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Thursday, 20 June 2019

#TheLastHouseGuest @MeganLMiranda @CorvusBooks

About The Last House Guest 

Never overstay your welcome...

Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of - but that's just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable - until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can't help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie's brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they're saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before she's branded a killer.

My review of The Last House Guest 

The Last House Guest is a submersive,
enthralling read about small town secrets and the desire to forge long lasting friendships and that need for belonging. I loved the old fashioned feel to this book and the characters who lived in this world. 

Set in present day Maine, we meet Avery as she attends a house party. She is waiting for her friend, Sadie, to arrive, but she never does. Later that night she is found dead . The police say her death was suicide, but Avery does not believe this and begins to dig deep into this community she has belonged to for many years in order to try and unearth the truth.

What unfolds is a compelling and slow burner of a story that investigates what it's really like to live in a small town when you are born into privilege.  Class and the portrayal of class  is a huge theme within this book. We have Avery's world, where she has had to be independent and work to get where she is, and then in contrast we have the world of the Loman family.  Avery is different, not a local, and she is judged to be different.

Predominantly though we read this book to find out exactly what happened to Sadie that fateful night.  Was it suicide? Was it murder, and if so who murdered her? It's a riveting and intoxicating read.

The Last House Guest explores the best and worst of humanity, what it's like to  be an outsider and what it means to trust. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

With thanks to Publishers First for the paper copy. 

The Last House Guest is published on  20 June by  Corvus.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

#BirdTherapy @BirdTherapy @unbounders

About Bird Therapy 

'I can't remember the last book I read that I could say with absolute assurance would save lives. But this one will' Chris Packham

'Succeeds – triumphantly – in articulating with great honesty what it is like to suffer with a mental illness, and in providing strategies for coping' Mail on Sunday

When Joe Harkness suffered a breakdown in 2013, he tried all the things his doctor recommended: medication helped, counselling was enlightening, and mindfulness grounded him. But nothing came close to nature, particularly birds. How had he never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter took him one step closer to accepting who he is.

The positive change in Joe's wellbeing was so profound that he started a blog to record his experience. Three years later he has become a spokesperson for the benefits of birdwatching, spreading the word everywhere from Radio 4 to Downing Street.

In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves.

My review of Birdwatching

I know that I am unable to put into words just how important this book is. But, I will try and share my thoughts on how much I absolutely adored this book.

Joe Harkness tells his own story with honesty and warmth. He tells us of how he wanted to take his own life, and of how he hit rock bottom. He tells us of how bird therapy saved his life, and it's a beautiful, gritty, and life affirming read.

The information, stories and advice in this book make so much sense. The fact that watching birds, listening to birdsong and having a common interest with others can all help to improve our mental health and wellbeing. I read these words and found myself absorbed in their meaning. That nature truly is a healing power.

There is so much advice in this book, alongside useful refrences, ideas to try and research to read. It's a refreshing read, and I found myself being lulled and calmed with the words on the page.

I really do think that everyone would benefit from reading Bird Therapy, even if you are not a birdwatcher. It's about embracing nature, going for a walk in the countryside, along the canal or to your local bird reserve. It's about looking up at the sky and noticing the birds, the clouds, the sounds around us. It's about getting away from screens, the internet, our smartphones and simply being with nature.

Reading this book is good for out mental health. Ultimately it is a stepping stone to good mental health. And I really do believe it will be a lifeline for many people.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ebook.

Bird Therapy published 13 June by Unbound.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Maggsie NcNaughton's Second Chance @perkinsfran1

About Maggsie NcNaughton's Second Chance

The first step was learning to read, but if she really wants to turn her life around, Maggsie is going to have to trust other people – and that might just be the hardest lesson she’s ever faced . . .

Small and dyslexic, with a short fuse, bad teeth, a prison record and something to prove, Marguerite McNaughton – Maggsie – doesn't need anybody or anything, thank you very much. She's more than capable of looking after herself.

She’s also about to discover that everyone needs someone, sometimes. 
Even her.

The thing about trusting others, though, is that not everyone is trustworthy...

It starts when a fellow inmate gives Maggsie reading lessons. Then she's offered a job in London as a kitchen assistant, together with supported accommodation and a colleague who seems determined to befriend Maggsie, no matter what.

At first, Maggsie is convinced nothing will change. 

Especially her.

But maybe this time can be different? Maybe Maggsie can be different – if she can just put her previous mistakes behind her and her trust in the right people.

My review of Magsie NcNaughton's Second Chance

Oh my! I absolutely loved Maggsie's story and I just know that she will stay with me for a very long time.

This book is just so full of warmth and hope and humour and the fact that there are good people in this world. It's a book that reaffirms that everyone deserves a second chance and that we all have something to give to the world.

Maggsie had a troubled upbringing and didn't get the best start in life. She is also dyslexic and this has stopped her from achieving many things in life. She has low self esteem and believes that she is not worthy of anything better. But, when in jail one of the inmates is kind to her and gives her a glimmer of hope. On release Maggsie moves to London to a shared home with other women who are ex offenders and she gets her second chance at living life. She has a caring, yet young social worker, who has her best interest at heart, plus a job in the kitchen of an exclusive Scandinavian company. Her new life is there for the taking, but will Maggsie take it? Does she feel that she deserves this second chance? 

This is such an uplifting book with a central female character that you just can't help but warm too. She's funny, honest, but ultimately she is such a caring and good person and you just want her to realise this truth.

This book did make me laugh, as Maggsie does find herself in some very interesting situations. She is just so very likeable, as are many of the other characters. I especially loved Maggsie 's interactions with TJ, a polish man who works with Maggsie in the kitchen. Their interactions were such a treat to read.

Maggsie  McNaughton's Second Chance is a riveting read as we follow Maggsie on her journey of self discovery. We read snippets of her past that explain why she became the person she is today. It's a funny book, Maggsie is very funny. It is also incredibly poignant and uplifting. A truly remarkable book with unforgettable characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this quirky, funny, life affirming and heart-warming read.

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

Maggsie  McNaughton's Second Chance is published by Mantle on 27 June.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

#WhatSheDid @AlexKaneWriter @HeraBooks

About What She Did

She’s your best friend. And your worst enemy…

Beth is a woman running from her demons. Moving to Glasgow to escape the tragedy that ended with the death of her ex-boyfriend, she’s trying to build a new life, to tentatively find new love. But her past is following her, and try as she might, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her every move. 

Victoria is unhappily married to Greg. On their wedding day he told her he would love her until they grew old, but now he’s becoming secretive, staying out for ‘business meetings’ and growing distant from his wife. After finding incriminating texts on his phone, Victoria contacts an old friend for support, the one person in her life that has never let her down yet. 

Lydia knows she is the only one that can help Victoria. Jumping straight back into their friendship, despite the four-year absence from Victoria’s life, she vows to stop at nothing to help her get revenge. Good friends will do anything for each other, right? 

But Lydia has made a new friend in Beth, and now, none of them are safe…

Three women. Three stories. One devastating secret. 

My review of What She Did

What She Did is a tense psychological thriller that gripped me from the very first chapter. It's a dark, disturbing and honest portrayal of mysogony, domestic violence and that women are often found struggling in a world dominated by men.

This book features three very strong women. All with flaws, insecurities and all very relatable. Beth is fleeing from an abusive past while trying to build a new life for herself.  I really engaged with Beth. I liked her as a character. We then have Victoria who is trapped within a failing marriage. She suspects her husband of cheating and seeks the advice of an estranged and once best friend, Lydia, to help her unearth the truth. 

As the story progresses, the three separate lives become entwined and what you get is a gripping, hold your breath type of a read as you honestly don't know what is coming next. It's also one of those books that is incredibly hard to put down. I began to care about these characters and the fate that awaited them. 

The real joy in this book are the many twists and turns along the way, plus the huge twist at the end. It's an engaging read that has you rooting for these women , all of whom have faced some difficulties in life and who have been bullied and betrayed by men. 

What She Did is a thought provoking read that makes you question what is right and what is wrong. The lines become very blurred with the stories these women  live through, and you do find yourself asking, what would I do?

Ultimately, What She Did is a psychological thriller that gets the blood pumping. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

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

What She Did is published on 26 June by Hera Books.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

#TheMissingYears @elliott_lexie @CorvusBooks

About The Missing Years 

She thought she would never go back...

Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.

Leaving London behind to settle her mother's estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by the half-sister she's never taken the time to get to know.

With the past threatening to swallow her whole, she can't escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her. And when Ailsa confronts the first nighttime intruder, she sees that the manor's careless rugged beauty could cost her everything...

My review of The Missing Years 

The Missing Years is a delicious slow burner of a book that puts you in a state of unease from the opening line. This is a brooding book, a creepy tale with intriguing Scottish characters. It's an intriguing read that held my attention from beginning to end. 

Ailsa finds herself back in the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by her estranged half sister, Carrie, following the death of her mother. The Manor House, or Manse as it is referred to was the family home for a short time. But everything changed when her father disappeared. Although now in her thirties, Ailsa has never stopped thinking about him, nor what has happened to him. Being back in the Manse, where Ailsa is surrounded by childhood memories of him, only makes her more determined to unravel the mystery of her father, to find out what actually happened. There are lovely segments in between each chapter, with theories of what has happened to her father. These are poignant and so incredibly insightful. 

This is a story about fragmented relationships, the past haunting the future and how we all learn from our past and the need to move on with our lives. It's a story about the role that fathers play, and how a missing father  can shape and transform a daughter into a completely different person.  it's also about forging friendhsips, taking a chance on life and learning to live with the past. Compelling, emotional and haunting.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book

With thanks to the publisher and Readers First for my paperback copy. 

The Missing Years is published by Corvus on 6 June. 

Friday, 31 May 2019

#The392 @AHicksonLovence @OWNITLDN

About The 392

Set entirely on a London bus travelling from Hoxton to Highbury and taking place over just 36 minutes, the events of The 392 unfold through a cast of charismatic characters coming from very different worlds. On the 392 are all the familar faces you might expect to see on any bus ride through inner-city London in the grip of gentrification; delinquent school kids, the high-flyers, the weird, the wonderful and the homeless. These Londoners share two things: a bus journey and a threat. A threat which is ready to blow apart everything they know.

My review of The 392

I was initially drawn to this book by its premise, that of being on a bus journey and meeting the various people who get on the bus, people from all walks of life. I live in a village and get the bus into the city, and I often wonder what each passenger would tell me about their life. The stories they have to share. The 392 enters this world, and what we get is individual stories told from first person perspectives that bind them all together. It's a fascinating, thought provoking and consuming read. 

We meet many different characters from all different walks of life. Just as you would on any bus in the world. We meet Gloria the grandmother, who I have to admit was my favourite, the professional man, a drug addict, school kids plus many more characters.  All sit under one roof on their journey from  Hoxton to Highbury.

The writing flows and uses evocative imagery to describe the London streets and the people that can be seen by gazing through the bus windows. I don't really know London, I live up north, but the culture and city steets were brought to life for me, which  made the environment and the people fully relatable.

Ultimately, this is a character driven novel. We get to know these characters, who talk to us about their life, their hopes and fears. I got to know them and this is what makes The 392 such a compelling read. Because  there is a growing unease as we read, the feeling that something bad is going to happen. It's not until the final pages that we learn the truth, and this is both shocking and emotional, making you question everything. 

The 392 is an emotional journey of a bus ride. It makes you think about the people in your community. How we treat and interact with those who may seem different or 'other'. Ultimately, it makes you realise that we have more in common than we think. This is an important book about culture, identity and what it is to be human. 

I purchased the hardback edition directly from the publisher. 

The 392 is published by OWN IT! and is available to buy in hardback and ebook now.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

#TheMannequinMakers @Craig_Cliff @melvillehouse

About The Mannequin Makers

The skin was smooth and bright as porcelain, but looked as if it would give to the touch. What manner of wood had he used? What tools to exact such detail? What paints, tints or stains to flush her with life?' So wonders the window dresser Colton Kemp when he sees the first mannequin of his new rival, a silent man the inhabitants of Marumaru simply call The Carpenter. Rocked by the sudden death of his wife in childbirth and left with twins to raise, Kemp hatches a dark and selfish plan to make his name and thwart his rival. What follows is a gothic tale of art and deception, strength and folly, love and transgression, which ranges from small-town New Zealand to the graving docks of the River Clyde in Scotland. Along the way we meet a Prussian strongman, a family of ship's carvers with a mysterious affliction, a septuagenarian surf lifesaver and a talking figurehead named Vengeance. Lives and stories will intertwine as fate takes its cruel trajectory, leaving you feeling as if waking from an unsettling dream.

My review of The Mannequin Makers 

The Mannequin Makers is a story set in a bygone time, when family and survival were at the heart of everything. It's a narrative that spans generations, and countries. It's a haunting tale of love and power and the ties that bind. It's a story that you simply cannot put down, no matter how dark and unsettling it can be.

This is a highly creative book, as it blends genres to form a richly gothic, magical and other worldly book that simply hooks you in from the very dark beginning. Having said that, the characters and their actions are utterly believable. What's so clever about this book is that you can never be sure if you are reading reality or what the author wants you to believe is true, and you are left guessing until the end. 

The book revolves around Colton Kemp, the mannequin maker. His story is complex and we follow his journey , both past and present, in New Zealand and Scotland. A chunk of the book is dedicated to his past and this answers many questions that are formed in the earlier part of the book. 

I can't go into plot without giving anything away, as that would be a real shame. But, it is enough to say that Colton Kemp is an obsessive, and that he will go to any lengths to be the best and to survive. He is such an intriguing character, who I feel will stay with me for a very long time, as will this unique and quirky book. 

With thanks to Melville House for the paperback copy for review purposes. 

The Mannequin Makers is published by  Melville House on June 6