The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

I’m thrilled to share my full review for this impressive debut novel today. Thank you to Viking Books and Penguin Books UK for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my views are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings.

But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

The four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron, might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My thoughts:

I must admit that this was even better than I expected – sometimes when a book receives lots of hype, it can leave you disappointed. But this one deserves the hype.

As someone who enjoys amateur detective stories (I started with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as a teenager), this was an enjoyable read. Great characters, most of them over 70, and so many topical British comments including Pizza Express for an alibi! A book full of secrets and more than one murder.

The story flowed well, a few red herrings, and lots of different stories inside one book. Personally I’m hoping for a sequel so we can meet the Thursday Murder Club again.

Author Bio:

Richard Osman is an author, producer and television presenter. The Thursday Murder Club is his first novel. He is well known for TV shows including Pointless and Richard Osman’s House of Games. As the creative director of Endemol UK, Richard has worked as an executive producer on numerous shows including Deal Or No Deal and 8 Out of 10 Cats. He is also a regular on panel and game shows such as Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie To You and Taskmaster.

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365 Days of Gratitude by Mariëlle S. Smith

Today I’m sharing a review of a new non fiction resource/book as part of the publication day push organised by Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources.

Synopsis:

‘Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.’ Rumi

Being grateful is easy…

…when everything goes according to plan.

But how do you keep at it no matter what life throws at you?

Enter 365 Days of Gratitude, the undated daily journal that will help you stay on track.

After years of barely surviving her own emotional minefield, writing coach Mariëlle S. Smith discovered the transformative power of practising gratitude. But, like no one else, she knows that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is easier said than done.

Complete with inspiring quotes, daily prompts, and recurring check-ins, the 365 Days of Gratitude Journal encourages you to create a sustainable gratitude practice too.

Ready to commit to the life-changing power of gratitude? Order your copy of the 365 Days of Gratitude Journal now.

Purchase Links

Get 50% off the printable PDF until 6 September 2020 with the following discount code: HAPPYLAUNCH. Go to https://mswordsmith.nl/365daysofgratitude or https://payhip.com/b/Hld2 to claim your copy. 

My thoughts:

Thank you to Mariëlle for a PDF copy of her publication, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Across the world, 2020 has been a challenge for many people, with a global pandemic, extreme weather conditions and anxiety about the future. Through chatting to friends (mostly online) and seeing social media posts, many people are feeling anxious and/or depressed.

This book cannot remove what you are worried about, but it could give you the small steps you need to move forward. After the author introduction, you have 365 pages to fill in, one for every day. By identifying 3 things you are grateful for (e.g. the sun dried the washing), you can then give the day a rating out of 5 or 10 (or any number you choose). Amongst the sections to complete, is ‘Intention for tomorrow’ which can help you plan for the future.

This seems like a useful resource for many people and is easy to use. There are recaps at the end of each month, and the end of each quarter too. A modern day diary of positivity if used properly.

Author Bio:

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, and a (ghost) writer. Early 2019, she moved to Cyprus, and island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count. 

Social Media Links – 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/mswordsmith

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mariellessmith/

YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtnYOpjmj83mvMM2L348F1w

All About Us by Tom Ellen

Today I’m pleased to be starting a new month by sharing my review for this gorgeous new book by Tom Ellen, published recently in ebook format. It will be published in paperback on October 15th in the UK by HQ, who kindly sent me a digital proof copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Synopsis:

If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?

Ben usually loves the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?

He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

Two loves. Two lives. One destiny…

My thoughts:

I loved this romance/time travel story and I’m gutted that I had left it on my NetGalley shelf for so long (NetGalley had it down as an October 2020 publication date).

As the synopsis states, Ben is wondering what would have happened if he hadn’t got involved with his wife Daphne and had romantically pursued his University Halls neighbour, Alice. This book mixes up Sliding Doors, Doctor Who and A Christmas Carol to provide the reader with a great story, so many ‘what if’ moments and a dose of magic.

I started this book one evening and found myself unwilling to put it down, despite the long list of jobs on my to do list. This is one of a small handful of books I’ve read this year that has been written with a male main character and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed the fact that Ben talks about having a lots of ‘mardy’ books on his bookshelf (to try to appear cool). As a Sheffield born lass now living in Wiltshire, when you tell someone they need to stop being mardy, they don’t understand you.

A great story with believable characters, where Ben gets chance to visit certain key dates in his life and starts to realise what is important to him. I have seen lots of great reviews for this book, and I’m happy to add my own 5 star rating – definitely one of my favourite books of 2020. I look forward to reading more books by Tom Ellen in the future.

Tom Ellen:

Tom is an author and journalist from London, England. He is the co-writer of three critically acclaimed Young Adult novels: LOBSTERS (which was shortlisted for The Bookseller’s inaugural YA Book Prize), NEVER EVERS and FRESHERS. His solo adult debut novel is the romantic comedy ALL ABOUT US (HQ/HarperCollins, published October 2020). His books have been widely translated and are published in 20 countries. He is a regular contributor to Viz magazine, and has also written for Cosmopolitan, Empire, Evening Standard Magazine, The Daily Mash, Glamour, NME, ESPN, ShortList, Time Out London, Vice, Stylist and many more.

We are Family by Nicola Gill

I’m pleased to share my review for the new book by Nicola Gill on my blog today. I reviewed her debut novel The Neighbours earlier this year. Thanks to Avon Books UK for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book is being published on the 3rd of September 2020 in ebook and paperback.

Synopsis:

Laura has a laid back attitude to life. Her home isn’t spotless, and after a hard day she likes to take to bed with a block of cheese.

Jess, on the other hand, is your classic overachiever: The Big Sister, Chief of Chivvying, Queen of the family WhatsApp. Her life is picture-perfect.

Laura and Jess lost their dad when they were kids, and now their mum is gone too. And one of the hardest times in life is made harder by the fact they can’t agree on a single thing, from where to scatter the ashes to whether “passed away” is even an acceptable term.

But when Laura starts pushing her own boundaries and Jess agrees to let other people in to her (not so) perfect life, the two women realize they need each other more than ever. They might not be ready to admit it, but family is everything…

A funny, tender and thoroughly entertaining read for anyone who loves Marian Keyes, Ruth Jones, and Fleabag.

My thoughts:

The story starts with the death of the mum of Laura and Jess. Laura is a kind person, eager to help, but is being let down by friends, work and her partner. Her sister Jess appears to have a perfect life – rich husband, immaculate house and well behaved children.

The story follows Laura and Jess as they try to deal with the death of their mum, 25 years after the sudden death of their dad and to build a new sibling relationship.

I really enjoyed this book, it dealt with some difficult topics, but included humour too, especially in relation to the children of Laura and Jess. Both Laura and Jess need to make changes in their lives and to move forward, instead of letting the past spoil their relationship.

An enjoyable read during the global pandemic of 2020.



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Under a Siena Sun by T A Williams

Today I’m pleased to be sharing my review for Under a Siena Sun by T A Williams. Thanks to the publisher Canelo for a review copy via NetGalley and to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the blog tour. This is the first book I’ve read by T A Williams and I will be looking out for the previous books.

Synopsis:

Lucy needed a change of scene. She didn’t expect the change of a lifetime.

Doctors Without Borders has been Lucy Young’s life for the past four years. After being rescued from a conflict zone, she’s making a change from saving lives under gunfire to practising medicine in safe, serene Siena.

Now treating wealthy patients at a private clinic, she’s never felt less comfortable. She’s used to helping those in dire need – not those in need of a nip and tuck. Her turmoil grows when she encounters injured tennis star David Lorenzo, whose smiles make Lucy forget her aversion to the rich.

She’s soon falling for the sportsman but is she losing herself in this world of excess? All she’s ever wanted was to help the underprivileged, so can her future lie in Siena at the clinic – with David?

This sunny romance is the perfect summer escape for fans of Lucy Coleman and Alex Brown.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book, following Lucy, an experienced surgeon, as she escaped war torn Africa and started working in a private hospital in Tuscany, an area she had visited many times before.

This is primarily a romance story, set in the stunning surroundings of Siena in Tuscany. The book is full of colourful descriptions of the area and the food (do not read whilst on a diet!). Lucy needs to decide whether she can justify working in such a beautiful part of the world for wealthy patients after working for a medical charity in Africa, where the patients had no money.

I must admit that my favourite characters were of the four legged variety, all the black labradors beginning with B. This book was a pleasant escape from the global pandemic and I enjoyed my virtual visit to Tuscany.

Purchase Links 

http://mybook.to/SienaSun

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/under-a-siena-sun

Author Bio:

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Social Media Links – 

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tawilliamsbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks/

V for Victory by Lissa Evans

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts (and no spoilers) on the latest novel by Lissa Evans, V for Victory, which will be published in the UK tomorrow. Thank you to Doubleday for a digital review copy – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour.

Synopsis:

It’s late 1944. Allied victory is on its way, but it’s ruddy well dragging its feet. Hitler’s rockets are slamming down on London with vicious regularity and it’s the coldest winter in living memory.

In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vera Sedge is just about scraping by, with a household of lodgers to feed, and her young ward Noel (almost fifteen) to clothe and educate. When she witnesses a road accident and finds herself in court, the effects are both unexpectedly marvellous, and potentially deadly, because Vee is not actually the person she’s pretending to be, and neither is Noel.

The end of the war won’t just mean peace, but discovery, and not in the way any of them could ever expect.

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Lissa Evans and it won’t be the last. I hadn’t realised that there are two more books in this series, Old Baggage and Crooked Heart. I was able to read this as a standalone novel but I do now plan to go back and read other two books.

The book starts in late 1944 with Noel growing up in Hampstead, being tutored by the paying guests in his house, whilst being looked after by his ‘aunt’ Mrs Margery Overs, aka Vee. Early on in the story, he meets a ARP warden called Winnie, and the stories of Noel, Vee and Winnie become interwoven through the book.

I loved the mixture of characters, from the guests at the boarding house to the American GI’s. Some of the story is harrowing – how quickly the V2 bombs could destroy a road, but this is interspersed with humour so doesn’t feel as dark as some of the historical fiction I’ve read recently.

Noel is a very intelligent young man, who loves to find out more about everything and tries to make meals out of their very limited rations. He reminded me of the young Gerald Durrell from the TV series and books, a young person who was better educated than many of the adults around him.

Winnie was one of my favourite characters, I loved the scene in the posh restaurant when she is given a copy of Avril’s book. It was good to see the work of these brave people recognised, helping those injured and made homeless by the bombings.

An enjoyable well written novel set in wartime London.

Author Bio:

Lissa Evans has written books for both adults and children, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, longlisted for the Orange (now Women’s) Prize, Small Change for Stuart, shortlisted for many awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Book Awards and Crooked Heart, longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

OLD BAGGAGE was a sell-out Waterstone’s Book of the Month; THEIR FINEST HOUR AND A HALF was adapted into a star-studded film with Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy.

Lissa is available for press pieces and interview.

For further information please contact Alison Barrow: abarrow@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk | 020 8231 6654

At the Feet of Mothers by Adnan Mahmutovic

Today, I’m sharing my review for At the Feet of Mothers by Adnan Mahmutovic, as part of the blog tour organised by Emma Welton of Damppebbles. To read the other reviews, I’ve added the list of the other bloggers below.

Synopsis:

Joseph Schneider grows up in a Cherokee-Jewish family in the Smoky mountains of North Carolina. He dreams to be a cook on the biggest ship there is in the world but his attachment to his mother Rachel and his rootedness to the little mountain village keep him from moving on.

When his mother falls ill she reveals she stole him from a Palestinian girl Aliya in the 80s when she volunteered at a hospital in Gaza. Joseph refuses to know anything more about his biological mother, but later when Rachel dies, Joseph honors his promise to her and embarks on a painful pilgrimage to the holy land, a walk in the footsteps of his American mother and a search for Aliya.

My thoughts:

Thank you to Emma of Damppebbles for inviting me to join the blog tour. I have to be honest and say that otherwise this book would probably have passed me by.

At the centre of the story is Joseph, who believes that he is an American, with a Cherokee mum and a Jewish dad and twin sisters. However, he discovers during his teenage years that he was actually smuggled out of Gaza and his family aren’t biologically related to him.

Amongst this major storyline, there are more normal family dramas, including a sister moving in with an ‘unsuitable boyfriend’ and refusing to speak to the family, Joseph experiencing his first relationship with a girl and the death of the family dog.

Joseph has to decide whether to try and find Aliya after the death of Rachel, and the latter part of the book details his journey to a part of the world few people would visit.

The book is full of relationships – families, friends, and the kindness of strangers. A fascinating read about a young man trying to come to terms with his true identity.

Author Bio:

Adnan Mahmutovic is a Swedish-Bosnian writer. He works at Stockholm University as a lecturer in literature and creative writing. His other major works include a novel Thinner than a Hair (2010), short story collection How to Fare Well and Stay Fair (2012), literary criticism Ways of Being Free (2012) and Future in Comics (2017), and creative writing pedagogy The Craft of Editing (2019).

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/adnanmahmutovic

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adnanmahmutovicpage/

Website: http://www.adnanmahmutovic.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mahmutovic.official/

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/30C7joe

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/30FHYti

Cinnamon Press: https://bit.ly/2DQ37Ig

Book Depository: https://bit.ly/2DFZswN

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/3gHnyWr

Publishing Information:

Published in paperback and digital formats on 4th May 2020 by Cinnamon Press

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

I’m pleased to share my review for A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington on my book blog today. Thank you to Quercus Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book will be published on the 3rd of September in the UK and can be pre-ordered now from all good bookshops.

Synopsis:

A lyrical and atmospheric homage to the strange and extraordinary, perfect for fans of Angela Carter and Erin Morgenstern.

This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived…

Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus.

Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again?

Beautiful and intoxicating, A Girl Made of Air brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory; Marina, Manu, Serendipity Wilson, Fausto, Big Gen and Mouse will live long in the hearts of readers. As will this story of loss and reconciliation, of storytelling and truth.

My thoughts:

This story is full of mysteries and emotions, that it is difficult to know where to begin with my review. So I will suggest that first you look at the stunning cover design, which is beautiful and I look forward to seeing it in bookshops soon.

As the synopsis states, the narrator, was a tightrope artiste, who rose up from being an unloved child of Marina hiding in the shadows, to be the main attraction at the circus. The story is so much darker than I expected, and it is an uncomfortable read in places due to the topics covered. However, it is a fascinating story, full of secrets and magic.

An impressive debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Nydia Hatherington in the future. Her writing brought the circus to life, not just the glitz and glamour of the inside of the Big Top, but also how grubby life was for the circus people, camping in fields in all weathers and continually moving around the country. This is a book full of stories within stories with a huge cast of characters.

Nydia Hetherington (from Goodreads):

My first memories are of the Isle of Man, where I lived as a small child. When my family relocated to Leeds, I grew up dreaming of fairies and of the sea (I still do). In my early twenties I moved to London to embark on an acting career, then to Paris, where I continued my theatre training before creating a theatre company and becoming a clown (red nose included). Returning to London almost a decade later, I worked in a shoe shop while studying for a creative writing degree at Birkbeck University. To keep the wolf from my door I’ve had many jobs, including working in shops and cafes and kitchens, sometimes in offices and most recently in an art gallery. These days I live on the edge of London with my husband and our plump (she’s got big bones) cat.

My favourite books often have a touch of the magical about them. At the same time, I love fierce writing that reaches into the depths of the human experience.

Love on the Rocks – Elsie McArthur

I’m thrilled to be sharing my spoiler free review for the latest book by Elsie McArthur on my blog today. I enjoyed reading Elsie’s debut novel The Back Up Plan earlier this year (review can be found at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/21/the-back-up-plan-by-elsie-mcarthur/ ) so I was thrilled to be invited to join the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources and read the new book before publication.

Synopsis:

Escaping a difficult childhood, unhappy marriage and dead-end job, Rachel McIntyre has escaped to the tiny Hebridean island of Inniscreag in search of a new beginning.

Taking a job as the manager of the local distillery, she’s just settling into her new life when the elderly, eccentric owner dies, unexpectedly leaving her two hundred year old family legacy in Rachel’s inexperienced hands.

Can she keep the small, community business alive in the face of a takeover attempt from a major multinational corporation? And can she resist the charms of the flirtatious, attractive company lawyer who arrives on the island to persuade her to sell up?

Join Rachel and the quirky inhabitants of Inniscreag – along with a couple of unexpected arrivals – in this funny, heartwarming tale about love, loss and having the courage to start over.

My thoughts:

This is another lovely book by Elsie McArthur. I enjoyed her debut novel, The Back Up Plan, but this one appealed to me even more.

Rachel is a great character, she has had more than her fair share of bad luck but still looks for the best in her friends and the workforce of the brewery. Inniscreag sounds like a lovely community – if only it were real!

I enjoyed Elsie’s storytelling immensely in this book of friendships, community spirit, secrets, romance and new beginnings. Rachel finds herself battling to protect the brewery from being taken over by a large company and also fighting to free herself from her selfish ex-husband. The arrival of the handsome, city boy Duncan Fraser adds the possibility of some romance into the mix too.

A 4.5 star read for me, a much needed escape from the global pandemic.

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B089G71S4N

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089G71S4N

Elsie McArthur:

Elsie McArthur is an independent author of women’s fiction. After studying law at university, and then re-training as a primary school teacher, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, two kids, a couple of badly behaved dogs and a cat with a superiority complex. As well as continuing to work part time as a teacher, she is now indulging in her first love of writing. Her first book, ‘The Back Up Plan’, was released in January 2020. Her second novel, ‘Love, on the Rocks’ – a tale of love, loss and starting over, set on the remote Scottish island of Inniscreag – is due for release in Summer 2020.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter – @ElsieMcarthur

Instagram – @elsiemcarthur.author

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElsieMcArthurAuthor/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19961166.Elsie_McArthur

The Last Charm by Ella Allbright

I’m pleased to share my review for this beautiful book today on my book blog. Thank you to One More Chapter of Harper Collins for a digital proof copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. The ebook is published today in the UK and the paperback is due to be published in November 2020.

Synopsis:

A moving and heartwarming love story perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day in December…

Leila’s charm bracelet tells a story of love, a story of loss, a story of hope. This is the story of her … and the story of Jake.

When Leila Jones loses her precious charm bracelet and a stranger finds it, she has to tell the story of how she got the charms to prove she’s the owner. Each and every one is a precious memory of her life with Jake.

So Leila starts at the beginning, recounting the charms and experiences that have led her to the present. A present she never could have expected when she met Jake nearly twenty years ago…

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Ella Allbright/Nikki Moore and it won’t be the last. The story telling was superb, I loved the way that Leila and Jake kept spending small periods of time together, whilst you wondered if this would be the time that they finally realised that they belonged together properly.

The story covers some tough topics including domestic violence and mental health issues, but there are also lots of funny moments too. As the book title suggests, there is a charm bracelet at the centre of the story and the end of the book had me in tears as Leila searched for the last charm. This was a beautiful and emotional read, and I’ve given it a 5 star rating.

Ella Allbright:

A self-confessed reading addict, Ella Allbright writes commercial women’s fiction set in her beautiful home county of Dorset. Her first novel in this genre – The Last Charm – will publish in August 2020 (ebook) and November 2020 (paperback) with One More Chapter, a division of HarperCollins. She’s currently hard at work on her next book, and is represented by agent Hattie Grünewald at The Blair Partnership.

Ella also writes as Nikki Moore, the author of the popular #LoveLondon romance series. A number of the novellas featured in the Top 100 short story charts on Kobo and the Top 20 in the Amazon UK bestsellers Holiday chart, and in 2018 the collection was released in Italy. Her first published work was the short story A Night to Remember in the best selling Mills & Boon / RNA anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply. Her debut romance Crazy, Undercover, Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2015.

When not writing or reading, she can usually be found working in her HR day job, walking the family’s cute beagle puppy or watching a Netflix series!

She vlogs about how to get published as ‘Author By The Sea’ on her YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQNV3lWENgnIRG4NWejSjmQ