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.

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Watch Over You by M. J. Ford

Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Spring by Ali Smith

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

What I Might Read Next

I don’t know what I’ll read next as I’m still reading by whim but I know that audiobooks are better for me at the moment so I’ve picked three audiobooks this week that are catching my eye the most, and then one ebook (The Turn of the Key) that I can read at night.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (5 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

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

I have wanted to read this book ever since I first heard about it months ago so when I spotted it in a Kindle deal this week I snapped it up! I’m originally from Yorkshire so I’m really keen to read this one very soon!

July, 1962 Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become? The fastest milk bottle-delivery girl in East Yorkshire, Evie is tall as a tree and hot as the desert sand. She dreams of an independent life lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). The two posters of Adam Faith on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’) offer wise counsel about a future beyond rural East Yorkshire. Her role models are Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen. But, before she can decide on a career, she must first deal with the malign presence of her future step-mother, the manipulative and money-grubbing Christine. If Evie can rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save the farmhouse from being sold off then maybe she can move on with her own life and finally work out exactly who it is she is meant to be.  

I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Braithwaite

I’ve seen some good reviews of this one recently so when I spotted in a Kindle daily deal this week I grabbed it. It sounds like it will be an interesting read so I hope to get to it soon.

When Candice fell pregnant and stepped into the motherhood playing field, she found her experience bore little resemblance to the glossy magazine experience in Great Britain today. Leafing through the piles of prenatal paraphernalia, she found herself wondering: “Where are all the black mothers?”. Candice started blogging about motherhood in 2016 after making the simple but powerful observation that the way motherhood is portrayed in the British media is wholly unrepresentative of our society at large. The author writes with humour, but with straight-talk about facing hurdles such as white privilege, racial micro-aggression and unconscious bias at every point. 

Review Books

Gravity Well by Mark Rahe

I was sent this one to review for the blog tour next month and I’m really looking forward to it. I enjoy poetry so I think I’m going to really like this collection.

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.”

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

I Thought You Knew by Penny Hancock

This book caught my eye when I was browsing the Borrowbox app this week so I decided to request it. It ended up being available sooner than I was expecting but I hope to get to it in the next few weeks.

Who do you know better? Your oldest friend? Or your child? 
And who should you believe when one accuses the other of an abhorrent crime? Jules and Holly have been best friends since university. They tell each other everything, trading revelations and confessions, and sharing both the big moments and the small details of their lives: Holly is the only person who knows about Jules’s affair; Jules was there for Holly when her husband died. And their two children – just three years apart – have grown up together. So when Jules’s daughter Saffie makes a serious allegation against Holly’s son Saul, neither woman is prepared for the devastating impact this will have on their friendship or their families. Especially as Holly, in spite of her principles, refuses to believe her son is guilty.

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! 🙂

My 20 Books of Summer Wrap-Up!

I can’t believe the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge (run by Cathy at 746 Books) is over already! This summer seems to have flown by even though I’ve spent the entirety of it in my home.

So I set myself a very rigid list of 20 physical books that I wanted to read this summer. (The rules for this challenge are very flexible but I wanted to make myself read a particular set of books). Unfortunately my disability flared up and I’m back to struggling to hold physical books so my 20 books of summer plan stalled a few weeks ago now. I did manage to read 12 of the books on my list before then (and I’m halfway through a 13th) and I’m really happy with what I managed to read. Also, one of the 12 that I read was the humongous Ducks, Newburyport (which at over a thousand pages could count as three novels!).

I did also read a lot of books on my Kindle and I listened to quite a few audiobooks so I did plenty of reading over the summer, I just didn’t manage to read what I planned on.

Here are the books that I managed to read this summer (from my original list).

I enjoyed all twelve of the books that I read but I think my favourite has to be Ducks, Newburyport. Once I got to grips with the way it’s written I just wanted to devour it, it really is an incredible novel and one I keep finding myself thinking about.

Did you take part in the 20 Books of Summer challenge? How did you get on? I hope you enjoyed all that you read over the summer, and here’s to an autumn full of fabulous books! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (2 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

These are the four books that I’m currently reading. All of them are excellent but I’m really intrigued by The Upstairs Room at the moment so that is my main read.

Spring by Ali Smith

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

Here Is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Recent Reads

I really enjoyed all four of these books this week. I think Three was my favourite as it just went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting and completely shocked me. I also loved Long Bright River, I’m so pleased I finally got to read it.

Three by D. A. Mishani

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

What I Might Read Next

I’m still not reading as much as I normally do, I just don’t feel motivated to pick a book up. Once I’m reading I do enjoy it though so I’m hoping this feeling passes soon. The books that most appeal to me at the moment are these four so hopefully I’ll get to read them this week. 🙂

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

That Was The Month That Was… August 2020!

I really can’t get my head around the fact that it is September already, where has this year gone?! There have been weeks and months (particularly at the start of lockdown) that dragged by and yet the year itself has flown by.

August was spent much the same as July really. We watched the rest of the football season, we binge watched some more series (the new Dirty John about Betty Broderick on Netflix and The Looming Tower which has been on our SkyQ box since it aired early last year.

I did finally take my first trip out into the world for the first time in almost six months last week. My husband took me for a short drive around where we live. It still feels scary to me to be out and about after six months of shielding but it was good to make that first step into the outside world.

I’m struggling with my reading again at the moment. I’m enjoying what I’m reading and I want to be reading but I keep finding other things to do instead. I’m just going with it for now and reading by whim and hoping to avoid another reading slump.

I read 18 books in August, which is less than I had been reading but is still a lot of books.

The Books I read

My August Blog Posts

Book Haul (1 Aug)

July Wrap-Up

WWW Wednesdays (5 Aug)

Review: The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

Book Haul (8 Aug)

Review: The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke

Audiobook Review: All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

WWW Wednesdays (12 Aug)

Audiobook Review: Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

Review: Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Book Haul (15 Aug)

Mini Book Reviews: The Holdout by Graham Moore, The Night Swim by Megan Goldin, The New Girl by Harriet Walker, & Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

WWW Wednesdays (19 Aug)

Book Haul (22 Aug)

Review: Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

WWW Wednesdays (26 Aug)

Book Haul (29 Aug)

How was August 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 August? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (29 Aug 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

A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts

I read a review of this one a few days ago and loved the sound of it so much that I immediately bought it on Kindle. I think this one will really resonate with me and I can’t wait to read it!

At the moment her mother died, Olivia Potts was baking a cake, badly. She was trying to impress the man who would later become her husband. Afterwards, grief pushed Olivia into the kitchen. She came home from her job as a criminal barrister miserable and tired, and baked soda bread, pizza, and chocolate banana cake. Her cakes sank and her custard curdled. But she found comfort in jams and solace in pies, and what began as a distraction from grief became a way of building a life outside grief, a way of surviving, and making sense of her life without her mum. And so she concocted a plan: she would begin a newer, happier life, filled with fewer magistrates and more macaroons. She left the bar and enrolled on the Diplôme de Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, plunging headfirst into the eccentric world of patisserie, with all its challenges, frustrations and culinary rewards – and a mind-boggling array of knives to boot. Interspersed with recipes ranging from passionfruit pavlova to her mother’s shepherd’s pie, this is a heart-breaking, hilarious, life-affirming memoir about dealing with grief, falling in love and learning how to bake a really, really good cake.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

I spotted this book in the Kindle sale this week and immediately hit the 1-click button. I read and loved In Five Years earlier this year and now I want to read everything this author has written.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends with in her utterly captivating novel, THE DINNER LIST, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You. When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

The Power in You by Henry Fraser

I was immediately drawn to this book when I spotted it as I follow Henry Fraser on twitter and I love his attitude to life. I’m partially paralysed and so much of what he says strikes a chord with me so I’m looking forward to reading this book.

Mouth artist, motivational speaker and author of the inspirational memoir The Little Big Things, Henry Fraser, explores the transformative power of acceptance in this motivational guide. If The Little Big Things was about Henry’s past, The Power in You is about his present and his future. And through understanding his daily experience, Henry teaches us all how best we can live. This book is about right now, and it’s about tomorrow. It’s about recognising progress, it’s about accepting our past to become free of it, it’s about living in the now to avoid anxiety. It’s future focused on the positive. Henry discusses acceptance, how to adapt and deal with our pasts, how to forgive ourselves, and how to forgive others. He will remind us to live in the present and just how empowering that can be, how to work through self-doubt, how to become aware of our progress, and how everything you need in life comes from within you. The power is in you.

To Love and Let Go by Rachel Brathen

I bought this book on a whim when I was browsing the Kindle sale as it sounded like such an emotional buy ultimately positive read. I’m keen to get to this one.

While on her way to teach a yoga retreat in March 2014, Rachel Brathen collapses at an airport, brought to her knees by excruciating stomach pains. She is rushed to the hospital on the tiny island of Bonaire, and hours later forced to undergo surgery. When she wakes up from anesthesia, her boyfriend is weeping at her bedside. While Rachel was struck down with seemingly mysterious pain, her best friend, Andrea, sustained fatal injuries as a result of a car accident. Rachel and Andrea had a magical friendship. Though they looked nothing alike—one girl tall, blond, and Swedish, the other short, brunette, and Colombian—everyone called them gemelas: twins. Over the three years following Andrea’s death, at what might appear from the outside to be the happiest time—with her engagement to the man she loves and a blossoming career that takes her all over the world—Rachel faces a series of trials that have the potential to define her life. Unresolved grief and trauma from her childhood make the weight of her sadness unbearable. At each turn, she is confronted again and again with a choice: Will she lose it all, succumb to grief, and grasp for control that’s beyond her reach? Or can she move through the loss and let go? When Rachel and her husband conceive a child, pregnancy becomes a time to heal and an opportunity to be reborn herself. As she recounts this transformative period, Rachel shares her hard-won wisdom about life and death, love and fear, what it means to be a mother and a daughter, and how to become someone who walks through the fire of adversity with the never-ending practice of loving hard and letting go.

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes by Jessica Redland

I read some lovely reviews of this book recently so when the author let me know it was free on Amazon I couldn’t resist downloading it. I’m saving this one to read nearer Christmas and I already can’t wait!

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is a cosy heartwarming tale of friendship, family, putting the past behind, and embracing the future.  It’s Christmas in Whitsborough Bay. With fairy lights connecting the shops and cafés on either side of the cobbles, Castle Street seems magical. And in such a magical place, surely Christmas wishes can come true.  Carly Travis, owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, has two Christmas wishes this year. Her first is for her younger sister, Bethany, to focus on the positives in her life, including her Christmas wedding, instead of writing herself off as a failure. Bethany’s attempts at cake-decorating aren’t going to win any awards, but she’s certainly great with customers. Carly’s second wish is for her best friend, Liam, to come home for Christmas.  When Liam calls to say he’s been granted leave from the army, Carly makes a third Christmas wish. It’s the one she’s made every year since she was a teenager and, if she’s really brave, could this be the year when it finally comes true?  With Liam coming home, the shop having its best year yet, and a wedding to look forward to, it’s shaping up to be the best Christmas ever for Carly. But for Bethany, things are starting to unravel …

Review Books

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

I keep seeing this book on social media and was so intrigued by it that I went straight to NetGalley and downloaded it. I hope to read this one soon.

Only men are affected by the virus; only women have the power to save us all.  The year is 2025, and a mysterious virus has broken out in Scotland–a lethal illness that seems to affect only men. When Dr. Amanda MacLean reports this phenomenon, she is dismissed as hysterical. By the time her warning is heeded, it is too late. The virus becomes a global pandemic–and a political one. The victims are all men. The world becomes alien–a women’s world. What follows is the immersive account of the women who have been left to deal with the virus’s consequences, told through first-person narratives. Dr. MacLean; Catherine, a social historian determined to document the human stories behind the “male plague;” intelligence analyst Dawn, tasked with helping the government forge a new society; and Elizabeth, one of many scientists desperately working to develop a vaccine. Through these women and others, we see the uncountable ways the absence of men has changed society, from the personal–the loss of husbands and sons–to the political–the changes in the workforce, fertility and the meaning of family.

Purchased AudioBooks

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

I bought this book on an Audible daily deal this week. It was an impulse buy as I’ve really enjoyed previous novels by this author on audio. I think this will be another lovely read (listen).

Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change. Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks. But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

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 (26 Aug 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

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams

I started reading this book yesterday and I’m just gobsmacked at this real life story. It’s written by Rachel who became friends with Anna and was completely taken advantage of. I’m only a couple of chapters in so I don’t know much about the story as yet but just the opening chapter had me stunned at the situation Rachel ended up in. I can’t wait to read more.

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

I bought this book earlier this year and have been so keen to read it. I finally picked it up yesterday and I’m so intrigued. A woman has been found murdered in her bed and her severely disabled teenage daughter is missing. Their neighbour’s daughter Cara found Meg’s body and now we’re following her perspective and that of a disgraced journalist Jon. I’m so keen to so where this book is going (I have my suspicions and have avoided all reviews so as not to get spoiled on what happens) and can’t wait to read more!

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I’m still really enjoying this one. It’s a book where the author is relating her life story through the medium of books she has loved over the years. It’s a wonderful read, one that feels very nostalgic and sooting. I’m deliberately reading this one slowly as it feels like such a relaxing treat to pick it up.

Recent Reads

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

I keep hearing about this book so when I was looking for some easy, escapist reading at the weekend I picked it up. I read the whole thing in one sitting and really enjoyed it. It was exactly what I needed at the time. It follows Pippa, a studious teenager who for a school assignment decides to look into a murder that happened in her community five years ago. A teenage girl was murdered and her boyfriend was prime suspect but when he died by suicide the police closed the case. The novel does require some suspension of disbelief but it’s still such a good read.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

I listened to the audiobook of this over a few days and I very much enjoyed it. It’s a fictionalised version of Hillary Clinton’s life and it imagines what might have happened had she not married Bill. I did find some of the book a bit icky (the sex scenes…) but for the most part I loved this book. It was easy to see how much of this novel could have happened were some decisions made differently. I recommend it!

No Win Race by Derek A. Bardowell

This is an excellent novel about the author’s own experiences of racism along with a wider look at society through the lens of sport. He raises some really important points about what it is to be British and black, and how society never quite sees him as fully British. He looks at various sports (boxing, basketball, Formula 1 and football) and how black sports men and women are treated. I’m still thinking about this book but once I’ve got my thoughts together I will write a review.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

I really enjoyed this novel! It follows Julia (an editor) as she meets Grant (a mathematician and author) with a view to re-publishing his short story collection. The novel features all the stories in this collection and a discussion between Julia and Grant about them. I loved the stories, they’re all set in the 1930s and are very Christie-esque. There are layers of mystery in this novel and lots of shocks in store. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

What I Might Read Next

I’ve been in a strange mood this week, I’ve still been reading and I’ve still been enjoying reading but I’m not drawn to picking up books as much as I want to. I’m hoping I’m not heading for another reading slump. In an attempt to ward it off I’m reading entirely by whim at the moment and the three books below are the ones that are really calling to me. I hope to read them in the coming days! 🙂

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Tilly and the Lost Fairytales by Anna James

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

About the Book

There are rules for murder mysteries. There must be a victim. A suspect. A detective. The rest is just shuffling the sequence. Expanding the permutations. Grant McAllister, a professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out – calculating the different orders and possibilities of a mystery into seven perfect detective stories he quietly published. But that was thirty years ago. Now Grant lives in seclusion on a remote Mediterranean island, counting the rest of his days.

Until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor knocks on his door. Julia wishes to republish his book, and together they must revisit those old stories: an author hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But there are things in the stories that don’t add up. Inconsistencies left by Grant that a sharp-eyed editor begins to suspect are more than mistakes. They may be clues, and Julia finds herself with a mystery of her own to solve.

My Thoughts

This is a book that I have been much anticipating and I’m so pleased to say that it absolutely lived up to my expectations!

Eight Detectives is different to anything I’ve read before. It follows Julia Hart, an editor for an independent publisher, who is staying with author Grant McAllister, a maths professor who many years ago wrote a short story collection to show how all murder mysteries are based on mathematic equations.

The novel was discombobulating in the beginning as you find yourself reading the first story in Grant’s collection. I was expecting to meet Julia first but I was delighted to be wrong-footed. The first story is engaging and intriguing, and a bit creepy – which sets the reader up for a brilliant novel. After each short story Julia and Grant discuss them and what she has noticed about them.

The short stories are very Agatha Christie-esque and all are set in the 1930s so if you like those then I think you’ll love this novel. The whole novel is a mystery and it all interconnects; it really is very clever and engaging. Julia Hart is a brilliant character, I loved following her in this book!

There is so much in this novel that I can’t write about as it’s definitely a book that works best by throwing yourself into it knowing very little. It really is such a clever, intriguing and ultimately very satisfying read. I highly recommend it!

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

Eight Detectives is out now and available here.

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (22 Aug 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 Books

All the Rage by Paul Magrs

I actually bought this book a few weeks ago (after reading a fabulous review on Liz’s blog) but put it straight onto my bookcase and forgot all about mentioning it in my book haul post. I’m struggling to hold physical books at the moment but as soon as my hands feel stronger I will be picking this one up!

It’s 1981, and the nation is going Eurovision-crazy. A young band, Things Fall Apart, are British hopefuls with their catchy hit, Let’s Be Famous. Europe is unimpressed. But the band won’t let go of their dream, and they persevere to become one of the most famous boy-girl pop acts of the eighties. And during their glory days they sample the cultural highlights of the decade. Living and working together constantly it’s little wonder that love soon blossoms in the band; nor that the cracks between them eventually begin to show. From their innocent early days to their ugly last fight, this is the story of a pop group – warts and all. Hugely funny and immensely readable, All The Rage is a fantastic novel encompassing the best (and the worst) of the decade that taste forgot. Amidst the sequinned boob tubes and spangly jump suits is a touching story about dreams, disappointments, and the highs and lows of fame.

Review Books

Three by D. A. Mishani

I requested this book from NetGalley as soon as they started having audiobooks on there. I’d never heard of it before but the premise really intrigued me. I think this will be my next audio book (once I’ve finished Rodham!).

An abandoned woman searching for love, a deeply religious immigrant caretaker, a disillusioned researcher trapped in her marriage. Three women whose lives seem as far apart as possible, united by a common secret. When Orna meets Gil on an online dating site, their lackluster affair seems like nothing more than a way to stave off the pain of her recent divorce. But soon it becomes clear that Gil may not be exactly who he claims to be. And Orna’s own lies may be weaving an unexpected trap for her. Set against the turbulent backdrop of the gritty Holon neighborhood in Tel Aviv, this enigmatic and intelligent novel is in fact an intricate puzzle. Mishani’s first standalone book explores Israel’s forgotten margins, unearthing complicated layers, conflicts, and prejudices. At turns shocking, deceptive, and subversive, Three is a slow burning psychological thriller from one of Israel’s most beloved writers. 

Purchased AudioBooks

Audible had a recent 2 for 1 sale on their website and the following books were all on my wish list so I snapped them up!

Happiness by Aminatta Forna

London. A fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. The distraction causes two pedestrians to collide–Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist there to deliver a keynote speech. From this chance encounter, Aminatta Forna’s unerring powers of observation show how in the midst of the rush of a great city lie numerous moments of connection. Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma, as he has done many times before; and to contact the daughter of friends, his “niece” who hasn’t called home in a while. Ama has been swept up in an immigration crackdown, and now her young son Tano is missing. When, by chance, Attila runs into Jean again, she mobilizes the network of rubbish men she uses as volunteer fox spotters. Security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens–mainly West African immigrants who work the myriad streets of London–come together to help. As the search for Tano continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds. Meanwhile a consulting case causes Attila to question the impact of his own ideas on trauma, the values of the society he finds himself in, and a grief of his own. In this delicate tale of love and loss, of cruelty and kindness, Forna asks us to consider the interconnectedness of lives, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures, and the true nature of happiness. 

James Baldwin: A Biography by David Leeming

James Baldwin was one of the great writers of the last century. In works that have become part of the American canon—Go Tell It on a Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, Another Country, The Fire Next Time, and The Evidence of Things Not Seen—he explored issues of race and racism in America, class distinction, and sexual difference. A gay, African American writer who was born in Harlem, he found the freedom to express himself living in exile in Paris. When he returned to America to cover the Civil Rights movement, he became an activist and controversial spokesman for the movement, writing books that became bestsellers and made him a celebrity, landing him on the cover of Time. In this biography, which Library Journal called “indispensable,” David Leeming creates an intimate portrait of a complex, troubled, driven, and brilliant man. He plumbs every aspect of Baldwin’s life: his relationships with the unknown and the famous, including painter Beauford Delaney, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry, Marlon Brando, Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, and childhood friend Richard Avedon; his expatriate years in France and Turkey; his gift for compassion and love; the public pressures that overwhelmed his quest for happiness, and his passionate battle for black identity, racial justice, and to “end the racial nightmare and achieve our country.”

Friday on My Mind by Nicci French

I haven’t started Nicci French’s Frieda Klein series yet but have most of them on my TBR so couldn’t resist grabbing another two. I plan on starting this series soon, I feel sure I’m going to love it!

When a bloated corpse is found floating in the River Thames the police can at least sure that identifying the victim will be straightforward. Around the dead man’s wrist is a hospital band. On it are the words Dr F. Klein. But psychotherapist Frieda Klein is very much alive. And, after evidence linking her to the murder is discovered, she becomes the prime suspect. Unable to convince the police of her innocence, Frieda is forced to make a bold decision in order to piece together the terrible truth before it’s too late either for her or for those she loves.

The Day of the Dead by Nicci French

At long last, a final reckoning is coming for Frieda Klein… On a north London high street, a runaway vehicle crashes to a halt. The man in the driving seat was murdered a week earlier. On Hampstead Heath, a bonfire blazes: in the flames lies the next victim. As autumn leaves fall, a serial killer runs amok in the capital, playing games with the police. The death toll is rising fast, and the investigation is floundering. But this is no ordinary killer, and every new victim is intended as a message to just one woman. Because psychologist Frieda Klein is in hiding. And someone is coming to find her . . . After seven stunning novels, Frieda Klein’s duel with her dark nemesis finally comes to a climax – and only one can make it out alive.

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 (19 Aug 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

No Win Race by Derek A. Bardowell

I bought the ebook of this one forgetting that I had a pending request on NetGalley for the audio book. So now I’m part listening and part reading this and it’s such an eye-opening book about race. The author is a black British man who grew up in London and was a huge sports fan. He documents his experiences of racism along with that in wider society and mainly through the eye of sports. His Jamaican father followed cricket and boxing and at the point I’m up to Derek is very into basketball. It’s shocking to see the racism documented in this book, and how insidious it is. The author is a bit older than me so the book is building on my very vague knowledge of the time. I recommend this one.

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

This is such a lovely book where the author is looking back on the books she has enjoyed and been influenced by in her life. I’m still at the part about her childhood but her descriptions of trips to the library and the books she was reading are so similar to my own childhood that this feels so nostalgic and joyous so far. I’m trying to read this one slowly so I can enjoy it for the longest possible time. It’s really wonderful though and I highly recommend it.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

I only started this one last night but I’m fascinated by it. I requested it from NetGalley based on the premise but when I started reading I had forgotten the detail of what the book was about so it’s been brilliant finding my way through. It’s basically a novel about Grant who wrote a murder mystery short story collection years earlier and it’s been rediscovered by a small publishing house. Their editor Julia is now with Grant and they’re reading each story in turn and discussing it. We get each of the stories and their thoughts about them, plus Grant’s theories about murder mysteries. It’s such a good book and I think all murder mystery/crime fiction fans will love it.

Recent Reads

The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams

I listened to this on audio from NetGalley and sadly I didn’t really like it. It started off well and I liked the main character Penny. She has had a difficult time of it, her mum died when she was young and then she herself had cancer. Life is good now though and she’s looking for love. She meets Francesco and they quickly fall for each other. So far so good! However Penny then has to go away and this novel veers into tropes I hate where suddenly she doesn’t communicate properly with people and it leads to all kinds of dramas that could have so easily been avoided. I felt really let down by how much Penny changed from being so open and honest and I just didn’t enjoy the second half of the book much at all. The narrator, Carrie Hope Fletcher, was very good though. Her voice really suited the story and I would listen to more books narrated by her in the future.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is a novel told in verse and it follows two teenage girls who find out their father has been killed in a plane crash off New York. Camino lives in the Dominican Republic with her aunt and had been excitedly awaiting her father’s arrival for the summer. Yahaira lives in New York with her mother and had let her dad leave without a word. Over the novel the girls learn the secrets of this man and that they are half-sisters. I really enjoyed this book. I found the spare writing really suited the narrative. The descriptions of grief were visceral at times, and the shock of each girl realising the other exists felt so believable. I recommend this one.

The Holdout by Graham Moore

This was the last book on my NetGalley shelf from before 2020 so I wanted to get to it and I’m so pleased that I finally picked it up. It follows Maya who served on a jury ten years ago. It was a murder case and Bobby Nock, a black man, was accused of murdering his white student Jessica. Maya was responsible for persuading the rest of the jury to vote not guilty. Now it’s ten years later and the past is catching up with Maya. A TV show is being made about the case and the jury are all reuniting to film their thoughts now. This novel had so much more to it than I was expecting and I was gripped all the way through. I’ve already reviewed this one here if you’d like to know more – I highly recommend it!

Under a Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

This is a lovely novel, perfect for some summer escapism. It follows Wanda who has always wanted to travel the world but things keep conspiring to keep her in the Welsh town where she grew up. Her sister is pregnant and on her own, and their mum has just had an accident. Now Wanda has to face up to the past when she bumps into her ex-best friend Annie in the town. I loved this book, it’s such a feel-good read and is one I recommend. I’ve reviewed it here if you’d like to know more.

What I Might Read Next

I have so many books that I want to read but I’m often struggling to settle to read anything at the moment but these four books are the ones that most appeal to me as I’m writing this. The first is a library book and one I’ve wanted to read for a long time. The second is an Audible book I treated myself to very recently. The third is a kindle book I bought not long ago and is a collection of essays, which I’m keen to get to. The last one is a NetGalley book that I’m so intrigued by!

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

True Story by Kate Reed Petty

Mini Book Reviews: The Night Swim | The Holdout | The New Girl | Where We Belong

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

I previously read The Escape Room and enjoyed it so was keen to read the author’s new novel. This one follows Rachel who makes a true crime podcast, and her new season is following a rape trial in the town of Neapolis. We see Rachel’s investigation and also snippets of her podcast, which I enjoyed. Alongside this Rachel is getting letters from a young woman called Hannah, who wants Rachel to investigate the murder of her older sister 25 years ago. This book was one I enjoyed but I did find that the first half was more engrossing and intriguing to me. I saw where the book was going from halfway and I was so hoping for a twist and there wasn’t one. I would still recommend this one because it did keep me reading. I enjoyed following Hannah’s story and I would love to read more featuring Rachel and her podcast!

The Holdout by Graham Moore

This was the last book that I had on my NetGalley shelf from before this year and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner! This book was so much more than I thought it was going to be (and I already had thought it was going to be good)! The novel mainly follows Maya Searle, a lawyer in Los Angeles. Ten years ago she served on a jury and was responsible for persuading her eleven fellow jurors to return a verdict of Not Guilty in the trial where Bobby Nock stood accused of murdering his student. Now the past is back to haunt Maya when one of the jurors finds her and asks her to come to a reunion for a TV show. I loved that the main narrative is Maya’s but throughout the novel we hear from other members of the jury and find out their perspectives on the trial. There is a lot of discussion about race and the unconscious, and sometimes very overt, opinions we form on others. This was such a gripping book, one of those that is very hard to put down. I highly recommend it!

The New Girl by Harriet Walker

This novel follows Margot who is a fashion editor at a top magazine and is looking for someone to take over her job while she goes on maternity leave. Maggie gets the job and very early on it’s apparent that there is an envy, that quickly grows into jealousy and mistrust between them. We also learn about Margot’s friendship with Winnie, who she’s known since school. From the opening of the novel we know that someone dies so I was intrigued to know who died and if someone committed murder. This was an enjoyable novel but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought this book was meant to be a dark thriller but it wasn’t. It’s domestic fiction with a darkish side. I found it a slow read for the most part but it did become much more fast-paced for the last third and this part of the book did lift the book for me. I recommend this one if you like domestic dramas!

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

This novel follows Cate and her son at a very unhappy time in their lives. They’re having to move from their home after the death of Cate’s husband Richard due to financial difficulties, and they’re moving to his family home – a place they’ve never been before. When they arrive it’s to a cold welcome and Cate feels so isolated and worried. Over the novel we learn more about the past and what happened in Richard’s life and how it was for him living in this great house. We begin to see Cate find her strength and her son begins to come into his own too. I loved seeing these two characters come to terms with everything that had happened and to see their growth. This is such a beautiful novel, my first by Anstey Harris but I definitely want to read more of her work now. I highly recommend this one!

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (15 Aug 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!

Review Books

Life in Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

Dawn O’Porter has been thinking about life. In lockdown. Mostly from a cupboard. From reflections on grief and identity, bad hair and parenting, sleep and spirituality, to the things we can control and the things we cannot, Dawn’s daily diaries track the journey – for a hilarious, heartbreaking and highly entertaining glimpse into the new normal. LIFE IN PIECES is a book for anyone who’s been thrown into a life they didn’t plan, or who just wants to stick it to 2020. When it looks like everything’s falling apart, we’ll piece it back together.

Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink

‘Reading has saved my life, again and again, and has held my hand through every difficult time’ For as long as she can remember, Cathy Rentzenbrink has lost and found herself in stories. Growing up she was rarely seen without her nose in a book and read in secret long after lights out. When tragedy struck, books kept her afloat. Eventually they lit the way to a new path, first as a bookseller and then as a writer. No matter what the future holds, reading will always help. Dear Reader is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life, packed with recommendations from one reader to another.

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Alexandra is 25, mixed-race and from Essex. As a trainee criminal barrister, she finds herself navigating a world and a set of rules designed by a privileged few. This is her story. We follow Alexandra through a criminal justice system still divided by race and class. We hear about the life-changing events that motivated her to practice criminal law, beginning with the murder of a close family friend and her own experiences of knife crime. She shows us how it feels to defend someone who hates the colour of your skin or someone you suspect is guilty, and the heart-breaking cases of youth justice she has worked on. We see what it’s like for the teenagers coerced into county line drug deals and the damage that can be caused when we criminalise teenagers. Her story is unique in a profession still dominated by a privileged section of society with little first-hand experience of the devastating impact of violent crime.

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

“Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.” As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them. In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community–and all of us–to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams

The year is 1871. In Ashwell, Massachusetts, at the farm of Samuel Hood and his daughter Caroline, a mysterious flock of red birds descends. Samuel, whose fame as a philosopher has waned in recent years, takes the birds’ appearance as an omen that the time is ripe for his newest venture. He will start a school for young women, guiding their intellectual development as he has so carefully guided his daughter’s. Despite Caroline’s misgivings, Samuel’s vision–revolutionary, as always; noble, as always; full of holes, as always–takes shape. It’s not long before the students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms. Rashes, fits, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings. In desperation, the school turns to the ministering of a sinister physician–based on a real historic treatment–just as Caroline’s body, too, begins its betrayal. As the girls’ conditions worsens, long-buried secrets emerge, and Caroline must confront the all-male, all-knowing authorities around her, the ones who insist the voices of the sufferers are unreliable. In order to save herself, Caroline may have to destroy everything she’s ever known.

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! 🙂

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

About the Book

On the longest day of the summer, twelve people sit cooped up with their families in a faded Scottish cabin park. The endless rain leaves them with little to do but watch the other residents.

A woman goes running up the Ben as if fleeing; a retired couple reminisce about neighbours long since moved on; a teenage boy braves the dark waters of the loch in his red kayak. Each person is wrapped in their own cares but increasingly alert to the makeshift community around them. One particular family, a mother and daughter without the right clothes or the right manners, starts to draw the attention of the others. Tensions rise and all watch on, unaware of the tragedy that lies ahead as night finally falls.

My Thoughts

I love Sarah Moss’ writing so I was delighted to get my hands on a copy of Summerwater and I can honestly say that I adored it!

Summerwater is set during the longest day of the year at a very rainy summer in a holiday cabin park in Scotland. Each chapter is told from the perspective of the people staying in one of the cabins so we get there own experiences and their views on everyone else. Then the story moves along and eventually we meet almost all the people in the cabins and see how their holidays are going. There is a real sense of building tension through this novel as it works towards it’s shocking conclusion.

This book is brilliant. I loved meeting a person in each of the cabins, it felt like I was right there with them and watching their neighbours on this wet, miserable holiday. We follow a young mum who just wants a few minutes to relax but when her husband takes the children out for an hour she doesn’t know what to do with the time. We meet a young couple who are meant to be having a romantic getaway but the boy is obsessed with working on their simultaneous orgasms and the girl who loves him dearly but is thinking about how she’d just quite like to fry some bacon. There is the family with a teenage daughter who wants to get out and meet up with a man she’s getting to know who’s camping nearby. Also we meet an older couple, the husband likes to walk on holidays but the wife is struggling. We see things through each of their eyes in two different chapters and I found their story really moving. Alongside them is a family we don’t get to meet, they are Ukranian and everyone who watches them seems to be suspicious of them. They play loud music every night and people on the holiday park are judging their every move. The tension slowly builds in the background of everyone else’s story as they each have an existing judgement about this family that they allow to be compounded by the loud music.

I loved the way the author shows us the public side of the holidaymakers but then we get to see their inside selves, how they behave with their family and the glimpses into their secret selves; the things you’d never say but you think.

There are moments in this book where I was holding my breath as various holiday makers have near misses – accidents that could have had a different outcome, childish pranks that felt sinister and dark. The ending when it comes though is still stark and shocking. The reactions of the people around was fascinating and it leaves you thinking about how you would do in that situation.

This is a claustrophobic novella; we all know what it is to be on holiday when the weather is horrendous and there’s nothing to do. I love the way it broadly explores the perspectives of all age groups, it evokes memories we likely all have of this holiday experience.

This is an incredible novella; I finished it a few weeks ago now and I still keep thinking about it. I think it might be one of my favourite books of the year so far. I loved it and I highly recommend it!

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

Summerwater is due to be published on 20th August and can be pre-ordered here.

WWW Wednesdays (12 Aug 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

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

I started reading this one last night and I’m very much enjoying it. It follows two girls: Camino in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira in New York. On the same day they both get news that their father has died in a plane crash and whilst trying to come to terms with this tragedy they learn their father is the same man. They now have to work out how to deal with discovering they have a sister living in another part of the world. I’m only a little way into this one but the writing is beautiful and I’m engrossed.

Under A Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

This is my current audio book and I’m really enjoying it. It follows Wanda who has always wanted to travel but life keeps having other plans for her. She was due to leave her family in Wales when she was young but then her father died. Now it’s years later and she’s packing up to leave when her mum has an accident and her sister announces she’s pregnant. Wanda seems destined to have to stay and run the family’s rundown campsite for the summer and to face up to some ghosts from the past. I’m loving this audiobook so far and can’t wait to listen to more!

The Holdout by Graham Moore

This is now the last book that I have on my NetGalley shelf that I got before 2020 so I wanted to get to it this week. I’m now kicking myself for not picking it up sooner because I’m loving it so far. It follows Maya who is a successful lawyer but ten years ago she did jury duty and helped sway the jury to a not guilty verdict. Now the jury is meeting up again for a TV show as one member thinks he’s uncovered evidence that will change everything! I avoided knowing anymore than this about the book and I’m glad I did because I thought I knew what this was going to be and it’s turned out more is going on than I predicted! I love when a novel surprises me!

Keep Her Quiet by Emma Curtis

I’m reading this book on Pigeonhole but I’m way behind and all of the parts are now available. It’s taking me a while as I’m struggling to read on my phone screen at the moment. I am liking the novel so far though. You do have to suspend disbelief but it’s one I’m happy to do that with. It moves from past to present and focuses on a teenager who was kidnapped from the hospital soon after her birth sixteen years ago. I hope to be able to read more of this soon, I might buy it on kindle so that it’s easier on my eyes to read.

Recent Reads

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

I read and quite enjoyed The Escape Room by this author and was keen to try another novel by her. The Night Swim started off so well – it’s gripping and fast-paced and there is a mystery there so I thought I was going to love it. However, the pace slows down and I did find it a bit predictable, I was hoping for a shock at the end but it all unfolded as I had suspected it would. This is more a mystery novel than a thriller but having said that it did keep me engrossed and I did enjoy it so I would recommend it.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

This was such a great novel and I really enjoyed it. It follows Emira, a 20-something black woman who works as a babysitter for a white family. One night she is looking after Briar and a security guard starts asking questions believing Emira has kidnapped the child. What follows is alternating chapters of Emira, and Alix (Briar’s mother) as we see their lives. Emira needs to find a job with health insurance, but Alix is focused on Emira’s life and wanting to know more about her. She seems fascinated by Emira and the fact that she’s black. There is so much to this novel and I loved it. I recommend it.

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

This is the book I’ve mainly been reading for much of the last couple of weeks and I’ve loved every minute of it. It took me a few pages to get to grips with the way it’s written and then after that I just didn’t want to put it down. I love the random way the protagonist thinks and at times it felt like my own thoughts were being reflected back at me from the pages. The end when it comes is sheer perfection! This is an incredible novel and one I won’t ever forget. I highly, highly recommend it!

What I Might Read Next

I’m still mood reading for the most part but also trying to read my way through my NetGalley shelf. The first three books on my list for this week are NetGalley books and ones that I’m keen to get to very soon. The fourth is a library book and is one that I’ve been wanting to read for a while so I plan on starting that one next.

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke | @RandomTTours

About the Book

Arie and Diana were destined to be together.

Arie falls for Diana in a heartbeat. Their love creates a life for them, a marriage and a home. Pianist Diana wants to capture this in a song for Arie.

But that’s not where the story ends…

After Diana debuts their song to a room full of strangers, tragedy strikes and Arie never gets to hear it. 

There’s still a verse to come. 

Diana’s melody lives beyond her and the lost love song begins to find its way back home. Can it help Arie to find new hope, and a new love?

My Thoughts

I wanted to read The Lost Love Song as soon as I first heard about it as I love novels that have a music theme running through them. I’m so happy that I got a copy because this book is stunning!

The Lost Love Song follows Diana and Arie, who have been happy together for a few years now but their ability to communicate has crumbled a little. One night Diana, a world-renowned concert pianist, begins to compose a song that will tell Arie all of her feelings and emotions. This is the night before a new tour and she takes her composition book with her to finish the song on her travels. One night as Diana is finishing her song a stranger overhears her playing and is mesmerised. The next morning he finds Diana has left her book on top of the piano and as it has her address in he takes it with him intending to post it home. The novel then follows a cast of characters as this song begins its journey around the world.

The song that Diana composed is woven right through this novel as it travels from one place to another by various means and I was spellbound by it. It all felt so believable and plausible that so many people could hear this music and be so moved by it that it affected their lives from that moment on.

I think my favourite character in this novel was Evie. She’s a poet who has been travelling in the UK trying to make ends meet with various jobs, she has a sort of boyfriend who doesn’t appreciate her and she’s not happy. On the day the Diana’s love song finds her she’s feeling so despondent and unsure of what to do next, and the beauty of the song and the way it finds her makes her resolve to pack up and go back home to Australia. I love the way she decides to find her own happiness and to work through her grief so that she can try and get her life together.

This novel is such a poignant and, at times, bittersweet story but it’s ultimately a hopeful book. It’s about finding your way through the darkest moments and seeing the light at the other side, it’s about the power of love. It’s also a novel about fate and destiny, the way Diana’s song is carried around the world is so wonderful. I adored how people who heard it tried to keep it, to hold it close and yet the song kept travelling and having an impact new listeners. I know how I feel when I hear one of my late mum’s favourite songs on the radio, it feels like a message from her. This is the beauty of this novel, people are feeling the love emanating from this love song that Diana composed and it’s helping them to look forward to the future again.

This is such a beautiful novel about the power of music, and the way it can help you heal. It’s about letting go in order to find what life has in store for you. The Last Love Song cast a spell over me and I was genuinely emotional when I turned the last page, both for the characters and for the fact that this stunning novel was at an end. It’s taken me a week or two to get this review together because I simply can’t find the words to express just how much this book means to me now. I highly recommend it!

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

The Lost Love Song is out now and available here.

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (8 Aug 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

The Other Girl by C. D. Major

I’ve been so keen to get my hands on this book so when I discovered it was part of the Amazon Prime First Reads this month I immediately downloaded it on my Kindle. I can’t wait to read this one!

They thought she was insane. But what if she was telling the truth? 1942, New Zealand. Edith’s been locked away for a long time. She was just five years old when she was sent to Seacliff Lunatic Asylum. Fifteen years later, she has few memories of her life before the asylum, but longs for one beyond it. When she survives a devastating fire that destroys her ward, Edith is questioned by the police and a young doctor, Declan Harris. Intrigued by his beautiful patient, Declan begins to doubt the official reasons for her incarceration. Is she truly mad—or could the impossible stories she told as a child actually be true? Time is running out. With Edie awaiting a new and permanent treatment, soon there will be little of her left to save. Meanwhile intrigue has tipped into obsession—Declan needs to uncover the truth, but in doing so he will risk losing everything. As he sets out to save her mind, will he lose his own?

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while now so I bought it this week and I’m really keen to pick it up. It might even be my next read!

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people… In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other. Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

I Love the Bones of You by Christopher Eccleston

This is another book that I’ve wanted to read ever since it was first published so when I spotted it on a Kindle deal for 99p this week I bought it right away. I think this will be an interesting and emotional memoir, and it’s one I hope to get to soon.

Drawing on his memories, Chris will describe a vivid life of growing up in a Salford, working-class household in the 1970s with his siblings, a loving mother, and the totemic figure of his hardworking, serious-minded and socialist father – Ronnie. How his life changed from a potential future as ‘factory fodder’ in his native Northwest, to a deep-rooted desire to perform on stage, and what developed into a burgeoning acting career – from his stunning film debut Let Him Have It; to the BBC’s landmark drama miniseries Our Friends in the North; his remarkable relaunch of the iconic Doctor Who franchise; and many more BAFTA-nominated roles over the past three decades such as starring in the current production of Macbeth for the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford; and, playing the role of the grandfather in the BBC1 hit drama series The A Word.
Along this path of fame and fortune also lay a man still bonded to his home city of Salford, his politics, his family, and especially his beloved parents. Chris will discuss openly the loss of his father and his family’s struggle to cope with his condition over the past decade of his life as they watched his health deteriorate. A journey thousands of British families travel on each year. A heart-rending, honest and often touching memoir of a man embedded in his roots and mourning the loss of the father who nurtured those roots. 

Lost You by Haylen Beck

I bought this Kindle book on a total whim as the cover caught my eye and I liked the sound of the premise. I hope it’s as good as it sounds!

YOU’RE LOOKING FOR YOUR SON. BUT SHE FOUND HIM FIRST Libby would do anything for her three-year-old son Ethan. And after a traumatic year, a holiday seems the perfect antidote for them both. Their hotel is peaceful, safe and friendly, yet Libby can’t help feeling that someone is watching her. Watching Ethan. Because, for years, Libby has lived with a secret. Just when Libby is starting to relax, Ethan steps into an elevator on his own, and the doors close before Libby can stop them. Moments later, Ethan is gone. Libby thought she had been through the worst, but her nightmare is only just beginning. And in a desperate hunt for her son, it becomes clear she’s not the only one looking for him…

Review Books

Homecoming by Luan Goldie

I read and loved Luan Goldie’s previous novel so when I spotted her forthcoming book on NetGalley I had to request it. I was delighted to be approved to read it this week and will definitely be reading this very soon!

For years Yvonne has tried to keep her demons buried and focus on moving forward. But her guilt is always with her and weighs heavily on her heart. Kiama has had to grow up without a mother, and while there is so much he remembers about her, there is still plenty he doesn’t know. And there’s only one person who can fill in the gaps. Lewis wants nothing more than to keep Kiama, his son, safe, but the thought of Kiama dredging up the past worries Lewis deeply. And Lewis doesn’t know if he’s ready to let the only woman he’s ever loved back into his life. When Kiama seeks Yvonne out and asks her to come with him to Kenya, the place that holds the answers to his questions, she knows she can’t refuse. And this one act sets in motion an unravelling of the past that no one is ready for.

Purchased AudioBooks

I’ve had an Audible membership for years and years now and have been paying monthly for one book but I realised that it was much better value to pay for a year’s membership upfront and get 24 credits to spend. It meant I had to use up the six credits I already had or I would have lost them so I decide to buy the following six books from my wish list. I can’t wait to listen to all of these!

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donohue

Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney. In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

In 1971, Hillary Rodham is a young woman full of promise: Lifemagazine has covered her Wellesley commencement speech, she’s attending Yale Law School, and she’s on the forefront of student activism and the women’s rights movement. And then she meets Bill Clinton. A handsome, charismatic southerner and fellow law student, Bill is already planning his political career. In each other, the two find a profound intellectual, emotional, and physical connection that neither has previously experienced. In the real world, Hillary followed Bill back to Arkansas, and he proposed several times; although she said no more than once, as we all know, she eventually accepted and became Hillary Clinton. But in Curtis Sittenfeld’s powerfully imagined tour-de-force of fiction, Hillary takes a different road. Feeling doubt about the prospective marriage, she endures their devastating breakup and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail—one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that involves crossing paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the tradeoffs all of us must make in building a life.

Pain and Prejudice by Gabrielle Jackson

‘Women are in pain, all through their bodies; they’re in pain with their periods, and while having sex; they have pelvic pain, migraine, headaches, joint aches, painful bladders, irritable bowels, sore lower backs, muscle pain, vulval pain, vaginal pain, jaw pain, muscle aches. And many are so, so tired … But women’s pain is all too often dismissed, their illnesses misdiagnosed or ignored. In medicine, man is the default human being. Any deviation is atypical, abnormal, deficient.’ Fourteen years after being diagnosed with endometriosis, Gabrielle Jackson couldn’t believe how little had changed in the treatment and knowledge of the disease. In 2015, her personal story kick-started a worldwide investigation into the disease by The Guardian; thousands of women got in touch to tell their own stories and many more read and shared the material. What began as one issue led Jackson to explore how women – historically and through to the present day – are under-served by the systems that should keep them happy, healthy and informed about their bodies. Pain and Prejudice is a vital testament to how social taboos and medical ignorance keep women sick and in anguish. The stark reality is that women’s pain is not taken as seriously as men’s. Women are more likely to be disbelieved and denied treatment than men, even though women are far more likely to be suffering from chronic pain.

The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness–how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people–sane, normal, well-adjusted members of society–went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.  But, as Cahalan’s explosive new research shows, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?

Me by Elton John

In his only official autobiography, music icon Elton John writes about his extraordinary life, which is also the subject of the film Rocketman. Christened Reginald Dwight, he was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the London suburb of Pinner and dreamed of becoming a pop star. By the age of twenty-three, he was on his first tour of America, facing an astonished audience in his tight silver hotpants, bare legs and a T-shirt with ROCK AND ROLL emblazoned across it in sequins. Elton John had arrived and the music world would never be the same again. His life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his LA swimming pool to disco-dancing with the Queen; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation. All the while, Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade. In Me Elton also writes about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father.

Library Books (BorrowBox App)

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

This is the next non-fiction book I plan on reading, it’s one I’ve heard a lot about and I think it’ll be a good one to read alongside the others I’ve either already read or got on my TBR stack.

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.

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! 🙂

#BookReview: The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

About the Book

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.

My Thoughts

The Summer of Madness is a lovely short story that follows Kurt who has been dumped by his girlfriend and he wants to try and win her back. Kurt sets himself up at the local station and starts reading a section of Wuthering Heights out loud. He’s going to come back every day until he’s finished the novel in the hopes that his ex girlfriend will find out about it and come to see him.

Kurt’s reading begins to attract small crowds – some people stop for a few minutes as they’re passing by and others end up coming to listen day after day. I enjoyed seeing these other characters too and even in such a short story there was enough about them to make me curious and to want to see what might happen to them as a result of the reading.

It was interesting that Kurt’s girlfriend broke up with him and now he’s making a grand gesture to win her back. It is touched on in the story that this isn’t the kind of thing that we always think of as grandly romantic anymore, that this is Kurt’s summer of madness in the way he thinks this can win her back. I really liked that the story briefly discusses this.

We learn more about why Kurt’s girlfriend broke up with him and so I was curious as to whether this story would have a happy ending where she came back. I wasn’t sure that she would but then I wasn’t sure how the story would end if she didn’t. I love that this story genuinely kept me on my toes until the end.

The Summer of Madness is such a lovely summer read and perfect for picking up in your lunch break. It was a story that kept me turning the pages as I wanted to know how things were going to go for Kurt. I very much enjoyed this gorgeous short story and I definitely recommend it!

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

The Summer of Madness is out now and available here.

WWW Wednesdays (5 Aug 20)! What are you reading this week?

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

Current Reads

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

So, I finally started reading this mammoth book! I have a hardback edition but I’ve also got the ebook from the library as it’s too much for me to hold the hardback for long. I’m actually really enjoying this book, it’s such an interesting read. The lack of full-stops is something I got used to really easily and it’s never bothered me to stop reading at any point on a page, I don’t need chapters, so this is really enjoyable. I find it works best if I read in chunks rather than a few pages here and there, and I do need to take the odd break from it but I love coming back to it. I’m currently on page 306 of 1030!

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I’m really enjoying this book. It follows Emira, a young black woman who babysits for a white couple. One night they ask her to take their child to the store and while there she is accused of kidnapping the child. It also follows Alix, the mother of the child, and she is a busy and successful woman who is very media savvy and aware of optics. It’s eye-opening to read Emira’s point of view and to see just how many micro-aggressions she has to deal with every single day. There is such a contrast with Alix’s life and how she suddenly finds herself wanting to get to know Emira better. I can’t wait to read more of this one.

Recent Reads

The New Girl by Harriet Walker

This novel follows two women: Margot who is a fashion editor at a high end magazine, she’s also pregnant and will be going on maternity leave soon; and Maggie, the woman who is brought in to replace her. Margot finds out that her best friend Winnie has suffered a stillbirth on the day she hires Maggie and it sends he into a spiral. She doesn’t handle any of it very well. I found this novel very slow over the first half but then something happens mid-way through and we get a different perspective and from then on I was gripped. This is more a domestic drama than a thriller so I was a bit disappointed that I thought I was getting something different. I did enjoy the second half though.

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke

This novel is stunning! It follows the journey of a song and the impact it has on people. First we meet Arie and Diana who are very much in love. Diana finds it hard to communicate her emotions in words so she starts composes a song for Arie. Soon after something happens to Diana and a man picks up her composition and takes it home. The song reaches as far as Australia, Canada and Edinburgh and it has such an effect of all of those who hear it. I love how the song threads all the way through the novel, it’s such a beautiful book. I’ll be reviewing this one on 10th August for the blog tour so look out for my thoughts then. In the meantime I highly recommend it!

All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson

This is the sequel to The Ice Cream Girls and I really enjoyed it. It follows lots of characters but the core story is about the daughter of one of the Ice Cream Girls and the younger brother of the other. This goes back and forth in time through multiple perspectives as we explore how the next generation views what the previous was accused, and in one case, convicted of. It is a little confusing to follow on audio book at times as it jumps around in time and through characters so frequently so it’s one to listen to in big chunks. I really enjoyed this one and recommend it.

The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

This is such a lovely short story and I really enjoyed it. It follows Kurt as he embarks on a plan to win his ex-girlfriend back. She has dumped him because he was selfish and so now he’s decided to stand at the station every day reading his way through her favourite novel Wuthering Heights in the hope she’ll see him there. It’s a sweet story and perfect for reading during your lunch break. I’ll be reviewing this one soon but I recommend it in the meantime!

What I Might Read Next

I don’t know what I might read next but the books that are catching my attention right now are these four. The first three are books I got from NetGalley and the fourth is a library book on the BorrowBox app that is next on my anti-racism reading list.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

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

That Was The Month That Was… July 2020!

July seems to have flown by, I can’t believe it’s already August! July was mainly spent watching a lot of football and reading loads of great books. We also finally watched the last season of Orange is the New Black.

The Government says shielding is now over but given that I haven’t left the house in five months I’m not planning on rushing things. I hope to be able to at least go for a short drive with my husband before too much longer.

I had another amazing reading month and finished a lot of books. It helps that my new headphones mean I can listen to audio books again. My 20 Books of Summer has stalled though as I’m struggling to hold physical books for any length of time. I think I only read one of my planned TBR in July and started another. Hopefully I’ll be able to complete my challenge to read 20 physical books.

I read 29 books (mainly ebooks and audiobooks) in July and that came to a total of 10,588 pages. I’m really pleased with how much I read, and how many amazing books I got to in July. I hope August is as good!

The Books I read