The Girl from the Island by Lorna Cook

Thank you to Avon Books for a digital review copy of the third book by Lorna Cook via Netgalley. I have read and enjoyed The Forgotten Village and The Forbidden Promise (see my review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/03/19/bookreview-the-forbidden-promise-by-lorna-cook/) .

Synopsis:

A world at war. 
One woman will risk everything. 
Another will uncover her story.

1940: When the island of Guernsey is invaded by the Nazis, two sisters are determined to rebel in any way they can. But when forced to take in a German soldier, they are shocked to find a familiar face on their doorstep – a childhood friend who has now become their enemy.

2016: Two generations later, Lucy returns to Guernsey after the death of a distant cousin. As she prepares the old family house for sale, Lucy discovers a box of handwritten notes, one word standing out: resistance. Lucy’s search for the author will uncover the story of a forgotten sister who vanished from the island one night, never to be seen again.

A timeless story of love and bravery, perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore.

My thoughts:

I’m pleased to say that this is another enjoyable historical fiction novel from Lorna Cook. This novel is based in Guernsey, a place I would like to visit after the Covid 19 pandemic has finished. It is only in very recent years that I became aware of how the Channel Islands had been occupied by the Germans during the Second World War.

This book looks at one family, who had to deal with the occupation, where neighbours were deported to prison camps, the wireless was banned and neighbours would inform on each other. How would Persephone and Dido cope with the challenges?

In this time slip novel, Lucy is back in Guernsey in 2016, after the death of her distant cousin Dido. When clearing out the house, Lucy becomes interested in some of the old papers she finds and sets out to solve the mystery about what happened to the residents of the house.

I enjoyed how the characters developed, the secrets revealed, the parallel sister stories and the historical details. As you would expect from a novel set during the occupation, there are some heartbreaking stories. But we also have happy and humorous moments too, when Lucy spends time with her new neighbour.

Happy to recommend to readers who enjoy time slip historical fiction novels.

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Today I’m pleased to share my thoughts about The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. Thank you to Picador, Viking Books and Pan MacMillan for a digital review copy via NetGalley.

Synopsis:

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

My thoughts:

Having seen great reviews for this debut book, I was pleased to be able to start reading it myself. Very quickly we start to discover more about the men who vanished and the thoughts of the women they left behind. As the secrets and stories are slowly revealed the reader starts to find out what happened over the last few weeks before the men disappeared.

The suspense in the book builds beautifully and the writing created a story that I didn’t want to put down. The book brings to life the lifestyle of the lighthouse keepers, the daily routines and the difficulties of coping with being back in the ‘real world’. There are many elements to the story and I was kept guessing until the end.

A fascinating story that I’m happy to recommend. I look forward to reading more by Emma Stonex in the future.

The Dinner Guest by B P Walter

Thank you to One More Chapter and Harper Collins UK for the opportunity to read and review a digital copy via NetGalley. I’m taking part in the OMC Blogger Readalong this week and here is a mini non spoiler review.

Synopsis:

Four people walked into the dining room that night. One would never leave.

Matthew: the perfect husband.

Titus: the perfect son.

Charlie: the perfect illusion.

Rachel: the perfect stranger.

Charlie didn’t want her at the book club. Matthew wouldn’t listen.

And that’s how Charlie finds himself slumped beside his husband’s body, their son sitting silently at the dinner table, while Rachel calls 999, the bloody knife still gripped in her hand.

Classic crime meets Donna Tartt in this nerve-shredding domestic noir thriller that weaves a sprawling web of secrets around an opulent West London world and the dinner that ends in death.

My thoughts:

This was an interesting read. Rachel is arrested for the murder of Matthew after confessing to the police, but was she the killer? The synopsis mentions the word perfect four times – but were any of the four perfect?

The story moves back and forwards in time, as we discover more about how Matthew and Charlie met, and how they met Rachel. This story features secrets and lies, revenge and betrayal.

Few of the characters in the story were likeable but I was keen to keep reading, to find out who killed Matthew, and why. I enjoyed the story and I’m happy to recommend it. It is currently 99p on the Kindle in the UK.

The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander

Today I’m sharing a mini review for The Littlest Library. Thank you to Orion Books for a digital proof copy to read and review via NetGalley. This novel will be published in the UK later this week.

Synopsis:

It’s only the beginning of her story…

Jess Metcalf is perfectly happy with her quiet, predictable life – it’s just the way she likes it. But when her beloved grandmother passes away and she loses her job at the local library, her life is turned upside-down.

Packing up her grandmother’s books, she moves to a tiny cottage in a charming country village. To her surprise, Jess finds herself the owner of an old red telephone box, too – and she soon turns it into the littlest library around!

It’s not long before the books are borrowed and begin to work their magic – somehow, they seem to be bringing the villagers together once more…

Maybe it’s finally time for Jess to follow her heart and find a place to call home?

My thoughts:

Jess is a quiet soul who suddenly finds herself moving away from her home town of 30 years to a pretty village in Devon to settle into a house she bought on a sudden whim. As she settles into her new home, she discovers she is responsible for the red telephone box at the front of her property. I enjoyed how the love of books Jess and her grandmother enjoyed is woven into the story, there is a mini book club within the story.

Happy to recommend this book, it includes a great mix of local characters, books, romance and a timely reminder that community spirit is important to the mental health of residents, even in a pretty village. A lovely escape from Lockdown.

Author Bio:

Poppy Alexander wrote her first book when she was five. There was a long gap in her writing career while she was at school, and after studying classical music at university, she decided the world of music was better off without her and took up writing instead. She takes an anthropological interest in family, friends and life in her West Sussex village (think, The Archers crossed with Twin Peaks) where she lives with her husband, children and various other pets. 

Poppy’s first book – 25 Days ‘Til Christmas – has been translated into several languages.

She is generally lurking on social media so search for PoppyAlexanderBooks on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Poppy also writes as Rosie Howard.

The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

Thrilled to see that one of my favourite books of 2020 is now available in paperback AND is a Richard & JudyBook Club pick too
Synopsis:-

Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years.

She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .

Turns out her mum, Patty, is a really good liar.

After five years in prison Patty Watts is finally free. All she wants is to put old grievances behind her, reconcile with her daughter – and care for her new infant grandson. When Rose Gold agrees to have Patty move in, it seems their relationship is truly on the mend.

But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty won’t rest until she has her daughter back under her thumb. Which is inconvenient because Rose Gold wants to be free of Patty. Forever.

Only one Watts will get what she wants. 

Will it be Patty or Rose Gold? 

Mother, or daughter?

My thoughts:-

Thank you Michael Joseph, Penguin Books and Stephanie Wrobel for my digital ARC – my thoughts are my own.

I don’t read many thrillers but this one caught my attention. Such an intriguing idea – could a daughter who had been convinced she was seriously ill really reconcile with the mother who had fed her this lie and deprived her of her childhood.

Patty and Rose take it in turns to tell their version of the story. The stories differ but who should we believe? This is so dark and twisted that it was uncomfortable to read in parts but I needed to find out what happened and couldn’t put this book down.

A great debut novel – I look forward to reading more by Stephanie Wrobel in the future.



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Grown Ups by Marian Keyes


Today I’m sharing my review from February 2020 again, to celebrate the paperback publication of Grown Ups by Michael Joseph Books. Looking forward to seeing these in bookshops once Lockdown 3 ends in England, Which colour should I treat myself too?

The synopsis:

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

My thoughts:

Wow, just wow – this book was one of my favourite reads of 2019. It was meant to be read at the start of 2020 because I had other books to read and review first – however once I had read the opening chapters, I couldn’t put this down.

It is a long book, with so many great characters from the Casey family, which goes backwards and forwards in time and it definitely isn’t a light and fluffy read, covering topics such as eating disorders, death of a spouse, teenage angst. However I found myself struggling to put this down, I was so eager to know what was going to happen next.

The main female characters, Jessie, Cara and Nell faced numerous challenges and I would like to thank Marian Keyes for such wonderful storytelling. I have recommended this book to friends and family.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for my digital review copy – my thoughts are my own.

The author:

Marian Keyes (born 10 September 1963) is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for her work in women’s literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for WatermelonLucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.

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The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about another book set in a hospital (yesterday I reviewed Before I Saw You). Thanks to Random House Transworld Publishers for the opportunity to read and review a digital proof copy of the book via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis

Life is short – no one knows that better than 17 year-old Lenni Petterssen. On the Terminal ward, the nurses are offering their condolences already, but Lenni still has plenty of living to do.

For a start, she has questions about her fate she needs answers to, and stories yet to uncover.

When she meets 83-year-old Margot, a fellow patient in purple pyjamas offering new friendship and enviable artistic skills, Lenni’s life begins to soar in ways she’d never imagined.

As their bond deepens, a world of stories opens up: of wartime love and loss, of misunderstanding and reconciliation, of courage, kindness and joy.

Stories that have led them to the end of their days.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny, and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need it most.

My thoughts:

I did wonder if a book about two terminally ill people was going to be too depressing to read in the middle of another Covid lockdown, but I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed meeting Lenni and Margot. I’ve seen a lot of love for this book from other reviewers on social media, and it was well deserved.

Lenni is an amazing 17 year old, who know that she won’t be leaving the hospital Glasgow. After a difficult relationship with her mother and now terminally ill, she makes friends with Margot in the Rose Room and they decide to create 100 pictures to celebrate their combined ages.

I loved the way the characters interacted in the book, the meetings with poor Father Arthur in the church chapel made me laugh out loud. As the story develops, we find out why Lenni doesn’t have visits from her family and what has happened to Margot in the past, stopping her from using her talent for art. A book about the importance of kindness and friendship, with help from New Nurse, Pippa the art teacher, Paul the porter and Sunny the security guard.

This is a book that made me laugh and cry, full of stories within stories. I raced through the book and didn’t want to put my Kindle down, and was totally lost in the story of Lenni and Margot (sorry to my family!). I look forward to reading more by Marianne Cronin in the future.

A five star read for me.

January 2021 round up

With the UK locked down again as we try to reduce the spread of Covid 19, I’ve had more reading time on the weekends and my midweek day off (I decided to have a midweek day off to enable me to do my essential food shopping when it is quieter).

I’ve finished 18 books this month from a variety of genres and publishers. Reviews for many of these have now been published on my blog or will appear in the next two weeks (I’ve been busy writing reviews this weekend).

I’ve been asked what was my favourite book of January 2021. I’ve enjoyed reading all the books, have given a few 5 star ratings but when pushed I will pick The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell (review being published on Tuesday 2nd February)

January books

Next month I have a number of books to read for blog tours in the second half of February and early March. Are you looking forward to reading any of these?

February books (also have some on NetGalley)

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Today I’m sharing my review for The Push, the debut novel by Ashley Audrain, published yesterday by Michael Joseph Books. Thank you to the publisher for a digital proof copy via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

What if your experience of motherhood was nothing like what you hoped for – but everything you always feared?

‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. 

It was meant to be a fresh start. 

But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right. I have always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers. 

My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child. 

But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong. 

Is it her? Or is it me? 

Is she the monster? Or am I?

The Push is a heart-pounding exploration of motherhood, obsession and the terrible price of unconditional love.

My thoughts:

As readers of my blog will know, I tend to go for uplifting books or cosy murder mysteries, rather than ‘darker’ books, but after seeing great reviews, I decided to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and find out more.

This debut novel is well written and found that I didn’t want to put it down. Quickly I was drawn into the mystery of motherhood in this family. Three generations of mothers, each struggling with motherhood. This is a very clever debut novel which left this reader wondering who was the problem. Do we need to have a good example of a mother, to be a good mother ourselves? Can a child be that manipulative? Why was Fox so unhelpful?

I’m a mother of two teenagers and this book left me feeling very uncomfortable because it felt so plausible. Being a mother isn’t easy, despite the rise of the Instagram picture perfect family suggesting otherwise. The Push features a family with many issues and tragedies. It is definitely a book that will stay with me for a while and I look forward to hearing the views of other readers. I also look forward to reading more by Ashley Audrain in the future.

Author Bio:

ASHLEY AUDRAIN previously worked as the publicity director of Penguin Books Canada. Prior to Penguin, she worked in public relations. She lives in Toronto, where she and her partner are raising their two young children. The Push is her first novel.

For Emily by Katherine Slee

Today I’m sharing another of my 5 star reads from earlier in 2020. This is a debut novel and I’m thrilled to see that another novel is due in 2021.

Synopsis:

A little dedication goes a long way. That’s why Catriona Robinson, the country’s favourite children’s author, always dedicated her books to those who touched her life the most – not least Emily, her reclusive granddaughter. 

Emily never thought too much about these dedications. But when Catriona dies unexpectedly, each one becomes a cryptic clue in a breadcrumb trail that apparently leads to her lost, unpublished manuscript. 

It’s a mystery only Emily can solve. But to do so she will have to walk in her grandmother’s footsteps, into the wider world she’s spent her whole life hiding away from . . 

My thoughts:

Wow, just wow. This is the 80th book I’ve read this year (I was furloughed two months ago so I’m reading more than usual) and this is definitely one of my favourite books of the year.

I have a small confession. The main reason I looked at the book on NetGalley was because my own daughter is called Emily. I liked the sound of the synopsis and asked Orion Publishing Group for a digital ARC which I’m delighted to say they provided. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free copy.

This is a stunning novel which left me feeling bereft when I finished it, not because I didn’t enjoy the ending (I loved the ending) but because I had become so involved in Emily’s journey of self discovery.

The book looks at how Emily’s grandmother, Catriona, sends her granddaughter on a ‘treasure hunt’ after Catriona dies. Emily needs to learn how to be more independent, how to deal with her past (including the tragic accident which killed her parents and left her seriously injured) and to meet the people who met and loved her grandmother after she left the UK for adventures rather than marry young and settle down.

Each chapter features a different bird, partly because Emily loves birds, especially drawing and painting birds. The stories of Emily and Catriona unfold as Emily travels to London, then France and Italy. She believes she is looking for the ‘last book’ her grandmother wrote, however the truth is much deeper.

The strands of the stories are woven so well, including the use of the birds, the main characters are easy to visualise and feel empathy for, and the love of books is apparent (book shops, libraries, books). I will be treating myself to a paperback copy of this book – and maybe a copy for my own Emily (she isn’t good at using bookmarks, so we won’t be sharing a copy!).

This book was published in paperback in the UK on Thursday 28th May 2020 and I look forward to finding a copy at our local independent bookshop.

Katherine Slee:

Katherine Slee has a Masters in Modern History from Oxford University and is a member of MENSA who left the crazy and chaotic world of investment banking to enter the crazy and chaotic world of being a stay-at-home mother to two children and wife to a workaholic husband. She grew up as a bit of a tomboy, with scars on her knees and mud in her hair, and as a result developed a taste for everything from Star Wars to whiskey, with a dash of ornithology thrown into the mix. When she’s not either reading or writing, she enjoys baking (with various degrees of success), photography and walking the dog. Her favorite place to be is on the beach in France, where the light is always surprising and the ice cream is the best she’s ever tasted.

Website http://www.katherineslee.com



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