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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Top 5 Tuesday - books I've read beginning with J!


It's Tuesday again! Don't they keep coming round quick?!!  So time to take part in another fabulous Top 5 Tuesday, hosted by Shanah over at Bionic Book Worm, and her choice for the topic today is a FREE CHOICE!!  Endless possibilities!! But I've gone with books I've read and enjoyed whose title begins with a J - for June! Obviously!!  Nice and simple, so let's get on with it!!












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So what is your favourite 'J' read?!

#BookReview One Summer Weekend by Juliet Archer #PublicationDay


About the book

For fans of Kathryn Freeman, Jenny Colgan and Sue Moorcroft. A heart-warming fun read, perfect for the holidays from this award-winning author! 

One summer weekend can change everything … 
Alicia Marlowe’s life as an executive coach is well under control – until she meets her new client, Jack Smith. Jack’s reputation precedes him and Alicia knows immediately that he spells trouble. Not least because he reminds her of someone else – a man who broke her heart and made her resolve never to lower her guard again. 
Taking Jack on as a client is a risk, but one that Alicia decides to take for the good of her career. As long as she keeps him in his place, she might just make it through unscathed. But Jack has other ideas – including a ‘business’ trip to the Lake District. One summer weekend with him is all it takes to put Alicia’s carefully organised world in a spin … 

Publisher Ruby Fiction

Purchase Links



MY REVIEW

I found myself totally swept along with the characters in this fabulous story! I do love a slightly damaged cast, and this book has 2 such creatures!  Alicia Marlowe is an executive coach so should be one of those people whose lives are perfect and ordered in every sense.  In her work life that is true, but her personal life is very different and is a much happier soul when she's working than at weekends when she's left to her own devices.  

And then there's Jack! Very well known in the tabloid press for his love of the ladies, he finds himself working for a company who has just expanded which means more work heading his way and his boss thinks his business approach could do with some coaching to make him work smarter... and that's how Alicia meets Jack!

I loved these characters! Both are very wary of one another when they first meet, for very different reasons and when Jack suggests they spend time together over a weekend to impress some old friends of him she is very reluctant. But seeing it as work she goes along, and that is when you wonder who is coaching who!

Jack and his past is never too far away and it is fascinating to see how Alicia deals with that when it is clear her feelings towards Jack are beginning to change.  The more time she spends with him, then the more she sees her initial opinion is way off from how he really is!

I raced through this charming story and highly recommend it!!


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Monday, 18 June 2018

#BookReview Us Against You by Fredrik Backman


About the book

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Published by Atria Books

Purchase Links






MY REVIEW

Where to even begin with sharing my love for this book??!! Even if it did leave me a complete emotional mess, and even writing this review a day after I finished it, the thoughts and feelings I have towards the inhabitants of Beartown are as strong as ever and it is fair to say this is going straight in my list of 2018 favourite books - as Beartown did in 2017.

I'd highly recommend reading Beartown, if you haven't already, before picking up this book. The emotions and connections you make towards so many characters begin in book one, and just makes the impact of this follow up more hard hitting, more heartbreaking and more heartwarming.

It follows on story in a way I didn't think it would be able to manage! After book one the town of Beartown is completely divided after the shocking events witnessed by some, disbelieved by many. A lot of the hockey players have switched to the rival team at Hed, and the story follows Beartown trying to get back its' team, its' pride and its' community. The hatred felt between Beartown and Hed has gone on for years, but this year it is ramped up to a level like no other and the levels that some - on both sides - go to in their pursuit of making others suffer is often staggering.

It was fascinating to see how the main characters from Beartown evolved in this book - how they dealt with the brutal aspects of the events of the first book, how it affected everyone and the ripple effect that the one incident caused.

I'm still at a loss to explain why this book affected me so much! The way the author gets under the skin of so many different characters is astonishing, and the situations he puts them in is perfectly judged to add to the drama that envelops the community. He has an amazing connection with all the characters and they all seem to get equal billing in their struggles and the way the story flows from one to the other seamlessly makes you feel part of the community - a very messed up community! I felt emotionally drained with the pace of it all as it never let up from page to page and I couldn't put the book down for too long before I was desparate to get back into that world, no matter what sickening twist would be next for me to face!

This isn't a sports novel as I have seen some mention this and why it puts them off reading it. It's a book with a sport at the heart of it but it focuses more on the impact that the team brings on the inhabitants - how it connects a community, and how it can split it apart. The author does a great job of conveying through certain characters of how much the team means to them and why they put themselves through so much just to benefit the team. 

I found this to be a truly astonishing read and the quality of writing was staggering. I was very wary before picking this book of how the story could be added to after book one, but this was the perfect sequel. It was more than hockey, it was more than outrage, it was community, it was fighting on and showing strength and weaknesses. 

It was all encompassing, shocking, inspiring, heartbreaking - thank you Mr Backman for such an amazing cast and story!

I'm often asked why I love reading...... books like this are why!!!!

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Sunday, 17 June 2018

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - Week 23 2018



Happy Saturday to you!  Hope the world has been treating you well! Things have been pretty peaceful and calm here for most of the week -  I've even been baking scones this afternoon! I am a true domestic goddess!! Sampling the scones is definitely my favourite part of the process though....

On to books!! There has been lots!! Both in terms of books finished - 6 wahoo - and in adding them to the overstocked shelves!  7 I have bought myself - despite my best efforts to not buy more! - and 1 was kindly sent by the author!  July is definitely going to be the month I stick myself on a book buying ban...... didn't I say that at the start of June?! oops!!

So here's a quick round up of all that I've read these past 7 days - please click on the title for a link to the GoodReads page for more info! I've fallen behind on reviews again so that is hopefully what my Sunday will be spent doing!!

BOOKS FINISHED


Another fascinating book from this author - I loved Elizabeth is Missing  - but this just fell a little flat for me.


Loved this magical tale of The Good People and the effect they played on the inhabitants of a town in Ireland.



Wow!! I'm still an emotional mess after finishing this yesterday.  If you are worried it won't be as good as Beartown - as I was - then worry not!! Absolutely blooming amazing and I haven't stopped thinking about it!! Prepare for a review soon that will gush even more over it! One of my books of 2018!



A stunning and emotional read about how life was for a French family during the War.



A wonderful look at the world of gardening from literary links to personal recollections from the author. Really enjoyed it!



A wonderful romance!


BOOK HAUL

Was lucky to receive this from the author during the week and it just sounds like my kind of read!

Eleanor's Secret by Caroline Beecham
Can Eleanor follow her heart in troubled times?Eleanor Roy is determined to do her bit for the war effort after being recruited by the War Artist Advisory Committee. When she meets handsome artist Jack Valante, her dreams seem to be finally coming true when Jack promises to help her pursue her ambition of becoming an artist. But after a whirlwind romance, Eleanor is devastated when Jack is posted overseas.When Eleanor receives some unexpected news she desperately tries to find Jack. But with the young couple torn apart by war, will they be reunited and find happiness at last?
Summer at Skylark Farm  by Heidi Swain

2 books for £4?! What was I supposed to do?!! Exactly!!





More bargains! My niece is looking for Agatha Christie books so I have been searching local charity shops and library sales - have found 2 for her so far but they seem a scarcity! - but that obviously means I tend to end up finding books that have been on my radar for a while!



A book I've heard good things about it so had to snap it up secondhand when I found a copy!



Any excuse to add to the Persephone Collection! Found this online on AbeBooks and looking forward to starting it soon!

CURRENTLY READING

Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks


Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will meet her death on the marsh in reparation for the mistakes of her childhood.

On New Year's Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.

In 1939, Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new adoptive parents, Clem and Lorna Wrathmell, at their mysterious house, Salt Winds. The house sits right on the edge of a vast marsh, a beautiful but dangerous place. It's the start of a new life for Virginia, but she quickly senses that all is not right between Clem and Lorna - in particular, the presence of their wealthy neighbour Max Deering, who takes an unhealthy interest in the family. When a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh, Clem ventures onto the deadly sands to rescue the airman. And that is when things really begin to go wrong...

The War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells - via the Serial Reader App


With H.G. Wells’ other novels, The War of the Worlds was one of the first and greatest works of science fiction ever to be written. Even long before man had learned to fly, H.G. Wells wrote this story of the Martian attack on England. These unearthly creatures arrive in huge cylinders, from which they escape as soon as the metal is cool. The first falls near Woking and is regarded as a curiosity rather than a danger until the Martians climb out of it and kill many of the gaping crowd with a Heat-Ray. These unearthly creatures have heads four feet in diameter and colossal round bodies, and by manipulating two terrifying machines – the Handling Machine and the Fighting Machine – they are as versatile as humans and at the same time insuperable. They cause boundless destruction. The inhabitants of the Earth are powerless against them, and it looks as if the end of the World has come. But there is one factor which the Martians, in spite of their superior intelligence, have not reckoned on. It is this which brings about a miraculous conclusion to this famous work of the imagination. 

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Phew!! I need a lie down after that little lot!

HAPPY READING!!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

#BookReview Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively


About the book..


Penelope Lively has always been a keen gardener. This book is partly a memoir of her own life in gardens: the large garden at home in Cairo where she spent most of her childhood, her grandmother's garden in a sloping Somerset field, then two successive Oxfordshire gardens of her own, and the smaller urban garden in the North London home she lives in today. 
It is also a wise, engaging and far-ranging exploration of gardens in literature, from Paradise Lost to Alice in Wonderland, and of writers and their gardens, from Virginia Woolf to Philip Larkin.


Published by Fig Tree Books

Purchase Links





MY REVIEW

An absolute delight to read! From the stunning front cover to the beautifully simple illustrations inside, this is the book that is perfect for all gardening addicts, like myself! It was fascinating to read the authors take on how the ways of gardening is portrayed in books through the eyes of many different authors, alongside her own recollections of her time spent gardening in a variety of countries in plots of varying sizes.

It is always nice to read a book by an author who understands the subject and it is clear in reading this, that the author 'gets' the pleasure that gardening brings, alongside its' many quirky elements, favourite plants etc, and I found myself nodding along in agreement and chuckling at many of her observations. She discusses a variety of gardening subjects such as how fashion dictates what we plant, the differences between town and country gardens and how the gardener is able to appreciate the simpler things in life. 

Wonderful!

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#BookReview Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey #20booksofsummer


About the book

Emma Healey follows the success of her #1 internationally bestselling debut novel Elizabeth Is Missing, winner of the Costa First Novel Award, with this beautiful, thought-provoking, and psychologically complex tale that affirms her status as one of the most inventive and original literary novelists today

Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

A wry, poignant, and masterfully drawn story that explores the bonds and duress of family life, the pain of mental illness, and the fraught yet enduring connection between mothers and daughters, Whistle in the Dark is a story of guilt, fear, hope, and love that explores what it means to lose and find ourselves and those we love.

Published by Viking Books

Purchase Links





MY REVIEW

I found this to be an intriguing read full of mystery, although it did fall a little flat for me on emotional impact throughout. And that was a bit disappointing after I enjoyed her debut novel, Elizabeth Is Missing, so much.

It's the story of how a family deal with a daughter who has gone missing for 4 days and then when she is found she refuses to tell them where she was, what happened... leaving them to let their imaginations run wild as to the horrors their daughter may have faced. It really explores the mother / daughter relationship well - no matter how much the mother tries to ease information out of Lana, her every attempt is seemingly thrown back in her face. And this leads to the mother going to extreme measures to try and find out any bits of information she can as to the events of those 4 days.

It was interesting to see how the rest of the family all dealt with this emotional trauma, and quite difficult to comprehend at times why the daughter was so reluctant to share any information and help the rest of her family come to terms with what happened.

I found it to be quite a slow paced read - the storyline just ambled along which did help to get a taste of how time can freeze at times of shocking events and allowed every thought that went through their minds helped build up more of the picture of the aftermath. But this did often feel like it was going nowhere and did feel a little suffocating - just like the events the family faced.

Overall it was an interesting read, if a little underwhelming at times.

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Friday, 15 June 2018

#BlogTour Bed 12 by Alison Murdoch #Extract


Delighted to have been invited to take part in the blog tour for Bed 12 by Alison Murdoch.  Excited to be able to share an extract with you today so I hope you'll enjoy reading it and it will tempt you to read more of this 'love letter to the NHS' and pick up your own copy of the book! My thanks to the publishers, author and the team at The Book Publicist for all their help in bringing this to you today!

About the book

What do you do when the most important person in your life is about to die?
Who can help you?
How do you keep going?

When Alison Murdoch’s husband catches viral encephalitis and falls into a life-threatening coma, everything changes. 
Bed 12 is a survival guide to the world of acute medicine, and a poignant and darkly comic account of what it’s like to fight for someone’s life.

Over the course of a summer, machines beep and clatter, medical staff come and go, and family and friends of varying beliefs offer well-intentioned advice. For someone unfamiliar with hospitals, death and dying, the insights of Buddhism assume a greater relevance than ever before. This book is an astute, profound and uplifting insight into how to cope with despair, heartache and the unknown.

‘The object of my concern—or rather the entire focus of my current existence—is now lying in Bed 12.’



‘Riveting!’
Dr Bob Grove, former Chief Executive, the Centre for Mental Health

Bed 12 by Alison Murdoch is out now, published by Hikari Press

Amazon UK  £9.99

Hive.co.uk  £8.19

Book Depository  £9.99


About the Author



Alison Murdoch is former Director of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom, a London-based NGO founded in 2005 with the Dalai Lama as its patron. As Director of several charities and NGOs she turned a Grade II listed London courthouse into the vibrant Jamyang Buddhist Centre, set up the first-ever national network of day centres for homeless people in the UK, created a catering service for refugees, and designed a research project on begging that sparked national debate. She also once smuggled herself into Tibet in the back of a lorry…
Bed 12 is the book Alison wrote when her husband became critically ill with viral encephalitis and fell into a life-threatening coma.
Described as ‘A love letter to the NHS and the everyday acts of kindness that keep it afloat’ by Dr Phil Hammond, Bed 12 is a survival guide to the world of acute medicine, and a poignant and darkly comic account of what it’s like to fight for someone’s life. It is a true story with cliffhangers that are all too real.


BOOK EXTRACT

Please don’t move him from Bed 12

We struggle on. My beloved husband is bright pink in the face, the colour of bubble gum, and never stops twisting and turning from side to side. I mop his brow, collect more paper towels from the basin in the corner and immediately return to mop his brow again. I recall my parents doing this for me when I was ill as a child and hope that somewhere deep down he is experiencing that same sense of comfort. Simon’s feet are deathly cold, so I hold them in both hands and gently rub them. It is a relentless and terrible day.

Simon is a man of great strength and determination, and I try to take comfort from recalling his taste for long-distance solitary journeys and all the other wild and crazy things he’s done over the years. This time around the test of endurance is taking place in a dimly lit hospital ward, and I can’t help wondering how much more he can take. For the first time, my instinct is whispering that maybe I will lose him.

In the evening there is a particularly horrid incident. The 8pm handover usually takes no more than half an hour and I decide to stay on, because it has been such a worrying day. At 9.15pm the blue curtains are still drawn so I ask what’s going on. “They’re preparing to move him,” I’m told. “Where to?” “Only to the bed space opposite.” Earlier in the day an elderly man had died in that bed space. I close my eyes and get a sense of it being haunted and off balance – a place of darkness, a place where Simon will die. In contrast, we have spent two weeks doing everything we can to turn Bed 12 into a place of light and healing.
Convinced that this could be Simon’s final straw, I freak out. It’s as if I’m playing Monopoly and spending all the credit I’ve accumulated up until now as a calm and undemanding visitor on the ward. “Simon mustn’t be moved! For religious reasons, and because he’s particularly ill at the moment, and because….” (shamelessly, every reason I can think of). After a few minutes of this, preparations for the move are paused and a ward sister comes over to speak with me. I haven’t met her before but she asks me to trust her: he won’t be moved. I cycle home, thinking: have courage!

The following morning, for the first time I wake at 4.30am, deeply anxious. For half an hour I try unsuccessfully to calm my churning feelings, and then I pick up the phone. Various night nurses have encouraged me to consider ringing the ward when I feel the need for an update. However it takes an age to get through to Simon’s nurse, and when I do, I am only adding to her stress. She explains that it’s been a difficult night. Simon is very agitated and hasn’t stopped tossing from side to side. “Sorry, I have to go!” she exclaims suddenly, and puts the phone down in a rush.

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Please check out the other stops on the Blog Tour. Thank you for stopping by today!