The Sharmanscopes Lockdown Special 2020 by Mike Sharman

Thank you to Mike for sending me a copy of The Sharmanscopes Lockdown Special 2020 in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

The Sharmanscopes return after a six-year absence to save us from Lockdown! Concentrating on one week in Lockdown in the UK, you can check what each day’s Sharmanscope predicts for each of the twelve traditional stars of the zodiac. Maybe you will discover your lucky letter of the Greek alphabet, maybe you’ll decide that the Sharmanscopes are scarily accurate? Whatever happens, you can be assured of puns, chuckles, groans and predictions for life that only the Sharmanscopes can deliver!

Review

The Sharmanscopes Lockdown Special 2020 is a collection of faux-horoscopes written by Mike. A week of ‘Sharmanscopes’ for each of the star signs, including ‘predictions’ as well as lucky items. Seven days and twelve horoscopes with roughly three ‘predictions’ per day. It is jam-packed, despite it’s shortness at only 65 pages!

The book is a collection of humorous, tongue-in-cheek puns and ‘dad jokes’. It’s a nice relief from the seriousness of the climate we currently find ourselves in and a stark contrast to the conditions that it was inspired/based around. There is a good deal of content that would no doubt be partially relatable to many, prior to the joke setting in, such as ‘You decide to clear out the loft today…’ This ensures it’s context is somewhat realistic to readers.

A short and easy read, that’s less about the context of ‘faux-horoscopes’ and more about chuckling at a collection of jokes.

The Sharmanscopes Lockdown Special 2020 is out now and you can purchase via Amazon for Kindle or Paperback.

Until next time,

Book Review | How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones

Thank you to Antonia & Headline Books for sending me a proof copy of How The One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

In Baxter’s Beach, Barbados, Lala’s grandmother Wilma tells the story of the one-armed sister, a cautionary tale about what happens to girls who disobey their mothers.

For Wilma, it’s the story of a wilful adventurer, who ignores the warnings of those around her, and suffers as a result.

When Lala grows up, she sees it offers hope – of life after losing a baby in the most terrible of circumstances and marrying the wrong man.

And Mira Whalen? It’s about keeping alive, trying to make sense of the fact that her husband has been murdered, and she didn’t get the chance to tell him that she loved him after all.

HOW THE ONE-ARMED SISTER SWEEPS HER HOUSE is the powerful, intense story of three marriages, and of a beautiful island paradise where, beyond the white sand beaches and the wealthy tourists, lies poverty, menacing violence and the story of the sacrifices some women make to survive.

Review

How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is a book which is heavily focused around survival. Three women, in exceptionally different circumstances, all find themselves with a common denominator. The way the characters stories and lives, seemingly unrelated at first, are entwined and woven together is astounding. As you may have guessed from the synopsis, it’s fairly heavily focused around violence. It’s not overly graphic in it’s depictions, however, but it is a challenging read at times. I found it to be well portrayed, honest and emotive.

The book is told through multiple perspectives and timelines: Lala, Mrs Whalen, Martha, Wilma, Adan, Beckles and Tone. There are quite a number of characters in this novel and all of them are an integral part of the storyline. The primary focus, however, is Lala, along with Wilma and Mira. I was drawn to each of them for different reasons. They are all very contrasting characters but have a connection with one another, for numerous reasons which become clear as the novel progresses. I really enjoyed being a part of the story, despite it being a fairly emotional read.

It switches between dates but these are clearly written above each chapter. This is a great way of obtaining all the facts through the generations in this novel, whilst also painting the picture of the present day. The backstory was filled in well and I felt like I learnt more from the existing characters because of it.

Cherie Jones writes wonderfully and the pace of the writing is perfect. The repetition of phrases and words across sentences works really nicely. The descriptions are incredible and you can almost taste the salty sea water and feel Lala’s braid beads in your hands. Jones’ choice to include snippets of Bajan dialect was a special touch and I enjoyed feeling closer to their reality. It definitely added an additional layer to their personalities and extended them out as people.

The stark contrast between the rich tourists of Barbados with their big houses and their unlimited amounts of cash and the poor, vulnerable island residents is astounding. The difference in their lives and it’s focus is astonishing. It’s something which I had no real knowledge of and was a real lesson to have learnt.

The sadness you feel for the characters is real and heartbreaking. I can’t imagine a life which resembles how many of them suffered. How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House has left with many takeaway points, but I think the most important one is that it’s left me feeling even more grateful for my own situation.

How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is a moving, exceptional debut that takes you on a journey. From the comfort of your home, it places you on a beach in Barbados and you follow numerous journeys along the way. I’d highly recommend it. It’s published today (21st January 2021) by Headline. You can purchase the book by clicking the link below (& also help to support independent bookshops!)

https://uk.bookshop.org/a/2228/9781472268778

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Blog Tour | First Day of My Life by Lisa Williamson

It’s my stop, and the last day, on the blog tour for First Day of My Life! Thank you to Annabelle for inviting me on the tour & sending a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

There are three sides to every story… It’s GCSE results day. Frankie’s best friend, Jojo, is missing. A baby has been stolen. And more than one person has been lying. Frankie’s determined to find out the truth and her ex-boyfriend Ram is the only person who can help her. But they’re both in for a shock… EVERYTHING is about to change.

Review

Frankie and Jojo are best friends. It’s GCSE results day and Jojo is supposed to be at Frankie’s house so they can go and collect their results together, but she doesn’t show up. One for always being on time, Frankie finds this strange. Even more strange is that she isn’t answering her phone… A local baby named Olivia Sinclair goes missing, around the same time as Jojo disappeared. Frankie is determined to find out the truth, but with no other means of transport she enlists her ex-boyfriend Ram to help. Did her best friend steal a baby, or is their more to the story than meets the eye?

I have to admit, YA is a new genre to me. The synopsis instantly drew me in and I am glad I gave this book a chance, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The three main characters, Frankie, Ram, Jojo are all ‘average’ teens. The bond between Frankie and Jojo is lovely and a true reflection of close friendship at sixteen years old. The ex- Ram, and Frankie’s struggle to get over him despite knowing they were a wrong fit is also an accurate reflection. Their lives feel very synonymous with typical teens and it’s a refreshing read, casting my mind back to my own teenage years. Although mine were not quite this interesting!

The book is primarily set in Nottingham which I loved. The mention of the ice rink was a complete throwback to my own teens, even down to the mention of the feet stench. It really does permeate the place! Being Midlands-based, I spent loads of time there when I was younger, visiting with my friends on weekends or school holidays. I also went to uni there for a while and it was nice to find somewhere familiar in a novel and be able to picture it in vivid detail!

The novel is told in 4 parts / 3 perspectives; Frankie, Jojo, Ram and a combined viewpoint end section. I enjoyed reading from each person’s point of view and also gathering their backstory from their perspective. It provided interesting all-round knowledge of the story and the use of different fonts for each was a nice touch too.

I felt the story and the novel itself were really quite emotive. The overarching theme of pregnancy permeated the novel. I felt it was dealt with in a brilliant manner, one which goes against stereotypes and makes things seem less ‘end of the world’ scary which was intelligent and reassuring. It was well portrayed but also sensitively addressed in all the places it needed to be.

There are a number of twists and shocking turns which were unexpected, but equally brilliant and well received. I love that point where you start to guess something just before it’s announced and you’re in complete shock. I had a few of those moments with this novel!

The writing was wholly accurate to life with a newborn baby. I got major nostalgia and was taken right back to the cry, feed, sleep cycle of early motherhood! The fact that the baby shared a birthday with my son just made me like the story even more.

If you fancy delving into your teenage years and reimagining your self in Frankie, Jojo or Ram’s shoes, whilst simultaneously grasping the explosive emotions and close friendships which go alongside this and the added pressure of a potential baby, I’d highly recommend Lisa’s novel.

First Day of My Life is published by David Fickling Books and is out now. You can purchase it using the link below (and also help independent bookshops!)

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour which you can find below!

Until next time,

Blog Tour | Keep Walking, Rhona Beech by Kate Tough

It’s my stop on the blog tour for Keep Walking, Rhona Beech by Kate Tough. Huge thanks to Love Books Tours for the chance to be a part of the tour and for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

When Rhona’s story comes to an end you will miss her. Her candid, raw, messy journey will make you laugh, cry and remember. Not a typical break-up book, it’s much more profound. Nothing has turned out quite how Rhona imagined: she’s been casually swapping one job for another while getting comfy in a long relationship which ends abruptly, and her efforts to adjust to that change are thrown by some unwelcome news…

Flawed, relatable Rhona Beech narrates this beautifully written, pacey satire about female friendship, heartbreak, career change, conceiving and illness, which will appeal to fans of Fleabag. Join her on a laugh (and cry) out loud search for meaning amongst the bars, offices and clinics of Glasgow.

Will her friendships survive the changes and challenges? Will SHE survive? At once funny and tender, Keep Walking, Rhona Beech is a clear-sighted look at a generation of women that was told they could have it all.

Review

Keep Walking, Rhona Beech is a book that is extremely reflective of daily life, if not similar to your own then certainly is completely imaginable as someone you know, or even someone you don’t! Rhona is what you could class as a typical thirty-something woman. Grieving the ending of a relationship, going to work and trying to fill in the down-time with social activities with her close-knit friends, and the odd date. It was really refreshing to read about someone going about their daily life, especially during the current pandemic/lockdown situation that we all find ourselves in. Reading about Rhona casually popping out for coffee, going for dinner with friends and jumping on the subway, all little things we probably all used to take for granted, was a nice reminder of ‘before’ COVID.

The book is written in a way where the narrative flows between days and time, without any real knowledge of specifics. Some days last a few pages, other mere sentences. This is unusual and it’s different to anything I’ve read in that aspect. I usually struggle when books contain an ambiguous timeline but I felt it suited Rhona and the novel. I also found it a breath of fresh air in the sense I wasn’t invested in particular timelines or exactly what was happening when. There are, however, a couple of segments throughout the novel that are written in italics and I struggled to work out what they were. Sometimes they appeared to be dreams, other times memories and I feel like more clarity on that would have been helpful, but otherwise the narrative worked well.

Told in the first person, we are drawn straight into Rhona’s world from the first word. Rhona is an interesting character and we learn of her life and relationships. Her world consists of her best friends, parents and work colleagues (and at a later point, her cat!) Reading how these relationships change and alter through the course of the novel was interesting. I didn’t feel any particularly strong feelings towards Rhona but it’s hard not to have empathy with some of the things she deals with. She goes through some major life events and it’s nice to read of a character who is going through life and experiencing things. Not always good things but the reality of life is just that. Her personality definitely shifted and it was a nice to read about.

You can purchase Keep Walking, Rhona Beech using the link below (& also support independent bookshops!)

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour, you can find out all the relevent information in the banner below.

Until next time,

Book Review | For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

Thank you so much to Andrew + Rebecca for sending me a copy of For When I’m Gone in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Because there’s never enough time to say goodbye…

Sylvia knows that she’s running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind.

So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s gone, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness in their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what to give their gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday – it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late. 

But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything…

Review

I was drawn to For When I’m Gone right from reading the synopsis. Reading about family life is so wholesome and the promise of a secret lured me in!

The book is told through two timelines and a perspective; Sylvia’s manual, then and now. It also finishes with ‘when’, so you could say there are actually three. I really enjoyed this split. That familiar, enticing feeling of finishing one section and needing to know what happened next was very present. Being equally drawn in by the following section really helped, however!

Sylvia’s manual is her voice, told prior to her passing. It’s kind of a ‘how to live without her’. I really like when there is a first person narrative for a character who isn’t directly present in the storyline, it’s nice to still be able to learn about them in their own words. The ‘then’ is the past. This starts right from Sylvia and Paul’s first meeting and Sylvia’s life, up until her passing. ‘Now’ is life as is, without her present. I really enjoyed being able to piece together the narrative over the course of the book and the split between first and third person was a perfect balance.

Rebecca is a wonderful writer. The whole of For When I’m gone is exceptionally emotive and beautifully written. The grief is so raw but the entirety of the book is so realistic. I found the characters actions to be true to life and perfectly balanced with those real emotions; guilt, denial, anger etc.

I really enjoyed Sylvia as a character and being part of her world. The way the book is written through timelines allows you to learn about Sylvia and Paul as a couple, and also Sylvia as an individual. It was lovely to be able to see the kind of people they were and how that altered across the decade.

The book is exceptionally thought provoking and has definitely had a lasting impact on me. I feel it’s important to make a conscious effort to spend more time in the moment and also less time on my phone or wishing time away to an event in the future. I think it’s easy to take things for granted or as a given but I really felt this book put that into perspective.

A highly emotional, heartbreaking but beautiful debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend!

For When I’m Gone is out now, published by Orion books. You can buy it using the link below (& also help support independent bookshops!)

Bookshop.org

Until next time,

Book Review | The Push by Ashley Audrain

As soon as I saw the buzz on Twitter surrounding The Push by Ashley Audrain, I knew I had to order it. It’s dark and psychological elements cinched it for me and becoming a mother I’ve found myself more drawn to books where motherhood is a feature.

Synopsis

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right.

I had always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers.

My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.

But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.

Is it her? Or is it me? Is she the monster? Or am I?

Review

Where to start with The Push! I really couldn’t put this book down, it was a complete page turner! Dark, unsettling and unbelievably addictive. The storyline was brilliant and the writing equally so. The descriptions are so vivid, I could almost visualise the scenes in front of me and the raw emotion at times was breathtaking.

The book is told through multiple timelines; Etta, Cecelia and Blythe. Grandmother, Mother and Daughter. Blythe is the main character and her account is in the second person which I really enjoyed as it’s an unusual perspective to write in. I won’t give away why that is – you’ll have to read it to find out! Her account is in a matter-of-fact, descriptive style which I enjoyed and I felt drawn to her as a character (although I’m not sure I necessarily liked her!). Etta and Cecilia’s are told through third person dated intervals, which I felt suited the style and filled in a lot of the blanks and key pieces of information between the timelines and their relationships.

The history and learning of how Blythe came to meet Fox and have their daughter Violet was great character building. It’s written so well and I felt like I was really inside Blythe’s mind. Her account jumps from her own family, to her as a child and back again at intervals. Although there is no time indicator for this, it’s quite a nice surprise to not know what to expect from one chapter to the next. I also liked the use of short chapters which matched the snappy perspective of Blythe.

The honest portrayal of birth and motherhood is startling. The neediness of newborns, the struggle of toddlers… It all rings true. Of course some of Blythe’s emotions are outrageous and so far removed from my own, equally the same with Violet and my son. There is definitely a lot of truth in a lot of it and many take-away points. It made me consider the importance of bonding as something that we can take for granted with children. I never actively thought about the fact it isn’t granted to all and it’s by no means easy for some.

I loved the whole premise of the storyline and the not knowing was something that really hooked me. The unsurety around who was really the problem – mother or daughter? I felt as though I was constantly flitting between sides depending on what I read – the backing of one side, only to be astounded by something new and then reverting to the other. It was a really key feature for me that helped to build the novels pace.

The Push is out now, published by Penguin Michael Joseph. You can buy a copy using the link below (& also help support independent bookshops!)

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Blog Tour | Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves

I’m very excited to be the first stop on the Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves blog tour! Happy publication day Gemma. Huge thanks to Anne & Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be a part of the tour and for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A playful, lyrical novel about otherness, change, and the gap between generations in a London community.

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. 

Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

Review

Twelve people, linked by Victoria Park, are explored over twelve months. Mona and Wolfie, an elderly married couple, are long-term home owners in Victoria Park and are the feature of both the first and last chapter. Ten others, and their interlaced lives, are explored across the timeline in their own chapters (months), with snippets of information occasionally making it’s way into other chapters.

I loved this book! Victoria Park is a breath of fresh air, especially during the current times. Reading of somewhat ‘ordinary’ goings on and interactions between people and neighbours in what I now think of as the ‘old normal’ is lovely. It’s definitely something I miss in real life, so a way to experience that feeling of normality is always welcome!

Gemma writes in a manner that’s really easy to read. Despite sometimes tackling some tough themes, like loneliness and illness, she provided enough emotion without making it too overwhelming! I loved the way she described her characters and it got me invested in each person, despite the somewhat fleeting acquaintance. This fleeting acquaintance had no negative impact on the story, however, and I enjoyed that aspect as it was different. Everything I wanted to know and more was packed in to a chapter.

London is fantastic for its vast array of people, from differing backgrounds and with different life experiences, coming together in one place. Victoria Park really showcases this in a really fantastic and original way. It was a unique angle and it was fascinating to think of such a simple common denominator, the park, bringing so many people together.

I loved each of the characters in different ways and the fact they were all joined, not just by their homes or their jobs, but also by other means such as relationships. I enjoyed the fact we learnt about them over the course of a year timeline. My favourite aspect of this timeline was learning small snippets about characters we’d already met. This would be done in passing through the current character or in some other way within their timeline.

Victoria Park is a beautiful, honest and, at times, heartbreaking novel. I highly recommend it! It’s published today (7 January 2021) by Allen & Unwin and you can purchase it using the link below (& also support independent bookshops!)

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour, which you can find in the banner below.

Until next time,

Book Review | The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

Huge thank you to Jess & Simon & Schuster for sending me a proof copy of The Smallest Man in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis

My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.

The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.

They called me the queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.

Review

The Smallest Man is a very special book. It’s beautifully written and wonderfully heartwarming. Frances’ descriptions are so realistic and I felt real empathy for Nat throughout the entirety of the novel. She has an amazing way with words – her writing is captivating and I felt a real sense of inclusion in the time period and in Nat’s world.

The book is told in three parts and at the end of each part a change occurs for Nat. It’s usually to do with his circumstances but I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a fascinating way to follow through decades of story and it really didn’t feel like any time at all. I was definitely itching for more! Nat’s world was so different from ours but I was so gripped by it and rooting for him and his associates on so many occasions.

Nat was one of the best characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. He’s fantastic! I really warmed to him right from the beginning, as a ten year old boy, scared and not understanding himself and why he was different. Those feelings are some we can all relate to in some aspect or another. I went through every single one of his rollercoaster of emotions alongside him. There’s a point where he’s learning to ride a horse and I could just feel his determination and resilience through the pages.

It’s a first person narrative and told through Nat’s perspective, as a man looking back and writing his story down in his own words. I think this really works well, as he’s a very strong character and being alongside him as he recalls events, some especially scary and some really lovely, is a wonderful thing to be able to do. It was a real privilege to grow alongside him.

I loved Frances’ author’s note at the end of the novel. It explained where her inspiration came from and the parts she had based around a true story and parts that were fictional. I really enjoyed that element as it was interesting to have a loose sense of what was fact. I will definitely be doing some further research as it sounds fascinating!

I’d highly recommend The Smallest Man. I thoroughly enjoyed it and Nat is going to be a character who stays with me for a very long time. By far one of the best books I have read in recent months, which is a pleasure to say.

The Smallest Man is out on January 7, 2021 published by Simon and Schuster. You can purchase a copy using the link below (& also support independent bookshops!)

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

My Top 6 Books of 2020

What a year it was! A year like no other, and quite frankly I’m glad to see the back of 2020. Not that it hasn’t been without it’s moments. It was a lovely year for family time and I have some fond memories from our park walks and staying at home. It was also a brilliant year for reading and I read more than ever before!

This was originally supposed to be a top five but I had a last minute contender (that I haven’t yet finished!) which I just had to include. Here’s my top six of 2020, in order of when I read them.

You’ll find the synopsis for each book on this post so you can make your own mind up about what takes your fancy but I’ve also attached links for any I wrote reviews on so you can read those too if you’d like!

1. The Guest List by Lucy Foley

On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.
 
Old friends.
Past grudges.
 
Happy families.
Hidden jealousies.
 
Thirteen guests.
One body.
 
The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.
One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .

2. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.
It’s time to find out why.

3. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins is a twenty-five-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

4. The Thursday Murder Club By Richard Osman

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

You can read my review of The Thursday Murder Club here.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.

A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

You can read my review of Ghosts here.

6. For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

Because there’s never enough time to say goodbye…

Sylvia knows that she’s running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind.

So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s gone, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness in their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what to give their gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday – it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late. 

But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything…

Hopefully you’ve found something in my top six that catches your eye! Do let me know if you’ve read, or plan on reading, any of my top 2020 books. Here’s to 2021 and discovering what bookish delights it has in store!

Until next time,

Book Review | The Path of Good Response by Steve Frogley

Huge thanks to Steve for sending me a copy of his book, The Path of Good Response, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Do you value your mother’s health above peace in the Middle East? How about your career over global warming?

If a company runs the best graduate scheme in the world, then it can afford to be probing with its interview questions.

When Joe Massey is offered a role aboard Schelldhardt’s luxurious headquarters at sea, he discovers that the company mission is beyond anything he had ever imagined. Strange dreams disturb his sleep, and it soon becomes clear that nothing is quite as it seems.

Is he really the right man for the job? And if not, then why is he there at all?

Review

Joe Massey is offered a graduate job at sea with the Schelldhardt company. The job is everything you can dream of with luxury living quarters and a brilliant salary – including your student loan being paid off in full right at the start of employment! It’s all you’d ever want, but from the outset he becomes suspicious. Peculiar behaviour onboard, strange dreams and nightmares… Is everything really as good as it seems?

Where to start! This book has a complex and clever narrative, different to anything I’ve read before. It’s intriguing and smart and really makes you think about what you’d do for a dream job.

The Path of Good Response is told via two timelines. We follow Joe Massey right from the beginning in his interview with Schelldhardt. You can tell right from the offset it’s going to be an interesting ride, just by the way he has to navigate himself to the actual interview! The second timeline we follow Arnold Shendi, through some past experiences and also in the current day. The story is told really nicely through these two timelines, providing a full picture of the events and scenarios.

Almost the entire novel takes place aboard a ship, the Ananke, which I found an interesting take on a workplace. Being at sea for long stretches with colleagues and no connection to the outside world is intense. I can imagine it being something people would consider for the right price and it definitely provided an alternate backdrop to the usual office employment scenario.

Joe, as a central character was interesting. He was nicely portrayed as a ‘real’ person. A flawed individual, straight from university with realistic decisions and motives. I like characters who seem like people you’d meet in real life and he was exactly that, just an ordinary guy!

There was a couple of shocking moments for me, towards the end where everything comes together. I didn’t see them coming at all! The way the book and its context is linked together is really clever and I enjoyed it.

The Path of Good Response is out now, published by Vanguard Press. You can purchase the novel below (and also support independent bookshops!)

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,