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Wednesday, 18 July 2018

#TheEmperorOfShoes @SpencerWise10 @noexitpress

About The Emperor of Shoes

From an exciting new voice in literary fiction, a transfixing story about an expatriate in southern China and his burgeoning relationship with a seamstress intent on inspiring dramatic political change.

Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant's vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex's own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line. When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. She is an embedded organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow labourers. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?

Deftly plotted and vibrantly drawn, The Emperor of Shoes is a timely meditation on idealism, ambition, father-son rivalry and cultural revolution, set against a vivid backdrop of social and technological change.

My review of The Emperor of Shoes

The Emperor of Shoes was a pure delight to read from beginning to end. This work of literary fiction highlights social injustice, political differences, and that at the end of the day we are all human. It's a thought provoking and highly innovative read set against the backdrop of the brewing Chinese revolution.

Alex is forced to take over his father's shoe business in Southern China, and from the very offset I could feel his insecurity and reluctance to take on this role. I wanted to learn all about the real Alex. What his real aspirations and beliefs were, and the young man he truly was. From the moment I met Alex, I liked him. I read the book because I wanted to follow his journey and his blossoming relationship with Ivy, the seamstress.

Now, Ivy, what a character. I couldn't help but like her. She is a woman who is fiercely intelligent, but who hides this intelligence, deciding instead to  use it as a weapon against those who are in power and those who exploit the workers on low pay and low opportunities. I wanted to be Ivy. She is such an empowering young woman, with the whole world at her feet. But, because of time and place, she is trapped, unable to find her truth. During the course of the novel both Ivy and Alex learn from each other , and what they find is a common ground.

The relationship with Alex and his father is highly intriguing. The father who wants his son to succeed, to carry on the family business, at any cost. Alex finds himself doing exactly as his father instructs, but is this really him? Can he stand up to his father and for himself? This is what drove me through the pages. I needed to see Alex become the man he needed to be.

The Emperor of Shoes is beautifully written, with the Chinese culture oozing about me on every page. It was a pure delight and a timely message that even during times of political unrest and social change, the only thing that really matters is the people who surround us and who are important in our lives

I was given a paperback proof for review purposes.

The Emperor of Shoes is published b6 No Exit Press on July 26.

Monday, 16 July 2018

#TheBoneKeeper @LucaVeste @simonschusterUK

About The Bone Keeper

What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as a child, the myth of the man in the woods, was real?

He'll slice your flesh.
Your bones he'll keep.

Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find the supposed home of The Bone Keeper. Only three returned.

Now, a woman is found wandering the streets of Liverpool, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the Bone Keeper.  Investigating officer DC Louise Henderson must convince sceptical colleagues that this urban myth might be flesh and blood.  But when a body is unearthed in the woodland the woman has fled from, the case takes on a much darker tone.

The disappeared have been found. And their killer is watching every move the police make.

My review of The Bone Keeper

Wow, well The Bone Keeper was an absolutely creepy and bone chilling read. Not many books get under my skin and crate a true sense of unease, but this book did just that. Perhaps because it was about the fears that all children face, and that we have all feared the Bogeyman at some point in our lives. Whatever it was, I was very much unsettled.

I haven't picked up a book by Luca Veste before. In fact, I had never really heard of his books until I saw the cover  for The Bone Keeper posted on twitter. That image, together with the compelling blurb, made me want to pick it up and dive on in. And, I'm so glad I did.

Everything you need to know about The Bone Keeper you can grasp from the book description. I don't want to say any more as there are so many twists and turns which are delightful to read. What I will say, is that the female protagonist, DC Louise Henderson, is fascinating. As the lead investigating officer, she is in charge and finds herself trying to convince her team that the Bone Keeper is real. Here is a woman who is both strong and professional, yet vulnerable and who has to face her many demons while investigating this case. The book worked for me because of her, and my belief in her character.

The book is a fast read, with beautiful writing and imagery that conjures up the spookiness of the woods and those urban myths that we all heard as children. There is something intrinsically haunting about this book. It's frightening because what happens could happen, and often does happen in real life. The disappearance of a child that is never solved. It's something that forever lurks in the back of your mind. Something that you wish will never happen to your family. That is the real bones of this book.

The Bone Keeper is a chiller thriller read. It's a quick, let's turn the pages and find out what happens next, kind of a read. It's also incredibly unique within the crime genre. I've never read anything quite like it. So, if you love your crime fiction that is a little different and which will truly give you the creeps, you can't go far wrong with The Bone Keeper. I loved it. 

I purchased my own paperback copy. 

The Bone Keeper was published on 8th March by Simon and Schuster.

Friday, 13 July 2018

#MyMadDad @MyMadDadStory @TrapezeBooks

About My Mad Dad

This is a wonderful, rather special book: funny, warm and loving but also thought-provoking and deeply moving. Absolutely unforgettable - ironically.' ADAM KAY, Sunday Times bestselling author of This Is Going To Hurt

Inadvertent cross-dressing
Attempted murder
Jail break
A waltz at a funeral
A hernia the size of Guernsey

Heartbreaking and darkly comic, these are the moments that litter the messy road from cared-for to carer, a journey that Robyn Hollingworth finds herself on when she's only twenty-five years old.

Leaving London to return home to rural South Wales, Robyn finds that it's her old life - same teddy bears resting on her pillow, their bodies tucked under the duvet; same view of the garages behind which she'd had her first cigarette and first kiss - but so much has changed.

Her dad, the proud, charmingly intelligent, self-made man who made people laugh, is in the grip of early onset Alzheimer's. His brilliant mind, which saw him building power stations and literally bringing light into the lives of others, has succumbed to darkness.

As Robyn settles back in the rhythms of life in the rain-soaked vast Welsh valleys, she keeps a diary charting her journey as the dad she knew disappears before her eyes. Lyrical, poignant and with flashes of brilliant humour, My Mad Dad explores how in helping others we can heal ourselves.

My review of My Mad Dad

I love to read real life stories. I love to feel that human connection. So, when I got the chance to read My Mad Dad, I was hugely excited. I wondered how Robyn would document her journey in caring for her dad, and what I found was an eloquent, moving and honest account of caring for a father diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It made me laugh and cry.

While reading I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading had been written by a twenty-five-year old. As a young woman, Robyn left London to move back to Wales to care for her father. At that age I had been married for two years and was embarking on my career as a nurse. I wondered how I would have coped in the same circumstances. What I read was a heartfelt account of a daughter's love for her father, and a need to simply give back and care.

From the moment I picked up this book I couldn't put it down. It's a mesmerising read which is completely relatable, in that you  have to seek the humour in the most darkest of moments. I completely got this. You would think that reading a book about Alzheimer's would be all doom and gloom, and a serious resd, but what Robyn Hollingworth has managed to do is to create a book that tells it exactly how it is, from the carer's point of view, and that there is humour, that you have to laugh, otherwise you would cry. But, at the same time she does not shy away from the difficulties, and the emotions from caring for a father who no longer knows who you are.

I truly believe that everyone would benefit from reading thus book. But in particular, I feel that healthcare professionals would gain a truer picture of how Alzheimer's affects the entire family. I also think that sometimes the needs of the family can be forgotten in caring for the individual. I feel that it's important to seek information and advice from the family. Sometimes these voices ate not heard.

My Mad Dad has a strong voice. The powerful and emotive voice of a young woman who deeply loves her father and wants to care for him. I heard her voice clearly in my mind, and it will stay with me for a long time. It's a beautiful book.

I won a proof copy of the book via Twitter

My Mad Dad was published on 19th April by Trapeze

Monday, 9 July 2018

#TheTattooThief @AlisonBelsham @TrapezeBooks

About The Tattoo Thief  

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again...

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There's a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims' bodies while they're still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer's next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

My review of The Tattoo Thief

The Tattoo Thief is a dark and addictive read that I devoured in just a few sittings. Set in the heart of Brighton, and amongst the tattoo community, the police are hot on the heels of a serial killer who is after tattoos. Just this premise alone made me want to pick up this book and I was not disappointed. This is an engaging and thought provoking serial killer read.

The investigative team is led by newly promoted DI Francis Sullivan. He is not your usual whisky swilling, world weary detective. He is a church goer, he is young, and people most certainly misjudge him. His team believe he's not up to task, especially his DS, Rory, who was passed over for promotion. So, we start the book with Francis on his first job, investigating the murdering a man whose body was flayed. Francis has a desperate need to solve the case and prove that he can do the job. He is an interesting character. At first I wasn't sure about him, but as I progressed through the book I began to understand him and found him most likeble. This is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and who cares about justice and the people around him.

This book is all about tattoos and I found the details of having a tattoo and the people who work in this industry, truly fascinating (I don't have a tattoo), much like Francis, I learnt about this community as I went along.

 Marni Mullins was an absolutely captivating character. I couldn't help but like her. A woman who knows her own mind and who speaks up for what she believes in. She is such a complex character, with a colourful past and I desperately wanted to understand her. Much like Francis, I couldn't help but like her

What I most enjoyed about this book was the interaction between Marni and Francis. Both polar opposites. Francis a devout Catholic, clean living, with no tattoos,  while Marni has experienced many downfalls in life, is covered in tattoos and tattoos people for a living. In another life these  two characters would never be seen together, would never have a conversation. But, this book allows them to strike up that conversation and the results are pure brilliance

The author has created a truly dark and menacing read. The idea that a person is murdered simply to obtain their tattoo sends chills down my spine. It's a unique story, but one that could happen, it feft completely real to me, and that is what I found most frightening. This is one chilling serial killer.

If you enjoy dark crime thrillers, and a crime novel wirh a unique concept and  compelling characters  then you'll love this story. I did!

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

The Tattoo Thief was published in ebook by Trapeze on 3 May. The paperback is to be released on 20th September.

Friday, 6 July 2018

#TheSummerofImpossibleThings @rowancoleman

About The Summer of Impossible Things 

How far would you go to save the person you love?

Luna is about to do everything she can to save her mother's life.

Even if it means sacrificing her own.

A beautiful novel about family, courage, sacrifice and love in all its guises from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book

My review of The Summer of Impossible Things 

The Summer of Impossible Things is a book that I will always cherish. It's one of those books, that from the moment I read the very first page, I just knew that we were going to be friends for a very long time. And that's exactly what this book felt like, returning to an old friend. It's a comforting hug, reassuring and quite simply a beautiful read.

The Summer of Impossible Things is a love story on so many different levels.  It tells the story of love between sisters, of the love a child, and then adult child, has for their mother, and it tells of the powers of romantic love. A remarkable and moving narrative comprised of love, hope and the impossible made possible. I devoured every word.

This is Luna's story, whose life dramatically changes when her mother makes a life changing decision. The life she knew before vanishes and a whole new realm of possibilities, and a new life, open up before her very eyes. Her story captivated ne, as did her character.

This novel draws on the strength of women. It's a powerful, magical and uplifting read, and quite unlike anything I've read before. The novel goes back in time to 1977 Brooklyn, to the time before Luna's mother, Riss  married; to the time before everything. And it was these scenes that quite simply took my breath away. It reminded me that we all have a 'before' and that everyone's mother had a life before us. Such emotional and cathartic writing.

This novel does feature women with a strong and independent nature, but who, because of their circumstances, find themselves struggling in life. It's a reminder that we are all a product of past experiences, but that anything is possible if we want it enough.

I loved this book. I loved every single page. It's nostalgic, heart-warming and good for the soul. This is a book I will return to again and again.

I purchased my own paperback edition.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

#ThePossibleWorld @LieseDoc @HutchinsonBooks

About The Possible World

Ben is the sole survivor of a crime that claims his mother and countless others. He is just six years old, and already he must find a new place for himself in the world.

Lucy, the doctor who tends to Ben, is grappling with a personal upheaval of her own. She feels a profound connection to the little boy who has lived through the unthinkable. Will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?

Clare has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she’s been keeping don’t matter to anyone anymore, until an unexpected encounter prompts her to tell her story.

As they each struggle to confront the events – past and present – that have defined their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together...

My review of The Possible World

The Possible World is one of those books that touches the heart and soul. It's one that is not easily forgotten. It's a story about the human condition, about living, about friendship, and of how we make our way in the world. It's also a story about how fate plays a huge role in all our lives, and that life can never be truly planned. It's such a beautiful story.

So, ultimately what we read is three individual stories. At first it is unclear how they are connected, but by the end of the novel all is made clear. I enjoyed all three individual stories, each with their own unique perspective and individual voice.

Ben is a six-year-old little boy who is the sole survivor of a shooting massacre. This little boy instantly touched my heart. I connected to him. and his story within the first page of meeting him. We are then introduced to Lucy, an ER Resident (the novel is set in the US), who treats Ben when he is first admitted. Again, I instantly connected to her professionalism, warmth, and undercurrent of vulnerability. We are then introduced to Clare, a woman who is nearing her one hundredth birthday. Living in a care facility, Clare pretty much keeps herself to herself, and is a mystery to to both residents and care staff. But, when a new resident arrives, they strike up an unlikely friendship and we begin to learn more about Clare and her life.

All of these stories were fascinating and heart-breaking in equal measure. I wanted to mother Ben, and found it difficult at times to read about what had happened to him. I wanted to protect this little boy and shield him from everything he had gone through. Lucy's story is one of a young professional woman whose entire life revolves around medicine. Struggling with her own demons, she finds herself connecting to Ben and wanting to help him. I resonated most with this character. Perhaps because of my own nursing background or maybe because I have boys. I'm not sure, but I instantly understood her. I wanted her to be happy.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Clare's story. A woman who has been fiercely independent all her life finds herself suddenly dependent upon others. I understood completely where she was coming from. She's the kind of lady you'd want to sit down with and have a cup of coffee, while listening  to some interesting stories.

This book simply was an absolute delight to read. It's a story of epic proportions spanning a hundred years. It tells of impossible things made real. It blurs boundaries and spans generations. The writing flows and before you know it you're hallway through the book. It's such an uplifting story about the kindness of human nature and what it means to be alive. I love every word.

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

The Possible World is publushed by Hutchinson on 12th July.

Friday, 29 June 2018

#OceanOfMinutes @thea_lim @QuercusBooks

About An Ocean of Minutes

Polly and Frank are young and in love, a lifetime together before them. But one evening in 1980, as the Texas sun sets over their shoulders, the world is suddenly pulled apart by a deadly virus. Within months, Frank is dying. Polly can save him, but only if she agrees to a radical plan: to time travel to 1993 for a corporation who can fund his life-saving treatment. She can only go forward, she cannot go back. And she must leave everything she loves behind, including Frank.

All they have is the promise of a future together: they will find each other again in twelve years' time, in Galveston, Texas, where the sea begins.

But when something goes wrong and Polly arrives late, Frank is nowhere to be found. Completely alone, Polly must navigate a terrifying new world to find him, and to discover if their love has endured.

My review of An Ocean of Minutes

This novel both soothed and broke my heart. I eagerly turned the first page, and from the very first paragraph, I just knew that I was going to fall in love with this book. It's engaging, evocative and daring. It's a story for the soul.

This book can be viewed in so many different ways. It is a highly crafted work of dystopian fiction and the world building is quite simply astounding. I believed in this world. It is also a story about a time travelling young woman who goes into an unknown future to save the man she loves. It is also a story about self discovery and independence. Polly has to learn to rely on herself and her quick wit and intellect. Throughout the novel she begins to grow into her skin and to  learn who she truly is.

On a wider scale,  this novel is also hugely political. Polly has to time travel to save Frank. There is no other way. She is beholden to the corporation known as TimeRaiser. She is pretty much a hostage as she works and bides her time until she is free again. This has wider connotations for the world in which we live today; a world in which the rich  have  multiple life choices while living amongst the working classes who barely get by on zero contract hours and food banks. The world in which Polly lives is not too dissimilar to our world today.

For me though, this story was predominantly about love. It's a love story that showcases all of its complexeties. That newly found love when we are young and how it grows and transforms into something else. Something that we cannot envisage at the age of twenty, but only something we can live twenty years later. Polly and Frank start out as young lovers. I lived and breathed their first meeting, their dates, and watched their love blossom through the flashback chapters that were dotted throughout the book. These interspersed the main story of Polly, and her life, as she  was thrust into the unknown world of the future. Polly and Frank's love story is an unusual one, as they have a beginning but no middle.  There are  many lost years as they struggle to find one another again.

This story is a beautiful love story. And my breath caught in my throat as I read about these two young people who were so obviously very much in love.

The author takes all of these various strands and weaves a  story that I simply could not put down. I read each page slowly, not wanting this beautiful story to end. Because, it is a beautiful story. And I know it will stay with me for many years to come.

With thanks to Bookbridgr and Ana McLaughlin for the hardback copy, provided for review purposes.

An Ocean of Minutes was published by Quercus on 28 June.