My Map of You by Isabelle Broom

Today I’m pleased to share my review for this beautiful book by one of my favourite authors. I’ve read Isabelle’s latest three books and loved them, so decided it was time to read some of her earlier books too, starting with this one published in 2016. Thank you to Penguin Books UK for this paperback copy – I’ve been taking part in book surveys via their reader panel for a couple of years and won a £50 book voucher last year to spend on their books (it did take a few hours to decide which books to pick!).

Synopsis:

Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother’s death, she’s become expert at keeping people at a distance – including her boyfriend, Rupert.

But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.

But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first? 

My thoughts:

Sometimes when you discover an author a few years after their writing career started, you go back to read their earlier books and are slightly disappointed. I’m pleased to say that this definitely wasn’t the case here – I loved the story and the story telling.

Holly is a complex character, she needs to deal with a lot of issues, including the guilt she feels for not being there when her mum died and not knowing who her father is. Aidan was my favourite character – kind, caring, and trying to encourage Holly to be honest with herself.

The story moves backwards in time repeatedly, as we slowly discover why two sisters went from being close to never speaking to each other again. It is difficult to say much more without giving away any spoilers.

I have visited Greece four times but haven’t visited Zakynthos. Isabelle Broom brought the island to life for me, the scenery, the people and the food – I could almost taste the Greek salad and pastries. If it wasn’t for the global pandemic, I would have booked a holiday there next week.

This is another 5 star read and I loved escaping to Greece with Holly.

Author bio (from Amazon):

Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts in London before a 12-year stint at heat magazine. Always happiest when she’s off on an adventure, Isabelle now travels all over the world seeking out settings for her escapist fiction novels, as well as making the annual pilgrimage to her second home – the Greek island of Zakynthos. Currently based in Suffolk, where she shares a cottage with her two dogs and approximately 467 spiders, Isabelle fits her writing around a busy freelance career and tries her best not to be crushed to oblivion under her ever-growing pile of to-be-read books.

If you like pictures of dogs, chatter about books and very bad jokes, you can follow her on Twitter or Instagram @Isabelle_Broom or find her on Facebook under Isabelle Broom Author. To find out more about her books, visit her website http://www.isabellebroom.com.

The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies

I’m pleased to share my review for The Tuscan Contessa by Dinah Jefferies on my book blog today – the ebook is currently 99p on the Kindle. Thank you Penguin Books for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

In 1940s Tuscany, Contessa Sofia de’ Corsi’s peaceful home in a medieval villa among the olive groves has been upturned by the arrival of German soldiers. She is desperate to help her friends in the village fight back in any way she can, all while keeping her efforts secret from her husband Lorenzo, who fears for their safety.

When Maxine, a no-nonsense Italian-American, arrives in Tuscany to help the resistance, the two women forge an uneasy alliance. Before long they find themselves entangled in a dangerous game with the Nazis, each trying to save the ones they love…

My thoughts:

This is the first Dinah Jefferies novel I’ve read, although I do have a copy of one of her previous books on my Kindle ready to read. I enjoyed listening to Dinah talking to Catherine Isaac recently on a Facebook Live meet the author session about how she researched the story.

This book is so beautifully written that I could imagine myself in Italy watching the story unfold. Sofia, Maxine and the other women in the story are so strong and so determined to believe that the Allies will rescue them from the Germans. I’ve read many books about life in France during the Second World War but this is the first one set in Italy.

Dinah brought the area to life, with vivid descriptions of buildings, food and people. The end of the story, as all the smaller stories are woven together, is a very emotional read – I’m sure I was holding my breath in places and I also had damp eyes a few times during the book.

I’ve enjoyed reading a lot of historical fiction novels recently and this is now one of my favourites.

Dinah Jefferies (from Amazon):

Dinah was born in Malaya in 1948 and moved to England at the age of nine. In 1985, the sudden death of her fourteen year old son changed the course of her life, and deeply influenced her writing. Dinah drew on that experience, and on her own childhood spent in Malaya during the 1950s to write her debut novel, The Separation. 

Now living in Gloucestershire with her husband and their Norfolk terrier, she spends her days writing, with time off with her grandchildren.

How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister

I’m thrilled to share my review for this page turner of a book by a new author to me, Gillian McAllister. Thank you to Penguin Books – Micheal Joseph for a digital review copy via Net Galley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.

The only choice is to disappear.

From their family, their friends, even from Lauren’s husband.

No goodbyes. Just new names, new home, new lives.

One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new.

As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy.

Staying hidden is much harder . . .

My thoughts:

Over the years, I’ve watched many TV shows and films where people disappear into witness protection without really thinking about the implications of how this works. This book made me sit back and think about what the reality would be like.

The story starts with the death of a young homeless man and one witness. As the story develops, we discover that Zara hadn’t been totally honest about what she witnessed and now a gang are out to silence her for ruining the life of a young and talented footballer.

The story looks at Zara’s relationship with her mum, her step dad and step sister, and how all four of them will deal with the life changes and dangers they face.

This is a no spoiler review so I will say no more about the story except to say it is excellent. This was a book I didn’t want to put down (always the sign of a good thriller) and wanted to discuss with my family. This is well written, full of tension and intrigue, where no one actually appears to know the full truth. One of my favourite thrillers of 2020 (a 5 star read) and I will be busy recommending this book (and looking to read Gillian’s previous books).

Gillian McAllister:

Gillian McAllister is the Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author of Everything But The Truth, Anything You Do Say, No Further Questions and The Evidence Against You. 

How To Disappear is her latest release, a witness protection thriller. 

All of her novels are standalone and can be read in any order. She is published in ten countries around the world. The Good Sister is her US debut, released by Penguin USA, and is the American title for No Further Questions. The Choice is her second American release which is the US title for Anything You Do Say. 

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @gillianmauthor. She also blogs at http://www.gillianmcallister.com.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

I’m pleased to share my review for the latest book by Emily Henry on my book review blog today. Thank you to Penguin Books UK for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Synopsis:

January is a hopeless romantic who likes narrating her life as if she’s the heroine in a blockbuster movie.
Augustus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.
January and Augustus are not going to get on.

But they actually have more in common than you’d think:

They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
They need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer.

The result? A bet to see who can get their book published first.
The catch? They have to swap genres.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely..

My thoughts:

This book was actually very different to how I expected it to be – not as ‘light and fluffy’ as the title suggests. Instead I enjoyed meeting two writers dealing with hefty amounts of emotional baggage who had known (and kissed) each other during college and who are now neighbours overlooking a beach.

The story starts as we meet January, Gus, and Pete and slowly start to find out more about January and Gus. I enjoyed how the story evolved, as we found out what had happened in the past and how that had led them both to be living next to the beach, struggling to write their next books.

This is a book that looks at how our families shape us and how we love others, and how everyone has a different background story (including the families who lost family members to cults). There is sadness and humour, anger and love in this story. I enjoyed the book and will be recommending it to friends.

Emily Henry:

Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the now-defunct New York Center for Art & Media Studies.

Find her on Instagram @EmilyHenryWrites. 

The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel


Publisher comments:-

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 will be recommending this book to friends and family. Being published in March 2020.



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The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver – 5* review.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb:

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade, and Lydia thought their love was indestructible.

But she was wrong. On her twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life–and perhaps even love–again.

But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.

Lydia is pulled again and again across the doorway of her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

My thoughts:

Having enjoyed One Day in December (a 5 star read), I was thrilled to be given the chance to read a review copy of Josie Silver’s new book – thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Books UK.

This was another 5 star read for me. Heartbreaking in places, thought provoking yet sometimes humorous too. This was a book I was quickly engrossed in and didn’t want to put down. Lydia’s struggles with grief are beautifully written and this reader was totally hooked.




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