#BlogTour #BookReview – I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

l Know Who You Are is the brilliant tale of two stories. One is about Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress.

The next morning she goes for her morning run and then goes to her favorite coffee shop. But her card is denied. When she calls the bank they say her account has been emptied of $10,000. She immediately suspects her husband. But they say no, it was Aimee herself who closed out the account. And thus begins a bizarre rabbit hole into which Aimee finds herself falling where nothing is at it seems.

Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who wandered away from home. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers or bad things will happen. Well, bad things happen.

In I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney proves that she is a master at brilliantly complicated plots and twists after twists.

Published May 16th 2019 by HQ (UK)   

~ Review ~

It’s two years ago now that I was lucky enough to participate in the blog tour for Alice Feeney’s debut novel, Sometimes I Lie , and it is fair to say I was blown away. I’ve been eagerly awaiting her second book, I Know Who You Are, for what feels like forever! So when HQ got in touch to ask if I’d like to participate again it was a no brainer. Thank you HQ!

Some authors just have that knack of ferociously hooking their reader from the very first page and holding them captive right through to the end. Alice Feeney has it and then some. With I Know Who You Are she proves that the first time wasn’t just a fluke, but  a finally honed skill that once again had me glued to the pages.

In I Know Who You Are,  Feeney continues to explore the theme of identity and celebrity – the public persona versus the real self and how intermingled they become. I Know Who You Are takes it a step further and the reader is constantly suspicious of who is putting on act and who can be trusted. It makes for exhilarating and compulsive reading – I was never sure what to expect or where the twists and turns were going to take me.

There’s a dual timeline throughout the book, but I’m not going to go into detail regarding these as I wouldn’t want to give anything away. What I will say is that the earlier timeline is excellent, shocking and at times heartbreaking and so very well written. The chapters alternate between the two timelines and by the end of each one, I was unable to put the book down and just HAD to read one more.

Following on from such a successful, shocking and gripping book as Sometimes I Lie with a second novel must be difficult. Expectation among readers is high and the pressure to deliver again huge. It feels rather unfair to say that I just still prefer Sometime I Lie that little bit more, because this book by any standard is excellent and has all the ingredients readers will hope for. The ending is one hell of a shocking twist, and possibly a teeny weeny bit too bizarre – though really I’m being nit-picky here. It’s still a bloody brilliant book – a speed read that will leave you gasping at twists you won’t see coming a mile off. Sure to be this summers must read psychological thriller, this is one you definitely don’t want to miss.

Thanks to the publishers for providing me with a free copy for review

i know who you are BT

#The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (Translated by Lilit Thwaites)

For readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice: this is the story of the smallest library in the world – and the most dangerous.

‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

Published April 4th 2019 by Bonnier Zaffre (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

It doesn’t matter how many times you read books or watch movies, the stories of Auschwitz never fail to shock. The Librarian of Auschwitz charts fourteen year old Dita’s experience as the custodian of a clandestine library  consisting of just eight books. It is truly a story of courage.

Dita is imprisoned in Block 31 – the family block. Conditions are as horrific and dangerous here as anywhere, and schooling and books strictly banned. But a secret school is in operation, lessons are whispered to the children, and the eight precious books closely guarded over. It astounds me that despite the cruelty, starvation and deplorable and desperate conditions and the certainty that discovery will mean death, people have such courage. Some of the books are written in a language nobody recognises, or are reference books and adult books beyond the children’s understanding. But it was what the books represent that make them so important – knowledge, humanity and hope.

I was concerned going in that this was a translated book, but it didn’t feel so and none of the power or emotion of Dita’s story was lost. There are other people’s stories along the way, and as you may expect this isn’t an easy read. It’s horrifying, shocking and incredibly sad. But it’s also inspiring, humbling and filled with hope. It broke my heart over and over, at points I couldn’t continue to read and had to walk away due to the intense emotions it provokes. It’s a difficult book to review, as I feel I do not have the eloquence to do it justice.  A moving story of human courage during the darkest of times.  Highly recommended to everyone.

( I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher and Netgally)

 

#BookReview – A dangerous Act Of Kindness by L.P Fergusson ( @Canelo_co )

What would you risk for a complete stranger?

When widow Millie Sanger finds injured enemy pilot Lukas Schiller on her farm, the distant war is suddenly at her doorstep. Compassionate Millie knows he’ll be killed if discovered, and makes the dangerous decision to offer him shelter from the storm.

On opposite sides of the inescapable conflict, the two strangers forge an unexpected and passionate bond. But as the snow thaws, the relentless fury of World War Two forces them apart, leaving only the haunting memories of what they shared, and an understanding that their secret must never see light.

As Millie’s dangerous act of kindness sets them on paths they never could have expected, those closest to them become their greatest threats, and the consequences of compassion prove deadly…

A Dangerous Act of Kindness is a beautiful, harrowing love story, perfect for fans of Rachel Hore and Santa Montefiore 

Published March 28th 2019 by Canelo  

~ Review ~  

In my teens I had a bit of an obsession for the book, The Summer Of My German Soldier, reading it over and over. I still have that battered copy.  As soon as I read the description for A Dangerous Act Of Kindness I was reminded of it, and had to read it.

Millie is a grieving widow, single handedly running her farm in the rural countryside during World War 2. When she discovers an injured German pilot sheltering in her barn she has a choice – turn him in or help him, risking her own safety.

I’m fascinated by these choices – what would I do? I’m always drawn to these characters who help and risk there own safety and I always want to see the good in people. And there’s also something so enticing about an illicit love affair – which of course developes between Millie and Lukas.  I adored the romantic tension that prickled between the two. I was completely caught up in it, hoping for a happy outcome.

The book covers several years of the war and gives a lot of detail, clearly extremely well researched. It was interesting to read about Lukas life as a British prisoner and to read the perspective of young German man, caught up in a war he didn’t want, conflicted with his nationality. I also liked reading about rural life during the war and how Millie’s community were involved.

There were quite a lot of subplots – at times I thought a little too much which diverted my attention from the main story I wanted – that of Millie and Lukas. I thoroughly enjoyed their story and hoped against hope they could be together someday. With some fascinating descriptions, clearly well researched, and a lacing of a gorgeous romance, this was a good read and will appeal strongly to those who enjoy reading about this period in our history.

(I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

**Due to some unforeseen circumstances, this is a late contribution to the blog tour that took place earlier this month. Please do check out these other brilliant bloggers to see what they made of it!

a dangerous act of kindness

#BookReview – A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas ( @FaberBooks )

The hardest lies to spot are the ones we tell ourselves.

Dr Ruth Hartland rises to difficult tasks. She is the director of a highly respected trauma therapy unit. She is confident, capable and excellent at her job. Today she is preoccupied by her son Tom’s disappearance.

So when a new patient arrives at the unit – a young man who looks shockingly like Tom – she is floored.

As a therapist, Ruth knows exactly what she should do in the best interests of her client, but as a mother she makes a very different choice – a decision that will have profound consequences.

A gripping and deeply intelligent psychological thriller for fans of Apple Tree Yard, A Good Enough Mother promises to be as big as Lullaby.

Published April 4th by Faber and Faber (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

Wow! This was one of those books where once you start reading you have to clear the rest of your day, put your phone on silent and keep on going. There’s no looking away. You can sense the increasing tension and know it’s leading to something huge. It’s utterly gripping.

Ruth is a therapist working with people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dealing with those who have the most harrowing of backgrounds. But Ruth is also hiding a secret of her own- her troubled son Dan disappeared more than a year ago and she hasn’t shared this with any of her colleagues. When she’s allocated a new patient, Dan, she is struck by his resemblance to her own son and as she becomes more involved in helping him, the lines between therapist and patient blur in a way that can only lead to danger.

I absolutely loved the writing style in this book. There’s little dialogue, it mainly being told from Ruth’s internal thoughts. You know how she’s feeling and why she’s feeling it with astonishing clarity meaning it’s almost like being in her head. The whole story is so compelling, as we see Ruth make bad choices and know it’s isn’t going to end well. Yet despite knowing her choices are bad, you get it and understand it. Her feelings of grief, bewilderment and pain are incredibly raw and emotional.

The tension throughout this book is subtle, yet intense all at once. Dan brings a sense of danger and threat that has the reader on edge. He’s difficult to work out, there’s an uneasy feeling from him but I could see why Ruth was so drawn to him. It was also fascinating to see Ruth as a therapist with her own flaws and troubles. We see people in this field as stable, without conflict or worry – they know how to deal with or avoid it surely? Of course this isn’t true, but why Ruth shields her own trauma and anxieties from colleagues.

This is not a lighthearted book, there’s an overwhelming feeling of impeding tragedy throughout, however it is thought provoking and shocking with a glimpse of hope at the end. It’s raw, emotional, tense and incredibly believable.  An exceptional book from a fascinating perspective and I couldn’t put it down.

(I read an hardback edition courtesy of the publisher)

**Due to some unforeseen circumstances, this is a late contribution to the blog tour that took place earlier this month. Please do check out these other brilliant bloggers to see what they made of it!

a good enough mother bt

 

#BookReview – The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds (@amandareynoldsj @Wildfirebks)

WHAT HAPPENED TO JULIA BLAKE?

She was young and beautiful, married to a famous author. They were celebrating their anniversary at their stunning country estate. So why did Julia Blake walk out of her perfect life, apparently leaving no trace?

Seren, a junior reporter for the local paper, can’t believe her luck when she lands an exclusive with Julia’s husband, Max. But as Seren spends more time at the couple’s remote mansion, probing ever deeper into the case, dark questions await.

What was Julia really like, behind closed doors? Was her marriage to this brooding, secretive man as perfect as it seemed? And did she really mean to disappear that night – or was she murdered?

Published March 2019 (E-Book) / July 2019 (Paperback) by Wildfire Books (UK)  

~ Review ~ 

Having really enjoyed Amanda Reynold’s previous books, Close To Me and Lying To You, I couldn’t wait to get started on her latest release, The Hidden Wife. As always, I found myself engrossed in this author’s incredibly compelling writing almost immediately and I was pleasantly surprised by the different feel and mood of this book.

In her previous two books, Amanda Reynolds has used the unreliable narrator to great effect. The Hidden Wife switches things up though, and this time we are firmly on Seren’s side as she attempts to untangle the mystery of famous author, Max Blake’s beautiful and much younger wife while interviewing him for her local newspaper.

There are three main characters in this book – Seren, a somewhat naive and eager to please junior reporter driven by her own tragic loss, Max – a brooding, charming but weirdly creepy and manipulative author (kind of reminiscent of Edward Monkford in J.P Delaney’s The Girl Before in many ways). And Brooke House, Max’s sprawling and remote mansion which was so atmospheric and eerie, lending a gothic hint which I absolutely loved.

I flew through this book, but that doesn’t surprise me – it’s what I’ve come to expect from Amanda’s novels. She really knows how to hook the reader, throwing twists and turns skillfully to keep you on the edge of your seat. I adored the uncertainty cast over missing Julia – had she disappeared of her own accord, or was something more sinister really at play? Mixed with such a well depicted setting which sent chills down my spine, The Hidden Wife has all the ingredients of a fantastic psychological thriller and I loved every second of it.

(I read an advance e-copy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

 

 

#BlogTour #BookReview – Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins

She was racing towards the gorge. The place the locals knew as ‘Dead Girl’s Drop’….

DI Meg Dalton is thrown headlong into her latest case when she finds a 10-year-old girl running barefoot through the woods in a blood-soaked nightdress. In the house nearby, the girl’s father has been brutally stabbed to death.

At first Meg suspects a robbery gone tragically wrong, but something doesn’t add up. Why does the girl have no memory of what happened to her? And why has her behaviour changed so dramatically since her recent heart transplant?

The case takes a chilling turn when evidence points to the girl’s involvement in her own father’s murder. As unsettling family secrets emerge, Meg is forced to question her deepest beliefs to discover the shocking truth, before the killer strikes again…. 

Published April 4th 2019 by HQ Stories 

 ~ Review ~ 

Last year I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Roz Watkins debut book, The Devil’s Dice which I absolutely loved. The atmospheric setting, hints at myth and the seemingly unexplainable, coupled with a fantastic female lead, ticked all my boxes. So I was thrilled to take part again in Roz’s second blog tour for Dead Man’s Daughter.

Carrying on with intuitive, spontaneous and at times reckless DI Meg Dalton, Dead Man’s Daughter absolutely blew me away. This is intricate, complex, fascinating, thought provoking, original and utterly gripping reading and I could not tear myself away.

Once again, the atmospheric setting of the Peak District and local myth and history intermingle with a very modern case. This time, the fascinating subject of cellular memory in transplant organs is tackled. I remember watching a program years ago about transplant recipients who believe they have taken on personality traits from the donor of their new organ. It’s such an interesting subject, and Roz Watkins has woven it into her story with great plausibility and skill.

There are so many layers to this book, it’s impossible to go into them all without spoiling it for other readers. But the worth and value of a human life and ethics, both medical and personal, are at its core. While this book is fast paced and suspenseful, I found it incredibly thought provoking too. I couldn’t have predicted in a million years where this book was going to go and was fascinated throughout by this highly original story.

DI Meg Dalton remains a favourite character – I love her impulsiveness and spontaneity, which admittedly lands her in trouble occasionally.  Her personal circumstances are a great influence on her actions, meaning she’s not always perfect but incredibly relatable. While the first book in the series does cover a lot of her back story, Dead Man’s Daughter can absolutely be read as a stand alone.

Roz Watkins hasn’t just done it again with Dead Man’s Daughter – she’s done even better and cemented her place as a must read author for crime fans everywhere. However, I think this book will appeal to a wider audience, who may not read a lot of crime but enjoy a complex, thought provoking and fascinating story.

( I read an advance readers copy courtesy of the publisher)

Dead Man's Daughter blog tour

#BlogTour #BookReview – The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher ( @Bookouture @KerryFSwayne )

A new home can be a happy ending. Or a fresh start. Or a hiding place…

Of all the emotions single mother Kate Jones feels as she walks into her brand new house on Parkview Road, hope is the most unexpected. She has changed her name and her daughter’s, and moved across the country to escape the single mistake that destroyed their lives.

Kate isn’t the only woman on the street starting afresh. Warm, whirlwind Gisela with her busy life and confident children, and sharp, composed Sally, with her spontaneous marriage and high-flying career, are the first new friends Kate has allowed herself in years. While she can’t help but envy their seemingly perfect lives, their friendship might help her leave her guilt behind.

Until one day, everything changes. Kate is called to the scene of a devastating car accident, the consequences of which will test everything the women thought they knew about each other, and themselves.

Can Kate stop her own secrets from unravelling, or was her hope for a new life in vain?

From the bestselling author of The Silent Wife, The Woman I Was Before is a book about the things we hide from those closest to us – and the terrible consequences that keeping those secrets can have. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain. 

Published 22nd March 2019 by Bookoutre 

~ Review ~

I seem to be making a habit of reading new to me authors recently and so far not one has been a disappointment. In fact I loved this book so much, Kerry Fisher has gone straight onto my must read authors list.

The Woman I Was Before tells the story of three different women, who all move into a new housing developement around the same time. Kate is a single mother to teen Daisy, and running from her past. Sally has an extremely successful career , but feels something is missing in her marriage. Gisele seems to have the perfect life – a happy marriage, two teenagers with promising futures and enough money to fund her taste for luxurious shopping – but behind the perfect family image she portrays on social media things are unraveling.

What I absolutely loved about the this book was that despite the three women all being very different, from each other and myself, I found them so utterly relatable.  This is a very honest depiction of family life from three different view points, referencing the image we portray on social media and the truth behind that image. I know I’m not alone to have felt jealousy and inadequacy when looking at posts on facebook – and I’m guilty myself of presenting the one photo where everyone is smiling between the arguments and general drudgery of daily life. Who hasn’t? Kerry Fisher expertly uses this obsession we have with perfection and self doubt created by social media to tell the story of these women.

Each has a secret they’re hiding, and all were fascinating, relevant and believable. I was drawn to Kate the most, whose secret remains a mystery for most of the book. I desperately wanted to know what she was running from, what she had done that was so bad. Her story is the most heartbreaking, yet hopeful and inspiring and I loved seeing how she developed throughout the book.

I also really enjoyed the fact that the woman where all a similar age to myself (between late thirties and early forties) meaning that their problems, feelings and insecurities where ones I also recognised. Again, the author captured this perfectly and by the end of the book I felt these characters where people I knew, could be living on my own street – even seeing myself once or twice.

There’s some heavy themes in this book, which Kerry Fisher deals with sensitively, but there’s also dashes of wit and humour at times which I really enjoyed. I had absolutely no expectations when I went into this book, but after spending a few hours in the company of her characters, I know I’ll be looking out for more from this author in the future. Written with empathy, warmth and searing honesty, The Woman I Read Before is a fantastic book which will make you cry and smile in equal measures. Perfect.

I read an advance ebook courtesy of the publisher and netgalley

TWIWB BT

#BlogTour #BookReview – Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . . 

Published March 7th 2019 by Faber & Faber (UK)

This is the first book by Peter Swanson I’ve read, and so had no idea what to expect. I did however really like the sound of it. I’m so glad I did though and it most certainly won’t be the last.

Before She Knew Him tells the story of Hen, an artist with a history of mental health problems manifesting in over imagination, suspicion and obsession. When she and husband Lloyd move into a quiet suburb it’s a new start and a chance to put a difficult episode behind them. But when their new next door neighbours, Mira and Matthew, invite them to dinner and Hen spots an item she believes links Matthew to a violent murder, it looks like Hen may be spiralling into ill health again. With her history, no-one is prepared to believe her. Is Hen loosing her grip on reality or is she really living next door to a serial killer?

I absolutely loved the style of writing in this book … it’s very distinct, with chapters alternating between Hen and Matthew. The tone struck an incredibly sinister atmosphere and had me turning pages furiously as it was so engaging and compulsive.

I loved the sense of conflict Peter Swanson creates in the character of Hen. There’s a vulnerability and honesty that has the reader completely on her side, yet all the while there’s an uncertainty whether she is right or is indeed gripped by a psychotic episode. Matthew is a masterclass in cold, clever and creepy. My skin actually crawled at some points.

This is a dark and disturbing story, exploring the impact of domestic violence, sexual abuse and childhood abuse on an individuals mental health and personality. It is shocking in it’s believability – I could almost feel sorry at times where I most certainly shouldn’t have. As thrilling as this book is, it also gives the reader lots to think about.

The book ends with a great twist I really didn’t see coming – and as a seasoned psychological thriller reader I’m not often this taken in by a twist. Though it left me feeling as if I should have spotted it – it’s clever and completely believable. I raced through this book, I loved the creepy, sinister atmosphere and the conflict and uncertainty  it provoked. An excellent read, and an author I’ll be making sure I read a lot more of in the future.

I read a free copy of this book courtesy of the Publisher  

before she knew him bt

#BookReview – Absolutely Smashing It by Kathryn Wallace

“SAM! AVA! Get downstairs, NOW. Have you done your TEETH? HAIR? SHOES? Come on, come on, come on, we’re going to be bastarding late again. No, I haven’t seen Lego Optimus Prime, and nor do I give a shit about his whereabouts. Sam, will you stop winding your sister up and take this model of the Shard that I painstakingly sat up and created for you last night so that I wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. I mean, so that you wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. No, it doesn’t smell of ‘dirty wine’. Well, maybe it does a little bit. Look, Sam, I haven’t got time to argue. Just hold your nose and get in the car, okay? AVA! TEETH! HAIR! SHOES!”

Gemma is only just holding it together – she’s a single parent, she’s turning 40 and her seven-year-old daughter has drawn a cruelly accurate picture which locates Gemma’s boobs somewhere around her knees. So when her new next-door neighbour, Becky, suggests that Gemma should start dating again, it takes a lot of self-control not to laugh in her face.

But Becky is very persuasive and before long Gemma finds herself juggling a full-time job, the increasingly insane demands of the school mums’ Facebook group and the tricky etiquette of a new dating world. Not only that, but Gemma has to manage her attraction to her daughter’s teacher, Tom, who has swapped his life in the City for teaching thirty six to seven year olds spelling, grammar, basic fractions – and why it’s not ok to call your classmate a stinky poo-bum…

It’s going to be a long year – and one in which Gemma and Becky will learn a really crucial lesson: that in the end, being a good parent is just about being good enough. 

Published 7 March 2019 by Sphere (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

I’ve read some emotional and heartbreaking books recently, loving every single word of them, but definitely ready for something a bit lighter. So Absolutely Smashing It was a timely read for me, being one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.

I’m well known for loving a good old sob, and to be honest, it doesn’t take much to make me cry. But laughing is another matter – maybe I’m just waaaay too serious, but it’s rare for a book that promises to have me laughing out loud to actually achieve that. But Kathryn Wallace’s debut did just that within the first few pages. Warm, witty and genuinely comedic (while being scarily true!), her depictions of the chaos in the life of working single mum, Gemma’s, less than perfect life were at once funny and scarily recognisable!

I connected with this lovable, scatty character immediately, having been a single parent to two myself for a good few years. The book begins with Gemma preparing for back to school after the summer holidays, having left everything until the last minute. YES! this is me, despite my best intentions, somehow six weeks rush by in the blink of an eye. Last year we had the great school skirt disaster, where there was literally nothing that would be in anyway decent left ANYWHERE. I was also giggling in recognition at a sleepless night spent constructing the model set as homework while a forgetful child slept peacefully.

i also loved the relationship between Gemma and Becky, which devolpes when Becky moves in next door. Where Gemma is struggling to balance work and raise a family, Becky is finding life as a stay at home mum and wife difficult and is desperate to get back to work. The two characters bounce of each other, and despite the humour, the author manages to capture the challenges and pressures of raising children and being a mother whether you work or stay home, or whether you’re a single or married.

Kathryn Wallace has created some very endearing characters, and I defy anyone not to fall in love with Gemma’s crazy and unique daughter Ava or wish for a Mr Jones as their own child’s teacher. Absolutely Smashing It is a fun, thoroughly enjoyable book, effortless to read and perfect for those times when you just want sheer entertainment and a book to make you laugh out loud.  I absolutely LOVED it.

(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of the publisher)

 

#BookReview – The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

What has happened to Cornelia Blackwood?
She has a loving marriage. But she has no friends.
Everyone knows her name. But no one will speak to her now.
Cornelia Blackwood has unravelled once before. Can she stop it from happening again?
 
From a supremely talented storyteller, The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood is a powerful novel of motherhood, loss and loneliness and how we can make damaging choices when pushed to our emotional edge. A paperback bestseller with her debut novel, The Things We Never Said, and nominated for an RNA Award in 2014, Susan Elliot Wright has written a truly important novel that explores the dark depths of psychosis with honesty and sensitivity. 

Published February 2019 by Simon and Schuster UK 

~ Review ~ 

Sometimes you just know, after only a couple of sentences, that you are reading something special that’s going to stay with you a long time. The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood was one such book, and by the end of the first page I was in love with Susan Elliot Wright’s writing and emotionally entangled in the life of it’s lead character, Leah (Cornelia)

It begins with a scene of a broken woman, shunned by neighbours and her local community and struggling with obvious physical health complaints and hints at a deeper psychological trauma. It then shifts to a few years previous where Leah’s life is very different – she’s young, in love and about to embark on creating the family she and her soulmate husband so desire. I was immediately drawn in – what had happened to Leah to make her the person she was now and what had she done to ostracise herself from the people around her?  As chapters switch from Then and Now, we learn the tragic story of Leah’s recent past while watching her car crash present lead to unavoidable catastrophe.

This is a dark tale, and Leah is a tragic character whose story is truely heartbreaking. Yet the compassion and empathy she is written with is so acute, that the reader is with her every step of the way, sympathising and understanding her, crying for her and hoping for her. Even when her choices are bad and clearly doomed, I got it. Leah really did get right under my skin.

Postpartum psychosis is a topic that isn’t really talked about. I’ve had two children myself, yet can’t remember ever hearing about it during anti or pre-natal care. In The Flight Of Cornelia Blackwood, the author tackles the subject with sensitivity and care, while drawing attention to a little discussed condition that could effect any woman who gives birth. The same level of care and dignity is afforded to Leah’s tragic losses and grief.  This is an incredibly emotional and moving book, I defy anyone not to be moved to tears.

Yet there are some outstandingly beautiful and uplifting moments in this book – in Leah’s early days with her husband, in her love for a small child she befriends. it’s pure and tender and written so eloquently, I could feel Leah’s joy at those moments. This is a book that will make you feel many, many emotions. I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it and once I’d finished it stayed in my mind for days after. It is, without doubt, up there among one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years and I’ll be reading more from this author very soon. I can’t recommend this book enough.

I read an early proof copy courtesy of the publisher.