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Friday, 22 June 2018

#TheSongsofUs @ItsEmmacooper @headlinepg

About The Songs of Us

Fans of Jojo Moyes, Cecilia Ahern and Marian Keyes will love The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper, a laugh-out-loud, funny and heartbreaking novel of love, loss and what it means to be a family.

If Melody hadn't run out of de-icer that day, she would never have slipped and banged her head. She wouldn't be left with a condition that makes her sing when she's nervous. And she definitely wouldn't have belted out the Arctic Monkeys' 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor' in assembly at her son's school.

If Dev hadn't taken the kids to the zoo that day, then the accident wouldn't have happened. He wouldn't have left Flynn and Rose without a dad. Or shattered the love of his life's heart.

But if they hadn't seen the missing person report that day, they might never have taken the trip to Cornwall. And, in the last place they expected, discovered what it really means to be 'Us'.

My review of The Songs of Us

What an absolute joy this book was to read. It was a family drama, mystery, love story and dark comedy all rolled into one delicious and quirky book. I couldn't help but fall in love with it. It's a truly unique read.

The Songs of Us rotates around the central character, Melody, who after suffering a head injury bursts into song when feeling anxious and under stress. This can be at the supermarket checkout or when sat in the Head Teacher's office. So, very funny, yet poignant at the same time. I loved Melody. I loved her for her honesty, her vitality and the fact that her children were simply her world.

Which brings me onto the likeable children in the book, Flynn and Rose. Very often when we read kids in books they can be oversentimilised, and appear as no child would in real life. But, these two were incredibly real characters to me.  They evoked beautifully the feelings of embarrassment and pure frustration when their mother spontaneously broke out into song. I could feel their frustrations, their love, pride and sheer embarasment. On the flip side we also learn of Melody's fierce need to protect her children when this happens. These scenes I found incredibly poignant and thought provoking, providing a clever mix between humour and pathos.

This novel does  deal with traumatic events, disability and prejudice, but, these themes are surrounded with just the right amount of humour, so that what we end up with is a book tackling serious themes but which is incredibly easy to relate to and ultimately enjoy.

The Songs of Us is very much about being in the wrong place at the  wrong time. It's a story about the role that fate plays in shaping all of our lives. To put it simply, this is a beautiful book. It made  me laugh and cry, all while reading the sane page. It's a bittersweet story of family life, and that a mother really will do everything she can to protect her family and to build a home. This book really is something very special.  It's a beautifully fragile and quirky read that I loved. And oh, the ending. Perfect, just perfect!

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advanced Reader Copy.

The Songs of Us is available now in ebook and will be published in paperback on 20th September by Headline Review.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

#SongCastle @Lukeandhiswords @urbanebooks

About Song Castle

In a land rocked by conflict, one man desires to be remembered for something truly remarkable…

Wales, 1176: in a rain-drenched outpost of Christendom, the great lord of a newly built castle is throwing a party, the like of which has never been seen before. It will be a contest of song, of poetry and music, open to all comers. And now all are coming.

The festival is attracting a strange assortment of characters from across the known world. From the celebrated French troubadour suffering from writer’s block, to the Persian perfumer-poet claiming to have written the most beautiful words ever committed to parchment, all are descending on the castle of a man whose motives run far deeper than that of benevolent host.

Attempting to hold his own against such supreme talent is hopeful young songster Avery, a newcomer to the cutthroat world of bardism and susceptible to its intrigues. But the contest can only take place if the contestants survive the journey, which – on the perilous roads of Wales – is far from certain.

My review of Song Castle

I always like discovering new authors and strive to read new genres, historical fiction being one such genre. Therefore, I was very intrigued when I read the blurb for Song Castle, with its blend of 12th century Welsh history and the beginnings of the Welsh arts festival, that today we know as the Eisteddford.

Song Castle is a beautiful blend of  adventure story, comedy, historical fiction and poetry. Each character travels through the troublesome Welsh landscape and different settlements, so as to perform at the Eisteddford.

Set in Cardigan, Wales, the main protagonist, Lord Rhys is the owner of the newly built Cardigan Castle and wants to mark its creation, and his Kingdom, with a celebration of all that is art and music. What results is an entertaining read with  endearing characters that were certainly quite different. For  example we meet Avery who is a young man travelling from York who has a talent for singing and who is trying to find his true vocation. The journey features fellow travellers from across the country and  from various backgrounds, resulting in a story that is full of fun, singing and a general sense of 12th century debauchery.

Based on historical facts, the author has created a likeable and enjoyable read.  As a travel writer, he has obviously conducted vast amounts of research into this specific period in time, as we read a narrative that is powerful in its meticulous attention to detail,  bringing in real and influential people of that time, that is an absolute joy to read.

The prose in Song Castle flows beautifully with a backdrop of evocative imagery, I actually believed that I was in 12th century Wales, that I had been transported back in time and was part of this chaotic and musical world.

With thanks to Urbane Publications and NetGalley for the digital review copy.

Song Castle was published on April 12th by Urbane Publications.

Monday, 18 June 2018

#AfterHesGone @JaneIsaacAuthor

About After He's Gone

You think you know him. Until he’s dead. When Cameron Swift is gunned down outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer: a dual role that requires her to support the family, and also investigate them. As the case unfolds and the body count climbs, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Even the dead…

My review of After He's Gone

You just know you're in for a treat when you pick up a Jane Isaac novel. I adored her Will Jackman detective series, and when I found out that she had written the first book in a new detective series featuring DC Beth Chamberlain, then I knew I just had to read it. And, oh my, it's a fantastic book featuring a female detective that grabs your attention and just won't let go.

From the very beginning I was sucked into this story. It begins with the murder of Cameron Swift outside his family home and, from that moment on, I just had to find out why he was killed and who killed him. This is when we meet Beth Chamberlain, who together with another police officer is appointed as the family's liaison officer. Although there to support the family under such tragic circumstances, she is also there to question the family, his wife, and to find out any secrets and motives for the murder.

From the moment I met Beth I liked her. Here is a young woman whose career is everything. But what I liked most about her was the fact that she was a character with so many layers. She has her professional side in which she strives for truth and justice, at any cost, but she is also a loving sister, devoted aunt, and a woman who is equally passionate about her  job and role in society. At times she is torn between her role as a DC in trying to track down a killer, and the aunt who wants to watch her niece in her swimming gala. The two worlds often clash, and for me this was both authentic and emotional reading.

After He's Gone is a compelling and emotive read. You can't help but be affected by what happens to the characters, and especially when reading about Beth. It's also a whopper of a murder mystery.  I really was kept in the dark as to who killed Cameron. I also changed my mind several times as the story progressed. It definitely kept me on my toes.

The heart of this story is embedded in family values, what it means to raise and be a family, and what it means to be a husband or wife. It also highlights the fact that we all have our secrets, but that some turn out to be deadly. This really is a hugely refreshing and enjoyable read and I can't wait to read the next instalment in the Beth Chamberlain series that's out later in the year.

With thanks to the author who kindly sent me a digital copy for review purposes.

After He's Gone is published on 18th June.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

#LostLettersOfWilliamWoolf @wordsofhelen

About The Lost Letters of William Woolf 

Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names - they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

When William discovers letters addressed simplyto 'My Great Love' his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn't met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn't know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?

William must follow the clues in Winter's letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.

My review of The Lost Letters of William Woolf 

I absolutely loved reading The Lost Latters of William Woolf. This book was an absolute treat to read and I found myself slowly devouring the pages as I didn't want the story to end. In a world that is increasingly fast paced, it was such a pleasure to sit back and read this tantalisingly slow tale of love and loss from decades ago.

The novel is set in the 1980s and I loved that it was set during this period in time, when pen and paper ruled. The pages echoed with a huge sense of nostalgia. The writing flowed beautifully and I found myself swept along in the story of William Woolf as he finds himself immersed in his work at the Lost Letters Depot, while trying to juggle his home life and to keep his wife happy.

William's life is working at the Lost Letters Depot. Not only does he take his job incredibly seriously, but he is empathetic towards the situations that he find himself in, in trying to bring people together through their lost letters, birthday cards and love letters. I thought that this was such a lovely concept, that he was able to find a home for all those letters that were lost. How many times have we sent a postcard, birthday card or letter and it has failed to reach the recipient. What would happen if the letter was a declaration of your love which was then lost? How would that change the path of your life?

The author takes this idea and then completely turns it on its head. William finds himself reading letters that have been written by Winter,  a young woman who is writing letters to her future lover. She writes with the hope that one day they will meet and that they will instantly know  that they were meant to 'be'. What I loved was that William questioned if the letters were directed at him, and if Winter was meant to be his soul mate. An idea that is reinforced and made more real because io his relationship with Claire, his wife.

This is such a beautiful novel, set in the time when paper ruled the world. It's a novel about love and longing and striving for that sense of belonging. It's a novel about nostalgia, the art of communication and that at the end of the day, we all want eternal happiness. Such a special and heartwarming read.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advanced Reader Copy.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf is published by Michael Joseph on 10th July.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

#DarkPines @willrdean @ptblankbks

About Dark Pines

For fans of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and Peter H√łeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, a brand new debut crime writer introduces a Scandi-noir Tuva Moodyson Mystery


Eyes missing, two bodies lie deep in the forest near a remote Swedish town.


Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, is looking for the story that could make her career.


A web of secrets. And an unsolved murder from twenty years ago.

Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the final victim? She'd like to think so. But first she must face her demons and venture far into the deep, dark woods if she wants to stand any chance of getting the hell out of small-time Gavrik.

My review of Dark Pines 

Oh this book! I absolutely loved Dark Pines. This is a Scandi-noir mystery that is set in the small community of Gavrik, told through the eyes of Tuva Moodyson, a young journalist who I found to be truly captivating on the page. She is ambitious, caring, dynamic, funny and just happens to be deaf. I warmed to her instantly. What a chsracter!

Tuva works for the town's local paper. Having worked and lived in London, she finds herself moving back to Sweden to be near her mother who is terminally ill. Tuva finds herself living in a community where she doesn't feel accepted, nor belong, as she is viewed very much as an outsider in this close knit and somewhat claustrophobic town. The same things happen day in day out. Everyone knows each others busineas, but when a body is found in the woods and with the eyes removed, Tuva begins to investigate.
Not only is she on the hunt for a killer, but she also has to deal with her own demons and venture into the pine woods to interview the inhabitants.

I found this book to be an incredible page turner. Within the first few pages I found myself immersed in the woods, with the Elks running wild alongside that feeling of desolation and sheer fear. After the first few lines I knew I would just love this book, and that I was reading something very special. The book is so incredibly descriptive and once I began to read I was instantly sucked into Gavrik life, and I too felt that cloying sense of oppression and the need to get the hell out of there.

This book works so well because of Tuva. She IS this book. Yes, the other characters are intriguing, funny, and also downright weird (you'll just love the  wood carving sisters, youre in for a treat), but this book is all about Tuva. Her need to succeed, to seek justice and truth, to get that big story that will  secure her fteedom. and that she can be a good daughter. She is one hell of a journalist and throughout the book I kept forgetting that she was deaf. I was reminded when Tuva spoke about putting her hearing aids in the cleaner over night, and the beeping that they made to warn her that the battery was low. But this is not who she is, she is not a deaf woman who is a journalist, she is a journalist who just happens to be deaf, and that's what's important  And oh, some of her internal thoughts when people made ill informed and judgmental comments about how she 'coped' with her deafness nearly made me choke on my coffee. Such clever and empathetic writing.

Ultimately this is a fantastic murder mystery set in the heart of the pine forest among the gunshots during Elk hunting season. Tuva believes that the present day murder is linked to the Medusa killings over  twenty years ago, but will the police believe her? I honestly couldn't decide who the killer was, and once I thought that I had it all figured out near to the end, it was a complete shock to find out I was completely wrong.

Dark Pines is also a story about family, forming relationships and that all important mother daughter bond. I found Tuva's relationship with her mother both warming and heartbreaking, all at the same time. But in general I read how difficult it was for Tuva to form any kind of relationship, and for me this was because I believed she viewed Gavrik as a temporary stop, both in her professional and personal life.

Dark Pines is such a haunting and evocative read. I felt so sad when I finished this book. I wanted to carry on reading. I'll miss the smell of pine trees. I'll miss the taste of sugar that floats in the air. But, most of all, I'll miss Tuva.

Dark Pines is available in ebook now and will be published in paperback by Point Blank on 14 June.

Dark Pines has also been selected as one of the ten books to be featured as part of the Zoe Ball Book Club.

Monday, 11 June 2018

#SuicideClub @rachelhengqp @SceptreBooks

About Suicide Club 

They leave us no choice.

What are you doing to help yourself? What are you doing to show that you're worth the resources?

In a near-future world, medical technology has progressed far enough that immortality is now within grasp - but only to those who show themselves to be deserving of it. These people are the lifers: the exercisers, yogacisers, green juicers and early nighters.

Genetically perfect, healthy and wholesome, one hundred-year-old Lea is the poster girl for lifers, until the day she catches a glimpse of her father in the street, eighty-eight years after their last encounter. While pursuing him, Lea has a brush with death which sparks suspicions. If Lea could be so careless, is she worthy of immortality?

Suicide Club wasn't always an activist group. It began as a set of disillusioned lifers, gathering to indulge in forbidden activities: performances of live music, artery-clogging meals, irresponsible orgies. But now they have been branded terrorists and are hunted by the state.

And Lea has decided to give them a call.

My review of Suicide Club 

Suicide Club was such an emotive and thought provoking read. I sat in silence after reading the final page trying to fully absorb what had happened. This literary dystopian story makes you think about the choices you make in life, as well as making you question what life is all about. It really is a riveting read.

This really is a captivating read with two strong women of co!our  protagonists. Both of them Lifers.  Lea does supposedly have it all, but her life is far from perfect, and it begins a downwards spiral on the day she very nearly gets killed. Lea, intrigued me and I completely empathised with her and the dilemma that she faced. Circumstances lead her to form a friendship with Anja, and I liked how the novel dealt with female friendship and the issues of caring for elderly parents. These passages I found to be highly emotional, while raising many ethical and human concerns.

I loved the slow pace of this book. It made me savour every word and drew me fully into the heart of he story. It's deliberately slow, dark, and menacing and once I started to read, I could not stop. What we read about is a dark, clinical world. I was quickly sucked into this story and wanted to know everything about this future world. A world so very different from our own, yet  completely  believable.

Suicide Club raises many philosophical questions regarding mortality, morality and quality of life. The ultimate question being that of, would you want to live forever? and at what cost? The Lifers seem to have it all. They are healthy, beautiful, radiant and apparently living the perfect life. But, are they happy?

This is such a clever read and such an ambitious book in terms of the questions that it raises. Will medical intervention go too far? Where should the line be drawn? This book raises the importance that society places upon beauty, youth and perfection. Why are those who are beautiful  perceived to be more powerful and important?

Suicide Club is a thought provoking read about the pitfalls of believing that we really can have it all. It's a story about learning to love and what it really means to let go. Such a beautiful book.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Suicide Club is published by Sceptre on 10th July.

Friday, 8 June 2018

#SongsOInnocence @Anne_Coates1 @urbanebooks

About Songs of Innocence 

“Gripping and original, Anne Coates delivers the most thrilling Hannah Weybridge investigation yet” - Hugh Fraser, bestselling author of the Rina Walker thriller series

A woman's body is found in a lake. Is it a sad case of suicide or something more sinister? Hannah Weybridge, still reeling from her friend's horrific murder and the attempts on her own life, doesn't want to get involved, but reluctantly agrees to look into the matter for the family.

The past however still stalks her steps, and a hidden danger accompanies her every move.

The third in the bestselling Hannah Weybridge thriller series, Songs of Innocence provides Hannah with her toughest and deadliest assignment yet...

My review of Songs of Innocence

When you pick up an Anne Coates book you just know that you're in for a treat, and this book is no exception. Songs of Innocence is the third book in the Hannah Weybridge series and it is mighty good. I honestly could not put thus book down and read it in just over a day (which is fast for me). I really do think that you need to read the first two books in the series, to gain a fuller sense of characters and past events, but it also works well as a standalone.

The novel is set in London and begins with the body of a girl being found in a city pond. At first the police believe it to be suicide, but are they right? As ever, journalist Hannah Weybridge gets drawn into events and starts to unearth the truth about this apparant suicide and the disappearance of Asian school girls. We follow Hannah as she begins her own investigation, alongside the police, as well as having to deal with her own personal problems.

I love this character so much. She is strong, she is sensitive, she is resourceful and she is a mother. I love her on so many different levels. We watch as she struggles to maintain that all important work life balance, while keeping herself safe from the consequences of past events ( you need to read the previous two books).  She is ultimately likeable as she does have flaws, but also a strong moral compass.

This book is also refreshing as it is set in the mid nineties. I loved the references to dialling up the internet. I remember this well, I could hear the ping and whirring as the internet connected, and this made me smile. I also love the fact that there are no smartphones in this book. No Google, and the fact that Hannah has to use the clippings library.

Songs of Innocence is full of wonderful characters, all of whom bring much enjoyment to reading this novel. I particularly found it interesting to read about Asian culture and arranged marriage, and found that the author tackled this subject with knowledge, empathy and compassion. There was much food for thought.

This really is a gripping thriller of a read. And, oh! that ending! I cannot wait to read the next exciting instalment and find out what Hannah gets up to next.

I purchased the Kindle edition of the book.

Songs of Innocence was published on 24 May by Urbane Publications.