blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama

The Interpreter From Java by Alfred Birney – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Arto Nolan is the father’s name; his son Alan strives to overcome his loathing and comprehend the man who abused him and beat his mother.

His father spent his evenings typing on his Remington. Later, Alan discovers his father had been working on his memoirs. He reads about Arto’s ruthless work as an interpreter who not only translated but also led interrogations, tortured prisoners, and did not hesitate to murder.

Arto’s passages are chilling in their detachment. He first describes how he was abused as a child by his own father. He later became an assassin. At first his targets were Japanese; after the occupation ended, he murdered Indonesians in the service of the Dutch, without question. The source of his loyalty to his overlords, from a country he had never seen, remains a mystery.

In this unsparing family history, Birney exposes a crucial chapter in Dutch and European history that was deliberately concealed behind the ideological facade of postwar optimism. Readers of this superb novel will find that it reverberates long afterwards in their memory. 

MY REVIEW 

The Interpreter From Java is the tale mainly of the relationship between a father and son. It was a difficult relationship as the father terrorised the whole family.

From a childhood in the Netherlands, his father’s memories of fighting in the war and the horrors and atrocities that were committed against the Japanese and Indonesian people. It’s not an easy read as it is quite graphic at times but it tells the Dutch Colonial past and the effects of war on a family. 

Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of The a interpreter From Java. This is my honest and unbiased review.

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Psychlogical thriller

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Under the scorching French sun, a tense homecoming unearths a long-buried family secret in this deliciously propulsive beach read of a mother’s greatest fear brought to life.

Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was manipulative. Elodie is dead.

When Sylvie Durand receives a letter calling her back to her crumbling family home in the South of France, she knows she has to go. In the middle of a sweltering 1990’s summer marked by unusual fires across the countryside, she returns to La Reverie with her youngest daughter Emma in tow, ignoring the deep sense of dread she feels for this place she’s long tried to forget.

As memories of the events that shattered their family a decade earlier threaten to come to the surface, Sylvie struggles to shield Emma from the truth of what really happened all those years ago. In every corner of the house, Sylvie can’t escape the specter of Elodie, her first child. Elodie, born amid the ’68 Paris riots with one blue eye and one brown, and mysteriously dead by fourteen. Elodie, who reminded the small village of one those Manson girls. Elodie who knew exactly how to get what she wanted. As the fires creep towards the villa, it’s clear to Sylvie that something isn’t quite right at La Reverie . . . And there is a much greater threat closer to home.

MY REVIEW 

The Heatwave is a family drama set in the South Of France.

Sylvie has returned to La Reverie with her daughter, Emma. Being back here brings back all the memories of her first daughter, Elodie. 

Elodie had not been an easy child to day the least and there is an ambiguity to how she died. Sylvie is still haunted by events of that time.

This is a story of grief and guilt, with a sultry, claustrophobic feel that really adds to the tension. A thoroughly engrossing read.

Thank you to Ella at Penguin Random House for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of The Heatwave. This is my honest and unbiased review.

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Murder mystery

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

She would kill for her family

Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in Jakarta in a wealthy, eminent, and sometimes deceitful family, they’ve relied on only each other for support. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella’s poisoning of their whole clan.

As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this brutal act.

Journeying from the luxurious world of the rich and powerful in Indonesia to the spectacular shows of Paris Fashion Week, from the sunny coasts of California to the melting pot of Melbourne’s university scene, The Majesties is a haunting and deeply suspenseful novel about the dark secrets that can build a family empire – and also bring it crashing down.

‘Fresh, sharp, and thrilling… A darkly gorgeous read you won’t soon forget’ Tanen Jones, author of The Better Liar

‘The Majesties, although it rolls out easily, troubles deeply, haunting and even chilling its reader well beyond the final page’

New York Journal of Books

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MY REVIEW 

The Majesties is the story of a family. Of their money, power and also corruption. 

It is told by Gwendolyn (Doll) who is lying in a hospital bed, in a coma. She’s the only survivor of a mass poisoning that her sister, Estella (Stell) was responsible for.

As she struggles to wake up, she is reliving her memories to try to find out why Stell would do such a thing.

Doll and Stell were sisters, they were very close until Stell married Leonard. They had been born into a very wealthy family and lived a life of luxury and power. But, there is something rotten at the heart of it all.

As Doll remembers, her rose tinted glasses are ripped away as she begins to see the family’s true colours. Stell has made her see the darkness, the secrets that their wealth has been built on, and kept.

This is not a fast paced story, but is slow, immersive and beautifully written and had me gripped from start to finish. It’s not a thriller in the usual sense, but there is a tension throughout, as you wonder why Estella would kill her whole family.

It is full of luxury and opulence, but also domestic violence, murder and secrets.

Doll also runs a business, Bagatelle, where she creates living jewellery, made from living insects and butterflies that are controlled by a fungal parasite ( think zombie ant but beautiful). Just a creepy thought!!

This is a tale of family and love, but also incredible wealth, power and corruption and the lengths taken to keep it. It’s heartbreaking at times too.

If you like a family drama, with a dark edge then you are going to love The Majesties. Just a fantastic read that’s going to stay with me.

Thank you to Poppy at Pushkin Press for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and a copy of The Majesties. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3gbmSaW

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Tiffany Tsao is a writer and literary translator. She is the author of the Oddfits fantasy series; The Majesties is her debut adult novel. Her translations from Indonesian to English include Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s poetry collection Sergius Seeks Bacchus, Dee Lestari’s novel Paper Boats, and Laksmi Pamuntjak’s The Birdwoman’s Palate. Her translations of Norman’s poetry have won the English PEN Presents and English PEN Translates awards. Born in the US and of Chinese-Indonesian descent, Tiffany spent her formative years in Singapore and Indonesia before moving to the US for university. She now lives in Sydney with her spouse and two children

blog tour, Book reviews, Family drama, Mystery

The Last To Know by Jo Furniss – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A family’s past pursues them like a shadow in this riveting and emotional novel of psychological suspense by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of All the Little Children.

American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, and the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore and present dangers.

Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House twenty years ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past.

When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades.

As Ellie works to separate rumor from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?

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MY REVIEW 

Rose, her husband Dylan and their young son, Aled are moving to Dylan’s childhood home in an English village.

Rose and Dylan met while they were journalists in Africa and Rose is already finding it hard to be excited about the move.

Then there is Ellie, a local police sergeant, who is investigating the human remains found in an archaeological dig.

Village rumours run riot and the mystery of Dylan’s father’s whereabouts rears its head again too.

The Last To Know is part family drama and part mystery, it also deals with the emotive subject of dementia (a truly horrific and heartbreaking condition), as well as village life and how a rumour can cause terrible damage.

There are well developed characters, a thoughtful and deliberate pace with beautifully descriptive writing. Definitely a book to take your time over and enjoy.

Thank you to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The Last To Know. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/30OiMkw 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.

As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.

Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

Connect with her via Facebook (/JoFurnissAuthor) and Twitter (@Jo_Furniss) or through her website: http://www.jofurniss.com/

 

Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Family drama

Everyone Dies Famous by Len Joy – Book Review


PUBLISHERS BLURB 

As a tornado threatens their town, a stubborn old man who has lost his son teams up with a troubled young soldier to deliver a jukebox to the wealthy developer having an affair with the soldier’s wife.

It’s July 2003 and the small town of Maple Springs, Missouri is suffering through a month-long drought. Dancer Stonemason, a long-forgotten hometown hero still grieving over the death of his oldest son, is moving into town to live with his more dependable younger son. He hires Wayne Mesirow, an Iraq war veteran, to help him liquidate his late son’s business.

The heat wave breaks and the skies darken. Dancer tries to settle an old score while Wyne discovers the true cost of his wife’s indifference and turns his thoughts to revenge. When the tornado hits Maple Springs, only one of the men will make it out alive.

“Everyone Dies Famous” is a story from the heartland about the uncommon lives of everyday people – the choices they make, how they live their lives, and how they die.

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MY REVIEW 

Everyone Dies Famous is the story of Dancer Stonemason, he is grieving the death of his son Clayton and is a bit distant with his other son.

A tornado is heading for the small town of Maple Spring, unknown to the inhabitants.

In this small town, everyone knows each other’s business, they remember your past, your mistakes and failures and they don’t let Dancer forget. But it’s also the tale of kindness, family, tragedy and redemption. It paints a picture of life in a small town with great characters and all their quirks. Beautifully written and full of emotion. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thank you to Anna at FSB Associates for an eARC of Everyone Dies Famous. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/2Pq24RW

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

His first novel, AMERICAN PAST TIME was published in 2014. KIRKUS praised it as a “darkly nostalgic study of an American family through good times and bad, engagingly set against major events from the ‘50s to the ‘70s as issues of race simmer in the background…expertly written and well-crafted.”

His second novel, BETTER DAYS (2018) was described by FOREWORD Reviews as “a bighearted, wry, and tender novel that focuses on love and loyalty.” KIRKUS called it “a character-rich skillfully plotted Midwestern drama.”

 

AMERICAN PAST TIME and BETTER DAYS were awarded the Gold and Silver Medals respectively in the 2019 Readers’ Favorite Award Contest.

Today, Len is a nationally ranked triathlete and competes internationally representing the United States as part of TEAM USA.

His three kids (a son and two daughters) have grown up and moved away, although the daughters return frequently to Evanston to do their laundry and get legal advice from their mother.

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blog tour, Book reviews, Crime thriller, Family drama, humour

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.

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MY REVIEW 

#2 in the Skelf series…..it can be read as a stand-alone as events from book #1 A Dark Matter are mentioned as background to this story.

Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah are still trying to come to terms with events in A Dark Matter, as they try to carry on their lives as funeral directors and private investigators.

Dorothy is attending a funeral when a car crashes into an open grave, narrowly missing her. 

Jenny visits her ex-husband, Craig in prison and ends up on a charge of assault.

Hannah is seeing a therapist, due to the murder of her friend (by her dad) and is struggling, shutting out her partner, Indy.

But, they are still working and they try to find more about the unidentified driver killed in the car crash, there’s a missing drummer and a suspicious death to investigate.

This is the tale of the lives of the three Skelf women, their chaotic, troubled and sometimes dangerous lives. It deals with death, grief and fear, but also with love, acceptance and the importance of family. All told with a clear love of Edinburgh and a marvellous dark humour,

Full of realistic and relatable characters with all their quirks, a few mysteries and a compelling plot make this an emotion packed thriller. I was hooked from the very start and loved every minute.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/30BtKst

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Doug Johnstone is the author of more than ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been a writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh. 

Book reviews, Domestic noir, Family drama

The Man Behind Closed Doors by Maria Frankland – Book Review

 

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

What could be so bad that a six-year-old stops talking?

Domestic violence isn’t only perpetrated by men. Ask Paul Jackson who is on remand, accused of stabbing his wife, Michelle. As he reveals his reality behind their troubled marriage, it seems that only his six-year-old knows what really happened. 

But she’s trapped in her own world of silence.

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MY REVIEW 

The Man Behind Closed Doors starts with Paul calling the emergency services as his wife, Michelle has been stabbed…..

 

He is arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

 

While in jail, he thinks about his life and marriage to Michelle and the story is told through flashbacks to the past. We hear of her jealousy and paranoia, her mood swings and violence when she’s been drinking, which is often. Michelle has her own issues she is dealing with but takes it out on Paul……all the while their young daughter Emily is in the middle.

This is a tale of domestic abuse, of controlling behaviour and it’s original as here the woman is the perpetrator of the abuse. You really never know what goes on behind closed doors! It deals with violence, guilt, love and self harm and all the emotional baggage in between. It’s also about the stabbing, the investigation and the courtroom drama. I found this to be a very emotional read, at times I was not sure who deserved my sympathy…..a thoughtful and engrossing read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/310256n

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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Maria Frankland’s life began at 40 when she escaped an unhappy marriage and began making a living from her own writing and becoming a teacher of creative writing.

The rich tapestry of life with all its turbulent times has enabled her to pour experience, angst and lessons learned into the writing of her novels and poetry.

She recognises that the darkest places can exist within family relationships and this is reflected in the domestic thrillers she writes.

She is a ‘born ‘n’ bred’ Yorkshirewoman, a mother of two and has recently found her own ‘happy ever after’ after marrying again.

Still in her forties, she is now going to dedicate the rest of her working life to writing books and inspiring other writers to also achieve their dreams too!

 

Twitter @writermaria_f http://www.mariastephenson.com/ 

Book reviews, Family drama, LGBTQ, Mental Health, Supernatural, Thriller

Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion – Book Review

 

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A war-damaged veteran on a mission to self- destruct…

… a controlling father pushing him ever closer to the edge…

… and a yachtswoman who gives all she has to hold him back.

And between them all, there’s an old boat with dark secrets, and perhaps a mind of its own.
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MY REVIEW

Old Eddie was fascinated by Viking culture and when he dies of cancer, his grandson, Jack,  decides to restore Eddie’s beloved boat, Draca. 

Jack is suffering from PTSD after his experiences in Afghanistan that left him damaged physically and psychologically. He is at odds with his father, Harry and his marriage to Charlotte is struggling too. He meets George, at the boatyard and she sees more than people know and has serious worries about Jack and Draca.

Will Jack give Eddie the send off he wanted, or is he on a different path?

This is a story of grief, not only that for lost family but of friends and the past. It deals with the stresses suffered by those in the armed forces, all set against the atmospheric sea and sailing. Beautifully descriptive, full of tension but with an emotional heart. A stunning read. 

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and my thanks to Geoffrey Gudgion for an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2Lm7207

Draca was released by Unbound on 14th May. Coronavirus logistics issues may result in Amazon being temporarily out of stock of paperback copies until early June. During this period Unbound will accept orders directly and will ship free of UK postage via https://unbound.com/books/draca/

PRAISE FOR DRACA

 

‘A terrific and compelling story which highlights mental and physical challenges that many who have served will recognise.’

General Sir Nick Parker Commander British Forces Afghanistan 2010

 

‘A cracking, believable yarn made even more authentic by the wonderfully descriptive sailing scenes – and by falling in love with the true heroine, the Bristol Channel pilot cutter Draca.’

Ewen Southby-Tailyour OBE, former Yachtsman of the Year

 

‘Tension release, tension release, fear, laughter, fear, lust, so you don’t notice the tightening of the noose … the story sucks you in and won’t let go.

Suzie Wilde, Author of Sea Paths and Obsidian

 

‘A really cracking read about a soldier who attacks his battlefield demons through his passion for sailing – and sadly still needs help’

Sir Peter Wall, President of Combat Stress

 

Author royalties from Draca are shared equally with the veterans’ charity Combat Stress.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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GEOFFREY GUDGION served for over 10 years in the armed forces, and made his first attempts at writing fiction during quiet moments on deployment. He later stepped off the corporate ladder, in the midst of a career in marketing and general management, specifically to release time to write. His first novel, Saxon’s Bane, reached #1 in Amazon Kindle’s ‘Ghost’ category, and he now writes full time. When not crafting words he is an enthusiastic amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist. 

Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Family drama, Womens fiction

Like A House On Fire by Caroline Hulse – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Things Stella and Jack have had blazing rows about:

– Misquoting Jurassic Park.

– Leaving a Coke can on the side of the bath.

– Fitting car seats for their hypothetical kids.

In other news, they’re getting divorced.

But first, Stella’s mum is throwing a murder mystery party and – with her dad losing his job, her mum’s recent diagnosis, and some very odd behaviour from her sister – now is not the time to tell everyone.

All Stella and George have to do is make it through the day without their break-up being discovered – though it will soon turn out that having secrets runs in the family…

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MY REVIEW 

Margaret has been diagnosed with cancer, so she arranges a Murder Mystery party for all family and friends to attend, before she’s expected to start treatment. 

Stella and George have separated, but haven’t told anyone in the family yet. Due to her mother’s health, Stella persuades George to attend with her and pretend nothing is wrong.

Helen, Nathan, Isobel and Charlie also go, but Helen, the dependable, organised and cheerful daughter, is late…..

This is a tale of family, of secrets and how the public face we project sometimes isn’t who we really are, hiding emotions and fears. It is a wonderfully written insight into life in all its messy glory. Caroline Hulse’s writing is so beautifully observant and totally spot on, full of humour, family bickering and farce at times, but with some sad moments too . This is a thoughtful, funny and compelling read. I loved every minute. 

Thank you to Alex at Orion Books for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and for an eARC of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Caroline Hulse spends most of her days writing, having fulfilled her dream of having a job she could do in pyjamas. She also works in Human Resources sometimes.

She is openly competitive and loves playing board and card games. She can often be found in casino poker rooms, and wishes other people would want to play Cluedo for money.

She lives with her husband in Manchester, UK, where the two are captive to the whims of a small, controlling dog 

Audiobook, Book reviews, Crime thriller, Family drama

What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott – Audiobook Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings.

When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. 

While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.
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MY REVIEW 

Sumiko is telling the story of her mother’s life.

Sumiko’s father, Satō, used the services of an wakaresaseya, to seduce his wife, Rina, so he could then divorce her for adultery. But his plan goes awry with consequences that echo through all their lives and lead to a tragic crime.

Sumiko had been unaware of this history until a phone call brings these secrets to light. She decides to find the truth of what happened to her mother.

This is an incredible and beautifully written tale of love and betrayal, of loss and grief all set in the stunning backdrop of Japan and its unique culture.

I listened to this as an audiobook and found the narration by Hanako Footman to be mesmerising, she has such a soothing voice and the emotions come across so perfectly. A stunning, tragic love story beautifully told. Haunting and unforgettable.

Thank you to Kate at Orion Books for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook from Audible for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Available from Audible.co.uk :  

Book reviews, Family drama, Womens fiction

The Carer by Deborah Moggach – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

 

‘Moggach is at the height of her powers with this book, which moves from a beautifully observed comedy of middle-class life to an immensely moving celebration of two imperfect marriages’ The Sunday Times

 

‘A cracking, crackling social comedy, with some brilliant observations about ageing and a devilish plot twist’

The Times.

 

From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever, a deliciously funny, poignant and wry novel, full of surprising twists and turns:

James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss.

Then something extraordinary happens which throws everything into new relief, changing all the stories of their childhood – and the father – that they thought they knew so well.

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MY REVIEW 

The Carer is a tale of life, of siblings dealing with the stresses of caring for an elderly, infirm parent. Phoebe is single and childless with a hippy, off grid ‘boyfriend’, Torren. Richard is married to Farida, a TV news reader, he’s jobless and working on a novel in the shed.

Both feel the other sibling doesn’t understand the stresses of worrying about their dad, James, they feel the other doesn’t spend enough time or effort with him. But then along comes Mandy, a live in carer. She’s brash, her politics are at odds with theirs and she’s not ‘like’ them at all. But she’s perfect, James loves her company and they have a hoot.

Then Phoebe and Richard begin to suspect Mandy is not all she appears to be and they have suspicions she is after James’ money.

Oh my, I love this book, it’s poignant, full of humour and honesty. From the stress of looking after an elderly, infirm parent to the sibling bickering, the general messiness of life , childhood feelings of neglect and coming to terms with the fact that parents are just human after all.

It really touched a nerve with me as I cared for my mother for several years (she’s now in a care home due to dementia) and my brother and I have very similar arguments as Phoebe and Richard. It’s so true to life.

It also deals with grief and there are some surprises along the way. A truly emotional and engaging read. One that will stay with me.

Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of The Carer. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

Purchase link : https://amzn.to/3de9aD3

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Deborah Moggach, OBE is an English novelist and an award-winning screenwriter. She has written nineteen novels, including The Ex-Wives, Tulip Fever, These Foolish Thing, Heartbreak Hotel and Something to Hide. She lives in London.

 

THE CARER

 

Paperback published 14th May 2020 by Tinder Press, £8.99

Also available in Hardback, eBook and Audiobook

 

Book reviews, Family drama, Mystery

The Girl In The White Dress by Paul Barrell – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The Girl in the White Dress is quite simply unforgettable and unputdownable. It is based on a true story . Every Family has secrets. Imagine discovering you were guilty of something you can’t remember. 

1974 A family from London take a trip of a lifetime to the Caribbean aboard the cruise liner Oriana. 2005 The Peak District. Following the death of his wife , Paul finds a menu card from the Oriana covered in personal messages from the ghosts of his childhood.

One particular address catches his eye , and memories are stirred as he begins to dream about a girl in a white dress.Gradually with his mothers help he starts to unravel the identity of a long forgotten childhood sweetheart, and the disturbing truth about an incident that took place in their cabin.Something that would implicate his whole family, a Pandoras box of lies and deceit. Paul never saw the girl again after the cruise.

Their shared guilt had remained hidden for 30 years. That was until today… It is a remarkable true story about loss and grief, and one person’s quest for the truth. 

Sometimes in life things happen to us that are beyond our control; you don’t need to believe in ghosts or the supernatural, just believe in the Universe and the threads of random chance that link us all together.

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MY REVIEW

The Girl In The White Dress is a tale of guilt.

Paul had been on a cruise with his family when he was 13 years old, he remembers very little about the trip though, until he finds an old signed dinner menu from the ship, The Oriana.

He begins to have nightmares about a young woman and water, and with his mother’s help he decides to try to find one of the guests.

Here secrets long forgotten are unearthed. Can Paul make amends and put things right?

A well written, fast paced tale that keeps you engrossed from start to finish. Beautifully descriptive and has a real sense of time and place too. An entertaining read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Paul Barrell is a keen sportsman and has skied all over the world. He is a serial entrepreneur and has owned restaurants, wine companies and is passionate about food and wine. He came to writing later than most and writes about people and events that have shaped his life. 

His first book, Postcards From Pimlico is currently being turned into a screenplay for TV. He now lives in the Surrey Hills with his wife and rescue dog, Lottie.

 

Twitter @paulbarrell

 

Book reviews, Family drama, Historical fiction

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A beautiful and heart-breaking story set in South Africa where two mothers – a century apart – must fight for their sons, unaware their fates are inextricably linked.

Orange Free State, 1901. At the height of the Boer War, Sarah van der Watt and her six-year-old son Fred can only watch as the British burn their farm. The polite invaders cart them off to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp promising you will be safe here.

Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old Willem is an outsider who just wants to be left alone with his Harry Potter books and Britney, his beloved pug. Worried he’s turning out soft, his Ma and her new boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Camp, where they ‘make men out of boys.’ Guaranteed.

The red earth of the veldt keeps countless secrets whether beaten by the blistering sun or stretching out beneath starlit stillness. But no secret can stay buried forever.

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MY REVIEW 

You Will Be Safe Here is a tale of South Africa and parts of its troubled history. Told in two distinct timelines, the 1900’s and more recently, 2010. 

There’s Sarah, a Boer woman whose husband has left to fight the British, leaving her, her son and servants at home. The British milithen arrive, take all their possessions, set fire to the home and take them all to a concentration camp. The conditions were horrific with sickness and starvation rife among the prisoners.

Then there is Willem, in 2010, his mother and stepfather leave him at the New Dawn camp to ‘make a man’ of him.

Both tales are brutal and heartbreaking. This is beautifully written and packed with emotion and a little hope.  It’s shocking and utterly compelling and will stay with me for a long time. A stunning, haunting read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2XpLdUE

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Maggie & Me’ is my memoir and ‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is my first novel. You can follow me on twitter @damian_barr and insta @mrdamianbarr. I host my own Literary Salon at the Savoy: http://www.theliterarysalon.co.uk

‘You Will Be Safe Here’ is set in South Africa in 1901 and now. It explores legacies of abuse, redemption and the strength of the human spirit – there is always, light even in our very darkest moments. I didn’t imagine it would feel so urgent when it was published.

‘South Africa, 1901, the height of the second Boer War. Sarah van der Watt and her son are taken from their farm by force to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp where, the English promise: they will be safe.

Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old outsider Willem just wants to be left alone with his books and his dog. Worried he’s not turning out right, his ma and her boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Training Camp. Here they ‘make men out of boys’. Guaranteed.’

Inspired by real events, it uncovers a hidden colonial history and present-day darkness while exploring our capacity for cruelty and kindness. Here’s what some writers I admire are saying:

 

Book reviews, Family drama, Psychlogical thriller

Mine by Clare Empson – Book Review


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Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?’

On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.

But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.

When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – fuelled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won’t settle for his mother pushing him aside once again…

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MY REVIEW 

This is a psychological thriller with an emotional edge.

Luke had been adopted when very young and he now has a family of his own. He has a young son, Samuel with his partner Hannah.

He is newly reunited with his birth mother, Alice who helps take care of Samuel so Hannah can go back to work.

Told in two distinct times lines, Alice’s from the past and Luke’s in the present and set in the world of art and music.

Without spoiling the plot, this is a beautifully written story with a slowly building tension, a family drama with a twist that’s gripping as you watch someone fall apart.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review. 

Book reviews, Family drama, Thriller

Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Upon discovering her fifteen-year-old sister’s body sprawled in a pool of blood at the bottom of their apartment block, Nga-Yee vows to serve justice to the internet troll she blames for her sister’s suicide.

Hiring an anti-establishment, maverick tech-savvy detective, Nga-Yee discovers the dark side of social media, the smokescreen of online privacy and the inner workings of the hacker’s mind.

Determined to find out the truth about why her sister Siu-Man killed herself, Nga-Yee cannot rest until she finds out whose inflammatory social media post went viral and pushed her sister to her death. Along the way, Nga-Yee makes unsavoury discoveries about her sister’s life and the dark underbelly of the digital world.

Perfect for fans of hacker thrillers such as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, Second Sister is part detective novel, part revenge thriller. It explores timely themes of sexual harassment, online trolling, victim blaming, fake news and data privacy scandals, vividly capturing the zeitgeist of Hong Kong and the world today.

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MY REVIEW 

Nga-Yee’s younger sister, Siu-Man jumped from an apartment window, she could no longer cope with life after attack by internet trolls.

She had been assaulted on a train and the accused man was caught, convicted and imprisoned. Then his nephew posts online that it was all a lie, Siu-Man had made false allegations after a row with him earlier that day.

She was constantly bullied online.

Nga-Yee wants revenge, she wants someone to suffer like her sister. So she makes contact with N, a hacker and a plan is formed. But how far do you go before you become the person you despised ?

“This was merely fighting evil with evil, turning them all into feral animals”

This is a stunning tale of sexual harassment and exploitation, of heartbreak and revenge.  It’s timely and very apt in these days of social media and how some people feel the need to constantly belittle and bully others in anonymity. But at what cost to those affected?..Tragedy is never far away.

Beautifully written with a clever plot, insights into the world of technology and hacking, but also a tale of loss and grief and how it affects us all. A fantastic and compelling read. 

Thank you to Bei Guo at Midas Public Relations for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and for a free copy of Second Sister. This is my honest and unbiased review. 

 

 

About the Author

 

Chan was born and raised in Hong Kong. He has worked as a software engineer, game designer, manga editor, and lecturer. Chan wrote made his debut as a writer in 2008 at the age of thirty-three, with the short story The Case of Jack and the Beanstalk which was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of Taiwan Award. Chan re-entered the following year and won the award for his short story The Locked Room of Bluebeard.

Chan reached the first milestone of his writing career in 2011 with his novel, The Man who Sold the World which won the biggest mystery award in the Chinese speaking world, the Soji Shimada Award. The book has been published in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Thailand and Korea.

In 2014, Chan’s crime thriller The Borrowed was published in Taiwan. It has sold rights in thirteen countries, and the book will be adapted into a film by acclaimed Chinese art film director Wong Kar-Wai.

Second Sister has acquired a six-figure film deal with Linmon Pictures in China. The book will be published in the US in 2020 and rights have been sold to China, Korea and Japan.

 

About the Translator

 

Jeremy Tiang’s writing has appeared in The Guardian, Esquire and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. He has written four plays and translated more than ten books from the Chinese. Tiang lives in New York. 

Book reviews, Family drama, Womens fiction

The Widow’s Mite by Allie Cresswell – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

The Widow’s Mite

Minnie Price married late in life. Now she is widowed. And starving.

No one suspects this respectable church-goer can barely keep body and soul together. Why would they, while she resides in the magnificent home she shared with Peter?

Her friends and neighbours are oblivious to her plight and her adult step-children have their own reasons to make things worse rather than better. But she is thrown a lifeline when an associate of her late husband arrives with news of an investment about which her step-children know nothing.

Can she release the funds before she finds herself homeless and destitute?

Fans of ‘The Hoarder’s Widow’ will enjoy this sequel, but it reads equally well as a standalone.

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MY REVIEW 

This is #2 in the Widow’s series but can easily be read as a stand-alone.

This is the tale of the recently widowed Minnie Price and Maisie Wilde (from book 1) and how they cope with the trials and tribulations of widowhood. 

They become friends due to their shared circumstances, albeit very different financially, but they both have reprehensible relatives and adult children to deal with.

I found this to be a beautifully written tale of grief, life and friendship. It’s full of humour and relatable real life situations. A Gentle, lovely read.

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour and for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase Links 

 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0848P81GJ

 

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0848P81GJ
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Author Bio –

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England. 

The Widow’s Mite is her tenth novel.

 

You can contact her via her website at www.allie-cresswell.com

 

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/

http://www.allie-cresswell.com

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Book reviews, Contemporary fiction, Family drama

Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi – Book Review


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The summer of 2006, and nineteen-year-old Layla returns to Lebanon. When she arrives she finds that her troubled younger brother is missing. She heads to Beirut to search for him, but her quest is cut short when Beirut comes under fire. A new war has begun, and she is trapped in the middle of it.

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MY REVIEW

Layla is studying music in London and is returning home to Lebanon for a visit. She’s looking forward to seeing her family, Mum, dad and brother Ziad.

When she arrives Ziad is not home, she’s hurt and surprised but he’s now a 16 year old boy with a life outside the family home. But, her parents are concerned, he seems to be a bit wild, even stealing money from them.

Layla visits Ziad’s friend to try to find him, only to be told his so called friends hadn’t wanted him around as his disability was ‘cramping their style’ and Ziad had gone off alone.

Angry, she is determined to find him, along with Joe, a new friend and Dog, a local stray. But then the bombings start and Layla is scared, worried about Ziad and needs to find him…..but at what cost. 

This is an incredible read, it is a family drama set in Beirut amidst the conflict in 2006 in Lebanon. There’s a budding romance,but it’s also about the effect of war on the innocent civilians caught in the middle of an ongoing conflict that seems never ending. A beautifully written tale of family, love, compassion and anger. Heartbreaking and heartwarming and I loved every minute.

Thank you to Holland House books for a free copy of Paper Sparrows. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2TxEsNd

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Nathalie Abi-Ezzi has lived in Lebanon, Austria and the UK.

It was while working on her Ph.D in English Literature at King’s College London that she realized that she wanted to write her own novels rather than just analyse other people’s. So, while working variously as an editor, teacher and tutor, she wrote and published several prize-winning short stories and her first novel, A Girl Made of Dust (4th Estate, 2008), which was short-listed for the Desmond Elliot Prize and the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was the winner of the LiBeraturpreis in 2011. 

Book reviews, Family drama, Thriller

The Alibi Girl by C J Skuse – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Joanne Haynes has a secret: that is not her real name.

And there’s more. Her flat’s not hers. Her cats aren’t hers. Even her hair isn’t really hers.

Nor is she any of the other women she pretends to be. Not the bestselling romance novelist who gets her morning snack from the doughnut van on the seafront. Nor the pregnant woman in the dental surgery. Nor the chemo patient in the supermarket for whom the cashier feels ever so sorry. They’re all just alibis.

In fact, the only thing that’s real about Joanne is that nobody can know who she really is.

But someone has got too close. It looks like her alibis have begun to run out….

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MY REVIEW 

Joanne Haynes is hiding….but from who?

When a woman’s body is found in the hotel Joanne (Genevieve) works at, she knows it was murder…..she’s seen someone strangled before…..

Have the Three Little Pigs found her?

Poor Ellis, taken away from the only family she had, she now lives alone in a world of lies and make believe….but is someone watching?

A cliché I know, but I really couldn’t put this down….I just had to know, what was real and what wasn’t…. I found it to be so well written and I was drawn into Ellis’ world with its dark humour and troubled characters. I really liked Ellis with all her quirks and felt really sad for her and baby Emily…she’s a bit of a female Walter Mitty..

While not exactly a thriller, it does have violence and murder and a twisty plot. But I felt at its heart it’s a tale of fear, loneliness, love and family and I loved every minute. 

Thank you to Jessica Lee at HQ for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour date for a free copy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2S09XzF

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

C.J. SKUSE is the author of the Young Adult novels PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC (Chicken House), MONSTER and THE DEVIANTS (Mira Ink). She was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels lectures in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. C.J. is currently working on adult novel SWEETPEA for HQ/HarperCollins (out April 2017).

C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and murder sites. She hates carnivals, hard-boiled eggs and coughing. The movies Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Ruby Sparks were all probably based on her ideas; she just didn’t get to write them down in time. Before she dies, she would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Ryan Gosling present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

(Courtesy of Goodreads) 

Book reviews, Family drama, Psychlogical thriller

Little White Lies by Philippa East – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

She only looked away for a second…

Anne White only looked away for a second, but that’s all it took to lose sight of her young daughter.

But seven years later, Abigail is found.

And as Anne struggles to connect with her teenage daughter, she begins to question how much Abigail remembers about the day she disappeared…

Addictive, edge-of-your-seat dark women’s fiction perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, BCC drama Thirteen, and Emma Donoghue’s Room.
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MY REVIEW 

Anne, husband Robert and the children were in London visiting Robert’s sick mother, but after a row Anne and the children were making their way alone on the underground. Anne took her eyes off Abigail for a moment and she disappeared. CCTV showed 8 year old Abi, leaving the station but then nothing….she was gone.

8 years later, Abigail walks into a police station with another missing child. 

The family are so happy she has come back home, but they don’t know how to behave with her anymore…8 year old Abi has grown up. They try so hard to let her know she is loved, that she’s been missed and that everything will be ok now…..But is it? Abi feels they are all pretending…..and with a trial of her abductor pending, nerves are frayed. Can she ever feel safe again?

This is a tale of family and how they deal with trauma, how little lies have consequences and of guilt. How a family try to do the best for each other but at what cost. A tale of love, guilt and obsession and so compelling with a slow build to the tension packed ending …but there is hope. Brilliant, so unputdownable I read this in one sitting. 

Thank you to Jessica Lee at HQ for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a free copy of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/392kJeE

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Philippa East grew up in Scotland before moving to Oxford and then London to train as a Clinical Psychologist. 

A few years ago, Philippa left the NHS to set up her own part-time practice and dedicate more hours to writing. The result was her debut novel LITTLE WHITE LIES which will be published with HQ/HarperCollins in February 2020. 

Philippa now lives in the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside with her husband and cat. She loves reading (of course!) and long country walks, and she also performs in a local folk duo called The Miracle Cure. Alongside her writing, Philippa continues to work as a psychologist and therapist. (Courtesy of Goodreads) 

Book reviews, Family drama, Womens fiction

The Hopes And Triumphs Of The Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Mae has watched as her three older sisters have gone through the process of finding their place in the world and faced the challenges of parenthood head on. Now ready to spread her wings beyond her close-knit family, Mae is ready to take the world by storm.

But a series of events will shake the strong self-belief Mae has always had in herself and will leave her questioning where it is she really fits in.

The Amir sisters will need to draw on all the love they have for each other, if they are going to navigate the challenges life has to throw at them and help Mae along the path to self-discovery.

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MY REVIEW 

This is not the usual genre I read, but every now and then I do like something other than a thriller. I have to say this is such a charming tale of family and love.

Mae is 19 and in her first year at uni, she’s lonely and feeling a bit lost. She has a really bad day and heads for a bar….now this girl doesn’t touch alcohol normally, but ends up just a bit worse for wear and a guy tries to take advantage of her. She is rescued and taken home by Ji Su…..

Mae and Ji Su become close friends, but one night a shared kiss changes things. They stop speaking and then Mae fails her first year and heads home.

Here, family chaos with babies and sisters, she feels invisible. 

She gets a summer job and meets a lovely, kind man, Abdul-Raheem….a possible relationship her family would just not understand or accept.

Will Mae make the right decision for herself? 

A beautifully written tale of family, sexuality, faith, acceptance and growing up.. A funny, warm hug of a read. I loved every minute. 

Thank you to Jess at HQ for the opportunity to read this lovely book for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

 

You can buy a copy here:       https://amzn.to/36j8qZv

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Nadiya Hussain is a British baker, columnist, author and television presenter. The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters was her debut novel.

Hussain was born to a British Bangladeshi family in Luton, where she grew up. She developed her interest in cooking while at school and largely self-educated herself in cooking by reading recipe books and watching instructional videos on YouTube. She married and moved to Leeds, where she began studying for an Open University degree. In 2015 she appeared on the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off and won the contest. She was subsequently invited to produce a cake for the 90th birthday celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II and to present her own BBC documentary, The Chronicles of Nadiya.

Hussain is a columnist for The Times Magazine and Essentials magazine, has signed publishing deals with Penguin Random House, Hodder Children’s Books, and Harlequin. She is also a regular reporter for The One Show and a guest panellist on Loose Women. Hussain was named by Debrett’s as one of the 500 most influential people in the UK in 2016. Hussain was on BBC News’ 100 Women list in 2016(courtesy of Goodreads)