This Week in Books (20 Feb 2019)! What Are You Reading This Week?

Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

‘Kill The Black One First’ by Michael Fuller

I spotted this on my audio book subscription and it sounded really interesting so I downloaded it. It’s hard to hear the experiences that he had in the early days of becoming a police officer but it’s a good read.

The Bridal Party J. G. Murray

This book is so good! It’s getting creepier by the chapter and I’m so intrigued to find out how it’s all going to end for this group of women!

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

This is another great read – I read most of it in one sitting and I’m so looking forward to sitting down and reading the final few chapters and seeing where it’s all going to end up.

Not Fade Away: The Life and Music of Buddy Holly by John Gribbin

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week as I’ve been in a fiction mood but I’ll definitely be getting back to this soon as I’m really enjoying it.

Then

My Last Lie by Ella Drummond

I really enjoyed this debut thriller – my review should be up on my blog today so you can find out more in that post if you’d like to.

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

I listened to this book over a couple of days this week and it was a decent enough read. I love the author’s writing so that kept me listening but I did find the storyline a bit too predictable.

Don’t Turn Around by Amanda Brooke

I was sent an ARC of this and I was so delighted. I’m pleased to say that the novel lived up to my expectations for it and I really enjoyed it. Hopefully I’ll get my review posted soon.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

I’m a bit ashamed that I’ve never read this book before now but better late than never. I loved this novel, it was such a witty and engaging book and I’m sure I’ll read it again in the future.

Manhunt by Colin Sutton

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I saw the ITV adaptation of it recently so when I spotted it on my audio book subscription I downloaded it and began listening straight away. This was an interesting look behind the scenes of a murder investigation but it wasn’t as good a read as I’d hoped.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

This book was incredible! I read it pretty much in one go and keep finding myself thinking about it ever since I finished it. I’ll be reviewing this one next week but I absolutely recommend it.

All The Little Lies by Chris Curran

I’m such a fan of Chris Curran’s reading and this book is her best yet. I loved it! I’ve already reviewed this so you can find out more of what I thought here if you’d like to.

 

Next

Are You the F**king Doctor by Dr Liam Farrell

I had hoped to start reading this over the last week but I ended up being in a fiction mood so I didn’t get to it. I’m really keen to read this though so it’s top of my list for the week ahead.

Past Life by Dominic Nolan

This book has been calling to me from my TBR ever since it arrived so I think this week will be the time to pick it up.

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

I’m also really looking forward to reading this one so it’s on my list for this week!

Minimalism by Joshua Fields Milburn

I bought this in a recent kindle book sale as I’m intrigued by the idea behind minimalism (it goes with my de-cluttering obsession) so I’m keen to pick this up as soon as I can.

 


 

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

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This Week in Books (13 Feb 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

This book is so good! I started it yesterday evening and I’m finding it so hard to put it down – one of those books that makes me resent real life interfering with my reading time!

My Last Lie by Ella Drummond

This is also such a good read! It has an intriguing prologue and now I’m enjoying being suspicious of everyone and trying to work out what’s going on!

Not Fade Away: The Life and Music of Buddy Holly by John Gribbin

I watched a really good documentary about Buddy Holly recently and it reminded me that I had this book unread on my TBR so I immediately sought it out. I’m really enjoying learning more about his background.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

I put this book to one side for most of the last week as I wanted something a bit easier to read. I’m planning on getting back to this in the coming days though.

 

Then

All The Little Lies by Chris Curran

I was gripped all the way through this book, it was so good! I’ll be reviewing it tomorrow so keep an eye out for that.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

I part-listened and part-read this biography and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learnt so much much more about Hamilton and about America too. It’s a doorstop of a book at over 800 pages long but it’s so fascinating that I just kept reading one more chapter!

East of England by Eamonn Griffin

This isn’t my usual type of read but I very much enjoyed it. It was a book that I didn’t want to put down. My review should be on my blog today if you’d like to know more.

 

Next

The Bridal Party by J. G. Murray

I was hoping to read this book this week but time got away from me but it’s top of my list of books that I want to start reading in the coming week.

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah David Goff

This one has been calling to me from my TBR mountain and it feels like the time to pick it up. I’m intrigued about this one and looking forward to starting it.

Are you the F**king Doctor? by Liam Farrell

I’m taking part in the blog tour for this book next month so as I’m in a non-fiction mood at the moment I’d like to start reading this very soon.

 


 

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

This Week in Books (6 Feb 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

All The Little Lies by Chris Curran

I’ve read and enjoyed previous novels by Chris Curran so I was excited to read this one and I’m so pleased to say that I’m really enjoying it.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

I’ve had the audio book of this for a while and discovered the ebook on Kindle Unlimited so I’m part-reading and part-listening to this one. It’s such an interesting book, I’m really glad I picked it up.

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

I love Sophie Kinsella’s writing so I was delighted to be picked to read this one on Pigeonhole. It’s such a fun read but I’m struggling to read on a phone screen so may have to put this down until I buy a print copy.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

I haven’t read much of this over the last week but I am still keen to learn more about these cases and will be getting back to this one in the coming week.

 

Then

Trauma: From Lockerbie to 7/7: How Trauma Affects Our Minds And How We Fight Back by Gordon Turnbull

This book was such a fascinating read and I very much enjoyed it. It’s basically a history of PTSD and a really in-depth look at the condition. I’ve suffered with PTSD for years so was keen to read this, and I learnt so much. It’s a really accessible book so I’d recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the subject.

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox

This book was really good. I particularly loved the two main characters and am definitely going to be looking out for the earlier books in this series so I can learn more about them. I will be reviewing this one soon.

The Jigsaw Man by Paul Britton

This book got recommended to me and I bought it right away and have been reading it for most of the last week. It’s a look at how a psychologist came to help solve some of the biggest crimes in the UK over the last thirty or so years. It was uncomfortable reading at times, especially reading about Colin Stagg and how he came to be charged with killing Rachel Nickell when he was innocent. Overall, it’s a really interesting look at forensic psychology.

Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami

My husband bought me this for my birthday last week and I loved reading it. It’s a delightful short story that really leaves you thinking by the end. I think this will be a story that I re-read in the future.

Spare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell

I read this in one sitting, it grabbed me from the prologue and kept me hooked all the way through. I’ve already reviewed this so you can find my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

 

Next

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

I’ve been so eager to read this one and it feels like it’s finally close enough to publication that I can pick it up. I’m planning to start it on a quiet afternoon as I feel like it’s going to be difficult to put this one down once I start reading!

My Last Lie by Ella Drummond

This is another book I’ve been looking forward to and as I’m now on the blog tour later this month I’m hoping to pick it up this week.

The Bridal Party by J. G. Murray

This book sounds so good, and another one that I think will be hard to put down so I’m looking forward to getting lost in this one!

 


 

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

That Was The Month That Was… January 2019!

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January is a month that I’ve struggled with in recent years but actually this January didn’t weigh on me quite as much so I feel like I’ve made progress in coming to terms with some things. I also turned 40 this month so am determined that my 40s will be fabulous!

I always plan ahead to keep my mind occupied in January so this time my plan was simple… read lots of good books! And I definitely succeeded with this! I read more books in January then ever before (since I started keeping record of what I read) and ended up finishing 34 books over the month! I can’t pick a single favourite as pretty much every book was really good but I have to give a special mention to Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn because that book was incredible and it won’t let go of my thoughts!

I also managed a lot more blogging in January than I’ve done for a while and I’m really enjoying it. It feels like my blogging mojo is fully back now after the wobble I had over the summer so hopefully it will stick around now!

 

Here are the books I read in January:

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

This was a Christmas present from my husband. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while and it was worth the wait because I loved it. I already feel that this will make my favourite books of the year so 2019 was off to an amazing start!

Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

I had an ARC of this book but I decided to listen to the audio book while I was feeling unwell and I very much enjoyed it. I’m fascinated by the idea of fate so this book was right up my street. I do plan on reviewing it when I get a chance.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

This was another excellent book that I just couldn’t put down! I’ve already reviewed this so you can see my full thoughts here if you’d like to.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This book a really good way to pass a cold, wintery day when I needed some escapism! My review is here if you’d like to know more.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve had this book on my TBR for ages and so I decided to part listen to the audio and part read it and I adored it. It was everything I hoped it would be and more!

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

This book was brilliant, it more than lived up to my expectations for it and is another book that I think may well be on my top books of the year! My review is here if you’d like to read it.

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

This book is so atmospheric and had me gripped from start to finish. Find out more in my review here.

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

This was an interesting introduction to reducing plastic but I was hoping to learn more. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for somewhere to start though.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

I’d had an ARC of this on my TBR for quite a while and I finally picked it up in January and I ended up reading it in one sitting, it was so good! Here’s my full review!

The Second Sister by Claire Kendall

I bought this book sometime last year and I spotted it when I was tidying up my shelves last month so kept it out to read. It was a good thriller, it kept me turning the pages!

Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This book is incredible. I loved it, even though it broke my heart. I know this book will be in my favourite reads of 2019, it just won’t let go of me. My full review is here if you’d like to know more.

The Party by Lisa Hall

This book was an okay read, it was one I read over the space of a couple of hours but it wasn’t as thrilling as I’d hoped.

Storyteller: The Authorised Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock 

I’ve had the audio book of this for ages and it caught my eye when I was going through my Audible app recently. I very much enjoyed learning more about Roald Dahl, and I now want to read all my favourite of his books!

The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson

I’ve wanted to read this ever since I first heard about it so when I spotted it on an Audible deal recently I snapped it up. I listened to it over a couple of days and found it really interesting. It didn’t have the same lasting impression as Adam Kay’s book but it was a good listen.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I was lucky to receive an ARC of this last year and finally picked it up a couple of weeks ago and I devoured it in one sitting. It is such a brilliant novel, I loved it! My review is here if you’d like to know more.

Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

This was a really good thriller and another book that I flew through as I simply had to know how it would all end. Here’s my review!

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

I’ve read and enjoyed Fiona Barton’s previous two novels so I was delighted to receive a copy of this one. This is a brilliant novel, definitely Fiona’s best yet and I loved it. My full review is here if you’d like to know more.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This is another ARC that has been on my TBR longer than it should but when I did pick it up I devoured it. I was gripped from start to finish. I hope to get my review finished and posted soon.

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

This was a really good read, although I struggled at times with the child narrator. Here’s my review.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

I read this novel in one sitting over the course of an afternoon and I loved it. I was intrigued from the opening chapter and it had me hooked right to the end. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce

I had an ARC of this so I read it while also listening to the audio book and I really enjoyed it. It’s such a wonderful novel, one that I think I might re-read in the future. I hope to get my review posted soon.

Bring me Back by BA Paris

Sadly I didn’t really get on with this book, it was too far-fetched to me and it just didn’t gel at all. I have enjoyed a previous book by the author so maybe this just wasn’t the right book for me.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

This book has been on my TBR since it was first published but I’ve put off reading it because it felt like it was no longer for me. I’m so glad that I gave it a go though as I got a lot more out of it than I was expecting to so I recommend it.

Diversify by June Sarpong

This book was hit and miss for me. There were chapters that really struck a chord and others that didn’t. I’m glad I read it though, it was interesting for the most part.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I finally read this book and I can totally see why it got so much praise last year! I loved it too, it was so different to other books in this genre and I really appreciate how much work it must have taken.

Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron

This was a good read, it wasn’t as good as the previous book Normal but it was still a book that I read in just two sittings.

Notes on A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

This was another Christmas present and I’m glad I picked it up when I did. I found it even more useful than I was expecting to and I think it is a book that I will go back to in the future.

A Very English Scandal by John Preston

This audio book was fascinating, shocking but really interesting. I already knew some things about this case but there was so much I didn’t know. I was hooked all the way through this book, it left me reeling!

Senseless by Anna Lickley

This is such a good novel. It’s got a great storyline, which I really enjoyed and it also has excellent disability representation, which I very much appreciate in a novel. I’ll be reviewing this in February for the blog tour!

Tilly and the Bookwanderers: Pages & Co. by Anna James

I got this book for Christmas and I saved it to read on the anniversary of my mum’s death when I knew I would need a comforting read. This book was everything I hope it would be and so much more besides, I adored it! I’m hoping to get a chance to re-read A Little Princess soon as it’s reminded me how much I loved that novel as a child.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

This book was beautiful, so much more more than I was expecting it to be and I loved it. I’ve already reviewed this so you can see that here if you’d like to know more.

The Cactus by Sarah Hayward

This book is gorgeous! I read it in one sitting and I completely and utterly fell in love with it. I’ll definitely be reviewing this one soon but in the meantime I highly recommend it!

Someone Like Me by MR Carey

I was sent an ARC of this and was told it was a thriller so I was a bit discombobulated when I started reading it. I’m still not sure what I think of it but I did read it in just a couple of sittings so it definitely gripped me!

Spare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell

I read this book in one sitting and it kept me up way past my bed time as I just couldn’t put it down! I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

 

January Blog Posts & Reviews:

My Favourite Novels Read in 2018

My Favourite Non-Fiction Read in 2018

Reading Bingo for 2018! Was it a full house for me??

2018 Reading Reflections, Statistics and Plans for Tackling the TBR

 

Stacking the Shelves (5th Jan)

Mini Crime and Thriller Book Reviews featuring A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay, The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah, All The Hidden Truths by Claire Askew and Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke)

Review of The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde

New Year Book Tag

This Week in Books (9 Jan)

Review of The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

Review of The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Review of The Rumour by Lesley Kara

Stacking the Shelves (12 Jan)

Review of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Review of The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This Week in Books (16 Jan)

Review of Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

Review of Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

Stacking the Shelves (19 Jan)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up and How the #KonMari Method Changed My Life!

This was a much more personal post than I normally share on my blog but I wanted to share how following Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering methods had actually made a huge difference to my life!

Music Monday: In My Life by The Beatles

Review of Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

Review of The Suspect by Fiona Barton

This Week in Books (23 Jan)

Stacking the Shelves (26 Jan)

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

This Week in Books (30 Jan)

Review of Spare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell

 

The state of my TBR:

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Well, in 2018 I succeeded in reducing my mammoth TBR… but 2019 has been the month with all the books. I started January with 2447 books (this is books that I own, I don’t add books to my TBR if I don’t own them) and have ended the month with 2464 books. Oops! This is in spite of me reading 34 books off my TBR this month, the fact is that I’ve acquired 51 books so overall my TBR has increased by 17 books. My plan is to reduce my TBR by 20 books every month so I need to do some serious reading and/or unhauling (unhauling keeps autocorrecting to unfailing and I was so tempted to leave it at that! Haha!) in February to get back on track! In all seriousness though I’m not worried as last year the reduction of my TBR happened over the course of the year so I feel sure I’ll be back on track come December 31st!

 


 

How was your January? I hope you all had a good month and that you read lots of good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

This Week in Books (30 Jan 19)! What are you reading this week?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

I love Sophie Kinsella’s writing so was delighted when I was picked to read this new book on PigeonHole over the next few days. I read the first part yesterday and loved it so I’m excited to read more very soon!

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

My husband and I binge-watched the Netflix series of this over the weekend and I immediately wanted to know more so I bought the book. I’m about half-way through it now and finding it fascinating and utterly shocking.

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox

I’m back reading this book now after a break due to needing to read something more comforting. I’m keen to find out how this book is going to turn out!

Trauma: From Lockerbie to 7/7: How Trauma Affects Our Minds And How We Fight Back by Gordon Turnbull

I’m also back reading this book and think I’ll probably finish it in the next day or two. It’s such a fascinating  look at PTSD and one that I know I’ll be thinking about for some time to come.

 

Then

Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey

I’m not sure what I feel about this book – I was sent it for review because I like thrillers but it wasn’t really what I expected it to be. I did read it quite quickly so it held my attention but I don’t know whether I enjoyed it or not. I shall ponder on it some more before I write a review.

The Cactus by Sarah Hayward

I’ve had a gorgeous hardback copy of this book on my TBR for around a year now but I finally picked it up a few days ago and read it in one sitting! It’s such a gorgeous book – it made me laugh and it made me cry. I know this is a book that will stay with me.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

I very much enjoyed this novel, it’s so honest and moving and beautifully written. I’ve already reviewed this earlier this week so you can find my full review here if you’d like to know more.

Tilly and the Book Wanderers: Pages and Co. #1 by Anna James

I saved this book to read on a day last week that I knew I’d be feeling in need of a comfort read and this book was everything I needed it to be and more. I adored it! It’s made me dig out my copy of A Little Princess to re-read it. I already can’t wait for the next book in the Pages & Co. series!

Senseless by Anna Lickley

I really enjoyed this novel. The representation of disability was done really well without it being the sole focus of the book. I’ll be reviewing this one for the blog tour in a couple of weeks time.

A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment by John Preston

I’ve had the audio book on my TBR for a year or two but I finally listened to it over the last week and found it such a fascinating book. I already knew about what happened but it was good to learn more of the details.

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Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

I received this book for Christmas and picked it up a few days ago and found it really helpful. It made me think about my own use of social media and the impact it has on my mood. I recommend this one, especially if you suffer from anxiety.

 

Next

All the Little Lies by Chris Curran

I had wanted to read this novel over the last week but I didn’t manage to pick it up so it’s on my TBR for the coming week. I’m really looking forward to getting to this one.

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book and am just in the mood to read it so I hope to get to it in the coming days.

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

I was lucky to receive a surprise ARC of this book in the post and it sounds like a different book to my normal reads but it’s piqued my interest and I’d like to read it very soon.

 

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

 

 

This Week in Books (23 Jan 2019)! What are you reading at the moment?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

Tilly and the BookWanderers: Pages and Co. #1 by Anna James

I got this book for Christmas and I saved it to read this week when I knew I would want a comforting read. This is such a perfect book, I adore it!

Senseless by Anna Lickley

I’m really enjoying this book, there is real honesty about living with disability in various forms but above all it’s a really good novel. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox

This is such a good read too. I had to put it down for a couple of days as I needed a quieter kind of read but I’ll be picking it back up in the next day or so.

Trauma: From Lockerbie to 7/7: How Trauma Affects Our Minds And How We Fight Back by Gordon Turnbull

I haven’t read any more of this book this week as it wasn’t the right time for me but I will definitely be getting back to it very soon.

 

Then

Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron

I loved Normal by this author so have been wanting to read Dead Girls and finally listened to the audio book this week. It didn’t quite live up to the first book for me but it was still a really good read.

Diversify by June Sarpong

I also listened to this on audio this week and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Some parts were good and struck a chord with me but others didn’t.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hugo by Stuart Turton

I have been wanting to read this since it first came out and I’m so glad I finally got to read it. It’s a definite five star read and I loved it!

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

I’ve had this on my TBR for such  a long time and something kept putting me off picking it up. It caught my eye this week though and I think I read it at just the right time as I got more out of it than I was expecting to.

Bring Me Back by BA Paris

I’m afraid I didn’t really get on with this book. There was enough in it to keep me listening to the audio book but it wasn’t as good as The Breakdown.

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce

This book is wonderful, I loved every minute that I spent reading it!

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

This was another one sitting book, I was gripped all the way through!

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

I loved this book too. It’s one that keeps coming into my head, it’s not letting go of me which is always the sign of a good book.

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

I finished this book this week and enjoyed it. My full review is here.

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

This is my favourite of Fiona Barton’s novels to date, it was so good! I’ve reviewed it today so you should be able to find it if you’d like to know more.

 

Next

The Six Love of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

I was hoping to read this book this week but it wasn’t the right time for what seemed like could be an emotional read so I’m going to pick it up this coming week instead and I’m looking forward to it.

East of England by Eamonn Griffin

I’m on the blog tour for this next month so am hoping to pick it up this week.

All the Little Lies by Chris Curran

I love Chris Curran’s writing so I’m delighted to have an ARC of her latest book and really want to read it asap!

Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen

I’ve seen some fab reviews of this on the blog tour this week so when I realised I had an ARC from NetGalley on my Kindle I knew I had to pick it up as soon as I can.

 

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

This Week in Books (16 Jan 2019)! What are you reading?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

I’m really gripped by this book, it’s my favourite Fiona Barton novel to date! I was engrossed in it most of yesterday afternoon and can’t wait to get back to it.

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

I had a break from this novel for most of this week but I’m back reading it again now and hope to finish it soon. It’s a good read but I find the child’s voice and perspective a little too much at times.

Trauma: From Lockerbie to 7/7: How Trauma Affects Our Minds And How We Fight Back by Gordon Turnbull

I’ve read a couple more chapters of this over the last week and am still finding it fascinating. It’s a brilliant book.

 

Then

The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson

I bought this as an audio book recently and listened to it over the last couple of days. It was an interesting book and gave an insight into different aspects of nursing. I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would but I would still recommend it.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

This book was brilliant, it’s a perfect psychological thriller and I literally read it from cover to cover in one sitting! I’ve already reviewed this so if you’d like to know more you can read my thoughts here.

Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

I found this novel so gripping! It took me a couple of chapters to find my feet with it and then it became really hard to put down. I’ll be reviewing this one next week on my blog so keep an eye out for that soon.

Storyteller: The Authorised Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock

I listened to this on audio book over the last week or so and really enjoyed it. It was so interesting to learn more about Roald Dahl and it’s made me want to go back and re-read all my childhood favourites by him, followed by his adult fiction that I’ve never read.

The Party by Lisa Hall

This was a quick and enjoyable enough read.

Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This book is incredible! I’m going to be reviewing it on here tomorrow and am still tweaking my review because I loved it so much that I’m struggling to get my thoughts in order on the screen.

The Second Sister by Claire Kendall

This is the first novel I’ve read by Claire Kendall and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t what I was expecting it to be but it kept me hooked all the way through. I’ve got The Book of You on my TBR so plan on trying to get to that soon.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

I had this book on my TBR since March 2018 but I finally picked it up in the last week and I read it in one go! It was such a good read, and I loved it. I’ve already reviewed this book so you can read my full review here if you’d like to know more.

 

Next

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

I’m going to be on the blog tour for this in a couple of weeks time so I’m planning to read this in the coming week. I think this could be an emotional read for me but I’m looking forward to reading it all the same.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

This is an ARC that I’ve had on my TBR for quite a while so I want to try and read this in the next few days if I can. I’m really keen to get to it.

Tilly and the Bookwanderers: Pages and Co. #1 by Anna James

I got this for Christmas and have been saving it to read this week as I knew I’d want a comforting, easy read in the next few days. I feel sure this will be that book.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

This is a book I’ve always loved but I haven’t re-read it in a really long time so I think this week might be a nice time for me to pick it up again.

 

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

This Week in Books (9 Jan 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

I’ve had an unread ARC of this from NetGalley for longer than I should have but I finally picked it up this week and am finding it gripping so far.

Trauma: From Lockerbie to 7/7: How Trauma Affects Our Minds And How We Fight Back by Gordon Turnbull

I’ve been reading this one on and off for a week or so now and am finding it utterly fascinating. I’m always interested in reading about trauma having suffered from PTSD myself and this book is particularly good. This book looks at Turnbull’s career but also how he, and others in psychiatry, came to understand trauma and how best to treat it.

 

Then

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

I bought this in the kindle sale this week and it was an okay read. I was a little disappointed because I didn’t really learn anything that I didn’t know before but it is a good book to get you motivated to think more about how much plastic we use and to start doing something about it.

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

This is such a fantastic novel – really atmospheric and gripping. I’ve posted my review of this on my blog today so please check that out if you’d like to know more.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I half read and half listened to this book and I very much enjoyed it. It worked really well as an audio book and I think listening to it heightened my enjoyment.

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

This book was so good! I found it near impossible to put down and loved every minute that I spent reading it. I hope to have my review posted in the next few days so please look out for that.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This was an enjoyable read, and is a perfect book for this time of year. I would’ve liked a bit more depth to the characters but none-the-less this is a page turner.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

I loved this novel – it was thrilling and gripping and I couldn’t put it down. I’ve already reviewed this one so if you’d like to read my thoughts on it please click here.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I got this book for Christmas and it was my first read of 2019 and what a read it was! I absolutely adored this novel and feel sure that it will make my top books of this year. I already want to read it again!

 

Next

Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This is a bit different to my usual reads so I’m really looking forward to reading it in the coming days, I think it’s going to be a good one!

Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

I’m on the blog tour for this one in a couple of weeks so am hoping to read it this week. I did read the opening chapter when the book arrived and I feel sure that I’m going to really enjoy this one.

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

I really enjoyed The Confession by Jo Spain so when I spotted her new one on NetGalley just before Christmas I couldn’t resist requesting it. It’s been calling to me ever since and I can’t resist any longer!


 

 

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

Mini Crime and Thriller Book Reviews! #bookreview

I didn’t quite catch up on reviewing the books that I read in 2018 before the end of the year so here is another mini book review post 🙂

 

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A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of Barclay’s previous novels but A Noise Downstairs is by far my favourite of his to date. It was creepy and unnerving, and even when I was on the edge of my seat I simply couldn’t put this book down because I had to know how it was going to end. I do enjoy books where the premise could be that there is someone setting someone up to think they’re going mad, or the person could actually be losing their grip on reality and this book does this so well.  I did find I had to suspend disbelief with some aspects of this novel but it didn’t make it any less enjoyable, and the end when it comes is shocking and disturbing. I definitely recommend it!

 

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The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

This is the first of Sophie Hannah’s takes on Agatha Christie that I’ve read and I did really enjoy it. My favourite thing about Christie is the puzzle element, her novels don’t always feel grounded in reality for me but the puzzle is always brilliant and I think Hannah did a good job with this. This book’s mystery was one that I managed to figure out elements of but not the whole thing, something that’s rare for me with Poirot but I liked feeling like I had a chance of solving the crime. I’ll definitely be picking up more of Sophie Hannah’s Poirot books and I’m really looking forward to reading them.

 

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All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

This is a stunning novel about the aftermath of a college shooting. It follows three characters as they are forced to face up to what has happened in their community. One is the mother of the shooter, then there is the mother of the first girl to be shot, and the third is the detective in charge of the investigation. The novel actually starts the day before and the build up is so tense because you know what’s going to happen but you’re not sure how or when. The three viewpoints make this such a heartbreaking read as we learn more about these women and their lives, and how the devastation has affected them. I highly recommend this novel.

 

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Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke

This is a beautifully written but also devastating novel looking at a community dealing with the aftermath of two apparent murders – one of a black man and the other of a white woman. The racial tensions within the town play a large part in how each person views everyone else. It felt quite claustrophobic at times, like I was right there in the town and seeing this situation unfold with my own eyes. I found this book so unsettling, and yet really hard to put down. This is an excellent, prescient and really important read. I definitely need to read more of Attica Locke’s work this year.

My Top Non-Fiction Reads 2018!

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Today I’m sharing my non-fiction reads from 2018! I read 290 books last year and 79 of those were non-fiction so I’ve picked my top 12. Yesterday I shared my favourite fiction reads of the year and you can find that here if you’d like to read it.

Illusion of Justice by Jerome Buting

I was late getting to Making a Murderer but I finally watched season one earlier this year  and immediately looked to see if there were any books on the case. This is written by one of Steven Avery’s lawyers and was a really fascinating read. I watched season 2 as soon as it was on Netflix and see that there’s a possibility that these lawyers could have done more but at the time of reading it felt like a really good insight into the case and that they’d done all they could within the restraints they had.

My Life in Football by Kevin Keegan

I listened to this on audio and really enjoyed it. It was a hard listen at times being a Newcastle United fan and hearing in Keegan’s own words how badly he was treated at the club. It was interesting to learn more about Keegan’s life though and I found this book near impossible to stop listening to.

How Not to be a Boy by Robert Webb

I got this for Christmas in 2017 and it’d been calling to me from my TBR all year so I was glad to finally read it. It’s such an open and honest memoir and I found it such an interesting read.

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

This is a really in-depth book about what led to 9/11. It’s obviously not always an easy subject to read about in terms of what happened but the way this book is written makes it one you don’t want to put down. It gave me a much better understanding of what happened in the years preceding 9/11. It’s such an important book and one I definitely recommend.

Knowing the Score by Judy Murray

I very much enjoyed this book having been a fan of Judy Murray for a while now. It gave such insight into her character and her strength and I was so inspired by just how much she’s done for female tennis players over the years. I have a full review of this book so if you’d like to know more click the title above.

Life to the Limit by Jenson Button

I listened to this as an audio book after buying it in an Audible sale a few weeks ago. I used to be such big F1 fan so was keen to know more behind the scenes of Button’s career. There is much of that but this is also a love letter to his late father, John and I found is so much more moving than I expected.

So Here It Is by Dave Hill

I initially wanted to read this because I grew up hearing Slade as my late mum was a huge fan. The book is so well-written and is so full of honesty and openness that I enjoyed it on its own merits. I have a full review of this so if you’d like to know more about what I thought click the title above.

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

This book was sheer joy to read! I love books about books anyway but this one really grabbed me as I’m assuming Mangan is a similar age to me as we read many of the same books in childhood. It was a real nostalgic read and led to me buying copies of childhood books that I loved but had sadly long since lost. I recommend this to all bookworms!

The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare

This is a beautiful, lyrical journal about the changing of the season into winter. It’s a mediation on all the changes that occur as winter hits. This book struck such a chord with me and gave me such comfort and solace at a time of year that I needed it most. This is a book I will return to again and again.

This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This was another Christmas gift from 2017, which I read fairly early on in 2018 but it’s stayed with me ever since. It’s a funny book, and a sad book but mostly it’s just an honest diary of a junior doctor’s experience of working in the NHS.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I bought this as soon as it came out as I can’t resist well written true crime. This was a fascinating account of one woman’s growing obsession with the Golden State Killer and her feeling that she had his name almost within her grasp. The author sadly died before she finished this book so there is a real poignancy in the reading experience because of that. It’s a brilliant book though.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (and Spark Joy) by Marie Kondo

This had to be my number one non-fiction book of the year because it has changed my life. Spark Joy I read for the first time in 2018, whereas The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was a re-read (although the first time I read it, I didn’t grasp the good bits as I was too focused on what felt odd in her methods). I read these books at the start of the year and immediately wanted to follow her method properly as my house was over-run with stuff. It really worked for me this time and I’ve spent months going through every single item that I own and have finally got rid of all the clutter. I naturally want to hoard things but I’m now so much better at just getting rid of things that I don’t love. I’ve never had so much space in my own home before and it feels wonderful. I’ve definitely got the decluttering bug now as every time I’m dusting I immediately put in the charity box anything that doesn’t make me happy.

 


 

So that’s my favourite non-fiction that I read in 2018. Did you read any good non-fiction last year? I’d love to know what your favourite book (or books!) was. Don’t forget you can find my favourite novels in yesterday’s post here if you’d like to see my fiction book picks of the year.

My Favourite Novels of 2018!

My Favourite Books 0f 2018!

Firstly, happy new year to you all! I hope 2019 brings you good health, peace and happiness!

2018 has been an amazing reading year for me. I read 290 books, which is the most I’ve read in one year since I started keeping track of my reading! Of the 290, 211 were fiction so that has made it so hard to pick a top 10 or even a top 20 so in the end I made a list of the books that have stayed with me the most and 27 novels have made my list! (My non-fiction picks will be in a separate post tomorrow).

Some of these books have stayed with me because they were well-written, some were impossible to put down and others brought out such an emotional reaction in me that they simply had to be on this list.

So without further ado, here are my favourite books of 2018 (click the title if you’d like to read my full review on each of these books)…

 

In reverse order: 

27. Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch

This is one of the best audio books I listened to this year and had to be on my list as it’s really stick with me.

26. The Lingering by SJI Holliday

This was an unsettling, creepy novel that I couldn’t put down!

25. You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I love Lucy Clarke’s writing and this has joined The Sea Sisters as my favourite books by her!

24. The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

This was such a different read for me and I utterly adored it.

23. Perfect Bones by AJ Waines

This is a crime fiction novel that haunted me in the times when I wasn’t reading it, it definitely earned its place on my list.

22. The Date by Louise Jensen

I love Louise Jensen’s writing and this book was another brilliant read by her. It gave me an insight into a condition I knew nothing much about and the ending of the book gave me chills!

21. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

I read this book in one sitting on a boiling hot day but the writing was so good that I could feel the snowy cold and the oppressive atmosphere of those trapped in the hotel with a murderer on the loose!

20. Odette by Jessica Duchen

This is such a beautiful book and it really resonated with me so it had to be on this list!

19. Attend by West Camel

This is a recent read but I keep finding myself thinking about the characters and it’s staying in my mind so I had to have this in my top books.

18. Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies

This is a wonderful story about a young girl who wants to make it as a champion swimmer in a time when it’s not the done thing for females. It’s inspiring and beautiful and I knew it would make my top books of the year as soon as I finished reading it.

17. The Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah M. Lynn

This is a bit different from my usual reads but it’s so beautiful and very moving in places and I still think about it.

16. Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

This was such a brilliant novel, and is another book that really has stayed with me.

 

15. The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

This was a very prescient and moving novel, and while it was hard to read at times for me personally the writing is so sensitive and honest that I couldn’t put it down.

14. Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando

I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did but it’s so stunningly written and the story is still swirling in my mind. It was an unforgettable read for me and deserves its place on my list.

13. Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh

This is another book that was a bit different to my usual read but I devoured it. It’s funny and emotional and I adored it.

12. Good Samaritans by Will Carver

This is such a brilliant read, one I’ve been recommending to people ever since I finished reading it.

11. Overkill by Vanda Symon

This is my new favourite crime thriller series and I’m desperate to get my hands on the second book as soon as it’s out!

10. Him by Clare Empson

I got this book on a whim from NetGalley and I’m so glad I did. This really got under my skin and I couldn’t put it down until I’d read all the way to the end.

9. Miss Marley by Vanessa LaFaye with Rebecca Mascull

This is the only book on this list that I haven’t managed to review but I highly recommend it. It’s gorgeous and moving and just brilliant. It honours A Christmas Carol so beautifully whilst also standing on its own as a novella. The final couple of chapters were incredibly moving. I know this will be a book that I read every Christmas from now on so it absolutely deserves to be on this list.

8. Roar by Cecelia Ahern

This short story collection is brilliant. I loved every story and enjoyed finding the ones that resonated with me. It’s fabulous!

7. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This is such a magical and lyrical novel, it’s another book that is staying with me and I know I’ll want to read it again in the future.

6. The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse 

I was looking forward to reading this novel but I wasn’t expecting it to get to me in the way it did. It’s very moving and so fascinating, and the writing is stunning.

5. Snap by Belinda Bauer

This was my favourite crime thriller of the year, I loved it. I don’t think I’ve read a crime novel before that has made me cry in the way this did. It’s such a brilliant novel.

4. Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

This novel really connected with me in so many ways and my review ended up being very personal as the story got so entwined with my emotions at the time I was reading. It’s a beautiful novel and I urge you to read it if you haven’t already.

 

 

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3. Love and Fame by Susie Boyt

This book is why I love blog tours – I was offered a copy of Love and Fame, a book I hadn’t heard of before and decided to give it a go. It’s such a witty, funny and moving novel about grief and loss in various forms. I absolutely fell in love with this book and it’s one I consider to be a firm favourite. I’m so glad this book found me!

 

 

And the next two books are jointly my favourite books of the year because I just couldn’t pick between them…

 

 

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

I adore Louise Beech’s writing anyway but The Lion Tamer Who Lost stole my heart in a way that no other book has done in 2018. I keep thinking of the characters and wondering how they are, I keep thinking of how cruel life can be but how a novel like this does ultimately remind you why you need to keep going. I cried buckets reading parts of this book but I fell in love with it and it absolutely deserves this number one spot!

 

Let Me Be Like Water by S. K. Perry

I hadn’t heard of this book before a copy got sent to me for review but it was serendipity that it came into my life at the perfect moment. This is such a beautiful, lyrical novel that had me sobbing one moment and feeling consoled the next. The characters are wonderful and the depiction of grief is so real, as is the way we find a way to start living with grief. A stunning book that I will treasure forever and ever!

 


Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my Top Non-Fiction books of the year so look out for that then. In the meantime what were your favourite books of 2018? If you have a blog post please feel free to leave the link below. Happy New Year! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: Attend by West Camel | @west_camel @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #Attend

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About the Book

When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, an exquisite history of hidden Deptford and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.

 

My Thoughts

Attend follows three characters – Deborah, Anne and Sam. Deborah is very old and is invisible to most people these days. Her story is told is mostly told in chapters about her younger years but she also tells her stories to those who listen. Anne is a recovering drug addict and is struggling to find where she fits in her life now she’s no longer using drugs. Sam is looking for something or someone, he also seems a bit lost.

Attend is a hard book to describe, it was such a different read for me but I can assure you that it’s a beautiful novel. Deborah’s story was fascinating; she has really been through a lot in her life and she just wants it to come to an end now. I felt sorry for Anne as she struggled to fit with her mother and daughter, it seems like now she’s clean no one has any faith in her that she will stay clean. I felt like this fed into Anne’s insecurities and it was as if she then didn’t have any faith or confidence in herself. Sam had a tragedy in his past and he’s not yet come to terms with what happened. He looks to hook up with men to try and ease his uneasiness but really he’s looking for someone to love him, to believe in him.

The cover of this book is so utterly perfect as this novel really is a story about how the threads of a person’s life become part of the tapestry of someone else’s life. Deborah is fixated on the fabric that she’s carried with her all of her life as it carries her story, the story of how she came to be. She shares these stories with Anne and with Sam and gradually you can see that those threads, those stories are seeping into them. They believe in Deborah and she keeps talking to them because they need these stories. They don’t know that they need them but they do, it’s these stories that will help heal them. It also made me think about the way our lives are interwoven with others, how we cross paths with people who mean nothing to us but somewhere down the line we end up connected to their life in some way.

I didn’t expect this to be a book that moved me but I actually shed tears at the end. This book defies genre in many ways but if a book can make you feel things then genre doesn’t matter because emotion is the mark of a wonderful novel. I don’t have the words to describe Attend other than to say it’s beautiful, incredible and unforgettable. I can’t wait to read whatever West Camel writes next!

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for my copy of this book and the invitation to be on this blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Attend is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing.  He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch.  He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost-writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Rivetermagazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.

 

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

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#BookReview: The Present by Charlotte Phillips

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About the Book

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me … one romantic Christmas you won’t forget.

When helping to clear out her beloved grandmother’s home, Lucy Jackson discovers twelve beautiful Christmas decorations hidden in the loft. As she discovers their heartbreaking story, a touching romance develops with the handsome gardener next door.

My Thoughts

The Present is about Lucy, who is in the middle of trying to clear her beloved Grandmother Olive’s house to ready it for sale. Olive has had a fall and is in hospital so Lucy wants to move her in with her and her partner. It’s close to Christmas and Lucy is busy with planning for the holidays and really struggling with going through Olive’s belongings as it’s bringing up so many memories of her own childhood.

This novel is everything I want in a Christmas story, it really is a beautiful read. I felt so moved by Lucy having to sort her Gran’s things out, and not having support from her partner. I know what it’s like to have to clear out a loved one’s home and it’s so hard to let their things go. The antique Christmas ornaments that she finds in a dark corner of the attic are described in such a way that I could really envisage them and was excited to follow Lucy’s journey to work out what meaning they held for her Gran.

Olive’s handyman Jack is busy fixing up the house and he ends up helping Lucy empty the attic and gets drawn into the mystery of the ornaments. It was so lovely that Lucy found someone who wanted to help her and took an interest in what she’d found as her boyfriend just seemed so cold and disinterested. I was rooting for Lucy to find happiness throughout this novel and really hoping she would find a way to hold on to her Gran’s house.

Both Jack and Lucy begin to feel more reflective about their own lives as they discover more about Olive’s past. They each carry sadness about the people they’ve lost and gradually seem to help each other by sharing memories as the novel goes on. I loved this aspect of the novel because it is how grief is, it catches up with you eventually and when you find someone who really understands it eventually helps ease some of the pain you carry. There is a real message in this book about remembering and finding a way to carry lost loved ones with you, it’s so beautiful.

This is a gorgeous novel is set in the lead up to Christmas and all the nostalgia of the ornaments and then the back story of Olive’s life makes for a lovely, heart-warming read at this time of year. I definitely recommend this book!

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

The Present is out now and available here.

About the Author

Writer of funny, sassy, sexy stories for Harlequin KISS/Mills & BOON ModernTempted and HarperImpulse.

Also mum to three kids and a mad dachshund and terrible housewife to a heroic husband who doesn’t notice he is living in a hovel. Loves her sofa, her SkyPlus, her Apple TV and her pyjamas.

#BookReview: No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

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About the Book

It’s the most magical time of the year, and for travel agent Sarah it’s also the busiest! But this year one man threatens to ruin Christmas for Sarah’s customers – Mr Grinch, Will Armstrong.

The Shooting Star Mountain resort is a magical place, and Sarah has fond memories of Christmas here as a little girl. But as the resorts new owner, Will refuses to play snowball or to deck the halls with anything remotely resembling holly!

With customers complaining their Christmas is ruined, Sarah decides it’s up to her to convince gorgeous but Scroogey Will just how magical Christmas can be…

 

My Thoughts

No One Cancels Christmas is about travel agent Sarah who is sad to see complaints about her favourite Christmas holiday resort – The Shooting Star Mountain Resort and resolves to do something about it. The new owner, Will, seems to be be unwilling to listen to Sarah so she decides she has to do something herself to turn it around.

This book opens with Sarah sending a series of stroppy emails to Will, one by accident, and this was very amusing. I was keen to see what would happen when Sarah decides to go to the resort to confront Will in person.

This novel wasn’t as full-on festive as I was hoping it would be but there are Christmas things sprinkled throughout. Initially the resort is really sad and tired, there is no sign of Christmas being near but Sarah throws herself into bringing the holiday season to Shooting Star and as she begins to work her magic the Christmas spirit begins to shine through the pages.

I liked that there was more depth to this novel than it just being a Christmas romance. Sarah was abandoned by her parents at Shooting Star resort as a young child and ended up living with her aunt so she has unresolved pain to work through. Will has his demons too and gradually we find out exactly what happened to each of them.

All in all this was a lovely novel to read near Christmas and I would recommend it. It’s definitely fun and romantic, and there’s lots of snow!

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

No One Cancels Christmas is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Author Zara Stoneley has been writing stories for just about as long as she’s been reading them. She sold her first erotic novel in 2012. Her stories have featured on romance and erotic bestseller lists in the US and UK. Zara divides her time between a country cottage in the UK and a Barcelona apartment.

This Week in Books (19 Dec 2018)! What are you reading this week? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

I’ve had this on my TBR for quite a while now so when I noticed it was set at Christmas I decided now was the time to read it! I’m only a few chapters in so far but I feel like I’m really going to love this book.

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

This is a rare re-read for me as my Christmas reads this week have been disappointing for the most part so I wanted to a festive read that I knew I would love. Last time I read this but this time I’m listening to the audio and it’s every bit as good. This is so festive, it’s gorgeous!

The Advent Killer by Alastair Gunn

I had to put this book to one side for most of the week as I needed lighter reads but I’m looking forward to getting back to this this week as I was really enjoying it.

 

Then 

A Lonely Dog on Christmas by Patrick Yearly

I found I had quite a few Christmas short stories that have been on my kindle for years now so decided to read them this week while I wasn’t feeling well. Unfortunately this one was such a disappointment. It’s told from the perspective of the family dog, which I thought might be quite cute but it just didn’t work for me.

A Christmas Gift by Stella Wilkinson

This is another festive short story and it was enjoyable enough but not very memorable. I wouldn’t read it again.

Christmas at Pebble Creek by Vanetta Chapman

I was looking forward to this Amish short story set at Christmas but it just fell flat for me, it felt like a draft for a story rather than a fully rounded story. It was an okay read but not the best.

Attend by West Camel

Thankfully Orenda never let me down and Attend was a brilliant read. I very much enjoyed this and it’s absolutely a five star read. I’ll be reviewing this on Friday so look out for my thoughts then.

The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

I listened to this on audio and enjoyed it. It wasn’t as festive as I was hoping it would be but it was still a really good listen. I’d recommend this one.

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

I enjoyed this book too, it’s a lovely festive novel and does help to get you in the Christmas spirit. I hope to squeeze a review in for this before Christmas!

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off by Jenny Oliver

This is another book that was enjoyable enough but, for me, it wasn’t really a Christmas read. It’s more about the main character furthering her baking career and there was way too little about Christmas.

The Christmas Bucket List by Ella Fairlie

I did really enjoy this novella and it was full of Christmas spirit and fun! I’d had this on my TBR for ages and I’m so happy that I finally read it this week. I definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for a short read to get you in the festive mood!

Next Christmas Will Be Different by Pauline Barclay

This was another short story and it was an okay read. I would have loved for this to be longer and to see more of this family at Christmas.

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

This is another audio book that I listened to and it was a sweet, romantic novel but again the Christmas part was really lacking for me. The book ends right before Christmas and I found this such a shame.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Mary Jane Forbes

This is a sweet Christmas fantasy story and was really enjoyable. I was a little confused about aspects of it because it’s not fully explained but it’s definitely Christmassy so I enjoyed that element.

 

Next

Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye and Becca Mascull

I bought this book on publication day and have been saving it to read right before Christmas and I’m so excited to finally get to it this week. I’m sure that I’m going to love this one!

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

I bought this book last Christmas and ran out of time to read it over the holiday so I definitely want to read it this week. I’ve heard good things about it so I’m really looking forward to it.

The Present by Charlotte Phillips

This is my last Christmas ARC so I must make time to read this in the next couple of days so that I can get my review up before Christmas. It sounds like a lovely read so I have high hopes for it!

 


 

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

#BookReview: Odette by Jessica Duchen | @JessicaDuchen @Unbound_Digital @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #Odette

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About the Book

When a swan crashes through her window at the height of a winter storm, Mitzi Fairweather decides to nurse the injured bird back to health. At sunset, though, it becomes a human being.

This unexpected visitor is Odette, the swan princess – alone, in danger and adrift in 21st-century Britain, dependent on the kindness of strangers. Bird by day, woman by night, with no way to go home to Russia, she remains convinced that only a man’s vow of eternal love can break her spell.

Mitzi is determined to help Odette, but as the two try to hide the improbable truth, their web of deception grows increasingly tangled…

A contemporary twist on Swan LakeOdette asks – in the best tradition of fairy tales – whether against all the odds, hope, empathy and humanity can win the day.

 

My Thoughts

I loved reading fairytales as a child – I still have my huge works of Hans Christian Anderson and Brothers Grimm from childhood and I still love finding adaptations of my favourite fairytales so I was delighted to get the chance to read Odette by Jessica Duchen for the blog tour. I’m really pleased to say that I adored this novel!

Odette is the story of Mitzi, who one day during a storm has a swan fly in through her living room window. Mitzi seeks help for the swan and is determined to nurse it back to health but the next morning she discovers a young woman, Odette, in place of the swan. Odette is a swan princess trapped in this life of being a swan during the night and a woman during the day until she finds true love. Mitzi decides to let Odette live with her and is determined to help her.

I felt a connection to Mitzi very quickly in this novel. I know how it feels to be facing Christmas after losing a parent, and it’s hard. She misses her father terribly and doesn’t know how to even begin to work through her grief and to come to terms with him being gone. She is looking for something or someone to fill the void in her life and Odette seems to appear at just the right moment.

Odette and Mitzi help each other throughout this novel. Mitzi shows Odette what a normal life in the 21st century is like, and Odette gives some comfort and solace to a lonely Mitzi. The friendship that grows between them isn’t always straightforward but it’s believable and genuine and I wanted somehow for this to be enough for Odette to be able to stay.

Of course, this being based on the fairytale means there is a romantic interest or two, and there is also the bad guy that wants to stop Odette from finding love. I really enjoyed seeing Odette dating and learning about modern men. I have to be honest that I got so wrapped up in Odette’s new-found happiness with her friend and potential lover that I forgot to look out for the bad guy so when the reveal comes I wasn’t expecting to be who it was. It’s not often that I don’t spot things coming in a novel so this is testament to the wonderful writing!

This is a take on a fairytale but it’s also a very modern novel. Odette experiences trying to get a job and not understanding how things work because of the language barrier, and this is how it must be for refugees and newcomers to a country. I also loved the way that it looks at whether love between friends can be as fulfilling as romantic love. It really is a novel that can be taken in different ways and I really appreciated that.

Odette is a beautiful novel and is one that I think will make my top books of the year as I adored it. It’s been on my mind ever since I finished reading it and I know I will read it again in the future. I definitely recommend this book.

Odette is a beautiful, magical and moving novel, I loved it!

Many thanks to Unbound and Anne of RandomThingsTours for my copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.

Odette is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Jessica Duchen Author Picture

Jessica Duchen is an acclaimed author and journalist, specialising in words for, with and about music. Her work has appeared in The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, plus numerous magazines around the world. Her first five novels have gathered a loyal fan-base and wide acclaim. Music plays a vital role in her books, and she frequently narrates concert versions of Alicia’s Gift, Hungarian Dancesand Ghost Variations.

Jessica is the librettist for the opera Silver Birchby Roxanna Panufnik, commissioned by Garsington Opera and shortlisted for a 2018 International Opera Award. Current projects include the libretto for a youth opera with composer Paul Fincham for Garsington 2019 (an updating of an Oscar Wilde fairy tale) and two large-scale choral works with Roxanna Panufnik.

She was born within the sound of Bow Bells, studied music at Cambridge and held editorial posts on several music magazines before going freelance to concentrate on writing. She edited a piano magazine for five years and was then classical music and ballet correspondent for The Independent from 2004-2016. Her output also includes plays, poetry, biographies of the composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Gabriel Fauré (published by Phaidon) and her popular classical music blog, JDCMB. She lives in London with her violinist husband and two cats. She enjoys playing the piano, cookery, long walks and obscure books about music.

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Odette Blog Tour Poster

#BookReview: Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton | @BrethertonWords @Unbounders @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #BoneLines

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About the Book

A young woman walks alone through a barren landscape in a time before history, a time of cataclysmic natural change. She is cold, hungry and with child but not without hope or resources. A skilful hunter, she draws on her intuitive understanding of how to stay alive… and knows that she must survive.

In present-day London, geneticist Dr Eloise Kluft wrestles with an ancient conundrum as she unravels the secrets of a momentous archaeological find. She is working at the forefront of contemporary science but is caught in the lonely time-lock of her own emotional past.

Bone Lines is the story of two women, separated by millennia yet bound by the web of life. A tale of love and survival – of courage and the quest for wisdom – it explores the nature of our species and asks what lies at the heart of being human.

Although partly set during a crucial era of human history 74,000 years ago, Bone Lines is very much a book for our times. Dealing with themes from genetics, climate change and migration to the yearning for meaning and the clash between faith and reason, it also paints an intimate portrait of two extraordinary characters. The book tackles some of the big questions but requires no prior or special knowledge of any of the subjects to enjoy.

Bone Lines stands alone as a novel but also marks the beginning of the intended ‘Children of Sarah’ series.

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to have the chance to read and review Bone Lines for the blog tour as it’s a book I’d seen and was curious about. I’m really pleased to say that I very much enjoyed it.

Bone Lines is set in two time lines. Eloise is geneticist in present day London and is going to be working on a skull that has been found, it’s a major archeological find and she knows this is going to be such important work. The novel also follows a woman 74,000 years ago. We see her give birth out in the open and then her struggles to keep herself and her child alive and well. The skull that Eloise is working with is named Sarah, and it’s apparent that this is the woman from the past.

I’ll be honest and say that initially I did find this novel a little hard to get into, I wasn’t sure where it was going and it’s so different from anything else that I’ve read in quite a while. A few chapters in though I felt it all began to make sense to me and I could see parallels between modern woman and the woman 74,000 years ago. At this point this book became compelling for me and I struggled to put it down.

Sarah clearly has a very difficult life, she is separated from her family and is unsure where exactly she is and whether she will ever encounter people she can join with again. She is terrified of anything happening to her child and is very protective. I felt such an emotional connection to Sarah. The way she honours the dead from her family, and the way she remembers her mother and longs for her after her child is born was incredibly moving. It really got to me in a way that I wasn’t expecting, I ignorantly assumed I wouldn’t really understand a woman who lived so long ago but this novel really made me think about how longing for our mothers, needing their support and protection at various times in our lives is such a universal human emotion. The book leaves you wondering if this innate feeling is genetic, or if it’s entirely just an emotional connection to the past.

Eloise is struggling with the issues that come with being a professional woman – ideas around having children, not having a husband etc that people often want to know about. She’s also working hard to discover if there’s a genetic link to suicide. She looks for answers about everything within science and is sure there are answers to be found. When she’s really finding it tough she starts writing letters to Charles Darwin, and while this might sound like a gimmick it actually really works within the book. It gave more insight into how Eloise thinks and feels and shows her ambition and why she strives in the way she does.

The further you get into the novel the more you see the parallels between the two women. The way they are both searching for a place to belong, a place where they fit in and feel safe. Sarah ponders on finding another group she can settle with, and Eloise seems to be looking for something that’s missing in her own life. It really opened my eyes to the universality of what humans are seeking, in spite of the circumstances of their life.

This is a beautifully written novel that explores science, evolution and emotion. It’s such an enjoyable read whilst also giving you something to think about. I’m so glad that I got the chance to read this, it feels like a book that will really stay with me. It’s made me want to read more about the period that Sarah was living and to understand how we got from there to here. I’m delighted to see that while this book stands on its own that a sequel is planned, I will definitely pre-order this book when it’s available!

A powerful, moving and fascinating novel!

Many thanks to the publisher and Anne at RandomThingsTours for my copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.

Bone Lines is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Stephanie Bretherton Author Pic

 

Who do you think you are? A daunting question for the debut author… but also one to inspire a genre-fluid novel based on the writer’s fascination for what makes humanity tick. Born in Hong Kong to expats from Liverpool (and something of a nomad ever since) Stephanie is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast

Before returning to her first love of creative writing, Stephanie spent much of her youth pursuing alternative forms of storytelling, from stage to screen and media to marketing. For the past fifteen years Stephanie has run her own communications and copywriting company specialised in design, architecture and building. In the meantime an enduring love affair with words and the world of fiction has led her down many a wormhole on the written page, even if the day job confined such adventures to the weekends.

Drawn to what connects rather than separates, Stephanie is intrigued by the spaces between absolutes and opposites, between science and spirituality, nature and culture. This lifelong curiosity has been channelled most recently into her debut novel, Bone Lines. When not bothering Siri with note-taking for her next books and short stories, Stephanie can be found pottering about with poetry, or working out what worries/amuses her most in an opinion piece or an unwise social media post. Although, if she had more sense or opportunity she would be beachcombing, sailing, meditating or making a well-disguised cameo in the screen version of one of her stories. (Wishful thinking sometimes has its rewards?)

 

Website: http://www.stephaniebretherton.com/

Twitter : @BrethertonWords

Instagram: @brethertonwords2

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Bone Lines 2 Blog Tour Poster

Mini Book Reviews | Feminism, Strong Women, Thrillers and Messed-Up Romance! #BookReview

I have some more mini book reviews to share with you all today! I’m slowly catching up now. 🙂

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Him by Clare Empson

This book was incredible, I read it months ago now and have put off reviewing it because it’s impossible to put into words what I thought of it. In the present day Catherine has elective mutism, something traumatic has happened to her and now she can’t speak. It’s heart-breaking knowing the pain she’s in, and the struggle she’s having while knowing she can’t articulate what she’s thinking. In the past, fifteen years previously we slowly get to see Catherine and Lucien’s story. Lucien is from a different walk of life to Catherine and spends his time with his friends being rather unlikeable. Catherine and Lucien had a passionate and fiery relationship. The book flicks between the past and the present and we see Catherine and Lucien’s perspectives. Gradually we begin to see why these two fell for each other and a sense of unease begins to build as to why Catherine has ended up unable to speak. The end when it comes is a shock and left me breathless. This is one of those books that is impossible to do justice to but it’s beautifully written, compelling and just brilliant. I highly recommend this on. I’m already looking forward to whatever Clare Empson writes next!

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The Dark Path / You Were Made For This by Michelle Sacks

I read this novel when it was called You Were Made For this but I believe it’s now been re-titled The Dark Path. I prefer the first title but the new one works too. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this novel but it wasn’t what I got (and that’s a good thing!). It initially seems that Merry is the perfect mother to her young baby – she bakes, gardens and supports her husband whilst looking after their child. Sam is busy pursuing his film career from their new home in the woods in Sweden. Then Merry’s old friend Frank comes to stay and soon the cracks in the Merry and Sam’s marriage, and in each of their careful facades, begin to show. This book quickly feels dark, there’s so much tension simmering away and you just know something awful is going to happen but you don’t know what. I found this book really hard to put down and when I finished it it was lodged in my head for such a long time. I recommend this!

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Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

This book was really good, it was such an engrossing read and I still keep thinking about it and it’s weeks and weeks since I read it. This novel follows multiple women in a world were their reproductive rights have been stripped from them. Ro is a single woman who is desperate to be a mother, she can’t adopt because she’s not married and IVF is now illegal. One of Ro’s students is pregnant but doesn’t want to be; abortion is illegal so she’s desperate to find some way of getting rid of her baby. Gin is an outcast, who lives on the fringes of their society, she makes potions and natural remedies to help women but now the authorities are on a witch-hunt. This book is chilling to read at times, it feels very prescient and very possible. It’s a brilliant novel though, one that really makes you think as you learn more about the different perspectives and find out how these women are linked. This is a book I definitely recommend.

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Vox by Christine Dalcher

I’ve been so eager to read this novel, it’s such a fascinating concept. Pretty much over night women are rendered powerless – their bank accounts are frozen, their passports have been taken away and they all wear a bracelet which counts each of the 100 words they’re allowed to use per day. If they go over that, they are shocked with high volts of electricity. Jean is the main character in this novel. She’s struggling to discipline her sons when she can’t speak in a normal way; one son is beginning to see himself as more powerful and she doesn’t know what she can do. She’s also finding it really hard to help her young daughter to understand that she can’t speak even when she’s having a nightmare and frightened. For me, the first two thirds of this book were really good, I didn’t want to put it down and was keen to see how things were going to end up. Unfortunately the last third took away from the first part as even when women were sensing a chance to re-gain power, the men were still involved. I also struggled throughout the book with strange phrasing and metaphors that made no sense.  All in all this was an interesting read and I wouldn’t discourage people from reading it but it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Mini Crime and Thriller Book reviews! #bookreview

I’ve got some more mini reviews to share today! Hope you enjoy them.

 

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Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

I love Sarah Pinborough’s writing so was thrilled when I won a hardback copy of her latest book earlier this year. I finally got to read it a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. This is the story of Lisa, who is mum to a teenage daughter Ava. She’s very protective of her daughter and worries constantly about where she is and what she’s doing. The novel slowly ramps up the tension to the reveal as to why she’s so protective and then we see the past and present slowly begin to catch up to each other as the novel hurtles to its conclusion! This was a really good read but it’s not my favourite Pinborough novel. I loved Behind Her Eyes so much and this just didn’t quite live up to it. It’s still a great read about how the past catches up with us, and the lengths people will go to when they feel betrayed.

 

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Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

This is a brilliant thriller about a young woman, Geo. When Geo was 16 her best friend Angela disappeared without trace, and Geo knows something about that night but she’ll never tell. Calvin, Geo’s first love, has been revealed to be a serial killer, he’s escaped custody and is now on the run and more women are being murdered! This novel is so dark and twisty and I found it near impossible to put down. It’s fast-paced and kept me on my toes throughout.

 

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Toxic by Nicci Cloke

This is such a good novel about Hope who is excited to be going on holiday with some of her best mates – she’s been given honorary ‘lad’ status and couldn’t be happier. The first couple of days are everything she wishes for but then things take a darker turn at a party. Hope tries to kiss her ex and he rejects her, she then gets very drunk and the next thing she knows she’s waking up on a beach the following morning. The novel is told in three sections, each with a different narrator. The first is really fun and summery as we follow this group of friends on holiday. The second is when dealing with the fall out of what happened to each of them on the night of the big party. The final section looks at the aftermath and really deals with some tough issues. The novel as a whole is really good. It’s about mental health, toxic masculinity and how tough it is to be a teen. I recommend this one.

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Believe Me by JP Delaney

This is a novel about Claire, a British actress trying to make it in New York and ends up working as a honey trap to make ends meet. She then gets drawn into a plot to try and trap a man who is suspected of killing his wife. This book sounded so good and I was really looking forward to reading it but I struggled to get in to it. I ended up buying the audio book and while it worked better for me as on audio I did find the whole plot was just too over the top for me. It was a fun enough read but it’s not a book that will stay with me. I think that maybe this author just isn’t for me as I know others have really enjoyed it.

 

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Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

This is a really gripping read about a couple – Erin is a documentary filmmaker and Mark who is a banker – they’re about to be married but Mark has started being really moody. It turns out he’s in financial difficulties, while at the same time Erin’s career is going well as she’s gained access to a notorious gangster in prison and is going to be making a film about him. The couple tweak their wedding plans and manage to afford to still go on their dream honeymoon and that’s when life gets really complicated. This is a novel about moral dilemmas, and about trust. You do need to suspend disbelief at times but that doesn’t take away from the novel at all. This is such a gripping, fast-paced read, and one that I couldn’t stop thinking about whenever I wasn’t reading it. I’ll definitely be looking out for more books by this author!

 

#BookReview: Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando | @badzelda @unbound_digital @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Sachiko and her husband Harry live in a village on the North-east coast of Japan. They are both struggling to adapt to life as new parents to their infant son Tashi. In the aftermath of the tsunami, Sachiko wakes alone. Her family is missing. She begins a desperate search until radiation fallout from the Fukushima power plant forces her to leave the area. She moves to Tokyo, and a different life. Harry has fled to a refuge on an isolated mountain, abandoning his family. He lives there, haunted by guilt and hovering on the edge of sanity. Will they find each other and confront the question of their missing son?

 

My Thoughts

I’d not heard of Fukushima Dreams before I was offered a chance to read and review it for this blog tour but I am so very glad that it found its way to me. This is one of those really special novels that works its way into your heart and doesn’t leave, even after you’ve finished reading it.

Sachiko is caught up in a tsunami and when she wakes she is struggling to understand what has happened to her and where her husband and baby son are. She has survived and is alone in a crowded make-shift shelter. Unknown to her, her husband Harry fled their home during the initial earthquake and is sheltering in a hut on a mountain in the middle of nowhere.

I’ve struggled to write this review because Fukushima Dreams was so much more than I was expecting it to be and it’s taken hold of my thoughts and won’t let them go. This is such a beautiful, lyrical and almost dream-like novel. It’s a quiet story in many ways but it’s so powerful at the same time. It’s written in a way that you feel like you are right there with Sachiko as she struggles to comprehend what on earth has happened her and to her home.

The tsunami and the devastation it left in its wake are a large part of this novel but there is so much more to it too. We slowly come to find out that Sachiko is a new mum and has been struggling to bond with her baby. Her husband Harry was trying to write and was being driven to distraction by the baby’s constant crying and this young couple’s marriage was starting to fall apart. As a reader it’s clear that Sachiko has post-natal depression or something similar but within the novel they don’t seek medical help for her and she’s left feeling increasingly depressed and is isolating herself from the world. I felt such sympathy for her and was hoping that Harry would do something to help her but it seemed like he retreated into himself in order to work. I don’t think he understood that Sachiko couldn’t just snap out of it, and that she needed support.

As I was reading it felt like the tsunami, while clearly really happening, was also a metaphor for what happened to Sachiko when she had her baby. The fear, the confusion, the not knowing what to do or where to go, and finally the sheer overwhelming despair of ever finding normal again. And I also found that the way Harry deals with the earthquake by running away from his family and becoming so isolated on the mountain was like he was experiencing what Sachiko went through in her post-natal depression. The haze, the inability to think clearly and the sense of being so completely alone. There is real symmetry in the internal thought processes of the two characters and what is happening in the place they live. Everything has been in a state of chaos for a while and the tsunami compounds it all.

I was rooting for Sachiko to find out what happened to her husband and son, I can’t imagine what it must be like to experience a disaster on this scale and not know where your family are and if they survived. I wanted her to find some happiness. Seeing her journey as she begins to think about life again was so moving. The ending of this book is one that really makes you stop in your tracks though. I don’t want to say too much about what happens later in the novel because this really is a book to not know too much about before you read it. You need to pick it up and fall into the pages and experience this beautiful and heart-breaking novel yourself.

I finished reading Fukushima Dreams a few weeks ago now and I’ve since re-written this review quite a few times because I just can’t do it justice. It’s a simply incredible novel and I won’t ever forget it. Please just go get a copy and read it, it really is stunning!

A moving, lyrical novel about how people cope when the worst happens to them.

Many thanks to Unbound and Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Fukushima Dreams is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Zelda Rhiando was born in Dublin and read English Literature at Cambridge. She lives in South London with her husband, two daughters and four cats, and is one of the founders of the Brixton BookJam. She is the author of two novels, Caposcripti and Fukushima Dreams.

 

Website: http://www.badzelda.com/

Twitter : @badzelda

 

You can find the rest of the stops on this tour at the following blogs:

Fukushima blog Tour poster

This Week in Books (12 Dec 2018)! What are you reading this week? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

I’m really enjoying this Christmas novel and am looking forward to getting back to it!

The Advent Killer by Alastair Gunn

This is a serial killer crime novel set over Christmas. It’s really fast-paced and I’m intrigued to read more!

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

This is my current audio book. I’ve enjoyed previous Christmas novels by this author so thought I’d try her latest. It’s not got to Christmas yet but it’s a sweet, enjoyable story.

 

Then 

Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris

This is one of my favourite Christmas novels, I think I’ve read it most years ever since I first bought it! It’s a gorgeous novel about a stockroom girl who’s determined to help save the department store where she works. It’s full of vintage inspiration and is just gorgeous!

The Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders

I recently bought this on a whim as it sounded very festive and I enjoyed it. It felt like it took a while to get going but once it did I really liked it. It’s got so much Christmas in it and definitely helped lift my spirits when I was feeling unwell.

 

The Ice Monster by David Walliams

I listened to this on audiobook and very much enjoyed it. I highly recommend it on audio as it has a cast of famous people doing the different voices of the characters and I’m sure kids would love listening to it.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

I fell in love with this novel – it’s so beautiful and utterly stunning. I reviewed this yesterday so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

White Christmas by Emma Lee-Potter

I’ve had this short novella on my TBR for a few years and finally picked it up this week. I needed something short to read as I was really ill over the weekend and my concentration wasn’t up to a longer book. This was an okay read but it felt like it took a while to get going and then the ending was a bit rushed. It’s quite festive though so I appreciated that.

All I Want for Christmas by Claudia Carroll

This is a short story that has also been on my TBR for ages. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this one at all. It’s clearly not a standalone story but a prequel to a novel and it doesn’t work on its own. This isn’t made clear in the blurb so it was a let down for me.

It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

I enjoyed this Christmas novel, it wasn’t quite as festive as I hoped but it was still a lovely book. You can read my thoughts in my review here if you’d like to.

 

Next

The Present by Charlotte Phillips

This is the last Christmas ARC that I have on my TBR so I’d like to get this read and reviewed asap. I’m looking forward to it.

Murder at the Mill by M. B. Shaw

I love the sound of this book – it’s a murder mystery set at Christmas so now seems the perfect time to pick it up.

2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a couple of years now and I believe it features Christmas so I’m going to try and get to it in the coming days.

Dickens at Christmas by Charles Dickens

This is another of the gorgeous Vintage Christmas editions that I got as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. I usually read A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve every year but I haven’t read many of Dickens’ other shorter stories so I’m planning to read one or two a day over the next couple of weeks.


 

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

#BookReview: Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield @DianeSetterfie1 #PassTheStoryOn #OnceUponaRiver @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

 

My Thoughts

I was beyond delighted when I was contacted about reading Once Upon A River as I read The Thirteenth Tale when it was first published and I adored it and I’ve been eagerly anticipating this new one from Diane Setterfield. I’m so happy to say that I fell in love with this novel!

Once Upon A River is a beautiful novel set along the river Thames. One night in The Swan Inn the storytellers are gathered when a mysterious man bursts in carrying what appears to be a puppet or a doll. It turns out to be a young girl and she is deemed to be dead from drowning. Later when the local nurse, Rita, checks on her she begins to breathe, which baffles everyone. The issue then becomes the need to find out who this girl is and where her parents are.

The mystery of the girl quickly spreads along the Thames and more than one family claim she belongs to them. She also becomes the subject of the storytellers and different versions of what might have happened her begin to be told.

My favourite character was Rita, the nurse and midwife, who looked after everyone within the community. I loved how she was so scientifically minded in a time when so many things weren’t understood and she didn’t have access to education. I also loved Daunt, the photographer. It was wonderful to read the process of taking photos in this time period and I felt I was right there looking over his shoulder.

Once Upon A River has a vast cast of characters, each one fully realised and becomes absolutely real as you’re reading. I loved the slower pace of this novel, it meanders like the river and the best way to read this book is to go at the pace it sets. I’m naturally quite a fast reader but this book was one I had to read slowly, I wanted to stay in this world for as long as I possibly could and I never wanted it to end. The writing is beautiful, the setting is so vivid and the characters felt like real people to me.

This is an epic novel and every single sentence is relevant to the plot so it’s a book to be savoured. The book moves between characters and gradually you see how each of their stories links to another’s story and the picture begins to come to life. Some of the people in this book are storytellers but it also felt like the novel itself is storytelling along with the story of the storytellers and it’s so beautiful.

It’s impossible for me to  do any kind of justice to this novel in my review but trust me, it’s a stunning book and I defy anyone not to enjoy it. I adored it and it’s absolutely going to be in my favourite books of this year, I can’t stop thinking about it and that’s always the mark of a wonderful book when it lingers in your mind long after you’ve finished reading it. It’s atmospheric, captivating and utterly beautiful!

Once Upon A River is out now in ebook and available to pre-order in hardback from here.

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

About the Author

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Diane Setterfield’s bestselling novel, The Thirteenth Tale was published in 38 countries, sold more than three million copies, and was made into a television drama scripted by Christopher Hampton, starring Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave.

Her second novel was Bellman & Black, and her new novel is Once Upon a River. Born in rural Berkshire, she now lives near Oxford, by the Thames.

 

 

You can find the rest of the tour at these blogs:

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#BookReview: The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan @Susan_Buchanan @rararesources

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About the Book

Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?

My Thoughts

The Christmas Spirit is a gorgeous festive novella. We meet Natalie who has come to run the local cake shop for the weeks leading up to Christmas, and there is definitely something magical and sparkly about her. In the town there are a handful of people who need Natalie’s help and she’s determined to sort their lives out.

Stanley was my favourite character in the book. He’s a lonely widower who’s lost without his wife. I was so hoping that he would find a purpose and some happiness. There is also Rebecca who is a meek character that can’t seem to stand up for herself. She works for Meredith who seems like an awful, uncaring woman. Then there’s Jacob, a recent graduate who can’t find a job even though he’s trying so hard.

Natalie is a fabulous character. She hits the ground running at the cake shop and is a whirlwind at baking. All the new cakes sounded amazing and my mouth was watering every time one was described! She quickly brings real warmth and heart to the cafe and makes time for all the customers. I feel like she worked her magic on everyone in the town, not just the four people she was there to help. 

The Christmas Spirit is set from the 1st December right up until Christmas so it’s full of festivity and sparkle. I loved this novella, it warmed my heart! I definitely recommend picking this up in the run up to Christmas!

I received a copy of this book from Rachel at Rara Resourses. All thoughts are my own.

The Christmas Spirit is out now and available here.

About the Author

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Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children. She is the author of four novels: Return of the Christmas Spirit, The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. She is currently working on books five and six: The Proposal and Just One Day.

Susan is also a proofreader, editor and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows and eating out – not necessarily in that order!

Social Media Links

Facebook – www.facebook.com/susan.buchanan.author

Twitter – susan_buchanan

Blog – Sooz’s journal – www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk

Mini Thriller, Crime and Christmas #BookReviews

Today I’m sharing four more mini reviews as I continue on my quest to catch up before the end of the year!

 

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This is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This was such a good read, and one of those books that really stays with you. It’s told from two perspectives and is told in such a unique way. It opens with a party and leads to a dead body in an empty flat. Molly and Ella are left trying to work out what to do. The novel is then told from Molly’s perspective going forwards to see what happens in the aftermath, and Ella’s story begins at this point and starts going backwards in time so we slowly get to find out how she came to be here. I was hooked on this really clever novel and I can’t recommend it highly enough! I actually finished reading it a while ago now but it’s still really fresh in my mind, which is always the mark of a fab novel!

 

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You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I’ve been a huge fan of Lucy Clarke ever since her first novel came out and I’m so pleased to say that You Let Me In lived up to my very high expectations! Elle is feeling increasingly unsettled in her home ever since she rented it out when she was away. She can’t put her finger on what’s wrong but something just doesn’t feel right. The tension in this book keeps ratcheting up to the point where you can’t be sure if Elle is having a breakdown, or if she is right to be worried and that someone is out to get her. There are a few people who may have it in for her and so you’re kept on your toes all the way through this novel. I was sure I had it all worked out but I was wrong and the reveal when it comes is shocking! I definitely recommend this one!

 

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The Present by DS Devlin

I do love a crime thriller set over Christmas time so I couldn’t resist grabbing this one recently. It starts off so well when Anna, a journalist, receives a gruesome gift at her home in the days following the murder of a man and kidnap of his wife. It’s believed to be the work of the serial killer dubbed Santa Killer who has been killing people at Christmas for a few years. After a kill he leaves ‘gifts’ for twelve days of Christmas at which point the kidnap victim is usually found dead. The first part of this book had me gripped and I couldn’t put it down but it did all fall away a bit as the book went on. The problem for me is that there was only really two suspects in the book so it soon became obvious who the killer is and I just got increasingly frustrated with how Anna couldn’t work it out. I did finish the book though and I would be interested to read what the author writes next.

 

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The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm

This was a really good read too. Georgia is a courtroom artist who feels like she can see evil in people. She suffered a terrible trauma in her childhood and this has impacted her as an adult. She is forced to re-look at a conviction from early in her career and begins to question whether she might have helped put an innocent person in prison. The really fascinating thing about this thriller for me was the way it made me think about how I might look at a person and judge them. The novel really makes you question how often judgements are made when the person in question could be completely innocent. This is a thrilling novel that will keep you guessing right until the end, it’s such an engaging read and I recommend it!

#BookReview: It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

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About the Book

Holly McAdams loves spending the Christmas holidays at her family’s cozy cabin, with its little red door and twinkling lights, tucked in the snowy hills outside Nashville. But this year will be different. Someone unexpected is joining them…

After Holly and her beloved Nana struggle through a snow storm to reach the cabin, they discover gorgeous and wealthy Joseph Barnes, who has been renting the cabin for the last few weeks, is now snowed in. And it looks like he’ll be staying for the holidays.

Determined to make the best of the surprise situation, Holly tries to bring everyone together by baking delicious treats and decorating the cabin with plenty of festive sparkle. She finds herself growing close to handsome Joseph, who is unlike anyone she’s ever met before, even if Nana isn’t so keen on the dashing stranger with the mysterious past.

But charming and irresistible musician Rhett Burton is also back in town. Thrown into close proximity with the person who used to be her best friend and the man who broke her heart, Holly realizes it’s time to face her feelings and figure out what she really wants from her life. But to complicate things, both Joseph and Rhett have secrets to reveal…

Will Holly be able to find herself and the love she’s always dreamed of this Christmas?

 

My Thoughts

Holly is spending Christmas at her family’s cabin with her lovely Nana. This is the first Christmas they’ve spent there since Holly’s Papa died so it’s a difficult time for them and then when they arrive they discover a man there! Joe has been renting the cabin and due to the snow has had to stay on a bit longer. Holly and Joe are attracted to each other and the Holly’s old friend, the singer Rhett turns up and declares he still had feelings for her!

I’m going to be honest and say that this novel wasn’t as festive as I was hoping it would be. There is a build up to Christmas but then it felt like it was over in the blink of an eye. Having said that the beautiful romantic treasure hunt on Christmas morning was so gorgeous and really epitomised the festive spirit. Nana was a wonderful character and seeing her find her way through her grief to re-connect with the happy memories she has of her late husband was so moving.

I found the potential romance between Holly and Joe was really endearing. I really felt their connection and felt sad for Holly when it seemed it wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t warm to Rhett at all though and was hoping Holly wasn’t going to end up with him. It was in the balance for most of the novel how things would work out for her and I did enjoy the uncertainty around her romantic life.

All in all this was a sweet and romantic novel with hints of Christmas running through it. I do love Jenny Hale’s writing and will definitely look out for her Christmas novels in the future.

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

It Started with Christmas is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

When she graduated college, one of Jenny’s friends said “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day”. Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to her.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t. Whilst she didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children and hundreds of thousands of words later, Jenny finished her first novel, Coming Home for Christmas, which became an instant bestseller.

#BookReview: In Bloom by C. J. Skuse @HQStories #InBloom

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About the Book

Darkly comic crime sequel to Sweetpea, following girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon as she’s now caught between the urge to kill and her unborn baby stopping her.

If only they knew the real truth. It should be my face on those front pages. My headlines. I did those things, not him. I just want to stand on that doorstep and scream it: IT WAS ME. ME. ME. ME. ME!

Rhiannon Lewis has successfully fooled the world and framed her cheating fiancé Craig for the depraved and bloody killing spree she committed. She should be ecstatic that she’s free.

Except for one small problem. She’s pregnant with her ex lover’s child. The ex-lover she only recently chopped up and buried in her in-laws garden. And as much as Rhiannon wants to continue making her way through her kill lists, a small voice inside is trying to make her stop.

But can a killer’s urges ever really be curbed?

My Thoughts

In Bloom has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2018 as I loved the first book in this series, SweetPea (you can read my review of Sweet Pea here if you’d like to). I’m so happy to say that In Bloom absolutely lived up to my high expectations and I loved being back in Rhiannon’s world.

In Bloom picks up where SweetPea left off and it’s so good! Rhiannon has a body to deal with and is worried that the police might be at her door. She’s pregnant and her unborn baby seems to want to interfere with her urges to kill!

When I finished reading SweetPea I was so hoping that there would be more books about Rhiannon so I was thrilled when I found out about In Bloom. Rhiannon is such a brilliant, sarcastic character who doesn’t take any rubbish from anyone. I love that she still makes lists of all the things that annoy her, it makes it easy to identify with her and makes you feel like you could be friends with her… which really brings you up short when you remember that she’s a psychopathic serial killer! That is the beauty of this book though!

In this book Rhiannon is back in the media as the girlfriend of a serial killer (only we know that he’s been framed by her). She’s also living with his parents, who are looking forward to their grandchild arriving but there are secrets there too. Rhiannon can’t resist the urge to kill again and life is just really complicated for her. She always finds a way to deal with her problems though, albeit not a healthy or sane way but it works for her. There’s something so likeable about Rhiannon – it makes me feel so conflicted to say that but she is such a brilliant character!

In Bloom is definitely best read after Sweet Pea as you get so much more idea about her and what makes her tick. There are references to things that happened in Sweet Pea and it feels like this book is a definite continuation of Rhiannon’s story. Plus why would you want to miss out on the fun of knowing Rhiannon from the start?!

I loved In Bloom: It’s funny, dark and utterly brilliant – I definitely recommend it!

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

In Bloom is out now and available here.

About the Author

C.J. SKUSE is the author of the Young Adult novels PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC (Chicken House), MONSTER and THE DEVIANTS (Mira Ink). She was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels lectures in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University.

C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and murder sites. She hates carnivals, hard-boiled eggs and coughing. The movies Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Ruby Sparks were all probably based on her ideas; she just didn’t get to write them down in time. Before she dies, she would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Ryan Gosling present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

You can find C.J. Skuse on Facebook or on Twitter CeejaytheAuthor

This Week in Books (5 Dec 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

This is an easy read and enjoyable enough but I’m almost halfway through it and it isn’t hugely festive as yet. I’m hoping that the second half of the book has all the Christmas!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This book is stunning! It’s the first time in a really long time that I’m deliberately reading a book slowly as I  don’t ever want it to end. It’s an incredible read, I think it will be making my top books of the year!

Chase Your Shadow by John Carlin

This is a really interesting book about Oscar Pistorius. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it or not but so far it’s a very well-balanced book that helps you understand his character and the South African justice system. It’s respectful of Reeva Steenkamp too which I appreciate.

Twenty-Six Seconds by Alexandra Zapruder

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week as I’ve been catching up on my blog tour reading and also Christmas review books. I’m still really enjoying though, it’s such an interesting book.

Then 

The Snowman by Michael Morpugo

I read this yesterday afternoon just before we put our Christmas tree up and it made for a lovely time. This is a new take on The Snowman and is a novella, I really enjoyed it.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

This ARC has been on my TBR for ages so I was glad to read it this week. It didn’t quite live up to my hopes though unfortunately. I don’t know if I’d just heard too much hype and my expectations were too high, or if it just wasn’t the book for me. I do plan on still reviewing this once I’ve got my thoughts in order.

Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton

This book was such a great read. It was a harder read than I was expecting but it rewarded my sticking with it and I loved it. I’m reviewing this for the blog tour in the coming weeks so look out for my thoughts but in the meantime I definitely recommend it.

Odette by Jessica Duchen

I adored this book! It’s based on a fairytale and set in modern day and it’s just beautiful. I knew I was going to enjoy it as soon as I picked it up but I didn’t realise just how much I was going to love it.

The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm

I’ve been looking forward to getting to this thriller and ended up reading it in just two sittings! It was really good. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

Mother of a Suicide by Joanna Lane

This book started off really interesting but ultimately it wasn’t for me. I think that for anyone who thinks they might be affected by the medial condition in the book this would be a useful read.

My Life in Football by Kevin Keegan

I listened to the audio of this and it was such a great book. It’s frustrating (and anger-inducing) as a Newcastle United fan to be reminded of all the failings of the current owner but it was fab to hear all Keegan’s other stories.

Under the Wig by William Clegg QC

I really enjoyed this book and have already reviewed it so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

Believe Me by JP Delaney

I had an ARC of this but was struggling to get into it so I bought the audio book in a recent Audible sale. I enjoyed it more listening to it and it was an okay read overall.

Next

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

I didn’t manage to get to this Christmas book when it was on my TBR last week but I’m definitely planning to pick it up this week. I’m really looking forward to it.

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

I wanted to predominantly focus on Christmas reading for the next three or so weeks but I’ve been hearing such good things about this book and it’s calling to me from my TBR!

Attend by West Camel

I’m on the blog tour for this later in December so want to try and read this in the coming days. I’m so keen to pick it up, it sounds like my kind of book!

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

My husband bought me the Vintage Christmas classics a couple of years ago and I haven’t managed to read them all as yet so I definitely would like to pick this one up in the week ahead.


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

#BookReview: The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson @millyjohnson @simonschusterUK #ChristmasReads

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About the Book

Eve Glace – co-owner of the theme park Winterworld – is having a baby and her due date is a perfectly timed 25th December. And she’s decided that she and her husband Jacques should renew their wedding vows with all the pomp that was missing the first time. But growing problems at Winterworld keep distracting them …

Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, and are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child. But when Annie finds that the changes happening to her body aren’t typical of the menopause but pregnancy, her joy is uncontainable.

Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will get her out of the gutter in which she finds herself. But when the couple she is helping split up, is she going to be left carrying a baby she never intended to keep?

Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Christmas Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor to help mums-to-be mingle and share their pregnancy journeys. Will this group help each other to find love, contentment and peace as Christmas approaches?

 

My Thoughts

I’m fully immersed in my Christmas reading now and my most recent festive read was The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson!

This is a lovely novel following three women. Palma has agreed to act as a surrogate for a couple as she desperately needs money. She’s such a sweet young woman and all through the novel I was wanting life to work out for her. Annie runs a Christmas cracker factory with her husband. She’s in her late 40s and is living with the sadness that comes with having been unable to have a child and now seems to be starting the menopause. Eve owns Winterland, a Christmas theme park and finds herself pregnant and planning her vow renewal service for the festive season!

All three women were such great characters and I enjoyed reading about all of them. The peripheral characters were all so brilliant too – I especially loved Iris! Milly Johnson is so good at writing really believable characters, all of the people in this book felt real and that gave it such warmth.

This book isn’t set entirely at Christmas, it’s more the few months leading up to it but it does still feature a reasonable amount of the holiday period and Christmas planning. There are such gorgeous friendships formed in this book that it felt like it really embodied the Christmas spirit and I loved it!

This is a light-hearted read but it has some real heart-felt moments in it too. The sad moments are handled so sensitively and the real Yorkshire spirit that comes from some of the characters helps bring the novel back to being light, without ever dismissing the harder times. This is my new favourite Milly Johnson book, I very much enjoyed it! I definitely recommend this one!

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

The Mother of All Christmases is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Milly Johnson was born in Barnsley, raised in Barnsley and still lives in Barnsley – although she did study in Exeter for four years and emigrate to Haworth in West Yorkshire in the 1980s. She trained as an actress, teacher, an accountant, a Customer Services and Suggestion Scheme Manager as well as working in a variety of administrative posts for companies dealing with anything from antique furniture to plastic injection moulded poop scoops. Eventually she found a happy existence writing poems and jokes for the greetings card world – helping to kick off the hugely successful Purple Ronnie project – which she still does on a part time basis whilst penning her novels.

#BookReview: Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel by Karen King @karen_king @bookouture #ChristmasRead

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About the Book

Snowy rooftops, mulled wine, and a hot single dad. Not the Christmas Saffy wished for… but maybe the one she needs?

Twenty-nine year old Saffron Baxter knew her holiday plans didn’t stand a chance the moment her sister called to say she was stuck abroad with no hope of being home before Christmas. Saffy would just have to abandon thoughts of wild festive parties in the city and head down to remote Cornwall.

Because every year her sister hosts a huge Christmas meal for all the single parents in her village. And Saffy knows it’d break her heart to let them down.

Arriving as snow starts to fall over the thatched cottages of the little harbour town of Port Breok, she meets Logan – the tall, fair-haired, blue-eyed, devoted single dad who lives next door, with his adorable daughter Chloe. At first she thinks he might help her make Christmas Day extra-memorable, but he just seems convinced she’ll never manage – that she’s just a party girl who doesn’t care about Christmas, or anyone’s feelings.

Maybe he’s right. After all – she doesn’t want to settle down, she’s only there for a few days… But she’s still determined to do her sister proud with gorgeous decorations, the most beautiful real tree – complete with extra twinkly lights, and delicious mince pies. To make it a Christmas everyone will remember, especially little Chloe. Even if, when the mistletoe comes down, she knows she’ll probably never see Logan again…

 

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist the fabulously festive cover of Snowy Hearts at the Lonely Hearts Hotel and I’m really happy to say that the novel more than lives up to the cover!

Saffy is an independent woman who enjoys her career and her social life and doesn’t have much spare time for family but when her sister Hannah calls to say she’s stuck abroad and needs Saffy to help her out, Saffy feels she can’t say no.  Hannah runs a big Christmas party for all the single parent families in her neighbourhood every year and now Saffy has to organise the whole thing!

Soon after arriving Saffy meets her sister’s neighbour Logan and his young daughter Chloe. There is a clear spark between Saffy and Logan but the path to true love never runs smoothly and these two keep missing the mark with each other. Saffy is determined to focus on the party planning and to show her sister that she is capable and can do it.

I very much enjoyed this book. It’s set pretty much entirely over the Christmas period so is really festive! It’s got snow and party planning, romance and misunderstandings and lots and lots of holiday fun. It’s gorgeous – just the absolute perfect book to curl up with on a cold, wintery day! I highly recommend adding this book to your Christmas reading plans!

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

Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Karen King is a multi-published, award-winning author of romantic novels and children’s fiction. She has had four romance novels published to date, with another one due out next April, 120 children’s books, and several short stories in women’s magazines. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women  Writers and Journalists.

Non-Fiction November Wrap-Up! #NonFictionNovember2018

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I always enjoy joining in with Non-Fiction November but the month always goes by so fast! This year I had quite a lot of fiction to read and review so couldn’t focus entirely on non-fiction but I still read more of it than I thought I would… sixteen non-fiction books in total!

Of my planned non-fiction TBR I managed to read:

Waco by David Thibodeau

This is a memoir of a man who survived the Waco siege. It’s a really interesting read and I recommend it.

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 by Tina Brown

I enjoyed reading this book and have actually already reviewed it so you can read what I thought here if you’d like to.

The Upstarts by Brad Stone

I listened to the audiobook of this and I have to be honest and say that I found it a little disappointing. It just wasn’t as engaging as I’d hoped it was going to be, although it was still interesting to read how companies like AirBnB and Uber got started.

Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton

Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White

Even though I am now finally winning the battle with clutter (ever since I did the KonMari method earlier this year my house is staying clutter-free) I still can’t resist reading books about it. There were some useful ideas in this book and I definitely recommend it.

Three Things You Need to Know about Rockets by Jessica Fox

I’d had this book on my TBR for years as I was saving it for the right time. Unfortunately though I just didn’t enjoy it all that much. It wasn’t what it felt like it was going to be and was lacking in something for me. It has had lots of good reviews though so it may well be that it just wasn’t for me.

 

I then completely deviated from my planned non-fiction reads and picked up these books too:

The Diary of Two Nobodies by Mary Killen and Giles Wood

I love watching Giles and Mary on Gogglebox so was really looking forward to reading this book by them and I’m so happy to say that I enjoyed it. They’re just how they are on TV and it was a joy to read this.

I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors

This was a fascinating read about a woman who looks into the life of her rapist. She had buried her emotions for many years and then goes on a journey to know more about the man who attacked her. It wasn’t as emotional read as I was expecting but it was still very interesting and gripping.

I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends by Kelsey Miller

I listened to the audio book of this and it was such a fun, nostalgic read. I recommend it to all Friends fans!

No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s by Andy McSmith

This is another book that I’ve had on my TBR for such a long time but I’m so glad I picked it up because it was such a good read. It was really accessible non-fiction but it helps puts some things in context from the 80s with regards politics and what was happening at the time.

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale

I’d forgotten I owned this audio book so when I spotted it in my Audible app during November I immediately started listening. I love Kate Summerscale’s writing and this book lived up to my expectations, it was so interesting.

How Not to be a Boy by Robert Webb

I got this book for Christmas last year and have been so badly wanting to read it so I’m glad to have read it in November. I really, really enjoyed this, it was even better than I thought it was going to be.

Life to the Limit: My Autobiography by Jenson Button

I was a huge F1 fan for many years and followed Jenson Button’s career in the sport. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages so when it was in a recent sale on Audible I snapped it up. I very much enjoyed this book. It’s a really open and honest look at his career, and also a love letter to his late father.

Under the Wig: A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and Innocence by William Clegg QC

I downloaded this from NetGalley on a whim recently and I’m so glad I did as it was such a good read. I actually managed to review this straight away so you can read more of my thoughts here if you’d like to.

My Life in Football: The Autobiography by Kevin Keegan

I’ve been umming and ahhing about whether I wanted to read this book at the moment. I’m a Newcastle United supporter and the way the club treated Kevin Keegan, and the way the current owner is running the club makes it not fun at all. Anyway, I saw the audio book in a recent sale and decided to give it a go. It was such a good read, I’m glad I read it but it did make me so angry all over again at how he was treated. I definitely recommend the book though.

Mother of a Suicide: The Battle for the Truth Behind a Mental Health Cover-up by Joanna Lane

This book often pops up on recommendations for me in Goodreads so I finally picked it up just the other day. I don’t know what to say about this one. I feel for Joanna, and I admire her determination to find answers and her fight to get the medical profession to listen but the book felt like it needed editing. I also wish it’d had more of a sense of her emotion rather than just the facts of what was happening.

 

 

Did you take part in Non-Fiction November? Or have you read any good non-fiction recently? I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books in my post, or if you have any non-fiction you can recommend to me. I’m always on the look out for new books. 🙂

 

 

 

Mini Crime and Thriller #BookReviews!

I’m still trying to catch up with reviews so am going to continue on with my occasional series of mini book reviews. It’s stressing me out to know I’ve read these books a while ago but haven’t managed to review them so I just want to get caught up and then hopefully I can start keeping up from that point on! (Here’s hoping…!)

 

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Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan

I was eagerly anticipating Claire Allan’s first thriller novel and I wasn’t disappointed! This is a book about Emily, who lets a stranger step out in front of her and the woman gets hits by a car and she dies. Emily can’t help but want to know more about Rose and begins looking her up on social media. She finds out that Rose had an amazing, perfect life and she begins to embed herself into the lives of those Rose left behind. The novel explores how the life people present to the outside IS not always the one they are really living. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading Claire’s next thriller!

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The Reunion by Samantha Hayes

I’ve read and enjoyed previous novels by this author so was really looking forward to The Reunion and I’m pleased to say that it was a great read. The novel is set in past and present, which I always enjoy. Claire’s little sister went missing when she was in charge of her and now in the present the family is facing up to having to sell the family farm and are having a reunion of everyone who was there when Eleanor went missing. I was suspicious of everyone in this book. This group of people all have secrets and things they’re hiding – some more serious than others and so it makes for a great read as you wonder who it is that has the biggest secret of all! Ultimately, I did work out what had happened before the reveal comes but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.

 

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The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn

The premise of this novel grabbed me right away. I know what it is to fear leaving the house and to therefore become a prisoner in your own home so I felt sure I was going to love this book. Anna has many issues and as such comes across as an unreliable narrator so when she sees something in the house opposite you can’t be sure if everything was as she said it was. The tension ratches up from this point on and you find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering how things are going to to turn out for Anna. This was a good read. I did work out what was going on quite early in the book so some of the suspense was then lacking for me but having said that there were still reveals to come that had my mind spinning. This was a good read and I’m looking forward to reading whatever the author publishes next!

 

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The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic

This was such an interesting premise for a thriller as it’s set in one room between a therapist and her patient. I was intrigued from the start and was keen to see what was going to happen, and how. It started off really well as you get the sense there is more to this appointment than we know at first and the tension just builds and builds from there.  It’s a novel that really makes you think about the nature of right and wrong, and how nothing is ever black and white. It really makes you question your thoughts about each of the characters. It’s a good read and I recommend it!

 

#BookReview – Under the Wig: A Lawyer’s Stories of Murder, Guilt and Innocence by William Clegg QC @CanburyPress

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About the Book

How can you speak up for someone accused of a savage murder? Or sway a jury? Or get a judge to drop a case?

In this memoir, murder case lawyer William Clegg revisits his most intriguing trials, from the acquittal of Colin Stagg to the shooting of Jill Dando, to the man given life because of an earprint.

All the while he lays bare the secrets of his profession, from the rivalry among barristers to the nervous moments before a verdict comes back, and how our right to a fair trial is now at risk.

Under the Wig is for anyone who wants to know the reality of a murder trial.

My Thoughts

I really enjoy reading books about the law so when I spotted Under the Wig in the Read Now section of NetGalley recently I immediately downloaded it.

Under the Wig is the memoir of William Clegg QC and makes for a fascinating read. The book is told in alternating chapters where one chapter is about a famous case he has worked on and the other gradually tells his story of how he came to be a barrister.

William Clegg has worked on some very high profile cases and it was really interesting to hear about them from a defence barrister’s perspective. He gives his opinion on the outcome of each particular case in the course of a chapter and I really appreciated that. He covers cases such as the murder of Jill Dando, where he worked on Barry George’s appeal. We also get to see how it is for a barrister to work for a man who has confessed to manslaughter such as in the case of Vincent Tabak (who was convicted of murdering Joanna Yeates at Christmas 2010).

I was particularly interested in the chapter about legal aid. I was well aware of cuts in legal aid as it’s often been in the news but I didn’t know the impact it was having in real terms. It’s shocking to see how much funding has been cut and the potential this has for preventing people from accessing a good defence team.

I’ve definitely come away from this book with a little more understanding of some aspects of the law than I had before. It makes more sense to me now how some points of a case get dropped early on, and how different points are argued during a trial.

This is a gripping book – one that once you start reading you just don’t want to put down. The writing flows and it reads like a fiction book in the sense that it’s very accessible and holds your interest from start to finish. I really enjoyed Under the Wig and definitely recommend it!

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