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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himself into academic life; Liz is drawn to dark forms of escapism; and Jules transforms from a vivacious child to a withdrawn teenager.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.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

#TheLanguageofKindness @tinysunbird @ChattoBooks

About The Language of Kindness 

Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astonishing account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness.

We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive.

In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.

My review of The Language of Kindness 

The Language of Kindness is a truly remarkable book about the realities of being a nurse. It was so refreshing to read a book that highlighted the role of the nurse and the fact that this role is grounded in kindness, empathy, goodwill and compassion.

I read the book through the eyes of a former nurse. I worked as a care assustant, then as a trained nurse on elderly care wards, orthopedics, and surgery, before settling on renal dialysis. For me, this book was so very authentic, and could only have been written by a nurse with a wealth of experience. This author has this in abundance, and she so clearly demonstrates what it is actually like to be a nurse on a busy ward in the day and in the depths of the night.

This book made me laugh, it made me cry. It made me stop and think about how nurses and care assistants are the backbone of the NHS, and how they are overworked and undervalued. It also tells of all the disciplines that nurses work in. That of caring for a new mother, for the frail and elderly patient who feels all alone. That the nurse is a listener, comforter and is there to hold your hand.

This is a hugely powerful book about the kindness of human nature. About how everyone who works in the NHS is doing their damndest under the most difficult of circumstances. This book is a real eye opener to those who have no experience of what it is like to work on that busy surgical ward, to treat a casualty in A &E, and what it is like to keep watch over yoir patient in the dead of night.

The Language of Kindness is a very special book. It restored my faith in human kindness

The Language of Kindness is published by Chatto & Windus on 3 May 2018. It is available to buy on Amazon here.

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

Monday, 23 April 2018

#BookReview #TheThingsYouDidntSee @RuthDugdall

About The Things You Didn't See  

Her instincts are telling her something isn’t right…

On a chilly morning in rural Suffolk, Cassandra Hawke is woken by a gunshot. Her mother is clinging on to her life, the weapon still lying nearby. Everyone thinks it’s attempted suicide—but none of it makes any sense to Cass. She’s certain there’s more to it than meets the eye.

With her husband and father telling her she’s paranoid, Cass finds an unlikely ally in student paramedic Holly. Like Cass, she believes something is wrong, and together they try to uncover the truth. But is there more to Holly’s interest than she’s letting on?

With her family and loved ones at risk, Cass must ask herself: is she ready to hear the truth, and can she deal with the consequences.

My review of The Things You Didn't See

Woah! What an absolutely fantastic psychological suspense read this was with bags of emotion. The opening of the book, which is set on the night of Halloween, twenty years before the present day story, hooked me right in. Here we meet Holly when she is aged only eight-yesrs-old, as she witnesses a shooting at the local farm. My heart ached for this little girl and how this event must have impacted upon her life.

We then fast forward to the present day. Holly is now twenty eight and training to be a paramedic. Fate seems to be at play hete, because she finds herself attending a shooting, a possible suicide attempt, at the same farm. It is here that we meet Cassandra, the daughter of the woman who is found with a near fatal gun shot wound. And the incident revolves around her. Cassandra's story is intense and intriguing. Told in second person, the writing style instantly drew me in and captured my imagination. It also helped to add a hugely personal and vulnerable element to this woman's character. Within the first few paragraphs of meeting her, I understood her vulnerability, and then later on, her difficulty in getting others to take what she said seriously. She is a wife, a mother, but she seems to have lost her identify, her role in life, and I felt incredibly sorry for her.

This book has two hugely interesting female protagonists. Both have flaws, and both took me a little while to warm to them. But, most importantly, I believed in them and their stories.

This book is deliciously slow paced with great attention to detail. I loved the fact that I could savour this book and that it didn't feel rushed or too pacey. Due to this attention to detail, I felt as if I really knew Holly, and understood her. I needed to understand Holly to be able to join the past to the present day, and to fully understand what had happened.

The Things You Didn't See is an emotional read that kept me guessing until the final pages. This is a book that shouldn't be rushed. It contains plenty of twists and you never really know who is telling the truth, until the very end.

A gripping psychological thriller that is incredibly clever. Loved it!

With thank to the author who sent me a digital Advanced Reader Copy via NetGalley.

The Things You Didn't See is published by Thomas & Mercer on 24 April. It can be found on Amazon here.

Friday, 20 April 2018

#Theo #OneLoveTwoStories @MrsAmandaProwse

About Theo

There are two sides to every love story. This is Theo's.

Theo Montgomery grew up in a rich family where he had all the toys and trinkets money could buy. But his childhood was full of neglect and he was bullied at school. Now he is an adult, he longs to find a soulmate. Someone who understands him. Someone who will love him unconditionally.

Then, one day, Theo meets Anna Cole in a lift. Anna grew up in a care home, and has always wanted to create the noisy family life she never had. She brings love and laughter into Theo's life. But she wants a baby, and Theo can't imagine bringing a child into this cruel world...

Theo and Anna are two damaged souls, from two different worlds. Is their love for each other enough to let go of the pain of their pasts? Or will Anna and Theo break each others' hearts?

My review of Theo

Oh my heart! When you pick up an Amanda Prowse novel you just know that you're in for a treat. This is such a beautiful book. I loved Anna, and this story was just as wonderful. This is the other half of the story, it is Theo's story.

As with Anna, we meet Theo as a young boy who attends a boarding school. The very same school that his father attended. We then follow him through his teenage years, into adulthood, and then when he eventually meets Anna. It is this transition from child to man that is vital to our understanding of this book. We need to understand how his childhood effected him,  life as an adult, and the decisions that he makes in life.

At the heart of this novel is the theme of family, both from the past and in the future. Anna and Theo, although from very different backgrounds, have suffered trauma and abuse as children, and it has shaped both of their futures and character, although in different ways. Anna has the yearning to be a mother, to have a family of her own. Theo cannot see himself as a dad, and it is this huge difference that could prove to be too big a  difference to fill.

My heart ached for these two characters. In my mind they were perfect for each other. Soulmates.  I just hoped that they could work out their differences. That love would be enough.

I fell in love with Theo while reading Anna, and these feelings blossomed while reading this book. I wanted to hug him as a little boy and tell him just how special he was. Then, as a man, I wanted to tell him that he had a good heart. That he would be okay. I really do feel that Ms Prowse tackles the subject of male mental health with gentleness, empathy, and kindness.

Theo is an absolute joy to read. It's a book with so much heart. It's a book about love, about hope, about finding that special someone who will love you unconditionally. This is such a special book. Read Anna, and then read Theo.

I purchased my own paperback copy.

Theo was publishrd by Head of Zeus on 5 April and is available from Amazon here.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

#TheCraftsman @AuthorSJBolton @TrapezeBooks

About The Craftsman

Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady's career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried...ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he's dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?

My review of The Craftsman

The Craftsman is a dark, disturbing and beautifully seductive read that I devoured in just a few short sittings. It's a book about life in a small rural Lancashire community, about the strength of women, and that overwhelming sense of how community  can both suffocate and alienate those with differing views. I loved this book.

The book works on two timelines, present day narration set in 1999, and a story from 1969. Both stories take place in Pendle, Lancashire, and feature Florence, the young police constable who then goes on to become an Assistant Commissioner. Florence is the character who joins the past to the present day events, together with Larry, the man whose funeral she attends in 1999. The  man who was convicted of child murders. But the book asks, was it really him? As I read the story from the past I was convinced that Larry was indeed the killer, but, as I progressed through the book, towards the present day, I wasn't so sure.

This book has a wonderful  maleavelance about ir. From the subject matter of the coffin maker, the dark and foreboding Pendle landscapee, and the historic reworking of the Pendle witches; the imagery that is conjured up while reading this book is in keeping with the people who live there. They are bound together. And, even though Flora left the area over thirty years previously, she finds herself drawn back to Pendle, to the home in which she lived, and to Larry Glassbrook.

In 1969 Florence finds herself in the middle of an investigation involving a missing 13-year-old girl called Patsy Wood. It is during this investigation that we truly get a sense of the way in which women are viewed in the village, and especially within the local police force. Florence was very much seen as the token girl who was placed there to make the tea.

We also know that something bad happened to Florence in the summer of 1969. And that she is also in danger now, as is her teenage son. This creeping sense of unease is steeped in every page, that sense that something bad had happened and would happen again. It's dark and seductive and propels you along.

This really is an addictive, powerful and emotive read, that focuses upon the strength of women. I loved it!

The Craftsman is published on May 3 by Trapeze and can be found on Amazon here.

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

Monday, 16 April 2018

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter @CherryRad

About The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

A fresh new voice telling a charming and moving story of love, loss, loneliness, Twitter and Spanish lessons. An absolute delight.' - Louise Douglas, author of The Love of My Life

After the break-up of her marriage, Imogen escapes to her aunt's converted lighthouse on Beachy Head. Writing for a tedious online magazine but hoping to start a novel, she wants to be alone until she finds an entrancing flamenco CD in her borrowed car and contacts the artist via Twitter. It turns out that actor-musician Santiago needs help with English, and is soon calling her profesora.

Through her window, the other lighthouse winks at her across the sea. The one where her father was a keeper, until he mysteriously drowned there in 1982. Her aunt is sending extracts from his diary, and Imogen is intrigued to learn that, like her and Santi, her father had a penfriend.

Meanwhile, despite their differences Imogen is surrounded by emotional and geographical barriers, Santi surrounded by family and land-locked Madrid their friendship develops. So, she reads, did her father's shocking revelations cause Imogen to question whether she ever really knew him.

Two stories of communication: the hilarious mistakes, the painful misunderstandings, and the miracle or tragedy of finding someone out there with whom you have an unforeseen, irresistible connection.

My review of The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

Oh, what an absolutely beautiful book this was to read. I loved every single page. It was a modern, romantic read with a Spanish twist. The perfect holiday read. I feel that the author has beautifully blended the coastal town of Beachy Head with exotic Madrid to make a truly breathtaking and enchanting modern day story.

Imogen is an interesting character. Here is a woman who is recently divorced, the divorce was amicable and they are still friends, and who is struggling to connect with her teenage son. Matters that are then made worse due to the physical distance between them. I really empathised with Imogen. Her drive to be happy, to be fulfilled with life, to have purpose and meaning. I also felt incredibly sorry for her, in having to dredge up the emotional past about her father's death. I found the backdrop of Beachy Head, the rocks and the relentless waves, and the old lighthouse all helped to conjure up what life must have been like for him. It also helped to create a wonderful backdrop to Imogen's internal struggles.

I loved the modern day writing, enthused with the inclusion of twitter. The way in which it allowed Imogen to connect to Santi. Something as simple as a tweet was the start of something so much bigger. The twitter messages were so authentic and I soon found myself looking forward to their exchanges, and learning the most common words and phrases. Such a beautiful language,  I could clearly hear Santi talking in my head. Now, as for Santi, I'll admit that at first I did not like him. But, as I progressed through the story he grew on me, until I began to understand him. By the end he had truly won me over.

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter truly is a beautiful read. It at first appears to be a light and romantic read, but it has hidden depths that draw you in. It is a book about family, how a broken family can rebuild itself, about new love, friendship, and that anything is possible. It really is a life affirming read. Perfect for reading on holiday, or curled up on the sofa with a drink. Loved it!

The Lighthouse Keeper'sDaughter was publushed on 5 April by Urbane Puocatioms.

I purchased my own paperback copy. It can be found on Amazon here.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

#TheCactus @SarahxHaywood @TwoRoadsBooks

About The Cactus 

People aren't sure what to make of Susan Green - family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that's all she needs.

At 45, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward - a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan's greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.

When she discovers that her mother's will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.

This sparkling debut is a breath of fresh air with real heart and a powerful emotional punch. In Susan we find a character as exasperating and delightful as The Rosie Project's Don Tillman. An uncompromising feminist and a fierce fighter, it's a joy to watch her bloom.

My review of The Cactus 

I absolutely loved The Cactus. What an absolute breath of fresh air this book was. I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but as soon as I saw this pretty book cover I knew I needed to hold this book in my hands. I was also incredibly intrigued by the title. It drew me in to the story, as I needed to learn who Susan Green was and to understand her story.

The Cactus revolves around Susan Green, a 45-year-old woman who quite frankly has a lot of changes to deal with in her life. Her mother has recently passed away, so she finds herself grieving for a mother, as well as having to sort out her financial affairs and funeral. On top of this, she also has to deal with her layabout brother, Edward, and his friend and now new lodger, Rob, who are now living in the maternal home. Susan has to come to terms with the fact that her mother favoured Edward over her, and what this actually means. This would in itself be bad enough, but she also has other personal matters to deal with, that of becoming a mother.

I am only a few years younger than Susan, and I quickly began to understand her, and to empathise with her. I actually liked her, although I wondered if I should. I liked her practicality, her no nonsense attitude to lufe, and she made me smile many times. I also felt incredibly sorry for her. Here we have a woman who is often misjudged, who finds it difficult to make friends and, who finds it incredibly diffcut to move out of her comfort zone.

Susan finds herself on a journey. Of how life is not always how you planned it, and it was absolutely glorious to see her bloom and embrace new challenges and to open up to people. This is very much a character driven novel and the relationship between Susan and Edward is a complex one, as was her relationship with her mother. It is this unravelling and understanding of the family's dynamics that makes this novel so very special.

I enjoyed every minute of this book. It was a pure delight to read from beginning to end, and I was a little sad to say goodbye to Susan Green.

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

The Cactus was published on 25 Jan by Two Roads. It can be found on Amazon here.

Monday, 9 April 2018

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae @under_blue_sky

About The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She's only a few months past the heart transplant that - just in time - saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father.

Have her friends left her behind?

And she's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. And now she's supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.

She just needs to learn to listen to it.

My review of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae

Oh where do I start with this review? Other than to say that I adored this book! What an absolute delight to read. From the very first page I felt as if I knew Ailsa Rae and that we had been friends for many years. From that moment on I just knew that I would love this book. It's a story about a young woman redefining her life, learning to live once more and finding out who she is. This is such a joyous life affirming read that made me both laugh and cry, just as every book should.

This book worked so well for me, as I both believed in, and liked, Ailsa Rae. She has such a strong voice that I could hear her loud and clear in my head. She is a woman who has lived a half life, full of low expectations structured by hospital routines, tests and operations. So, having a new heart should be the start of a fabulous new life, a new and happy beginning. But, life is never as easy as that, is it? For starters, she has no idea who she is meant to be, and I completely understood this. What must it be like to be looked after, cared for, deemed as fragile? to then be thrown into an ordinary and robust life? I have no idea, but this novel gave a glimpse into this type of life. We often read about people getting new hearts, but we can never truly appreciate what this must feel like for them, and the range of emotions that they must go through. This book gives that insight.

The novel is about finding out who you are and your place in the world. It's also a huge statement on the Internet age and the world of social forums and blogs. Ailsa uses her blog, during the pre op stage, to help her make decisions. Her readers are her friends, but when she gets her new heart she must decide how much she really wants to rely upon the virtual world, and to instead, learn to trust in the kindness of family and those who love her.

This is also a beautiful love story on so many different levels. Her love for Lennox, her first love, and how that love for him morphs and adapts with the passing of time. It's also about parental love, and how this relationship changes when Ailsa gets her new heart. It is also about self love, and how Ailsa must learn to love her new self.

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is an emotive and joyous read. It is such a beautiful book. A bold story that is gently told.

With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley who provided an Advanced Reader Copy for review purposes.

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is published by Bonnier Zaffre on 19 April 2018. It can be found on Amazon here.

Friday, 6 April 2018

#TheLastDay @ClaireDyer1 @DomePress

About The Last Day

They say three's a crowd but when Boyd moves back into the family home with his now amicably estranged wife, Vita, accompanied by his impossibly beautiful twenty-seven-year-old girlfriend, Honey, it seems the perfect solution: Boyd can get his finances back on track while he deals with his difficult, ailing mother; Honey can keep herself safe from her secret, troubled past; and Vita can carry on painting portraits of the pets she dislikes and telling herself she no longer minds her marriage is over. But the house in Albert Terrace is small and full of memories, and living together is unsettling. For Vita, Boyd and Honey love proves to be a surprising, dangerous thing and, one year on, their lives are changed forever.

My review of The Last Day

I'll.just start by saying that this book is simply stunning. I devoured every single word and I truly dId not want it to end. These three characters I know will stay with me for a very long time, as will this exquisite story about endless love in all of its beautiful forms.

The book is told from all three characters points of view. Vita's story is told in first person, and Boyd and Honey's voices in third. This worked for me, as I felt that it was Vita's story, but that I gained much needed insight and perspective from both Honey and Boyd, who also had their own story to tell. It is a novel of three stories that connect to make a whole.

This is a beautifully written book. I found myself focused upon the strength of women and how they embrace love and family in all of its many different ways. I tried to put myself in Vita's shoes. A woman who has now built up a life for herself after the breakdown of her marriage. She now has a sense of normality, of routine, with her painting career (although she hates painting pets). She is a practical woman, a no nonsense type, so when Boyd asks if he and Honey can move in with her, the only answer she can give is yes, and I really felt for her. I thought that she must be hurting so much inside, and that her outer shell would surely crack over time.

This is a book of secrets, and as I made my way through the book, the secrets were slowly revealed. The writing is exquisite, it draws you in, so that by the end of the book I really did feel as if I knew all three of these characters. I cared deeply for all of them, and although I couldn't put this book down for wanting to know what happened on 'the last day',  at the same time, I didn't want it to end.

The Last Day is a book about quiet love, not the all singing and all dancing kind, but the kind that lurks just under the surface. The kind that women nurture, that cares for others, the unconditional kind. This really is a beautiful book, that I'll admit made me shed a tear. It captures perfectly how everything can can change in just one moment, but that ultimately, love always survives.

The Last Day was published by The Dome Press on 15 February. It can be found on Amazon here.

I purchased my own paperback copy.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

#TwoStepsForward @GraemeSimsion @anneebuist

About Two Steps Forward 

A smart and funny story from the author of The Rosie Project - two misfits walk 2,000 km along the Camino to find themselves and, perhaps, each other. A novel of second chances and reinvention from Graeme Simsion, and his wife Anne Buist. Optioned for film.

Zoe, a sometime artist, is from California. Martin, an engineer, is from Yorkshire. Both have ended up in picturesque Cluny, in central France. Both are struggling to come to terms with their recent past - for Zoe, the death of her husband; for Martin, a messy divorce.

Looking to make a new start, each sets out alone to walk two thousand kilometres from Cluny to Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain, in the footsteps of pilgrims who have walked the Camino (the Way) for centuries. The Camino changes you, it's said. It's a chance to find a new version of yourself, and a new beginning. But can these two very different people find themselves? Will they find each other?

In this smart, funny and romantic journey, Martin's and Zoe's stories are told in alternating chapters by husband-and-wife team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist.Two Steps Forward is a novel about renewal - physical, psychological and spiritual. It's about the challenge of walking a long distance and of working out where you are going. And it's about what you decide to keep, what you choose to leave behind and what you rediscover along the way.

My review of Two Steps Forward 

What an absolute treat this book was to read. I loved every page. It was a travel journal, history guide, epic adventure and romantic journey all rolled into one, with huge doses of humour.

Two Steps Forward is told from the alternating points of view of Zoe and Martin, with each chapter being labelled with the narrator's name, so I never became confused as to who I was reading about. To be honest, each voice was very distinctive, so I knew who was telling the story even without the chapter name. This is down to the wonderful writing of the husband and wife team, who have together  created a very unique book.

We follow both Martin and Zoe on their separate journeys along The Camino (Thec Way), a modern day pilgrimage from Cluny located in  central France through to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain. Sometimes they walk separately, and alone, and at other times together. But, as this walk is a pilgrimage, they do encounter a wealth of truly interesting and diverse characters along the way.

Oh the writing! I actually felt as if I was walking The Camino. I now want to go there and see the sights, eat the food, stay in the lodgings and hostels along the way. But for me, even though the descriptions of The Camino were so evocative, the story worked for me because of these two very different and appealing characters.

I adored Martin. His practicality and likeable nature. I liked that he was a gentleman, even though he had flaws, he was a deeply caring man and this shone through. I could also picture in my mind so vividly him. and his beloved one wheeled cart. I also empathised with Zoe. A woman who was still grieving and coming to terns with the loss of her husband. I really liked Zoe, her tenacity and strong spirit. As I walked with her, I hoped that she would find what she was looking for.

Two Steps Forward is an absolute delight. It's the perfect holiday read. Pure escapism with lots of soul that makes you stop and think about what is really important in life. I adored this book.

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

Two Steps Forward is published by Two Roads on April 5. It can be found on Amazon here.

Monday, 2 April 2018

#TheHalfSister @ChanterLloyd @canongatebooks

About The Half Sister

When she was sixteen, Diana left her unhappy family and set out to make a new life. Twenty-five years later, she has arrived. Recently married to Edmund, she lives with him at his family's historic country home.

But when Diana hears that her mother has died, she impulsively asks estranged half-sister Valerie and her nine-year-old son to stay. The night of the funeral, fueled by wine and years of resentment, the sisters argue and a terrible accident occurs. The foundations of a well-ordered life start to crack and the lies begin to surface, one dangerous secret after another. And then there's the boy, watching, waiting.

The Half Sister is a profound and haunting aportrayal of those who are imprisoned by their past and by the struggle to find the words which will release them.

My review of The Half Sister

The Half Sister is a dark, and almost claustrophobic read that I found hard to put down. Almost Gothic in nature, this book drew me into this uncomfortable story, with characters that both fascinated and angered me. This is an uncomfortable read, touching upon childhood trauma, broken families, and abuse, but the setting is exquisite and the tale beautifully told.

There is a haunting melancholy about this book. The pages are steeped in sadness that I couldn't quite shake off, but at the same time I couldn't escape its beauty, and the way in which the story enticed me in. I wanted to find out what had happened in the past and, why Diana and Valerie had become estranged. I wanted to learn how their pasts had shaped their futures.

I'll also admit to not particularly liking any of the adult characters. Mikey, the nine-year-old son of Valerie, I did like. I understood this little boy and just wanted to mother him. As for the others, well all are flawed, and although unlikeable, they did fascinate me. Diana in particular is a complex character to understand, and even  by the end of the book I had a lot of unanswered questions, but I think this was how it was meant to be.

At the heart of this novel is the story of sibling rivalry, and of how childhood trauma impacts upon the rest of your adult life. The narrative is at times incredibly claustrophobic, the subject matter dark, but what kept the narrative light was the sheer amount of description given to both character and environment. This is a character driven novel, and I needed to know what happened during childhood and ultimately, what would happen to Mikey.

The Half Sister is a thought provoking read about family, trauma and morality. I am sure that this book will divide readers, but I found it a dark and compelling read.

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

The Half Sister is published by Cannongate Books on 5th April and can be found on Amazon here