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

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About the Book

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

SK Perry © Naomi Woddis copy

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

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

(Author bio taken from here)

 

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

Can she get out before it’s too late?

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tubing is out now and available here!

 

About the Author

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

She is currently working on her second novel.

 


 

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

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About the Book

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Million Dollar Duchesses is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Julie Ferry Author Picture

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

 

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#BookReview: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson @OrendaBooks @JoGustawsson

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About the Book

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

 

My Thoughts

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeper is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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

 

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

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About the Book

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

(Bio taken from: ElizabethMoore.com)

 

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

Alice Fitzgerald

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

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

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About the Book

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

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

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

I currently have a number of TV projects in development.

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

(Bio taken from: DavidWhitehouse.com)

 

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

The Long Forgotten Blog Tour Poster

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

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About the Book

 

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Neighbors is out now!

 

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About the Book

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

About the Translator

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

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

We Were The Salt of the Sea BT Banner

My Weekly Wrap-Up (4 Feb)!

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This week started off okay but has been a bit rubbish latterly. It’s affected my reading and so far I haven’t read a single thing in February – not even a chapter of a book let alone an entire book. I did finish a couple of books before January ended so have read those this week but it’s not been a good week. I’m hoping my concentration returns very soon so that I can get back to my reading.

My MacBook has had another wobble, which has made blogging quite difficult. I’m so glad that I do prepare some posts in advance so that I can edit them on my phone but it makes it hard to keep up with reading blogs and commenting. We think the issue with my MacBook is something to do with a recent software update so it’s trial and error at the moment trying to find a workaround until a patch is released.

 

This week I’ve finished reading two books:

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This book was a surprise birthday present from my husband and I adored it. It grabbed me from the first page and I didn’t put this book down from that moment on until I finished it. It’s such an interesting insight into astronaut training at NASA and I think it may well be a book that I re-read at some point.

Winter by Ali Smith

This took me a while to read because my copy was very tightly bound, making it hard for me to hold, but it was actually nice in a way to be forced to read slowly and to savour it because it’s a brilliant novel. I love Ali Smith’s writing and I think this might be my new favourite by her!

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

My Weekly Wrap-Up Post

My WWW Wednesday Post

My January Wrap-Up Post

My Birthday Book Haul

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

I’ve been intending to start re-reading this series for a little while now but learning of the death of Sue Grafton in December really made me think I needed to make an effort to pick the books up again. I do love Kinsey Millhone, she’s a great character and I’m really enjoying being back in her world.

The Note by Zoe Folbigg

I read the first couple of chapters of this book before I hit my slump and was enjoying it so I’m looking forward to getting back into it.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

This book is really good and I’m so intrigued about where it’s going to go so I’m very keen to pick this back up. I don’t want my mood to affect my reading enjoyment though so I’ve been waiting until my head was in the right place again.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’ve not read anymore of this since last week but I hope to get back to this one very soon as non-fiction is often the thing that gets me back reading after a slump.

 


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

 

 

 

My Lovely Birthday Book Haul!

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

It was my birthday last weekend so today I’m sharing my birthday book haul! I was very spoilt for my birthday with lots of lovely gifts including some fabulous new books! My husband collects records in the same way I collect books so we understand each other and he never minds giving me books as gifts. I feel incredibly lucky!

 

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The gorgeous hardback of Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon! I did put this on my wish list as I read a proof copy and loved it so much that I knew I had to have a finished hardback as well.

 

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Spaceman by Mike Massimino

I’ve already read this book – I started it as soon as I finished opening my presents and I loved it so much. It’s such a good book, especially if you love the space shuttle and want to know more about how astronauts train.

 

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Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

I love Jenny Colgan’s books so I was super happy to open this gift. I’m excited to escape into this book soon.

 

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The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while but hadn’t actually seen it in real life until I opened my gift – it’s such a gorgeous naked hardback. I’m really looking forward to reading this short story collection!

 

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Relish by Prue Leith

I love Great British Bake Off and had seen Prue Leith interviewed on TV a couple of times while that was on and it seems like she has had a fascinating life. This book was such a surprise but I’m really keen to read it (it’s a doorstop of a book though so it might take me a little while!).

 

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The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim

This book is so gorgeous and it’s one I’m really intrigued to read soon. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 18 months or so working on health stuff and that includes regular mindfulness and mediation so this book seems like it will be a perfect read for me.

 

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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie, Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie, N or M? by Agatha Christie, By The Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie, and Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

I’ve been enjoying re-reading some Agatha Christie books in recent years but I somehow never read the Tommy and Tuppence series so I’m looking forward to reading this set of books.

 

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Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore

This poetry collection sounds like it will be an emotional read but it’s a book I definitely want to read when I’m in the right frame of mind for it. I was excited to get a copy of it for my birthday.

 

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Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

I’ve been so keen to get hold of this book and almost bought it on ebook recently so I’m glad I didn’t because the hardback is stunning. I love Jon McGregor’s writing so this book will be a real treat to read.

 

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The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood

This hardback is another book that is so lovely and my photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful book with glossy photos and I’ve enjoyed looking through it. I’m excited to read it soon.

 

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I also got a Nirvana record, a gorgeous dressing gown, some lovely new toiletries, a bag, money and book vouchers! So I was very spoilt… 🙂

 


 

So that’s my most recent book haul! Have you got any new books this week? If you join in with Stacking the Shelves or if you’ve done a book haul on your blog this week please feel free to leave your link below.

 

My January Wrap-Up post!

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January has been a strange old month. I always struggle with January as it comes filled with a lot of sad memories for me.

It was my birthday though, which I find tough but my husband made it really lovely for me. He cooked a lush meal in the evening and we shared a bottle of wine while I opened the pile of presents that he gave me. I got some fab new books so will be doing a book haul very soon!

I read a lot of fabulous books in January so my reading year is off to a great start! I can’t pick a favourite from the books that I read, they were all very enjoyable reads.

I didn’t manage to review as many books in January as I’d hoped to as I had a wobbly MacBook but I did get a few blog posts up and now my MacBook appears to be fixed I’m hoping to catch up on my reviews very soon.

 

Here are the 19 books I read this month:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I hadn’t read this in many years and couldn’t remember whodunnit so it was great to read this again with fresh eyes in a new edition. I really enjoyed this mystery and it got my reading year of to a brilliant start!

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

This was a really good crime thriller novel. It was ideal to read around the festive period but it could be read at another time of year if you’re keen to get to it.

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor

This was an ARC so I will be reviewing it soon. I found it really made me think about the nature of forgiveness and gave me a lot to ponder on.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

I’d had this ARC on my TBR for a while but when I finally read it I enjoyed it. It was an interesting novel about family dynamics and how and why people disappear.

South and West by Joan Didion

I read Blue Nights last year and found it to be a really honest memoir about the loss of her daughter so I was keen to pick this travel memoir up. I find that I get utterly engrossed in her writing and I adore it.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

I got completely lost in this novel, it was such a prescient book and one that I’m still thinking about. I have already reviewed this one so you can read my thoughts here.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

I read this novel in just two sittings (and the only reason that it wasn’t one sitting was because it was late at night and I needed sleep), it had me hooked right to the very end!

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This was an audiobook and once I got into it I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a must read for fans of Orange is the New Black.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time and was hesitant to pick this up as I’d seen mixed reviews. I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long though as I really did enjoy this quirky and interesting novel.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This book was so good! It grabbed me from the start and had me engrossed into it right to the very end.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

I got this book for Christmas and was so pleased as I’d been keen to read it. I read it in one sitting and it was such an interesting book – both funny and heartbreaking at the same time. It was certainly eye-opening!

In The Days Of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I’ve kept hearing about this book and when it won the Costa biography award I had to pick it up. I got the audiobook and found it really engrossing listening to this true story.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

This book was just incredible. I read it on a weekend when I badly needed solace and this book gave me that and so much more as well. I’m still struggling to finish my review because I loved it so much. This is definitely a new favourite and I already want to re-read it!

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I listened to this book on audio and really enjoyed it. I’ve already reviewed this book so you can find out more of my thoughts here.

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book on release day and read it in one go. It’s a heartbreaking read but it’s such an honest and open memoir.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This is another book that I’ve loved this year. It was so refreshing to read a book that is told in two timelines going in different directions and I very much enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

The Break by Marian Keyes

I struggled to get into this the first time I picked it up but I gave it another chance at the weekend and I’m so glad I did because I loved it.

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This was a book that I got for my birthday at the weekend and after looking through all of my birthday books this was the one that called me to me the most. I read it in two sittings and I loved every minute of reading this book.

Winter by Ali Smith

This book took me a little while to read as I was struggling to physically hold the hardback but the novel itself was brilliant. This is another book that I feel sure will be in my favourites list at the end of this year!

 

January Blog Posts & Reviews:

My favourite novels that I read in 2017

My Favourite non-fiction books that I read in 2017

My 2017 reading reflections and plans for 2018, and the state of my TBR

My reading bingo results for 2017

Review of An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

My Christmas book haul

My January book haul

An additional January book haul (oops!)

Review of Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

 

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The state of my TBR:

I made the decision to work on my TBR more seriously this year; to try and read more of the books I already own rather than accumulating a lot more. I started the year with 2756 (this is books that I own)! Over the month it’s held steady-ish as I’ve been good at resisting buying too many books and I’ve also been better at DNFing books that I’m not enjoying. I had a little clear out too and got rid of a few books. Then at the end of the month it was my birthday and I got some books and also some book vouchers so my TBR has gone up again. I’m really pleased with myself overall that my current TBR is now 2752, which is four books less than it was on the first day of the year!

 


 

How was your January? I hope you all had a good month and that you read lots of good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (31 Jan)! 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:

The Note by Zoe Folbigg

I have an ARC of this which I got after seeing the author interviewed on TV around the time the book was released so I’m happy to finally be reading this one. It’s an easy read and I’m really enjoying it so far.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

I picked this book up yesterday and am hooked! I didn’t know much about this book going into it and have no idea where it’s going to go. It’s got me guessing though and I’m keen to read more!

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’m still dipping in and out of this book and finding lots to motivate me.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This was a birthday present from my husband and I started reading it the minute I finished opening my presents (a birthday book haul post will be up soon!). It was such a brilliant read, I loved every minute of reading it.

Winter by Ali Smith

I’ve been reading this for a while as I was struggling with physically holding the book but yesterday I managed to read the second half of the book in one go and I adored it. This is a brilliant book and I’m already looking forward to the next in the quartet!

The Break by Marian Keyes

I couldn’t get into this the first time I started it but wanted to give it another go as I do love Marian Keyes writing. I picked it up at the weekend and ended up reading it in two sittings and I very much enjoyed it. I’ll hopefully get my review of this posted soon.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This book was so good! I love the way it was told with the two main characters timelines moving in opposite directions, and it kept me on my toes all the way through. I’m still trying to write my review but hopefully I’ll get it finished soon, I recommend this though.

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book last Thursday and read it the same day. It’s a very open and honest and heartbreaking memoir.

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I read and reviewed this one last week so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to know more. I enjoyed this book.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Waco by David Thibodeau

I put this in my planned reading a couple of weeks ago and didn’t manage to start it so I’m going to aim to get to it in the coming week.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

I really want to read this book as I’ve heard so many great things so it’s on my next-to-read pile and I definitely want to get to it this week.

The Reunion by Samantha Hayes

I downloaded an ARC of this from NetGalley recently and have been keen to read it as soon as possible. It’s due out in February (I think!) so now seems a good time to pick it up!

 

 

 


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

My Weekly Wrap-Up (28 Jan)!

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This week has been a mixed week really. It was the anniversary of my mum’s death earlier in the week, which hit me harder this year than in previous years. It’s strange how grief can still catch you offguard even after the passing of time.

In happier news my husband took me out for coffee and cake mid-week – it was the first time I’ve left the house since before Christmas (apart from a couple of hospital appointments) so it was really lovely.

It’s my birthday this weekend. I won’t be opening my presents until later on today but there are a few book-shaped parcels so I’m thinking I might have another book haul soon!

 

This week I’ve finished reading four books:

This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan

I finished this book yesterday and it was so good! I read an ARC so I hope to get my review written and posted very soon but in the meantime I definitely recommend this book!

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this last week and read it the same day. It’s a very moving and honest memoir; a book that will stay with me.

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I listened to the audio book of this and really enjoyed it. I got completely swept up in Marianne’s story. I reviewed this book yesterday so you can read more of my thoughts here if you’d like to.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I read this book last weekend and I still don’t have the words. It was so stunningly beautiful and I already want to read it again. This is my new favourite book and I highly, highly recommend it!

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

My Weekly Wrap-Up post

WWW Wednesday post

Stacking the Shelves post

Review of Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

The Break by Marian Keyes

I picked this up yesterday afternoon and am really enjoying it. I wasn’t sure about the premise at first but Marian Keyes’ writing is so lovely that I got completely hooked and am now loving it!

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’ve read a couple more chapters of this book this week and am now really in the mood to find some de-cluttering to do. I don’t agree with all of Marie Kondo’s ideas but I still enjoy her books.

Winter by Ali Smith

I was finally able to pick this up again this week and managed to read another chunk of it. I had hoped to finish it yesterday but alas my hands let me down and I couldn’t read a print book. Hopefully I’ll get to read to the end very soon because it really is a brilliant read.

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The State of the TBR:

Well, if you saw my Stacking the Shelves post yesterday you will know that I’ve added seven books to my TBR this week. I was good though and have already read one of my new books so only six are being added to the TBR. I’m feeling really pleased with myself though because I also got rid of 24 books over the past week, which means my TBR has actually decreased by seventeen to 2737!

 

 

 


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

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

Meeting Lydia Audio -1

About the Book

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

Linda - Author Photo

Linda MacDonald

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

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

 

About the Narrator

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Harriet Carmichael

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

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

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

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

 

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

Meeting Lydia Blog Tour Poster

An accidental #bookhaul… Stacking the Shelves (27 Jan)!

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

Today on my blog I’m stacking the shelves with all the books I’ve bought this week. I did buy more than I intended to but it was a tough week and my willpower was weak. In fairness, as you’ll see tomorrow in my weekly wrap-up, I have got rid of a few books from my TBR so it’s not too bad!

 

Here are the books that I’ve bought this week:

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Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I first heard about it and I finally decided to just buy it this week. This definitely won’t be on my TBR for very long as I’m keen to read it.

Synopsis:

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’.

Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised by this clear hunger for open discussion, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings.

 

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I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book on Thursday and have already read it. It’s an incredibly moving and honest memoir.

Synopsis:

On 12th February 1993, Denise Fergus’ life changed forever. As she was running errands at New Strand Shopping Centre, she let go of her two-year-old son’s hand for a few seconds to take out her purse. Denise never saw her son again.

For the first time since that moment 25 years ago, Denise tells her extraordinary story in this heart-wrenching book, an unflinching account of that terrible day. What if she had never taken James shopping? What if she had turned right coming out of the butcher’s, instead of left? Denise’s initial hope after seeing her son on CCTV with other children quickly turned to devastation when, two days later, James’ body was found.

His death reverberated around the world and his killers became the youngest ever convicted murderers in UK legal history. Four minutes is all it took for them to lead James away from his mother to his death. Denise took up a tortuous legal battle for James, and it was her astonishing strength and love for her son that ultimately helped to change the way the law treats victims of crime.

 

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Random Acts of Kindness Part 1 by Victoria Walters

I downloaded this ebook when it was free this week. I don’t normally buy books when they’re released in parts, I tend to wait until they’re published as a complete novel but I love the sound of this, and I’m a fan of the author, so I decided to get it. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Synopsis:

Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart. Abbie has fled London and the humiliation of not being able to make rent after being made redundant. Louise, seriously unlucky in love, has thrown herself into her career at the local hospital. And Eszter, who has travelled from Hungary with her daughter, Zoe, hopes to reach out to the mother-in-law she never met while her husband was still alive…

 

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Close to Home by Cara Hunter

I’ve read some good reviews of this book and so have been thinking of buying it for a while. This week I spotted it was 99p on Kindle so decided to download it. I’m hoping to read this soon as I think the second book in the series is due out this year.

Synopsis:

Someone took Daisy Mason. Someone YOU KNOW.

Last night, 8-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from her parents’ summer party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying. DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows that nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew. That means someone is lying. And that Daisy’s time is running out…

 

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Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

I saw Simon from SavidgeReads on YouTube talking about this book in a couple of his recent videos and he sold me on it. I like the sound of the synopsis and hearing a rave review made me want to read it. This is also 99p on Kindle at the moment!

Synopsis:

Should you ever go back?

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

 

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Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French

This is another book that is on sale for 99p on Kindle and it was a must buy for me because somehow I own Monday and Wednesday but not Tuesday so if I’m going to start the series this year, as I intend to, I’m going to need Tuesday!

Synopsis:

A London social worker makes a routine home visit only to discover her client serving afternoon tea to a naked, decomposing corpse. With no clues as to the dead man’s identity, Chief Inspector Karlsson again calls upon Frieda for help. She discovers that the body belongs to Robert Poole, con man extraordinaire. But Frieda can’t shake the feeling that the past isn’t done with her yet. Did someone kill Poole to embroil her in the investigation? And if so, is Frieda herself the next victim?

 

Giveaway win:

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I also won a giveaway of an ebook copy of Prosecco Christmas by Sylvia Ashby, which I’m looking forward to reading. It’s part 3 in a series and I have the first two books on my TBR so I’m hoping to get to read those soon so that I can then read this one before too long.

Synopsis:

Family is where life begins.
And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and stepdad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.
She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned for New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?

 


 

So, that’s all of my new books from this week! Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

WWW Wednesdays (24 Jan)! What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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:

This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan

I picked this up the other day and I’m really enjoying it. I love how it’s told in a non-linear fashion so that a picture of what is going on is gradually being built up. It’s a book that I keep thinking about when I’m not reading it, which is always the sign of a good read.

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

This is my audio book for this week and I’m enjoying it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book when I accepted it for review but it’s got me wanting to listen to more whenever I can. I’ll be reviewing this on Saturday so look out for my thoughts then if you want to know more.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’m still reading a chapter of this here and there and enjoying it. I don’t agree with all Marie Kondo’s ideas but all books on de-cluttering get me in the right mindset to have a sort out, which I love.

Winter by Ali Smith

I managed to read a bit more of this book this week and am still finding it such an incredible novel. I just wish the hardcover wasn’t as tightly bound as it is because it means I just can’t hold it to read for more than a few minutes at a time.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I read this over the weekend and I just completely and utterly adored it. It’s a stunning book and I already want to pick it up and read it again! I’m in the middle of writing my review so I hope to get that posted soon.

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This book was eye-opening! I found it so readable, and I read it in just two sittings, but it was heartbreaking at times. It’s a real insight into the NHS and I highly recommend it to everyone.

In These Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I listened to this on audio book and got completely engrossed in it. It’s such an honest and moving memoir, one that feels like it will stay with me for a long time to come.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

I really loved this book, it was so good. I’m struggling to review it because I enjoyed it so much but I definitely recommend it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Confession by Jo Spain

I won a copy of this book a while ago and have been so keen to read it, especially after seeing the rave reviews it’s getting, so I’m going to try and pick it up this week.

The Break by Marian Keyes

This is a review book that I’ve had for a little while but have been keen to read it. I did start it once before but it was the wrong time so I put it to one side and now I feel like I’m just in the right mood to read a Marian Keyes so I’m putting this on my TBR for the coming week.

A Book of Untruths by Miranda Doyle

This is another review book that I’ve had for a little while now and it was calling to me when I was looking for my next read so I’m going to try and start this over the next week or so.

 


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

My Weekly Wrap-Up (21 Jan)!

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This coming week is a tough one for me… it’s the anniversary of my mum’s death and also my birthday. I’ve struggled with this week ever since my mum died, as the two dates became so linked together in the year she died that I’ve never quite been able to separate them ever since.  I always feel melancholy until my birthday is over and then the mood lifts again. It’s hard to distract myself when feeling like this but I always do my best to escape into books.

In better news, I had a really helpful first appointment at the hospital with a new consultant. It was refreshing to be listened to and taken seriously, now it’s just the long wait for the results.

Annoyingly, a couple of days ago I opened my MacBook to write some reviews and it was not working at all. My husband has got it working again now but neither of us trust it to keep working as it’s still behaving oddly. Urgh! I can only blog on my MacBook as my dictation software doesn’t work with anything else so if I end up not being around so much in the near future it’s because it’s bit the dust. Hopefully it will keep working for the foreseeable though.

 

 

This week I’ve finished reading four books:

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This book was one of my Christmas presents and I’ve been so keen to read it. I picked it up the other day and it was brilliant, even better than I expected. There is a real mix of humour and heartbreak, and it felt like it really represented what it must be like to work as a junior doctor in the NHS. I highly recommend this book.

In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I’ve had this book on my audio book TBR for a while and somehow hadn’t listened to it. I then saw a few reviews of it after it won the biography category in the Costa Book Awards so immediately started listening. This is such an open and honest memoir, it’s a book that I feel will stay with me.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This is a review book that I’ve had for a little while now but I finally got to read it this week and I loved it. It had me hooked from start to finish and it feels like a book that will really stay with me. I’m struggling to write my review because I loved the book so much. Hopefully I’ll manage to get my words together very soon though.

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This was my other audio book from this week and I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure of it to start with but once I got into it I found it interesting. I recommend it for fans of Orange is the New Black.

 

This week I’ve blogged three times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves with my latest book haul

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I started reading this book last night and I’ve already had a little cry over it. It’s just so believable and so beautifully written; it feels like this might become a new favourite book. I will be reviewing this once I’ve read it but I can already recommend it.

This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan

This book is so good. I love the way it’s told in a non-linear way and so the story is slowly unfolding, it’s got me engrossed and it’s a book I really look forward to picked it up and reading a bit more.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I haven’t read much more of this book this week as I just haven’t been in the mood for it. I hope to get back to it in the coming week though as I am enjoying it.

Winter by Ali Smith

I’m still very much enjoying this book but I’m struggling to read it because my copy is really tightly bound so it’s impossible for me to hold when I’m not doing so well. I will get properly back to this as soon as the strength in my hands improves again.

Rest in Power by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

I’ve read a couple more chapters of this book this week and I’m finding it such a heartbreaking read. I may put this to one side for the next week and pick it back up once I’m feeling on more of an even keel.

 

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The State of the TBR:

Well, I’m really happy to report that three weeks into 2018 my TBR is holding steady at 2753 owned books, which is the same as it was last week! I have looked at books but have resisted buying any. I did get a couple of books from NetGalley but because of the books I’ve read this week my TBR has remained at the same number! I really want to reduce my TBR over this year but to not be increasing it is still something of an achievement for me! You can see my latest book haul here.

 

 


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

My latest #bookhaul… Stacking the Shelves (20 Jan)!

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

Today on my blog I’m stacking the shelves with all the books I’ve acquired since Christmas so this my three-week book haul and most of these books were included in my TBR update in my last weekly wrap-up so my TBR hasn’t got out of control!

 

Here are the books that I’ve bought since the end of 2017:

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The Standing Chandelier by Lionel Shriver

I’m a big fan of Lionel Shriver so when I spotted this novella on Amazon at the start of the month I couldn’t resist downloading it. I’m hoping to make time to read this soon, and with it being short it should be fairly easy to squeeze in between other books.

Synopsis:

When Weston Babansky receives an extravagant engagement present from his best friend (and old flame) Jillian Frisk, he doesn’t quite know what to make of it – or how to get it past his fiancée. Especially as it’s a massive, handmade, intensely personal sculpture that they’d have to live with forever.

As the argument rages about whether Jillian’s gift was an act of pure platonic generosity or something more insidious, battle lines are drawn…

Can men and women ever be friends? Just friends?

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The Kill (Maeve Kerrigan 5) by Jane Casey

I already have the first four books in this series on my TBR and it was in my plan to start reading the series this year so when the other books in the series went on offer earlier this month I couldn’t resist snapping them up.

Synopsis:

When a police officer is found shot dead in his car, DC Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent take on the investigation. But nothing about the case prepares them for what happens next: a second policeman dies . . . and then another . . .

The Metropolitan Police struggle to carry out their usual duties, but no one knows where or how this cop killer will strike again. While London disintegrates into lawlessness Maeve’s world starts to fall apart too. For if the police can’t keep themselves safe, how can they protect anyone else?

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After the Fire (Maeve Kerrigan 6) by Jane Casey

Synopsis:

After a fire rips through a North London tower block, two bodies are found locked in an 11th floor flat. But is the third victim that ensures the presence of detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad. It appears that controversial MP Geoff Armstrong, trapped by the fire, chose to jump to his death rather than wait for rescue. But what was such a right wing politician doing in the deprived, culturally diverse Maudling Estate?

As Maeve and her senior colleague, Derwent, pick through the wreckage, they uncover the secret world of the 11th floor, where everyone seems to have something to hide…

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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I’ve seen lots of good reviews of this book on blogs that I enjoy so I couldn’t resist buying a copy. It does sound like such a compulsive read and I hope to get to it soon.

Synopsis:

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

 

Here are the books that I’ve received for review since the end of 2017:

 

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Our House by Louise Candlish

I was super excited to receive a surprise copy of this book in the post just before Christmas as I’m a huge Louise Candlish fan! It’s a lovely proof and I’m really looking forward to reading this.

Synopsis:

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

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Trying by Emily Phillips

I requested this book on bookbridgr quite a while ago but had forgotten about it so it was a lovely suprise when this gorgeous finished copy arrived in the post over Christmas. I’m planning to read this book soon and will be reviewing it on my blog.

Synopsis:

A hugely funny, searingly honest comedy about to expect when you’re not expecting.

Olivia and Felix are trying for a baby. They even moved to the suburbs in anticipation of their future family. But despite approaching her cycle and their sex life with military precision, there’s still no sign of what felt like the sure next step, whilst friends’ broods seem to be growing by the week. Meanwhile, vying for a promotion at work under the (very attentive) watch of a new boss sends Olivia down a dangerous road of risking it all. Does a happy ever after, she starts to question, even have to include a baby?

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The Old You by Louise Voss

This book was a lovely, and very kind, gift from the publisher and I was grateful beyond words as I love Louise Voss’ writing. I bought her first book, To Be Someone, when it was originally published and it remains one of my favourite books. I’ve been a fan ever since do I’m excited to read this one!

Synopsis:

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

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Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

This was lovely book post from Orenda books and I’m very much looking forward to reading this. I’ve enjoyed other books by the author and this one sounds like it could be his best yet!

Synopsis:

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery. On a clandestine trip to The Inch – the new volcanic island – to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body. Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

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The Lido by Libby Page

This gorgeous book sounds amazing and I’m thrilled to have received a copy in the post last week. 

Synopsis:

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

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The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

This book is so beautiful, my photo in no way does it any justice, and I was very happy to receive a surprise copy in the post last week. It sounds like it’s going to be right up my street and I’m looking forward to curling up one afternoon soon and devouring it!

Synopsis:

People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green – a prickly independent woman, who has everything just the way she wants it and who certainly has no need for messy emotional relationships.

Family and colleagues find her stand-offish and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that’s all she needs.
At forty-five, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward – a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.
Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.
When she discovers that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.

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The Word For Woman is Wilderness by Abi Andrews

This book was such a surprise when it arrived and I can’t even put into words how excited I was when I opened it. I’d already put this book on my wish list as it sounds amazing and I’m really looking forward to reading this.

Synopsis:

Erin is 19. She’s never really left England, but she has watched Bear Grylls and wonders why it’s always men who get to go on all the cool wilderness adventures. So Erin sets off on a voyage into the Alaskan wilderness, a one-woman challenge to the archetype of the rugged male explorer.

As Erin’s journey takes her through the Arctic Circle, across the entire breadth of the American continent and finally to a lonely cabin in the wilds of Denali, she explores subjects as diverse as the moon landings, the Gaia hypothesis, loneliness, nuclear war, shamanism and the pill.

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Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor and Marina Cantacuzino

I’ve had this book on my wish list for ages but it was always unavailable for purchase so when I spotted it on NetGalley recently I immediately requested it. I’ve already read this one and it was a really powerful graphic non-fiction book. I’ll be reviewing this one soon but in the meantime I definitely recommend this.

Synopsis:

What is forgiveness? What enables people to forgive? Why do we even choose to forgive those who have harmed us? What can the latest psychological research tell us about the nature of forgiveness, its benefits and risks?

This imaginative comic explores the key aspects of forgiveness, asking what it means to forgive and to be forgiven. Witty and intelligent, it answers questions about the health benefits and restorative potential of forgiveness and explains, in easy-to-understand terms, what happens in our brains, bodies and communities when we choose to forgive.

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Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

I enjoyed Elizabeth is Missing by this author and so when I saw she had a new book coming out I couldn’t resist requesting it on NetGalley. I was really happy to get approved for it and am looking forward to reading it a little bit nearer publication date.

Synopsis:

Jen’s fifteen-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days.

When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and police draw a blank. The once-happy, loving family return to London where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: making secretive phone calls, hiding books under her bed, sleeping with the light on.

As Lana stays stubbornly silent, Jen sets out to solve the mystery behind her daughter’s disappearance herself…

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The Fear by C. L. Taylor

I’m a massive fan of C.L. Taylor so there was no way I could resist requesting this book! It sounds like such a great premise so I don’t think it’ll be long before I read this one.

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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The Neighbors by Hannah McKinnon

The lovely author contacted me to ask if I’d like to review this book and as the synopsis sounded so good I immediately said yes please. The book’s due out in March so I’m going to wait a little while longer before I start this one but I am really looking forward to it.

Synopsis:

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

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

In a strange twist of fate, Liam (her old lover—possibly her true soulmate) moves in with his own family next door, releasing a flood of memories that Abby has been trying to keep buried all these years. Abby and Liam, in a complicit agreement, pretend never to have met, yet cannot resist the pull of the past—nor the repercussions of the dark secrets they’ve both been carrying…

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The Reunion by Samantha Hayes

I’ve really enjoyed previous novels by this author so I immediately went and downloaded it as soon as Bookouture tweeted that it was available. I’m certain that this won’t be on my TBR pile for very long!

Synopsis:

Then–In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom. Eleanor never came back.

Now–The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.

When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…

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The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

I’ve been so keen to get my hands on a copy of this book and yet somehow missed that I’m auto-approved for the publisher on NetGalley and could have downloaded a copy ages ago! Ah well, I’m glad I’ve now spotted it and am going to be reading this very, very soon!

Synopsis:

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

 

And right before Christmas I won this fabulous signed book from The Pool:

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Synopsis:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

 


 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past month (aside from my Christmas book haul, which you can find here if you’d like to see it). Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

WWW Wednesday (17 Jan)! 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:

 

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This book is so good! If it wasn’t for the fact I’ve had a rough couple of days I think I would have finished this in one or two sittings. It feels like this is going to be a five star read!

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’m enjoying this book and it’s definitely getting me in the right mindset to have another de-clutter once I feel better.

Winter by Ali Smith

This book is incredible and the only reason I haven’t finished yet is because I’m struggling to hold hardback books at the moment. I will get back to this asap though because it’s fabulous!

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

I’ve had this on my TBR since it first came out but I’ve kept putting it off and I don’t know why. I ended up reading the whole novel in one sitting on Sunday, I just couldn’t put it down. It’s an interesting novel and is one that I think will stay with me.

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This was my audio book pick for the last week and I ended up really enjoying it. I wasn’t sure about it at first but it ended up being really interesting. It’s must-read for fans of Orange is the New Black!

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

This book grabbed me on the first page and held my attention all the way to the end. It was one of those novels that I just didn’t want to put down until I knew what was going on. I’ll try to get my review written and posted on here soon.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

This book is such a powerful and prescient novel, I highly recommend it. If you want to know more of my thoughts please click on the title to read my full review.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I’m so excited to read this book and didn’t manage to get to it over the last few days but I really hope to start it over the coming week. I just know that this is going to be a real treat, and I’m in need of that just now.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

I got approved for this book on NetGalley just the other day and I’m so keen to read it. It’s due out on 25th Jan so I’m bumping it straight to the top of my TBR!

Trying by Emily Philips

I was sent a surprise copy of this book around Christmas and it sounds like such a good read that I want to make sure I read it soon. It’ll be in my next book haul so this is a bit of a spoiler for that!

 

 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

My Weekly Wrap-Up (14 Jan)!

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This week I am finally starting to feel human again after a horrible flu virus that floored me for a couple of weeks. Now my headache has gone I’ve been able to catch up on some blogging and to get some reading done. It’s nice to be back blogging again and I hope to have regular reviews and other posts up from now on as it’s been a while since I was in a routine with it.

 

This week I’ve finished reading four books:

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

I read this book in just two sittings because I didn’t want to put it down. It grabbed me from the opening chapter and kept me hooked all the way through. I’ll hopefully have my review up on my blog this week.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

This is such a powerful novel and one I definitely recommend. I’ve already reviewed this so if you’d like to know more of my thoughts on it please click on the title above.

South and West by Joan Didion

I read Blue Nights towards the end of last year so I was keen to read this new book by Joan Didion. It was a really interesting book and I’m glad I read it.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

I’ve had this on my review TBR for quite a while now but I finally picked it up in the week and I really enjoyed it. I’m hoping to get my review finished and posted this week so please look out for that.

 

This week I’ve blogged seven times:

My Favourite Novels Read in 2017

My Favourite Non-Fiction Read in 2017

2017 Reading Reflections, Bookish Plans for 2018 & The State of my TBR!

WWW Wednesdays

Reading Bingo Results from 2017

Review of An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

Stacking the Shelves with my Christmas Book Haul!

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This book is so good! I started reading it yesterday morning and had to force myself to put it down otherwise nothing would have got done. I then waited until I could sit down for the evening so I could just read and read.

Winter by Ali Smith

This is such a brilliant novel. I want to devour it but I’m reading slowly so that I can take in everything. I loved Autumn but I think Winter is possibly even better!

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

I started this listening book the other day and wasn’t initially sure that it was for me but I’ve actually been hooked listening to it over the last couple of days. It’s an interesting book and one that fans of Orange is the New Black will likely enjoy.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I do love a book about de-cluttering and this is my latest pick. I’m enjoying this because it re-affirms what was in Kondo’s previous book and is motivating me all over again.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

I haven’t read much more of this book this week but it’s definitely properly back in my currently reading pile and I will be reading more of it in the coming days.

 

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The State of the TBR:

So as I posted in my Reading Reflections post this week I’m going to try really hard to work on reducing my TBR this year. At the start of 2018 my owned books TBR totalled 2756 books. As of writing this post it’s 2753 so it’s going in the right direction so far! It’s hard to resist buying new books but I’m trying to keep in mind that I should wait to buy a book until I’m ready to read it. We’ll see how it goes!

 


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

My Christmas book haul… Stacking the Shelves (13 Jan)!

Christmas Book Haul!

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

I was very spoilt at Christmas by my husband who got me lots of fabulous gifts including a Sonos speaker with built-in Alexa, which I love because I can now just ask it to read me my audiobooks! Seeing as my blog is a book blog though today’s Stacking the Shelves post is all about my Christmas book haul! I know we’re already well into January now but I’ve had a horrible virus and so am slower than usual to post this.

Anyway, here is the book mountain I received…

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There are twenty-four books in total and I’m so excited to read every single one of them!

 

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Winter by Ali Smith

The books included the gorgeous new Ali Smith book, Winter, which I’m currently reading and very much enjoying.

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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I also got the beautiful new hardback edition of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I’ve already read this – I spent a whole afternoon curled up reading it from cover to cover and it felt like such a treat.

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David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones

I can’t resist biographies of David Bowie so I was very happy to open this new one on Christmas morning. It’s a doorstop of a book so I haven’t started reading this one year but I hope to very soon.

 

I hadn’t heard of these two books but they both sound very interesting and I’m looking forward to reading them.

 

I was thrilled to get these two books about space travel! One is a non-fiction look at the final days of spaceflight and the other is short stories based around space travel. I’ve always been fascinated by space and astronauts so I’m very keen to read these books soon!

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Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

This is a book I’ve been wanting to get so it was lovely to open it on Christmas day. I hadn’t seen it in real life before I got it so it was fab to see how it’s a gorgeous naked hardback. I’m always interested to read more about Jane Austen so it’s lovely to have this one to read.

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How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

This is such another gorgeous hardback book and one that I’m intrigued to read soon.

 

I’ve wanted to read both of these books for a while so I’m certain that these won’t be on my TBR for very long.

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Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman

This set of books is a series that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time now so I’m hoping to start reading it soon. I’ve heard only good things about it!

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Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

I’ve wanted to read this short story collection ever since I first heard about it so I’m beyond excited to have my own copy!

 

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The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

I read The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson in 2017 and I found the writing utterly stunning so I’ve been wanting to read more of her books. I’m thrilled to have a copy of The Argonauts and am really looking forward to reading it.

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Women & Power by Mary Beard

This is such a gorgeous hardback book, and I’m really keen to read it very soon. I’m enjoying non-fiction so this will be high on my TBR for this year.

 

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Excellent Women, No Fond Return of Love & Crampton Hodnet. All by Barbara Pym

I’ve never read any Barbara Pym before but she’s an author that I’ve been interested in reading. It was lovely to open these three books by her in the gorgeous Virago editions.

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Angels in America by Tony Kushner

I’ve had this book on my wish list for absolutely ages but never got around to buying it so I was very happy to open a copy on Christmas day. I really want to read this one soon but am saving it for the right time.

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale many years ago. I’ve been wanting to re-read it ever since watching the recent TV adaptation but my battered old copy seems to have got lost in one of my house moves so I was very happy to get this brand new hardback edition. It’s such a beautiful looking book and I’ll be making sure this one doesn’t get lost!

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A Guinea Pig Romeo and Juliet

I’ve had pet guinea pigs for years and my husband has bought me one of these guinea pig re-tellings of a famous novel or play and I just adore them! This is the latest one and I’m so excited to read it. I would’ve tried to get a photo of the book with my guinea pig but he  likely would have eaten the pages!

 


 

Did you get any books for Christmas? Or have you had a recent spending splurge on books? I’d love to know about your most recent book purchases, and if you take part in Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll check out your post!

#BookReview: An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth @Wildfirebks @colettemcbeth #blogtour

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About the Book

MOTHER. WIFE. POLITICIAN. LIAR.

THEN: How far did she go to conceal the truth?

Politician Linda Moscow sacrificed everything to protect her son: her beliefs,
her career, her marriage. All she wanted was to keep him safe.

NOW: What will she risk to expose the lies?

When the voices she silenced come back to haunt her, Linda is faced with
another impossible choice. Only this time, it’s her life on the line…

An Act of Silence is about the abuse of power, the devastating effects of keeping the truth buried, and the lengths a mother will go to save her child.

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Colette McBeth so when I heard about An Act of Silence I knew it was a book that I had to read and I’m really pleased to say that it more than lived up to my expectations.

An Act of Silence is told from the viewpoint of quite a few characters, which I found really interesting: the way their stories go back and forth in time and are layered on top of each other made the unravelling of the story utterly fascinating and near impossible to put down. Linda is a former MP who resigned in disgrace a few years previously and is now writing a book. Her son Gabriel is a famous comedian who has been accused of murder and just wants his mother to believe that he’s innocent.

I’ll be honest and say that I thought this book was going to be about how a mother tried to cover up what her adult son had done but it is so much more more than I even expected. Seeing the story through both Linda and Gabriel’s eyes really gave such an insight into why they are the way they are with each other. I felt sorry for Gabriel at times for the way his mum just didn’t seem to show she cared but then we’d see her point of view and I could understand more. This novel goes on to be a wider look at child abuse and it makes for difficult reading at times; there are moments that really got to me but I never felt that I needed to stop reading and I put that down to how well written and how well researched this book is.

This is a book that explores what good and bad are, and whether both traits can exist in one person. It explores power and the people who abuse it. The real heart of the book though is in each act of silence. The perpetrators in this book kept quiet because it meant they got away with it, but the interest for me was in the victims and how they kept silent because they thought they wouldn’t be believed. Then later they just didn’t want to have to cope with the fall out of speaking out. Seeing the story from multiple perspectives really gives you pause for thought in this book, and it really made me think.

An Act of Silence is a tense, atmospheric thriller that will really get under your skin. It builds and builds and reaches a point where you feel like you can’t breathe, and you just simply have to know what the outcome is going to be. It’s a very powerful novel that will give you pause for thought, and it’s one that will really stay with me. I highly, highly recommend this book!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley.

An Act of Silence is out now in paperback and ebook!

 

About the Author

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Colette McBeth is the critically acclaimed author of psychological thrillers, Precious Thing and The Life I Left Behind. Her new book, An Act of Silence, about a mother faced with an impossible choice to save her son, is now available in paperback.

Colette was a BBC TV News television correspondent for ten years during which time she covered many major crime stories and worked out of Westminster as a political reporter. Prior to that, she was a news editor for Sky News.

Colette is a member of Killer Women, the female collective of crime writers.

(Author bio taken from: colettemcbeth.co.uk)

 

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

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Reading Bingo Results for 2017!

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I really enjoyed looking through my reading at the end of 2016 to see if I could complete this reading bingo so I couldn’t resist having another go at it today to see if my reading in 2017 could fill the whole square. I didn’t plan my reading around the bingo, I’m purely looking back at the books I read to see if they fit! Here goes…

 

A book with more than 500 pages

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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I read a few books that were over 500 pages last year but I’m choosing this book because it has 849 pages and was the longest book I read in 2017!

 

A forgotten classic

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The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

I’m not 100% sure that this counts as a forgotten classic but it’s the only book that I read last year that sort of counts so I’m using it for this square. It’s a brilliant novel so if you haven’t read it already I definitely recommend it.

A book that became a movie

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I really enjoyed reading this book and I’m intrigued to see how they’ve gone about making the movie adaptation when it comes out later this year!

A book published this year

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Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This book was published in 2017 in ebook and I loved it. If you want to read my review on it please click the title above.

A book with a number in the title

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Three Days and A Life by Pierre LeMaitre

I read a few books with a number in the title last year but I’m using this one for this square because it’s one of those books that really got under my skin and I still think about it. I love this author’s writing.

 

A book written by someone under thirty

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Sofa So Good by Scarlett Moffatt

I was unsure how many of the books I read last year had authors under 30 but I knew Scarlett Moffatt definitely was and I very much enjoyed this book so decided to choose it for this square!

 

A book with non-human characters

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The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

This is a wonderful novel about a man who on a missionary trip to another planet, so this novel features alien beings.

 

A funny book

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How to be Champion by Sarah Millican

This is a funny book, because Sarah Millican is a very funny person so it counts as my choice for the funny book square. The book is also very honest and moving and I recommend it. You can read my review if you click the title above.

A book by a female author

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Most of the books that I read last year were by female authors so there were many books that I could have picked for this square but I decided to go with this one as it’s a book that I really enjoyed.

A book with a mystery

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The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

I picked this book for my mystery square because it’s such a good novel with more than one mystery at its heart. I read most of this book in one sitting because I just had to know.. and the reveal when it came was stunning!

A book with a one-word title

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Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir

I wanted to feature this book in a post looking over my reading as it was such a great read. It meets the criteria for this square and gives me a chance to shout about it again. The follow up to this book is one of my most eagerly anticipated books, I can’t wait to find out what happens next! You can read my full review if you click on the title above.

A book of short stories

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How Much the Heart Can Hold

This is a gorgeous short story collection and I very much enjoyed reading it. The stories are each written by a different author and some I loved more than others but all gave me something to think about.

 

A book set on a different continent

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Little Deaths by Emma Flint

This book is set in America and I live in the UK so it definitely meets the criteria for this square. It’s also another chance to shout about this brilliant novel that still lingers in my mind almost a year after I read it.

 

A book of nonfiction

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Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

This is a brilliant book by a leading heart surgeon all about his time as a surgeon. It’s a very open and honest memoir, a book that really moved me. I recommend this if you haven’t already read it.

 

The first book by a favourite author

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I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

This is a bit of a cheat for this square but I’m counting it because it’s the first non-fiction book by my favourite author. This is an incredible book, it was my favourite non-fiction book of 2017 and I’m going to be recommending it for a long time to come. I already can’t wait to re-read it!

A book you heard about online

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The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I heard a lot of booktubers talking about this book a while ago and so I bought a copy. It then languished on my TBR for a little while but I finally picked it up last year. I really enjoyed reading about Helen Russell’s year in Denmark and I recommend this one.

A bestselling book

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The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This was such a great novel, I really enjoyed every minute of reading it. It really does look at female friendship and also how society views women. It’s a book that’s stayed with me and one I hope to re-read in the future. If you’d like to read my full review please click on the title above.

 

A book based on a true story

One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

This book was the first that came to mind when thinking of a book based on a true story because I actually picked this up thinking it was a work of non-fiction. It’s a really harrowing book where the writer explores the terrorist attack at the Bataclan in Paris. I read it because I’ve been exploring trauma again as I worked through my own PTSD last year. You can read my full review by clicking on the title above.

A book at the bottom of your to be read pile

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This book was on my TBR for around twenty years before I finally read it last year! I bought it the year it was first released in hardback and it’s been with me through three house moves. I always knew that I would read it one day but for some reason it intimidated me and I kept putting it off. I’m kicking myself now because I when I finally read it, I loved it.

 

A book your friend loves

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

I could have used a lot of books for this one as I’ve made a lot of friends through blogging and see many book recommendations. I chose this one as I’ve not seen anyone say that didn’t enjoy it. I very much enjoyed this book and highly recommend it if you haven’t read it yet. My review is in the link in the title if you’d like to know more.

A book that scares you

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

This book really scared me! I knew it was going to scare me when I first got it and I wasn’t wrong. I ended up finishing this late at night because I simply had to know how it was going to end before I went to bed, and I was so glad my husband was home with me because I was properly unnerved! I highly recommend this one though, it’s so good. My full review can be found by clicking on the title!

A book that is more than 10 years old

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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I chose Bel Canto for this square because it fits the criteria but also because it was a chance to feature it on my blog. I took a long time to come to this book but found it a beautifully written novel and one that really got to me. I recommend it.

The second book in a series

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Watch Me by Angela Clarke

I had a couple of books that I could have picked for this square but I went with this one because I’m really enjoying the Social Media series. I have the third one on my TBR but haven’t managed to get to it yet, I definitely plan to read it in 2018 though.

Book with a blue cover

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Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

I picked this book for this square because this book is such a beautiful thing to behold. I have read it and while I enjoyed it it isn’t my favourite by this author, the book itself is gorgeous though.

Free Square!

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The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

I listened to the audio book of this between Christmas and New Year and I loved it so wanted to use this for my free square. I highly recommend this to all book lovers!

 

So I managed to complete my reading bingo for 2017, which I’m happy about! Have you filled in the reading bingo square for your reading last year? I’d love to know your results if you have.

WWW Wednesday (10 Jan)! 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:

Winter by Ali Smith

This book was one of my Christmas gifts from my husband and it’s such an incredible novel. I’m deliberately reading it slowly because I want to savour it, to make sure I don’t miss a thing.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

This book is so good! It’s one of those books that’s really hard to put down and I may even finish reading it before this post goes up. I’m on the blog tour for it on Friday so my review will be up then.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

I started reading this before Christmas but got side-tracked by Christmas reading. I’ve been wanting to get back to it though so I’ve picked it back up this week. It’s such a heartbreaking book but so important.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I can never resist a de-cluttering book and this is my latest pick! I’m enjoying reading this and making paragraphs that I can refer back to. It’s inspiring me to want to have another clear out in my house once I recover from this horrible lingering virus that I have.

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This is my latest audio book and it’s okay. I was intrigued when I spotted it as it’s by the woman who inspired the character of Alex in Orange is the New Black. So far it’s not grabbing me but I want to give it a bit longer to see if it picks up.

 

What I recently finished reading:

South and West by Joan Didion

I picked this up after really enjoying reading Blue Nights towards the end of last year. South and West didn’t move me in the same way but it was a really fascinating read non-the-less. I recommend this one.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

This is a review book that has languished on my TBR for way longer than it should have but I’m pleased to say that when I read it over the last few days I enjoyed it. I’m hoping to get my review written and posted for next week so pleased look out for that.

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor

This is a graphic non-fiction novel and I’ve been really keen to read it so I was thrilled to spot it on Netgalley recently. It’s a short book but it really made me think. Once I’ve digested it a bit more I will be writing a review on here.

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

This was such a good read for around Christmas time and I’m really glad I picked it up. It’s a fast-paced read and I really enjoyed it.

What I plan on reading next:

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

I’ve had this book on my review pile for a while now and time has got away from me but I’m finally going to make this one of my next reads. I’m really looking forward to this, it’s one of my anticipated reads of this year.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I’ve been saving this book to read this month because Joanna Cannon’s writing always feels like a solace. I’m planning to find an afternoon where I can just curl up and get lost in this book. It’s another of my highly anticipated reads for 2018.

Waco by David Thibodeau and Leon Whiteson

This is another review book and I’ve been really intrigued to read this one as I’ve always been fascinated by cults so this book caught my eye.

 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

2017 Reading Reflections, Bookish Plans for 2018 & The State of my TBR!

 

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I set myself a goal to read 200 books in 2017 and that felt like a good number – one that would push me to read instead of faffing about but also one that would allow me to read some bigger books that have been languishing on my bookcases for a while. I ended up reading 252 books, which is the most books I’ve read in a year since I started my Goodreads account and began tracking my reading in 2010!

 

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According to Goodreads the shortest book that I read was Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope, which was 39 pages long. It’s such a gorgeous book and was a joy to read in the run up to the festive period. The longest book I read was The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton at 849 pages long. I devoured this book over the course of a few days and I loved it. I was expecting it to be a bit of a trudge at times but it it really wasn’t. I do think it’s a book best enjoyed in big chunks though, I don’t think I would have followed it so well if I’d dipped in and out of it over a longer period. My average page count for the year was 325 pages, which I’m really happy with because that’s roughly the length of an average-ish book so it means I wasn’t reading short books to make up numbers.

I took on the Mount TBR 2017 challenge on Goodreads last year and I chose to try and read 100 books from my TBR that I owned before the 31 December 2016 and I’m so pleased that I achieved this. One of the books that made it onto my favourite novels of the year was The Poisonwood Bible, which I had owned unread for around TWENTY YEARS! I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long because I loved it and it’s a book that has really stayed with me. I haven’t signed up for the 2018 Mount TBR Challenge as yet but I probably will do as it’s a good way to give some attention to books that have been on my TBR for a while.

2017 was the first year that I properly tracked my reading in a spreadsheet and I have to say that I have ADORED being able to see how my reading pans out in much more detail and to track things that Goodreads doesn’t really enable me to do.

 

 

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I discovered from my spreadsheet in 2017 that of the 252 books I read over the year 182 of them (72%) were written by women. I didn’t consciously seek to read more female authors over the year so it was interesting that I read so many more women than men. I’m now interested to see if this is usual pattern in my read as I go into my second year of tracking my books on a spreadsheet.

 

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I read more books in December than any other month… 29 books! This is because around Christmas I do like to read some poetry and also some children’s Christmas books, which are often shorter than novels for adults. My page count for December was still high at 8480. Going by page count February was my biggest reading month coming in at 8495 pages spread over 26 books!

 

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It was interesting to see where my reading tastes lie over the course of a year and to see what genres I read the most of too. 31% of my reading was non-fiction (spread over general non-fiction and memoir), which works out at 79 books. I’m pleased with this in the sense that I did push myself out of my comfort zone a bit more with non-fiction and read some harder books. I would like to increase the ratio of non-fiction to fiction in 2018 if I can. My fiction reading is mostly split between general fiction and thriller/crime fiction, which doesn’t surprise me. I love thrillers and knew I’d read a lot of them last year.

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This is a breakdown of my entire owned books TBR by page-length…

As some of you may remember I started tracking my TBR part way through 2017 as I was trying to force myself to get it under control. I thought it would be interesting to do TBR maths on my wrap-up posts to try and stop buying more books than I was reading. This ended in complete and utter failure! I had a couple of months in the summer where I wasn’t really reading or blogging much but I was still buying books to cheer myself up. Then during a de-clutter of my house I found a whole load of books that had never been added to Goodreads so had never been counted on my TBR. It all felt a bit overwhelming so after my blogging break I decided to scrap tracking my TBR but I promised I would start again in 2018 and I will. This year I’m using Portal in the Pages‘ fab spreadsheet again and she has now included a page where you can add your entire TBR of books owned before the start of the year and the spreadsheet will keep a running total. I am excited beyond words at this… Well, I was until I realised just how big my TBR is! My entire TBR of books owned-but-not-read-yet stands at 2756 books! Eeeek! I really am going to curb my book accumulating this year and am going to make a real effort to reduce this number so will be tracking my TBR on my monthly wrap-up posts, and possibly on my weekly posts too.

So all-in-all 2017 was a great reading year and I’m really looking forward to reading my way through 2018 (and attempting to reduce my TBR)! How was your reading last year? Did you have any goals, and if so did you achieve them? What are your reading plans for 2018? If you’ve written a post about your bookish reflections please feel free to leave a link in the comments and I’ll make sure that I read it.

 

 

My Top Non-Fiction Reads from 2017!

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Today I’m sharing my top non-fiction books that I read in 2017! I posted my fiction favourites yesterday, which you can read here, and because I have read quite a lot of non-fiction over the last year it seemed fitting that it got its own list!

So, in no particular order here are the non-fiction books that I loved in 2017:

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Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while and finally picked it up towards the end of last year. I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long because once I picked it up I was engrossed until I finished reading the entire book. It’s a scary and fascinating story of a rare illness and how it affected her.

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The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson

This was my first ever Maggie Nelson book and it absolutely won’t be my last. Her writing is incredible and moving. This book is her exploration of her thoughts and feelings around the re-opening of the investigation into her aunt’s murder.

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The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

This book is described as being a biography of cancer and it’s fascinating! I put off reading it because I worried it would be very heavy but it actually wasn’t. I learnt things that I didn’t know and it was such a page turner of a book.

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Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand with Decca Aitkenhead

This book has made my list because it was such an honest and open memoir about Rio’s grief over the loss of his wife. Later in the book he shares the things that really helped him through the darkest days and all the suggestions are excellent. I recommend this to anyone but particularly those who are grieving. You can read my full review here.

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Just Kids by Patti Smith

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while and somehow never picked it up until 2017. I’m so glad that I finally got to it because I loved every second that I spent reading this book, it’s wonderful.

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Good Night and Good Riddance by David Cavanagh

This is a book containing a wide selection of John Peel’s radio shows. There are descriptions of the shows, parts of transcripts and short lists of the bands and singers he had on his show. I adored this book, it reminded me all over again how many artists I discovered through listening to John Peel.

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It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice

This is another book that I put off reading for a long time because it felt like it might be a bit too close to home for me. I’m so glad that I finally read it because it’s a really moving and honest account of living with MND. It actually felt quite life-affirming and it’s a book I highly recommend.

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

This is a brilliant book that really does what it says on the cover. I read this in one sitting when I bought it and have since dipped in and out of it, it is a comfort and a solace to have this book to go back to as needed.

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Good as You by Paul Flynn

This is a non-fiction book that I bought and started reading immediately. I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a look over the last thirty years of homosexuality in Britain and it’s fascinating from beginning to end.

How to Survive a Plague- The Story of Activists and Scientists by David France

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This book took me a little while to read but it’s one that has really stayed with me. It’s a look at the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and is a really detailed account of how it was for people dying from AIDS alongside what was happening politically and medically. It’s a harrowing read but one that I highly recommend.

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I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

My list of non-fiction is roughly in no particular order but I have to be honest and admit that this book is my top non-fiction book of the entire year. I’m a massive Maggie O’Farrell fan so to read this book and find out more about her life was brilliant. There were things in this book that sent shivers down my spine because similar things have happened to me, and it really made me think. This is a book that I want to re-read this year, and I fully intend to keep on shouting from the rooftops about how amazing this book is and how everyone should read it!

I really enjoyed the non-fiction that I read in 2017 and am already looking forward to discovering lots more non-fiction in 2018. Have you got a non-fiction favourite from last year? Or any books you can recommend me? Here’s to a great reading year in 2018!

My Favourite Novels read in 2017!

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In 2017 I read 252 books, many of them were such brilliant reads, so it’s been really hard picking my top books of the year. Today I’m sharing my top novels read last year, and tomorrow I will share my top non-fiction reads so please look out for that post.

In no particular order the novels that I have loved, and the ones that are really staying with me are:

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This book had (shamefully) been on my TBR for almost TWENTY years! I originally bought it in hardback soon after it was published and over the years have also bought a paperback and ebook copy but was still intimidated to start reading it. Well, I finally picked it up in 2017 and it’s been a huge lesson to me in not avoiding books because I adored it from start to finish. It really got to me and I still find myself thinking about it now.

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The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

This book made the list because I love the way it explored the idea of fate and whether some things are meant to be, or not. It really got to me and it’s a book that I often find myself thinking about. You can find my full review here.

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The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

I loved this novel because I’m someone who wonders about lost things and this book gave me hope and comfort that the precious things I’ve lost over the years might be somewhere being looked after. You can find my full review here.

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The Way Back to Us by Kay Langdale

This is a novel that I read in one sitting, it just had me hooked from the very first page and I still find myself thinking about the family and wondering how they are now. The Way Back to Us explores family dynamics in a way that really makes you think and feel about each and every person involved. I highly recommend this book. You can find my full review here.

The wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

This is a wonderful novel about Della who wants to be a pilot in a time when it was near impossible for a woman to train as such a thing. I adored this book, and the characters in it. The writing is so evocative that I really felt I was with Della every step of the way throughout this book. You can find my full review here.

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All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

All the Wicked Girls is one of those really special novels that just gets under your skin very early on. I still find myself thinking about the characters in this small town and wondering how their lives turned out. This book is just incredible and I implore you to read it if you haven’t already.  You can find my full review here.

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Little Deaths by Emma Flint

This is a fascinating novel looking at how women are viewed in the wake of something terrible happening. Ruth is a single mum who enjoys nights out once her children are in bed. One night her children go missing and the spotlight is on Ruth intensely from that moment on. She is judged by everyone for everything. This is a novel that really stays with you and I definitely recommend it. You can find my full review here.

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

This is a brilliant crime thriller, one that has really stayed with me in the months since I read it. It’s a harrowing read at times but the writing, and the characters make it a book that you need to keep reading. I’m eagerly anticipating the next novel! You can find my full review here.

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

This novel is so good! I was a little apprehensive about it as I don’t like horror, I don’t like to feel properly scared but this book was just so brilliant that I couldn’t put it down. I loved every minute that I spent reading it and I can’t wait to see what the author writes next. You can find my full review here.

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Sweetpea by CJ Skuse

This is another brilliant novel that I loved reading in 2017. It’s very disconcerting when you read a book about a serial killer but find yourself agreeing with some of the things that annoy her. It’s full of dark humour but it’s such a good read, one I’m sure I’ll go back to in the future. You can find my full review here.

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Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

This was a novel that I was desperate to get my hands on from the minute I first saw the publisher share a photo of the cover. The novel did not let me down! It grabbed me from the start and it kept me engrossed to the very end. It’s a novel about female friendship and obsession and it’s brilliant! You can find my full review here.

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The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

A quote from my own review of this book: ‘This is such a modern novel. On face value this is a novel about the breakdown of a marriage but it’s really about so much more than that. It’s such an incisive, multi-layered novel about the society we live in. It’s a character-driven story, which looks at class and race issues; it looks at how we define poverty. Amanda Craig really captures our society in a genuine and honest way, whilst also giving it a good dose of dark humour, wryness and wit’. The novel has really stayed in my mind since I read it so I highly recommend it! You can find my full review here.

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The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

This is such a gripping and compelling novel that really got to me. I hadn’t heard of it before I was offered the chance to read and review it but I fell in love with it on reading it. Hattie Hoffman is one of those characters that really got under my skin and my heart was breaking for her as I read her story. Go read this book if you haven’t already. You can find my full review here.

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Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech

This book appealed to me because Louise’s first novel was one of my favourite books last year, and also because this one is set during the floods in Hull. I knew this book would be one I loved but it even surpassed that very high expectation. I got so engrossed in Catherine’s story and felt at such a loss after finishing this book. I still think about this novel and wonder how Catherine is. You can find my full review here.

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

I won an advance proof of this book and was so excited when it arrived. It was one of the first books that I read in 2017 and it stayed with me throughout the year and absolutely deserves a place as one of my favourite reads of the year. This is such a visceral and evocative novel and I still feel like I’ve been in that house where Lizzie Borden took her axe. If you haven’t read this novel yet, go grab a copy and read it asap! You can find my full review here.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I loved this book from start to finish! Eleanor Oliphant is such a fascinating character, and one I couldn’t help but like. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a tender and moving look at loneliness, at how it is to be given a chance and what it is to find a friend having had a lifetime of just getting through the days. A beautiful novel that I highly recommend. You can find my full review here.

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The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

This book came into my life at such a perfect time that it seemed meant to be. It’s an exploration of the complexities of pain, in all its forms, and how we deal with the darkest moments of life. Ravine is someone who will really stay in my heart, I won’t ever forget this book and what it means to me. You can find my full review here.

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Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin

I adored this novel, almost beyond being able to put into words. It had a lot to live up to as Ghostbird, Carol’s previous novel, very quickly became one of my all-time favourite books but I’m happy to say that Snow Sisters did live up to it. Carol is an incredible writer that weaves stories that just wrap around you and pull you right in. I highly, highly recommend this book. You can find my full review here.

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Tin Man by Sarah Winman

This book broke my heart – I read it in one sitting and I fell completely and utterly in love with it. It was stunning and it’s definitely a book that I want to re-read soon. I didn’t manage to write a review when I read it but I will review it when I read it again. It’s a beautiful novel and it’s stolen my heart!

So, there’s my list of the best novels that I read in 2017! It was an amazing reading year and I’m already so excited to be in a new year and discovering lots more fabulous books. What was your favourite novel from 2017? If you’ve blogged about it please feel free to leave a link and I will go read your post and leave a comment.

Tomorrow (all being well!) I’ll be sharing my top non-fiction reads from last year so please look out for that post!

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

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

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Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

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

 

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

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

 

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

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

 

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

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

 


 

 

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

All four of the above books are out now!

 

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

 

FICTION MINI REVIEW PICS

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

 

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All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

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

 

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

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

 

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

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

 

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I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

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

 

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31 Days of Wonder by Tom Winter

 

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

 


 

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

All five of these books are out now!

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

 

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

 

 

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The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

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

 

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After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

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

 

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Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath

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

 

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In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

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

 

 


 

 

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

All four of these fab thrillers are out now!

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the Wicked Girls is out now!

 

About the Author

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

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Ragbag of Riches is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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

 

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