My Reading Bingo Results for 2016!

I couldn’t resist joining in with reading bingo as it’s a great opportunity to look back at some of the books I read in 2016. (I did have this post almost written up to post at the end of 2016 but then pesky health stuff got in the way. I didn’t want my efforts to go to waste though so I hope no one minds me discussing my 2016 reads a week into 2017!)

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A book with more than 500 pages

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John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman

I really enjoyed reading this biography, it was such an in-depth look at Lennon’s life and I even learnt some things that I hadn’t known about him before. This book has 851 pages and was the longest book I read in 2016 so definitely fits this square!

A forgotten classic

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The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of this book before 2016 but as soon as I knew about it I had to read it. It’s such a gorgeous book and quite possibly one that will go on my Christmas must-read list every year.

A book that became a movie

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Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs

I can’t believe that I’d passed this book by until 2016! I was so wrong to not bother with graphic novels because it meant I missed out on novels like this one. It’s a gorgeous read and has opened my eyes to a whole new genre of books that I’m now very much enjoying. Ethel and Ernest was made into a film in late 2016 and was on TV over Christmas.

A book published this year

The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

I read quite a lot of novels that were published in 2016 during the year but I wanted to mention this one as I very much enjoyed reading it and often find it swirling around in my head. I’m eagerly anticipating whatever Janet Ellis writes next. I reviewed this book, and interviewed Janet Ellis, which you can read here: The Butcher’s Hook

A book with a number in the title

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Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens

I read a few books with a number in the title but chose this one because it’s a novel that has stayed with me. This is a book about a woman in labour and is a really interesting read. Whilst in the midst of giving birth she reflects on events in her life that led to where she is now, and this adds to the intensity of the novel. I’m not sure how I first heard about this book but it was one I really enjoyed reading and I would recommend it.

A book written by someone under 30

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Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson is 29 so this fits for this category. I bought this book very soon after it came out as I was such a fan of Mara Wilson when she was an actress. I adored her in Miracle on 34th Street, Mrs Doubtfire and Matilda, so was intrigued to find out what she’s doing now but also to read her insights into what it had been like to be a child star. It’s an interesting read.

A book with non-human characters

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Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

I really enjoyed reading this over Christmas. It obviously does have some human characters but there are a lot of references to a bear and goblins amongst other creatures. It’s a lovely book to read over the festive period and I’d recommend it.

A funny book

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

I listened to this on audio book and as it’s narrated by Tina Fey herself it really added to the reading experience. I didn’t know much about her before but some of her stories are very amusing.

A book by a female author

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

I read quite a lot of books by female authors in 2016 but this one deserves to be mentioned again so that’s why I chose it. This is such a brilliant novel and it so nearly made me top ten books of 2016. It’s a look at families and relationships between siblings following the death of their mother. It’s a quirky book but has such depth to it. I reviewed this one when I read it so you can read that here: Look At Me

A book with a mystery

The Sister by Louise Jensen

The Sister by Louise Jensen

The Sister is the debut novel by Louise Jensen and it’s such a good read. It kept me guessing as to what had happened and I really enjoyed reading it. You can read my review here: The Sister

A book with a one-word title

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One by Sarah Crossan

I put off reading this book for ages and I don’t know why because it’s a brilliant read. It’s a novel written in verse about conjoined twins. There is so much packed into this short novel and it’s one that has really stayed with me.

A book of short stories

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Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

This book was a Christmas present in 2016 so was one of my final reads of the year and I very much enjoyed it. I have to be honest and say that I was expecting there to be more festive stories in the collection, but, that aside, it was a really good read. I read a few stories every day between Christmas and New Year and it felt like a little treat. I’m definitely going to make an attempt to read more Stella Gibbons in 2017. It’s also made me want to read more short story collections so I’m making that another aim for 2017.

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The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

Obviously I could have picked anything for this square but I wanted to show this novel some more love! I really enjoyed this novel, it had a great story and had moments of lightness and moments that really got to me. I’m looking forward to reading whatever Victoria Walters writes next. You can read my review here: The Second Love of My Life

A book set on a different continent

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

This is an American novel (and I live in the UK) so it counts towards this square. I really enjoyed this twisty novel, it kept me guessing for most of the way through – every time I thought I had it all figured out there would be another twist. You can read my review here: The Couple Next Door

A book of non-fiction

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Mindfulness for Health by Vidyamala Burch

I read a lot of non-fiction in 2016 but wanted to pick a book for this square that meant a lot to me even though I haven’t written about it on my blog before. This book was recommended to me as part of my physio programme and it’s been such a useful read for me. I would recommend this book to anyone who suffers with chronic pain, or long-term illness, it’s really helped me to feel like I have a bit more control over my condition. It doesn’t make the pain go away but it does help you to learn how to put it in the background a bit so that it stops feeling completely overwhelming.

The first book by a favourite author

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Sweet Home by Carys Bray

I adore Carys Bray’s writing. I first read A Song for Issy Bradley when it came out and I loved it, and in 2016 I read her second novel The Museum of You and then soon after read Sweet Home, a short story collection, that was actually the first book that she had published. I highly recommend all three books, Carys Bray is a brilliant writer.

A book you heard about online

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Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

I first heard about Ghostbird on social media and knew I simply had to read it as soon as I possibly could. This is why I love blogging so much – it’s led to me discovering even more wonderful books, and authors, that I may had missed otherwise. Ghostbird was my book of 2016, it is an incredibly debut novel. You can read my review here: Ghostbird

A best-selling book

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

This book is incredible and I urge all of you to go read it as soon as you can if you haven’t already.

A book based on a true story

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Acts of Violence by David Ryan Jahn

This is one of the books that I read as I was coming out of my horrendous reading slump in the summer of 2016 and it really captured my attention. I was fascinated with the idea that numerous people in an apartment complex could hear a woman screaming in terror and yet do nothing to help her. On finishing reading it I discovered that it was based on a true story and I was stunned that people really had literally turned their backs as this young woman was fighting for her life right outside their windows. It’s a harrowing read but one I’d recommend.

A book at the bottom of your TBR pile

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Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking

This is the book that has been on my TBR longest our of all the books I read in 2016. I don’t know why I didn’t read it before because I really enjoyed it once I got into it.

A book your friend loves

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

I bought this book as one of my mum-in-law’s birthday presents last year and she loved it. I already owned a copy but hadn’t read it at that point but after she told me how much she’d enjoyed it I made it my next read and loved it too. You can read my review here: Daisy in Chains

A book that scares you

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne

The Ice Twins by SK Tremayne

I put off reading this book for so long because I was so scared of the premise. There is something about thrillers that have twins in them that adds to the fear factor for me (possibly a legacy of watching The Shining years ago). Anyway, I finally decided to give it a go and I just couldn’t put this down, it had my engrossed from the very first chapter. It did give me the creeps on more than one occasion, and I ended up reading the end once my husband was home as I didn’t want to read it when I was on my own (I’m a total wimp!) but I loved it. It’s such a great story. You can read my review here: The Ice Twins

A book that is more than ten years old

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Restless by William Boyd

I’ve had this book for ages but finally got around to reading to it in 2016 and I really enjoyed it. It’s made me want to read more of William Boyd in the future.

The second book in a series

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Edward Adrift by Craig Lancaster

I read the first book in this series in 2016 as well and I quite enjoyed them both. The first book left me wanting to know more so I ended up reading the second one quite soon after. They’re been on my TBR a while and I’m not sure why I hadn’t read them before as they’re really enjoyable reads.

A book with a blue cover

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The Midnight Watch by David Dyer

I actually read quite a few books with blue covers in 2016 but this was the one that came to mind when I saw this square on the bingo sheet. It’s a brilliant read about what happened on the Californian the night the titanic sunk to stop it coming to the aid of the stricken ship. It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down and I’d definitely recommend it. You can read my review here: The Midnight Watch


I successfully completely all the squares in reading bingo for 2016 so am very happy at that! Have you had a go at reading bingo 2016? I’d love to read your posts if you have, please feel free to leave links below.

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My March Wrap-Up Post (2016)

Monthly Wrap-Up

Well, March has been a better month reading-wise and also personally. Personal news first, in case you’ve missed it, is that I finally got a stairlift fitted in my home, which means I can now safely go up and down the stairs on my own. I fought against this for so long and the minute it was in I felt like a weight had been lifted off me. It’s brilliant to be able to go downstairs whenever I want to without needing help on the stairs. 

I’ve been reading a lot more again during March, which is such a relief. My reading slump had been going on since the end of December and was starting to feel like it might never end. Unfortunately, we can’t seem to get my pain levels under any sort of control a lot of the time so I still can’t read as fast as before, or for as long a period as I lose concentration much more easily but it is great to be able to lose myself in a book even for just a short while at a time. I tend to spend my days reading a while, blogging a while, resting a longer while and then repeating! My blog really takes it out of me, it’s painful to type and it’s hard to think clearly but it gives me such a sense of having achieved something in my day that I refuse to give it up.

I managed to read seventeen books this month (well, sixteen books and a short story), which is not as many as I would have hoped but is way more than the previous two months when I was going through a major reading slump so I’m pleased at what I read. I’ve managed to review seven of these books so far, the ones I’ve reviewed are at the top of my list and have links so you can click to read them if you’d like to. I hope to review the other books but it’ll depend on time and my health situation.

Time to Say Goodbye by SD Robertson

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

Quicksand by Steve Toltz

You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

The Missing by CL Taylor

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay

A Woman in a Million by Monica Wood

The Art of Wearing Hats by Helena Sheffield

A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby

Sally Ride by Lynn Sherr

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall 

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

The Good Mother by AL Bird

 

I also reviewed three other books that I read in February but didn’t manage to review until March:

The Silent Girls by Ann Troup 

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis


 

I was very lucky this month that I got to interview four authors on my blog. You can read them all at the links below:

Janet Ellis (author of The Butcher’s Hook)

 

Carol Lovekin (author of Ghostbird)

 

Caroline James (author of Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean and Me) 

 

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Andy Owen (author of East of Coker)

 


 

Also on my blog I featured a lovely guest post by Elle Turner (author of Tapestry) and took part in a cover reveal for The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs


 

Then to round off what has been a brilliant month of blogging, I wrote a blog post this week about keeping books for the right moment (you can read that here) and it has become one of the most read posts on my blog and is the most liked so I’m thrilled about that. I’m not very confident in writing posts, I usually stick to reviews, so it was really lovely that something I wrote struck such a chord with some of my readers. 

My blog is still growing, which is brilliant. I’ve been blogging for about seven months now and enjoy it so much, I couldn’t imagine not being a blogger now!

Over the course of the next month on my blog I want to make a new blog header, and to make some new headers for my posts. My husband is much better at taking photos than me so he’s very kindly agreed to take some pics of my favourite books so that we can make them into some nicer headers. I’m looking forward to getting that done. I do keep pondering about changing my WP theme as I’ve never really liked this one, but I know how to make changes in this theme and how to keep it up to date so I’m reluctant to mess about with that just at the moment. Hopefully a new header will at least brighten things up a bit!

 


 

So, that was my month! How was your March? Has it been a book-filled month for you? Please feel free to share in the comments below, or to leave a link to your own March Wrap-Up post.

Weekly Wrap-Up (20 March 2016)

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SundayBlogShare

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

 

This week has been a busy week for me with a lot of things that have really taken it out of me but it’s been a productive week too.

The biggest and best thing to happen this week was that I got my stairlift installed! I can’t quite put into words how much happier I feel already at being able to get down the stairs. It’s wonderful and I now wish I hadn’t resisted for so long. Finally being able to spend time in a different room of the house has been lovely but it’s really taken it out of me, I’ve been exhausted the last couple of days. It was worth it this week though just to experience the freedom of getting down the stairs again.

Due to the busy week and increased pain levels and fatigue I haven’t managed to read as much as I would have liked this week. I have still being able to read for a little while on most days though, which I’m pleased about. I hate when I have whole days where I don’t manage to read anything at all.


 

This week I’ve read three books:

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

You Sent Me a Letter by Lucy Dawson I reviewed this book on my blog on Friday so you can read it HERE if you’d like to.

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin I’ll be sharing my review of this book on my blog tomorrow as part of the blog tour so please look out for that.


 

I’ve managed to blog seven times this week, which I’m very happy about. I miss blogging on the times when I’m not able to.

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up Post

Monday: Q&A with Andy Owen (author of East of Coker)

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

 Cover reveal for The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

Friday: Review of You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post


 

Coming soon on my blog:

Monday: I’m on the blog tour for Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin so will be able to share my review of this wonderful novel and also a Q&A with the author herself!

I haven’t got the rest of my blog week scheduled yet but I do know that I will have a Q&A with author Caroline James, and I have some reviews to write and post too of books that I’ve read over the last couple of weeks.


 

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

 

The Missing by C. L. Taylor

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

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

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

The Day of Second Chances by Julie Cohen


 

What have you been reading this week? Please feel free to link to your weekly wrap-up post, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below! I love to hear what you’re all reading. 🙂

 

Review: The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

Anne Jaccob is coming of age in late eighteenth-century London, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. When she is taken advantage of by her tutor — a great friend of her father’s — and is set up to marry a squeamish snob named Simeon Onions, she begins to realize just how powerless she is in Victorian society. Anne is watchful, cunning, and bored.

Her saviour appears in the form of Fub, the butcher’s boy. Their romance is both a great spur and an excitement. Anne knows she is doomed to a loveless marriage to Onions and she is determined to escape with Fub and be his mistress. But will Fub ultimately be her salvation or damnation? And how far will she go to get what she wants?

Dark and sweeping, The Butcher’s Hook is a richly textured debut featuring one of the most memorable characters in fiction.

I was thrilled to receive a copy of The Butcher’s Hook to review and began reading it as soon as it arrived. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this historical novel but it hooked (no pun intended!) me in from the first few pages.

This novel really felt like it had two distinct halves. The first half is very much about how repressed Anna Jaccob’s life is. She is living in a household that oppresses her, the family meals are often eaten in silence and there’s very little conversation to be had with anyone the rest of the time. Anna’s mother is very distant having suffered a series of lost babies and she’s recently given birth to a daughter; Anna struggles with her feelings towards the new baby and this further isolates her from time with her mother. The desire that Anna has for something to happen, to break free of this repression emanates off the page and you really get a sense that something is building in her.

Later in the novel Anna falls for the butcher’s boy and from that moment on her life changes dramatically. She becomes quite obsessed with this budding romance and will stop at nothing to get the boy. I was not expecting the novel to build in the way it did but it becomes quite the bawdy romp and very difficult to put down. I think I preferred the first half of this novel but the second half is impossible to look away from so it really does keep you turning the pages. The denouement of the novel is unexpected, but so good for that.

The style of The Butcher’s Hook reminded me a little of Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White with that real mix of period detail but the openness about sex and desire that you often only see in more modern set novels –  the Georgian  era of Jane Austen this is not! Anna seems like quite a modern girl trapped in a world that wasn’t yet ready for all she wanted, and indeed expected, out of her life. She is intensely frustrated that she can’t just do what she wants when she wants and that she has to surrender to what her father wants for her. I loved the nods to Dickens with little touches like the slimy man that Anna’s father choses for her to marry, who is named Simeon Onions.

I was torn in how I felt about Anna. In the first half of the novel I had moments where I felt sorry for her – I wanted her to experience some lightness in her life and some freedom from the oppressive home she’d grown up in. However, there were then moments where she behaved so horribly that I was brought up short and unsure what to make of her. Anna’s increasingly twisted logic and behaviour as the novel progresses seems to suggest that she always had a wicked side. She’s certainly a memorable character though and one that has lingered in my mind since I finished reading the novel.

All-in-all I loved this novel – it’s a deliciously dark and twisted novel that became something that I wasn’t expecting and it’s wonderful to find a novel that surprised me so much. I already can’t wait to read Janet Ellis’ next book!

I rated this novel 4 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

I was lucky enough to do a Q&A with Janet Ellis for the blog tour for this book, you can read that HERE if you’d like to.

I received a copy of this book for review from Two Roads Books via Book Bridgr.


 

As an aside I absolutely loved the cover artwork and the end papers in this book, they are stunning.

 

I thought it looked a little familiar and then discovered that the company that designed the book’s artwork are called Timorous Beasties, who also designed the artwork on the Kate Bush concert tickets that we kept from when we saw her in 2014. I now so badly want to own some art by them so I’m saving up!

Kate Bush tickets!

Kate Bush ticket

 

 

Weekly Wrap-Up (6th March 2016)

Weekly wrap-up banner

This week I decided to separate my Stacking the Shelves and Weekly Wrap-Up posts for the first time as I wanted to be able to focus on each individually. From now on my Stacking the Shelves post will remain on a Saturday (you can read yesterday’s post here) and Weekly Wrap-Ups will be on a Sunday. I’m going to see how it goes, I may end up going back to a combined post but we’ll see!

SundayBlogShare

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 

I wrote my monthly wrap-up post a week ago and shared more about what has been happening in my real life of late (you can read that post here), thank you to all of you who sent me such lovely messages of support. 

This week it feels like I’m finally beginning to adjust to some of the changes in my life. I’ve got my stairlift ordered and it will be fitted in about a week and a half so I can’t wait for that. I’ve stopped hating the fact that I need it and have realised that I need to embrace the freedom and independence it will give me. I’ll be able to go downstairs in my own home by myself for the first time in ten months and that is something to celebrate and be happy about! 

Now I’m getting my head around things it seems some space has been freed up in my brainand finally my reading mojo is coming back! I’ve been in a slump for most of this year so far and it’s been horrible; life is so much harder when I can’t escape into a good book for a while. This week I’ve managed to read three full-length books and one short story, which is almost a normal amount for me on a good week so I’m thrilled! I haven’t reviewed these books yet but I will be doing in the next week or two so please look out for them. Here are the books I’ve read:

 

Time to Say Goodbye by S. D. Robertson

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay

A Woman in a Million by Monica Wood


 

I’ve also managed to blog every day this week, which has felt wonderful. I love blogging and really miss it when I’m not able to post anything. Here are this week’s posts in order:

Monday: February Wrap-Up Post

Tuesday: Q&A with Janet Ellis (author of The Butcher’s Hook)

Tuesday: Review of The Silent Girls by Ann Troup

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

Friday: A guest post by Elle Turner (author of Tapestry)

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

I can’t promise to keep up this schedule – I’ve managed it this week as it’s the first time in ages that I haven’t had any medical appointments. This coming week is a bit busier so I probably won’t blog every day but I’ll definitely post some days.


I’m back to having lots of books on the go at once so here is what I’m currently reading:

Three novels…

Quicksand by Steve Toltz 

I just started reading this one yesterday and it’s very good. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel but it’s got me hooked very quickly and I’m enjoying it. I’m on the blog tour for this one so look out for my review on Friday (11th March)

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

I was super excited when I got approved for this one on Net Galley recently! I absolutely love Tammy Cohen’s novels (even though I’m a wimp and they majorly put me on edge!), I could not wait to start reading this and expect I’ll be racing through it.

A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby

I have a terrible confession about this book that I’m a little bit ashamed to admit to! I love Chrissie Manby’s novels, especially this series about the Benson family. I kept this one to read around Christmas (given the title, it seemed apt) and duly started reading it in December. I was really enjoying it and flying through it. Then in January I got the next book in the series for my birthday, which I picked up recently to start reading and it felt like I’d missed something. I quickly googled thinking I’d maybe missed a book out… and then it slowly dawned on me that even though I was sure that I’d finished A Proper Family Christmas but I actually hadn’t! How bad is it that you can forget you’re reading a book when it’s one that you were genuinely enjoying?! Anyway, I picked it back up in the early hours and am sure I’ll have finished it in no time and can get going with the next one.

Three non-fiction books…

Truth, Lies and, O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Disaster by Allan J. McDonald & James R. Hansen

I’ve always been fascinated by anything to do with space and space travel and at the moment I seem to be seeking out a lot of books on the subject. This one is about the Challenger disaster and it’s an interesting, yet disturbing read. It is over 800 pages long and quite technical in places so I think this will be one I’m reading for a while yet.

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

This is such an interesting book. I was in two minds about reading it as sometimes books about terrible crimes can make me feel like i’m rubbernecking and I don’t like that. This book is not one of those books a . I’m finding it an intense read so am only reading a chapter at a time and then leaving it for a while but it is a book that I’d definitely recommend.

Sally Ride by Lynn Sherr

I’ve been reading this biography for a while now, it’s only taking me so long because it’s a hardback and some days I simply can’t hold a book that heavy so have to wait for the good days. It’s a brilliant book though, I’m enjoying it so much.

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What have you been reading this week? Please feel free to link to your weekly wrap-up post, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below! I love to hear what you’re all reading. 🙂

 

WWW Wednesday (2nd March)

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

I jumped at the chance to read and review this novel for the upcoming blog tour and I’m so glad I did. It’s a very engrossing novel, one that I want to savour and take my time with. It’s beautifully written. My date on the blog tour is 21st March so please look out for my review then.

Synopsis:

Nothing hurts like not knowing who you are. Nobody will tell Cadi anything about her father and her sister. Her mother Violet believes she can only cope with the past by never talking about it. Lili, Cadi’s aunt, is stuck in the middle, bound by a promise she shouldn’t have made. But this summer, Cadi is determined to find out the truth.

In a world of hauntings and magic, in a village where it rains throughout August, as Cadi starts on her search the secrets and the ghosts begin to wake up. None of the Hopkins women will be able to escape them.

A Mother's Reckoning- Living in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy by Sue Klebold

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

I started reading this soon after my last WWW Wednesday post and it’s a fascinating read. Sue Klebold has shown such courage in writing this book and being so open and honest about herself and her family. It’s not an easy read and so I’m just reading a chapter at a time and then putting it down for a while but it’s a worthwhile read.

Synopsis:

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.

Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.

Sally Ride by Lynn Shepp

Sally Ride by Lynn Sherr

I’m enjoying this biography of Sally Ride so much but because I bought it in hardback it’s taking me longer to read than it otherwise would have. It’s not easy for me to hold heavy books so I have to keep putting this down when I’m desperate to keep reading. It’s a brilliant biography though, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Synopsis:

The definitive biography of Sally Ride, America s first woman in space, with exclusive insights from Ride s family and partner, by the ABC reporter who covered NASA during its transformation from a test-pilot boys club to a more inclusive elite. Sally Ride made history as the first American woman in space. A member of the first astronaut class to include women, she broke through a quarter-century of white male fighter jocks when NASA chose her for the seventh shuttle mission, cracking the celestial ceiling and inspiring several generations of women. After a second flight, Ride served on the panels investigating the “Challenger “explosion and the “Columbia” disintegration that killed all aboard. In both instances she faulted NASA s rush to meet mission deadlines and its organizational failures. She cofounded a company promoting science and education for children, especially girls. Sherr also writes about Ride s scrupulously guarded personal life she kept her sexual orientation private with exclusive access to Ride s partner, her former husband, her family, and countless friends and colleagues. Sherr draws from Ride s diaries, files, and letters. This is a rich biography of a fascinating woman whose life intersected with revolutionary social and scientific changes in America. Sherr s revealing portrait is warm and admiring but unsparing. It makes this extraordinarily talented and bold woman, an inspiration to millions, come alive.

What I recently finished reading: 

Time To Say Goodbye

Time to Say Goodbye by S. D. Robertson

It’s taken me a little while to read this novel, longer than I’d thought it would. I think I was hesitant because I was expecting it to be a real tear-jerker and given that I’ve been feeling quite fragile lately I was wary of that. In the end I was left a little disappointed by it. It was a good read but not quite what I’d expected it to be. I’ll be reviewing it very soon on my blog so look out for my review.

Synopsis:

A heart-rending story about the unique bond between a father and his daughter, for fans of Jojo Moyes and John Green – for anyone who’s ever wondered what it would be like to get one last chance to say goodbye.

HOW DO YOU LEAVE THE PERSON YOU LOVE THE MOST?

Will Curtis’s six-year-old daughter, Ella, knows her father will never leave her. After all, he promised her so when her mother died. And he’s going to do everything he can to keep his word.

What Will doesn’t know is that the promise he made to his little girl might be harder to keep than he imagined. When he’s faced with an impossible decision, Will finds that the most obvious choice might not be the right one.

But the future is full of unexpected surprises. And father and daughter are about to embark on an unforgettable journey together . . .

The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

I loved this novel! It had me hooked from the first few pages and I just didn’t want to put it down. The times when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it and even now I’ve finished it, Anna is still in my head. I plan to review it in the next few days but in the meantime here’s a link to an interview that I was lucky enough to get to do with Janet Ellis as part of the blog tour for the book.

Synopsis:

Georgian London, in the summer of 1763.
At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher’s apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him.
The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub.
But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.
A vivid and surprising tale, The Butcher’s Hook brims with the colour and atmosphere of Georgian London, as seen through the eyes of a strange and memorable young woman.
-~-~-~-~-~-
‘Do you know what this is?’ He holds a short twist of thick metal, in the shape of the letter ‘S’, sharpened at both ends. I shake my head.
‘A butcher’s hook,’ he says, testing the tip of his finger against each point. ‘A perfect design. Whichever way up you use it, it’s always ready. One end to hook, the other to hang. It has only one simple purpose.’ He stands on a stool and fixes it over the bar above him. It waits there, empty.
He climbs down. ‘Pleasing, isn’t it?’

The Silent Girls book cover

The Silent Girls by Ann Troup

I recently finished reading this book and really enjoyed it. Here’s a link to my review that I did as part of the blog tour.

Synopsis:

What if everything you knew was a lie…

This house has a past that won’t stay hidden, and it is time for the dead to speak.

Returning to Number 17, Coronation Square, Edie is shocked to find the place she remembers from childhood reeks of mould and decay. After her aunt Dolly’s death Edie must clear out the home on a street known for five vicious murders many years ago, but under the dirt and grime of years of neglect lurk dangerous truths.

For in this dark house there is misery, sin and dark secrets that can no longer stay hidden. The truth must come out. 

Finding herself dragged back into the horrific murders of the past, Edie must find out what really happened all those years ago. But as Edie uncovers the history of the family she had all but forgotten, she begins to wonder if sometimes it isn’t best to leave them buried.

the art of wearing hats

The Art of Wearing Hats by Helena Sheffield

I adored this book! I’m a hat wearer anyway but it’s really made me want to get out of my comfort zone and try some different styles! I’ll be reviewing this book as soon as I can.

Synopsis:

The perfect and practical pocket guide to being a hat wearer for novices and aficionados alike, complete with tips on where to buy them, how to wear them, who wears them best and tricks of the trade (yes hat hair, we’re looking at you).

Hats have been a mainstay of fashion for centuries, but now they’re back with a bang – overtaking the accessories departments of Topshop et al and gracing the celebrated heads of Taylor Swift, Cara Delevigne, Johnny Depp and the like day in and day out. But which one should you wear? Which will suit you best, how should you wear them and when?

The Art of Wearing Hats answers all these questions and more. Broken down into chapters covering everyday, outdoor and special occasion hats, you’ll soon discover the full range to choose from, alongside who in the Googlable world you can turn to for styling tips, and fun facts about where each originated from.

Complete with illustrations and tips on how to grow your hat-wearing confidence, it might be an idea to start making room in your wardrobe.

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

I finished reading Sisters and Lies in the early hours of this morning. I’ve been such a slow reader lately and struggle to get into books but once this one hooked me I struggled to put it down. I’ll be reviewing it as soon as I can.

Synopsis:

One hot August night, Rachel Darcy gets the call everyone fears. It’s the police. Her younger sister Evie’s had a car crash, she’s in a coma. Can Rachel fly to London right away?

With Evie injured and comatose, Rachel is left to pick up the pieces of her sister’s life. But it’s hard fitting them together, especially when she really doesn’t like what she sees.

Why was Evie driving when she doesn’t even own a licence?
Who is the man living in her flat and claiming Evie is his girlfriend?
How come she has never heard of him?

The more mysteries Rachel uncovers the more she starts asking herself how well she ever really knew her sister. And then she begins to wonder if the crash was really the accident everybody says it is.

Back in hospital, Evie, trapped inside an unresponsive body, is desperately trying to wake up. Because she’s got an urgent message for Rachel – a warning which could just save both their lives . . .

What I plan on reading next:

Quicksand by Steve Toltz

Quicksand by Steve Toltz

I was offered the chance to review this book as part of the blog tour this month and I couldn’t resist once I read the synopsis, it sounds like a very different and excellent read. I plan to start reading it in the next day or two and I’ll be reviewing it on 11th March for the blog tour.

Synopsis:

A daring, brilliant work by one of our most original and fearless novelists.

‘Why should I let you write about me?’
‘Because you’ll inspire people. To count their blessings.’

Aldo Benjamin, relentlessly unlucky in every aspect of life, has always faced the future with despair and optimism in equal measure. His latest misfortune, however, may finally be his undoing. There’s still hope, but not for Aldo.

His mate Liam hasn’t been faring much better – a failed writer with a rocky marriage and a dangerous job he never wanted – until he finds inspiration in Aldo’s exponential disasters. What begins as an attempt to document these improbable but inevitable experiences spirals into a profound exploration of fate, fear and friendship.

Anarchically funny and wildly entertaining, Quicksand is a subversive portrait of 21st-century society in all its hypocrisy and absurdity, an exquisite interpretation of suffering and resilience, and a powerful story about taking risks and finding inspiration.

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay

I was thrilled to be sent a copy of this book to review and can’t wait to start reading. It sounds like the kind of book that once started cannot be put down and I’m craving a read like that at the moment!

Synopsis:

Laura loves her daughter more than anything in the world. 

But nine-year-old daughter Autumn is being bullied. Laura feels helpless.

When Autumn fails to return home from school one day, Laura goes looking for her. She finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.

In the heat of the moment, Laura makes a terrible choice. A choice that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter…

 


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

Blog Tour | Q&A with Janet Ellis, author of The Butcher’s Hook

 

 

Today I am thrilled to welcome Janet Ellis to my blog for a chat about her debut novel, The Butcher’s Hook.

How did you come to be a novelist and how long have you been writing for?

I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. My desk drawer (and more besides) is full of jottings, poems, beginnings of stories  and snatches of prose. But The Butcher’s Hook is the first book I finished. So the answer is really :- for ever and quite recently!

What is your writing process?

I try and write daily, but not always at the same time or with the same word count. I often write  scenes that I know I want to include somewhere, then store them – it’s like having  a mood board of episodes and characters waiting to be placed in the narrative.  I read everything aloud, too, as I think it’s a great way of discovering if the tone is consistent- and avoiding repetition. Of course, that includes dialogue (my poor neighbours). 

The Butcher’s Hook is historical fiction but seems modern too, not least due to the way that Anne Jaccob’s sexual awakening is described. It reminded me a little of Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White in the sense of it being historical mixed with more modern elements. What inspired you to write this novel, and in this particular way?

Thank you for the comparison, that book’s a favourite. I’m driven  by the idea that, although they wore different clothes, saw different sights and were influenced by different things, people of any past time, however distant,  experienced emotions as we do. We feel everything from love and  hate, or envy,  greed and sorrow just as our forbears did. Reading diaries- which illustrate this perfectly- was a big source of inspiration. Confirmation, too, of the fact that no matter what is happening around us in historical terms, we’re all mostly concerned with ourselves. My teenage diaries certainly bear this out.

I found Anne fascinating – at times I really liked her and wanted her to find love and happiness and then at other times she had quite a selfish, self-absorbed streak which made her harder to like. I really enjoyed this about her though, she was in my head all the time when I wasn’t reading as I tried to weigh her up and I miss her now I’ve finished reading the novel. How did her character and personality come about, and did you enjoy creating her?

How lovely to hear that.  I loved creating her. She really is a character apart, she isn’t me! And I often felt the same ambivalence  about her behaviour.  I toyed with a different , rather happier , ending but realised she’s her own worst enemy, and enjoyably so. There’s a kind of twisted logic in how she behaves, everything happens for a reason as far as she’s concerned. I hope she’s funny, too, as my favourite people have a sideways take on life that I enjoy. I’ve got friends whose behaviour is sometimes exasperating -but I love them. I know that  -apart from her often terrible actions- I feel the same about Anne.

Finally, is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked and how would you answer said question?

Do you mean apart from ‘How did you get to be so fabulous? (Answer: I have NO idea!)? This is a great question… I haven’t ever met a question that I thought was too awful to be answered, and nothing’s off limits, but maybe there’s something about what my parents would have thought  – they’re both dead now- that I’d like to mull over.  But I can’t come up with the question myself , as it makes me weepy to even think about it. 

 


 

Synopsis of The Butcher’s Hook

Do you know what this is?’ 

He holds a short twist of thick metal, in the shape of the letter ‘S’, sharpened at both ends. I shake my head.

‘A butcher’s hook,’ he says, testing the tip of his finger against each point. ‘A perfect design. Whichever way up you use it, it’s always ready. One end to hook, the other to hang. It has only one simple purpose.’ He stands on a stool and fixes it over the bar above him. It waits there, empty.

He climbs down. ‘Pleasing, isn’t it?’

GEORGIAN LONDON, IN THE SUMMER OF 1763.

At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher’s apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him.

The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub.

But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.

A vivid and surprising tale, The Butcher’s Hook brims with the colour and atmosphere of Georgian London, as seen through the eyes of a strange and memorable young woman.


 

About the Author

Janet Ellis trained as an actress at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She is best known for presenting Blue Peter and contributes to numerous radio and TV programmes. 
She recently graduated from the Curtis Brown creative writing school. The Butcher’s Hook is her first novel.

You can find Janet Ellis at:

janetellis.com

twitter.com/missjanetellis

instagram.com/missjanetellis

The Butcher’s Hook is published by Two Roads; it is out now and available from all good book shops.


 

I’ll be sharing my review of The Butcher’s Hook on my blog very soon so please look out for that. In the meantime, you can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

The Butchers Hook Tour Poster

My February Wrap-Up Post

Monthly Wrap-Up

 

I can’t believe that it’s the last day of February already! I decided to do a wrap-up post even though I’ve not been up to doing much reading or blogging this month as it seems a good chance to write a general update as well as a bookish one!

So, in terms of reading I’ve managed to read ten books this month and have only reviewed one of them so far but I have prepared reviews for three more of these books so will post them in the next week or so. I am making a real effort to get better balance in my life and it’s beginning to pay off as I’m starting to enjoy reading again and can concentrate for a few minutes at a time so it’s progress!

Here are all the books that I read during February:

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

I’m very excited to share my Q & A with her as part of the blog tour on my blog tomorrow and I’ll be reviewing the book later this week. I can tell you that it’s a fab read and one I highly recommend.

The Silent Girls by Ann Troup

I’m on the blog tour for this tomorrow too and can’t wait to share my review, it’s a book that really helped get me back into reading ad I just didn’t want to out it down!

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald 

My review is here if you’d like to read it.

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

I adored this book, it was one of those that I was hooked on from the first page and couldn’t put down. I finished it a couple of weeks ago and still find myself thinking of the characters. I haven’t managed to type my notes up into a review yet but I hope to do it soon so look out for a review on my blog in the next couple of weeks.

A Baby at the Beach Cafe by Lucy Diamond

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the books in the Beach Cafe series, so I couldn’t resist reading this one, which was published as part of the Quick Reads collection this month. It wasn’t my favourite of the series but it was still a great read and I would recommend it.

Psychedelic Suburbia: David Bowie and the Beckenham Arts Lab by Mary Finnigan

I spotted this one on Kindle Unlimited so decided to download it after seeing Mary Finnigan talking about the book on the news. Some parts of the book were really interesting but other parts just fell a little flat. I’d still recommend it to people who want to read more about this era.

Aaliyah: More Than a Woman by Christopher John Farley

I’ve had this book on my TBR for absolutely ages and yet despite being a massive Aaliyah fan I’ve never got around to reading it until this month! I quite enjoyed reading it, it was interesting to read more about her early life and the writing and recording of her albums. It’s definitely one her fans will enjoy.

5,742 Days by Anne-Marie Cockburn

Scotland’s Shame by John Ashton

Adequately Explained by Stupidity? by Morag G. Kerr

 

My reading mojo still hasn’t returned – a lot of the books I read this month were shorter reads otherwise I wouldn’t have got through as many as I have. I’m still drawn more to non-fiction than fiction so I’m just going with it because reading anything is better than reading nothing. It’s just a little stressful as most of my review books are novels so they’re all sitting looking at me making me feel guilty but I figure that anything that gets me enjoying books again is good as it will hopefully transfer to me being able to concentrate on novels again soon. Fingers crossed anyway!

I’m still trying to find better life balance but it’s not easy. I had an appointment with my neurosurgeon last week and he showed me my previous MRI & CT scans and explained that I’m not going to make any recovery as the damage to my central nervous system and spinal cord is too severe. It was very hard to hear that but I had the feeling that this was what he was going to say and had steeled myself for hearing it. Of course I wish I was going to get better, being permanently paralysed down the whole of one side of my body and having permanent severe, and as yet impossible-to-control pain is not what I wanted but living for months and months with wait and see has been very hard. We couldn’t make any plans because there was always that slim chance that I would improve. Now we know it’s not going to happen we can start making adaptations to our home and lifestyle to make things easier. We’ve already made enquiries about a stairlift, which will open up the downstairs of our home to me again (I’ve lived upstairs since June during the hours my husband works as I can’t get up and down stairs on my own). I’m waiting to see a couple of different pain specialists and am hoping they will have a suggestion that hasn’t already being tried for managing my pain. 

I’ve had some real down periods in recent weeks, wondering what was going to happen to me and feeling like I couldn’t cope with the pain and the level of disability anymore but weirdly now I know it’s permanent I feel ready to throw myself into finding any and all ways of making life better and easier. I think not knowing is often harder than having to face the reality head on.

I’m hoping that once we start to get the changes made in our home and we find ways of making life easier that I will begin to have more energy to concentrate again so I can get back to reading every spare second and writing lots of blog posts again. Reading is such a big part of who I am that I feel so lost when my reading mojo disappears, I just need to get through this next stage of changes and I feel sure it will come back though.

Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me while my blogging has been so sporadic, it really means a lot to me that you’re still here and reading the few things that I am able to post.


How was your February? Has it been a book-filled month for you? Please feel free to share in the comments below, or to leave a link to your own February Wrap-Up post.

 

WWW Wednesday (17 February)

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?


What I’m reading now:

the art of wearing hats

The Art of Wearing Hats by Helena Sheffield

I had this book on pre-order for weeks and weeks so I was super excited when it was released and finally landed on my doormat. I’m reading it slowly and really enjoying it. I’ve always loved wearing hats but this book is making me want to try some new styles and get out of my comfort zone. 🙂

Synopsis:

The perfect and practical pocket guide to being a hat wearer for novices and aficionados alike, complete with tips on where to buy them, how to wear them, who wears them best and tricks of the trade (yes hat hair, we’re looking at you).

Hats have been a mainstay of fashion for centuries, but now they’re back with a bang – overtaking the accessories departments of Topshop et al and gracing the celebrated heads of Taylor Swift, Cara Delevigne, Johnny Depp and the like day in and day out. But which one should you wear? Which will suit you best, how should you wear them and when?

The Art of Wearing Hats answers all these questions and more. Broken down into chapters covering everyday, outdoor and special occasion hats, you’ll soon discover the full range to choose from, alongside who in the Googlable world you can turn to for styling tips, and fun facts about where each originated from.

Complete with illustrations and tips on how to grow your hat-wearing confidence, it might be an idea to start making room in your wardrobe.

Sally Ride by Lynn Shepp

Sally Ride by Lynn Shepp

I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so I finally treated myself to it in hardback with my birthday money. My reading speed is so slow at the moment but I’m reading a bit of this every day and am finding it fascinating.

Synopsis:

The definitive biography of Sally Ride, America s first woman in space, with exclusive insights from Ride s family and partner, by the ABC reporter who covered NASA during its transformation from a test-pilot boys club to a more inclusive elite. Sally Ride made history as the first American woman in space. A member of the first astronaut class to include women, she broke through a quarter-century of white male fighter jocks when NASA chose her for the seventh shuttle mission, cracking the celestial ceiling and inspiring several generations of women. After a second flight, Ride served on the panels investigating the “Challenger “explosion and the “Columbia” disintegration that killed all aboard. In both instances she faulted NASA s rush to meet mission deadlines and its organizational failures. She cofounded a company promoting science and education for children, especially girls. Sherr also writes about Ride s scrupulously guarded personal life she kept her sexual orientation private with exclusive access to Ride s partner, her former husband, her family, and countless friends and colleagues. Sherr draws from Ride s diaries, files, and letters. This is a rich biography of a fascinating woman whose life intersected with revolutionary social and scientific changes in America. Sherr s revealing portrait is warm and admiring but unsparing. It makes this extraordinarily talented and bold woman, an inspiration to millions, come alive.

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

I started reading this book a couple of days ago and am so intrigued by it, I can’t wait to find out what happened and who can be trusted!

Synopsis:

One hot August night, Rachel Darcy gets the call everyone fears. It’s the police. Her younger sister Evie’s had a car crash, she’s in a coma. Can Rachel fly to London right away?

With Evie injured and comatose, Rachel is left to pick up the pieces of her sister’s life. But it’s hard fitting them together, especially when she really doesn’t like what she sees.

Why was Evie driving when she doesn’t even own a licence?
Who is the man living in her flat and claiming Evie is his girlfriend?
How come she has never heard of him?

The more mysteries Rachel uncovers the more she starts asking herself how well she ever really knew her sister. And then she begins to wonder if the crash was really the accident everybody says it is.

Back in hospital, Evie, trapped inside an unresponsive body, is desperately trying to wake up. Because she’s got an urgent message for Rachel – a warning which could just save both their lives . . .

Time To Say Goodbye

Time To Say Goodbye by S. D. Robertson

I’m enjoying this book but am dreading what I’m guessing is going to be a real tear-jerker of an ending.

Synopsis:

A heart-rending story about the unique bond between a father and his daughter, for fans of Jojo Moyes and John Green – for anyone who’s ever wondered what it would be like to get one last chance to say goodbye.

HOW DO YOU LEAVE THE PERSON YOU LOVE THE MOST?

Will Curtis’s six-year-old daughter, Ella, knows her father will never leave her. After all, he promised her so when her mother died. And he’s going to do everything he can to keep his word.

What Will doesn’t know is that the promise he made to his little girl might be harder to keep than he imagined. When he’s faced with an impossible decision, Will finds that the most obvious choice might not be the right one.

But the future is full of unexpected surprises. And father and daughter are about to embark on an unforgettable journey together . . .


What I recently finished reading: 

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

I’m struggling to concentrate to read at the moment but I picked this book up and it’s the first novel in ages that I couldn’t put down. It’s a stunning read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I plan to review this book very soon.

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.

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it was a really good read. I have written a review so I hope to post it soon.

Synopsis:

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.

When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?


What I plan on reading next:

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

I pre-ordered Maggie O’Farrell’s debut novel After You’d Gone many years ago and after devouring it in one sitting I then immediately re-read it. I always pre-order her novels and read them as soon as I get them and she never disappoints. I was thrilled to pieces when I was lucky enough to be sent a proof copy of her next novel (due out in May 2016) and cannot wait to read it! It’s a beautiful proof and one I will treasure. 

Synopsis:

The dazzling new novel from bestselling, award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE crosses time zones and continents to reveal an extraordinary portrait of a marriage.

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life.

A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway.

He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago, and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE crosses continents and time zones, giving voice to a diverse and complex cast of characters. At its heart, it is an extraordinary portrait of a marriage, the forces that hold it together and the pressures that drive it apart.

Maggie O’Farrell’s seventh novel is a dazzling, intimate epic about who we leave behind and who we become as we search for our place in the world.

The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

I can’t wait to start reading this novel, it sounds incredible.

Synopsis:

Georgian London, in the summer of 1763.
At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher’s apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him.
The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub.
But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.
A vivid and surprising tale, The Butcher’s Hook brims with the colour and atmosphere of Georgian London, as seen through the eyes of a strange and memorable young woman.
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‘Do you know what this is?’ He holds a short twist of thick metal, in the shape of the letter ‘S’, sharpened at both ends. I shake my head.
‘A butcher’s hook,’ he says, testing the tip of his finger against each point. ‘A perfect design. Whichever way up you use it, it’s always ready. One end to hook, the other to hang. It has only one simple purpose.’ He stands on a stool and fixes it over the bar above him. It waits there, empty.
He climbs down. ‘Pleasing, isn’t it?’

A Mother's Reckoning- Living in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy by Sue Klebold

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy by Sue Klebold

This is a new release but I’ve already heard so much about it so it was one I wanted to read.

Synopsis:

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.

Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother’s Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.


 

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