#BookReview: Snow Sisters by @CarolLovekin @Honno #BlogTour

snow sisters blog tour poster

About the Book

Two sisters, their grandmother’s old house and Angharad… the girl who cannot leave.

Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her more pragmatic sister of the visitations until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an unseasonal April snowstorm.

Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her…

Two parallel coming of age stories – one tragic, the other holding out the hope of salvation.

 

My Thoughts

I read Carol Lovekin’s novel Ghostbird last year and it now has a very special place in my heart. It was my favourite book of 2016 and is now my go-to book when I’m in need of solace so you can probably imagine just how much I’ve been looking forward to Snow Sisters. I was thrilled beyond words when I was invited to read an advance copy for the blog tour and I’m so happy to say that it exceeded all my (very high) expectations!

Snow Sisters is the story of Verity and Meredith Pryce. Verity is the elder sister and seems to be more grounded and more sure of how her future might look whereas Meredith is much more whimsical. She can’t seem to see a future beyond where she is now at her beloved Gull House surrounded by magic and fae.  Slowly Meredith realises she is being visited by the ghost of Angharad, a girl who lived in the house a hundred years ago.

This novel is so breathtakingly beautiful. Carol Lovekin has such a wonderful way of writing that draws you right in and makes you feel like you’re right inside the story she is weaving. From the very beginning of this book it felt like magic had been cast on me and I was living this life with these girls. The novel is very ethereal and otherworldly at times with the presence of Angharad and the sense of magic around Gull House, and at it’s heart it’s also a gorgeous and moving story about the bond between two sisters.

She was made from air and impulse and she hung a fishing net outside her bedroom window to catch falling stars.

This is very much a novel about spirited women and girls who are trying to find their way in life, and also the ways in which so many women can find themselves sidelined in their own lives and made invisible like a ghostly presence. I loved that we saw flashes of spirit in Angharad in 1879 but then heartbreakingly life beats her down to a point where she can no longer find a way back, but those earlier moments of spirit really made me think of Meredith, and Allegra to a degree. Allegra is very single-minded and when she decides on a path in life she follows it at all cost regardless of the people around her. She is a mass of contradictions – she mocks Verity’s growing interest in feminism and yet will have a go at her because she is too passive in life. Meredith seemed like such an emotionally fragile girl in the early part of this book and it seemed that when Angharad first appeared to her that her spirit might overtake Meredith and overshadow her completely as Meredith seems to retreat into herself and begins to fade away. In the end it felt like the two girls, one hundred years apart, seemed somehow destined to come together, to converge, to try and make things right.

She leaned on her handlebars afraid she might cry. It isn’t that children don’t understand adult feelings or motives. They understand them only too well. It’s because children don’t have the words their powerless. I want my mother to be superior to us, the way mothers are supposed to be.

This novel is also very much about mothers and daughters and the relationships that run through the generations. Angharad’s mother seemed to believe what her daughter told her in the words she couldn’t say and yet she was unable to stop what would happen to her. She was a prisoner of her time, of her situation and of the men around her. Allegra Pryce appears to be really cold-hearted towards her oldest daughter, perhaps because she reminds her so much of the girls’ father who left her, but as the novel went on I found myself more intrigued by her. I think she was a damaged soul who just couldn’t find the solace that others could, she was a lost spirit herself and seemed to always be looking for a home, just like the ghost of Angharad. It felt like Allegra had spent her adult like searching for a man who could give her the love and adoration her father had given her up until his death, as once he died she just floundered and has been floundering ever since. Even as an adult she seeks to blame her mother for leaving her, and the anger seems too much for her to cope with but she’s like a small child looking for someone to notice her, to notice her pain. I just wanted her to step up and not hurt her children irreparably due to her being so blindsided by her own needs but I could understand that she was possibly just too broken.

Whilst I felt sympathy for Allegra, I couldn’t help but be angry at the way her inability to deal with her emotions wrought damage on her daughters, and her selfish nature hurt them both very badly. I adored the relationship Verity and Meredith had with their Grandmother though – she was more a mum to them and was the person who did the nurturing they both needed. All the magic that is woven around the garden at Gull House also felt like it was literally there but was also a metaphor of love and security that Nain had invested in the girls. It reminded me of how safe I always felt with my lovely Nan.

The bond between Verity and Meredith was wonderful to read. I loved the way that Verity was more grounded in reality but was happy to being the person her sister needed her to be. She allowed herself to be open to the idea of Angharad because her sister was so adamant that she was real and needed their help. It was also lovely to see how Meredith loved her sister just as much and while knew that she was her mother’s favourite she never once used that against Verity. These two girls have such a strong bond and it felt like they would get through anything together. It gave me such a sense of hope that things might just work out okay in the end, in the future long after this novel has ended. This quote brought such a lump to my throat because it says everything you need to know about Verity’s love for Meredith:

My sister never doubted the presence of magic and when she was five years old she told me she could grow flowers from her fingertips. Her solemn conviction was such, I half believed her.

This is a novel that almost defies genre – it’s part mystery, part ghost story and part family drama; it’s a novel about people trying to find their place in the world and it’s magical and lyrical and heartbreakingly beautiful. Snow Sisters is a novel to savour; it’s a story to really take your time with and to give yourself the chance to really appreciate what an incredible story it is. I turned the final page of this novel feeling like my life had been enriched in so many ways.

Snow Sisters is a stunningly beautiful novel that will weave it’s magic around you and it will hold you in its spell until long after you’ve finished reading it. I don’t think this book is going to let me go for a very long time, and I really don’t want it too. I want to stay held in the magic of that special garden in Gull House. I know that this will be a novel, like Ghostbird, that I return to time and time again and I can already say for certain that Snow Sisters will be on my top books of the year list! Go buy a copy right now, I promise you won’t regret it.

I received a copy of Snow Sisters from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Snow Sisters is out now!

 

About the Author

carol lovekin copyright janey stevens

My name is Carol Lovekin. I’m a writer of stories, a feminist & a flâneuse. I’m published by Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press. My first novel, Ghostbird was published in March 2016. It was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2016 and in the same year was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize.

Snow Sisters, my second novel, was published on 21 September 2017. It has been chosen by the Welsh Books Council as their October Book of the Month (for independent shops.)

My stories concern the nature of magic and how it threads through the fabric of our lives. I explore possibilities: the fine line between the everyday and the world of enchantment. They are also firmly rooted in reality. I write about family relationships: how people, women in particular, respond to loss and how they survive. My books are set in Wales, where I’ve lived for decades: a place whose legends and landscapes inform my writing.

I write because I can’t tap-dance on a tightrope. Or juggle. And because I’d like to leave something attached to whatever exists after I’m gone. And where publishing is concerned, I’m the living proof that it’s never too late. If you have written a story you feel passionate about, one you believe in, persevere and don’t give up.

 

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

SS blog tour poster - full list

Advertisements

My Top Ten Fiction Reads 2016

copy-of-weekly-wrap-upon-rather-too-fond-of-books-2

At the start of 2016 I was undecided on what to set my Goodreads target at so I asked my husband to pick a number between 150 and 200 – he chose 180 (we were possibly watching darts on the telly at the time!). I was on target for the first part of the year and then over the summer I hit a horrible reading slump. I just couldn’t get into any books at all and barely read a thing for about three months. Eventually I got back into the swing of things but was fairly convinced I’d never make my reading goal. The thing that got me back into reading again was re-discovering my love for non-fiction and that joy led me to ending the year having read 211 books! I’m thrilled with what I’ve had the chance to read this year but it has made narrowing it down to a top ten near impossible. I’ve decided that as I read a real mix of fiction and non-fiction that I’d do a top ten of each – I don’t really consider it cheating seeing as 20 books in total is still under 10% of what I read this year.

Before I do my top ten I do want to do a couple of honourable mentions.

The first is to Katey Lovell for the wonderful The Boy in… series. I’ve spent a fair bit of time feeling rotten as my pain levels left me unable to concentrate and Katey Lovell’s series of short stories have got me through some really horrible days. They take 5 or ten mins to read and have honestly always left me feeling that little bit happier than I was before. These stories hold a special place in my heart and I love knowing I can always re-read one to cheer myself up.

Also, this is the year that I decided to try giving graphic novels a go. I’ve always felt a bit odd about them as, having never looked at one before, I assumed they were just like comics (and I never liked comics even when I was a child). However, I picked up Raymond Brigg’s Ethel and Ernest during my hideous reading slump and it was the perfect read in that moment. I couldn’t believe how much detail could be packed into a book with very few words and it really opened my eyes to this genre. I also bought my husband The Gigantic Beard that was Evil as a sort of joke and when I read it I couldn’t believe what a brilliant social commentary it was.


So now for my top ten fiction books of 2016! These books are in no particular order but I have picked two books that are my joint favourite books of the year!

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

I adore Maggie O’Farrell’s writing – I read her first novel After You’d Gone on the day it was released and it’s still one of my all-time favourite novels. I greatly look forward to a new novel by her and was thrilled to receive a proof of this one ahead of publication. This Must Be the Place is a brilliant novel, one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

You can read my original review here: This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

This is the first Sarah Moss book I’ve read and it absolutely won’t be the last. I picked this up when I was in a major reading slump in the summer and somehow this grabbed my attention from the very first page and held me right until the end. I read this during my blogging break so I sadly haven’t reviewed it but I can assure you that it’s a stunning read and highly recommend you pick it up if you haven’t already.

img_4731-1

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

This book is stunning and simply had to be part of my top ten of 2016, I knew it would make it as I was reading it. It’s a beautiful read and I recommend it to everyone.

Final front cover

The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

This is a fascinating novel about Lucia Joyce, the daughter of James Joyce. It’s a book that will hook you in and will hold you in its spell right to the end. It made me want to learn more about Lucia Joyce.

You can read my original review here: The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

autumn-ali-smith

Autumn by Ali Smith

This is one of the more recent reads in my Top Ten but it absolutely had to be included. Ali Smith is an incredible writer, I’ve loved everything that I’ve read of hers. Autumn is a book that got to me in so many ways on so many different levels and I’m sure it will stay with me for a very long time to come.

You can read my original review here: Autumn by Ali Smith

IMG_4703

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

This book just captured me from the very start – I loved the two main characters and the bond they formed over such a short space of time. I think the thing that moved me most in this book was the idea of how life can be lost in an instant but the legacy, the memory left behind can still have such great impact on those that remain. This is a book I will definitely re-read in the future.

You can read my original review here: The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

museum of you HB front

The Museum of You by Carys Bray

I loved Carys Bray’s first novel and so was very excited to be sent a proof of this one ahead of release. I read this over a couple of days, finding it very hard to put down. The idea of a young girl trying to piece together the memory of her mother in a tangible way is heart-breaking, and I felt so much for her. The reader knows more than the daughter, which makes it even more poignant to read her journey to put together what she knows of her mum. It’s a beautiful story that is ultimately heart-warming and one I still find myself thinking about months after I finished reading the novel.

You can read my original review here: The Museum of You by Carys Bray

the-easy-way-out

The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

I only read this novel recently but it had such an impact on me that I couldn’t not include it in my Top Ten of the year. A novel that explores assisted suicide, and yet is never mawkish and at times has a fair bit of black humour on the subject was always going to make for a fascinating read.

You can read my original review here: The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

And my joint favourite books of 2016 are…

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

I read Ghostbird way back in March and fell completely and utterly in love with Carol Lovekin’s writing. It’s such a beautiful, moving and, at times, devastating novel with magical elements weaved throughout. It captured me from the very first page and I devoured it. It’s one of those novels that seems to cast magic from it, it made me feel soothed and healed as I read. I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I know since I read it, and I’m going to say it again here – if you haven’t already read it then please go grab a copy now, I promise you won’t regret it!

You can read my original review here: Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

How to be Brave by Louise Beech

This is a lesson for me in not getting my Top Ten books of the year done too early in December! I had this post prepared and ready to go and then I read How To Be Brave and knew there was going to have to be a re-jig as this novel went right to the top of my list! It’s a beautifully moving debut novel, that weaves together the story of a young girl and her mum coming to terms with serious illness alongside her grandfather’s battle for survival on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. It’s a novel that had such an impact on me and I keep finding myself thinking back to it. It’s another novel that gave me great solace when I really needed it and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

You can read my original review here: How To Be Brave by Louise Beech


So, that’s my Top Ten fiction books of 2016. What have your favourite reads of this year been? Have you had a good reading year?

Look out for my Top Ten non-fiction books post coming up tomorrow!

#BookReview: How To Be Brave by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks

How to be brave louise beech

About the Book

All the stories died that morning … until we found the one we’d always known.

When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love … and what it really means to be brave.

My Thoughts

This book has been on my TBR for a little while now; it was one of those books that I strongly felt had to be read at the right moment for me. I was so right and I’m really glad that I waited until now to read it. As a lot of you know, I’m going through a lot of medical things and this book brought such a sense of solace to me.

This is such a beautiful novel that explores the relationship between mother and daughter, who are struggling to come to terms with the daughter Rose’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Rose’s father is deployed overseas and isn’t allowed to come home to support them so the two are left on this journey to come to terms with their new normal. An old journal of Natalie’s late Grandfather is found by Rose and this becomes the glue that holds the two together. Natalie promises to share her Grandfather’s story with Rose during the times when Rose is having her injections.

I hadn’t expected this novel to immerse me in the worlds of these characters quite so much. I felt the love and the fear and the angst in Natalie and Rose’s relationship. I felt such sadness at how detached they were becoming from each other whilst both still longing for the old connection before everything changed. I felt the pain Natalie was going through at having to keep her daughter well by putting her through the thumb pricks and injections, that Rose was constantly fighting against. It must be awful to know that you have to do it to keep your child alive but to not have any way to make a 9 year old comprehend that her life depends on this being done. I also felt for Rose – she is such a strong-willed girl, who loves books and learning; I was willing her on to find a way to cope with the diabetes.

Alongside this is the story of Natalie’s Grandfather – the writing is incredible because I really did feel like I was in that lifeboat with those men. I could smell the decay, I could feel the horrible dry skin and the swollen, dehydrated mouths as if it were me going through it. It’s inspired writing how his battle for survival mirrored Rose’s with the thirst and the longing for the things you can’t have, and mostly with the coming to terms with what life has thrown at you. The stories are woven together so beautifully, they occasionally intermingle in a magical, and yet somehow always believable, way.

This novel is stunningly beautiful, it’s devastatingly moving at times but will leave you feeling stronger and braver by the end. I recommend this book to everyone – it’s a must-read; it really is one of the best books I’ve read this year and it’s one that I want to re-read in the future.

How to be Brave is published by Orenda Books and is out now.

About the Author

louise-beech

Louise has always been haunted by the sea, even before she knew the full story of her grandfather, the man who in part inspired novel How to be Brave. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from her bedroom window she can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired book, The Mountain in my Shoe.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism, and a one year column called Wholly Matrimony about modern marriage.

Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was released in 2015 and got to No 4 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart, and was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015. This novel came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story.

Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in 2016 and was inspired by her time with children in care. It explores what family truly means, and how far we will go for those we love. It longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.

Maria in the Moon will be released in 2017.

(Bio taken from Louise Beech’s website)

Review: Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

out of the darkness

 

 

Out of the Darkness is genuinely one of the best books I’ve read in years and will absolutely be in my top 10 books of this year!

It is an incredibly moving, and very beautiful novel about three women who are each dealing with a loss; it’s a really honest look at the ways people grieve and how it affects everyone around them, but it’s also about the way people heal after loss and the novel is ultimately a very uplifting read that brings real solace with it.

Jessica is heartbroken over the death of her mum, they were best friends and life just doesn’t feel worth anything to her anymore. She sleepwalks through the things she has to do but nothing is enjoyable to her, she just can’t see a way through life without her mum. Then one evening she meets Finn and the two of them just really connect. Finn is the first person to make Jess feel like there might be something to be happy about again and she hopes he will be in touch again after they go their separate ways the following morning.

Hannah attends the same bereavement group as Jess but she is completely closed down about her loss. She is grief-stricken and it’s affecting every aspect of her life, she is consumed with guilt but just can’t bring herself to share what has happened.

Alex has just moved to Brighton, and is now living in the house next to where the bereavement group is held. Soon after moving in strange things begin happening in her home and she starts to think the place is haunted.

One day, after the bereavement group, Jess faints outside and Alex and Hannah rush to help her and make sure she is okay. From this point the three women become friends and offer a much-needed support to each other. Their lives begin to become intwined and the psychic medium they later go and see together plays a huge part in the bond they form.

This novel is an exploration of how people deal with grief. Jess and Hannah both grieve differently for their losses loved ones but ultimately they relate to each other because they have both experienced loss. The three women have such different expectations when they begin to explore mediums and experts in the paranormal. Hannah wants to know her loved one is okay, Alex wants to know if her house is haunted and what she can do to be rid of the ghosts, and Jessica doesn’t really believe in any of it. Yet they all ultimately find comfort from what they learn. I found it fascinating how the idea of ghosts and the spirits that come through for psychic mediums were explored as one and the same thing in this novel. I think most of us think of ghosts as being a spooky or malevolent entity, and yet when we think of the possibly of an afterlife for lost loved ones, it is seen as a comforting concept. Katy Hogan has brought the two together as one thing, considering the idea that perhaps ghosts can be lost loved ones trying to contact or help those left behind. It gave me a lot to ponder over.

This is also a novel that really celebrates how wonderful and strong female friendship can be. Jess and Hannah meet at a bereavement group at the lowest points of their lives, and they meet Alex right after one of these meetings. They begin to let each other in to their respective lives and they form such a close bond very quickly, and the bond is never broken. To see women support each other was really lovely. There was never a moment of jealousy or cattiness between these women, it’s quite a rare thing in a novel. It was refreshing to see how their relationship to each other is bonded by how they support and look out for each other.

I deliberately took my time with this book and I read it slowly over quite a few days as I wanted to savour it and take it all in, I’m so glad I did as it gave me chance to really absorb what I was reading each day. This novel has so much depth to it and works on so many levels, it is such brilliant writing. The friendship between Jess, Alex and Hannah is a wonderful story in itself and gives the novel a grounding in reality that then makes the exploration of mediums and the afterlife much more intense and real. I think the biggest theme in this book though is the exploration of fate and destiny. From the very start of this book it felt like these women were destined to meet, like they were being brought together for a reason. I had no idea why but it just felt that way. Even Jess meeting Finn and him making her feel like she might be able to be happy again just seemed like either fate or like something was pushing them towards each other. This again gave me so much to think about because fate can be considered as just a series of coincidences that when we look back and see how things came together it seems like it was engineered that way, or it can be seen as our lost loved ones finding ways to point us in the direction we need to go in to find happiness again.

This novel can also be read on a very metaphorical and at times allegorical way, I loved the part of the book where Alex goes out on a boat called Guiding Light. It seemed like she was almost out of her own body and seeing the world from a different angle, and at the same time like she was receiving a message about the direction of her own life. I don’t want to post any spoilers for this novel so I’m being careful in what I write but I highly recommend taking your time with this novel so you can fully appreciate how much meaning and depth there is in it.

Out of the Darkness broke my heart in the first few chapters; I could feel Jess’s devastation at the loss of her mum. I wanted to reach through the pages of the book and tell her that in time she would feel better, that she would be able to deal with it once the rawness of her initial grief began to pass. I understood her feelings about visiting The Beacon to see a paranormal expert for the first time with Alex. I’m very like Jessica in that I’ve never really believed in an afterlife but then I still have moments where I can smell my mum’s perfume all of a sudden and it’s like she’s right there in the room, and just for that moment I stop and wonder. Perhaps it’s just a memory popping up but you can’t help but feel comforted when it happens, just like how Jess does.

Katy Hogan explores grief in such a beautiful and gentle way. She has written a book that will more than likely make you cry but it will ultimately leave you feeling healed. I wish I could put into words exactly how this book made me feel when I got to the end but I can’t seem to express it, it’s just the most amazing and brilliant novel and it made me feel better. I read this as an ebook but now so badly wish I had a paper copy so I could just hold it for a little while and then put it down where I can see it. I think I need a physical reminder in my home of all that this book stands for. It doesn’t shy away from death, it doesn’t take an easy road. At times the story turns in a way you don’t expect and it leaves you quite breathless. But ultimately this book makes death feel a lot less scary, and it makes the weight of grief feel that little bit easier to bear.

Out of the Darkness is absolutely going to be my book of the year. It’s both broken my heart and healed it; it was moving and beautiful and perfect. I’d rate it a hundred out of ten if I could, but as I can’t it’s a huge ten out of ten and it’s getting a very rare place on my favourites book shelf.

Out of the Darkness: A Tale of Love, Loss and Life After Death is out now and available from Amazon.

For more information about Katy and Out of the Darkness, check out her website here: http://www.outofthedarknessnovel.com


**This post is a re-blog of a review I originally posted on 4th November 2015**

Review: Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

Synopsis:

Lizzy lives with her father, Julian, and her brother, Ig, in North London. Two years ago her mother died, leaving a family bereft by her absence and a house still filled with her things: for Margaret was lively, beautiful, fun, loving; she kept the family together. So Lizzy thinks. Then, one day, Lizzy finds a letter from a stranger to her father, and discovers he has another child. Lizzy invites her into their world in an act of outraged defiance. Almost immediately, she realises her mistake.

Look at Me is a deft exploration of family, grief, and the delicate balance between moving forward and not quite being able to leave someone behind. It is an acute portrayal of how familial upheaval can cause misunderstanding and madness, damaging those you love most.

My Review

I loved this book and once I started reading it I honestly couldn’t put it down. I’ve been in a major reading slump for weeks but this book just caught my imagination and I devoured it. I’ve stuck sticky notes all over the book, not just to remind me of things I wanted to make sure I referred to in this review but also for me to look back on myself. The passages about grief in this book were so poignant and really captured what grieving for a parent is like.

Lizzy and Ig are both adults but still live within the family home they grew up in, and in many respects they have remained child-like. The day Lizzy finds out she has a sister that she’d known nothing of she immediately reacts and sends a letter off to the mystery woman without ever stopping for a moment to consider the possible consequences; it’s an immature reaction but an understandable one. 

Eunice then arrives in their lives; she is very girly and inquisitive, immediately wanting to see all of the family home and speculating about where she would have fit in if things were different. She is very perceptive and this isn’t particularly noticed by Julian, Lizzy or Ig and it allows Eunice to get under their skin and to find a way to really insert herself into their lives. Lizzy becomes increasingly discomfited by Eunice’s presence and often wonders how she can be rid of her yet, even though they are all adults, she never actually just has the conversation with Eunice about when she is likely to leave; ultimately she’s partly intimidated by her and partly still so mired in grief that it all takes too much energy and thought to deal with.

I couldn’t help but empathise with Lizzy over the pain she felt at the loss of her mother, at times it was visceral and it brought back the pain, and the strange sense of bewilderment – those moments of being somewhere but not really being fully present – that I felt at losing my own mum. Duguid demonstrates Lizzy’s grief so poignantly and I felt so sad for her, yet at the same time I was never sure how much I could trust Lizzy, she seemed to be telling the truth and yet she felt like an unreliable narrator. We mainly see Eunice through Lizzy’s eyes, which meant the reader’s view is tainted by what Lizzy sees, or wants to see, in her. It makes for a brilliant dynamic in the novel and although I knew from the prologue that something terrible was going to happen, I never predicted exactly what, or who, that incident would involve. 

I found Eunice exhausting to read about, she is ever present and always trying to be right in the centre of everything that happens. She wants to make her newly discovered family revolve around her. I could feel the increasingly stifling atmosphere closing in around the three original members of the family; it made me feel quite claustrophobic at times. I did ponder over the way that it felt like Eunice as a character was a metaphor for the way grief enters your life so suddenly and with no guidebook, it turns everything on its head, it makes you view your whole life in a different way and from a  completely different angle. And eventually the raw, disturbing nature of it goes away and what is left is a sense of peace but everything is still forever changed.

This is a short novel but it packs one hell of a punch. I actually finished reading it a couple of weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it now. I was very lucky to receive an advanced reading copy of this novel but I loved it so much that I treated myself to a finished copy to put on my favourites bookcase. Not many books make it onto there but this one absolutely deserves its place, I know it will be one that I read again and again over the years. 

Look At Me is disturbing and beautiful, and is so honest and raw; a stunning debut that you absolutely won’t want to miss!

I rated this novel 5 out of 5 and can’t recommend it highly enough!

Look At Me is out now and available from all good bookshops. 

I received a review copy from Tinder Press in return for an honest review.

Blog tour | Review: The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

9781782641759

Today, I’m thrilled that it’s my stop on the blog tour for the fabulous The Jazz files by Fiona Veitch Smith.

My Review

The Jazz Files is a wonderful novel. From the moment I first saw the cover I was very keen to read the book, it’s such an eye-catching and memorable cover. The novel then opens with a poem by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which meant it immediately appealed to me as she is one of my favourite writers. I was sure that I was going to be in for a real treat with this book and I was absolutely right.

Poppy Denby arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, who was a part of the suffragette movement. Dot quickly encourages Poppy to go out and find herself a career. Poppy finds herself a job as an editorial assistant at The Daily Globe but is soon working as an investigative journalist after a reporter falls to his death in the newsroom.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved how spirited Poppy was, and her Aunt Dot was such a character. I really enjoyed the flashbacks to 1913 and all the references to the suffragette movement as it’s such a fascinating period in history. Smith acknowledges in the notes for this book that she played with the timeline of real events ever so slightly but it doesn’t affect your reading of the novel at all; there is so much truth and believability in this novel, it is impossible not to enjoy it. I love how the struggles that women had gone through, and were still going through, run through this book, and yet it remains such a celebration of what women were beginning to achieve. The female characters are at the forefront of this story; they all have such tenacity to achieve their goals that you just so want them to succeed and you can’t fail to admire them.

I loved Poppy’s friendship with the slightly eccentric Delilah; the things they got up to in the name of investigating the mystery were such fun and I was so engrossed in the story that I felt like I was along on the ride with them.

I very much enjoyed Poppy’s flirtations with Daniel too. I adored the way that she was falling for him and how she was so forward-thinking in many ways but then all of a sudden she would tell him off for being too bold. It was delightful to read and I can’t wait to see what might happen next for these two!

I was intrigued by Elizabeth and I very much enjoyed how the mystery around her and her family was revealed. I noticed what was perhaps another reference to Charlotte Perkins Gilman later in the novel when Elizabeth thinks the mould on the walls in her room is changing and moving, it reminded me of the woman losing her mind in The Yellow Wallpaper. It meant the reader was never absolutely sure about Elizabeth and what she had to tell, which heightens the sense of mystery.

I am thrilled that this is the first in a new series of books and I absolutely cannot wait to read more of Poppy’s adventures; I’ll be first in line to pre-order the next book as soon as it’s available. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough; I’m actually going to be putting it on my favourites shelf and there aren’t very many books that make it on to there. Even though this was a mystery novel and I now know the outcome, I will still re-read this because I loved the characters and the story so much. I’m also about to buy a couple of copies to give as gifts to friends who I know will enjoy this novel as much as I did.

I rate this novel 5 out 0f 5 and give it pride of place on my all-time favourites shelf!

This book was sent to me by Lion Hudson in exchange for an honest review.

The Jazz Files is out now and available on Amazon.

 

Blurb

‘The Jazz Files’
Book 1 in Poppy Denby Investigates series (Lion Fiction) By Fiona Veitch Smith

Release date: 17 September 2015 RRP: £7.99
Publisher: Lion Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-78264-175-9

Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby from Morpeth, who ar- rives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earli- er, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said…

Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roar- ing Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative jour- nalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die?

“It stands for Jazz Files,” said Rollo. “It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven… you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove use- ful.”

About the Author

 

Fiona Veitch Smith

Fiona Veitch Smith was inspired to write The Jazz Files by the centenary anniversary of the death of Morpeth’s Emily Wilding Davison, who died after being struck by the king’s horse in a suffragist protest in 1912. “I initially intended Poppy to be a suffragette reporter sleuth but decided instead to have her as a 1920s flapper inheriting the freedoms won for her by her aunt and other brave women of the time. The Jazz Files has feminist undertones and is an exploration of the challenges faced by a woman in the male-dominated workplace, but it is first and foremost – I hope – just a cracking good mystery,” said the author.


 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Jazz Files 1: Author Fiona Veitch Smith will be hosting a launch of her new book The Jazz Files on 25 September. Here she is in Waterstones, Newcastle, with her vintage 1922 Remington type- writer just like the one her heroine reporter sleuth Poppy Denby uses in the book.

 

Poppy Denby 2

Jazz Files 2: Fiona Veitch Smith dressed like her character Poppy Denby, a reporter sleuth in a new mystery series set in the 1920s.


 

JazzFilesblogtourposter

ENDED! Review & Giveaway of Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

out of the darkness

EDIT: The Giveaway associated with this posted has ended!

Out of the Darkness is genuinely one of the best books I’ve read in years and will absolutely be in my top 10 books of this year!

it is an incredibly moving, and very beautiful novel about three women who are each dealing with a loss; it’s a really honest look at the ways people grieve and how it affects everyone around them, but it’s also about the way people heal after loss and the novel is ultimately a very uplifting read that brings real solace with it.

Jessica is heartbroken over the death of her mum, they were best friends and life just doesn’t feel worth anything to her anymore. She sleepwalks through the things she has to do but nothing is enjoyable to her, she just can’t see a way through life without her mum. Then one evening she meets Finn and the two of them just really connect. Finn is the first person to make Jess feel like there might be something to be happy about again and she hopes he will be in touch again after they go their separate ways the following morning.

Hannah attends the same bereavement group as Jess but she is completely closed down about her loss. She is grief-stricken and it’s affecting every aspect of her life, she is consumed with guilt but just can’t bring herself to share what has happened.

Alex has just moved to Brighton, and is now living in the house next to where the bereavement group is held. Soon after moving in strange things begin happening in her home and she starts to think the place is haunted.

One day, after the bereavement group, Jess faints outside and Alex and Hannah rush to help her and make sure she is okay. From this point the three women become friends and offer a much-needed support to each other. Their lives begin to become intwined and the psychic medium they later go and see together plays a huge part in the bond they form.

This novel is an exploration of how people deal with grief. Jess and Hannah both grieve differently for their losses loved ones but ultimately they relate to each other because they have both experienced loss. The three women have such different expectations when they begin to explore mediums and experts in the paranormal. Hannah wants to know her loved one is okay, Alex wants to know if her house is haunted and what she can do to be rid of the ghosts, and Jessica doesn’t really believe in any of it. Yet they all ultimately find comfort from what they learn. I found it fascinating how the idea of ghosts and the spirits that come through for psychic mediums were explored as one and the same thing in this novel. I think most of us think of ghosts as being a spooky or malevolent entity, and yet when we think of the possibly of an afterlife for lost loved ones, it is seen as a comforting concept. Katy Hogan has brought the two together as one thing, considering the idea that perhaps ghosts can be lost loved ones trying to contact or help those left behind. It gave me a lot to ponder over.

This is also a novel that really celebrates how wonderful and strong female friendship can be. Jess and Hannah meet at a bereavement group at the lowest points of their lives, and they meet Alex right after one of these meetings. They begin to let each other in to their respective lives and they form such a close bond very quickly, and the bond is never broken. To see women support each other was really lovely. There was never a moment of jealousy or cattiness between these women, it’s quite a rare thing in a novel. It was refreshing to see how their relationship to each other is bonded by how they support and look out for each other.

I deliberately took my time with this book and I read it slowly over quite a few days as I wanted to savour it and take it all in, I’m so glad I did as it gave me chance to really absorb what I was reading each day. This novel has so much depth to it and works on so many levels, it is such brilliant writing. The friendship between Jess, Alex and Hannah is a wonderful story in itself and gives the novel a grounding in reality that then makes the exploration of mediums and the afterlife much more intense and real. I think the biggest theme in this book though is the exploration of fate and destiny. From the very start of this book it felt like these women were destined to meet, like they were being brought together for a reason. I had no idea why but it just felt that way. Even Jess meeting Finn and him making her feel like she might be able to be happy again just seemed like either fate or like something was pushing them towards each other. This again gave me so much to think about because fate can be considered as just a series of coincidences that when we look back and see how things came together it seems like it was engineered that way, or it can be seen as our lost loved ones finding ways to point us in the direction we need to go in to find happiness again.

This novel can also be read on a very metaphorical and at times allegorical way, I loved the part of the book where Alex goes out on a boat called Guiding Light. It seemed like she was almost out of her own body and seeing the world from a different angle, and at the same time like she was receiving a message about the direction of her own life. I don’t want to post any spoilers for this novel so I’m being careful in what I write but I highly recommend taking your time with this novel so you can fully appreciate how much meaning and depth there is in it.

Out of the Darkness broke my heart in the first few chapters; I could feel Jess’s devastation at the loss of her mum. I wanted to reach through the pages of the book and tell her that in time she would feel better, that she would be able to deal with it once the rawness of her initial grief began to pass. I understood her feelings about visiting The Beacon to see a paranormal expert for the first time with Alex. I’m very like Jessica in that I’ve never really believed in an afterlife but then I still have moments where I can smell my mum’s perfume all of a sudden and it’s like she’s right there in the room, and just for that moment I stop and wonder. Perhaps it’s just a memory popping up but you can’t help but feel comforted when it happens, just like how Jess does.

Katy Hogan explores grief in such a beautiful and gentle way. She has written a book that will more than likely make you cry but it will ultimately leave you feeling healed. I wish I could put into words exactly how this book made me feel when I got to the end but I can’t seem to express it, it’s just the most amazing and brilliant novel and it made me feel better. I read this as an ebook but now so badly wish I had a paper copy so I could just hold it for a little while and then put it down where I can see it. I think I need a physical reminder in my home of all that this book stands for. It doesn’t shy away from death, it doesn’t take an easy road. At times the story turns in a way you don’t expect and it leaves you quite breathless. But ultimately this book makes death feel a lot less scary, and it makes the weight of grief feel that little bit easier to bear.

Out of the Darkness is absolutely going to be my book of the year. It’s both broken my heart and healed it; it was moving and beautiful and perfect. I’d rate it a hundred out of ten if I could, but as I can’t it’s a huge ten out of ten and it’s getting a very rare place on my favourites book shelf.

Out of the Darkness: A Tale of Love, Loss and Life After Death is out now and available from Amazon.

For more information about Katy and Out of the Darkness, check out her website here: http://www.outofthedarknessnovel.com


PLEASE NOTE: The giveaway below has now ended. You can find out who the winner was here.


GIVEAWAY BANNER! copy

KATY HOGAN PRIZE GIVEAWAY

Katy Hogan has very kindly offered me this fabulous prize package so that I can run a giveaway. The giveaway is UK only this time. The prize is for one paperback copy of Out of the Darkness, a gorgeous Yankee Candle and a box of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat. 

To enter, please click HERE to be taken to the Rafflecopter page

Bookish Memories – Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank

I first read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in the school summer holidays when I was eight years old. My mum had been helping out a friend of hers who was disabled (mum used to go and help her clean the house, and she’d make her lunch and anything else she needed). So in the school holidays mum used to take my younger brother and me with her. We were allowed to take a couple of quiet toys with us (in my case books, obviously!) and we had to sit quietly in a room together while mum got her jobs done.

As I’ve said in my previous Bookish Memories post (Link here) my choice of books was never censored. On the condition that I looked after the books properly, I was allowed to choose any book I wanted from my parents’ study. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young girl caught my eye simply because it was the diary of a young girl and I was a young girl so there was no way I wasn’t going to want to read it. I had no concept of what the book was about at the time, I was only eight. My mum was happy for me to read the book and, as she always did when I picked up a grown-up book, she just made sure I knew I was to ask questions about anything I didn’t understand.

So, that summer I began to read about Anne Frank but my brother constantly got on my nerves making a noise in the room we’d been told to stay in so I wandered around this big house my mum was helping clean and I found the cloak room where all the coats and shoes were kept. I curled up on a big cushion and I read and read and read. I had no idea what was going to happen to Anne Frank and I remember being quite confused at the ending because it was so abrupt. I’d obviously not fully understood why Anne Frank and her family were hiding away in the attic in the first place. My mum did sit down with me later and she explained, so I did come to grasp what her family were hiding from and why Anne Frank died.

It’s a strange thing though because when I think back to that summer I just loved reading about Anne Frank. I found her funny and endearing; she seemed like a lovely girl who was really clever and I admired her. I could even identify with some of the things she said and the things she felt. I didn’t really understand that she was in fear for her life, I took the bits that were relevant to me and those are the bits I remember from that summer. This is why I think children should be allowed to read uncensored, because a child only takes away the things they can understand, relate to and process; everything else fades into the background.

I’ve re-read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl quite a few times since the summer I was eight. As I’ve got older and more widely read, I’ve obviously come to learn so much more about WW2. Reading about Anne Frank as an adult, with greater knowledge about what her family were hiding from, with a real awareness of the unrelenting fear they must have been feeling, I mainly feel heartbreak and anger at what she, and millions of others like her, went through. It’s all heightened by the overwhelming realisation of just how young Anne Frank was. Reading this as an eight year old, Anne Frank at thirteen seemed so much older and wiser than me. Reading it again as an adult, it is apparent that Anne Frank, although wise beyond her years in some respects, was just a very young girl who should have had a whole life in front of her.

This is still a book I treasure, it’s such an incredibly important book and one that everyone, children included, should read. The photo at the top of this post is the very copy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl I read when I was eight. It’s more battered than I would like but it was my mum’s secondhand copy, so it’s a book that has obviously been read many times even before it came to be mine. It just never fails to amaze me how we can fall in love with books in different ways every time we re-read them, or how we come to discover new things about the books or even ourselves.

Please feel free to share some of your Bookish Memories in the comments below!

Review: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

13 mins

Wow, what a stunning book! I finished this book a little while ago and just had to sit quietly for a while to catch my breath and gather my thoughts.

Tasha is pulled from the icy cold river; she has been dead for thirteen minutes. The medics manage to revive her but she is left with no memory of what happened, or how she ended up in the river. Her two best friends Hayley and Jenny rush to be by her side to support her, along with her childhood friend Becca.

This is a brilliantly constructed YA psychological thriller. Sarah Pinborough absolutely nails the tension, jealousy and rivalry that goes on between female friendships, and the added intensity within the cliques that teenage girls often form. The drama that unfolds between these girls is extreme but it stays rooted within the realm of possibliity: It is absolutely plausible that this could happen in reality and that’s what makes it so chilling to read. I found it near impossible to put this book down. The underlying hatred that lies underneath seemingly close relationships is tangible in this novel; it was such a tense read that at times I actually had to remind myself to breathe.

This is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a very long time. It builds and builds, constantly heightening the tension; there are twists and turns within the story that quite often seem small but some are building to something bigger and others are leading you in the wrong direction. You’re never quite sure who to trust, it’s a deeply unsettling read. Sarah Pinborough is a master of this type of book.

13 Minutes is an outstanding novel, one you absolutely shouldn’t miss! I can already say for sure that this will be in my top reads of this year, if not the very top. I cannot recommend it highly enough – go pre-order it now, you won’t regret it!

I rate this book 10 out of 10 – I’d give it 100 out of 10 if I could!

I received this book from Orion Publishing Group / Gollancz via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

13 minutes is due to be published on 18th February 2016 and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Bookish Memories: How my love of reading began!

I started this book blog off with the intention of it being a place to review books but also to share my bookish memories. So today will be my first in this series. Some of these bookish memories will be very short and some will be much longer but they will be random snippets of my life. I intend for this series to be in no particular order but for my first post it seems only right to start at the beginning with how I came to be such a bookworm!

I was very lucky to be brought up by a mum who believed that I should be allowed to read whatever I wanted and she never allowed anyone to censor my reading material, regardless of what I picked up. Mum always knew what I was reading and she was always happy to sit with me and answer any questions I had but she never once told me to put a book down. I am sure this is what set off my life-long love of books.

Childhood Faves

As a very young child, when I was still learning to read, my favourite book was Miffy in the Snow by Dick Bruna. I loved this book so much that it became my equivalent of a comfort blanket! I took it everywhere with me, I slept with it under my pillow and I used to get distraught if my mum couldn’t find it. I still have my original copy.

I was also obsessed with Moschops (I’m really showing my age now!) and was so happy a few years ago to find my Moschops annual when clearing out my mum’s attic.

I remember one very exciting Christmas when I opened a gift from my cousin in America and found a copy of Snow White but it wasn’t an ordinary story because I was in the book, the house where I lived was in it too! It was like magic had happened, I still treasure that book now (even though I obviously now know that it wasn’t magic. *sad face*).

The last book that I’ve kept from my childhood that I want to mention today is Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World. I was 6 when I first read this book and I’ve read it many, many time since. I’m not sure why this book appealed to me so much over all the other fab Roald Dahl books but I absolutely adored it.

I could read on my own before I start school, and within my first year at infant school I was already reading books from the junior school’s library. Once I got to junior school, aged 7, the school had ran out of books for me to read. I had read them all! From this point on I was allowed to bring my own books in from home to read.

My mum used to take me to the local public library as frequently as she could, usually it was twice a week with extra visits as and when we had the time. I was allowed to take out 7 books on my child’s ticket, and my mum used to let me borrow a further 10 on her adult ticket. I had out-read the children’s section by the time I was 7 and this led to my mum asking the librarian to allow me to read books from any section of the library I chose. Unfortunately, the librarian was a real stick-in-the-mud and absolutely refused, she didn’t believe children should be allowed access to books above their age range. My mum was furious! She persisted until the library eventually relented.

That library was a magical place for me. I was very lucky that I had a lot of books of my own at home, I always got books for Christmas and birthdays, plus I saved my pocket money for books too, but at the speed I read I needed the library. It was a place that had a seemingly unlimited supply of books and I was allowed to read all of them, and I didn’t have to save money or wait for a special occasion to get them! i’m getting butterflies in my tummy now as I write this and remember that time.

I read a lot of fiction, I read books about space travel, I read biographies, and I even read the whole Encyclopaedia Britannica from A right through to Z (yes, I was that child!)… I had the world at my feet and it was just the most wonderful time. I would spend ages choosing which books to check out at each visit, I liked to get a few from each section so I would have a wide variety to choose from when I got them home to cover whatever mood I might be in.

I had a little Mr Men night light that was originally a light that was left on all night in my bedroom to keep the monsters away but as I got a little bit older I used to keep it under my duvet so I could keep reading after I’d long been told to turn my light off for bed. I would often be found on a morning asleep with my book still in my hand and my night light glowing away at the bottom of my bed! I’m sure many bookworms will have done the very same. It’s funny now that as an adult living in my own home, I now read into the early hours on my Kindle Voyage (which is front lit) so as not to wake my husband by having a lamp on.

So, that’s how my love of books began! I’ll be sharing more of my bookish memories very soon but in the meantime please share some of your book-related childhood memories in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!

Review: A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson

 

51qI5ujn8VL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Anna Browne is a very ordinary woman living a perfectly satisfactory life, but nothing exciting ever happens to her… that is until the day that a parcel arrives at work for her. Inside she finds a beautiful gift, which becomes the first of many wonderful parcels sent to Anna by a mysterious benefactor. Each gift brings real joy to Anna and she finds herself growing in confidence and happiness. But who is sending her these gifts and why?

This novel is magical and wonderful and just perfect! It draws you in and you don’t want to let it go. Anna Browne is such a great character. She is down-to-earth, caring and kind but her life is lacking any excitement. The joy she feels on receiving each gift, and how these gifts bring her out of herself is magical – it’s like her life suddenly gets sprinkled with fairy dust, and who wouldn’t want that? Each gift brings a bit more of Anna to life, she smiles a bit more, gains confidence, feels better about herself – these are the real gifts she receives. I love how the parcels never change who Anna was, they just allowed who she always was to shine

The supporting cast of characters in this book really add to its all-round loveliness. I loved Ted the security guard, he has a conspiracy theory about everything but his heart is in the right place. Anna’s neighbour, Isadora, was so lovely too, I adored reading about their time together.

Then there were the men! The book keeps you wondering for a good while about who Anna will end up and I loved that. Ben was a man of mystery but he kept me reading as I wanted to know more about him, and I just adored Jonah – he’s the kind of man we all want in our lives (plus I really want his camper van!).

The mystery of the parcels will keep you guessing, you’ll think you have it all worked out and then more intrigue comes along. I was convinced I knew who the mystery parcel sender was at several points in the book and was proved wrong! It’s so fantastic to be kept guessing, it adds to the magic of the story.

It felt very serendipitous that I received this book when I did as it arrived at just a time when I needed a lift and Anna Browne’s story was a tonic to me. I swear this book has an effect on its readers the same way the mysterious gifts have an effect on Anna! A Parcel for Anna Browne is without a doubt Miranda’s best novel so far, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

I was sent this book to review for Net Galley but will definitely be buying my own copy when it is released on 24 September as I know this is a book I will read again and again, it is set to become one of my firm favourites.

Available for Pre-order now from Amazon

Bookish Memories

One of my biggest reasons for starting this book blog was so I could share my stories of how books have become woven into the very story of my life. I have such vivid recollections of not only what I was reading at certain times but how the books made me feel and how that merged with my feelings of what was happening to me in real life at a particular point.

There are memories around the happiest moments, like the book I was reading the night before I got married. And the saddest – the very few books I read when my Mum was dying. But I have lots of seemingly random moments of sitting in a cloak room reading books when I went to work with my Mum in school holidays and had to sit quietly while I was there, I remember the first book I ever read that really scared me, I remember the argument my dad had with a librarian when she told him I (aged 8 at the time) shouldn’t be reading books meant for adults (my parents believed I should be allowed to read whatever I wanted and never be censored and I am eternally grateful for that), I remember the first book that I felt I had to hide from my parents due to embarrassment. And my list could go on (and on and on!).

I so often pick up a copy of a book years after I first read it and am instantly transported back to the time when I was reading it, and I find this such a wonderful thing to experience.

So, I’m going to start a regular post on here sharing these memories, picked at random. I hope you’ll enjoy reading these posts and will perhaps share some of your own bookish memories in the comments.