

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

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

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

How to be Broken by Dr Emma Kavanagh

About the Book

The past year has been ROUGH. It has pushed so many of us right to our absolute limits.

If, you have found yourself:

– Not being able to sleep 
– Wanting to cry all time 
– Being terrified of everything changing
– Trying to understand what has happened to the world

Then this is the book for you.

In 2020, while it seemed that the world was falling apart, psychologist Dr Emma Kavanagh began bringing together the psychological research on the impact of trauma, what it means, and what it does for us – the good and the bad. Within the psychological literature, she found important clues about why trauma and stress are not the life sentences they sometimes seem to be, and, most importantly, how they can often lead to growth beyond the despair.

This is a book about why it’s ok to struggle, why it’s ok to fall apart, and why it’s ok to be broken. Because, once we give ourselves permission to be broken, we can put the pieces back together. And we can come back, stronger than we were before.

My Thoughts

I saw this book on twitter on publication day and the title alone made me immediately one-click on my Kindle! I’m so glad that I spotted this book and that I read it as it has been exactly what I needed.

The book is short at 124 pages so it doesn’t feel overwhelming when you start it and the author writes in such a way that you can take in all the information even when your brain is feeling frazzled, which I really appreciated.

The book starts from the personal as Emma writes about how she felt as the pandemic approached our shores but then she widens out to look at examples from other things that have happened in the world and how our brains cause us to act in times of high stress and trauma.

I really connected to this book as, like Emma, I also have complex PTSD. I was very lucky that after suffering for more than twenty years I got treatment three years ago that finally gave me my life back. Unfortunately the pandemic has caused me to go backwards a bit as my coping strategies tend to be the ones I used to survive and this is so frustrating to me. This book has helped me better than anything else I’ve read to understand why this has happened and why it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There is a section in the book where Emma talks about how people, when caught up in an horrendous situation, such as a fire in a nightclub, often panic and try to get out the door they came in through rather than looking for other exit but so does everyone else, which makes it harder for anyone to get out. However, people with ‘broken brains’ who perhaps have PTSD or anxiety often make sure they know where all of the doors are when they go anywhere. The first thing I do when I go anywhere is look for where the doors are, it’s instinctive in me and I never connected my need to do this with the behaviours that have come back during the pandemic. I already feel so much calmer now I understand that my ‘broken brain’ is actually just trying to keep me safe. I understand now what is happening in my head and I know I have got past it before so I know I can do it again. I’d never heard the term post-traumatic growth until I read this book but it makes total sense to me that we can go on to find positives after the darkness.

I also found it fascinating and useful to read about how we can get tunnel vision and fixate on an aspect of something but then our brains look for more information that confirm what we believe, and this causes us to not see the bigger picture anymore. I really recognised this in myself as I was reading it – my consumption of news relating to covid-19 definitely falls into this pattern. I’ve been making a point since reading How to be Broken of reading less news and making sure that when I do click on articles that I look for the positive ones or the ones that give a different perspective to what I usually focus on and I think this is really going to help me.

I think this is an invaluable book for everyone to read as the country is beginning to come out of lockdown, especially for people who feel uncertain and anxious about it. The book helps contextualise why we behave as we do and why we feel as we do – it makes you feel less alone with it all. I finished this book on Sunday and immediately felt able to put a plan in place for when my husband returns to work later this month – something that I’ve been very scared about for many reasons but now we have a plan that makes sense to both of us and I’m feeling much calmer and more in control.

I know this is a rambling review where I can’t put into words exactly how I feel about this book, I just want to urge everyone to read it. It’s a brilliant read and one that will soothe your anxious brain. I highly recommend this one!

WWW Wednesdays (19 May ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

My reading has taken a bit of a backseat over the last week as my husband and I finally started watching The Sopranos and it is taking over our lives! We’ve both wanted to watch it ever since it was first on but somehow have never got around to it until now. He’s going back to work soon so we wanted to make a start on watching this before he went back. I’ve also been quite poorly ever since my vaccine a couple of weeks ago so binge watching a TV show has been perfect while I’m recovering.

Current Reads

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

I only started reading this one last night but I can already tell that I’m going to love it. It’s such a realistic and moving portrayal of mother daughter relationships. I can’t wait to read more!

This Lovely City by Louise Hare

I got this audiobook via the Borrowbox app and I’m really enjoying it. I’d heard only good things about it before I borrowed it so I’ve been keen to get to it.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is another great book that I’m very much enjoying. It tells the story of four siblings in 1982, and the story of their parents in the late 50s onwards. At the moment I’m more invested in the story of the parents but I’m so keen to see where the novel is going!

Recent Reads

How to be Broken by Dr Emma Kavanagh

This book is incredible and I highly recommend it. It’s a nonfiction book looking at how stress and trauma affects our way of thinking but how our ‘broken brains’ have potential for post traumatic growth. I found this book so helpful and reassuring and it’s helped me understand some of my own behaviours better than anything I’ve read in a really long time. I’ll be reviewing this once I’ve got my thoughts into some kind of order.

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

I borrowed the audiobook of this via Borrowbox and I really enjoyed it. I’ve kept seeing the book around and have been so intrigued by it so I’m glad I finally read it. It’s intriguing and tense, and now I want to know more about the real life story that inspired it.

Five Strangers by E. V. Adamson

This novel follows two women in the aftermath of a murder that one is a witness too. The premise of this book sounded so good but the novel was actually about something different so I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I hoped I would.

What I Might Read Next

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

The Outsiders by James Corbett

I’m still predominantly reading my NetGalley books in publication order but with a couple of other review books mixed in so this week I hope to read the next two on NG and a book from Eye and Lightning that I got recently and am keen to read this month. I’m not reading quite as much at the moment with not being well but hopefully I’ll be back to full speed soon.

WWW Wednesdays (12 May ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Five Strangers by E. V. Adamson

I downloaded this one on a whim from NetGalley the other day as it sounded good. It’s about a woman who witnesses a brutal attack one day and then begins to question if she really saw things happen the way she thought she had. It’s told from two perspectives and is fast-paced. I’m enjoying it and am keen to see where it’s going!

Recent Reads

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

I very much enjoyed this novel about a young black man who gets a great opportunity to work for a start up and life beings to get much more complicated. I hope to have my review posted of this one in the next few days but in the meantime I definitely recommend it.

The Final Chapter by Jerome Loubry

I really enjoyed this gripping thriller. Click the title if you’d like to read my mini review!

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

This was a dark read that kept me gripped all the way through. Click the title if you’d like to read my mini review!

Luster by Raven Leilani

I borrowed this one on audio from the library and I don’t really know how I feel about it. I didn’t enjoy it and I’m not really sure what it was trying to do.

One of Them by Musa Okwonga

This was a fascinating memoir of a young black man’s experiences of going to Eton and I very much enjoyed it. Click the title if you’d like to read my mini review!

What I Might Read Next

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

I’m still reading my NetGalley books in order of publication so the first two books on my list for the coming week are the ones due to be published next so I hope to get to them this week. The third book is one I’m reading for a blog tour in June so I’d like to read it well ahead of time. I’m so looking forward to all three of these books, it feels like it could be an excellent reading week! 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: The End of Men | Madam | The Final Chapter | All Boys Aren’t Blue

It’s time for another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read recently. These four books are from NetGalley and I enjoyed them all.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

The End of Men opens with an A&E doctor realising that a virus is spreading through her department and she attempts to warn authorities. The novel then moves forward a day or two and then a few days at a time following a large cast of characters as we see how they react and cope with the virus and the implications it may have for their own lives. I was concerned this might be too much to read given that we’re living through a pandemic in the real world but actually I found it different enough that I enjoyed reading it. There are similarities to what we’re living through but there are differences too – in the novel women can carry the virus but it’s only males who die from it and only one in ten males are immune. We see people from all walks of life suffering through the pandemic and it’s heartbreaking the loss that people go through. I did find it hard to connect to any other characters in the book though – all the voices read the same to me and I kept having to flick back to the start of the chapter to see who I was with at the time. Also I understand that the focus of the novel was the virus but I felt that there wasn’t a lot of emotion in the early part of the book, it left me feeling a bit cold and disconnected from what was happening. Later on as time has moved on quite a lot there was more acknowledgement of loss and some moments really brought a lump to my throat. Overall, I did enjoy this novel – it was definitely compelling and I recommend it!

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

I was eagerly anticipating this novel as it seemed like it would be packed with all the things I love in a novel and I did enjoy it. Madam follows Rose Christie as she is recruited to teach Classics at the prestigious girls’s boarding school Caldonbrae Hall in Scotland. It soon becomes apparent that Rose is the first new teacher at the school in many years and there seems to be a lot of secrets being kept from her. The girls she teaches seem odd at times and the other members of staff are quite cold towards her. I found this novel suspenseful and I enjoyed getting lost within the pages. My only criticism is that it felt that some parts of the novel were too long and this detracted from what was happening in the novel for me. On the whole though I did enjoy this one – I thought it was unsettling at times and I loved that I didn’t know anymore than Rose did so I was right along with her as she tried to figure out what she had got herself into. This was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it.

The Final Chapter by Jerome Loubry

I’ve been so keen to read this book so when I got approved for it on NetGalley on Saturday I immediately started reading it and I read the whole thing in one sitting! The Final Chapter follows David, a famous writer, who one day receives a typed book in the post and it turns his world upside down. The pages he receives detail what happened in the summer of 1986 when a young girl he knew was murdered. It then turns out that his childhood best friend received the same book but with a different ending. David is determined to work out what the book is trying to tell him about that fateful summer. This novel is so fast-paced, with short chapters that make it impossible to put it down as you keep thinking that you’ll just read one more chapter! This novel grabbed me from the beginning and I was enthralled all the way to the end. It’s a book that doesn’t always add up but it’s such a fun ride and I loved every minute that I spent reading it. I recommend this one if you want an addictive, fast-paced and fun read.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

This is such an emotional memoir aimed at younger readers but one that all ages will get something from. All Boys Aren’t Blue is Johnson’s story of growing up black and queer and he details his experiences of the things he went through and had to deal with. Through the book there is exploration of race, sexuality and gender, each handled so well and whilst not pulling any punches it is appropriate to its audience. I found this book heartbreaking at times; it’s horrendous to read what Johnson has been through in his life, but it’s also inspiring to read of the way he has come through their struggles and found peace in who he is. I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to everyone.

Mini Book Reviews: One of Them | This Party’s Dead | Perimenopause Power | West of Jim Crow #NonFiction

Today I have another selection of mini reviews to share. This time it’s four non-fiction books that I got through NetGalley. I found them all really interesting and have learnt a lot from them.

West of Jim Crow by Lynn M. Hudson

This is an incredibly eye-opening book that explores the effect of the Jim Crow laws across California predominantly in the early part of the twentieth century. It’s an academic book but still very readable. I’m so glad I picked it up and I learnt a lot from it. I know racism happens everywhere but I ignorantly believed that the worst race atrocities historically were in the southern states of America and had no real idea of what had happened in California. I found it hard to read at times, especially as a lot of my family lived in California for a long time and never have any of them talked about these issues and the idea they were blind to it is hard to rationalise. The book is set out in sections, each covering a different issue. There are the issues with segregation in schools and the local swimming pool; lynching; the Ku Klux Klan; and what happened in the town of Allenworth where black people tried to make a life for themselves. It’s also hard to read how laws that existed still didn’t offer any attempt at equality because the white people in power continued to act and interpret the law in the way they always had done. This is a book to read slowly, to really take in what you’re reading. It’s a book that I will be thinking about for a long time to come and I highly recommend it.

Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill

I’ve been wanting to pick this book up for a while as I’m of an age where I need a better understanding of perimenopause. I’m glad I finally got around to it. The book is set out in distinct chapters which allows the reader to go straight to the section that they need information about and can go back and forth through the book. I read it from cover to cover as I wanted to see what the book was about overall but I think I would benefit from going back to certain chapters as and when I need more information. On the whole this book gave me a reasonable overview of what to expect but I felt there was a lot that I would ignore in here. There were parts that didn’t feel very grounded in science and so were a bit wishy washy and that’s not what I want in guidance, and some section felt overly long and not hugely relevant. Having said that, the sections on HRT and the different forms it comes in was very interesting. Also the advice to push with medical professionals if you don’t feel you’re being heard. I’m glad I read this one and I will refer back to some of it as and when the time comes.

This Party’s Dead by Erica Buist

This book grabbed my attention as soon as I saw the cover and the title and I’m so glad I picked it up. The author found herself unable to cope after the sudden death of her father-in-law to be; she didn’t feel she had a right to be in the depths of grief and yet couldn’t shake it off. In the end she decides to go to seven death festivals around the world to experience how other cultures deal with death to see if the way we deal (or don’t really deal) with death in Britain is hampering our ability to grieve. I found this book fascinating; I learnt so much about other cultures and it really made me think about the way we shut down talk of death in this country. I could identify with a lot of how Erica felt as I have similar fears but since my mum died I feel it’s much more important to talk openly about our wishes and what we want to happen when we’re gone. I enjoyed seeing Erica’s personal journey as she learnt new things on her travels and how she embraced all her new experiences even when they made her feel uncomfortable. This is a book that I would recommend to everyone. It’s hard to read at times but the mostly it’s inspiring and hopeful and it’s a chance to explore your own feelings around death.

One of Them by Musa Okwonga

One of Them is a fascinating memoir about what it was like as a young working class black boy to go to Eton. Okwonga is a brilliant writer and this book is so readable. It’s a very powerful book that explores racism and privilege but it’s also a personal memoir. I loved reading about what it took to get into Eton and what it was like to study there. Mostly this book was a very insightful look at race in Britain and what it feels like to be black and british. The author is a similar age to me and so it was shocking at times to read about how different his life was to mine just based on the colour of his skin. The fear he has at certain points in his life of people who he knows are looking at him as a young black man was palpable, and the way he was profiled by the police was shocking to read about. This is a book that will make you think but it’s so readable. I definitely want to read more writing by Musa Okwonga and will be going to look up his other books as soon as I’ve finished writing this post. I highly recommend this book, it’s one that I think everyone should read.

WWW Wednesdays (5 May ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

One of Them by Musa Okwonga

This is such an interesting memoir about a young working class black man’s experience of going to Eton. I’m only a little way into this at the moment but I can’t wait to read more.

Recent Reads