Thursday, 17 May 2018

#LetMeBeLikeWater @_sarah_perry @melvillehouse

About Let Me Be Like Water

I ve met a man called Frank. He s seventy, a magician, and he tells me I need to slow down. He tells me things always work out ok when you re by the sea. But without you I don t know what ok means. I only know the empty space behind me in the mornings, the quiet while I eat breakfast, the cold spaces, the missing. I look at my hands and try to remember what I was before you, try to work out whether I will ever feel like a someone again. I thought it would be enough to escape our city, our routines, our friends. I thought it would be enough to sit with the waves on Brighton Beach and have sex with strangers and run and run until my body hurt as much as my heart. But I still feel lost and lonely. I still look at the waves and think about being part of them, holding my breath until all that is left is the water.

Holly moved to Brighton to escape her grief over the death of her boyfriend, Sam. But now she is here, sitting on a bench, listening to the sea sway... what is supposed to happen next?

She had thought she d want to be on her own. Wrecked. Stranded. But after she meets Frank, the tide begins to shift. Frank, a retired magician who has experienced his own loss but manages to be there for everyone else. Gradually, as he introduces Holly to a circle of new friends, young and old, all with their own stories of love and grief to share, she begins to learn to live again.

A moving and powerful debut which combines the emotional pull of Maggie O'Farrell with the lyrical beauty of Sarah Perry, Let Me Be Like Water is a book simultaneously about nothing and everything: about the humdrum yet extraordinariness of everyday life; of lost and new connections; of loneliness and friendship.

My review of Let Me Be Like Water

I have no idea how I am going to justify the absolute beauty of this book, but I'll do my best. It is one of the most haunting and exquisite books that I have read in a long time. It's a book about grief, about loss, but that even though you are broken, friendship and a sense of belonging can put you back together again. It is a stunningly empowering and breathtaking read about the fragility of every day human life.

We meet Holly, a young woman who flees from London to Brighton after the death of her boyfriend, Sam. She wants to run away from her grief, from those surroundings and things that remind her of Sam, but can she run away from grief and be an island? She wants to be invisible, to be alone and to simply 'be' but, while sat on Brighton Beach she meets Frank, a 70-year-old man and retired magician, and he changes everything.

This is very much a character driven novel, told through the eyes of Holly.  I felt every single emotion. I actually felt as if I was her. The grief so palpable, so real, that I had to simply close the book at times, to allow myself to breathe and think, as the emotion was so raw on the page. The storytelling is also lyrical, powerful and so very real. I found myself being swept along.

Although this is Holly's story, there is an array of wonderfully vibrant and colourful characters who help to shed light and much needed hope on this story, as there is hope. Yes, this story is very much about raw grief, and of how time shapes and moulds grief into something more manageable, but ultimately it is also a book about friendship, and of how being part of a close community can help to change your life, and perspective.

Let Me Be Like Water is such a beautifully written book. I can't praise it highly enough.

With thanks to the publisher, and @NikkiTGriffiths for the Advanced Reader Copy and invitation to the blog tour.

Let Me Be Like Water is published by
Melville House Uk on 10 May 2018. It can be found in Amazon here

Monday, 14 May 2018

#TheStoryCollector @evgaughan @urbanebooks

About The Story Collector 

A beautiful and mysterious historical romance from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris.

Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate 'fairy stories' from Irish to English.

But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life.....

Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve.

The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan's latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell. Perfect for fans of Jess Kidd and Eowyn Ivey.

My review of The Story Collector 

Oh My Heart! Loved this book so much! It's full of magic and faeries and love and hope and stories. Blending the past and present day with the ordinary, and the not  so ordinary, creates a memorable and utterly breathtaking read.

I was instantly drawn to this book because of the cover, you just want to stroke it. Although I'm not usually a huge fan of historical  fiction, I love Irish stories and tales of magic and romance, and with the comparison made to Eowyn Ivey (I adore The Snow Child) I just knew that I had to read this book.

This really is a beautiful book that features two strong female characters. Sarah, who is based in the present day, and Anna who lived 100 years ago, and who is brought  to life through the reading of her diary. Both women share similarities, strengths and a common bond. At the heart of this story is how we learn to live with grief, how it shapes and defines who we are. Sarah reads Anna's diary, and although one hundred years separate them, Sarah feels a strong connection with this young woman, a farmer's daughter, and begins to learn how to live and love by learning from what happened to her.

Anna and Harold were truly captivating. Both as individuals, and when working together on gaining stories from the locals. I enjoyed their conversations, and of how Harold saw Anna as an equal. I loved reading about them. We then have Sarah and her personal struggles. How she welcomes the quiet village, its remoteness, while she gathers her thoughts and tries to rebuild her life. Here is a young woman with so much fight and spirit, that I just couldn't help but warm to her. Her story is just as fascinating as Anna's.

The Story Collector is a joyous read. It has everything. Magical tales, love, secrets and a mystery to solve. Perfect summer reading and pure escapism.

With thanks to the publisher who provided a paperback proof copy for review purposes.

The Story Collector is published on 14 June by Urbane Publications. It can be found on Amazon here

Friday, 11 May 2018

#TheManWhoDidntCall @TheRosieWalsh @MantleBooks

About The Man Who Didn't Call 

The Man Who Didn't Call by Rosie Walsh is a heart-wrenching love story with a dark secret at its heart, for anyone who's waited for a phone call that didn't come.

Imagine you meet a man, spend seven glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything.

So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him.

But he doesn’t call.

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they're wrong: something must have happened; there must be a reason for his silence.

What do you do when you finally discover you're right? That there is a reason -- and that reason is the one thing you didn't share with each other?

The truth.

My review of The Man Who Didn't Call

As soon as I read the book description, I just knew that I would love this book! And i did! The whole idea of waiting for that special someone to ring, and then the disappointment that follows when they don't phone, hooked me in from the very start. I just imagined what it must be like to find that special someone, your soul mate, and to then never hear from them again. What must that feel like? This is exactly what happens to Sarah, after spending an intense week with Eddie, in his cabin, near to her childhood home.

I won't say any more, as I don't want to spoil this deliciously sublime story. I wanted to know why Eddie hadn't called. Had he suffered an accident? Changed his mind? Found himself in difficulty? All of these scenarios ran through my mind in wanting to know what had happened. We read Sarah's thoughts on why she never received that phone call and my heart ached for her, it really did.

This book is so incredibly beautiful. Although there is a huge sense of mystery running throughout the pages, at its very core is a story about love and forgiveness. This is a love story that I could help comparing with One Day, in the way in which  the book is beautifully written. It's about the love that two complete strangers share after realising that they are meant to be together. It's a love story that transcends everything else.

The twist half way through this novel was  followed by many more twists, all  of which I didnt see coming. However, all made perfect sense. It's an exciting and exhilarating read, as I raced through these sublime pages in my search for what was going to happen and to unearth the dark secret that is hinted about in the book's description

What an absolutely glorious read. Simply beautiful. I have a feeling that this book will be one of this summer's most talked about romantic reads, and for very good reasons.

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

The Man Who Didn't Call is published in hardback on 14th June by Mantle. It is available to buy from Amazon here.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018


About Underwater Breathing

On Yorkshire's gradually-crumbling mud cliffs sits an Edwardian seaside house. In the bathroom, Jacob and Ella hide from their parents' passionate arguments by playing the 'Underwater Breathing' game - until the day Jacob wakes to find his mother and sister gone.

Years later, the sea's creeping closer, his father is losing touch with reality and Jacob is trapped in his past. Then, Ella's sudden reappearance forces him to confront his fractured childhood. As the truth about their parents emerges, it's clear that Jacob's time hiding beneath the water is coming to an end.

My review of Underwater Breathing

Underwater Breathing is such a beautiful book. It has a haunting melody that runs throughout, from the very beginning when we meet Jacob and Ella, right until the exquisite ending. The storytelling draws you in, as do these very different characters. All who have their own unique story to tell.

This is a stunning book. The fragility of this family unit is  echoed in the fragility of the house, sat on top of a crumbling cliff. At the heart of this home is Jacob.   A young man, a teacher, and carer for his ageing and alcoholic father. Jacob has many demons to face, including those of never having come to terms with the disappearance of his baby sister, Ella, two decades  previously. His life is dominated by thoughts of his sister, of where she is, if she is still alive. Even when she returns to the family home, there are so many unanswered questions, with Jacob having to unearth the past to make sense of his future.

Throughout the narrative we go backwards and forwards in time. We meet Jacob as a fifteen-year-old, when Ella was only six. We are introduced to the underwater breathing game, and the interaction between the two of them is with heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. In fact, the bond that the two share is incredibly special, as it is born out of Jacob's need to protect his sister from his arguing parents and alcoholic father.

There are serious issues that are dealt with in this book. Those of loneliness, and what it means to enforce your own loneliness. Family, and the many different types of family unit are touched upon, as well as the responsibility that adult children face in caring for an ageing and ill parent. All of these complex issues and intertwined and made into something quite haunting that deeply touches the soul. On paper it would be easy to assume that this type of story would be somewhat dark and macabre, but there is a surprising lightness and joy to this tale of a lost sibling and a family that is falling apart at the seams. It is a haunting and dazzling read. This book really will stay with me for a long time.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the digital review copy.

Underwater Breathing was published by Legend Press on 3rd May. It can be found on Amazon here.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart @HotKeyBooks

About Genuine Fraud

From the author of the unforgettable bestseller WE WERE LIARS comes a suspenseful new psychological thriller - the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life.

But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

My review of Genuine Fraud 

How do I begin to review this book? I am so confused about it. But, perhaps that's the intention? It IS a twisted psychological thriller that is certainly fast paced and which kept me reading. And, I did enjoy it. HOWEVER, I disliked both of the central female characters. It's very unusual for me to like a book but to completely feel no emotion or connection to the characters whose lives I am reading about, hence the confusion. The time frame also jumps about a lot, and I had to reread some passages to ensure that I understood what time frame I was reading in. The plot is complex, and even if I wanted to explain the plot, I'm not sure that I could.

The style in which the story is told is at first somewhat confusing, but after a few chapters I eased in to it and understood where the author was coming from. It's an interesting writing style, and made complete sense to me. It also worked well with the overall suspenseful theme, and in learning the truth about Jules.

So, that leads us to Jules, whose head we are in. Although told in third person (which I liked) she has a really distinctive voice that helped to convey her as an unreliable narrator. What is refreshing is that Jules does not conform. She is her own woman, does what she wants, but I did not like her because of this. Is she a bad person? Is she a victim who simply does bad things? To be honest, by the end of the book I was none the wiser.

As you can probably tell I am still very confused by this book. It challenged me as a reader, and i like to be challenged, to read books that raise questions that make me feel a little uncomfortable.

If you want a book that is a little different, with complex unreliable narrators, then you'll probably like this.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the digital review copy

Genuine Fraud is released in paperback on 31st May by Hot Key Books. It can be found on Amazon here.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

#TheKindnessofStrangers @julesmnewman @urbanebooks

About The Kindness of Strangers

An intricate portrayal of love and loss, redemption and revenge which will stay with you long after the final page.' - Anne Coates, bestselling author of the Hannah Weybridge thrillers

Deception abounds in Julie Newman's breath-taking new novel.

Widow Helen is desperate for a perfect family life, and will do everything she can to get what she wants.

A veteran of the Afghanistan conflict Martin is adrift and seemingly without hope - can he ever win back his estranged family?

Pregnant teenager Charley is striking out on her own to create a new life for her unborn child, but her mother Lizzie has other ideas.

When three seemingly disparate lives connect, the past and the present collide to reveal secrets, lies and how far people are willing to go to hide the truth.

Following the gripping and controversial Beware the Cuckoo, Julie Newman's thrilling new novel lifts the lid on the dark past that haunts a seemingly happy household.

My review of The Kindness of Strangers

Wow! This book. Where do I start? It's a fantastic read that lulled me in with it's tales of kindness, grief, and sorrow in the first half of the book, and then completely blew me away in the second half. I found myself racing through the pages, of which turned out to be a dark and slick psychological teaser of a read.

The first half of the book is divided into three sections, each section  dedicated to the three central characters of Helen, Martin, and Charley. Each of these stories is told in first person which I really liked, as it helped me to crawl under their skin, and by the first half of the book I felt as if I knew each of then fairly well. Helen, who is coming to terms with the death of her husband, Robert. Martin, who is suffering from PTSD, and Charley, who finds herself pregnant. I needed to understand these characters, so as to better understand what would happen in the second half of the book. All I will say, is expect the unexpected.

The Kindness of Strangers is such a clever and dark read. It uses the common theme of Kindness and a linking character to explore human nature and our need to survive at all costs. All of the three central characters engaged me and I felt quite differently to each and everyone of them, with my views drastically changing as I made my way through the book. However, Charley I liked from the very beginning to the final pages. A young girl trying to to do her best under the most difficult of circumstances. I had a lot of empathy for her.

Although at first these three stories seem to be  in isolation, the author slowly brings these stories together and characters together, with the most unexpected consequences. What is interesting is that the second half of the book us told in third person narrative, weaving from one character to another, and that gave a completely different spin on events.

The unpredictability of Kindness and its repercussions are beautifully explored within this book. It's a dark and twisted tale which asks the reader many morality based questions. An intricate web of love, deceit, and kindness is slowly weaved as we finally learn the truth. Highly recommended.

The Kindness of Strangers was published by Urbane Publication on the 19th April. It can be found on Amazon here.

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

Saturday, 28 April 2018

#TheEndofLoneliness #BenedictWells @SceptreBooks

About The End of Loneliness

The international bestseller, translated by the award-winning translator of The Tobacconist, Charlotte Collins

Winner of the European Union Prize for Literature

I've known Death a long time but now Death knows me.

When their idyllic childhood is shattered by the sudden death of their parents, siblings Marty, Liz and Jules are sent to a bleak state boarding school. Once there, the orphans' lives change tracks: Marty throws himself into academic life; Liz is drawn to dark forms of escapism; and Jules transforms from a vivacious child to a withdrawn teenager.

The only one who can bring him out of his shell is his mysterious classmate Alva, who hides a dark past of her own, but despite their obvious love for one another, the two leave school on separate paths.

Years later, just as it seems that they can make amends for time wasted, the past catches up with them, and fate - or chance - will once again alter the course of a life.

Told through the fractured lives of the siblings, The End of Loneliness is a heartfelt, enriching novel about loss and loneliness, family and love.

My review of The End of Loneliness

This book completely touched my heart. It is such a heartfelt, and beautiful story that spans the generations. It talks of love, of kindness, of what it means to be alone and the courage it takes to be loved. This is such a gentle, yet powerful read that drew me in and shook me up. But by the end I was made whole again.

The book tells of sibling love, and of how that love changes through the decades. We grow up, we become different people, yet the bond between siblings remain and this book so eloquently depicts this love. We read about Jules, Marty and Liz in both the past and future, and it was both heartachigly beautiful and nostalgic to learn of how they were as children, and who they had become as adults.

The book is told from the perspective of Jules, at the beginning of the book he is in hospital after having suffered an accident, and we are then transported back and forth in time to learn of his story. I loved the way in which the story was told in both the past and present, helping me to understand what had happened, while gaining some much needed insight.

At the very heart of this story though is the love story, the elastic bond between Jules and Alva. Oh, these two together on the page was pure magic, the writing subtle and full of longing, need and understanding. Their love was that kind that is born from friendship and the need to simply be together,  this is the story of who they were and who they became.

The End of Loneliness is a captivating read that is simply quite beautiful. Jules will stay with me for a very long time. I won't easily forget this story.

The End of Loneliness waa published by Sceptre on 8th March. It can be found on Amazon here

With thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for my paperback copy for review purposes.