#BookReview: A Ragbag of Riches by James Chilton @AuthorightUKPR @gilbster1000 @Authoright

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About the Book

This collection of quips and quotes creates abook for the bower, the bedside, the bath and for browsing; a book at arm’s length from the deck chair, for the tedium of travel but above all for pleasure.

It is a haphazard collection: the Ragbag covering the rougher, even vulgar (but nevertheless witty) entries of graffiti, newspaper headlines and bumper stickers, the Riches being the poetry, prayers and prose of fine minds that inspire by their beauty, sincerity and sublime use of words. At the lower end, I love the astringency and ability of the authors to poke fun with the sharpness of a red-hot needle. At the top end, silver words and profound wisdom sometimes lead me to tears.

So I invite you to wallow or skip lightly. I hope there is something in this salmagundi to make you smile or catch the affections of your heart; to mingle quiet music with amiable irreverence.

 

My Thoughts

James Chilton has spent many years noting down his favourite quotations and snippets that have caught his attention and has now compiled them into A Ragbag of Riches. This immediately had me excited to read this book because for many years I used to write down all of my favourite quotes in notebooks and even though the notebooks are now long since lost I still retain a memory for my favourite quotes. I also can never resist a book like this one where someone has managed to keep hold of their notebooks over the years.

A Ragbag of Riches is set out in chapters covering all sorts of topics from the human condition to bumper stickers to food and drink plus many more subjects. I initially started reading this intending to read it in the order it was set out in but I found myself drawn to different subjects on different days so I read it in a bit more of a random way but it works really well like this, and I feel like it made the book hold more meaning to me because what I was reading was especially inspiring or funny or fascinating to because it was what I was in the mood to be reading on a particular day. I read the whole book over the course of a couple of weeks and very much enjoyed dipping in and out of it.

There is a great mix of poignant quotes along with amusing ones and everything in between, and features a diverse mix of people from poets to politicians, artists to scholars. The book also has great illustrations by Kathryn Lamb, which I enjoyed seeing throughout as I was reading.

On a personal note I did love reading the various comical village names in the Miscellaneous chapter. I giggled when I saw Wetwang, Yorkshire as I used to live near there and it wasn’t a place name that I ever thought anything of until I saw it through the eyes of people not from Yorkshire and it now amuses me every time I hear it!

I also loved the quote from an anonymous six-year old about what Grandmothers mean to us. It brought a lump to my throat and made me think of my lovely nan, who I still miss many years after she died. I won’t type it out here but it’s such a beautiful quote and one to look out for if you get a copy of this book.

I enjoyed the quotes about libraries and reading in this book too. One of my favourites was from EL Doctorow, which so simply and succinctly sums up why I love reading a mix of fiction and non-fiction – it gives such a broad scope to better understand people and history and the world we live in:

‘The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like’.

I stuck post-it notes on so many pages in my copy of A Ragbag of Riches and feel that my life and thoughts have been enriched in lots of ways through reading it. It is such a wonderful book and is one that I will keep hold of and go back to many times in the future, I’m sure. I highly recommend this one to all of you because there is no doubt that there is something for everyone in here. It would also make a brilliant Christmas gift for so many people so it’s worth checking out if you’re still in the midst of Christmas shopping!

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

A Ragbag of Riches is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

A grandfather of nine and a father of four, James Chilton lives with his wife and two labradors in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. He holds diplomas in Architectural History from Oxford University, in Design and in Plantsmanship from The English Gardening School and a certificate in the Decorative Arts from the Victoria & Albert Museum. Perennially busy, James draws, sculpts, designs gardens and jewelry and is a member of Bart’s Choir. He also a member of the International Dendrology Society and has lectured at the Royal Geographical Society and in Oxford. His first book, The Last Blue Mountain, was published in 2015.

 

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

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WWW Wednesday (29 Nov)! 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 Ragbag of Riches by James Chilton

I’m really enjoying dipping in and out of this book – it’s a lovely collections of quotations and one that I’ll be keeping hold of after I’ve read it. I’m on the blog tour for this book later this week so look out for my review soon.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon & Mary Phelan

I haven’t done much reading this week as I’ve been really unwell for most of the last week. I did feel well enough to pick this back up last night and I’m still enjoying it just as much as I was so I’m sure I’ll finish this soon.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

As I said above I haven’t read much over the last week but I did get a huge chunk of this book read yesterday and am back to being engrossed in it. The chapter I’m on now is all about how the kindle came to be so I’m finding that really interesting.

What I recently finished reading:

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

I finished this book yesterday afternoon and I’m missing reading it already. It was a wonderful book and one that I’ll be keeping hold of. The hardback edition I read is gorgeous and has loads of fabulous photos throughout so I recommend getting a hold of this version if you are interested in reading more about Coco Chanel.

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

I read the first book in this series in September so have been looking forward to getting to this one ever since. I didn’t love it as much as the first book but it still had me hooked from start to finish. I have the third book on my TBR and it’s set at Christmas so I can’t wait to read that in the next couple of weeks.

Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli

I’ve seen this book around and was interested to read it so when I spotted it on my audio book subscription I decided to listen to it. It’s a short book that packs a punch, it’s one that I’ve been thinking about since I finished it last week.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Wish Upon a Star by Trisha Ashley

I’m going to finish up NonFictionNovember and then I’ll start on my Christmas books! I love the cover on this one and it’s been on my TBR for a couple of years so I’d like to try and read this one soon.

A Miracle at Macy’s by Lynn Marie Hulsman

I was sent this a gift last Christmas and didn’t manage to read it then so I made sure to seek it out on my bookcase when I was thinking about what I wanted to read this Christmas.

Frost at Christmas by R. D. Wingfield

I’ve also had this on my TBR for a while and when I spotted it recently I thought it was a sign I should get it out to read in December! I loved watching A Touch of Frost when it was on TV years ago so I’m really interested to try reading my first Frost novel.



 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Which books are you 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: Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill @melissahillbks @HQstories

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About the Book

A mother always knows best. Doesn’t she?

What if your choice for your child could harm someone else’s?

Every mother faces impossible choices. Vaccination is one of the hardest. For single mum Kate O’Hara, there was no decision to make. Her daughter Rosie is one of a small percentage of Irish children who can’t be vaccinated against measles. All Kate can do is hope that her little girl is safe.

For mummy blogger Madeleine Cooper, it was a leap of faith she wasn’t prepared to take when she and her husband declined controversial measles jabs for their daughter Clara. All she can do is pray that it’s the right decision.

But when classmates Clara and Rosie both become sick will Kate pay for Madeleine’s choice?

My Thoughts

I love Melissa Hill’s novels – one of my favourite Christmas books is A Gift to Remember, it never fails to make me smile. So, when I saw Melissa Hill had a new novel due out I immediately requested a copy on NetGalley.

Keep You Safe is different from the feel-good reads that I’ve previously read but it absolutely lives up to those previous books. This novel explores the issue of childhood vaccinations and the potential repercussions when you choose not to have your child immunised. This is an issue that affects so many people and everyone has an opinion so I was fascinated to read a novel that explores this.

There are two sides to every story and Melissa Hill really captures this very well. Kate is a single mum to Rosie and she and her late husband were unable to give Rosie the MMR due to severe allergies. Kate is easy to like and I felt sorry for her throughout this novel. Madeleine and her husband chose not to give their children the MMR because of their beliefs about the vaccination. So when Rosie and Clara both become ill around the same time it sets in play a chain of events that unravel these two families.

I found this to be such an engaging and engrossing novel. It’s one of those books that I couldn’t stop thinking about in the times when I wasn’t reading it. Everyone in my family has had all the vaccines that were available to them and, while I don’t have children myself, I feel I would have done the same . I couldn’t help myself feeling like Madeleine and her husband were being quite selfish and ignorant in not vaccinating their children but I came to be much more understanding as the novel went on. Melissa Hill does a great job at showing both sides of the argument. I know someone who was vaccinated against a different disease many years ago and he was very badly damaged by it so it gave me some sympathy for the characters, even though the MMR is a different issue.

I actually read this book a while ago now and am only just finishing my review now but I can honestly say that this is a novel that has really stayed with me. I’ve recommended it to a few people too because it’s such a good read. It’s always great to find a book that is easy to read whilst also making you think and having a depth to it that makes it stay in your mind long after you finished reading. If you haven’t already read Keep You Safe I highly recommend you grab a copy and read it soon!

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

About the Author

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Melissa Hill lives in County Wicklow with her husband and daughter.

A USA Today and international No 1 bestseller, she is the author of 15 novels.  A TV adaptation of A GIFT TO REMEMBER will be released as Hallmark Christmas movie in 2017 and SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY’S is currently in development with a major Hollywood studio.

Melissa’s books have been translated into 25 different languages including Bulgarian, German, Czech, Finnish, Latvian, Serbian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Brazilian, Thai and Chinese and have hit bestseller lists in multiple countries. The Italian edition of SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY’S, ‘Un Regalo da Tiffany’ spent eight weeks at No 1 in Italy, selling over 600,000 copies, making it one of the bestselling 2011 Italian books overall.

Her writing combines all the warmth and humour of contemporary women’s fiction with plots that keep readers guessing from page to page.

(Author bio and photo taken from: curtisbrown.com)

#BookReview: Yesterday by Felicia Yap @FeliciaMYap @Wildfirebks

Yesterday by Felicia Yap

About the Book

A brilliant high-concept thriller – a debut with all the intrigue of Gone Girl and the drama of Before I Go To Sleep just how do you solve a murder when you can only remember yesterday?

There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?

 

My Thoughts

After seeing this book around on social media for a few weeks I just couldn’t resist requesting it on NetGalley and I was thrilled when I was approved. I actually read this quite a few weeks ago now but due to ill health I haven’t managed to finish my review until now, but I can say that this is a book that has stayed with me which is the sign of a great read!

I’m fascinated by books about memory and I do love an unreliable narrator so this book really appealed to me and I’m so pleased to say that it absolutely lived up to the appeal. The novel is unsettling from the start because it’s set in our world in the present day but everyone is either a mono (with a memory span of only the last 24 hours) or a duo (who can remember the previous 48 hours). This means that everyone has to keep a meticulous record of their lives in order to recollect anything beyond the time span on their memory. Obviously the duos have an advantage as they can remember things for longer so marriage between monos and duos is very much frowned upon. Claire is a mono, and her husband Mark is a duo. As far as Claire is concerned they have been happily married for a number of years but the only sadness is that they can’t have a child.

Claire is shocked one day when the police turn up at her door to tell her that her husband’s mistress has been found dead near their home and they think her husband killed her. The novel builds with such pace and tension from this point on as we see how Claire begins to try and put together any memories she can find about their past and if there is any hint that her husband has been cheating on her. She only has her diary to rely on for memories and this really ramps up the tension in the novel.

The novel then follows four perspectives – Claire, Mark, the mistress and the police detective – and all four have secrets. Some are dark secrets, and some are things that you can understand and have some sympathy for link in the case of the person who is trying hard to hold on to their career. Everyone in this novel is relying on their diaries and that makes this novel fascinating and makes for a book whereby all of the characters are unreliable (and I do love unreliable narraters!). The unfolding of all the secrets and lies makes for a very tense and thrill-filled novel and I found this very hard to put down!

I did find it a slightly difficult to get into at first as this is a novel set in the present day but obviously monos and duos don’t exist so it was a bit strange. I very quickly got into the story being told though and this aspect became something that fascinated me and I really enjoyed this novel.

This is a really different thriller to anything that I’ve read in a long while and I found it so refreshing. It has twists and turns along the way and some of the reveals I managed to work out and others just blindsided me, which I loved. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a sophisticated and different take on the thriller genre! I loved this book and it’s one that has really stayed with me.

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

Yesterday is out now!

 

About the Author

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Felicia Yap grew up in Kuala Lumpur. She read biochemistry at Imperial College London, followed by a doctorate in history (and a half-blue in competitive ballroom dancing) at Cambridge University. She has written for The Economist and the Business Times. She has also been a radioactive-cell biologist, a war historian, a Cambridge lecturer, a technology journalist, a theatre critic, a flea-market trader and a catwalk model.

Felicia lives in London and is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy’s novel-writing programme. She has just finished her debut novel, Yesterday, a high-concept thriller.

(Author bio and photo taken from: curtis brown.com)

WWW Wednesdays (22 Nov)! 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:

Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli 

I’ve heard about this book on a few BookTube videos recently and so put it on my wishlist. I then spotted it on my audio book subscription so I immediately downloaded it and am now half-way through listening to it. It’s a really interesting book.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin

This is an ARC that I’ve had on my TBR for a few weeks now and I finally started reading it last night. It’s such a heartbreaking book but it’s such an important and prescient read. I have such admiration for Trayvon’s parents in the way they have tried to channel their grief into raising awareness and to honour their son’s life. I’ll definitely be reviewing this one when I’ve finished reading it.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon & Mary Phelan

This is such a lovely book, it’s a real feel-good and quite nostalgic read. I recommend this if you want a light-hearted book about two girls in the early 80s as they begin their adult lives.

Coco Chanel:The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

I’m enjoying this book so much. It’s only taking me so long to read it because my copy is a really heavy hardback – it’s a beautiful book and one I’ll definitely be keeping but it’s hard to hold and read for more than a chapter at a time. It’s printed on thick glossy paper and has lots of great photos throughout. I recommend it.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

This is still on my currently reading and I do intend to get back to it soon but I’ve been drawn to non-fiction on other subjects over the last week so I’m going with how I feel.

What I recently finished reading:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

This book has been on my TBR for over three years but when I finally picked it up this week I honestly couldn’t put it down. I read it in two sittings and it feels like one of this books that will really stay with me. I highly recommend it.

Friends Like These by Danny Wallace

This is an audible book that I’ve owned for seven years and somehow have never listened to it! I was in need of something light to listen to at the weekend so put this on and I enjoyed it. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it when I was younger but it was still interesting to see how Danny tracked down his old school friends.

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

This was a really fascinating book and the New York Stock Exchange and how companies would do anything to have the edge over others. I didn’t put it on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR because I was worried it might be a bit dry and take me a long while to read but I was so wrong. I found that once I picked this book up I didn’t want to put it down and ended up reading it in just a couple of sittings.

Whatever… Love is Love by Maria Bello

This is another audio book that I listened to on a whim. It was an easy listen and there were sections that really made me pause to think about my own life and how I view myself. As a whole it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped it might be but I’m still glad I read it.

What I plan on reading next:

Hystories by Elaine Showalter

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages and promised myself I would definitely get to it this November so I’m really hoping I can read it this week.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

I’m always fascinated by the books that Jon Ronson writes and this one sounds like it’ll be a brilliant read.

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

I hoped to read this last week and didn’t get to it so I’m putting it on my TBR for the week ahead. I’m really looking forward to this one.


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Which books are you 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 (19 Nov)!

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I want to start this post by saying a huge thank you to everyone who visits my blog, and especially to this who have commented recently. I’m aware that I’m slow to respond at the moment, and also that I’m not managing to comment on as many of your blogs as I’d like to, but I will get there. Please know that even when it takes me a while I respond, I do very much appreciate every comment.

This week has been quite quiet as I’ve not been feeling great. I have got a lot of reading done though, which has been lovely. I’ve been seeking escapism in books as I have another round of medical appointments and tests coming up and I don’t want to think about those until I have to.

Last night my husband and I curled up and watched The Deer Hunter, which we haven’t seen in a few years. It was so nice to just relax and watch a film together but it doesn’t matter how many times you see this film, it’s never not heartbreaking.

 

This week I’ve finished reading seven books:

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

This is a book that I was going to put on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR and then forgot about! I spotted it this week and was just in the mood to read it so decided to go ahead anyway. I read it in two sittings and found it such a fascinating insight into what goes on in Wall Street.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I really enjoyed reading this book! I read it a chapter or two at a time throughout the week in between other books and it really worked for me like that. If I’m to be completely honest I did find the author a bit irritating and she didn’t seem to have much of a concept of how lucky she was but, having said that, I loved reading about the lifestyle in Denmark and it has made me want to move there! I’d still recommend the book too.

Whatever… Love is Love by Maria Bello

This is another non-fiction book that wasn’t on my TBR for this month but it caught my eye amongst my audio books. It was an interesting listen, and some parts were thought-provoking but I don’t think it’s a book that will really stick with me.

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

This is a novel that I read this week as I was in need of some escapism and non-fiction wasn’t giving me that so instead I picked up this book, which I owned before this year so it’s another one that counts towards my Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads. I enjoyed this thriller, it kept me interested all the way through and I’ll definitely pick up Sam’s next book, Bad Sister.

Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)

This is such a powerful book about Rio’s grief after the death of his wife. I found it to be a really honest and moving book. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read more of my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

This was the other novel that I read this week when needing some escapism. I really enjoyed this book – I do love Lucy Clarke’s writing.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a very short book that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and I’m glad I finally got to it. It’s one of those books that makes you think about your own thoughts and ideas about things.

 

This week I’ve blogged three times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I just started this book yesterday but it’s already got me engrossed. I don’t think it’ll take me very long to read this. I’m expecting it to be quite harrowing at times but I’ve seen so many people recommend it that I have to read it.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon and Mary Phelan

This is letters between Catherine and Mary in 1984 – the year they leave school and one goes on to further study and the other goes to France to be an au pair. I’m so enjoying this one, it’s wonderful.

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

This is a really interesting look at Coco Chanel’s life and I’m really enjoying it. My copy of the book is physically very heavy so I’ll be quite slow to read this but it’s such a treat every time I pick it up.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week but I will be getting back to it soon as I was finding it really interesting.


 

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. 🙂

#BookReview: Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand @HodderBooks @rioferdy5

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About the Book

‘When Rebecca died, the idea that one day I might begin to feel better would have struck me as laughable … I know how persuasive this kind of permanence thinking can be.

I know too that anyone locked in its grip will laugh if I promise them that their pain will one day ease. It will. Of course it will. But I know better than to expect anyone to believe me.’

In 2015, former England football star Rio Ferdinand suddenly and tragically lost his wife and soulmate Rebecca, aged 34, to cancer. It was a profound shock and Rio found himself struggling to cope not just with the pain of his grief, but also with his new role as both mum and dad to their three young children.

Rio’s BBC1 documentary, Being Mum and Dad, touched everyone who watched it and won huge praise for the honesty and bravery he showed in talking about his emotions and experiences. His book now shares the story of meeting, marrying and losing Rebecca, his own and the family’s grief – as well as the advice and support that get him through each day as they strive to piece themselves back together. Thinking Out Loud is written in the hope that he can inspire others struggling with loss and grief to find the help they need through this most difficult of times.

This book has been written by Rio Ferdinand with help from Decca Aitkenhead.

My Thoughts

A couple of years ago I wrote a list for Riffle of books that helped me through the grief I felt after my mum died (which you can find here if you’d like to read it). The loss of my mum changed me in so many ways and I find that I’m still drawn to books where other people have worked through their own grief. Thinking Out Loud is a book that I’ve been interested in ever since I first heard about it and I finally picked up a copy last week. If I were to re-write my list, Thinking Out Loud would definitely be on it.

Thinking Out Loud is such an incredibly open and honest account of Rio Ferdinand’s grief after losing his wife Rebecca. After her death he suddenly found himself in sole charge of their three children and had to not only work out how to run a household but, more importantly,  he had to figure out how best to help his three young children through their grief and he is so open about how he struggled to know what to do. Each of his children outwardly reacted differently and Rio is very candid in sharing how he just didn’t know how he could help them whilst desperately wanting to help them through it.

Rio is very honest in this book and fully admits that he was in denial about his wife’s illness, that he buried his head in the sand and he explores why he did that. He also shares how some of the things that happened were seemingly lost from his memory, that he genuinely couldn’t remember how things had happened. I can understand that – it’s like your brain just can’t cope with the horror of what is happening and it seems to shut down.

In the book we get to hear a bit about Rio’s childhood, and then how he met Rebecca along with the story of their relationship. Rio wasn’t brought up in an environment where feelings were spoken about and then he became a professional footballer at a young age and his mindset became very focused on how to win, how to move on from failure without dwelling on it. He is very candid in the book and on looking back he sees that he perhaps wasn’t always the easiest person to live with and how he wishes he had listened to Rebecca more. Guilt is something that Rio keeps coming back to as the book goes on and I could really identify with that. I think it’s really common to feel guilt when a loved one dies, we always feel like we could have done more or been better. I appreciate when someone is so honest about it, like Rio is in this book, as it will help others to understand their own feelings.

As Rio was making his documentary for the BBC, Being Mum and Dad, he got to speak with other widowers and some of their stories are featured in this book. It was heartbreaking to read those stories and to see how much their wives still meant to them but it was also lovely to read of the men who had eventually gone on to find new relationships.

Rio acknowledges at the start of this book that he realises that some people will want to read his whole story but others will just want, or need, the advice that he has to give so he tells readers they can skip to a later chapter where it’s more about what he’s learnt, which I think is brilliant. These later chapters have such great wisdom in them about things that might help, and all the advice is spot on. I used to take a notebook to my mum’s oncology appointments but having a friend there who could do all the listening and the note-taking would have made things so much easier. I also completely agree that however hard it is for you, it’s really important to let your loved one speak of their wishes as they come towards the end of their life. I know that listening to my mum talk of what she wanted at her funeral broke my heart but after she died I was so glad that I could do that one last thing for her exactly as she’d wanted it. Rio is right – as difficult as it is – we all need to learn to be better at talking about death.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, and especially to people who are looking after a terminally ill loved one and people who are grieving. I cried a lot when I was reading this book but by the end the tears were healing tears. This is one of those books that will really stay with me, and one I will re-read.

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

Thinking Out Loud is out now!

 

About the Author

Rio Ferdinand is a former England footballer who also played football for Manchester United during Sir Alex Ferguson’s time as manager. Rio played 81 times for England and in 3 World Cups, and is one of the most decorated footballers of all time.

He had his first son with Rebecca in 2006 and they married in 2009, going on to have two more children before her death in May 2015 from cancer.

Rio is now a TV football pundit for BT Sport and as well as his BBC documentary on bereavement, Being Mum and Dad, has made a short Heads Together charity film with Prince Harry on mental health. He is also working alongside Child Bereavement and Jigsaw.

(Bio taken from: Hodder.co.uk)

WWW Wednesdays (15 Nov)! 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:

Coco Chanel:The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

This gorgeous book was a Christmas gift from my husband seven years ago! I’m horrified that I somehow haven’t picked it up until now but better late than never and I am thoroughly enjoying this book. It’s a beautifully published book with lots of great photos throughout.

Whatever… Love is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves by Maria Bello

This wasn’t on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR but it is non-fiction so it still counts. I have the ebook but I was looking for an audio book and spotted it so decided to part listen and part read it. It’s an easy book to listen to so I’m glad I picked it up.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I’m about half-way through this now and am really enjoying it. I love the way it’s a personal story with facts weaved in throughout.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

I’m still finding this book eye-opening and interesting but my reading of it has slowed a little as I’ve been in need of lighter/easier reads over the last week.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

So, I broke my own #NonFictionNovember2017 rule to only read non-fiction this month as I just needed the pure escapism that I can get lost in for a while and so I turned to fiction. This was a fast-paced thriller and definitely got me out of my own head for a while.

Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand and Decca Aikenhead

This book wasn’t on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR either but it is non-fiction so that’s okay. I’ve been interested in reading this for a while so when I spotted it on the read now part of NetGalley the other day I immediately downloaded it. It’s a very moving book and I’m glad I read it. I hope to get my review finished and posted later this week.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

This is the other novel that I read this week and I really enjoyed this one. I’m a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing and it’s always great to get engrossed in one of her novels. I really enjoyed this one.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is another book that isn’t on my November TBR but this is one I’ve wanted to read since it came out and so I finally picked it up yesterday. It’s a really interesting book and one that makes you think. I recommend it.

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

This book was wonderful! I loved reading about John Peel’s radio shows and being reminded of just how brilliant he was. I felt really quite sad when I turned the last page of this and I’m missing having it to dip in and out of. I highly recommend this one.

The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddharta Mukherjee

This is such a fascinating read! It’a long book and yet I seemed to fly through it – it’s written in such an accessible way and I very much enjoyed it.

What I plan on reading next:

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon & May Phelan

I’ve had this book on my TBR for ages and every time I see it I’m reminded of how much I want to read it because I know I’ll love it. So, I’m listing it here and hope I get a chance to read it in the coming week.

Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton

I was huge fan of Queen and can still remember hearing that Freddie Mercury had died. I’m always keen to read biographies of artists I’m a fan of so I hope to pick this book up this week.

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

I’ve wanted to read this for a while too but it’s one of those books where I feel I’ll get the most out of it if I pick it up at the right time. I’m really drawn to it at the moment and given my current mood I think now might be the time so I intend to start this once I’ve finished one of my current reads.

 


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Which books are you 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 (12 Nov)

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This week has been one of those weeks that has disappeared and I’m not sure where it went. My husband had a week off, which was nice. I also had a Grey’s Anatomy marathon starting last weekend as I saw an ad for season 14 and realised that I hadn’t seen Season 13 (it’s because we had a year away from Sky)! So as the episodes were only going to be available until Tuesday I had to get them seen. I’m caught up now but have series linked the new series as my brain needs a small TV break before I watch the new episodes! All the TV watching has eaten into my reading time but I have still managed to finish some books this week.

 

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

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

I’ve been dipping in and out of this book for a few weeks now but this week I got so engrossed in it that I finished the last third of the book in one sitting. I really enjoyed this book, but it was sad to get to the end and be reminded all over again that John Peel is gone.

The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddharta Mukherjee

I read the whole of this book this week and it was brilliant. It’s quite a long book, and it does have a lot of detail and yet it doesn’t feel heavy-going. I found it utterly fascinating and am now planning to read the author’s book on genes in the coming months.

It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while and hadn’t picked it up because there was a brief time when MND was considered as a possible cause of my symptoms, and just the thought of it was terrifying. This book is incredible and is one that will really stay with me. It’s both sad and uplifting, and it’s always inspiring – I recommend it.

 

This week I’ve blogged three times:

 

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up Post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday Post

Thursday: Review of Aches and Gains: A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming your Pain by Paul J. Christo

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I’ve had this on my TBR for ages and finally started reading it last night and I’m loving it. I’ve been reading bits out to my husband and now we both want to move to Denmark (and I’m only on chapter two!). I’m enjoying how this is a personal exploration of Jutland but includes info and stats about Denmark as a whole that really add to the reading experience.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

I did say that I was only going to read non-fiction this month but Friday was a bit of a day so I needed escapism and my non-fiction picks weren’t cutting it. I’m enjoying this book, it’s been a good book to get lost in.

The Everything Store by Jeff Bezos

I have only read a couple more chapters of this book this week as I focused on the other books I was reading but I am still finding this really interesting and so will get back to it properly this coming week.

 


 

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. 🙂

#BookReview | Aches and Gains: A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming your Pain by Paul J. Christo @BullPub

Aches and Gains by Paul Christo

About the Book

Pain is often treatable but doctors, medical professionals, and patients don’t understand the intricacies of chronic pain. Millions who suffer from pain become hopeless. With Aches and Gains, Dr. Paul Christo, a Johns Hopkins physician and leading pain specialist sheds new light on what it means to live with and overcome chronic pain. Dr. Christo shares celebrity interviews, including Naomi Judd, Lisa Swayze, Montel Williams, Ally Hilfiger, and Clay Walker, from his Sirius XM radio show Aches and Gains®, and stories from patients who have found a way to overcome the pain that once controlled their lives. Offering traditional, integrative, and innovative methods of easing pain, the book is a life-changing tool for anyone associated with pain including pain sufferers themselves, doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and caregivers. Features a foreword by renowned talk show host Montel Williams.

 

My Thoughts

I hadn’t heard of this book before I spotted it on NetGalley but I was immediately intrigued by it and so requested it. I suffer from severe chronic pain due to a spinal cord injury and have spent the last couple of years working with my medical team to manage my pain in a better way so Aches and Gains was a book that appealed to me.

Aches and Gains covers a broad spectrum of conditions that cause pain, and how to treat them so some of it was not relevant to me but all of the book was still interesting as it’s helpful to learn how various kinds of pain can be helped by certain treatments. I was pleased to find a mention of my condition in this book with an overview and suggestions of how to manage the particular type of pain that I suffer from. I’ve done a lot of research into the neuropathic pain I suffer from, and have had help from various specialists and can honestly say that most of what I learnt is reinforced in this book. It’s important to consider a holistic approach to managing pain – to look at how stress and how the mind can affect how the body reacts to pain, as well as looking at the most up-to-date medical interventions that may help too. The book is written in an easy-to-follow way, and it’s a book that can be read cover-to-cover or you can use it as a reference guide for specific painful medical conditions.

Aches and Gains feels like reassurance in book form. The easy style of writing that makes it easy to get your head around, even when struggling with pain. The celebrity interviews that are interspersed at relevant points throughout the book are interesting too because it’s always helpful to read about the experience of someone who has been through something similar to you.

This is definitely a book that I will be keeping hold of and will re-read the parts relevant to my health before my next pain clinic appointment so I can discuss some of the treatment possibilities.

Aches and Gains is a book that gives hope that there might still be an unexplored avenue that could help with the pain you might be in, and that is worth such a lot. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is suffering from chronic pain, or to anyone who cares for someone who is suffering with pain. Not all of the book will be directly relevant to you but it’s an easy-to-use guide to a whole range of conditions and it seemed to me that there would be something useful to anyone who picks the book up.

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

Aches and Gains is out now!

About the Author

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Dr. Christo specializes in treating patients with persistent pain in the spine, cancer pain, neuropathic pain (reflex sympathetic dystrophy or complex regional pain syndrome), shingles pain (post herpetic neuralgia), post surgical pain, and thoracic outlet syndrome. Further, Dr. Christo is experienced in performing implantations of pain pumps and spinal cord stimulators for the treatment of unrelenting pain. He also has expertise in clinical anesthesia, epidural placement, and spinal anesthesia.

His current areas of research interest include the use of botulinum toxin for thoracic outlet syndrome, pain in older adults, the mechanisms of spinal cord stimulation, and the application of online educational modules for pain education.

Dr. Christo is the host of Aches and Gains, the first nationally syndicated radio show on overcoming pain that airs weekly on Sirius XM Radio. He has appeared on radio/television/and in print:  XM Satellite Radio with Dr. Mehmet Oz, Lifetime TV’s–The Balancing Act, Dr. Timothy Johnson–Good Morning America Health, Retirement Living Television, and NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show and Talk of the Nation, as well as U.S. News and World Report, Washington Post, and the Baltimore Sun.

(Bio and photo taken from: practicalpainmanagement.com)

WWW Wednesdays (8 Nov)! 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 Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
This is a really interesting book, full of insights into how Amazon came to be. I’m only a quarter of the way through so far but it’s definitely a book I’ll be reading more of very soon.
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
This is an incredible book! I’ve been hooked from the start and have learnt so many things. It’s quite a long book and it’s packed full of information and history but it’s written in such an accessible and interesting way. I should finish this in the next couple of days and I’ll miss reading it once I’ve finished it.

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

I’m still enjoying reading this book a few pages at a time, it’s making me feel nostalgic for John Peel’s brilliant radio shows.

What I recently finished reading:

It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice

This book is so beautiful; it’s heartbreaking and life-affirming at the same time. I’ve put off reading this book for such a long time as I thought it might be too much for me but now I wish I’d picked it up sooner. This is definitely a book that I will keep and I know I’ll re-read it in the future. I’m going to try and review this one if I can get my thoughts together.

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

This was a hard book to read, in an emotional sense, and I needed a break in the middle of it but I’m so glad that I picked it back up. It was fascinating to read the story of a trial from the viewpoint of a journalist watching it all unfold. I think this may become one of my favourite non-fiction books.

A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray

This was the first book I finished for Non-fiction November and I enjoyed it. It was interesting to see which women someone else picks as the most influential and interesting in British history.  I didn’t agree with all of her choices but it was fascinating to learn more about all of these women.

What I plan on reading next:

A Pound of Paper by John Baxter

I’m planning on picking this book up next as I think my brain could do with a slightly lighter non-fiction book after finishing The Emperor of All Maladies and It’s Not Yet Dark. I’m excited to curl up with a book about books and reading on these colder, darker evenings.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

This is my other lighter, fun non-fiction read for this week. I’ve had this on my TBR for ages and am so keen to read it, especially as I’ve heard such good things about it.

Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell

This is a review book that I was sent a little while ago and I put it off due to the subject matter. I think it’s important to talk about mental health though so I’m going to try and read and review this book in the coming week or two.

 


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Which books are you 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 (5 Nov)

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This week I decided to take part in non-fiction November so I spent a while sorting through my print and kindle books to make a TBR for that. I read a fair bit of non-fiction anyway but I’m enjoying challenging myself to spend a whole month devoted to it. I haven’t felt too well this week but have been able to escape into books so I’ve been very glad of that.

 

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

I started this book about three weeks ago but I had to put it down because it felt a bit too overwhelming for me to read in one go. I picked it back up yesterday and found I then couldn’t put it down, I had to get to the end to see what happened. I think this book will stay with me for a long time to come and may well make it onto my favourite non-fiction books.

A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray

This was one of my picks for non-fiction November and it was a great start to the challenge. I flew through this book – it was interesting to see which women Jenni Murray picked to write about and also to find out why. I’d recommend this one.

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

In typical bookaholic fashion I recently treated myself to a Jenny Colgan Christmas book, which I’m looking forward to reading next month, and it was only when I got home that I realised it was the third book in a trilogy. I also only then realised that I owned the first two books on my kindle so I’m going to try and get them read before December so that I can read the Christmas book. I loved the first book, it was such a gorgeous read and I adored it!

Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant

This has been on my review pile for way longer than it should have, and after reading it I regret leaving it so long because it was a really good read. I think I read it in two sittings and it just had me hooked from the start. Hopefully I’ll get my review for this written and posted soon.

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

This book was such an emotional read. It’s one of those books that slowly gets under your skin until you just can’t put it down. I’ll be reviewing it on my blog as soon as I get my thoughts together about it but it is a book I definitely recommend.

This week I’ve blogged five times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Sunday: Review of Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir

Monday: Guest post by author Mimi Thebo on how her accident, subsequent PTSD and eventual recover as a teenager inspired to her write her novel Hospital High

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: My (rather large) TBR for Non-Fiction November 2017

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

This is a book I’ve owned for a while as I’m intrigued to know more about Amazon and how it came to be what it is now. I’ve only read the first couple of chapters so far but it’s interesting.

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

I’ve had this book on my TBR mountain for ages but whilst it is something I want to read, there is part of me that felt it could be an upsetting read. I’m so glad I picked it up in the last couple of days though as it’s utterly fascinating! It’s much more accessible that I was expecting it to be and it’s a book that once I got into, I haven’t wanted to put it down.

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

I’m still enjoying dipping into this book and am loving all the stories – there are many things I didn’t know about John Peel and his earlier radio shows to it’s a really fun and interesting read.


 

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 Wednesdays (1 Nov)! 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:

 

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

I’m back reading this book this week and am finding it very hard to put down. I’m intrigued to know how the case is going to turn out and how it will affect the author of this book.

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

I’m still loving dipping in and out of this book, it really is so wonderful to be learning more about John Peel’s earlier radio shows. I was an avid listener from the late 80s/early 90s onwards but missed out on the shows before that. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

I recently treated myself to Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery and it was only later that I realised it was the third book in this series, of which I already owned the first two so I decided to pick this one up. I love Jenny Colgan’s writing, it always makes me feel happy and this book is wonderful.

Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant

I’ve had an ARC of this on my TBR for way longer than I should have and now I’m kicking myself for not picking this up sooner because I flew through it. I will try and get a review of this written very soon.

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

This book had me in tears by the end. It’s one of those books where you suspect how it’s going to end as you’re reading but you hope you’re wrong. I loved this book and will be reviewing it as soon as I get my thoughts together.

Aches and Gains by Paul L. Christo

I found this book really helpful and am glad I got the chance to read it. Not all of it was relevant to me but it was good to read about new treatments. I will review this soon too.

Kindness by Jamie Thurston

This book is gorgeous to look at, it’s really pretty and entices you to pick it up. I didn’t find anything new in the tips for showing kindness but it’s always nice to be reminded to be more compassionate.

Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

I loved this book! It’s the first in a trilogy and I’m already eagerly anticipating the next book! I’ve already reviewed this so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

This book has been on my TBR for ages and I finally picked it up a few days ago. It’s not my favourite Cecelia Ahern novel but I enjoyed it, it was a nice feel-good read.

 

What I plan on reading next:

I’ve decided to take part in #NonFictionNovember at the last minute so am in the middle of sorting out a TBR for that. It means I’ll be reading more non-fiction than fiction this month but I haven’t absolutely decided on which books as yet. I will be doing a separate TBR for this readathon in the next day or two so please look out for that.

 


 

 

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: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #snare

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Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of Snare as part of the blog tour!

 

About the Book

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonja is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world.

Things become even more complicated when Sonja embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

 

My Thoughts 

I’m going to be completely honest here and say that I wanted to read Snare from the moment I first saw the cover! This cover is one of the most original and memorable book covers that I’ve seen in a long while and I love how it so perfectly encapsulates what the book is about. I then read the synopsis a little later on and I knew I had to get my hands on this book!

Snare gets off to such an intense start when we follow Sonja as she works out which passenger she can use to help cover her tracks as she attempts to smuggle cocaine through the airport. This grabbed me and from then on I honestly could not put this book down as I simply had to know what was going to happen.

Sonja is a single mother who in trying to do what is best for her son has found herself ensnared in a drug running organisation and she can’t find a way out of it. As the novel goes on you begin to get more of a sense of the trap that has ensnared Sonja and you realise that all is not black and white, this novel has definitely has shades of grey where you find yourself wanting Sonja to be okay whilst at the same time being horrified at what she’s doing. As with the cover, people can seem that they are innocent but look a little deeper and they could be committing serious criminal acts.

Snare is told from multiple perspectives – Sonja; her lover Alga; and Bragi, who works in security at the airport. The chapters are very short and this really heightens the intensity of the novel as it reaches a point where I could barely breathe for the tension, it really is palpable and radiates from the page, and I just had to know what was coming next!

I loved the way that we initially see Sonja as a composed, almost calculating, woman as she goes through the airport but then we see the chapters where she’s at home with her son or dealing with her neighbour and that’s when I began to understand her character more. The layers are built up as the book goes along and it makes for such a fascinating and unputdownable thriller. I was a step ahead of Sonja in seeing the way the net would begin to tighten but that just heightened the tension for me as I was hoping that I was wrong.

Everyone in this book has their reasons for doing what they do – some it’s because they’re trapped, some because they’re selfish and monstrous, and others because ultimately the ends justify the means. I had real sympathy for Sonja as the book went on, and I also could understand why Bragi does as he did. It made the book really interesting to see how the dots begin to join up and to learn who was trapped and who was pulling the strings.

I’m so excited to find out what this is the first book in a trilogy as while Snare has an ending of sorts which satisfied me, it also leaves plenty to have you desperately wanting to read the next book as soon as it’s available!

Snare is such a sophisticated, high stakes thriller with real heart; it’s dark, gripping and incredibly intense! It’s a refreshing and different crime thriller and certainly one you won’t want to miss, it had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t put it down – I highly recommend it!

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

Snare is out now!

 

About the Author

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Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

 

 

 

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

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Weekly Wrap-Up (29 Oct)

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This week I got a notification from Goodreads letting me know that I’d completed my reading goal for the year. I was really surprised that I’ve achieved my goal already as my reading has been hit and miss this year but it’s great to have done it. I’m not going to increase my goal but I will still be reading lots of books as the year continues! I want to try and read from my existing TBR as much as I can from now on to try and decrease that as much as possible before the start of 2018!

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I also spotted that I’d passed 6000 followers on twitter, which was a lovely thing to discover. Thanks to everyone who follows me on there too. 🙂

 

This week I’ve finished reading five books:

Aches and Gains by Paul L. Christo

This was such a useful book and is one I recommend to anyone living with chronic pain. I’ll be reviewing this very soon.

Kindness by Jamie Thurston

This is a book that is gorgeous to look at and is really well produced. It would make a lovely gift and does give ideas and reminders about how we would all benefit if we all showed a bit more kindness.

Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir

I loved this book – it was a one-sitting read as I just couldn’t put it down. I’ve got a review of this on my blog today so you can read that here if you’d like to.

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

I’m such a big fan of Cecelia Ahern – I find her books are such wonderful comforting reads and I know I can trust her to always leave me feeling happier. This book wasn’t my favourite of hers but I still really enjoyed reading it. I loved the mystery behind the one hundred names and the reveal about them when it came.

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

It’s been absolutely ages since I last read an Agatha Raisin book (despite me having the next ten or so in the series on my TBR!) but it was such a treat to finally pick one up. I enjoyed this book so much and am now keen to keep on with these books. Agatha Raisin is such a great character!

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-up Post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday Post

Thursday: Review of Sofa, So Good – Me Life Story by Scarlett Moffatt

Friday: Review of How to be Champion by Sarah Millican

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve had an ARC of this on my TBR for way longer than I should have but I finally picked it up this week and it’s such a good read. It’s a book that’s hard to put down because it’s really got me wanting to know what’s going on between the characters and how it’s all going to end.

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

I’m still really enjoying this book, I wish I’d picked it up sooner now but better late than never!

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

I’ve picked this book back up this week and am finding it so interesting.

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

I’ve read a bit more of this book this week and am still really loving it. I’m still reading about radio shows that were before my time but it’s wonderful to be reminded of the way John Peel championed artists on his show.

 


 

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. 🙂

#BookReview: How to be Champion by @SarahMillican75! @TrapezeBooks @OrionBooks

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About the Book

Part autobiography, part self help, part confession, part celebration of being a common-or-garden woman, part collection of synonyms for nunny, Sarah Millican’s debut book delves into her super normal life with daft stories, funny tales and proper advice on how to get past life’s blips – like being good at school but not good at friends, the excitement of IBS and how to blossom post divorce.

If you’ve ever worn glasses at the age of six, worn an off-the-shoulder gown with no confidence, been contacted by an old school bully, lived in your childhood bedroom in your thirties, been gloriously dumped in a Frankie and Benny’s, cried so much you felt great, been for a romantic walk with a dog, worn leggings two days in a row even though they smelt of wee from a distance, then this is Your Book. If you haven’t done those things but wish you had, This Is Your Book. If you just want to laugh on a train/sofa/toilet or under your desk at work, This Is Your Book.

 

My Thoughts

I’m a huge fan of Sarah Millican so when I heard she had a memoir coming out I was super excited. It was lovely to get an ARC to read ahead of publication and I’m so happy to say that this book was even better than I was expecting!

How to be Champion is part-memoir and part self-help book, and it’s just everything you’d want it to be. Sarah’s brilliant humour shines through in this book and so does her honesty and warmth.

I really loved reading this book. Sarah Millican is very open about her life and she shares personal stories alongside some advice on how to deal with similar situations that may crop up in your own life. It’s one of those books where you feel like the author is telling her story directly to you – you could be sat down with a cuppa having a chat.

This book covers everything from bad haircuts and clothing to periods to relationships and breakups. It felt like a really honest and open book that every woman will be able to relate to – I know it made me feel better about some of my own insecurities. It also made me laugh a lot as it reminded me of so many things that have happened in my own life. There are parts of this book that were moving too so it has such a great balance of how life really is. You know you’re reading a good book when it makes you feel all the feelings and this book definitely did that!

One of my favourite parts of the book was Sarah’s list of the men she’s loved in her life – Phillip Schofield is second on the list and it’s very amusing to find that the last man she fell in love with is not her husband! I could understand why the man who won her heart most recently did so though because he’s very cute (read the book to find out more!).

This is one of those books that I found I could really identify with at times; it made me laugh, it made me nod my head in agreement and it as I turned the last page I felt really uplifted. How to be Champion is a book I will hold on to and re-read but I’ll also be buying copies for my good friends.

This book is better than champion, and it will make you feel better than champion when you read it. I highly recommend it to everyone!

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

How to be Champion is out now!

 

About the Author

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Sarah Jane Millican is an English comedian. Millican won the if.comedy award for Best Newcomer at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

#BookReview |Sofa, So Good: Me Life Story by @ScarlettMoffatt @BlinkPublishing @FrancescaPear

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About the Book

One girl’s meteoric rise from sofa to TV stardom! From beloved Gogglebox breakout star, to winner of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, achieving her dream of presenting with Ant and Dec on Saturday Night Takeaway and filling Davina’s shoes in the new series of Streetmate, Scarlett is quickly fast-tracking to national treasure status. In what will quite surely be the funniest book of the year, laugh along with Scarlett as she describes her journey from ballroom dancing diva, to adventures with her survivalist Dad, working at ASDA and life as a student. But along with the highs there have been tough times, including bullying during her teenage years. With her typical tenacity and trademark wit, Scarlett pulls through it all. This is our favorite Northerner as we have never heard her before, telling it like it is on EVERYTHING she’s experienced so far. Warm, funny and honest, this is the amazing story that resulted in Scarlett becoming our favorite TV star: sofa, so good!

My Thoughts

I’m going to start this review by saying that I’m a fan of Scarlett Moffatt. We love Gogglebox in our house so I’ve watched her on there and I really enjoyed watching I’m a Celebrity last year when Scarlett was on it. I was thrilled to be offered a copy of her book for review and I’m so happy to say that it was such good fun to read and I adored it!

Scarlett tells her story in chronological order so first we get to learn more about her childhood and it goes all the way through to her job on Saturday Night Takeaway. I was interested to read about how Scarlett was a ballroom dancer in her childhood and to find out all about what that entailed. She had a tough time at school after an accident damaged her front teeth and this began a spate of bullying that really knocked her confidence. I commend Scarlett for speaking out about the bullies, and for not letting them dull her shine, even now as an adult, as it’s good for younger people to hear these stories and to see someone they admire reinforcing that it’s okay to ask for help.

For fans of Gogglebox Scarlett gives some really fun and interesting info about how the filming process works, which I loved finding out about as it was a bit different to how I’d expected it to be.

The thing that really comes through in this book is Scarlett’s love and care for her family. She shares funny stories and poignant moments about them all but the love just radiates from the page. Scarlett seems so down to earth and her family are her priority in life, and she is theirs, and it was so refreshing to read.

At the end of each chapter Scarlett shares a quote that she loves that relates to what she has just written about and I loved those bits. I used to obsessively write down my favourite quotes when I was younger and it was fun to see someone else who loves them too. Scarlett also begins each chapter with three fun facts, which are all quite random but very entertaining and interesting!

I have seen comments questioning whether someone as young as Scarlett has lived enough of life to be writing an autobiography, and I can understand that but I can honestly say that while Scarlett Moffatt is only 27 she has had such a busy life already so there were plenty of stories for her to share that filled her autobiography!

This book has moments that will move you but it has so much that will make you giggle. Scarlett is really open and honest as she tells her story and I really appreciated that. I felt like she was sitting down to have a natter about things that have happened in her life; there is a really warm, chatty style to this book but at the same time it is well-written. Scarlett has been through tough times in her life but her close bond with her family has got her through the difficulties. I love that she used the hard times to really push herself to achieve things in life. She comes across as a very humble, down to earth young woman with a real drive to succeed and a determination to enjoy life.

I read this in one sitting as I was enjoying it so much that I just didn’t want to put it down. I highly recommend this book, it’s such an honest, funny and all-round lovely memoir!

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

Sofa, So Good: Me Life Story is out now!

 

WWW Wednesdays (25 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:

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

I love Cecelia Ahern’s books, so was shocked to realise that this one has been on my TBR since 2012! I picked it up yesterday and read most of it in the afternoon. It’s not my favourite of her books but I am really enjoying it.

Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

This book is so good! It grabbed me from the opening chapter and now I’m intrigued to know how it’s going to turn out. It’s different to any book I’ve read recently so it’s really got me gripped!

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

This is a review book that has been on my TBR since earlier this year so I decided I should really pick it up. I’m really enjoying this novel. It’s a bit different to what I was expecting but I feel really invested in the story and am now feeling a bit anxious at how it might all turn out in the end.

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

I’m still reading this book from last week as I just haven’t felt in the mood for non-fiction this week. This is such an interesting book though and I’m sure I’ll be back reading it in the next day or two.

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

I’m very much enjoying reading this book, it’s great to read in short bursts and it feels like such a treat every time I pick it up. I really, really miss John Peel on the radio though.

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

I’ve not read anymore of this in the last week but I will pick it up again soon. It’s hard to read about pain when you’re having a few bad pain days but now things have settled a bit I will go back to this. It’s a really useful book.

 

What I recently finished reading:

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

I love Agatha Raisin, I think she’s such a great character. I was shocked to realise that this book has been on my TBR for five years so therefore it must be that long since I last read a book in this series! It was fab to be back in Agatha’s world and I very much enjoyed reading this book. I have the next few in the series on my TBR already so I may pick the next one up very soon.

Where Love Begins by Judith Hermann

I can’t make up my mind how I feel about this book. I found it hooked me in while I was reading it but now I’ve finished it I feel like it’s already slipped away from me. It was a good book but somewhat evades me.

Sofa, So Good: Me Life Story by Scarlett Moffatt

I loved reading this book. Scarlett is so open, honest and down to earth that it’s impossible not to enjoy reading her story. I read it in one sitting and it really gave me a lift. I’ll be reviewing this very soon!

In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

This was another book that grabbed me early on and I found very difficult to put down. It wasn’t as creepy as I’d thought it was going to be but it did have me hooked all the way through and I enjoyed reading it.

Trust Me by Zosia Wand

I loved this book – it was one of those novels that came along at the right time and I devoured it. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can read more of my thoughts here if you’d like to.

What I plan on reading next:

CopyCat by Alex Lake

I got an ARC of this book recently and it sounds so intriguing that I’m keen to read it very soon. Hopefully I can get to it this week.

The Break by Marian Keyes

I love Marian Keyes novels and so have been looking forward to this one. I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve already started this once and just couldn’t get into it but I’m hoping that the issue was with me so I want to give it another go.


 

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! (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. 🙂

#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

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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:

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#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.

 

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

BlogTour

#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)

 

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

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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)

 

 

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

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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?

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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:

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?

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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:

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)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

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!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

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