Follow me on Twitter @bookkaz

Thursday, 31 October 2019

#BookReview THE BROTHERS YORK by THOMAS PENN #TheBrothersYork #history


ABOUT THE BOOK

In early 1461, a seventeen-year-old boy won a battle on a freezing morning in the Welsh marches, and claimed the crown of England as Edward IV, first king of the usurping house of York. It was a time when old certainties had been shredded: by popular insurgency, economic crisis, feuding and a corrupt, bankrupt government presided over by the imbecilic, Lancastrian King Henry VI. The country was in need of a new hero. Magnetic, narcissistic, Edward found himself on the throne, and alongside him his two younger brothers: the unstable, petulant George, Duke of Clarence, and the boy who would emerge from his shadow, Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

Charismatic, able and ambitious, the brothers would become the figureheads of a spectacular ruling dynasty, one that laid the foundations for a renewal of English royal power. Yet a web of grudges and resentments grew between them, generating a destructive sequence of conspiracy, rebellion, deposition, fratricide, usurpation and regicide. The house of York's brutal end came on 22August 1485 at Bosworth Field, with the death of the youngest brother, now Richard III, at the hands of a new usurper, Henry Tudor.

Brothers York is the story of three remarkable brothers, two of whom were crowned kings of England and the other an heir presumptive, whose antagonism was fuelled by the mistrust and vendettas of the age that brought their family to power. The house of York should have been the dynasty that the Tudors became. Its tragedy was that it devoured itself.
 

PUBLISHED BY  allen lane

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon  £17.66

hive.co.uk  £18.89

waterstones - signed edition £30


MY REVIEW

A comprehensive and fascinating book that looks back on The Brothers York - Edward, Clarence and Richard - and made me realise how little I really know about the history of my own country!

The fifteenth century was certainly not a dull time in history and with these complex characters at the centre of the action, it was a most absorbing read and we got to learn more of their personalities, the bond (or lack of!) between the brothers and the lengths they were driven to in the quest for power and glory!

With the Yorkists v the Lancastrians at the core of the times, things were never pretty! It was a brutal time to be alive and even made Game of Thrones look a little tame when reading of the exploits of certain characters - the betrayals, the alliances, the deals!

With a big cast of characters central to each brother, I did find it a little overwhelming at times in keeping up with who was who! But it was told in such a way that you could keep up through the years as things progressed, and with what was going on with each brother. I'm sure I must have slept through history at school as there was so much that I knew very little about and getting to see each brother individually was a great way in learning more about them and how brutal the power struggle became.

It was also fascinating to see the kind of people they surrounded themselves with, as well as how the public reacted to each brother - we think of the Brexit years as being uncertain, but they are no patch on the tumultuous times back then with wars, feuds, betrayals, beheadings and battles amongst different factions across the country. It also bought home the human cost to people - the loss of life through plague, even in the royal household, and to read of 3 year olds getting married is just unimaginable to us now, but it was all part of life back then to gain more power and standing.

Full of staggering details and a complete eye opener for me and has just made me more eager to more history books, especially if they're all written as brilliantly as this one!

★★★★

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advanced ecopy in return for a fair and honest review




#BookReview Wham! George & Me by Andrew Ridgeley


ABOUT THE BOOK

For the first time, Andrew Ridgeley - one half of one of the most famous bands in the world - tells the inside story of Wham! and his life-long friendship with George Michael.
It is 1975, Watford, and two teenagers, George and Andrew, meet for the first time. Bonding over their love for singing, song writing and pop music, together they set out to follow an impossible dream.
They didn't know it then, but they were taking their first steps towards forming Wham!, a band that was to become one of the biggest in the world.
Wham! were the soundtrack of the 80s; whether it was choosing life or Live Aid, the decade of flamboyance and fun was a party that seemed like it would never end. But it had to stop somewhere - and that was in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.
In Wham! George and Me, Andrew Ridgeley tells the story of Wham! - from the day they met to that iconic final concert. For the first time, he reveals what it was like being at the centre of a pop hurricane and talks of his love for and friendship with George. It's a story only he can tell.
PURCHASE LINKS
Waterstones - signed edition £20
hive.co.uk  £12.69
amazon £10.00


MY REVIEW

A fascinating and emotional memoir from Andrew Ridgeley as he looks back on his friendship with George Michael, and all the pivotal moments from an amazing career that brought back so many amazing memories for me as a fan and gave an enthralling insight into life as a popstar!

From the moment they met at school, there seemed to be a connection between Andrew and George and I loved seeing him recall those times as their friendship blossomed despite the fact that they were both very different personalities,and how their families reacted to their wishes to be part of a band! There's a great use of photos, many of which I'd never seen before, and it was lovely to see a different side to them, other than the images that became so famous in magazines and on posters - many of which I had on my bedroom walls!

I loved hearing how classic songs came to be, the whole experience of fame and the music business of the time, and how the press attention became such a blight to them both. Considering Wham were only a band for such a short space of time it was amazing the impact their music made around the world, and in reading this book it's made me more aware of the 2 young men behind the 'Choose Life' t-shirts!

There are mentions of Georges' sexuality and how he dealt with it amongst his friends, and how he struggled with his identity throughout his life, but I think it was all delicately and respectfully dealt with by Andrew. An emotional read but a brilliant look back
★★★★★

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

#BookReview FINDING HENRY APPLEBEE by CELIA REYNOLDS


ABOUT THE BOOK


Here Henry was, once again in a bustling train station, ready to resume where he had left off all those years ago…

Finding Henry Applebee is a charming, tender and uplifting story about unlikely friendships, the power of love – and how it's never too late to change your life. Perfect for fans of The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Eighty-five-year-old Henry Arthur Applebee has had a pretty good life. But one regret has haunted him for the last sixty-five years.

And so, on an ordinary December morning, he boards a train from London to Edinburgh. His goal is simple: to find the woman who disappeared from his life decades earlier. But Henry isn’t the only person on a mission. Also bound for Edinburgh is troubled teen, Ariel. And when the two strangers collide, what began as one humble journey will catapult them both into a whole new world…
 


PUBLISHED BY ONE MORE CHAPTER


PURCHASE LINK



MY REVIEW


This was a sweet and charming read, following the story of the loveable Henry Applebee as he sets out on a journey looking to find ghosts from his past, and wondering if the path he's chosen to take is the right one! And this story really does show you how fate is destined to play a part - the world really does move in mysterious ways!

Henry and his dog Banjo lead a very simple life - he's 85 and has led a good life but has regrets and they seem to be playing on his mind now more than ever. For him it's now or never to find the answer to his questions so he sets out on a trip to Scotland, after his niece tracked down someone for him. She was supposed to go with him but had to cancel last minute, and at the train station a good samaritan, Ariel, helps him out when it looks like his journey might be over before it's even started!

Ariel is also on her own personal journey with a mission to deliver an envelope personally to someone in Scotland. She's just lost her mother and it was so important to her to pass this message on that she must get this done. Ariel is a real sweetheart and I really enjoyed seeing how her character dealt with all that life threw her way. When she and Henry end up travelling together they're also introduced to Travis, an american musician, and the 3 of them make for an interesting combination as they share stories on the journey up.

The fascinating pasts of all the characters really help you as a reader gain an interest and connection with them all. They all seem a little unsure of whether the path they've chosen to take is the right one. The more you learn about them, the more you start to sense a connection between them as people. I also really enjoyed the way the story went back in time so that we could see Henry as a younger man, a soldier, who finds love in the Tower ballroom and the story of his romance with Francine is very sweet and touching.

A really enjoyable adventure!


★★★

#BlogTour THE HOUSE THAT ALICE BUILT by CHRIS PENHALL @rararesources @ChocLituk @RubyFiction



A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE HOUSE THAT ALICE BUILT! My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for putting this all together and letting me be part of it all!


Home is where the heart is … 

Alice Dorothy Matthews is sensible. Whilst her best friend Kathy is living it up in Portugal and her insufferable ex Adam is travelling the world, Alice is working hard to pay for the beloved London house she has put her heart and soul into renovating. 

But then a postcard from Buenos Aires turns Alice’s life upside down. One very unsensible decision later and she is in Cascais, Portugal, and so begins her lesson in ‘going with the flow’; a lesson that sees her cat-sitting, paddle boarding, dancing on top of bars and rediscovering her artistic talents. 

But perhaps the most important part of the lesson for Alice is that you don’t always need a house to be at home. 


Purchase Links 






ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Chris Penhall is a freelance writer and radio producer.
Her book, The House That Alice Built, won the Choc-Lit Search for a Star Competition 2019. 
Born in South Wales, she has also lived near London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it! She is now working on her second. 

A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea. 
Chris has two grown up daughters and lives in the Essex countryside. 
Chris is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association. 

Social Media Links – 





MY REVIEW

This was a wonderful read with a real feelgood factor!!  I can see why this story won the Search For a Star competition! It has all those elements that keep you as a reader rooting for the main character and cheering when everything falls into place!!

Alice is trudging through her life! Her work is miserable, her ex, Adam, is off round the world and she's having zero fun! When her friend Kathy flies over from Portugal for a visit she pesters Alice to come and visit her but Alice seems so stuck in her ways that she's reluctant to go, but things are about to change to leave her with no option but to get packing!! 

With the realisation that maybe it's time to put herself first, Alice finds herself in Portugal to visit Kathy and ends up with a little house/cat sitting job to see her through this new little chapter in her life! What is she going to do with herself?! For someone who likes routine it takes a while to get used to the change, but with the advice of 'go with the flow' ringing in her ear she starts to embrace this new way of living!

Her friend Kathy is brilliant in helping Alice find her feet and try new experiences and also makes her remember just how creative she used to be, before life got in the way! She can't believe how warm and friendly everyone is either! She seems to be getting quite a bit of male attention from very attentive drivers and waiters !! Never a bad thing to have too much attention!!

With new passions to explore and new relationships beginning to blossom, I loved seeing how Alice began to find her happy! She took  back control and even though she often found it easier to run away from her problems whenever the past reared its' head again, the new confidence she found in herself seemed to make her ready to face anything life could throw at her and this story was just a delight to read throughout!

★★★★★






#CoverReveal HANUKKAH AT THE GREAT GREENWICH ICE CREAMERY by SHARON IBBOTSON @ChoLituk

COVER REVEAL

We meet again! Thanks for stopping by today as I have the great pleasure of sharing yet another stunner of a cover with you all, on behalf of the lovely Sharon Ibbotson and the team at Choc Lit!!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Hanukkah days, Christmas nights and strawberry ice cream …


Cohen Ford is a man who could do with a little bit of sweetening up. It’s no surprise that when he walks into The Great Greenwich Ice Creamery on a typically gloomy London day before Christmas, he insists on a black coffee rather than his childhood favourite – strawberry ice cream.


But then he meets River de Luca, the woman behind the flavours. After their first encounter, Cohen begins visiting the ice creamery every Tuesday, gradually learning more about the intriguing River. Could her influence encourage cynical Cohen to become the man who embraces Christmas, Hanukkah and even strawberry ice cream?




Hanukkah at the Great Greenwich Ice Creamery will be published by Choc Lit on 4th December and will be available to purchase as an eBook on all platforms and also in audio.


ARE WE READY??!!  Here it is!!!


ūüėćūüėćūüėć

How blooming gorgeous is that?!! Definitely one of my favourite Christmas covers and I cannot wait for the release in December!!


❆❅❄



Monday, 28 October 2019

#MusicMonday OK GO - Upside Down & Inside Out


Here we are again! Time to share some tunes on Music Monday!  A brilliant weekly thing hosted by Drew at The Tattooed Book Geek where you can just share a favourite song or video!

And I've gone for a band this week who make the most amazing videos so I had to share with you! It's OK GO and this song is Upside Down & Inside Out - a video shot in zero gravity! I hope you check out their videos as they're all so unique and amazing to watch!  While finding this one I've just had a marathon of watching their other vids and they still fascinate me in the logistics of shooting them!





LYRICS

Upside down and inside out
And you can feel it
Upside down and inside out
And you can feel it, feel it
Don't know where your eyes are
But they're not doin' what you said
Don't know where your mind is baby
But you're better off without it
Inside down and upside out
And you can feel it
Don't stop
Can't stop
It's like an airplane goin' down
I wish I had said the things you thought that I had said
Gravity's just a habit that you're really sure you can't break
So when you met the new you
Were you scared?
Were you cold?
Were you kind?
Yeah when you met the new you
Did someone die inside?
Don't stop
Can't stop
It's like a freight train
Don't stop
Can't stop
It's like an airplane goin' down
Don't know where your eyes are
But they're not doin' what you said
Don't know 
















Saturday, 26 October 2019

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 26th October 2019


Hello all!  Are we all set for November then?! Nope, me neither!!  And I still can't get excited about the 'c' word that is fast approaching! Hoping to make buying presents for everyone easier this year though by just buying everyone book tokens! I know I'd be happy with that kind of gift lol!!

And speaking of books, it's been another successful week of reading - and adding to the TBR mountain!  5 books finished and 3  new arrivals - there have been other arrivals but I'll be posting about those in a separate post! 

So here's my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED











BOOKHAUL

Wham! George & Me by Andrew Ridgeley
Got a personally signed copy from Goldsboro Books!


For the first time, Andrew Ridgeley - one half of one of the most famous bands in the world - tells the inside story of Wham! and his life-long friendship with George Michael.
It is 1975, Watford, and two teenagers, George and Andrew, meet for the first time. Bonding over their love for singing, song writing and pop music, together they set out to follow an impossible dream.
They didn't know it then, but they were taking their first steps towards forming Wham!, a band that was to become one of the biggest in the world.
Wham! were the soundtrack of the 80s; whether it was choosing life or Live Aid, the decade of flamboyance and fun was a party that seemed like it would never end. But it had to stop somewhere - and that was in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.
In Wham! George and Me, Andrew Ridgeley tells the story of Wham! - from the day they met to that iconic final concert. For the first time, he reveals what it was like being at the centre of a pop hurricane and talks of his love for and friendship with George. It's a story only he can tell.
 THE UNSPOKEN NAME by A.K.LARKWOOD
publication date - February 2020
received a copy for review from Tor Books

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard's loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due


IMAGINARY FRIEND by STEPHEN CHBOSKY
signed edition - Goldsboro Book of the Month
Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It's as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.


CURRENTLY READING








HAPPY READING!!












Friday, 25 October 2019

A Persephone Book Haul!!



Sometimes it needs to be done!!   You just need more grey books in your life, so through a combination of online used book sites and local charity shop finds, I have found myself the new owner of 7 more Persephone titles to add to my collection - bringing the total now to 35!

So here's a little look at the new titles - would love your thoughts if you've managed to read any of these! Which one should I read first?!



An Interrupted Life: The Diaries and Letters of Etty Hillesum 1941-43


Etty Hillesum (1914-43) lived in Amsterdam, like Anne Frank, and like her she kept a diary. 'All the writings she left behind,' writes Eva Hoffman in her Preface to this edition of her diaries and letters, 'were composed in the shadow of the Holocaust, but they resist being read primarily in its dark light. Rather, their abiding interest lies in the light- filled mind that pervades them and in the astonishing internal journey they chart. Etty's pilgrimage grew out of the intimate experience of an intellectual young woman - it was idiosyncratic, individual, and recognisably modern... The private person who revealed herself in her diary was impassioned, erotically volatile, restless... Yet she had the kind of genius for introspection that converts symptoms into significance and joins self-examination to philosophical investigation... In the last stages of her amazing and moving journey, Etty seemed to attain that peace which passeth understanding... Finally, however, the violence and brutality she saw all around her overwhelmed even her capacity to understand... But by knowing and feeling so deeply and fully, an unknown young woman became one of the most exceptional and truest witnesses of the devastation through which she lived.'

Dimanche and Other Stories


Ir√®ne N√©mirovsky, b.1903, has become one of France’s most famous writers. But after her death in 1942 she was virtually forgotten. It was only with the rediscovery of the manuscript of Suite Fran√ßaise in a suitcase and its publication in France in 2004 and in the UK and USA in 2006 that her name started to become as well-known as it is today.

N√©mirovsky was brought up in Tsarist Russia, but after the Revolution her family escaped to France, where they lived a comfortable bourgeois life in Paris and in Biarritz. Her first novel, David Golder, came out when she was 26 and she became instantly famous. The book was a penetrating glimpse of a world she knew well, the circle of successful or not-so successful Russian Jewish businessmen, speculating ruthlessly in oil and minerals. David Golder is appallingly treated by his wife: she owes something to N√©mirovsky’s mother (from whom she was estranged most of her adult life). The book’s enormous success was based on the directness of its language, including crudities unusual in good literature.

None of the later novels were as successful as David Golder and the short stories were written in large part because N√©mirovsky and her husband had two daughters and both needed to earn in order to help support what was by now quite a lavish way of life. Yet the ten pieces in Dimanche are everything that a short story should be: beautifully written, novels in miniature, fascinating, profound, all this and more. As in a Chekhov short story, little happens but everything happens. Whether describing the impatience of a girl waiting for her lover, the tortured relationships of a large family, or the emotions of someone Ô¨āeeing the Nazis, N√©mirovsky is always an extremely astute observer, delicate, perceptive and ironic.

Tea with Mr. Rochester

by  Frances Towers

When these captivating and at times bizarre stories were published posthumously in 1949, Angus Wilson wrote: 'It appears no exaggeration to say that Frances Towers's death in 1948 may have robbed us of a figure of more than purely contemporary significance. At first glance one might be disposed to dismiss Miss Towers as an imitation Jane Austen, but it would be a mistaken judgment, for her cool detachment and ironic eye are directed more often than not against the sensible breeze that blasts and withers, the forthright candour that kills the soul. Miss Towers flashes and shines now this way, now that, like a darting sunfish.' 'At her best her prose style is a shimmering marvel,' wrote the Independent on Sunday, 'and few writers can so deftly and economically delineate not only the outside but the inside of a character…There's always more going on than you can possibly fathom.' And the Guardian said: 'Her social range may not be wide, but her descriptions are exquisite and her tone poised between the wry and the romantic.'

Five of the stories were read on BBC Radio 4.
 

The Wise Virgins

by Leonard Woolf

The Wise Virgins (1913) is a semi-autobiographical novel about a dilemma: whether Harry, the hero, should go into the family business and marry the suitable but dull girl next door or move in artistic circles and marry one of the entrancing 'Lawrence' girls. For, as Lyndall Gordon writes in her Persephone Preface: 'It is a truth widely acknowledged that Camilla Lawrence is a portrait of the author's wife - Virginia Woolf.' This is one reason why the novel is so intriguing. But it is also a Forsterian social comedy, funny, perceptive, highly intelligent, full of clever dialogue and at times bitterly satirical; while the dramatic and emotional denouement still retains a great deal of its power to shock. It was on his honeymoon in 1912 that Leonard Woolf began writing his second (and final) novel. He was 31, newly returned from seven years as a colonial administrator, and asking himself much the same questions as his hero. Helen Dunmore wrote in The Sunday Times: 'It's a passionate, cuttingly truthful story of a love affair between two people struggling against the prejudices of their time and place. Woolf's writing is almost unbearably honest.' 


The Expendable Man

by Dorothy B.Hughes

The critic HRF Keating chose The Expendable Man as one of his Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books. ‘A late addition to the thirteen crime stories Dorothy B Hughes wrote with great success in one prolific spell between 1940 and 1952,’ it was, in his view, her best book. But it is far more than a crime novel. Just as her earlier books had engaged with the political issues of the 1940s – the legacy of the Depression, and the struggles against fascism and rascism – so The Expendable Man, published in 1963 during Kennedy’s presidency and set in Arizona, evokes the emerging social, racial and moral tensions of the time.


William - An Englishman

by Cicely Hamilton

William was 'written in a rage in 1918; this extraordinary novel... is a passionate assertion of the futility of war' (the Spectator). Its author had been an actress and suffragette; after 1914 she worked at the Scottish Women's Hospital at Royaumont and organised Concerts at the Front. William - an Englishman was written in a tent within sound of guns and shells; this 'stunning... terrifically good' novel (Radio 4's A Good Read) is in one sense a very personal book, animated by fury and cynicism, and in another a detached one; yet is always 'profoundly moving' (Financial Times).

In the view of Persephone Books, William is one of the greatest novels about war ever written: not the war of the fighting soldier or the woman waiting at home, but the war encountered by Mr and Mrs Everyman, wrenched away from their comfortable preoccupations - Socialism, Suffragettism, so gently mocked by Cicely Hamilton - and forced to be part of an almost dream-like horror (because they cannot at first believe what is happening to them). The scene when William and Griselda emerge after three idyllic weeks in a honeymoon cottage in the remote hills of the Belgian Ardennes, and encounter German brutality in a small village, is unforgettable. The book, which won the Prix Femina-Vie Heureuse in 1919, is a masterpiece, written with an immediacy and a grim realism reminiscent of an old-fashioned, flickering newsreel.
 


The Carlyles At Home

by Thea Holme

This book about Thomas and Jane Carlyle's life together at 5 (now 24) Cheyne Row, Chelsea was written in the 1960s by a former actress who was then living there as co-custodian of the house with her husband. The Carlyles at Home evokes everyday life from the day the Carlyles moved in, in 1834, until Jane's death in 1866. Each of the eleven chapters describes different aspects of the house, whether it is yet another builders' drama or a maid giving birth in the china closet while 'Mr Carlyle was taking tea in the dining-room with Miss Jewsbury talking to him!!! Just a thin small door between!'


❤❤❤


#BookReview STARVE ACRE by ANDREW MICHAEL HURLEY


ABOUT THE BOOK

The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.

Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror

published by John Murray

publication date - 31st October 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon UK  £9.35

whsmith  £9.35

hive.co.uk  £10.29

goldsboro books - signed first edition £12.99



MY REVIEW

This is a beautifully written story that looks at grief as we follow a mother and father dealing with the loss of their son in very different ways, and you can't help but feel the pain and sorrow that they both are feeling.

The father, Richard, deals with the loss by finding a distraction. And that for him is digging up a nearby field to try and discover the roots of the legendary tree, Stythwaite Oak - apparently used for local hangings but there's no real proof it existed other than that of woodblock prints that he uncovers amongst his fathers books. The soil in the field where it grew is dead - nothing has ever grown there, there's no worms or signs of life, just bones. Richard uncovers the bones of a hare here and spends time lovingly cleaning them and putting them back together. Anything to avoid having to listen to his wife sobbing.

His wife has retreated to their home and spends all day crying. She sees no point in making an effort to leave the house as she feels the presence of her son at home and wants to be with him all the time. Her idea of contacting a spiritual group, The Beacons, to help her contact her son doesn't go down well with Richard or her sister, but she's convinced it will help her ease the pain.

So this once united couple are torn apart by grief and I found it quite harrowing at times spending time in their company, especially as there were flashbacks to times when their son was alive and well. The more of these look backs we get, the more we realise that their son Ewan had a dark personality and was involved in some unsavoury incidents at school and at home where the 'dark talked to him'. It really added a creepy and chilling element to this story and the spooky goings on surrounding the house and tree were often unexpected and added a totally different feel to the way I thought the story was going to go!

I did find the second part of the book didn't work quite as well for me as it did go a little too weird (and I normally embrace the weird and wonderful!) and there wasn't enough time given to explore different elements that were revealed. I would have loved this book to go on a little longer as I think it would have been more pleasing for the whole reading experience, but I still found it to be a haunting and fascinating story

★★★★


My thanks to Readers First for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

#BookReview SO LUCKY by DAWN O'PORTER #SoLucky


‘A total joy’ Matt Haig


‘Compulsively gripping and taps into the shame and self-hatred we *all* battle with. It is also very, very funny’ Sara Pascoe

ABOUT THE BOOK

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .


Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.


AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?
 
Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.


And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…


Fearless, frank and for everyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.
 
Actually, you’re pretty f****** lucky to be you.

Published by HarperCollins

Publication Date - 31st October 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS






MY REVIEW

Forget teenage angst, there's nothing more stressed, pissed off and downright angry than a woman and that is what this book is based around! The issues that make us grumpy, the pressures we all put ourselves under, the absurdities of life in the Instagram world we now live in - motherhood, relationships, body image, modern life - it's all here and perfectly pitched by the author in a savage but humourous story that I thoroughly enjoyed and ended up finding really touching and poignant!

The two main characters are Ruby and Beth. Both very different women, but both struggling! Ruby is struggling with motherhood - it's more downs than ups with her daughter Bonnie who she seems in a constant battle with! Ruby isn't the most patient of people so she seems to spend most of her days raging at the world and getting nowhere. As you learn more about her you understand she has always had a bad relationship with her mother which hasn't helped her confidence, and neither has a medical condition she has which means she' always conscious of her body. You can't help feel sorry for her and just want to give her a big hug at times to let her know she should go easier on herself! Her line of work sees her retouching photographs - very apt in the world we now live in where you can airbrush your lumps and bumps away - so the concept of body image is always playing on her mind. Is she being a good role model to her daughter or is just history repeating itself?

And Beth is a new mum to Tommy, and married to Michael who seems to have serious issues with sex (he's a weird one!!) and being cruel towards her about her weight and coming up with reasons not to have sex with her again. Not very happily married for a woman who is a wedding planner for the rich and famous!

Her newest client is an Instagram celebrity and this brilliantly allows that whole world be dissected and analyzed - the image doesn't always match up to the reality and I found that really fascinating to see portrayed especially as Beth starts to feel sorry for her client, Lauren, who posts amazing pictures and quotes but in reality she seems to be very unsure of herself.

As these women's lives wobble from bad to worse, I really enjoyed seeing and hearing their thoughts on issues that affect us all, and the fact that by talking to friends or a stranger in a park allows them to confront the realities in their life and how they can go about changing things, finding good in themselves and taking back control.

There were many laugh out loud moments when things went wrong, or got a little too graphic (there's a lot of sex talk going on!), but it was also very poignant when reality hits home for these women and I just loved how honest and frank it was. Nothing is sugarcoated!!

The story does a great job of showing just how complex life can be, especially as a woman, be it with relationships, friendships, work, and in general how we all view ourselves and how we all judge others. It's only when we get to know the person behind the image that we begin to understand that we're all messed up! No matter what image we try to share, there's always something that links us and shows us that the grass isn't always greener.

Whether it is society that makes us constantly pick holes in ourselves, or it's just the way we are, I found this to be an engrossing read that just got better the more it went on, and found it really empowering and thought provoking!

★★★★



My thanks to HarperCollins and Netgalley for the early e-copy in return for a fair and honest review.