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Sunday, 31 May 2020

#BookReview THE RAILWAY GIRLS by MAISIE THOMAS #TheRailwayGirls


ABOUT THE BOOK

The first novel in the utterly brilliant Railway Girls series. Perfect for fans of Nancy Revell and Ellie Dean.

In February, 1922, at the western-most entrance to Victoria Station in Manchester, a massive plaque was unveiled. Beneath a vast tiled map showing the lines of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway network, a series of seven bronze panels recorded the names of the men of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway who gave their lives for King and Country in the Great War – a total of 1,460 names.

In March, 1940, a group of women of varying ages and backgrounds, stand in front of the memorial, ready to do their bit in this new World War...
_________________________________________

Mabel is determined to make a fresh start as a railway girl where no one will know the terrible thing she did and she can put her guilt behind her... Or is she just running away?

Meanwhile Joan will never be as good as her sister, or so her Gran keeps telling her. A new job as a station clerk could be just the thing she needs to forget her troubles at home.

And Dot is further into her forties than she cares to admit. Her beloved sons are away fighting and her husband – well, the less said about him the better. Ratty old sod. She is anxious to become a railway girl just like her dear mam – anything to feel she is supporting the sons she prays for every night.

The three women start off as strangers, but soon form an unbreakable bond that will get them through the toughest of times...


PUBLISHED BY ARROW


PURCHASE LINK

Amazon £6.99

whsmith  £5.94

hive.co.uk  £6.85



MY REVIEW

What a way to start a new series! Maisie Thomas has created an amazing set of characters that get you on side straight away as they start their new lives working on the railways during the war.

And it's definitely a new experience for them, and the men they are working alongside! The attitudes of the time come across in volumes as they are looked down on by some, many thinking that they can't possibly do a job as well as a man - and not only from co-workers, it's from the men in their own families too! A time when women 'knew their place' and men wouldn't even lift a finger around the house. So to get these girls doing a variety of jobs in the railway sector in the North West allows you to see the prejudices they faced both at home and at work.

Mabel, Joan and Dot are the main characters but we also get to follow other women they meet along the way, and as they're all at different stages of life we get to see the different aspects they all face with this new way of life. What they all have in common though is their resilience and a desire to stand on their own 2 feet and that's what is brilliant about this book. They face up to their challenges and don't run away from things even if it is tough. The bond between the women is also really strong as they know they are all in the same boat. Dot was one of my favourite as she took no prisoners!! Despite the attitudes she faced from certain male co-workers she was determined to prove them wrong!

It was also fascinating to see how the attitude of their families changed over time, as at the beginning they thought they were bringing shame on the family by wanting to work! Even having painted toenails was seen as a disgrace at the time so heaven forbid that a 'woman' was to be seen working on the railway! Nowadays they would have had such pride in these women wanting to work at such a time and do their bit!

There was a great mix of drama and humour throughout the book, and it all felt so relatable! These were women you could imagine yourself wanting to hang out with and I'm so excited to see what else this series has in store for us!!

★★★★★


Saturday, 30 May 2020

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 30th May 2020


Hello!  We made it through another week! Yay us!! This week has included a cream cake or two for the first time in a couple of months..... well worth the wait I can tell you!! It is the little things in life that get you through!

And the books have been getting me through another week, especially as the sun has been shining again so I've been spending as much time outdoors as possible and that's where I'm reading the best at the moment! Another 4 books finished, just 1 visit to Netgalley and 1 lovely piece of bookpost for a blog tour!  I'm still not buying anything...... I think I might need to change that!!! ;)

Here's my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED










BOOKHAUL

Over on Netgalley..

ANXIOUS PEOPLE by FREDRIK BACKMAN
publication date - August 2020


A bank robber on the run locks himself in with an over-enthusiastic estate agent, two bitter IKEA-addicts, a pregnant woman, a suicidal multi-millionaire and a rabbit. In the end the robber gives up and lets everyone go, but when the police storm the apartment it is . . . empty.

In a series of dysfunctional testimonies after the event, the witnesses all tell their version of what really happened and it's clear we have a classic locked-room mystery on our hands: How did the robber manage to escape? Why is everyone so angry? And: What is WRONG with people these days?


And in the post ahead of a Blog Tour in June!

THE CURATOR by M.W.CRAVEN
out June 2020

It's Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6. Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency's Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren't even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn't think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he's dealing with someone far, far worse - a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again...

CURRENTLY READING




Hope your reading week has been a good one, and is great for the week ahead too!

HAPPY READING!


Wednesday, 27 May 2020

#BookReview WE BEGIN AT THE END by CHRIS WHITAKER


ABOUT THE BOOK


We Begin at the End is a powerful novel about absolute love and the lengths we will go to keep our family safe. This is a story about good and evil and how life is lived somewhere in between.

'YOU CAN'T SAVE SOMEONE THAT DOESN'T WANT TO BE SAVED . . .'

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he's been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star's thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin - and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.
How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself? 

PUBLISHED BY ZAFFRE BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

Goldsboro Books - signed first edition




MY REVIEW

BUY THIS BOOK!! Thank me later!!

Wow! It's never easy to review a book like this as you don't want to give too much away, but you just want everyone to grab a copy and experience it for themselves!! It is full of characters that you gravitate towards, care for, despise, and as you watch the story unfold you end up experiencing every decision made, you hear every noise, feel every emotion - it just swallows you up whole and you are in for one hell of a journey!!


And in the character of Duchess, you have someone who just shines out! From a young age she's had an awful life, with many harrowing experiences and her whole life is shaped by despair. Her mother, Star, is struggling with her own issues, especially after losing her sister. Duchess is there for her mum though and helps to care for her brother Robin. Chief Walker is always looking out for them too, especially as he feels responsible for the direction their family life has taken - his best friend, Vincent King, is serving time in jail for the death of Star's sister when he was 15 - and 30 years later he is set for release. There's scores to be settled, and truths to be uncovered and when another horrific crime is committed then fingers start pointing again and life seems to be repeating itself once more.

Duchess has always seen herself as an outlaw, after hearing some family history stories, and the way she cares for her brother and vows to right wrongs - your heart just aches for her. She is full of rage and anger after having to grow up so quickly and her only mission in life is to protect Robin. Moved from pillar to post she is reluctant to accept change and almost appears to resent nice things happening as she doesn't feel she deserves it. Just when things are settling down for her and Robin, it is cruelly ripped away from her again and the rage returns...

This is unquestionably one of my books of 2020 and I cannot recommend it highly enough! You'll laugh, cry, be shocked, be outraged - it has everything!! Amazing!!

★★★★★

#BookReview JUST FRIENDS by LUCY KEELING

ABOUT THE BOOK

Friends do nice things for each other, right? 

That’s what Polly Bowman tells herself when she agrees to be her friend Bailey’s ‘fake girlfriend’ to help him keep a promise to his family. After all, Bailey has always supported her through difficult times – he even knows about her secret singing sessions at the local speakeasy bar. 

But maintaining a fake relationship isn’t easy, and when Polly’s meddling but well-meaning group of friends throw her and Bailey together as best man and maid-of-honour for an upcoming wedding, Polly soon realises she’s going to have to confront a few long-kept secrets head on ...

PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT


MY REVIEW

Another fabulous read from Lucy Keeling! I adored the 'will they, won't they' thread of Polly and Bailey as life kept throwing curveballs their way, and throwing them together in often compromising positions!!! It is a follow up to 'Make It Up To You' but can easily be read as a standalone!

Bailey sounds like the kind of man we'd all be queuing up to be his 'fake girlfriend' - supportive, flirty, close to his family and a gardener (clincher for me!!) - so when Polly volunteers to help stop his family asking too many questions about his love life what could possibly go wrong??!! A lot it seems! They've always got on well and confided in one another about things they don't share with others, but the more time they start spending together then the more time they can't stop thinking about one another! Not so good if you're with someone else like Polly is!

The characters of Polly and Bailey are so sweet! She has a secret passion and lacks confidence to share with those around her, but has a good group of friends who are all brought together in the run up to a wedding so maybe it's time she started opening up more. And Bailey is worried sick when there's illness in his family so he's been relying on work and flirting to distract himself He seems to be one of the good guys of the world.

This was one of those books that you find yourself racing through and I was unable to put it down once I started reading, and it was the perfect mix of romance and humour and I hope we get to hear more from the characters in these books in the very near future!

★★★★★

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

#20BooksOfSummer - It is back!!! I'm in! Are you?? #20BooksOfSummer20



How could I not join in again?! My favourite time of the year is back!! The lovely Cathy over at 746 Books is hosting yet another fabulous 20 (or 10, or 15!) Books of Summer!  There are very few rules! You pick your own TBR, your own target and then from 1st June 2020 - 1st September 2020 your aim is to read those books! What could be more simple?!!

Well, deciding on the list each year is never easy - and then sticking to it is even harder as there's always new books that tempt me! - but this year I need to shift a few books off the shelves (haha!) so I've gone for a mix of 10 books that have been loitering about for quite some time, as well as 10 non fiction books as I always say I want to read more! Well, now is my chance!!  Whether I stick rigidly to the list is another matter......

Here's my 20! Click on the title for a link to the GoodReads page...



Starting with the Non Fiction pile...












And now for the Fiction stack...












📚📚📚

So there we have it! I hope to do all 20, there may be some changes, I may lose some sleep..... but it's all good fun and I can't wait for June 1st to be here!!

HAPPY READING!!

#GuestPost JUST FRIENDS by LUCY KEELING @ChocLituk @Lucy_K_Author


Absolutely delighted to be handing over control of my blog today to the lovely Lucy Keeling, as she's got a few things to share with you on the release of the fabulous JUST FRIENDS!! Over to you Lucy!! 💓

Mischief, Banter and Longing: Just Friends by Lucy Keeling





Hi, I'm Lucy Keeling and I am delighted to be on Karen's blog today talking
to you about Just Friends. Thank you for having me Karen.


Just Friends in the second book in the Friends Series, (but it can be read
as a standalone). In book one, Make It Up To You, we followed Sophie, a
YouTuber, and Marcus, a gardener. Oh but they were an antagonistic pair,
sizzling with tension (according to the reviews). In Sophie and Marcus'
group of friends we also have Marcus' sister Polly and his best friend
Bailey. We discover in Make It Up To You that Bailey and Polly kiss. But
it's not real. It's purely to get Polly out of bad date. However, it does leave
the pair of them a little out of sorts. And so a few months later begins
book two, Just Friends. This time written from Polly and Bailey's
perspectives as they navigate the perils and dramas of being Maid of Honour
and Best Man to a fastidious Sophie and completely relaxed Marcus. But
Bailey has a problem and the only thing that can help is to have a fake
girlfriend. Luckily Polly is there to help, well of course she is. But
Polly has secrets and insecurities of her own, that no one apart from
Bailey knows about. And, oh yes, did I mention that there's a bit where's
there's only one bed?


I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed writing about these two. They are
full of mischief, banter and longing but they bring out the absolute best
in each other.


Editing this story, however, was another matter. My editor is fantastic and
she truly has the power to make a story sparkle, but editing during
lockdown was at times incredibly difficult. Looking back though, I think it
helped. I was able to concentrate on a specific task, but more importantly
I was able to lose myself in another, healthier, nicer world.


So, settle down, cosy up and welcome back to this lovely bunch of
characters and I hope you enjoy reading Just Friends.

Thank you,

Lucy K xx



About the Author

Lucy Keeling is an author writing fun, sexy, stories with all of the happily ever afters. When she’s not typing at the kitchen table, she’s arranging and then re-arranging to see her friends for the occasional spot of day drinking. Lucy is currently writing the third book in a contemporary romance series, the first of which was runner-up in Choc Lit’s ‘Search for a Star’ competition which was sponsored by Your Cat Magazine.

Lucy lives in Greater Manchester with her family.

Lucy can be contacted via Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lucy_K_Author



About the Book

Friends do nice things for each other, right?
That’s what Polly Bowman tells herself when she agrees to be her friend Bailey’s ‘fake girlfriend’ to help him keep a promise to his family. After all, Bailey has always supported her through difficult times – he even knows about her secret singing sessions at the local speakeasy bar.

But maintaining a fake relationship isn’t easy, and when Polly’s meddling but well-meaning group of friends throw her and Bailey together as best man and maid-of-honour for an upcoming wedding, Polly soon realises she’s going to have to confront a few long-kept secrets head on …

Book 2 in Friends Series. Book 1: Make It Up To You.

Buying Links Amazon UK:



Monday, 25 May 2020

#MusicMonday FORBIDDEN COLOURS by DAVID SYLVIAN & SAKAMOTO


Happy Monday! And a Bank Holiday one too if you're in the UK! Like we need another holiday right now!!!

Time for some tunes! Hosted by Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek, it's a weekly chance to share a favourite song or video.

I've been listening to a lot of 'Chill' playlist songs this week, and this was one of my faves! Back to the 80's we go haha!  Forbidden Colours by David Sylvian & Sakamoto from the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence.


The wounds on your hands never seem to heal
I thought all I needed was to believe
Here am I, a lifetime away from you
The blood of Christ, or the beat of my heart
My love wears forbidden colours
My life believes
Senseless years thunder by
Millions are willing to give their lives for you
Does nothing live on?
Learning to cope with feelings aroused in me
My hands in the soil, buried inside of myself
My love wears forbidden colours
My life believes in you once again
I`ll go walking in circles
While doubting the very ground beneath me
Trying to show unquestioning faith in everything
Here am I, a lifetime away from you
The blood of Christ, or a change of heart
My love wears forbidden colours
My life believes
My love wears forbidden colours
My life believes in you once again
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: David Sylvian / Ryuichi Sakamoto
Forbidden Colours lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Saturday, 23 May 2020

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - May 23rd 2020


Howdy!! Happy Saturday!! I hope all is well in your world! My mood has been up and down again this past week - considering I'd been so chilled for the previous 2 months, I now wonder if I'd been saving up all the grumpiness and it's now coming out!! But the sun keeps shining and there's books.... so I can't stay too grumpy for too long!

And on the book front it's been a cracking week for my reading as I've finished 5 books! I am sure the sunshine makes me read more! And there has been one visit to Netgalley, and maybe a couple of cheeky book purchases - another sure fire way of getting rid of the grumps!!

Here's my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED












BOOKHAUL

to Netgalley we go...

HUMANKIND by RUTGER BREGMAN

FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' BEST SELLER 'UTOPIA FOR REALISTS', A "BOLD" (DANIEL H. PINK), "PROVOCATIVE" (ADAM GRANT) ARGUMENT THAT OUR INNATE GOODNESS AND COOPERATION HAVE BEEN THE GREATEST FACTORS IN HUMANITY'S SUCCESS.

If there is one belief that has united the left and the right, psychologists and philosophers, ancient thinkers and modern ones, it is the tacit assumption that humans are bad. It's a notion that drives newspaper headlines and guides the laws that shape our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Pinker, the roots of this belief have sunk deep into Western thought. Human beings, we're taught, are by nature selfish and governed primarily by self-interest.

But what if it isn't true? International best seller Rutger Bregman provides new perspective on the past 200,000 years of human history, setting out to prove that we are hardwired for kindness, geared toward cooperation rather than competition, and more inclined to trust rather than distrust one another, in fact this instinct has a firm evolutionary basis going back to the beginning of 'Homo Sapiens'.

From the real-life 'Lord of the Flies' to the solidarity in the aftermath of the Blitz, the hidden flaws in the Stanford prison experiment to the true story of twin brothers on opposite sides who helped Mandela end apartheid, Bregman shows us that believing in human generosity and collaboration isn't merely optimistic - it's realistic. Moreover, it has huge implications for how society functions. When we think the worst of people, it brings out the worst in our politics and economics. But if we believe in the reality of humanity's kindness and altruism, it will form the foundation for achieving true change in society, a case that Bregman makes convincingly with his signature wit, refreshing frankness, and memorable storytelling.



And I was lucky enough to win a discount code for the fabulous Ninja Book Box so I had to 'force' (!) myself to pick up another couple of  secondhand Persephone Books for my collection

DADDY'S GONE A HUNTING by PENELOPE MORTIMER


Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting is about the expectations of women, about a house-bound mother reluctantly (desperately) at home all day, in contrast to her daughter who has escaped, to university and then, we can assume, to a job.

In Ruth Whiting’s commuter-belt village ‘the wives conform to a certain standard of dress, they run their houses along the same lines, bring their children up in the same way; all prefer coffee to tea, all drive cars, play bridge, own at least one valuable piece of jewellery and are moderately good-looking.’ Yet Ruth is on the verge of going mad. A ‘nervous breakdown’ would be a politer phrase, but really she is being driven mad by her life and her madness is exacerbated by everyone’s indifference to her plight.

MISS BUNCLE'S BOOK by D.E.STEVENSON
The storyline of Miss Buncle's Book (1934) is a simple one: Barbara Buncle, who is unmarried and perhaps in her late 30s, lives in a small village and writes a novel about it in order to try and supplement her meagre income.

D.E. Stevenson had an enormously successful writing career: between 1923 and 1970, four million copies of her books were sold in Britain and three million in the States. Like E.F. Benson, Ann Bridge, O. Douglas or Dorothy L. Sayers (to name but a few) her books are funny, intensely readable, engaging and dependable. Miss Buncle's Book was the most popular of her novels because it has a completely original plot and a charming and delightful central character.



CURRENTLY READING




HAPPY READING!!



Friday, 22 May 2020

#BookReview THE MATING OF STAGS by RAY ROBINSON


ABOUT THE BOOK

Midwinter. As former farmhand Jake, a widower in his seventies, wanders the beautiful, austere moors of North Yorkshire trying to evade capture, we learn of the events of his past: the wife he loved and lost, their child he knows cannot be his, and the deep-seated need for revenge that manifests itself in a moment of violence. On the coast, Jake’s friend, Sheila, receives the devastating news. The aftermath of Jake’s actions, and what it brings to the surface, will change her life forever. But how will she react when he turns up at her door? As beauty and tenderness blend with violence, this story transports us to a different world, subtly exploring love and loss in a language that both bruises and heals.

PUBLISHED BY LIGHTNING BOOKS


PURCHASE LINKS





MY REVIEW

this was a stark, often despairing but beautifully written story exploring the thoughts of grief and loneliness as we follow Jake on the run - not normal for a man in his seventies, but as his story unfolds we see the moments that lead to this and it is such a powerful exploration of how humans deal with situations they find themselves in, and how they and the people closest to them deal with the consequences.

Jake is a man missing his wife, Edith. But he finds friendship with Sheila and they find comfort in each others company as Sheila is dealing with her own family issues and disappointments, so when Jake goes on the run she is left contemplating their friendship and waiting to hear from him.

And while Jake is on the run, finding new places to hide and hoping his actions don't catch up with him, we get flashbacks of his life - his marriage to Edith is the main feature - and he's left alone with his memories both good and bad which isn't always the best for his mental state.

I loved the difference in the two characters in the lives they had lead but how they were drawn to one another and how they just clicked. At only 220 pages long, this is a book that has a powerful impact on you as a reader as the characters are written with such clarity and full of flaws, but those make the characters easier to relate to. We've all been disappointed by people in our lives, as have Jack and Sheila, and it's that impact on how their lives turn out because of the actions of others that we are witnessing throughout this story. Their reactions, their anger, frustrations - laid bare for us all to see.

It's one of those books that is gripping, unsettling, heartbreaking and intense and I loved every single blooming page of it! Highly recommended!!


★★★★★

#BookReview THE CREAK ON THE STAIRS by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir #TheCreakOnTheStairs


ABOUT THE BOOK

When a body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.

Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her collegues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day …


But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it’s too late.

PUBLISHED BY ORENDA BOOKS


PURCHASE LINKS


Goldsboro Books - signed first edition


MY REVIEW

Wow! What a way to get a new crime series started off! I loved it so am already eagerly awaiting more from this series!

The mystery of the woman found dead by a ligthhouse - not the cheeriest subject to investigate, but for Elma who has recently moved back to the area after a split, it's a case to sink her teeth into and she soon finds it is taking her to some very dark places and questioning motives and uncovering disturbing secrets about the past lives of the inhabitants of Akranes.

With the death of Elisabet throwing up more questions than answers, this book does a brilliant job of exploring the past of Elisbet, with flashbacks to 1989 when she was a small child growing up in the bleakest of households, whilst Elma is left to put the pieces together of the little information they do have on a woman who was very secretive, didn't appear to have many friends and was always seen as odd and pitied because of her childhood.

I loved the character of Elma as she was obviously hurting from her previous relationship, so having to move home was the last thing she wanted to do, especially with certain memories that it brings back. And memories play a big part in this story as many of the characters with a link to Elisabet are often trying not to remember the past as it appears that things were not all as it seems behind closed doors.

The story of young Elisabet was heartbreaking and tragic. With the lookbacks to the past and what she faced as just a young child was harrowing, and the fact that there seemed to be nobody there to look out for her made it more shocking.

This was a quietly unsettling and dark story that had me totally engrossed from the start and I highly recommend it!!

★★★★★