Weekly Wrap-Up! (22 Oct)

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This week has been okay. I’ve been unwell for a few days so had to rest up and I got a lot of reading done. I managed to finish a couple of books that I’ve been reading for a little while so that was nice.

Yesterday was really upsetting when I found out that because someone has reported me to Facebook for not using my surname on there. Facebook are holding me to ransom saying that unless I give them two documents with my real name on (which they’d then use on my account) they’ll delete not only my account but also my Facebook page. I have good reason for not using my surname online so refuse to give it to Facebook. This means I’ll no longer be able to have a presence on Facebook unless I can find a way around this. Being housebound social media is really important to me so I’m really sad that someone has caused this to happen to me. My husband is looking into if we can appeal to Facebook but unless I can figure something out then I’ll no longer be on there once they delete my account and page. So if you follow me on there and see my page disappear this is why.

Anyway, on to the books…

 

This week I’ve finished reading seven books:

Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann

I have to admit that whilst this is a short novel I did struggle with it a bit. It’s one of those books that I really enjoyed when I was reading it but when I put it down I just wasn’t drawn to pick it back up. Yesterday evening I made the time to just read it through to the end and it was more enjoyable that way but it still left me feeling a bit indifferent to it. The idea for the novel was great so it may just be a case of right book wrong time for me.

Sofa So Good: Me Life Story by Scarlett Moffatt

I was sent a copy of this for review and it was the perfect read for me this week. I read it in one sitting and I enjoyed it so much. I’ll be reviewing this one very soon!

In A Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

This is a book I got from NetGalley recently so picked it up this week and I devoured it. I was expecting it to be a bit more unnerving than it was but it had me hooked all the way through and it was good escapism.

Trust Me by Zosia Wand

I very much enjoyed this book, it’s another one that I read in one sitting as I just didn’t want to put it down. It made for a late night but it was worth it! I’ve already reviewed this one so you can read more of what I thought here if you’d like to.

All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

I’m ashamed to say that I was sent a copy of this book for review quite a while ago not but I just haven’t been able to manage holding a physical book over the summer so it’s had to wait. It was worth the wait though because this was such a brilliant read. I’m still trying to get my thoughts together but I will review it soon – in the meantime I definitely recommend it!

Titanic Love Stories by Gill Paul

I’ve had this on my TBR for ages so as I’m trying to mix reading review books with reading books that I’ve owned since before the start of the year I decided to pick this one up. It was an enjoyable and moving read but I just wish it had had a bit more depth. It’s worth picking up if you’re interested in books about the Titanic though.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This book is so good! I love Sliding Doors type books anyway but this one is done so well and I’m still thinking about it now. I hope to get my review written and posted soon but I can say now that I highly recommend this book!

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Life Update and Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Extract from Bad Sister by Sam Carrington for the blog tour

Friday: Review of Trust Me by Zosia Wand for the blog tour

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came by M.C. Beaton

I haven’t read an Agatha Raisin book for ages but I picked this one off my TBR last night as it seemed it would be perfect escapism when I was feeling so down last night. It was the right choice because I’m loving this book.

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

I’ve had an ARC of this on my kindle for a few months now so decided it was time to pick it up. I’m really enjoying this – it’s hooked me in very quickly and I’m keen to get back to it to see where this novel is going.

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

I’ve only read a couple more chapters of this since last week as I just wasn’t in the right mood to read it but I do want to get back to it soon.

Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life by David Cavanagh

I’m still dipping in and out of this book and I love it. There are some wonderful stories from John Peel’s radio shows and I feel like I can almost hear his voice as I’m reading.

Aches and Gains: A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming Your Pain by Paul L. Christo

I’m also still reading this book on and off – it’s not a book I can read straight through as I want to take in what he’s saying. This is a great book for anyone who suffers from chronic pain, or cares for someone who does.


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

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#BookReview: Trust Me by @ZosiaWand ‏@HoZ_Books #blogtour


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About the Book

Who can you trust if you can’t trust yourself?

Twenty-seven-year-old Lizzie has a great relationship with her teenage stepson, Sam, even though they could pass for brother and sister.

When Sam becomes sullen and withdrawn, Lizzie starts to suspect that something sinister is going on at school. But no one believes her and then suspicion falls on Lizzie herself…

Trust Me is an absorbing, suspenseful and thought-provoking thriller tat asks if you can ever really trust anybody, including yourself.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when the publicist for this book contacted me to ask if I’d like a copy to review as it sounded like such an interesting book, and also it’s set in a part of the country I know well so that caught my attention too! I’m so pleased to say that this book lived up to all of my expectations and was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down!

Trust Me is Lizzie’s story; she’s a 27 year old woman who has moved to Cumbria for a job and ends up staying when she gets into a relationship with an older man. He has two teenage children, who end up moving in with them a short notice without Lizzie ever having met them before. The novel starts a while later when Sam, who is 17, is still living with them. He and Lizzie have always had a good relationship but Sam’s behaviour begins to change and only Lizzie really notices how much he’s changed.

I found this book really engrossing from the start because I had the sense early on that something was a little off about Lizzie’s relationship with Sam. She is only ten years older than him, so closer in age to him than his father who she is in a relationship with. Lizzie wants to look out for Sam and she wants to feel like they’re friends but as a result of this she occasionally behaves in ways that made me want to grab her and pull her out of the situation – she definitely has wobbly judgement at times.  Lizzie does seem to side with Sam over her partner on occasion and I found that a little odd but at the same time I can see how she just wanted to keep the peace in her home, and also to let Sam know he was welcome there. It did feel sometimes like she was trying to gain the attention of Sam but then mostly she was so kind and wanting to help him that I figured she was just naive.

From the blurb I did wonder if this book might end up being a little predictable in the way the relationships would go but it wasn’t at all. I really enjoyed how this book slowly unfolded and the way it made me think as I was reading.  The lines are blurry in a few of the relationships in this book and that was my favourite aspect of reading it. In the age we live in now with blended families it’s common for people to live with their partner and children from an earlier marriage and that makes this book very prescient. I can see how it could be hard to know how to deal with someone else’s children when you’re not trying to replace their mother, you’re too young to be their step-mother and too old to be their sister. Lizzie just wants a happy home for all the family.

Lizzie is quite naive in other aspects of her life too. She meets a new friend and immediately has too much to drink, even though she doesn’t like alcohol or being drunk, and she confides way too much when it’s someone she’s only just met. The woman seems to be looking to make a friend and Lizzie, who spends most of her time with her husband and his friends who are all a lot older than her or with Sam, is over the moon to have a friend closer to her own age. I was suspicious of this new friendship quite early on but couldn’t put my finger on why – I swung from thinking it was about showing how silly Lizzie was to behave in the way she was with Sam, to thinking the new friend was not to be trusted. I’m naturally quite a wary person so this book had my suspicion levels up high!

I also have to mention that the writing in this book is beautiful, it just flows so wonderfully. The way the Lake District is written about is excellent too, you get a real sense of the setting and it feels like a place you have been to and know. It’s not often that a novel really captures the essence of a place and I very much appreciated that in this book.

This book really explores the boundaries that society thinks we should have and also our own personal belief about what our boundaries should be and I found that fascinating. It’s so easy to see how one person thinks they are genuinely just being warm and friendly and another person can believe that you are flirting with them and wanting more from the relationship you have.

Trust Me is a family drama with a psychological thriller element and it felt really refreshingly different to anything I’ve read in this genre for a while. I enjoyed it so much! I was hooked from start to finish and actually read it in one sitting, staying up way past my bedtime, because I simply had to know how it was all going to turn out in the end! I highly recommend this book and I’m already eagerly anticipating whatever Zosia Wand writes next!

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

Trust Me is out now!

 

About the Author

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Zosia Wand is an author and playwright. She was born in London and lives in Cumbria with her family. She is passionate about good coffee, cake and her adopted landscape on the edge of the Lake District. This is her first novel.




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

Trust Me blog tour banner

WWW Wednesdays (18 Oct)! What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now:

In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

I got a copy of this book from NetGalley recently and was keen to read it so picked it up yesterday. It’s a really fast-paced book and I found myself drawn in very easily. I’m looking forward to getting back to this one very soon.

This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial by Helen Garner

This is a book that’s been on my TBR for a while and so when I spotted it on the pile the other day I decided to give it a try. It’s a really engrossing account of a murder trial; it’s one of those books that whilst being non-fiction it reads like fiction so is easy to get into and follow. I’m intrigued by the story and to see what happens later in the book.

Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann

This is a short novel and one I enjoy whilst I’m reading it but I’m finding that when I put it down I’m not drawn back to it. I think I maybe need to make the time to just sit and read to the end in one sitting as it’s perhaps a book that needs to be read like that.

Trust Me by Zosia Wand

I’m really enjoying this book, it’s got me enthralled. The only reason I haven’t read it in one sitting is because it’s a print book (rather than an ebook) so is harder for me to hold for long periods. I definitely recommend this book though.

Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Britain by David Cavanagh

This is my current dip in and out of book and I’m enjoying it so much. I loved listening to John Peel so this is a wonderful book to re-live his radio shows and to think back over the music I’ve discovered because of him. I recommend this one to music fans.

Aches and Gains: A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming Your Pain by Paul L. Christo

This is a really useful book for anyone who suffers from chronic pain, or anyone who is close to, or cares for, someone with chronic pain. I’ll be reviewing this book once I’ve finished reading it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Titanic Love Stories by Gill Paul

This is another book that has been on my TBR for ages but I finally picked it up a couple of days ago. It’s a short book with some background on the Titanic but the focus is on the honeymooners who were on the ship. I found this to be a much more emotional read than I was expecting, it’s heartbreaking to think of those young couples and all their hopes and dreams.

All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

I’m ashamed to say that this is a review book that I’ve had on my TBR since earlier this year. It’s been too difficult for me to read print books in recent months so this has just had to wait until I was stronger. I finally picked it up this week and read it in just a couple of sittings. It’s such an engrossing read and I found it really got under my skin. I’ll be reviewing this one very soon.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This is a take on the Sliding Doors idea and is such a great read. I found this very difficult to put down as I was desperate to know how things were going to turn out in both scenarios. I’ll be reviewing this one soon too but I recommend it.

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

I’ve had this one for a while too and decided to pick it up at the weekend. It’s such a moving and honest memoir of the love Joan had for her daughter, and how she is coping with the loss of her. This is one of those books that is painful to read but at the same time I found I could identify with a lot of the emotions. It’s a book I feel sure I will pick up and re-read in the future.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Snare by Lijia Sigurdardóttir

I was sent a copy of this to review for the blog tour so I will definitely be reading this in the next week or so. I’m really looking forward to this one – the cover on its own was enough to have me intrigued about the story and to want to read the novel.

The One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria

This is another review book that’s on my TBR and I’ve been so keen to read it. Now I feel a bit more able to read print books I’ve put this one at the top of the pile. I hope to read it in the next week or two.

 

 

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

Life Update and a Weekly Wrap-Up!

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It has been ages since I was blogging regularly and I can’t even remember the last time I posted a proper update. I have honoured my commitments to blog tours so they are the only things I’ve posted since early in the summer. I do want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has continued to read my blog, and to comment even when I’ve not been around, it really does mean a lot to me.

So some of you will know that a year ago I took the decision to start reducing my pain meds. I’d been on incredibly strong meds since before my diagnosis but my pain levels have remained high despite the meds. So I did a lot of research and the general consensus in the medical profession seemed to be that painkillers don’t really work for people with chronic pain like mine. I discussed things with my doctor and I started a reduction plan. It has been a rough year as every time I reduced I had a period of feeling very unwell with pain throughout my body but it would eventually settle again. A few weeks ago I finally got completely off my long-acting pain medication, which was a big achievement. I was still taking the short-acting morphine though so that was the next thing to tackle. I was meant to wean myself off it but I decided to go cold turkey. It was hell. It was worse than I was expecting, and I’d planned for it to be awful! My husband is a huge support to me and he got me through it. I’m now almost six weeks down the line and while I still don’t feel great, I do feel like my body is very gradually beginning to adjust. I am on a lower level pain medication now but I’m continuing to utilise all the things I’ve learnt in the last two years and hope that in time I can reduce these meds too. I will be in pain for the rest of my life because it’s just the nature of the damage done in my neck and spine but I really want to see if I can find a way to live with the pain rather than taking loads of painkillers.

As you can probably imagine, for a lot of the summer and into autumn my reading has tapered off quite a lot. I haven’t been able to concentrate very well, plus I’ve had a lot of headaches etc. This past week I treated myself to a book I’ve been so keen to read and I devoured it, and that made me happier than I can even put into words. My reading mojo feels like it’s on its way back as I’ve read quite a few books this week so I’m really hoping that this trend continues!

Now I’m reading closer to my normal level again I’ve felt like I want to get back to blogging but it’s been such a long, and unplanned for, break that I haven’t felt like I could just start. So I’m writing this weekly wrap-up and life update as a way of letting you all know what’s been happening with me and a way of just feeling my way back into the blogging world!

 

 

So without further ado, here are the books I’ve finished reading this week:

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

I got a review copy of this from NetGalley but also discovered the audio version on my subscription service so I part read and part listened to this. This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be but I flew through it because it had me engrossed from the very first chapter. I will write a full review of this on my blog soon.

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t really get on with this book, which is a shame because I was really keen to read it. I think the cover makes it seem like this is more of a graphic novel than it is, and also it doesn’t make it clear that this is a brief overview of queer theory. I’ve already studied queer theory as part of my degree so there was nothing new for me in here, but I’m not sure I’d even recommend it to someone who wanted to know more as it all felt very dry and it skimmed over lots of things and gave very little detail in my opinion.

Good as You: From Prejudice to Pride – 30 Years of Gay Britain by Paul Flynn

This is a book that I’ve wanted ever since I first heard it of it earlier this year and I finally treated myself to the lovely hardback this week. I’m so happy to say that this book is brilliant, I loved every minute that I spent reading this. This is a great non-fiction book because it’s informative but written in such an easy-to-read style. This is the book that I flew through over a couple of days… I highly recommend this one!

I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

I love the I Heart… books so when I saw a new one was coming out I was super excited to read it. I picked this up at a perfect time when I just needed a light-hearted read and I found I just couldn’t put it down. I read an ARC so I will be reviewing this one on my blog soon.

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages and it caught my eye on my bookshelf this week. I read it two sittings and found it to be such an open and honest exploration of her love for her daughter and grief at her loss. This is one of those books that I will re-read, and it’s certainly one that will stay with me.

 

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This book is so good! I love the way it’s a take on the sliding doors idea and takes the reader through two alternate realities of happened next in the aftermath of a terrible incident after a night out. I’ve been racing through this book because I just don’t want to put it down, and I’m so keen to find out how it will all turn out in the end.

Trust Me by Zosia Wand

I was thrilled to be sent a copy of this novel to review as it’s one I was aware of and was looking forward to reading. I’m really enjoying it so far and can’t wait to read more.

Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann

This is one of those books that I don’t really know what to say about it. When I’m reading it it has me engaged and wanting to know more but when I put it down the plot drifts away from me. I am enjoying it though and am keen to see where it’s going.

Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life by David Cavanagh

I’ve had this on my TBR for a little while now but I was keen to pick it up after listening to some of the highlights of John Peel’s radio shows during Radio 1’s recent 50th birthday weekend. I loved listening to John Peel over the years and still miss discovering new music via his recommendations. This book is a look at some of his shows and his relationship to the music and the artists. It’s easy to dip in and out of, but it’s also easy to lose and hour or two of time as you read and reminisce. I definitely recommend this one!

Aches and Gains: A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming Your Pain by Paul L. Christo

This is a non-fiction book about the different types of pain, and various conditions that cause pain; plus a look at the range of treatment options available. I’m finding it interesting, in particular where it relates to my own conditions. I’m reading an ARC so I will be reviewing this once I’ve finished reading it.

 


 

As you may remember I decided to track my TBR on my blog this year and have been showing the sums of how my TBR has increased or decreased over the course of this year. I’ve recently got rid of a stack of books and am in the process of sorting through my kindle books so my TBR numbers are a bit all over the place just now and I’ve lost track of it a bit. I do want to continue with following the state of my TBR but I’ve decided to put this to one side for the rest of this year and will start it again in 2018.

 

How has your week (or even the last few months) been for you? Have you read any good books recently? I’d love to catch up so please feel free to leave a link to your latest wrap-up in the comments below.

 

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

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About the Book

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

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snow Sisters is out now!

 

About the Author

carol lovekin copyright janey stevens

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

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

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

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

 

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

SS blog tour poster - full list

#BookReview: One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

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About the Book

November 13, 2015. It was a Paris night that began like so many others—until a series of terrorist attacks brought darkness to the City of Light. Stirred by the tragic events at the Bataclan music club, One Night in November locks into the hearts and minds of all those whose paths crossed that fateful fall evening…

A rebellious teenage girl in the throes of a crush. A middle-aged man eager to chase away his buddy’s blues. A young gay student rejected by his father, but discovering himself. Two new parents in need of a date night. They went out seeking love, laughter, and music—and then the world fell down around them.

Using intersecting narratives, award-winning author Amélie Antoine choreographs the shocking attack and its aftermath, from grief and devastation to hope and healing.

 

My Thoughts

I requested this book from NetGalley when I saw in on there because I’m really drawn to books about trauma at the moment, as I work through the remaining aspects of my own PTSD. I find it helps me to read how others have found ways to live with it, to recover from it or just how they’ve coped.

One Night in November is a work of fiction that looks at characters that became caught up in the terrorist attack at the Bataclan in Paris in 2015. Amelie Antoine takes a real cross-section of people from all walks of life and, as such, makes this such a believable and heartbreaking read.

The book really drew me in quickly. Knowing what happened that night in Paris at the Bataclan meant there was a real sense of apprehension reading about these people – so much so that when I started reading I had completely blanked on the fact that this book is a work of fiction and I believed I was reading true accounts. It became clear in the second section that this is a novel and I found it very unsettling. This is a very difficult book to read, especially with the attack being so recent, and I had to put the book down quite a few times to gather myself. The descriptions are graphic at times, and very believable and this made me really uncomfortable because it felt so real. I wasn’t sure when I finished reading if this was a book I would be able to review.

To be fair to the author though her writing is engaging and she does hook you in very quickly. Her exploration of how fear affects different people and how we might behave in such an extreme situation is well done. I’ve had people say to me about my experiences that led to my PTSD that they wouldn’t have coped as well as I did but the fact is that none of us know how we’ll cope until we’re in it. We might think we’ll be brave and actually we freeze, or we might think we’d never cope and we find reserves we never knew we had. I do think the author captured this quite well. There is a sense of how people begin to make sense of what they’ve survived in the aftermath too and, for the most part, I found this interesting. She looks at survivor guilt; at the way some people feel a sense of how short life is and go on to live at million miles an hour; at the way some people just can’t seem to function, can’t seem to cope with what normality is anymore. I appreciated her looking at this in the way she did.

This is a very powerful and incredibly moving book and ultimately, I did really appreciate the author’s beautiful and engaging writing style and will look out for more of her books in the future.

One Night in November is out now.

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

 

About the Author

Amélie Antoine’s bestselling debut novel, Interference, was an immediate success when it was released in France, winning the first Prix Amazon de l’auto-édition (Amazon France Self-Publishing Prize) for best self-published e-book. In 2011, she published her memoir, Combien de temps. One Night in November, written as “a call to remember,” is her second novel. Antoine lives in northern France with her husband and two children. Maren Baudet-Lackner grew up in New Mexico. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, a master’s in French literature from the Sorbonne, and a master of philosophy degree in the same subject from Yale, she moved to Paris, where she lives with her husband and children. She has translated several works from the French, including the novel It’s Never Too Late by Chris Costantini and the nineteenth-century memoir The Chronicles of the Forest of Sauvagnac by the Count of Saint-Aulaire.

#BookReview: He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly @HodderBooks

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About the Book

Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…

 

My Thoughts

I first read Erin Kelly when I read the Broadchurch novel and I was hooked on her writing style so when I saw He Said/She Said was due out I knew I had to get my hands on it. I actually read this book earlier in the year but due to ill health am only reviewing it now, and I can honestly say that this book has really stayed with me in the intervening months – always the sign of a great novel!

He Said/She Said is a novel that hinges around Laura who witnesses a horrible attack during an eclipse, and her life is forever changed by that moment.

I loved the way this novel was set during an eclipse because we’ve all heard about how behaviour can change as the sun disappears. It’s so peculiar to know it’s daytime and yet there is no sun, the air cools down as the darkness grows, and then just as quickly it’s all over and the sun is back. The way Erin Kelly chose to use this as the moment Laura witness the assault is just brilliant because Laura would already have felt unsettled by the eclipse and then to see what she did would have been horrifying to her. It works so well to see how darkness descends so shockingly both literally and metaphorically in this novel.

He Said/She Said does move around in time – we get the build up to the assault and immediate aftermath in one strand and then in other chapters we’re in the present day and seeing the stress and anxiety that Laura and Kitt are living with. I thought the build up to the assault would be the part of the book that propelled it forward but I found that I was much more fascinated by how Laura dealt with it afterwards. She never feels safe, she seems quite paranoid but as you learn about what has happened you wonder if it’s that or if she really has reason to be frightened. I am always drawn to books that explore anxiety and trauma, having suffered from PTSD myself, and this book was so well done. I had to put it down a few times just to breathe because it really does show what it’s like when you’re reaching breaking point and you don’t know if you can trust your own reactions and perceptions anymore.

This novel also looks at a person’s perception of an event and the way in which we can convince ourselves that something must be true. There is a moment in this book where a lie is told, the teller of which believes it’s a tiny little lie but the repercussions are huge. The tension really builds from this point onwards and this is where the novel really becomes near impossible to put down.

This novel does have brilliant twists and turns, but it also has so much more than that. It’s a great exploration of how we deal with witnessing a traumatic event, and I loved it for that. He Said/She Said is a slow burn novel but it does continually build and build, and the tension really does reach edge-of-your-seat stuff! This is a novel that really gets under your skin and it’s one you won’t forget!

He Said/She Said is out now and I highly recommend it!

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

 

About the Author

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Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. She read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998.

She has written for newspapers including the The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan.

#BookReview: Lost in the Lake by A.J. Waines @AJWaines ‏

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for A.J. Waines new novel, Lost in the Lake!

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About the Book

She came at first for answers…now she’s back for you

Amateur viola player Rosie Chandler is the sole survivor of a crash which sends members of a string quartet plunging into a lake. Convinced the ‘accident’ was deliberate, but unable to recall what happened, she is determined to recover her lost memories and seeks out clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.

But Rosie is hiding something…

Sam is immediately drawn to the tragic Rosie and as she helps her piece the fragments together, the police find disturbing new evidence which raises further questions. Why is Rosie so desperate to recover her worthless viola? And what happened to the violin lost in the crash, worth over £2m?

When Rosie insists they return to the lake to relive the fatal incident, the truth about Rosie finally creeps up on Sam – but by now, she’s seriously out of her depth…

A stand alone novel (and the second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series), Lost in the Lake is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Psychological Thriller that will leave you glancing over your shoulder.

My Thoughts

I was drawn to Lost in the Lake from the moment I saw the atmospheric cover and I’m happy to say the novel itself more than lives up to it!

Lost in the Lake is the second in the Dr Samantha Willerby series but can be read as a standalone, which is how I read it. Sam is a fascinating character – she clearly cares about her work and her patients but struggles to balance this with keeping the right distance. Rosie is a woman who had a very traumatic childhood and has recently been in an accident and has come to Sam wanting help to recover lost memories of the crash. What builds from here is an edge of your seat, very fast-paced novel!

Sam is still coming to terms with the loss of one of her previous patients in difficult circumstances and is also trying hard to build a relationship with her sister, who is recovering from mental health issues. I felt for Sam throughout this book – she’s clearly a a bit lost in her personal life and seemed very lonely. She has good friends but they all seem to be moving on with their lives while she’s stil trying to figure out what she even wants. She feels for Rosie and wants to help her but it’s quickly clear to the reader that all might not be as it seems with Rosie.

I loved the way that as this novel builds there is a sense of Sam becoming undone as Rosie’s manipulative side begins to show itself. I found it fascinating how Sam starts to worry about her own state of mind and you really get a sense of how fine a line it can be between good mental health and mental illness. It made me feel really on edge and yet compelled to keep reading as I wasn’t sure how this was all going to end for Sam.

The work Sam does with Rosie to try and help recover her memories was really interesting. I’m always intrigued by books that cover topics like this, having suffered with PTSD myself, and Lost in the Lake was particularly fascinating in the way it makes you think about memory and the way we remember things – Rosie had a traumatic childhood and she feels abandoned but you get the sense that perhaps she wasn’t left behind in the way she thought she was, yet it has already become enmeshed in her and made her the person she is now. It leaves you wondering about whether there was a possibility that if Rosie had had the right support when she was younger if she might have turned out differently as an adult.

I also loved the central mystery in the book about what caused the crash and what the past might have to do with it. Knowing about Rosie’s past, and seeing her manipulative side from the very beginning of the book, I was immediately distrustful of her story of what she claims to remember about the accident but I couldn’t foresee how it was all going to turn out. It had me racing through the book keen to find out, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Lost in the Lake was my first A.J. Waines read but it absolutely won’t be my last! I’ve already bought her previous novels and will be reading them very soon. I highly recommend this one!

Lost in the Lake is out now!

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

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AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. Visit her website, blog, on Twitter, Facebook or sign up for her Newsletter.

 

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#BookReview: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #BlogTour

 

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech!

About the Book

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Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’ Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

My Thoughts

I read Louise Beech’s first novel, How to be Brave, last year and it was my top book of the year. I still find myself thinking about the characters and the story. So you can imagine how much I’ve been anticipating Maria in the Moon and I’m so happy to say that this completely exceeded my high expectations!

Maria in the Moon is so beautiful and incredibly moving. There are two strands to Maria in the Moon – the book is predominantly set in the aftermath of the horrendous floods that hit Hull in 2007 and focuses on Catherine. On being interviewed for the Flood Crisis helpline Catherine realises that she can’t remember a single thing from the year she was nine. This sets her mind in a spin as she begins to think back over points in her childhood to try and remember anything from that year. Catherine has had a difficult life – her father died when she was young, as did her Nanny Eve and she doesn’t have an easy relationship with her Mother which makes it all the more difficult for her to find out about her past.

I adored this novel; it is simply stunning and so powerful! I found I could really identify with Catherine. There are parts of her story that were really hard for me to read, coming a bit too close to my own experiences, but the writing is so beautiful that I had to keep reading through my tears. I was willing Catherine to remember what happened and for her to be able to come to terms with all aspects of her childhood. As Catherine begins to have strange fleeting flashes of what she thinks might be her memories there is a sense that you know what it coming before she does and the tension that builds in the novel from there is palpable.

‘When you’re nine,’ he’d insisted. When you’re nine. He died when I was eight.’

I sympathised such a lot with Catherine over the losses she’d experienced in her life. It’s such a difficult thing to not only to lose a parent but to lose how your life may have been if they had lived longer. The death of a parent changes how people see you, and how you see them, and it breaks some things in a way that they can’t be mended. Sometimes you get lucky and find a new normal with people and sometimes you just lose. I was willing Catherine on to find a new normal with the people left in her life to the point that I wanted to reach through the pages and tell the people around her to listen to her more. Louise Beech captured this so well, with such compassion and empathy in Maria in the Moon.

‘The image made my throat ache. He was perhaps the age my father would have been if he’d lived; I felt a pang of affection.

The part of the novel that focuses on the floods was so vivid and realistic. I lived in Hull during the floods that this novel centres around and whilst my home wasn’t affected, quite a few friends of mine were badly flooded. It was an horrendous time for people and Hull seemed to get forgotten about during that time and the city was left to fend for itself. Louise captures this so incredibly well, there were moments reading this that just took me right back there. All the skips in the street, all the ruined furniture, the people not knowing what to say to each other – it was heartbreaking. It genuinely feels that for anyone who hasn’t seen the devastation of flooding with their own eyes will really have a sense of how it feels after reading this book.

I have to just mention that I loved the references to places in Hull that I remember going to back in the day – the Christmas night out in Sharkeys in the novel brought back some fond memories for me. It’s so nostalgic reading a novel that is set in a time and place you have lived, and it gave me that weird sense of maybe having passed Catherine around there somewhere. Maybe in another time.

‘Without strong foundations, no external beauty can survive. Paint can only hide so much before the memories crawl out of the woodwork.’

Louise Beech has such an incredible way with words – she constructs sentences that really get you in your gut. There were many moments when I was reading this novel that I had to stop and take a breath but then I was compelled to get back to it. I loved the way Louise weaved the grief Catherine feels for her father in with the loss she feels about her home being so damaged in the floods. There is a part where she talks about her dad’s coat being like a cape to keep her safe but someone got rid of it after he died, and how she looked for that safe feeling but could never find it. It’s how she feels now about her water-logged home – that sense of her home being the cape that her dad allowed her to buy, to keep her safe, and now it’s broken and she can’t live there for a while. She doesn’t know if she will ever feel safe, and it’s clear she’s displaced and lost and grief-stricken all over again. We bought our house with the inheritance from my mum and because of that our home has taken on so much more meaning, so I really felt for Catherine.

Forgiveness and acceptance play such a big role in this novel – the issues are very sensitively dealt with and you can see all of the ways we all try to make sense of the things that have happened to us. For Catherine there was the way she had to deal with her childhood and the way she had to deal with her present and while they seem very different they are actually very similar. She chose to try and fix the brokenness by volunteering for the flood crisis helpline and actually this becomes the thing that breaks her down but leads to a sense of possibility.

This is a novel that is still lingering in my mind days after I finished reading it – it’s one that I actually don’t think will ever leave me and to be honest I don’t want it to. This is one of those very rare and very special novels that will make you feel all of the feelings, it will take hold of you and it won’t let you go. It’s an absolutely stunning novel and I highly, highly recommend Maria in the Moon!

Maria in the Moon is out now!

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

About the Author

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

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

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

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

Maria in the Moon is out now.

(Bio taken from: LouiseBeech.co.uk)

 

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#BookReview: The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin @emmdib ‏@HoZ_Books ‏#blogtour

 

 

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin and am sharing my review!

 

About the Book

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When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practise regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home.

It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realizes too late that she might become lost forever…

 

My Thoughts

I can never resist books about cults, there is something about them that intrigues me and terrifies me in equal measure so I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review The Room by the Lake. I had high hopes for this novel from the moment I first saw the stunning cover and I’m so happy to say that it didn’t disappoint!

Caitlin lost her mum to cancer a year ago and has struggled to come to terms with the complicated relationship they had had due to her mother’s schizophrenia. She’s also now struggling with her dad’s alcoholism and just feels like she has nowhere to turn. One night it comes to a head with her dad and she finds herself running away, getting on a plane and being in New York. I know that summarising this it may seem a bit far-fetched but in reading you really do feel for Caitlin. I remember when my mum died of cancer and I was just so lost. I didn’t want to be where I was and I had nowhere else to go. I was lucky in that fate seemed to intervene in a good way in my life and I met my husband later that year and life began to get better. Reading this novel made me blood run cold at times because I wanted to run away in those initial months and it’s scary to think how easily vulnerable young people can get manipulated by monstrous people who seem kind.
I knew from the synopsis of this book that life was going to take a scary turn for Caitlin but when she meets Josh at a party I couldn’t help but hope he would be a force for good in her life. I wanted him to help her. Instead Caitlin is manipulated and taken to a house in the middle of nowhere, which on face value seems like a beautiful location to relax and recover from what she has been through. The place where Caitlin ends up is a cult but as with all cults she had no idea what was happening and very soon she finds that this lifestyle works for her. Until things begin to take a darker turn.

The people at the house Caitlin is taken to all seem very enmeshed in the running of things. They’re polite but distant to Caitlin at first but soon things begin to close in on her. The way the group eat and exercise seems to Caitlin as like a boot camp that may help her but it’s really a means of control. Something is a bit off about this place and it’s only when Caitlin begins therapy that the sinister atmosphere really begins to ramp up. It’s scary how quickly people can gain control over others by starting with small things and preying on our fears.

I thought The Room by the Lake was really cleverly done in the way that it is about a cult, which is fascinating, but it felt to me that it was more about Caitlin’s fear of her mother’s mental illness, and even more so her deepest darkest fear that the same thing could happen to her. I know from personal experience how terrifying it is when you think you’re losing your grip on reality so to have grown up with a parent who had a mental illness must heighten that to another level. The cult played on her fears and heightens them in such a cruel way. I honestly felt that Caitlin was healthy prior to ending up in the cult, she was grieving for her mum and she was so lonely. She just needed a good friend who she could trust who would make time to support her and to let her talk about her fears, and this is how she was pulled  into the cult. These people were the only people that she felt would listen to her. There are moments in the early part of the novel that could possibly be interpreted as the beginnings of Caitlin being mentally unwell but I felt it was grief. I think when grief is complex it is harder to work through and it seemed to me that Caitlin was just utterly mired in darkness – she’d hit her limit of what she could cope with and couldn’t take anymore. I could identify with how lost she felt, and how alone, and scarily for me I can see why she got caught up in the cult. This book gave me chills at times as I could see some of my younger self in Caitlin. 

I did begin to feel really unnerved by the various methods the cult used to exert control over Caitlin, it made me wonder if she would ever recover or if this might, ironically, end up being the thing that triggered mental illness in her. I keep finding myself wondering about her ever since I finished reading the book, she feels like a real person to me even though I know this is a work of fiction. Emma Dibdin’s writing really does get under your skin (in the best possible way!).

This is a novel that builds and builds all the way through. I read this in two sittings (and that’s only because I started reading late at night and I had to get some sleep but I picked it back up again in the morning!) as the writing just drew me in from the first page and it held me to the very end and beyond.

The Room by the Lake is a fascinating, intense psychological suspense novel that I highly recommend. It’s one of those books that really gets under your skin and haunts your thoughts. This will be a book that stays with me for a long time to come, I’m so glad I had the chance to read it and I’m already eagerly antipating whatever Emma Dibdin writes next!

The Room by the Lake is out now in Hardback, Audio and eBook.

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

About the Author

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Emma Dibdin is a journalist who writes about television and the arts.  She has been an editor at Hearst for four years, and her work has appeared in EsquireMarie ClaireHarper’s BazaarCosmopolitanTotal Film, and Indiewire.  Born and raised in Oxford, she currently lives in New York City.

(Bio taken from unitedagents.co.uk)

 

 

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#BookReview: The Way Back to Us by @kaylangdale @HodderFiction @JazminaMarsh

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Kay Langdale’s brand new novel, The Way Back to Us!

 

About the Book

Cover Since their youngest son, Teddy, was diagnosed with a life-defining illness, Anna has been fighting: against the friends who don’t know how to help; against the team assigned to Teddy’s care who constantly watch over Anna’s parenting; and against the impulse to put Teddy above all else – including his older brother, the watchful, sensitive Isaac.

And now Anna can’t seem to stop fighting against her husband, the one person who should be able to understand, but who somehow manages to carry on when Anna feels like she is suffocating under the weight of all the things that Teddy will never be able to do.

As Anna helplessly pushes Tom away, he can’t help but feel the absence of the simple familiarity that should come so easily, and must face the question: is it worse to stay in an unhappy marriage, or leave?

 

My Thoughts

I’m going to start by saying that I’m a huge fan of Kay Langdale’s novels – the first one I ever read was Her Giant Octopus Moment and I adored it. I can say, with absolute honesty, that The Way Back to Us is her best yet! I read this in one sitting, I just didn’t want to put it down for a minute.

The Way Back to Us is a novel about a family of four who are still coming to terms with the fact that the youngest child, Teddy, has SMA – a rare genetic disorder that has changed all of their lives.

Anna, Teddy’s mum, gave up her career the very second Teddy got his diagnosis. There is a moment where she shares how she felt at that time and I felt so emotional as I was reading it. I don’t have children but I have lived through that horrendous life-defining moment where you know your world has moved on its axis and your life is forever changed. Anna becomes fiercely protective over Teddy – she’s become obsessive about cleaning and keeping him safe from germs but she’s utterly devoted to him and fights so hard for his right to attend a normal school. I could totally identify with her desire to stop germs coming into the house – I was the same when I was a carer to my mum as she went through chemo as part of the palliative care. It’s partly a need to protect your loved one but it’s also a way of having some control over the desperate circumstances you find yourself in. I felt such empathy for Anna, I wanted to reach through the pages and hug her.

Tom is Teddy’s dad and he is now the sole bread winner for the family and so is very focused on his work. When he gets home he rushes to his children to greet them but Anna is often distant with him and he doesn’t understand why. As a reader you have an all-seeing eye and can spot what is happening but these characters are mired in the situation and can’t see the wood for the trees. Tom clearly loves his children, and his wife, but when Anna seems to always be snapping at him to be careful with Teddy it’s easy to see why a work colleague starts to catch Tom’s eye. The situation they’re in is not an excuse to think about cheating but it’s so apparent that Tom loves his family – he just feels redundant as Anna is so focused on what needs to be done, and Tom is focused on work that there never seems to be time for them to sit and just talk about how they feel.

Isaac is Teddy’s older brother and he is such a wonderful child. Kay Langdale has the writing so spot on in that Isaac always comes across as a child but he is so perceptive, he can’t always understand what is going on with his parents but he picks up on the mood and the atmosphere. He is so caring towards his mum, he is really tuned in to her feelings and wants to do anything he can to help her. He tries to soothe her at times by trying to look on the bright side, and he takes care of himself to take some of the responsibility off her shoulders. The thing I loved most about Isaac though was his relationship with Teddy. He is so careful not to hurt him but at the same time is determined to help him try to do normal, fun things. There is a moment when Isaac tries to help Teddy learn to hop, which is impossible as Teddy can’t even stand unaided, but the amount of pure love and joy in both boys in that moment radiates from the page. I adored that moment and it makes me smile every time I think of it.

The novel is set in the present but we get the back story as the characters, particularly Anna, mulls over how she got here. As we learn about how Teddy was diagnosed  the language Anna uses in her own thoughts is so telling – there is a moment when the doctor explains how her genes and Tom’s led to Teddy having SMA and Anna ponders about other men she had relationships with and how their genes might have mixed differently but then she thinks of Tom ‘who carried it undetected towards me’. She doesn’t really blame Tom but it’s an undercurrent, a thing that can’t be said in their marriage – it shows her anger and her sadness that this has happened to them, to their child.

The clever way the story is built on in each chapter, with more layers and depth as we see other points of view ,is brilliant. Kay Langdale deftly shows how each person feels and what they think but how they often just can’t say it because their own pain holds them back, and they fear making things worse. It feels so real as you read this novel – the missed chances between Anna and Tom took my breath away at times, I was willing them to find a way to really communicate with each other. My heart broke when Tom tried to recreate old times with Anna  by fantasising on what they could spend his bonus on, he was trying so hard and I loved him for it, but Anna’s first words are how they could use the money to help Teddy, which is totally understandable, but it broke the spell of the moment. My heart was breaking for them both at this point.

I won’t give any spoilers but there is an incident with a kite in this novel and it’s in the aftermath of that where we really come to understand why each member of the family is the way they are. The mix of sheer joy from one, sheer terror from another, the misplaced fear and the worry from the other two is palpable. We learn so much in this part of the novel and it’s the point when it felt like make or break for this family and I was really hoping they would find a way to move toward each other again once the pain and anger subsided.

The Way Back to Us is at its heart a novel about how people cope when life throws a massive curveball at them. It’s a look at relationships – between a married couple, between parents and their children, and between siblings – that is so raw and honest that at times you need to pause and take a breath. The plot of this novel is very moving but it’s more a look at the characters, and they are such well thought out characters. The way Kay Langdale makes you feel sympathy for everyone in this family is so cleverly done – it would be easy to make Anna the good guy and Tom the bad guy in the marriage but that never happens. Instead, through the layering of the perspectives we just see the reality of their lives in its raw and honest state. There is heartbreak in this novel, and honestly I shed quite a few tears whilst reading, but there is beauty and joy too.

This novel is incredible and so beautifully written. I can’t stop thinking about these characters – they feel like real people to me. This is such an emotional novel – at times it’s heartbreaking but it really is such a stunning read. Kay Langdale is a master of crafting novels that feel so true and real, she really gets under the skin of her characters and makes them feel like people you know – I’m sure that these characters will have a hold on me for a long while to come. This is absolutely Kay Langdale’s best work to date and I am certain that The Way Back to Us will be one of my top books of this year – I’ll be recommending it to everyone! Go buy a copy now, you won’t regret it!

The Way Back to Us is out now.

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

 

I was very lucky that I got to interview Kay Langdale when her previous novel, The Comfort of Others, was published so you can read more about her here if you’d like to.

 

About the Author

Kay Langdale © John Cairns

Kay Langdale was born in Coventry, England.

From a young age she loved to read and to write.

She attended Bedford College, London University, graduating with a first class degree in English Literature and then went to Oxford University where she completed a doctorate on Samuel Beckett’s prose fiction. She briefly taught twentieth century literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford before beginning work as an account handler and copywriter at a brand consultancy.

She is married to a South African entrepreneur, with whom she has four children who are now mostly grown. Kay divides her time between their homes in Oxfordshire and Devon.

Now writing her eighth novel, Kay also works as an editor for the charity The Children’s Radio Foundation which trains young broadcasters in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

When not writing Kay enjoys running, ballet barre, yoga, swimming, coastal walking, learning Italian, cooking and reading. Always reading.

(Bio taken from: KayLangdale.com)

 

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

TWBTU Blog tour

 

WWW Wednesday (26 Jul) What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now:

One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

This is a non-fiction book about the terrorist attack on the Bataclan in Paris in 2015. It’s an incredibly moving, and very difficult, book to read. I keep having to put it down but I will finish it. It is well written, it’s just a very tough subject to read about.

All Out War: How Brexit Sunk Britain’s Political Class by Tim Shipman

This is my latest audio book and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a well-balanced look at what happened politically that led to the referendum, and the result to leave the EU. It’s a long book but it’s fascinating and engaging.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Levinich

This is a really interesting book and I’m so glad I picked it up. It’s non-fiction but the author is very much within the story being told, and there are parts that have been imagined based on the facts that are known. I’ll be reviewing this one once I’ve read it but I can already say that I’ll be recommending it.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’ve not read much of this in the last few days but I am so invested in this book now and will be reading more of it very soon.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

I really enjoyed this thriller and actually read it in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down. It’s fast-paced and keeps you gripped. I’ve already reviewed this for the blog tour so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to know more of what I thought of it.

Letters to Sarah by Sara Payne

This is such a moving and heartbreaking read, but an inspiring read at the same time. It’s a book to take time over and perhaps read one letter at a time but it’s a book I’d recommend.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Yesterday by Felicia Yap

I was so excited when I got approved for this on NetGalley a couple of weeks back and it’s been calling to me from my TBR ever since so I’m hoping I can start it in the next couple of days.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

I’ve had this book on my review pile for a little while now and it’s a book that keeps catching my eye so I’m also hoping to make time to read this one in the next week too.

 


 

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

#BookReview: Her Deadly Secret- @Christi_Curran #WhatsHerSecret? @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK

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Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Christ Curran’s brand new novel, Her Deadly Secret!

About the Book

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

A FAMILY BUILT ON LIES…
A dark and twisty psychological thriller, in which a young girl is abducted and her family is confronted with a horror from deep in their past.
A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.
Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.
Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.
This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything…

 

My Thoughts

I read and enjoyed Chris Curran’s previous novels so I was thrilled when I was invited to be a part of the blog tour for her new book, Her Deadly Secret. I was expecting great things and I’m so happy to say that it lived up to my expectations!

Her Deadly Secret is told from the viewpoint of two families. Joe and Hannah have just found out that their missing teenage daughter Lily has been murdered and are trying to find a way to cope whilst also being under the police spotlight. Rosie is happily married to Oliver but she still struggles to copy with the loss of her older sister many years ago. From the beginning I was suspecting a link between these two families but as the revelations start coming I was stunned!

I was very quickly invested in these characters, especially Joe, who is trying so hard to hold everything together as his wife falls apart. I also felt for Rosie as she dealt with the minefield of her father being back in her life after many years, and her mother’s acceptance of him. As much as I liked these two characters and generally was on their side, this novel does get so twisty that there were moment when I questioned my judgement of them.

This is a novel filled with secrets and lies, and eventually the house of cards starts to collapse as the truth begins to come out. I loved how some people were outright lying in their own selfish interests to cover their tracks but others were keeping secrets in order to try and protect others from the hurt of what they had believed at the time. This novel really does show the harm that can be done when people keep quiet in order to try to prevent loved ones from being hurt, even if it’s done with the best of intentions.

I raced through this novel in one sitting as it just grabbed me from the first chapter and kept me gripped, and needing answers right to the very last chapter! I thought I had it all figured out on more than one occasion but I have to admit that the final piece of the puzzle was just out of my grasp, which I loved as it’s nice to have a shock that you didn’t see coming in a thriller!

Her Deadly Secret is engrossing, twisty and when you think you’ve got it all figured out the rug will be pulled from under you all over again! I definitely recommend this novel!

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

 

About the Author

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Chris Curran lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex. Her first two psychological thrillers, Mindsight and Her Turn To Cry, were both Amazon bestsellers. She also writes short stories one of which was recently shortlisted for the 2017 CWA Margery Allingham award. Her latest novel, Her Deadly Secret, is published as an ebook on July 21 st 2017 and a paperback in August.

 

 

 

 

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

BLOG TOUR- Her Deadly Secret (1)

Weekly Wrap-Up! (23 Jul)

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This week has been lovely as my husband has been on holiday from work. I’m not able to be out and about very much but it’s been nice to spend time together. He finally persuaded me to start watching Stranger Things, and I’m so annoyed that I put it off for so long before I’m absolutely loving it.

It’s been a strange last couple of days. I always find it hard to know that people I love are going through grief and sadness when I can’t do anything to really help.

 

This week I’ve finished reading four books:

Letters to Sarah by Sara Payne

This was a really emotional read but also an interesting one. Sara Payne is a remarkable woman in how she’s channeled her pain into trying to keep other children safe. I was also really inspired by how she’s worked to recover as much as she can after her stroke.

Three Days and a Life by Pierre LeMaitre

This book was brilliant! I literally couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting. I’m a big fan of Pierre LeMaitre and this book absolutely lived up to all my expectations. I’ll be reviewing this as soon as I can but I highly recommend it.

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

I was really intrigued by the premise for this book and the way social media was used to show someone their future. There was more to this book than I was expecting and I was really gripped by it. I read a review copy so I will be trying to get my review for this posted soon.

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

This book grabbed me from the opening chapter and had me so intrigued that I just couldn’t put it down. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Tuesday: Review of Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

This is one of those books that really grabs you from the start and makes you wish you’d started it at a time when you could just read all afternoon and finish it in one sitting.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnivich

I’d been really keen to read this book before I started it and yet somehow I didn’t know much about it. I’m completely gripped by it – it’s non-fiction but assumptions are made about certain situations in order to fill in blanks so it’s not completely non-fiction. It’s one of those books that really makes you think about things and I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I have to be honest and say that I’ve not been drawn to read any more of this novel this week. I’m going to keep it on my currently reading pile for another week and then if it still hasn’t called to me I may just DNF it. I don’t know if the problem is just me as the premise really grabbed me initially.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’ve read another few chapters of this and am finding it fascinating. It’s non-fiction but it’s written in a way that really flows so I’d recommend this to anyone, even if you don’t normally read non-fiction.

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Update on my TBR: 

 

As you may have noticed I didn’t post a Stacking the Shelves post yesterday and the reason for that is I didn’t buy or receive any new books by the time I normally write and schedule my post! I’m sure you’re all as shocked as I am!!

 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1999

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 0

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 4

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1996

 


 

How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a good week, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading over the last seven days. If you do a wrap-up post please feel free to share a link below.

WWW Wednesday (19 Jul) What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now:

 

 

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

I only started reading this late last night so I haven’t read much of it as yet but it’s already got under my skin and I’m keen to get back to it and find out what’s going to happen.

 

Letters to Sarah by Sara Payne

I bought this book last week and have been reading it off and on ever since. It’s a very open and honest, and incredibly moving book about Sara’s life since her daughter Sarah was murdered in 2000.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I’m going to be honest and say that while this book grabbed me very quickly in the beginning I’m finding the middle part a bit of a slog, it feels like the pace has dropped for me. I am still intrigued enough to want to know how things will end for these families so I will keep reading but am hoping the pace picks up again soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This book is such a great read – it’s disturbing but so interesting that I’m hooked on it now. I’m not reading it as fast as I’d normally read a book but it has definitely grabbed me.

What I recently finished reading:

Three Days and a Life by Pierre LeMaitre

I was sent a copy of this for review and have been so excited to read it as I love Pierre LeMaitre’s writing. This book felt a bit different to his previous novels but it’s no less engrossing and disturbing! I hope to get my review of this posted soon but in the meantime I highly recommend this one.

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

I very much enjoyed reading this book. I loved the premise of someone knowing what was in their future and then reading to see if what was in the future is what actually happened. I was sent a copy of this book for review so I’ll be writing that and sharing it very soon.

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

I read this in just two sittings as it grabbed me from the opening pages and kept me in it’s grasp until the very last page. I’m on the blog tour for this book tomorrow so I’ll be sharing my review then.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

This was such a moving book about Hannah’s life after she was in a car accident while 8 months pregnant and her unborn baby didn’t survive. I found that while I’ve never experienced what Hannah has I could identify with her grieving process and I’m really glad I read this book. I recommend it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

 

Is Monogamy Dead? by Rosie Gilby

I’m on the blog tour for this book at the beginning of August so am planning to read this in the next week. I’m really looking forward to this one as it looks like a really interesting read.

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

I’m also on the blog tour for this book soon so will definitely be reading it over the next few days. I’ve got high hopes for this one as I’ve enjoyed the author’s previous book and this one sounds even more like my type of book!


 

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

Weekly Wrap-Up! (16 Jul)

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This week has been a tiring week but a good one. My husband has been on holiday from work so we’ve been out a couple of times for short periods. It’s physically difficult for me to go out – the getting ready plus my brain and spine don’t cope well with being in a car – but it’s so wonderful mentally to be out.

This week also brought good news on the health-front as I finally had my assessment for a new leg brace. I’ve now had a plaster cast made for a new custom brace, which should hopefully be ready next month. The new brace will have cut-outs in the side so that it will be less cumbersome, which will be great. The person I saw really listened to what I said and seems keen to try and make things easier for me where possible. My current leg brace is so big in the foot that I have to buy mens shoes that are 2-3 sizes too big for me! The new orthotics team have said they’ll fit my brace more closely to my foot so I’ll only need to get shoes just one size too big this time so even that made me happy. 🙂

I haven’t done so much reading this week as I’ve been really tired and not able to concentrate much with having had a busy week but I have enjoyed the small amount of reading that I’ve done.

 

This week I’ve finished reading two books:

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

It’s taken me a little while to read this book because I was drawn to fiction last month but I’m so glad that I came back to this and finished. I got this for review so will be sharing my thoughts on it as soon as I get them in order.

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I really enjoyed this thriller so am very pleased to be on the blog tour for it this week! I’ll be sharing my review on the 18th July so please look out for that then.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Tuesday: Review of Last Seen by Lucy Clarke along with a guest post on beach hunting by Lucy

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Letters to Sarah by Sara Payne

This book showed up on the recommendations page on Amazon last night and I decided to buy the ebook. I’ve not even put this in a book haul yet but I’ve already started reading it. It’s a very moving read but such an open and honest book too.

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

I’m really enjoying this book, it seems a bit different to other thrillers that I’ve read recently and I’m so keen to find out how it will end.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

This book isn’t what I thought it was going to be but I’m definitely invested in it enough to keep reading as I want to know how things are going to turn out.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’m reading this in between my other books at the moment as it feels quite heavy for my brain just now but I am definitely hooked and will be reading this as often as I feel I can.

 

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Update on my TBR:

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1991

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 9

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 2

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1999

 


 

How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a good week, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading over the last seven days. If you do a wrap-up post please feel free to share a link below.

WWW Wednesday (12 Jul) What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now:

After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

I’ve had this on my TBR for a while now and it finally caught my eye a couple of days ago and it’s such a great read! I’m finding it really hard to put down, it’s a different take on a thriller that I’ve not read before so it’s got me engrossed.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I bought this book in the kindle sale last week and have already started reading. It’s not what I thought it was going to be but it’s got me intrigued about what’s happening and how it’s going to end so I’m keen to read more.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve read a lot more of this book this week and I’m finding it such a moving and also inspiring read. I’d definitely recommend it but have some tissues to hand.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’ve finally got into this book and am finding it utterly fascinating. I’m really enjoying the way it’s written with one chapter about the men behind the Chicago World Fair and then alternate chapters about HH Holmes, it makes for a really dynamic read. I’ve only read a few chapters so far but I recommend this book.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I really enjoyed reading this thriller. It was refreshingly different to read a thriller where the protagonist is deaf. I’m on the blog tour for this book so will be sharing my review on the 18th July.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is such a brilliant novella! I was expecting it to be a straightforward dystopian read but it has so much depth to it and I adored it. I’ll be reviewing it once I can get my thoughts in order.

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I bought this book on kindle but I loved it so much that I’ve now treated myself to the hardback as well. I plan on buying copies for a couple of friends too and it’s a book I’ll be shouting from the rooftops about.

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I’m a huge fan of Lucy Clarke so have been eagerly anticipating this book and it exceeded my expectations! I loved it! I’ve already reviewed this book so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

What I plan on reading next:

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

I’ve been so excited to read this book and will definitely be reading it in the next couple of days! I’m anticipating it being unputdownable so will be sure to pick it up when I have an afternoon free.

Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran

I’m also excited to read this book, it’s one I’ve had my eye on for a while and I can’t wait to start it!


 

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

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

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

 

LUCY CLARKE ON BEACH HUTTING

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

About the Book

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

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

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

 

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

(Bio taken from Lucy Clarke’s website)

 

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

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Weekly Wrap-Up! (9 Jul)

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This week has been an up and down week. I felt really rough the first half of the week having overdone things in the previous days and my body made me pay. The last couple of days have been nice though as my husband has been on holiday from work and we managed to go into town yesterday for a coffee, which was lovely. It was my first time out of the house for something fun in nearly four weeks so it was especially lovely, plus the sun was shining too which is always a bonus!

This week I also managed to get us tickets to see Phil Collins in concert later this year. This is testament to how much I love my husband because he’s a big fan of Phil Collins and I’m really not so much! I’m always up for live music though so it’s something to look forward to.

My reading has been better this week too. I’m back reading non-fiction, which I’m very pleased about. I’m happy with what I’ve managed to read over the last seven days, albeit two of the books were short and the others are mainly books I started prior to this week but I’m pleased all the same.

 

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

 

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is such a moving novella, it had so much more depth and was so much more moving than I was expecting and I loved reading it. I was sent this for review so will try and get my thoughts together to review this soon.

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I pre-ordered this book for my Kindle and read it over a couple of days in the week. I have to say that I found so much in this that was so soothing that I’ve now ordered a hardback copy as I feel sure this will be a book I read again and again. I’ll also be buying a couple of copies for gifts in the coming weeks. I highly recommend this book.

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I loved this book – I read it over two days (only because I needed to sleep in the middle otherwise it would have been in one sitting). Lucy Clarke can do no wrong in my eyes, I’ve loved all of her novels and this one may now be my joint favourite of hers. I’ll be reviewing the novel this week for the blog tour so look out for my stop on the 12th July.

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

This book is such a heartbreaking read but I’m so glad I read it. I’d like to review this one at some point if I can get my thoughts together but for now I would recommend it.

A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson

This was my audio book over the last week. I did find this predictable, I called what was going to happen in the first chapter, but having said that there was still enough in it to keep me listening all the way to the end.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: June Wrap-Up post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post (my new book haul)

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I bought the ebook of this a couple of days ago and couldn’t resist starting it straight away. If I’m to be honest it’s not exactly what I thought it was going to be but it’s got me completely engrossed and I keep thinking about it when I’m not reading it and wondering how it’s all going to turn out in the end.

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I’m reading this for a blog tour later this month and am really enjoying it. It’s interesting to read a thriller where the protagonist is deaf, it really adds another layer to things. I’d recommend this one.

 

The Child by Fiona Barton

This book has had to be left to one side this week as I just can’t manage to hold and turn the pages of a print book. I really hope I can get back to this very soon.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve been reading some more of this over the last couple of days and am back to being hooked. It’s such a moving, and emotional book but the way Hannah writes about her loss and her fight is very inspiring.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’ve also got back to reading this book this week and am finding it fascinating. I noticed that for UK readers it’s currently in the kindle sale for £1.99 so if you were thinking of buying it now would be a good time.

 

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Update on my TBR: 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1982

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 14

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 5

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1991

 


 

How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a good week, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading over the last seven days. If you do a wrap-up post please feel free to share a link below.

June Wrap-Up post!

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June has flown by and I can’t believe it’s already July! The highlight of June for me was going to see Kraftwerk with my husband and it was absolutely brilliant. I still can’t believe that we managed to get tickets to see them!

I’m still going through my medication changes so I’m very up and down depending on where I am in the reduction plan. I was offered a new kind of treatment to potentially help with pain management and the person who is doing the treatment has ended up working with me on my PTSD. It’s been amazing for me to finally be shedding those symptoms, and once we’ve worked through those I’ll be starting on the pain protocol to see if it can help me cope better with my pain levels. It’s very draining, mentally and physically, but it’s worth it to be finally dealing with some very traumatic memories.

I also wanted to say here that I am so grateful to all of you who keep reading and sharing my posts, to those of you who comment and check in to see how I am. I honestly can’t tell you how much it means to me. I feel terrible that I’m not managing much time online at the moment and aren’t keeping up with all of your blogs just now. I promise that when I feel stronger I will be back commenting and catching up. In the meantime though – thank you so much.

 

Here are the 15 books I read this month:

 

Be Awesome by Hadley Freeman

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

 

Fabrice Muamba: I’m Still Standing by Fabrice Muamba

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

A Year Lost and Found by Michael Mayne

 

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

 

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett


June Blog Posts & Reviews:

I wrote my regular blog posts this month – my Weekly Wrap-Ups, WWW Wednesday posts and my Stacking the Shelves posts so I’m pleased that I didn’t miss any of those.  I didn’t manage to write as many reviews as I’d hoped but I did get five reviews posted which is better than nothing. I also had two fab guest posts from authors Kate Vane and Emily Benet.

Here are the reviews I shared in June:

I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

 

Here are my blog posts from June:

Kate Vane wrote a guest post for my blog all about choosing the title of her novel The Former Chief Executive

Emily Benet wrote about her perfect hen night in celebration of her brand new novel The Hen Party


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The state of my TBR:

As any of you who read my weekly wrap-ups will already know, my plan to reduce my TBR this year has gone completely awry! Books are my pick-me-up so when I’m having a tough time I end up looking at books online and often end up buying one or two. My TBR is now very out of control, not helped by the fact that I didn’t read as much this month as I normally do!

I began this year with a TBR (this is books that I own) of 1885 books and it now stands at 1981 owned but unread books! My aim now is to just really try not to let it get over 2000. I need to get back to at least not buying anymore books than I can read in a month so that my TBR doesn’t get any bigger. My willpower is weak at the moment though.

So far this year I’ve read 129 books, and my target for the year is 200 so I’m definitely on track to achieve that. My Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge to make 100 of those books ones I owned before 31 Dec 2016 is on track. Of the books I’ve read so far this year 52 count for this challenge, which I’m very pleased about.


Quarterly Stats!

 

At the beginning of this year I started tracking my reading and book buying on a spreadsheet for the first time and I’m finding it fascinating to see the patterns in my reading. This is something I’ll definitely be continuing with. I decided to show my stats every three months so it’s that time again!

 

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As I said above I’ve read 129 books this year so far, which amounts to 43,464 pages! I’m really interested in keeping an eye on my total page count as well as books read as it means I’m reading for enjoyment, regardless of how long a book is, rather than focusing on shorter books to get my books read numbers up.  Most of my books fall into the 300-399 pages bar but you can see I have read a couple of much longer books as well as a few shorter books.  The average length of book comes in at 339 pages, which I’m pleased with.

 

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I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading for many years now and I enjoy the stats that I get from there but it doesn’t give a great deal of info. One thing I’m really enjoying about having my own spreadsheet to track other data, and it’s fascinating me to see the breakdown of author genders. This year I’m not consciously picking authors by gender so this is purely how my reading naturally has been. It’s interesting to see that in the first six months of this year 70% of my reading has been books written by female authors.

 

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I read quite a lot of non-fiction last year and wanted to keep that up this year. It was my aim to try and make sure that at least a third of my reading was non-fiction or memoir. Of the 129 books I’ve read so far 35 are non-fiction, so this isn’t quite on target but I have had a month where I’ve needed escapism and fiction so it’s not surprising. I feel sure that my non-fiction mojo will come back and I’ll end up being back on target.  I am reading a wide variety of genres in general though, so I’m pleased overall. The genres I read most of are general fiction, thriller and non-fiction.

 

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I’m also tracking how I acquire my books, which is also interesting to me. I’m happy to say that I buy the majority of my books, or have received them as gifts. I do get quite a lot of books from NetGalley and from publishers, which I am so grateful for but I think it’s good to see that I’m buying more books than I get sent as I do want to always support authors by buying their books, as well as reviewing them.

 


 

How was your June? I hope you all had a good month and that you read 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. 🙂

WWW Wednesday (5 Jul) What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now:

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I had this pre-ordered on Kindle as I’ve been so keen to read it. I started it last night and it’s brilliant, I really am getting so much out of it. In fact I’m finding it so brilliant that I’ve now ordered a hardback copy to have on my bookcase. I highly recommend this book!

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I’m a huge fan of Lucy Clarke and always look forward to a new novel from her. I’m so pleased to say that this book absolutely lives up to her previous books and I’m utterly engrossed in it.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I’ve listed this here but unfortunately I’m not actively reading this at the moment due to it being a large paperback and I physically can’t turn the pages just now. I have been very much hooked on the novel though and hope to be able to read more soon.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This book is so much more than I even expected it to be and even though it’s a short book I’m deliberately reading it slowly to take it all in.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve read a few more chapters of this book this week and am finding it such a powerful read. I recommend this book.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’m hoping to finally read a big chunk of this book in the coming week as my non-fiction mojo seems to be on its way back.

 

What I recently finished reading:

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

I hadn’t heard about this book until I saw Gemma being interviewed on This Morning last week and I immediately bought the ebook. This is an incredibly moving book and one I want to review once I’ve got my thoughts together.

A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson

I’ve had this on my TBR for ages but it’s never got to the top of the mountain but when I saw the audio book was on my subscription service last week I decided to listen to it. I did find it very predictable which was a little disappointing but it was an enjoyable enough listen.

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

This was my latest pick from my #20BooksofSummer challenge and I really enjoyed it. I read it over two days and found myself completely hooked. I recommend this one and am kicking myself for leaving it on my TBR for so long before picking it up.

What I plan on reading next:

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

I’ve been so excited to read this book for a good few weeks now and it’s finally time! I’ve heard so many good things about it and I think it’s going to be a real treat.

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

This was a book I hoped to read last week but didn’t manage to get to it. I’m going to make it a priority this week though and am really looking forward to it.


 

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

Weekly Wrap-Up! (2 Jul)

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This week has been another quiet week but I’m slowly having a de-clutter of the kitchen, which is proving very satisfying. I’ve discovered that I’m inadvertently a collector of jars – there were jars shoved in the back of a lot of cupboards and I had no idea I’d kept so many. They’ve now gone for recycling and we now have more space to put things away! Isn’t it funny how you don’t even realise the way your hoarding tendencies are playing out until you see the evidence for yourself?! Ha!

It was also an exciting week this week as my cousin has released his debut album. He lives in America so it’s wonderful that we live in an age where I can buy his album on iTunes in the UK on the day it was released! I’m so proud of him – his late mum and me were very close and I just know she would be bursting with pride at how he’s following his dreams.

 

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

This has been on my TBR ever since it was first published so I made it one of my choices for the #20BooksofSummer challenge and I’m so glad I did. I found myself really engrossed in this novel and very much enjoyed reading it.

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

This book caught my eye on my kindle last week and I immediately started reading. I got completely wrapped up in this novel and am still thinking about it now, a week after finishing it. I highly recommend this one.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was another of my #20BooksofSummer picks and I adored this novel! I’m not the biggest fan of Pride and Prejudice but this modern take on it was brilliant. It’s a great read for the summer and I definitely recommend it if you haven’t already read it.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Friday: Guest post by author Emily Benet on her ideal hen party as part of The Hen Party blog tour

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

I bought this book after seeing Gemma on This Morning last week and I started reading it right away. It’s a tough read because you see the pain the family were in when Milly went missing and you know it’s not going to have a good outcome. This is a very powerful book, I recommend it.

A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson

This is my current audio book – I picked it on a whim and it’s an okay listen. I’m about 20% in and it’s lacking something for me at the moment but I’m intrigued enough to keep going for now so hopefully it will pick up a bit soon.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I’ve had to leave this to one side this week as I just haven’t been able to turn the pages of a print book. I was really engrossed in the novel though so I really hope I can get back to it soon. If all else fails I’ll look at getting the ebook or the audio so I can carry on with it.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is a book that has got to me in ways I wasn’t expecting when I started reading so I’m now reading it much slower and savouring it. It’s a beautiful book though and one I’ll be recommending.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert AND The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Both of these books have been on hold again this week. I feel like I need to add them here as they are on my currently reading shelf and I do hope to continue with them soon. Both are brilliant reads, it’s just not been the right time for me to read them recently.

 

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Update on my TBR: 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1973

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 9

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1982

 


 

How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a good week, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading over the last seven days. If you do a wrap-up post please feel free to share a link below.

WWW Wednesday (28 Jun) What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now:

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

This is one of my picks for my #20BooksOfSummer challenge. I’ve had this on my TBR ever since it was first published so I’m really happy to finally have got to it. I’m really engrossed in it and wondering where it’s going to go.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I’m really enjoying this book, it grabbed me in the first few chapters and I’m finding myself thinking about it when I’m not reading it which is always the sign of a great novel. The only reason I’ve not read it quicker is because my copy is a large paperback so it’s difficult to hold for longer periods of time.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is a novella and I thought it would be a quick, easy read. It’s actually a book that has really got under my skin and I’m finding it an emotional read at the moment so now I’m savouring every page. It’s a beautiful novella.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I still haven’t managed to read any more of this book but the issue is entirely with me, not the book. I’m really hoping my non-fiction reading mojo returns soon so I can get back to this because it is such an interesting and moving book.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I did read a couple more chapters of this at the weekend and am finding it fascinating but my mood really isn’t for non-fiction just now so I’m just going to dip in and out of this and hope my mojo returns soon.

What I recently finished reading:

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

This book was brilliant! I got the ebook a few months ago after reading reviews on some of my favourite blogs and it caught my eye on my kindle this week. It’s a very difficult subject matter to write fiction about children who murder but Maggie James got the balance right. I’m going to try and review this at some point but for now I definitely recommend it.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was one of my #20BooksOfSummer and it was excellent. I have to be honest here and say that I’m not the biggest fan on Pride and Prejudice but it is a book I’ve read a few times over the years so I know it well, and this take on it was just brilliant! I very much enjoyed every minute that I spent reading this and highly recommend it.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I loved this book. It was one of those novels that really makes you think about what you’re reading as you’re reading it. I was engrossed in the pages but at the same time my brain was ticking over about what was going on. The writing is so good! I’ll be reviewing this one as soon as I get my thoughts together (hopefully soon!).

What I plan on reading next:

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I was planning to read this last week but didn’t get around to it so I’m putting it in my plan to read this week as I really want to read this asap!

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I was sent a copy of this book for review last week and I’m really keen to read it so hopefully I can get to it this week too.

 

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

Weekly Wrap-Up! (25 Jun)

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This week has been very quiet, and yet eventful at the same time. I’ve made a huge leap forward in terms of finally beating my PTSD once and for all. I faced a big fear this week and it was actually okay so I feel like that’s been a huge achievement. It’s left me feeling very drained so I’ve not been reading as much, or blogging ,but hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.

 

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I really enjoyed reading this. It was different than I was expecting but it’s one of those books that is really unsettling and gives you a lot to think about. I’m hoping to get my thoughts together so I can review this soon but I definitely recommend it.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

This is the first book I’ve finished from my #20BooksOfSummer challenge. This was one of my three alternates but it was the one I most felt like reading so I went with it. I enjoyed this, it kept me hooked all the way through but I felt it was lacking something. I’m still planning to review it but need to get my thoughts together first.

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

This book has been on my TBR for ages so when I spotted the audio book on my subscription service I decided to part listen and part read it. I very much enjoyed this one, it had an intensity to it that I wasn’t expecting and it really made an impression on me.

This week I’ve blogged five times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

                 Review of Exquisite by Sarah Stovell for the blog tour

Monday: Review of One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

I bought this book a while ago after reading some great reviews and it caught my eye on my kindle yesterday so I started reading. It’s such a good book – one of those books that stays in my head even when I’m not reading and that I can’t wait to get back to. I definitely recommend this and it’s currently only 99p on kindle, which is such a bargain for a great read.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I was sent a surprise copy of this for review a few weeks ago and I finally got to start reading it this week. I’m really enjoying it, it’s great to see journalist Kate back as she was my favourite character in The Widow.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

I was expecting this to be a book that really grabbed me but I wasn’t expecting it to be such an emotional read. I love when a book surprises me in this way and I’m really looking forward to reading more of it.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I’ve really been loving reading this one, it’s a perfect summer read. I’m reading this as part of my #20BooksOfSummer challenge and I’m so glad I finally picked this up.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve not read anymore of this over the last week as I just haven’t been in the right frame of mind to read this but it is such an incredibly moving book and I will get back to it soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’m still not in much of a non-fiction mood but I did read another couple of chapters of this book this week and it’s so interesting. I hope to be able to read a bigger chunk of this soon.

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Update on my TBR:

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1956

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 20

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1973

WWW Wednesday (21 Jun) What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was one of my choices for my #20BookofSummer and it’s such a great read for this time of year. I’m really enjoying this novel and definitely recommend it.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

As I think I said last week I’m not really in the mood for non-fiction so this book is still on the back burner. I’m hoping my non-fiction mojo returns soon as I definitely want to get back to this soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This is my other non-fiction read and it’s also been put to one side this week but again I hope to get back to it soon. Fingers crossed for the non-fiction vibe returning before too long.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I had to put this to one side this week as I was reading another review book that had similar themes and didn’t want to get the two mixed up in my head. I’m back reading this now and am really enjoying it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

This is a book that has been on my TBR for ages but has never reached the top but when I spotted it on my audio book subscription the other day I decided to listen to it. I got so engrossed in this novel, it really grabbed me and I recommend it.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

This was one of my alternate choices for #20BooksofSummer but it ended up being the one that called to me the most so I decided to read it. I feel a bit conflicted about it as I really enjoyed reading it, it held my attention throughout but it left me feeling a little deflated. I’m hoping to review it if I can get my thoughts together about it soon.

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

I loved this novel and read it in one sitting as there just wasn’t a place where I could stop reading – I simply had to know what was going to happen. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

This novel was incredible. It was one of those books that I picked up at exactly the right time and it was such a moving and soothing novel. I honestly think this will be one of my books of the year! I’ve already reviewed it so you can see why I loved it so much here.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

I’ve been reading this over the last couple of weeks and I have enjoyed it so much. There was so much more to the book than I was expecting and I think it’s one that will stay in my mind for a while to come.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I’ve been so excited about this book as I’m a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing and I simply can’t wait any longer to read this!

Three Days and a Life by Pierre LeMaitre

This arrived just the other day and I’m so keen to read it so am hoping to get to it this week!

 

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

Weekly Wrap-Up! (18 Jun)

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This week has been a week of taking it easy so I’ve not had as many posts up on my blog, but it has been for a good reason. My husband and I went to see Kraftwerk on Wednesday night and it was an incredible show. They’re a band I never thought I would get to see live so it was brilliant. We didn’t take any photos of the concert but here’s the 3D glasses and a painted mural outside the venue 🙂 My pain levels and my neuro symptoms have been really bad the last couple of days but it was absolutely worth it to have had such a good night out.

 

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

I’ve been reading this book on and off for a couple of weeks now and have really enjoyed it. There was so much more in this novel than I was expecting and it’s one I definitely recommend.

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

I read this novel in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down. I’ve actually got my review on my blog today so you can read that here if you’d like to.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

This is a beautiful novel that I fell completely and utterly in love with. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read more of what I thought here if you’d like to. I highly recommend this book though, it’s stunning.

A Year Lost and Found by Michael Mayne

This is a very short book about the year Michael Mayne contracted a chronic illness and how he felt about that, and the role his strong religious beliefs played in how he coped. I found it a really soothing read, even though I’m not a religious person.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

This is another book that I’ve been reading on and off for a couple of weeks. I enjoyed it but it didn’t completely wow me. I’m still trying to write my review but hopefully I’ll have it posted soon.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Friday: Review of The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I only just started reading this last night but I’m a few chapters in and enjoying it. I think it’s a good pick for one of my #20bookofsummer reads.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

This was one of my three spare picks for my #20booksofsummer and it’s the one that has been calling to me the most. It grabbed me in the first chapter and I’m really hooked.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve not read much more of this over the last week as I just haven’t been in the mood for non-fiction. I’m hoping to get back to it soon as it’s such an interesting and moving read.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This has been on hold over the last couple of weeks too but I knew when I started this book that it would be a book that I read on and off as I felt up to it. I do hope to get back to it as soon as my non-fiction mojo returns.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I did read a bit more of this over the last week but I put it down again for the last few days as I was reading a book for a blog tour that was giving me a similar vibe and I didn’t want to risk them getting confused in my head. I will be picking this back up in the next day or so though.

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Update on my TBR: 

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1958

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 3

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 5

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1956

 


 

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


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

WWW Wednesday (14 Jun) What are you reading this week?

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

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now:

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

I was thrilled when I was offered the chance to read and review this book as it’s one that’s been on my wish list ever since I first heard about it. I started reading it yesterday and it hooked me in straight away and I feel sure this is going to be a book that I’ll love.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I haven’t read much more of this book since my last WWW Wednesday post as I’ve been struggling with non-fiction this week due to needing more my books to give me escapism. This is such a great book though and I hope to get back to it very soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This is my other non-fiction book and this has also been put to one side since my last post. The book had really grabbed me so I’m hoping to get back to it soon, it just wasn’t the right book for me this week.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

I discovered the audio book version of this book on my audio subscription app this week so I’m half-listening and half-reading this and am enjoying it so much. I had high hopes for the book and it’s actually even better than I was expecting.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

This book has been on the back burner for most of the last week but I did pick it back up last night and read quite a few pages of it so I’m hoping I can continue and finish this soon. It’s such a great read, I just wish life hadn’t got in the way of me reading it quicker.

What I recently finished reading:

A Year Lost and Found by Michael Mayne

I bought this book a few weeks ago after reading about it in another book I read earlier this year. If I’m to be completely honest it was more religious than I normally like to read but in the context of illness and recovery and how people deal with life-changing conditions it was a really soothing read for me and I’m so glad I read it.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

I finished reading this book earlier this week but haven’t managed to write my review as yet. I did enjoy the book but it fell a bit flat for me so I’m letting it settle for a few days before I write my review.

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

This book is brilliant and I highly recommend it! I’ve already reviewed it so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

What I plan on reading next:

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

I’ve been so excited to read this book but have been holding off until nearer my date on the blog tour… and now it’s finally time to start reading it! I’ve heard only great things about this book.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

I treated myself to this book a couple of weeks ago and it’s been calling to me from my bookcase ever since so I can’t hold off reading it any longer!

Bad Choices by Ali Almossawi

This book was sent to me for review at the weekend and it looks like such a fun and interesting read and a book that I can dip in and out of so I’d like to start it soon.

 

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

Weekly Wrap-Up! (11 Jun)

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This week has been a quiet-ish week but a tiring one. I’ve been feeling really unsettled after hearing about the death of my great-aunty last week, and when I feel like this it’s always so much harder to read. It’s frustrating that at the times I most need escape I struggle to read but it’s just the way it is with me.

I had a really difficult but ultimately very positive appointment this week to do with my PTSD. I’ve long considered myself better but there are still triggers that I have to be mindful of and by chance I’m having a treatment that is making a real difference. I don’t want to talk in any detail but it is an amazing experience when the wonderful memories that have been blocked by the trauma suddenly come flooding back. It made for a very emotional day but a really good step forward.

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

Fabrice Muamba: I’m Still Standing by Fabrice Muamba

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time so this week when I picked it out of my TBR jar I decided to read it. It was a really moving and inspiring read. Fabrice Muamba has had such an interesting life and it was really enjoyable to read about his childhood. It’s incredible to read about his more recent years and to know just how amazing it is that he survived his cardiac arrest.

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

This is such a brilliant novel. I honestly loved it from the first chapter all the way through and I highly recommend it. I’ve already reviewed it on my blog so you can read that here if you’d like to know more.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

I finished reading this last weekend and really enjoyed it. I think I preferred The Girl on the Train but I would definitely still recommend this one.

 

This week I’ve blogged five times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up Post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Author Kate Vane guest posted about the title of her new novel, The Former Chief Executive

Friday: Review of The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

This is such a sad and moving memoir but it’s a book I definitely recommend. It’s about a woman who was in a car accident when 8 months pregnant and her baby died, she then had to deal with the horrendous legal fact that her baby wasn’t considered a person because she wasn’t born at the time of the accident. I haven’t read much of this book this week as I haven’t felt up to reading an emotional book. I will be getting back to is as soon as I can though.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I also haven’t read any more of this book this week as I just haven’t been in the mood to read it. I was very much enthralled in it so will be getting back to it once my reading mojo returns.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This is another book that’s been left to one side this week but again I will get back to it soon.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

I’ve read a bit more of this book over the last few days as it’s been easier for me to concentrate on this and has been a good distraction.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

This book has fallen by the wayside a bit too this week but it’s entirely down to my mood and nothing to do with the book. I’ll be picking this up once I feel brighter but I want to leave it until then as I don’t want my current slump to affect my opinion of this brilliant book.

 

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Update on my TBR:

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1948

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 13

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1958

 


 

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


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

Review: Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes

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I can never resist books that are in any way connected to Peter Pan, I’m just fascinated by Neverland and what it represents. So when I was offered the chance to review Wendy Darling, I couldn’t say yes fast enough!

Wendy Darling is a re-telling of Peter Pan told from 16 year old Wendy’s perspective. John is Mr Darling’s favourite child and Wendy feels desperate to be noticed by her father, she tries so hard to see the star that John can see so easily but she struggles and the disappointment she feels from her father is palpable.

Wendy spends as much time as she can visiting the local bookshop. She loves to read, but even more than that she loves to visit the bookseller’s son Booth. The two are growing closer but their romance seems to be doomed from the start as society dictates that Booth is just not an appropriate suitor so they meet in secret.

One night Mr and Mrs Darling go out for the evening and something very strange happens at the house. It is really quite sinister and leaves the children feeling very shaken, until Peter Pan appears at the window and takes them all off on an adventure.

I have to be honest and say I found some of the things that happened in Neverland a little long-winded and slow, I was initially more captivated by Wendy’s romance with Booth and was longing to see more of that, I didn’t want to be taken away from that storyline. Having said that, where the book keeps you hooked is with this much more overtly sinister version of Neverland. It was always possible to see the darkness in JM Barrie’s original story but it’s much more extreme in Oakes’ re-telling. Oakes takes the nightmarish elements to fantastic extremes and danger is everywhere, especially for Wendy. It’s about how nothing is as it seems, and the idealism of a perfect world is never going to be as you’d thought.

Peter Pan has always felt a little creepy to me but in this version he is sociopathic. He appears very loving and kind one minute and the next his personality becomes very menacing, and actually often downright evil. I loved that Wendy was older in this re-telling as it gives a whole new dynamic to her and Peter’s relationship. There is an undeniable sexual chemistry from the beginning of the book, Wendy is drawn to him and cannot stop herself from staring at him and wanting to be closer to him. Peter ultimately uses this against her though and there are a couple of scenes later in the book that are very shocking and disturbing. The contrast between the rather innocent kissing with Booth and the way that Peter Pan treats Wendy really highlights the way that Neverland represents the desires of a teenage girl and her inability to fully comprehend how dangerous the world can be for someone still so naive and innocent.

Wendy Darling is ultimately the story of an awakening, it’s about Wendy discovering her power as a young woman and how she can fight back against the things that imprison her. It’s about her discovering her longing to be a mother; the way Wendy takes to nurturing the lost boys is beautiful, she seems to have found her place with them and they adoringly look up to her wanting her to be their mother. I did very much appreciate how empowered Wendy is in this re-telling; she’s been taken from a character who is almost always portrayed as weak just because she’s just a girl to a young woman who can stand her ground, and who will speak up when she feels she needs to. It was fascinating to see the character of Wendy in this way.

I do have a real bugbear with this book though and that is that even when a book is a part of a series I strongly feel that each book in the series should have some sort of ending. I know they have to lead into the next book so you will want to buy it but this novel just stops and ends with the title of the next book. I have to be honest and say that this really irritated me and I’m not sure that I would read the next one because I would always be wondering if I was ever going to get an ending. I love open endings, I enjoy being left with lots to think about but to just stop dead at the end of a scene and announce the next book is actually infuriating.

There are aspects of this novel that are fascinating and compelling, but there are times when it falls a little flat and the lack of an ending is something I can’t ignore so I rate this novel 7 out of 10. I still highly recommend it, especially to people who are fascinated by Peter Pan, it’s a brilliant look at his character and it takes him to really sinister levels that always seem to be underlying his character in the original story.

I received this book from SparkPress in exchange for an honest review.

Wendy Darling is out now and available from Amazon.

My Favourite Books Read in 2012

In 2012 I set myself a target to read 200 books, it was an ambitious target but I was determined to try and reduce the size of my To Be Read mountain. Anyway, I’ve surprised myself in managing to read 243 books! I’ve read a real mix of books including a re-read of James Joyce’s Ulysses so I haven’t stuck to reading short books in order to meet the challenge I’d set myself.

I keep track of all my books on Goodreads and so have been adding and removing books on my fave reads of 2012 as the year has gone on. I have cheated slightly in that I’ve made two Top 10 lists – a fiction and a non-fiction list as it was just too difficult to pick ten books from 243.

So here goes, in no particular order…

Top 10 fiction reads of 2012

  1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  2. The Fault is in our Stars by John Green
  3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  4. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Fry
  5. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
  6. The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
  7. Nutmeg by Maria Goodin
  8. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  9. Playing on Cotton Clouds by Michela O’Brien
  10. Once More With Feeling by Megan Crane

My Top 10 Fiction reads of 2012

  1. The End of Your Life Bookclub by Will Schwalbe
  2. The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton
  3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  4. On Writing by Stephen King
  5. The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke
  6. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
  7. And The Band Played on by Christopher Ward
  8. Mother, Lover, Brother: Selected Lyrics by Jarvis Cocker
  9. Gift of Time: A Family’s Diary of Cancer by Rory MacLean
  10. Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Now I’m looking forward to all the books I have to read in 2013!