#BookReview: Roar by Cecelia Ahern @Cecelia_Ahern @FictionPubTeam #HearUsRoar #Roar

ROAR Jacket High res

About the Book

I am woman. Hear me roar.

Have you ever imagined a different life?
Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided?
Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar?

The women in these startlingly original stories are all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Was Kept on the Shelf and The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change.

Witty, tender, surprising, these keenly observed tales speak to us all, and capture the moment when we all want to roar.

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern so I squealed with joy when a copy of Roar arrived at my house, along with an invitation to be part of the blog tour. I’m so happy to say that Roar exceeded all of my expectations and I completely and utterly adored it!

Roar is a collection of thirty inspiring, quirky and powerful short stories; all are written from the viewpoint of unnamed women and each examines a different facet of female experience.

I loved how the protagonist in each of the stories remains unnamed as it really allowed me to get engrossed in the story and to either remember what it was like to be in a similar situation to the woman, or to imagine how she must feel.

I think this might be the first time I’ve ever read a short story collection and loved every single story. Some affected me more than others but each one stands distinct and on its own; each story is memorable and none have become muddled in my head since I finished reading.

It’s near impossible to pick a favourite story but I think if I was pushed to choose one it would be The Woman Who Was Pigeonholed. It just really spoke to me how all the women were put in neatly labelled boxes and despite having many other elements to how they were, they were mostly judged on one trait. The ending of this story made me smile, and I could so identify with it because I have pushed from being seen as weak and disabled to being seen as tenacious and determined.

I also loved The Woman Who Was Swallowed Up By The Floor And Who Met Lots Of Other Women Down There Too. We’ve all been in that situation where we’ve done something embarrassing and just want the ground to open up and swallow us, and this story explores that. I love how we get to see what has embarrassed other women and how it makes you see that your own embarrassment isn’t that bad, and that it can be got through.

The Woman Who Walked In Her Husband’s Shoes was also incredibly powerful and is definitely food for thought. I kept thinking about this story for ages after I read it, it’s one I think everyone should read.

Each story in this collection is brilliant, and the joy of the book is that everyone who reads it will connect to something different in it depending on their own life or their emotions at the time. There is real power in this collection as a whole, but also in each individual story. It’s a wonderful book that can make you read one story and connect so closely with the character, and then the next story you perhaps haven’t had the experience but you feel like you’re standing with that woman and that you can better understand the women in your life that have had the particular experience. It feels like a book to treasure, and I know that I will read this book again and again. Perhaps when I need a boost I will return to a particular story and remind myself that I am woman, hear me roar!

I’ve already sent a copy of this book to my oldest friend and I know I will be buying copies for other people for Christmas this year. I urge you to grab a copy and read it, it really is an incredible collection!

Roar is a thought-provoking, empowering and beautifully written book and I adored every single minute that I spent reading it.

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

Roar is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

CECELIA PIC to use

Photo credit: Matthew Thompson

Cecelia Ahern is one of the biggest selling authors to emerge in the past fifteen years. Her novels have been translated into thirty languages and have sold more than twenty-five million copies in over forty countries.Two of her books have been adapted as major films and she has created several TV series in the US and Germany.  She and her books have won numerous awards, including the Irish Book Award for Popular Fiction for The Year I Met Youin 2014. PS I Love Youwas awarded two Platinum Awards at the 2018 Specsavers Bestsellers Awards, for UK and Ireland.

Cecelia lives in Dublin with her family.

 

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

Roar blog tour banner

Advertisements

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

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

34615820-2

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

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

 

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

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

 

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

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

 

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

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

 


 

 

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

All four of the above books are out now!

 

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

 

FICTION MINI REVIEW PICS

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

 

all-the-good-things-by-clare-fisher

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

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

 

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

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

 

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

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

 

34016827

I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

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

 

35108104

31 Days of Wonder by Tom Winter

 

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

 


 

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

All five of these books are out now!

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

 

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

 

 

35556803

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

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

 

30302155

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

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

 

34522436

Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath

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

 

34605390-2

 

In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

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

 

 


 

 

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

All four of these fab thrillers are out now!

#BookReview: Last Seen by @lucyclarkebooks + guest post about beach hutting! @HarperCollinsUK

Today I’m very excited to be on the blog tour for Lucy Clarke’s brilliant new novel, Last Seen! I’m sharing my review with you later in this post but first a wonderful guest post, with some gorgeous photos, from Lucy herself!

 

LUCY CLARKE ON BEACH HUTTING

Lucy Clarke has grown up spending her summers in a beach hut. The stretch of beach where her family hut stands became the inspiration behind the setting in LAST SEEN. Here she shares some insights and photos about beach hut life.

Picture1

The setting for LAST SEEN was closely inspired by the summers I’ve spent in a beach hut. Our family have owned a hut since I was eight years old, and the friends I made during those first few summers are still – twenty-five years on – some of my closest friends. We grew up crashing through waves on body boards, or playing cards huddled in someone’s hut as the rain lashed down. I actually met my husband at the beach; his family owned the hut next door and I used to moon around on the shoreline watching him windsurf!

Now that many of us have children of our own, a new generation of little sandy-toed urchins are being introduced to the beach. Sharing a hut with our 2.5 year-old and a 9 month-old, has its own challenges (breakfast at 5am, anyone?), but their sheer excitement about a day spent at the beach is hard to beat.

Picture2

LAST SEEN is peppered with real details and observations from my own experiences of hut life – like crabbing from the jetty when I was a child, or digging a sand hole for my bump when I was pregnant. Although most of my beach hut memories are happy ones, like in any close-knit community there can also be conflicts and secrets and tragedies. In LAST SEEN I wanted to juxtapose the beautiful, remote setting of the sandbank with the darker threads that weave between Sarah and Isla’s friendship. (Thankfully though, all the events in the novel are entirely fictional!)

Picture3

I wrote much of the novel from our beach hut. It’s my very favourite place to write as I work so much better when I’m off-grid (I leave my laptop behind, turn off my phone, and write by hand). Sunny days are incredible, of course, but blustery, rainy ones hold a certain allure when the beach empties and the only sounds are rumbling waves or a whistling kettle.

Picture4

We spend much of our winters travelling, but come summer, there’s nowhere we’d rather be than in the beach hut. Like Sarah remarks in LAST SEEN, ‘What brings us back here, summer after summer, is that the beach hut unites our family . . . we step out of the rush of our normal lives and live outside-in, letting the rhythms of the weather and tides rule our days.’

 

 

About the Book

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing ever since I first read The Sea Sisters so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review her new novel, Last Seen for the blog tour! I have to say that Last Seen absolutely lived up to all of my expectations and I loved reading it!

Last Seen is predominantly a look at female friendship and how one decision can unwittingly set a relationship on a different course, one that you really don’t want to end up on. Sarah and Isla have been friends since they were younger, and Sarah has supported Isla through some of the hardest moments of her life. But then Isla decides to go travelling and what happens back home changes everything in a seemingly subtle way but as they appear to move on that one thing looms large throughout the book.

The reason I fell in love with The Sea Sisters was because of the way Lucy Clarke writes the relationship between women and Last Seen made me emotional for these two friends in the same way. Neither one of these women is perfect and neither is always likeable but they always felt like real people to me. I could see their flaws, and their issues and I liked them all the more for it. The detail is wonderful too – I smiled to myself when Sarah describes how someone from her past smelt of Dewberry shampoo. I must be a similar age to Sarah because I remember Dewberry so very well!

Sarah and Isla end up pregnant at the same time when they’re both still young and they look forward to bringing their boys up together. Sadly, things don’t work out like that when one summer, the year they turn ten, the boys go missing at sea and only one is found alive. This sets in motion a chain of revelations, guilt and jealousy that will affect these people forever.

This book so twisty, I genuinely couldn’t work out what was going to happen in the end. I had many suspicions as I was reading but all turned out to be wrong. It’s very rare for me to not be able to work out the ending of a thriller but this one got me and I loved it all the more for that. The end when it comes makes perfect sense and it sends you reeling but it’s so good!

This book is beautiful and twisty and utterly engrossing! I couldn’t put it down – I literally read it in one sitting. I highly recommend that you grab a copy of Last Seen for your summer reading, you definitely won’t regret it!

I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

Picture5

Novelist, traveller, and fresh air enthusiast, Lucy Clarke is the author of four novels.

Lucy graduated from university with a first class degree in English Literature, but it wasn’t until she was on a six month road trip across the US and Canada, that she decided she’d love to be a novelist.

Many twists and turns later, Lucy’s debut novel, The Sea Sisters, was published (HarperCollins, 2013). It was a Richard & Judy Book Club choice, and has been published in over ten countries.

Since then she has released three more novels, A Single Breath (HarperCollins, 2014), The Blue (HarperCollins, 2015), and most recently Last Seen (HarperCollins, 2017).

Lucy is married to a professional windsurfer, and together with their young children they spend their winters travelling, and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.

(Bio taken from Lucy Clarke’s website)

 

You can follow the rest of the Last Seen blog tour at the following blogs:

unnamed

#BookReview: I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke @CJ_Cooke_Author @HarperCollinsUK

9780008237530.jpg

About the Book

Komméno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

My Thoughts

IMG_8670

When CJ Cooke offered a few copies of I Know My Name to bloggers on twitter I immediately asked if I could have one as the book sounded so good. It didn’t click with me until later that CJ Cooke wrote one of my favourite ever books, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, so when I found that my copy of I know My Name was signed I actually squealed with delight and was even more thrilled.

I’m so happy to say that I Know My Name doesn’t disappoint, I would go so far as to say that it’s the best psychological thriller that I’ve read this year. It had me on the edge of my seat at times and it really got under my skin.

I Know My Name is told in two strands. One is on a remote Greek island where a woman is washed ashore, she doesn’t know her name or where she came from or how she got to be there but she is lucky to be rescued by a group of writers that are staying on the island. The second strand is set in London where a man is called to come home from work by a neighbour as it seems his wife has gone missing leaving their two very young children behind.

This novel is thrilling, it’s unnerving and it gives you so much to consider as to what might have happened. But it’s so much more than that too. It’s a novel about how much you really know about a person, it’s about how much pain and damage people can hide from their loved ones and it’s about how easy it is to not see what is happening in your own home right in front of you.

I loved this book because it truly is a psychological thriller, it looks at a terrifying scenario of memory loss, of a creepy neglected island but also a look at how the mind works. The things people will do to survive, the things people sometimes have to do to survive.

I read this book in two sittings, the only reason I didn’t finish it in one is because I started reading late at night and fatigue overcame me. I immediately picked it up again the following morning and didn’t stop reading until I turned the last page. It’s now a few days since I read this book and I still find myself thinking about it, it really has made such a lasting impact on me and I know I won’t forget this story any time soon.

This is truly an outstanding psychological thriller that will unnerve you, it will give you the creeps and it will deeply unsettle you as it all begins to come together. It will grab you and it won’t let you go, even when you’ve finished reading it.

This is an incredible novel and I highly, highly recommend it. I feel certain that this book will be in my top books of this year!

I Know My Name is due to be published in paperback on 15th June.

I was sent a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

CJ Cooke twitter

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queens University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health.
I KNOW MY NAME is C.J. Cooke’s first psychological drama and was inspired by her creative work in mental health. It is being published in several other languages and a TV adaptation is in development.

C.J. Cooke lives by the sea with her family.

#BookReview: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by @GailHoneyman ‏@HarperCollinsUK

IMG_8650

About the book

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

My thoughts

I was really happy when the publicist for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine contacted me to ask if I’d like a review copy as I’d seen the book mentioned quite a lot on social media and was really keen to read it.

Eleanor Oliphant is a brilliant character. She is very stuck in her ways, and at first, seems quite abrasive. She is in her thirties but dresses and behaves like someone much older. Very soon it starts to become apparent that Eleanor has had a very difficult childhood and is just trying to cope with life as best she can. I felt like she was very enmeshed in how her mother had treated her when she was young and that she is talking in her mother’s voice and has adopted all her mother’s beliefs and attitudes to people and life. It broke my heart to see how much Eleanor, whilst maintaining that she was completely fine, was drinking vodka to get through the weekends on her own and the loneliness just emanated from her. I very quickly realised that Eleanor actually wasn’t okay and that she longs to have the same things that everyone else wants.

‘I have always taken great pride in managing life alone. I’m a sole survivor – I’m Eleanor Oliphant. I don’t need anyone else – there’s no big hole in my life, no missing part of my own particular puzzle. I’m a self-contained entity. That’s what I’ve always told myself at any rate’.

Eleanor’s loneliness really comes through when she goes to see a local band with one of her colleagues from work, and she immediately realises that the lead singer of this band is the man for her. Her attempts to get to know more about him make her seem very obsessive but I really believed that she just has never had anyone to learn from when it comes to meeting a potential partner. Eleanor has never even had a friend, she grew up in care and no one has ever shown her true kindness so how could she know how to approach making a friend or forming a relationship.

Eleanor does have such resilience in life though and I really admired how she didn’t let what people said about her get to her. She sometimes overhears colleagues laughing at her but she just takes it in her stride. It’s sad that she doesn’t seem to know that it doesn’t have to be that way, but also I really respect how she could just let things go. Eleanor’s thought processes as she finds her way through life are very amusing at times.

If I’m ever unsure as to the correct course of action, I’ll think, ‘What would a ferret do?’ or, ‘How would a salamander respond to this situation?’ Invariably, I find the right answer.

I loved seeing how Eleanor began to find her way in the world as she finds herself in a situation with another colleague, Raymond, when they end up helping an elderly man who falls in the street in front of them. Raymond is such a lovely man and seemed to see through Eleanor’s abrasiveness and he takes her under his wing. It was wonderful to see Eleanor beginning to understand how friendship works, and she starts to blossom. Eleanor’s manner in replying to a message from Raymond about going out for lunch shows how she is finding her way in this new situation of having a friend.

‘That would be fine. Thank you’. Daringly, I didn’t put my name, because I realised he’d know it was from me.

 

The book then moves on to the bad days where we start to find out what happened in Eleanor’s past to make her how she is. This section of the book was really hard to read because I’d formed such a soft spot for her so to find out what she had lived through was heartbreaking. Her problem with alcohol is also much more apparent as a real problem, and seeing the level of desperation and distress in Eleanor made me want to reach through the pages to try and help her.

Eleanor is a truly memorable character, she’s not someone I’ll forget in a hurry. This is a brilliant novel, I savoured every minute of reading it and it’s one I will keep and re-read in the future. I actually feel genuinely quite bereft at having to leave Eleanor behind now I’ve finished the book.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a tender and moving look at loneliness, at how it is to be given a chance and what it is to find a friend having had a lifetime of just getting through the days. A beautiful novel that I highly recommend.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is out now!

I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

gail honeyman

Gail Honeyman wrote her debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, while working a full time job, and it was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress. She has also been awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2014, and was longlisted for BBC Radio 4’s Opening Lines, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Gail lives in Glasgow.

(Author photo and bio taken from Goodreads)

#BookReview: The Affair by Amanda Brooke @AmandaBrookeAB @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK

the-affair-by-amanda-brooke

About the Book

A shocking story about a fifteen-year-old girl and the man who took advantage of her.

“You might as well know from the start, I’m not going to tell on him and I don’t care how much trouble I get in. It’s not like it could get any worse than it already is. I can’t. Don’t ask me why, I just can’t.”

When Nina finds out that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart. Because Scarlet won’t tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything. As the suspects mount – from Scarlett’s teacher to Nina’s new husband of less than a year – Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.

My Thoughts

I found this novel really drew me in and I actually read it all in one day.  If I’m to be honest I was expecting this book to be quite predictable but actually it wasn’t. Fifteen year old Scarlett has been having a relationship with an older man but when her mum finds out she refuses to say who it was with. Nina, her mum, is thrown into a tailspin and doesn’t know how to handle what has happened.

I thought it was clever that, as the reader, we don’t know who the relationship was with either. This book has multiple narrators – we mainly follow Nina, and Vicki – Scarlett’s teacher’s wife but we also get to see some of Scarlett’s thought processes interspersed throughout the novel. Immediately I suspected the teacher, but then I suspected the step-father, and briefly I even suspected Nina’s best friend’s husband. The two main men we’re led to suspect each seem to have opportunity to groom Scarlett and I couldn’t work out for a while who it most likely was.

We do get to see the life that Nina and Bryn lead as quite a newly-wed couple trying to adapt to living together with Nina’s two children. We also see a lot of Vicki and Rob, Scarlett’s teacher’s relationship and the way they seem madly in love. There are times when you’re reading that you wonder if it was neither of these men as they both seem happy and settled, but then you read the snippets from Scarlett’s viewpoint and remember that one of these men is likely a monster.

I have to say that I did feel uncomfortable that this book is centred around what is called an affair when it involved a fifteen year old. The two suspects are both in a position of power over her, and she is underage so really it’s not an affair: it’s a man taking advantage of a naive and underage girl. Scarlett does seem worldly-wise but it is very clear that she’s inexperienced and that she believes herself to be in love with the man. She believes he really wants to be with her at any cost. I can see how Scarlett views it as an affair – to her this is a relationship between equals. It’s clear that all of the adults in Scarlett’s life (barring the man who took advantage of her) are horrified at the supposed relationship so this changes the perception within the book from it being an affair to it being something much more serious.

The Affair is a novel that centres on a relationship between a man and an underage girl but it is about so much more than just that. It is just as much a look at how the female characters deal with the suspicion that the man they married, that they trust, could be cheating on them and how they have to then come to terms with the fact that the person their husband is involved with is a minor. I really appreciated all the strand to this novel, it made it a well-rounded and interesting read that throws up real moral dilemmas for the characters. This would make a great book club read as there is so much brought up in this book that would make for great discussion points.

I really enjoyed this novel – it kept me engrossed from start to finish and left me mulling it over once I’d finished reading. I’ll definitely be looking out for more of Amanda Brooke’s novels in the future.

The Affair is out now.

I received a copy of this book from the HarperCollins via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

dsc_0278-4crop

I live in Liverpool with my daughter Jessica and writing was most definitely a late discovery.  I didn’t really begin to explore creative writing until I was almost 40, at which point my young son Nathan was fighting for his life.  Poetry and keeping a journal helped me through those difficult times and the darker times to come when he died in 2006.  He was three years old.

I continued to write and in 2010 I was fortunate enough to find an agent.  Luigi Bonomi has a fantastic reputation which is truly deserved and with his help we transformed my first manuscript.  Shortly afterwards in 2011 I was offered a book deal with HarperCollins.

My first novel Yesterday’s Sun was published in January 2012.

(Bio taken from author’s website: amanda-brooke.com)