Mini Book Reviews: The Island Home | Yours Cheerfully | All My Mothers | Unwell Women

The Island Home by Libby Page

I love Libby Page’s writing and this book was every bit as lovely as her previous novels! The Island Home follows two characters in alternating chapters – Lorna who left the island of Kip under a cloud when she was a teenager and has never been back; and Alice who is Lorna’s sister-in-law but the two women have never met. The two women have daughters the same age who have been chatting online and now Lorna is going back to Kip. This is a gorgeous novels that really explores family dynamics, female friendship and found family in an honest and believable way. Kip has a wonderful community and all the characters in this novel felt like real people and I now want to go there and meet them! This book has it’s darker moments but on the whole it’s a feel-good novel that really pulls at your heartstrings. I loved it and definitely recommend it!

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

This is the sequel to Dear Mrs Bird so we’re back with Emmie at Women’s Friend magazine in the months following the end of the previous novel. I loved this book, it was just as lovely as the first one and I got completely swept up in it. This time Emmie gets involved with a campaign to encourage more women into war work and I loved it. We see the strength of the women but also their vulnerabilities and how much harder life is made for them by bosses who think they should be the same as men and yet also keep their home and raise their children but with no support from anyone. I was glad Bunty was back in this novel as I adore her friendship with Emmie. This is such a lovely read and I recommend it!

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen

This novel is simply stunning! I loved Joanna Glen’s previous novel and this one is every bit as good, if not even better! All My Mothers follows Eva (sounds like ever not evil!) from being a young child and realising that there are gaps in her childhood photos and memories and she wants to know why. We see the lovely friend she makes on her first day of school and the way that girl’s family take Eva under their wing. I adored the book with the rainbow mothers and how this comes up time and again throughout the novel as Eva tries to work out who she is and where she comes from. It’s a novel about found family and how you can find real love and a real bond with people who aren’t blood relations, and that this is just as good. I was moved to tears more than once as I read this novel but I was completely swept away in Eva’s story and I just couldn’t put it down – I read it all in one sitting. I already want to go back and read it again! I highly recommend this one!

Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn

This is an incredibly powerful non-fiction book looking at the history of how women have been treated in western medicine over the centuries – it covers ancient Greece and medieval times right up to the present day. It’s such a fascinating book but also anger-inducing at the way women have suffered – and still suffer – due to the lack of research and understanding into female diseases and illnesses. I’m someone who has dealt with more than my fair share of doctors who have been very dismissive of me only for it to later turn out that they made a huge mistake that has cost me dearly in terms of health. This book really highlights how entrenched medicine has always been in maintaining something of a status quo but it also gives hope seeing the rise of female doctors, and male doctors who want to understand and further others’ understanding of female diseases. It’s a shocking read and one that will make you angry but it’s very comprehensive and well written and I definitely recommend it.

Mini Book Reviews: Both of You | The First Day of Spring | The Murder of Graham Catton | Passenger List

Today I’m sharing some more of my mini reviews of books that I’ve enjoyed recently. All four of these books are from NetGalley but are out now!

Both of You by Adele Parks

Both of You is the story of Leigh who is happily married with two step-children but one day she disappears. Her husband is slow to report her missing as she works away during the week so he wasn’t sure when exactly she disappeared. We follow him, and the detective who is working on the case. Then soon after another woman is reported missing by her husband and it’s in similar circumstances and this is when the tension begins to ramp up. I found this book really fast-paced and while I spotted whodunnit early on my enjoyment was not marred by this as I was so invested in the why and the how. There are quite a few suspects and suspicious happenings throughout the book which does put you off the scent somewhat, which I liked. I read this book in just a day as I didn’t want to put it down, I needed to know if my suspicions were correct and to see how it would end. I would say that the ending is very abrupt and you are left reeling a little bit by that but the more the book sits with you the more it makes sense for it to end the way it does. I recommend this one for your summer reading plans!

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

I really enjoyed The First Day of Spring – I listened to the audiobook and I read it every single chance I had as I just wanted to know how this novel was going to go. The story follows Chrissie who seems quite neglected and has a difficult home life – her mother is very cold and her father is often absent. One day she kills a younger child and does all she can to avoid being caught. This novel is so delicately written that you can’t help but have sympathy and compassion for Chrissie, even when you know what she’s done. It’s actually heartbreaking when you hear her thoughts of what death means and it’s awful when you realise how little she understands. The novel also follows Chrissie as an adult when she has a young child of her own and is struggling to know how to nurture a child when she was never nurtured. I found this such a moving novel, which is rare in crime fiction. It really got to me and I keep finding myself thinking about it. It’s definitely a novel that makes you pause and think, whilst also being such a gripping and engaging thriller. I recommend this one!

The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe

I can’t help but be drawn to novels featuring a crime podcast so this one seemed like it was for me. The novel follows Hannah whose husband was murdered in the family home a decade before. Hannah can’t remember all the details of what happened but a man named Mike was convicted of the crime. Now a true crime podcast is going over the case and looking at potential new evidence. Hannah works at a psychiatric clinic and has had her own mental health battles so this is a very stressful time for her. She felt like quite an unreliable narrator to me and I was never sure whether I could believe what she was portraying. This novel does requite some suspension of disbelief but it didn’t stop my enjoyment nor did it stop me reading at every opportunity as I wanted to know whodunnit and why. There wasn’t as much of the actual podcast in this novel as I’d hoped there would be – we hear about it second hand as Hannah and her family talk about it whereas I’d been expecting some transcripts. I enjoyed this novel all the same though and will definitely read more by this author in the future.

Passenger List by John Dryden

I seem to be reading a lot of books recently about bad things that happen involving planes but I’m finding them all quite addictive. Passenger List follows Kaitlin as she tries to find out what happened to the flight that went missing with her twin brother on board. She doesn’t believe the official explanation and is determined to get to the truth. This novel does require a lot of suspension of disbelief but if you can do that then it is a very fast paced page turner and one that will keep you guessing all the way to the end. There are lots dark alleys and red herrings in the novel alongside quite a few shady characters but all this serves to keep you on your toes, and I quite liked not knowing who to trust and not knowing if Kaitlin was making good decisions or not. This would make a great holiday read!

Mini Book Reviews: Falling | Malibu Rising | Black Buck | The Killing Kind

Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of books that I’ve read and loved recently. I got all four of these books via NetGalley and all of them were excellent reads.

Falling by T. J. Newman

This book was one of my most anticipated books of 2021 and so when my wish got granted on NetGalley on Friday I knew this had to be my next read, and it more than lived up to my expectations for it. Falling is your worst nightmare – a pilot is in mid-air when he finds out his family have been held hostage and he has to choose between his family’s lives and the lives of all 149 people on his airline! The novel gets going immediately and the pace doesn’t let up for a second all the way through! I literally didn’t put this book down once I started reading – the way it’s told from multiple perspectives meant I was always desperate to know what was happening to everyone else and so it was a case of just one more chapter, and one more etc until I turned the final page! I had some suspicions about the perpetrators of this crime but I didn’t work it all out and I love that it kept surprising me throughout. There are moments where you have to suspend disbelief but I didn’t mind that at all because by then I was so invested in the plot and I was fully onboard (no pun intended) for wherever this story was taking me! I highly recommend this one!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I loved Daisy Jones and The Six was have been very keen to get my hands on this new book and I’m so happy to say that I also loved this one! Malibu Rising follows the Riva family over many years. In the first part we get to meet June and Mick and see how they fell in love an started a family, and in alternating chapters we see the four children as adults as they live their lives. During this part I was much more interested in learning more about June than anyone else, I wanted to know what happened to her. By the second half of the book as we catch up to the present in these character’s lives I was fully invested in this whole family. The dynamics between them was really interesting and I could identify with how each sibling views the others differently from how they view themselves, which makes for interesting interactions between them even as close as they are to each other. I mostly felt for Nina – she’s the eldest and has had to sacrifice so much for this family and she does it without ever begrudging it. The build up to the Riva annual party really ramps up in the second part of the novel and I was really tense wondering what was going to happen. I very much enjoyed all the different snippets we get as we hear from various people at the party. It builds a great picture of what is going on. The end of the book was a surprise but I loved it, it was the most perfect way to end this novel. I recommend adding this one to your summer reading piles!

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

This is a standalone novel by Jane Casey and I’m so glad I picked it up. This book follows Ingrid, a barrister, who feels that she’s been stalked and she suspects the man behind it might be a man who’s case she defended a couple of years earlier. The novel moves back and forth in time so we find out more about this man, and also where Ingrid is now and what happened when he came looking for her before. It’s a real cat and mouse novel where you’re not sure who you can trust, there are even moments when you doubt Ingrid is telling the whole truth and I loved being kept on my toes. I found John Webster, the man Ingrid believes is stalking her fascinating. He is creepy and yet at the same time very earnest so it’s hard to weigh up what the story is with him. I did began to have my suspicions about what might be happening and I was right but even then there were twists in store. This was such a good read, I definitely recommend it. Now I really need to make time to start on Jane Casey’s series as I have quite a few of those books on my TBR and still haven’t ever picked the first one up!

Black Buck by Mateo by Askaripour

This novel is brilliant! It’s not my usual type of read as I’m not a big fan of satire but I am so glad I read this book, it’s so good! Darren is a young black man who lives with his mom and he works in Starbucks. He hates coffee but he’s good at his job. Then one day he’s offered a position at a big start up company and he can’t resist finding out more. The novel explores the issues around race in America and it was uncomfortable to read at times. Some of the things done to Buck, as he gets nicknamed because of his previous job, are truly awful but he keeps on sucking it up and showing it up determined to be the best and to make some serious money. The novel is set out like a manual for black people that white people are encouraged to also read, this is Buck telling you his story. There are moments that seemed unreal, and moments of real darkness balanced with some very funny scenes – it’s such a compelling novel and I found it really hard to put down. It’s a book that I’d like to re-read in the future, it’s one that’s really staying fresh in my mind. I highly recommend this one!

Mini Book Reviews: The End of Men | Madam | The Final Chapter | All Boys Aren’t Blue

It’s time for another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read recently. These four books are from NetGalley and I enjoyed them all.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

The End of Men opens with an A&E doctor realising that a virus is spreading through her department and she attempts to warn authorities. The novel then moves forward a day or two and then a few days at a time following a large cast of characters as we see how they react and cope with the virus and the implications it may have for their own lives. I was concerned this might be too much to read given that we’re living through a pandemic in the real world but actually I found it different enough that I enjoyed reading it. There are similarities to what we’re living through but there are differences too – in the novel women can carry the virus but it’s only males who die from it and only one in ten males are immune. We see people from all walks of life suffering through the pandemic and it’s heartbreaking the loss that people go through. I did find it hard to connect to any other characters in the book though – all the voices read the same to me and I kept having to flick back to the start of the chapter to see who I was with at the time. Also I understand that the focus of the novel was the virus but I felt that there wasn’t a lot of emotion in the early part of the book, it left me feeling a bit cold and disconnected from what was happening. Later on as time has moved on quite a lot there was more acknowledgement of loss and some moments really brought a lump to my throat. Overall, I did enjoy this novel – it was definitely compelling and I recommend it!

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

I was eagerly anticipating this novel as it seemed like it would be packed with all the things I love in a novel and I did enjoy it. Madam follows Rose Christie as she is recruited to teach Classics at the prestigious girls’s boarding school Caldonbrae Hall in Scotland. It soon becomes apparent that Rose is the first new teacher at the school in many years and there seems to be a lot of secrets being kept from her. The girls she teaches seem odd at times and the other members of staff are quite cold towards her. I found this novel suspenseful and I enjoyed getting lost within the pages. My only criticism is that it felt that some parts of the novel were too long and this detracted from what was happening in the novel for me. On the whole though I did enjoy this one – I thought it was unsettling at times and I loved that I didn’t know anymore than Rose did so I was right along with her as she tried to figure out what she had got herself into. This was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it.

The Final Chapter by Jerome Loubry

I’ve been so keen to read this book so when I got approved for it on NetGalley on Saturday I immediately started reading it and I read the whole thing in one sitting! The Final Chapter follows David, a famous writer, who one day receives a typed book in the post and it turns his world upside down. The pages he receives detail what happened in the summer of 1986 when a young girl he knew was murdered. It then turns out that his childhood best friend received the same book but with a different ending. David is determined to work out what the book is trying to tell him about that fateful summer. This novel is so fast-paced, with short chapters that make it impossible to put it down as you keep thinking that you’ll just read one more chapter! This novel grabbed me from the beginning and I was enthralled all the way to the end. It’s a book that doesn’t always add up but it’s such a fun ride and I loved every minute that I spent reading it. I recommend this one if you want an addictive, fast-paced and fun read.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

This is such an emotional memoir aimed at younger readers but one that all ages will get something from. All Boys Aren’t Blue is Johnson’s story of growing up black and queer and he details his experiences of the things he went through and had to deal with. Through the book there is exploration of race, sexuality and gender, each handled so well and whilst not pulling any punches it is appropriate to its audience. I found this book heartbreaking at times; it’s horrendous to read what Johnson has been through in his life, but it’s also inspiring to read of the way he has come through their struggles and found peace in who he is. I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to everyone.

Mini Book Reviews: One of Them | This Party’s Dead | Perimenopause Power | West of Jim Crow #NonFiction

Today I have another selection of mini reviews to share. This time it’s four non-fiction books that I got through NetGalley. I found them all really interesting and have learnt a lot from them.

West of Jim Crow by Lynn M. Hudson

This is an incredibly eye-opening book that explores the effect of the Jim Crow laws across California predominantly in the early part of the twentieth century. It’s an academic book but still very readable. I’m so glad I picked it up and I learnt a lot from it. I know racism happens everywhere but I ignorantly believed that the worst race atrocities historically were in the southern states of America and had no real idea of what had happened in California. I found it hard to read at times, especially as a lot of my family lived in California for a long time and never have any of them talked about these issues and the idea they were blind to it is hard to rationalise. The book is set out in sections, each covering a different issue. There are the issues with segregation in schools and the local swimming pool; lynching; the Ku Klux Klan; and what happened in the town of Allenworth where black people tried to make a life for themselves. It’s also hard to read how laws that existed still didn’t offer any attempt at equality because the white people in power continued to act and interpret the law in the way they always had done. This is a book to read slowly, to really take in what you’re reading. It’s a book that I will be thinking about for a long time to come and I highly recommend it.

Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill

I’ve been wanting to pick this book up for a while as I’m of an age where I need a better understanding of perimenopause. I’m glad I finally got around to it. The book is set out in distinct chapters which allows the reader to go straight to the section that they need information about and can go back and forth through the book. I read it from cover to cover as I wanted to see what the book was about overall but I think I would benefit from going back to certain chapters as and when I need more information. On the whole this book gave me a reasonable overview of what to expect but I felt there was a lot that I would ignore in here. There were parts that didn’t feel very grounded in science and so were a bit wishy washy and that’s not what I want in guidance, and some section felt overly long and not hugely relevant. Having said that, the sections on HRT and the different forms it comes in was very interesting. Also the advice to push with medical professionals if you don’t feel you’re being heard. I’m glad I read this one and I will refer back to some of it as and when the time comes.

This Party’s Dead by Erica Buist

This book grabbed my attention as soon as I saw the cover and the title and I’m so glad I picked it up. The author found herself unable to cope after the sudden death of her father-in-law to be; she didn’t feel she had a right to be in the depths of grief and yet couldn’t shake it off. In the end she decides to go to seven death festivals around the world to experience how other cultures deal with death to see if the way we deal (or don’t really deal) with death in Britain is hampering our ability to grieve. I found this book fascinating; I learnt so much about other cultures and it really made me think about the way we shut down talk of death in this country. I could identify with a lot of how Erica felt as I have similar fears but since my mum died I feel it’s much more important to talk openly about our wishes and what we want to happen when we’re gone. I enjoyed seeing Erica’s personal journey as she learnt new things on her travels and how she embraced all her new experiences even when they made her feel uncomfortable. This is a book that I would recommend to everyone. It’s hard to read at times but the mostly it’s inspiring and hopeful and it’s a chance to explore your own feelings around death.

One of Them by Musa Okwonga

One of Them is a fascinating memoir about what it was like as a young working class black boy to go to Eton. Okwonga is a brilliant writer and this book is so readable. It’s a very powerful book that explores racism and privilege but it’s also a personal memoir. I loved reading about what it took to get into Eton and what it was like to study there. Mostly this book was a very insightful look at race in Britain and what it feels like to be black and british. The author is a similar age to me and so it was shocking at times to read about how different his life was to mine just based on the colour of his skin. The fear he has at certain points in his life of people who he knows are looking at him as a young black man was palpable, and the way he was profiled by the police was shocking to read about. This is a book that will make you think but it’s so readable. I definitely want to read more writing by Musa Okwonga and will be going to look up his other books as soon as I’ve finished writing this post. I highly recommend this book, it’s one that I think everyone should read.

Mini Book Reviews: That Night | The Good Sister | Every Vow You Break | The Ends of the Earth

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve recently finished reading. All of these books are from NetGalley via the publisher as I’m still focusing on reading my way through my NetGalley shelf.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

The Good Sister follows twin sisters Fern and Rose – Fern in the present and Rose in the past through her diary entries. The sisters have always been very close – Rose has protected Fern from their aggressive mother as they were growing up and still holds Fern close now in adulthood. Fern has sensory issues and Rose tries to keep her protected from the things that aggravate her. I really enjoyed this book and seeing the way the two women present themselves but also the undercurrent of tension that begins to creep into their relationship was fascinating. Something happened when they were children and Fern lives with the guilt and it stops her being able to form bonds with other people so she relies heavily on Rose. I adored reading Fern’s perspective – she’s so warm and genuine but refuses to do anything she doesn’t want to do. She’s such a brilliant character and when she meets Wally in the library where she works I was rooting for her to see how things might develop with him. This is a gripping novel that has moments of darkness balanced with a lot of light and I loved it. This is the first novel that I’ve read by Sally Hepworth but I now want to seek out everything she has ever written!

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

This novel follows Abigail as she is about to marry her fiance Bruce. They’ve had a whirlwind romance and everything has happened very quickly. At Abigail’s hen party she has a one night stand and when this man contacts her before the wedding she is fearful that her happy ever after might be about to fall apart! This premise drew me in right away and I couldn’t wait to read this book but I’m sorry to say that it just didn’t really work for me. I’ve read and loved the author’s previous novels but this one just lacked something for me. The plot does have twists in store and I didn’t see them coming, which I did like but the suspension of disbelief required was too much for me and I just couldn’t get invested. I also had issues with the way Abigail later describes her one night stand, it felt too obvious to me that this was a male author writing a female character and it really pulled me out of the story. This is a fast-paced read and I did finish it in a couple of sittings but it’s just not my favourite by the author.

The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves

The Silent Treatment was one of my favourite books of last year so this new one by the author was on my highly anticipated list and I’m so happy to say that I very much enjoyed it. The Ends of the Earth follows Mary, who for seven years has stood at a railway station holding a sign saying ‘Come Home Jim’. The novel follows her in the present as we see what her life is like and how desperate she is to find Jim; it alternates with a timeline in the past when Mary and Jim first met and we get to see how they fell in love and made a life together. This is a beautiful novel that really draws you in. There is quite a focus on mental health, men’s mental health in particular, and this was so good to read about in a novel. There needs to be more awareness of this and more encouragement for men to be able to talk and this novel shows this without it ever feeling forced. The novel also follows a young journalist who meets Mary by chance and decides to try and help her find Jim. This novel had me under its spell very quickly and now I’ve finished it I keep wondering how the characters are now, which, for me, is always the sign of an excellent read. I recommend this one!

That Night by Gillian McAllister

I’ve read and very much enjoyed all of Gillian McAllister’s novels but this is her best one yet! I read the whole thing in two sittings and I loved it! That Night follows the three Plant siblings – Joe, Cathy and Frannie. They all live next door to each other, they work at the same vet practice and they own a holiday home in Verona together. One night whilst on holiday Frannie calls Cathy in the early house begging for her help. When she gets there Frannie is distraught, as is Joe who has also arrived, and a man appears to be dead! The novel follows each of the siblings along with Joe’s wife Lydia as we see their perspectives and how they each feel about the others. We also have a timeline in the present day but it’s not clear for a while who exactly this person is. This is such a gripping thriller that has you racing through the pages wanting to know how and why, wanting to make sense of what has happened and wondering what you would do in their shoes. It’s also a brilliant look at sibling relationships and how each relates to the other, and the jealousies and the feeling of being left out that can linger well into adulthood. This was such a brilliant thriller and I highly recommend it!

Mini Book Reviews: The Appeal | Hostage | When I Was Ten | Dead Perfect

I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews today of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently. These are all books that I got from NetGalley and I can recommend all of them.

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

This was such a fun read, different to anything I’ve read for a long while. We follow two law students as they’re given a file of documents relating to a murder and as the reader we get to see everything that they get given – emails, text messages, records of 999 calls and notes and slowly you piece together who everyone is and what it is that’s happened. We know from the start that someone has been murdered, and someone has been convicted of murder but we don’t know who. We also get told that not everyone is as they seem. This was so intriguing to me! When I first started reading I did think it was going to be hard to keep track of who was who as this novel has quite a large cast of characters but I found the voices are very distinct and once I got into the novel it was easy to follow what was happening. I did work out what had happened from the clues throughout but I had so much fun working it out that I would absolutely recommend this novel!

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

I’m a real fan of Clare Mackintosh’s writing so have been keen to read this forthcoming novel of hers. Hostage follows flight attendant Mina as she is about to board a landmark 20 hour non-stop flight from London to Sydney. It also follows her husband Adam in alternating chapters. Once the flight takes off Mina starts seeing items of hers on board that she didn’t bring with her and chillingly it soon becomes apparent that there is someone on board intent on taking control of the plane. The build up to the hijacking was so good, I was really tense as I was reading and wondering what was going to happen and how it was all going to end. The latter part of the novel requires suspension of disbelief, which I was a little disappointed by, but at the same time by this point I was so invested in the characters that I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know how exactly it was going to end. There were some surprises for me in the novel and I love that I didn’t see how it was all going to ultimately end. This was a really gripping and thrilling novel, I recommend it.

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

This book was unputdownable for me – I read the whole novel in one sitting because I simply had to know how it was going to end! Twenty years ago a married couple were brutally murdered in their own home. One of their two daughters confessed to the crime and was sent to a young offenders unit. Now in the present day one sister is married with a child and the other is all over the news telling her story and looking for her sister. It’s not clear which sister is the murderer and the reveal was a shock but as this comes fairly early in the novel I was desperate to know more and what else was going on with this family. The novel is hard to read at times, especially the sections set in the past but it’s really well written and plotted so you can’t help but keep turning the pages. I found this such an engrossing novel. I’ve enjoyed all of Fiona Cummins’ novels that I’ve read so far but this one is definitely her best one yet! I highly recommend it!

Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten

This is the third novel in the DC Maggie Jamieson series and I’ve enjoyed them all. This book follows Maggie as she investigates a stalker who has escalated to murder and seems to be fixating on her colleague Dr Kate Moloney. The team are in a race against time to stop the killer striking again. We see a lot more of Maggie’s emotional side in this novel as she is very close to Kate and so is trying to be professional at work while being understandably hugely concerned for her friend’s welfare. I did spot who the killer was early on but I didn’t mind that I’d worked it out as it was plausible that the team didn’t spot them sooner so I was just rooting for them to figure it out. The murderer in this book is chilling in what he does when he kidnaps a woman, it really is the stuff of nightmares. I found this another gripping installment in the series and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Maggie and her team!

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

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

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

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

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

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

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

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

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

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

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

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

Hungry

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

The Weekend

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

Space Hopper

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

Five Hundred Miles From You

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

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

Dead Head by C. J. Skuse

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

Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

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

The Split by Sharon Bolton

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

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

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

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

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

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle

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

The Things We Left Unsaid by Emma Kennedy

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

Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

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

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

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

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

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

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

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

Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas

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

The Searcher by Tana French

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

The Hidden Girls by Rebecca Whitney

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

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

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

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

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

One by One by Ruth Ware

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

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

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

The Disappearing Act by Florence de Changy

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

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

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

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

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

True Story by Kate Reed Petty

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

Watch Over You by M. J. Ford

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

Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

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

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

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

Because of You by Dawn French

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

The Sight of You by Holly Miller

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

When the Lights Go Out by Carys Bray

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

After the Silence by Louise O’Neill

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

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

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

Keeper by Jessica Moor

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

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

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

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

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

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

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

Summer by Ali Smith

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

Festive Mini Book Reviews! #Christmas

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

All About Us by Tom Ellen

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

If Every Day Was Christmas by Donna Ashcroft

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

Tinsel by Sibeal Pounder

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

A Surprise Christmas Wedding by Phillipa Ashley

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

Christmas at Fireside Cabins by Jenny Hale

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

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

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

Three by D. A. Mishani

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

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

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

Here is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan

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

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

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

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

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

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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

The Holdout by Graham Moore

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

The New Girl by Harriet Walker

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

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

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

Mini Book Reviews: How To Be An AntiRacist |The Search Party | The Mothers | How To Disappear

How To Be An AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. It’s a non-fiction book that is about how it’s not enough to just be not racist, we have to actively be anti-racist. The author examines his own thoughts and emotions on the subject and provokes the reader to think about their own ideas. Each chapter is on a different subject and opens with a brief description of the main terms used. I really liked how the book is set out and it meant I could read a chapter and then put the book down and take time to digest what I’d read before moving on to the next chapter. This is a US book but I still found it really enlightening as a British person living in the UK. It made me feel so much more empowered to be more pro-active as an anti-racist, and to speak out more when I see racist behaviour. I recommend this one and now I’m keen to start reading the author’s previous book Stamped From The Beginning.

The Search Party by Simon Lelic

I’ve read most of the author’s previous novels and enjoyed them but this one is his best yet! It follows a group of friends who decide to form a search party to go looking for their friend Sadie. The police are involved but this group feels that the police are not doing enough and are looking in the wrong place. We meet this group after the search and we hear their stories via the police interviews, which takes us back in time to before and during the search. I love how the picture of what happened is slowly built up and there are moments in this novel that are so tense I was holding my breath. There are red herrings along the way, which were also great as it threw me completely off the scent but it does all make sense at the end. We also find out that this group of friends don’t all like each other very much and they all have their reasons for wanting to find Sadie! We also get the perspective of the detective and he has his own past ties to this small town and this adds even more intrigue to the novel. I recommend this one!

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

This book was the oldest one on my NetGalley shelf and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner because it was such a gripping read. It follows a police officer investigating a missing man. We then follow a group of five mothers and we learn about how they became friends and how they are with each other. The missing man is the husband of one of these women and it seems there is more to the story than we initially find out. I really enjoyed how it went back and forth in time as we get to know the women and their back stories. At first it seems like they’re frenemies but there is a bond between them. I love stories about female friendship and this was another good one, and it went in a different direction than I was expecting so I loved that aspect. There are moments in the novel where I had to suspend my disbelief but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all as I was fully invested in the wider story. I recommend this one!

How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

I love this author’s novels so have been eagerly anticipating this new one and it didn’t disappoint. This book follows teenager Zara who witnesses a crime and the repercussions mean her and her mum Lauren have to go into witness protection for their own safety. Lauren’s husband Aidan doesn’t go with them as he needs to stay near his own daughter Poppy. The first part of this book is so fast-paced and I couldn’t read it quick enough. Then the tension starts to build and I had to keep putting the book down, I was so anxious about the rules that kept being broken and what the consequences might be. And yet the book kept pulling me back because I just needed to know! This is a rollercoaster ride of a book and it definitely keeps you on your toes. I really enjoyed this one and I recommend it!

Mini Book Reviews: My Dark Vanessa | The Other Passenger | One Step Behind | Who Did You Tell?

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it absolutely lived up to my hopes for it! It follows Vanessa both in the present day and in the past when she had a relationship with her teacher Jacob Straynewhile she was still a student. Vanessa hears that a woman who went to the same school has accused Strayne of grooming and abusing her and she wants Vanessa to also come forward. She is stunned because she believes her and Strayne were in a loving relationship. As the novel progresses it’s very uncomfortable to read how Strayne clearly groomed Vanessa, and to see how she viewed it as a mutual attraction. It’s also hard to read how she has remained friends with him in all the years since. Over the course of the book Vanessa is forced to confront what happened between her and Strayne and it’s devastating. This book is so stunningly written and it never shies away from the reality of what happened to Vanessa. This is a book that will really stay with me and I highly recommend it.

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

I love Louise Candlish’s writing so have been looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint! The novel follows Jamie and his wife Claire, and a younger couple they become friends with, Kit and Melia. Claire and Jamie live in a big posh house that Claire inherited but Kit is obsessed with money and status. The novel opens with Jamie being questioned as Kit has disappeared and it seems he was the last person to see him. The timeline then goes back and forth between the present day and the year previous when the two men first met and became friends. This novel is increasingly dark and twisted and I loved that! Everyone in this book seems to be obsessed with status and where they are in relation to others which makes them so unlikeable and yet fascinating at the same time. Nothing is quite as it seems with this one, it keeps you guessing! I recommend it!

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel The Perfect Betrayal so I was excited to read her new one. This book follows two women – Jenna and Sophie. Jenna is a busy A&E doctor and mum of two. She seems to have a perfect life but now someone is stalking her. She is increasingly anxious about the stalker and tries to find out more about them. Then one day he arrives in A&E after a serious accident and she is the doctor in charge. She has to decide if she’s treat him like any other patient or take matters into her own hands. Sophie is feeling increasingly trapped in her relationship. She loves the apartment they share but her boyfriend is tracking her movements and wanting her to account for where she has been every minute of the day. I was curious if the two women’s lives would interconnect and what would happen with Jenna’s stalker. I was gripped by this one and found it a fast-paced read. The first half is quite a slow-build and then the book starts accelerating – I really liked this pacing, it made me feel like I was trapped in this situation with Jenna. I recommend this one!

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

I’ve previously read and loved The Rumour by this author so was looking forward to this one, and I did really enjoy it. It follows Astrid who is a recovering alcoholic and as a result of her problems is back living with her mum. She joins a local AA meeting and there meets two women – Rosie and Helen. She hits it off with one but is quickly suspicious of the other. She also soon feels like she is being followed and watched. I do love an unreliable narrator so loved how I wasn’t always sure about whether Astrid was telling us the truth of what happened. I enjoyed seeing Astrid trying to make a new life for herself and felt for her when she agonised over how much of her past she should reveal, and when. I did see where this book was going from early on but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment as I was keen to know if Astrid was going to be okay in the end. Plus there was more than meets the eye when the denouement does come!

Mini Book Reviews: Heatstroke | Blurred Lines | All The Lonely People | The 24-Hour Cafe

Today I’m sharing another selection of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently.

Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

This is such a brilliant read – so intense and claustrophobic but impossible to put down! The novel follows Rachel, mum to Mia and also teacher to her peers so when Mia’s friend Lily goes missing Rachel becomes increasingly obsessed with what might have happened. I read this book in the garden on a very hot day and it really added to the tension emanating from the pages I was reading. There are shocks in store in the novel but there is also a blending of what is actually happening and what is imagined to be happening, which gives the book a dreamlike feel. I got completely swept up in this and had no idea how it would all play out in the end. I definitely recommend this one!

Blurred Lines by Hannh Begbie

Blurred Lines is a prescient novel that really makes you think. It follows Becky who is on the verge of real success in her career but one night she walks into her boss’ house and sees him with a woman who is not his wife. Later the woman accuses him of rape and Becky is forced to think that what she saw may not have been consensual and is paralysed over what to do about it. The novel also goes back in time to Becky’s past and the awful thing that happened to her as a teenager which altered the course of her own life. I found this to be a really gripping novel and one that makes you put yourself in these women’s shoes and think about what you would do. It’s not always black and white especially when past trauma is still affecting you. I did find some aspects of the novel to be predictable but that didn’t stop me being gripped because I just wanted to know if Becky was going to be okay. I recommend this one.

All the Lonely People by David Owen

I had this novel on my NetGalley shelf unread for way longer than I should have and I’m kicking myself now because I very much enjoyed this book. It follows Kat who is very lonely, she has no friends at school but lives for her online friends. She becomes the victim of a cruel ‘prank’ which forces her to close her online accounts and she begins to literally fade away. It also follows Wesley who is part of the group who pranked her but we soon see he’s not like the other boys involved and he feels very guilty. We soon learn that he also has a lonely life and has more responsibility on his young shoulders than he should have. I found this such an insightful novel that really explores loneliness and what it’s like to just want to disappear from your own life. It moved me more than I thought it would and it made me think. The use of the fade is really clever and poignant. This is a book that I keep thinking about it and is one that I’m sure will stay with me. I highly recommend it.

The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

This is book 7 from my 20 Books of Summer TBR!

I was lucky to receive an ARC of this earlier this year but somehow it lingered on my bookcase until last week. When I finally picked it up I devoured it in just two sittings and very much enjoyed it. It follows Hannah and Mona who work shifts in a 24-hour cafe in London. The novel first follows Hannah’s story, and then halfway through it switches to Mona. We see how they came to be friends and how close they are but also the way small hurts become bigger ones when not acknowledged. I really felt for both of them as the novel progressed. We also meet quite a few of the customers to the cafe as they briefly pass through and I loved this part of the book. There are small acts of kindness that run through the novel and it warmed my heart. I recommend this one, it’s a perfect novel to escape into during these strange times we’re currently living in. It will warm your heart!

Mini Book Reviews: The Old You | While I Was Sleeping | Little Disasters | Fleishman is in Trouble

Today I’m sharing a new selection of books that I’ve read recently. The first two are from my 20 Books of Summer TBR so I’m still doing well with that. I think I’ve read six book from my stack now and have reviewed five of them, which makes me happy. The other two books are from NetGalley so I’m still getting through my review books, which I’m really pleased about.

The Old You by Louise Voss

I’ve had this book on my TBR for over a year and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner because I very much enjoyed it. The novel follows Lynn Naismith who is shocked and devastated when her husband Ed is diagnosed with early-onset Dementia. She struggles with the manifestations of his symptoms but then strange things start happening in and around the house and she begins to question herself. This novel is so twisty and just when you think you have a grip of it the rug is pulled from under you yet again. As it progresses we learn more about Lynn, and more about Ed’s past and nothing is quite as it seemed at the start. I devoured this book in a couple of sittings and highly recommend it.

While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

This is a book I was sent from a publicist a couple of years ago and it got forgotten about on my bookcase. I do love Dani Atkins’ writing so I picked it up whilst sitting out in the garden one day last week and I read the whole book in one go! The novel follows Maddie as she wakes from a coma after being hit by a car. Life has change quite a bit for her and she has a lot to get used to. It also follows Chloe who is a hospital volunteer who gets to know Maddie’s fiance Ryan. We spend a lot of time getting to know both of these women, and there is so much heart in this book. It’s a novel that will bring a lump to your throat more than once but it will also restore your faith in human nature. While I Was Sleeping was so much more than I thought it was going to be and I very much enjoyed it. I definitely recommend this one!

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

I read and enjoyed Anatomy of a Scandal by this author but Little Disasters is even better! This book follows Jess – all her friends think she’s a perfect stay-at-home mum devoted to her children but when an incident happens and her baby is badly hurt conclusions are jumped to. Liz is Jess’ best friend and also the hospital consultant on duty when Jess brings her baby in. The novel follows the two women as they struggle with what happened and the fall out from it. There is the thriller element to this novel of wanting to know what happened and how but more than that it’s an exploration of the pressures on women, and the tension that runs through some female friendships which makes it hard to be honest when you’re struggling. This is an intense, gripping novel and one that refuses to leave me – I’m still thinking about it and I read it a few weeks ago now. I recommend it!

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

This is a novel that I got from NetGalley and I had a couple of false starts with it before deciding to borrow the audio book from the library and I have to admit that it did work better for me on audio. The novel opens with Toby Fleishman – a recently separated 41 year old who is suddenly having to cope with his two children on his own as his wife Rachel has seemingly had enough. What follows is a self-obsessed, arrogant man who spends pages and pages telling us all about the women he’s slept with or is flirting with online. In between that he’s constantly bad-mouthing Rachel. He never lets up! I had heard that this novel has a big twist partway through that makes it so worth the first half but to be honest I guessed what would happen. Ultimately, I just felt very sorry for the two children caught up in this, and to a lesser extent for Rachel. I did enjoy the latter stage of the book more than the first part but ultimately it wasn’t a novel for me.

Mini Book Reviews: Evening Primrose | When the Time Comes | Born Lippy | You and Me, Always

Today I’m sharing mini reviews of some of the books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently. The first is one that I’ve had on my NetGalley shelf for a little while and the other three are all books from my 20 Books of Summer TBR so I’m happy to have got to all of these books.

When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill

I didn’t realise this was the third book in a series until after I’d finished it but it works perfectly as a standalone. This novel follows what happens in the wake of Jenny Buckley’s death. Her estranged husband says it was suicide but the police think it was murder. The novel follows the perspectives of quite a few characters and goes back and time to just before and after Jenny’s death. I loved the way we slowly build up a picture of who everyone is and begin to suspect what might have happened and whether anyone else was involved. I did think there were perhaps too many story strands going on and one in particular involving the detective was distracting. Having said that I was invested in finding out what happened and I did enjoy reading it.

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

This novel was different to what I was expecting but I very much enjoyed it all the same. It opens with Lily opening the last letter her late mother had written for her and this leads to Lily going looking for her mother’s first love. She also discovers that her best friend Patsy is hiding a man in her flat, and she accidentally meets this man! The book follows Lily and the people in her life and it’s so heartwarming and such a lovely read. It’s perfect for some escapist summer reading and I recommend it.

Evening Primrose by Kopana Matlwa

This is an incredible novella that explores xenophobia through the viewpoint of Masechaba, a young doctor in South Africa. This book packs so much into its few pages and I was spellbound by it. Masechaba’s struggles with her own body through her periods was so visceral and relatable, and later the horrific thing that happens to her along with the aftermath was so hard to read and yet I couldn’t look away. I added this book to my 20 Books of Summer TBR and I’m so glad that I finally got to read it because it’s an incredible book and I highly recommend it.

Born Lippy: How To Do Female by Jo Brand

This was one of my 20 Books of Summer TBR and the first one I read and I really enjoyed it. Jo Brand tells her stories and gives advice in her own unique way and it was exactly the book I needed. I sometimes feel (even as a 41 year old) lost that I don’t have my mum and when you need advice or guidance that you haven’t anyone else to ask where do you go? Jo Brand writes in a no-nonsense fashion about all kinds of situations that woman find themselves in and I really appreciated it. There is her trademark humour running through the book too, which lightens is where lightness is needed. I’m so glad that I got the chance to read this book and I recommend it.

Mini Book Reviews: Living My Best Life | One Split Second | In Five Years | The Babysitter

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

Living My Best Life by Claire Frost

This is a lovely feel-good novel that follows two women in alternating chapters. Bell is struggling to move on after her long-term boyfriend dumps her. She keeps scrolling through social media and comparing other people’s perfect lives to her own. Millie is a single mum who is a successful instagram influencer and from the outside her life seems utterly perfect but the reality is she borrows the clothes she models and she filters everything to make it look sunnier and happier. Eventually the two women cross paths and find a friendship that enriches both of their lives. I found this a lovely summer read and really enjoyed it. I appreciated that both women were in their 30s, with Bell close to 40 and it felt I could really identify with them. I’d recommend this one if you are looking for a light, fun read for the summer.

One Split Second by Caroline Bond

This is a heartbreaking novel that follows five young people and their families in the aftermath of an horrific car accident. It opens with the accident and the parents all waiting to hear if their teenagers are alive or badly hurt and then follows the before and after as we see the fall out from that awful night. This was one of those books that I was thinking about whenever I wasn’t reading it. All of the characters felt real to me and I was absorbed in seeing how they all had different battles to face and how they all dealt with what had happened. This is a novel of resilience, of how people find their way through the darkest of times and eventually find a way to be okay in the new world they’ve found themselves in. I highly recommend this one!

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

I was intrigued to read this book after reading the blurb – Dannie has the most amazing night when her boyfriend finally proposes and she accepts but then later that night she has a dream of five years in the future when she’s living with a different man in a different apartment and it unnerves her. Then one day she meets that very man and it starts to unravel her life. I really enjoyed reading all about this and was really intrigued but the thing I loved most about this novel was the gorgeous friendship Dannie has with Bella. For me, they had the true love story and it was their story more than any other in this book that broke my heart and mended it again. It was so relatable and believable and I just adored it. It reminded me of my late best friend, Bella is so like her and it felt like I had her back for the time I was reading this novel. I read this book a few weeks ago now and it’s still swirling through my mind, I already want to go back and read it all over again. I can’t recommend this one highly enough!

The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

I read this book on the Pigeonhole app so I got one stave a day for ten days and this book was perfect for reading on there. Every time I reached the end of a stave I was practically counting the hours waiting for the next stave as I just had to know more! The Babysitter follows a cast of characters in the aftermath of Caroline Harvey being found murdered and the baby she was looking after has gone missing. The prime suspect is her married lover Callum but there is a whole list of people who have a potential motive. We follow the suspects and the police and it’s such a rollercoaster ride of a novel with twists and turns galore! I didn’t trust a single person in this book, I kept changing my mind about who could have done it and I only worked it out a few pages before it was actually revealed whodunit! I very much enjoyed this one and highly recommend it!

Mini Book Reviews: The Day We Met | His and Hers | The Familiar Dark | Funny Weather

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read and enjoyed over the last couple of weeks.

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

I’ve shamefully had this book on my NetGalley shelf for over a year and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner because I completely and utterly adored this book! It follows Stephanie and Jamie who meet on an art course and feel such a strong connection to each other. They swap numbers and hope to see each other in a year’s time at the next art retreat. We then follow them in alternating chapters as they navigate their lives and they see each other once a year. They know they have strong feelings but they’re married to other people and don’t know what they should do. I know infidelity is a tricky subject to cover but I couldn’t help but root for Stephanie and Jamie. The way they expressed feelings through sharing meaningful songs was so beautiful. I don’t want to say too much more about this book as I’m wary of spoilers so I’ll just say that I loved this novel and I highly recommend it.

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

I read and loved The Roanoke Girls and so had very high hopes for this novel and I can say that it easily exceeded them. I read this book in one sitting, I just couldn’t put it down even as it was breaking my heart. The novel follows Evie in the immediate aftermath of finding out that her daughter and her daughter’s best friend have been murdered. Evie is utterly broken by this news but she steels herself to go back to the darker parts of her community where she grew up because she wants answers. She is so angry and so hurt and I was rooting for her all the way through. There are twists and turns along the way but this is really a novel about the darkest elements of a community and how hard it is to escape. This is a gritty, dark novel but Evie is so real and I adored the writing. I recommend this one!

His and Hers by Alice Feeney

I loved Alice Feeney’s debut novel Sometimes I Lie and this is a return to form! His and Hers follows Anna, an ambitious TV news reporter, and her ex-husband Jack, a police detective in alternating chapters. I found this such a fun read as seeing things from each of their points of view and realising that one of them might have set the other one up made for such a fast-paced read! I kept changing my mind about who I thought was behind the murders, and ultimately whilst I did guess how it was going to end it didn’t spoilt how good of a read this was. It was such a rollercoaster ride and I very much enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read whatever Alice Feeney writes next but in the meantime I recommend this book!

Funny Weather by Olivia Laing

This my first book by Olivia Laing and I will definitely read more of her work in the future. Funny Weather is an essay collection and some of the essays I loved and found fascinating, I actually looked up some of the artists she wrote about to find out more about them and their work. Others were about people I already know about and I really connected with them, such as the essay on Freddie Mercury (he was the first famous person whose death made me cry too). There were some essays that just felt too short and too surface level though which meant I didn’t get much out of them and there wasn’t enough to pique my interest to look the artists up. Mostly I enjoyed this book though and I would recommend it.

Mini Book Reviews: Just My Luck | The Catch | One Hundred and Fifty Two Days | A Dark Matter

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

Just My Luck by Adele Parks

I really enjoyed this book, it kept me gripped all the way through! The novel follows Jake and Lexi who are married with two children. Every weekend they play the lottery with two couples they’ve known since their children were babies. Only one week their numbers come up and Jake and Lexi say they are the sole winners as the other two couples didn’t put their money in the previous weekend. The novel then follows the fall out, and the far-reaching actions and repercussions that no one could have foreseen. There is some suspension of disbelief required at times but I didn’t mind that, I adored seeing where this novel was going to take me. I’d recommend this one if you’re looking for a domestic thriller that keeps you on your toes!

The Catch by T. M. Logan

I’ve read and enjoyed T. M. Logan’s previous novels so I was delighted to get a copy of his new one from NetGalley recently. I love the way this author takes ordinary people living ordinary lives and he throws a grenade into those lives and we get to see what happens. In The Catch Ed and Claire meet their daughter Abbie’s new boyfriend Ryan, and he seems very nice. Only Ed is immediately suspicious of this man and is determined to find out more about him. This is another novel where you suspend your disbelief and enjoy the rollercoaster ride that you’re on and I really enjoyed it. There are twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting, it’s hard to see where this novel might go and I loved that. I recommend it!

One Hundred and Fifty Two Days by Giles Paley-Phillips

This is a beautiful novel written in verse about a teenage boy coming to terms with his mum’s illness and death. Whilst his mum is very ill he contracts pneumonia and so isn’t allowed to visit her. I loved the honesty throughout this book – it’s clear this boy loves his mum and misses seeing her but he also focuses a lot on his physio Freya who he feels understands him. There is so much for him to process, I really felt for him. There are a few moments in this book that made me cry – my mum died when I was in my 20s and I empathised with the pain he was in. I loved his relationship with his Nana Q, I was so glad he had her to walk beside him as his father seemed to grow more distant. All in all this is a beautiful, honest and moving novel and I recommend it.

A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

I loved Doug Johnstone’s previous novel so was very keen to read his latest and I’m so happy to say that I adored it. A Dark Matter is set in a funeral home and follows three generations of the Skelf family. The family also work as private investigators and often the two businesses converge! I loved reading from the perspective of each of the women – Dorothy, the head of the family, Jenny the daughter and Hannah the grand-daughter. All have their own dramas and issues going on and I was fully invested in all of them. There is so much heart in this book but it’s also full of black humour and I loved the way Doug Johnstone makes his characters so real and believable. I already can’t wait to read the next book in the series and to see how they all are what they’re getting up to now!

Mini Book Reviews: Girl, Woman, Other | Made to be Broken | Big Lies in a Small Town | An Almost Zero Waste Life

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

 

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Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

I have to start by saying that this is the best book I’ve read this year so far; it’s utterly incredible! I put off reading it for a little while as I got it into my head that it was going to be difficult but it really wasn’t.  It’s set out in five sections – the first four each have three sections following a different woman and the final section brings everything together. I love how much we learn about each woman and how distinct they are, and I loved discovering how each female in the group of three were connected. There is so much to learn about these woman and every single one was fascinating and believable. I got absorbed in each individual’s story and the novel as a whole, it’s such a brilliant and beautiful book and is one I will definitely re-read in the future. In fact I already want to go back and read it again now and I rarely feel like that on finishing a book. If you haven’t already read this one then I urge you to pick it up soon. 

 

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Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few Diane Chamberlain novels over the years but I think this one is my new favourite of hers. I’ve been in a reading slump in recent weeks but this book grabbed my attention from the first chapter and I got swept up in this story. The novel follows two women in two different timelines and we gradually learn each of their stories. Often in a novel with two timelines I feel more invested in one than the other but this book had me equally gripped by both, the pacing is perfect and each story is gripping. I loved leaning about Anna, a young artist in the 1940s who moves to a small town to paint a mural after winning a contest. She has to battle prejudice from being female, and the way the locals think she’s ousted their entrant in the contest. In the present day Morgan is released from prison early in order to restore a mural, even though she knows very little about art restoration. This was such a good read and I definitely recommend it.

 

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Made to be Broken by Rebecca Bradley

I read and loved the first book in this series, Shallow Waters, when it was first released so I’m kicking myself that it’s taken me so long to pick up the second book. I’m really glad I finally did though because this book is every bit as good as the first. We follow Detective Hannah Robbins and her team again as they’re still coming to terms with what happened in Shallow Waters and now there is a serial killer on their patch. The novel also gives us the perspective of the killer which really adds to the tension and gives insight into what is going on. I found the plot of this book to be really refreshing – both the motive for the killings and the way the murders were carried out was different to other crime thrillers I’ve read before. I highly recommend this book and I can’t wait to start reading book three!

 

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An Almost Zero Waste Life by Megan Weldon

This is a beautifully produced book that gives ideas about how to move towards a zero waste life. It’s aimed at ordinary people living in ordinary homes so you don’t need to have a huge garden in order to start following some of the suggestions in this book, which I really appreciated. There are a lot of pretty illustrations throughout the book, which makes you keen to keep picking this book up and reading a bit more, it didn’t feel like I was being lectured at any point. I did know a fair bit of what was in this book already but this book made for a really good motivator and a reminder that I need to be aware of what I bring into my home and how I dispose of rubbish. I’d recommend this one to anyone who wants to learn more about living a zero waste life!

 

 

Mini Book Reviews: The Flight | The Guest List | The Alibi Girl | The Recovery of Rose Gold

mini reviews

Today I want to share another selection of mini book reviews of some mystery and thriller novels that I’ve read and enjoyed recently.

 

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The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

This is such a gripping novel that is both a thriller and an exploration about what makes a person the way they are. It follows Rose Gold and her mother Patty in the present day where Patty is released from prison after five years, having served her time for the abuse of Rose Gold throughout her childhood. It seems that Rose Gold wants to forgive her mother for all she did in making her very ill in order to get attention from others but all is not quite as it seems. Rose Gold is a very messed up adult and she seems outwardly to be forgiving of her mother but there is definitely something more under the surface. This is a page-turner and there are shocks in store but most of all it looks at what makes us the way we are – are we a product of our upbringing or are we born the way we are? I found this was a novel that hasn’t left me since I finished reading it, I keep thinking of Patty and Rose Gold. I definitely recommend this book!

 

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The Alibi Girl by C. J. Skuse

I received an ARC of this from NetGalley but I decided to buy the audio book and listen to it as I’ve enjoyed other books by the author on audio. I found this such a compelling book to listen to and it was perfect for me whilst I was coming out of a reading slump as I just didn’t want to stop listening. In the beginning of this book we meet Mary and her baby in a hairdressers where she talks about her other children and husband. But as she’s leaving she’s fearful of a man that arrives, and as she runs down the street someone else shouts after her but calls her by a different name! It turns out she’s not Mary at all but Joanne. The novel then flicks back and forth between the present day, and the past where we learn about Joanna’s childhood. Joanna has a lot of alibis – she gives different names and different stories to everyone she meets and slowly we learn why. Initially this gave me Sweetpea (one of C. J. Skuse’s previous novels) vibes but the further into it you get the more you see why Joanna is the way she is, it breaks your heart. I was rooting for her as the book went along and it becomes clear she’s not a liar for the sake of it, there is way more to it. This book has an ending that may divide readers but I thought it was perfect, even though it made me cry. I highly recommend this one!

 

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The Guest List by Lucy Foley

I enjoyed Lucy Foley’s previous novel The Hunting Party but her new one The Guest List is even better! A wedding is about to take place on a remote island and the main wedding party are gradually arriving. We meet the bride, the plus one, the bride’s sister, the wedding planner and others and the novel is told from different perspectives throughout. The island quickly becomes even more isolated when the bad weather draws in and we know from early on that someone dies so the book is predominantly told in the lead up to the wedding but there are small chapters in the aftermath. I loved how the tension builds in this novel and you become suspicious of everyone and wonder why they are the way they are. I did think I’d worked the whodunnit and why fairly early on but boy was I wrong! There are so many twists and turns in this book and as you see it all unravel the tension just ramps up and up. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it!

 

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The Flight by Julie Clark

I got this book from NetGalley and I’m so happy I was approved as it’s such a gripping novel! It follows two women from very different walks of life who become caught up in each other’s lives. Claire is married to a very controlling man but because of who he is and the power he holds she can’t escape him. On a trip he sends her on she gets her way out when a woman who looks a little like her approaches her wanting to swap places and each get on the others flight! We soon learn that the plane has crashed and the media believes Claire was on it. The novel is told from Claire’s perspective going forwards as she tries to remain hidden. It’s also told from Eva’s point of view in the months leading up to her swapping flights with Claire. I was equally invested in both women’s stories and was hoping both would escape their pasts and find a way to make a new life. There are twists and turns along the way that I wasn’t expecting so this book really kept me on my toes, I felt really quite bereft on finishing it. I recommend this one too!

Mini Book Reviews: Dear Edward | Rules for Perfect Murders | What She Saw Last Night | I Want You Gone

This year has been a really up and down year for reading. It started off great but then I was quite unwell late January into February and I barely read anything. I was just starting to feel better when lockdown happened and my concentration has been rubbish up until the last few days. This means there are books that have been read over really long periods or that I was reading when I felt so unwell and the details of plots are no longer strong in my mind. So today I’m doing mini book reviews of some of those novels.

 

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Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

This is a stunning book that I read back in February and I still find myself thinking about it. It’s the story of Edward who boards a plane with his family and ends up being the sole survivor when it crashes. We then follow Edward as he goes to live with his Aunt and Uncle and has to work through the grief of losing his family and having to find a new life for himself in amongst all the guilt and fear. He also has the added struggle of being the only survivor and having to deal with all the attention that this brings, and all the focus on him from the families who lost their loved ones on the flight. The novel is told in alternating chapters with one focusing on Edward now, and one focusing on the plane during its ill-fated flight. This way of telling the story made is so fast-paced but also incredibly emotional to read. I found myself really affected by this book and it’s one I think I will re-read in the future. I highly recommend it.

 

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Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

This book was irresistible to me when I heard what it was about. It’s a crime thriller where all the murders committed are copycats of murders from famous works of fiction! (I actually looked up what the books were before I started reading so I could make sure I’d read them so as not to get any spoilers!). Bookshop owner Malcom posted a blog post a few years ago entitled Eight Perfect Murders and now it seems someone is using that post as a blueprint for serial murder. The FBI are soon knocking on Malcom’s door wanting to know what he knows and he is shocked at the thought someone could do this. He soon finds himself embroiled in the investigation and what follows is a rollercoaster ride as we slowly learn the truth about the murders! I’m a huge Peter Swanson fan and this book met all my expectations for it. I recommend this one!

 

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When She Saw the Light by M. J. Cross

I wanted to read this book as soon as I first read the blurb and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint. Jenny boards the sleeper train and sees a young woman with a child boarding just ahead of her. During the journey the woman is found dead but there is no evidence that the child ever existed! What follows is Jenny’s mission to find out who the woman was and to locate the child. This novel does require some suspension of disbelief at times but I don’t mind that in a thriller that races along and keeps me completely engaged in what is happening and this one certainly did that. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming but it was very satisfying to see how everything turned out. I’ll definitely be reading more by this author in the future.

 

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I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

This is a creepy thriller! The main character Laura sees her own obituary in the local paper which is then posted on Facebook. More unnerving things happen and it really begins to affect her work and her state of mind. There are quite a few people in Laura’s life who she becomes suspicious of but she can’t put her finger on who exactly would be doing this to her or why. I did find Laura a little irritating in the way she reacted to things but at the same time I could understand why when she was so flummoxed at why this might be being done to her. This is a quick read and I would look out for more books by this author in the future.

Mini #BookReviews: One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis | 17 Church Row by James Carol | Dare Me by Megan Abbott

mini reviews

Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of books that I’ve recently read!

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One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

I started reading this book at the very end of 2019 and finished it a few days ago. The novel follows Vicky who one day makes a terrible error of judgement and something happens which leads to her best friend Amber helping her keep it quiet. What follows is a novel where you’re not sure who to trust. In between the chapters in the present day there are chapters from the past but it’s not clear until later in the novel who this person is. I swung from thinking one thing to another and I was never quite sure what was going on until just before it was fully revealed! I did find that the latter stages of the novel required some suspension of disbelief but I didn’t care because by then I was so invested in the characters and just wanted to know what was going to happen. I enjoyed this book and will definitely read more by Emma Curtis in the future!

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17 Church Row by James Carol

This novel appealed to me as soon as I read that it involved a very high-tech house! Even though the thought of what may be done is terrifying I can’t help but be drawn to books like this! This novel felt mysterious from the start and I wanted to know about this young family and why they were moving. They seem to move to this new house very quickly without much thought or research so I was intrigued! It turns out they’ve been through an awful tragedy and are trying to find a way to move forward with their lives. Unfortunately for them the tech in this house is still being tested and they end up unwittingly becoming pawns in someone else’s game. I’m going to be honest and say that while I loved the first half of the book, the second half didn’t quite live up to it for me. The book got a bit far-fetched and it lost me a little. Having said that I did read this in just a couple of sittings as I was keen to know what was going to happen so I did still enjoy it.

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Dare Me by Megan Abbott

This book has been on my TBR ever since it was published so I wanted to make it a priority this year so when I spotted the audio book on BorrowBox I decided to part read and part listen to it. I found it hard to get into this book but once it grabbed me I was gripped. It follows Addy, a cheerleader in a teen squad and you get a real look at the toxic friendships that this environment sometimes fosters. There is also the coach who is very friendly with some of the girls but it’s clear from early on that she is playing them, although I wasn’t sure why. I’m torn about this book because the elements that I liked I really liked but ultimately I think perhaps I wasn’t the right audience for the book as it just didn’t fully click with me. I do love Megan Abbott’s writing though and I’ve enjoyed books by her before so I will definitely be looking out for more in the future.

It’s a Secret-Santa-off today as I review Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo and The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux!

Today I’m sharing mini reviews in the battle of the secret santas!

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The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

I love reading festive books in December and it’s always nice to mix up the romance with the crime fiction to keep it interesting! The Secret Santa is about secrets and murder in Aspen in the run up to Christmas! Real estate agent Claudine decides to combine the office secret santa with showing off a fabulous house to a pop star who is a potential buyer. It seems this house has a lot of history and someone in this group knows more than they’re letting on. I do love stories where a group of people come together and you know the past is going to catch up with them so this book was right up my street. I loved the snowy Aspen location and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. The secret santa game is done in such a way that it’s intense and people are clearly on edge as the gift giving goes along. The only thing for me was that I didn’t think the reader really had a chance at solving the whole mystery, it all felt a little out of nowhere but having said that there are more than one elements to the secret and the other reveals were brilliant. I enjoyed this book and will definitely look out for more by this author.

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Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo

This book is set in a secondary school and follows Angel Green as she’s revising hard for her scholarship exam and also gets involved in organising the school Christmas fundraiser with her estranged friend Caspar. This school also has an annual secret santa so throughout the month of December everyone receives gifts from a person chosen at random. Angel’s gifts seem really quite meaningful and she’s incredibly curious about who might be behind them. As Angel and Caspar work together on the fundraiser they begin to remember how much fun they had together as children and wonder if they could be friends again but Caspar is flaky and often leaves Angel to deal with the fundraiser at the last minute. She is frustrated by this and can’t work out what is going on with him. I enjoyed this book, it’s an incredibly sweet YA novel set in the run up to Christmas. It reminded me of being a teen and the way you would have no idea if someone likes you or not, and you’re too scared to try and find out. It’s a nostalgic read and I’m really glad I read it.

Book Reviews: Do Not Feed the Bear | Body Tourists | Snowglobe | All the Water in the World

mini reviews

Today I’m sharing a selection of mini book reviews of books that I’ve read and loved recently!

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Do Not Feed the Bear by Rachel Elliott

This book was sent to me by the publisher and it was a total surprise but I am so glad I got this book. Do Not Feed The Bear is a quirky, moving and brilliant novel that follows free-runner Sydney. She never feels like she can be still in life ever since something awful happened in her family the summer she was ten. This is a novel that really shows what grief is like, what feeling like you don’t belong is like but also what it is to find people who love you. I cried quite a bit when I read this book but I also smiled a lot and when I turned the final page my takeaway feeling was solace. This is a stunning book and one that has stolen a piece of my heart. I adore it and I highly recommend it!

 

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Body Tourists by Jane Rogers

This is not my usual kind of read but I spotted it on SJHigbee’s blog and her post made me want to read it and I’m so glad I did. This is set in a future where a private clinic has pioneered a medical technique that enables people to be brought back to life by having their memory bank transferred into young people’s bodies for fourteen days at a time. It’s a chance for people to put things right, to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones. The story is told from multiple viewpoints – the people who are brought back, the people who agree to give up their body for a time and the people running the clinic. There is so much in this novel, it’s so moving to think of having the chance to spend time with a loved one again and to have one more conversation so that really got to me. The novel is also so much about the ethics of paying people to sacrifice their own body for two weeks, the secrecy surrounding what actually happens and the way the truth is buried if anything goes wrong. It really is such a thought-provoking novel and it’s one that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. I recommend this one, and if you’re not sure it’s your type of book I urge you to give it a try.

 

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All the Water in the World by Karen Raney

This is a really moving novel told from dual perspectives – Maddy who is sixteen and has cancer, and her mum Eve. We hear from both of them in alternating chapters and it really is an exploration of coming to terms with loss and of trying to connect when things are going wrong. I really enjoyed that it fully explored both perspectives not just from the point of view of them as mother and daughter but also who they are as people. There is real honesty in this book and these two characters felt so real to me. This book really got me in the gut for so many reasons and it’s one that I keep finding myself thinking about. It’s tender, honest and stunning – I definitely recommend this book.

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Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

This is a gorgeous middle grade novel that follows 12 year old Clementine. Her mum disappeared when she was younger and now it’s just her and her dad. She one day finds a house and inside it’s full of snowglobes and people seem to be trapped inside them. This leads to Clem making huge discoveries about her lost mum, and herself. I don’t normally read fantasy but this is a lovely magical novel that I know I would have loved as a child. It’s a beautiful read that I’d recommend to everyone, it’s a perfect winter read to curl up with!

Non-Fiction November Round-Up and Mini Book Reviews!

Today I wanted to write a post to wrap-up my Non-Fiction November as I had such a lovely reading month. I didn’t fully stick to my planned TBR but I managed to read a lot of non-fiction and I enjoyed everything I read. Some books I’ve already reviewed so will link back to those and the others I will briefly review in this post.

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

This book had been on my TBR for quite a while so I wanted to make sure I got to it in November and I’m really glad I did. My review is here.

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was published so I’m really glad I finally picked it up. I really enjoyed reading this and found it so interesting. I’m a huge Joy Division fan so already knew a lot about the band but I still learnt things in this book that I didn’t know before. Peter Hook is so open in this book and it was really interesting to see Ian Curtis through his bandmate’s eyes, it gave a different perspective. I already have Peter Hook’s second memoir so I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times on Television by Louis Theroux

I love Louis Theroux’s documentaries on TV, I find his approach so different and engaging and he really brings so much out of his subjects. I was really keen to read this book so when I saw it on my library’s audio book app I immediately downloaded it. This book covers his life and how he got into TV. He takes you through his work and the different TV shows he’s made, along with his reflections as he looks back. There was quite a bit about Jimmy Savile, which I found really interesting. Louis narrates the audio book himself so I definitely recommend this format.

I Carried A Watermelon: Dirty Dancing and Me by Katy Brand

I only got this book after I’d made my TBR list for non-fiction November but I couldn’t resist reading it as soon as I got it. I loved this one and have reviewed it here.

The Undying: A Meditation on Modern Illness by Anne Boyer

This is another ARC that I wanted to make sure I got to in November. It was a tough read because of the subject matter but it’s very well-written and it made me think. My review is here.

My Autobiography by David Jason

I’m a real fan of David Jason, I’ve watched and loved so many series that he’s been in over the years (in particular Only Fools and Horses, and A Touch of Frost) so I was really keen to finally read his autobiography. This was such a fun read learning about his life and how he got into showbusiness. He has so many great stories from over the years – some hilarious and some very moving, and I very much enjoyed reading all of them. I recommend this book if you’re a fan, it’s such a good read.

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book a few weeks ago and have been so keen to read it. I’m so glad I picked it up as it’s such a good read. I’ve reviewed it here.

Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones

I’m not a fan of Owen Jones at all so I’m not sure how I came to own a copy of this book but I’m really glad that I decided to take a chance on it as it was a really interesting look at the working class.

The Death of a President by William Manchester

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages so when I finally bought the audio book a few months ago I knew I had to put it on my TBR for nonfiction November. This book covers the brief period before JFK was assassinated and then the days afterwards. It’s a really comprehensive look at what happened and how people reacted to it. I already knew a lot of what was in this book but there were still things that I didn’t know. It’s a fascinating book and I recommend it.

James Baldwin and the 1980s by Joseph Vogel

This book has been on my TBR for a couple of years as I’ve felt intimidated by it. I’m so pleased that I finally read it though as it was so interesting and it’s sparked off my interest in some other books as I want to know more. My review is here.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I bought the audio book of this and I’m so glad I did as it was a joy to listen to. I really enjoyed learning more about Michelle Obama and the life she has lived. It was fascinating to read about how her life was before she met Obama, to hear how she grew up and what her family was like. I then loved hearing the story of how she and Obama met and discovering how she felt about him getting into politics, also how it was for her and their daughters once he became president. This is a really open and honest memoir and I loved it!

Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly by Jim DeRogatis

I spotted this book on my library’s audio book app and immediately downloaded it. I hadn’t heard of the book before but I was intrigued to read it and I’m glad I did. This is an incredible piece of writing that is very well researched and put together. The journalist has followed the stories around R. Kelly for many years and eventually decided to put a book together. He interviews so many people, including R. Kelly’s accusers and the result is a brilliant expose. This isn’t always an easy book to read because of the subject matter but if you’re at all interested in this case I recommend it.

Logical Family: A Memoir by Armistead Maupin

I bought this book on kindle when it was first published but I ended up listening to the audio book during the month. I adored it as it’s read by Armistead Maupin himself so it was a lovely experience to hear him tell his own story. This is such a fascinating memoir of a life well-lived. He talks of how he was inspired to create some of the characters in Tales of the City, he shares about his upbringing and all the loss he experienced during the AIDS crisis. There is humour and sadness, and it’s just a wonderful memoir.

How To Be Human: A Manual by Ruby Wax

This is another book that I wanted to make sure to get to in November and I found it a good read. My review is here.

The Heretics by Will Storr

I found this book on my library audio book service so downloaded it on a whim and I’m glad I did. This wasn’t as in depth on any of the subjects covered as I was expecting but it was still such an engaging book. I enjoyed it.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This book is such an incredible read and one I’m so pleased I read. I’m in awe of how much work and research must have gone into this book as the author put together a biography of each of these five women. It’s all about their lives, rather than about who killed them and it really made them real to me. I found this such a moving read and I felt so emotional about each of the women, I won’t ever forget them. This is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year and I’ll be recommending it to everyone.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I really enjoyed this essay collection and got a lot so much out of reading it. My review is here if you’d like to know more.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

I read Oranges are not the Only Fruit many years ago but despite buying this memoir when it was published I had never got to read it. I’m so glad I spotted it on my library’s audio book app as it meant I could listen to the author read it to me. This is such an interesting and moving book, one that really made me think as I was reading it. There is such honesty in the book and I’m so glad I finally read it.

Dopesick by Beth Macy

This is such an important book and one I’m so glad I read but it was a tough read. I’ve been interested in the rise of the opioid epidemic for a few years now but even so this book was still so eye-opening to me. Macy gives the stats and the politics but she also really focuses on the personal giving us the stories of people from all walks of life who have ended up addicted to opioids in one form or another. This book made me angry at how people are being failed by the system but it was also incredibly moving, I felt so emotional as I got to the end. This is not an easy read but it’s a book I highly recommend.

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell

I’m a huge David Bowie fan so was very keen to read this book. It’s a really enjoyable book about the one hundred books that David Bowie considered the most influential. It’s a real mix of books and it’s fascinating to learn more about the ones I haven’t read yet (quite a few are now on my wish list now!). There is a list of all the books at the start so you get an overview of the titles. Then you get each title with a short essay about the book and what Bowie liked about it or what he took from it. At the end the author suggests a song or two that would work well with the book and I really liked that element. It made me take time to sit and think about the books and Bowie’s music and the influence that he took from what he was reading. Some of the links seems somewhat tenuous but others I knew of and it was interesting to get more understanding of them. I also have to mention how fab it was to see that the author thinks Tin Machine may get proper recognition one of these days – I’ve always thought they were under-rated and I love both of the Tin Machine albums. I definitely recommend this book to fans of David Bowie but I think readers in general who are looking to find some new books to read would also enjoy this.

 

Book Reviews: Constellations | If I Forget You | Histories | The School Friend

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Today I’m sharing a selection of mini reviews of books I’ve read recently!

 

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Constellations by Sinead Gleason

I added this book to my TBR after reading one of the essays in a newspaper article. The one I read was probably the one that had the biggest emotional impact on me as its about the death of a close friend, and it’s incredibly moving. The moment when you get a phone call telling you that someone the same age as you, someone you love, has died is something that never leaves you. I also really connected with all the stories Sinead told about her medical battles over the years as I know what it is to have a lifetime of health struggles and to have to adapt to them. I smiled at the story of when Sinead was in a wheelchair as a teenager and was dreading how the other teens would react to her but the boys just immediately started messing about with her chair and made her feel so normal. I had that exact same experience at age 13 and to this day I think about it whenever I’m feeling self-conscious about my disability. I definitely identified with Sinead’s take on the pain scale, I had a wry smile on my face reading that as it’s so hard to explain to others how pain feels and how bad it is. This is a beautiful collection that takes you through what it is to be a woman and I very much enjoyed it. I recommend it!

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The School Friend by Alison James

This is the kind of thriller I’m always drawn to – a novel told in past and present about something that people did as children that has been kept secret until now! It seems Lucy has the perfect life – a happy marriage, a lovely house and good friends but all is not as it seems and she needs to get away. This leads her to being back in contact with her childhood best friend Adele. Adele has lived a tough life never having money or much stability so seems opposite to Lucy but the two share a secret about the death of a friend they had as pre-teens. This book gripped me from start to finish, it did require suspension of disbelief but that didn’t stop it being a really enjoyable read!

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Histories by Sam Guglani

This is a collection of interlinked short stories set in an NHS hospital. I loved the way you get to see from the perspectives of lots of different people in the hospital – the doctors and nurses, the cleaners, the patients and the receptionists. Each person had their own story to tell but in the background or on the periphery you see other people’s stories. Later you see some of the background from the perspective of the person involved and it feels like being really close to a story and then slowly pulling back from it to make a fuller picture. I really enjoyed this book and found it’s one that is really staying with me. I highly recommend it!

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If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

Thomas Christopher Greene wrote one of my favourite books – The Headmaster’s Wife so I’ve been really looking forward to reading this book. I’m pleased to say that I really enjoyed it. The novel is told in alternating chapters from Henry and Margot, and also in the past and the present. This couple met and dated at university but were forced apart and they moved on with their lives. Then one day Henry sees Margot in New York and he wants to talk to her, to know what happened in her life. The longing and the missed opportunities in this book makes it such a bittersweet read. I read this in one sitting and I keep thinking about Henry and Margot ever since I finished reading it. I definitely recommend this one!

 

Book Reviews: James Baldwin and the 1980s | Chase the Rainbow | Furious Hours | The Dark Side of the Mind

 

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Today I’m sharing a selection of mini book reviews of some recent non-fiction books that were excellent reads!

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James Baldwin and the 1980s by Joseph Vogel

This book took me a while to read but I’m so glad that I kept going with it because it’s a fascinating read. I’ve read a couple of James Baldwin’s well-known books but I didn’t know as much about him and the context of when he was writing as I thought I did. This book covers sexuality, racism and the AIDS crisis all in the context of the 1980s and the political agenda of the time. I was fascinated by the chapter on AIDS and the play that Baldwin wrote that has never been published. The author brought this play, and the themes Baldwin was exploring, to life for me so whilst I might never get a chance to see or read this play I have an understanding of the work now. I was also fascinated by the chapter that focused on the Atlanta child murders. I’d heard about these murders from watching Mindhunter on Netflix but didn’t know anymore about it than that so I was appalled to read more of the background and aftermath of this case. Baldwin was fascinated by the focus on race and sexuality during the case and had a lot to say about how the case was handled. I’ve now put Baldwin’s Evidence of Things Not Seen on my wish list and I think this will be the next book of his that I pick up. This is quite an academic book but it’s absolutely well worth a read, I recommend it!

 

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Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was first published but I finally picked it up recently and I’m so glad I did. This is Poorna Bell’s story of her husband’s depression and addiction, and sadly his eventual suicide. This is such an honest and moving book, it’s hard to read at times but it’s well-written and that kept me turning the pages. Poorna Bell is so open about what happened with her husband, but also her own feelings and how it affected her living with someone who was living with demons. She explores the aftermath of her husband’s death – both the immediate weeks and then some time later. The balance of seeing the time after as she begins to heal means this book shows the whole gamut of what it is to live through what she has. I recommend this book.

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The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

I bought this book recently and put it on my Non-Fiction November TBR and I’m so glad I got to read it as it’s such a fascinating book. Kerry Daynes is a forensic psychologist and in this book she shares her stories from her very first work placement in a prison and throughout her career. She has worked with all kinds of people and this book is so interesting. You can sense her frustration when the system fails but also her satisfaction when a person is helped. Some of what Kerry has had to deal with is shocking and terrifying but you get a real sense of what day to day life is like in her job. She has worked in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, homes for vulnerable women and has also done some TV work and private practice. This is one of those non-fiction books that is almost like reading fiction in that it’s near impossible to put down once you start reading – I read it in just two sittings and really enjoyed it. I recommend it!

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Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

I picked this book up because of the mention of Harper Lee and I’m so glad I did. The book isn’t all about her, but the story being told is fascinating none-the-less. The book is in three sections – the first is about Willie Maxwell, a man who murdered members of his family in order to claim the life insurance he’d taken out on them. The second part focuses on Willie’s lawyer Tom Radney and later the lawyer of the man who killed Willie. The third part of the book is the trial and this is where Harper Lee comes into it. She followed the trial closely and took notes intending to write a book. This section is so interesting as we learn about her close friendship with Truman Capote and how her helping him with In Cold Blood led her to want to write her own book about a murder trial. The whole book is fascinating though because it’s such a bizarre story and I found I just couldn’t put it down. I recommend it!

Book reviews: Platform Seven | The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr | The Music Shop | Trying

 

 

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Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of books I’ve read recently!

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Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

I did receive an ARC of this from NetGalley but I ended up listening to the audio book version from my local library. I absolutely loved this book, I was listening to it at every chance I got. The novel opens with the spirit of a woman lingering in a train station watching people and noticing the ones who seems drawn to Platform Seven – she feels a connection to them. As the novel goes on we go back in time and we see Lisa in the period before her death and find out what happened to her and why she is still haunting the station. I found this book so beautiful, it is stunningly written and I was completely invested in Lisa’s story. It took me to places that I wasn’t expecting and it explores some very prescient issues in our society today. I think this is my favourite of the books I’ve read by Louise Doughty to date and I highly recommend it.

 

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The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

I love Rachel Joyce’s writing so I’m ashamed that The Music Shop languished on my shelf for so long before I picked it up. However, I am delighted to say that when I did pick it up I adored it! It opens in the 1980s and we meet Frank who runs a record shop. He has a gift for finding his customers the exact record they need even if it’s not the one they were initially looking for. Records are being ousted by CDs though and Frank refuses to sell them in his shop. One day a woman faints outside his shop and he assists her. Later she returns wanting him to teach her about music. There is a real connection between the two but each of them fight it. We gradually learn why over the course of the novel. This book is beautiful, it has its really sad moments but overall it made me feel so happy. I think this is a book that I will re-read in the future when I’m in need of a feel-good read. I recommend it!

 

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The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

This is another lovely book! Elvira is in her 20s and lives with her mother. She lives by strict rules and routines and everything is fine if she can stick to them. One day her mum collapses and is hospitalised and Elvira suddenly has to cope with huge changes and upheaval. I loved Elvira! She struggles to understand some of society’s norms but she learns how to use a computer and begins to seek out some new rules. Things don’t always go to plan and she makes mistakes but her heart is always in the right place. There is sadness and loneliness running through the novel but there is also so much good. I loved seeing the world through Elvira’s eyes and I was rooting for her to be okay on her own. This is such an uplifting novel and I recommend it.

 

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Trying by Emily Phillips

I was drawn to this book by the stunning cover – I love the colours and the floral design, and how it’s only when you look again that you see the female reproductive system in there! Unfortunately, I have quite mixed feelings about the novel. The book follows Olivia and her husband Felix as they try to have a baby together. They have been trying for a while and now sex is mechanical and they aren’t as close as they used to be. There are some very funny moments in this novel, the very beginning had my cringing and giggling in equal measure! I empathised with Olivia about the seemingly endless baby-related posts all over social media, it feels overwhelming at times. I don’t know why this book didn’t fully click with me, it just didn’t. I still recommend it though if you like humorous reads with some emotional moments about modern life!

Book Reviews: Almost Love | How To Say Goodbye | The Other Half of Augusta Hope | Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel

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Today I’m sharing some more of my mini book reviews of books that I’ve read and loved recently.

 

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Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

Almost Love is such a powerful novel, it’s one of the best portrayals of how a person can lose themselves in the midst of a destructive relationship. It follows Sarah in the before when she meets Matthew, an older man, and gets into a sexual relationship with him. This is alternated with Sarah a couple of years in the future when she’s living with a different man in a committed relationship. Sarah falls for Matthew very quickly, she has feelings for him and she wants to be with him. Matthew wants something else from Sarah and she makes herself into the person he wants. He does things she doesn’t like but she can’t say no because she wants to be perfect for him even when she’s hurt by him. I found this so hard to read because I could absolutely see my younger self in her. I think a lot of women will be able to. It’s obvious he will never give her what she wants but she believes this will change. Somewhat inevitably she begins to self-destruct. The pain and hurt from this relationship is something she carries with her, it’s damaged her. She then hurts others without meaning too because her self-worth is so low. Sarah isn’t always likeable in this novel but she is relatable. This is a novel that I haven’t stopped thinking about since I read it. It was a tough read at times but it’s absolutely worth reading!

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How to Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

This is a wonderful novel that I very much enjoyed. It follows Grace Salmon. She works at a funeral parlour and she goes above and beyond in giving her clients the very best send off. She spends her time researching the deceased so she can make each funeral service personal and special. Grace seems quite a lonely person, she’s so focused on her job. One day she sets up a group for people to come and ask a funeral organiser questions and while the first group isn’t as busy as she’d hoped, she does begin to make connections with people who all have something in common. Grace begins to talk about her own life and you start to really understand who she is and why she is so conscientious in her job. This is such a brilliant novel – it’s a fun, light read whilst exploring loss in a very real way. It’s such a talent to mix the two and I was so impressed with this book. I cried whilst reading it but I also laughed out loud. I can’t wait to read more of Katy Colins’ writing. I highly recommend this book!

 

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The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

This is a beautiful novel! Augusta Hope is such a relatable character and I was rooting for her from the beginning of this novel all the way through. Augusta grows up with her twin sister Julia, but in between the chapters on their lives the novel also follows Parfait who lives in another part of the world and seems unconnected to the two sisters at first. This novel is all about finding the strength to get through the darkest of times, about accepting who you are in the wake of tragedy and finding happiness and contentment again. I don’t have enough superlatives to describe how stunning this book is, it really has made such an impact on me and I think it’s a book I will read again in the future. I particularly loved its exploration of fate, coincidence – about how in the aftermath of things we go over and over them and wonder if we could have known, could have acted differently. In the end it’s a novel about forgiving yourself for the things you couldn’t have known, couldn’t have changed. It made me cry, it made me smile and in the end I just felt really content. I highly recommend this book!

 

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Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

I loved Ruth Hogan’s first novel The Keeper of Lost Things so am delighted to say that this book lives up to it. This book follows Tilda in two timelines – we see her as a child as she’s struggling to understand the loss of her father and her struggling mother. This alternates with Tilda as an adult in the present now interested in re-visiting her past in the wake of her mother’s death. I really enjoyed this book, it’s very much character driven and you really get to understand Tilda and why she is the way she is. Through the novel we’re introduced to a wonderful cast of characters including the fabulous Queenie Malone! This book is a really emotional read at times but it’s also fun and beautiful… and there are plenty of surprises along the way too! It really captures life and I adored it. I recommend this one!

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews: The Wayward Girls | The Silent Ones | The Last | The July Girls

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Today I’m back with some more mini book reviews of some thrillers I’ve read in recent weeks!

 

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The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason

This is a novel that I was both desperate to read and majorly apprehensive about as I’m a total wimp when it comes to haunted house stories! I am so glad that I picked this one up though as it was such a good read and I read it all in one sitting! It follows sisters Loo and Bee in 1976 who live in the middle of nowhere in a ramshackle house that seems to have quite a few people coming and going. It alternates with the present day as we follow Lucy going back to her childhood home with a group who are investigating paranormal activity! I was gripped by this novel from the very beginning even though it did give me chills at times with the creepiness! I was so intrigued about what was going on in this house, especially as I grew up in a house that seemed to be haunted. I went back and forth about what I though might be happening in this novel – whether it was ghosts or if someone was playing mind games on the family. The conclusion when it comes is so utterly perfect, I loved it. It has made this a book that is really staying with me and I whole-heartedly recommend it!

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The Silent Ones by K. L. Slater

I listened to The Apartment by this author a few months ago and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading this book. I’m pleased to say it lived up to my hopes for it. The Silent Ones follows the immediate aftermath of an elderly lady being assaulted in her own home and two ten year old girls being arrested on suspicion of the attack. Neither girl will speak about what happened. The two girls are cousins and have grown up very close with their mums being sisters. The family dynamics are fascinating and tense as this book progresses. The parents of the sisters side with one over the other and we gradually find out what has happened in the past. Alongside this the two cousins begin to talk about what happened. The tension builds to such a level in this book that I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how everything was going to unfold. I really enjoyed this book and absolutely recommend it!

 

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The Last by Hanna Jameson

I was thrilled to be sent a copy of this book for review and I’m ashamed at how long it’s been on my TBR. I had a paperback but I downloaded the audio book from my library and part-read and part-listened to it. I found the premise of this book so intriguing – twenty people in a hotel in an isolated location when nuclear war causes large swathes of the world’s population to be wiped out. Then a body is found in the hotel and it’s clear that one of the guests is a murderer! I found this book gripping enough that I read it in just a couple of sittings but I did feel that it was a bit too meandering at times and that the tension wasn’t maintained throughout. It just lacked something, but because I thought it was building to one ending it kept me turning the pages. Unfortunately the ending wasn’t what I thought it might have been and it was a little disappointing.  As I said before though it did keep me turning the pages so I can say I did really like the writing style and I will definitely look out for another book by this author.

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The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

This was my first Phoebe Locke book but it definitely won’t be my last as it was such a brilliant read! This is a thriller that is set to the backdrop of the 7/7 bombings in London. Every year on this date a woman has gone missing and so far only one body has been found. Ten year old Addie begins to have suspicions of her father when he comes home covered in blood. She begins to look into things and it’s fascinating to see this story unfold from her perspective because due to her young age she doesn’t always grasp what she’s finding out. As she gets a bit older we see her navigate life with only her older sister to rely on and things aren’t easy. The mystery at the heart of this novel gradually unravels and the pace ramps up. I was holding my breath during parts of the book as it built towards its conclusion. It’s a brilliant crime thriller and I loved it. I highly recommend this one!

#BookReviews: The Carer | How It Was | Still Lives | The Water Cure

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Here are some more reviews of books that I’ve read recently:

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How It Was by Janet Ellis

I read and really enjoyed Janet Ellis’ debut novel The Butcher’s Hook so I was very keen to read her new book. It’s different to her first book but I still very much enjoyed it. It follows Marian, who is sitting in hospital next to her dying husband. She reads him old cards that she’s found and slowly falls into recollections of their lives together. The novel meanders and it can be a little hard to follow at times as you try to work out what point you are at in Marian’s life but I realised that I had to let myself just go where it was taking me and it became easier to follow the timeline then. Marion has had such heartbreak in her life, and the way she had to hide her intense grief for someone earlier in her life was stunningly written. I felt like I was right there with Marion and could feel all of her emotions. Later as she has to deal with her teenage daughter and all the complex emotions that this entails again gave me such empathy for her. She’s a flawed person but it’s impossible not to feel for her. I enjoyed this book but it’s only now that a little time has passed and I find myself still thinking about it that I can see just how good a book it is. I definitely recommend this one!

 

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Still Lives by Maria Hummell

This is a novel that I really wanted to read and yet didn’t pick up for ages after I got it. I think maybe on some level I knew I had to be in the exact right mood for it, and I’m so glad I waited because when I finally picked it up I read it in just two sittings! It follows Maggie who works for an art gallery and is working on the opening of a huge show of work by the new girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend. Kim Lord, the artist, has created a series of pictures where she has controversially painted her own image into the infamous murder scenes of women like Nicole Brown Simpson. Kim disappears on opening night and this leads to people analysing her paintings looking for a deeper message about where she might be. Maggie who already carries a lot of pain and regret becomes further melancholy and reflective about what might have happened. I adored this book – the message running through it about how murdered women are fetishised by the media is really well done and really makes you think. There is so much in this book alongside the mystery element and I really enjoyed it. I already want to read this book again so I definitely recommend it!

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The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

This novel follows three sisters who are brought up in an abusive, claustrophobic situation on an isolated island. We hear from each of them as well as their joint voice as they describe their world. It’s clearly a really difficult life but it’s never really explained where they are or why they’re there. I wasn’t sure if this was a dystopian novel or a post-apocalyptic one, or if the whole thing was a metaphor. It’s a feminist novel but it felt quite surface level to me and I was always kept at quite a distance so couldn’t connect with the characters. I have to say though that the writing is beautiful and it is this that kept me reading to the end. Overall I’m still not really sure what I think about this novel but I did enjoy the writing enough to want to read more by the author.

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The Carer by Deborah Moggach

I’m a big fan of this author’s novels so was thrilled to finally get a copy of The Carer and I’m really happy to say that I loved it. It follows two adult children – Phoebe and Robert – as they deal with their father James’ growing care needs and his relationship with his new carer Mandy. Phoebe seems to bear the brunt of organising their dad’s care and she resents how little Robert does. Robert feels very put upon in life generally and wishes the world would leave him alone so he can write his novel in peace. Mandy is jolly and fun and brings out a lighter side of James which increasingly concerns Phoebe and Robert but they can’t openly complain because this is what Mandy is there for. The family dynamics explored in this novel are so spot on for how life is that I kept smiling, or nodding my head as I recognised people in my own life in the characters at various points in the novel. This is such an engaging read that I keep thinking about ever since I finished reading. I will definitely re-read this book in the future. The Carer is a novel that I’m sure will resonate with a lot of people and I whole-heartedly recommend it!

#BookReviews: Forget Me Not | The Evidence Against You | Through the Wall | I Confess

 

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Here are some more mini reviews of books I’ve been reading recently! This post is a bit of a mixed bag with two books that I loved and two that I thought were okay.

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Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

I have to be honest here and say that this book became a must read for me entirely based on this brilliant cover! As soon as I saw it I had to grab a copy and read it right away. I’m so pleased to say that the novel lives up to the great cover and I very much enjoyed this crime thriller. It follows the discovery of the body of a young woman who has been murdered. The novel is told from the viewpoints of Elizabeth, who found the dead woman, and Rachel, the murdered woman’s best friend. Both woman have a lot in their own lives and so when the murder happens their nerves are brought to breaking point. I loved both strands of the novel and was keen to see how it was all going to turn out. I was thrilled that I was kept guessing until the reveal happened as it’s not very often that I can’t put the pieces together in a crime novel. I did have my suspicions and I was close but I didn’t get it figured out. Huge kudos to Claire Allan for keeping me on my toes! I loved this book, it’s Claire’s best thriller to date and I highly recommend it!

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The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister

I’ve read all of Gillian McAllister’s novels as they’ve been published and she has gone from strength to strength, she is now one of my auto-buy authors! This novel follows Izzy whose father has been in prison for murdering her mother and now he’s about to be released, and is claiming that he’s innocent! I loved Izzy, she’s such a believable and real character and I was rooting for her the whole way through this book. The loss of her mum when she was a teenager has really affected her life and she’s never really being able to escape from the tragedy. She’s even living her mum’s life in re-opening the restaurant that her mother owned. I loved seeing Izzy’s tentative steps towards having a relationship with her dad and was really hoping he was being honest with her. I was gripped the whole way through the book and I kept changing my mind about whether I thought her dad was being truthful or not. There were surprises in store in this book, which was great! I keep thinking of Izzy and wondering how she’s doing now. I highly recommend this book!

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Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

I was eagerly anticipating this novel but now I’ve read it I’m still not absolutely sure what I thought of it. It follows two women – Lexie who lives with her boyfriend Tom, and Harriet who lives on her own. They live next door to each other in an apartment block and they share a wall. I loved the early part of this book as we learn more about each of these women and see what they think of each other based on what they’ve heard through the wall. Each seems to think the other has a happier life, which I thought was really interesting to read about. As the novel went on though it required more and more suspension of disbelief and I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I had been. I was expecting it to go in a particular direction and when it didn’t I felt deflated. Perhaps this is much more a reflection on me than the book though. I’d still recommend it if you like novels about obsession!

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I Confess by Alex Barclay

This book is about a couple who’ve bought and renovated an old convent and have now invited old school friends to stay to celebrate one of their birthdays. The house is in a remote location and it’s a dark, stormy night so it feels like these friends are somewhat marooned in this house so when a body is found it’s terrifying to know they are all stuck there with a murderer. This is a fast-paced thriller that is full of secrets and lies and then all of the reveals and fallout. There aren’t many likeable characters in the novel and the only person that was likeable didn’t feel fleshed out enough for me, which was a little disappointing. I Confess does require a suspension of disbelief but that makes this more enjoyable as even though it’s a murder thriller it feels like escapism. This isn’t my favourite book in the genre but having said that I did read it in one sitting so it definitely held my attention all the way through.

#BookReviews: Dirty Little Secrets | Never Have I Ever | Call Me A Liar | Our Kind of Cruelty

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Here are a new selection of my thoughts on four more of the books that I’ve read in recent months!

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Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

This book was brilliant! I picked it up one afternoon and I literally didn’t stop reading until I’d turned the final page! It follows seven residents in a gated community in the aftermath of one of the neighbours being found dead. The neighbours seem like they’d be close-knit and yet Olive had been dead for three months before anyone realised! The novel follows each of these characters as we get to know their back stories and how well they know each other. They all have their own secrets and things they don’t want to come out but the investigation into the murder means everything has to come out into the open. This novel kept me on my toes all the way through. I couldn’t make my mind up who was most likely to have harmed Olive and what I eventually settled on was completely wrong! The end when it comes is shocking and deeply unsettling but it’s also such a satisfying end to the book. I loved this one and I’m now so keen to read more by Jo Spain! I definitely recommend this book!

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Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

I was really looking forward to reading this book and it was such a satisfying read. It follows Amy Whey who seems to have the perfect life, and she seems to be quite a perfect person. She lets her friend Charlotte host a book club in her house and one night a new neighbour, Roux, turns up and really shakes this group up by suggesting they play never have I ever and work back to revealing the worst thing they’ve ever done. Amy is immediately nervous and it’s apparent that she has skeletons in her closet. The novel then becomes a cat and mouse game as Amy and Roux try to outwit each other. I’m going to be honest here and say that while I was really drawn in by the opening to this book I did struggle with picking it back up whenever I’d put it down. Having said that there is a point about halfway through where it grabbed me and I read from there to the end in one sitting. It’s a clever thriller and something a bit different so I recommend it.

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Call Me A Liar by Colette McBeth

I really enjoy Colette McBeth’s writing so was thrilled to pick up her latest thriller. This book follows a group of work colleagues who are sent on a retreat. It soon becomes clear that this group all have secrets to hide and the pressure of being together in this enforced setting is going to cause cracks to show in people’s facades. We get to hear from each of the characters and this makes for a really gripping read as we begin to see how each of them think. This is such a tense read and you’re never quite sure of who to trust or what it might be that is really going on. It reached a point where I felt like I was trapped in this nightmare retreat with these people and unable to see a way back to the life I had before and I loved that about it.  This is such a twisty read and one that is really hard to put down once you’ve started reading.

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Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This book is such a gripping read that I read in one sitting! It follows Mike who is in love with Verity. They had a very intense relationship and loved playing a game called Crave on nights out. Crave involved Verity getting into a situation with a random man and when she gives the signal Mike swoops in and rescues her. So now that Verity has broken up with Mike and is moving on with her life he is certain that this is just an escalation of Crave and is determined to win her back. This look at obsession is so compelling and disturbing. It was fascinating being in Mike’s head and seeing how he sees things, and sometime I felt like I was on his side but there were moments when I thought of Verity and was shocked at myself that I hadn’t considered her feelings. This book is such an incredible look at control in relationships and how what one person sees as blurred lines another sees as terrifying. This book is one I still think about now and it’s weeks since I read it. It’s one I already want to read again and I definitely recommend it.

#BookReviews: When I Lost You | Those People | The Honeymoon | The Dangerous Kind

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Here is another selection of reviews of books that I read and enjoyed over the summer this year! I’m slowly catching up on reviewing all of the books that I read now!

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When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies

This is a novel that I was so keen to read and I’m really pleased to say that it lived up to my expectations. This is a novel that centres around an infant’s death, and the pathologist who believes the baby was murdered by one of her parents then begins receiving threatening letters. The novel is told in two timelines and looks at two teenagers who are in the care system, and in the present is the case looking at the murdered baby. I found this one of those novels that I just couldn’t put down, it had me hooked all the way through. I had my suspicions at various points in the novel but it was only a little while before the reveal that I finally put everything together. This novel is a mix of police procedural and thriller and it’s such a gripping and engaging read. I’m really happy to see that this is actually going to be the first book in the series as I loved the detectives and I can’t wait to read more!

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Those People by Louise Candlish

I love Louise Candlish’s writing so this book was a real treat! You know from the start that something bad has happened on this street but you don’t know exactly what or who to. The novel then follows interviews and the perspectives from each of the neighbours and you gradually learn what has led to the awful incident that has happened. I loved this book! It takes place on a lovely, quiet street where everyone is friendly and considerate of each other. Then a new couple move in and they are selfish and seem determined to do what they want when they want no matter what. I loved how this novel made me really dislike the new couple at first (don’t we all live in fear of nightmare neighbours moving in next door?!) but as the novel went on I did feel there were times when the antagonising behaviour came from all sides and people were escalating things without realising what they were doing. This is a novel that kept me guessing and it definitely had shocks in store. I read this novel in one sitting as I just didn’t want to put it down until I knew how it was all going to turn out. I definitely recommend this one!

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The Honeymoon by Rona Halsall

I’ll be honest here and say that the stunning cover is what initially drew me to this book! I’m happy to say that the contents did live up to it though. The Honeymoon follows Chloe as she sets off on her honeymoon with her new husband Dan. She finds out at the airport that they’re not going where she thought they were going which makes her anxious but she trusts her husband so off they go! We then find out that Chloe has only known Dan a very short time and perhaps doesn’t know him as well as she thought she did! I loved this as a set up for a novel and was intrigued about Dan from the start. Poor Chloe has no idea what awaits her on this honeymoon and she soon finds herself in a nightmare situation. I was rooting for her to find a way to get through things because I really liked her. Me and my husband pretty much moved in together as soon as we met so I know what it’s like to fall in love and move at lightning speed in a relationship so I was totally with Chloe even when I was anxious about some of the decisions she made. This was a fun, gripping and very fast-paced novel, and I’ll definitely be looking out for Rona Halsall’s other books in the future!

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The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

I had to get my hands on a copy of this novel as soon as I first heard about it as the premise is so intriguing to me. The novel is about whether it’s possible to foresee whether someone would go on to commit violent crimes by looking at convicted criminals’ pasts, and that is so fascinating! The book sees the host of a podcast looking into this when one day a woman comes into the office begging for help to find her missing friend. The book then goes back and forth in time, and explores really difficult issues such as grooming and sexual exploitation. It’s such a well written book that keeps you reading even when you might want to look away. I found this book near impossible to put down as it was just so engaging and thought-provoking. I definitely want to read more by this author and I absolutely recommend this book!

#BookReviews: Then She Vanishes | Miracle Creek | Clear My Name | The Poison Garden

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Here is another selection of reviews of the books I’ve been reading over the summer!

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Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

I’m such a big fan of Claire Douglas’ novels and so was really looking forward to this one – I can honestly say that it’s her best yet! Heather and Jess were best friends as teenagers until the night Heather’s sister Flora disappeared. Now Jess is accused of murder and Heather has come back to find out what has happened. This book has such great and believable characters, plus a plot that has you reading just one more chapter (and then one more and one more) until you turn the final page. It’s such an in-depth book that you want to know more about the characters but the storyline is so twisty that you find you can’t stop reading until you know how it’s all going to turn out. I loved this book and keep finding myself thinking about it and wondering how the characters are now. I definitely recommend this one!

 

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Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

This is a book that I picked up on a whim and I’m so glad I did as it’s such an excellent novel. This is a book that hinges around an horrific incident at the Miracle Submarine (a pressurised chamber that allegedly helps treat autism and infertility). It’s partly a courtroom drama but it’s also a character study following multiple people in the lead up to and fallout from the accident. You really get into the mindset of everyone and why they have done the things they did, and how they feel in the aftermath. I found this such an engrossing novel – one that I wanted to read slowly… but also quickly to know what happened. The writing it stunning and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future! This is a book that has really stayed with me and I think it’s one that I will re-read.

 

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Clear My Name by Paula Daly

I’m such a fan of Paula Daly and have loved all her books to date and this new one is no exception! The novel follows Tess who works for Innocence UK as she looks into the possible wrongful conviction of Carrie – a woman convicted of killing her husband’s mistress. Carrie says she didn’t do it and Tess is determined to find the truth. This book really tense at times and is a definite page turner! I went back and forth over whether I thought Carrie was innocent, and I was suspicious of other people who perhaps had a motive for murder but I was never sure. This is a thought-provoking novel and one that you’ll be thinking about long after you’ve turned the last page! Clear My Name is a novel that kept me on my toes and I very much enjoyed it!

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The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

Alex Marwood is another of my favourite authors so this book was one of my most anticipated for this year. I was thrilled when I finally got hold of a copy and am happy to say that it lived up to all my expectations! The way this book opens is so disturbing and visceral but it really sets up the story that is to follow in such a way that you don’t want to stop reading. The novel follows multiple characters and goes back and forth in time gradually building up a picture of what led to the novel’s opening but also what happened afterwards. It’s a slower-paced thriller which works perfectly as you find that you want to get to know these characters and how they became who they are. Alex Marwood’s novels always unsettle me and leave me pondering on things and this book is no different, I love how she keeps me enthralled even when I want to look the other way. Her writing is so dark and brilliant, I love it! I highly recommend this book!

#BookReviews: Lake Child | Stop At Nothing | The Escape Room | The Family Upstairs

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Today I’m sharing some more reviews of books that I’ve read and loved in recent weeks!

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Lake Child by Isabel Ashdown

I love the author’s writing so have been really keen to read Lake Child and I’m so happy to say that it more than lived up to expectations! This novel follows Eva who wakes up to find she is locked in the attic room of her parents house. She doesn’t know what happened or how but she’s on edge. She starts to have memories but she can’t quite figure things out and her parents are being evasive. Gradually secrets and lies are brought to the fore and the speed of this novel begins to ramp up. The writing in this book is stunning – I felt like I was right there with Eva in this house in the snow and icy cold. I could envisage everything that was being described and got completely swept away in this novel. I read this book in one sitting as I just didn’t want to put the book down. It’s a perfect read for the colder weather and I highly recommend it!

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Stop at Nothing by Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen is such a great writer and I always look forward to a new novel from her. Stop At Nothing was a really compelling read and I was completely entralled in this story. Tess is a protective mother who tries to do her best by her children so when her teenage daughter Emma is attacked one night in the street she is horrifed. Emma is understandably frightened and Tess becomes increasingly desperate to find the man who did this. This leads to Tess’ growing obsession with finding the man. She’s also dealing keeping an eye on her elderly parents so has a lot of stress weighing her down. I felt quite sorry for Tess as you can see she just wants to fix things but she does go beyond what a rational thinking person would perhaps do. I got so engrossed in this book and read it every spare minute I had as I just needed to know how it was all going to end! I recommend this one!

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The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

This book is such a brilliant read, one that is hard to put down. It follows two timelines – one where we meet a group of ruthlessly ambitious investment bankers who are brought to an ‘escape room’ on a team building exercise that turns out to be way more than they could have ever thought. We also go back in time and follow a new member of their team as she tries to find her place and settle in. Seeing the characters through her eyes as she gets to know them, and then later seeing them in the elevator is so good. We really get to know who these people are and how they are who they are. I did find this book waned a little after the opening chapters but it did pick back up again, and the second half of the book was impossible to put down. I was desperate to know how it was all going to end! This is such a fun read and I recommend it.

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The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is one of my favourite authors so a new novel by her is always such a treat. This book follows Libby who receives a letter and hopes it’s going to tell her more about her birth parents but instead she finds out that she’s inherited a house in Chelsea! It turns out that around the time Libby was born three people were found dead in the house! This sets Libby on a part to discover more about the past. The novel is told in multiple perspectives so we get to slowly fill in the blanks of the story as it builds towards its final conclusion! There are a lot of unlikeable characters in this book, which I loved. I really felt for Libby as she tried to find out her history and to make connections, but was also on the edge of my seat as I began to piece things together from the other timelines and knew things that Libby as yet did not know. This was such a good read, I loved it and definitely recommend it!

 

 

 

#BookReviews: The Wave | The First Time Lauren Pailing Died | I Spy | The Most Difficult Thing

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I’m back with some more mini book reviews today as I continue in my attempts to catch up on reviewing the books that I’ve read over the summer months!

 

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The Wave by Virginia Moffatt

I was really drawn to the premise of this book – the idea of a tsunami heading towards the Cornish coast leaving the people there with no real chance of escaping it is chilling but also an intriguing set up for a novel. I found this book really hard to put down. I really liked most of the characters and there were some really moving moments within the story. I did find it a little jarring at times though as I didn’t believe that people who have chosen to spend their final hours on the beach enjoying their last moments of life would then end up debating politics. It seems to me that in that situation people would be more likely to be either in quiet reflection or bonding with others as they talked about their lives – their happiest moments and their regrets. As I said before though I still found this a compelling book that I didn’t want to put down and even though we know how the story is going to end for these characters, I still spent the whole book hoping it would be different for them. I’ll definitely look out for more from this author in the future.

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The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

This is such a fascinating novel that follows Lauren Pailing through multiple alternate lives. Each time she dies a new life begins for the people that loved her. So the further into the book you get the more strands of each version of Lauren’s life are being followed. It may sound complicated but it was actually really easy to follow each life as it quickly becomes clear where you are in each particular strand. In each of Lauren’s lives a man has disappeared and she is convinced that she needs to find him. In time versions of Lauren begin to have memories of a life she didn’t live but another version of her did and this is where the novel got really interesting for me, I loved the way the author explored how other versions of us might still be a part of us on some level. The novel explores themes of relationships, grief and parenting in such a sensitive way. This is such a stunning novel and one that has really stayed with me since I read it. I’m already excited to read whatever Alyson Rudd writes next!

 

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The Most Difficult Thing by Charlotte Philby

This is such a good novel full of intrigue and suspense! It’s part spy novel, part thriller and part family drama and this made for such a great read.  On the surface Anna is successful in her career at a magazine, she’s happily married and adores her three-year old twins but all is not quite as it seems. Her life is on the verge of unravelling and slowly we get to see who she really is but also who the people around her really are. It becomes something of a cat and mouse but you’re not always sure who the good guys are. I found this such a compelling read that was hard to put down. The ending was so brilliant and perfect in my opinion but I also feel it might divide readers! I recommend it!

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I Spy by Claire Kendal

This is another really good spy novel that I enjoyed over the summer. Holly has always wanted to be a spy but when she gets the interview she fails and has to reassess what she’s going to do with her life. Then one day she has a random encounter with a woman and child that sends Holly’s thoughts spiralling. The novel goes back and forth in time and you gradually get to understand who Holly is and what this woman has to do with her life. This is a book that takes genuinely unexpected turns at times and it kept me gripped from start to finish. I’m a fan of Claire Kendal’s previous novels but this one is now my favourite of hers. It’s such a great read and I recommend it!

 

 

Fiction #BookReviews: If Only I Could Tell You | Matilda | Daisy Jones and the Six | The Flatshare

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Today I’m sharing a few more reviews of books that I’ve read and loved over the summer months!

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Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley but after reading reviews of the book I decided I wanted to listen to the audio book as I read so I bought the audio. This is such a brilliant novel and I loved it! It’s the story of a band called The Six in the 1970s and all the ups and downs that comes with making it big. Things become even more complicated for the band when Daisy Jones joins them. The dynamics between the band members is fascinating and it all felt so real! I loved how the book is told in snippets from interviews, which meant that we see each person’s view point and how memories differ from each perspective. Some people want to be seen in the best light, to be the hero and this shows through. Others play down the part they played, seemingly wanting to be a little more distant. This book was so good that by the end it felt like I’d read about a real band and I wanted to look up their music and to listen to it! It’s the mark of a great novel when you completely forget that this isn’t a true story. I highly recommend this book, I am sure it will be in my favourite books of the year list!

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

This is another wonderful novel that I very much enjoyed. The story is told from the viewpoints of both Tiffy and Leon – they flat share but they’ve never met! This premise sold me on the book and I’m so pleased to say that the novel lived up to that premise. I love how these two people communicated through a chain of post it notes, and how they gradually came to know each other so well before they ever met. There is more depth to this novel than I was expecting, and some difficult issues are dealt with. It made it all feel more real to me though and I appreciated that. This is such a gorgeous novel and it’s another one that I highly recommend.

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If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

I was eagerly anticipating this novel as I adored the author’s debut and I’m so happy to say that this was everything I hoped it would be. It’s the story of Audrey and her two adult daughters. Something happened when the two sisters were on the cusp of being teenagers and it’s completely pulled the family apart. Jess can’t forgive Lily and as a result won’t let her daughter see Lily’s daughter, and Audrey never gets to have all of her family together in one place. As the secrets of the past are slowly revealed I was just so sad that this family had allowed the inability to speak openly at the time had caused such a long rift. I can understand it though because when you fall out with a family member, the longer it goes on the harder it is to ever get things back. I thought this was such a beautiful novel and it did make me cry – they were cathartic tears though and ultimately this book gave me hope. I adored it and recommend it!

 

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Matilda by Roald Dahl

I was a little too old for this book when it first came out but I had loved other Roald Dahl books as I was growing up (Danny the Champion of the World was my favourite back then!). So when my baby brother was old enough to have this read to him, there was no way anyone else was getting the chance but me (this was almost 30 years ago now)! I’m so glad I made time to re-read it recently as I loved it as much as I ever did. Matilda is such a brilliant character, one you root for all the way through the book. I remember getting absorbed in my very own copy of Oliver Twist when I was 9 and while I was nowhere near as precocious as Matilda I could identify with the way adults didn’t believe I could read at that level on my own. I loved the humour in this book, Roald Dahl had such a talent for capturing children’s imaginations but also making his books fun for adults to (re-)read too. I adore this book and now want to re-read my whole Roald Dahl collection!

 

 

Thriller #BookReviews: It Ends With You | As Long As We Both Shall Live | Twisted | The Confessions of Frannie Langton

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Today I’m sharing four more mini reviews of some thrillers that I’ve recently read!

 

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It Ends With You by S. K. Wright

I had an ARC of this from NetGalley and I’m ashamed that it languished on my shelf for as long as it did, especially as that now I’ve read it I can say it was such a brilliant read! This is a thriller following the murder of a teenager named Eva. She was a popular girl and it seems like the mostly likely suspect is her boyfriend Luke. The novel follows six characters as we look at what led up to the murder. The narrative is woven in such a way that your belief in who is innocent and who might be guilty keeps changing, it seems like more than one person had a motive. This is such a clever and engaging thriller that I devoured in one sitting! I highly recommend it and I can’t wait to see what S. K. Wright writes next!

 

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As Long As We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Chaney

This is a thriller that really grabbed me in the opening chapters! It follows Matt whose first wife was died in suspicious circumstances of which Matt was cleared. Now in the present day he’s married to his second wife but she has a fall from a cliff on holiday and now a detective is on Matt’s tail. There were elements of this novel that I really enjoyed but ultimately it wasn’t very believable and the characters just weren’t fleshed out enough for me. I don’t mind unlikeable characters but they have to be real to me and they just weren’t. I did enjoy how twisty and fast-paced this novel was though so if you’re looking for a speedy thriller this might be the one for you.

 

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Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

This is a novel where the title says it all, it is so twisted! This is a novel where you can’t trust anyone or anything and everything you think is true really might not be as you think it is. I sped through this book because I simply had to know what was going on and how it was all going to turn out. You really should go into this book without knowing anything much about it so I’m keeping this very short and vague but trust me this is such a brilliant and fun rollercoaster of a thriller and I highly recommend it!

 

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The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

This is a really interesting novel that has strong themes around how voices are silenced, and also how women are treated in this time period. I found some parts of the book were so good that I just couldn’t put the book down but other parts were much slower that meant I needed to stop and take a break from it. I’ve found that whilst I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as I’d hoped I would when I read it it, I keep finding myself thinking of Frannie in the weeks since I finished reading. This is a book that took a little time to make a mark on me but ultimately it has done so. It’s a really good historical fiction read and I can see why so many people love it.

 

Fiction Mini Reviews: Louis and Louise, Something To Tell You, The BookShop of the Broken Hearted, and Ghost Wall!

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Today I’m sharing yet more mini reviews of books I’ve read over the summer months.

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Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen

This is such an incredible book and I loved every single minute that I spent reading it. In the book a baby is born to a couple but in one chapter the baby is a boy – Louis, and in the other chapter the baby is a girl – Louise. We then see each of their lives alternating through the novel and it’s fascinating to see how similar their lives would have been a times, and how vastly different at other times. There is one chapter part-way through the novel where the male and female versions of this person merge and it is so incredibly moving. I loved the exploration of what it is to be female or male, the different things that are expected and the different way men and women see and feel things. I also adored the idea of fate that runs through the novel, the way that some things are perhaps pre-ordained for us no matter our gender or sexuality. I adored this book, and even though it’s now weeks since I read it I still find myself thinking about. I think this will be one of my books of the year so I highly recommend it!

 

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Something To Tell You by Lucy Diamond

I do love Lucy Diamond novels and this one was such a gorgeous read! Frankie’s mum recently died and she left behind a letter for her daughter. On reading it Frankie discovers the truth about her birth and who her father is. She decides to go and see him and walks right into the middle of a Mortimer family gathering. From there we follow Frankie as she tries to make a connection with her father and other family members. We also hear from other Mortimers and see how their lives are and how they feel about Frankie. Things aren’t always plain-sailing and there are some real heart-rending moments in this book but on the whole it’s a feel-good read and I very much enjoyed it!

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The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

This is a beautiful, slow-burn novel following Tom Hope. His wife Trudy has left him taking her son Peter with her. Peter isn’t Tom’s biological son but he’s raised him and he thinks of him as his own and so is devastated to lose him. Meanwhile there’s a newcomer to the town, Hannah and she is opening a book shop. The locals are intrigued, and Tom can’t resist stopping by. He and Hannah form a bond and slowly we learn each of their histories and what has made them the way they are. Hannah’s story is incredibly moving, I wasn’t expecting it but it really did make me feel emotional. This is one of those books that slowly gets under your skin, and after you finish reading it you’ll find you can’t stop thinking abouit. I really did love this one!

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Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

This is a stunning novella, and one that I still keep thinking about. It follows Silvie who is staying at an Iron Age reconstruction in the middle of nowhere with her mum and anthropologist father. There are moments where we see what happened to an iron age girl that are visceral and heart-breaking. We then see that whilst Silvie doesn’t face the same savage life as that girl, the pain and lack of understanding that teenagers go through perhaps is such as it ever was. The writing in this book is beautiful, there is so much said in so few words. It’s a book that still goes through my mind and it’s weeks since I read it. I think it’s a book that I will re-read in the future. I recommend it!

Mystery & Thriller Mini Reviews: The Wych Elm, The Hiding Game, The Holiday, and Take It Back!

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On my blog today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of some mystery and thriller books that I’ve read and enjoyed over the past few months!

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The Wych Elm by Tana French

I’m a huge fan of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series so I was intrigued to read this standalone novel. I did have an ARC of this but due to not being well I bought the audio book, and I highly recommend it. The narrator of the audio is so perfect for the book! The Wych Elm is one of those books that grabs you from the beginning and then gradually weaves its spell around you! Toby is brutally attacked in his home and whilst recovering goes to stay at his family’s ancestral home with his Uncle Hugo, who has a brain tumour and needs some help around the house. One day a skull is discovered inside a tree in the garden and this leads to secrets and lies being revealed, cover-ups attempted and a family left reeling by what they discover. I loved this book and already want to re-read it. I highly recommend this one!

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The Hiding Game by Louise Phillips

This is an intriguing and interesting thriller that follows Heather, a defence attorney, as she goes back to her home town to defend a teenage nanny who is accused of causing the death of the baby in her charge. I enjoyed following Heather and learning more about her life – her mother was murdered when she was a child and she’s never really been able to move on from it. I did struggle with the novel a little though as there are a lot of characters and it was difficult to keep them separate from each other at times. For the most part this book did have me gripped though and I was definitely keen to find out whodunnit in both the timelines. I love that it kept me guessing right to the end!

 

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The Holiday by T. M. Logan

I do love a thriller novel that involves groups of old friends going away together and seeing how things unfold in that situation so the premise of The Holiday ticked all my boxes and I’m really happy to say that it lived up to all my expectations! Kate and her family are on holiday in a beautiful holiday home with three of her oldest friends and their husbands and children. Early on the holiday she discovers some texts on her husband’s phone that make her doubt his honesty and from there on the novel grips you as you wonder if he could be cheating with one of the other women in the villa. It turns out there are more secrets amongst this group of friends, which makes this such a fast-paced, gripping page-turner. I didn’t see where this was going so I loved being surprised by how it all turns out. I definitely recommend this book!

 

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Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

This is a legal thriller that is very prescient for our times. Jodie is a sixteen year old girl with neurofibromatosis and she claims to have been sexually assaulted by four muslim boys. This is written in such a way that when you read Jodie’s story you absolutely believe her but then when you read the perspectives of the four boys you believe them. The novel follows the legal case but also the way the community deals with the accusations. This book certainly makes you think and would make a good book club read as it brings up lots of issues that would make for interesting discussions. It didn’t quite hit the mark for me, it just felt like something didn’t quite sit right with me and I can’t even put my finger on what that was. I did enjoy it though and I would recommend it. I’m looking forward to reading whatever Kia Abdullah writes next.