Thursday, 22 March 2018

The Lido @LibbyPageWrites @orionbooks

About The Lido 

Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers...

Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.

Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She's on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.

So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim - it is the heart of the community.

The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how
ordinary people can protect the things they love.

My review of The Lido

The Lido is an absolutely beautiful book. From the very first page I knew that I would fall in love with this book and  these two characters, and I did. This book is about friendship, new love, long established love and the importance of community.

The novel is set in Brixton, and although I have never been there, I could imagine myself wandering around the market, buying flowers, browsing in the second hand book shop, the fruit and veg market, and visiting Rosemary's much beloved Lido. Brixton and the people who live there are an integral part of the story, and I needed to understand this area, its culture, and its history, to fully embrace and understand this story

So, we are introduced to Rosemary, a widow of 86 who lost her beloved George only two years ago. They had been together since she was 16. He was the love of her life. As we read, we learn of Rosemary's past, her life with George, and why the Lido means so much to her. The closing of the Lido could mean so much more than just the lack of somewhere to swim.

We also meet Kate, whose story rums alongside Rosemary's. She is a local journalist, aged only 26, and the potential closure of the Lido means the beginning of a news story and a new chapter in her life.

You couldn't get two more different women who form a friendship, and it has nothing to do with their age. Rosemary is confident, has seen it all and has the tee shirt, whereas Kate is incredibly self conscious, unsure about herself and what she can achieve, but the two women compliment each other, they make each other whole, and this is what is so strikingly beautiful about this novel.

I adored the story. Its rich storytelling, its gentle nature and beautiful romantic undertones. It's a story about hope, about never giving up, and that community and being part of that community is everything.

Wity thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for ptoviding an Advanced Reader Copy.

The Lido is published on 19th April by Orion. It can be found on Amazon here.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

#TheWomanBeforeMe @RuthDugdall @Legend_Press

About The Woman Before Me 

They came for me, just like I knew they would. Luke had been dead for just three days.

Rose Wilks' life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Emma Hatcher has all that Rose lacks. Beauty. A loving husband. A healthy son. Until tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.

Now, having spent nearly five years behind bars, Rose is just weeks away from freedom. Her probation officer Cate must decide whether Rose is remorseful for Luke's death, or whether she remains a threat to society. As Cate is drawn in, she begins to doubt her own judgement.

Where is the line between love and obsession, can justice be served and, if so... by what means?

My review of The Woman Before Me

The Woman Before Me is a powerful, emotive and all consuming read. Once I picked this book up I found it very hard to put down. It's a book that deals with motherhood, what it means to be a woman, and obsessive love. I read Rose's story with both wonderment and horror, and always with a lump in my throat.

The novel is told from two points of view.  We hear from Rose, the mother who tragically loses her own baby and who is convicted of killing another baby. She has a powerful narrative voice and by the end of the book I felt like I really knew her. I've never quite met a character like Rose, and think I never will again. My emotions towards her constantly changed throughout the book, but I did find that I was on her side. As well as reading the present day story, we also gain glimpses from her past in the reading of her Black Diary entries. This gave much needed insight into her character, and helped me to understand her and ultimately empathise with her.

We then have the probation officer, Cate, who has her own difficulties and demons to deal with. I really liked Cate and everything she stood for. She also provided great insight into what probation officers actually do. Cate also finds herself torn between the woman she sees before her now, and the woman who was convicted of killing a child. Is Rose really innocent? I found that Cate was just as confused as I was.

We then have Emma, the woman whom Rose befriends and whose child she is convicted of killing. We learn of Emma through the eyes of others and to be truthful I couldn't get to grips with her. Did I like her? No, not really. I felt that there was something about this woman that made me not want to trust her, nor like her, but I couldn't quite put my finger on the reason. She is though a fascinating character, and the relationship between herself and Rose truly gripped me. I needed to undersrand their relationship and what had really happened that fateful night.

This book deals with what it is to be a woman, juggling the life work balance when you have a child. It deals with all consuming love, how women are perceived by other women and what women perceive themselves to be. It's such a clever read.

There was a real sense of foreboding as I read through the pages, a creeping sense of unease as the layers to the truth were slowly unpeeled. The ending. Oh, the ending, it completely took me by surprise, but at the same time I knew that it couldn't end any other way

With thanks to the publisher who sent me an ebook for review purposes.

The Woman Before Me (The new paperback edition) was published on March 1st by Legend Press and can be found on Amazon here.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

#TheDarkness @ragnarjo @MichaelJBooks

About The Darkness 

A young woman is found dead on a remote Icelandic beach.

She came looking for safety, but instead she found a watery grave.

A hasty police investigation determines her death as suicide . . .

When Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavik police is forced into early retirement, she is told she can investigate one last cold case of her choice - and she knows which one.

What she discovers is far darker than suicide . . . And no one is telling Hulda the whole story.

When her own colleagues try to put the brakes on her investigation, Hulda has just days to discover the truth. A truth she will risk her own life to find.

My review of The Darkness

Wow! This book! I read this several days ago and I can't stop thinking about it. That icy chill still running down the back of my spine. This is the first book that I have read by Ragnar Jonasson and it won't be the last. The Darkness is deceivingly slow to begin with, but is one that slowly crept under my skin and it still won't let me go.

The Darkness revolves around the main protagonist of Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir. A woman who is nearing retirement, and who is shocked to find that she is given only a matter of days left to work  before a younger, and male detective takes over her duties. This premise in itself truly captivated me, as here we have a strong female voice, an older woman, and one who is a little bit quirky, different from the norm. She is also at times unsympathetuc, and I loved her for this.

The Darkness focuses upon a cold case that Hulda decides to investigate during her last remaining days on the police force. She soon realises that the investigation was rushed, shoddy to say the least, and she is convinced that the young woman did not commit suicide.  What follows is a dark and macabre story that kept me guessing until the very end. There is a tantalisingly slow build up with the feeling that something truly bad is going to happen. I couldn't shake this feeling off from the very first page.

We gain so much insight into Hulda's character, and her own personal story is just as intriguing as the main story about the myserious death of the young woman. We grasp glimpses of what Hulda's life was like, the woman who lives alone, who is apparently a recluse, and I'll admit that the ending stunned me. I hadn't seen it coming. And I sat and stared at the last page for several minutes mulling over what had happened to Hulda in her life, both past and present. The ending truly shocked me.

The Darkness is a captivating read. It is dark, menacing, and full of twists and turns. It chilled me to my very core. It's an absolute must read for fans of thlis genre.

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

Thr Darkness is published by Michael Joseph on March 15th. It can be found on Amazon here.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

#YouMeEverything @Catherineisaac_

About You Me Everything 

You and  me, we have history.
We have a child together.
We have kept secrets from each other for far too long.

This summer, in the beautiful hills of the Dordogne, it is time for  everything to change.

My review of You Me Everything 

Oh My Heart! I just need to take a little breath before I write this review, because this book is just so incredibly gorgeous. It is such a beautiful book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and I fell in love with all of the characters. I couldn't focus on anything else while I read this book, set in the beautiful Chateau de Roussignol, in the French countryside. It waa all consuming.

It's a book about lost love, about paternal lov, about the love between mother and daughter, and the love that runs thriugh the veins of a family. It is a love story on so many different levels, and as you can probably tell, I loved it!

The novel begins with Jess giving birth to William. A baby that Adam was unprepared for, and whom he left behind not long after the birth. It was Jess's mother and father who supported her for the fhrst ten years of William's life. Then fast forward ten years and we have the situation that is now. Jess wants her son to form a relationship with his father, and so she makes the decision to holiday in France, where Adam now lives and works.

During Jess and William's summer vacation to reconnect with Adam, their lives will change forever. That is all I will say. I don't want to give anything away.

This is such a delightful read. The writing is beautiful,  lyrical and so very down to earth. The characters are real on the page,  and Jess in particular completely resonated with me. I understood completely her motives for wanting her son to have a proper family, and to bond with his father.  I alao had a soft spot for William. As a mum to two boys, aged 11 and nearly 10,  his mannerisms,  language and emotions really touched me. I just wanted to put my arms around this little boy and tell him that everything would be OK.

I really did go through a whole range of emotions, while reading You Me Everything. This book is both heartbreaking,  yet hopeful,  romantic and practical.  It's a book about the importance of family and how love evolves and is forever changing, but that it is always present.  A beautiful story that I will read again and again. I highly recommend it. Enjoy!

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

Me You Everything is published on 19th April by Simon and Schuster.  It can be found on Amazon here.

Monday, 12 March 2018

#ASecretSisterhood @emmacsweeney @emilymidorikawa

About A Secret Sisterhood

 In their first book together, Midorikawa and Sweeney resurrect four literary collaborations, which were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.

Drawing on letters and diaries, some of which have never been published before, and new documents uncovered during the authors’ research, the creative connections explored here reveal: Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

A Secret Sisterhood uncovers the hidden literary friendships of the world’s most respected female authors.

My review of A Secret Sisterhood

A Secret Sisterhood was an absolute treat to read. I must just mention the stunning cover, which for me, sums up the beauty of this book. A Secret Sisterhood eloquently and succinctly describes in much detail, four female literary collaborations: those of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. I was absolutely staggered at the sheer amount of research that was undertaken in order to write this book. It is packed with so much information, hidden gems and beautiful descriptions of female solidarity from long, long ago.

This book is a treasure trove of hidden secrets. Very little is known about the friendships that these women had with other women writers, as during their lifetimes their achievements and literary accomplishments were very much downplayed, with male writers receiving much of the recognition. Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney have created a book that highlights these achievements, the strength of women, and how women seek and give strength to other women in the writing profession. This is very much in evidence today, so it is so very refreshing to find that our female literally heroines were doing the very same.

We learn about these much loved writers' private lives and their close friendships, that were often seen as scandalous, from the information that has been painstakingly gathered from lost letters and diaries. In doing so, what happened in the past is made incredibly relevant for today's audience. These women writers had such a close support system. We learn that feminism is not such a new concept, as these women were feminists well before the term was even used.

This is such an uplifting book and one that I enjoyed immensely. If you love to read novels by these four literary heroines,  and are interested in literary history, then this book will really appeal to you. In fact, for anyone interested in literature, or for those who just fancy an absorbing non-fiction read, then you really will enjoy this wonderful treat of a book.

With thanks to the publisher who sent me a hardback copy for review purposes.

A Secret Sisterhood is available from independent book shops via Foyles and Hive. It's also available at Waterstones and Amazon - a website about literary friendships

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Thursday, 8 March 2018

The Immortalists @chloekbenjamin @TinderPress

About The Immortalists

It's 1969, and holed up in a grimy tenement building in New York's Lower East Side is a travelling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the date they will die. The four Gold children, too young for what they're about to hear, sneak out to learn their fortunes.

Over the years that follow, the siblings must choose how to live with the prophecies the fortune-teller gave them that day. Will they accept, ignore, cheat or defy them? Golden-boy Simon escapes to San Francisco, searching for love; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician; eldest son Daniel tries to control fate as an army doctor after 9/11; and bookish Varya looks to science for the answers she craves.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists is a story about how we live, how we die, and what we do with the time we have.

My review of The Immortalists

I have no idea of how I am going to do this book justice in my review, but I'll do my best to try and express just haunting, lyrical, epic, and sublimely beautiful this book is.

The Immortalists is an epic family drama that begins in 1969 when four children visit a travelling psychic, who tells them things that no child should ever hear, the youngest only seven. This beginning hooked me in. The story of how all four Gold children were told the day that they would die. This alone caught my attention and made me want to read more. I needed to know what would happen to these four children, how their lives would pan out, and if what the psychic said was true? Would they die on the day that she prophesied? This is the backbone to the book, but the story is so much more. It's a story about the importance of family, how siblings grow up together and their  relationship with each other over the years. Parts of thus book I found hugely emotional, that feeling when you have a huge lump in your throat that you just can't swallow down. The feelings, experiences and interactions were all so vivid and incredibly real.

While reading I wondered how I would feel if I knew the day I would die? Would this change the decisions that I'd make? What I do on a day to day basis? Would I take more risks? The answers are yes. Knowing your destiny must change the way in which you view and live life, and this is the question that is posed to the four Gold children. But how can children possibly process this type of information about their own mortality? The day that they meet the psychic does change all of their lives forever. For them, and me as a reader, this was a hugely emotional experience. This book makes us question our own mortality. Would we really want to know?

The book follows a logical progession, in that we read from 1969 through to when the book ends in the 21st century. The book is divided into four parts, each one telling a separate story, by each of the Gold's. Every  chapter had a distinct voice with their own share of joy, sadness and drama. Each had their own distinctive voice, but the character of Klara, the sister who became a magician, touched me the most.

The attention to detail in this book is breathtaking. It is a tantalisingly slow paced read, but that's how it should be. I felt as if I completely understood every single one of the Golds, I empathised, I laughed and  cried with them.  While I read I was fully immersed, and I didn't want the book to end.

The Immortalists is indeed a book of epic proportions. This is one mystical and hugely memorable book. I can't praise it highly enough. A must read!

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for the Advanced hardback copy.

The Immortalists is published on March 8 and can be found on Amazon here

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

#BringMeBack @BAParisAuthor @HQstories

About Bring Me Back
 A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again. 

Ten years later he's engaged to be married; he's happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

My review of Bring Me Back

Bring Me Back is one clever and twisted read that thoroughly entertained.  From the very beginning I was sucked into this psychological drama, wanting to learn the truth about what had happened to Finn's girlfriend, Layla, on the night that she disappeared twelve years previously. Was she taken?  If so, then who took her? Did she leave of her own accord?  And at the back of my mind the most important question of all, that of, did Finn hurt her? This novel throws up so many questions about what happened that fateful night,  and what is to happen in the future. It also made me wonder who you could really trust.

So, the book is set both in the present day and in the past. We learn of how Finn met Layla, of their frantic and fierce love for one another, of how he saved her, and of his early life in London with his friend, Harry. This is interspersed with present day events of his life now, married to Ellen, Layla's sister, who is the complete opposite in every way.

As I read this unfolding story, of how Finn was being targeted with memories of Layla, and only ones that he would know, I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. Why was he receiving Russian dolls? Who was behind them? Could it be Layla? These questions opened up the possibility that Finn could have hurt her. That she had fled. But I waa left in the dark until the very end of the novel.

This is a twisted psychological thriller with four captivating central characters. I adored Harry, the loyal friend, but really couldn't get a true grasp on Ellen. I really didnt know what to make of her, and if she really loved Finn. As for Finn, I did like him, I felt sorry for him, and I just wanted him to be happy, although I couldn't quite shake off the fear that he had something to do with Layla's disappearance.

Bring Me Back is an addictive read, in that the chapters are relatively short and that I found myself racing through the pages in my hunger to know what had really happened to Layla. This book got under my skin. It tackles  the subject of all consuming love, relationships, and how we can possibly live once that love is lost.  I found myself thinking about Finn, Layla and Ellen, long after I had read the final word.

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

Bring me Back is published by HQ on 8 Mar. 2018. It can be found on Amazon here.