#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.

Shadow Graphic 1

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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#Review By Lou – My Policeman by Bethan Roberts (Soon to be a film) #BethanRoberts #MyPoliceman #Fiction #ContemporaryFiction

My Policeman
By Bethan Roberts

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Policeman was first published in 2012, but has re-emerged because it is going to be a major film starring Harry Styles and Emma Corrin. So, now’s your chance to read it before you see the film. I read this book in a day. Check out the Blurb and my Review below. Thank you for a physical copy of the book.

Blurb

My PolicemanAn exquisitely told tragic tale of thwarted love, My Policeman is soon to be adapted into film by Amazon Prime starring Harry Styles and Emma Corrin.

It is in 1950s’ Brighton that Marion first catches sight of Tom. He teaches her to swim in the shadow of the pier and Marion is smitten – determined her love will be enough for them both.

A few years later in Brighton Museum Patrick meets Tom. Patrick is besotted with Tom and opens his eyes to a glamorous, sophisticated new world.

Tom is their policeman, and in this age it is safer for him to marry Marion. The two lovers must share him, until one of them breaks and three lives are destroyed.

‘I loved it. Devoured it! A wonderful read. Tense, romantic, smart; a beautiful portrait of a seaside town poised at an exact moment in history, with people trapped by laws and mores’ Russell T. Davies

Review 

My Policeman sounds from the blurb that it could be a heavy read, it is anything but… It is such a well-written romance and tale that encompasses some of social history. I sailed through this book and I can see how it would make a great film.

It’s a sensuous love story that starts off with all the promise of young love and then it starts to become more complex as Tom and Patrick love each other, but Marion, loves Tom and by the end, the consequences of certain actions made in 1957 reverberate through to 1999.

The book skips between 1999 and 1957 with the setting beginning in Peacehaven and leading readers into Wormwood Scrubs.
There are some beautiful descriptions at the seaside that also lures readers into the time period.
This is a book that has themes still talked about today, a decade on from its first publication. It also provides an insight as to how far the world has come and its history in some of the attitudes of the times. The book illustrates how, even between 1957 and 1999, things were changing. This is the story of Marion, Tom, Patrick and Sylvie. The writing is romantic, warm and sensual in the beginning, in 1999, with its pool setting. There are however some dark undercurrents in mood.

Tom is the policeman, who trained in National Service first, in 1957. The book is like an account of his life, written by someone who cares for him deeply. In 1999, he is incredibly unwell and being nursed at home. The writing is powerful, caring, with some sense of matter-of-fact. 1957 focusses more on the romance. There’s Sylvia with Roy, who know exactly where they’re heading in life and there’s Marion and Tom and she knows what she wants, but then, there is also Patrick…
The relationship changes and Marion and Patrick end up sharing Tom. There is an undercurrent of the intolerances of the time in 1957, they are written truthfully and prick through this great, complex, yet tender love story that unfolds. There’s emotion and very challenging times in both years for many reasons, that are faced for all of the character, especially Marion, Tom and Patrick. All is, however, beautifully written and evocative and keenly observed.

#BookReview of – Undying Book 1 – The Kinship of DJinns and Book 2 – My Uncle’s Son By  Ambreen Hameed and Uzma Hameed @AmbreenHameed1 #UmzaHameed

Undying Book 1 – The Kinship of DJinns and Book 2 – My Uncle’s Son
By Ambreen Hameed and Uzma Hameed

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A romance that puts traditions and modern ways of living at juxtopositions to create the tensions, wrapped around a volatile political landscape. The book shows inner lives of two sisters and there’s a touch of magic intertwined in there too. Pretty good for a debut and the books are better than I thought they were going to be.
Take a look at the blurbs in both books and then my review.
Thanks to Uzma Hameed for asking me to review their books via the Contact option on my blog.

Undying Duo pic

Blurb – Book 1

UNDYING Book 1: The Kinship of Djinns“Sibling rivalry, evolutionary science, theatre, film and even magic all have a part to play in Ambreen and Uzma Hameed’s exuberant tale of a romantic triangle… UNDYING is huge fun. Its sitcom style comedy and affectionate satire deepen into a mystery that explores what unites and divides us, in families and communities, and asks how art, science and religion try to make sense of a violent and unjust world.” Boyd Tonkin, Former Chair of Judges, Man Booker International Prize

It is 1998 and the leader of the free world is under fire after an affair with a young intern. Meanwhile, in a corner of South London, the Malik sisters have also committed a sin: they are in their thirties and still not married. Now the unexpected return of their childhood playmate spells the chance of a happy ending: but only for one of them. And this time, younger sister Zarina is determined she won’t be second in line to Sufya, the eldest – even if it means resorting to dubious occult practices. But as tensions rise across the Muslim world, sibling rivalry and Sufi spells are not the only forces with which the three lovers must contend.

Blurb – Book 2

UNDYING Book 2: My Uncle's SonChristmas 1998 approaches and the Malik sisters struggle to come to terms with Heathrow’s disappearance. A series of unanswered questions leads Sufya on a journey across the Holy Land. Back in South London, Zarina believes she is receiving messages from beyond the grave. As the leader of the free world sends bombs down on Baghdad, anger boils over in the Muslim community. The family falls under suspicion and both sisters must pick a side.

My Uncle’s Son is the thrilling conclusion to UNDYING.

Review

The books are best read when they are read sequentially. Both books are predominently about Sufya and Zarina and their lives in 1998. They are modern Muslims who are just trying to get on with their lives. The sisters have, according to their religion, committed a sin by still not being married and it is more than frowned upon as they are in their thirties. There is also the question of career/interest choice as Sufya is into scientific writing, which seems more palatable than Zarina and her interest in theatre. The book deals with the differences in attitudes between younger Muslim’s and those with more traditional views. This sort of tension creates interest and shows some of the almost juxtopositions that traditonal and modern generations sit at. There is also, however the ties that bind them together. It’s a pretty intense read, that can at times be gripping and is mostly a good read.

This is a love story that rails against traditional Muslim values. There is also some humour, but it isn’t without its darkness that looms as it doesn’t only show the moderate, but also some of the extremes too with the backdrop of some beautiful scenery.
There are also the political attitudes of the time to the affair of Clinton and Lewinsky, war, suicide bombers that are touched upon.

The title of the second book – My Uncle’s Son is the concluding part of this story. You can’t read one without the other if you want to know the ending. The title – My Uncle’s Son is the title of a film as many potential cast assemble, as this book is a bit more about the arts industry, which book 1 touches upon.

There’s a character – Heathrow, or H, who goes missing. This is a character that runs through both books. The book examines and questions how you’d feel if someone you knew wore explosives. 

Both books, intriguingly (and sometimes this works better than other times), looks at genetics in primates and humans. It offers up some thought-provoking points, especially at the parts where this doesn’t get readers too bogged down. It is an intriguing and certainly different way that the characters, mostly Sufya and Zarina, try to understand what is happening in the world as they try to make sense of it all and the enormity of the violence that is harbouring in some people.

The themes of the first book link up well in the second book, tying them both together, which I thought was good and keeps Zarina and Sufya headstrong about their views on marriage, including arranged marriage.

The book also questions whether love can conquer all, even when all around can be so brutal and relationships can be tough as can finding your own way of life, that may go against a traditional grain. It is this, going against the grain that perhaps shows change and how there are modern Muslims living life their own way and makes Zarina and Sufya’s characters most interesting and wills you on in the hope they succeed.

The second book is a very good conclusion to this duo of books that has passion, anger, violence and love throughout.

#BookReview by Lou of Frontline By Dr. Hilary Jones @DrHilaryJones @welbeckpublish #WorldWar1 #HistoricalFiction #SpanishFlu #Frontline #GeneralFiction

Frontline
By Dr. Hilary Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Frontline takes those at war in the First World War and in the medical profession and creates an intensely emotional, knowledgeable book that expertly weaves fact and fiction together to create a tight-knit story, very apt for our times. From the cover to the end of the story, it is intensely poignant in many ways.
Discover more in the blurb and the rest of my review and where you can buy Frontline.
I thank Welbeck Books for gifting me a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

Frontline cover

Blurb

The doctor hits the spot and deserves to be read’

JEFFREY ARCHER

A SWEEPING DRAMA SET ON THE BATTLEFIELDS OF EUROPE AS A GLOBAL INFLUENZA PANDEMIC LOOMS . . .

Frontline is the first book in a series charting the rise of a prominent British medical family in the twentieth century. From wars to a pandemic, the discovery of penicillin to the birth of the NHS, successive generations of the Burnett family are at the vanguard of life-saving developments in medicine.

Frontline is the story of an aristocrat’s daughter who joins the war effort as a nurse. In a field hospital in rural France she meets Will, a dockworker’s son serving as a stretcher-bearer. As rumours of an armistice begin to circulate, so too does a mysterious respiratory illness that soldiers are referring to as the ‘Spanish flu’.

Review

Frontline coverEvie is one of the characters who start off this book, which begins in 1910 and makes a shift to 1914. She has a baby and her story is sure to tug on many heartstrings, even the most hardened of hearts. It’s one of woe but also of courage of those around her.

Readers also follow Grace and other nurses as well as tells of how things were from a soldier, like Will’s story too and how they are linked and it becomes about them and their lives and needs to survive and what was happening in the world at the time, that they had to find ways of living in and doing their duties.

There’s a real rawness to one of the letters written, which gives further insight into what was going on and the fears that were there.

There’s the sense of life, distinct of the times and it feels like a lot of research went into this as well as passion for the subject matters. It may not be an easy read, but its authenticity and realism through fiction really shines through and develops into a great read. It takes readers to the heart of war, including The Somme, but also what it’s like to be home on leave, as Will is when he returns to Grace. There are also some lovely heartwarming moments too, that saves this book from being too bleak and in some instances, shows some humanity in the world too, especially when Christmas arrives.

Frontline is very apt for our times, as we try to survive Covid-19, this book also shows people trying to survive a pandemic too – Spanish Flu and the devastation to life between that and war. I think it could serve as something more thought-provoking about their own behaviours in present times.

The book is an intense but pertinent read. Dr. Hilary Jones has also left an “Author’s Note” at the back of the book that adds a little more about what is dubbed as “The Great War” and is poignant, as are the acknowledgements. I agree that there are some parallels that can be drawn from today between Spanish Flu times and Covid-19 times. It’s hard not to notice, if you know a bit about way back then too and thinking about it, even if you don’t, you’ll be able to find this by reading this book.

Clearly Dr. Hilary Jones is writing from what he knows from his medical background, but he’s intelligently combined this with war, of those fighting in it and of women who are not. There is a rich tapestry that runs through it and there is a sense that it’s a bit of a nod in a way to those who came before him and that sits very well with me, and I think it will with many other readers too.

Buy Links

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Ever Rest by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris #LiteraryFiction #Music #Fiction #BookClubFiction #BookClubs

Ever Rest
By Roz Morris

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ever Rest is a terrifically absorbing book with suspense, almost lyrical text, from the characters to the concepts and scenery. It’s just so interesting too, like a behind the scenes of people’s lives in a way you don’t often see in the music world. It’s beyond those glossy magazines and newspaper articles, to the actual people in a band and people’s lives, right to a hearstopping moment, where the book begins… 
Thanks to Roz Morris for getting in touch to request a review on my blog and for gifting me with the book.

Please carry on down to the blurb and my review to find out more.

EverRest

Blurb

Twenty years ago, Hugo and Ash were on top of the world. As the acclaimed rock band Ashbirds they were poised for superstardom. Then Ash went missing, lost in a mountaineering accident, and the lives of Hugo and everyone around him were changed forever. Irrepressible, infuriating, mesmerizing Ash left a hole they could never hope to fill. Two decades on, Ash’s fiancée Elza is still struggling to move on, her private grief outshone by the glare of publicity. The loss of such a rock icon is a worldwide tragedy. Hugo is now a recluse in Nepal, shunning his old life. Robert, an ambitious session player, feels himself both blessed and cursed by his brief time with Ashbirds, unable to achieve recognition in his own right. While the Ashbirds legend burns brighter than ever, Elza, Hugo and Robert are as stranded as if they were the ones lost in the ice. How far must they go to come back to life? A lyrical, page-turning novel in the tradition of Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano, Ever Rest asks how we carry on after catastrophic loss. It will also strike a chord with fans of Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones for its people bonded by an unforgettable time; fans of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, for music as a primal and romantic force; and Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air for the deadly and irresistible wildernesses that surround our comfortable world.

Review

EverRestIt’s begins with a heart in the mouth moment, with a phone call no one on earth would ever want. This book is an excellent read. It would be great for reading alone or reading for a book club with the beautiful scenery against the suspense and the music beat.

Take a look at that cover! It is so cleverly conceived. It’s like a piece of modern art. There’s someone at the top of Mount Everest, but looks like either a CD or a record, where music, life and Nepal converge and all is not well and the cover looks torn, as lives have been tearing apart. The title is also a bit of a play on words and quite intelligent , 2 separated to mean one thing (Ever Rest) and bring them together and drop the “R” to create the mountain name – Everest.

Ashten from the band – The Ashbirds went missing in 1994 in Nepal. 18 years later, there’s some movement on this case and the intrigue to read on to see whether his body was ever found or not.

Elliott is an intriguing character and it feels like he is enraptured with Elza and her story as he sees pictures everywhere in the press and suddenly feels like he has a need to check out the press a lot to see what’s going on with her life. He is particularly fascinated about how she gets on in life, now that her fiancee, Ashten, is still missing in Nepal. There are sightings of bodies up Mount Everest that may have been him and not. It brings an absolutely captivating mystery element to what is essentially literary fiction.
The other characters – Hugo, Ari and Markson and Robert are also interesting too as they are kind of stuck with being associated with the band and also in what happened to Ashten.

Readers are treated to a back story and it’s like a behind the scenes of the music business and a band reaching the top of their game and all the pressures that comes with that and the very serious rifts.
Then band members, such as Robert wanted a solo career. Then what it takes to bring a band back together after so much history and complications.

The books also gives a bit of insight into how the press are and the assumptions they make in some of the questions they ask and also from the other-side, how certain magazines are courted and decisions made to give that exclusive story to.

It also brings about themes of grief and acceptance in different ways and moving forwards in life and what people have to deal with and how things affect them.

This is a thought-provoking story about the press, the music business and its highs and lows and also, almost poses the question as to how you would feel if someone you knew was high up on a mountain and one went missing and the other did not, as what happened to Hugo and Ashten, and then as Elza did, meet Hugo again some time later. It gives a lot of scope for book clubs to discuss and for readers not involved in one, a lot to really get involved with, to find out the outcome, which is more than worth hanging in there for…

This Is How We Are Human By Louise Beech @louisewriter @OrendaBooks #JubilantJune #BlogTour

This Is How We Are Human
By Louise Beech

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I have a review of the emotionally poignant –  This Is How We Are Human, that may spark some debate and plenty of talk in a book that is beautifully written and is somewhat uplifting too. The more I think about it, the more I think it is such a good and unique book. Find out more in the Blurb and my Review. Continue down to find out what inspired Louise Beech to write this story and a bit about her.
Thank you to Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the blog tour and for Orenda Books for gifting me the book

 

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Blurb

Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely. Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy, and she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he
desperately wants. Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.
When these three lives collide, and intertwine in unexpected ways, everything changes. For everyone!

Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, This Is How We Are Human is a powerful, moving and thoughtful drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think
we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family and to survive.

Review

This_is_how_we_are_human proof aw (1)I reckon, even though this is quite different in some aspects, but readers who were swept along with “The Curious Incident With The Dog In the Midnight”, may also find they are with “This Is How We Are Human”. Although different in  that this is a man with ASD and the other was a boy with Aspergers, but I mention it because I have liked and totally appreciated both of these books.

Firstly, that cover is beautiful and as you read through the story, you’ll see it has some symbolism, including in the snowglobe, and emotion, in this deeply thoughtful book about subjects not often talked about.

Sebastian is Autistic and is now an adult with all the needs and desires of any other adult and a few extra. There is so much that parents who have children and adult offspring, will be able to relate to.
There’s a rawness about the story and sense of truth as it tells the story of a mother and son needing support and guidance for this next stage of life – adulthood.

It’s emotional and sometimes heartbreaking and a bit uplifting, but most of all, poignant and thought-provoking with some possible themes that may be controversial to some, but others would be open to debate, especially when it comes to Sebastian’s sexual desires and how they are handled. It’s a pretty unique book in the subject matter of an autistic adult who is suggestive and has desires like the majority of humans on the planet. 

You can see the frustrations and the love coming from Veronica who is desperate to help her son and also the challenges and complexities that surround this. It is emotional and pretty hard-hitting and yet the love of the mother to her son is tender, yet desperate to help him understand relationships and his sexual desires, so hires people to assist.

Aside from Sebastian, there is Isabelle who goes by the name, Violetta, who is trying to be brave and deal with her seriously ill dad, as it shows how being a high class escort and her home/personal life sit very differently next to each other. It also shows how much she needs support and the money to pay for her nursing career. She then becomes linked to Sebastian and lives alter.

How We Are Human, is ultimately a powerful book, which shows lives that may be different from your own and how some things are almost so unimaginably complex and brings topics to the fore that aren’t heard about being discussed so much; if at all in the wider world, in a highly emotionally charged way, mixed with love, desire, lust, family relations. It is beautifully written, without shying away from the biggest of subjects. The book becomes so absorbing and emotionally poignant and ends in a way, perhaps not quite as expected, but better than expected. 

Read the Author’s Note too in the book. I think it is important to as it will explain a little bit about ASD and a bit about a family who inspired Louise Beech to write this story.

Inspiration for This Is How We Are Human.

Louise B (1)“Though This is How We Are Human is fiction, the premise was inspired by my friends, 20-year-old
Sean, who is autistic, and his mum Fiona. Fiona had spoken to me about how much Sean longed to
meet a girl and have sex. No one talks about this, she said – the difficulties navigating romance often faced by those on the spectrum. It ’s an issue that I wanted to explore. Fiona and Sean encouraged me and guided me through the book; Sean regularly consulted on dialogue, rightly insisting that his voice was heard, was strong, and was accurate. I cannot thank my extraordinary friends enough for their help and support.” Louise Beech

About The Author

Louise Beech (1)Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted
for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her 2019 novel Call Me Star Girl won Best magazine Book of the Year, and was followed by I Am Dust.

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