#Bookreview by Lou – Honeycomb by Joanne M. Harris – Happy Publication Day to Joanne Harris @joannechocolat #CharlesVess @alexxlayt @orionbooks

Honeycomb
By Joanne M. Harris
Illustrated by Charles Vess

Rating: 5 out of 5.

To my absolute amazement and joy, I have been gifted Honeycomb. Readers are in for a treat with this enthralling and enchanting book of 100 short stories by Joanne Harris. They are full of betrayal, gifts, magic, love, beautiful illustrations and much more…
Discover more in the blurb and my review…
I thank Alex Layt at Orion Books and Joanne Harris for gifting me a copy of Honeycomb.

Honeycomb 3

Blurb

An astonishing, richly interwoven story from #1 bestselling author Joanne M. Harris (The Gospel of Loki, Chocolat), beautifully illustrated by the multiple award-winning Charles Vess (Stardust, The Books of Earthsea).

Long ago and far away,
Far away and long ago,
The World was honeycomb, we know,
The Worlds were honeycomb.

The beauty of stories is that you never know where they will take you. Full of dreams an nightmares, Honeycomb is an entrancing mosaic novel of original fairy tales from bestselling author Joanne M. Harris and legendary artist Charles Vess in a collaboration that’s been years in the making. Dark, gripping, and brilliantly imaginative, these magical tales will soon have you in their thrall.

Review

HoneycombFairytales aren’t just for children, infact they were originally written for adults. Joanne Harris has done exactly this, created fairytales that are gorgeously illustrated and with all the hallmarks of a fairytale, with adult themes. Split beautifully into 2 books in 1 where land meets sea.
Imagine a honeycomb, with its hexagonal shapes, creating little pockets. Now imagine going into each one and finding stories that create the honeycomb, some are loosley interconnecting, others overarching, each one, unique and can be read as standalone, but together paint a bigger, wider picture. This in turn makes it a fabulous book to both read all at once (because it is pretty hard to resist) and to leisurely dip in and out of. People who follow Joanne Harris on Twitter will have familarised themselves with some of the short stories form of how they start with the bees, which are beautifully depicted on the front cover.

It’s clearly carefully planned and I love that the book starts with a short story about Nectar, which sets the scene of the Honeycomb Queen and other bees and ends with Honeycomb, just as bees do, as they go about their business. The writing is rich and not only full of descriptions, placing readers exactly where she wants them to be, they tell of something deeper. It’s like eavesdropping on the bees, who have something important to say and they deliberately want you to listen in as you are guided into where the Lacewing King and be transported into different worlds, which are entrancing and involving.

The writing is lyrical as fairytales are and magically captures the attention very quickly and draws you into many different places to meet many different creatures etc, that in turn become relatable to humans and the world we live in, with its abundance of societies. Each tale, intelligently has the insect world colliding with and criss-crossing with the human world. Meet Royalty, a Chancellor, a Teacher, the Slightless Folk and the Silken Folk, Death and more in this beautifully illustrated book that has many highly accomplished stories to easily lose yourself in. Some have trepidation, some allude to politics, some have warnings, and morals with each story carrying a message for readers to find within these expertly crafted tales you can easily lose yourself in.

Puppily Ever After by Tani Hanes @TaniHanes @CherryPublishi2 #NewAdult #RomanticFiction

Puppily Ever After
By Tani Hanes

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Puppily Ever After is categorised as New Adult and set in a pet shop, there is lots of fluffy cuteness and a blossoming romance. Thanks to Cherry Publishing for contacting me to request a review through my Contact Me form and for gifting me the book. Find out more about Puppily Love in the blurb and the rest of my thoughts in the review.

 

Puppily Ever After

Blurb

This was supposed to be Robin’s summer of fun before heading off to pursue her lifelong ambition of becoming a veterinarian at the prestigious Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Instead, she finds herself nursing a broken heart after her boyfriend of three years ends their relationship. As if things couldn’t get any worse, he’s now dating a cute summer hire at PetWorld, where they all work, and she has to watch them make googly eyes at each other every day.

She doesn’t want to go to work, she doesn’t want to go to vet school, she doesn’t even want to get out of bed. She just wants everything to be the way it was before. A handsome, if annoying, new arrival named Remington Picasso may be just what she needs to get out of her funk.

Will Robin be able to enjoy her last summer in her hometown? And more importantly, will she manage to overcome her heartache to follow her dreams?

Review

Set in Pet World, there is nothing more adorable that little critters and nothing quite so original for a setting. This book has humour from the start, involving a human and a hamster in Pet World, where Robin, the main character, works to gain experience to study Vetinary Medicine at the prestigious Cornell University.

It’s a coming-of-age story with intrigue, especially when it comes to men (especially Remi), keeping social interactions online in private settings. It makes it easy to become quite curious to find out more…

There’s also slight tension and a bit of jealousy at play as more is known about the characters connections to each other. The tensions and the burgeoning romance that grows and becomes more intense, on the cute backdrop of the petshop creates a good atmosphere throughout the book.

The book also explores strong themes of moving onwards and staying true to yourself, your values and dreams.

 

#Review by Lou – The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain Happy Publication Day @MattCainWriter @HeadlineFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction #Romance

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle
By Matt Cain

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Touching and endearing, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is nothing short of fabulously uplifting and full of joy and optimism. It’s a beautiful, highly original summer read. It’s a Must Read!

I very highly recommend this book  because I genuinely loved it and could not put it down. It was a pity it had to end sometime.

Check out more in the blurb, my review and the praise it has already attracted.
Thanks to publishers – Headline for gifting me a copy of the book

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle

Blurb

The Secret Life of Albert EntwistleAlbert Entwistle is a postman, a pretty ordinary one at that and one that I was interested to know more about, even with the pang of sadness that he appears to have no life outside work, which poses a challenge when retirement is on the cards. 

I especially enjoyed getting to know Albert, George and Marjorie, as well as Nicole and seeing their lives unfold and how they are connected.

This is a very beautiful book that’s so quick to get into. It’s uplifting, with a cosy warmth. It also bridges the gap between younger and older generations, in some ways in the attutudes that and secrecy were around at certain times. It’s quite hard to put down as you uncover great characters and a life with secrets that may not be quite what you’re expecting and reasons why Albert hid part of his life for a time.

There are reunions and a love story that starts to play out and it is so lovely to watch it unfold. There’s travel and theatre and such life drama.

There are discoveries made and life can be more than what you think it might as no one can predict the future. It is so poignant and touching in parts. The journeys that are taken, both deep, personal ones and the actual moving around from Toddington to Blackpool add to the great life affirming adventure, that so easily reels you in.

The book is entertaining to read and just projects so much joy and also so much emotion, with a pinpoints of humour. There is strength of character and courage, which is absolutely fabulous!

There will also be Reading Group Questions at the end of the book.

Praise for The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle

rollicking love story‘ IAN McKELLEN

‘A wonderful old-fashioned romance . . . An utter treat‘ KATE MOSSE

Wonderful. Written with such a good heart, filled with joy and strength and optimism . . . inventive and fun but most importantly, true.’ RUSSELL T. DAVIES

Brilliant . . . [I] recommend to all!’ MATT LUCAS

‘I loved it! Really heart-warming and joyful, but also so poignant. I cannot recommend this book highly enough’ LORRAINE KELLY

‘Albert is such an endearing character – flawed, funny and awkward, but completely relatable. A wonderfully warm story that completely drew me in’ RUTH HOGAN

Sweetlovely and expected to be a big summer hit‘ THE BOOKSELLER

‘Prepare to fall in love with Albert Entwistle! Touching and tender’ S. J. WATSON

Albert is delightful and charming, and the book is too’ JONATHAN HARVEY

#Review by Lou – How To Save A Life By Eva Carter – Happy Publication Day @KateWritesBooks #MantleBookClub @MantleBooks #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction

How To Save A Life
By Eva Carter

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How To Save A Life will show you exactly how to do that in many ways, that becomes interweaved into the characters lives as it transforms into a sweeping story of romance and characters inextricably linked with one moment that happened minutes before the millenium… find out more in the blurb and my full review.

How To Save A Life

Blurb

A heart stops. Their story starts.

‘A sweeping, brave, epic love story. I was hooked from the very first page’ – Josie Silver

Sometimes saving a life is only the start of the story . . .

It’s nearly midnight on the eve of the millennium when eighteen-year-old Joel’s heart stops. A school friend, Kerry, performs CPR for almost twenty exhausting minutes, ultimately saving Joel’s life, while her best friend Tim freezes, unable to help.

That moment of life and death changes the course of all three lives over the next two decades: each time Kerry, Joel and Tim believe they’ve found love, discovered their vocation, or simply moved on, their lives collide again.

. . . Because bravery isn’t just about life or death decisions; it’s also about how to keep on living afterwards.

Review

Starting with a heartstopping “A Guide To The Chain of Survival” (which is weaved throughout the book and links well with the story), that is then what draws you into this unflinching book and then introduces readers to Kerry. It’s 31st December 1999 and she is celebrating the fact there are minutes to go until the beginning of the new millenium, with her future planned and a hope of a kiss at the bells. She is brave when it comes to giving first aid.

There’s Tim who is with Kerry and freezes when it comes to giving CPR to Joel and reacts in a way he cannot fathom out. 

There is an immediate intensity with every breath and push given, and it is thought-provoking. No one knows until it is upon them, how they would react to a situation of having to actually give CPR on a real person as opposed to a dummy.

There is Joel, who the CPR ended up being performed on and what happened to him and how he was feeling on the eve of the millenium.

The book is very different in its plotting as it very much focuses on First Aid for quite some time. It is also interesting to read about their lives outside of that moment, but how that moment is always inextricably there, amongst the highs and lows of the characters lives. The book also delves into how people’s perceptions and attitudes to things can change when something dramatic happens in their lives or when life or death hangs in the balance, whether at home or when travelling. Even with all that going on, there is a love story within there too, but with bumps in the road that need ironing out and some introspective thoughts and discussions that go on, within the characters.

The book could literally help people save someone’s life, almost in the way that Holby City or Casualty can, and also help put people’s lives into perspective. There is a timely feel to the themes within the book, that will hook you in easily, to find out more and more until the very end of a book that evokes sympathy, empathy, thought-provoking and love.

#Review by Lou – Carried Away by E.L. Haynes #ELHaynes #Fiction

Carried Away
By E.L. Haines

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Cats in ways you may not expect, politics in terms you would expect and a pandemic causing catastrophie and yet characters to get to know and nestled within, other trends like more TV watching create a thriller that everyone can relate to…. It isn’t all as dark as it would seem in what is a surprisingly beautifully written book.

I thank E.L. Haines for getting in touch via my Contact Page on the blog to request a review of his book – Carried Away. Discover more about him and the book below, plus my review after the blurb and a purchase link.

About The Author

Ethan is a self-published author under the name E.L. Haines. His latest book, Carried Away, is a pandemic thriller based on the global response to COVID-19 in 2020. Ethan is a passionate researcher with a special interest in medical literature, which almost always finds its way into his fiction books. He also doubles as a medical journalist, tracking the latest developments in the health field for FARR.

 

Blurb

Carried AwayIn the midst of a deadly global disease, sometimes it’s hard to say which is worse: the pandemic, or the pandemonium.

Sparrow is visiting Italy, just trying to enjoy a decent pizza, when the locals start dropping dead from a mysterious disorder. Soon, he’s caught up in rampant rumors, a panicking population, and a competition to find the cure.

All the while, he’s fighting off ferocious felines and defending himself from hospital patients who are definitely not zombies. Zombies aren’t real.

But cats are real. And you’ll never look at Whiskers the same way again.

You can’t spell catastrophe without C-A-T.

Review

Vector is based in Catania, which is beautifully scenic and made up of elderly retired people and the youthful unemployed and both feel like they’ve given up as they have the same goals of doing very little and seem trapped in the mundane parts of the cycle of life. Vector is different and wants to know if there is more to life than the same old routines. It sparks my interest, as does the lives of Cruz and Carrie. Sparrow is an interesting character, readers can get to know very well. Suddenly an innocent time in Italy, enjoying pizza, turns into a nightmare that has everything thrown at it and turns into thriller with a race against time, which twists and turns. 

There is something beautiful, yet organic about the descriptions, that enriches what readers and characters are seeing.

It’s a brave book, that is well considered with a truth about it and is highly topical as it talks about male suicide and also a pandemic beginning with the World Health Organisation (WHO) getting involved. It mirrors a bit about what is happening in the world today, including within hospitals. This isn’t just about a pandemic though, it has intrigue on a political slant. The book even has cats within it, for all the cat-lovers and to highlight the cat trend, but are they all cute and fluffy? That would be telling…
It isn’t all dark and bleak, there is good food and the characters everyday lives to get stuck into and trending tv programmes. So it does have some lift to this multi-layered book.

Such books may be too soon for some people hit hardest by the pandemic, but at the same time, there will be people to stomach it now lockdowns are easing. In some ways the book is important to add to a slowly growing collection of these books because people’s memories do fade in time and some, like this one, mixes fact and fiction, so some parts are more recognisable than others to create a thriller of story. I look at it like this, just like all those books and films about the First and Second World Wars are written and shown, that show different takes on catastrophic events, books like this one are doing the same with the pandemic.

Purchase link:     Amazon

#Review by Lou – The Post Office Girls by Poppy Cooper @Kirsten_Hesketh @hodderbooks #HistoricalFiction #WW1

The Post Office Girls
By Poppy Cooper

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Post Office Girls is full of characters you will want to get to know in a fascinating story that feels full of authenticity, with a Sunday period drama feel. Thanks to Hodder and Staughton for inviting me to review and for gifting the book.
Please follow through with the post to the blurb and my review.

Blurb

With the Great War raging, can they keep Britain going?

The Postoffice Girls cover1915. On Beth Healey’s eighteenth birthday, she hopes that she will be able to forget the ghastly war and celebrate. But that evening, her twin brother Ned announces that he has signed up to fight.

No longer able to stand working in her parents’ village shop while others are doing their bit, Beth applies to join the Army Post Office’s new Home Depot on the Regent’s Park, and is astounded to be accepted. She will be responsible for making sure that letters and parcels get through to the troops on the front line.

Beth is thrilled to be a crucial part of the war effort and soon makes friends with fellow post girls Milly and Nora, and meets the handsome James. But just as she begins to feel that her life has finally begun, everything starts falling apart, with devastating consequences for Beth and perhaps even the outcome of the war itself. Can Beth and her new friends keep it all together and find happiness at last?

The Post Office Girls is perfect for fans of Johanna Bell, Daisy Styles and Nancy Revell.

Review

The history that gave the inspiration behind this fictional story, which is the first in a brand new series, is truly fascinating. It’s worth reading the note by the author at the beginning of the book for this.

It’s Beth’s 18th birthday and its 1915 and has the formidable sounding Mrs McBride at the shop, where both of them work, on her case over butter. The scene with the tones of voices opens up magnificently.

It has the nostalgic air that you’d perhaps expect, but just manages not to be saccharine sweet. It does have a Sunday night, gentl-paced period drama feel about it, but doesn’t shy away from certain hard-hitting, home-truths about war here and there. It can be bit slow in places, but stay with it as a whole world opens up and it does become quite hard to put down.

The war is captured well, from those staying at home, in the rationing at the shop, a clever hint of people trying to, not quite bulk buy, but certainly buy a bit more than they need and not thinking of others and leaving enough of even flour to go around and the emotion of Beth from this, it’s like a subtle thought to people today, which I approve of; and Florence who had stepped out with Ralph, a footman from Maitland Hall who went out to fight and the worry about hearing from him and the excitement of letters when she does. It has a feel of authenticity and the scenes are picture perfect in Woodhampstead.

Beth later, travels to London as recruitment in Regent’s Park, where a mailing depot is set- up for army post, and encounters Sergeant Major Cunningham. The reactions of an 18 year old is captured well to the  Major, who had a very different life, as a postal worker before and all is new to Beth, who was a shopworker, now to work in the Home Depot, sorting through the mail coming in from soldiers.
You can feel her coil up a little and then ping into anger as she attempts to stand-up for herself. The empathy of soldiers at war and the letters that show signs of where they are and perhaps been whilst writing, further hits home to her. The details from an envelope and codes add interest and the interesting markings as each new chapter starts is too as are the letters between her brother Ned and her. She does however come across a gentler mannered man – Mr Blackford. Her achievement of getting an interview for the post hasn’t got the reaction she would have liked from her parents, different from today’s times, but very true of the times of the setting. 

There are a few twists that grab you further in, here and there and no more so than near the end, within the characters lives you will want to continue to get to know.

Readers of the book would do well to read the acknowledgements. It gives a fascinating insight into the research that was done for the book and some real-life photos of the women working in the Home-Depot.