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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

Friday, 24 May 2019

#TheLifeOfDeath #LucyBooth @unbounders

About The Life of Death

One soul. One pact with the Devil. One chance at love.

Elizabeth Murray has been condemned to burn at the stake. As she awaits her fate, a strange, handsome man visits her cell. He offers her a deal: her soul in return for immortality, but what he offers is not a normal life. To survive Elizabeth must become Death itself.

Elizabeth must ease the passing of all those who die, appearing at the point of death and using her compassion to guide them over the threshold. She accepts and, for 500 years, whirls from one death to the next, never stopping to think of the life she never lived. Until one day, everything changes. She – Death – falls in love.

Desperate to escape the terms of her deal, she summons the man who saved her. He agrees to release her on one condition: that she gives him five lives. These five lives she must take herself, each one more difficult and painful than the last.

My review of The Life of Death

The Life of Death is a dark, gothic tale of love, longing and the suffering in death. It's a frank and disturbing story about one young woman's decent into a life that is plagued with demons and darkness. This is made even more poignant when you know that the author wrote this story while undergoing treatment for terminal cancer. It's hard to put this real life perspective out of your mind as you read, as you are very aware that real life impacted upon what we see on the page. And what we see is a story of beauty, intelligence and honesty. It is like no other book I have read.

Lizzie is only 24 when she makes a pact with the Devil. He will have her soul but she will live as Death. From this stems a story of Lizzie's inner turmoil to live an immortal life while carrying out the work of Death, as she falls in love. Lizzie does another pact wIth the Devil, five souls for her own soul and a chance to live a normal life. The result is a dazzling dark portrayal of survival, of that need to belong and of loving.

Sometimes brutal and graphic, the narrative flows beautifully and kept me hooked from beginning to end.  It's incredibly poignant, the fact that this young woman, as Death, wants to live again, but the odds are against her in her quest for survival.

The Life of Death is an absorbing, emotional and thought provoking read. It does make you question, what it truly means to live and be alive. The story of Lizzie Murray will stay with me for a very long time.

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

The Life of Death is published by Unbound and is available to buy now.

Monday, 20 May 2019

#TheThingsIKnow @MrsAmandaProwse

About The Things I Know 

Thomasina ‘Hitch’ Waycott loves living and working on the remote family farm and B&B. But she also wants more. To see the world. To own her own home. To fall madly in love.

But those are fairy tales, and if her life is a fairy tale, then she’s the ugly duckling. Her deformed lip, her crooked limbs and her weak heart have kept her from taking chances. But that’s about to change.

When Grayson Potts comes to stay, he’s unlike anyone Thomasina has ever met. He’s aloof, eccentric and exceptionally kind. He’s also totally unconcerned with the physical flaws that have always defined Thomasina.

The two form a bond that neither has had before. It’s possible that it could become something more, but Thomasina also wonders if it’s too good to be true. By putting her heart on the line, Thomasina may open herself to heartbreak. But she may also open herself to so much more.

My review of The Things I Know

The Things I Know is a book that touched my soul. What an absolutely magical and beautiful book about one young woman's fight to lead the life she truly desires. I loved every single page and was so sad when it came to an  end.

Thomasina 'Hitch' has been told all her life that she is different. That she doesn't conform to the notion of natural beauty because  of her disabilities and thst because of this she is somewhat less. The fact that she had been brought up to believe these things broke my heart. I so badly wanted her to break free and practically yelped for joy when Grayson appeared and the two formed a fierce friendship. 

The Things I Know is a tender story about finding that one person who knows us best and who accepts us for who we are. But with this kind of blossoming friendship comes the issue of trust. That of learning to trust and opening up ourselves to new emotions, feelings and experiences. All of these issues are beautifully and eloquently dealt with in the book. 

This story is also about taking a chance on life. That we all need to stand up for what we believe in and to listen to that inner voice that knows us best. Thomasina needs to follow her instincts, her heart and to live the life that she wants. Her brother is halfway around the world living his dream, her younger brother, so why is she living in the family home at the age of twenty four when she too wants to explore and travel the world? These are the questions that Thomasina asks and we follow her on her journey of discovery.  

This is such a special book.  Especially the message that it conveys to young women that it is okay to be different. The fact that you should embrace who you are, flaws and all, and that you are beautiful. No matter what the haters say. I loved this strong and powerful message that ran throughout the pages. 

Highly recommend. A joy to read.

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

The Things I Know is published by Lake Union on 11th June.

Friday, 17 May 2019

#OurStop @laurajaneauthor @AvonBooksUK

About Our Stop

What if you almost missed the love of your life?

Nadia gets the 07.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine.

Daniel really does get the 07.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his Dad died.

One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper:

To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?

So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.

My review of Our Stop

I absolutely loved Our Stop from the very beginning. What a gorgeous, quirky and heartwarming story. Its a sliding doors for our modem generation and I greedily devoured every page. 

This is such a feel good book with so many missed encounters. It's funny, it's heartfelt and it just makes you feel good about life.

I liked Nadia from the moment I met her with her cup of coffee and haphazard way of dealing with the world. She's a woman who lives life to the fullest, and who cares about people. She just wants to settle down and be happy and to not repeat what happened in a past relationship.

We then have Daniel, a man who is kind, caring and the ultimate gentleman. I warmed to him instantly. I also felt that his storyline, in which he was still grieving for his father, was poignant and well written.

Ultimately, this is a love story that is very much based on words and the art  of letter writing. This was a joy to read in the age of texting and Tumblr. It's a story about second, third and fourth chances and that there is someone out there for everyone. A pure delight.

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

Our Stop is published by Avon on 13 June.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

#AfterTheEnd @claremackint0sh @LittleBrownUK

About After The End

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. Only now they're facing the most important decision of their lives - and they don't agree.

As the consequences of an impossible choice threaten to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again.

But anything can happen after the end . .

My review of After the End 

After the End is such a beautiful book. It's about family, parental love and one heart-breaking decision that a parent should never have to make. This book breaks you down with its honesty and emotion, but ultimately it is a story of hope and one that explores the fact that life simply goes on, no matter what happens. 

This is such a powerful story, so very powerful and packed with heartfelt emotion that my breath caught in my throat on several occasions, and I had to take a break, to simply look at my boys and be grateful for what I have. This is such a life affirming book. I felt The story deep within my bones.

The book revolves around Max and Pip and one life changing decision that they have to make about their young son's future.  What evolves is a story of two halves, two alternative futures of what could happen and how that one decision changes everything.

It was only after I had finished reading, and then read the Author's note, that my breath caught again. I can only imagine what strength and courage it took for the author to write this story, which I feel will help other parents who have found themselves in a similar situation.

 After the End is about a severely Ill child who is in intensive care, and although we read about life on the wards and the dedication of doctors and nurses, it is also a story about hope. It is an uplifting book, and that even though life can be dark, cruel and brutal, there is always joy to be found in the living of life.

I could go on writing forever about this book on how much it has affected me and how I feel that everyone would benefit from reading it. But, I feel it is enough to say that it is an emotional punch of a read, and an important and life affirming read that will stay with you for a very long time. 

After the End is published on 25th June by  Sphere.

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

Monday, 13 May 2019

#YourDeepestFear @Author_Dave @ZaffreBooks

About Your Deepest Fear 

A dark, shocking and relentlessly gripping thriller that will keep you up all night, until the final page has been turned.

'Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They're here. They're-'

These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband.

DS Nathan Cody is about to be drawn into the darkest and most twisted case of his career. And things are about to get very, very personal

My review of Your Deepest Fear 

DS Nathan Cody is back! 

Your Deepest Fear pulls you in from the very first chapter when a frantic and cryptic message is left on an answerphone. This sets the scene for what is a dark, disturbing and gripping thriller.

When DS Nathan Cody begins to investigate a brutal murder he finds himself drawn deeper into the murky underworld of crime and has to face his past demons. All I will say is 'clowns'. If you have read the previous books in the series, then Your Deepest Fear will  explain past events and the impact they have had on Cody.

This is a dark and twisted thriller with short chapters and a fast paced narrative. The shocks and revelations just keep on coming and you never know what will happen next. It's a story full of bad guys, those men that 
you really wouldn't want to meet down a dark alley.

This book though is slightly different to the previous books in the series. We gain insight into Cody's past, but additionally we have a dual story of a woman who is working outside of the law in her own quest for the truth. I found this to be refreshing and added a new dimension to Cody's character. There is so much more to learn about this man.

I thoroughly enjoyed Your Deepest Fear. It is packed full of tension, deceit, drama and it made me question everything about this sinister and disturbing case. These books just keep getting better and better. Highly recommended.

Your Deepest Fear is  published on 16th May by Bonner Zaffre. 

Thursday, 9 May 2019

#AugustaHope @JoannaGlenBooks @BoroughPress

About The Other Half of Augusta Hope

Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in.

And she’s right – she doesn’t. At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi.

And now that she's an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.

When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta's life, she's propelled headfirst into the unknown. She's determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?


My review of The Other Half of Augusta Hope

What an absolute joy it was to read this book. This is a book about identity, finding your own way in the world and that it is okay to be different. It's about living life to the absolute fullest and snatching joy and those special moments whenever you can. It's a story about family, about sisters and of learning to love yourself.

We have two narrators in the book, two stories that take place on the opposite sides of the world. We have Augusta's story of how her childhood felt different to those around her, including her twin sister Julia. She is a bright little girl with her own unique opinions who is not afraid to speak her mind. She stands apart from others because of these differences in the quiet little cul de sac where she lives. Even from a young age she feels trapped, claustrophobic and wants to flee, to explore the exotic world out there. To go to Burundi, a place she has chosen simply because she loves how it sounds.

Parfait lives in Bundhi but dreams of travelling to Spain for a better life for him and his siblings. What follows is an extraordinary story of survival and friendship.

This is such a beautiful story that is very much character driven. We read about the close relationship between Augusta and Julia, and how they are very diffeent, Julia quiet and obedient while Augusta rebels and speaks her mind. But it's also a story of great adventures, of learning to fit into a world that seems strange and of wanting to be accepted for who you are.

The Other Half of Augusta Hope is one of those books that makes you laugh and then cry on the next page. It's thought provoking, it is witty and full of love. It's a captivating and truly remarkable story.

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

The Other Half of Augusta Hope is published on the 13th June by The Borough Press

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

#TheRulesOfSeeing @Joe_Heap_ @HarperCollinsUK

About The Rules of Seeing

Winner of the Debut Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2019
When you make eye contact, when you hold someone's gaze, it’s the closest thing to knowing you're not alone in the world.

After 32 years of living her life in the dark, Jillian Safinova – Nova to everyone, except her mother – is learning to see.

She can see that the sky is blue. And green. And grey. And a whole spectrum of colours, as changeable as her mood.

She can see that clouds are surprisingly solid.

And she can see that Kate, a woman she’s only just met, is going to change her lifeforever.

My review of The Rules of Seeing.

I'll just start by saying that I have so much love for this book. It's a wonderful gripping, quirky and emotional read. This book really does have it all. 

I was drawn to this novel because of the subject matter. A young woman who  has been blind from birth is given the opportunity to see with a pioneering operation. This premise opens up a beautiful discussion and analysis on what it is to see. How do we see? Do we only see with our eyes? What unfolds is a story that helps define the way in which we see, and for Nova this is a life changing event.

I loved Nova from the moment I met her.  Northern; independent, funny and educated, she captivated me  by the way in which she envisaged  and navigated the world. Would things be easier once she could see? The story she tells is unique and really does make you question how we see. For me this was thought provoking, having been brought up  by family members who have visual impairment and sight loss. 

As well as being an insightful and illuminating read on sight loss and regaining sight, this story is also one about the friendship between women and a simmering tale of deception and fear and control. 

The Rules of Seeing is a truly delightful story.  I honestly couldn't put it down once I had read the first chapter. A beautiful book. 

With thanks to NetGalley who provided the electronic copy. 

The paperback version published on 2nd May by Harper Collins.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

The Forgotten Sister #CarolineBond @CorvusBooks

About The Forgotten Sister

Caroline Bond has a gift for weaving heart-rending tales of impossible decisions" Amanda Brooke

To lose your family is heart-breaking.
To be forgotten by them is unforgivable.

Cassie and Erin are sisters. They are close - in age, looks and personality - but there is one crucial difference: Cassie is adopted.

At seventeen, Cassie sets out to find her birth mother. She is hungry for the truth, but she discovers her adoption was far more complicated than even she could have imagined. In uncovering her past identity Cassie learns her adoptive parents have kept a terrible secret from her her whole life, which now threatens to destroy everything she has ever held dear.

My review of The Forgotten Sister

The Forgotten Sister is a gripping family drama that grabbed me from the very beginning. Its gentle and heartfelt writing explores the complexity of family life, of adopted children and their need for identity and belonging. It's a beautiful book.

The book opens with the news that Cassie has been taken to hospital. Grace, her mother takes the call and we are then transported back four months, slowly building up to present day events.

I was so heavily invested in this book from the very beginning. The characters are so beautifully written, and I found myself immediately  connecting with Grace. A mum trying to juggle her roles of mother, wife and  worker, all while knowing a secret that could rip the family apart.

I found this book to be incredibly insightful in the topic of adoption and the way that it explored Cassie's thoughts and feelings about her birth mother, and her past. We read an emotional story about a teenage girl who is simply searching for her place in the world.

As well as exploring the role of family and adopted siblings, we also have the burning question of the family secret. What is it and had it led to Cassie being admitted to hospital? It's superb storytelling.

I loved this book for its honesty, its raw emotion and the sensitivity shown in tackling such an emotive subject. Highly recommend.

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

The Forgotten Sister is published on May 2nd by Corvus.