Book Review: I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson

I Wanted You To Know

I read ‘Missing Pieces’ by Laura Pearson a while ago and really enjoyed it – so when I was offered the chance to read an advance review copy of Ms Pearson’s most recent book, I accepted it immediately.

Since reading Missing Pieces I have followed Laura on Twitter – and so knew she’d been through a breast cancer diagnosis whilst pregnant with her second child.  That personal experience has clearly been the driving force for this book.

Here’s the blurb:

“Dear Edie, I wanted you to know so many things. I wanted to tell you them in person, as you grew. But it wasn’t to be.
Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone while facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter to grow up without her.
Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have.
From best-selling author Laura Pearson comes her most devastating book yet. Honest, heart-wrenching, and emotionally raw, I Wanted You To Know is a true love letter to life: to all its heartache and beauty, to the people we have and lose, to the memories and moments that define us.”

This book is absolutely, brutally, brilliant.

I cried A LOT reading it – and Laura doesn’t shy away from the shittiness of breast cancer at all – but it’s not all doom and gloom.  The relationships between Jess and her daughter / mother / best friend / father / ex boyfriend / best mate’s brother are all explored beautifully.

I guess I empathised most with Jess’s BFF Gemma.  One of my best friends had her own breast cancer journey a couple of years ago – and I was the one trying to be a supportive friend.  Admittedly I didn’t have to take care of a newborn like Gemma does in the book – but we did borrow her son as our 5th child for a week to take him away for half term.  It’s the balance of trying to keep things ‘normal’ whilst still recognising that things are never going to be normal ever again.  The letters Jess writes to Edie also made me really emotional – as there were many things my friend was scared she wouldn’t see – her daughter smashing her GCSEs and A-levels and turning 18, her son going to his Middle School prom and starting High School – all the type of things Jess addresses in her letters to her daughter who isn’t even a year old at the time.

Just like ‘Missing Pieces’ a dysfunctional family is central to the storyline – and written about so well – and you could totally empathise with lots of the characters (and want to punch others).

This is not a fun, easy, light hearted read – it really does make you think about being grateful for what you have RIGHT NOW – and speaking up for that, telling people what you think – and not waiting until it’s too late – or almost too late.

Whilst it made me do big snotty crying, I still really enjoyed this book – and a huge thank you to Netgalley for my ARC.  I know there will be people where this is a bit too close to home – and I’m not sure whether it would be a good or bad thing for someone in a similar circumstance to read it.

Most of all, and very selfishly, I’m bloody chuffed that my friend didn’t have to write letters to her children like Jess did………

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

So Lucky

I LOVED The Cows, Dawn O’Porter’s last book – and when I saw my friend had been sent an advance review copy of Dawn’s new book – So Lucky – I literally BEGGED to borrow it!  And I have to say there is now a queue of others who want to – as everyone in our book club adored The Cows.  In fact we’re all slightly obsessed with Dawn O’Porter and think she would be a very welcome attendee at our next book club meeting (where essentially we just sit in the pub drinking, discussing books we’ve enjoyed and going off on massive tangents. #Emilysweirdlipsdream)

So the minute I received it (pushed through my letterbox awaiting my return from holiday – how’s that for service – and the perfect post holiday pick me up!) I cracked on with reading it.

Here’s the blurb:

“I’M A MOTHER
I feel like I’m failing every day
I HAVE A CAREER
I have to shout to make myself heard
I’VE GOT THE BEST FRIENDS
Sometimes I feel so alone
I LOVE MY BODY
I don’t know who I am beyond it

Sometimes it looks like everyone is living their best life.
Everyone, except you.
But no life is perfect, everyone is fighting a private battle of their own – it’s just a struggle to say it out loud.
Fearless, frank and for every woman who’s ever doubted herself, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.
Actually, you’re pretty f****** lucky to be you.”

 

And boy was I not disappointed – it’s brilliant!

It reminds me a lot of The Cows – and that’s not a bad thing at all.  It tells the story of 3 women – Ruby, Beth and Lauren – and initially you don’t know how they’re all going to interact – but you just know that the stories are going to intertwine in a really clever way – and that’s exactly what happens.

Whilst the story is based on the 3 lead characters – it deals massively with their interactions with other people – as wives / lovers / mothers / colleagues / daughters / daughters in law / friends – and is brilliantly portrayed. Particularly the parental relationships are very raw / sad / emotional / beautiful – but all very different.

None of the characters is perfect – each has their own issues and things they’re dealing with, which isn’t what they project out to the world – which is kind of the point of the whole book.

Now I do need to issue a disclaimer at this point!  One of the characters suffers from horrible piles for a very specific reason.  I need to point out that my horrible piles, which I have blogged about before, are definitely not caused by the same thing……

The use of social media posts for one of the characters is very clever – and the comments by her followers underneath (and their Insta handles) are fabulous.

There are unusual topics covered in it – but that added to the quirkiness of it – and Dawn is never going to write a ‘vanilla’ book (I make that sound like I’m her mate, rather than just a stalker of her Instagram stories…….)

I really enjoyed how the book ended – it wasn’t predictable at all for any of the characters, which I thought was great. It’s witty, funny, clever and all wrapped up in some #girlpower – a fabulous combo.

It’s out on 31 October 2019 – which, let’s face it, could be an incredibly difficult day (don’t mention the B word) – so I would suggest pre-ordering this so you have something to distract you for a few hours, you won’t regret it – in fact you’ll be #SoLucky.

(I appreciate that I am an utter knob with that last line………)

 

 

 

Book Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

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I was approached by the publisher to read this new book by bestseller Mary Bethe Keane as I’d apparently reviewed similar books in the past.  It already had decent reviews on Netgalley – so I downloaded a copy.  It then sat on my Netgalley bookshelf for ages whilst I read other things!  I was motivated to start it on holiday as the Netgalley publication date was quoted as 8 August 2019 – today – but that doesn’t actually appear correct, as it’s got loads of Amazon reviews now too!

Here’s the blurb:

“A gripping and compassionate drama of two families linked by chance, love and tragedy
Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.
Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.
It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will be almost broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.
A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later . . .
A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so.
A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.”

This is an epic story covering 40+ years of two families and their intertwined lives.  Big stuff happens (I won’t give a spoiler, don’t worry!) that impacts everyone massively.

You get to know the various family members – but it really centres around Kate and Peter, with everyone else ensemble members.

Whilst I wanted to read on and find out what happened – it was all a bit dull and slow moving.  I kept waiting for something exciting to occur – but I kept waiting!

I guessed what the title of the book referenced  – but expected it to be a direct quote – but it wasn’t quite – which just seemed odd (or badly edited?)

Maybe I’m just not a literary fiction kind of girl – and I am sure some people will really enjoy it – but it just didn’t really float my boat.

But thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for my advance review copy!

 

 

 

Book Review: Rewrite The Stars by Emma Heatherington

Rewrite The Stars

I enjoyed ‘A Miracle On Hope Street’ by Emma Heatherington last year – and this is another offering by her with Christmas themes (although only loosely).  I was lucky enough to be offered a free copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review (and it wasn’t until the end and the mention of Bradley Cooper gifs (I was surprised it wasn’t David Beckham to be honest) that I remembered my friend was the author’s editor!

Here’s the blurb:

“It’s never too late to say I love you…
A stunning Christmas romance for fans of Josie Silver and Jojo Moyes
From the moment they meet one December day there’s something between Charlotte Taylor and her brother’s best friend, Tom Farley. But Tom’s already taken and Charlie has to let him go…
It’s another five years before their paths cross again only a secret from the past forces Charlie to make a choice. She promises herself she’ll never look back…
The years pass and Charlie moves on with her life but she can never forget Tom. He’s always there whispering ‘What if?’.
Can Charlie leave the life she has built for one last chance with Tom? Or is the one that got away not really the one at all…?”

I really enjoyed this!

Charlotte / Charlie and Tom’s paths cross over the period of the book – starting at a one off meeting and then progressing.  Some of this happens at Christmas – but that’s not a massive feature of the book (so don’t think you need to save it until the festive period to properly appreciate it or anything, I was fine reading it by the pool in the sunshine!)

Whilst the Charlie / Tom relationship is the main thread running through the book – and who doesn’t love a ‘the one who got away’ story – their relationships with other people are also really well developed.

It’s set it Ireland in a number of different rural and city locations – and they are described really well and evoke the differing vibes of the geographical areas.

It weaves historic information in with present day so that the whole back story is eventually unravelled.  I did guess some of it – but that didn’t detract from the book and wanting to finish reading it.

Occasionally I did want to punch Charlotte and tell her just to be honest – but I guess that might not have been such a twisty and turny book!! Overall it was a lovely easy read and I’d recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg

The Postcard

I’d seen this on Netgalley and it really appealed – but I realised it was a sequel, and I am a dyed in the wool rule follower – so went on a hunt for ‘The Note’ first!  I found it for free on Amazon and so quickly devoured – and enjoyed that first.  Now here is the blurb for The Postcard:

“A year after the kiss that brought them together in a snowy train-station doorway, Maya and James are embarking on another journey – this time around the world.
The trip starts promisingly, with an opulent and romantic Indian wedding. But as their travels continue, Maya fears that ‘love at first sight’ might not survive trains, planes and tuk tuks, especially when she realises that what she really wants is a baby, and James doesn’t feel the same.
Can Maya and James navigate their different hopes and dreams to stay together? Or is love at first sight just a myth after all… “

I read the first chapter and was completely confused and thought I’d been hoodwinked – as it was seemingly totally random!  However, it soon became evident that there were two stories running concurrently which I suspected would link up further on (which they did!)

As well as following Maya and Train Man’s story, and the story of Manon (the one I thought had hoodwinked me!) it also follows the story of Maya’s BFF, Nena, back in London who is starting life as a mother.  The inter connection of them all was done really well (and whilst I know the story of Maya and Train Man is true to life – I wondered how much of this, and the interconnecting stories, was too?)

The descriptions of places on Maya and James’s travels was great – and really evoked the feeling of being there (even if ‘there’ involved self administered colonics!!!) but equally Nena’s story – drowning in life with a newborn – was also really believable.

As with the first book in the series, it was an easy read that kept me intrigued and wanting to read on and I enjoyed it.

I was lucky enough to be given an advanced review copy from Netgalley – but you can buy this later this week!  (But I would recommend reading The Note first to appreciate The Postcard fully)

My 7 year old always asks what I’m reading – and so she knows it’s been The Note followed by The Postcard – so she’s been coming up with suggestions for the next book in the series – The Piece of Paper, The Book etc etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Note by Zoe Folbigg

The Note

 

I’d seen the book ‘The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg’ on Netgalley – but on further investigations saw this was a sequel to The Note – and I am a bit of a rule follower #understatement – so it didn’t seem right to start at the second book.  I hopped onto Amazon – and saw I could borrow it for free – so 2 books for nothing – on to a winner!!

Here’s the blurb:

“Love at first sight – based on the true story of one girl and her ‘train man’…
One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a new commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn’t ordinary at all. Maya knows immediately and irrevocably that he is The One.   Every day they go through the same routine; he with his head in a book and her dreaming of their happily-ever-after. But eventually, Maya plucks up the courage to give Train Man a note asking him out for a drink.
And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it. Based on the true story that everyone is talking about, The Note is an uplifting, life-affirming reminder that taking a chance can change everything… “

This is a lovely, easy, inoffensive read.  It follows the story of Maya and her friends and family – and ‘Train Man’! It twists and turns, and there are lots of ‘sliding doors’ moments – but it’s enjoyable throughout.  Given it’s based on a true story, and the author’s Amazon page says she now lives with Train Man and their kids – you kind of know it’s got to come good – but it certainly takes a convoluted way to get there!!

It was a fun, escapist read.  It’s not going to win any literary awards – but sometimes it’s good to read something light and fluffy that does exactly what it says on the tin.  And it was free from Amazon library or something (I am such a technophobe sometimes) so that’s got to be good!!

A perfect summer beach read.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Beneath The Surface by Fiona Neill

Beneath The Surface

I read – and enjoyed – The Betrayals by Fiona Neill last year, and so was chuffed when the publisher emailed me to ask if I’d like an advanced review copy – clearly I said yes!! I finished it last week – on publication date – but it’s taken me this long to write a review – but at least that means if you like the sound of it you can download it immediately!

Here is the Amazon blurb:

“After a chaotic childhood, Grace Vermuyden is determined her own daughters will fulfil the dreams denied to her. Lilly is everyone’s golden girl, the popular, clever daughter she never had to worry about. So when she mysteriously collapses in class, Grace’s carefully ordered world begins to unravel.

Dark rumours swirl around their tight-knit community on the edge of the Fens as everyone comes up with their own theories about what happened. Consumed with paranoia, and faced with increasing evidence that Lilly has been leading a secret life, Grace starts to search for clues.

Left to her own devices, ten-year-old Mia develops some wild theories of her own that have unforeseen and devastating consequences for the people she loves most.

Beneath the Surface explores the weight of the past upon the present, the burden of keeping secrets and what happens when children get caught in the undercurrents of adult relationships. “

Again – I really enjoyed this domestic drama, which twists and turns just like Fiona Neill’s previous book.  I guess I also empathised with Grace even more having daughters of a similar age (although I’ve got so many kids, I often have one or two that are the right age for characters in books!!!)

As it says in the subtitle ‘everyone lies’ – and you know that people are lying from the start – but you’re not quite sure why or how, but it all becomes clear as the book progresses – eventually!

Lilly is superficially a golden child and girlie swot at school – but is leading a secret teenage life.  Her younger sister, Mia, is a more complicated character who struggles fitting in at school – and has two friends, Tas (from the local traveller community) and Elvis (an eel she keeps in a bucket in her bedroom!).  Patrick, the father, is in financial difficulties – and Grace, the mother, is desperately trying to provide a stable family environment for her daughters that she didn’t have herself.  There are other peripheral characters – an Aunt and Uncle, teenager friends, other parents – and everything intertwines.

The descriptions of the dust problems in their new house, the geography of the Fens and the bad weather are also really evocative (not sure I’ll be going to the Fens on holiday any time soon!)

Overall I did enjoy this and was pleased to see how it all panned out and would recommend it. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Just Eat It by Laura Thomas PhD

Just Eat It

I saw this book recommended by Helen Thorn of The Scummy Mummies fame – who is also famous for her @HelenWearsASize18 insta posts, and the Fat Lot Of Good podcasts (I admit, I sound like a slightly stalkerish fan….).  She is a real advocate of body positivity – and uses the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards on a regular basis.   As I am very easily lead, I immediately bought the book (I have a number of times bought items of clothing Helen has been photographed wearing too #numberonefan).  I expected it to be funny, entertaining, sweary and interesting (pretty much sums up Helen too) – and the book is all of those things.  It’s also MASSIVE and FULL of references to medical studies etc.  I hadn’t expected quite so much content – and was surprised – but also delighted (as I am a total information geek at heart).

Here is the blurb on the book:

“Just Eat It isn’t just a book. It’s part of a movement to help us take back control over our bodies. To free us from restrictive dieting, disordered eating and punishing exercise. To reject the guilt and anxiety associated with eating and, ultimately, to help us feel good about ourselves.

This anti-diet guide from registered nutritionist Laura Thomas PhD can help you sort out your attitude to food and ditch punishing exercise routines. As a qualified practitioner of Intuitive Eating – a method that helps followers tune in to innate hunger and fullness cues – Thomas gives you the freedom to enjoy food on your own terms.

There are no rules: only simple, practical tools and exercises including mindfulness techniques to help you recognise physiological and emotional hunger, sample conversations with friends and colleagues, and magazine and blog critiques that call out diet culture.

So, have you ever been on a diet? Spent time worrying that you looked fat when you could have been doing something useful? Compared the size of your waistline to someone else’s? Felt guilt, actual guilt, about the serious crime of . . . eating a doughnut? You’re not alone. Just Eat It gives you everything you need to develop a more trusting, healthy relationship with food and your body.”

I started reading it with an open mind.  I had to concentrate quite hard as it’s quite medical and technical – it’s not a laugh a minute ‘just stuff your face with doughnuts’ that I was expecting – and this was a very pleasant surprise.  I also liked the fact that whilst the author is clearly incredibly well educated – she also isn’t averse to a bit of swearing – nutribollocks being a particular favourite!!

However, when I got to page 95 I was quite concerned that Laura Thomas could actually read my mind when she said:

“It becomes tempting to think that a diet will be the solution: maybe if you just lose Xlbs you’ll be happy with your body and then you can give this intuitive eating thing a go.  But here’s the thing. Dieting doesn’t fix poor body image.  It doesn’t heal your relationship with food.”

The stuff on intolerances was also really interesting – and I’d actually heard of some of this as my sister has done quite a lot of research into IcG and IcE readings – she lives in Germany where intolerance testing seems much more tolerated (pun intended!) in the mainstream than it is in the UK.

I also thought it really really interesting that the book is written by a nutritionist – but she is adamant that food is not medicine. To quote directly:

“Nutrition can play an important role in helping prevent and manage certain conditions, but so can exercise, reducing alcohol intake, getting better quality sleep, reducing stress, stopping smoking, being gifted genetically, having strong social bonds / community, therapy, not being poor (as though it was a simple choice), living somewhere that isn’t super polluted (again, like it’s a choice), oh yeah and ACTUAL MEDICINE.  Part of the issues with the food is medicine rhetoric is that it can inadvertently put people off seeking pharmacotherapies by creating a culture of shame around prescription medicines.  Antidepressants are a perfect example, there is so much stigma around them (and mental health more generally), yet for some people they are lifesaving.”

 I am so glad I read a hard copy of this book – there are a lot of corners folded over as there was so much I felt should be quoted in a review as it was just so insightful!  Although I possibly could just have regurgitated the entire book and this blog would be a sea of blue to show you how much I loved it!

Historically I have been successful at low carbing (successful being I lost weight from it………..) – and met lots of good friends through this way of eating – but I did LOVE LOVE LOVE the quote “And I mean this isn’t based on actual science, but there seems to be a direct correlation between being on a low-carb diet and being a complete prick on Twitter.” !!!

This way of eating also introduced me to a good friend who at one point was morbidly obese, and had many health conditions that all of the professionals said were as a result of her weight.  Over a number of years she lost a truly mind-blowing amount of weight due to bariatric surgery – but were her medical issues solved?  One was – but by no means all. Saying ‘you need to lose weight’ was the easy option that has now been taken away from her medics.

Whilst I’ve been reading the book, Laura Thomas has raised significant support against the Cancer Research UK ad campaign that obesity CAUSES cancer.  I have to say I agree that this run of adverts does leave a sour taste and perpetuates the fat shaming that is prevalent throughout society.  From personal anecdotal evidence, in the last few years 3 friends have died from cancers, and a further handful of friends have beaten the horrid disease. NONE OF THEM WERE OBESE. .  The full open letter from Laura Thomas and a bunch of other experts is here.

Chapter 9 stated that pigs are smarter than your average gym bro – and having just acquired 2 piglets I would have to concur.  Yes, when you feed them they stuff their faces and shovel up food like there’s no tomorrow – BUT – they know when to stop!  They don’t eat until they vomit, they don’t HAVE to finish the bowl of food.  These pigs are naturally intuitive eaters!

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The book looks at movement in a bigger body.  It talks about the fact that “There’s an enormous fat -phobic double standard in society, where fat people are ‘expected’ to work out (because fat people should want to lose weight, duh), yet are often excluded from the conversation around activity and not given access to the same tools and resources as thin people.  For example, not having sports bras or active wear available in your size.”  It also talks about larger people being embarrassed to eat in public as they expect people to judge them. I have to say I was embarrassed to be seen reading this book in public – as I expected people to read the title and assume I obviously had no problem with ‘just eating it’ given my size…………

BUT – it’s given me a lot to think about.  I finished reading this book whilst away for a few days with my husband.  I decided to give myself permission to EAT ALL THE FOOD. But this didn’t mean I went into a total binge-fest. Bizarrely, because I’d decided I could have anything – I didn’t drink creamy cocktails all day – I had the gin based cocktail that sounded (and tasted!) lush.  I ordered the steak and chips – but didn’t feel I had to clean my plate – and left a bit of both.  This was totally weird.  I was eating when I was hungry and until I felt full – not eating just because it was the right time of day, and not eating everything in front of me because I’d paid for it……..

I also posted a photo of myself in my swimming costume on social media.  It was when our eldest daughter had texted to say that her horses need new kit – as you can see, we both totally agreed!  This is me in a swimming costume. This is me who has carried 4 amazing babies. This is me who likes wine / chips / cake. THIS IS ME. (Full on Keala Settle at the side of the pool due to wine consumption in a very hot Dubai!!)

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My husband also commented that I walked around the swimming pool with way more confidence than I usually would (to be honest, this could have been a fast strut due to the ground burning my feet – but we’ll take the compliments when they come!)

This book has given me so much food for thought (pun deliberately intended again!).  I think I will revisit the book again and again – and will definitely investigate some of the recommended social media accounts and podcasts.  There is so much more to life than trying to fit into a smaller pair of knickers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper

I loved the debut novel ‘The Songs of Us‘ by Emma Cooper that was published last year – so when the publisher emailed to ask if I’d like an advanced review copy of her second book I jumped at the chance!

 

The First Time I Saw You

Here’s the blurb:

“Lost:
Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin. 
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.
Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey. 
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.
When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be. 
But fate has other ideas.
Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back. 
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways 
than they ever expected…”

I was slightly nervous before I started reading this that I wouldn’t love it as much as Emma Cooper’s first book – and that had a very distinct USP – and I wondered how she’d follow that – and if she’d have a ‘difficult second album’ issue going – but my fears were totally unfounded!

It starts off in Washington – somewhere the husband and I visited a couple of years ago – and whilst you don’t have to have been to enjoy the book, I loved imagining the places.  I also should confess that the fact Sophie is an accountant was very exciting – as that’s what I trained to do, and you don’t often get accountants as main characters.  I think I’ve mentioned before I’m still annoyed that the TV programmes This Life was based around lawyers rather than accountants – as we had a very similar life in the mid 90s!  Anyway – I digress…………

The book is told from Sophie and Samuel’s point of view week by week – so often you’re hearing the same story from the other person’s point of view – which is really clever.

The settings change – with Shropshire, Wales and Derry also featuring.  (Clearly I imagined Samuel’s family in Londonderry to be exactly like characters from the fabulous TV show ‘Derry Girls’) And one of my friends is going to be very excited that her home town of Machynlleth features!!  But the different geography provides excellent settings.

Rather than having one ‘Sliding Doors’ moment, there are multiple cases throughout the book where Sophie and Sam’s stars aren’t quite aligned – but I found that added to the pace of the book and really made me want to read on.

Whilst the book is based on the two main characters, their relationships with their families and friends are also explored.  I particularly liked the different relationships they had with their respective sisters.  Sam’s parents – Mr and Mrs McLaughlin – are lovely – and I think I might refer to the husband as Mr Price henceforth!

There are some big emotional themes running through the whole book – but without the unusual-ness of Melody’s singing from ‘The Songs of Us’ – and all are integral to the story.  I don’t want to include any spoilers by telling you what they are though……

The epilogue had me WEEPING last night – which seems to be the same effect all of Emma Cooper’s books have had on me – but that is definitely the sign of a good book.

All in all I would thoroughly recommend this book to everyone and anyone!

A big thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.

 

 

Book Review: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Then She Vanishes

I was emailed by the publisher to ask if I’d like to read this new thriller.  I’ve not read anything by Claire Douglas before, but the blurb appealed – so I said ‘yes please’!

Here is the aforementioned blurb:

“THE ONLY THING MORE SHOCKING THAN THE FIRST CHAPTER . . . IS THE LAST. .
Everything changed the night Flora Powell disappeared
Heather and Jess were best friends – until the night Heather’s sister vanished.
Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night.
Nor has Heather.
But now Heather is accused of an awful crime. And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she’s avoided for so long:
What really happened the night Flora disappeared?”

The book is set in the present day (well, actually 2012 – but it feels like the present day) and then back in the mid 90s.  It flicks between the two time periods really well – and totally evokes the feeling of that time.  I was a similar age to the characters in the 90s and the references – particularly to music and clothing were spot on!

The chapters are told from different characters perspectives which also keeps the momentum up.

It was one of those books that you want to read quickly to see how it all develops.  The twists and turns are so exciting.  Just when you think you’ve sussed what’s going on – another curved ball is thrown!  I can’t tell you too much about the plot without giving it away – and you need to be shocked as a reader as it unfolds!

The literary style is not high brow – but that didn’t matter to me – I just enjoyed the storyline and it’s fast pace.

The characters all had flaws – and sometimes you wanted to give some of them a good shake – but I was still interested to see what happened to them all – and the relationships between them.

The blurb had said the only thing more shocking than the first chapter is the last – and I have to say that because of that I’d kind of guessed what was going to happen – but only right near the end of the book.

Overall a great read and I would recommend downloading it when it comes out on Kindle next week.  I’ll also be checking out the authors back catalogue in the future.

A massive thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my advanced review copy in return for a review.