Mini Book Reviews: Home Stretch | Perfect Tunes | Dear Justyce | Hush Little Baby

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read over the last week or so. I got all of these books from NetGalley and am now slowly catching up on my review books. This selection were all great reads and I recommend them!

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

This is such a stunning novel – I read it all in one sitting because I just didn’t want to put it down for a second. Home Stretch follows a small community in rural Ireland who are reeling from an horrific car crash that has killed three young people and seriously injured a fourth. Two young men escaped with no injuries. The ramifications are huge for the town as parents and siblings and friends try to come to terms with what happened. The novel starts in 1987 but goes back and forth in time up to 2019. We mainly follow Connor, a young gay man who was driving the car, and we see how much this has affected him and his family. The snippets we get from the other families affected by the accident are so moving. Norton really captures people’s thoughts in such a real way – there is a moment at one of the funeral’s when one mother is relieved that the wedding didn’t happen when she see’s what the bride’s mother is wearing at her daughter’s funeral and this felt so true to life. We all know these people in our own lives. There are twists and turns, and things that I didn’t see coming, but more than that this is a beautiful novel about finding your way in the world, and about how you find home again when the absolute worst thing has happened to you. I adored this book; it will absolutely be in my top books of this year! I highly recommend it!

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

This novel follows Laura as she moves to New York at the start of the new millenium. She dreams of making it as a singer/song writer but she is quite shy and always seems to be in her best friend’s shadow. One night she goes to see a band and meets the singer, Dylan, and her life begins to change in so many ways. She is besotted with Dylan, wanting to spend every second with him but life has other plans for her. The novel then moves quickly forward in time as we see Laura trying to navigate life with her teenage daughter. She still yearns to be a song writer but never seems to have time to sit and be creative. She’s not inspired anymore and is instead fully focused on her daughter and making ends meet. This is a novel about falling madly in love when you’re young, of having big dreams and feeling like they really might come true but then the reality of life and how we cope when we end up on a different path. Laura is a very passive character but I couldn’t help but root for her, I know what it is like to let life sweep you along because it’s easier than pushing forward for what you want. The end left me with mixed feelings but at the same time it was a perfect ending to Laura’s story. I really enjoyed this novel and I recommend it.

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

This is the companion novel to Dear Martin, which I read and loved last year. Each can be read as a standalone but I recommend reading them both in order. In Dear Justyce we follow Quan, who is in juvenile detention and we slowly get his back story. He knew Justyce when he was younger but their lives have taken very different roads. Justyce is doing well at college and Quan is imprisoned with no idea when he’ll ever see freedom again. He begins writing letters to Justyce and we gradually see how he ended up here. I found this such a moving novel, it’s really hard hitting at times with just how unjust the criminal justice system is and how rigged it is against non-white people. You can see as you read that Quan is a good person who just wanted better for his siblings but he had such a tough start in life and got caught up in things he couldn’t get out of. I loved how Justyce rallied support for Quan and how his group of friends are determined to make things right for him. This is a book that I know will stay with me. It’s such a powerful and stunning novel, it’s one that everyone should read.

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

This novel follows DC Beth Chamberlain as she investigates the murder of a young baby whose body has been found on a building site. It is believed the baby could be Alicia Owens who has been missing for fifteen years so Beth has to go back through the case and to re-investigate everything. This is a mysterious novel which has you wondering where the baby had been kept for all the intervening years and who could have killed her, and why. Alicia’s mother, Marie, is quite a closed book but has re-married and had another child whereas her ex-husband hasn’t moved on at all and still isn’t coping too well. The wider family all seem like they might have secrets to hide and as the novel goes on things start to unravel. I enjoyed this book, it was the third in a series but the first one I’ve read and it works perfectly well as a standalone. I found the central mystery intriguing and was shocked when the reveal of who and how and why comes. I’d recommend this one if you like British crime fiction!

Mini Book Reviews: Hungry | Space Hopper | The Weekend | Five Hundred Miles From You

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

Hungry

I completely and utterly adored this book! Hungry is Grace Dent’s memoir and in it she details her life through with real emphasis on food. I’m just a little bit younger than Dent so a lot of her food memories are very similar to mine – the thrill of a Sara Lee Gateau as a very special treat is one such memory. I loved reading about her childhood in Carlisle, a place I know well, and her love for her family. There is so much love that shines out of these pages. Anyone who grew up in the north in the 70s and 80s will identify with this book so much. As Dent gets a little older and starts to move away from her family and to build a career for herself we see how she got into being a food critic and this was every bit as interesting as her childhood. There is sadness and worry along the way too as her dad starts to show signs of dementia and her mum suffers with ill health too but the way Dent and her siblings rally around was wonderful to read about. I can’t put into words just how much I loved this book, I enjoyed every single bit of it and I would recommend it to everyone. This will definitely be one of my top books of 2021, I’m certain of it!

The Weekend

This novel follows three older women who are returning to their friend Sylvie’s home to clear it out after her death. The four women had been friends for many years but there are secrets being kept and also the difficulties of how they’ve all changed over the years that all have to be dealt with over the course of one weekend. Jude is very self-controlled and likes everything to be just so. Wendy is more eccentric and goes with the flow so when she turns up with her elderly, incontinent dog Jude is horrified. Adele is an out of work actress who is on the brink of being homeless and can’t bring herself to tell her oldest friends of her latest plight. I loved the writing in this novel; it’s the first I’ve read by Charlotte Wood and it won’t be the last. I found it hard to warm to any of the characters at first but as the novel goes on and we see the vulnerabilities of the women I couldn’t help but feel sadness at what life had thrown at them. This is a melancholy, reflective novel but it still left me feeling hopeful. I enjoyed this novel and I recommend it!

Space Hopper

This novel follows Faye who is happily married with children but she still misses her mum who died when she was 8. One day she finds her old Space Hopper box in the attic and it transports her back to the 70s in the year or so before her mother died! There is so much I loved about this novel. I really connected with how much Faye was desperate to travel back to her mother as she missed her so much. I think anyone who has lost their parent would find it hard to resist having one more day with them, even when you realise you might sacrifice things in the present. I loved seeing Faye connect with her mum and getting to know her as an adult. It’s a novel where the time travel element doesn’t really make sense, even within the story, so I definitely had to suspend my disbelief but I was so invested in Faye and her desire to have more time with her mum that I was happy to do that. This novel was so soothing to me in the week when it should have been my mum’s 70th birthday and I’m so glad that I picked it up when I did. I recommend it.

Five Hundred Miles From You

This novel follows Lissa and Corman. Lissa lives in London and loves her job as a community nurse but when one day she witnesses a traumatic incident she struggles to cope and is offered a three-month job swap with Cormac. He lives in a remote Scottish village and loves his life as a nurse there. Over time Lissa and Cormac have to swap notes about patients and a bond starts to form. I loved reading about how each of them had to find their feet in a completely new place, and it was fun seeing their friends too and how they coped with the swap. I didn’t enjoy this as much as previous novels by the author but it was still a really fun read and I’m glad I read it. This book is the third in a series but can definitely be read a standalone. An enjoyable summer read!

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

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

Current Reads

Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

Five Hundred Miles from You by Jenny Colgan

Mountain Road, Late at Night by Alan Rossi

The first two are NetGalley books and I’m really enjoying them both. Mountain Road was a gift from my husband recently and I’m finding it utterly engrossing and very moving.

Recent Reads

The Split by Sharon Bolton

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor

The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

It’s been a good reading week this week. My husband was watching golf all weekend and so I sat and read a lot of books. It’s been a long time since I read books back to back and finishing them in one sitting. I’m hoping my reading mojo is properly coming back now as I really miss reading how I used to. The above books are all the ones I finished this week – a couple I started the week before and have now finished and others I’ve read in their entirety. The ones in green have already been reviewed so click if you want to know more. 🙂

What I Might Read Next

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

I’m really focusing on reading my NetGalley books at the moment so the above three books are the ones that are catching my eye as I put this post together and I hope to read and review them this week. 🙂

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

Mini Book Reviews: Dead Head | Truth Be Told | The Split | Punching the Air

Dead Head by C. J. Skuse

This was one of my most anticipated books for this year and it more than lived up to my hopes for it! This is the third instalment in the SweetPea series and I loved this book. In Dead Head we are back with Rhiannon at a book launch and then the novel goes back in time and we find out what she has been up to since the last book. She is now on the run and trying to evade the authorities and she is on form! Her kill lists are absolutely brilliant, and yet again it’s disconcerting to find yourself nodding your head in agreement with some of her hates and then realising she is actually a serial killer and perhaps would kill people for these reasons. This is such a fun series though – it’s dark and at times gory but Rhiannon is one of the best fictional characters I’ve ever read about. I don’t want to say much more about this book as you really need to read the first two books first and I don’t want to risk spoiling anything. I do highly recommend this whole series though, it’s utterly brilliant!

Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

Truth Be Told book is an incredible read. In it we follow Kamran, a teenage boy who is the victim of rape by another boy at his boarding school. Kamran goes to see Zara Kaleel at a rape crisis centre and she agrees to help him. This is such a powerful novel that explores so many issues around rape and consent, race and gender, and the impact on the victim, but also the people around the victim when a rape accusation is made. It was very hard to read at times but the issues are handled really sensitively and in a way that is so believable. This is the second novel that features Zara but this novel does work as a standalone. I enjoyed the author’s previous book but this one is even better. I didn’t want to put this one down and now I’ve finished it I keep finding myself thinking about it. I highly recommend this one!

The Split by Sharon Bolton

I’m just finding my way out of a horrible reading slump and this book was exactly what I needed to remind me what it’s like to get completely lost in a great novel. The Split opens with the main character, Felicity, at work in Antarctica. She is on edge about a passenger cruise that is due to arrive and she decides to leave her station for a little while. The novel soon goes back in time to nine months earlier in Cambridge, which was a real jolt but I was soon absorbed in what was going on there. I had my suspicions about elements of what was going on but I didn’t see the whole picture until it was revealed to me. I was completely along for the ride with this one and that was the best way to read it. Felicity is struggling with absences and she finds herself in places without knowing how she got there, and she feels like someone has been in her home. She has to go and see a counsellor, Joe, and we follow his perspective too. My favourite character in the novel is Delilah, a police detective who is Joe’s mother. She does not suffer fools and always says what she thinks. This was a dark read at times but also such a fun novel to read. I definitely recommend it!

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

This is a really powerful young adult novel told in verse and follows a young black man, Amal, as he is convicted of a brutal assault and sent to prison. Parts of drawings and scribbles are interspersed throughout the narrative, which really added to Amal’s story and to my understanding of who he is and how he expresses himself best. He’s clearly a boy who loves his family and wants to do well at school but he is, understandably and justifiably, angry at his art class teacher’s focus on white artists. One day he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time and while he isn’t entirely innocent, he didn’t do the thing he is convicted of. His anger and confusion is palpable, and I could feel the claustrophobia of the prison as if I was right there too. Over time we see the moments of hope that keep Amal going, and I loved the letters he gets from Zenobia. There are small acts of kindness, that come alongside the really dark moments, and it is those that make this book hopeful. It doesn’t shy away from racism and race issues, or the injustice suffered by the wrongly convicted but there is definitely some hope in there. This is a book that I would recommend to everyone.

WWW Wednesdays (7 Apr ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Truth by Told by Kia Abdullah

The Split by Sharon Bolton

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Recent Reads

Dead Head by C. J. Skuse

Like a House on Fire by Caroline Hulse

Hungry by Grace Dent

What I Might Read Next

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor

The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake

I don’t know what I’m going to read for definite this week but the three above are the ones that most appeal to me at the moment.

Mini Book Reviews: No One is Talking About This | Like A House on Fire | Homecoming | Life in Pieces

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini book reviews of books I’ve read and enjoyed recently. I’m slowly getting my reading and blogging mojo back but in the meantime I hope you find some books you enjoy from these mini review posts.

Like a House on Fire by Caroline Hulse

I really enjoyed this novel – it’s both light-hearted and a very realistic portrayal of family dynamics! The novel follows a family as they are all about to come together in a murder mystery party organised by the mum. Stella and George and the central characters – they’ve both recently agreed to divorce and are living separately but Stella has yet to tell her parents so persuades George to go to the party with her and to pretend all is fine. Stella is the middle child – her older sister Helen is ‘perfect’. She’s married with two children and always does the right thing. Pete is the youngest and he is very wayward but can do no wrong in his mum’s eyes. I loved the dynamic between the three grown up children – it’s one I know and understand very well and the author captures it perfectly. The murder mystery party begins around halfway through the book and it’s just brilliantly written. I adored how the novel played out and the way the denouement comes about. This is such a fun read and I highly recommend it.

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

I listened to this on audiobook via NetGalley and I really enjoyed it. I finished it a while ago now and have been struggling with how to review it. I don’t really know how to express my thoughts on this one. It follows a woman who is obsessed with the Portal, her posts regularly go viral and she is famous within this social network. She thinks in social media soundbites and her life seems to revolve around what would make a good post and how best to express her thoughts online. She questions this life though and wonders about whether this life online is hell and is it going to be what we’re doing forever. Then one day she gets a text from her mum to say that something is very wrong. All of a sudden she has to confront real life and the potential for tragedy in her own family whilst still feeling very much under the influence of the Portal. The second half of the novel is her dealing with what has happened and the juxtaposition between the portal and the very real situation her family has to confront and cope with. I loved this novel, I found it very thought provoking and it’s one that I keep finding myself musing on. I think I’d like to buy myself a physical copy of the book so that I can read it again in print form as it feels like a book to be experienced in both forms. I definitely recommend this one, particularly if you find yourself obsessively scrolling through social media on a frequent basis!

Homecoming by Luan Goldie

Nightingale Point was one of my favourite books of last year so I was very highly anticipating Luan Goldie’s next book and I’m so happy to say that I very much enjoyed it. This novel follows three characters: Yvonne who has buried her demons and is trying so hard to move on with her life and to ignore her guilt. Kiama who has grown up without his mum and he desperately wants to know more about her. And Lewis, Kiama’s father, who just wants to protect his son and to keep him from the pain of the past. I loved Kiama and Yvonne in this novel and was intrigued at how she had been in his life when he was a young child but then lost touch with him over the last decade. The two end up going back to Kenya to try and resolve what happened in the past. I found this such a beautiful and moving novel. I could understand everyone’s point of view and so felt for all of the characters. The setting of London and Kenya were so vividly written that I felt I was right there along with Yvonne and Kiama. I just adored this novel and keep finding myself thinking about the characters and wondering how they are now. I recommend this one!

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

I’ve read and loved Dawn O’Porter’s novels so was keen to read her non-fiction book. I got a copy of this one from NetGalley and I read it a little while ago now. This is the author’s diary and blog posts from the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic. I couldn’t read it when I first got it as it all felt too recent but when I finally did pick it up I quite enjoyed it. I like her writing style and could hear her voice in my head as I was reading. There are quite a few sections in the book that I could identify with and found very moving but some of it felt very self-indulgent and unaware of how other people might be feeling as they read her words. It was jarring at times as she complained about being stuck in her big house with her big garden. At the same time I think that the general fears around Covid and grief, and they way our priorities have changed throughout the pandemic and what we want in life has become much more apparent to all of us. These parts of the book I very much enjoyed and could identify with. Ultimately, this was a mixed bag but I did quite enjoy it for the most part.

Mini Book Reviews: The Girl in the Missing Poster | The Festival | The Castaways | Lockdown #Thrillers

It’s time for some more mini reviews today and this time it’s thrillers that I’ve read and enjoyed in recent weeks!

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite

This is the first novel by Barbara Copperthwaite that I’ve read and I can absolutely say that it won’t be my last. I loved this novel, it had my hooked from the very start and is one of those books that I was picking up every spare few minutes that I had. It follows Stella whose twin sister Leila disappeared after a family party and has never been found. Stella still looks for her sister and is always hiding from herself because she sees her sister every time she looks in the mirror. She agrees to take part in a Netflix documentary about Leila’s disappearance and I loved how transcripts of this programme are interspersed throughout the novel. I was intrigued from the start about this book and I loved that as we get to see viewers’ thoughts on the documentary people had theories that were the same as mine. I didn’t spot whodunnit or why and I loved that the ending when it came was so shocking to me. I’m not often surprised in a thriller so I love it when one gets me. I keep thinking about this novel and am quite envious of people who have yet to read it for the first time. I recommend this one!

The Castaways by Lucy Clarke

I love Lucy Clarke’s writing and have enjoyed all of her previous novel so I had very high hopes for this one and I’m so pleased to say that it more than lived up to them! This novel follows sisters Lori and Erin. They went on holiday together and one night had a row which led to Lori getting on a plane and Erin walking away. The plane disappears and Erin is left full of regret and a desperate need to know what happened to her sister. The novel follows Erin in the present and Lori a couple of years earlier and I loved this way of telling the story. It meant the reader was privy to more knowledge than the characters but it was still twisty and gripping. I had my suspicions about what had happened to Lori and while I was partly right there was so much more to this novel than I ever could have seen! I love the fierceness of Erin’s determination to find out what happened, and the single-mindedness she showed in trying to find out. I was rooting for her the whole way through. The love that was there between the sisters shines off the pages in the novel and I found that incredibly moving. I loved that this is a twisty mystery novel with real heart and love at its centre. I highly recommend this one!

The Festival by Sarah J. Naughton

I loved this novel! It follows four almost 40-year-old women who have been friends since school. Life is pulling them in different directions but as Lenny is about to turn 40 they decide to go back to the festival that they first went to together as teenagers 20 years ago. The first part of the novel lets us see who these women are and where they are in life and how they got there, then the second part is all about what happens at the festival. I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded and that I felt I really knew these women before the story got more action-packed. Everyone is carrying baggage and this spills out over the course of the weekend and the consequences of this end up being deadly. I had no idea who it was that would die and I didn’t spot who the killer was either. I found some moments in this book quite chilling and was on the edge of my seat. I very much enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it. I got my copy from NetGalley but the book will be available to buy this month.

Lockdown by Peter May

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley a while ago now but was hesitant to read it as as the subject of pandemic flu felt a little bit close to home. However, I finally picked it up recently and I’m really glad that I did. The flu pandemic is the backdrop to the story and it affects the way people behave but it’s not the main story. This is a novel about a horrendous crime that the main character is in a race against time to solve and the pandemic restrictions aren’t helping. I found this a really compelling story and one that I devoured in two sittings. I wasn’t expecting to be so gripped but I didn’t want to put the book down until I knew how it was going to be resolved. I enjoyed following D.I. Jack MacNeil as he tried to track down the killer but my favourite character was Amy. It was great to see some disability representation in this novel that was entirely believable and true to life. This was the first book by Peter May that I’ve read but I’ll definitely look out for more of his work in the future!

Mini Book Reviews: All the Lonely People | The Things We Left Unsaid | Everything is Beautiful | The Illustrated Child

I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews today of FOUR incredible novels that I’ve finished reading recently.

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle

I’ve enjoyed all of the Mike Gayle novels that I’ve read to date but I think I have to say that All the Lonely People is my new favourite novel by him. I was invested in this novel and the characters from the opening pages and I was enthralled by the story from start to finish! This novel is about Hubert Bird, an older gentleman who has lost his wife and has become increasingly isolated. He speaks to his daughter on the phone every week but she lives in Australia. One day a young woman and her daughter knock at Hubert’s door as they’re looking to make friends as they’re new to the area and this sets in motion this beautiful and moving story. The novel goes back and forth in time between when Hubert first came to the UK and the racial abuse that he suffered. We see him meet and fall in love with his wife and how their lives were; and the present day where Hubert is alone and his world has become very small and he doesn’t know how to change it. The novel covers what it is to be a part of the Windrush Generation, grief, love and more than anything hope! I adored this book so much, it’s an incredible read and a book that we all need in our lives at the moment. I highly recommend this one!

The Things We Left Unsaid by Emma Kennedy

I adored this book, it’s one of those books that I never wanted to end! The Things We Left Unsaid follows Rachel in the present and her mum Eleanor in the past. The novel opens when Rachel has been jilted by her fiance only six weeks after her father’s death. Rachel is reeling and doesn’t know where to turn. In the alternating chapters we see Eleanor start her first term at Uni and find her independence for the first time. This novel is just so warm and inviting, I didn’t want to put it down once I started reading. I loved Eleanor’s timeline and all the people she met, but I was also invested in seeing what was going to happen to Rachel in the present. This is a beautiful novel and one that I still keep thinking about and it’s a couple of weeks since I finished reading it. I highly recommend it!

Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

I received an audiobook of this one from NetGalley and I adored it! The novel follows Amy who is a hoarder, she struggles with the idea of letting go of any part of any of her collections. We find out early on in the story that her boyfriend upped and left her eleven years ago and Amy has never been able to find out where he went or why. Over the course of the novel we learn more about Amy’s past and how that has made her the way she is now. I loved seeing her deal with her new neighbours and having to cope with their inquisitive children. I could really identify with Amy at times, I’ve been someone who after difficult times have found my hoarding tendencies have returned and it took a long time for me to let go of all the stuff. I really felt for Amy and I was rooting for her the whole way through this beautiful novel. This is such a charming read and one that I never wanted to stop listening to. The narrator is Eilidh Beaton and her voice felt perfect for the character of Amy, she really added to my enjoyment of the novel. I recommend it!

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

This novel is one that took a while to draw me in but once it did I just didn’t want to stop reading. It follows Romilly, a young child who is living with her father in a ramshackle home. They live quite an isolated existence that Romilly loves, her father makes things magical and encourages Romilly’s imagination. One day he writes a children’s book featuring Romilly and their life and suddenly there is a lot more attention on them and their home. As time goes by and Romilly gets older there starts to be more neglect and clearly there is something going on with her dad but it’s not apparent what for quite a while. The novel does become something different than I was expecting it to but there is something so moving and beautiful in the way this book is written that I just didn’t want to put it down. I recommend it!

Mini Book Reviews: The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer | Just Like The Other Girls | The Searcher | The Hidden Girls

My reading mojo is slowly returning, although still not back to normal, but my blogging mojo is still lagging behind so now I have lots of reviews to catch up with. Today I’m sharing mini reviews of books that I’ve read recently.

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

I read and adored The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair when it was published so I had very high hopes for his new one and I’m so happy to say that the novel lived up to them. It’s quite a long book and I read it in just two sittings as I just didn’t ever want to put it down, I wanted to know what was going on in this small town. Back in 1994 four brutal murders happened, and the case was solved by a cop duo who have a 100% success rate. Only now 20 years later a journalist, Stephanie Mailer, has turned up and is certain that the cops missed something obvious at the crime scene. Now the detective from the 1994 murders is on the brink of retirement but can’t bear that he might have missed something so he goes back through the case to see if they did miss anything. The novel follows a large cast of characters and goes back and forth between 1994 and the present day, and we get the backgrounds of the main characters. I just loved everything about this book, I already feel like going back and reading it all again! I recommend this one.

Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas

I’ve read and really enjoyed all of Claire Douglas’ previous novels so was keen to pick her new one up. I found this one every bit as gripping as her previous books and read it all in one day! The novel follows a young woman, Una, as she gets a job in an imposing house as a carer to an older lady, Elspeth. Una soon discovers that the previous two girls who had her job died in strange circumstances and so she is immediately suspicious and wants to know more. As is usually the case with this author’s novels, there are blind alleys and red herrings scattered throughout so it really keeps you on your toes and wondering who on earth the culprit is. The end was a shock to me, I had thought I’d figured it all out but I was wrong and I loved that I was. This is a fast-paced and gripping read, I recommend it!

The Searcher by Tana French

I’m a huge Tana French fan and have loved all of her previous novels so was keen to pick her new one up. The Searcher isn’t my favourite of French’s novels but I honestly think it’s a case of right book, wrong time though so I wanted to still share what it’s about on here. The novel follows Cal, a former Chicago cop who has moved to rural Ireland to start a new life. Once there he sets about renovating the house he has bought and he starts to meet people in the community. The relationship he forms with Trey was my favourite part of the book, their growing trust in each other which starts out with such wariness was lovely to read. There are also beautiful descriptions of the landscape, so much so that I could really visualise the setting and the weather to the point of feeling like I was there. The blurb of the novel reads as though this is a novel about Cal seeking out a missing young man but that isn’t really the focus and I think had I known that I might have had a better reading experience as I was expecting one thing and got another. Ultimately, this is a novel about small towns and the secrets buried there. I think I may try re-reading this another time as I really did want to love it.

The Hidden Girls by Rebecca Whitney

This novels follows Ruth, a new mother who is recovering from post-partum psychosis. She is still struggling and her husband is hesitant to leave her alone with their baby for very long. Ruth starts hearing screams in the night and seeing things happening down the road from her house and she calls the police. It soon becomes clear that Ruth has experienced this before so the reader is then wondering what is real and what is not. The premise of this novel really intrigued me but unfortunately I didn’t really gel with the book. I think it was me and not the book though so if it sounds interesting to you then it’s worth picking up a copy.

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

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

Current Reads

The Silent Friend by Diane Jeffrey

I only have a few chapters left to read of this one and I’m so keen to see how it will end. I didn’t know much about the novel going into it but I’m glad I picked it up and I will review it once I’ve finished it.

Like a House on Fire by Caroline Hulse

I only picked this one up last night so I haven’t read very much of it but I love the writing style and I’m intrigued by the characters so am looking forward to reading more.

No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox

I haven’t read anymore of this one this week (still due to the small font) but my eyes are feeling a bit better so I’m planning to get back to this one in the coming days.

Recent Reads

Lockdown by Peter May

I was wary of picking this book up with it being set during a pandemic lockdown in the UK but I’m wanting to read all of my outstanding ARCs and this was the next one on my list. I actually found this to be quite a gripping read and the pandemic was the backdrop but wasn’t the main focus os the novel.

The Things We Left Unsaid by Emma Kennedy

This novel is such a beautiful read and I enjoyed every single second that I spent reading it. I read it slowly as I just didn’t want it to end.

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

I read and loved The Harry Quebert Affair by this author when it was published so have been eagerly anticipating this new book. It’s quite a big book and I pretty much read it all in one day as I just didn’t want to put it down. I miss this novel now I’ve finished it!

Homecoming by Luan Goldie

This is another novel that I read in one day and I loved this one. It’s about race, grief and trauma but also how we have this remarkable resilience after the worst has happened.

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle

This is a gorgeous novel with characters that I know will stay with me for a long time to come. Hubert Bird is a wonderful man and I really wanted to climb into the pages of this novel so that I could be his friend.

The Castaways by Lucy Clarke

I love Lucy Clarke’s novels and this was every bit as good as I was hoping it would be. I found this so gripping and it was one of those ‘just one more chapter’ novels that you end up finishing way past your bedtime!

What I Might Read Next

Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas

The Searcher by Tana French

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

As is now the norm for me I have no idea what I might read this week but when I was scrolling through my Kindle these three books are the one that jumped out at me the most.

WWW Wednesdays (17 Mar ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

The Castaways by Lucy Clarke

I’ve read and really enjoyed all of Lucy Clarke’s previous novels so was keen to get to this one and I’m so pleased to say that I’m loving it. It’s really gripping and while I have my suspicions at this stage (I’m halfway through) about where some of the story might be going I have no idea how it’s going to end. I can’t wait to read more and find out!

No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox

Sadly I haven’t managed to read any more of this book this week as I’m struggling to read small type so have only been reading on my Kindle or listening to audio books. I hope to get back to this one very soon though as I am very much enjoying it.

The Things We Left Unsaid by Emma Kennedy

This has been my main read this week and I am loving it! The story is engrossing and I really care about the characters and want to see where life takes them.

Recent Reads

Negroland by Margo Jefferson

I’ve had an ebook of this one on my TBR for over three years but I managed to get the audio book on my library app this week so I part-read and part-listened to it. I found this a really interesting read and I got a lot out of it. I recommend it!

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

I also part-read and part-listened to this one and I really enjoyed reading it this way. I found this an enchanting and intriguing book that took a direction that I wasn’t expecting. This feels like a novel that will stay on my mind for a long while to come.

Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon by M. C. Beaton

I’m still slowly reading my way through this series and still enjoying them. I find them such good escapist reads!

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

This book had been on my TBR for way longer than it should have been and I’m kicking myself now because when I picked it up this week I read it all in one sitting. I was gripped from start to finish and I found it to be such an impactful read.

What I Might Read Next

Mountain Road, Late at Night by Alan Rossi

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

The Hidden Girls by Rebecca Whitney

As usual I have no idea what I’ll read next but these three books are the ones that are calling to me the most at the moment.

#BookReview: Bound Vanda Symon | @VandaSymon @OrendaBooks #Bound #SamShephard

About the Book

The passionate, young police officer Sam Shephard returns in
a taut, atmospheric and compelling police procedural, which sees her take matters into her own hands when the official investigation into the murder of a local businessman fails to add up…

The New Zealand city of Dunedin is rocked when a wealthy and apparently respectable businessman is murdered in his luxurious home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, they discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.

The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas. Weighed down by her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and by complications in her relationship with Paul, she needs a distraction, and launches her own investigation. And when another murder throws the official case into chaos, it’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Vanda Symon’s writing so knew I was going to love this book and I was absolutely right! Bound is the fourth book in the Sam Shephard series and the books just keep getting better and better!

Bound opens with a shocking prologue – a home invasion where a man has been shot dead and his wife is tied up and seriously injured. The novel then follows Sam as she tries to figure out what on earth has led to this seemingly respectable businessman being killed in his own home.

I love Sam Shephard, she’s my favourite fictional detective and I adore following her as she solves crimes. In this novel we see some more of her personal life too, which I appreciated. She is much more vulnerable through parts of this novel and I found what she was going through very moving to read. Sam is good at putting on her work face though and whilst dealing with the things in her private life she continues to be focused on her job and solving this murder.

I had my suspicions about whodunnit and why but I was so wrong! I love when a crime novel wrong-foots me as it so rarely happens but this one got me and the ending was genuinely a shock to me. I’m already so keen to read book five in this series and see what happens next for Sam!

Bound is a brilliant crime novel and one that I keep finding myself thinking about. I highly recommend it (and the rest of the series if you haven’t already read the previous books)!

I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

WWW Wednesdays (10 Mar ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox

The Things We Left Unsaid by Emma Kennedy

Recent Reads

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan

People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd

Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

What I Might Read Next

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

The Castaways by Lucy Clarke

The Louder I Will Sing by Lee Lawrence

The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol | @LucyENichol @RandomTTours

About the Book

It’s 1994. The music industry is mourning Kurt Cobain, Right Said Fred have re-emerged as an ‘ironic’ pop act and John Major is the country’s prime minister. Nothing is as it should be. 

Emma, a working-class rock music fan from Hull, with a penchant for a flaming Drambuie and a line of coke with her best mate Dave down The Angel, is troubled. 

Trev, her beloved whippet, has doggy IBS, and her job ordering bathroom supplies at the local caravan company is far from challenging. So when her dad, Tel, informs her that Kurt Cobain has killed himself aged 27, Emma is consumed with anxiety. 

Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix…why have so many rock musicians died aged 27? And will Emma be next to join The Twenty Seven Club?

My Thoughts

As soon as I read the blurb of The Twenty Seven Club I knew I had to read it, I knew it was going to be a ‘me’ book and I was absolutely right!

This book held so much nostalgia for me, it really captured the mid-90s and what it was like back then. I’m a bit younger than Emma, the main character, as I was 15 in 1994 but I could still identify with her so much. I remember the shock and devastation on finding out that Kurt Cobain had died (I was a huge Nirvana fan), and wondering why so many rock stars seemed to die aged 27.

I didn’t know when I picked the novel up that it was set in Hull and this was a brilliant surprise trip down memory lane for me. I lived in Hull for a while in my 20s and prior to that had grown up fairly near by. The references to Spiders night club brought back so many memories for me. I loved going there, some of the best nights out ended in Spiders and I still miss it now. Also the Adelphi, I loved going to gigs there. Oh and American chip spice – it’s never the same when you try it anywhere other than Hull!

Emma is a great character and I found it so easy to identify with her and the things that happened to her. I actually found myself laughing out loud at some of the moments in this novel and it’s rare for a novel to make me properly laugh like that. Emma is so well-rounded – I could certainly relate to her constant anxiety and over-thinking, her worrying about everything and never feeling quite sure of herself in a situation. I loved her fierce loyalty to her closest friend and her dad, she really cares for them and will do anything to keep them safe and make them happy.

I didn’t see where the novel was ultimately taking me but when I got to the end I was in tears because it all makes sense of why Emma is the way she is. It spoke to me personally as well because I have the similar fears for similar reasons and it made Emma all the more real to me.

The Twenty Seven Club has everything you could want in a novel – nostalgia; humour and warmth mixed with existential angst; and a protagonist who cares a lot and feels things deeply and is just so relatable. I adored this book more than I can say! I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and I still keep thinking about Emma and wondering how she is now. I know she’s not real but she absolutely feels real when you read this book.

The Twenty Seven Club is my favourite read of 2021 so far and I already want to go back to the start and read it all over again. I’m so happy that I got to read this novel and I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley and Anne of Random Things Tours. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author

Lucy is a mental health campaigner and PR consultant, and a former columnist with Sarah Millican’s Standard Issue magazine.  She has written for The IndependentThe I PaperNME, Red Magazine, Den of Geek, Men’s Fitness, Metro and Huff Post.  Her first book, A Series of Unfortunate Stereotypes, a non-fiction mental health memoir, was published by Trigger in 2018. Lucy has worked with the media in PR and marketing for almost 20 years and has experienced Generalised Anxiety Disorder for even longer.  

The Twenty Seven Club is immediately available in paperback from Amazon. You can also sign up to Lucy’s author newsletter.

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

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

Current Reads

No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox

My husband bought me this book in hardback as a surprise and I was so thrilled when I opened it. I’m a huge fan of Michael J. Fox and am inspired by the way he has dealt with his Parkinson’s Disease and disability so I’m really enjoying reading this one. I can really identify with a lot of what he says about how you find ways to adapt your life to what your abilities are so I’m keen to read more of this one.

People Like Her by Ellory Lloyd

I’ve only just started this one after buying it in the Kindle sale on Monday but I’ve been eagerly anticipating it and I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s all about how a woman makes out her life as a mother is more messy and hectic that it really is in order to build her social media profile!

Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

I’m listening to this one on audiobook from NetGalley and am hooked. It follows a woman who has become isolated and she lives in a house filled with her treasures. I’m only a short way into this one but I feel really connected to this story and I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to listening to more.

The Things We Left Unsaid by Emma Kennedy

I’ve shamefully had an ARC of this one on my NetGalley shelf for about a year and to make it worse when I finally picked it up I fell in love with the writing and the story within a few pages so I’m really kicking myself for not picking it up so sooner. Anyway, the main thing is that I am loving this book and have been reading it every chance I get.

Recent Reads

The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean

This is my first Will Dean novel and it definitely won’t be my last! This novel is incredibly hard to read at times but it’s one of those books that you can’t look away from (and nor should you). This is a book that I’m sure will stay with me for a long time to come.

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

This is the author’s story of what the first few months of the pandemic were like for her and her family. I love O’Porter’s writing, her novels are fabulous, but this was a little hit and miss for me. Some parts of it were very funny and some very moving but then there were sections that just didn’t hold my interest. It was still a good read though and I’m glad I finally picked it up.

The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol

This book was such a brilliant, nostalgic and moving read. I loved every single minute that I spent reading it! I’ll be reviewing this one next week so look out for my full thoughts then but in the meantime I highly recommend it!

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite

This was the first book I’ve read by this author but it absolutely won’t be my last! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was kept on my toes all the way through, which doesn’t happen to me very often with thrillers.

What I Might Read Next

The Louder I Will Sing by Lee Lawrence

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

The Hidden Girls by Rebecca Whitney

As is now the norm for me, I have no idea what I’ll read next but the above books are the ones that most appeal to me as I’m writing this post. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: The Book of Two Ways | One by One | The Disappearing Act | A Christmas Memory

Today I’m sharing a new selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve enjoyed recently.

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

I generally really enjoy Jodi Picoult’s writing but it’s no secret that I struggled to get into this one. It follows Dawn, who after surviving a plane crash decides to go back to Egypt where she had studied years earlier. In her real life Dawn is happily married with a teenage daughter but now it seems she is unravelling and seeking something that even she is not sure of. I struggled with the opening chapters of the book as I felt I couldn’t connect to Dawn, or the other characters, and there was a lot of egyptology running through the pages. However, I am so glad I persevered as there was a moment when this book just really connected with me and from that point on I honestly couldn’t put it down. I was enthralled reading about Dawn’s work as a death doula and found these sections incredibly moving and heartfelt. I then was invested in knowing more about Dawn and how she got to where she was when we met her at the start of the book. I ended up very much enjoying this book and I would recommend it!

One by One by Ruth Ware

This novel follows a group of people who all work on the Snoop app (a music streaming service that allows you to listen to what someone else is listening to at the exact same time as them) as they arrive at their holiday chalet in Saint Antoine. The novel is narrated by Erin, who works at the chalet, and Liz, a former employee and now share-holder at Snoop. The group all seem to have strong personalities and it seemed from the start that there would be fireworks. No one predicted that there would be an avalanche that would isolate the group at the chalet with no means of contacting the outside world. And then a murder happens! I love a closed circle mystery and this one was a fun read. I did spot whodunnit very early on but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story as I wanted to know how and why! This was a good read on a cold winter’s day and I recommend it!

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

I started reading this short story collection around Christmas but then it languished part-read on my Kindle until I finally picked it back up recently. I do enjoy Capote’s writing but I did find this collection a mixed bag. There are six stories in the book – some entirely fiction and some autobiographical. I found that some stories were overly sentimental for me and I struggled to connect with them but I did enjoy a couple of the stories. I would say that while the stories are all set around Christmas that this could be read any time of year. I think I’m going to try re-reading this over Christmas at some point in the future as I think I might get more out of it on a second read.

The Disappearing Act by Florence de Changy

This is a fascinating and very well-researched non-fiction book looking at what might have happened to flight MH 370, which disappeared seemingly without trace in March 2014. The author is a journalist and she has closely followed the story from the very start. In the book we see that she has interviewed people from all walks of life – from the conspiracy theorists, to the politicians, to the eye witnesses and more to try and piece together what the most likely scenario is as to what happened to the plane. Some parts of this book felt a little bogged down in detail and I had to re-read sections to fully grasp them but other parts of the book had me completely engrossed and unable to put the book down. de Changy’s ultimate theories on what might have happened to the plane sound incredibly plausible and believable. It’s shocking that so many mistakes and mis-steps (and possible deliberate cover-ups) have meant the mystery of MH 370 might never be solved. This is a well written book and I recommend it.

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

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

Current Reads

The Last thing to Burn by Will Dean

I bought this book on a whim the other day after reading some amazing reviews and I started reading it right away. I’m really gripped by this at the moment and can’t wait to sit and read more.

The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol

This book is so good! I’m enjoying it more than I can say. This is such a fun, nostalgic look at Hull in the 90s through the eyes of Emma (an almost 27 year old) in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death. I love this book so far and can’t wait to read more!

Recent Reads

Life’s What You Make It by Phillip Schofield

My husband bought me this book for my birthday last month and I finally read it over the weekend, and I very much enjoyed it. It’s one that fans of Phillip Schofield will love!

Bound by Vanda Symon

I love Sam Shepherd and this book was another fab instalment to the series. I’ll be reviewing this one for the blog tour next month but in the meantime I highly recommend it!

What I Might Read Next

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite

The Festivals by Sarah Vaughan

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

As is the norm for me these days I don’t know what, or even if, I’ll be reading this week but these three books are the ones that most appeal to me from my TBR as I write this post.

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

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

Current Reads

Life’s What You Make It by Phillip Schofield

I’ve only just started this book but I’m enjoying it so far. I just got this book for my birthday last month and have been so keen to read it so hopefully it keeps on being a good read!

Bound by Vanda Symon

I’m really enjoying this book. Sam Shepherd is my favourite fictional detective and I always love being back in her world. This book is really gripping and I’m intrigued to see what’s going to happen.

Recent Reads

The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

I’d been stalled on this book for a couple of weeks but I picked it back up on Monday night and finished it in one go. I was hooked reading the second part of this book and while I had my theories about what was going to happen, the novel still had surprises in store so I loved that.

The Disappearing Act by Florence de Changy

This is such a well-researched and fascinating look at the disappearance of Flight MH370. I had to read this a chapter at a time and to keep putting it down as it contains a lot of info but I’m really glad I read it and I recommend it.

I Survived by Victoria Cilliers

This is a memoir about a woman who almost died in a sky diving accident, only it turned out it wasn’t an accident but attempted murder. The book explores Victoria’s relationship with her husband and the effects of coercive control. This book was hard to read at times but I definitely recommend it.

What I Might Read Next

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences by Catherine Pelonero

The Split by Sharon Bolton

As is usual for me these days I don’t know what I’ll be reading next but these three books are the ones that most appealled when I was looking through my bookcase and Kindle this week!

Mini Book Reviews: The Thursday Murder Club | True Story | Watch Over You | Precious You

I’m sharing some more mine reviews today of books that I’ve read over the last couple of months.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

This was one of my most anticipated books of last year so I was thrilled when I got a copy for Christmas and I devoured it in one sitting! Needless to say I completely and utterly loved it! The novel follows four people in a retirement village who meet up every Thursday to look at old murder cases to try and solve them. So when a murder happens to someone connected to their home they can’t resist investigating the case. I loved the wonderful mix of characters in this novel, and I just found it such an engaging and warm read. I already can’t wait for the next book in the series to be published!

True Story by Kate Reed Petty

I read this novel a couple of weeks ago now and to be honest I’m still not sure what I thought of it so this mini review is rather hard to write! The novel is billed as the story of the aftermath of a sexual assault and is told in different genres – the first part is correct but I’m not sure that the different genres were really that different from each other. Having said that I did read this novel in one sitting and was intrigued by the strange paths it took me down as it went along. True Story is about a teenage girl who may or may not have been sexually assaulted on her way home from a party. She can’t remember what happened but it hugely affects her that men could have done this to her when she wasn’t conscious. We also follows the young men involved and see the story from their side and what happens to them as a result. I must admit that I didn’t know where this novel was going and the ending initially left me feeling angry and confused but the more it sits with me the more I feel like it makes sense. I still don’t know whether I enjoyed this book or not but it’s staying with me and I kind of want to re-read it a year or so from now to see how I feel then.

Watch Over You by M. J. Ford

This is the third book in a series and as I had really enjoyed the first two books I was keen to read this one and I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed it. This novel follows DS Josie Masters as she attends a murder scene and discovers the deceased is a former colleague of hers. As she looks around the house she realises her friend must have had someone staying with him and now the police urgently need to find this person. And this is only the beginning, Josie needs to work fast to find the killer before they strike again. I found this novel really hard to put down. I loved that we follow Josie as she gets back to work following the birth of her baby, and we also follow the killer but we’re still trying to join the dots along with Josie and her team. This is fast-paced, gripping read and I recommend it! I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

This novel follows Katherine as she meets her new intern Lily. Initially Katherine likes Lily but soon doubts start to creep in but Katherine can’t put her finger on what is making her distrust Lily. Lily seems like a perfect young intern doing all she can to fit in and learn so no one wants to hear what Katherine thinks. What follows is a fascinating and disturbing novel about how far a rivalry can go and what one woman is prepared to do to destroy another. I couldn’t put this book down once I started it, I just had to know what was going to happen. There were moments where I wanted to look away but I couldn’t stop myself reading more. I recommend this one!

Mini Book Reviews: Because of You | The Sight of You | When the Lights Go Out | After the Silence

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently. This time the selection is all novels and I thoroughly enjoyed all four of them!

Because of You by Dawn French

This is the first novel that I’ve read by Dawn French but it definitely won’t be the last as I completely and utterly adored it. It follows two women who both give birth on the same day but only one woman gets to take her baby home. The novel then follows each of the two women, and the child as she grows up, and we see what their lives have been like. I found this book so engrossing and I wanted to devour it but also to read it so slowly as I didn’t want it to ever end. I still keep thinking of the characters and wondering how they are. This was an emotional and beautiful novel and one I already want to read again!

The Sight of You by Holly Miller

This is a beautiful and moving novel that follows Callie as she tries to find a way through the grief of losing her best friend, and Joel who can’t allow himself to fall in love. When they meet there is an instant connection but both are wary for their own reasons. It turns out that Joel has premonition dreams and he can’t bear to fall in love with someone and risk dreaming about what might happen to them. I really enjoyed following Joel and Callie and felt invested in their relationship. The novel is a tear jerker but it’s also life-affirming and I recommend it!

When the Lights Go Out by Carys Bray

I’m a huge fan of Carys Bray’s writing so this has been one of my eagerly anticipated reads and I’m so pleased to say that it more than lived up to my hopes for it. This book follows Emma and her husband Chris. Emma wants to live a simple, happy life but Chris is obsessed with climate change and stockpiling for the end of days. Emma tries to be patient but it’s driving her mad, and Chris just can’t see beyond his own fears for what he believes is coming for them. The couple can’t communicate well with each other anymore and the situation becomes more and more tense. There is a sense of foreboding running right through this novel and so I knew something was going to happen but the ending was shocking. This is a brilliant novel that explores what it is to be married to someone with different ideals to yourself, and what happens when the ability to see each other’s point of view is lost. I loved this book and I recommend it!

After the Silence by Louise O’Neill

I was so keen to read this book as I loved Louise’s earlier novel Almost Love and I’m pleased to say that this one was every bit as good. This is billed as a thriller but for me it’s more an exploration of people in small towns, and relationships and what lengths people will go to to hide the truth when something terrible happens. The novel follows a cast of characters as a crime podcast is being made about the murder of a teenage girl ten years earlier. We slowly find out about the possible suspects and how the islanders view each other, and the suspicions that linger. For me, the novel really shows what it is like to be controlled by someone who has more power than you. There is a moment near the end of the novel that sent shivers down my spine as it explained coercive control better than anything I’ve ever read before. This is an excellent novel and I highly recommend it.

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

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

Current Reads

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

I’ve read a couple more chapters of this book this week and I’m still not feeling hooked by it. I think I’m going to give it another few chapters to see if it grabs me by then.

One by One by Ruth Ware

This book got so good! I’m now gripped by this one and can’t wait to see what happens next!

The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

I haven’t read any more of this book this week but I was enjoying it so hope to get back to it very soon.

Recent Reads

Really Saying Something by Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward

I got this book for my birthday last week and had to read it right away! I’m so glad I did as I adored it, it was such an interesting and fun read. I loved it!

What I Might Read Next

Life’s What You Make It by Phillip Schofield

I got this book for my birthday and I’m so keen to read it so I plan on picking this one up next.

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

I’ve had an ARC of this one from NetGalley for a while now and I really do want to get to this one soon so hopefully I will get to it this week.

WWW Wednesdays (27 Jan ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

I have a NetGalley ARC of this but I also recently bought the Audible book so I could part listen to it. I’m glad I did as I was finding the book very slow and information heavy but the audio book is helping me stay focused on the story and what is happening. I’m only a few chapters into this one so too early to say if I’m enjoying it but I will definitely read more this week.

One by One by Ruth Ware

I’ve only read a little bit of this one since last week (it’s just been a bit of a week and I haven’t been reading much but I’m hopefully back on track now) but I am intrigued to know more about the group of work colleagues and what is going to happen to each of them whilst they’re trapped in a chalet!

The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

I’ve not read much more of this since last week either but I am keen to get back to it as I was enjoying this one. I’m keen to find out what is going to happen next!

Recent Reads

Because of You by Dawn French

I really, really enjoyed this book! I thought I was going to like it but I enjoyed it way more than I was expecting. It had me gripped from the beginning and I felt really invested in all of the characters. I was sad to finish this one as I wanted to stay with them all for a bit longer!

The Sight of You by Holly Miller

I enjoyed this book too, I felt a little more removed from the story than I expected too but I think that was me rather than the book. It’s such a beautiful and emotional read and it’s one that will stay with me. I’m keen to read whatever the author publishes next!

What I Might Read Next

Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill

I got this one from NetGalley recently as it’s something I need to understand more about. I’d really like to read this one as soon as I can and am hoping it will be useful.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

I love this author’s books but this one sounds a bit scary to me so I want to pick it up but I’m also hesitant to do so!

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite

I got this book from NetGalley recently after reading a post about the author’s journey to writing this book and being intrigued. I hope I can get to this one as it’s been calling to me from my Kindle!

WWW Wednesdays (20 Jan ’21)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

The Sight of You by Holly Miller

I have an ARC of this book from NetGalley but I recently bought the audiobook in an Audible sale so I’m part listening and part reading to this one and I’m really enjoying it. I’m intrigued by the premise and am keen to listen to more to find out where this story is going. It feels like it might be a heartbreaker!

One by One by Ruth Ware

I started reading this one last night and I’m hooked! I love mystery books set in an isolated location where the murderer can only be one of the few people staying in the particular place. In this case the location is an isolated ski chalet where the group become trapped following an avalanche. It’s perfect for this time of year and I’m keen to get back to it.

The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

I picked this book off my Kindle on a whim and I’m really enjoying it. It’s fast-paced and gripping and I’m interested to see where this is going. The novel opens with a young woman calling her dad for help after she is arrested for murder and then it goes back to four months earlier and we get to see what leads up to the present day.

Because of You by Dawn French

I’ve had an ARC of this on my Kindle for a while now and I’m kicking myself because now I’ve started reading it I’m loving it. It’s one of those books that I want to keep reading to see how it’s going to end but I also don’t want to rush because I don’t want to finish it. This novel follows two women who both give birth on the same day but only one of them gets to take a baby home with her. We then see what happens in the years that follow.

Recent Reads

After the Silence by Louise O’Neill

This book wasn’t the thriller that I was expecting it to be but it was such a brilliant exploration of people and of the insidious way that one person exerts power and control over others. There is a moment towards the end of this book that gave me goosebumps and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Little White Lies by Philippa East

I borrowed the audio book of this one from the Borrowbox app and it was a good book to listen to. I didn’t love it as much as I thought I was going to but it did keep me hooked all the way to the end.

True Story by Kate Reed Petty

I finished this book a few days ago and I still aren’t sure how I feel about it. I think I need to let this one sit with me for a while before I attempt to write about it.

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

This was one of those novels that is really hard to put down. We follow the case of two sisters who each blame the other for the murder of their father. I was racing to the end of this one to find out if I was right about whodunnit! I was a little disappointed with the way this novel ended but I did enjoy the time I spent reading the rest of it.

When the Lights Go Out by Carys Bray

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while as I’m a huge Carys Bray fan and I’m so pleased to say that this absolutely lived up to my expectations. I keep thinking about this one and wondering how the characters are doing now!

The Last Resort by Susi Holliday

This was an enjoyable, fast-paced thriller.

What I Might Read Next

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

The Hidden Girls by Rebecca Whitney

Intimations by Zadie Smith

WWW Wednesdays (13 Jan ’21)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

The Last Resort by Susi Holliday

I’ve read and enjoyed Susi Holliday’s previous novel so was keen to get to her new one. This is a really intriguing novel where seven people who have never met before are taken to an island where they think they are on a luxury break but actually a tech company has other ideas. I’m so keen to find out what is going on in this book and so I’ll be reading more of this asap!

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

This is another intriguing novel! Two sisters each dialled 911 to report their father had been brutally attacked and that the person who’d done it was their sister who had killed him. I’m so keen to know what actually happened and how this novel is going to end!

Recent Reads

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

This was a fascinating read all about the way the world is designed around men and male bodies. I found it anger-inducing but also very interesting reading about things like how cars are designed around males and how medication is based on trials on male bodies. I knew, or had an idea, of some of the things in this book but it was still eye-opening. I’m really glad I read this one.

Blood Moon by Lucy Cuthew

I bought this book and read it straight away, which I don’t do often enough these days. I really enjoyed this YA novel about a teenage girl who gets her period during her first sexual encounter and what happens after that. I loved the issues explored through this novel and how it looks at how girls can be made to feel shame about such a natural bodily process. I wish this book had existed when I was a teenager but I still very much enjoyed it as a 40-something!

The Island by C. L. Taylor

I was approved to listen to the audio book of this one via NetGalley and I enjoyed it. I love C. L. Taylor’s writing and this was a thrilling YA mystery set on an island where a group of teens have gone for a survivalist experience but what they get is more than they bargained for.

Your Blue is Not My Blue by Aspen Matis

This is such a different book that I would normally stick with but there was something so compelling about the writing and I just couldn’t put it down. I was intrigued by Matis’ life and to find out what would happen to her and her marriage. I really did enjoy this book and I would recommend it.

What I Might Read Next

After the Silence by Louise O’Neill

I’ve had this on my TBR for a little while now and I keep seeing good reviews for it so I’m really keen to pick it up. Hopefully I will get to it over the coming week.

Just Ignore Him by Alan Davies

My husband surprised me with this book for Christmas and I’ve really want to read it very soon so hopefully I can also get to this one this week.

Homecoming by Luan Goldie

I’ve got an ARC of this from NetGalley but I recently bought the audio book from Audible so I think I’m going to part listen and part read this one soon!

WWW Wednesdays (6 Jan 2021)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

The Island by C. L. Taylor

I was approved to listen to this audiobook on NetGalley and I’m really enjoying it. I love C. L. Taylor’s writing anyway and this YA thriller is really engaging and exactly what I want to be listening to at the moment. It follows a group of teens who have arrived on an island for a survivalist holiday but very quickly things begin to go wrong leaving them all questioning who could be doing this to them and why!

My Blue is not Your Blue: A Missing Person Memoir by Aspen Matis

I can’t remember where I heard about this book but I found it on Kindle Unlimited this week so downloaded it and immediately started reading it. It’s a memoir of a young woman who meets her future husband while hiking in the wilderness. They fall in love and are happy together but one day he goes to the funeral of a friend and never returns. I’m finding myself gripped by this one even though the writing style isn’t something I’d normally go for. I’m keen to read more!

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

This is a short story collection that I got from NetGalley before Christmas but I only managed to read the first two stories so I would like to pick this back up and finish the collection this week. I really enjoyed the stories I’ve read so far so I’m looking forward to seeing what the others are like.

Recent Reads

Not the Type by Camilla Thurlow

I’ve only ever watched one series of Love Island and it was the one with Camilla. I was fairly indifferent to it but it gripped me enough to keep watching to the end. When I saw this book was out I was drawn to pick it up and I’m really glad I did. It’s about Camilla’s life working in landmine disposal for Halo and also her struggles with anxiety and low self-esteem. I found it to be a really honest book and I enjoyed Camilla’s writing.

The Push by Claire McGowan

I got this book from Kindle Unlimited and I’m so glad I picked it up. It was a case of right book at the right time and I found it really hard to put down. The novel follows six couples who meet at an antenatal group. The novel opens with the aftermath of a get together post the babies being born and someone has fallen to their death from a balcony. The novel then follows the characters and goes back and forth in time. I found it a compulsive read and I really enjoyed it.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

My husband bought me this book for Christmas and I picked it up on New Year’s Day and I read the whole thing in one sitting. It’s a long time since I’ve done that so it shows how much I enjoyed the book. This novel follows a group of people in a retirement village and they try to solve unsolved murders at their club. Then one day someone they know is murdered and they are on the case. I loved everything about this book and can’t wait for the sequel to be out later this year!

What I Might Read Next

The Last Resort by Susi Holliday

I downloaded this book from Kindle Unlimited this week and am really keen to get to it so hopefully I can pick it up this week. I love Susi Holliday’s writing so I feel sure that I’m going to love this one!

Resistance: A Songwriter’s Story of Hope, Change and Courage by Tori Amos

I treated myself to this book recently as I’m a real fan of Tori Amos’ music and so as soon as I heard about this book I had to get it! It seems like it might be a good read for right now and I can’t wait to get to this one!

One by One by Ruth Ware

I was approved to read this from NetGalley a few months ago now but due to my dreaded reading slump I haven’t managed to start it as yet. Given that it’s set in wintery weather it seems like it might be a perfect January read so I hope to get to it this week!

My Favourite Non-Fiction Books 2020!

Yesterday I shared my favourite novels that I read in 2020 so today it’s time to share my favourite non-fiction books that I read last year. I didn’t read as much non-fiction in 2020 as I normally do but then I didn’t read as much in general either.

Anyway, in no particular order, here are my favourite non-fiction books read in 2020!

Wham, George Michael and Me by Andrew Ridgeley

Truth, Lies and O-Rings by Allan J. McDonald

Notes to Self by Emilie Pine

Gone Fishing by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garratt M. Graff

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Let’s Do It by Jasper Rees

So there we have it, my top non-fiction reads of last year! I didn’t read as much non-fiction as I normally do but of the ones I read there were some incredible books.

What was you favourite non-fiction book that you read last year? I’d love to know! 🙂

My Favourite Novels of 2020!

Today I’m sharing my favourite novels that I read in 2020! This has been such a strange year and books have at times given me solace and escape but then at other times (such as the last three months) I’ve barely been able to read anything at all. It means my favourite books of the year really are stand out books that have kept me sane this year. In the end I read 215 books over the course of 2020 and these are my standouts from the year!

So, in no particular order, here goes..

It’s a Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

One Split Second by Caroline Bond

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

Evening Primrose my Kopana Matlwa

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

The Confession by Jessie Burton

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Once Again by Catherine Wallace Hope

Keeper by Jessica Moor

So there you have it… my favourite novels of 2020! I will also be doing my top non-fiction books of 2020 soon too but that will be a shorter list as I’ve read fewer non-fiction books over the last year.

What was your best book of 2020? I’d love to know. 🙂

Reading Bingo 2020!

It’s Reading Bingo time again! Every year I join in with this I don’t look at the board until the very end of the year and I fill in the squares based on what I’ve read so I don’t plan my reading in order to complete it. This year has been a very up and down year of reading so I didn’t have much hope of getting a full house on my bingo board. Read on to find out how I did…

A book with more than 500 pages

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman (with a whopping 1032 pages)!

A forgotten classic

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie (which I know is a total cheat as it’s not a forgotten book but this is one of only two classics that I read this year and this one is the less well-known of the two).

A book that became a movie

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House by M. C. Beaton. It became a TV series, which is the best I can do!

A book that was published this year

The Life We almost Had by Amelia Henley

A book with a number in the title

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

A book written by someone under 30

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A book with non-human characters

Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee

A funny book

Gone Fishing: Life, Death and the Thrill of the Catch by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse

A book by a female author

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

A book with a mystery

The Holdout by Graham Moore

A book with a one-word title

Mine by Clare Empson

A book of short stories

Christmas with Dull People by Saki

Free square

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

A book set on a different continent

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

A book of non-fiction

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

The first book by a favourite author

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

A book you heard about online

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

A best-selling book

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

A book based on a true story

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (it’s very loosely based on the author’s own experience when she was a teenager)

A book at the bottom of your to be read pile

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell (it was on my TBR for five years!)

A book your friend loves

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

A book that scares you

The Murders at White House Farm by Carol Ann Lee

A book that is more than 10 years old

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The second book in a series

dead wrong noelle holten

Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten

A book with a blue cover

Strangers by C. L. Taylor

Well, if you’ll allow me the couple of cheats then I got a full house but really I know I cheated a bit so I think I probably failed this year but that’s okay! This has been such a strange year and my reading has been affected all the way through so I’m just happy to have read some really enjoyable books throughout the year!

Mini Book Reviews: Keeper |The Phone Box at the Edge of the World | Tales From the Cafe | Writers and Lovers | Summer

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini book reviews. I read most of these books before my reading slump really took hold so am now trying to get back to blogging and catch up on my reviews.

Keeper by Jessica Moor

I’ve been in an awful reading slump recently but I kept thinking about this book so decided to pick it up and I’m so glad I did. I found this to be such a stunning read and I found it really hard to put down. The novel opens with Katie Shaw meeting a man in a nightclub, the storyline then splits into past and present as we learn what happened to Katie and how she got to where she is now. I found this to be such a powerful read with a really sensitive and realistic portrayal of the aftermath of domestic violence and stalking. I know how hard it is for women to access support and this book really explores so many angles to this. The story is compelling and it is such a page turner as well as it being eye-opening. I finished reading this book a while ago now and I still keep thinking about it. I’m currently trying to work out my favourite books of the year post and I’m sure this book will be on my list. I highly recommend it!

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

This novel is such a beautiful and moving read, I loved it. It follows Yui who lost her mum and her daughter in the tsunami. She discovers that there is a place where you can go and use a phone and talk to those you’ve lost and she decides to go there. While there she meets Takeshi and his young daughter who hasn’t spoken since her mum died. The novel follows both characters as they work through their pain and grief and as they try to find solace and a way to hold on to the past whilst also moving on. I found this book so hard to put down, it’s a novel that made me really tearful at times as I thought about that phone and how it must be to find some way of talking to those you’ve lost but ultimately I found this a really beautiful book and I very much enjoyed it.

Before the Coffee gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

I got a copy of this book from NetGalley and I read it before reading the first book about the cafe but it worked fine as a standalone. This novel all takes place in a cafe in Japan but it’s not an ordinary cafe. There is a table and chair in the cafe and if you sit down there you can go back in time to meet up with someone from your past but you have to leave them before the coffee gets cold. I loved this book, it was really moving to read the back stories of the characters and to find out why they have come to the cafe and why they feel they need closure regarding the past. I hope to read more about this cafe in the future!

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

This novel follows Casey who is dealing with heartbreak over a break-up and the grief of losing her beloved mother. She is working as a waitress and also working on her novel, which has been a work in progress for quite a few years now but she never seems to finish it. Then she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle and is finally pushed to make a decision about what she wants from life. I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up after reading the blurb as Casey seemed like her life was in a similar place to mine when I was her age. Casey’s life gets way more complicated than mine ever did but I could really identify with the grief she had for her mum and the way this seems to impact on her decision making. I read this novel quite a while ago now and it hasn’t stayed with me as much as I thought it would but I did really enjoyed it and I would recommend it.

Summer by Ali Smith

I’ve read and loved the previous three novels in this seasonal quarter so had been eagerly anticipating Summer and I’m so pleased to say that I loved it every bit as much, if not even more, than the previous books. Summer is set during World War 2 and during the pandemic in 2020 and I found it incredible. It was strange to read about the pandemic while we’re still living through it but it never felt too much. I loved how characters from previous books in the quartet appear in Summer and it felt like it brought us full circle. I will miss this quartet now it’s completed but I think I would read all of the books again in the future, it will be interesting years down the line to look back and see how they feel then. I definitely recommend all four books but start at the beginning with Autumn.

Festive Mini Book Reviews! #Christmas

Today I’m sharing some mini book reviews of books that I’ve managed to read over the last few weeks. These ones are all quite festive or set at Christmas!

All About Us by Tom Ellen

This book is stunning and I very much enjoyed this one. I had an ARC from NetGalley but I bought the Audio book from Audible so I could listen to it. The novel is a retelling of A Christmas Carol and it really is a brilliant story. Ben is unhappy in his marriage and as Christmas is approaching he’s thinking about an old flame and what could have been. The novel then follows Ben as he gets thrown back to the past numerous times and discovers that his memories of how things happened were perhaps skewed or even inaccurate and while what he learns won’t change the future he can change himself and his approach to life. I adored this book, it kept me engrossed at a time when reading has been a struggle and I’m sure I’ll revisit it again in the future. I definitely recommend this one!

If Every Day Was Christmas by Donna Ashcroft

This is a lovely, warm-hearted novel that follows Meg who runs a Christmas shop in the Scottish village of Lockton and she loves the festive period. This year things begin to go awry as she deals with family dramas, and she finds herself drawn to a new man. I loved that there was a focus on a budding romance but also on the friendships between women in the village. I also really liked that no one knew who Tom was or what he had done for a living before he arrived in Lockton. It made for a fun read wondering when people would find out and how they would react! I did enjoy this novel, it was really cute and romantic and I would recommend it.

Tinsel by Sibeal Pounder

This is a really sweet middle grade novel about Blanche Claus and the idea that the story we all know about Santa is wrong! I found this such a lovely, escapist read and really enjoyed it. I would have adored this book when I was younger, it’s always fun to read an alternative origin story for Father Christmas and this one has lots of magic, adventures and twists and I would recommend it to anyone who has young children.

A Surprise Christmas Wedding by Phillipa Ashley

I got an audio version of this book from NetGalley and I really enjoyed listening to it. It follows Lottie who is working at Firholme, her dream job in the Lake District. One day she finds she has a last minute Christmas wedding to organise and the groom turns out to be the man who broke her heart! This is a lovely, feel-good read that I really enjoyed listening to over a couple of weeks. The setting is beautiful and the characters are well-rounded and believable. The audio narration by Laura Kirman really added to my enjoyment and I will look out for more books narrated by her in the future. I definitely recommend this one!

Christmas at Fireside Cabins by Jenny Hale

I’ve read and enjoyed other festive novels by this author so I was delighted when I was approved to read this one on NetGalley a few weeks ago. This novel follows Lila who struggles with Christmas ever since her Dad died but she has made a new family in her group of friends and every year they celebrate the festive season together. This year might be the last time as they’re all moving on with careers or relationships so it needs to be a good one. They end up at Fireside Cabins which is more dilapidated than advertised but they decide to stay as the owner is such a lovely lady. Lila finds herself attracted to the sullen coffee shop owner but he’s clearly troubled. I loved seeing how this group of friends got on and seeing how things developed. I really cared about Eleanor, the owner of the Cabins and was rooting for her to be okay. I recommend this one too!

WWW Wednesdays (28 Oct 20)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

The Clause in Christmas by Rachael Bloome

I started reading this last night and am enjoying it. It’s a cute festive romance read and I’m keen to read more.

Vulgar Favours: The Assassination of Gianni Versace by Maureen Orth

I’ve read a few more chapters of this since last week and am finding it fascinating. I just wish my concentration was better and my reading slump would go so I could read more of it.

Recent Reads

I haven’t finished reading anything this week as my slump is continuing.

What I Might Read Next

I don’t know what I’ll read next, I just hope I find something that holds my attention. I think Christmas reads are going to be the way to go so I’ll see what I have and which catch my attention.

WWW Wednesdays (14 Oct 20)! What are you reading?

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

Current Reads

My reading slump is continuing and seems to be getting worse so I’ve not read much more of Just Eat It since last week but I hope to get back to it soon. I treated myself to If I Can’t Have You as it’s a book I’ve been keen to read. I’m enjoying it but I’m still only reading it a few pages at a time.

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

Just Eat It by Laura Thomas

Recent Reads

I’ve only managed to finish one book since last week and at least I can say it was a brilliant read. The New Jim Crow is a fascinating and eye-opening read, it’s one I highly recommend.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

What I Might Read Next

I’m not sure what I might read next. My reading slump is worse than it was and I just don’t seem to be reading much of anything. I did treat myself to some new books over the last couple of days though in the hope that one of them might capture my interest. Watch this space (and please cross your fingers that one of them gets my reading mojo back)!

Gravity Well by Marc Rahe | @RandomTTours @RescuePress #GravityWell

About the Book

In Gravity Well, Marc Rahe’s incisive third collection, the poems beckon readers through an ever-shifting series of landscapes, drawing our gaze across a dynamic tableau—an octopus wearing a sweater, a white sky over the bridge we’re standing on, flowers pressed into a forgotten book—as a means of revealing the most particular thrills and anxieties of the human condition. Unafraid and unwavering, careful and concerned, Gravity Well propels its reader through the imagined apertures of the universe one striking image at a time, leaving us ocularly magnified in a world now seen anew. A singular voice in American poetry, Rahe deftly centers the body in relation to ailments such as love, decay, aging, friendship, and grief. His powerful, meditative plea is resounding: “Earth, turn me.”


My Thoughts

Gravity Well is a stunning poetry collection that flows through so many themes and emotions.

It opens with poems in the section entitled Waxing Crescent Waxing Gibbous and later follows the section Waning Gibbous Waning Crescent. I love the way there is light in the dark and dark in the light, it really gave me an insight into what the poems I was about to read may be.

There were quite a few poems that really stood out to me, and it felt like I had a connection to them. Previous Lives is one poem that I’ve already re-read quite a few times and each time I see something else in it. The references to the squares on a calendar alongside random memories and the title itself. It made me think of the day my beloved nan died and how it was her calendar that finally made what had happened sink in.

Birthday is another poem that really connected with me – I have a spinal cord injury so the line about numbness ‘Downriver from the forest in my neck’ took my breath away. And the way Rahe writes of trying to be helpful but ‘To look for change in my pockets meant having to look’ is a line that gave me a wry smile in recognition of that feeling.

A line that I just found stunning comes in the wonderful poem Fable of the Cephalopod, which is a description of a cough using octopus imagery: ‘I hear it barking up the wrong bronchial tree’.

One of my favourite poems in the whole collection is Stellar, which is a reflection of happy times. The lines ‘Uncanny when it’s raining and it’s sunny at the same time. / As if being in someone’s presence and feeling the presence of their ghost.’ Rahe captures that feeling so beautifully and it brought a lump to my throat as I read it.

I found Gravity Well to be a beautiful poetry collection that really rewards the reader who takes their time and re-reads it. I’ll be honest and say that on first reading I found some of the poems were beyond my understanding but on further re-reading they began to speak to me. Now this is a collection that I know I will come back to time and again as it feels it will keep giving more to me every time. I highly recommend this one!

Gravity Well is out now in paperback and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (7 Oct 20)! What are you reading this week!

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

Current Reads

I’m still feeling really lacklustre with reading but I have found these two non-fiction books that are holding my attention. The New Jim Crow is an audiobook that I’ve borrowed from BorrowBox and I’m finding it so eye-opening. Just Eat it is about intuitive eating – it caught my attention recently given that I’m in the middle of trying to eat in a much more healthy way. It’s interesting so far and I’m keen to read more.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Just Eat It by Laura Thomas

Recent Reads

I haven’t read much at all this week. Gravity Well is a short poetry collection which I enjoyed. I’m on the blog tour for it today if you’d like to read my thoughts on it. House of Correction was a gripping audiobook that I really enjoyed. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World was ultimately a life-affirming read and I’m glad I picked it up.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

Gravity Well by Marc Rahe

House of Correction by Nicci French

What I Might Read Next

To be honest I have no idea what I might read next so I’m not even going to pretend about what I might pick up. I hope I pick up something that gets my reading mojo back in full swing. If you have any recommendations I’d appreciate them. 🙂

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

That Was The Month That Was… September 2020!

I can’t believe it’s already October! Time has been so strange this year as it’s been both very slow and yet has flown by.

My reading mojo is still not really there. I have read quite a few books this month but a lot of them were either books that I’d part read the month before or they were audio books. I enjoy books when I’m reading but I don’t feel inclined to pick books up, even when it’s something I’ve started and was enjoying.

My blogging mojo is flagging a bit too at the moment. I’m struggling with typing and it’s harder to use my dictation software with the new WordPress so that’s not helping. I must apologise for not replying to all of your lovely comments in anything like a timely manner. Also, for not commenting on your blogs. I hope I can get back into the groove of it very soon.

September was a good month in other ways though. My healthy eating is going well and I’m definitely forming much better habits. I’m even eating breakfast every day (for the first time in my adult life!). Over the last few weeks I’ve lost over a stone and given that I can’t really exercise due to the nature of my disability I’m feeling quite proud of myself.

My husband is now off furlough and is working from home for the time being. It’s meant we’ve finally found a proper purpose for our spare room and it’s looking really good as an office. Today the picture frames we ordered arrived so we’ll finally be able to frame our music posters from various Isle of Wight festivals we’ve been to and when we saw Kate Bush. It’s only taken us 6 or 7 years to get around to this but better late than never!

The Books I Read

My September Blog Posts

That Was The Month That Was… August 2020!

WWW Wednesdays (2 Sep)

My 20 Books of Summer Wrap-Up

Book Haul (5 Sep)

WWW Wednesdays (9 Sep)

Mini Book Reviews of Three by D. A Mishani, Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough, The Storm by Amanda Jennings, and Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

WWW Wednesdays (16 Sep)

Review of A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble

WWW Wednesdays (23 Sep)

Review of In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Review of The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

WWW Wednesdays (30 Sep)

How was September for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that the month has been okay. What was your favourite book from September? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 

WWW Wednesdays (30 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

I’m just reading one book this week and it’s an audio book. I’ve only just started listening to it but I’m enjoying it so far!

House of Correction by Nicci French

Recent Reads

I’ve finished five books this week and enjoyed all of them. Two of them were shorter reads and two were audiobooks so it meant I got more books read than I might have done. I’m still not feeling much like picking up print or kindle books but when I do pick books up I enjoy them. I hope this mood passes soon.

Older and Wider by Jenny Eclair

The Power in You by Henry Fraser

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Takes from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Summer by Ali Smith

What I Might Read Next

These are two of the oldest books on my NetGalley shelf and I’m still really keen to read them both so hopefully I can read them this week.

The Hidden Girls by Rebecca Whitney

The Sight of You by Holly Miller

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

About the Book

Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago.Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
 
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s writing so a new book from her is always exciting. I was so thrilled to get my hands on her new novel The Stolen Sisters and am really happy to say that it more than lived up to my very high hopes for it.

The novel starts twenty years ago with three sisters who are taken right outside their own home. It follows older sister Carly in the past, and one of the twins Leah in the present in alternating chapters. Gradually we learn what happened when they were taken and how they are all still affected by it in the present day.

I loved the back and forth in time but wondered how suspenseful a novel could be when we already know the girls all survived. Louise Jensen is a master of this kind of novel though and there is so much tension and so much to still be revealed.

I have to praise Louise for her sensitive and accurate portrayal of OCD through this novel. I suffer from this too and it manifests in similar ways to the character in the book so I really appreciated the way it was written about. I was rooting for all three of the sisters to find a way to move on from what happened to them, but especially for Leah to overcome her OCD.

I found this novel so compelling and gripping, it was a book that I found hard to put down and given the reading slump I keep finding myself in it was going to take an excellent book to hold my attention and this is that book! I highly recommend this one!

Many thanks to Louise Jensen and HQ for my e-copy of this book and my invitation to take part in this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

The Stolen Sisters is due to be published on 1 October in ebook and paperback and is available to pre-order here.

WWW Wednesdays (23 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

I’m still struggling to pick up books so I’m sticking to one Kindle book and one audio book and this seems to be working for me at the moment. The Stolen Sisters is really good and I’m intrigued to see where this book is going. I’ve only just started listening to Summer but am enjoying it so far and am looking forward to listening to more.

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Summer by Ali Smith

Recent Reads

Four of the books I finished this week were audiobooks and this is definitely the way for me to read just now. I enjoyed all five of these books and would recommend them. My review of In Black and White will be posted on my blog on Friday so please look out for it then.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

What I Might Read Next

I’m still reading by whim just now but would like to read through some of my NetGalley books this week so these are the three that are jumping out to me the most at the moment. I’ve also Tales from the Cafe on audio so will be able to listen to that one as I read.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The Split by Sharon Bolton

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to chat about your current read in the comments. If you’ve posted a WWW Wednesdays post please feel free to share your link before and I’ll read your post. 🙂

A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble | @RandomTTours

About the Book

If there is one thing that most of us aspire to, it is, simply, to be happy. And yet attaining happiness has become, it appears, anything but simple. Having stuff – The Latest, The Newest, The Best Yet – is all too often peddled as the sure fire route to happiness. So why then, in our consumer-driven society, is depression, stress and anxiety ever more common, affecting every strata of society and every age, even, worryingly, the very young? Why is it, when we have so much, that many of us still feel we are missing something and the rush of pleasure when we buy something new turns so quickly into a feeling of emptiness, or purposelessness, or guilt?

So what is the route to real, deep, long lasting happiness? Could it be that our lives have just become overly crowded, that we’ve lost sight of the things – the simple things – that give a sense of achievement, a feeling of joy or excitement? That make us happy. Do we need to take a step back, reprioritise? Do we need to make our lives more simple? 

Kate Humble’s fresh and frank exploration of a stripped-back approach to life is uplifting, engaging and inspiring – and will help us all find balance and happiness every day.

My Thoughts

A Year of Living Simply opens with Kate writing about the bereavements that she suffered quite close together and the realisation that she just need to re-connect with nature and to live a much simpler life. We follow her over a year as she meets with various people who are all living more simply and she takes inspiration and ideas from all of them.

I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw the title as it just feels with all the anxiety around world events at the moment that making life as simple as it can be is the way to go. A Year of Living Simply was written before the pandemic so isn’t about that but so much of what Kate writes about could be written about what a lot of us have learnt in recent months, about the things that really matter to us.

I knew I was going to love this book when I realised that what set Kate off on her journey was the loss of her father. I immediately identified with the urge to make changes in your life when you lost a parent, I was the same when my mum died. Kate starts by attempting to declutter cupboards in her house and I loved reading about that. As you may know I finally decluttered my house a couple of years ago and it has changed my life, it’s so much easier when you have less stuff.

Through the book Kate meets with people who build and live in self-sustaining eco homes, which was fascinating. The homes sound so beautiful and I could really imagine what they must be like to live in. She also meets a woman who set up a cafe that combines grabbing a coffee with having household items repaired, or being taught to repair your own belongings. This really was interesting and I wish there were more of these cafes around the country (and the world). I hate how much we throw away simply because we don’t know how to repair things or because it’s cheaper to buy a new one.

I loved reading about Kate’s attempts to start her own vegetable garden. I really appreciated that she shared her failures as well as successes, it made this book very down to earth. I have only attempted to grow vegetables once and it was a disaster as I had no real idea what I was doing. Kate has made me see that with a bit of research and persistence that I could get there if I tried again.

The book is written in such a way that feels so inclusive – it’s one woman’s journey to discover a simpler life but she absolutely brings you along with her. I loved that about it – Kate’s writing is really lovely.

A Year of Living Simply is a gorgeous book. It’s both soothing to read and also a book that will inspire you to think about how to make your own life simpler and to focus on the things that really matter to you. This book is perfect for anyone and I will definitely be buying copies for Christmas gifts this year! I highly recommend this one!

Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book and to Anne Cater for my blog tour invitation.

A Year of Living Simply is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (16 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

I’m still struggling with my reading so am sticking to one ebook and one audiobook at a time. I’m really enjoying both of these books and am hoping they might break me out of this slump I’m in.

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Recent Reads

I found Liar to be such an intriguing book and really enjoyed it. It was a book that made me think, I recommend it. Fallen Angel wasn’t a great read, it was predictable and full of stereotypical characters so didn’t really help with my reading slump. Dead to Her was an okay read – I’ve already reviewed it so you can find my full thoughts here.

The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

What I Might Read Next

I’m still reading by whim and hoping to find a way through this reading slump. These three books are the one that most appeal to me at the moment so I hope I can read them in the coming days.

Summer by Ali Smith

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to chat about your current read in the comments. If you’ve posted a WWW Wednesdays post please feel free to share your link before and I’ll read your post. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Three | The Storm | Here Is The Beehive | Dead To Her

Today I’m sharing a selection of mini reviews for books that I’ve recently read.

Three by D. A. Mishani

I requested this audio book on whim from NetGalley as I was intrigued by the premise and I’m so glad I got to read this book. It follows three women – each of them initially seem unconnected but we soon find out that they have all have an encounter with the same man. Orna is a newly divorced single mother looking for a relationship, Emilia from Lativia who is looking to belong and to be more grounded and settled in her life, and Ella a mother of three who is returning to University now her three children are a bit older. The man is Gil and he’s not entirely honest when he tells us his story! The novel is told in three parts and each one twists what we thought we knew, it’s so brilliantly done. Three is brilliantly translated from the Israeli by Jessica Cohen. It’s such a compelling story, one I was gripped by from the very first few pages and I was spellbound by it. I didn’t expect it be what it was and I loved that it surprised me. The narration by Lucy Pearson was also excellent, I felt she really made the women’s voices distinct from each other and found the perfect tone for this book. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author and I definitely want to read more. I highly recommend this one!

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

This novel follows Hannah who appears to have a perfect marriage to Nathan. They have a teenage son and a lovely house in Cornwall. All is not as it seems though. Nathan is very controlling and Hannah has no freedom at all. She seems to view this as penance for something though and over the course of the novel we learn more about her. The story is told in the present day and in the past when Hannah was a teenager and we gradually find out more about how she got to where she is and why she stays with Nathan. I loved this book. It’s atmospheric, it’s tense and it’s very hard to put down. I read it in two sittings as I simply had to know what had happened to make Hannah the way she is and how the past had led up to the now. This is one of those slow burn novels that hits you right in the feels. I loved this one and I definitely recommend it!

Here is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan

This is a novel in verse about Ana. She is married and has been having an affair with Connor for three years. Connor is also married and when he tragically dies Ana is faced with Connor’s wife due to her work as a solicitor. This is a novel that explores the complexities of having an affair and the toll it takes on everyone’s life, but more so the heartbreak of losing the person you love but you not being able to openly grieve because he was never yours. This is a beautifully written book but I found it difficult to connect with. I think reading about grief at the moment is hard and this book captures Ana’s feelings so well that at times I had to look away. This is my issue though and not at all an issue with the book. This is one I would like to re-read at another time because I’m sure it’s one I’ll love. The writing is stunning and I would absolutely recommend it if you feel you’re in the right headspace to read it.

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

This novels follows a wealthy group of friends in Savannah. Marcie was the youngest, newest wife when she married Jason but now their friend (and Jason’s boss) William has arrived home from Europe with a very young and very beautiful wife, which immediately unsettles the group. The writing in this book is so good, I felt the heat and the claustrophobia and the tension radiate off the page and this is what kept me reading. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the storyline as much as I normally do with Sarah Pinborough’s novels, it just felt like there wasn’t as much depth to it. The characters are quite similar to each other and all have similar horrible agendas, I wanted to understand more about them. There was enough in the writing to keep me reading to the end though and it was a fun read. I think maybe it was me that was the issue rather than the book.

All of these books are from NetGalley and all opinions are entirely my own.

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (12 Sep 20)!

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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!

Purchased eBooks

Natives by Akala

This book has been on my radar for a little while now and I finally bought it this week. I’m keen to read this one as soon as my concentration levels are back up to speed.

From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers – race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today. Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain’s racialised empire. Natives is the searing modern polemic and Sunday Timesbestseller from the BAFTA and MOBO award-winning musician and political commentator, Akala.

Review Books

Tinsel by Sibeal Pounder

This is a middle grade book that I requested from NetGalley on a whim because it sounds like such a wonderful read. I can’t wait to read this one a little nearer to Christmas!

How did the world come to believe Santa Claus is a man? It’s all just a big misunderstanding! This tale of friendship, sleigh rides and two formidable girls is THE Christmas book of the year – a gloriously funny, festive adventure that will delight even the biggest Grinch. Join Blanche Claus and her best friend Rinki for a funny festive sleigh ride you’ll never forget! From Sibéal Pounder, bestselling author of the Witch Wars and Bad Mermaids series, this tale of friendship and mince-pie feasts is the perfect book to curl up with this winter. Funny, feminist and with a huge heart. 

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (9 Sep 20)! What are you reading at the moment?

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

Current Reads

I’m trying out reading one book at a time at the moment. I like being in the middle of lots of books but my brain just isn’t up for that right now so I’m hoping reading one at once will help. It feels very strange!

Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough

Recent Reads

I really focused my mind on finishing off the numerous books that I’ve had part-read for a while now so I managed to do that. My husband is now no longer on furlough and is working from home so I’m listening to more audiobooks during the day, which is helping me read more. I’m still struggling to read ebooks but am enjoying listening to books.