Book Review – Like Mother, Like Daughter by Elle Croft

If what they said was true, then the grotesque and the monstrous ran in her blood. It was imprinted within her very core, her DNA, a part of every cell in her body.

Kat’s children are both smart and well-adjusted. On the outside.

Kat has always tried to treat Imogen and Jemima equally, but she struggles with one of her daughters more than the other.

Because Imogen’s birth mother is a serial killer. And Imogen doesn’t know.

They say you can’t choose your family, but what if your family chooses you?

Published 9th July 2020 in PB by @orionbooks

Well, what a gripping page turner this turned out to be! Exactly how I like my thrillers, this one had me hooked from the very start and I read it in a couple of big chunks

Like Mother, Like Daughter tackles the age old question of nature vs nurture. Kat’s adopted daughter, Imogen, has a traumatic past – but is the evil that occupies her biological parents inherited?
In alternating chapters we hear the breakdown of the mother, daughter relationship from Kat and Imogen in short, punchy chapters
which kept me absolutely glued to the pages

And boy does this get dark! As the truth about Imogen’s biological family is revealed , a shocking story of child abuse emerges. Without going into graphic detail, the author sets the sinister tone with an eerie occasional narrative from the perpetrator themselves. It sent shivers down my spine

I raced threw this book, and a couple of little twists towards the end managed to catch me off guard. It throws up a lot of thought provoking questions as well as being compulsive reading. One I’d recommend if you fancy something quick and gritty with pages that turn themselves

Thanks to the publisher for my #gifted copy as part of the blog tour

Book Review – The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble

The stunning new novel about the joys and heartbreaks of a family divided and reunited, by the bestselling author of the Richard & Judy selection Love, Iris

The Chamberlain family – Charlie and Daphne, and their children Laura, Scott and Nick – had fantastic summer holidays when they were young. But then, inevitably, the children grew up, and their own messy lives got in the way.

Since their mum died, it feels to them all as if their family just isn’t that close any more. And Charlie fears his kids have all lost their direction.

For his eightieth birthday, all Charlie wants is to bring his family together again – and by some miracle, they’ve all said yes.

It’s only ten days . . . how hard can it be?

Published June 2020 by @michaeljbooks

I’ve read a few of Elizabeth Noble’s books in the past, in fact I credit The Reading Group as the book that reignited my love of reading fifteen years ago when I found myself a single mother to a small baby and an 8 year old. She writes such relatable stories and characters with compassion and empathy, but also with such a sense of hope and joy, that I find so comforting and absolutely adore

The Family Holiday is no different. Right from the start I knew this was a book I would devour and enjoy immensely. Widower Charlie wants to bring his scattered family back together and reconnect with his children and grandchildren. Still grieving the loss of his beloved wife, the lynchpin of the family, you really get a sense of how important this is to him

Over the course of the book we hear from the viewpoint of all his three children, as well as his sixteen year old grandson, Ethan. All have faced their own difficulties – divorce, bereavement, adapting to step-parenting, dealing with the past and the threat of an accusation devastating a future. This could have been any family, the problems and emotions feeling incredibly real with complex themes that are tackled with care and sensitivity

There’s such a warmth to the writing, and despite the book bringing a lump to my throat with some difficult and sad topics, it also made me smile with sprinkles of gentle humour and an overwhelming feeling of joy as the family come together, bridges are built and broken hearts mended and strengthened. The Family Holiday is perfect comfort, uplit reading and I enjoyed every page

Many thanks to the publisher for my #gifted copy as part of the blog tour

Book Review – The Catch by T.M Logan

He is not what he seems . . .

Ed is delighted to meet his twenty-three year old daughter’s fiancé for the first time. Abbey is head-over-heels in love with her new man. Smart, successful and handsome, Ryan appears to be the perfect future son-in-law.

There’s just one problem. There’s something off about Ryan. Something hidden in the shadows behind his eyes. And it seems that only Ed can see it.

Terrified that his daughter is being drawn in by a psychopath, Ed sets out to uncover her fiancé’s dark past – while keeping his own concealed. But no-one believes him. And the more he digs, the more he alienates her and the rest of the family who are convinced that Ryan is ‘the one’.

Ed knows different. For reasons of his own, he knows a monster when he sees one

Published June 11th 2020 by @zaffrebooks

I like my thrillers fast paced, gripping, psychological and twisty with characters I can’t quite work out. I want to read it in big greedy chunks and not notice how quickly the pages are turning

That’s EXACTLY what you get with T M Logan. His latest book, The Catch is all of the above. I couldn’t put it down!

When Ed meets daughter Abbie’s boyfriend for the first time, he takes an instant dislike. While everyone is smitten by the generous, charismatic and thoughtful Ryan, Ed feels unease – something in his eyes worries him. When Abbie announces her engagement and quickly upcoming marriage, Ed decides to dig a bit further into Ryan’s past, becoming increasingly obsessed and irrational. Is Ed just an overprotective father – he’s got form after all. Or is something more sinister going on?

Ed is a fantastic character who had my mind changing about him frequently. I felt sorry for him, then worried for him, then downright terrified as his obsession about Ryan spirals out of control! I mean, this guy is on it! Talk about an unreliable character! He’s intense and singleminded, with guarded secrets of his own

The pages literally flew reading this book. My proof was pretty big and daunting, but l read half the book before I even looked up. The writing flows so well with short snappy chapters and perfectly pitched twists making it impossible to put down.

If you’re looking for a summer thriller, then look no further. Perfect reading while you chill in your garden and dip your toes in the paddling pool! T M Logan has well and truly earned his name as master of the summer must read and I’ve no hesitation recommending this!

Thanks to the publisher for my #gifted copy

Book Review – Below Deck by Sophie Hardcastle

Twenty-one-year-old Olivia hears the world in colour, but her life is mottled grey. Estranged from her parents, and living with her grandfather who is drowning in sadness, Oli faces the reality of life beyond university alone. When she wakes on a boat with no recollection of how she got there, she accepts the help of two strangers who change the course of her future forever. With Mac and Maggie, Oli learns to navigate a life upon open ocean and the world flowers into colours she’s never seen before. Four years later, Oli, fluent in the language of the sea, is the only woman among men on a yacht delivery from Noumea to Auckland. In the darkness below deck, she learns that at sea, no one can hear you scream. Moving to London, Oli’s life at sea is buried. When she meets Hugo, the wind changes, and her memories are dust blown into shapes. Reminding her of everything. Below Deck is about the moments that haunt us, the moments that fan out like ripples through the deep. So that everything else, becomes everything after.Published 4th June 2020 by @atlanticbooks

Some of the best books I’ve read come from the brilliant reviews and recommendations of the book community, and it was thanks to my lovely friend @rachaelsreads_ that BELOW DECK hit my radar. THANK YOU Rachel, I absolutely loved this book!Oli is a bit of a lost soul, neglected of love from her high flying parents and aimless in her life. She’s been in a relationship for four years with someone who treats her like shit. But when she meets Mac and Maggie and joins them on their boat, for the first time she feels like she’s found home. Until one day, four years later she’s subject to a violent and traumatic attack at Sea which will haunt her future and turn the ocean she loved to a dangerous and lonely placeI felt for Oli so much. She’s alone in the world, and burdened with expectation of how she should be – as a daughter, a girlfriend, a woman. There’s a feminist undertone running throughout this book as Oli struggles to find and accept herself wich I loved, and I found myself championing her fully throughoutSophie Hardcastle’s writing is beautiful and her use of colour to describe feelings and actions is vivid and atmospheric. I found it all consuming, the world outside blurring as I turned the pages and became completely immersed in the emotions of this bookBelow Deck is a stunning story of acceptance and empowerment with the backdrop of the sea reminding us that cruelty and beauty coexist unpredictably. It’s a book that filled me with feeling as I read, sorrow, anger and hope. Highly recommended!Thanks to the publisher for my #gifted copy

Book Review – How Much Of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang

Ba dies in the night, Ma is already gone. Lucy and Sam, twelve and eleven, are suddenly alone and on the run. With their father’s body on their backs, they roam an unforgiving landscape dotted with giant buffalo bones and tiger paw prints, searching for a place to give him a proper burial.

How Much of These Hills is Gold is a sweeping adventure tale, an unforgettable sibling story and a remarkable novel about a family bound and divided by its memories

Published April 2020 by @viragopress

I wasn’t sure when I started reading HOW MUCH OF THESE HILLS IS GOLD if I was going to enjoy it. It’s very different to books I usually read, and in the first 10 or so pages I struggled a little to understand what was going on. But this year I’ve well and truly pushed myself out of my comfort zone and challenged myself, so I persevered. I’m so glad I did as within a few more pages I’d settled into the writing style and ended up really loving it

It’s the story of two siblings, Lucy and Sam, the children of Chinese immigrants come to California during the gold rush to seek their fortunes but finding not only the landscape hostile, but also the western prospectors and employers. Brought up almost feral and in the most deplorable poverty, at 10 and 11 years old they find themselves alone, with the responsibility of their fathers body to bury.

This book isn’t for the faint hearted. The early chapters in particular are brutal as siblings Lucy and Sam trek across an unforgiving landscape searching for somewhere to bury their father. Yet, despite some horrific scenes, there’s a poetic beauty to Zhang’s writing which is really striking

There’s several themes running throughout this book but the main ones are belonging and identity. The question of what makes a home a home surfaces frequently, and explores how it has different meaning to each of the characters. It also tackles issues of immigration, race, class, gender and the validity of recorded history told and shaped by voices outside the real and lived experiences of those it’s telling.

I read this book over several days, savouring the beautifully writing and thinking about the story. There’s a lot to think about for sure. Harrowing, striking, heartbreaking and beautifully, beautifully written, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to read it

Many thanks to the publisher and @tandemcollectiveuk for my #gifted copy as part of the #howmuchofthesehillsisgoldreadalong

Book Review – The Light Keeper by Cole Moreton

A young woman stands on the brink of a high cliff overlooking the sea, arms wide open as if to let the wind carry her over. She has run away from home to this wild, beautiful place to make a decision that is, for her, truly a matter of life and death.

Sarah is pursued by Jack, her distraught husband, who is desperate to find her on these hills before it is too late. Will he make it in time?

Volunteers on the cliff edge patrol for people to save, but the number of men and women going over has ominously increased of late . . .

Does the secret lie with the Keeper who lives alone in the old lighthouse, a few steps from the four hundred foot drop in this gorgeous, terrifying place? The radiance has gone from his llife, but we do not know how or why.

The Light Keeper is set in and around the real Georgian lighthouse at Belle Tout on the South Downs, in a dramatic landscape known the whole world over. The white faces of the Seven Sisters rise from the waves, a series of high chalk cliffs with a primal beauty. We are close to Beachy Head, where the lost and lonely come to end their lives, but this is a story of hope, redemption and love.

Published by @marylebone_house

What a gorgeous little book this is! I wasn’t sure what to expect at first and was very pleasantly surprised when I started reading it

The Keeper lives on the cliff edge of the South Downs, in a half renovated lighthouse near the infamous suicide spot of Beachy Head. Isolated and engulfed in his own pain and despair, he keeps himself to himself. But when a missing woman turns up at his lighthouse, he finds himself saving himself in his attempts to rescue her

What I loved about this book was, despite the very real and hardhitting subjects, there’s a stunning dreamlike quality to the writing. It’s completely immersive and swings from swirling and urgent to lulling and serene. I absolutely loved it .
It’s a pretty small book, at just over 200 pages but so much is packed between those pages. It tackles themes of grief, suicide, childlessness, domestic violence, faith and the loss of it. Achingly sad at times, but with a beacon of hope that flickers slowly before burning brightly, The Light Keeper really took my breath away with it’s beauty. I’ll remember it for a long time to come

Thanks to the publisher for sending a #gifted copy as part of the blog tour

Book Review – The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins

Published 11th June 2020 by Dialogue Books (UK)

The Vanishing Half caught my attention a few weeks ago after reading some raving reviews and I requested it from Netgalley immediately. Not having read Brit Bennett’s previous book, I went in with no expectation but man, does this book live up to it’s high praise

Telling the stories of twin sisters, Stella and Desiree Vignes, brought up in a small town in 1960’s America where unusually, the community is almost entirely made up of light skinned black people. When the twins run away from their small town, and eventually separate, one will end up returning to the place she tried to escape while the other will pass herself off as white, living a life that otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to access but also living a lie

Wow. This book is amazing. There’s just so much to think about as it takes on issues of race, identity, gender, prejudice, belonging and so much more. It’s timely, insightful and thought provoking. The comparisons between the two sisters lives, and that of their daughters, are both shocking and heartbreaking

Brit Bennett’s writing is gorgeous. I couldn’t put this book down, becoming fully invested in not just Desiree and Stella’s lives, but their daughters Jude and Kennedy, two completely different girls who both feel the ripples of their mother’s choices. I read it over a couple of days and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it and desperate to return. I can’t recommend this beautiful book enough, and I’ll certainly be picking up Brit’s previous book as soon as I can. A must read

Thanks to the publisher for my #gifted copy

Book Review – The Sight Of You by Holly Miller

Joel is afraid of the future.

Since he was a child he’s been haunted by dreams about the people he loves. Visions of what’s going to happen – the good and the bad. And the only way to prevent them is to never let anyone close to him again.

Callie can’t let go of the past.

Since her best friend died, Callie’s been lost. She knows she needs to be more spontaneous and live a bigger life. She just doesn’t know how to find a way back to the person who used to have those dreams.

Joel and Callie both need a reason to start living for today. 

And though they’re not looking for each other, from the moment they meet it feels like the start of something life-changing.

Until Joel has a vision of how it’s going to end . . .

Published June 11th 2020 by @hodderbooks

I knew this book was going to be right up my street the moment I read the synopsis way back last year, and so I was beyond excited when my request to read it on Netgalley was accepted!

Joel has dreams predicting the future of his loved ones. The good and the bad, he’s scared to love anyone else and is broken by his desire to stop the glimpses of what’s to come that weigh heavy on him

But then he meets Callie – healing after the loss of her best friend, Joel and Callie click. They’re soul mates. But when Joel dreams of Callie, he has to make one of the hardest decisions of his life. Sometimes loving someone means letting them go

I adored every word of this book. It’s tender, romantic and heartbreaking. Joel’s predicament is unique, a curse he struggles to live with. I felt so bad for him, and I’m not going to lie, a little bit in love with him too. The romance between him and Callie is so beautiful and pure – I yearned for their happiness. Both characters are gorgeous and likeable. I was fully behind them throughout

I felt every emotion while reading, Holly Miller’s beautiful writing takes you on a rollercoaster of hope and heartache that is physical. The Sight of You was everything I’d hoped for and more. If you enjoy books with an epic love story with a unique twist, like The Time Travellers Wife, The Light We Lost or In Five Years, then this one is for you. Stunning 💗

Book Review – Like A House On Fire by Caroline Hulse

Things Stella and George have had blazing rows about:– Misquoting Jurassic Park
– Leaving a Coke can on the side of the bath
– Fitting car seats for their hypothetical kidsIn other news, they’re getting divorced.But first, Stella’s mum is throwing a murder mystery party and – with her dad losing his job, her mum’s recent diagnosis, and some very odd behaviour from her sister – now is not the time to tell everyone.All Stella and George have to do is make it through the day without their break-up being discovered – though it will soon turn out that having secrets runs in the family…Published May 14th 2020 by @orionbooks

I’ve had a copy of Caroline Hulse’s debut, Adults, for ages and had been meaning to get around to it soon. After reading LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE this will be happening even sooner!Set mainly over an evening, when Margaret attempts to bring together her nearest and dearest one last time, this is one of the most honestly observed stories of family dynamics I’ve read. Misunderstandings, resentment and jealousy, denial and secrets unfold in an excruciating family event noone really wants to be atI loved the dry wit and humour it’s written with! The dynamics of the family are recognisable and relatable as they switch from irritation with each other to being fiercly protective. The characters are incredibly authentic and Caroline Hulse writes the everday person with compassion and insightThis isn’t a book I raced through, however I loved picking it up and spending time with it at a lovely leisurely pace which I really appreciated. I really felt I knew these characters by the end, and the addition of Margaret’s attempts to involve her reluctant family in a murder mystery party really made me chuckle. A reminder of the imperfections of family and that life is constantly changing, even for those who fight against it, I really enjoyed this bookThank you to the publisher for my #gifted copy

Book Review – The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Set on a remote island off the Irish coast, this is one guest list no one would want to be on, just as no one would have wanted an invitation to the New Year’s Eve party in Foley’s previous novel, The Hunting Party .

Lives unravel amid the revelry on an eerie and remote island as family and friends assemble for a glam wedding in an updated Murder on the Orient Express. Each of the principal characters has a reason to want one of their number dead, there are old secrets, and one of them is murdered.

Published February 2020 by Harper Collins UK

Ok, I’m naming Lucy Foley queen of the modern whodunit. Yet again with The Guest List, she gathers a group of people in a remote location, gives the reader a glimpse of a sticky end, then takes them on a merry dance from one disgruntled narrator to the other as they try to work out just what has happened

And boy are there plenty of disgruntled narrators here. As golden couple Will and Jules gather their nearest and dearest on a remote Irish island for the wedding of the century, it quickly becomes clear not everyone is wishing the lavish couple well

Jealousy, brooding resentment and old secrets all rear their ugly heads and as more events from the past are revealed, there are plenty of suspects with big enough grievances to put them in the frame for murder. Alternating chapters from several narrators, I was hooked and desperate to know more. With each chapter ending on a cliff edge, I flew through this book unable to put it down. With a wild and atmospheric backdrop, The Guest List has the perfect thriller blend I love. Brilliant

Thanks to the publisher for my #gifted e-arc