Monthly Wrap Up | June 2021

June and it’s mixed weather forecast is at its end already (where did that month go?!). I’m hoping July brings more of the sunshine we saw at the start of the month, because so far the first couple of weeks of ‘Summer’ have been pretty disappointing. We have a lot of ‘normality’ potentially returning to us next month, which I’m feeling quite apprehensive about. I haven’t been one to do much as the restrictions have eased so far, so I won’t be rushing into anything just yet, but the lives of old might not be too far away for some!

As for reading, June has been a good month. Despite battling a sleep regression with my toddler, I’ve somehow managed to read the same as last month which I’m pretty impressed by. At least one book was almost tipping 500 pages so I think I may have even read more! This month I’ve taken part in one blog tour, read nine books and reviewed eight.

What I read

Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding

Another Life by Jodie Chapman ✰✰✰✰

Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh ✰✰✰✰

Love Letters of Kings and Queens Edited by Daniel Smith

The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst ✰✰✰

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes ✰✰✰✰

How To Live. What To Do. by Josh Cohen

The Island Home by Libby Page ✰✰✰✰

Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks ✰✰✰✰

Book of the month

This month there has been one book which definitely stood out to me, The Island Home! Such a lovely story with a gorgeous sense of friendship and community. I’d really recommend checking it out as part of your summer reading, being whisked away to the Island of Kip is just the ticket. You’ll find my review will follow in July as part of the blog tour!

Going forward…

I have one blog tour in July, as I’ve already spoken about, so expect to see my review for The Island Home coming on July 7th. I’m making my way through proofs and review copies still at the minute, I have a really good selection of those in the pipeline. I’m also hoping to read a couple of books from my tbr shelves, as I picked up a new release the other week and I’m really excited to get stuck in to that.

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 | Love Letters of Kings and Queens Edited by Daniel Smith

Thank you to Lizzie and Quercus for sending me a copy of Love Letters of Kings and Queens in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Tender, moving, heartfelt and warm (and sporadically scandalous and outrageous too), these are the private messages between people in love. Yet they are also correspondence between the rulers of nations. 

From Henry VIII’s lovelorn notes to Anne Boleyn and George IV’s impassioned notes to his secret wife, to Queen Victoria’s tender letters to Prince Albert and Edward VIII’s extraordinary correspondence with Wallis Simpson – these letters depict romantic love from its budding passion to the comfort and understanding of a long union (and occasionally beyond to resentment and recrimination), all set against the background of great affairs of state, wars and the strictures of royal duty.

Here is a chance to glimpse behind the pomp and ceremony, the carefully curated images of royal splendour and decorum, to see the passions, hopes, jealousies and loneliness of kings and queens throughout history. By turns tender, moving, heartfelt and warm (and sporadically scandalous and outrageous too), these are the private messages between people in love. Yet they are also correspondence between the rulers of nations, whose actions (and passions) changed the course of history, for good and bad.

This morning I received your dear, dear letter of the 21st. How happy do you make me with your love! Oh! my Angel Albert, I am quite enchanted with it! I do not deserve such love! Never, never did I think I could be loved so much. Queen Victoria to Prince Albert (28 November 1839)

Review

Love Letters of Kings and Queens is an interesting insight into the thoughts and feelings (primarily of love!) of past rulers. It adds an extra level of depth to the historical figures we’ve all read about, making them seem more ‘real’.

The introductions to each letter provide context and I really enjoyed the miniature history lesson behind the writers of each letter. I had heard and read of them, but a lot of whom I wasn’t entirely sure where they placed in history. I definitely found this really informative and a good addition to the book.

I found this element of nosiness fascinating and gaining an insight into the past ‘reality’ of the lives and relationships of the Kings and Queens was enjoyable. It was surprising how quickly things can sour and alter between two people, but a lot of it made sense in such high tension situations.

As discussed by Daniel in the introduction, it is interesting to see these highly remembered and recognised people in a more ‘human’ light, with their own issues and problems. It’s humbling to know that we all have the same fundamentals at heart and it really opened my eyes to looking past the ‘front’ and the facade that is often portrayed by us all.

Love Letters of Kings and Queens is out now from Quercus. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help 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 | The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst

Huge thanks to Sriya and Michael Joseph for the opportunity to be on the blog tour for The Lock In and for sending me a proof copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Ellen and Alexa have survived hangovers, dodgy landlords and most of their twenties together.

But can they survive this?

While nursing The Hangover from Hell, a flooded kitchen leads best friends Ellen and Alexa, and hapless housemate Jack, into their attic to turn off the water supply.

But when Ben – Alexa’s date from the night before – walks in, the door slams, the handle breaks and all four are trapped.

Cue the Worst Ever morning-after-the-night-before.

As the hours tick by, Ellen nurses her sore head and watches as her best friend falls for this handsome stranger.

Only for a horrifying realization to hit. She is sureshe knows Ben from somewhere.

Frantically searching her memories, Ellen pieces together exactly how they’ve met before.

Is Ben really who she thinks he is?

And, most importantly, what on earth is she going to do about it . . .

This is a hilarious story of housemates and hangovers and friendship and dating as four twenty-somethings discover what The Worst morning-after-the-night-before really looks like . . .

Review

The Lock In is a humorous, original, feel-good tale of friendship, love and nostalgia.

The story is told through housemates Ellen, Alexa and Jack, with the occasional chapter from Hinge date Ben. Each of their chapters give you their own insight which really allows you to gain a feel for each of their personalities. I liked each of them and felt they were all really different, but complimented each other well. A definite case of a London flatshare gone right!

Background information for each character is nicely slotted in to each of their perspectives. Learning of each of their lives definitely fleshes the characters out and allows them to become more realistic. It’s different learning about their lives indirectly, with the drama unfolding around them whilst they are all trapped together inside the attic. I enjoyed this style as it was different to the norm and worked nicely.

The relationship between the three housemates was honest and real, and I liked this openness that Phoebe Luckhurst provided with her writing. They didn’t get on all the time, there were things they liked and didn’t like about each other and it was just really realistic. It definitely drew me more into the story and the characters, especially when it came to Ben!

The best part of the novel for me was the nostalgia. It was such a great travel back in time! I loved the throwback to MSN and it took me straight back to my teens and the noughties. Spending hours after school sat in front of the computer chatting to people (in my case actually from school) with some who I probably wouldn’t speak to in real life. Looking back it was such a strange time but definitely one of the things that defined millennials growing up!

The Lock In is out now in eBook, and comes out in hardback on 22 July, from Penguin Michael Joseph. You can preorder the hardback 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 | Another Life by Jodie Chapman

Huge thanks to Ellie and Michael Joseph for sending me a proof copy of Another Life in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

She could be the girl dancing on tables one night, and the next she’d be hiding in the shadows.

Just when I thought I understood her, she would melt away and become a completely new person, and I’d have to start all over again.

That’s how it was with Anna.
_______

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life.

But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that’s endured decades, and the promises they’ve made to others along the way.

Review

Another Life is a rollercoaster of emotions, filled with life, loss and love. It’s a beautiful, original debut which will stay with you!

The book is written primarily through Nick’s perspective, which I found a refreshing change. Personally I’ve found similar books are usually written through a female’s point of view, so I enjoyed the male perspective. I feel like it gave the book a more honest flow.

The life events that span the twenty plus years of the book make it feel like you’re really going through life with Nick; his memories, his ups and his downs and his life.

The multiple timelines I found were written really well and were definitely helpful and informative. We were able to learn of Nick’s childhood, his relationship with Anna and his present life approaching thirty.

There are so many wonderful relationships throughout the novel; Nick, Sal (his brother), their Dad, Anna… It’s all wonderfully written. I really took to each one and the relationships so thought out and detailed, I felt like I was really living Nick’s life at times.

Jodie Chapman writes exceptionally well, especially when it comes to emotions. It’s not overly flowery, it’s kind of to the point but subtly weaved in. The feeling of Anna being trapped between two worlds, unsure which side to choose and how to truly follow her own happiness was really poignant.

I enjoyed the inclusion of the never-sent emails from Anna and her poetry, I felt like it added something extra to the novel. It broke up the prose and allowed us to delve into her life from her own perspective, if only for a short time.

The way the characters revisit each other throughout the years through chance meetings is so well done, it definitely made me vouch for them even more. It was a classic Romeo and Juliet type scenario, lovers that can’t be but part of me definitely wanted them to be. The uncertainty of the relationship was what drew me in most and I think it worked so well. A thoroughly enjoyable read!

Another Life is out now from Michael Joseph and you can purchase using the link below, whilst also helping 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,

Book Review | Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding

Huge thanks to Laura and Bloomsbury for sending me a proof copy of Bright Burning Things in exchange for an honest review.

Media of Bright Burning Things

Synopsis

Being Tommy’s mother is too much for Sonya. 

Too much love, too much fear, too much longing for the cool wine she gulps from the bottle each night. Because Sonya is burning the fish fingers, and driving too fast, and swimming too far from the shore, and Tommy’s life is in her hands.

Once there was the thrill of a London stage, a glowing acting career, fast cars, handsome men. But now there are blackouts and bare cupboards, and her estranged father showing up uninvited. There is Mrs O’Malley spying from across the road. There is the risk of losing Tommy – forever.

Review

Bright Burning Things is an intense, rawly honest portrayal of addiction combined with motherhood.

Written through main character and addiction sufferer Sonya’s perspective, you are thrown right into the whirlwind of her world. From the outset you find yourself caught up in her high-energy, fast-paced yet moving into slow, life. You get a sense of her troubled self from very early on and her issues and compulsions. It’s an extremely open account and her erratic behaviour, thoughts and impulses are tough to read at times. I felt myself holding my breath at times, getting angry at others – it really is an emotional rollercoaster.

Following Sonya’s journey is extremely intense. Her traits and quips, such as thinking something three times in a row, are quite reflective of her character and you can pick up her issues quite obviously. It’s refreshing to have such a transparent character, and one who we follow so openly through their journey, despite it being such a tough read at times.

Her son Tommy and Herbie the dog’s relationship is a really special light in the dark, especially at the beginning of the novel and it really takes some of the darkness from the situation. Knowing they have each other is somewhat of a comfort. Although their relationship alters throughout, it comes back around and it’s clear they have a special bond.

The novel is a real insight into addiction and it’s effects on both those it takes hold of and those around them. It’s a heartbreaking tale and portrays the reality of substance abuse in all its misery. Hard-hitting and eye-opening, Bright Burning Things is out now from Bloomsbury. You can purchase using the link below and 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,

Book Review | The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent

Huge thanks to Ellie and Viking for sending me a proof copy of The Summer Job in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Have you ever imagined running away from your life?

Well Birdy Finch didn’t just imagine it. She did it. Which might’ve been an error. And the life she’s run into? Her best friend, Heather’s.

The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems…

Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)?

And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked (but who thinks she’s someone else)

The Summer Job is a fresh, fun, feel-good romcom for fans of The Flatshare, Bridget Jones and Bridesmaids.

Review

The Summer Job is a wonderful, heart-warming rom-com, with so much originality and an incredible ‘family’ of characters.

As a protagonist, Birdy was one of my all-time favourites. Such a personality, hilarious and a highly likeable character. So warm and ‘f*cked up’, perfectly real, raw and unashamedly herself (sort of!) I really felt her highs and lows and despite her deceptions, I really took to her. To be honest, the entire collection of characters in the novel were really wonderful, each had their own loveable quirks and traits and I loved the ‘family’ vibe that they so easily created.

I found the entire career of a sommelier fascinating as I had absolutely no previous knowledge about it. Lizzy Dent has done a brilliant job with her research and it felt like the whole narrative revolves around a storyline which is quite untouched in fiction and I really enjoyed that aspect. It was exceptionally well written.

There is naturally a lot of talk of delicious food and menus, which consequently did a brilliant job of making me feel hungry for the majority of the book. I could practically taste the food through the pages! It did make me want to try out some new dishes the next time I’m in a restaurant, albeit one much less fancy and expensive.

I really enjoyed the Scottish location, the switch from London to Scotland was a welcome change. The beauty of the landscape and scenery was really written fabulously by Lizzy Dent. I’ve said it already but I’ll say it again, she is a superb writer and I can’t wait to read more from her.

The whole vibe from start to finish is welcoming, homely and cosy. Despite stress and a very complex job (especially if you’re Birdy and know nothing about it!) there is a real sense of togetherness and it’s something I really felt strongly in the story. It was just a wonderful, feel-good read, one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I will miss you Birdy Finch!

The Summer Job is out now, published by Viking. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and 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,

Monthly Wrap Up | May 2021

The end of the most autumnal May that I can remember is at it’s end. I’d like to say I’m glad but it really has saved itself in the last couple of days with the glorious sunshine! It feels like a much more hopeful Summer is beginning this year, bring on a lot more sunshine and a little bit more socialising.

May has been a good reading month! I’ve found I’ve read more, partly because we were away for a few days so I had help with the routine for the toddler and because I’ve read some amazing books! I’ve also found that balancing out books I need to review for authors/publishers/blog tours with books from my own tbr has helped. This month I’ve taken part in one blog tour, read nine books and reviewed four, with a fifth review to follow.

What I read

The Baby Group by Caroline Corcoran ✰✰✰

From My Balcony to Yours by Nino Gugunishvili ✰✰✰✰

Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave ✰✰✰✰✰

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse ✰✰✰

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent ✰✰✰✰✰

Watching You by Lisa Jewell ✰✰✰

The Skylight by Louise Candlish ✰✰✰✰

The Switch by Beth O’Leary ✰✰✰✰

Book of the month 

As with last month, it was too difficult to choose just one book of the month so I had to choose two. My two five star reads; The Last Thing He Told Me and The Summer Job. Polar opposite novels; one exceptional thriller and one incredible laugh-out-loud romcom. If you haven’t read either of these yet then I’d highly recommend for some gripping summer reading!

(My review for The Summer Job is coming very soon, so watch out for that and I will update this post as soon as it’s published!)

Going forward…

I have one blog tour again next month, which I’m really looking forward to reading. I’m also still making my way through my proofs and review copies, and I have some brilliant books coming up in those too! I think I’m going to pick at least one book I’ve had on my own tbr shelves for ages and haven’t yet had a chance to read, I’ve just got to decide which one…

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,