#BookReview By Lou of The Shadow Child By Rachel Hancox #TheShadowChild #RachelHancox @centurybooksuk @PenguinUKBooks @RandomTTours #ContemporaryFiction #LiteraryFiction #readingcommunity #Readers #Bloggers #BookTwitter

The Shadow Child
By Rachel Hancox

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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The Shadow Child is a compelling, thought-provoking contemporary fiction/literary fictiondebut novel full of secrets and the ‘human condition’. Find out more in the blurb and my review and then a bit about the author. First, thanks to Random T. Tours for the invite onto the blog tour.

Blurb

Shadow Graphic 3Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her. So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is –
or even whether she is still alive. A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the
unanswered questions Emma left behind and clinging desperately to the hope of finding
her.

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence –
and with the trauma that shattered her life.

For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in
facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years? Secrets that
have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …

The Shadow Child is a book of hope and reconciliation, of coming to terms with trauma and
learning to love again. Most of all, it’s about how you can never quite escape from the
shadows of your past – especially when one of those shadows is a child …

Review

The prologue sweeps by fast, with its talk about shadows, that is written in a way that you would expect from a child, but knowing the blurb, it takes on a bit of an eerie slant, thereafter it is a bit of a slow-burn of curiosity that seeks to grasp you and succeeds. The family is fairly normal, Cath is a teacher and Jim is a newspaper photographer and was practically love at first sight. They then had 2 children, but one died and the other is now mysteriously missing, seemingly without a trace. The family, of what’s left, use many coping strategies to get through these dark days and you can feel the emotion and see the strength of character that they keep going, even though they feel guilt and bewilderment that their daughter went missing and despair and helplessness that they have no answers. They also cling hard onto hope so they keep going in life.

It’s interesting and, perhaps more powerful for it, the way that Emma (the missing child) has her own narrative to tell readers why she disappeared. It’s a good way to get into her psyche and infact all of the main characters have their own present story and backstory to tell about their lives.

Jim and Cath also have a cottage that they inherited, so take on tenants – Lara and Nick. Then all the characters become even more intrinisically linked and it becomes apparent that there are so many secrets being harboured in the pages, that keeps the book engaging, as well as the fact that there’s a need to discover how it could possibly all end and whether certain things will work out well or not.

There’s quite a philisophical bent at times, that creates for some rather elegant thought-provoking moments, through its sometimes nuanced approach and natural human thoughts. The book is essentially about relationships, how they interconnect to other people’s lives, the impacts secrets can have, the upbringing that occurs at childhood and how that feeds into adulthood. How to attempt to reshape life and cope with incredibly traumatic situations.
Overall it is quite a compelling, complex book about the twisting paths of life, loss and hope.

About the Author

RACHEL HANCOX read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since.
She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel has five children, three dogs and a cat. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

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#BookReview By Lou of – The Former Boy Wonder By Robert Graham #RobertGraham @LendalPress @kenyon_isabelle #Music #Fiction #TheFormerBoyWonder #Midlife #Readers #ReadingCommunity

The Former Boy Wonder
By Robert Graham

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One for the music fans! One for those interested in father/son relationships. One for those interested in a story with a midlife crisis within it. Check The Former Boy Wonder out the blurb and my review of The Former Boy below.
Thanks to Isabelle Kenyon and Lendal Press for inviting me to review on the closing spot for the blog tour and for a copy of the book.

Blurb

The Former Boy Wonder coverA bittersweet comedy that takes a sidelong look at first love, mid-life crisis and the
challenges of the relationship between fathers and sons.
With his 50th birthday approaching and his career in tatters, Peter Duffy is hard at work trying to
repair his marriage when an invitation arrives in the post. Caitlin, one of his university friends, is
having a party at the country house where he met his first love, the exotic Sanchia Page. If all his old friends are going to be there, there’s a slim chance that – just maybe – she will, too. Faced with this possibility, re-living his time with Sanchia threatens to turn his head and ruin all his good intentions.
Set in the new Manchester of the 21st century and the old Manchester of 25 years before,
The Former Boy Wonder takes a wry look at mid-life men and the women who have to live with them.

Review

Take a pinch of nostalgia from the 1970’s and 1980’s, mixed with more closer to present times – the twenty-teens and you have the timeline for The Former Boy Wonder, with the toys, the sweets and the music. The fun of the eras is intertwined with hardship. From near the start, there is a big pang of sadness, that immediately makes you sympathise and empathise with life situations, along with a more cool vibe of celebrities of the time and fashion magazines, such as Vogue.

The Former Boy Wonder cover 2Peter Duffy is 49 years old and his career as a music journalist is flat-lining, from its once hugely successful years of being around the big bands and A-list stars. He’s reached a certain age and having a bit of a mid-life crisis and the work that used to come his way, isn’t the same and no-longer is he seen as the young hot-shot journalist he once was.
The music scenes are entertaining with so many bands and artists, but also shows an interesting contrast of how it was in Belfast, Northern Ireland compared to Manchester, England. The enthusiasm really shines through. 

Life and love and fatherhood is complicated, bringing more drama and sometimes humour and warmth. One of the big, powerful themes is that of a father-son relationship and readers can see this develop and will be able to totally relate to the teenage attitude.

The Former Boy Wonder keenly observes all aspects of life throughout the decades and how things change, how people are percieved, change when they age up. It’s very much like looking into someone else’s world with a full, unobstructed view, with everything documented and emotions drawn.

About the Author

Robert Graham is the author of the novel Holy Joe; the short story collections The Only Living Boy and When You Were a Mod, I Was A Rocker; and the novella A Man Walks Into A Kitchen. His play about fans of The Smiths, If You Have Five Seconds To Spare, was staged by Contact Theatre, Manchester. He is co-author, with Keith Baty, of Elvis – The Novel, a spoof biography; and, with Julie Armstrong, Heather Leach, Helen Newall et al, of The Road To Somewhere: A Creative Writing Companion; Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Creative Writing; and How To Write A Short Story (And Think About It). He grew up in Northern Ireland and for most of his adult life has lived in Manchester. He teaches Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University. For more information please see http://www.robertgraham.life and follow Robert on Instagram @robert55graham

 

#Review By Lou – With This Kiss By Carrie Hope Fletcher @CarrieHFletcher @HQstories #WithThisKiss

With This Kiss
By Carrie Hope Fletcher

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

With This Kiss With This Kiss

I am delighted to share with you my review of With This Kiss By Carrie Hope Fletcher. She is currently starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, but has also written a few very successful books, this being her latest. Thanks to HQ Stories/Harper Collins, I have been gifted a proof in exchange of an honest review. Find out more about this enchanting story with a difference in the blurb and my thoughts in my review below…

With This Kiss

Blurb

If you knew how your love story ends, would you dare to begin?

From the outside, Lorelai is an ordinary young woman with a normal life. She loves reading, she works at the local cinema and she adores living with her best friend. But she carries a painful burden, something she’s kept hidden for years; whenever she kisses someone on the lips, she sees how they are going to die.

Lorelai has never known if she’s seeing what was always meant to be, or if her kiss is the thing that decides their destiny. And so, she hasn’t kissed anyone since she was eighteen.

Then she meets Grayson. Sweet, clever, funny Grayson. And for the first time in years she yearns for a man’s kiss. But she can’t…or can she? And if she does, should she try to intervene and change what she sees?

Review

With This Kiss is an enchanting romance, but one that is somewhere between that fairytale whimsicalness and some grounded reactions and emotions.

Lorelai is the main protagonist and happy with life and being friends and can sometimes be a bit defensive when it comes to men because of what romantic entanglements lead to. Lorelai has best friend Joanie, there, pushing her along and trying to see things in a more positive light.

The fact that everytime Lorelai discovers that she has the power to know how someone is going to die after kissing them is what really grabbed my attention to this book. It is a highly intriguing and different concept. The opening pages are fantastic and really drew me in. They have an glow of mystique and and air of intrigue. I felt that the aftermath of finding out how someone was going to die, could have had a bit more depth to it. There is some decent humour, when it presents itself, just perhaps not quite enough. There’s a bit too much procrastination, which is a pity as loses a bit of pace, which becomes a bit frustrating at times, although of course given the situation Lorelai finds herself in, it is absolutely understandable that there would be. Anyone in this situation surely would have this affliction, with such power as she wonders what to do about Grayson, who she is properly falling in love with, whom she meets at a bookclub. The bookclub meet is a lovely place to meet, it is also nice that the club isn’t the crux of the whole story as that doesn’t seem to be what the story is about. It seems more about romance and how to deal with the hand you’ve been given and what to do with magical powers. It has a theatrical sense to it all in a way. There is a love and respect for cinema, books and theatre and everyone involved in these art forms cascades throughout the story very well.

It’s more a darker take on a fairytale for adults than rom-com as such and it is the fairytale like quality that has parts that almost sweeps you along, some parts more than others.

It is all in all, fairly fun. Don’t go into this thinking there is some greater meaning or a massive amount of depth in the power that Lorelea has, or you may find yourself feeling disappointed. If you go into it with a view of that fairytale magic that has a bit of darkness and an open mind, then it is a pleasant read that has a different take on romance.
This was so close to being 4 stars.

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#BookReview By Lou of Remember Me By Charity Norman @CharityNorman1 @AllenAndUnwin @RandomTTours #RememberMe #CrimeFiction #Thriller

Remember Me
By Charity Norman

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Remember Me is another gripping thriller from Charity Norman. It gives me great pleasure to close the blog tour with a review today, thanks to Random Things Tours and publisher – Allen and Unwin for inviting me and for a copy of the book. Discover more in the blurb and my review, as well as a little about this author.

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Blurb

They never found Leah Parata. Not a boot, not a backpack, not a turquoise beanie. After she left me that day, she vanished off the face of the earth. A close-knit community is ripped apart by disturbing revelations that cast new light on a young woman’s disappearance twenty-five years ago.

After years of living overseas, Emily returns to New Zealand to care for her father who has dementia. As his memory fades and his guard slips, she begins to understand him for the first time – and to glimpse shattering truths about his past.

Are some secrets best left buried?

Another page-turning, emotive suspense novel from the Richard & Judy bestselling author of After the Fall and Radio 2 Book Club pick, 2020’s The Secrets of Strangers – ideal reading-group fiction, perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult and Clare Mackintosh.

 

Review

After really liking Secrets of Strangers, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to reviewRemember Me Graphic 2 Remember Me. When reviewing Secrets of Strangers, I reckoned this was an author to watch. I wasn’t wrong. Remember Me is absolutely just as gripping and addictive to read as the layers build up to discover what happened to Leah when she mysteriously disappeared.

Emily Kirkland is a children’s illustrator in the UK, who then makes the sort of difficult decision to upsticks and leave what and where she loves, to go and care for her ailing father, Felix, who was perhaps not one of the better paternal figures there’s ever been, to care for him in his advancing years. She does have 2 siblings, Eddie and Carmen, who don’t want make any changes in their lives and reckons he should just go into a carehome so they can continue their lives with no disruption, which in a way forces Emily’s hand to go cross half the world to do something. It also turns into a journey that was more than she expected as she discovers more about him, what makes him tick and what secrets he has been concealing for so long, that have huge consequences.

The secrets that emerge that keep those pages turning as it goes between 2019 with the investigation and people in the village in their current states and 1994 when they were all shaken up with Leah Parata going missing. As time moves on, characters have aged and as well as getting to know the scenery and the inner community, the characters have also naturally aged and all are not well. Alzheimers features and is written well by Norman. She has clearly either put in the research or had experience of someone with this disease, creating an additional heart-rendering element that so many people will sadly be able to relate to, as well as someone being missing for so many years, without trace, also I am sure, relatable to those with family and those who perhaps have experienced this.

Close-knit communities is what Charity Norman seems to do well and writes with aplomb. In Remember Me, you really get to know the people in the community and the inner, anguished secrets that have been kept, creating intensity.

This is a book I highly recommend.

About The Author

Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years’ travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand. REMEMBER ME is her seventh novel.

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#Review By Lou of My Mother’s Gift By Steffanie Edward @EdwardsaEdward @bookouture @#BlogTour #MyMothersGift #BookRecommendation #MothersDay

My Mother’s Gift
By Steffanie Edward

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Today I am delighted to present to you, my review of the moving book – My Mother’s Gift as part of a blog tour; with thanks to the publisher – Bookouture for inviting me to review. Check out the blurb, my review and a bit about the author below…
 
My Mother's Gift cover
 

Blurb

 
Can your heart belong somewhere that you’ve never called home?

When Erica gets a phone call to say her mother, Ione, is ill in St Lucia, she knows she must go to her. Though the island – the place of her mother’s birth – is somewhere that Erica has never seen as her homeland.

Even when the plane touches down in the tropical paradise, with its palm trees swaying in the island breeze, the sound of accents so like her mother’s own calling loud in the air, Erica doesn’t find herself wanting to stay a moment longer than she has to.

But stepping into her mother’s house, she is shocked by what she finds. Her mother’s memory is fading, her once-immaculate house is now dirty and messy, and she’s refusing help from anyone but family. And Erica knows she must stay with her, even though it means leaving everything else behind.

What she doesn’t know is that – even as her mother’s memories get worse – Ione still has a final gift for her daughter. Because the unspoken secrets of their past are about to emerge, changing everything Erica thought she knew about her mother, her home, and who she really is…

A captivating tale of grief, love, and what it means to find home, perfect for fans of Andrea Levy, Jojo Moyes and Amanda Prowse.

Review

Firstly, that cover deserves a mention. It exudes peace and tranquilty as well as a certain amount of beauty.

My Mother’s Gift is highly moving as well as very captivating in its sense of place. Erica is a character you can really feel empathy for. She has a lot to come to terms with and also a chance to seek her family and add to her identity.

The degrading of Erica’s mother’s memory is one so many people will sadly be able to relate to and the way she now lives. It’s written with conviction and a truth. It is so identifiable and that’s what makes the topic of dementia so well-written.

The book is also very intriguing as secrets start to emerge and that draws you into the story that is being told even more.

Throughout My Mother’s Gift, there is strong, poweful emotions that may tug at reader’s heartstrings. There is such depth to the plot. that is so eloquently written. It would make a good Mother’s Day gift or just a very good read in general.

About the Author

Steffanie Edward author photoSteffanie Edward was born in St Lucia, brought up in London and now straddles between the two.

Anancy, Crick-crick and other Caribbean folk stories have been a part of her life since childhood. In her late teens she enjoyed reading Susan Howatch and books on slavery. Her absolute favourite reads have been Wild Seed by Octavia E Butler, and Woman At Point Zero by Naawal El Saadawi.

Her writing career started with short stories, five of which have been published. Her first attempt at writing a novel was over twenty years ago, whilst living and working in Abu Dhabi. That novel, Yvette, didn’t make it into print, but the main protagonist, Yvette, has muscled her way into Steffanie’s debut novel, This Other Island.

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#Review By Lou of Yinka, Where Is You Huzband @DamilolaLizzie @VikingBooks #YINKA #UpliftingFiction #ContemporaryFiction #BlogTour #Romcom

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband
By Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
Rated 4 1/2 stars

Today I am excited to be on the blog tour for the highly entertaining and fun book  – Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband. I had good vibes about it just a few pages in…Thanks to Viking Books for gifting me a proof copy and for inviting me on the blog tour. Find out more below in the blurb and full review, as well as what critically acclaimed authors such as Marian Keyes and Beth O’Leary say…

Blurb

Yinka Where is Your Huzband coverYinka wants to find love. Her mum wants to find it for her.

She also has too many aunties who frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, a preference for chicken and chips over traditional Nigerian food, and a bum she’s sure is far too small as a result. Oh, and the fact that she’s a thirty-one-year-old South-Londoner who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage is a bit of an obstacle too…

When her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences ‘Operation Find A Date for Rachel’s Wedding’. Armed with a totally flawless, incredibly specific plan, will Yinka find herself a huzband?

What if the thing she really needs to find is herself?

Review

 Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband is so relatable, especially to singletons who are asked that eternal question about a partner. Yinka has many aunties who want to know when she is going to find a man and get married, after all, she is in her 30’s and this seems important to them. It is interesting to see Yinka trying to forge her own life. She is also career driven, until one day, something happens that changes her life plans, which forces her to plan new life-goals.

I was interested to see if Yinka would find a man and there are some very funny steps that are taken in her hunt for one, but I was also engrossed in other aspects of her and the other characters lives too.

It is interesting how organised Yinka is, even in her personal life and the text shows this through well-placed tables and lists. There are also letters pertaining her employment status too. These are very well-conceived and placed and not over-done.

The book is great for cosying up to on a cold day as it is easy to get wrapped up in the story, and yet is as light as a summer breeze, where you can easily sit with it and take in the rays of the sun. It is a feel-good, highly entertaining read that is joyous and fun!

Readers who like Bridget Jones Diary and Shopaholic series in style are sure to enjoy Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband. It is just as humorous and a fun debut novel!
I highly recommend this book and would be interested to see what comes next from the author -Lizzie Damilola Blackburn.

           

 

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