Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

Thanks to Jess Barrett at Simon and Schuster for a proof copy and thank you to Anne of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book was published in the UK on 4th February 2021.

Synopsis:

They say those we love never truly leave us, and I’ve found that to be true. But not in the way you might expect. In fact, none of this is what you’d expect.

I’ve been visiting my mother who died when I was eight. And I’m talking about flesh and blood, tea-and-biscuits-on-the-table visiting here.

Right now, you probably think I’m going mad. Let me explain…

Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?

For fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife comes an original and
heartwarming story about bittersweet memories, how the past shapes
the future, and a love so strong it makes you do things that are slightly bonkers.

My thoughts

I’m pleased to say that this is another stunning debut novel that I’m reviewing on my book blog today. I first heard about Space Hopper last year, and the title both intrigued and delighted me as a child of the 1970’s.

Having read the opening chapters, I decided to pick a time to finish the book without interruption (not easy in lockdown part 3 in a house with two teenagers, one husband and two dogs. However the rugby six nations came to my rescue and I was able to curl up and engross myself in the story.

I’m on the last day of the blog tour, and hopefully you may have read some of the reviews by my fellow book bloggers and bookstagrammers (see above poster for more information), but I still don’t want to leave any spoilers. However as the synopsis gives some clues, what would you do if you suddenly found yourself back in time and could meet a missing loved one? Especially when you’ve lost most of your clothes during the journey? And would you keep going back and risk getting stuck there, leaving your own children without a mother?

I loved this original story, both as an avid reader and also a closet Sci-fi fan (I love watching Doctor Who). The idea of travelling back in time has interested people for hundreds of years and I enjoyed the way the idea was used here. I also loved the fact that one of Helen’s main characters is blind, just as my cousin was.

A delightful debut novel, featuring the bond between mothers and daughters. I look forward to reading more by Helen Fisher in the future.

Author Bio

Helen Fisher spent her early life in America, but grew up mainly in Suffolk where she now lives with her two children. She studied Psychology at Westminster University and Ergonomics at UCL and worked as a senior evaluator in research at RNIB. Space Hopper is her first novel.

#CoverReveal Country Cat Blues by Alison O’Leary #CountryCatBlues @alisonoleary81 @RedDogTweets

I’m thrilled to be joining in with the cover reveal today for Red Dog Press.

Synopsis:

When former rescue cat Aubrey moves to the picturesque village of Fallowfield with his owners and their foster son Carlos, he is keen to explore the delights of the English countryside.

However, all is not as it seems among the villagers. The idyllic peace is shattered when a gruesome murder takes place at the village fete.

Tensions run high as spectres from the past begin to emerge, and Aubrey is particularly upset when suspicion falls on Morris, who may be almost permanently drunk, but is also a good friend to the local cat population… 

Can Aubrey restore the peace in the village and help clear Morris’s name? 

Buy Links: 

Red Dog Shop: https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/country-cat-blues

Amazon: mybook.to/CountryCat

Publication date: 23 February 2021

Author Bio:

I was born in London and spent my teenage years in Hertfordshire where I spent large amounts of time reading novels, watching daytime television and avoiding school. Failing to gain any qualifications in science whatsoever, the dream of being a forensic scientist collided with reality when a careers teacher suggested that I might like to work in a shop. I don’t think she meant Harrods. Later studying law, I decided to teach rather than go into practice and have spent many years teaching mainly criminal law and criminology to young people and adults.

I enjoy reading crime novels, doing crosswords, and drinking wine. Not necessarily in that order.

The World at my Feet by Catherine Isaac

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about the latest book by Catherine Isaac (aka Jane Costello). Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK / Books and the City for the digital proof via NetGalley. Last year I enjoyed reading her previous novels, You, Me, Everything and Messy Wonderful Us (see my reviews at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/05/27/you-me-everything-by-catherine-isaac/ and https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/03/29/bookreview-messy-wonderful-us-by-catherine-isaac/) so I was thrilled to be given an early opportunity to read a digital proof last month. The book will be published in March 2021.

Synopsis:

The dazzling new novel from Richard & Judy book club author Catherine Isaac, The World at my Feet is a story about the transforming power of love, as one woman journeys to uncover the past and reshape her future.

The secrets that bind us can also tear us apart…

1990. Harriet is a journalist. Her job takes her to dangerous places, where she asks questions and tries to make a difference. But when she is sent to Romania, to the state orphanages the world is only just learning about, she is forced to rethink her most important rule. 

2018. Ellie is a gardener. Her garden is her sanctuary, her pride and joy. But, though she spends long days outdoors, she hasn’t set foot beyond her gate for far too long. Now someone enters her life who could finally be the reason she needs to overcome her fears.

From post-revolution Romania to the idyllic English countryside, The World at My Feet is the story of two women, two worlds, and a journey of self-discovery that spans a lifetime.

My thoughts:

When I started University in 1989, the world was changing quickly. The Berlin Wall fell and many of the former Communist countries finally allowed Western journalists to visit. I remember seeing the stories about the Romanian orphanages and feeling profoundly sad that children were abandoned in this way. So I was intrigued to see how this story would unfold.

I am a fan of Catherine’s writing and I’m pleased to see that the lockdown/ global pandemic hasn’t changed her storytelling style. I quickly became invested in the stories of Harriet and Ellie, two women who had their lives changed after a chance encounter in Romania.

I enjoyed both threads of the story, the trips back in time with Harriet and the more recent time with Ellie. Ellie has become trapped in her home/garden by agrophobia, but has stayed in touch with the outside world by becoming a gardening Instagrammer, passing on hints and tips, and sharing her passion for gardening. She knows she needs to get out, to live her life more fully but needs help to conquer her fears.

I quickly became hooked by the story, desperate to see if Ellie could make some changes and how the story about Harriet would link to Ellie’s. The well written characters came to life and on a cold January day, it was lovely to imagine being in Ellie’s beautiful garden.

I’m trying hard to not give away any spoilers, so I’m sorry if this sounds rather vague but I don’t want to spoil the storytelling. My advice is to order a copy and enjoyed watching the story unfold. Thank you Catherine Isaac for another lovely book.

#CoverReveal That Night by Gillian McAllister @GillianMAuthor @MichaelJBooks #ThatNight

Thrilled to be sharing the cover reveal for the latest book by Gillian McAllister today. I enjoyed reading How to Disappear last year (see review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/07/09/how-to-disappear-by-gillian-mcallister/ ).

Pre-order link is: http://bit.ly/ThatNightPB

Publication date: 10th June 2021

Synopsis:

What would you do to protect your family?

Anything.

During a family holiday in Italy, you get an urgent call from your sister.

There’s been an accident: she hit a man with her car and he’s dead.

She’s overcome with terror – fearing years in a foreign jail away from her child.

She asks for your help. It wasn’t her fault, not really. She’d cover for you, so will you do the same for her?

But when the police come calling, the lies start. And you each begin to doubt your trust in one another.

What really happened that night?

Who is lying to who?

Who will be the first to crack?

#CoverReveal Roses For The Dead by Chris McDonald @cmacwritescrime @RedDogPress

Today I’m taking part in the cover reveal for the latest Chris McDonald novel. As regular readers of my blog reviews may remember, I enjoyed reading Chris’s recent novella, The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello (see review at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2021/01/19/the-curious-dispatch-of-daniel-costello-by-chris-mcdonald-thestonebridgemysteries/ )

Synopsis: 

2013

Rockstar Johnny Mayhem sits on his bed, holding a bloody baseball bat. On the floor, clutching a lavender rose in her fist, is his wife, Amanda, who he has just beaten to death. Erika Piper knows this because she is one of the first on the scene. Mayhem is arrested and led away, screaming that they’ve got the wrong man. But the evidence is irrefutable and when Mayhem is sentenced to life in prison, no one is surprised.

Now

Thanks to new evidence, Johnny Mayhem is a now free man. During a television interview, he issues a thinly veiled threat to those involved in the original case before seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth. When the body of Mayhem’s dealer is found, Erika Piper is pulled from the safety of her desk job and thrown into the hunt for the Rockstar. Can she find Mayhem before he can enact his revenge or everyone involved, including Erika? Or, has he been telling the truth all along? Did the police really get the wrong man?

Buy Links: 

The Red Dog Shop https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/roses-for-the-dead

Amazon mybook.to/RFTD

Publication date: 13 April 2021

About the Author:

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime. A Wash of Black is his first attempt at writing a book. He came up with the initial idea whilst feeding his baby in the middle of the night, which may not be the best thing to admit, considering the content. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs. Whispers in the Dark was the second installment in the DI Erika Piper series, and Chris is currently working on his latest series, The Stonebridge Mysteries, to be published by Red Dog Press in 2021. 

Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior

Today I’m sharing a mini review for the book I recently added to my Kindle for 99p after reading Away with the Penguins last year by Hazel Prior (my 5 star review is at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/10/23/away-with-the-penguins-by-hazel-prior-2/)

Synopsis:

In the rolling hills of beautiful Exmoor, there’s a barn. And in that barn, you’ll find Dan. He’s a maker of exquisite harps – but not a great maker of conversation. He’s content in his own company, quietly working and away from social situations that he doesn’t always get right.

But one day, a cherry-socked woman stumbles across his barn and the conversation flows a little more easily than usual. She says her name’s Ellie, a housewife, alone, out on her daily walk and, though she doesn’t say this, she looks sad. He wants to make her feel better, so he gives her one of his harps, made of cherry wood.

And before they know it, this simple act of kindness puts them on the path to friendship, big secrets, pet pheasants and, most importantly, true love.

My thoughts:

If you enjoyed Away with the Penguins, then I happily recommend reading this book too. More great characters, new friendships and a pheasant named Phineas. This is a no spoiler review so I can’t say much without spoiling the story.

However I loved finding out how Ellie and Dan’s lives changed as they became friends and had to deal with the challenges facing them. Both of them were living very quiet lives, with little interaction with other. Their unexpected meeting enables both of them to step outside their small worlds and to help each other discover that they can offer each other so much more.

The other thing that shone from this book, was the beauty of Exmoor, through the various seasons of the year. Sadly we are in the middle of an anxiety inducing global pandemic but the descriptions of the sights of Exmoor brought the area to life and I hope to visit once the pandemic is over.

Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession

Today I’m sharing my mini review about Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession, published by Bluemoose Books. I bought my copy from Bert’s Books, my local bookseller, who sells books online via http://www.bertsbooks.co.uk, with an personalised letter and ribbon, perfect for a present to a loved one or yourself.

Synopsis:

Leonard and Hungry Paul are two friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st century.

‘The figure in Munch’s painting isn’t actually screaming!’ Hungry Paul said. ‘Really, are you sure?’ Replied Leonard. ‘Absolutely. That’s the whole thing. The figure is actually closing his ears to block outa scream. Isn’t that amazing? A painting can be so misunderstood and still become so famous.’

LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is the story of two quiet friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change the world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.

My thoughts:

Thank you to the Motherload Facebook book club for picking this as their monthly read, which encouraged me to treat myself to a copy AND to get on with reading it.

This is a beautiful, gentle story about how two men make subtle changes in their lives and also help other people to realise that they are more capable than expected.

In a year when most people have had much less ‘going out’ time than usual, I couldn’t help feeling that Leonard and Hungry Paul were ahead of the curve, preferring quiet evenings in with a board game.

I loved reading about the friendships and the family dynamics in this book. I look forward to reading more by Rónán Hession (aka Mumblin’ Deaf Ro on Twitter) in the future. If you haven’t read this book, then I humbly suggest you grab a copy, and settle down to read it.

Serving suggestion!

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.

View all my reviews

#CoverReveal Transference by John Bowie (Black Viking Thriller #2)

Today I’m joining in with the Red Dog Press cover reveal promotion.

Buy Links: 

Red Dog = https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/transference 

Amazon = mybook.to/BV2

Synopsis:

BRUTAL, DARK AND LYRICAL MANC NOIR’

As clubbers in Manchester’s most notorious club partied hard in the 90s, a girl collapsed, falling from the stage after a bad pill.

Few noticed.

Those that did, didn’t care – lost in a hedonistic haze.

John Black, an ex-SAS soldier, who was working security that night, carried her out in his arms.

Now on witness protection for exposing the city’s underworld after the girl’s death, he goes back to the city that disowned him – to confront the orchestrator of his pains… and reclaim his lost identity.

John writes articles, poetry, reviews, short stories and novels. His fiction is a semi-autobiographical mix of dirty realism, crime fiction and noir. Ghostly references to a heritage that includes the Vikings, Scotland, Ireland and the North, flavour the words throughout. Often with a dark but humoured edge.

John’s writing has appeared online and in print for the likes of Bristol Noir, Storgy Magazine, Litro Magazine, Punk Noir Magazine, Necro Magazine and Deadman’s Tome.

He grew up on the coast in rural Northumberland, a region steeped with a history of battles, Vikings, wars and struggles. These tales and myths fascinated him as a child, and then as an adult. In the mid to late nineties, he studied in Salford enjoying the bands, music, clubs and general urban industrial-ness of Greater Manchester, including the club scene and the infamous Hacienda. He was also there when the IRA bomb went off in 1996.

John has been partly inspired by 50s pulp hard-boiled detective fiction and the beat generation authors and poets. John aims to celebrate his female characters from his real-life through his writing, whilst retaining the hard-drinking, cynical honesty and the accessible writing style of these genres.John lives in Bristol with his wife and daughters, where he has been since the late nineties. He is a professional designer, artist and writer as well as a proud husband, father, brother and son.

Married at First Swipe by Claire Frost

Today I’m sharing my thoughts about this gorgeous book being published today in the UK. Thanks to Books and the City / Simon and Schuster UK for a digital proof copy via NetGalley to read and review. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free gift.

Synopsis:

The brand new novel from the author of acclaimed debut LIVING MY BEST LIFE. Perfect for fans of Helly Acton, Mhairi McFarlane and Laura Jane Williams.
 
Hannah lives life on the edge. Never one to pass up on a new adventure, she has truly been living her best life. But once the adrenaline wears off, she wishes she had someone to spend the quieter moments with too. Learning that her best friend’s online dating business has taken a hit, she comes up with an idea that just might solve both of their problems…
 
Jess has been with her husband for twenty years. They have a stable marriage, great kids and run their own businesses. But what looks like a perfect life from the outside has its own problems within, and with her business on the brink Jess can’t help but wonder where the spark has gone in her life, and whether settling down is all it’s cracked up to be.
 
When Hannah embarks upon her latest scheme: finding a man using Jess’s dating app and meeting him for the first time at the altar, both women start to realise the grass isn’t always greener. Can Hannah help her friend save her failing business or will Jess stop her from making what could be the biggest mistake of her life?
 
In the modern tech-fuelled world of dating, is it possible to find true love? 

My thoughts:

This is the first book I’ve read by Claire Frost, and I will now be looking to read her debut novel, Living My Best Life, too. I will make a disclaimer here – I have never watched Married at First Sight so I cannot comment on how that would be similar or dissimilar to the story.

I initially expected the book to be mainly about Hannah, the bride to be who has agreed to let her best friend Jess find the perfect match for her, to hopefully find the love her grandparents enjoyed. However, I found that Jess was actually the main character for me, she wanted to look after her best friend Hannah, be a perfect mum, provide financial security to her family but was in danger of losing sight of how important her own marriage was. As someone who has been married for 20+ years, it can be easy to lose sight of what you already have.

A modern relationships story, full of great characters, humour, soul searching and dating apps. I enjoyed my escape from lockdown to spend time with Hannah and Jess, and happily recommend this book to readers.

Future reviews:

Books and the City are publishing more fabulous books this year, watch out for reviews of these books on my blog over the next few weeks and months: