Looking Back at May and Forward to June 2019

How is it June already? This year is flying by quicker than ever. Tomorrow it’s my birthday and it’s come round so soon I don’t actually quite believe it. Unfortunatly this year it’s fell on my really busy work week – I’m working tonight and tomorrow night and will probably be sleeping all day tomorrow! but I do have a nice afternoon tea planned for Thursday with my Mam.

birthday

May’s been a funny month for me – I’ve had personal and family difficulties to deal with but one positive is that I really think I’ve gotten back in my reading and blogging stride and have posted regularly. In June I’m going to work on being more active on interaction on twitter, instagram and blog commenting/sharing.  I read Nine books in May, my absolute favourites being My lovely Wife by Samantha Downing  and Those Who Are loved by Victoria Hislop 

I’ve also taken the plunge and joined the Twenty Books Of Summer challenge.  As well as upcoming releases and blog tours, I wanted to read more of my own books and so between 3rd June and 3rd September I’ll be challenging myself to read as many of these as I can – hopefully all twenty!

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Coming up in June I’m scheduled to participate in some great blog tours and have a few pre-orders I’m really looking forward to dropping through the letterbox. My most anticipated new releases this month are :

 I’m seriously hoping the weather cheers up here, it’s been grey and miserable for the last couple of weeks and I’m desperate for some summer – I’m hoping to get more reading in the sunshine time over the next month.

So that’s my look back at May and what’s coming up over the next few weeks. What are you most looking forward to in June?

#BookReview – Sleep by C.L Taylor (@AvonBooksUK @CallyTaylor)

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up… 

Published April 2019 by Avon (UK)  

~ Review ~ 

I’ve read every single book by C.L Taylor – going right back to her first published novel, Heaven Can Wait, which was a romantic comedy with a supernatural twist (and bloody brilliant) rather than a thriller. So I know when I settle down with her latest book I’m in for a good read. But Man, Sleep is without doubt her best yet! 

When Anna is involved in a car accident which kills two colleagues and leaves another severely disabled, she shoulders the blame. She was driving after all. Unable to work, unable to forgive herself, unable to sleep – her world is falling apart. Then there’s the notes being left for her – is someone also blaming Anna for the tragic accident? Desperate to escape, she takes a job in a hotel on the remote island of Rum. With only a handful of guests and the local wildlife she should be safe here. Right?

Oh. My. God. This is a seriously gripping book and I’m giving you fair warning – only start this if you have a few hours to spare. You will not be able to put it down. I didn’t even mean to start it – I was doing a bit of kindle tidying and looked at the first page. 4 hours later, and in desperate need for the toilet, I’d read the entire thing without looking up. And that’s what makes C.L Taylor such a fantastic author. She knows exactly how to grip her readers right from the beginning.

The setting is fantastic. A wild and remote island. A hotel hosting a cast of eccentric characters. A murderer on the loose. Reading this is like a game of Cluedo crossed with Agatha Christie and I absolutely loved it. The guests all seem to have their demons and reasons for choosing this remote location to holiday and one of them is clearly holding a grudge. But it’s impossible to guess which one. I had every single one of them as the villian at some point.

There’s so many twists and turns to navigate until the truth is revealed, and when it comes it was like a bolt out of the blue. I seriously could not have predicted it. Taylor is also blessed with art of lending some compassion to her characters – no matter how villainous and explores themes of mental ill health, delusion, paranoia, depression and suicide. If you’re a fan of thrillers, then this is a book not to be missed. Just make sure you have a few hours spare before you start.

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

#TwentyBooksOfSummer – The List

First of all…apologies for the lateness of this post. Technical difficulties earlier and literally not a chance this evening to sit down until now.

But anyway, here it is – right at the last minute! My Twenty Books Of Summer post. This great challenge is hosted by Cathy @ 746 Books. I’m aiming to read the following twenty books between 3 June and 3 September – although you can change books from your original list. Really. It’s in the rules! Go and find out more at Cathy’s blog.

~ The List ~ 

I’ve picked a selection of older and newer books and from a variety of genre’s to keep things fun. Mostly these are books I’ve bought myself and was very excited to read but just never got around to. A couple are outstanding Amazon Vine books and are proof copies. All of them are ones that I really, really want to read and this summer I will. Or give it my very best shot at least.

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The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

The FlatShare by Beth O’leary 

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly 

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

Anatomy Of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

The Last Letter From Your Lover by JoJo Moyes

The Familiars by Stacey Halls 

Together by Julie Cohen

The Conviction Of Cora Burns

Island Of secrets by Patricia Wilson

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances 

The Return by Victoria Hislop

If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon

Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell

One Summer In Paris by Sarah Morgan

I’m also doing some travelling through this selection, seeing as I’m not going on holiday this year – Paris, Spain, Rome, Crete, L.A and a little closer to home – The Cotswolds. I’ll be spanning FIVE centuries and have books to match whatever the unpredictable Cumbrian summer weather throws at me – from bright and breezy to dark and moody.

So what do you make of my choices? Which have you read and enjoyed from my list and what did you think? Are you planning on joining in with #Twentybooksofsummer this year?

20 books of summer

#Blogtour #BookReview – Invisable Girl by Jill Childs (@Bookouture)

A heartbreaking story of family secrets from the USA Today bestselling author of Gracie’s Secret. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain.

I know you. I know you in a way you can’t even imagine. I have been searching for you in the years since you wrote that letter – the letter that told me you were looking for me too. But now that I’ve found you, I don’t know if I can say the terrible truth of what I am. It would ruin your perfect life. It would hurt your beautiful daughter.

So, I hesitate – bide my time, for now. This morning, you’re running late and your little girl, tugged by the hand, scurries to keep up with you. She’s clean but a little scrawny. Maybe that’s because you struggle with the bills; maybe she’s just made that way. 

I know what it is to have lost a child. I pray you never learn how that feels. But I can’t wait forever… and when I finally tell you my secret, will it break you like it did me all those years ago? 

Published May 30th by Bookouture (UK) 

~ Review ~ 

I’m not going to lie, my initial interest in this book was completely down to the cover. How cute is that child? Seriously, I’m not that much of a kid person – I like my own (most of the time!) and that’s about it. But I’m going through a sort of pre – empty nest syndrome phase at the moment. My youngest is fifteen this year and I’m missing all those things we did together when she was small. So yeah, the cute child captured my heart.

But actually, inside, this book proved it wasn’t just a pretty cover. This is another new to me author (there’s been a few so far this year) and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What I got was a surprising story of second chances and self forgiveness which I really enjoyed.

The book tells the story of three women, brought together in unusual circumstances. Becca is a newly single mother, carving a life for herself and rebuilding her shattered self esteem after a controlling marriage. Sarah, a single parent neighbour – bitter and mistrusting following a lifetime of feeling rejected. And then there’s Maddy – a middle aged, homeless woman battling alcoholism.

I’m not going to go any further into the details but this is an incredibly touching story that really captured my heart. The characters are written with depth and emotion, coming across as real people with real emotions, flaws and feelings. Maddy in particular is written very, very well – her story is fascinating and sad, as we discover what led her to become “the bag lady” and a reminder that we should never pre-judge people. I actually can’t stop thinking about her since I finished the book. Alcoholism and mental ill health are strong themes within the book and while at times graphically shocking and raw, it is written sensitively and with compassion.

I enjoyed this book, finding the writing easy to become immersed in and investing in the characters. It definitely gave me plenty to think about, reminding me that we can’t always predict how life will turn out and shouldn’t judge or make presumptions about people. If you like emotional human stories, then this is a great read which i’m happy to recommend.

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

#BlogTour #Bookreview – Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

Those Who Are Loved is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Themis is part of a family bitterly divided by politics and, as a young woman, her fury with those who have collaborated with the Nazis, drives her to fight for the communists. She is eventually imprisoned on the notorious islands of exile, Makronisos and Trikeri, and has to make a life or death decision. She is proud of having fought, but for the rest of her life is haunted by some of her actions. Forty years after the end of the civil war, she finally achieves catharsis.

Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity of Greece’s traumatic past and weaves it into the dynamic tale of a woman who is both hero and villain, and her lifelong fight for justice. 

Published May 30th 2019 by Headline (UK) 

~ Review ~  

It’s years ago now that I read and adored Victoria Hislop’s The Island. It was at a time when I hadn’t read an awful lot since childhood, but following separation from my now ex husband and having a small baby at home, I once again turned to books. I remember feeling so transported in both time and place when reading it  and without doubt it is a book that reignited my love for reading.

Fast forward more than a decade and those feelings I remember when reading The Island were once again present as I read her latest novel, Those Who Are Loved. Set during and post World War 2 in Greece, it tells the story of Themis and her family, and their struggles through a period of time that not only divided a nation but the family itself.

I have to be honest and say I didn’t know about Greece’s occupation by the Nazi’s during the war or the civil war that followed. I learned so much from this book, not by being told about it but by actually feeling that I’d been taken there and was experiencing it alongside Themis. This is a book that quite literally consumes you. The depth of emotion is astounding and the mood of an entire nation at war with itself is electric.

I adored Themis. Her devotion, loyalty and courage shines throughout. There’s some very difficult chapters when she is held captive which shocked me and I felt nothing but admiration for those who went through such atrocities yet still remained true to themselves. I particularly enjoyed how Hislop depicted the relationship between Themis and her brother. With strongly opposing political views, their turbulent relationship represents the division of the country. Sweeping through decades, I loved how they were eventually able to find some common ground and their story really touched my heart.

Those Who Are Loved is a sweeping epic, spanning decades and truly brings history to life. I actually hugged this wonderful book when I’d finished – so moved were I by the story of this brave and courageous woman. Easily in my top three books of the year so far this year, i can’t recommend it highly enough.

(Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tour and the publishers for my advance proof copy)

those who are loved bt

#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

WeeklyWrap Up – 26th May 2019

It’s been ages since I’ve done one of these posts. To be honest, things have been pretty out of sorts here but order finally seems to have been restored somewhat. This week I’ve been very productive on the reading front – 4 books! That’s huge by my recent standards.

~ Books Read This Week ~

 

~ This Week On The Blog ~

I was also more productive on the blog than in recent weeks.

Monday: I reviewed The Lost Daughter by Ali Mercer

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: I reviewed The Librarian Of Auschwitz

Friday: I reviewed Because of You by Helene Fermont

~ Coming Up On The Blog ~  

A busy week with some great blog tours stopping by!

~ New Books ~ 

I’m really trying to avoid Netgally as my percentage has gone down to 65% – the lowest it’s been for a LONG time. A couple of approvals came through this week though, and I also recieved a blog tour book from lovely Avon.

 

~ Other Stuff This Week ~  

I’ve been getting more involved with the book community on Instagram. I love drooling over the gorgeous #bookstagram pictures and the interaction with other book lovers. I joined n with @thebristolreader’s #tenonmytbr tag which was fun. I posted the most recent 10 Hardbacks I’ve added to my tbr but I’ve got plans for other stacks to photograph this week

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Do you use Instagram? I’m always looking for new bookish accounts to follow so feel free to leave a link in the comments. If you’d like to follow me then find me @vicki_cosybooks

So how’s your week in books been?

#BlogTour #BookReview – Because Of You by Helene Fermont ( @BOTBSPUBLICITY )

Because of You is the deeply moving debut novel by Scandinavian writer Helene Fermont. It’s a gripping work of modern women’s fiction with a distinct ‘Scandi’ feel and a psychological twist. 

Because of You spans 36 years in the life of Hannah Stein, a Swedish teenager who arrives in London, at the tail end of the disco era, for a gap year before embarking on a teaching career. The people she meets change the course of her life irrevocably and the novel charts her changing personal and professional fortunes over the next three decades. Because of You is about love, coming of age, friendship, bereavement, stillbirth and rape. Its themes include redemption, acceptance, fidelity and family. Because of You is a story that every woman can relate to. 

Scandinavian noir has firmly established itself as a bestselling genre in the UK. Because of You takes the elements that make this style of writing so compelling – the realism and dark, morally complex mood – and combines it with women’s fiction.

This is a dark, morally complex and cross-generational story of enduring love, fate and destiny and will appeal to readers who appreciate an emotive, uncompromising and fulfilling read driven by character and circumstance. 

Published August 2016 by Fridhem Publishing 

~ Review ~  

This is the second novel by Helene Fermont which I’ve read ( You can read my interview with Helene about We Never Said Goodbye HERE ) and it’s fair to say she has a very distinctive voice. With a strong Scandi noir influence, what strikes me about her writing is her ability to truly capture shade in her characters, the flaws of human character fully exposed and examined in a realistic, yet matter of fact, way.

Because Of You tells the story of Hannah, a Swedish teenager about to embark on adulthood in the strange of exciting city of London. Following her life, the reader meets and experiences the people who influence her, love, loss and grief. Some difficult themes are tackled, such as still birth and rape and complex emotions of obsession, lust and jealousy explored. The author takes the reader on a journey alongside Hannah spanning decades and in such detail it almost feels that Hannah becomes someone you know.

It took me a little while to get into this book, as we are introduced to Hannah and  many characters as she begins her new life in London. While there’s an obvious darkness about the book, it isn’t necessarily a fast paced page turner. For me it was a slow burner, one I could read at leisure and take my time with. There are some twists, I’d say this was more of a character study of a woman who is loved and manipulated, faces tragic personal challenges and deals with grief, loss and mistrust several times in her life.

Because of You is an interesting novel, one which draws the reader in fully to the life of it’s main character. Never afraid to reveal the darker side of human nature, the supporting cast are equally as interesting while not all being likable (and some of them are truly awful!). If you enjoy books that really study the characteristics of people then I would recommend you give this a go.

(Thanks to Sarah Hardy for supplying me with a free copy of the book as part of the blogtour)

because of you 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)

 

WWW Wednesday – 22nd May 2019

WWW Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Taking On A World Of Words to record and share our weekly reading.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?   

~ Currently Reading ~  

i know who you arel 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 16th May 2019 by HQ 

~ Recently Finished ~ 

It’s not been a great week to be honest and I barely got any reading done.  I did manage this one for my spot on the blog tour on Friday. 

 

because of youBecause of You is the deeply moving debut novel by Scandinavian writer Helene Fermont. It’s a gripping work of modern women’s fiction with a distinct ‘Scandi’ feel and a psychological twist. 

Because of You spans 36 years in the life of Hannah Stein, a Swedish teenager who arrives in London, at the tail end of the disco era, for a gap year before embarking on a teaching career. The people she meets change the course of her life irrevocably and the novel charts her changing personal and professional fortunes over the next three decades. Because of You is about love, coming of age, friendship, bereavement, stillbirth and rape. Its themes include redemption, acceptance, fidelity and family. Because of You is a story that every woman can relate to. 

Scandinavian noir has firmly established itself as a bestselling genre in the UK. Because of You takes the elements that make this style of writing so compelling – the realism and dark, morally complex mood – and combines it with women’s fiction.

This is a dark, morally complex and cross-generational story of enduring love, fate and destiny and will appeal to readers who appreciate an emotive, uncompromising and fulfilling read driven by character and circumstance. 

~ Reading Next ~ 

I’m hoping to get to read The Hourglass this week (I was going to read it last week before disaster struck) and I also have these to read for upcoming blog tours.

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Happy Reading