#BookReview by Lou of This Shining Life by Harriet Kline @HareandHarriet @tabithapelly @DoubledayUK @RandomTTours

This Shining Life
By Harriet Kline

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This Shining Life is beautifully written. It’s timely, poignant and warm. If you like Rachel Joyce’s books, you’re sure to like This Shining Life. I highly recommend it!
Discover more in the blurb and my full review and a bit about the author. That is when you can take your eyes off the gorgeous cover.
Thanks to Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the blog tour for reviewing and for them and for publisher – Double Day for gifting the physical proof of the  book.

This Shining Life Cover

Blurb

For Rich, life is golden.

He fizzes with happiness and love.

But Rich has an incurable brain tumour.

When Rich dies, he leaves behind a family without a father, a husband, a son and a best friend. His wife, Ruth, can’t imagine living without him and finds herself faced with a grief she’s not sure she can find her way through.

At the same time, their young son Ollie becomes intent on working out the meaning of life. Because everything happens for a reason. Doesn’t it?

But when they discover a mismatched collection of presents left by Rich for his loved ones, it provides a puzzle for them to solve, one that will help Ruth navigate her sorrow and help Ollie come to terms with what’s happened. Together, they will learn to lay the ghosts of the past to rest, and treasure the true gift that Rich has left them: the ability to embrace life and love every moment.

Wonderfully funny and achingly beautiful, this is a story about love in all its forms: absent, lost and, ultimately, regained.

Review

This Shining Life CoverMeet Ollie, Nessa, Angran, Rich, Ruth and Marjorie, the main characters who take a few chapters or so at a time to create this beautiful book. What hits and made me take a sharp intake of breath, was the first line of the first chapter, after the prologue. What is said is insumountable and very matter of fact. It’s a strong opening! Every so often, one line punctuates the opening to a chapter, that is stark and true and just fabulous. No beating about the bush, it tells of a life event how it is and for what it is. In this instance, I like that and it fits the book so well. You’ll have to read the book to find out what it is…

This book will tug at anyone’s heartstrings, like the saddest tune from a solo violin at the very least, and certain short, sharp sentence (I won’t say what or it will spoil it), may pierce hard through your very being and reverberate round. It’s terrific and matter of fact! The book is also full of love and the warmth that brings.

Grief is inescapable at the moment and that’s what makes this book, perhaps even more timely and poignant. It beautifully portrays grief and being surrounded by it within a family very well and truthfully. It shows how people have different ideas for what to do when someone dies and how grief isn’t the same for everyone. It’s also about the love of dead loved ones and the comfort from the living.

There is also the mismatched presents that Rich had left, which further shows his love of life and the people around him. It also keeps people busy as they try to fix them out.

The book, although emotional, is far from depressing. It has that warmth and some pockets of humour. There’s other parts of life being shown as having being lived, such as a a well stocked up picnic. The nature provides a layer of peacefulness along with the layer of  anguish of death, love and life that converges together.

The peacefulness of nature is conveyed exquisitely against the forefront of the sting and in Ruth’s case, especially, the almost suffocation, sometimes claustrophobic feeling of grief closing in and confusion of grief, that all of the characters feel in one way or another. It is all brought with tenderness, but an absolute realism, right to the very end and with the comfort and love of the supporting characters.

About the Author

HARRIET KLINE works part time registering births, deaths and marriages and writes for the rest of the week. Her story Ghost won the Hissac Short Story Competition and Chest of Drawers won The London Magazine Short Story Competition. Other short stories have been published online with LitroFor Books’ Sake, and ShortStorySunday, and on BBC Radio 4. 

 

#BookReview by Lou of Contacts by Mark Watson @watsoncomedian @HarperCollinsUK #NewBook #Fiction

Contacts
By Mark Watson
Rated: 5 stars ***** 

Contacts has so much poignancy and a great message within it for society. It is so well-written that those pages just have to keep turning to see how it ends. Thank you to Harper Collins UK for the e-book.
Please follow down to the blurb and full review.

Contacts by Mark Watson

Blurb

One man’s last journey. One hundred and fifty-eight chances to save his life.The unforgettable new book from award-winning writer and comedian Mark Watson – available to pre-order now!’Mark Watson is one of my favourite writers and Contacts is by far his best book yet’ Adam Kay‘Witty, emotional and beautifully written’ Jill Mansell‘It made me laugh, cry, reflect and want to check in on all my friends’ Emma Gannon ‘This is such a great book, funny and serious and daring and humane’ Richard CurtisOne man’s last journey. One hundred and fifty-eight chances to save his life.James Chiltern boards the 23:50 sleeper train from London to Edinburgh with two pork pies, six beers and a packet of chocolate digestives. At 23:55 he sends a message to all 158 people in his contacts, telling them that he plans to end his life in the morning. He then switches his phone to flight mode. He’s said goodbye. To him, it’s the end of his story – and time to crack open the biscuits.But across the world, 158 phones are lighting up with a notification. Phones belonging to his mum. His sister. His ex-best friend. The woman who broke his heart. People he’s lost touch with. People he barely knows. And for them, the message is only the beginning of the journey.Funny and wise, tender and deeply moving, Contacts is a beautiful story about the weight of loneliness, the importance of kindness – and how it’s never too late to reach out.

Contacts by Mark Watson

Review

The first sentence is a real attention grabber as eyes widen because it is is the most unexpected opening line that may make readers gasp or take a sharp-intake of breath. 158 people receive a text that will shock to the core, from James who is at that time on the London to Edinburgh train.

This is a book that displays the human condition and some of societies ills incredibly well. It’s hard-hitting and essential reading, but not just a book to read and forget, it’s one of those books that are thought-provoking and will make you think about society and people more and better. It’s about lonliness, but refreshingly, not in the older generation, but the young generation. It shows an underrated topic in such a true light. The emotions are raw and authentic.

James recalls meeting Karl in 2007 and deciding he didn’t need many contacts and now he was withdrawing somewhat on a train up to Edinburgh. It’s a deep, dark book that contains the much taboo subject of suicide in some of the narrative, which makes it essential reading, along with the lonliness, because James is essentially a lonely, intelligent young man.

The book moves onto Sally Chiltern, James sister in Melbourne and Michaela Adler, an ex, in Berlin who both receive the text message and their reactions to the unexpected message and an insight into their lives. There is also an insight to Jean Chiltern, his mum in Bristol, who is informed of the text by Sally. There is then the reactions of the other people who have also looked at their phones.

The book is so current that it even goes into characters doing the Couch to 5K and having a language app. There is some humour amongst the book. It isn’t all dark and bleak.

It is heartwarming to see the kindness of people who are trying to find James and save him from certain death and each other from such lonliness and the impact that has on people. It really raises the issue that it isn’t just the elderly, so compassionately and well and within some terrific and responsible story-telling. It reminds people that there is always someone to talk to, such as the Samaritans too.

Mark Watson, having been in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival and indeed a book launch does take James into Waverley Station and into the city, which is accurately depicted. I know this as I go into Edinburgh a fair bit. It leads to the end of what is an incredibly poignant story that shows an enormous amount of humanity and hope, even when things seem to be at their bleakest. It honestly is such a strong and courageous book that I feel could, if enough people read and really think about it, could feed a lot of good into society and help people talk about their issues and to think of others differently. It’s such an amazing book and one of those rare books that I don’t think will leave me any time soon.

On another note – please don’t suffer in silence. As the book alludes to, it is never too late to reach out. Here is a link to Samaritans. It is free and confidential http://www.samaritans.org

#BookReview by Lou of emotionally, beautiful #newbook – Butterflies By D.E. McCluskey @demccluskey1 @dammagedpro1 #ContemporaryFiction #RomanticFiction

Butterflies
By D.E McCluskey
Rated: 5 stars *****

Life can be beautiful, but also delicate. As delicate as a butterfly’s wings, as Olivia Martelle is about to find out as life shows her that as things take off, there are unexpected twists, in this beautifully, emotionally written book.
Thank you to D.E. McCluskey for the opportunity to review.

See below for the blurb and full review as well as a buy and social media links below.

Butterflies.jpg

Blurb

Olivia Martelle has it all. She’s young and beautiful and has just had her fairy-tail wedding to the man of her dreams, the man who makes the butterflies in her stomach swoop and swirl. Life is looking rosy indeed.

Then, a cruel twist of fate changes everything. Her future looks to be torn away from her. Her husband is incapacitated and every day seems to be a continual battle with her sister-in-law, who she is convinced, hates her.

Her beautiful blue butterflies have turned to black.

A desperate mistake, leads her onto a path that she doesn’t want to tread, and her life begins to spiral out of her control. 

Olivia is about to find out that butterflies don’t beat for everyone…

Review

Sensual, Emotional, Fragile, like the wings of a butterfly.
If you’ve ever thought of taking life for granted, you quite possibly won’t after reading this beautiful, yet heart-wrenching book, where the characters have it all until life changing events happen. One minute, life is all fluttery and beating like an active butterfly, the next, it is just as fragile as those silky wings.

I read the book in a day. It hooks you into the characters lives so easily and the need to know how it ends is a necessity, this is done with aplomb and I am more impressed than I thought I would be. The plot has depth and twists and turns and Olivia, allthough most definitely flawed, is a strong woman.
Butterflies, blue, silky winged butterflies feature throughout and are an intelligent way of representing feelings of nerves and love as the wings flutter, when all is well, turning black when life changes.
The writing all appears to be done with sensitivity and care.

Olivia Britt, a determined, sassy character, who’s wedding day it is in Geneva, experiences the butterflies of love in many different ways. The flutter of the wings of a butterfly is a clever use of describing not just the pre-wedding nerves, but also the lovemaking. This is sensual and passionately written.
Distaster strikes when they are driving along… The lovely, light atmosphere of love and joy changes as Olivia and Paul find themselves in hospital. The way it changes so dramtically comes across well and as strongly as the romantic scenes before. It shows, like a butterflies wings, how fragile life can be, as family, such as Angela – Paul’s sister meet in a hospital as unexpected events start to occur that has an impact and consequences on everyone’s lives.

The colourful butterflies from the beautiful blue before are described as turning black.
I like this as a depiction a lot, how the butterflies are still used, even when life isn’t as it used to be. It’s just as powerful.

Life gets even more complicated when Angela attempts to become more controlling in her agenda to gain everything. I think people will recognise that this can happen within families. People will have to give it a read to see if it is resolved or not.

The emotions around Paul on the wedding night and when he is in hospital are realistic and convey the love and turmoil strongly, including when Richard, Angela’s husband comes more into the scene and life becomes more tangled.

There are beautifully written flashback sequences to the wedding day and how the tender, silky winged butterflies reacted.

I absolutely recommend this book. It’s one you will find yourself needing to find out if the butterflies can ever return and flutter with the rhythms and beats of life ever again.

Links

Buy Link : Amazon

Social Media Link: Facebook Page

Twitter @demccluskey1                        @dammagedpro

#BookReview by Lou of emotionally, beautiful #newbook – Butterflies By D.E. McCluskey @demccluskey1 @dammagedpro ContemporaryFiction

Butterflies
By D.E McCluskey
Rated: 5 stars *****

Life can be beautiful, but also delicate. As delicate as a butterfly’s wings, as Olivia Martelle is about to find out as life shows her that as things take off, there are unexpected twists, in this beautifully, emotionally written book.
Thank you to D.E. McCluskey for the opportunity to review.

See below for the blurb and full review as well as a buy and social media links below.

Butterflies.jpg

Blurb

Olivia Martelle has it all. She’s young and beautiful and has just had her fairy-tail wedding to the man of her dreams, the man who makes the butterflies in her stomach swoop and swirl. Life is looking rosy indeed.

Then, a cruel twist of fate changes everything. Her future looks to be torn away from her. Her husband is incapacitated and every day seems to be a continual battle with her sister-in-law, who she is convinced, hates her.

Her beautiful blue butterflies have turned to black.

A desperate mistake, leads her onto a path that she doesn’t want to tread, and her life begins to spiral out of her control. 

Olivia is about to find out that butterflies don’t beat for everyone…

Review

Sensual, Emotional, Fragile, like the wings of a butterfly.
If you’ve ever thought of taking life for granted, you quite possibly won’t after reading this beautiful, yet heart-wrenching book, where the characters have it all until life changing events happen. One minute, life is all fluttery and beating like an active butterfly, the next, it is just as fragile as those silky wings.

I read the book in a day. It hooks you into the characters lives so easily and the need to know how it ends is a necessity, this is done with aplomb and I am more impressed than I thought I would be. The plot has depth and twists and turns and Olivia, allthough most definitely flawed, is a strong woman.
Butterflies, blue, silky winged butterflies feature throughout and are an intelligent way of representing feelings of nerves and love as the wings flutter, when all is well, turning black when life changes.
The writing all appears to be done with sensitivity and care.

Olivia Britt, a determined, sassy character, who’s wedding day it is in Geneva, experiences the butterflies of love in many different ways. The flutter of the wings of a butterfly is a clever use of describing not just the pre-wedding nerves, but also the lovemaking. This is sensual and passionately written.
Distaster strikes when they are driving along… The lovely, light atmosphere of love and joy changes as Olivia and Paul find themselves in hospital. The way it changes so dramtically comes across well and as strongly as the romantic scenes before. It shows, like a butterflies wings, how fragile life can be, as family, such as Angela – Paul’s sister meet in a hospital as unexpected events start to occur that has an impact and consequences on everyone’s lives.

The colourful butterflies from the beautiful blue before are described as turning black.
I like this as a depiction a lot, how the butterflies are still used, even when life isn’t as it used to be. It’s just as powerful.

Life gets even more complicated when Angela attempts to become more controlling in her agenda to gain everything. I think people will recognise that this can happen within families. People will have to give it a read to see if it is resolved or not.

The emotions around Paul on the wedding night and when he is in hospital are realistic and convey the love and turmoil strongly, including when Richard, Angela’s husband comes more into the scene and life becomes more tangled.

There are beautifully written flashback sequences to the wedding day and how the tender, silky winged butterflies reacted.

I absolutely recommend this book. It’s one you will find yourself needing to find out if the butterflies can ever return and flutter with the rhythms and beats of life ever again.

Links

Buy Link : Amazon

Social Media Link: Facebook Page

Twitter @demccluskey1                        @dammagedpro

#BookReview by Louise – Happy Publication Day for One Step Behind by Lauren North @Lauren_C_North @Transworldbooks @penguinrandom #PsychologicalThriller #OneStepBehind #Review #BlogTour

One Step Behind
By Lauren North
Rated: 5 stars *****

Catch your breath before reading this fantastic, outstanding psychological thriller. It is on the edge of your seat, breath-taking writing from Lauren North.
Thanks to Transworld Books/Penguin Random House for the e-copy.
Find more about the author, the blurb and my review below.

About the Author

One Step Behind Lauren North Author PicLauren North writes psychological suspense novels that delve into the darker side of
relationships and families. She has a lifelong passion for writing, reading, and all things
books. Lauren’s love of psychological suspense has grown since childhood and from her
dark imagination of always wondering what’s the worst thing that could happen in every situation.
Lauren studied psychology before moving to London where she lived and

worked for many years. She now lives with her family in the Suffolk countryside. 
Readers can follow Lauren on Twitter @Lauren_C_North and Facebook @LaurenNorthAuthor

One Step Behind Cover

Blurb

Jenna is a wife, a mother, a doctor. She’s also the victim of a stalker.
Every time she leaves her house, she sees him. Disturbing gifts are left at her door. Cruel emails are sent to her colleagues. She has no idea who this man is but she feels powerless against him.
Until the day he is brought into her hospital after a serious accident, and Jenna is given he chance to find out once and for all why his man is tormenting her. Now, the power is all hers.
But how many lines is she willing to cross to take back control of her life?

Review

It begins on Wednesday 12th June with Dr. Jenna Lawson trying to cope with the whirlwind of life. That’s what it feels like from the first page, with her school-aged children, Beth and Archie.
The fear in Jenna is intense!
It’s a book that won’t leave as pages turn and words are read and the intensity is sustained.
Jenna is being stalked and the writing is of great calibre. It’s edgy, powerful and haunting.
Every single page is gripping. It’s edge of your seat inducing. Just remember to breath!

What makes this story quite unique is that it shows how stalking affects the rest of the family in parts too and does it well. It’s powerfully emotive and descriptive.

Readers meet Sophie. Throughout we see Sophie growing up, more or less as you’d expect and doing the things at each age, you would find an 8, 11, 13, 15 year old doing as she grows up, such as baking, playing board games, discovering music and discos, watching the latest trendy tv shows and social media. Matthew, we discover is far, far from following in his sister’s footsteps and has a darker and there is nothing ‘normal’ or ‘typical about him as his actions and behaviours have far reaching consequences as he spirals out of control.
Sophie however is also an intriguing character.

The scenes in the hospital where Jenna works are insightful, professional in manner and have a twist to them as she fights and holds her own to not let her stalker destroy her career as a doctor. It all shows strength of character.

All the while, Jenna’s stalker is watching and sending creepy emails; enough to make anyone shudder.

The book just grows in intensity right to the climatic finishing chapters.
From beginning to the end, this is a terrific psychological thriller.

The cover cannot go without a mention. It is as emotive and as powerful and leading as the story within.

Other Praise for the author:

A gripping psychological thriller that pulls the reader through the story at a terrific pace, not giving them a moment to draw
breath’ – Nikki Smith, author of All in Her Head
‘A really gripping rollercoaster of a read – I absolutely loved it, and read it in one sitting’ – Lisa Hall, author of Between You and Me
‘I absolutely adored this disturbingly twisty tale of stalking, obsession and control’ – Emma Curtis, author of The Night You Left
‘Twisty and addictive – I loved One Step Behind’ – Louise Beech, author of I Am Dust

By Louise – Happy Publication Day to Richard Osman #BookReview of the tremendously written – The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman @richardosman @VikingBooksUK @katyloftus @EileeHud #CrimeFiction #MustRead

The Thursday Murder Club
By Richard Osman
Rated: 5 stars *****

Just to add to his talents – impressively, Richard Osman, who most notably presents Pointless and House of Games with aplomb, can also write a book very well.
The Thursday Murder Club is a Must Read!

Many, many, many thanks for the advanced copy and for allowing me to review.

I have a burb and my review below. I loved the book. It is a Must Read.
Please note that my review is unbiased.

The Thursday Murder Club

Blurb

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

Review

The Thursday Murder Club is a book that hasn’t just reached expectations, it exceeded them!
Richard Osman is such a talented man and wow, can he write! I must say, after seeing him talk about his book and read an excerpt at Bloody Scotland Crime Festival in Stirling, way back in September 2019, I had high hopes. I’m so impressed that I do think it does have all the ingredients to make a terrific film and indeed Steven Speilberg has the rights to this.
The book is very hard to put down, once started.
With instantly likeable characters, who still have quite a bit of life and humour about them, it gets off to a fantastic start. They are quite a crew of people who wouldn’t normally have met, but are thrown together in their new stage of life in the retirement village, which I must say, sounds amazing, surrounded by countryside, with plenty to do. This is much more than a humour type of book, it is an excellent mystery that layers up and will take readers in all sorts of directions, sort of like an enigma in this otherwise genteel setting. I couldn’t guess who the culprit was. The book just absorbs you into its setting and characters incredibly well and everything is certainly flung at them. It takes a somewhat realistic view in the fact that the characters have to be aware of the present-day in its behaviour and technologies.

I was impressed then and the book has lived up to expectations; so I am still impressed now, having read the book in its entirety. It’s up there with some of the best in cosy crime, with its supposedly, unassuming characters in a retirement home, who are sharper and more “modern” in their thinking, than you would think, but they don’t appear to be as they are rather overlooked by many people, which proves useful as they get to do anything they want with little consequence. With solving crimes on their minds, they form The Thursday Murder Club and no more so when they find ways of getting involved in one that happened on their doorstep. 

There is some rather dark humour from the residents. That catches the attention straight off. Readers, are led, like you are going on a tour with her and you’re the person who is there to “Meet New People and Try New Things”, as the first part is called. It’s a clever way of introducing characters and some background and layout of the retirement community. Elizabeth is first, then Bernard, then Mary, Ron and Ibrahim. They like to talk about murders in sometimes, perhaps in  a way that you may not want to mess with them. Then there is a live murder, right on their doorsteps, that grabs the residents attention as they get themselves involved in solving the case in imaginative ways.
Throughout the book are excerpts of a diary that Joyce keeps, full of bits about murder and poignant, philisophical thoughts.

There is enough intrigue set up, surrounding Tony Curren and Ian Ventham and the companies.

The book is wonderfully nuanced with how the characters behave. I would go as far as saying Richard Osman has observed his chosen age group for his characters very well. The tone, things they say and how it is said, is very much set in reality. There’s quite a bit of positivity written about his older characters, to show that at least some, are still capable of doing things, which also amusing.

I thought it was a lovely thing to have a character (Ibrahim Arif) support Westham United. I also think it is lovely he has included a character (Ron Ritchie) who has read all of Mark Billingham’s books, since that is who he did a talk with and sounded like they know each other well. As well as the characters and plot being quite heart-warming, it is kind moments like these that also add to the heart-warming moments. 

The way the pensioners are with the Detective Inspector – Chris, is priceless and full of humour. I do sort of feel a bit sorry for the D.I. He certainly wouldn’t have expected the pensioners to be quite so excitable; but the way Richard Osman has written these scenes has timing down to a “T”.

“Everyone Has A Story to Tell” and they certainly do in the second part as more comes tumbling out.
Kindness is portrayed again, this time in the form of  strangers helping Joyce after a fall. There are also some unexpected twists and turns, which cause excitement and more debate amongst the residents. Things hot up as the Thursday Murder Club get ever closer to the truth.

The book can be bought from today on Amazon, Independent bookshops and Waterstones. I highly recommend this “Must Read” book.

The second book is being drafted out. I for one, cannot wait until it is published next autumn.