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

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About the Book

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Carried a Watermelon is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (13 Nov 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’ve been so looking forward to listening to this on audio book and am so happy to say that I’m enjoying it even more than I thought I would. Michelle Obama’s life is so interesting and I can’t wait to read more.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I’ve only read the first essay in this book so far but I really enjoyed it so I’m very glad that I finally picked this book up.

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

I started reading this last night when I wasn’t feeling well and it’s perfect escapism. I’m sure I’m going to fly through this one tomorrow when I pick it back up!

James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

I’ve been really enjoying this book this week and at the time of writing this post only have 20% of it left to read so I may well have finished it by the time this post goes live. This is such a fascinating book, I recommend it if you’re a James Baldwin fan.

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Death of a President by William Manchester

I’ve been listening to this on audio for the past couple of weeks and have found it such an interesting look at the short period leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the few days following his funeral. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in this period of history.

Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones

I can’t stand Owen Jones so I’m not sure how I ended up buying this book on Audible but I’m actually glad I did. It’s an interesting look at how society views the working class. There is definite bias in the book but it’s still a book that gives you something to think about.

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I’ve been so looking forward to this book and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint. The author relates insights into patients and illness that she has encountered during her career as a forensic psychologist. I recommend this one as it’s so interesting but also very readable.

The Undying: A Meditation on Modern Illness by Anne Boyer

This was a hard read because of the subject matter but it was also really interesting. The author has a lot to say about the way we look at cancer and cancer patients, along with the campaigns run around the illness. I will review this one once I’ve had time to mull over my thoughts on it.

David Jason: My Autobiography by David Jason

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it first came out six years ago but I finally read it this week and I very much enjoyed it. It covers most of David Jason’s life from his childhood through to Frost. I’ve got his next memoir on my TBR so I’m tempted to start that soon!

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand

This book was such a fun, nostalgic read and I really enjoyed it. I will be reviewing it soon but can already say that if you love Dirty Dancing then this is a book for you!

 

What I plan on reading next:

Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life by John O’Connell

This is both a Non-Fiction November pick and one of my NetGalley must-read books plus it’s a book I’m really keen to read so I’m hoping to get to this one in the coming days.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

I’d hoped to pick this book up last week but didn’t quite get to it but it’s definitely next up from the audio books on my Non-Fiction November TBR and I’m so looking forward to this one.

Deceit and Self-Deception by Robert Trivers

This is another of my Non-Fiction November TBR picks and I’d really like to make a start on it this week. I have tried to read this once before and failed but I’m still keen to read it so now is the time!

The School Friend by Alison James

I’m continuing on my quest to catch up on my NetGalley reads before the end of the year and this book is up next on my list. I think I’m going to love this one!

 

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

 

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

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About the Book

Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Non-Fiction November: Become the Expert… on Gender!

This week as part of Non-Fiction November the prompt set by Katie at Doing Dewey is to Be the Expert / Ask the Expert / Become the Expert. I’ve decided to go with Become the Expert as there is a topic that I’ve bought a few books on but have yet to read any of them.

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I want to learn more about gender as it seems there is more and more in the media about this and I feel like I don’t know as much as I would like to. I often think back to my own childhood as a girl with brothers and I feel like back then we all played with dolls and tractors. Lego was made in primary colours and for everyone. But when I look back at photos I’m always wearing pretty dresses and my brothers wore more practical clothes.

So these are the books I’d like to read in the coming months:

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The Gender Agenda by Ros Ball and James Millar

I think this book would be a good place for me to start as it’s a book compiled from tweets and blogs that the parents kept as their children were growing up. It feels like it will be an accessible and fairly quick read that will give me an overview of how society views boys and girls differently, and how stereotypes keep being reinforced (even when we perhaps try not to do this).

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Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine

This book looks at gender from the angle of neuroscience and psychology to see whether men and women’s brains are wired differently, and to further understand what role the way we are brought up has on our adult lives. I’m fascinated to read this book, I think it will be one that really gives me much more understanding on the subject of gender.

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Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O’Toole

This book is slightly different in that it looks at gender but more specifically at women and how we dress and perform in order to fit society’s norms. I think the author is trying to challenge the stereotypes and to re-write the agenda. This book sounds so interesting to me and is one I’ve wanted to read for ages.

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The Gender Games by Juno Dawson

I had to add this book to my quest to understand more about gender as the sub-title to this book is ‘The Problem with Men and Women, from Someone Who Has Been Both’. Juno is a trans-woman so she is able to bring another perspective to my learning about gender. I’ve had this book on my TBR for a year now and haven’t managed to get to it but in putting this post together it’s reminded me how much I want to read it.

Do you have any recommendations of more books on gender that might give me further insight and understanding? I’d love to add to my TBR on this subject.

 

 

 

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul!

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

 

Books and eBooks

 

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it so I was delighted when a lovely blogger offered to send me her copy. I hope to read this in the coming weeks after non-fiction November.

Illness as a Metaphor & AIDS as its Metaphors by Susan Sontag

I’ve wanted to read this book for the longest time so I finally decided to buy it this week. I think I may add it to my Non-Fiction November TBR. as I really want to read it now.

 

They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery

This is another book I’ve had on my wish list for a while now and decided to buy it this week. I may add this on to my Non-Fiction November stack too!

The Evil Beneath by A. J. Waines

I’m such a fan of A. J. Waines (see my reviews of Lost in the Lake and Perfect Bones) so when I saw her tweet that this book was free I immediately downloaded it. I’ve somehow missed reading this book before now so I’m looking forward to getting to it.

 

Audio Books

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Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drugs Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages and I got the ebook a while ago but then spotted that I could add the audio to it so I did that this week. I’m really keen to read this one as it’s a subject that I’m really interested in so I don’t think I’ll be too long getting to this!

ARCs

The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

I loved Libby Page’s previous novel The Lido was so thrilled to receive a copy of this book. I’m going to try and hold off reading it until the new year but I’m really keen to read it soon.

All the Water in the World by Karen Raney

I downloaded this ARC from NetGalley on the Read Now section entirely on a whim as I was intrigued by the premise. I hope it’s as good as it sounds.

The Holdout by Graham Moore

I requested this one on NetGalley as I loved the idea of a book set around a jury and I’m so thrilled that I got approved to read it this week!

 

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

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

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About the Book

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rewind is out now and available here.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Full Disclosure is out now and available here.

Violet by SJI Holliday | @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks @annecater

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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WWW Wednesdays (6 Nov 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand

I’ve only read a tiny bit of this book at the time I’m writing this post but I can tell it’s going to be a fun, nostalgic read and I can’t wait to read more!

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book recently and have been so keen to read it so am glad to finally have started it. It’s a really good read so far.

The Death of a President by William Manchester

This is such an interesting audio book and I’ve listened to it quite a lot over the last few days. I think I’m about half-way through it and will definitely be listening to more in the coming days.

James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

I’m still reading this one in short bursts, I’m finding it really interesting but it feels a little more academic than I was expecting and my brain’s not always up to that at the moment. It’s a good book though, I recommend it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

I should say here that whilst I finished nine books this week, half of them were books that I’d read a lot of before this week!

 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I loved this book, it’s my new favourite Agatha Christie novel! I now want to make time to re-read more of her books in the new year.

Nothing Important Happened Here by Will Carver

This is such a hard book to write about as it was like nothing I’ve read before and the issue of suicide is a difficult subject matter but it was a brilliant book. I’m reviewing this one for the blog tour next week so please look out for that.

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times in Television by Louis Theroux

I borrowed this book on audio from my local library and I very much enjoyed it. Louis Theroux narrates the book (I always love it when the author of a memoir narrates the audio, it adds to the story for me). I think I might like to have the hardback of this one to have on my bookcase!

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

I loved this novel and reviewed it yesterday so you can read my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more. I read it in one sitting and definitely recommend it.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook

I almost put this on my Non-Fiction November TBR but having left it off the list I was just in the mood to read it so I picked it up anyway. It was such a good read and I’m glad I finally got to it.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

This is such a good YA novel about a teenage girl living with HIV. It’s a really good portrayal of teenage life, as well as featuring diverse characters and a very believable plot. I’ll review this very soon.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

This is the first Diane Chamberlain that I’ve picked up in a really long time but it was such a good read and has reminded me of how much I used to enjoy her books. This one might even be my new favourite of hers!

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a long time now so I made sure it was on my Non-Fiction November TBR this year. I’m really glad I finally picked it up as it was such an honest exploration of what it’s like to live with someone with depression and addiction. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

I loved this Christmas novella and have already reviewed it here if you’d like to know more.

 

What I plan on reading next:

I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

This thriller has been on my NetGalley shelf for quite a few months now and is the next book I hope to get to in my plan to catch up before the end of the year. I’m looking forward to this one, it sounds intriguing!

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

This is the next Christmas book that I plan on reading and I’m really looking forward to getting to it.

Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle

I’m trying really hard to reduce the single-use plastics in our home and this is a book that can help me achieve more than I’m already managing.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This is a book I’ve been really keen to get to so I’d like to make this one of my next Non-Fiction November reads.

 

 

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

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

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About the Book

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

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

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Lucky is out now and available here.

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

 

 

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

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Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

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

 

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The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

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

 

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The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

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

 

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Trying by Emily Phillips

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

Stacking the Shelves with my new Book Haul (2 Nov 2019)!

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

 

Books and eBooks

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

I’ve had this book on my wish list for ages now so when I spotted it in a deal this week I snapped it up. I think this will be a hard and in-depth read so I’m not sure when I’ll get to it but hopefully it won’t be on my TBR stack for too long.

Unbelievable by T. Christopher Miller

I recently watched the Netflix drama which is based on this book and I was gripped by it so I wanted to read the book. I downloaded the sample onto my kindle but that was as far as I got then yesterday I saw the ebook in the Kindle sale so I grabbed it. I know I’ve already posted my Non-Fiction November TBR but I might swap one of those books for this one!

My Sh*t Therapist and Other Mental Health Stories by Michelle Thomas

The title of this book caught my eye in last month’s kindle sale and after getting engrossed in the sample I downloaded I had to buy it. It feels like an easy read but one that will also be helpful and interesting.

Catching a Serial Killer: My Hunt for Murderer Christopher Halliwell by Stephen Fulcher

I’ve just started watching the ITV drama A Confession and as often happens I wanted to know more about this case so when I saw this book I had to get it. I might try and squeeze this one in during Non-Fiction November if I can as I’m keen to read it soon.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This is one of those books that has been on my radar for such a long time and yet somehow I’ve never picked up a copy of it. I’ve not put that right and I hope I can finally get to read this book before too much longer.

Tuesday Mooney Wore Black by Kate Racculia

This is a book that I keep seeing and every time I see it I wonder if it’s for me or not. I’m still not sure why I’m not sure but I think it’s one my husband might enjoy so I decided to buy a copy anyway and we can both try reading it.

A Gift in December by Jenny Gladwell

This was an impulse buy because it sounds super festive and I do love a good Christmas read in December!

The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper

I love the sound of this book so this was another impulse buy!

The Visitor by Zoe Miller

This is another book set at Christmas but it’s more of a crime/thriller and I do like a book like this during the festive season so I’m glad to have a copy of this one.

 

Audio Books

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

This book has been on my radar for years now but I’ve always held back from buying the paperback so when I saw it was in Audible’s recent sale I decided that this was the format I wanted to read it in so I snapped it up! I do love an interesting read where I can learn something as well as it being a really fun read.

Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do? by Michael J. Sandel

I’m not sure where I first heard of this book but it’s been on my wish list for ages now so I bought it immediately when I saw it in the Audible sale.

The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau bu Graeme Macrae Burnet

I’ve not read anything by this author before but I do have his more famous book on my TBR and I do love the sound of this writing so decided to take a punt on this one when it appeared in the Audible sale.

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

I’ve just finished listening to The Dream Daughter by this author and very much enjoyed it. It reminded me just how much I used to love reading Diane Chamberlain’s novels so I couldn’t resist buying this book in the Audible sale.

The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

I’m currently reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and loving it so when this book popped up as an Audible daily deal one day this week I decided it was time to re-visit Miss Marple and bought it! Joan Hickson narrates this audio book so I think it will be wonderfully nostalgic to listen to it as I always think of her portrayal of Miss Marple whenever I read the books.

 

ARCs

Home Truths by Tina Seskis

I was delighted to get a copy of this from NetGalley as I’ve really enjoyed the author’s previous novels. I’m hoping to read this one this month in amongst my Non-Fiction November books.

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand

I requested this one from NetGalley on a whim as I have a complex relationship with the film Dirty Dancing but have recently being able to love it again. This book sounds like it will be a real nostalgia fest and I’m definitely going to add it to my Non-Fiction November TBR!

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

I’ve heard so much about this book and have been so keen to read it. I have pre-ordered it but I also requested it on NetGalley recently so I was thrilled when I got approved. I don’t think I’m going to be able to resist reading this one for very long so I may have to fit this in amongst all my non-fiction books too!

 


 

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

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand Against Injustice is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Mother of three, campaigner for justice and Committed Christian.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

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

Social Media Links –

www.belindamissen.com

facebook.com/BelindaMissen

twitter.com/belinda_missen

Instagram @belinda_missen

 

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

 

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

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

 

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Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

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

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How to Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

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

 

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The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

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

 

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Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

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

 

 

 

 

WWW Wednesdays (30 Oct 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

This book is gorgeous! It’s so festive and fun and I’m really loving reading it. I’ll be reviewing this on 1st November so please look out for my full thoughts then.

Nothing Important Happened Here by Will Carver

This book is brilliant – it’s so dark and like nothing I’ve read before but it’s so good. I do have to keep taking a little break because of the subject matter so I’m taking my time with this one but I’m still loving the writing.

James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

I didn’t read as much of this book as I’d hoped this week as my kindle is playing up but I hope I can get back to it soon.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I’m reading this one slowly because I am loving it so much! It’s really reminded me how much I loved Agatha Christie’s novels when I was younger and now I want to re-read them all.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Do Not Feed the Bear by Rachel Elliott

This is a stunning novel that I adored! I read it in two sittings and I keep thinking about it ever since I finished it. I will review this one as soon I get my thoughts together but I can say now that I highly recommend it!

The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

I’ve had a proof of this on my TBR for a while now and so was glad to make time to read it this week. I enjoyed this one, it was a lovely way to spend a couple of afternoons this week. I do plan on reviewing this one soon.

Trying by Emily Phillips

I’ve also had a proof copy of this for a long time and finally picked it up this week. I did enjoy this one for the most part but it was lacking something for me. I’m still mulling over how I feel about it but I will write a review once I’ve thought about it a bit more.

Violet by SJI Holliday

This was such a good book, so twisted and hard to put down! I actually read it all in one sitting as it had me so engrossed that I simply had to know how it was going to end. I’ll be reviewing this one on 6th November but in the meantime I recommend it!

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so when I spotted the audio book in my library app I decided to download it. I found this such a fascinating book, and really appreciated all the extra information the author added in a later addition correcting errors in the way he told the story. It’s made me want to read the books other climbers on the same expedition have written to see their perspectives more fully.

The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers

I finished reading this soon after last week’s WWW Wednesdays post and I’m so glad that I stuck with it as it was a really interesting look at all the politics before and after 9/11. I learnt things that I didn’t know before, which is always good in a non-fiction book.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

This is the next festive book that I plan on reading and as Non-Fiction November is almost upon us I’d like to read this very soon so I can focus on non-fiction for the most part through the month.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

This is a book that I’ve wanted to read for ages and I’ve saved it for Non-Fiction November so I’m thrilled that I will finally be picking it up this week.

How to be Human by Ruby Wax

This is another proof that I’ve had on my TBR for a while now so I’m keen to read it during November.

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell

I only got an ARC of this from NetGalley very recently and I’m so keen to read it. I’m a huge fan of David Bowie and am excited to read more about the books that he loved.

 

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

My Year in Non-Fiction! #NonFicNov

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I’m taking part as Non-Fiction November again and this year there is a weekly prompt set by a different blogger each week. This week the prompt as been chosen by Julie at Julz Reads and it’s all about looking back over the non-fiction we’ve read this year.

Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favourite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

 

So far since the 1st January this year I’ve read 302 books and only 68 of them have been non-fiction, which I’m disappointed by. I love non-fiction and it usually makes up around a third of my reading. Hopefully Non-Fiction November will help me focus on non-fiction for the most part this month!

 

Thinking back over 2019 I thought I’d been most drawn to true crime but when I look through my year of reading on Goodreads it seems I’ve read more medical-related books. I’ve very much enjoyed most of the non-fiction that I’ve read this year.

 

 

I think the two books that have had the most impact on me this year have been Trauma by Dr Gordon Turnbull and After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry. Trauma because it was a history of how PTSD came to be recognised as a medical condition and how the treatment has evolved over the years. The author takes us back through cases that he has worked on and it’s fascinating. I suffered with PTSD for many years so this was of particular interest to me but I really do think it’s a book everyone would find very interesting. After the Eclipse is written by a woman whose mother was murdered when she was in the house and just a young teenager at the time. It really shows the love and the mixed up emotions around such a traumatic event at a young age but it also was an important reminder to me that in all the true crime documentaries we watch and read about that there is a victim and loved ones of that victim. It really humanises and shows the other side of a murder case. These are the two books that I would most recommend of my non-fiction reading this year.

 

I’m hoping that Non-Fiction November will help me focus more on non-fiction for a few weeks but also that it will allow me to get to some non-fiction that I’ve been putting off for one reason or another. I have such a huge stack of non-fiction books on my TBR and I’m so excited to read all of those books.

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Christmas Wish List is out now and available here.

 

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

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Non-Fiction November 2019 TBR Books!

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Nonfiction November 2019 runs from 28th October to 30th November 2019.  This year’s hosts are Katie of DoingDewey, Rennie of What’s Nonfiction, Julz of JulzReads, Sarah of Sarah’s Bookshelves and Leann of Shelf Aware.

They’ll be posting a discussion question and link-up on the Monday of each week.  Check out this post for the schedule and prompts.

 

I love joining in with Non-Fiction November each year. I do read a reasonable amount of non-fiction throughout the year anyway but it’s great to have a month where I focus on reading more non-fiction than fiction. I’ve really struggled to pick my TBR this year as I have so many books on my TBR that I want to read so I’ve tried to pick a wide range and hope that I’m in the right mood to read most of them during the month! Ultimately I’ll just be happy to read more non-fiction than fiction throughout November.

 

So without further ado here is my TBR!

 

Firstly I have a few non-fiction books that I’ve been sent for review so I’m putting those on my list:

 

Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie’s Life by John O’Connell

I was thrilled to get approved to read this book from NetGalley as I’ve been a huge David Bowie fan since I was a young child and think learning more about his favourite books will be so interesting.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I read a very moving article in the newspaper about Sinead and one of the stories in her book. I’ve had this book on my NetGalley for a little while now and really do want to make it a priority in November.

The Undying: A Meditation on Modern Illness by Anne Boyer

I got this book on Read Now on NetGalley a few weeks ago. It might be a book that is too much for me to read but this is a subject that I generally want to read more about so I’m hoping I can read this one.

 

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

I’ve shamefully had this book on my review pile for over a year so I really want to make it a priority this month. The subject matter is around mental health and suicide so it won’t be an easy read but I think it’s an important book.

How to be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax

This is another book that I’ve had on my review pile for a while now and I’m still really interested to read it.

 

Then I went through my non-fiction audio books and spotted a handful that I’m really keen to listen to:

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I got this book on audio as Michelle Obama reads it herself and I’ve been wanting to listen to it ever since it was first published. I think this will be a fab listen so I’m really looking forward to this one.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

I’ve heard so many great things about this book so it’s high on my priority list for the month ahead. I think it really focuses on the women and their lives rather than how they died so I’m fascinated to listen to this one.

 

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

This is another book that I’ve been so keen to get to and I keep hearing such good things about it so I really hope I can get to this one this month.

The Death of a President: November 1963 by William Manchester

I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time but it’s really hard to find second-hand at a reasonable price. I think it was out of print when I looked for it so when I spotted it on Audible I immediately spent my credit for that month. It’s a really long book so I’m not sure I’ll get to listen to all of this in November along with all my other reading but I hope to at least start it.

 

Next there are the non-fiction ebooks that I’d like to get to:

 

Deceit and Self-Deception:  Fooling Yourself the Better to Fool Others by Robert Trivers

This book has been on my TBR for around three years and my interest in it has never waned. I do feel intimidated by it for some reason so I keep putting off reading it. I really want to make this a priority this month to at least get a chunk of it read as it does sound so fascinating.

A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives by Cordelia Fine

Ever since I’ve had my medical condition I’ve been fascinated by how the brain works and how it can distort things, and also how we can over-ride this. So this book caught my eye in a kindle sale recently and I’ve been so keen to read it.

The Dark Side of the Mind: True Stories from My Life as a Forensic Psychologist by Kerry Daynes

I couldn’t resist buying this book when it was recommended to me as I’m fascinated by psychology and this looks like my kind of book! I’m really keen to read this one so it might even be the book I pick up first for Non-Fiction November!

Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us by Will Storr

I’ve had this book on my TBR since it was first published and I’m still really intrigued to read it so hopefully I’ll finally get to read it this month!

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

I’ve added this book to my TBR as I think it will be good to have a book os essays to dip in and out of throughout the month. I love Zadie Smith’s fiction but have never read any of her non-fiction so I’m really keen to read this one.

Brainstorm: Detective Stories From the World of Neurology by Suzanne O’Sullivan

I really enjoyed Suzanne O’Sullivan’s previous book It’s All In Your Head (which I read while in hospital recovering from neurosurgery!) so when I spotted she had a new book out I had to buy it. As I said about Cordelia Fine’s book earlier in this post I’m fascinated by the mind and what it can do so I think I’m going to love this book too.

Misogynies by Joan Smith

I bought this book on a whim very recently and am really looking forward to reading it. I think it’s a slightly older book on this subject but it still sounds so fascinating and I’m keen to get to this one.

Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle

This is a book that I really want to read soon as I’m working really hard on reducing my plastic in my home but I feel like I now need more guidance on how to reduce it further. There are some things that feel impossible to change but I know there will be ideas out there. I’m hoping this book is the one I need.

Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari

I read another of Johann Hari’s other books a year or two ago and found it really interesting so this one really stood out to me. I think there has been some controversy over this book but also some good reviews so I’m keen to see what I think.

How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy by Stephen Witt

I recently watched a documentary and the author of this book was on it and I thought that I’d look the book up. When I went to buy it it turned out I already owned it! So I decided that was a sign that I should read it soon!

 

And finally the print books:

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Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman

This is a book that I’m desperate to read but haven’t managed to purely because the type is so small I haven’t managed it. I’ve got yet more new glasses for reading recently so am hoping I can finally read it this month. I want to read this one because I LOVE Roger Waters’ album Amused to Death and this book apparently inspired the title and some of the themes on that album.

Mansfield and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Sarah Laing

I bought this book a year or so ago and am so keen to read it. It seems perfect to put on this TBR as it will be a different format of non-fiction for this month.

Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox

This is another book that I’ve been so looking forward to and it looks like it might be both interesting and fun. It’s a bit of a doorstop though so I might struggle to read all of it this month but I will do my best to get to it.

 


 

Are you taking part in Non-Fiction November this time? What’s on your TBR for the month? Have you got any good non-fiction recommendations for me based on my TBR?

 

My New Book Haul (26 Oct 2019)!

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

 

Books / eBooks

Escape to Giddywell Grange by Kim Nash

I loved Kim Nash’s first novel so have been meaning to buy a copy of her second book and finally got to it this week. I’m really looking forward to escaping into this book!

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich

I’ve been wanting to read a book about Chernobyl ever since watching the recent drama that was on Sky. I’ve seen some good reviews of this one so decided to buy a copy. I may pick this one up next month for non-fiction November.

 

AudioBooks

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The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie

I remember seeing some fab reviews of this book when it was first published so when I spotted the audio book in the Audible sale this week I immediately bought it.

ARCs

The Alibi Girl by C. J. Skuse

Ever since I read Sweet Pea by this author I’ve been such a fan of her and so when I spotted this book on NetGalley this week I requested it straight away. I was delighted to be approved and am keen to read this one soon!

The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

I’ve been desperate to get my hands on this book ever since reading the premise so when I saw it on NetGalley I immediately requested it. I am thrilled to have a copy on my Kindle now and really want to read it right away. It’s not due to be published until next year though so feel like I need to catch up on some other reading first.

Violet by S.J.I. Holliday

I’ve actually already read this book – I read it all yesterday afternoon and I loved it. It’s such a brilliant book and I highly recommend it! I will post a full review for the blog tour on 6th November so pleased look out for that.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

This is another book that I’ve been eagerly anticipating and am so excited to have a copy. I loved Will Carver’s previous novel Good Samaritans and have really high hopes for his new book. I’ve read the first couple of chapters and it’s so intriguing, I can’t wait to read more!

The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

I requested this one on a whim from NetGalley as I do enjoy a crime thriller set at Christmas and this one looks really good!

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

I was so excited to spot this on NetGalley yesterday afternoon and I couldn’t click the download now button fast enough! I love Sarah Pinborough’s writing, especially Behind Her Eyes which was brilliant!

 

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

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

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

 

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The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason

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

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The Silent Ones by K. L. Slater

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

 

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The Last by Hanna Jameson

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

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The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

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

WWW Wednesday (23 Oct 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Nothing Important Happened Here by Will Carver

I’ve only just started this book as I’m writing this post but I can already tell it’s going to be brilliant. I’m really looking forward to sitting down for a chunk of time and reading this one.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I was in the mood for an Agatha Christie and this one was the first I spotted on my TBR so I picked it up. I’m really enjoying it although I have a strong suspicion about whodunnit which makes me think I may have read this before (perhaps many years ago during my pre-teen years when I devoured all the Agatha Christie books my local library had!).

James Baldwin and the 1980s: Witnessing the Reagan Era by Joseph Vogel

Shamefully, I discovered this was on kindle from NetGalley and I’d been approved to read it almost two years ago. I’m reading it now though and it’s a fascinating read. It’s reminded me that I need to read more of James Baldwin’s writing.

The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers

I’m on the final part of this book now so I may well have finished it by the time this post goes live. It’s been a really interesting, and at times very alarming read, about the politics in the years leading up to 9/11. It’s a book I’ve had to take my time with but it’s one I’d recommend.

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

I bought a copy of this book on my kindle when it was published but when I spotted it on my library audio book app I decided to part-read and part-listen to it. I very much enjoyed this book and ended up reading it in just a couple of sittings. The characters aren’t always very likeable but they were believable and I was keen to see where the story was going to take me.

The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain

This is my first Christmas read of the year and I adored it! It’s perfect for the lead up to Christmas and was great escapism for me this week. I’ll be reviewing this one for the blog tour at the end of this month but in the meantime I highly recommend it.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

This is another book that I got through my library app and I found it a fascinating listen. Due to having a neurological condition myself I’m always so interested in books about things that affect the brain. This covers quite a wide range of stories and it was engaging the whole way through.

The Last by Hanna Jameson

I’ve had an ARC of this on my TBR since the end of last year and finally managed to get to it in my quest to catch up before the end of this year. I enjoyed this book but it wasn’t quite as good as I was hoping. It felt like it was going to be something different to what it was. Having said that it did keep me reading so it the writing was engaging.

The Silent Ones by K. L. Slater

This was a really good thriller looking at the aftermath of two ten year old girls accused of murder. I was gripped by this book from the start and really enjoyed how the story unfolded. I recommend it.

The Accidental Love Letter by Olivia Beirne

This is such a gorgeous novel about a woman called Bea who recieves a letter addressed to B and decides to open it even though she’s not sure it’s meant for her. I devoured this book and adored it. My review is due to be published today so you’ll be able to find out my full thoughts in that post.

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

This was another great read. It follows a woman who is dead and her spirit is now stuck at Platform Seven. Gradually she reveals her story and what led to her death. This book was so gripping and I was on the edge of my seat as the story is revealed. I will review this one soon but I recommend it in the meantime.

 

What I plan on reading next:

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

I’m going to be on the blog tour in a couple of weeks so I’ll definitely be reading this book in the coming week and I’m so looking forward to it. It sounds really festive!

The School Friend by Alison James

This is another ARC that has been waiting to be read for longer than I’d have liked so it’s a priority for me this week. I’m sure I’m going to love this one, it sounds like my kind of read!

The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages now and I’m in the mood for it so am hoping I can make time to read it this week.

Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

This is a book I’ve owned for about three or four years now and I’m still really keen to read it so want to make an effort to pick it up in the coming days!

 


 

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

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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The Family by Louise Jensen

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About the Book

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Family is out now and available here.

 

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

The Sister

The Gift

The Surrogate

The Date

Cover Reveal: When Stars Will Shine complied by Emma Mitchell | #WhenStarsWillShine @BakerPromo @emmamitchellfpr @Lets_Get_Booked @TheQuietKnitter

I’m delighted today to be taking part in the cover reveal for the Christmas short story collection When Stars Will Shine compiled by Emma Mitchell in aid of Help for Heroes!

 

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Isn’t this cover absolutely stunning?! I’m going to be counting the days now until I can read the stories inside!

 

About the Book

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

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

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

When Stars Will Shine is due to be published on 9th December and can be pre-ordered here.

 

A Note From Emma Mitchell:

As the blurb tells us, When Stars Will Shine is a multi-genre collection of Christmas themed short stories complied to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity.

Working closely with Kate Noble at Noble Owl Proofreading and Amanda Ni Odhrain from Let’s Get Booked, I’ve been able to pick the best of the submissions to bring you a thrilling book which is perfect for dipping into at lunchtime or snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night. I have been completely blown away by the support we’ve received from the writing and blogging community, especially the authors who submitted stories and Shell Baker from Baker’s Not So Secret Blog, who has organised the cover reveal and blog tour.

When Stars Will Shine is available for pre-order now and will be published on 9 December 2019.

There isn’t anyone in the country who hasn’t benefited from the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made for us and they all deserve our thanks.

It has been an honour to work on these stories and to create this anthology and I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I have.

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The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey @dianefjeffrey

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About the Book

She says she’s innocent.

WOULD YOU BELIEVE HER?

2013

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

PRESENT DAY

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Guilty Mother is out now and available here

 

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

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

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How It Was by Janet Ellis

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

 

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Still Lives by Maria Hummell

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

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The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

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

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The Carer by Deborah Moggach

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

WWW Wednesdays (16 Oct 19)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

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

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

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

Innocent or Guilty? by A. M. Taylor

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

The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers

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

 

What I recently finished reading:

You Are What You Read by Jodie Jackson

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

I Confess by Alex Barclay

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

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

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

Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

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

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

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

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon

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

 

What I plan on reading next:

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

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

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

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

The Accidental Love Letter by Olivia Beirne

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

The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

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

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The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister

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

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Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

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

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I Confess by Alex Barclay

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

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

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

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Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

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

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Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

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

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Call Me A Liar by Colette McBeth

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

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Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

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

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

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

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When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies

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

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Those People by Louise Candlish

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

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The Honeymoon by Rona Halsall

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

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The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

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

WWW Wednesdays (9 Oct 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Innocent or Guilty by A. M. Taylor

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

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon

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

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

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

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

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

What I recently finished reading:

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

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

The Family by Louise Jensen

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

Fiona and the Whale by Hannah Lynn

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

The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister

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

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

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

The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

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

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

What I plan on reading next:

The Accidental Love Letter by Olivia Beirne

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

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

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

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

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

The Last by Hanna Jameson

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

 

 

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

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

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About the Book 

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiona and the Whale is out now and available here.

 

About the author

Fiona and the Wale Hannah Lynn

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook: HannahLynnAuthor

Twitter @HMLynnauthor

Goodreads: Hannah_M_Lynn

Bookbub: hannah-lynn

 

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

Fiona and the Whale Full Tour Banner

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

mini reviews

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

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Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

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

 

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Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

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

 

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Clear My Name by Paula Daly

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

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The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

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

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

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

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Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown

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

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Stop at Nothing by Tammy Cohen

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

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The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

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

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The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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

 

 

 

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

MINI REVIEWS

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

 

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The Wave by Virginia Moffatt

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

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The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

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

 

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The Most Difficult Thing by Charlotte Philby

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

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I Spy by Claire Kendal

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

 

 

WWW Wednesdays (2 Oct 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

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

Fiona and the Whale by Hannah Lynn

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

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

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

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

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

The Eleventh Day by Anthony Summers

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

What I recently finished reading:

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

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

The Carer by Deborah Moggach

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

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

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

Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

When I Lost You by Merrilyn Davies

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

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

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

How to Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

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

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Family by Louise Jensen

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

The Last by Hanna Jameson

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

Innocent or Guilty by A. M. Taylor

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

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

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

 

 

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

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

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

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Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

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

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If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

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

 

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Matilda by Roald Dahl

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

 

 

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

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

 

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It Ends With You by S. K. Wright

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

 

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As Long As We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Chaney

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

 

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Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

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

 

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The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

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

 

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

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

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Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen

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

 

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Something To Tell You by Lucy Diamond

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

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The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

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

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Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

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

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

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

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The Wych Elm by Tana French

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

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The Hiding Game by Louise Phillips

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

 

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The Holiday by T. M. Logan

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

 

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Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

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

WWW Wednesdays (25 Sep 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now:

How To Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

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

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

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

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

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

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

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

 

What I recently finished reading:

Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown

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

Minimalism: Live A Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Milburn

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

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

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

The Honeymoon by Rona Halsall

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

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

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

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

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

I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice

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

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

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

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

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

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard

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