Blog Tour | This Wild, Wild Country by Inga Vesper

Thank you to Anne and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour for This Wild, Wild Country and for sending me a proof copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Three women. An isolated town. A decades-old mystery.

They hate me down there, in Boldville. I can read it in their eyes, smell it on their noxious breaths. That dreaded little town hates everything about me: not just my personality and form, the clothes I wear, but the way I think.
The things that I know.

1933. Cornelia Stover is headstrong and business-minded – not the kind of woman the men of Boldville, New Mexico, expect her to be. Then she stumbles upon a secret hidden out in the hills . . .

1970. Decades later, Joanna Riley, a former cop, packs up her car in the middle of the night and drives west, fleeing an abusive marriage and a life she can no longer bear. Eventually, she runs out of gas and finds herself in Boldville, a sleepy desert town in the foothills of the Gila Mountains.

Joanna was looking for somewhere to retreat, to hide, but something is off about this place. In a commune on the outskirts a young man has been found dead and Joanna knows a cover up when she sees it. Soon, she and Glitter, a young, disaffected hippie, find themselves caught up in a dark mystery that goes to the very heart of Boldville, where for too long people have kept their eyes shut and turned their heads away. A mystery that leads them all the way back to the unexplained disappearance of Glitter’s grandmother Cornelia forty years before . . .

Review

This Wild, Wild Country is an adventurous, compelling and unusual novel, featuring a string of brilliant female characters.

The story is told alternatively through Cornelia, Glitter and Joanna’s perspective. The location and date is initially written below so you know where and when they are in time. I found this assisted in the first introductions and I immediately grasped the characters differences. Each one has a very distinctive tone of voice and so it was easy to recall the situations and personalities etc. between chapters from the outset.

Glitter and Joanna’s separate, but combined timeline, make for an extensive view on the present day happenings in Boldville. Told from Glitter as a resident and Joanna as an outsider, and former cop-turned-investigator. The dynamic from the two seems like it shouldn’t work but it really does.

The friendship that develops between Joanna and Glitter, plus some of her hippie commune friends and relatives, is surprising yet also works so well. The two form a really great team and definitely show what being more open minded can occur. They both worked together and helped each other out across the board and it made for great reading.

Cornelia’s story provides the ‘origins’ and mentions some of the older characters when they were younger. The backstory provides history and combines the two timelines really nicely. Her voice is interspersed with her diary entries which create a fuller picture of her life. Her expedition is told through both means, fast forwarding through and also detailing parts accordingly.

Inga Vesper writes so well and I truly felt part of the narrative. Being immersed in America in both the 1930s and 1970s, particularly the latter and the hippie movement. Neither period being one I’m particularly knowledgeable on, and neither was I born, yet I feel like I was part of what was happening in Boldville. It felt like a lesson in history but also a wonderful story with great characters. The ‘baddies’ were perfectly bad and the ‘goodies’ were complete crime and justice fighting good.

The societal pressures and social injustice towards women, groups and racial minorities were unquestionably felt. The novel is filled with emotion and subtle, yet accurate, era related issues. At times these are extremely difficult and some tough topics are covered in a tactful manner, such as sexual assault and domestic violence.

The community really felt realistic and the characters truly believable. The divide between them is really well articulated and I thoroughly enjoyed the differing opinions and clashing of heads.

This Wild, Wild Country is out now from Manilla Press. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookstores.

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 | So Happy For You by Celia Laskey

Thank you to HQ for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour for So Happy For You and sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Robin and Ellie have been best friends since childhood. They’ve been through everything together, from Robin coming out to the death of Ellie’s dad. But when Ellie asks Robin to be her maid of honour, Robin is reluctant.

It’s not that Robin isn’t happy for Ellie, she just hates everything about weddings and marriage – plus the guy Ellie’s engaged to. There’s also the matter of the crazy (not to mention dangerous) wedding rituals that couples are resorting to in the hope of securing a lifetime of happiness.

Despite her misgivings, Robin finally says yes. But as the wedding day approaches, she gets the feeling that everyone in the bridal party is out to get her. And it seems Ellie is willing to do anything for the perfect day. After all, marriage is about sacrifice…

Review

So Happy For You is an interesting story focused on friendship, weddings and the pressure placed by society on women.

The story is told in two parts and both are told from the perspective of Robin. It begins with a story about the day she was asked to be Maid of Honor, and continues from there documenting her journey.

Split up between Robin reminiscing about the true details of her friendship in the past and the current build up to the wedding, you are truly a part of her world. Her thoughts are well articulated and there is never any second guessing her emotions. I took to her straight away and felt fully invested in the scenario from the outset.

Robin’s past is spoken of in a no hold-barred kind of fashion and I feel like we get to know her extremely well through the course of the book. This helped to further peak my interest and made her feel more three-dimensional. Her life is articulated in such detail that you feel a part of it. Her friendship group, opinions and relationship are all talked of in a no-holds-barred fashion. I found myself drinking in the details and even the obscure discussions, eager to learn more of Robin and her somewhat unorthodox situation.

The bridal party gone bad scenario instantly drew me in and the unusual friendship and continual slight tension and off behaviour between Robin and Ellie was fascinating. The friendship is discussed and analysed in minute detail and the good, the bad and the ugly is fair game, discussed in candid detail.

The raw unacceptance and honest conversations surrounding Robin’s sexuality were quite emotional. Especially the situation with her sister, it definitely made me feel for Robin. A portrayal that felt realistic and honest.

The facts about weddings that were dotted throughout, alongside various traditions were a fab addition and I enjoyed learning some trivia along the way.

There was some animal cruelty involved which was a bit graphic. I found it a bit hard to stomach, so just an F.Y.I to watch out for that, or avoid it entirely if you feel it may be too much for you.

So Happy For You is out now from HQ. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookstores.

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,

Monthly Wrap Up | July 2022

July was a definite mixed month, filled with a couple of reluctant firsts! I finally caught covid after 2+ years of avoiding it and felt worse than I have done in years. Looking after two littles when ill yourself is no joke, especially when they each start feeling poorly as the days go by! Secondly, I don’t think I can not mention the heatwave! We got 39 degrees here and wow, it was rough. I mean summer is my favourite season but honestly, that was just too much for me. Definitely a July to remember!

In terms of reading, July was slow! I think it was a combination between not feeling great for a week, being too warm and just generally being more busy now the boys require more of my attention. I didn’t take part in any blog tours but I read four books and reviewed two.

What I Read

Do No Harm by Jack Jordan

The Last Library by Freya Sampson (eBook)

All About Evie by Matson Taylor *

So Happy For You by Celia Laskey *

*Reviews to follow, I will link to this post as and when it is published on my blog.

Book of the month

This has been a very tough choice as I read some great books this month, but, my book of the month is… All About Evie! I really enjoyed revisiting Evie and her world now she’s older. Her humour and wit return with a vengeance and, somehow, she’s even more likeable than before! If you haven’t read The Miseducation of Evie Epworth (my review can be found here) then I highly recommend it before embarking on All About Evie. You won’t be disappointed, she’s fabulous! My review of All About Evie will be up very soon, and I’ll also link it in this post so be sure to keep an eye out!

Going forward

I have quite a number of blog tours in August so I’ll definitely be posting more frequently to keep up with those. I’ve read one book already but I’ve got three more to go for tours alone, so it’ll be a busy month! I’m going to make sure I take some time to read books I’ve been eager to read from my shelf though as I still don’t do that enough.

As always, a huge thank you to the publishers and authors who provided me with a gifted copy of a book in exchange for an honest review. You’ll find their details tagged in each individual blog post, linked above. 

Until next time,

Book Review | These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany

Thank you to Leanne and Trapeze for sending me a proof copy of These Impossible Things in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

They recognized that they were all existing in a perfect moment, and eventually it would have to end. Other times it felt like it would always be this way. 

These Impossible Things charts the dreams and disappointments of a group of British Muslim women; Jenna, Kees and Malak. They have been friends for years: the three of them together against the world.

Yet one night changes everything between them and they are left adrift, marooned from each other as their lives take different paths. Without the support of each other, nothing seems to go quite right and in the wake of heartbreaks, marriages, new careers and new beginnings, they need each other more than ever. Will they be able to forgive each other in time?

These Impossible Things tells the story of three women coming to terms with the choices we make, of reconciling love, loss, faith, womanhood and friendship, and how one moment, in a life where everything feels at odds, can change everything.

Review

These Impossible Things is an honest and open coming-of-age story navigating friendship and faith, amongst much more.

The story is told through the perspectives of Malak, Kees and Jenna in alternate chapters. Each of them speaking to the reader in their own manner, dealing with their own issues.

The alternate perspectives provide a really wide overview of the girls’ and their personalities. Each one is battling with their own take on their religion, on love, on friendship and everything in between. I found them to be realistic characters who had a lot of charm between them. Salma El-Wardany ensured their personalities came through strongly which made their respective chapters clear and engaging.

Many ‘modern day’ coming-of-age dilemmas and issues are lived though. Ordinarily relatable, I found them more educational. The addition of the Muslim faith and the girls’ personal struggles and battles make’s it a really open read. I found the raw discussions and the plain-spoken religious beliefs extremely informative. There were a lot of things that I wasn’t fully informed on and found eye-opening.

There are a number of sensitive topics discussed within the novel, domestic violence and sexual assault alongside family politics/rifts. They were tough to read but, I felt, handled in a respectful manner.

These Impossible Things is out now from Trapeze. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookstores.

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,

Book Review | The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

Thank you to HQ for the giveaway win of a proof copy of The Art of Loving You.

Synopsis

They were so in love . . . 
And then life changed forever . . . 
Will they find happiness again?
 
Libby and Jack are the happiest they’ve ever been. Thanks to their dear friend, eighty-year-old Sid, they’ve just bought their first house together, and it’s the beginning of the life they’ve always dreamed of.

But the universe has other plans for Libby and Jack and a devastating twist of fate shatters their world.

All of a sudden life is looking very different, and unlikely though it seems, might Sid be the one person who can help Libby and Jack move forward when what they loved the most has been lost?

Review

The Art of Loving You is an emotional, raw and different kind of love story. One that will break your heart but also teach you how to put it back together again.

The book is written in two parts, with a prologue which introduces Libby’s dilemma in an ambiguous way and teases us into the story, and it ends with an epilogue.

Told through Libby’s perspective, you’re truly immersed in her emotions and follow the chain of events which, one by one, combine to alter her life forever.

I really felt like I was on the emotional rollercoaster alongside Libby. The up and down emotions of grief, heartbreak, confusion and everything else in between.

Sid was a brilliant character and he really made the story for me. Such a ‘wise owl’ with a lot of life experience and many fascinating words of wisdom to share with Libby. He felt a lot like her rock at times, and had a kind heart.

The combination of backstory past with main story and hindsight hints work well and I always felt like I had a broad picture of the situation. The little sentences of foreboding inserted into the end of some chapters kept me reading and eager to know what turn of events would soon follow.

Amelia Henley writes well and you really feel the emotions of the characters. I felt totally immersed in the situations, actions and goings on. It all felt very real.

The book is emotionally quite heavy but also filled with hope. The pages are filled with love, loss, grief, laughter, raw reality and so much more. A truly beautiful and captivating story.

The Art of Loving You is out now from HQ. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookstores.

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,

Book Review | Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander

Thank you to Jen, Penguin Michael Joseph and Squadpod for sending me a proof copy of Meredith, Alone in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days.But she insists she isn’t alone.

She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company.

But something’s about to change.

First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life. Then an estranged sister she hasn’t spoken to in years.

Suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide.

Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door . . .

Review

Meredith, Alone is a wonderful, charming novel filled with strength and resilience.

The chapters are a timeline, with a prologue starting at day 1 and the bulk of the novel beginning at day 1214. The date is also given underneath. I found this really helps to gain context and also with understanding the extent of Meredith’s condition. Additionally the present day is alternated with past, staring in 1993 with a teenage Meredith as she begins to pick through her life, and various other points, not in chronological order.

From the beginning I warmed to Meredith, she’s very humble and I found her focus on details interesting. Her fears and hopes were all completely realistic, if illogical as they truly can be in real life. Meredith was a very three-dimensional character for me and I could definitely vividly imagine her living down the road and going about her limited life behind closed doors.

A lot of the descriptions of panic, fear and anxiety I could resonate with and really remembered feeling similar things at one point in my own life. It was a complete throwback and in some ways I had really forgotten what it was like. Claire Alexander’s descriptions were spot on. Having those feelings and reactions definitely teaches you not to take anything for granted. When your world shrinks to the four walls of your house, meticulous details and timings become all you have to focus on. You find the pleasure in the smallest most menial tasks and I think Alexander really gets this across well.

I liked learning of Meredith’s past through the snippets of information we were given. Of her wider circle, family and friends. Her backstory is as fascinating and it was really informative to gather together a picture of what had happened to her and why it had triggered what it had.

The loneliness and isolation are extremely well portrayed. The network Meredith has around her is wonderful and I really rooted for her, her life and her friends. Tom is a lovely character and I really found his and Meredith’s unorthodox friendship a delight. Their bond over jigsaw’s and their shared problems made their conversations free-flowing and purposeful. His perseverance and looking out for her, even through closed doors, was also charming.

Meredith is a real character, full of humour but equally filled with pain. Her life has been tough and I really wanted to give her a hug on many occasions! Learning about the reasons behind why she hasn’t left the house in so long was quite a tough read. There are some hard topics dealt with within the pages of the novel and I feel Claire addressed them in a sensitive and respectful manner.

A character and story who will definitely stay with me for a long time, Meredith, Alone is out now from Penguin Michael Joseph. You can purchase a copy using the link below and also help to support independent bookstores.

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,

Monthly Wrap Up | June 2022

June was possibly the fastest month of the year so far! I can’t believe we’re past the half way mark of 2022 already. The weather with it’s varied combination of heatwaves and rain showers has been a strange introduction to Summer… From looking at the weather forecast things seem like they’re on the up again after this weekend so fingers crossed the rain disappears! July is my holiday month so I’m looking forward to having extra hands and eyes to help watch the boys and hopefully getting some more reading in.

In terms of reading, June was a little slower than usual, as I had quite a reading slump in the middle! I didn’t take part in any blog tours but I read six books and reviewed three.

What I Read

The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas (eBook)

Cat Person by Kristen Roupenian

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander *

The Heights by Louise Candlish

The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley *

These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany *

*Reviews to follow, I will link to this post as and when it is published on my blog.

Book of the month

My book of the month for June is… Meredith, Alone! Meredith is such a lovely character, with an extraordinary story. You learn of her life through both past and present, which includes a lot of surprises, a couple of other brilliant characters and a wonderful cat. Her story is definitely one you won’t forget, so I really recommend getting your hands on a copy of the book! My review will be up very soon, so keep an eye out and I’ll update this page when it’s published.

Going forward

I don’t have any upcoming blog tours in July but I do have a book that I’m very much looking forward to. Here’s a clue, it’s the second novel about a certain Evie Epworth… Also, due to my reading slump in June I didn’t get to pick up a lot of books from my shelf to read so I’ll be continuing with that this month. There’s a few recently published books I’m looking forward to reading and also older books that I can’t wait to get stuck into!

As always, a huge thank you to the publishers and authors who provided me with a gifted copy of a book in exchange for an honest review. You’ll find their details tagged in each individual blog post, linked above. 

Until next time,

Book Review | Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn

Thank you to Viking for sending me a copy of Conversations on Love in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

After years of feeling that love was always out of reach, journalist Natasha Lunn set out to understand how relationships work and evolve over a lifetime. She turned to authors and experts to learn about their experiences, as well as drawing on her own, asking: How do we find love? How do we sustain it? And how do we survive when we lose it?

In Conversations on Love she began to find the answers:

Philippa Perry on falling in love slowly
Dolly Alderton on vulnerability
Stephen Grosz on accepting change
Candice Carty-Williams on friendship
Lisa Taddeo on the loneliness of loss
Diana Evans on parenthood
Emily Nagoski on the science of sex
Alain de Botton on the psychology of being alone
Esther Perel on unrealistic expectations
Roxane Gay on redefining romance

and many more…

Review

Conversations on Love is an informative, raw and open collection of discussions on Love. So many manifestations and forms are discussed, many of which I had not even thought about before in any kind of depth.

The book is split into chapters which are then broken down into smaller sub chapters. Each of the chapters are clearly laid out and the focus of each is evident from the offset. It covers a broad spectrum of discussion and there were aspects I hadn’t thought of in correlation to Love, primarily somewhat sad or negative emotions like envy and loss.

The interviews are so varied and a real mix of people. I particularly enjoyed the words of wisdom from Candice Carty-Williams and her honesty and openness regarding both love and friendship. Diana Evans’ discussion was also a great one, talking of how parenthood changes love was filled with so much truth and accuracy to my own experiences.

Natasha writes so candidly from the outset, openly discussing her own experiences. Her words are wrapped around other people’s, mixed in with quotes and relatable discussion. The flow of Natasha’s words and her varied and many interviews are seamlessly connected and build a really in-depth chronological discussion.

The relatability of so many aspects of the book really makes this universally appealing. I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t benefit from reading it. A lesson something most of us think we’re all clued up on, but I guarantee you will read this and it will really create a lot of thinking points. I also found a lot of unthought subtopics and aspects were firmly put into perspective.

With many key topics and take away points, this is a book I won’t forget in a hurry. Conversations on Love is out now from Viking. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookstores.

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,

Book Review | The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

Synopsis

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians.

Can the Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Review

The Man Who Died Twice is a witty, charming and brilliant return to Coopers Chase. The unforgettable characters bring their charisma and intellect to an exciting new mystery.

The story is told in three parts, each part with a subheading which cleverly hints to some of the focus within. It’s a definite hint rather than a tell-all and expertly reflective of the characters within!

The chapters are a collection of third person perspective, some specifically following Elizabeth, Ibrahim and Ron, amongst a couple of others, and Joyce’s first person perspective via her diary. I enjoyed this and extra perspective from Joyce is always welcome, as she is a real character and a wonderful grandmotherly figure.

Thrown straight back into The Thursday Murder Club’s following meeting, chronologically it’s as though you barely ever left. The escapades are equally as interesting as in book one and the multiple mysteries running alongside each other only makes the focus even more entertaining.

Each of the characters quirks and amusing personality traits are back with renewed vigour and the familiarity of each of them is like visiting old friends. Additionally, the return of other characters from the previous novel, such as Police Officers Chris and Donna, was a nice addition. It really feels like much of the community is back on an unorthodox crime fighting mission.

The wit and humour from the characters is as wonderful as ever and I really enjoyed gaining more of an insight into their personalities and backstories. The quirks of each and the tangents they find themselves following make each more lifelike.

Joyce’s fabulous stream of conscious returns in her chapters and once again it feels like you’re in her head. The way she flits subject matter without warning is extremely realistic.

The story flows seamlessly into each mystery and I really raced through the pages. I was eager to know what happened with the diamonds and Douglas, amongst other things!

A brilliant revisit to Coopers Chase and The Thursday Murder Club gang. Can’t wait for The Bullet That Missed, which is out in September!

The Man Who Died Twice is out now from Viking. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookstores.

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,

Book Review | Little Nothings by Julie Mayhew

Thank you to Raven books for sending me a proof copy of Little Nothings in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis 

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Liv Travers never knew real friendship until she met fellow mums Beth and Binnie. The three women become inseparable as they muddle through early parenthood together.

Then along comes Ange. Ambitious, wealthy and somehow able to do it all.

Under Ange’s guiding presence, the group finds new vigour and fresh aspirations – bigger houses, better schools, dinners at exclusive restaurants. But Liv can’t keep up and is increasingly edged out.

When the four families take a three-week trip to a luxurious holiday resort, Liv seizes the opportunity to reclaim her place at the heart of the group, only to discover the true, devastating cost of a friendship with Ange.

Set over the course of a single, life-changing trip to a Greek island paradise, Little Nothings is a sly, suspenseful novel about female bonds turned toxic, and the desperate ends one woman will go to keep her friends close – and her enemy closer.

Review

Little Nothings is an extravagant, toxic, whirlwind full of complex issues and deep rooted drama.

The book combines chapters regarding Liv, Beth, Binnie and Ange’s friendship backstory with the story of the holiday. The intertwined narrative provides a full picture of past and present and I really felt like there was a clear narrative of the situation from beginning to end.

Liv’s perspective provides an insight into not only her own romantic relationship but also her relationship with the other girls, and their ups and downs across both past and present. It feels like you get to know each of the characters, especially Clara, quite well through Liv and they each brought something into the mix.

The back and forth really revealed the depth of the friendship and it’s development. I felt like the novel was an accurate insight into how friendships can easily become toxic. It also shows the lengths people are prepared to go to in order to fit in or to follow the crowd, and what this can do to them.

Predominately in Corfu, I really enjoyed the setting. I’ve never visited but it felt like I was on a summer holiday on the Green Island. The writing felt authentic and I envisaged myself observing the goings on of the Little Nothings.

The story develops well and I really rushed through it, especially towards the end. A thoroughly gripping read!

Little Nothings is out now from Raven books. You can purchase a copy using the link below and also help to support independent bookstores.

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,