Mini Book Reviews | Feminism, Strong Women, Thrillers and Messed-Up Romance! #BookReview

I have some more mini book reviews to share with you all today! I’m slowly catching up now. 🙂

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Him by Clare Empson

This book was incredible, I read it months ago now and have put off reviewing it because it’s impossible to put into words what I thought of it. In the present day Catherine has elective mutism, something traumatic has happened to her and now she can’t speak. It’s heart-breaking knowing the pain she’s in, and the struggle she’s having while knowing she can’t articulate what she’s thinking. In the past, fifteen years previously we slowly get to see Catherine and Lucien’s story. Lucien is from a different walk of life to Catherine and spends his time with his friends being rather unlikeable. Catherine and Lucien had a passionate and fiery relationship. The book flicks between the past and the present and we see Catherine and Lucien’s perspectives. Gradually we begin to see why these two fell for each other and a sense of unease begins to build as to why Catherine has ended up unable to speak. The end when it comes is a shock and left me breathless. This is one of those books that is impossible to do justice to but it’s beautifully written, compelling and just brilliant. I highly recommend this on. I’m already looking forward to whatever Clare Empson writes next!

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The Dark Path / You Were Made For This by Michelle Sacks

I read this novel when it was called You Were Made For this but I believe it’s now been re-titled The Dark Path. I prefer the first title but the new one works too. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this novel but it wasn’t what I got (and that’s a good thing!). It initially seems that Merry is the perfect mother to her young baby – she bakes, gardens and supports her husband whilst looking after their child. Sam is busy pursuing his film career from their new home in the woods in Sweden. Then Merry’s old friend Frank comes to stay and soon the cracks in the Merry and Sam’s marriage, and in each of their careful facades, begin to show. This book quickly feels dark, there’s so much tension simmering away and you just know something awful is going to happen but you don’t know what. I found this book really hard to put down and when I finished it it was lodged in my head for such a long time. I recommend this!

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Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

This book was really good, it was such an engrossing read and I still keep thinking about it and it’s weeks and weeks since I read it. This novel follows multiple women in a world were their reproductive rights have been stripped from them. Ro is a single woman who is desperate to be a mother, she can’t adopt because she’s not married and IVF is now illegal. One of Ro’s students is pregnant but doesn’t want to be; abortion is illegal so she’s desperate to find some way of getting rid of her baby. Gin is an outcast, who lives on the fringes of their society, she makes potions and natural remedies to help women but now the authorities are on a witch-hunt. This book is chilling to read at times, it feels very prescient and very possible. It’s a brilliant novel though, one that really makes you think as you learn more about the different perspectives and find out how these women are linked. This is a book I definitely recommend.

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Vox by Christine Dalcher

I’ve been so eager to read this novel, it’s such a fascinating concept. Pretty much over night women are rendered powerless – their bank accounts are frozen, their passports have been taken away and they all wear a bracelet which counts each of the 100 words they’re allowed to use per day. If they go over that, they are shocked with high volts of electricity. Jean is the main character in this novel. She’s struggling to discipline her sons when she can’t speak in a normal way; one son is beginning to see himself as more powerful and she doesn’t know what she can do. She’s also finding it really hard to help her young daughter to understand that she can’t speak even when she’s having a nightmare and frightened. For me, the first two thirds of this book were really good, I didn’t want to put it down and was keen to see how things were going to end up. Unfortunately the last third took away from the first part as even when women were sensing a chance to re-gain power, the men were still involved. I also struggled throughout the book with strange phrasing and metaphors that made no sense.  All in all this was an interesting read and I wouldn’t discourage people from reading it but it didn’t live up to my expectations.

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Mini Crime and Thriller Book reviews! #bookreview

I’ve got some more mini reviews to share today! Hope you enjoy them.

 

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Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

I love Sarah Pinborough’s writing so was thrilled when I won a hardback copy of her latest book earlier this year. I finally got to read it a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. This is the story of Lisa, who is mum to a teenage daughter Ava. She’s very protective of her daughter and worries constantly about where she is and what she’s doing. The novel slowly ramps up the tension to the reveal as to why she’s so protective and then we see the past and present slowly begin to catch up to each other as the novel hurtles to its conclusion! This was a really good read but it’s not my favourite Pinborough novel. I loved Behind Her Eyes so much and this just didn’t quite live up to it. It’s still a great read about how the past catches up with us, and the lengths people will go to when they feel betrayed.

 

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Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

This is a brilliant thriller about a young woman, Geo. When Geo was 16 her best friend Angela disappeared without trace, and Geo knows something about that night but she’ll never tell. Calvin, Geo’s first love, has been revealed to be a serial killer, he’s escaped custody and is now on the run and more women are being murdered! This novel is so dark and twisty and I found it near impossible to put down. It’s fast-paced and kept me on my toes throughout.

 

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Toxic by Nicci Cloke

This is such a good novel about Hope who is excited to be going on holiday with some of her best mates – she’s been given honorary ‘lad’ status and couldn’t be happier. The first couple of days are everything she wishes for but then things take a darker turn at a party. Hope tries to kiss her ex and he rejects her, she then gets very drunk and the next thing she knows she’s waking up on a beach the following morning. The novel is told in three sections, each with a different narrator. The first is really fun and summery as we follow this group of friends on holiday. The second is when dealing with the fall out of what happened to each of them on the night of the big party. The final section looks at the aftermath and really deals with some tough issues. The novel as a whole is really good. It’s about mental health, toxic masculinity and how tough it is to be a teen. I recommend this one.

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Believe Me by JP Delaney

This is a novel about Claire, a British actress trying to make it in New York and ends up working as a honey trap to make ends meet. She then gets drawn into a plot to try and trap a man who is suspected of killing his wife. This book sounded so good and I was really looking forward to reading it but I struggled to get in to it. I ended up buying the audio book and while it worked better for me as on audio I did find the whole plot was just too over the top for me. It was a fun enough read but it’s not a book that will stay with me. I think that maybe this author just isn’t for me as I know others have really enjoyed it.

 

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Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

This is a really gripping read about a couple – Erin is a documentary filmmaker and Mark who is a banker – they’re about to be married but Mark has started being really moody. It turns out he’s in financial difficulties, while at the same time Erin’s career is going well as she’s gained access to a notorious gangster in prison and is going to be making a film about him. The couple tweak their wedding plans and manage to afford to still go on their dream honeymoon and that’s when life gets really complicated. This is a novel about moral dilemmas, and about trust. You do need to suspend disbelief at times but that doesn’t take away from the novel at all. This is such a gripping, fast-paced read, and one that I couldn’t stop thinking about whenever I wasn’t reading it. I’ll definitely be looking out for more books by this author!

 

#BookReview: Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando | @badzelda @unbound_digital @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Sachiko and her husband Harry live in a village on the North-east coast of Japan. They are both struggling to adapt to life as new parents to their infant son Tashi. In the aftermath of the tsunami, Sachiko wakes alone. Her family is missing. She begins a desperate search until radiation fallout from the Fukushima power plant forces her to leave the area. She moves to Tokyo, and a different life. Harry has fled to a refuge on an isolated mountain, abandoning his family. He lives there, haunted by guilt and hovering on the edge of sanity. Will they find each other and confront the question of their missing son?

 

My Thoughts

I’d not heard of Fukushima Dreams before I was offered a chance to read and review it for this blog tour but I am so very glad that it found its way to me. This is one of those really special novels that works its way into your heart and doesn’t leave, even after you’ve finished reading it.

Sachiko is caught up in a tsunami and when she wakes she is struggling to understand what has happened to her and where her husband and baby son are. She has survived and is alone in a crowded make-shift shelter. Unknown to her, her husband Harry fled their home during the initial earthquake and is sheltering in a hut on a mountain in the middle of nowhere.

I’ve struggled to write this review because Fukushima Dreams was so much more than I was expecting it to be and it’s taken hold of my thoughts and won’t let them go. This is such a beautiful, lyrical and almost dream-like novel. It’s a quiet story in many ways but it’s so powerful at the same time. It’s written in a way that you feel like you are right there with Sachiko as she struggles to comprehend what on earth has happened her and to her home.

The tsunami and the devastation it left in its wake are a large part of this novel but there is so much more to it too. We slowly come to find out that Sachiko is a new mum and has been struggling to bond with her baby. Her husband Harry was trying to write and was being driven to distraction by the baby’s constant crying and this young couple’s marriage was starting to fall apart. As a reader it’s clear that Sachiko has post-natal depression or something similar but within the novel they don’t seek medical help for her and she’s left feeling increasingly depressed and is isolating herself from the world. I felt such sympathy for her and was hoping that Harry would do something to help her but it seemed like he retreated into himself in order to work. I don’t think he understood that Sachiko couldn’t just snap out of it, and that she needed support.

As I was reading it felt like the tsunami, while clearly really happening, was also a metaphor for what happened to Sachiko when she had her baby. The fear, the confusion, the not knowing what to do or where to go, and finally the sheer overwhelming despair of ever finding normal again. And I also found that the way Harry deals with the earthquake by running away from his family and becoming so isolated on the mountain was like he was experiencing what Sachiko went through in her post-natal depression. The haze, the inability to think clearly and the sense of being so completely alone. There is real symmetry in the internal thought processes of the two characters and what is happening in the place they live. Everything has been in a state of chaos for a while and the tsunami compounds it all.

I was rooting for Sachiko to find out what happened to her husband and son, I can’t imagine what it must be like to experience a disaster on this scale and not know where your family are and if they survived. I wanted her to find some happiness. Seeing her journey as she begins to think about life again was so moving. The ending of this book is one that really makes you stop in your tracks though. I don’t want to say too much about what happens later in the novel because this really is a book to not know too much about before you read it. You need to pick it up and fall into the pages and experience this beautiful and heart-breaking novel yourself.

I finished reading Fukushima Dreams a few weeks ago now and I’ve since re-written this review quite a few times because I just can’t do it justice. It’s a simply incredible novel and I won’t ever forget it. Please just go get a copy and read it, it really is stunning!

A moving, lyrical novel about how people cope when the worst happens to them.

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

Fukushima Dreams is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Zelda Rhiando was born in Dublin and read English Literature at Cambridge. She lives in South London with her husband, two daughters and four cats, and is one of the founders of the Brixton BookJam. She is the author of two novels, Caposcripti and Fukushima Dreams.

 

Website: http://www.badzelda.com/

Twitter : @badzelda

 

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

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Corrupted by Simon Michael | Extract | Urbane Extravaganza! @simonmichaeluk @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksGroupTours

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Today I’m taking part in the Urbane Extravaganza blog tour where each day a different  blog features one of Urbane’s books! I’m featuring Corrupted by Simon Michael and am sharing an extract from the book with you all.

 

Extract

 

 

Chapter 5

Tuesday, 30 June 1964

11.10 hours

Mrs Murphy hadn’t wanted to let the attic room to Mr Maurice Drake. She smelt trouble the instant her eyes landed on him as he stood on her step, him in his flash suit and twinkling eyes. But he was obviously clean in his habits and he sure was a charmer. After ten minutes of sweet-talk- ing he’d shown her two months’ rent in advance together with the deposit – and her resistance had crumbled. Despite the dearth of rented accommodation in London, the attic room had been empty for nearly three months. The windows rattled every time a train passed, it was two flights of stairs down to the shared bathroom, and most people were put off by the stale stink just outside the bedsit’s door; the cooking smells from the various stoves in the large house just seemed to gather there despite her constant mopping and polish- ing. So she needed the money and couldn’t afford to leave the room empty much longer. And thereafter he’d been no trouble. His hours were odd, but he said he worked in the casino business, so that was to be expected. He was always polite to the other occupants when he met them on the stairs, and once he had even brought her shopping in for her when the telephone had caught her unawares, and she’d had to take the call because it was Kathleen calling from Dublin just after her hysterectomy.

 

But the two men now standing on her step frighten her. They too are well-dressed pretty young men but they have none of the easy charm of Mr Drake. There’s ice in their eyes; the same ice she’s seen all too often in the eyes of her brothers and their Sinn Féin colleagues. So although they ask prettily enough for permission to look upstairs for their friend, she knows she has no choice.

‘You’d better come in then,’ she says in her thick Irish accent. ‘I’ve not seen him for a couple of days. It’s been quiet up there, so I assumed he was at work.’

She opens the door wider for them and they step into her immaculate, just washed and waxed hallway. She closes the door and makes to lead them up the stairs but the smaller one lays a hand on her shoulder.

‘That’s all right missus,’ he says. He speaks with an accent; French, thinks Mrs Murphy, or maybe Italian. ‘We know where it is.’

‘But I’ve got to let you in,’ she says.

The boy shakes his head and holds out his hand for the key. Mrs Murphy stares at him for a moment and then takes out of her apron pocket a large keyring crowded with eight or ten keys. It takes a while to work Mr Drake’s free of the others but she finally places the shiny bronze piece of metal in the boy’s open palm.

‘I’ll bring it right back,’ he assures her.

She watches the two suited men climbing the stairs quietly, pausing as they pass the bedsits on the lower land- ings to listen for any trouble that might suddenly emerge from behind closed doors. She waits a while in the hall but then retreats to her front parlour to make herself busy, leaving the door propped open with her walking stick so she can hear their return.

 

The men come down ten minutes later. Mrs Murphy had not heard them approach but all of a sudden they are in her parlour, one of them closing the door and leaning with his back on it. She looks from one to the other, now actually frightened.

‘What’s your name, love?’ asks the taller of the men, the one standing by her best sideboard and eyeing her china.

‘Mrs Murphy.’

‘Well, see, Mrs Murphy, we have a bit of a problem. Have you been up there in the last coupla days?’

‘No. I had no call to.’
‘Okay. I need you to sit down now.’
‘I don’t want to sit down. I want you to leave or I’ll call the police.’ She pronounces the last word po-liss, which makes the man smile.

‘There ain’t no reason to be afraid, Mrs Murphy, but I think you should sit down as I’ve got a bit of a shock for you.’

He gives her a hard stare and again Mrs Murphy realises that she’s not being offered a choice. She pulls out one of the chairs from her dining room set and sits down slowly.

‘See, now, we’ve also had a bit of a shock. It looks like our friend has had an accident or he’s been taken ill. What we want to do is call for some help, and have him taken away. There’s no reason for you to worry.’

‘What, an ambulance?’

The man hesitates. ‘Yes, something like that. So my col- league here is going to make a call from the phone in the hall, and I need you to stay in here till we’ve all gone. It won’t take long.’

 

‘It’s my house,’ says Mrs Murphy firmly, standing again. She makes to walk towards the door but the man plants himself in front of her and takes her by the upper arms. When he speaks, his voice is a low growl, reverberating with menace.

‘No you don’t. You’re going to stay in here. Make your- self a cuppa, listen to the wireless – it don’t matter what – but you’re not going nowhere till I say so.’

He walks her gently backwards until her legs strike the chair and she is forced to sit down again heavily. He turns and nods to his companion, who slips out of the door. The big man stays in front of Mrs Murphy with his arms folded and they both listen as the dial of the telephone is rotated and clicks slowly back into place seven times. Money is inserted and a low conversation ensues.

‘Why dontcha make us both a nice cuppa while we wait, eh?’

Just under twenty minutes later a large American car with lots of chrome and sharp fins can be seen through the net curtains of Mrs Murphy’s parlour as it pulls up outside. Two solid-looking men in their thirties, both with wavy dark hair and expensive suits, get out. Even through the net cur- tains Mrs Murphy recognises the Kray twins immediately. The man who’s been standing guard over her, drinking his tea at the dining table in silence, stands and goes to the door. He turns.

‘Don’t leave this room. Do you understand?’
Mrs Murphy nods. Now that she has no doubt as to the nature of the men with whom she is dealing, she has no intention of leaving the room. Her guard leaves and shuts the door behind him.

She hears the front door being opened, a muttered con- versation and several heavy sets of footsteps running up the stairs towards the top of the house. There is silence for a couple of minutes. Then, through the net curtains, she sees a police car pull up outside, stopping immediately behind the American car. No bells or sirens. Two police officers get out. As they approach the front door, Mrs Murphy hears a sash window at the front of the house on the floor above being thrown open.

‘Officer! Up here!’

The voice is of one of her newest tenants on the first floor, a quiet Jamaican called Mr Francis who lives there with his wife and three-year-old girl.

‘Was it you who dialled 999, sir?’ shouts up one of the officers.

‘Yes. I just found a body on de top floor.’

22.35 hours

No. 178 Vallance Road is a narrow terraced Victorian cottage in Bethnal Green. Its occupants have long since ceased even noticing the constant rumble of the Liverpool Street-bound trains whose tracks run almost directly behind the terrace’s backyard. Voices can be heard from behind the kitchen door at the end of the narrow hallway.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray sit at the kitchen table eating pie and mash. The chef, their mother, Violet Kray, watches them with approval, smoking. She ate earlier.

 

Reggie scrapes the last remaining gravy and mash off his plate with his knife, licks the knife, and puts his cutlery down, satisfied.

‘Thanks, Mum.’ He turns to his brother, who has already finished. ‘Look, I’m as upset over Mo as you are, but—’

‘No you ain’t! You can’t be. You don’t understand!’

‘All right,’ replies Reg, placating softly. ‘I know I can’t feel the way you do, but he was my mate too.’

‘He was fucking garrotted. Did you see his head? It was half off his neck! We’re going to sort those fucking wops once and for all! And this time it won’t just be their club I’m gonna burn.’

‘I’ll tidy up,’ says Violet, clearing the plates from the table and disappearing into the scullery. As far as she’s con- cerned, her boys are misunderstood good-hearted lads who can sometimes be a bit too boisterous, and against whom the police wage a constant unjust vendetta. She wilfully closes her eyes to anything that suggests otherwise.

‘Look,’ continues Reg, keeping his voice low, ‘so far as Old Bill’s concerned, we’re in the clear. The story stacks up: he was an employee and we was only at his digs to see where he’d got to. And the landlady backed it all up, saying we’d just arrived. Ronnie, there are more important things to worry about.’

‘Such as?’
‘The Mancusos and the boy.’
‘I ain’t worried about those fucking wops. They had it

coming.’
‘No argument there. But we can’t afford a war just when

Old Bill’s sniffing around. Maybe we should let them do the job for us this time, while we get on with the most important thing: the boy.’

‘Boy?’

‘The one you gave to Driberg. Everyone at your party—’ and Reg doesn’t hide the distaste in his voice – ‘says Mo left with him, and he was staying at the bedsit. Pound to a penny the landlady or one of the other tenants saw him over the previous week, so now the filth know about him. They’ll know he was the last person to see Mo alive – maybe he even saw the murder! So, where is he?’

‘If one of the Mancuso gang did for Mo, and the boy was a witness, maybe they took him.’

‘Why would they take him? They’d just do for him as well. And why leave Mo’s body on the bed but take the boy’s away? Nah, it makes no sense. The way I figure it, either the Mancusos took him or he did a runner. But whichever, the murder squad’ll be looking for ’im, either as a witness or as a missing person. And there’s our problem. Whether he saw the murder or not, he definitely is a witness to what went on at the party.’

Ron stares at his brother, putting the pieces together. ‘And you think he’ll talk?’

‘Course he will. He’s soft as butter.’
Ronnie nods slowly. ‘Yeh.’
‘So,’ concludes Reg, ‘if he’s alive, we gotta find that fucking kid before they do.’
‘Have you told Bob Boothby what’s going on?’
‘Had to. And I’ve put the word out with everyone we know. Clarkie’s already on it.’

Urbane Pub - Extravaganza

This Week in Books (12 Dec 2018)! What are you reading this week? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

I’m really enjoying this Christmas novel and am looking forward to getting back to it!

The Advent Killer by Alastair Gunn

This is a serial killer crime novel set over Christmas. It’s really fast-paced and I’m intrigued to read more!

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

This is my current audio book. I’ve enjoyed previous Christmas novels by this author so thought I’d try her latest. It’s not got to Christmas yet but it’s a sweet, enjoyable story.

 

Then 

Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris

This is one of my favourite Christmas novels, I think I’ve read it most years ever since I first bought it! It’s a gorgeous novel about a stockroom girl who’s determined to help save the department store where she works. It’s full of vintage inspiration and is just gorgeous!

The Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders

I recently bought this on a whim as it sounded very festive and I enjoyed it. It felt like it took a while to get going but once it did I really liked it. It’s got so much Christmas in it and definitely helped lift my spirits when I was feeling unwell.

 

The Ice Monster by David Walliams

I listened to this on audiobook and very much enjoyed it. I highly recommend it on audio as it has a cast of famous people doing the different voices of the characters and I’m sure kids would love listening to it.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

I fell in love with this novel – it’s so beautiful and utterly stunning. I reviewed this yesterday so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

White Christmas by Emma Lee-Potter

I’ve had this short novella on my TBR for a few years and finally picked it up this week. I needed something short to read as I was really ill over the weekend and my concentration wasn’t up to a longer book. This was an okay read but it felt like it took a while to get going and then the ending was a bit rushed. It’s quite festive though so I appreciated that.

All I Want for Christmas by Claudia Carroll

This is a short story that has also been on my TBR for ages. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this one at all. It’s clearly not a standalone story but a prequel to a novel and it doesn’t work on its own. This isn’t made clear in the blurb so it was a let down for me.

It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

I enjoyed this Christmas novel, it wasn’t quite as festive as I hoped but it was still a lovely book. You can read my thoughts in my review here if you’d like to.

 

Next

The Present by Charlotte Phillips

This is the last Christmas ARC that I have on my TBR so I’d like to get this read and reviewed asap. I’m looking forward to it.

Murder at the Mill by M. B. Shaw

I love the sound of this book – it’s a murder mystery set at Christmas so now seems the perfect time to pick it up.

2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a couple of years now and I believe it features Christmas so I’m going to try and get to it in the coming days.

Dickens at Christmas by Charles Dickens

This is another of the gorgeous Vintage Christmas editions that I got as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. I usually read A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve every year but I haven’t read many of Dickens’ other shorter stories so I’m planning to read one or two a day over the next couple of weeks.


 

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

#BookReview: The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan @Susan_Buchanan @rararesources

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About the Book

Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?

My Thoughts

The Christmas Spirit is a gorgeous festive novella. We meet Natalie who has come to run the local cake shop for the weeks leading up to Christmas, and there is definitely something magical and sparkly about her. In the town there are a handful of people who need Natalie’s help and she’s determined to sort their lives out.

Stanley was my favourite character in the book. He’s a lonely widower who’s lost without his wife. I was so hoping that he would find a purpose and some happiness. There is also Rebecca who is a meek character that can’t seem to stand up for herself. She works for Meredith who seems like an awful, uncaring woman. Then there’s Jacob, a recent graduate who can’t find a job even though he’s trying so hard.

Natalie is a fabulous character. She hits the ground running at the cake shop and is a whirlwind at baking. All the new cakes sounded amazing and my mouth was watering every time one was described! She quickly brings real warmth and heart to the cafe and makes time for all the customers. I feel like she worked her magic on everyone in the town, not just the four people she was there to help. 

The Christmas Spirit is set from the 1st December right up until Christmas so it’s full of festivity and sparkle. I loved this novella, it warmed my heart! I definitely recommend picking this up in the run up to Christmas!

I received a copy of this book from Rachel at Rara Resourses. All thoughts are my own.

The Christmas Spirit is out now and available here.

About the Author

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Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children. She is the author of four novels: Return of the Christmas Spirit, The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. She is currently working on books five and six: The Proposal and Just One Day.

Susan is also a proofreader, editor and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows and eating out – not necessarily in that order!

Social Media Links

Facebook – www.facebook.com/susan.buchanan.author

Twitter – susan_buchanan

Blog – Sooz’s journal – www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk

Mini Thriller, Crime and Christmas #BookReviews

Today I’m sharing four more mini reviews as I continue on my quest to catch up before the end of the year!

 

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This is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This was such a good read, and one of those books that really stays with you. It’s told from two perspectives and is told in such a unique way. It opens with a party and leads to a dead body in an empty flat. Molly and Ella are left trying to work out what to do. The novel is then told from Molly’s perspective going forwards to see what happens in the aftermath, and Ella’s story begins at this point and starts going backwards in time so we slowly get to find out how she came to be here. I was hooked on this really clever novel and I can’t recommend it highly enough! I actually finished reading it a while ago now but it’s still really fresh in my mind, which is always the mark of a fab novel!

 

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You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I’ve been a huge fan of Lucy Clarke ever since her first novel came out and I’m so pleased to say that You Let Me In lived up to my very high expectations! Elle is feeling increasingly unsettled in her home ever since she rented it out when she was away. She can’t put her finger on what’s wrong but something just doesn’t feel right. The tension in this book keeps ratcheting up to the point where you can’t be sure if Elle is having a breakdown, or if she is right to be worried and that someone is out to get her. There are a few people who may have it in for her and so you’re kept on your toes all the way through this novel. I was sure I had it all worked out but I was wrong and the reveal when it comes is shocking! I definitely recommend this one!

 

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The Present by DS Devlin

I do love a crime thriller set over Christmas time so I couldn’t resist grabbing this one recently. It starts off so well when Anna, a journalist, receives a gruesome gift at her home in the days following the murder of a man and kidnap of his wife. It’s believed to be the work of the serial killer dubbed Santa Killer who has been killing people at Christmas for a few years. After a kill he leaves ‘gifts’ for twelve days of Christmas at which point the kidnap victim is usually found dead. The first part of this book had me gripped and I couldn’t put it down but it did all fall away a bit as the book went on. The problem for me is that there was only really two suspects in the book so it soon became obvious who the killer is and I just got increasingly frustrated with how Anna couldn’t work it out. I did finish the book though and I would be interested to read what the author writes next.

 

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The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm

This was a really good read too. Georgia is a courtroom artist who feels like she can see evil in people. She suffered a terrible trauma in her childhood and this has impacted her as an adult. She is forced to re-look at a conviction from early in her career and begins to question whether she might have helped put an innocent person in prison. The really fascinating thing about this thriller for me was the way it made me think about how I might look at a person and judge them. The novel really makes you question how often judgements are made when the person in question could be completely innocent. This is a thrilling novel that will keep you guessing right until the end, it’s such an engaging read and I recommend it!

#BookReview: It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

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About the Book

Holly McAdams loves spending the Christmas holidays at her family’s cozy cabin, with its little red door and twinkling lights, tucked in the snowy hills outside Nashville. But this year will be different. Someone unexpected is joining them…

After Holly and her beloved Nana struggle through a snow storm to reach the cabin, they discover gorgeous and wealthy Joseph Barnes, who has been renting the cabin for the last few weeks, is now snowed in. And it looks like he’ll be staying for the holidays.

Determined to make the best of the surprise situation, Holly tries to bring everyone together by baking delicious treats and decorating the cabin with plenty of festive sparkle. She finds herself growing close to handsome Joseph, who is unlike anyone she’s ever met before, even if Nana isn’t so keen on the dashing stranger with the mysterious past.

But charming and irresistible musician Rhett Burton is also back in town. Thrown into close proximity with the person who used to be her best friend and the man who broke her heart, Holly realizes it’s time to face her feelings and figure out what she really wants from her life. But to complicate things, both Joseph and Rhett have secrets to reveal…

Will Holly be able to find herself and the love she’s always dreamed of this Christmas?

 

My Thoughts

Holly is spending Christmas at her family’s cabin with her lovely Nana. This is the first Christmas they’ve spent there since Holly’s Papa died so it’s a difficult time for them and then when they arrive they discover a man there! Joe has been renting the cabin and due to the snow has had to stay on a bit longer. Holly and Joe are attracted to each other and the Holly’s old friend, the singer Rhett turns up and declares he still had feelings for her!

I’m going to be honest and say that this novel wasn’t as festive as I was hoping it would be. There is a build up to Christmas but then it felt like it was over in the blink of an eye. Having said that the beautiful romantic treasure hunt on Christmas morning was so gorgeous and really epitomised the festive spirit. Nana was a wonderful character and seeing her find her way through her grief to re-connect with the happy memories she has of her late husband was so moving.

I found the potential romance between Holly and Joe was really endearing. I really felt their connection and felt sad for Holly when it seemed it wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t warm to Rhett at all though and was hoping Holly wasn’t going to end up with him. It was in the balance for most of the novel how things would work out for her and I did enjoy the uncertainty around her romantic life.

All in all this was a sweet and romantic novel with hints of Christmas running through it. I do love Jenny Hale’s writing and will definitely look out for her Christmas novels in the future.

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

It Started with Christmas is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

When she graduated college, one of Jenny’s friends said “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day”. Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to her.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t. Whilst she didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children and hundreds of thousands of words later, Jenny finished her first novel, Coming Home for Christmas, which became an instant bestseller.

#BookReview: In Bloom by C. J. Skuse @HQStories #InBloom

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About the Book

Darkly comic crime sequel to Sweetpea, following girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon as she’s now caught between the urge to kill and her unborn baby stopping her.

If only they knew the real truth. It should be my face on those front pages. My headlines. I did those things, not him. I just want to stand on that doorstep and scream it: IT WAS ME. ME. ME. ME. ME!

Rhiannon Lewis has successfully fooled the world and framed her cheating fiancé Craig for the depraved and bloody killing spree she committed. She should be ecstatic that she’s free.

Except for one small problem. She’s pregnant with her ex lover’s child. The ex-lover she only recently chopped up and buried in her in-laws garden. And as much as Rhiannon wants to continue making her way through her kill lists, a small voice inside is trying to make her stop.

But can a killer’s urges ever really be curbed?

My Thoughts

In Bloom has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2018 as I loved the first book in this series, SweetPea (you can read my review of Sweet Pea here if you’d like to). I’m so happy to say that In Bloom absolutely lived up to my high expectations and I loved being back in Rhiannon’s world.

In Bloom picks up where SweetPea left off and it’s so good! Rhiannon has a body to deal with and is worried that the police might be at her door. She’s pregnant and her unborn baby seems to want to interfere with her urges to kill!

When I finished reading SweetPea I was so hoping that there would be more books about Rhiannon so I was thrilled when I found out about In Bloom. Rhiannon is such a brilliant, sarcastic character who doesn’t take any rubbish from anyone. I love that she still makes lists of all the things that annoy her, it makes it easy to identify with her and makes you feel like you could be friends with her… which really brings you up short when you remember that she’s a psychopathic serial killer! That is the beauty of this book though!

In this book Rhiannon is back in the media as the girlfriend of a serial killer (only we know that he’s been framed by her). She’s also living with his parents, who are looking forward to their grandchild arriving but there are secrets there too. Rhiannon can’t resist the urge to kill again and life is just really complicated for her. She always finds a way to deal with her problems though, albeit not a healthy or sane way but it works for her. There’s something so likeable about Rhiannon – it makes me feel so conflicted to say that but she is such a brilliant character!

In Bloom is definitely best read after Sweet Pea as you get so much more idea about her and what makes her tick. There are references to things that happened in Sweet Pea and it feels like this book is a definite continuation of Rhiannon’s story. Plus why would you want to miss out on the fun of knowing Rhiannon from the start?!

I loved In Bloom: It’s funny, dark and utterly brilliant – I definitely recommend it!

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

In Bloom is out now and available here.

About the Author

C.J. SKUSE is the author of the Young Adult novels PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC (Chicken House), MONSTER and THE DEVIANTS (Mira Ink). She was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels lectures in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University.

C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and murder sites. She hates carnivals, hard-boiled eggs and coughing. The movies Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Ruby Sparks were all probably based on her ideas; she just didn’t get to write them down in time. Before she dies, she would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Ryan Gosling present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

You can find C.J. Skuse on Facebook or on Twitter CeejaytheAuthor

This Week in Books (5 Dec 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

This is an easy read and enjoyable enough but I’m almost halfway through it and it isn’t hugely festive as yet. I’m hoping that the second half of the book has all the Christmas!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This book is stunning! It’s the first time in a really long time that I’m deliberately reading a book slowly as I  don’t ever want it to end. It’s an incredible read, I think it will be making my top books of the year!

Chase Your Shadow by John Carlin

This is a really interesting book about Oscar Pistorius. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it or not but so far it’s a very well-balanced book that helps you understand his character and the South African justice system. It’s respectful of Reeva Steenkamp too which I appreciate.

Twenty-Six Seconds by Alexandra Zapruder

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week as I’ve been catching up on my blog tour reading and also Christmas review books. I’m still really enjoying though, it’s such an interesting book.

Then 

The Snowman by Michael Morpugo

I read this yesterday afternoon just before we put our Christmas tree up and it made for a lovely time. This is a new take on The Snowman and is a novella, I really enjoyed it.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

This ARC has been on my TBR for ages so I was glad to read it this week. It didn’t quite live up to my hopes though unfortunately. I don’t know if I’d just heard too much hype and my expectations were too high, or if it just wasn’t the book for me. I do plan on still reviewing this once I’ve got my thoughts in order.

Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton

This book was such a great read. It was a harder read than I was expecting but it rewarded my sticking with it and I loved it. I’m reviewing this for the blog tour in the coming weeks so look out for my thoughts but in the meantime I definitely recommend it.

Odette by Jessica Duchen

I adored this book! It’s based on a fairytale and set in modern day and it’s just beautiful. I knew I was going to enjoy it as soon as I picked it up but I didn’t realise just how much I was going to love it.

The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm

I’ve been looking forward to getting to this thriller and ended up reading it in just two sittings! It was really good. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

Mother of a Suicide by Joanna Lane

This book started off really interesting but ultimately it wasn’t for me. I think that for anyone who thinks they might be affected by the medial condition in the book this would be a useful read.

My Life in Football by Kevin Keegan

I listened to the audio of this and it was such a great book. It’s frustrating (and anger-inducing) as a Newcastle United fan to be reminded of all the failings of the current owner but it was fab to hear all Keegan’s other stories.

Under the Wig by William Clegg QC

I really enjoyed this book and have already reviewed it so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

Believe Me by JP Delaney

I had an ARC of this but was struggling to get into it so I bought the audio book in a recent Audible sale. I enjoyed it more listening to it and it was an okay read overall.

Next

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

I didn’t manage to get to this Christmas book when it was on my TBR last week but I’m definitely planning to pick it up this week. I’m really looking forward to it.

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

I wanted to predominantly focus on Christmas reading for the next three or so weeks but I’ve been hearing such good things about this book and it’s calling to me from my TBR!

Attend by West Camel

I’m on the blog tour for this later in December so want to try and read this in the coming days. I’m so keen to pick it up, it sounds like my kind of book!

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

My husband bought me the Vintage Christmas classics a couple of years ago and I haven’t managed to read them all as yet so I definitely would like to pick this one up in the week ahead.


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

#BookReview: The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson @millyjohnson @simonschusterUK #ChristmasReads

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About the Book

Eve Glace – co-owner of the theme park Winterworld – is having a baby and her due date is a perfectly timed 25th December. And she’s decided that she and her husband Jacques should renew their wedding vows with all the pomp that was missing the first time. But growing problems at Winterworld keep distracting them …

Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, and are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child. But when Annie finds that the changes happening to her body aren’t typical of the menopause but pregnancy, her joy is uncontainable.

Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will get her out of the gutter in which she finds herself. But when the couple she is helping split up, is she going to be left carrying a baby she never intended to keep?

Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Christmas Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor to help mums-to-be mingle and share their pregnancy journeys. Will this group help each other to find love, contentment and peace as Christmas approaches?

 

My Thoughts

I’m fully immersed in my Christmas reading now and my most recent festive read was The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson!

This is a lovely novel following three women. Palma has agreed to act as a surrogate for a couple as she desperately needs money. She’s such a sweet young woman and all through the novel I was wanting life to work out for her. Annie runs a Christmas cracker factory with her husband. She’s in her late 40s and is living with the sadness that comes with having been unable to have a child and now seems to be starting the menopause. Eve owns Winterland, a Christmas theme park and finds herself pregnant and planning her vow renewal service for the festive season!

All three women were such great characters and I enjoyed reading about all of them. The peripheral characters were all so brilliant too – I especially loved Iris! Milly Johnson is so good at writing really believable characters, all of the people in this book felt real and that gave it such warmth.

This book isn’t set entirely at Christmas, it’s more the few months leading up to it but it does still feature a reasonable amount of the holiday period and Christmas planning. There are such gorgeous friendships formed in this book that it felt like it really embodied the Christmas spirit and I loved it!

This is a light-hearted read but it has some real heart-felt moments in it too. The sad moments are handled so sensitively and the real Yorkshire spirit that comes from some of the characters helps bring the novel back to being light, without ever dismissing the harder times. This is my new favourite Milly Johnson book, I very much enjoyed it! I definitely recommend this one!

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

The Mother of All Christmases is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Milly Johnson was born in Barnsley, raised in Barnsley and still lives in Barnsley – although she did study in Exeter for four years and emigrate to Haworth in West Yorkshire in the 1980s. She trained as an actress, teacher, an accountant, a Customer Services and Suggestion Scheme Manager as well as working in a variety of administrative posts for companies dealing with anything from antique furniture to plastic injection moulded poop scoops. Eventually she found a happy existence writing poems and jokes for the greetings card world – helping to kick off the hugely successful Purple Ronnie project – which she still does on a part time basis whilst penning her novels.

#BookReview: Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel by Karen King @karen_king @bookouture #ChristmasRead

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About the Book

Snowy rooftops, mulled wine, and a hot single dad. Not the Christmas Saffy wished for… but maybe the one she needs?

Twenty-nine year old Saffron Baxter knew her holiday plans didn’t stand a chance the moment her sister called to say she was stuck abroad with no hope of being home before Christmas. Saffy would just have to abandon thoughts of wild festive parties in the city and head down to remote Cornwall.

Because every year her sister hosts a huge Christmas meal for all the single parents in her village. And Saffy knows it’d break her heart to let them down.

Arriving as snow starts to fall over the thatched cottages of the little harbour town of Port Breok, she meets Logan – the tall, fair-haired, blue-eyed, devoted single dad who lives next door, with his adorable daughter Chloe. At first she thinks he might help her make Christmas Day extra-memorable, but he just seems convinced she’ll never manage – that she’s just a party girl who doesn’t care about Christmas, or anyone’s feelings.

Maybe he’s right. After all – she doesn’t want to settle down, she’s only there for a few days… But she’s still determined to do her sister proud with gorgeous decorations, the most beautiful real tree – complete with extra twinkly lights, and delicious mince pies. To make it a Christmas everyone will remember, especially little Chloe. Even if, when the mistletoe comes down, she knows she’ll probably never see Logan again…

 

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist the fabulously festive cover of Snowy Hearts at the Lonely Hearts Hotel and I’m really happy to say that the novel more than lives up to the cover!

Saffy is an independent woman who enjoys her career and her social life and doesn’t have much spare time for family but when her sister Hannah calls to say she’s stuck abroad and needs Saffy to help her out, Saffy feels she can’t say no.  Hannah runs a big Christmas party for all the single parent families in her neighbourhood every year and now Saffy has to organise the whole thing!

Soon after arriving Saffy meets her sister’s neighbour Logan and his young daughter Chloe. There is a clear spark between Saffy and Logan but the path to true love never runs smoothly and these two keep missing the mark with each other. Saffy is determined to focus on the party planning and to show her sister that she is capable and can do it.

I very much enjoyed this book. It’s set pretty much entirely over the Christmas period so is really festive! It’s got snow and party planning, romance and misunderstandings and lots and lots of holiday fun. It’s gorgeous – just the absolute perfect book to curl up with on a cold, wintery day! I highly recommend adding this book to your Christmas reading plans!

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

Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Karen King is a multi-published, award-winning author of romantic novels and children’s fiction. She has had four romance novels published to date, with another one due out next April, 120 children’s books, and several short stories in women’s magazines. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women  Writers and Journalists.

Non-Fiction November Wrap-Up! #NonFictionNovember2018

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I always enjoy joining in with Non-Fiction November but the month always goes by so fast! This year I had quite a lot of fiction to read and review so couldn’t focus entirely on non-fiction but I still read more of it than I thought I would… sixteen non-fiction books in total!

Of my planned non-fiction TBR I managed to read:

Waco by David Thibodeau

This is a memoir of a man who survived the Waco siege. It’s a really interesting read and I recommend it.

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 by Tina Brown

I enjoyed reading this book and have actually already reviewed it so you can read what I thought here if you’d like to.

The Upstarts by Brad Stone

I listened to the audiobook of this and I have to be honest and say that I found it a little disappointing. It just wasn’t as engaging as I’d hoped it was going to be, although it was still interesting to read how companies like AirBnB and Uber got started.

Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton

Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White

Even though I am now finally winning the battle with clutter (ever since I did the KonMari method earlier this year my house is staying clutter-free) I still can’t resist reading books about it. There were some useful ideas in this book and I definitely recommend it.

Three Things You Need to Know about Rockets by Jessica Fox

I’d had this book on my TBR for years as I was saving it for the right time. Unfortunately though I just didn’t enjoy it all that much. It wasn’t what it felt like it was going to be and was lacking in something for me. It has had lots of good reviews though so it may well be that it just wasn’t for me.

 

I then completely deviated from my planned non-fiction reads and picked up these books too:

The Diary of Two Nobodies by Mary Killen and Giles Wood

I love watching Giles and Mary on Gogglebox so was really looking forward to reading this book by them and I’m so happy to say that I enjoyed it. They’re just how they are on TV and it was a joy to read this.

I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors

This was a fascinating read about a woman who looks into the life of her rapist. She had buried her emotions for many years and then goes on a journey to know more about the man who attacked her. It wasn’t as emotional read as I was expecting but it was still very interesting and gripping.

I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends by Kelsey Miller

I listened to the audio book of this and it was such a fun, nostalgic read. I recommend it to all Friends fans!

No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s by Andy McSmith

This is another book that I’ve had on my TBR for such a long time but I’m so glad I picked it up because it was such a good read. It was really accessible non-fiction but it helps puts some things in context from the 80s with regards politics and what was happening at the time.

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale

I’d forgotten I owned this audio book so when I spotted it in my Audible app during November I immediately started listening. I love Kate Summerscale’s writing and this book lived up to my expectations, it was so interesting.

How Not to be a Boy by Robert Webb

I got this book for Christmas last year and have been so badly wanting to read it so I’m glad to have read it in November. I really, really enjoyed this, it was even better than I thought it was going to be.

Life to the Limit: My Autobiography by Jenson Button

I was a huge F1 fan for many years and followed Jenson Button’s career in the sport. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so when it was in a recent sale on Audible I snapped it up. I very much enjoyed this book. It’s a really open and honest look at his career, and also a love letter to his late father.

Under the Wig: A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and Innocence by William Clegg QC

I downloaded this from NetGalley on a whim recently and I’m so glad I did as it was such a good read. I actually managed to review this straight away so you can read more of my thoughts here if you’d like to.

My Life in Football: The Autobiography by Kevin Keegan

I’ve been umming and ahhing about whether I wanted to read this book at the moment. I’m a Newcastle United supporter and the way the club treated Kevin Keegan, and the way the current owner is running the club makes it not fun at all. Anyway, I saw the audio book in a recent sale and decided to give it a go. It was such a good read, I’m glad I read it but it did make me so angry all over again at how he was treated. I definitely recommend the book though.

Mother of a Suicide: The Battle for the Truth Behind a Mental Health Cover-up by Joanna Lane

This book often pops up on recommendations for me in Goodreads so I finally picked it up just the other day. I don’t know what to say about this one. I feel for Joanna, and I admire her determination to find answers and her fight to get the medical profession to listen but the book felt like it needed editing. I also wish it’d had more of a sense of her emotion rather than just the facts of what was happening.

 

 

Did you take part in Non-Fiction November? Or have you read any good non-fiction recently? I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books in my post, or if you have any non-fiction you can recommend to me. I’m always on the look out for new books. 🙂

 

 

 

Mini Crime and Thriller #BookReviews!

I’m still trying to catch up with reviews so am going to continue on with my occasional series of mini book reviews. It’s stressing me out to know I’ve read these books a while ago but haven’t managed to review them so I just want to get caught up and then hopefully I can start keeping up from that point on! (Here’s hoping…!)

 

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Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan

I was eagerly anticipating Claire Allan’s first thriller novel and I wasn’t disappointed! This is a book about Emily, who lets a stranger step out in front of her and the woman gets hits by a car and she dies. Emily can’t help but want to know more about Rose and begins looking her up on social media. She finds out that Rose had an amazing, perfect life and she begins to embed herself into the lives of those Rose left behind. The novel explores how the life people present to the outside IS not always the one they are really living. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading Claire’s next thriller!

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The Reunion by Samantha Hayes

I’ve read and enjoyed previous novels by this author so was really looking forward to The Reunion and I’m pleased to say that it was a great read. The novel is set in past and present, which I always enjoy. Claire’s little sister went missing when she was in charge of her and now in the present the family is facing up to having to sell the family farm and are having a reunion of everyone who was there when Eleanor went missing. I was suspicious of everyone in this book. This group of people all have secrets and things they’re hiding – some more serious than others and so it makes for a great read as you wonder who it is that has the biggest secret of all! Ultimately, I did work out what had happened before the reveal comes but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.

 

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The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn

The premise of this novel grabbed me right away. I know what it is to fear leaving the house and to therefore become a prisoner in your own home so I felt sure I was going to love this book. Anna has many issues and as such comes across as an unreliable narrator so when she sees something in the house opposite you can’t be sure if everything was as she said it was. The tension ratches up from this point on and you find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering how things are going to to turn out for Anna. This was a good read. I did work out what was going on quite early in the book so some of the suspense was then lacking for me but having said that there were still reveals to come that had my mind spinning. This was a good read and I’m looking forward to reading whatever the author publishes next!

 

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The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic

This was such an interesting premise for a thriller as it’s set in one room between a therapist and her patient. I was intrigued from the start and was keen to see what was going to happen, and how. It started off really well as you get the sense there is more to this appointment than we know at first and the tension just builds and builds from there.  It’s a novel that really makes you think about the nature of right and wrong, and how nothing is ever black and white. It really makes you question your thoughts about each of the characters. It’s a good read and I recommend it!

 

#BookReview – Under the Wig: A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and Innocence by William Clegg QC @CanburyPress

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About the Book

How can you speak up for someone accused of a savage murder? Or sway a jury? Or get a judge to drop a case?

In this memoir, murder case lawyer William Clegg revisits his most intriguing trials, from the acquittal of Colin Stagg to the shooting of Jill Dando, to the man given life because of an earprint.

All the while he lays bare the secrets of his profession, from the rivalry among barristers to the nervous moments before a verdict comes back, and how our right to a fair trial is now at risk.

Under the Wig is for anyone who wants to know the reality of a murder trial.

My Thoughts

I really enjoy reading books about the law so when I spotted Under the Wig in the Read Now section of NetGalley recently I immediately downloaded it.

Under the Wig is the memoir of William Clegg QC and makes for a fascinating read. The book is told in alternating chapters where one chapter is about a famous case he has worked on and the other gradually tells his story of how he came to be a barrister.

William Clegg has worked on some very high profile cases and it was really interesting to hear about them from a defence barrister’s perspective. He gives his opinion on the outcome of each particular case in the course of a chapter and I really appreciated that. He covers cases such as the murder of Jill Dando, where he worked on Barry George’s appeal. We also get to see how it is for a barrister to work for a man who has confessed to manslaughter such as in the case of Vincent Tabak (who was convicted of murdering Joanna Yeates at Christmas 2010).

I was particularly interested in the chapter about legal aid. I was well aware of cuts in legal aid as it’s often been in the news but I didn’t know the impact it was having in real terms. It’s shocking to see how much funding has been cut and the potential this has for preventing people from accessing a good defence team.

I’ve definitely come away from this book with a little more understanding of some aspects of the law than I had before. It makes more sense to me now how some points of a case get dropped early on, and how different points are argued during a trial.

This is a gripping book – one that once you start reading you just don’t want to put down. The writing flows and it reads like a fiction book in the sense that it’s very accessible and holds your interest from start to finish. I really enjoyed Under the Wig and definitely recommend it!

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

Under the Wig is out now and available here.

#BookReview: Snowday by B R Maycock @BRMaycock #Snowday

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About the Book

Sometimes hot cocoa just isn’t enough to keep you warm in the snow…

Eloise is too busy juggling the chaos of three kids, an ever present ex-husband and a demanding boss to even remember the last time dating crossed her mind.

But as soft snow falls silently all around, romance twinkles with the flakes.

After being single for so long, Eloise suddenly has a lot of choices. Too many choices. Will anyone be worthy of melting the guard around her heart to let love in?

My Thoughts

At this time of year I can’t resist books with gorgeous snowy covers and Snowday definitely caught my eye with its festive cover! I’m so pleased to say that the novel itself totally lives up to the cover and I loved this book.

Eloise is recently separated from her husband and is struggling to juggle their three children and a full-time job. Her estranged husband loves the children but turns up randomly to see them making Eloise’s life even more stressful. He’s also in a new relationship and she’s not sure how she feels about that.

Over the course of the book we see the love Eloise has for her children and what a great mum she is. She clearly loves her family but just wishes her life was a little less hectic. Things become more interesting when she finds herself with two potential love interests and a neighbour across the road who seems to blow very hot and cold with his attitude towards her.

Eloise spends a lot of her time feeling utterly frazzled, trying to be everything to everyone. Her attempts at dating were very amusing. I don’t have children but I remember what it was like to be going on dates again after coming out of a long term relationship and I felt for her. She’s such a genuine and relatable character and I was rooting for her to find some happiness for herself.

I loved how as the novel heads towards Christmas, and Eloise is gradually making peace with the way her life has turned out, there is another surprise in store for her. This is a book that’s full of honesty about family life and break-ups and yet packed with humour and joy too.

Snowday is a really engaging, fun read that shows the reality of life but with a fab dose of humour too. It’s such a gorgeous, wintery read and I absolutely loved it! I highly recommend adding this to your festive reading lists.

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

Snowday is out now and available here.

About the Author

Brmaycock

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

Her debut ‘It Started With A Snub’ and Christmas romantic comedy ‘Snowday’ are available now on Amazon, and Bernadette is currently working on a three part series about AbbeyGlen Village, whose luck is about to change …

This Week in Books (28 Nov 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

I’ve had a rough few days health wise with my asthma badly flaring up and as a result ending up on a course of steroids. Unfortunately I’m still struggling and I’ve had a reaction to the medication which has caused me to only sleep a few hours in total over the last few days. The only upside is the enforced rest has meant lots of reading and listening to audio books so I’ve got through a lot of books over the last week.

 

Now

 

Under the Wig by William Clegg

I downloaded this on a whim recently when I spotted it in the Read Now section on NetGalley. I’m so glad I did because it’s a really interesting look at what it is to be a barrister, and also to work on high-profile cases. I’m really enjoying it.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

I only started this last night so am only a couple of chapters in but I can tell I’m going to love getting lost in this novel. It’s beautiful and I’m so looking forward to reading more of it in the coming days.

 

Believe Me by JP Delaney

I got a copy of this from NetGalley but struggled to get into it so I bought the audiobook in a recent Audible sale and am enjoying it more now I’m listening to it. It’s not as good as I hoped it would be but it does have me intrigued and I’m keen to see how it’s all going to end.

Twenty-Six Seconds by Alexandra Zapruder

This is a fascinating read about Abraham Zapruder, the man who filmed the assassination of John F Kennedy. There is so much that I didn’t know about what the Zapruder family went through in the immediate aftermath, and for many, many years after. It’s such a good book and I definitely recommend it.

 

 

Then 

 

Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel by Karen King

This is such a lovely festive read, I really enjoyed it.  I read an ARC so I’ll definitely be reviewing this one soon.

Life to the Limit: My Life in Formula One by Jenson Button

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while as I was always a fan of Jenson Button in his F1 days. I picked up the audio book in a Black Friday deal on Audible and immediately started listening to it. I very much enjoyed this book, it was a look back over Jenson’s whole career but was also very much a tribute to his late father. I definitely recommend this book to F1 fans.

 

Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando

This book was sent to me for review and I’m so glad I picked it up to read. It’s a beautiful and moving look at the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan a few years ago. This book left such a mark on me and I feel it will be one I’m thinking of for a long time to come.

The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson

I requested this on NetGalley recently and have been so keen to read it. I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t as Christmassy all the way through as I was hoping but it was still a wonderful read and I loved it.

 

Snowday by B R Maycock

This book gave me real comfort and escape on a bad night with my asthma and I really got swept away in this lovely wintery read. I’ll be reviewing this on my blog very soon so keep an eye out for that.

How Not to be A Boy by Robert Webb

I got this book for Christmas last year and have been so keen to read it. I finally picked it up at the weekend and read it over two days. I really enjoyed this, even more than I thought I would (and I had high hopes for it).

 

The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

I’d forgotten I owned this audiobook but when sorting through my audible books on my phone I spotted it and while it wasn’t on my non-fiction November TBR it seemed fitting to listen to it this month. I found this to be such a fascinating listen and I’m so glad I picked it up.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

I’ve had this on my TBR since it was published earlier this year and I finally picked it up this week. I really enjoyed this one but it wasn’t quite as good as Behind Her Eyes. I do love Sarah Pinborough’s writing though and would recommend this one.

 

The Upstarts by Brad Stone

This was one of my non-fiction November picks and I listened to the audio book. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped, it just didn’t really work for me.

The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

I really enjoyed this festive read, it was a lovely novella set in the lead up to Christmas. I’ll be reviewing this for the blog tour in December!

 

 

Next

 

Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton

I’ve been really intrigued by this book so was delighted to be invited to read and review if for the forthcoming blog tour. I’m hoping to start this book in the coming days.

Attend by West Camel

Orenda Books can do no wrong in my eyes so I’m thrilled to have this book on my TBR for the week ahead. It sounds like such a good book and I know I’m in for a treat!

 

Odette by Jessica Duchen

I was also offered a copy of this book to read and review for the tour next month and I jumped at the chance. I’m fascinated to read this one and it feels like such a perfect read for these colder, darker days.

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

This is my next pick from my pile of festive reads and I’m really looking forward to this one.

 

 


 

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

#BookReview: The List That Changed My Life by Olivia Beirne @Olivia_Beirne @headlinepg #RandomThingsTours @annecater

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About the Book

Georgia loves wine, reality TV and sitting on the sofa after work. She does not love heights, looking at her bank account, going on dates, or activities that involve a sports bra. And she will never, ever take a risk.

That is, until her braver, bolder, big sister finds out that she won’t be able to tick off the things she wanted to do before turning thirty, and turns to Georgia to help her finish her list.

With the birthday just months away, Georgia suddenly has a deadline to learn to grab life with both hands. Could she be brave enough to take the leap, for her sister?

And how might her own life change if she did?

 

My Thoughts

I jumped at the chance to read The List That Changed My Life because it sounded like a real feel-good read – and it really is that but it’s so much more as well. I adored this book!

This book was so much more moving than I was expecting. I found the opening chapter of the book with Georgia’s sister Amy so heartbreaking. I’ve been through the battery of tests that she would have had to go through and it’s not fun. I don’t have the same illness but my condition causes very similar symptoms so I could really empathise with what she is going through. The relationship between the two sisters was gorgeous. I love how close they were, even when they were snapping at each other you could see it was out of love.

The list that changes Georgia’s life is written for her by Amy and initially it seems like Amy wants to inflict maximum panic on her sister as the list has some things on it that most people who aren’t daring would absolutely not want to do. Over the course of the novel it becomes apparent why Amy is challenging Georgia and I adored that she was doing this for her. My best friend, who sadly died when we were 20, used to push me out of my comfort zone all the time and I loved her for it. Even now, nearly twenty years on I can still hear her voice pushing me on when I have the fear and wonder whether I’m doing the right thing. The really lovely thing was that even though it was Georgia completing the list, it was helping Amy too. These two women are most definitely a team.

I really enjoyed the love interest in this book and how Georgia came to meet him. It was funny and believable and I was so hoping that things would work out for these two.

The List That Changed My Life is a beautiful read but it’s also a big reminder of how we should all push ourselves out of our comfort zones from time to time. It’s good to test our limits and to see what the big wide world can offer. This is a gorgeous life-affirming read that will make you laugh and cry, and ultimately will leave you feeling like making your own list to change your life! I loved this book and feel sure I’ll be re-reading it in the future so I definitely recommend it!

Many thanks to the publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The List That Changed My Life is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Olivia Beirne

Olivia Beirne is a 26 year old writer, who previously worked in casting. She lives in Tulse Hill, London with her friends and their resident mouse and grew up in Buckinghamshire. This novel is a standalone debut and she is currently working on her second novel.

 

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

FINAL Blog Tour Poster

#BookReview: Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler @KarenSchaler @PiatkusBooks #ChristmasCamp

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About the Book

Haley ‘the Grinch’ Hanson’s idea of the perfect Christmas is escaping into work and avoiding all the traditional distractions. Over the years, she’s sacrificed her personal life to climb the ladder at a prestigious advertising agency. Now she just needs to land a coveted Christmas toy company account to make partner. But first, her boss thinks she needs a holiday attitude adjustment, so he ships her off to Christmas Camp – a mountainside retreat promising to revitalise even the most determined Scrooge’s festive spirit.

Arriving reluctantly at the snowy inn, Haley meets the owner’s handsome son, Jeff, and feels an instant spark. Yet despite the attraction, she’s determined to ‘graduate’ camp as fast as possible so she can get back to work.

But it’s impossible to resist the charm of the season and soon even Haley starts to live in the moment, growing ever closer to Jeff. Although when he discovers she’s been conspiring with his dad to defeat Jeff’s plans for the future, it will take all the magic of Christmas to bring these two hearts together . . .

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist looking at the Christmas novels on NetGalley recently and found myself downloading a few. Christmas Camp was the one that called to me the most due to the gorgeous, snowy cover and I’m so happy to say that the novel is every bit as fabulous as it looks!

Haley is a workaholic and is something of a grinch, she has zero Christmas spirit but is vying for a partnership in her firm and this means winning a lucrative toy campaign requiring lots of Christmas joy. Her boss decides that the things she needs is a week at Christmas Camp to find her Christmas spirit and Haley has no option but to go.

I loved this novel so much! It’s set in the week before Christmas and is full of festive spirit. I get so disappointed when a novel is marketed as a Christmas read but you really only get Christmas at the very end of the book but I’m so delighted that Christmas camp has all the Christmas you could possibly want from start to finish!

Haley is determined to get through the activities as quickly as possible each day so that she can return to her room to get on with her presentation but the adorable Max the dog has other ideas! He latches on to Haley right away and is determined to get her involved. I loved Max so much, he’s made me want to get a dog. He really is a character!

The Camp activities include things like making cookies, going sledging, cutting down a Christmas tree – everything you can think of that relates to celebrating Christmas. I’ve always adored the festive period and still I want to go to this Camp, it just sounds so magical and wonderful!

There is a potential romance in this book between Haley and the owner’s son but the path of true love doesn’t run smoothly for these two and I was never quite sure if they’d ever manage to get things worked out so they could be together. I enjoyed these parts of the novel but especially the way that it was more about Haley working out her own life and what she wanted rather than her bending her will to be what a man wanted her to be.

There is real heart in this book; it explores so many of the complicated emotions that always come with the festive time of year and does it in a way that is really genuine but also always uplifting. I shed a few tears reading this book but ultimately I finished it with a great big happy smile on my face!

Christmas Camp is a really festive, feel-good novel and I highly recommend it. This is going on my list of books that I’ll read again in future at this time of year!

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

Christmas Camp is out now and available here.

About the Author

Karen Schaler is a three-time Emmy Award–winning storyteller, author, screenwriter, journalist and national TV host. She has written original screenplays for Netflix and Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. Her travels to more than sixty-five countries as the creator and host of Travel Therapy TV inspired Christmas Camp. All of Karen’s stories are uplifting, filled with heart and hope.

#BookReview: The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 by Tina Brown

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About the Book

The Vanity Fair Diaries is the story of an Englishwoman barely out of her twenties who arrives in Manhattan on a mission. Summoned from London in hopes that she can save Condé Nast’s troubled new flagship Vanity Fair, Tina Brown is immediately plunged into the maelstrom of the competitive New York media world and the backstabbing rivalries at the court of the planet’s slickest, most glamour-focused magazine company. She survives the politics, the intrigue and the attempts to derail her by a simple stratagem: succeeding. In the face of rampant scepticism, she triumphantly reinvents a failing magazine.

Here are the inside stories of Vanity Fair scoops and covers that sold millions: the Reagan kiss, the meltdown of Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles, the sensational Annie Leibovitz cover of a gloriously pregnant, naked Demi Moore. In the diary’s cinematic pages, the drama, comedy and struggle of running an ‘it’ magazine come to life. Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries is also a woman’s journey, of making a home in a new country and of the deep bonds with her husband, their prematurely born son and their daughter.

My Thoughts

I grabbed The Vanity Fair Diaries from NetGalley when it was on read now almost a year ago but somehow I haven’t got around to reading it until now. I picked it up for non-fiction November  last week and it was an enjoyable read.

The book is Tina Brown’s personal diaries from 1983 when she got the job as editor of Vanity Fair magazine until she moved on in 1992.

There are parts of this book that I really enjoyed. I loved finding out more about what it’s like to edit a magazine and how difficult it can be getting the right cover image that represents the pieces inside the magazine.

Tina Brown movingly captures what it must have been like living in New York in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS crisis. She doesn’t write at length about it but the frequent mentions of people she knows who have been diagnosed, or who have died is really shocking. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have lost so many people to one disease and in such a short amount of time.

The references to Donald Trump made for rueful reading, to know how he was thought of at various points during the 80s and now he’s president of the United States makes for interesting reading. There are other political figures referenced within the book that also make for interesting asides.

I also really enjoyed finding out more about how Brown juggled her work and her home life after she had her first child. She genuinely struggled to find balance and you can see her being pulled in two directions during her son’s early years. There is real honesty in these moments and it gave some balance to a book that is heavy on the celebrities and the gossip.

I think where I struggled a little with my enjoyment of the book is that, particularly in the earlier parts of the diary, I didn’t know who half of the people mentioned were. I kept putting the book down to look them up online. Once the book got to the later 80s and early 90s it was more my era and I knew who most of the people were and it became a much more fascinating read. This is down to my age though and not a fault of the book.

Overall I found this a really interesting and enjoyable book to dip in and out of and I do recommend it.

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

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 is out now and available here.

This Week in Books (21 Nov 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

I’ve had a brilliant week of reading so I’m hoping the week ahead will bring more of the same!

Now

The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

This is my latest festive read and I’m really enjoying it.

Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando

I started reading this last night and it’s such a beautifully written book. It’s set in the aftermath of the horrendous tsunami in Japan a few years ago and follows a man and woman who have become separated from each other. It’s very dream-like and so good.

Twenty-Six Seconds by Alexandra Zapruder

This is another one of my picks for non-fiction November and I’m so glad I was able to pick it up this week. I started reading this yesterday and I’m three chapters in. It’s such a fascinating read, I had no idea what it was like for the Zapruder family living with the burden of the footage taken of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The Upstarts by Brad Stone

This is also on my non-fiction November TBR as my audio book choice. It’s an interesting book to listen to and I’m enjoying finding out more about how Air BnB and Uber came to be.

 

Then 

Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

This is a gorgeous festive read and I really enjoyed it. I do love when a Christmas book is full of the joys of the season so this was a lovely read. I’ll be reviewing it soon.

Bouncing Back with a Bang by Geraldine Ward

This is a powerful and moving poetry collection that I very much enjoyed. I reviewed it yesterday so you can read more of my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983 – 1992 by Tina Brown

This was a non-fiction November pick and I’m really glad to have got it read this month as it’d been on my TBR for almost a year. It was enjoyable in places but particularly in the early part of the diary there were so many people that I had no idea about that it was a bit over my head. I’m in the middle of writing a review so my full thoughts will be posted soon.

No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s by Andy McSmith

This is a non-fiction book about the 80s and I very much enjoyed it. A lot of things I already knew but this book helps put things into context that gave me new insight into some of the things that happened in the 80s. It’s a really accessible book and I recommend it.

The Present by DS Devlin

This is a crime fiction novel set near Christmas and while I really enjoyed the opening chapters, it did all fall a little flat for me after that. It was a fast read but it was missing something for me. I’ll be reviewing this at some point.

The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

I had an ARC of this on my TBR but spotted the audio book on my audio subscription service so I half read and half listened to this. It’s the first Poirot novel that I’ve read by Sophie Hannah and I enjoyed it so I’ll definitely be looking out for the previous ones by her. I hope to get my review of this posted soon too.

I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends by Kelsey Miller

I was looking for something light to listen to this week and this book caught my eye. I loved Friends back in the day and I’m now enjoying watching the repeats on Channel 5. This was a fun listen and I found out some things I didn’t know, and it was nice to think back over favourite episodes. I recommend this if you’re a Friends fan.

The List That Changed My life by Olivia Beirne

I loved this book. It was heart-warming and life-affirming and it was just a gorgeous book. I’ll be reviewing this for the blog tour next week so look out for that on Tuesday.

 

Next

Snowday by B R Maycock

I’m so looking forward to reading this winter read. It sounds like a gorgeous book to curl up with on a cold snowy afternoon so this is the week for this one!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

I was so excited when a proof copy of this arrived recently and I can’t wait any longer to start reading it! It feels like another perfect book for curling up in the chair with on a cold wintery day.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

I’ve had this on my TBR since it was published earlier this year and I’m just in the mood to read it so hopefully I’ll get to this one in the coming week.

Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing

This book is on my non-fiction November TBR and I’d really like to read it soon. It’s been a while since I read a graphic novel so this should be a lovely change.

 

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

#BookReview: Good Samaritans by Will Carver @Will_Carver @OrendaBooks @annecater #SixBottlesOfBleach

 

 

About the Book

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach.

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans
But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…
And someone is watching…

 

My Thoughts

I was thrilled to be offered a copy of Good Samaritans as based purely on the cover I knew this was a book that I simply had to get my hands on. I then read the blurb and knew this was going to be a brilliant read – I was so right!

Good Samaritans is told from multiple perspectives in short chapters and gradually you get a picture of what makes each of these characters tick. Hadley is suicidal and doesn’t know how to make her feelings stop. Seth can’t sleep and just wants someone to talk to (even though his wife is upstairs, he want someone else someone random to listen). One night a crossed wire leads these two characters into each other’s lives. We also get to know Ant, who actually works for the Samaritans. He began volunteering after a friend of his hanged himself while they were on holiday together. He’s clearly not coping in his own life and is desperately trying to help others in order to make himself feel better. 

Alongside this two bodies are found in separate locations in Warwickshire and Detective Sergeant Pace is desperately trying to solve the murders. He can’t see how they can be connected but at the same time both bodies have been bleached and wrapped in plastic in the exact same way. His perspective through the book was brilliant. I’m really hoping that he will show up in another novel because I found him fascinating and I’d love to know more about his past.

From the premise it initially seems like one or two of these characters are going to be good samaritans and help someone but clearly with two bodies turning up someone is not all that they seem! I was so intrigued by this and I kept changing my mind about each character and wondering whether any of them could actually be trusted. It’s such a twisted book! Its very dark at time but there are elements of humour in there, there is also a fair bit of sex but it all makes for such a brilliant thriller!

I knew from the first couple of pages of this novel that I was going to love it and I wasn’t wrong! It’s a book that grabs you from the start and it honestly doesn’t let you go until after you’ve finished reading it. There are real shocks in this book – when one character gets murdered I was so not expecting it and it actually made me gasp in surprise! It’s impossible to work out the twists and turns of this book so I suggest you sit back and just enjoy the ride! I had my suspicions about one of the characters and I was sort of right but had no idea about anything else so the end was a shock!

Good Samaritans is so dark and twisty, and it’s utterly brilliant! This is definitely going on my favourite books of 2018 list and I’m already keen to read whatever Will Carver writes next but in the meantime I highly recommend this book!

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

Good Samaritans is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

 

Will Carver lives in Reading, though his younger years were spent in various parts of West Germany. He is the author of four books in the JANUARY DAVID thriller series – GIRL 4 (UK: Arrow, 2011), THE TWO (UK: Arrow, 2012), DEAD SET (UK: Arrow, 2013) and THE KILLER INSIDE (UK: Arrow, 2013).

Carver likes to work his body as much as his mind and runs his own fitness and nutrition company, though he prefers to talk about his writing more than how he consumes adequate protein as a vegan. 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

#BookReview: Supernova Hangover by Emma Jones @MsEmma_Jones @Unbound_Digital @Unbounders @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours

Supernova Hangover Cover

About the Book

Two girls meet on a train with a shared mission to have it all…

Toots Silver, a young, local news reporter from the North West, lands in London with little more than her ambition. Against the odds, she talks her way into a dream job at a celebrity magazine, riding high on a new craving for showbiz gossip.

The shimmering nightlife of Cool Britannia lures her into an exhilarating, twilight world – and an explosive affair with an A-list interviewee. But the comedown forces her to confront the soulless desires of her generation.

In New York, she’s on the trail of the defining exclusive of her age. But conflict erupts between personal integrity and journalistic ruthlessness – which might jeopardise the success that will secure her position in a looming post-millennial world.
Can you live the high-life, without it getting you down?

 

My Thoughts

I’ll admit that I was drawn to this book by the fact that Emma Jones was the editor of Smash Hits magazine – this was a must-read for me in my early teen years! I’m really pleased to say that I very much enjoyed Supernova Hangover!

Supernova Hangover is about Toots Silver, a local news reporter in Manchester who manages to blag her dream job editing a brand new magazine in London. The novel is set against the backdrop of the 90s and Cool Britannia, and Toots falls into the lifestyle of the rich and famous. She loves the life she has made for herself but soon reality begins to bite when she starts to question the integrity of what she’s doing. The novel opens with her leaving a funeral and finding all the paparazzi cameras pointing at her. It’s such a great opening because immediately I wanted to know who Toots was and why the media were so interested in her when there were clearly famous people at this funeral.

I did find Supernova Hangover a little difficult to get into at first but once I got into it I found I didn’t want to put it down. I got completely engrossed in Toots’ life and in her affair with the A-list star, and I wanted to know how it was all going to turn out for her.

Toots isn’t always a likeable character but she’s human and real and believable. She makes silly mistakes, she shows poor judgement at times and she’s not always the friend she should be to her best friend Rachel but we’ve all, albeit perhaps to a different extent, been there when we were younger. Life suddenly becomes exciting so reason and loyalty can go out of the window for a while. Toots is seduced by her new lifestyle and getting to mix with the rich and famous – I feel like I would have lost myself a bit if that had happened to me when I was her age. I loved reading about Toots even when I didn’t always like her and that’s the mark of a great character for me.

The other characters in this book can seem a little over the top at times but this is part of the joy of this book because some people really were like this in the 90s – everyone seemed to be image-obsessed and wanting to be one of the cool ones. People were riding high living a hedonistic lifestyle and believing they were invincible. Roddy, who gives Toots her big break, seems quite unreal for most of the book but at the same time I could see him as a real person. We’ve all seen people in the media who appear just like him.

I loved seeing how Toots grew as the novel progressed. She begins to find her feet and to find her voice, she wants to do more to help her family and then faces a real dilemma over whether to break someone’s trust. I enjoyed seeing her relationship with Clay throughout the novel and seeing how she grew in confidence in dealing with him. There were some really beautiful moments between them, that made me love them as a couple but then the spell would break again. Their relationship was kind of representative of the late 90s and early 00s in the end – it was amazing until it wasn’t.

I very much enjoyed Supernova Hangover – it was a nostalgia trip back to the 90s but also a really great read about fascinating characters. It captures the highs, the comedowns and is an all-round fabulous read! I loved it and I highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Unbound and Anne at Random Things Tours for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Supernova Hangover is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Emma JOnes

Emma Jones is a former editor of Smash Hits magazine. As a news and showbusiness reporter, she worked for the Sunday Mirror, Mail on Sunday and the Sun. Emma became the youngest ever Fleet Street columnist whilst at the Sun. Television work includes live presenting for Channel Four and ITV. Emma’s Radio contributions range from Woman’s Hour to the Today programme. Her career has seen her interview stars including Britney Spears, George Clooney, the Rollings Stones, and Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor. Her writing also appears regularly in the New European newspaper and on Byline. She has four children and lives in London.

Supernova Hangover is her first novel.

 

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

Supernova Hangover BT Poster

 

 

 

This Week in Books (14 Nov 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

I’ll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller

I spotted this on my audio book subscription yesterday and couldn’t resist downloading it. I’ve been re-watching Friends since it’s been on Channel 5 and it’s made me nostalgic so this book is a fun look back at the series. I’m really enjoying it so far.

The Present by D.S. Devlin

I’ve got a lot of festive reads for this year but it still seems a little early to fully get into reading them so I’m starting with the crime novels set at Christmas. This one is really good so far, it hooked me straight away and I’m keen to get back to it asap!

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983 – 1992 by Tina Brown

This is one of my non-fiction November picks and also an ARC that I’ve had for absolutely ages so I wanted to make sure I got to it this month. I’m only a little way in but it’s an interesting read so far and I’m looking forward to reading more. I plan on dipping in and out of this book so it may be a little while before I finish it.

The List That Changed My Life by Olivia Beirne

This book is utterly wonderful! I knew I was going to enjoy but it’s even better than I was expecting. I’m so glad I picked it up and I already highly recommend it.

 

Then 

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

I bought this book when it was published and have held off reading it because I was saving it (I don’t know why I do this…) but it was calling to me this week so I picked it up. I devoured this novel, I utterly adored it and I already want to go back and read it all again.

I Will Find You by Joanna Connors

This is a non-fiction book about a woman who was raped and many years later she decides to find out what happened to her rapist. It’s a really interesting and honest memoir.

Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets by Jessica Fox

This was also on my non-fiction November TBR and I was so looking forward to it as I’d owned it for a long time and had such high hopes. Unfortunately, I found it a real let down. It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and so much of it got on my nerves. I see on Goodreads that a lot of people loved it so maybe it just wasn’t for me.

The Diary of Two Nobodies by Mary Killen and Giles Wood

This book was adorable! I love Giles and Mary on Gogglebox and their personalities just shine off the page in this book. I recommend this to all Gogglebox fans, it’s fab!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

This has also been on my TBR since it was published but I finally picked it up late last week. I part read it and part listened to the audio book and I absolutely loved it. It was a joy to read and I got so engrossed in it. I’m so happy that I finally read it and even though it’s enormous I think this may well be a book I re-read at some point!

Good Samaritans by Will Carver

This book was brilliant! I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to it but it’s gripping from the opening pages and is so dark and twisty but utterly compelling. I loved it. I’ll be reviewing it for the blog tour next week so keep an eye out for that if you want to know more!

 

Next

The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

This coming week feels right for me to start reading my Christmas books so I’m beginning with this one. It looks like such a gorgeous festive novel and I’m really looking forward to it.

Twenty-Six Seconds by Alexandra Zapruder

I’m continuing with my non-fiction November picks too and next up I think will be this one as I’ve been keen to read it for ages. It looks like a fascinating read about the man who filmed the Kennedy assassination and what happened to his family as a result of owning that piece of film.

Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

This looks like a beautiful, magical winter read and feels like a perfect book for this time of year so I’m excited to get lost in this one. I think it’s a middle grade book and I haven’t read anything like this for such a long time so I think it’ll be a wonderful escape.

How to be Human by Ruby Wax

This is another pick for non-fiction November and I really do want to get to this soon. It’s a review book and one that I’ve put off until I knew I was in the right head space to read it. I think I’ll aim to at least start it in the coming days.

 

 


 

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

#BookReview: Perfect Bones by A. J. Waines @AJWaines @BloodhoundBook

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About the Book

Is the killer on the loose…or standing right beside you?

When art student, Aiden Blake, witnesses a gruesome attack on a London towpath, the police need him to identify the assailant without delay. But there’s a problem: refusing to leave his canal boat and traumatised by the shock, Aiden is rendered mute by the horror of the event and can’t speak to anyone.

In a desperate bid to gain vital information before Aiden’s memories fade, The Met call in Clinical Psychologist and trauma expert, Dr Samantha Willerby, giving her only seven days to get a result. When Aiden finally starts to communicate through his art, however, the images he produces are not what anyone expects and before Sam can make sense of them, another murder takes place.

With her professional skills stretched to the limit and the clock ticking, Sam strives to track down a killer who is as clever as she is – someone who always manages to stay one step ahead.

The third book in the Samantha Willerby series, Perfect Bones is a tense and creepy psychological thriller that will send your pulse racing. It can easily be read as a stand-alone novel and will appeal to fans of authors like Nicci French, Mark Edwards and Lisa Gardner.

 

My Thoughts

Firstly, I want to wish AJ Waines a very happy publication day! Perfect Bones is out today and I’m delighted to be sharing my review.

Perfect Bones is the third book in the Samantha Willerby series but it can be read as a standalone. This time Samantha is called in to help art student Aiden who is so traumatised by a crime he has seen that he’s now mute. The police need his eye witness testimony so Samantha is desperately trying to help Aiden communicate before the killer strikes again.

Perfect Bones is told in the present as Samantha works with Aiden to try and recover what memories he has of the attack, but it is interspersed with seemingly unconnected chapters of women going to mysterious meetings. It’s initially unclear how these might be connected to the main story but it keeps you hooked to find out.

I know what PTSD is like but I was fascinated to see how a psychologist works with a patient who is rendered mute from the trauma. It was so interesting to see the various ways people can be encouraged to communicate what they’ve been through. AJ Waines clearly knows this area very well and it comes through so authentically. The police aren’t so sympathetic to Aiden, in part because they are desperate to catch the killer before anyone else is harmed but it felt like there was a lack of understanding that it wasn’t Aiden being difficult when he doesn’t communicate. This all felt very believable and realistic and gave a rounded picture of how mental illness is viewed.

Samantha is such a strong character but she’s also very human. She’s sometimes a bit rash, and she occasionally goes beyond what she’s required to do for a patient and I love this about her. She’s so believable and feels like a real person to me. I loved catching up with her and I already can’t wait for the next book to see what she’s up to next!

The tension in this novel is there from the start and it ramps up as the book goes along. It was a book I didn’t want to put down once I started reading, and I kept thinking about it when I wasn’t reading. So much so that I even had a dream relating to the gruesome assault after reading this right before bed and that’s never, ever happened to me before! My brain was whirring away as I tried to work out whodunnit but I didn’t manage to figure it out so AJ Waines I salute you in keeping me guessing right to the end – it doesn’t happen very often in a book but this had me stumped!

Perfect Bones is one of my favourite crime/psychological thrillers of the year; it’s a fast-paced, engrossing novel that will keep you hooked from start to finish. I definitely recommend picking up novel (and indeed the whole series)!

Many thanks to Emma at Bloodhound Books for my copy of Perfect Bones. All thoughts are my own.

Perfect Bones is out now and available here.

I’ve previously reviewed Lost in the Lake by AJ Waines, which you can read here if you’d like to.

 

About the Author

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AJ Waines is a number one bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train.

Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author now writes psychological thrillers and murder mysteries full-time, with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada (audio books). In December 2017, she signed a UK two-book deal with Bloodhound Books.

AJ Waines has has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and been ranked a Top 10 UK Author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

The author lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

 

 

 

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

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This Week in Books (7 Nov 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Good Samaritans by Will Carver

This book is so good! It’s very twisted but it’s one of those books that I just don’t want to put down. I’ll be reviewing this for the blog tour in a couple of weeks time but I can already say for definite that I highly recommend it!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke

I’ve had this book on my TBR for absolutely ages and recently got the audio book so I’m part listening and part reading it. I’m really enjoying it, it’s different to what I normally read and it’s so refreshing.

The Diary of Two Nobodies by Mary Killen and Giles Wood

I was already part way through this when I made my non-fiction November TBR so I didn’t put it on the list. I love Gogglebox and find Giles and Mary very entertaining so it’s interesting to read more about them.

 

Then 

Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton

This is the third non-fiction November TBR book that I’ve read this month so far! I just finished this yesterday and it was okay. I’m a huge Freddie Mercury fan but this isn’t the best book I’ve ever read about him. I think it’s hard when it’s a memoir from  a loved one of the famous person as there is always going to be bias.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White

This is the second book from my non-fiction TBR that I’ve read in November and I enjoyed this one. I feel like I’m a decluttering obsessive now so I don’t really need these self-help books anymore but I still like to read them. This book just really reminded me how far I’ve come and still gave me some great tips on how to make sure I keep on track. I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to declutter but has a very busy life.

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

I’ve had this on my TBR ever since the day it was published but I’ve kept putting it off because it looked like it could be an emotional read. I’m so glad I read it because although it was emotional, it was also a lovely read and I really enjoyed it.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve owned various copies of this book ever since it was published but have never managed to actually get around to reading it. I’m kicking myself now though because I picked it up at the weekend and read it in just a couple of days. I really, really enjoyed it!

Roar by Cecelia Ahern

I completely and utterly fell in love with this short story collection – it was empowering, inspiring and thought-provoking and I highly recommend it. If you want to know more about what I thought, here is my review!

Waco by David Thidebeau

This is a review book that has been on my TBR for quite a while now so I put it on my non-fiction November list and it was the first book I picked up this month. I found it such a fascinating read. I’ll be writing a review for it as soon as I’ve got my thoughts together.

 

Next

The List That Changed Everything by Olivia Beirne

I’m on the blog tour for this book later this month and I’ve been so looking forward to reading it that I can’t wait any longer to start it.

Bouncing Back with a Bang by Geraldine Ward

This is a poetry collection and I’m just in the mood for poetry so it seems the right time to pick this book up.

Truth or Dare edited by Justine Picardie

This is a collection of essays that I’ve got on my non-fiction November TBR and it seems perfect for dipping in and out of so I’m planning on picking this up next.

 


 

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

 

 

#BookReview: Christmas Spirit by Nicola May @nicolamay1 @rararesources

Christmas Spirit

About the Book

It’s two days before Christmas – and Evie Harris finds herself both manless and jobless. After a chance encounter with handsome Greg (and egged on by her toy-boy-eating friend, Bea) she agrees to work at a homeless shelter on Christmas Day.
Striking up an unlikely friendship with homeless Yves, Evie begins an unwitting journey of spiritual awakening, all set against the sparkling winter backdrop of London landmarks.
A New Year’s Eve revelation is on its way . . . but will it leave Evie with a happy heart, or will she allow the pre-Christmas past to dictate her future?

 

My Thoughts

I’m delighted to be helping out on the blog tour for Christmas Spirit today and sharing my review of this gorgeous novella!

Christmas Spirit is about Evie. It’s almost Christmas and she’s utterly fed up having just split up with her boyfriend. On a night out with a friend a man asks her to help out at the homeless shelter over the festive period and Evie is persuaded to say yes; this decision changes her life!

I adored this book! First off I was utterly delighted to find that Christmas Spirit is set entirely between Christmas and New Year! I can’t help but be disappointed when there isn’t much mention of the holidays in a supposedly festive book so I can assure readers who feel like me that Christmas Spirit has all the festive feelings you could want in a novella!

I really felt for Evie throughout this book, especially around her sadness at having lost her beloved mum. I know how much harder everything feels when you no longer have a mum to turn to so I was rooting for her from the start. Breaking up with a boyfriend and not being able to call your mum makes it really tough. I was glad that Evie had such a good friend in Bea, she is such a great character and I knew she would make sure Evie was okay.

I was intrigued when Evie first met Yves; it seemed very apparent that there was something special about him but it wasn’t what I was expecting. He opens Evie’s eyes to all the beauty that is still around her, despite her loneliness and her recent break up. The way we get to see London throughout this novella is just magical.

The very end of this Christmas Spirit had me sobbing, it was so perfect and so beautiful and it just made this book really special for me. It’s made this a novella that I won’t ever forget and it will be on my list of Christmas books to re-read in the years to come.

Christmas Spirit is a beautiful, romantic and heart-warming novella and I highly recommend you grab a copy to read over Christmas!

My thanks to Rachel of Rachels Random Resources for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Christmas Spirit is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Nicola May lives near the famous Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan.  Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks – and, naturally, enjoying a flutter on the horses.

Nicola likes to write about love, life and friendship in a realistic way, describing her novels as ‘chicklit with a kick’.

She has written eight novels, with Christmas Spirit being her first novella.

 

Follow Nicola May

Website – www.nicolamay.com

Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMayAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/nicolamay1

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/author_nicola/

 

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

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#BookReview: Isolation Junction by Jennifer Gilmour @JenLGilmour @rararesources @gilbster1000

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About the Book

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

 

My Thoughts

Isolation Junction is the story of Rose; a young woman who fell in love but is now trapped in a marriage with an abusive husband. She has two young children with him and feels utterly helpless and doesn’t know how she can ever escape the situation she’s in.

Isolation Junction isn’t quite what I was expecting, but that’s in a good way. I thought it might be focused on the abusive relationship in ways that would be very difficult for me to read, and while there is some focus on violent elements it’s done in a very sensitive way. The novel shows enough for the reader to understand why Rose needs to leave but it mainly focuses on why it’s so hard for a victim of abuse to leave. Gilmour makes sure that the reader understands the situation but without ever making it too hard to stomach.

Isolation Junction felt quite a didactic read to me: the reader is kept at a distance from the characters but it felt like this was a deliberate choice, as if Gilmour has chosen to give a true insight into an abusive relationship rather than trying to make the reader feel what it might be like to be a Rose. I got the feeling that Rose, and possibly the other characters in this book too, were amalgamations of real people rather than Rose been meant to feel completely real to the reader in and of herself. It allows the novel to show the reader what it’s like to be trapped in an abusive relationship in clear language without ever embellishing for the sake of drama. The book moves back and forth in time; some parts are in third person and others are first person from Rose’s perspective. This is clever because at times it allows the reader to be outside looking in but unable to help, and then at other times we’re inside Rose’s head and can feel all her conflicting emotions and pain.

I think it’s very hard for people who haven’t been in Rose’s shoes to understand why people don’t just leave but Gilmour really shows in this book why it’s so hard. People want to leave but they’re too scared of what might happen, they’re scared of losing their children or that they or their children may be harmed. Some people have nowhere else to go having being completely isolated from their family or friends. There are so many reasons and Gilmour highlights this so brilliantly. It’s almost as if a person isn’t choosing to stay so much as they feel there is too much risk if they attempt to leave.

If I’m to be completely honest there is part of me that wanted Rose to make a life for herself without the help of another man, but I can see why the book was written the way it has been. It really shows that there is life after an abusive relationship, that people can go on to form a new relationship and can break free from the cycle of abuse. Gilmour definitely leaves the reader with a sense of hope, and I think that is incredibly important for this book.

Isolation Junction isn’t always an easy book to read but it is an important book and one that I think everyone should read. It’s very honest, it’s heart-wrenching at times and is definitely a book that will stick with you! I recommend it.

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

Isolation Junction is out now and available in print and ebook from here.

 

About the Author

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Born in Yorkshire in the UK, I am a young, married mum with three children.  I am an entrepreneur, running a family business from my home-base and I have a large readership of other young mums in business for my blog posts.

From an early age I have had a passion for writing and have been gathering ideas and plot lines from my teenage years.  A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, I have amalgamated and fictionalised other survivors experiences alongside my own to write my first novel detailing the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.  I hope that in reading my first publication- Isolation Junction, I will raise awareness of this often hidden and unseen behaviour and empower women in abusive relationships to seek help for themselves and find the confidence to change their lives.

(Author bio taken from: JenniferGilmour.com)

 

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

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#BookReview: The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet @TransworldBooks @RebeccaLFleet

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About the Book

No one lives this way unless they want to hide something.’

When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap, they jump at the chance for a week away from home. After the difficulties of the past few years, they’ve worked hard to rebuild their marriage for their son’s sake; now they want to reconnect as a couple.

On arrival, they find a house that is stark and sinister in its emptiness – it’s hard to imagine what kind of person lives here. Then, gradually, Caroline begins to uncover some signs of life – signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music in the CD player might seem innocent to her husband but to her they are anything but. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone she used to know; someone she’s desperate to leave in her past.

But that person is now in her home – and they want to make sure she’ll never forget . . .

 

My Thoughts

I was keen to get my hands on this book from the moment I first heard about it so I was thrilled when I was approved to read it from NetGalley.

The House Swap is a novel about a woman who on a whim posts her home on a house swap site and then months later she gets an alert that someone wants to swap for a week. She decides to do it and her husband are soon spending the week in Chiswick while someone spends a week in their flat in Leeds. Caroline and Francis are trying to rebuild their marriage after a rough few years but things aren’t all as they seem with the house swap.

I was expecting this novel to be darker than it was but even so it was definitely thrilling. I ended up reading it in one sitting over the course of an afternoon and I didn’t want to put it down in that time.

The characters in The House Swap aren’t particularly likeable, they all have issues and it makes them quite self-centred but I liked the book all the more for this. I was keen to find out what made them the way they were and if they were going to have any kind of redemption by the end of the novel.

There are twisty elements in this book, and I did work most of them out, but it was still quite the ride as I was reading it. It was deeply unsettling to think of a stranger in your home, while you’re in theirs, only you’ve left more of who you are in your home and they can find out all your dark secrets. I’ve always shuddered at the thought of house swaps. I know they’re increasingly popular but the idea of it is very unnerving to me (even more so after reading this novel)!

I found The House Swap to be a fast-paced read and I really enjoyed it. I’d recommend it if you like domestic novels with some thriller elements.

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

The House Swap is out now and available in hardback and ebook formats from here!

 

About the Author

Rebecca Fleet lives and works in London. The House Swap is her first thriller.

#BookReview: Snap by Belinda Bauer @BelindaBauer ‏@TransworldBooks @BeckyShort1 #snap #ManBooker #longlist

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About the Book

SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS . . .

On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she said. I won’t be long.

But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, Jack, now fourteen, is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was sent a copy of Snap as it’s a book that I’d already been eagerly anticipating and I’m so pleased to say that it more than lived up to all my expectations.

Snap is a crime thriller and is predominantly the story of Jack. The novel opens when he’s ten years old, his mother has gone missing and from that moment on he has had to grow up and look after his two younger sisters. Time the moves on and we’re back with Jack when he’s fourteen and still doing all he can to keep his family together and to stop the authorise discovering how difficult his home life is.

The opening of this novel was really quite chilling. The idea of a heavily pregnant mother having to leave her children in the broken down car at the side of a motorway while she walks to the nearest phone to seek help, is alarming. Then the reader realising that the children have been left for quite a long time and are starting to get worried – you just immediately have the horrible sensation that something terrible has happened but you don’t know what. When Jack decides they should all go look for their mum I had the most awful feeling of dread at what they might find. The combination of how young the children are,  the hot weather and knowing that their mum had possibly come to harm at the side of the road is disturbing. I knew from this opening chapter that this was going to be a novel that I couldn’t put down and I was right!

I was expecting Snap to be a well-written crime thriller with a real mystery at its heart, and it absolutely is, but it’s also so much more besides. There are moments in this book that took my breath away; the pain and grief these children felt at the loss of their mother was intense and so moving. There is a moment with a purse that was really brief and yet so powerful – I absolutely knew what the character was feeling in that moment and I sobbed reading that paragraph.

Jack is a wonderful character; he definitely won a place in my heart and is someone I hope might pop up in another book some time. He’s one of those characters where you can’t condone his actions but you can absolutely understand them; he was forced to be a parent whilst still a child himself and he was just doing the best he could. I was rooting for him all the way through the novel and hoping that he would be okay, that he would find some kind of peace with all that had happened to his mum.

I read Snap in just two sittings (and the only reason it wasn’t one was because I needed sleep) and haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished reading. It’s a compelling crime novel with a perfect mix of mystery and bittersweet, moving moments. I highly recommend that you grab a copy of this book!

Snap is my favourite crime thriller of the year so far, it’s brilliant!

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

Snap is out now in hardback and ebook and available here.

About the Author

Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa. She has worked as a journalist and screenwriter, and her script THE LOCKER ROOM earned her the Carl Foreman/Bafta Award for Young British Screenwriters, an award that was presented to her by Sidney Poitier. She was a runner-up in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition for “Mysterious Ways,” about a girl stranded on a desert island with 30,000 Bibles. Belinda now lives in Wales.

#BookReview: Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner @Ronnie__Turner @HQDigitalUK #WhereIsBonnie? #LiesBetweenUs

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About the Book

Will they ever learn the truth?

Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences . . .

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long . . .

My Thoughts

I’ve been eagerly anticipating Ronnie Turner’s debut novel Lies Between Us and I’m so happy to say that I absolutely loved it. I’m delighted to be sharing my review today for the blog tour.

Lies Between Us follows three characters: John, Miller and Maisie. John is a married father whose young daughter has gone missing and he’s desperate to find her. Miller is utterly creepy, the things we learn about his childhood behaviour were disturbing to read at times. Maisie is an ICU nurse who is caring for a man in a coma who’s been viciously assaulted. Something is linking these characters, but what is it?

This novel goes between the three main characters, and in three different timelines so it can seem a teeny bit confusing in the beginning but trust me if you go with it it has such a rewarding pay off! The tension is there from the beginning of the book, with John’s daughter going missing and it just continues to ramp up and up as you get further through the novel.

Miller was the most fascinating character for me, I was utterly unnerved by him and yet I wanted to know more about him. He is one of the creepiest characters I’ve read about in a novel and really got under my skin. It takes a deft hand to write a character as creepy as Miller and still have him be complex and believable throughout the entire novel so I applaud that. John was interesting to me too because he was so devoted to his daughter and desperately wanting to get her home safe, and yet I was never quite sure of him. I kept wondering if he was just too good to be true. I ended up being suspicious of just about everyone, and it felt like that came in a very natural way as Turner has written characters that felt so real to me. Maisie was the character that I connected with the least initially but as we get more of her back story I came to understand her a lot more.

I loved this novel, it’s very rare for me to be surprised by the reveals in a book but Ronnie Turner had me questioning everything that I thought I knew! I reached the stage of putting the book down for a minute just to try and work it all out, and I thought I had it and then something else happened and I was back to questioning it all. The moment where all begins to be revealed had my head spinning as suddenly it all began to slot into place. I loved that Turner kept me on my toes from start to finish!

Lies Between Us is a complex and compelling novel about obsession: it’s dark and twisty and impossible to put down! I already can’t wait to see what Ronnie Turner writes next! In the meantime I highly recommend Lies Between Us.

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

Lies Between Us is out now in ebook and available here.

About the Author

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Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. Ronnie now lives in Dorset with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. She is currently working on her second novel.

Twitter:@Ronnie_ _Turner

Facebook: @RonnieTurnerAuthor

Instagram: @ronnieturner8702

Website: www.ronnieturner.wordpress.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RonnieTurner

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

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#BookReview: The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor @Jennie_Ensor ‏@BloodhoundBook

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About the Book

Her father abused her when she was a child. For years she was too afraid to speak out. But now she suspects he’s found another victim…

Laura, a young woman struggling to deal with what her father did to her a decade ago, is horrified to realise that the girl he takes swimming might be his next victim. Emma is twelve – the age Laura was when her father took away her innocence.

Intimidated by her father’s rages, Laura has never told anyone the truth about her childhood. Now she must decide whether she has the courage to expose him and face the consequences.

Can Laura overcome her fear and save Emma before the worst happens?

 

My Thoughts

Today is publication day for The Girl in his Eyes so I’m thrilled to be sharing my review and helping promote this incredible novel!  I was drawn to The Girl in his Eyes as soon as I first heard about it and am so pleased to say that it was all that I hoped it would be.

Laura is carrying the awful secret of what her father did to her when she was younger and it’s affecting her to this day. She struggles to be in the family home and is distant from her mum and brother as a result. One day she finds out that her dad is taking a young girl for swimming lessons and she realises that she may have no choice but to confront what he did to her.

The Girl in his Eyes is told from multiple perspectives: Laura, her mother and her father. I was unsure how I was going to feel reading the dad’s point of view knowing what he did to his daughter and how his mind seemed to work. However, Jennie Ensor has dealt with the issue of abuse in such a sensitive way that I found it gave balance to the novel to know his thought process (as disturbing as it was to read).

I could really sympathise with Laura and I agonised with her over what she should do about her dad. It’s all too easy to say that victims should speak out but it’s so much more complex than that. Laura didn’t want to upset the rest of her family, particularly her mum, and worried that she wouldn’t be believed because her father gives such a convincing performance as a nice, normal family man. She is trying to hard to make a life for herself now she lives away from the family home she grew up in but her anxiety every time she goes back to visit brings it all back to the surface again; it’s a wound that isn’t allowed to heal.

Laura’s mother’s viewpoint was the one that I found affected me more than I was expecting, and this surprised me. I swung from being utterly disbelieving that she hadn’t had any inkling of what her husband was doing to their daughter, to feeling a sense of sadness for her as she tried to process and re-evaluate her marriage. There is a small moment in the novel when she sees a large spider out of her eye corner  and is terrified so immediately throws a huge book on top of it and stamps it down. She then leaves it there until someone comes home and she gets them to deal with it. This moment gave me goosebumps because that was when I really understood her and felt sorry for her. It’s such a tiny moment in the book but it showed me how her mind works when it came to dealing with things she truly can’t cope with.

The Girl in his Eyes is a very prescient novel. We are in the wake of the #metoo movement and are having our eyes opened to the abuse that goes on behind closed doors. This novel is about one woman and her father but the way the novel explores how Laura is still dealing with the trauma as an adult and the choices she makes are so important for society to understand. People who have been abused and traumatised sometimes deal with it by taking control in ways that can be hard for others to understand. I very much appreciated how Ensor explores this aspect of Laura’s life.

This isn’t always an easy book to read due to the subject matter and it feels unsettling at times but it is absolutely worth reading. I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading it to start with but I ended up reading it all in one sitting, and it did make me cry in places but I’m so glad that I read it. Ensor handles the subject of child abuse so sensitively; there is nothing graphic or gratuitous in the novel; it is much more a look at how it leaves people feeling and the affect it has on people’s lives. She has done an exceptional job to confront child abuse in such an honest and real way without it ever being too much to read.

The Girl in his Eyes is an incredible novel that will really stay with me. It’s such an important novel about the lasting damage of sexual abuse but it’s so beautifully and sensitively written that you’ll find yourself utterly absorbed in the story and won’t want to stop turning the pages. I read it in one sitting because it had me gripped from the opening chapter! This is a book that everyone should read; I highly recommend it.

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

The Girl in His Eyes is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Jennie Ensor lives in London and has Irish roots. During a long trip overseas she obtained a Masters in Journalism and began her writing career as a journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry. Her debut novel BLIND SIDE was published by Unbound in 2016. In January 2018 her short story ‘The Gift’ was placed in the Top 40 of the Words and Women national prose competition. Her poetry has appeared in many UK and overseas publications, most recently Ink Sweat and Tears. She sings in a chamber choir.

 

 

You can find the rest of the blog blitz at the following stops:

B L O G B L I T Z (4)-1

 

This Week in Books (5 Sep 2018)!

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh

This book has such a great cover, it really drew me to it! I only started this book late last night so am only a little way into it but I can tell this is going to be a book that I really enjoy.

How We Remember by J. M. Monroe

This is another book with such a great cover, and I’m pleased to say the novel is living up to how good the cover looks. It drew me into the story really quickly and I’m enjoying learning more about the characters as the book goes on.

Dark Pines by Will Dean

I started this book a couple of weeks ago and then put it down for some reason but I’ve picked it back up this week and am enjoying it.

 

Then 

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

I finished this book just yesterday and I loved it. I adore Mindy Mejia’s writing! I’m on the blog tour for this so my review will be posted next week!

Darling by Rachel Edwards

I listened to the audio book of this and really enjoyed it. It wasn’t a book I was particularly interested in reading but I got engrossed in it really quickly and found it kept me gripped all the way through. I recommend it.

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay

I am always drawn to books about decluttering and minimalism and this is my latest read. I thought this book was okay but if I’m being honest I’ve read other books that are more useful. It was lovely to read a book like this now I’m definitely on the other side of being somewhat of a hoarder and can see the progress I’ve made this year.

The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain

I listened to this on audio and it was an enjoyable listen. It was easy to listen to and easy to follow but didn’t have a huge amount of depth to it. It was a nice way to pass a few hours though.

The Dry by Jane Harper

I loved this book! I read it in just a couple of sittings and found it completely and utterly gripping. I have the second book in the series on my TBR and it’s already calling to me!

 

Next

Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid

I was sent a copy of this by the publisher recently and have been so looking forward to reading it so I think this coming week is going to be the week!

The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre

I’ve never read any John Le Carre but have been wanting to read this novel for absolutely ages so am going to put it on my TBR list this week and hope that I can make time to start it. It feels like it’ll be an engrossing read.

Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner

I’m so excited to have an ARC of Ronnie Turner’s first novel and have been keen to read it asap. I can’t wait any longer and am going to make it one of my next reads! It sounds like exactly my kind of book so I feel sure I will love it!

 


 

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

#BookReview: Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies @CaitlinDavies2 @Unbounders #DaisyBelle #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Summer 1867: four-year-old Daisy Belle is about to make her debut at the Lambeth Baths in London. Her father, swimming professor Jeffery Belle, is introducing his Family of Frogs – and Daisy is the star attraction. By the end of that day, she has only one ambition in life: she will be the greatest female swimmer in the world.

She will race down the Thames, float in a whale tank, and challenge a man to a 70-foot high dive. And then she will set sail for America to swim across New York Harbour.

But Victorian women weren’t supposed to swim, and Daisy Belle will have to fight every stroke of the way if she wants her dreams to come true.

Inspired by the careers of Victorian champions Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker, Daisy Belle is a story of courage and survival and a tribute to the swimmers of yesteryear.

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be invited to read and review Daisy Belle for the blog tour as it sounded like such a wonderful novel. I’m so happy to say that I adored every single minute that I spent reading this book and it more than lived up to my expectations!

Daisy Belle is the story of Daisy who from a very young age is fascinated by her father and older brother’s swimming ability and she wants to be a part of it all. She learns to swim at age four and is soon taking part in her father’s increasingly elaborate shows. Daisy wants to be the greatest female swimmer in the world but she gets drawn to performing and diving too – all the time widening her skills and abilities.

This novel is set in the mid to late 1800s and Daisy is constrained by the societal norms of the day but she constantly pushes at her boundaries. From being a young girl through to adulthood she doesn’t accept why she has to be treated differently to men. She does get treated really badly at times in the novel by some of the men in her life and that was hard to read. She also struggles against her mother who believes that Daisy should be home with her and doing more lady-like things such as sewing. I was really rooting for Daisy to pull through the difficult times and to be happy.

I loved Daisy, she is such a great character – so ambitious and feisty but also so human and likeable. I could identify with some of her drive where swimming was concerned as I was obsessed with swimming as a child so it made me feel nostalgic for the water.

Daisy gets to do so many amazing things in this book and I could really imagine it all; the novel actually played like a film in my head and I felt like I was right there with her. The writing is so evocative; I felt myself holding my breath during the mermaid show and I was cheering her on when she finally got to attempt to make an attempt at a record for a long swim.

I found this to be a really inspiring novel in so many ways. I don’t want to spoil the novel so I’ll be vague but something happens to Daisy later in the novel and I could really identify with her and how she felt. I’ve been through something similar and seeing her keep trying in spite of what happened was so brilliant to read. It’s a good reminder of how we should never just give in and accept what life throws at us but instead keep pushing at the boundaries, whatever they may be.

I absolutely recommend this book; it’s a book I adored so much and I know I will come back to it and read it again in the future. It’s so charming and inspiring, it feels like a book that everyone will love. Daisy Belle is a real contender for my book of the year!

Many thanks to Anne at #RandomThingsTours and the publisher for my copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.

Daisy Belle is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Caitlin Davies was born in London in 1964. She spent 12 years in Botswana as a teacher and journalist and many of her books are set in the Okavango Delta, including a memoir Place of Reeds, described by Hilary Mantel as ‘candid and unsentimental’.
Her novels include The Ghost of Lily Painter, a fictional account of the arrest and execution of two Edwardian baby farmers, and Family Likeness about the fate of ‘war babies’ born to African American GI fathers in England during World War Two.
Her non-fiction books include Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath, a celebration of 200 years of outdoor bathing, an illustrated history of the world famous Camden Lock Market, and Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames.
Her latest non-fiction is Bad Girls, and her latest novel is Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World, based on the lives of several Victorian aquatic stars, to be published by Unbound on September 1, 2018.
She is also a teacher and journalist, and was a regular feature writer for The Independent’s education and careers supplement. From 2014-17 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Westminster, Harrow, in the faculty of Media, Arts & Design.

Her website is http://www.caitlindavies.co.uk/

Twitter: @CaitlinDavies2

Daisy Belle Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DaisyBelleSwimmingChampionoftheWorld/

 

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

Daisy Belle Blog Tour Poster

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new #bookhaul (25 Aug 2018)!

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

 

It’s been a really busy and chaotic three weeks here so I haven’t done a stacking the shelves in that time. I’ve still been acquiring new books though so here is a haul from the last three weeks!

 

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The Light Between Us by Katie Khan

I was so thrilled to find out that I’d won a giveaway of this book and it made my day when it arrived. It’s a gorgeous hardback, with a crystal and a note from the author. This is a book I will treasure and I can’t wait to read it.

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Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

I’ve been so keen to read this book so I treated myself a couple of weeks ago and I’m hoping to get to read it soon. It feels like it’s going to be one of those books that once I start it I won’t be able to put it down.

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All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

I pre-ordered this book and I read it in two sittings as soon as it appeared on my kindle. It was such a compelling and devastating read. It’s very well written and it’s a book that is staying with me so I recommend it.

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Dark Pines by Will Dean

I’ve heard so many good things about this book so I finally gave in and bought a copy. I’ve started reading it but it’s been a busy time and I haven’t fully got into it. I’m going to make time to read a chunk of it over the weekend though as I feel sure I will love it.

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Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

I love Liz Nugent’s writing, all her novels have been brilliant so I couldn’t resist buying this new one. I hope to have time to sit and read this one very soon.

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Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner

I was super excited to be invited to be on the blog tour for Ronnie’s debut novel and when I got the NetGalley widget emailed to me this week I immediately downloaded it. I’m really looking forward to reading this!

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Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh

Hasn’t this book got such a great cover? I was sent a copy of this to review and I’m planning on reading it in the next couple of weeks. It sounds a bit different to my usual reads and I think I’m going to very much enjoy it.

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Love & Fame by Susie Boyt

I jumped at the chance when I was offered a copy of this to review for the blog tour as it sounds like a very me book.

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Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid

I’m so thrilled to have been sent a copy of this book as it sounds like exactly my type of read. I’m really enjoying thrillers at the moment so this definitely won’t be on my TBR for very long at all!

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The Last by Hanna Jameson

I’ve seen this book around on social media and have been so keen to get my hands on a copy of it. It was so exciting when the publicist messaged me to offer me a review copy and I can’t wait to read it!

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Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas

I loved Claire Douglas’ first novel and have now got all her other books on my TBR but couldn’t resist when her new novel was sent to me by the publisher. I think this will be a fast-paced read and I can’t wait to get to it!

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The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo

I was so intrigued by this new edition of The Snowman as I grew up with the picture book and the gorgeous TV adaptation. I’m really interested to see what the experience of reading a new adaptation as a novel will be. I’m saving this to read on a dull afternoon when I can be all cosy with a blanket and just get lost in this book.

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The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

I requested this on NetGalley as the premise really sounds so good! I was thrilled when I got the approval email and I’m so keen to read it. The book’s not out until next year though so I’m going to try and read some more of 2018’s releases before starting this one.

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The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare

I was delighted to be offered the chance to read this book. It’s a mediation on winter and as soon as I read the blurb it just called to me. I feel like this will be a book that I get a lot out of.

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Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

I squealed when the publisher emailed me about this book as I loved Mindy Mejia’s previous novel The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman (you can read my review here if you’d like to). I actually started reading this late last night and am sure I’ll be finishing it today!

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Histories by Sam Guglani

This book came into my life in a serendipitous way… I’d literally just read a great review of it and knew it was a book that I needed to read and then not two minutes later I saw the publisher offering copies for bloggers to review on twitter! I think this will be a very moving read, but also an important one.

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Inhuman Resources by Pierre LeMaitre

I’ve seen this book on social media and have been having serious envy as I love Pierre LeMaitre’s writing. You can just imagine my sheer joy when this gorgeous hardback arrived on my door mat yesterday! This definitely won’t be on my TBR for long, I can’t wait to read it!

 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

#BookReview: Overkill by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks #NewZealandNoir

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About the Book

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for Overkill as it sounded like such an intriguing novel. I do love a crime novel with a great lead character investigating the crime and I’m so happy to say that I loved this book.

Overkill opens with one of the most shocking and devastating prologues that I think I’ve ever read. Gabby is home with her baby girl when a man calls round to supposedly repair the phone line. He very soon makes it clear that Gabby is not going to get out of this situation alive but if she co-operates he will spare her daughter. We then follow Constable Sam Shephard as she investigates what is at first believed to be Gabby’s suicide but suspicions are quickly aroused that she may have been murdered.

I had goosebumps reading the opening of this book and I knew it was going to be a novel that I wouldn’t be able to put down. This is the first novel that I’ve read in a really long time that made me feel proper fear and horror at the situation a character was in; it’s such great writing that can make you have such a reaction to words on a page. For all the brutality of the prologue I needed to keep reading because the beautiful writing had me hooked.  I ended up reading this book in two sittings (and the only reason it wasn’t one sitting was because somewhere around 1am I fell asleep with my kindle in my hand!).

I love Sam Shephard! She is such a great, feisty character – she is a local woman and everyone knows her and likes her but she has her flaws. She’s passionate about her job in the police and can’t let it go when she is sure of the lead she’s following. Her emotions get the better of her at times during this novel but I could always understand why she was upset or angry and so kept on rooting for her. I believe this book is the first in a series and so I’m already very keen to see what Sam does next! I feel like Sam Shepherd could be just the character to fill the Kinsey Millhone shaped hole in my life!

There is a great sense of place in this novel. I’ve never been to New Zealand but Overkill gives such a sense of the place and I could visualise all the locations in the book. There are some great characters in this book but also a real claustrophobic feel to how everyone knows each other and nothing seems to be private. The locals are quick to close ranks but there is a warmth among them too. The moments of humour really balance the darker aspects in this novel and I very much appreciated that. Life is full of dark and light and a book that captures that is a wonderful thing to find!

I had no idea whodunnit until Sam was on the killer’s trail, it felt all the way through the book like I was along with her as she tried to put all the pieces together. I love that it kept me in suspense with all its twists and turns, and the red herrings along the way. This is such a compelling and readable book.

Overkill is fast-paced, twisty and impossible to put down! I think this might be one of my favourite crime novels of the year and I’m sure it’s a book that will stay with me. I’ve definitely found a new favourite character in Sam! This is absolutely a five star read and I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from Random Things Tours & Orenda Books. All thoughts are my own.

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

 

About the Author

Vanda’s first novel Overkill, was written while juggling the demands of a 6 month old baby and a two year old. She suspects the prologue to Overkill was written in a state of sleep deprivation induced paranoia brought about by middle of the night feeds and imagining every awful thing that could possibly happen to her family. None of them ever did. Reading that prologue still makes her cry.

A little time has elapsed and the six-month old and two-year old are now teenagers. As well as trying to raise two wonderful human beings, she has added three more Detective Sam Shephard novels to the series and written the stand alone psychological thriller The Faceless.

As well as being a crime writer, she hosts a monthly radio show on Dunedin’s Otago Access Radio called Write On, where she interviews local writers, and catches the odd international super-star if they’re in town.

And just to prove that she is a tiger for punishment, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of Otago looking at the communication of science through crime fiction – the perfect subject for a science loving crime writer. She has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and enjoyed a career as a community pharmacist and palliative care pharmacist before concentrating on her writing career.

Vanda has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Authors for many years, having been chair of the Otago Southland Branch. She is currently the Otago Southland regional delegate on the NZSA Board. Vanda was also the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand.

When she isn’t writing, Vanda can be found digging around in her garden in Dunedin, or on the business end of a fencing foil. She has fenced since high school and still competes in national and international competitions. As well as competing she coaches, and because she likes to get involved, boots and all, is the president of Fencing South and on the board of Fencing New Zealand.

Vanda is a founding member of the Dunedin Crime Writers Association, whose raison d’etre is for its members to drink beer or wine and talk crime writing at their favourite pub.

(Author bio taken from: VandaSymon.com)

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

Overkill Blog Tour Poster

#BookReview: No Place Like Home by @RebeccaMuddiman @BloodhoundBook

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About the Book

What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?
This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home.The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.
What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?
In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for No Place Like Home as I’ve loved Rebecca Muddiman’s previous novels and so was certain that I would love this one. I’m so happy to say that this was a great read and I was gripped!

No Place Like Home is the story of Polly who has recently moved in to her new home and she is so excited to have a place that is all hers where she can feel cosy and safe. She has quite a dull life working an office job and keeping herself to herself but she’s also coping with her mum being recently moved to a nursing home due to a stroke. She visits her regularly and finds the situation really stressful and tough. On top of this she soon notices that a man keeps standing outside her house and staring in at all hours of the day and she is increasingly annoyed and then unnerved by him. Polly isn’t sure how to handle the situation but then things begin to escalate and she has to do something!

This novel is so twisted! It starts off like I expected it to as we get to know Polly and see how her life is and how she deals with Jacob watching her but as the situation escalates the novel becomes increasingly thrilling. The way this novel goes back and forth in time really heightens the tension as we begin to form a picture of how Polly ended up with Jacob obsessively watching her. I became more and more unnerved as the book went on but I could not put it down! It drew me in and kept me reading until the small hours of the morning because it reached a point where I couldn’t sleep until I knew how this book was going to end.

This is a hard book to review because you’re best going into it not knowing much more than it says in the blurb so I’m keeping this vague on purpose. The main thing you need to know is that this is a brilliant psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes all the way through. It’s a novel that will have you wondering how far you, or someone you might know, would go for what they want! I highly recommend it!

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

No Place Like Home is out today and available here.

 

About the Author

Rebecca Muddiman is from Redcar and has lived there all her life except for time working in Holland where she lived on a canal boat, and in London, where she lived six feet away from Brixton prison. She has a very boring day job, a degree in Film and Media and an MA in Creative Writing. In 2010 she won a Northern Writers’ Time to Write Award and the Northern Crime Competition in 2012. She is the author of two previous novels: STOLEN and GONE. She lives with her boyfriend, Stephen, and dog, Cotton, in a semi-detached house which they have christened ‘Murder Cottage’.

 

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

B L O G B L I T Z (4)

Stacking the Shelves with a new #bookhaul (4 Aug 2018)!

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

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Marcarenhas

I was offered the chance to read this book by the publisher recently and I can’t tell you how excited I am to read it! I’ve heard such great things about it and I’m keen to read it as soon as possible.

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir

This was a lovely surprise in the post a few days ago from the lovely Orenda books. I loved the first book in this series Snare (you can read my review here if you’d like to) so I’m thrilled to have the second book arrive. I’ll be reading this one soon too.

 

Him by Clare Empson

I requested this book on a whim when it was recommended to me on NetGalley and I was delighted when I got approved. It sounds like the kind of book I’m really loving at the moment so I have high hopes for this one.

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

I read a fabulous review of this on Jill’s Book Cafe recently and loved the sound of the books so much that I immediately pre-ordered it. I then – completely coincidentally – got an email from NetGalley offering me a copy so I downloaded it right away. I don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long as it’s calling to me from my kindle already!

 

The Dead Ex by Jane Corry

I bought this in the kindle sale at the end of July as I loved Jane Corry’s previous novel and liked the sound of this new one. It might be a while before I get to this but I am looking forward to it.

One Click by Andrea Mara

I signed up to Kindle Unlimited again this week as I was offered three months free so when I spotted this book on there it was the very first book I downloaded. I actually started reading it last night and am really enjoying it.

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

I’m a huge fan of The Tempest so have been wanting to read Atwood’s adaptation of it ever since it was first published. I finally treated myself to it this week and am so looking forward to reading it.

 


 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

 

This Week in Books (1 Aug 2018)! #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now 

No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman

I was delighted to be sent a copy of this book as I love Rebecca Muddiman’s writing. This is a standalone novel and it’s so intriguing. I started it last night and I have no idea where the story is going to go, which I’m loving!

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

I’m still finding this book really interesting but it’s a book that I feel I need time to digest so I’m reading it a chapter at a time and taking time in between to mull over what I’ve read.

 

Then 

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

I adored this book! I’m mid-way through writing my review but I always find it hardest to review the books I’ve loved. This was one of those novels that I never wanted to end because I was enjoying it so much. I definitely recommend it.

You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I’m a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing – her first novel Sea Sisters is one of my favourite books so I always eagerly anticipate her latest. I spotted this one on NetGalley the other day and immediately downloaded it. I read it over the weekend and really enjoyed it. It kept me on my toes and I was gripped from start to finish!

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a couple of years now and finally picked it up this week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really a book for me and I didn’t really enjoy it. It was fast-paced but the story was just didn’t grab me as much as I wanted it to.

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

I listened to the audio book of this over a couple of days and found it such a fascinating memoir. It was hard to listen to at times but I’m so glad that I finally got to this. I believe that it’s been made into a film very soon so I’ll be looking out for that.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

I’ve had this on my TBR since last year and am kicking myself for not picking it up sooner as I loved this book. It was dark and gripping and so believable. I’m definitely going to be reading more of Attica Locke’s novels soon.

Illusion of JusticeL: Inside Making A Murderer and America’s Broken System by Jerome F. Buting

My husband and I binge-watched The Staircase on Netflix recently and when it finished were looking around for something similar. We discovered Making a Murderer (I know, we’re so late getting to this) and we were both shocked at how the case was prosecuted. Once we’d finished I wanted to know more about the case and the American court system and this was the book I found. This was a fascinating book and so well-written, I absolutely recommend it.

 

Next

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

I’ve seen fab reviews of this book on some of my favourite blogs recently so have been wanting to read this one. I was thrilled when the publisher contacted me and offered me a copy and I can’t wait to get started reading it.

Overkill by Vanda Symon

This is another book that I was sent from the publisher and I’m so keen to read it. It sounds like my kind of read!

One Click by Andrea Mara

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so when I spotted it on my Kindle Unlimited subscription I downloaded it right away. It sounds like a fab summer thriller so I’m hoping I can get to it this week.

 


 

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

#BookReview: Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly @PaulaDalyAuthor ‏@TransworldBooks #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she’d prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Paula Daly so I jumped at the chance to take part in this blog tour for her new novel, Open Your Eyes!

Open Your Eyes begins with Jane and her husband Leon bickering about having to go to his mother’s house on his birthday; one of those silly rows that we’ve all had at one point or another. Their neighbour, who they have a long-running mild dispute with, comes over to moan about something and Jane goes in the house to get the beer they’ve forgotten. What happens next is utterly shocking – something happens to Leon and this family’s world is turned upside down.

Jane suddenly finds herself having to pick up the pieces of what’s happened while also trying to keep her children’s routine as normal, but at the same time dealing with the aftermath and coping with the fear she’s left with. Some of her decisions were odd to me but I know how your mind is thrown into utter disarray when something so shocking happens to someone in your family.

I loved all the references to writing in this book. Leon is a successful traditionally published author while Jane is a writer who is still looking for a publishing deal. She feels a bit belittled by her husband’s success but is determined to keep going. There is an element of her feeling diminished as a writer due to her husband’s success and I felt like this spread out into other parts of their life together. This all plays such a brilliant and unexpected part in this novel and I loved that element of it. Jane isn’t a confident woman and she hates confrontations of any kind but as the novel goes on she finds her voice and her ability to face up to the situations grows.

There are so many people to suspect in this book so it keeps you on your toes as you’re reading. As the book progresses and Jane and the police dig deeper into Leon and his history there are more and more potential reasons for what happened to him and more people who may have wished him harm. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t work out what had happened and I loved that I was in suspense until all was revealed. This book has such a brilliant ending; it’s definitely one that I’ll remember!

I raced through Open Your Eyes; it’s a compulsive read that will keep you up at night thinking ‘just one more chapter…’ until you turn the final page at 2am because you will get so drawn on that you simply won’t be able to rest until you know whodunnit and whydunnit! I loved this book and I highly, highly recommend it!

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

Open Your Eyes is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Paula Daly is the critically acclaimed author of five novels. Her work has been sold in fifteen countries, shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year award, and her books are currently being developed for television. She was born in Lancashire and lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children, and whippet Skippy.

 

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

Open Your Eyes Blog Tour Poster .jpg

Stacking the Shelves with my latest #bookhaul (28 July 2018)!

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

 

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book as I love Louise Beech’s novels; she’s one of my favourite authors and it’s always such a treat to have a new book of hers to get lost in. I’ll be reading this one very soon.

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

It was lovely to be offered an ARC of this novel as I’d seen it around and it seems like my kind of book. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

 

 

When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamay

I’ve been aware of this book but wasn’t sure if it was for me. I spotted it in a kindle deal earlier this week though for 99p so decided to try it. I think I’ll need to be in the right mood for this one but hopefully it won’t be too long before I read it.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

I was offered a copy of this for review and as soon as I read the blurb I immediately said yes, it sounds like such an intriguing and interesting book.

 

 

The Wives by Lauren Weisberger

This package arrived as a complete surprise! It arrived when I was having a bad day so it was perfect timing to cheer me up! It’s a copy of The Wives along with sunglasses, some delicious sweets and a pink nail varnish. I’m really excited to read this novel!

 

 


 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

#BookReview: Do No Harm by L. V. Hay @LucyVHayAuthor @OrendaBooks

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About the Book

Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…

 

My Thoughts

I read Lucy Hay’s previous thriller, The Other Twin, last year and loved it (you can read my review here if you’d like to) so I was excited to be invited to read Do No Harm for the blog tour and immediately said yes!

This book is so gripping! I picked it up and it grabbed me from the start. It starts with Lily’s wedding day; she’s marrying Sebastian who seems to be a lovely man and the total opposite to Lily’s ex-husband Maxwell. There is a sense from the start that there is someone around the couple who has horrible intentions but you don’t know who or why. The obvious suspect to begin with is Maxwell but the book takes you on such a twisty journey and you’ll be constantly re-assessing who you suspect and who you can trust!

The chapters alternate between Lily and Sebastian’s perspectives, and in between there are short sections from someone who seems to have malicious intentions but creepily we don’t know who it is. This is such a great way of building tension and it had me suspecting nearly everyone in this novel and my thoughts on who was doing all the horrible stuff to Lily and Sebastian changed so many times. Ultimately, I did stick with suspecting one person and I was right but I didn’t work out how or why they did what they did. I’m sure I only worked it out in the end because a long time ago I had someone in my life who did something that this person did so my gut was screaming at me that the character was not to be trusted.

This book is a really compelling read. It’s such a great psychological thriller but it’s also such a well-written and well-researched book about the lengths and the ways that people will go to to manipulate and harm others. It’s very prescient with the gaslighting; the making people doubt their own thoughts and memories of things, and it gave me chills at times. The tension builds and builds as the novel progresses and at one point I was literally on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen!

Lucy Hay is a brilliant writer; The Other Twin was the first novel I read by her and it was so good but Do No Harm is even better so I’m already excited to see what Lucy writes next! Do No Harm is a sophisticated, disturbing and an utterly unputdownable psychological thriller! I urge you to grab a copy and read it right away!

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

Do No Harm is out now and available in ebook and paperback here.

 

About the Author

Lucy Hay author photo

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

 

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

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The Things We Thought We Knew by @MahsudaSnaith @ThomasssHill

Today on my blog I’m very excited to share the brand new cover for the ebook of The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith! I read this novel last year and it has really stayed with me. It is one of those rare books that is on my shelf of books that I want to re-read in the coming months and I’m sure I will read it time and again in the years to come. If you haven’t already read it, I urge you to grab a copy and read it soon!

So without further ado, here is the gorgeous new ebook cover…

The Things We Thought We Knew - eBook Cover

To give you a better insight into how much I loved The Things We Thought We Knew, here is my review from last year:

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is always the past, waiting to pounce.’

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

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

The Things We Thought We Knew is out now and available here!

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new #bookhaul (21 July 2018)!

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

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

I somehow missed putting this book in last week’s book haul so I’m adding it on to this one. I’ve already read this book and I loved it – I read it in one sitting and was completely gripped all the way through!

Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley

I was certain that I’d already bought this book but when I went to look for it on my kindle the other day it wasn’t there. I’ve bought it now though and I can’t wait to read it, I love Rebecca Bradley’s writing.

It Ends With You by S. K. Wright

I requested this one on NetGalley on a whim as I loved the sound of the blurb. I was thrilled to be approved to read it and plan on picking it up very soon.

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

I was offered the chance to be on the blog tour for this book and I jumped at the chance as I’m such a huge fan of Paula Daly. I’m already halfway through this book and am hooked!

You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I’ve loved all of Lucy Clarke’s novels so when I spotted this new one on NetGalley I immediately downloaded it. I can’t wait to read it!

The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle

I used to love Mike Gayle’s novels but haven’t read one in absolutely ages. I saw this new one on Zoe Ball’s book club on Sunday and just had to get hold of a copy. I’m looking forward to reading this!


 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

#BookReview: The Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah M. Lynn @HMLynnauthor #WalterandLetty

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About the book

Walter Augustus is dead. His current state of existence has become a monotony of sweet tea and lonely strolls and after decades stuck in the Interim — a posthumous waiting room for those still remembered on Earth — he is ready to move on. Only when he is forgotten by every living person will he be able to pass over and join his family in the next stage of the afterlife. At last the end is tantalizingly close, but bad luck and a few rash decisions may see him trapped in the Interim for all eternity.

Letty Ferguson is not dead. Letty Ferguson is a middle-aged shoe saleswoman who leads a pleasant and wholly unextraordinary life, barring the secret fortune she seems unable to tell her husband about. However, when she takes possession of an unassuming poetry anthology, life takes on a rather more extraordinary dimension.

 

My Thoughts

Today I’m absolutely delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Hannah Lynn’s The Afterlife of Walter Augustus.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Afterlife of Walter Augustus as it sounded like a book that is different to my usual reads. I’m so happy that I got the chance to read it though because I adored it.

The Afterlife of Walter Augustus follows two characters – Walter and Letty. Walter died a long, long time ago but he’s stuck in the interim part of the afterlife, which is where the deceased stay for as long as someone on earth remembers them. Walter just wants to be forgotten so that he can move on to the afterlife to be with his wife again. Letty is very much alive. She works hard, and lives a frugal existence with her husband. Letty is keeping a big secret though, and on top of that she one day acquires a poetry collection and this leads to her becoming a problem for Walter.

This book is wonderful: it had moments that made me smile and moments that took my breath away. There is a part of this book where two people meet in the athenaeum and I had to put the book down because I was crying so much. They were cathartic tears though. I really loved Hannah’s take on the interim afterlife and what it might be like for people who have passed on. I waiver on what I believe but I’d never really considered an interim and it really made me think. I often think of my lovely mum, and sometimes I can smell her perfume and for a brief moment it’s as if she is right there. It was weird to contemplate the idea of someone being stuck somewhere because they are remembered on earth but as I got further into the novel and met other characters I got great comfort from that. Walter is almost the exception in the interim – he is remembered many, many years after death because of a quirk of fate that made him a published author in his lifetime.

The Afterlife of Walter Augustus is a perfect blend of beautifully moving and very amusing. It is witty and charming, and a wonderfully heartwarming read. I highly recommend this book; it’s a five star read!

The Afterlife of Walter Augustus is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Hannah Lynn was born in 1984 and grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction. Her first novel, Amendments, was published in 2015, her latest novel, The Afterlife of Walter Augustus, is out July 2018. Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.

You can find Hannah on the following platforms:

Twitter: @HMLynnauthor

Facebook: HannahLynnAuthor

Goodreads: Hannah_M_Lynn

 

Hannah Lynn is running a fabulous giveaway at the moment (until 31st July) where you can enter to win a Kindle Paperweight and a copy of The Afterlife of Walter Augustus! Find the giveaway here!

 

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

 

Blog Tour Poster UK

This Week in Books (18 July 2018) #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

I pre-ordered this book months ago (as I loved his first novel Final girls) and I’ve been eagerly anticipating it ever since so I was thrilled when I spotted it on my kindle the other day. I started reading this yesterday and am gripped!

Do No Harm by Lucy V. Hay

I enjoyed Lucy’s previous novel last year so am excited to be reading her new book now. It’s a great mystery thriller that is keeping me guessing. I’ll be reviewing this for the blog tour next week so look out for my thoughts then.

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

I’m finding this book fascinating and unsettling, it’s such an important book and I recommend it to everyone.

 

Then

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

I picked this up on Monday afternoon and I devoured it all in one sitting. It was such a brilliant read and I loved it.

The Possible World by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz

I read this on pigeonhole and really enjoyed reading just a few chapters each day over the last week. This novel is so beautifully written; it was very moving and is a book that I know will stay with me. I’m definitely going to be buying a physical copy to have on my bookcase.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

This novel was good but it left me feeling really grubby. I’d recommend it if you like Flynn’s writing but it’s not my favourite of her novels. I’m keen to start watching the new TV adaptation though to see how it translates on screen.

F*** You Very Much by Danny Wallace

I finally finished reading this book a few days ago and to be honest I’m just relieved to be done with it. There were some really interesting ideas in the book and I enjoyed those elements but there was too much of the hotdog story, which spoilt the book for me. It was all a bit of a muddle – not serious enough and not funny enough – it just felt a bit of a mess and neither nowt nor summat as us Yorkshire folk say. I’m not sure I’ll pick up anymore books by Danny Wallace but I’d still recommend this if you’re a big fan of his.

 

Next

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

I think I had this on my TBR for the previous week but I just didn’t manage to get to it so I’m adding it to this week’s plans. I am very much looking forward to reading this.

Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing

I treated myself to this graphic non-fiction book last week from an indie publisher and I’ve been keen to read it right away so I’m going to make time to sit and read this over the coming days.

You Were Made For This by Michelle Sacks

This is a netgalley book that I’ve been keen to read ever since I was approved for it so I’m planning to read it over the next week.

 


 

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