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

mini reviews 1 dec

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

 

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Constellations by Sinead Gleason

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

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The School Friend by Alison James

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

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Histories by Sam Guglani

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

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If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

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

 

WWW Wednesdays (27 Nov 2019)! 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: 

 

Dopesick by Beth Macy

I discovered this book during Non-Fiction November and decided to read it straight away. It’s a hard book as its looking at drug addiction but it’s well-written and really interesting.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

I’m a fan of this author so was thrilled to get to read her forthcoming novel Three Hours. I’m finding this book to be gripping and tense… it’s hard to put down!

Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell

I’m really enjoying dipping in and out of this book and learning more about the books that Bowie loved plus a bit more about said books.

Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

This is a gorgeous winter read and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. It’s a middle grade/YA book and it’s stunning!

 

What I recently finished reading:

Alice Teale is Missing by Howard Linskey

I read this book over the last two days and it was so good. I loved the two detectives in this novel and am hoping this might become a series and that we’ll get to see them again.

Christmas at the Chateau by Lorraine Wilson

This is a short novella that I read in about an hour but it’s a really lovely story. It’s set at Christmas and is full of romance. I’ll be reviewing this one on 5th December for the blog tour so please look out for that then. In the meantime I recommend it!

One Christmas Night by Hayley Webster

This book is gorgeous, I loved every single minute that I spent reading it. It’s a Christmas novel that is different from other books I’ve read and I just adored it. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

I’d had this book on my TBR for 3.5 years, which is terrible as I know I love the author’s writing. Anyway, I finally picked it up this week and it was a lovely short read. It’s all about relationships, secrets and regret.

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

I can’t believe I’ve never read this one before but it was such a good book. I found it such a moving and open read, one that will stay with me.

Constellations by Sinead Gleason

This is a brilliant book of essays all about Sinead’s life and about being a woman. I did love some of the essays more than others but all are excellently written. I recommend it.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This book is brilliant. I’m in awe of the author and the amount of research she must have done to put these women’s stories together. I love that the focus is entirely on each of them and isn’t about who killed them. I recommend this to everyone, it’s one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year.

The Assistant by S. K. Tremayne

I really enjoyed this thriller, it was one of those that’s unnerving and unputdownable at the same time. I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

I was delighted to get an ARC of this a while ago and have held off reading it until nearer publication but given that I’ll be focussed on Christmas reading soon I thought I’d sneak this one in this week!

Home Truths by Tina Seskis

This is another book that I really wanted to get to before publication day so I’m determined to pick this one up in the next day or two!

Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

This is the next Christmas book I want to get to and I’m looking forward to this one. I read a book, Christmas Camp, by the author last year and loved it so I have high hopes for this one

The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

This is a festive thriller and I’m so keen to get to this one so I might pick this one up in the coming days too!

 

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

WWW Wednesday (27 July)

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:

On Bowie by Rob Sheffield

On Bowie by Rob Sheffield

I was beyond excited to receive a finished hardback copy of this book for review recently. I’m a massive Bowie fan and have always been quick to read new books about him. This one is wonderful because it’s a love letter about Bowie and is a must read for all fans. I’ve almost finished reading so will be reviewing soon.

Synopsis:

On Bowie is a thoughtful and loving meditation on the life of the late David Bowie that explores his creative legacy and the enduring and mutual connection he enjoyed with his fans

Innovative. Pioneering. Brave. Until his death in January 2016, David Bowie created art that not only pushed boundaries, but helped fans understand themselves and view the world from fantastic new perspectives.

When the shocking news of his death on January 10, 2016 broke, the outpouring of grief and adulation was immediate and ongoing. Fans around the world and across generations paid homage to this brilliant, innovate, ever-evolving artist who both shaped and embodied our times.

In this concise and penetrating book, highly-regarded Rolling Stone critic, bestselling author, and lifelong Bowie fan Rob Sheffield shares his own feelings about the passing of this icon and explains why Bowie’s death has elicited such an unprecedented emotional outpouring from so many.

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

I treated myself to this book after it showed up on my recommendations on Amazon. It sounded like a powerful read and it’s not disappointing. It’s a book I want to read slowly because it’s so beautifully written.

Synopsis:

Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter’s school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, fifteen-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonising, not knowing. The story of his life and the lives of his family are rewritten and re-told around this shocking central event, around a body that has inexplicably failed.

In this exceptionally courageous and unflinching novel of contemporary life Sarah Moss goes where most of us wouldn’t dare to look, and the result is riveting – unbearably sad, but also miraculously funny and ultimately hopeful. The Tidal Zone explores parental love, overwhelming fear, illness and recovery. It is about clever teenagers and the challenges of marriage. It is about the NHS, academia, sex and gender in the twenty-first century, the work-life juggle, and the politics of packing lunches and loading dishwashers. It confirms Sarah Moss as a unique voice in modern fiction and a writer of luminous intelligence.

 


What I recently finished reading:

The Sister by Louise Jensen

The Sister by Louise Jensen

This is a review book from Bookouture and it was so good. I found it hard to put down! I’ll hopefully be reviewing it soon.

Synopsis:

“I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me …”

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie …or was there?

 

#ReadWithout Prejudice by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (#ReadWithoutPrejudice)

This was a review book and I was so excited to receive a copy – I read it as the #readwithoutprejudice book so had no idea what it was about, who wrote it or what it was called! I devoured this book and it definitely got me out of my recent reading slump. I highly recommend pre-ordering it!

Synopsis:

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes. 

 


What I plan on reading next:

If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

If I Forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

One of my favourite books is The Headmaster’s Wife by this author – I’ve read it three times now and every time I love it more so I was thrilled to receive this surprise book post last week! It’s a gorgeous edition and I can’t wait to start reading.

Synopsis:

When Margot and Henry meet, they fall deeply in love.

And then they lose each other.

But Henry can’t forget Margot and Margot is haunted by her memories of Henry. They live in each other’s minds.

Twenty-one years later, they meet, by chance, on a Manhattan street. And that’s where their story truly begins…

If I Forget You is a beautiful exploration of what it means to find the person you are destined to be with, but then spend a lifetime apart.

 

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

This was a book I wished for on Net Galley a while ago so was excited to have my wish granted recently. I’ll definitely be starting this book in the next day or so and I’m looking forward to it.

Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about a man thrust into the middle of a murder investigation, forced to confront the secrets of his ex-lover’s past.

“I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . .”

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose–and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April’s name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

Or so everyone believes. . .

Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love.

 

 


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.

The A-Z of Books tag

I spotted the A-Z Book Tag on Pretty Purple Polka Dots blog this week and loved reading it so much that I simply had to join in and answer the questions myself!

 

Author You’ve Read the Most Books From

I’m not sure, there are quite a few prolific authors whose books I always read. I reckon it would probably be Enid Blyton as I adored her books when I was a child! Of all the authors I love as an adult it would probably be Sue Grafton or Peter Robinson as I love their series books and have read almost all of them.

Best Sequel Ever

I can’t think of a sequel that I would say is the best sequel ever but I adored The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce, which was a companion novel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which I also loved).

Currently Reading

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

Sockpuppet by Matthew Blakstad

The Treachery of Trains by Sylvia Ashby

 

Drink of Choice While Reading

It’d have to be either a cup of coffee or a bottle of water.

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E-Reader or Physical Book

I read both but due to my disability it is easier for me to read on my Kindle as it’s difficult for me to turn pages of a print book. So my answer is e-reader.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School

It’d have to be Ron Weasley!

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Glad You Gave this Book a Chance

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan. It wasn’t a book I’d heard of at the time but I was offered a chance to review it and I’m so very glad that I agreed because it is now one of my all-time favourite books. I’ve made it my mission to shout about this book every chance I get because it’s brilliant, I’ve recommended it to so many people and have bought copies to give as gifts.

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Hidden Gem Book

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin. I’ve got to know Carol a little on social media so when it was announced that her novel was due to be published I immediately put myself forward to review it. I did it to support Carol because at the time I knew very little about this book. I don’t know that I would have discovered this book so soon had I not been a book blogger so this is another book that I’m championing every chance I get. It’s beautiful and magical and I want everyone to read it!

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Important Moment in Your Reading Life

This is a tough one. I’m torn between sharing a childhood memory of reading or going with something more recent! I think actually starting this book blog last summer was a very important moment for me. I’ve wanted to do this for years and never had the confidence but then I found myself bed bound recovering from major surgery and I needed a project… and my book blog was born! My body recovered from the effects of surgery but the damage that had already been done beforehand is something I’m learning to live with but my blog has kept me sane through the really tough days. I’m housebound when my husband is at work as I can’t physically do anything independently anymore and blogging has given me a new lease of life. I don’t have time to dwell on what might have been because I’m too focused on writing about all the amazing books I’m lucky enough to read.

Just Finished

Tapestry by Elle Turner – a short story collection and I highly recommend it. I also just finished reading Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Hyde and it was brilliant!

Kind of Books You Won’t Read

I won’t read horror as I don’t like to be scared!

Longest Book You’ve Read

I’m not sure… I think maybe either Ulysses by James Joyce or The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

Major Book Hangover

The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene. I read this book a couple of years ago but I can still remember the story so vividly. I can also remember how long it took me to move on from it and be able to get engrossed in another book afterwards, it had such a lasting impact on me.

Number of Bookcases You Own

I own two bookcases and three huge bookshelves.

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One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times

 

After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell – I read it twice on the day it was released and I usually go back to it every couple of years.

Preferred Place to Read

In my comfy recliner armchair in my living room. I have a reading lamp behind me and opposite me in the room is my bookcase with all of my favourite books on it, and to the side of me is my TBR book case. Perfect!

Quote that Inspires You/Gives You all the Feels from a Book You’ve Read

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
― Alan Bennett, The History Boys

Reading Regret

I used to buy books faster than I could read them because I had a genuine fear of running out of books to read. I’ve now reached that tipping point age where I now know that I’m never going to have enough time to read all the books and that makes me feel quite melancholy and regretful at times.

Series You Started and Need to Finish

Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. I absolutely love this series but I know that the end is near because it’s getting ever closer to Z. I’ve deliberately slowed down reading these books because I’m dreading the point where there will be no more new novels!

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

The Story of You by Julie Myerson

Unapologetic Fangirl For

Maggie O’Farrell – I always look forward to her books so much!

Very Excited for this Release more than All Others

I would have said This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell but I was very lucky to be sent a  review copy so have already read it. I’m still very excited for my hardback copy that I have on pre-order to arrive though! If I have to pick a book that’s not released yet I’d probably say To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey as I adored The Snow Child.

Worst Bookish Habit

This is a terrible confession but I do have a good explanation for it… I’ve become a spine breaker! Up until the last year I had honestly never broken a spine on a book EVER but now it’s a case of needs must. It’s very hard to read a print book when one hand is paralysed – I need to be able to hold a book open and turn the page one-handed and often this leads to accidental spine breaking. Sometimes a book is too hard to hold and I have to break the spine on purpose… eeeek! It took me a while to come to terms with this but as time goes on I feel less guilty about it because at the the end of the day books are for reading!

X Marks the Sport: Start on the Top Left of Your Shelf and Pick the 27th Book

I went along my favourites book case and the 27th book was… Where the Heart is by Billie Letts. The order of my books is unique to me – I know where every single book I own is in my house but I don’t alphabetise them or even keep the same genres together.

Your Latest Purchase

As If I Were a River by Amanda Saint and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

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Zzzzz-Snatcher Book (Last Book that Kept You up Way too late) 

This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell – I just didn’t want to put it down!

Weekly Wrap up and Stacking the Shelves (9th January)

I can’t believe it’s Saturday again already!

This week I’ve posted about the books published in 2015 or before that I most want to read this year. You can read that post here if you’d like to. I’d previously posted my most anticipated new releases of 2016 (which can be read here), and I realised that there were so many books that were on my list to read last year that I’d not time to get to so I wanted to even things up.

Also this week I posted an interview that I did with the author of Search for the Truth, Kathryn Freeman.

I did my usual book memes – WWW Wednesday and Book Beginnings.

I’m struggling with reading at the moment. I’m still not 100% health-wise and my physio schedule is really taking it out of me. I’m trying to find to find balance in my life so that I can keep on blogging regularly but at the moment I’m coming unstuck because I don’t have the energy and concentration to read as much as I’d like to. Anyway,  I’ll figure it out eventually!


 

I only managed to read one book this week but I did get a review of it posted (please click on the link below the image to read my review).

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

 

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I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.

This week I’ve treated myself to a few new Kindle books with my Christmas money.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight 

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

The Big Lie by Julie Mayhew

The Looking Glass House by Vanessa Tait

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien

The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender

 

I received some fab ARCS this week too:

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore

The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia MacGregor

If I forget You by Thomas Christopher Greene

I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Roisin Meaney

The Birthday that Changed Everything by Debbie Johnson

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh

 


What have you been reading this week? Have you bought any new books? Please feel free to link to your wrap-up post, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below! 🙂